The Writing Excuses Conference 2020 - Deposit Only, Liberty of the Seas, Friday, 25. September 2020

The 2020 Writing Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat will be held from September 25 through October 4th on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.
It's a cruise ship.
The base price covers a nine-day event, including intensive seminars, writing exercises, small group breakout sessions, and writing time, plus two nights at the hotel, double-occupancy lodging on the ship, meals aboard ship, and a cruise to three different Caribbean destinations. The conference begins on land in our hotel in Houston, TX before transferring to the cruise ship and continuing for a week at sea. Attendees will also be invited to attend a live recording of the Hugo award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells.
Sea, Space, and Writing... what more do you want?
**This is the event for placing a $100 deposit on the 2020 Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat. This page will be open until 11:59pm on Tuesday, September 25. If you place a deposit, you have until March 31st to pay in full or cancel for a full refund. After that, the typical cancellation policy below applies.
To pay in full, please go to the full conference page here** 

September 25 - Houston, Texas - Registration and opening night welcome reception.
September 26 - Houston, Texas - Orientation and classes ashore
September 27 - Galveston, TX - Transfer to the ship, boarding, and classes.
September 28 - At Sea - Classes and writing time.
September 29 - Cozumel, Mexico
September 30 - Georgetown, Grand Cayman
October 1 - Falmouth, Jamaica
October 2 - At Sea - Classes and writing time.
October 3 - At Sea - Classes and writing time.
October 4 - Return to port in Galveston and transfer to Houston, TX.

Each seminar is geared for working writers who are interested in leveling up their skill set. These will include writing exercises and Q&A time with the instructor.
Some topics from the 2018 workshop as a sample:

The Agent's Guide - a three-session masterclass
Characterization through Dialog
Diagnosing Story Problems
Poetry as a Tool for Fiction
Description, Language, and Writing Inclusive Fiction
Fine-tuning the Funny: a Toolbox for Writing Humor
Structuring Life to Support Creativity
View the full 2018 schedule as a sample.

Because balancing family and fiction is often difficult, we include a number of classes specifically for family members.
In addition to the family-specific classes, anyone with a family ticket will get a punch card that will allow them to attend 3 classes with their writers. These classes are normally for writers only, but we've found that having a common language can help both writers and family members, and this is a good way to build that language.
ADDITIONAL BREAKOUT SESSIONSParticipants will also be able to sign up for a limited number of additional breakout sessions or one-on-one sessions with individual instructors. There is no additional charge for these, but because of the size of the event we may not be able to accommodate everyone with their first choice.
These breakout sessions include:6-member novel critique groups: Members will submit excerpts up to 3000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)
6-member short story critique groups: Members will submit short stories up to 3000 words for critique by the group as well as one of the podcasters. (Please note that this means you are committing to critique the stories of the other group members.)ne-on-one Q&As: This is a 25-minute one-on-one session with one of the hosts, and you decide how that time will be spent. We can critique the first five pages of a manuscript, practice making a pitch, drill down on a worldbuilding conundrum, answer specific questions, or offer general advice.
"Office Hours": Each morning, instructors are available for individual drop-in sessions to cover those questions that come up mid-cruise.
Our instructors cover a range of genres and experiences. In addition to lectures, each instructor will also participate in critique sessions, one-on-one discussions, and social time with the participants.
Annalee Newitz writes science fiction and nonfiction. They are the author of the novel Autonomous, nominated for the Nebula and Locus Awards, and winner of the Lambda Literary Award. As a science journalist, they are a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and have a monthly column in New Scientist. They have published in The Washington Post, Slate, Popular Science, Ars Technica, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic, among others. They are also the co-host of the Hugo-award winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct. They were the founder of io9, and served as the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo. Their new novel, The Future of Another Timeline, comes out September 2019.
Charlie Jane Anders' latest novel is The City in the Middle of the Night. She's also the author of All the Birds in the Sky, which won the Nebula, Crawford and Locus awards, and Choir Boy, which won a Lambda Literary Award. Plus a novella called Rock Manning Goes For Broke and a short story collection called Six Months, Three Days, Five Others. Her short fiction has appeared in, Boston Review, Tin House, Conjunctions, the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Wired Magazine, Slate, Asimov's Science Fiction, Lightspeed, ZYZZYVA, Catamaran Literary Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency and tons of anthologies. Her story "Six Months, Three Days" won a Hugo Award, and her story "Don't Press Charges And I Won't Sue" won a Theodore Sturgeon Award.
Charlie Jane also organizes the monthly Writers With Drinks reading series, and co-hosts the Hugo-award winning podcast Our Opinions Are Correct with Annalee Newitz.
Dan Wells, a New York Times bestselling author best known for his horror series I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, of which the first book is now an award-winning movie through IFC Midnight. His other novels include THE HOLLOW CITY, a supernatural thriller about schizophrenia, EXTREME MAKEOVER, in which a beauty company destroys the world, and two young ***** science fiction series: the post-apocalypse PARTIALS and the cyberpunk MIRADOR. He has written for television on the upcoming science fiction series EXTINCT, and wrote and produced the horror comedy stage play A NIGHT OF BLACKER DARKNESS. He cohosts the Hugo-winning podcast for aspiring writers called Writing Excuses, which has expanded to include its own writing conference. He also writes short fiction and game fiction, and he edited the anthology ALTERED PERCEPTIONS to help raise funds for and awareness of mental illness. He lives in northern Utah with his wife, six children, and more than 400 boardgames.
Howard Tayler is the writer and illustrator behind Schlock Mercenary, the Hugo-nominated science fiction comic strip. He has written SF horror for the Space Eldritch anthologies and Shadows Beneath, and full-metal fantasy tie-in fiction for Privateer Press. With Alan Bahr and Sandra Tayler, Howard created The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game, which included well over 100,000 words of world building. Howard is a student of humor, and believes that “funny” is a thing which absolutely can be learned and improved upon. He’s an advocate of focused practice, and praises artists’ skills, rather than saying “you’re so talented,” because he knows that their years of study and refinement are what we see on the pages they create. Howard lives in Orem, Utah with his wife Sandra, their children, and one ungrateful, archetypally imperious cat.
Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of historical fantasy novels: The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers. She has received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. Mary has been a member of the Writing Excuses cast since 2011. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit

Writing Excuses is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers.
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
Instructors, staff, volunteers, and family members are also subject to the anti-harassment policy.If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact Kathy Chung, or any member of conference staff immediately.
Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact ship security, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.
We expect participants to follow these rules at all conference venues and conference-related social events.

All Writing Excuses seminar attendees must be 18 years of age or older. Children from the ages of 12 to 17 may attend if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Children aged 11 and under are welcome aboard ship, but cannot attend the Writing Excuses seminars. Child care and age-appropriate curriculum is available through Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean® youth program.
All attendees, attendee guests, and accompanied minors must have a valid passport. Getting onto the ship? You need a passport!

There are plenty of things to do on the cruise ship besides attending the Writing Excuses Writing Workshop and Retreat. If you'd like to bring a significant other or family member of any age, it's between $1275 and $1600, depending on cabin type. And if the family member is between the ages of 12 and 17, and has an interest in writing, they can pay that reduced price and still attend the seminars with you. If you want to bring more than three family members, we'll put you in touch with Lisa Harding, our cruise manager, who can help you with pricing and any other arrangements.
A quick note: If you are registering for yourself and a non-writer family member, that is two separate tickets. Your ticket should be the normal cost, and your family member should get the matching "Family Rate" berth. For example, I am bringing my husband, so I've registered for one "Balcony Cabin (double occupancy)" and one "Family rate - Balcony Cabin".

The access policy of Writing Excuses follows the Social Model of Disability. This regards barriers to the full participation of disabled people as the fault of society (and more immediately we as the organizers), not the 'fault' of the person with a disability. We further reject any negative value placed on a person because of their disability, or indeed on their disability. Disability isn't good or bad, it just is. Please respect our disabled members by engaging in neither negative stereotyping (eg 'If I was you I'd **** myself' or 'I'd rather be dead than in a wheelchair) nor false pity ("I'll pray for you to be cured') - many disabled people do not want to be cured and regard their disability is a fundamental part of their identity.
Additionally, please note that person-first language ("person with disability") is not the universally preferred form of address for disabled people. Many prefer the Social Model and 'disabled person'. Please treat the appropriate form of address for disabled people as you would treat preferred pronoun usage, by asking for their preferred form of address and using it.
We picked Royal Caribbean because their ships are designed to accommodate all of our guests, including people with mobility, hearing, and visual disabilities. Read more about the accommodations that are available on Royal Caribbean. In addition, when you fill out the registration form, please let the WX staff know about any accommodations you require. 


Full refund minus $250 for fees until June 30th
50% refund until July 15th
25% refund until July 29th
No refunds after August 28th
Instructors subject to change

Q: What does "double-occupancy" mean?A: It means that the price is for half of a room. You'll have a roommate. This can be a friend that you arrange to room with ahead of time, it can be a family member, or it can be another Writing Excuses attendee. If you don't have a roommate, we will have an opportunity to match together before the cruise.
Q: Can I get a private room?A: Yes, but it will cost more. When you register, at the bottom of the form select "Single Occupancy" from the "Additional items.

Private Interior cabin: $1300.00 + $600.00 = $1900.00
Private Oceanview cabin: $1500.00 +$700.00 = $2200.00
Private Balcony cabin: $1700.00 +$1000.00 = $2700.00

Q. What if I don't have a passport yet?
A. All guests must have a valid passport to cruise. If you do not have one yet but are ordering one, you may put "Passport on order" in the passport field. By doing so, you acknowledge that it is your responsibility to acquire a passport before cruising and that you cannot board the ship without one. Writing Excuses is in no way responsible if your passport does not arrive before cruise time.
Q. Which airport should I fly into?A. Houston Hobby Airport is the closest to our hotel. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is a 30-40 min cab ride away. Please keep that in mind as you book your flights.
Q. When I'm booking my flight, when should I arrive and depart? A. Arrive in Houston prior to 7:00 PM on September 25th. On the day of departure, October 4th, your flight cannot leave before 12:30 PM. Once you have your flight information, please send it to Lisa Harding, our cruise director: 
Q: Can young children attend?A: Children aged 11 and younger are welcome aboard the ship, but cannot attend the Writing Excuses seminars. Royal Caribbean has an excellent youth program which includes childcare. Follow this link for more details about Adventure Ocean®.
Q: What level of writing expertise should I have attained prior to attending?A: "Level of expertise" is far less important than your desire to improve. The workshop is structured to be accessible and useful for new writers with a passion for learning, and to be challenging and rewarding for seasoned professionals looking for refinement, or additional perspectives. Different classes will be designed for different levels of experience.
Q. Will you have a scholarship again this year? A. Yes! We are offering four scholarships. For full details on the scholarships, please visit the Writing Excuses website.
Q: How big is the ship?A: The Liberty of the Seas holds 3634 guests, of which we'll be a small percentage. The Writing Excuses Workshop and Retreat has its own dedicated spaces, ours alone 24 hours a day, for classes, writing time, impromptu discussions, or other activities (like, say, games with Dan). We'll also have our own area of the dining room, and the guests will rotate tables each night to sit with different instructors. While the ship is large, it will be similar to being at a convention in a very nice hotel. You'll know your tribe, you'll know where to find them, and you'll have places to hide from all the scary non-writer people.
Q: How big is the event?A: There are usually about 200 of us. As mentioned above, the instructors will be hosting different attendees at dinner each night and participating in other activities in order to make ourselves accessible to each and every one of the attendees.
Q. Are there any additional fees?A: The price of your cruise includes:

The Writing Excuses workshops and seminars (For workshop attendees. Instructor availability subject to change)
Ship accommodations
Transfer from the WX Hotel in Houston to the ship and back to Houston again.
Ocean transportation
Most meals onboard (To be clear, it is possible to have all of your meals in venues that are covered.)
Some beverages onboard
Most entertainment onboard

The following services are not included in the cruise price:

Dining in Specialty Restaurants such as Portofino
Dining in Johnny Rockets (Where applicable)
Spa and Salon services
Golf Simulator
Gambling (Including Bingo)
Art Auction
Any purchases made in the gift shops onboard
Shore excursions
Video Arcade
Medical Services
Transfers (Unless guest has purchased an air/sea package)
Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services
Ship to Shore Telephone calls
Alcoholic Beverages
Non-Alcoholic Beverages (excluding water, lemonade and iced tea)

Friday, 25. September 2020, Liberty of the Seas, The Writing Excuses Conference 2020 - Deposit Only

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