By Dan Wells | July 14, 2008 - 9:48 am - Posted in Uncategorized

Our podcast today will be available this evening, and we are very sorry for the delay. This is a prime example of “doing the unpopular,” but since we don’t have a good reason it’s also a prime example of “doing the unpopular in such a way that it doesn’t work at all.” So, you know, it’s an object lesson? We’re only trying to help? We’ll get it posted this evening, and all will be right again.

By Dan Wells | July 30, 2008 - 1:20 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

August 6-10, all three of your favorite writing excusers will be at WorldCon in Denver, Colorado. In addition to seeing us on panels and signings and in the massive dealer’s room, you can also join us for a number of podcasts that we will be recording live, right there, with an audience and some really awesome guest speakers. It will be, without hyperbole, the highlight of your entire life. Offerings of bacon are welcome, but not required.

For those of you unable to join us, rest assured that the traditional schedule of podcast postings will continue apace. Huzzah!

By Dan Wells | August 4, 2008 - 12:54 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Writing Excuses is undergoing a complicated technical overhaul on the back end (by which we mean that Jordo, our techmonkey, is moving to a new house and has very patchy computer and Internet access). This is slowing us down, but we promise that there will be an episode available tonight. Sorry. It will all be cleared up soon, and we shouldn’t have many more problems in the future.

Thanks for your understanding.

By Writing Excuses | September 30, 2008 - 4:07 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Q: How can I possibly get even more Writing Excuses in my life? The podcast is right there, on the Internet, ready to be clicked and/or downloaded at any time of the day or night, as many times as I want, and yet still it is not enough. I must have more. In delicious strawberry and guava flavors, if possible.

A:  Well, you are both weird and lucky, because Writing Excuses is now on CD! This fantabulous new collection features the entire first season, including all 35 episodes (yes, next week’s is already on there).

Q: That does indeed sound awesome, but I want even more than that. I want super-rad stuff I can’t get anywhere else.

A: Done and done: how about a selection of goofy bonus episodes, and a bunch of other exciting files? Not only do you get the full Writing Excuses experience in one convenient disk, you also get to hear outtakes, behind the scenes discussions, and random musings we thought were cool enough to record forever.

Q: Now you’re talking my language, but I want EVEN MORE than that. You’re writers, for crying out loud–I want to read some writing.

A: Then you will be pleased to learn that this disk includes a whole bunch (i.e., some) original manuscripts, chief among them a special sneak-preview of Dan’s book: chapter 1 of the not-available-for-several-more-months book I Am Not a Serial Killer. It’s the ultimate must-have for any Writing Excuses fan!

Q:  I am now officially more excited about this than I ever thought possible. Where and how can I obtain this glorious CD?

A: Travel to the four corners of the Earth, from the heart of the Sahara to the depths of the Paris Catacombs; from the vast reaches of the Amazonian jungle to the peaks of the Himalayas, collecting from each place a magical stone visible only in the first rays of morning sun. Build from them a necklace steeped in ancient power and, thus adorned, visit http://poddisc.myshopify.com/products/writing-excuses-season-1 and give them ten bucks.

Q: I’ll go now, and take all of my friends with me!

A: Don’t tell the others, but you’ve always been our favorite listener.

By Dan Wells | November 1, 2008 - 3:14 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

November 1 is the first day of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The basic idea is to write an entire novel of 50,000 words or more completely during the month of November. It’s a fantastic program, a great way to get yourself writing, and comes with a vast, ready-made support group. How many of you are doing NaNoWriMo this year? What are you writing about? How can the rest of our Writing Excuses community help?

By Dan Wells | November 3, 2008 - 9:46 am - Posted in Uncategorized

Writing Excuses has donated an ad to the Whitney Awards, a program designed to recognize and support Mormon writers. That ad is now for sale on ebay: the winner will get an ad in an upcoming podcast heard by fives of thousands of people. If you want to advertise your book/website/podcast/etc., while helping out a good cause, this is a great way to do it.

By Dan Wells | November 10, 2008 - 9:07 am - Posted in Uncategorized

We’ve had just over a week of work: how’s it going? Week two is a lot harder than week 1, and might actually be the hardest of all, because the fun stuff is over and the work has begun, and you’re still thousands of words away from finishing. Tell us all about your victories, your setbacks, and your grandiose plans for the coming days of writing.

By Dan Wells | November 15, 2008 - 8:58 am - Posted in Uncategorized

The halfway point: by the end of today you should have 25,000 words. How are you doing? Are you ahead? Behind? Are you completely and utterly delighted by the exciting world of writing, and you want to do it more and more every day for the rest of your life? Me too.

Also: we are pleased to announce the existence of the (fan created) Reading Excuses forum, a message board designed for you to meet and coordinate with other writers, to share your work, and to give comments. We (Brandon, Dan, and Howard) are not going to police this, it’s purely a sandbox for your guys to play in. Enjoy!

By Writing Excuses | September 13, 2009 - 4:40 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

We won a Parsec Award at Dragon*Con, and it’s a darn good thing we weren’t there in person to give an acceptance speech. Otherwise this podcast might have happened live, in front of hundreds of people with sharp and/or heavy things in their pockets.

By Writing Excuses | October 11, 2009 - 8:55 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Larry Correia, whose debut novel Monster Hunter International hit the market this summer, joins us for a discussion of plot-driven vs. character driven fiction. We start with a definition of terms and a discussion of the battlefield. Then we dive into the nuts and bolts of how to write what it is you want to be writing.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by Audible. Head over to Audiblepodcast.com/excuse for a free audio book and a 14-day trial. And at our recommendation, try out Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Writing Prompt: Come up with a plot-driven story, and then try to make it good with boring characters.

By Writing Excuses | November 15, 2009 - 11:11 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Dan and Howard are again joined by Jake Black, who writes comics (and some other things) for a living. Jake tells us how he got into the business, and we talk about how this might be applied to other folks. But you can’t do it exactly the way he did it because they’ve bricked that entrance up.

Writing Prompt: Our superhero gained his superpowers by writing technical articles for Wired…

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 1, 2009 - 11:07 am - Posted in Uncategorized

A Monday without Writing Excuses is kind of like a Tuesday without Writing Excuses, only far less aggravating.

With Brandon once again by our side(s), we venture once more into the realm of humor: this time, specifically considering how to blend humor with decidedly unhumorous elements such as drama and horror. Why do humor and horror go so well together? How can you make something funny without losing the powerful character drama? And how did we possibly get through this episode without mentioning “Shaun of the Dead,” which combines humor and horror and drama more brilliantly than anything in recent memory?

Writing Prompt: Make the most inappropriate joke you can, but make it appropriate.

Once again, Writing Excuses is brought to you by Audible.com, and this week we’re trying something new: homework! Sometime in January we’ll spend an episode examining “The Hero with A Thousand Faces,” by Joseph Campbell, so this is your warning to study up. You can read your own copy, borrow one from the library, or sign up for a free trial Audible membership and get, through our special deal, an audio copy for free: http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse.

By Writing Excuses | December 20, 2009 - 4:12 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

What is an Antihero? There are lots of definitions of this word, so Dan boils it down to just three: The Frodo, The Punisher, and The Talented Mister Ripley. And that third definition is the one Brandon believes to be the most correct, at least in the strict literary sense.

This was a difficult ‘cast for Howard because he’s familiar with Frodo and The Punisher, but has no experience with The Talented Mister Ripley beyond movie trailers. He gets by, though. He’s seen a lot of movie trailers.

Have a listen, and learn a lot.

Writing Prompt: Write a true, classically-defined antihero in such a way that Howard will enjoy it.

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 | January 3, 2010 - 7:02 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

For starters, let’s clear the air. Yes, the first episode of the new year is also the last episode of Writing Excuses Season 3. And yes, we’ll be getting Season 2 and Season 3 on CDs pretty soon here.

Collaboration! This is one of our all-time most requested topics, and we’re covering it now because we still haven’t done much actual collaborating but we want to talk about it anyway. Why? Because we each have some collaborations planned (including one for all three of us, but shhh… it’s still a secret) and it will be fun to talk about this again in a year or so and argue about all the things we got wrong this time around.

But you should still listen to what we say here in our collaborative infancy. That way you can lord it up over us when we flip-flop after having attempted to work together.

You should also pay attention when we tell you beginning writers why you should not be collaborating. And then we’ll give you some procedural tips for when you decide to collaborate anyway.

Writing Prompt: Write a story (all by yourself) about a collaboration which goes horribly, horribly wrong.

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 | January 24, 2010 - 7:32 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

How do you avoid letting other people’s work creep into your own? We’re all influenced by the media we partake in whether we admit it or not. How much of those influences should we allow into our own work? How do we control that?

As we engage the topic, we admit that sometimes we want to be influenced, and that letting those influences do their work is a good thing. But this isn’t the podcast where we cover that. This is the podcast where we talk about tuning that out.

We also talk about tuning out the influence of those who are critiquing or commenting on our work. These might be fellow members of the writing group or other early readers, or they might (especially in Howard’s case) be outspoken members of your audience ranting on web forums or wikis.

And then we talk about whether or not we should allow Brandon to influence our work. Take that, Brandon! (Take it, in fact, all the way out to nineteen minutes and six seconds!)

Audiobook Plug: The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Writing Prompt: Write a story, and pretend that a famous historical figure is looking over your shoulder and offering advice while you write.

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 | April 25, 2010 - 7:00 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Isaac Stewart, interior artist for the Mistborn books and Rocket Road-Tripper joins us again for a discussion of the fourth wall, and the breaking thereof. We talk about the theatrical origins of the term, and how the technique it represents might be used by authors and others. We talk about why Howard broke the fourth wall a lot more in early Schlock Mercenary strips than he does now, and why Isaac broke the fourth wall in some video game writing he did. We also talk about when it would be absolutely, inarguably inappropriate to break the fourth wall.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson, in which the 1st-person narrator, Alcatraz, breaks the fourth wall a lot.

Writing Prompt: Write something in which somebody is literally the son of a shark, and in which you break the fourth wall. Oh, and the fourth wall is the glass wall of an aquarium.

Audio Glitch We Hate at 3:13: For some reason we lost one channel of audio for about 20 seconds. That’s why this episode is monaural, and why between 3:13 and 3:34 the volume drops off a bit.

Related Linkage: Here’s a link to the article about the HBO Game of Thrones adaptation Isaac mentioned.

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 | May 16, 2010 - 8:00 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

In previous episodes we’ve established the dichotomy between discovery writing and outline writing. In our ‘casts about process, we’ve mostly talked about outlining, working from an outline, and the worldbuilding that goes behind all of that. We’ve never talked much about the process of discovery writing, though.

It is time for us to correct that egregious oversight.

In this installment your hosts muse upon the pros and cons of discovery writing, and how we handle the discovery writing process. We discuss false starts, and how they may not be false at all. We cover dialog, which is always a fun place to start writing, and we offer up some structures that discovery writers may begin with in order to provide themselves direction.

We also tackle endings, which are where most discovery writers have their largest problems.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Way of the Wolf, by E.E. Knight, who has been called the best fantasy author you’ve never heard of.

Writing Prompt: Look around. Now, pick six unrelated items and weave them together in the first chapter. Two of them are Chekov’s Guns.

Abrupt Ending That Came Not Quite Abruptly Enough: 17 minutes and 52 seconds, with screams.

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 Howard Tayler | June 11, 2010 - 2:36 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Fifteen minutes long, because we’re in too much of a hurry to report all the facts to you…

We here at Writing Excuses endeavor to give good advice, but we’re not good at telling long, complete stories. In our recent “getting published” episode we accidentally (I SWEAR) misrepresented our good friend Mary Robinette Kowal, and it was an egregious enough error that she decided, quite correctly, to post the actual facts in the comments. It’s comment #27 out of #31 (as of this writing.)

Properly apologizing in these circumstances is a multi-step process. Observe…

Step one: We fall on our swords. Mary, we’re sorry. That was totally our fault, and you’re absolutely right to correct us. We will try to do better in the future, but when we make mistakes like this we pray that others will be as gracious in their settings-straight as you have been.

Step two: We link to the correct information. Scroll down to Mary’s comment.

Step three: We state, for posterity and the record, that Mary Robinette Kowal won the 2008 Campbell award because she was, without question, the best new writer to emerge in publication during the qualifying years. Blogging and other web-centric things may have spread awareness of her work and helped garner the initial nomination, but Mary’s excellence was what ultimately carried the day.

Step four: We announce that our friend Mary has a novel out. Dan has reviewed it. You should buy it.

Step five: Maybe, if we’re careful, we can slide these swords back out of ourselves and stumble off to the hospital for medical attention.

By Writing Excuses | June 13, 2010 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Conventions, Editing, Uncategorized

Janci Patterson and Robison Wells join Brandon and Dan at CONduit in Salt Lake City. Both Janci and Rob have recently signed book deals, Robison with Harper Teen, and Janci with Henry Holt, and they tell us about those deals and how they got them.

Brandon puts both Janci and Rob on the spot, and asks them for advice on how to break in. This is cool, because it’s just about the most recent perspective on this advice you’re going to hear.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

Writing Prompt: Two roommates… one sells a book and then vanishes. The second roommate decides to finish the book and pretend it was his.

Extra Special Thanks: Again,  this episode was made possible by our friends at Dungeon Crawlers Radio.

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 Howard Tayler | July 2, 2010 - 11:51 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

We have been validated!

Literally. See?

Thank you for the award, Parking Lot Confessional! We shall treasure this as soon as we’re done shopping and want to drive home.

By Writing Excuses | April 10, 2011 - 3:27 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

We begin our discussion of Urban Fantasy with a discussion of definitions, which quickly devolves into an argument over what we are actually supposed to be talking about. Moving right along, we explore what sorts of things we find in an Urban Fantasy, and what sorts of rules these stories usually abide by.

Dan tells us how he set about writing the John Cleaver books, which certainly qualify as Urban Fantasy, Howard tackles the burning question of where one might start in the project of building a mythos, and Brandon explains
his own Urban Fantasy projects, including one failure from which we can all learn an important lesson.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dresden Files Book One: Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, narrated by James Marsters.

Writing Prompt: . Give us an Urban Fantasy in which the point of origin for your crossover is big box store retail spaces which somehow breach the boundary between our world and the magical one.

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 | November 16, 2011 - 5:32 pm - Posted in Uncategorized

Mary Robinette Kowal finished her first published novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, as a NaNoWriMo project, and she’s here to offer some words of encouragement to those of you currently participating in November’s most authorial of pursuits.

You have her permission to write badly. Yes you do.

By Writing Excuses | January 15, 2012 - 5:45 pm - Posted in Season 7, Uncategorized

Animals and plants, round two! We begin this episode with examples where we think people did their flora and fauna wrong, or poorly, or at least in ways we can poke easy holes in. Our examples include:

  • Pitch Black
  • Twilight
  • Avatar
  • And then we get tired of negative examples, and talk about The Mote in God’s Eye.
We then attempt to brainstorm some flora and fauna on our world of mutagenic meteor dust. Pizza-trees, armored buffalo, fire-dandelions, and more… and that’s before we even get started populating the coast, and Brandon calls can-of-worms on the project and hands the brainstorming to you, the listener.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card, narrated by Stefan Rudniki. It's a fantastic example of well-constructed flora and fauna, and it's also a good example of how to make a sequel almost completely unlike the book that came before it.

Writing Prompt: Populate Excustoria's coast with some magically, meteorically mutated life.

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 Writing Excuses | November 5, 2012 - 1:37 am - Posted in Season 7, Uncategorized

It’s microcasting time! This week we take a crack at the following listener questions:

  • What percentage of a rough draft makes it into print?
  • What are the pitfalls of jumping from novels to short fiction, and vice versa?
  • Do you need to start with short fiction first?
    • (This answer involves this link to Jim C. Hines.)
  • Should a novice writer fix glaring story problems during a draft, or wait until after?
  • Can a self-published author get picked up by a traditional publisher?
  • How do you get over the fear of writing something unoriginal?
    • (We break this question into two larger questions–we can do that, we use Author Math–and reference some previous episodes.)
    • (We should also point out the irony that yes, Howard is usually the one who writes these up, but on the one day we say it’s going to be Howard it’s actually Dan.)
  • Can I pay you to help me outline my story?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Hellhole, by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert

Writing Prompt: Write a story about a squid who's trying to write a space opera which is not about squids in space.

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.

Last month we announced the first ever Writing Excuses retreat, and we were delighted to see how much interest you all had in this kind of event. We honestly didn’t know what to expect from this retreat, since it was the first time we’d ever attempted anything like it–would it be popular? Would nobody care? Would people actually pay for it? As a way of testing the waters, we limited the announcement to a highly dedicated subset of Writing Excuses listeners: the people who read and comment on the website. If they got excited, it was a good sign that others might get excited as well, and we could announce it to a much broader base of listeners.

The retreat sold out in 9 minutes.

In hindsight, we should have expected this. In foresight (that’s a thing, right?) this is a very good sign that we need to do another retreat next year. We’ll see how this one goes before announcing anything concrete, but yeah. This seems like something we need to do more of.

But fear not, because we have even more good news. Before registration opened we held back one slot, and that slot is still available. We just want to make sure it goes to someone who really deserves it, so we’re very pleased to announce a scholarship. This scholarship comes to you through the inspiration and funding of one of our listeners, who offered to help a worthy writer attend. We loved the idea, and moved some things around to help stretch his offer even further. The recipient of the scholarship will receive 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.

We want to make sure that this scholarship goes to someone who both needs it and deserves it, so the submission process requires you to do a bit of work. To be considered for this scholarship, please submit the following to retreat@writingexcuses.com by midnight, January 15, 2013:

  • 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 or whatever you want, just make sure it’s your best work. Don’t feel obligated to fill the word limit–if you can wow us in less, more power to you.
  • A personal essay explaining why you think you deserve the scholarship. This should be 450-700 words, and while we’re looking specifically for “need,” we’ll definitely be reviewing your writing style in terms of “merit.”
  • Three brief letters (no more than 300 words each) from people not related to you. 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 that don’t follow the guidelines will be the first to go. Submit your personal pieces in the body of a single email (no attachments), with the subject line “Scholarship Application: [name].” Make sure the people writing your letters of recommendation use the same subject line. Follow the word counts exactly, and don’t miss the deadline: January 15, 2013. We will review the submissions and announce our decision on February 15, 2013, which should still give you plenty of time to work out vacation time and babysitters and so on for the retreat in June.

We look forward to reading your submissions!

By Howard Tayler | November 23, 2012 - 9:24 am - Posted in NaNoWriMo, Season 7, Uncategorized

You were expecting to hear from Howard on Wednesday, right? HAH! That deadline just FLEW by.

But Howard is here for you now. It’s Black Friday, November 23rd, 2012, and you’ve probably been counting words…

By Writing Excuses | January 27, 2013 - 8:20 pm - Posted in Characters, Season 8, Uncategorized

Who needs a character arc?

Do your side characters, your non-POV characters need some sort of development during the story? We cover what we mean by “arc,” and we lay down some guidelines for who might need an arc, who might not, and what you might take into consideration when writing these characters.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K. Dick, narrated by Tom Weiner

Writing Prompt: The Hero of the Most Boring Story Ever—your job is to make it interesting.

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 Writing Excuses | June 9, 2013 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Career, Demonstration, Editing, Guest, Ideas, Q&A, Sci-fi, Season 8, Uncategorized

Microcasting! It’s what we’ve taken to calling a Q&A. Eric Patten joins us for this one. Here are the questions:

  • What’s your first step in the rewriting process?
  • How do you write Artificial Intelligences as characters?
  • Tactful promotion: how do you get nominated for a Hugo or Nebula?
  • How do you decide whether or not to take an offer from a publisher?
  • Do you use a writing notebook? How, and for what?
  • What methods do you use to test the “coolness” and/or viability of a story idea?
  • What genre or style do you read that is outside of the one(s) in which you write?

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Red Storm Rising, by Tom Clancy, narrated by Michael Prichard

Writing Prompt: Two words: "Flying Caldecott."

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.

Mary’s story “Kiss Me Twice,” is a murder mystery featuring an artificial intelligence using Mae West as an avatar. It appeared on the ballot for the 2012 Hugo Awards in the Best Novella category (our early discussion to the contrary, we totally did NOT air this episode in time for 2012 Hugo voting. Yes, we recorded this episode a full year prior to airing it.)

Mary walks us through the process of creating the story, and then cutting it down from novel-length to the novella-length at which it currently appears, as well as a bunch of the work that went into creating a compelling, character-driven mystery with an A.I. as a critical character. We also get a fun “what-if” argument as the cast talks about what we liked best about the story, and how we’d change it if it got bigger.

Public Service Announcement: Voting is now open for the 2013 Hugos. The ballot can be seen here. If you purchase, or have already purchased, a membership to LoneStarCon 3, you are eligible to vote on the 2013 Hugos, and will have access to the entire Hugo Voting Packet — a collection of all nominated works. Voting closes on July 31st. (Obligatory disclaimer: Brandon and Howard are on the ballot in the Novella and Graphic Story categories, respectively, and Writing Excuses Season 7 is on the ballot in the Best Related Work category.)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Empire State, by Adam Christopher, narrated by Phil Gigante

Writing Prompt: Pick your favorite actor or actress, gather your favorite quotes from them in their films, and string them together in a single character's voice in a new context.

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 Writing Excuses | June 23, 2013 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Middle Grade, Season 8, Uncategorized, YA

Eric Patten joins us for a cast on Middle Grade fiction. His series, The Hunter Chronicles (Return to Exile and The Legend Thief have both been released) is delightful.

As Dan points out, there’s no faster way to start an argument among publishers, editors, and authors than to ask them to define “middle grade.” That said, Brandon’s definition is pretty helpful. Paraphrasing:

Middle Grade books are those which a school librarian gives to a child, rather than the child buying it for him or herself.

Nevertheless, we argue a bit about the fuzzy line between YA and Middle Grade, and we recount where we were getting our books at that age.

Eric talks to us about how he writes Middle Grade, and how it differs from writing YA, specifically with regard to the process of change. We cover some of the escapist elements, and how they differ between the age groups. We also talk about simplifying things without “dumbing them down.” Eric’s Return to Exile comes in at 115,000 words, which is more than twice what most Middle Grade books weigh in at.

Production Trivia: While this was not the last one recorded, this episode is the last one to air from our 2012 mega-session. Back in May of 2012 we recorded forty-plus episodes in the course of five days. Our hope is to never, never do that again…

Episode What Now? (Yes, yes… the number that Mary says at the beginning of this episode is not the one that this episode actually uses. Producer Jordo and byline-writer Howard disagreed on the episode order, and Howard neglected to tell Jordo that he’d made a snap decision while wielding admin access…)

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan, narrated by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren

Writing Prompt: Write a Middle Grade book with a four-year-old protagonist.

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 Writing Excuses | December 15, 2013 - 4:00 pm - Posted in Conventions, Guest, Q&A, Season 8, Uncategorized

Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes the stars align and serendipity is made manifest. And sometimes Mercedes Lackey happens to be hanging around at the same convention you’re recording podcasts at, and sits herself down to answer questions with you. Or rather with us.

Here are the questions. You’ll need to listen to the podcast for the answers:

  • (For Mercedes) How do you stay relevant through the numerous changes in the industry?
  • How do you go about creating a title for a project?
  • Is blending 1st-person and 3rd-person viewpoints cheating?
  • (For Howard) Should marketing research be done before launching an online story?
  • When, where, and how do you end chapters?
  • How can you tell if you’re overusing narrative language?
  • How should a young writer balance their writing time against other activities?
  • What are the parts of being an author that you hate (specifically the non-writing parts)?
  • (For Mercedes) What advice do you have for finding alpha & beta readers?
  • Is it distracting to write out a character’s accent?

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Bastion: Collegium Chronicles Book 5, by Mercedes Lackey, narrated by Nick Podehl.

Writing Prompt: Eavesdrop on a conversation at the coffee shop, then go home and write the end of that conversation.

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.

Nancy Fulda, who was a guest on the cast clear back in Season 2, joins us to talk about using the narrative to call out or offset character perceptions. Sometimes the POV character “knows” a thing which is not just incorrect, it is something the reader will recognize as incorrect, and if this isn’t written correctly the reader may get knocked out of the story by the concern that the author might have his or her information wrong.

For instance, one character might refer to a small-arm magazine as a “clip,” while other characters in the story, those more experienced with firearms, know that the word is “magazine.”

Mary talks about the historical fantasy novel she’s writing, set in Regency-era Antigua, and which steps squarely into issues of race. Nancy talks to us a bit about language drift, and about how our understanding about lots of things will change. Brandon then raises the question of using “author’s notes.”

Speaking Of Things The Characters Got Wrong: One of those episodes Nancy was in back in 2009? Yeah, we all got it wrong.

 

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Movement, by Nancy Fulda, narrated by Marguerite Kenner

Writing Prompt: Take something that you believe to be false, and write a character with the opposite belief.

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.