The Shit No One Tells You About Writing
The Shit No One Tells You About Writing
Bianca Marais, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra
This is a podcast for emerging writers who want to improve the quality of their work and learn more about the publishing industry. Your one host, Bianca Marais (the bestselling author of 'The Witches of Moonshyne Manor') interviews authors, agents, editors and just about anyone and everyone who's involved in bringing a book to market. She's joined by her cohosts, literary agents Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra from P.S. Literary Agency, who read and critique query letters as well as opening pages in their Books with Hooks segment. Expect good advice, honest insights, and a few laughs along the way.
Torturing Your Characters in the Second Act
In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, CeCe, and Carly discuss small tweaks for an overall 'fantastic' query; a good example of framing and planting curiosity seeds; starting a novel with a scene where the protagonist is waking up; being careful about word choice in a query; being mindful of when you're being vague vs specific; and the importance of showing inner life in your characters.After which, Bianca interviews NYT's bestselling author, Robin Oliveira. They discuss Robin's latest novel, A Wild and Heavenly Place; how long it took her to write; the importance of the research trip to Scotland that Robin took; keeping the 'intention' of a novel centred while writing; torturing your characters, especially in Act Two; leveraging different types of conflict; how cutting plot points is like unravelling a thread, and strategies for 'pulling the thread' successfully; and how to know when a book is finished.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comTo ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Robin can be found at: https://www.robinoliveira.com/ and she can be found on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/Robin_Oliveira_Author/Our Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Feb 14
1 hr 7 min
How Writing Contests Can Help Launch Your Career
In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, CeCe, and Carly critique an upmarket/southern-gothic query and a book club romance. They discuss a "perfect" first query paragraph; the importance of accurate framing in a query; when a content warning is necessary; tips for elevating your line level writing along with examples of sophisticated writing; writing protagonists' thoughts in a realistic way; mistakes writers make that make their writing appear less polished; and examples of how to build curiosity into your pages.After which, Bianca interviews Elba Iris Pérez, debut author of The Things We Didn't Know. They discuss Elba's winning of the Simon and Schuster "Books Like Us" award and Elba's subsequent journey to publication; the benefit of taking writing courses; writing magazines as good resources for finding contests; immersing readers in scenes that are unfamiliar to them; and writing children in first person in a convincing manner.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comTo ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Elba can be found at: https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Elba-Iris-Perez/195715113She's also on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/elbaip?lang=enOur Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Feb 7
57 min
Insights from NYT Bestselling Authors, Ali Hazelwood and Kiley Reid
In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe discuss the need for specificity with regard to plot details when you have a more psychological book/concept; avoiding too much backstory in the opening pages; the need for your first chapter to be as strong as your prologue (if you have one); being as specific about your genre as possible; and how emotionality adds layers to your work. After which, we have two author interviews. Bianca first interviews NYT bestselling Ali Hazelwood, author of Bride and The Love Hypothesis. They discuss how Ali started writing fanfiction; the unconventional way she got her agent; Ali's submission experience with The Love Hypothesis; reader fascination with vampires and werewolves; how Ali tackled world-building in Bride; writing an 'alpha male' trope that still aligns with feminism; how Ali approached making her prickly main character more sympathetic; and Ali's advice for writing steamy scenes. After which Bianca interviews Kiley Reid, author of the NYT bestseller, Such a Fun Age, and her latest, Come & Get It. They discuss Kiley's journey to publication; her choice of inciting incident for both of her novels; how she successfully 'broke the rules' with regards to character introduction in the first chapter; her strategies for writing authentic dialogue; leaning into specificity through action beats within dialogue; Kiley's 'signature move' involving the introduction of backstory; and tips for writing a quieter novel, but with strong, 'loud' undercurrents.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comTo ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Ali can be found at: https://alihazelwood.com/She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/alihazelwood/?hl=enKiley is on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kileyreid/?hl=en and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kileyreidOur Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 31
1 hr 33 min
January Bonus Episode
In today's January Bonus Episode, Bianca interviews Jami Attenberg, author of 1000 Words: A Writer's Guide to Staying Creative, Focused, and Productive All Year Round. They discuss Jami's 1000 Words of Summer newsletter and the idea of being a good literary citizen; the essays from Jami's latest work; writing for other reasons than to get published; remembering why you write; battling with imposter syndrome; the false concept of an expiration date as a writer; writing as strength-training; the need to live in order to write; and why writing isn’t a process that has to be efficient.After which Bianca interviews Jo Salas, author of Mrs. Lowe-Porter. They discuss the inspiration and research behind Jo's latest novel; the challenges of writing a character with dementia and how life experiences can lend themselves to writing; how Jo balanced the use of historical source materials and fictional representations; one of the chapters in Jo's novel where a fictional character has a conversation with the woman writing her; the struggle to make your writing a priority; and Jo's non-traditional journey to publication.Finally, Emilie Sommer of East City Bookshop provides the invaluable service of suggesting comp titles to our listeners.If you’re looking for our usual Q&A segment, that now gets published as part of our end of the month Substack newsletter. Subscribe to get access to that, and so much for free: https://theshitaboutwriting.substack.com/ Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/ https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingTo ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWTo connect with Emilie Sommer go to https://www.instagram.com/emiliegsommer/ and you can find East City Bookshop at https://www.instagram.com/eastcitybookshop/More information about Jami can be found at https://www.jamiattenberg.com She's also on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/jamiattenberg and Twitter at https://twitter.com/jamiattenbergMore information about Jo can be found at https://josalas.com/Our Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 28
1 hr 35 min
How the Close Third Person POV Can Get You Closer Than First Person
In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe are joined by guest listener, Erica. They discuss the need to illustrate external plot points within a query letter, even if the book is more quiet/internal; using plot as scaffolding for the emotionality within your novel; the need for propulsiveness in a query and plot; figuring out how to describe your climax when it includes various subplots; how having a strong, definitive hook makes it easier to write a query letter; letting your story speak for itself rather than trying to shoehorn it into a different genre; the purpose of prologues (when they work); and specificity within a character's thoughts.After which, Bianca interviews Laurie Frankel, author of Family Family. They discuss the importance of creating unique character names; writing a novel that's full of nuggets of wisdom without being trite; sticking to one draft instead of choosing a different one that's easier; Laurie's approach to editing; what a leap of faith writing a novel is; and Laurie's use of third person close POV and how this can get a writer even closer to their characters than first person.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comTo ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Laurie can be found at: https://www.lauriefrankel.net/She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/laurie.frankel/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/laurie_frankel?lang=enOur Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 24
1 hr 16 min
The Dos and Don’ts When Writing For Children
In today's Books with Hooks, CeCe and Carly discuss what agents look for with a resubmission; the issue with starting with themes in a query letter; the need for your plot and stakes to have a 'domino' effect; infusing character description with emotionality; the need for specificity in plot points; the standards for literary fiction writing; the ever-present need for active emotions and interiority; and the subjectivity of the industry and taste in novels.After which, Bianca chats with Middle Grade author and former Simon & Schuster editor, Veera Hiranandani about her MG novels, A Night Diary, and its companion novel, Amil and the After. They discuss the age range of MG; what it’s like to write in this genre vs other age categories; a sequel vs a companion book; how illustrations can help inform a character’s arc; working with an illustrator; production costs of having illustrations; writing about difficult subject matter for children; and the biggest mistakes MG authors make.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comTo ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Veera can be found at https://www.veerahiranandani.com/. She’s on Instagram @veerawrites and Twitter @veerahira.Our Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 17
1 hr 5 min
Creating intimacy With Your Reader
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss the importance of eliminating any confusion in your query; the distinction between having a 'perfect' query letter and one that does the job; how plausibility issues may or may not be a problem for different agents; the need to be intentional with dates you choose in your novel, rather than just convenient; the art of giving specifics when they are needed; and the need for active rather than passive stakes and inciting incidents.After which, Bianca chats with Julie Chavez about her memoir, Everyone But Myself. They discuss Julie’s untraditional path to publication; understanding the role of an agent and why it’s helpful to have one; working on the next manuscript to distract yourself from publishing the current one; the book coaching process; setting boundaries for yourself; building a community of writer friends and asking published authors for blurbs; creating intimacy with the reader; reading your work aloud; and structuring your memoir so that it reads like fiction.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Julie can be found at https://www.juliewriteswords.com/. She’s on Instagram @juliewriteswords and Facebook @juliewriteswords.To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAWOur Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 10
1 hr 6 min
Working with a Writing Coach
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by guest Alicia Clancy, executive editor at Lake Union Publishing. They discuss the need to establish what is real and what is made up in a fantasy query; the importance of physical movement in the opening pages to help with pacing; avoiding vague plot points in your query, especially when relating to the climax; sufficiently explaining why you chose a specific character to focus on in your query letter when writing a multi-POV novel; the importance of including reasons why you're the person to write your story in your author bio paragraph; and being mindful of showing rather than telling.After which Bianca interviews Chelene Knight, author of Let It Go. They talk about Chelene's various literary initiatives, including the Thrive Coaching Program and Forever Writers Club; writing as a marginalized writer and the pressures associated with that; the 360 view that Chelene has of the publishing world; choosing an audience for your book, rather than trying to appeal to everyone; Chelene's intentions with how she outlined and framed her latest book; and advice to writers who want to publish nonfiction. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/ Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAW Websites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Chelene can be found at: https://cheleneknight.com/She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bsc_literary_studio/?hl=enOur Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Jan 3
1 hr 14 min
Finding Your Voice
In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe discuss an example of an excellent hook and query letter in general; the issues with beginning your novel with a cliched scene; the importance of emotional layers in interiority, especially with big, messy emotions; framing your query letter in a way that gives your protagonist more agency and 'protagonism', or that shows how a character's lack of agency pushes the plot forward; the problem with using self-published books as your comp titles; the difference between third person close POV and omniscient third person; and the difficulties with using an omniscient third person POV.After which, Bianca chats with Estelle Erasmus about her book, Writing That Gets Noticed. They also discuss Estelle’s credentials and experience; writing essays and op-eds; finding your voice; writing your essays for yourself; literary fiction vs purple prose; finding your rhythm and syntax; asking yourself “so what?”; personal universal elements; and revealing vs concealing. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Estelle can be found at https://estelleserasmus.com/. She’s on Twitter @EstelleSErasmus, Instagram @EstelleSErasmus, TikTok @EstelleSErasmus, and Facebook @Estelle.Sobel.Erasmus.Our Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Dec 27, 2023
1 hr 11 min
December Bonus Episode
In today's December Bonus Episode, Bianca interviews Sarah Lariviere, YA author of The Bad Kid, Time Travel for Love and Profit, and the upcoming, Riot Act. They discuss Sarah's decision to base her latest novel in her hometown; pinpointing what makes a work fit into the YA category; writing in a way that is authentic to your audience (including the language you use and how you portray certain experiences); the intentionality of choosing a setting and time period; using song lyrics in your work; using curse words in a YA novel; and Sarah's unorthodox approach to limited omniscient POV.After which, Bianca interviews Lucy E.M. Black, author of the historical fiction novel, The Brickworks. They discuss Lucy's non-traditional journey to publication; the inspiration for her latest book; knowing when to stop researching, so as not to fall down a procrastination rabbit hole; reaching out to experts; how to write regional dialects successfully; advice on time-jumping in a novel; and Lucy's experience with indie publishers.We’ll reopen our Q & A and Comps Segment in January!Find us on our socials:X: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shit_about_writing/ https://www.instagram.com/biancamarais_author/https://www.instagram.com/carlywatters/ https://www.instagram.com/cece_lyra_agent/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TSNOTYAWWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting.com, www.biancamarais.com, www.carlywatters.com and www.cecilialyra.comBookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingMore information about Sarah can be found at https://sarahlariviere.com/She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sarah.lariviere/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/sarahlariviereMore information about Lucy can be found at: https://lucyemblack.com/about/She's also on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/lucyemblack/Our Sponsors:* Check out Rosetta Stone and use my code TODAY for a great deal: https://www.rosettastone.com/Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands
Dec 24, 2023
1 hr 2 min
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