By Writing Excuses | April 27, 2008 - 9:28 pm - Posted in Liner Notes, Season 1, Stacy, Submitting

This week, special guest Stacy Whitman joins us from Mirrorstone books (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast). Stacy works there as an editor, and helps us understand the submission process, including acting like a professional, doing your research, following submission guidelines, and all sorts of things NOT to do with your submissions. Stacy also shares her story about Holes, and how you have to know the rules to break them.

Liner Notes:

We’ve got a lot of links for you this week. First of all, Stacy keeps a blog on LiveJournal (slwhitman.livejournal.com), and she works for Mirrorstone, whose submission guidelines can be found here.

Mentioned in the podcast: Kristen Nelson’s Blog (You Know You Have Tired YA When…), the Hallowmere series, and Hallowmere’s author Tiffany Trent.

And this week from our sponsor Tor, Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow

By Writing Excuses | May 4, 2008 - 11:11 pm - Posted in Season 1, Stacy, Submitting

In part two of our chat with editor Stacy Whitman, we discuss more about how to interact with editors: how to approach them at cons, how to inquire about work you’ve already submitted, and how to butter them up by asking about their current projects. To cap it off, we ask Stacy about her current projects.

This week from our sponsor, Tor: The Wolfman , by Nicholas Pekearo

By Writing Excuses | September 7, 2008 - 9:40 pm - Posted in Genre, Guest, Live, Season 1, Submitting

One of the biggest areas of professional creative writing these days is game writing, and who better to talk to about it than Steve Jackson–yes, THE Steve Jackson. We start off trying to talk about game adaptations, and the challenges they present for writers, but then we devolve into a more straightforward discussion of writing for games.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Nancy Fulda fills in for Dan for this week’s episode (he was sick, she was in town, huzzah!) but she’s more than just “filling in.” She’s FEATURED. Nancy is the assistant editor for Jim Baen’s Universe, and as such is probably the one who rejected your story. Nancy is also the editor-in-chief and founder of  Anthology Builder, where you can create collections of short stories you want to read, and have them printed and bound for you. She tells us the sorts of things that will get you rejected, maybe after a page, maybe after a paragraph, and perhaps even before the very first line has been read.

This week’s episode is brought to you by Schlock Mercenary: The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance. Pre-orders are open now!

Disclosure: Nancy is, in fact, Howard’s sister-in-law. That might be why her stuff is getting so dang much relevant linkage in this entry.

Writing Prompt: Write about a passionate egg.

By Writing Excuses | June 28, 2009 - 7:29 pm - Posted in Criticism, Submitting, Writing Prompt

How do you take criticism? How do you react, if you even do react? Does criticism cause you to change the way you work? Criticism can come from your peers in a writing group, from editors sending you rejection letters, and from those one-star Amazon reviewers who are out there looking for something to hate.

In this episode we provide anecdotes from other authors including Patrick Rothfuss and Kevin J. Anderson, and share our own experiences about criticism we’ve gotten and how we’ve responded to it.

This episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by XDM: X-Treme Dungeon Mastery, by Tracy and Curtis Hickman, and illustrated by Howard Tayler. Pre-orders for XDM open on Wednesday, July 1st.

Writing Prompt: Write a story about a critic who is the hero.

Larry Correia is either the guy who did everything wrong and then broke into publishing anyway, or he’s the exception who proves the rule. He self-published Monster Hunter International, and then got picked up by Baen Books.

If you’re considering self-publishing, this is the podcast for you.

This week’s episode of Writing Excuses is brought to you by Scenting the Dark by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Writing Prompt: A self-published book becomes a threat that will end the world…

By Writing Excuses | May 23, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Conventions, Submitting

Your hosts here at Writing Excuses have tried to answer the “how to get published” question before. We’re going to try again.

In this episode we begin with a discussion of New Media. Welcome to the Age of the Internet, everybody! The Web is now “old media.” When we say “New Media” we’re talking about social media — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, user-generated content, and countless blogging tools.  After a brief warning about embracing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent, Brandon, Dan, and Howard provide some examples for how these tools can help you.

We talk a bit about some submission practices that you should not practice, most of which Stacy Whitman covered with us back in episodes 12 and 13 of  Season 1. Then we throw you some off-the-wall suggestions that might get you published. Some of these cost real money, and none of them come with guarantees that they’ll work. We restate our firm belief that the best strategies for getting published hinge upon writing excellently and networking with people who write.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Howard owes him a plug after last month’s epic faux-pas at Penguicon. After bringing it up in this context, Howard probably owes him ANOTHER one.

Writing Prompt: For some reason, 1000 years in the future the most cost-effective publishing involves writing on human skin…

Blame for That Horrible Mental Picture of Howard Dressed as an Elf Sans Pants: Brandon Sanderson owns that blame, down to the last mote of scowling-with-eyes-averted disapproval.

Why Mayan Calendars Predict The End of The World in 2012: seventeen minutes in…

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.

*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | August 29, 2010 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Q&A, Submitting

The last of our three recorded-live episodes is also the last episode of Writing Excuses Season 4. We took questions from the audience, and answered them with ABSOLUTE APLOMB.

Questions asked include:

How did we, as beginning writers, manage to write while holding down day-jobs and/or going to school?
What is the process for getting published?
How do you portray the various dynamics of an ensemble cast?
How do you keep tension up when death isn’t a problem for your characters?
How do you make the transition from writing fan-fiction to writing original fiction?
How important is it for an author to stay in touch with the fans online and at events?
What do you do when your cast of characters has grown too large for you to manage it?
What was the biggest stumbling-block for our creativity, and how did we overcome it?

You want the answers? Have a listen!

Writing Prompt: You walk out of a bookstore into torrential rain, and Howard attacks you with the POWER OF THUNDER.

By Writing Excuses | December 12, 2010 - 8:17 pm - Posted in Career, Collaboration, Genre, Lifestyle, Submitting

Well, we’re back, and we’ve rescued our time travel episode. Unfortunately, almost all mentions of Lincoln have been redacted, and his gold is conspicuously absent. Instead, Brandon, Dan, and Howard all travel in time (sort of) to offer advice to our past selves.

What do we have to say to our earlier incarnations?

  • Stop playing video games.
  • What you’re doing is actually working. Keep doing it.
  • Stop waiting on your collaborator.
  • Don’t try to write to the market.
  • Try outlining all the way to the end.
  • Try new things.
  • Stop worrying.
  • You can make a living as an artist.

So… there’s the advice. Now listen to the ‘cast and get all of it in context.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Special Plug: Superstars Writing Seminar — Brandon will be presenting this January with Dave Wolverton, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Writing Prompt: Go forward in time and get next week’s writing prompt.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | March 6, 2011 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Guest, Lifestyle, Submitting

We’re joined again by Sherrilyn Kenyon for a discussion of perseverence, at her request no less. Sherri tells us about how the struggles she’s had, even after having bestsellers and 98% sell-throughs. And many of us have heard stories like this from other authors.

We talk about breaking in, about how each of us have had discouraging spells, and how important it is to persevere throughout it all. Hopefully the advice we offer will help some of you through the grind as well. Never give up. Never surrender. By Grabthar’s Hammer, even.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Born of Night: A League Novel, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, narrated by Kelly Fish.

Writing Prompt: Somebody wrote a novel about an alien invasion. One year later the aliens invade exactly per the details in the novel.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | June 26, 2011 - 6:00 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Humor, Lifestyle, Plot, Q&A, Structure, Submitting

Microcasting! It’s our high-speed Q&A! Here are the Q’s, listen to the ‘cast for the A’s.

  • Is it still safe to go the commercial publishing route?
  • How do you find the balance when writing serious stories with silliness in them?
  • What are the alternatives to three-act structure?
  • Do you ever lose your drive, and what re-inspires you when you do?
  • How does your writing life affect your non-writing life?
  • What was the defining moment in your life where you decided to become a writer?
  • How effective are book trailers?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 1421: The Year China Discovered America, by Gavin Menzies, narrated by Simon Vance

Writing Prompt: Give us a story in which writers are using actual fantastic creatures in the process of writing fantasy — ink from unicorn horns, elf-skin parchment, etc.

Promised Liner Note Links: Dan’s 7-point Story Structure,

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | July 24, 2011 - 6:10 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Editing, Submitting

Agent Sara Crowe joins Dan and Howard again to talk about what an agent does. This simple, off-the-cuff episode offers a nice, inside look into what a literary agent can offer you, your manuscript, and your career.

Sara Crowe represents both Dan Wells and his brother Robison Wells. You can find her on Twitter at saraagent.

There’s no book-of-the-week this week. Audible only needs four of these per month from us, and five episodes will air in July. Listen for a book-of-the-week in Episode 9 on July 31st.

Writing Prompt: Your agent is actually a warlock using magic to make your book sell. Unfortunately, something about your book means this process is going to go horribly, horribly wrong.

By Writing Excuses | October 9, 2011 - 6:53 pm - Posted in Business, Career, Plot, Submitting

Pitching your work… authors often have difficulty with it. Even authors who have no trouble spinning a fantastic story may find themselves at a loss telling people ABOUT that story in a way that makes it compelling.

We cover three kinds of pitches — the one-liner or “elevator pitch,” the three- or four-paragraph explanation, and the in-depth synopsis. We also talk about the sorts of situations in which you’re going to need these.

Few skills are as important to new authors, and few weaknesses can be as career-limiting.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin, narrated by Don Leslie

Writing Prompt: Take three of your favorite books and write one of each kind of pitch for each of those books. Now convince a friend of yours to read one of those books using one of those pitches.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.
Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership*.
*Note: From the Audible website, here are the terms of the free membership. Read the fine print, please!

Audible® Free Trial Details
Get your first 14 days of the AudibleListener® Gold membership plan free, which includes one audiobook credit. After your 14 day trial, your membership will renew each month for just $14.95 per month so you can continue to receive one audiobook credit per month plus members-only discounts on all audio purchases. A very small number of titles are more than one credit. Cancel your membership before your free trial period is up and you will not be charged. Thereafter, cancel anytime, effective the next billing cycle. Any unused audiobook credits will be lost at cancellation.

By Writing Excuses | December 2, 2012 - 7:53 pm - Posted in Characters, Conflicts, Scenes, Season 7, Submitting

We haven’t discussed beginnings this in a while, and when we did, we summed it up with “in late, out early.” Now we’re going to talk about what needs to be present when you’re “in.” We talk about tone, and how the tone you set in your beginning is a promise made to your reader, using examples from George R.R. Martin and David Brin. We also talk about how useful (and how dangerously trite) a labeled prologue can be, and how important it is to establish a setting, especially in genre fiction.

This episode appears out of order with something else we recorded which we refer to, specifically a piece Mary is working on. Tantalizing, yes? Here is the episode you probably wanted to hear first.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages, narrated by Julie Dretzen

Writing Prompt: Start a new story. Give us character, place, and sense of tone. Do it one sentence, and do it within 13 lines (which is what typically appears on the first page of a manuscript.)

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

By Howard Tayler | January 8, 2013 - 4:16 pm - Posted in Site News, Submitting

Last year we announced the first ever Writing Excuses Retreat, and an awesome scholarship to go along with it. We’ve never done an event like this before, but we feel pretty good about it, and we think it will be a big help to a lot of writers, and we don’t want that group to be limited by money. If you’re a good writer, eager to become better, but can’t quite afford a week-long conference, we want to give you our scholarship. But there’s only one week left.

The scholarship application deadline is January 15–just a few days away. If you were thinking about applying but never got around to it, there’s still time! If this is the first you’ve heard of it, jump in and go for it! The application process is involved, because we want to make sure this goes to the right person, but we really think it’s worth it. Read all the application info here (http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/11/05/the-out-of-excuses-writing-retreat-and-the-thats-a-pretty-good-excuse-scholarship/), follow those instructions exactly*, and let’s make this happen.

Good luck!

(*Note: Seriously, follow the instructions exactly. We winnow applicants the way publishers winnow slush…)

By Writing Excuses | November 17, 2013 - 4:53 pm - Posted in Career, Conventions, Editing, Guest, Live, Research, Season 8, Submitting

Aeryn Rudel, publications manager (it’s like the editor-in-chief) of Privateer Press‘s Skull Island X imprint, joins us to talk about editing. Obligatory disclaimer — Aeryn is Howard’s boss when Howard writes things like “Extraordinary Zoology.”

Aeryn begins by explaining to us what it is that he’s looking for in works, in the authors with whom he works, and how writers might prepare themselves for this kind of work, but his real job here on the ‘cast is to talk to us about the role of the editor. Much of that role deals with continuity of to the setting and the tone of the piece, but there’s plenty more.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One by Joe Abercrombie, narrated by Steven Pacey

Writing Prompt: Hell's copyeditor.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

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Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Happy New Year, and happy new season of Writing Excuses!

Eric James Stone joins us to talk about his latest book deal. These things are different for everyone, and the marketplace is changing so quickly that it’s worth noting the differences and the similarities between our deal experiences (three of us were sitting on brand-new deals as of the recording of this podcast.)

Eric in particular walks us through the chronology of his current book deal, from the original writing, through the agent representation and multiple rejections and revisions, all the way to the current contract. Did Eric’s Nebula win (for a different story) help this deal along a bit? Oh, it may very well have done exactly that.

Liner Notes: Here’s Jim Hine’s “First Novel Survey” results page.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Ender's World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF Classic Ender's Game, a collection of essays by numerous writers, and narrated by lots of narrators. Both Eric and Mary wrote for this collection. (Note: it's currently not appearing on Audible's site, but Amazon shows it as being available through Audible. Weirdness!)

Writing Prompt: Write a story about someone who has amazing, incredible, wonderful news, but they're not allowed to talk about it.

This episode of Writing Excuses has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details

Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.