Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Writing Excuses scholarships!

Let me tell you something right up front: our listeners are amazing.

This year we had more scholarship applications than ever before, and the quality was through the roof. Choosing just four applicants out of this unbelievably talented batch was incredibly hard, and incredibly painful. We had fiction submissions this year that are publisher-ready, right now, and still didn’t make the cut–that’s how stiff the competition was. But, in the end, we did manage to narrow it down to four winners, and I am delighted to announce them here:

For the Carl Brandon Society scholarships:
JY Yang
Yasmine Fahmy

For the Out of Excuses scholarships:
Alexander Murie
Shallee McArthur

They have been contacted, and will be joining us on the 2017 Writing Excuses Retreat this summer. If you applied and didn’t get chosen, don’t worry: you’re awesome, and we love you. I’ll be sending emails out today and tomorrow to all of you to thank you personally for applying, and to let you know how much we appreciate you. Please apply again next year, assuming you’re not already published and famous by then–seriously, some of you are that good. And if you didn’t apply but wish you had: awesome! We’ll do this again next year, and we would love to have all of you with us.

And, again, I want to thank the rest of you: our alumni and our listeners and our Patreon supporters. It’s because of you that we’re able to do this, and it’s because of you that these four incredible writers can have this experience. We have a level on our Patreon that literally just says “You don’t get anything extra at this level, we just take your money and use it for scholarships,” and SO MANY of you do it! You’re wonderful! We’re getting so many scholarship donations, in fact, that we suspect we’ll be able to offer an extra scholarship or two next year; no promises, but we’re crunching the numbers and we think it will work. If you love good writing and want to give back to the community, supporting these scholarships is a great way to do it.

Congratulations again to our winners, and to all of you we say: you’re out of excuses, now go write.

11 thoughts on “Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Writing Excuses scholarships!”

  1. Please apply again next year, assuming you’re not already published and famous by then–seriously, some of you are that good.

    -That’s a real hoot considering one of the winners is already a published author and received a book of the week mention in a previous season.

    1. To be fair, I don’t think they had experience requirements. Maybe I’m incorrect, but did they say whether or not this was a retreat for beginners vs writers they think have potential vs writers who are already writing at a professional level? If not, a bankrupt Stephen King could apply and get it.

    2. I think it’s also worth pointing out that being “published and famous” means that you probably can afford to come on your own. Just being published doesn’t mean that you a) know everything or b) can afford to attend.

      That’s why we don’t restrict the scholarship to unpublished writers.

  2. Joe, thank you for that comment.

    We know it’s a point of concern, and we want everyone to know that we thought long and hard over every one of these applicants before picking the ones we did. There were several applicants, for both scholarships, who had prior small press publications, and several more who have met both the podcasters and some other jury members in real life. That’s why we took the extra steps, where necessary, of anonymizing the fiction and giving it to readers who a) didn’t know whose stories they were reading and b) didn’t know any of the applicants in real life. We are very concerned with bias, and took every step we could think of to make sure that everyone was being judged fairly. Once the results came back, we reviewed them again, looking at our two core principles: the winners need to deserve it, based on their writing, and they need to need it, based on their career and financial situation. We decided that our choices this year met all of those requirements, and we stand behind them. We hope this helps everyone feel good about the results.

  3. I have a question of my own…how personalized were the emails sent to those that did not get a scholarship? This is completely out of curiosity. I know you had numerous applicants, so I understand if they were uniform.

    I am asking about both scholarships.

    1. They were form letters, yes 🙂

      We had 75 applicants this year, and try as I may I can’t write that many unique versions of a “sorry you didn’t win” letter.

      I would sincerely love to be able to provide individual feedback on the fiction submissions, but that’s a massive investment of time that would expand the size of the project by at least an order of magnitude. Probably more.

  4. Congratulations to the winners!

    Quick question. You mention the winners must financially need the scholarship. (Makes sense.) How do you guys figure out the applicant’s financial situation?

  5. I am working at home in an isolated area of Australia. I learn much from listening to the podcasts and regard that information a privileged opportunity. I find the above discussion re the scholarships confronting. The generosity of opportunity open to discussion is fair enough but there is a quiet tone of entitlement which few people enjoy. My opinion be grateful we have the support we do. Be happy for those who won a scholarship and trust the people who are teaching so much. this means that we respect not only their craft but trust their decision making.

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