258 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

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.

    How Interiority Makes a Character Come Alive

    How Interiority Makes a Character Come Alive

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe critique a rom-com and a YA submission. They discuss the importance of clarity in your query and avoiding language that might cause confusion; the necessity of a clear major dramatic question in your query; ensuring your protagonists aren't anticipating everything that happens in your pages; the necessity of including a character's tone in dialogue; properly mapping out how your plot points connect; thinking in specifics and futurization; and an example of strong opening pages.
    After which, Bianca chats with Claire Lombardo, best-selling author of The Most Fun We Ever Had and Same As It Ever Was. They discuss opening pages; advice for creating tension; Claire's drafting process and how she approaches interiority; getting to know your characters in moments that aren't necessarily life-changing; successfully writing a novel where a character is alone most of the time; balancing interiority and emotionality with avoiding too much telling; why Claire chose third-person POV instead of first; how she approaches characterization and fleshing out her characters to make them more realistic; why she chose to have a single POV rather than multiple like in her first novel; and how the book evolved into a dual timeline.
    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 Claire can be found at https://www.clairelombardo.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/claire_lombardo
     Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15
    To sign up for the Beta Reader Match Up, go to https://www.biancamarais.com/beta-reader-match-up.html


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 1 hr 12 min
    An Inspiring Journey to Publication

    An Inspiring Journey to Publication

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, CeCe, and Carly critique two upmarket submissions, one of which is in the gothic genre. They discuss the reasoning behind placing your metadata at the top of a query; avoiding unnecessary detail in your query; avoiding slipping from pitch to synopsis; the need for interiority, particularly interiority that will surprise the reader; taking the opportunity to use plot points as curiosity seeds when you're able to; avoiding performative dialogue; being mindful about word choice in your query so as not to confuse your reader; avoiding withholding too much plot in your query; and falling into the 'previously on' trap.
    After which, Bianca interviews YA author, Jackie Khalilieh. They discuss Jackie's journey to publication for her debut novel, Something More; the inspiration behind the novel; her revision process; the necessity of tying wants to stakes; writing a main character that is neurodivergent and how that may diverge from reader expectations of genre; Jackie's experience with beta readers and being true to her own experience and intentions for her novel; and Jackie's advice to YA writers on how to accurately portray the emotionality of younger people.
    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
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Jackie can be found at https://www.jackiekhalilieh.com/
    She's also on Instagram at hhttps://www.instagram.com/jackiekhalilieh/?hl=en
    and Twitter at https://x.com/JackieKhalilieh
    Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15
    To sign up for the Beta Reader Match Up, go to https://www.biancamarais.com/beta-reader-match-up.html


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Writing That Evokes All the Feels

    Writing That Evokes All the Feels

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, CeCe, and Carly are joined by guest literary agent, Mary C. Moore. They critique a resubmission and a sci-fi query, during which they discuss: the importance of making tropes as fresh and different as possible; how to ensure your pitch isn't too dense, especially in genres that involve world-building; highlighting why you're the right person to tell the story you've written; writing plot points that connect to your major dramatic question; the balancing act of trying to write a cross-over novel; always being mindful of your writing at a line-level; the quality of prose that is required for literary fiction; the need to get inside a character's head to better understand them; avoiding overwhelming the reader with terminology that is specific to the world you've built; making your hook very clear; and expressing why your work is different from similar novels that have come before.
     After which, Bianca interviews bestselling author, Annabel Monaghan. They discuss Annabel's latest, Summer Romance, and the unique inspiration behind it; Annabel's work as a columnist and how it contributed to her skills as an author; why she switched from YA to writing women's fiction and rom-coms; society's misguided assumptions about what 'smart' people should write and where the idea stems from; the art of writing in a way that gets into a reader's heart rather than just their head; the story behind Annabel's opening line in her latest novel; the challenge of knowing where to start your novel; writing about grief in a rom-com; and whether Annabel is a plotter or a pantser.
    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
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Annabel can be found at https://annabelmonaghan.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/annabelmonaghan
    and Twitter at https://twitter.com/AnnabelMonaghan


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Choosing How to Frame Certain Aspects of Your Work

    Choosing How to Frame Certain Aspects of Your Work

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe are joined by listener, Kelly Fuller, as they critique her book club fiction submission. They discuss picking comps that match the genre you're writing in; using your query to discuss the plot of the book rather than backstory about your characters; ensuring your stakes are high enough; pitching the right agent for your book based on its content; the need for plot that showcases causality in your query; writing a book that's as long as it needs to be; balancing plot development and character development; being mindful of intentionally writing an unlikeable character; tips for making a character more relatable; and how readers attach themselves to whoever the opener is in a multiple POV work.
    After which, Carly interviews Vanessa Walters, playwright and author of The Lagos Wife. The two discuss the themes in Vanessa's latest novel; what inspired it; Vanessa's ability to comment on specific social and political issues without being heavy handed; the novel's title and cover changes; why Vanessa chose a dual timeline for her work; why she framed motherhood in a specific way; and Vanessa's advice to aspiring writers.
    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
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    More information about Vanessa can be found at https://www.vanessawalters.net/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/vanessawaltersb/
    To sign up for CeCe’s Writing Interiority Course on the 6th of June, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pKP-TqW9SSOlAHqSjKM21Q#/registration
    Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15
    To sign up for the Beta Reader Match Up, go to https://www.biancamarais.com/beta-reader-match-up.html


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 1 hr 11 min
    May Bonus Episode

    May Bonus Episode

    In this month’s bonus episode, Bianca chats with Courtney Preiss to discuss her debut novel, Welcome Home, Caroline Kline. They speak about the inspiration behind Courtney's novel and her journey to publication; her experiences with rejection during the querying process; being aware of cultural moments that could propel your novel forward when you’re timing your querying; the process after Courtney acquired an agent; the importance of knowing what genre you're writing in and who your readers are; Courtney's definition of upmarket women's fiction; the role personal essays can play in marketing your book; and Courtney's advice for emerging writers.
    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/
    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 w ww.cecilialyra.com
    Bookshop.org affiliate page: https://bookshop.org/shop/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwriting
    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 Courtney can be found at https://courtneypreiss.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/cocogolightly/


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 1 hr 25 min
    A Debut Experience All Authors Dream Of

    A Debut Experience All Authors Dream Of

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe critique a YA submission and a literary coming-of-age horror. They discuss avoiding using repetitive language in a query; considering SEO when choosing a book title; the concept of 'scene work'; the need for disruption to occur in opening pages; matching word choice to genre when writing your query; pitching a literary fiction; finding a balance between showing and telling, even in literary fiction; and avoiding overwriting.
    After which, Bianca chats with freelance TV executive and writer, Samuel Burr. The two discuss Samuel's novel, The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers; its incredible journey to publication; how to find comps when you have a more unique novel premise; how Samuel developed his protagonist; creating the puzzles that appear in his work; why he chose to use a dual timeline and the process he used when writing it; and his advice for successfully writing an ensemble cast.
    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 Samuel can be found at https://www.samuelburr.com/
    He's also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/samuelburr
    and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/samuelburr/
     To sign up for CeCe’s Writing Interiority Course on the 6th of June, go to https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pKP-TqW9SSOlAHqSjKM21Q#/registration
    Carly's course for writers, The Author's Publishing Playbook, is available at carlywatters.com/course. If you haven't grabbed it yet, podcast listeners can use discount code POD15
    To sign up for the Beta Reader Match Up, go to https://www.biancamarais.com/beta-reader-match-up.html


    Our Sponsors:
    * Check out undefined and use my code TODAY for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 57 min

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