148 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
    • 4.9 • 405 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.

    Fleshing Out All of Your Characters, Including the Antagonists

    Fleshing Out All of Your Characters, Including the Antagonists

    In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe each review two query letters, in the process discussing overexplaining and taking the readers out of the scene; leaning into your scene from a reader’s perspective; having a very clear idea of the major dramatic question that is specific to the protagonist’s plot journey; prioritizing a character's interiority over their noticing other characters’ reactions to things; avoiding head-hopping; ensuring specific details are where they need to be placed; starting in the right place; making sure your character has a goal of some sort in the opening pages; connecting with zingy social commentary in a story; and  integrating setup within the action of the story.

    After which, Bianca chats with Richard Osman, multi-million copy bestselling author of The Thursday Murder Club series, about why his novels have appealed to such a wide demographic; how he came up with his premise; why he chose the POV structure for the novel that he did; writing social commentary subtly; techniques for making readers connect with so-called unlikeable characters.
     Find us on our socials:
    Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra
    Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing
    Facebook: @tsnotyaw
    Website: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.
    Richard can be found at @richardosman on Twitter.
    Leftie's podcast can be found at: https://leftie-aubes-writing-podcast.simplecast.com/

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Including Diversity in Your Writing & Always Thinking About Your Reader

    Including Diversity in Your Writing & Always Thinking About Your Reader

    In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss being clear about your age category and details of the plot; keeping the query letter short; fleshing out character dynamics and not focusing too much on worldbuilding; connecting with a character, as opposed to the world, in the opening pages; a children’s picture book query letter; including some illustrator notes; exploring darker themes in a picture book; symbolism in children’s books; kidlit411.com; using lists in query letters; keeping the metadata at the top of the letter; having a domino effect in the query letter; including active emotion in the opening pages; and adding surprise to your pages.

    After which Bianca chats with NYT bestselling Jonathan Evison, author of Small World, about the process of writing a very complex 400+ page novel; writing outside the purview of your personal experience and using sensitivity readers; understanding others’ experiences through empathy and showing that in your writing; the research that goes into huge books that span generations; how to narrow down what research is needed and stay out of the rabbit holes; knowing when to reveal information throughout the story; and always be thinking about your reader.
    Find us on our socials:
    Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra
    Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing
    Facebook: @tsnotyaw
    Website: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.
    Jonathan can be found at www.jonathanevison.net
    Leftie's podcast can be found at: https://leftie-aubes-writing-podcast.simplecast.com/

    • 1 hr 12 min
    How to Know if You're the Right Person to Tell a Story

    How to Know if You're the Right Person to Tell a Story

    In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss keeping secrets from the reader vs. keeping them from the character; choosing a variety of comparable titles and authors; relatability to what the character is going through; ways to make a story believable; interiority and emotionality in the characters; not giving too much in the opening pages; revealing information in the right order; how themes don’t sell books, hooks sell books; and writing longer scenes and starting at the right place.

    After which, Bianca chats with Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, bestselling authors of The Personal Librarian, about finding a writing soulmate; recognizing and respecting each other’s strengths; recognizing when a story can’t be fully told from a perspective that the author doesn’t share; connecting on a human level in a writing duo, always respecting and supporting each other; not burying the lead, which is also important when querying; having backstory at the beginning; finding your way into a story; and how you learn from everything you write, regardless of whether you take it out. 
    Find us on our socials:
    Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra
    Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing
    Facebook: @tsnotyaw
    Website: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.
    Marie and Victoria can be found at www.authormariebenedict.com and www.victoriachristophermurray.com

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Bonus Episode: We Answer Your Questions and Give You Comps

    Bonus Episode: We Answer Your Questions and Give You Comps

    In today's Bonus Episode, Bianca, Carly and CeCe answer all your burning questions about writing and publishing.

    After which, Bianca chats with Elizabeth Held, creator of the What to Read substack, who answers your first batch of comp title requests. Followed by a chat with Emilie Sommer of East City Bookshop who answers the second batch of comp title requests.

    Find us on our socials:
    Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra
    Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing
    Facebook: @tsnotyaw
    Website: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.com
    Emilie can be found on Instagram at @emiliegsommer and East City Bookshop can be found at @eastcitybookshop
    Elizabeth can be found on https://whattoreadif.substack.com and on Twitter at @ElizabethHeld

     

    • 1 hr 9 min
    How to Stop Talking to Ourselves and Start Talking to Our Readers

    How to Stop Talking to Ourselves and Start Talking to Our Readers

    In today's Books with Hooks, we're joined by guest agent, Emmy Nordstrom-Higdon from Westwood Creative Artists who looks at four submissions. During the segment, Emmy discusses executing the world-building in a way that’s accessible to readers, and ensuring you’re also covering your characters' conflicts, goals, stakes, etc. in a query; keeping your query letter under a page; ensuring something happens plot-wise and that there’s voicey-ness in the writing sample; having wonderful line-level writing but focusing on the wrong things on a scene level; an efficient query letter formula; differentiating the voices of the characters; including enough voice in the query, but not as much as what’s in the pages; and a fantastic example of an MG query letter and opening pages.

    After which, Bianca chats with John Galligan, author of Bad Day Breaking, about following and then breaking the “rules” of writing; the 'show, don’t tell' lightbulb moments; how to stop talking to ourselves and start talking to our readers; getting into the psyche of your characters; what genre has the most effective prologues and how to know you’re doing it right; using adjectives and adverbs the right way; creating character voice in third person; and tips for crossing gender, race, etc. boundaries to create empathy in characters and in readers—without crossing lines.

    Find us on our socials:
    Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra
    Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing
    Facebook: @tsnotyaw
    Website: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.com
    John can be found at www.johngalligan.com 

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Tearing a Story Apart Until the Puzzle Pieces Fit Perfectly

    Tearing a Story Apart Until the Puzzle Pieces Fit Perfectly

    In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe review a resubmission and in the process discuss an impressive author paragraph; writing the subtleties of familial relationships; the difficulties of a plot that hinges on a secret that isn't revealed in the query; and an example of a very good hook.

    After which, Bianca chats with the NYT bestselling Deanna Raybourn, author of Killers of a Certain Age,  about purposefully choosing a setting and location for a story; when to decide on a dual-timeline structure and how to maintain good pacing with both; knowing which flashbacks belong and which ones to cut; pulling the story apart until the puzzle pieces fit together; differentiating between similar characters; and coming up with unique ways to kill fictional people!

    Find us on our socials:
    Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra
    Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing
    Facebook: @tsnotyaw
    Website: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.com
    Deanna can be found at www.deannaraybourn.com and on Twitter and  Instagram at @deannaraybourn
     
     

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
405 Ratings

405 Ratings

AplSucks ,

Made a big impact on my writing

First, would like to comment that these kind of ladies and I would enjoy hanging out with them.
Love the books with hold segment. It feels like a master class on how to write and a primer on the industry rolled into one. Thanks.

von62653 ,

This podcast helped me write again

I started listening to your podcast while doing my daily walk and after the second episode I went back to a wip that I’d put aside for over a year. Bianca, the warm-hearted author hosts and interviews engaging guests, plus Books with Hooks. Carly and CeCe are the most encouraging and informative agents I’ve ever heard. I wish I could meet you all in person. Keep up the good work!!💕

AddysonSantese ,

Great Advice and Great Reads!

Practical advice for all levels of writers, incredibly thoughtful hosts, and I’ve added a bunch of great new books to my shelves thanks to the awesome authors they interview! :)

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