Skip Main Navigation
Page Content

Save This Event

Event Saved

The Writing Excuses Conference 2020

Writing Excuses

Friday, September 25, 2020 at 2:00 PM - Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 11:00 AM (CDT)

The Writing Excuses Conference 2020

Ticket Information

Ticket Type Remaining Sales End Price Fee Quantity
Interior Cabin (double occupancy, price per person)
Hotel room for Fri and Sat night before the cruise. On the ship: Two twin beds that convert to a Royal King and private bathroom. (150 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have Pullman beds and can accommodate 3-4 guests *This price is per person, double occupancy and includes NCCF, taxes and gratuities. See FAQ for private cabin rates.
24 Tickets Aug 15, 2020 $1,900.00 $121.89
Oceanview Cabin (double occupancy, price per person)
Hotel room for Fri and Sat night before the cruise. On the ship: Two twin beds that convert to Royal King and private bathroom. (159 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, hair-dryer, TV, phone, computer jack, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. *This price is per person, double occupancy and includes NCCF, taxes and gratuities. See FAQ for private cabin rates.
36 Tickets Aug 15, 2020 $2,075.00 $132.97
Balcony Cabin (double occupancy, price per person)
Hotel room for Fri and Sat night before the cruise. On the ship: Two twin beds that convert to Royal King, sitting area, private balcony and private bathroom. (184 sq. ft. Balcony 46 to 66 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, vanity area, hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. *This price is per person double occupancy and includes NCCF, taxes, and gratuities. See FAQ for private cabin rates.
58 Tickets Aug 15, 2020 $2,300.00 $147.20
Family rate - Interior Cabin
Use this to include a family member in your hotel room and interior stateroom. Since they aren't attending seminars, we can offer a discounted fare. (Note:children between the ages of 12-17, may attend classes with a responsible adult at the family fare rate) The rooms hold only two people. If you want to bring more than one family member, use the "Contact the Organizer" button in the right sidebar of this page.
8 Tickets Aug 15, 2020 $1,400.00 $90.28
Family rate - Oceanview Cabin
Use this to include a family member in your hotel room and oceanview cabin. Since they aren't attending seminars, we can offer a discounted fare. (Note:children between the ages of 12-17, may attend classes with a responsible adult at the family fare rate) The rooms hold only two people. If you want to bring more than one family member, use the "Contact the Organizer" button in the right sidebar of this page.
8 Tickets Aug 15, 2020 $1,575.00 $101.35
Family rate - Balcony Cabin
Use this to include a family member in your hotel room and balcony cabin. Since they aren't attending seminars, we can offer a discounted fare. (Note:children between the ages of 12-17, may attend classes with a responsible adult at the family fare rate) The rooms hold only two people. If you want to bring more than one family member, use the "Contact the Organizer" button in the right sidebar of this page.
Sold Out Aug 15, 2020 $1,775.00 $114.00

Share The Writing Excuses Conference 2020

Event Details

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?

 

ITINERARY

  • 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.

SEMINARS

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.

FAMILY SEMINARS

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 SESSIONS
Participants 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.)

 

One-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.

 

INSTRUCTORS

 

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 most recent novel is The Future of Another Timeline.

 

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 Tor.com, 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 adult 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 The Glamourist Histories series, Ghost Talkers, and the Lady Astronaut duology. She’s a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and has received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, four Hugo awards, the Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Uncanny, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary Robinette, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She lives in Nashville with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. 


 

Erin Roberts is a writer of speculative fiction across formats: her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 4The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2019Asimov’s Science FictionClarkesworldThe Dark, and THEN AGAIN: Vintage Photography Reimagined by One Artist and Thirty Writers; her interactive fiction has been published in Sub-Q Magazine and is forthcoming from Choice of Games; and her non-fiction essays and reviews have appeared on Tor.com and in Cascadia Subduction ZonePeople of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy, and Strange Horizons, among others. Erin is a graduate of the Odyssey Writers Workshop, holds an MFA from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine, and was the recipient of a 2019 Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, a 2019 Artists and Scholars Grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and the Speculative Literature Foundation’s 2017 Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writers awards.

 

Nilah MagruderNilah Magruder is a writer and artist based in Los Angeles. She is the author of M.F.K., a middle-grade graphic novel and winner of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, and HOW TO FIND A FOX, a picture book. She has published short stories in Fireside Magazine and the All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages anthology. Nilah has also written for Marvel Comics, illustrated children’s books for publishers including Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, and Penguin, and worked as a writer and storyboard artist in television animation for Disney, DreamWorks, and Netflix. She is currently illustrating CREAKY ACRES, a middle-grade graphic novel about horseback riding. When she is not working, Nilah is watching movies, growing herbs, and fighting her cat for control of her desk chair.

 


HARASSMENT POLICY

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.

 

ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS

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!

 

FAMILY RATES

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".

 

ACCESSIBILITY

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 kill 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. 

 

REFUND POLICY

  • 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

FAQ

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:  lisa@whodunitcruises.com

 

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: This year, we are capping students at 200. 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)
  • WiFi
  • Ship accommodations
  • Transfer from the WX Hotel in Houston to the ship and back to Houston again.
  • Ocean transportation
  • Gratuities
  • 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
  • Photographs
  • 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)
Have questions about The Writing Excuses Conference 2020? Contact Writing Excuses

Save This Event

Event Saved

When & Where


Liberty of the Seas
Houston Marriott South
9100 Gulf Fwy
Houston, TX 77017

Friday, September 25, 2020 at 2:00 PM - Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 11:00 AM (CDT)


  Add to my calendar

Please log in or sign up

In order to purchase these tickets in installments, you'll need an Eventbrite account. Log in or sign up for a free account to continue.