All posts by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing the Other masterclasses

Some of the most frequently asked questions that we get on Writing Excuses revolve around how to Write the Other. In order to answer that need, which takes more than 15 minutes, we’ve partnered with Tempest Bradford and Nisi Shawl (who literally wrote the book Writing the Other) to bring you a series of masterclasses on just this subject.

And not just the general “other” but also a bunch of very specific and detailed classes such as, Writing Native American Characters: How Not To Do A Rowling, Writing Deaf and Blind Characters, and Writing the Other: Comics and Graphic Novels

Plus for Writing Excuses Patreon supporters, there’s a $25 discount on every class.

You’re out of excuses, now go register…

(P.S. from Mary: I’m registered for the Writing for Trans and Non-Binary Narratives. I’ve co-taught with Tempest and Nisi and these workshops are highly, highly recommended.)

Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner will be instructors on the WXR 2015 Workshop and Cruise!

One of the things that we’ve liked about the Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreats in the past has been that we’ve had a small student teacher ratio. When we were setting up the cruise, and decided to remove the membership cap, we knew that we wanted to try to preserve that intimate student experience. We brought Nalo Hopkinson on board immediately.

Our plan was to add additional teachers as the size of the membership grew. We have 110 students and 36 additional family members cruising with us.

It’s time to add more teachers.

Allow me to introduce Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, who will be joining us for the cruise.

Ellen Kushner - Delia Sherman - 2014 - Melissa C Beckman

 

You might remember them from their appearance on the show talking about Interstitial Fiction. But here are their formal bios which tells you a little bit about how very cool they are.

Delia Sherman was born in Tokyo, Japan, and brought up in New York City. Delia’s short fiction for adults has appeared most recently in the anthologies Naked City and Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells. Stories for teen readers have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Steampunk! and Under My Hat. “CATNYP,” a story of a magical New York Between, inspired her middle grade novels Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. The Freedom Maze, a time-travel fantasy set in Louisiana, was awarded the Norton Award, the Prometheus Award, and the Mythopoeic Award. Her recent collection of short fiction, Young Woman in a Garden, has appeared on PW’s list of Best SF of 2014. She has worked as a contributing editor for Tor Books and has co-edited the fantasy anthology The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Donald G. Keller and The Essential Bordertown with Terri Windling, as well as two anthologies of Interstitial fiction, Interfictions 1, with Theodora Goss and Interfictions 2, with Christopher Barzak. She is Executive Editor of Interfictions Online: A Journal of Interstitial Arts.  She has taught writing at Clarion, Odyssey, and in the MA program in Children’s Literature at Hollins University.

Ellen Kushner is the author of Thomas the Rhymer (World Fantasy and Mythopoeic awards), the interconnected novels Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword (Locus Award, Nebula nominee), and The Fall of the Kings (written with Delia Sherman). She narrated these as audiobooks for Neil Gaiman Presents (Audie Award). With Holly Black, she co-edited Welcome to Bordertown. A co-founder of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, Ellen Kushner was also the longtime host of the national public radio show Sound & Spirit. She has taught creative writing at Clarion, the Odyssey Workshop, and is an instructor at Hollins University’s Children’s Literature M.F.A. program.  She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman and no cats whatsoever.

Besides being two of my favorite writers, they are also two of my favorite people. Warm, generous, and boundlessly enthusiastic about the arts and fiction and the interstices between them.

In short, we shall have such fun and learn so much at the 2015 Writing Excuses Retreat and Cruise.

Also, just a reminder that the window for submitting scholarship applications is still open.

 

Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat

WtO logo

If you wanted to register for the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat and didn’t get in, I’m hoping that you might be interested in the Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat.

It’s held at the same location, Mary Robinette Kowal’s parents’ house.

Mary will be joined by NY Times Best-selling author David Anthony Durham; Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl, the authors behind the book Writing the Other; and K. Tempest Bradford, author and activist.

On Writing Excuses, some of the most common questions come in as variations of “How do you write someone who isn’t like you.” Many authors struggle to write beyond what they know and write the other. While we tackle this on the podcast, fifteen minutes is not enough time to delve into this tricky and nuanced skill. The Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat is designed with lessons and conversations, paired with a retreat, to give participants an opportunity to work on making their characters and worldbuilding deeper and more thoughtful. And David, Cynthia, Nisi, and Tempest really are that smart.

I hope the same urge that makes you listen to Writing Excuses will allow you to consider attending this retreat.

Eventbrite - Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat

Announcing the Writing Excuses/Carl Brandon Scholarship

As we announced in November, we are holding the second annual Out of Excuses Retreat this year, September 29 through October 5. Last year’s retreat was a huge success, and we’re excited to be doing it again, and we’re especially excited to be offering another scholarship. Even better, this year’s scholarship has a twist: instead of just need and merit, we’re also looking for diversity.

Why diversity? Isn’t it enough to just look for the most qualified applicant, regardless of other factors? No it isn’t, and this is why: we make our choice based on merit, but we can only do that within the small, self-selecting group of people who feel comfortable applying. Out of last year’s thirty attendees, we had only one writer of color, which is not even close to a realistic representation of the speculative fiction market. This was a sign to us that something was wrong. Our ratio of men and women was about half and half, which was great; that meant that both men and women deemed our retreat a safe and welcoming environment. Our ratio of white writers to writers of color was a clear sign that some writers did not necessarily feel the same welcome, and we want to change that.

To that end, we are proud to partner with the Carl Brandon Society, an organization dedicated to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. We hope that focusing our scholarship in this way will not only give a great opportunity to a worthy writer of color, but encourage other writers of color to sign up for the retreat as well. No matter who you are, we want you at our retreat! The scholarship applications will be reviewed by a selection panel from  the Carl Brandon Society, consisting of Wesley Chu, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, John Lawson, and Tempest Bradford.

Registration for the Out of Excuses Retreat opens on January 18, 2014, at 9am EST. As of this posting, that’s TOMORROW. If you can afford a full membership, don’t hold out for the scholarship because you won’t get it. If money is tight, though, the Carl Brandon Scholarship can offer you free registration to the retreat, a fully paid room in the nearby hotel, and up to $500 toward airfare. Note that the registration fee includes most of your food already, so this covers almost all of your expenses for the week. To apply for the scholarship, submit the following to retreat@writingexcuses.com by midnight, March 15, 2014:

  1. A brief example of your writing, consisting of 1-3 separate pieces and totaling no more than 10,000 words. These can be short stories or novel excerpts. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word count: if you can wow us in less, more power to you.
  2. A 450-700 word personal essay explaining why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. What makes you unique? What can you bring to our group that no one else can? Keep in mind that even as we focus on “need,” the panel will be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit” as well.
  3. Three brief letters of recommendation (no more than 300 words each) from people who are not your relatives. Friends, bosses, people from your writing group, anyone who can tell us exactly how awesome you are. While the fiction and the personal essay should be included in a single email, these letters can be emailed individually by the people who write them, just make sure they include your name in the subject line.

We anticipate a huge response to this scholarship, so please be aware that we will be culling the applications relentlessly, and those who don’t follow the rules will be the first to go—just like sending a manuscript to a publisher, submission guidelines matter. Send your fiction and essay all in the body of a single email (no attachments), with the subject line “Scholarship Application: [name].” Your three recommendation letters should go to the same address, with the same subject line, and they can be sent by you or directly by the people who wrote them. Follow the word limits exactly, make sure you’ve got all three items covered, and don’t miss the deadline: March 15, 2014. We will review the submissions and announce our decision on May 4, 2014, which should give you plenty of time to work out vacation time and babysitters and so on for the retreat in September.

We look forward to reading your submissions!

Writing Excuses won the Hugo for Best Related Work!

WX Hugo win photo by Andrew Williams
(photo by Andrew Williams)

Thank you. All of you for voting for the podcast in the Best Related Work. Without you, none of us would be holding rockets in this photo. Your questions inspire us, your comments make us think, and talking to you makes our fiction better as we unpack what it is that we do. So thank you, thank you, and thank you.

UPDATE: During the awards ceremony we were unable to call out by name the guests who helped make this season of Writing Excuses so wonderful. We will now rectify that:

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to the following guests, without whose candor and expertise we would all be much poorer. We have listed them here in order of appearance during the season.

  • Sam Sykes
  • Sarah Pinborough
  • David Brin
  • Larry Correia
  • James Artimus Owen
  • James Dashner
  • Michael Collings
  • Michaelbrent Collings
  • Eric James Stone
  • Monte Cook
  • Shanna Germain
  • Maurice Broaddus
  • Janci Patterson
  • James L Sutter
  • Jim Zub

We only record guests when we can all be in the same place at the same time, which is usually at a convention. That means these people took time out of an already busy convention schedule to participate with us. Thank you again, guests. We wish you could have stood with us on the stage.

Writing Excuses is a finalist for Hugo Best Related Work

We are delighted to announce that Writing Excuses Season 7 is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Related work. We are all excited and honored to be in this list of fellow nominees.

  • The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature Edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge UP)
  • Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Sigrid Ellis (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who Edited by Deborah Stanish & L.M. Myles (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • I Have an Idea for a Book… The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg Compiled by Martin H. Greenberg, edited by John Helfers (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box)
  • Writing Excuses Season Seven by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson

In addition to this, Brandon received a nomination for his novella, The Emperor’s Soul. This is is first Hugo fiction nomination. His fellow nominees for Best Novella are:

  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
  • The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
  • On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
  • San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • “The Stars Do Not Lie” by Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)

You can also listen to Project In Depth from Season Seven, in which we take a close look at Brandon’s process of writing this novella.

And Howard is nominated again for Best Graphic Story with Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia. Well done!

  • Grandville Bête Noire written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
  • Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • Saga, Volume One written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
  • Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
  • Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)