Carl Brandon Society | June 17, 2013 Statement

Writing Excuses Scholarship Announcement

The Carl Brandon Society, in conjunction with the crew of the Writing Excuses podcast, is proud to announce the formation of a scholarship aimed at writers of color who wish to attend the second annual Out of Excuses Writing Retreat. The retreat will be held on September 29 through October 5 in Chattanooga, TN. The scholarship will cover the cost of registration (which includes most meals), a room at the retreat hotel, and $500 in travel expenses.

From the Writing Excuses blog announcement:

“Last year’s retreat was a huge success, and we’re excited to be doing it again, and we’re especially excited to be offering another scholarship. Even better, this year’s scholarship has a twist: instead of just need and merit, we’re also looking for diversity.

Why diversity? Isn’t it enough to just look for the most qualified applicant, regardless of other factors?

No it isn’t, and this is why: we make our choice based on merit, but we can only do that within the small, self-selecting group of people who feel comfortable applying. Out of last year’s thirty attendees, we had only one writer of color, which is not even close to a realistic representation of the speculative fiction market. This was a sign to us that something was wrong. Our ratio of men and women was about half and half, which was great; that meant that both men and women deemed our retreat a safe and welcoming environment. Our ratio of white writers to writers of color was a clear sign that some writers did not necessarily feel the same welcome, and we want to change that.”

The scholarship selection panel consists of Wesley Chu, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, John Lawson, and K. Tempest Bradford (Carl Brandon Society Steering Committee).

To apply for the scholarship, submit the following to by midnight, March 15, 2014:

1. 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. Please put this in the body of your email, not as an attachment.

2. 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 be reviewing your writing in terms of “merit” as well. Please put this in the body of your email, not as an attachment.

3. 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. While the fiction and the personal essay should be included in a single email, these letters can be emailed individually in the body of the email 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 the admins will be culling the applications relentlessly, and those who don’t follow the rules will be the first to go—just like sending a manuscript to a publisher, submission guidelines matter. Send your fiction and essay all in the body of a single email (no attachments), with the subject line “Scholarship Application: [name]” to Your three recommendation letters should go to the same address, with the same subject line, and they can be sent by you or directly by the people who wrote them.

Follow the word limits exactly, make sure you’ve got all three items covered, and don’t miss the deadline: March 15, 2014. We will review the submissions and announce our decision on May 4, 2014, which should give you plenty of time to work out vacation time and babysitters and so on for the retreat in September.

Writing Excuses/Carl Brandon Scholarship FAQ

I’m 1/4th Black/Native American/Latino/Chinese/etc, do I qualify for this scholarship?

If you consider yourself a person of color, you should apply. The application essay is a good place to tell us about your background and where you’re coming from as a writer and as a person. This will not be the sole determinate for any candidate, but will help us put your entire application in context.

Is eligibility based on appearance? Do I have to be a certain shade in order to qualify as a writer of color?

We’re not going for a modern-day paper bag test here. It’s not about appearance at all. Many POC can pass as white, and that brings with it a cultural understanding that is just as important as the understanding a non-passing POC brings to the genre and the retreat. Again, you’re free to make this part of your essay.