Writing Excuses 2016 Scholarship Announcement

The fourth annual Out of Excuses Retreat will be bigger and better than ever, and at this point that’s saying a lot. Last year’s retreat was a crazy experiment—could we actually do this on a cruise ship?—but it worked so well that the students wanted to pay it forward so that even more people could participate. They organized themselves, collected donations, and literally doubled the amount of scholarship money we are able to offer. With that introduction, we are proud to offer four full scholarships to the 2016 retreat: two Out of Excuses Scholarships for writers who can’t afford the cruise on their own, and two Carl Brandon Society Scholarships for writers of color .

Information and Entry Rules

Each scholarship offers full tuition, a bed in a double occupancy room, and up to $500 of travel expenses to and from our departure port in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Because the food on the cruise is free, this covers essentially all of your expenses for the week. You may apply to either scholarship, but only to one of them (even if you qualify for both).

These scholarships are very popular, and get a lot of applicants, so this year we’ve streamlined the process a little to help handle the volume. Please read the instructions carefully, and follow them exactly: Incomplete applications will be disqualified.

To apply, please prepare the following scholarship package as a Word document, and send it to writingexcusesscholarship@gmail.com with the subject line: “Scholarship Application: [name of scholarship].” Please copy and paste the cover sheet to the main body of the email, and also include it as the first page in the package.

1) This cover sheet, filled out completely:

Name: [name]

Email: [email]

Phone Number: [number]

Scholarship: [“Carl Brandon Society” or “Out of Excuses”]

I confirm that my scholarship is complete, including: a personal essay, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample.

Personal Essay word count (between 450-700 words): [insert word count here]

Letter of Recommendation 1: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 2: [Name of recommender]

Letter of Recommendation 3: [Name of recommender]

Writing Sample total word count (1-3 pieces, limited to 10,000 total words): [insert word count here]

2) A single attachment, saved as [Name of Scholarship_Your Name]

We will accept the following three file formats.

  • .DOC
  • .DOCX
  • .RTF

Examples:

Out of Excuses Scholarship_Jane Doe.doc

Carl Brandon Scholarship_Jane Doe.doc

The attachment should contain all of the following, in the following order:

    1. Cover Sheet, as described above.
    2. Personal Essay: 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 also be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit.”
    3. Letters of Recommendation: 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. Please note that we would like all three letters to be included in the scholarship package, and not to be emailed individually; we’ve had too many letters go astray, and we want to give you the chance to personally make sure every aspect of your scholarship package is complete before submitting it. If you have a concern with this, please contact Kenna Blaylock at assistant@thedanwells.com.
    4. Writing Sample: 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.

Again: make sure to send everything in one email or your application will be disqualified!

Please review it several times, or have a friend or family member review it for you, because we will reject applications on technicalities, just like an editor or publisher would. We would much prefer to read your awesome writing and give you a scholarship.

The application period for both scholarships opens on January 15, 2016, at 9am EST, and closes at midnight EST, March 15. We will contact the winners in May, and announce them officially the morning of May 15.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, email Kenna Blaylock at assistant@thedanwells.com.

FAQ:

Q: What do The Letters of Recommendation Need?

A: Think of this like a college entry application letter. Have your friend answer “Why are you the best candidate for the scholarship?” The one writing the letter can point out what they think might be relevant to the decision that the committee would otherwise not know. The letters help us round out the picture for each candidate.

 

Writing Excuses 11.1: Introduction to Elemental Genre

The word “genre” has a lot of weight to it. Arguments about whether a particular work is, or is not, part of a given genre are long, and tedious. Season Eleven will not be engaging in those arguments. We’re giving all that a wide miss by adding an adjective, and defining a new term: Elemental Genre.

During 2016 we are going to explore what we write, why we write, and how we write in much the same way as previous seasons have, but our guidepost this year will be this concept of Elemental Genres. In January we’ll stay high-level and firm up the framework. Starting in February we’ll drill down on each of the Elemental Genres, and explore the writing process.

Here’s what the year will look like, month-by-month:

WX-11-Cover-PaleGradient4January: Introduction
February: Wonder
March: Idea
April: Adventure
May: Horror
June: Mystery
July: Thriller
August: Humor
September: Relationship
October: Drama
November: Issue
December: Ensemble

We’re really excited about this year’s format, and we’re confident that by examining our writing in this way we’ll learn (and perhaps even teach!) some new things.

Note: 2016 is a leap year, but this episode was recorded in 2015. When we said “it’s not a leap year” we were confused. 

Play

Writing Prompt: Take three stories (books, films, whatever) you love, and explore the emotional impact those stories have on you. Strip away the "bookshelf" genre, and try to identify for yourself the core elements that make those stories work.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Lost Stars, by Claudia Gray, narrated by Pierce Cravens

The 2016 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat

Registration is now open for the 2016 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat.

The 2016 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat will be held from September 17th through the 24th on a cruise ship, back by popular demand.

The base price of $1300 covers the full week of intensive seminars, writing exercises, and free writing time, plus meals, double-occupancy lodging, and a cruise to three different Caribbean destinations. Continue reading The 2016 Out of Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat

Please Pardon The Dust

It is time to retire the old Writing Excuses website.

This site has been using the same WordPress theme since the very beginning, in early 2008, and that particular theme felt very “2005.” This means Writing Excuses is about eleven years overdue for a change, which is a neat trick for an eight-year-old site.

You’re reading this on the new theme, which was rolled out by Howard and Izzy on January 1st.

WX-LogoBWWe still have a lot of work to do. The new theme exposes a bunch of pages that will be super useful once they’re finished, but it’s going to take time. Expect things to occasionally be broken, then better, then worse, then really good. But even at “really good” there will still be stuff to fine-tune.

Please be patient, and per the post title, pardon the (metaphorical) dust while we remodel.

Continue reading Please Pardon The Dust

Writing Excuses 10.52: Moving On, with Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner joins us for the last episode of Season 10. Per the title, folks, it’s time to be done.

What does “done” mean? How do you go about declaring a project “finished” when you know there are still things wrong with it? How do you clear your head, your work space, and your life for the next thing you need to do?

Out of Excuses: Per Brandon’s plug in the episode, registration is open for the 2016 Out of Excuses WritingWorkshop and Retreat!

Play

Writing Prompt: Try something new. Brainstorm something new, something different from what you've written before.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells, narrated by Christopher Kipiniak

Writing Excuses 10.51: Q&A on Showing Your Work, with Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older joins us for a Q&A on showing your work around. Here are the questions, which were submitted by attendees at the Out of Excuses workshop:

  • What’s the best way to meet editors and agents at conventions?
  • How do you write a good query letter?
  • What do you mention as credentials in your query letter?
  • You didn’t cover self publishing at all this month. Self publishing is legit, right?
  • Can you submit the same work to more than one agent or editor at a time?
  • Can you re-submit a revised work to an agent who previously rejected the piece?
Play

Writing Prompt: Write a query letter for a book that you love, but did not write. Then write a query letter for your own work.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: Mystic, by Jason Denzel, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal