247 episodes

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.

The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Bianca Marais, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra

    • Arts
    • 4.7 • 34 Ratings

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.

    Figuring Out What Genre You Should Be Writing In

    Figuring Out What Genre You Should Be Writing In

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe critique a children's picture book and a literary fiction query. They discuss avoiding vagueness, no matter the genre; using illustrator notes in a picture book pitch; the need for tension, even in a children's book; framing your novel in your query so agents aren't confused when they get to the pages; the need for external plot points, even in a more internal work of literary fiction; the natural gravitation of readers to one POV in a dual POV work; the subjectivity of the industry; the purpose of interiority; and erring on the side of showing, rather than telling, to maintain tension.
    After which, Bianca interviews Sara Koffi, author of the debut novel, While We Were Burning. They discuss Sara's letter to the reader; her reasoning behind the setting she chose; how Sara chose her characters' POVs and her inspiration behind the characters; writing an unreliable narrator; weaving in overarching themes or messages; advice for writing an unlikeable main character; advice on writing characters experiencing grief; Sara's journey to publication; and avoiding comparing yourself to others.
    Note: Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra are literary agents at P.S. Literary Agency, but their work on this podcast is not affiliated with the agency, and the views expressed by Carly and CeCe on this podcast are solely that of them as podcast co-hosts and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of P.S. Literary Agency.
    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.com
    To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAW
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Sara can be found at https://www.sarakoffi.com/
    She's also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaraTheKoffi and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sarathekoffi
    To sign up for the All About Memoir webinar on the 11th of May, go to: https://www.biancamarais.com/all-about-memoir.html
    Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is now available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out Wooga: www.wooga.com
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 56 min
    Choosing the Best POVs for a Multi-POV Novel

    Choosing the Best POVs for a Multi-POV Novel

    In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by guest agent, Jo Ramsay, to critique two queries. They discuss the issue of withholding too much plot in a query; highlighting the stakes in your query; the importance of first lines in a novel; the need for psychological depth and acuity in your characters; the issue of comping to titles that are hugely successful; the risk of having too many POVs in a novel; avoiding too much backstory in your query; and the problems with a reader being too removed from a scene, even if it's done intentionally.
    After which, guest interviewer, Bronwen Keyes-Bevan from BoolaBos magazine interviews author and winner of the Bridport Prize for literary fiction, Fiona Williams. They discuss Fiona's debut novel, The House of Broken Bricks; her background in biological sciences and her shift to creative writing; the expert use of figurative language; how Fiona tackled writing four different points of view, and her reasoning for choosing certain perspectives for certain characters; writing from children's POVs; and Fiona's feelings around the potential of being conflated with some of her characters.
    Note: Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra are literary agents at P.S. Literary Agency, but their work on this podcast is not affiliated with the agency, and the views expressed by Carly and CeCe on this podcast are solely that of them as podcast co-hosts and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of P.S. Literary Agency.
     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.com
    To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAW
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    Fiona is on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/feewilliams75
     and Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/fionawilliamswrites/
    Bronwen can be found at www.boolabos.com and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/boola.bos/ and at https://www.instagram.com/bronwenkeyesbevan
    Jo can be found on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/thejoramsay/
    Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is now available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15
    To sign up for the All About Memoir webinar on the 11th of May, go to: https://www.biancamarais.com/all-about-memoir.html


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out Wooga: www.wooga.com
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 1 hr
    Insights from Mary Kubica

    Insights from Mary Kubica

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly and CeCe discuss choosing a unique title for your work; having a strong plot connection between your main characters in a multi POV novel; avoiding situations where the agent has to make too many assumptions in a query; choosing between italics and dialogue tags when having a character talk to themselves; balancing interiority so as not to leak tension; framing your story in a way that is accurate to your work; connecting external stakes to plot points; centering the reader in a memoir query; and CeCe's tension song!
    Bianca then interviews NYT bestselling author, Mary Kubica, about her latest novel, She's Not Sorry. The two discuss the thriller genre; readers’ fascination with the domestic suspense genre; how Mary approaches structure and the creation of tension; how personal universal elements can connect readers to characters; tackling the 50% chunk of Act II; writing an 'authentic' twist that doesn't make the reader feel manipulated; strategies for hiding clues in plain sight; and advice for thriller and domestic suspense writers.
    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.com
    To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAW
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Mary can be found at: https://marykubica.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/marykubica/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaryKubica
    Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is now available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15
    To book for CeCe's upcoming Writing Tension Webinar on the 11th of April, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_B9m5eRJIT_uxiVrUte381g#/registration
    Note: Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra are literary agents at P.S. Literary Agency, but their work on this podcast is not affiliated with the agency, and the views expressed by Carly and CeCe on this podcast are solely that of them as podcast co-hosts and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of P.S. Literary Agency.


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out Wooga: www.wooga.com
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Defining Book Club Fiction

    Defining Book Club Fiction

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe discuss keeping your author bio paragraph concise; the need for causality in a plot paragraph; paying attention to the language you use in a query so you don't create confusion surrounding the book's premise; knowing who your protagonist is and highlighting their interiority and inner life over other characters'; the stakes in rom-coms; centering your protagonist's experience; making plot details realistic so your readers are on board with them; avoiding pages that seem crafted for the reader; and the 'blank canvas protagonist' issue.
     After which, Carly interviews award-winning journalist and bestselling author, Jo Piazza. They discuss Jo's upcoming novel, The Sicilian Inheritance; how she decided on a dual POV/dual timeline structure; whether Jo is a plotter or a pantser, and how she approaches her first draft; mirroring current themes in historical fiction; what a 'book club' book is; weaving elements of personal life into her work; how Jo views herself as a creator; the idea of letting fiction lead the way; the process of film and TV adaptations; and Jo's advice for emerging writers.
     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.com
    To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAW
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Jo can be found at https://www.jopiazza.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jopiazzaauthor
    and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jopiazza


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out Wooga: www.wooga.com
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 1 hr 1 min
    March Bonus Episode

    March Bonus Episode

    In this month’s bonus episode, Bianca interviews game designer, curator, and writer, Holly Gramazio to discuss her debut novel, The Husbands. The two discuss Holly's journey to publication; the novel’s inspiration and genre; how game design lends itself to novel writing; how she structured the novel; the importance of causality; Holly's approach to POV; and whether she feels pressure to write future novels in the same genre.
    After which 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 more, for free: https://theshitaboutwriting.substack.com/
     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.com
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAW
    To 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 Holly can be found at https://www.hollygramazio.net/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/holly_gramazio/
     and Twitter at https://twitter.com/hollygramazio


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out Wooga: www.wooga.com
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 47 min
    How Research Should Inform a Novel Without Leaving Too Many Fingerprints

    How Research Should Inform a Novel Without Leaving Too Many Fingerprints

    In today's Books with Hooks, Carly, CeCe, and Bianca are joined by Ron, to discuss his query submission. They chat about Ron's curiosity-inducing first query paragraph; the line between giving away too much plot and sharing just enough in a query; how subjective agents’ opinions can be; the right emotional calibration within your characters; the issue with having too many names in opening pages; ways authors share the socio-emotional frameworks of their characters; balancing interiority with explanation and exposition; the difference between emotionality, interiority, and 'telling'; and the idea of putting characters in situations that will reveal the right things about them.
    After which, Bianca interviews Garrard Conley, professor, and New York Times bestselling author of the memoir, Boy Erased. They discuss All the World Beside; the letter to the reader in the advanced copy; Gerrard's unconventional journey to the publication with Boy Erased; the role of luck in the industry; whether Garrard had a large platform/following when he published his memoir; subjectivity of agents and publishers; Garrard's process in writing his latest book; the benefits of researching, even when some of the information doesn't make it into the final work; the number of edits Garrard went through before he produced his final draft; and the idea of 'jazz hands writing' versus simplistic emotional truth.
    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.com
    To ask a question, go to: https://sayhi.chat/TSNOTYAW
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Garrard can be found at: https://garrardconley.com/biography
    He's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/gayrodcon/
    Twitter at https://twitter.com/gayrodcon
    and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/garrardc/


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out Wooga: www.wooga.com
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


    Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brands

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
34 Ratings

34 Ratings

So proud !! ,

Terrific episode on finding the hook

Carly, Cece and Bianca were on tip-top form in this episode (season 19 ep 2) which I’ve rewound several times.

I’d sum it up like this (btw they were so much nicer!):

Don’t suppress what your story wants to be because you’re afraid of genre pigeon-holing.
Listen to what your story is telling you - this is the way to find the hook especially if it’s buried under a thematic mulch.
The hook is essential in structuring an effective query letter - and probably your novel too.

Five stars for the team (and for the brave, if slightly resistant, author.)

MrsDee ,

Essential listening for writers!

I’ve learned SO MUCH from this podcast. Every episode is full of great tips and interesting interviews that have helped me understand the writing process better. Hearing an agent’s POV is incredibly insightful. I’m inspired to get that one yes!

BenjaminW0001 ,

Wonderful Podcast with Lovely Hosts

This has been a massive help in my writing journey. Love the humour, advice, and kindness for new writers.

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