254 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
    • 4.8 • 624 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.

    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:
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    • 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
    * Check out undefined and use my code TSNOTYAW for a great deal: undefined


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

    • 57 min
    Insights from Publishing Phenomenon, Veronica Roth

    Insights from Publishing Phenomenon, Veronica Roth

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe critique a literary fiction query and a high concept YA fantasy query. They discuss the necessity of being specific with plot details and your protagonists' motivations in your query; honing in on world-building when your novel takes place in a reality that's different from ours; the issue with not grounding readers strongly enough in scene; avoiding jumping around in time too much in the opening pages; the need to correctly specify your genre so an agent knows what to expect from your pages; being mindful of spelling errors and putting your best foot forward; the hill that CeCe will die on regarding opening lines; avoiding info-dumping; interiority as helping add context for readers; and the importance of showing characters' reactions to the things that are happening to them.
    After which, CeCe interviews NYT bestselling author, and publishing phenomenon, Veronica Roth. They discuss Veronica's latest novel, When Among Crows; the Polish folklore that underpins the novel; why Chicago inspires Veronica; the length of the novel; the allure of modern fantasy; Veronica's entry point into a story; not throwing any ideas away; Veronica's drafting and outlining process and how/why it's changed; and what she would tell her younger writer self.
     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 Veronica can be found at https://veronicarothbooks.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/veronicaroth/
    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


    Our Sponsors:
    * 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

    • 53 min
    Rewriting Instead of Giving Up

    Rewriting Instead of Giving Up

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe are joined by Paige to discuss her query for her action-adventure romance novel. They discuss the importance of spelling out your protagonist's motivation in your query; the need for story-forward plot escalation; accurately positioning your novel’s genre; making an agent's job easier by picking the right comps; using external plot to make readers invested in your characters; following genre rules when it comes to plot points; the need for conflict and tension in act two; focusing on your protagonist in your opening lines/paragraphs; avoiding character descriptions that are too on the nose; the need for active emotions in addition to interiority; the intrigue of complex emotions; and what makes a work YA rather than adult fiction.
     After which, Bianca interviews author, nurse, and co-founder of #momswritersclub, Sara Read. They discuss Sara's sophomore novel, Principles of (E)motion; her path to publication; querying her first novel and the feedback she received; structure mistakes that beginner writers tend to make; how Sara pitched her second novel; the importance of rewriting before you give up on a WIP; what Sara learned from each of her rewrites; the need for causality in story; her research process; the prologue in Principles of (E)motion; and the genre of the novel.
     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
    Information about Sara can be found at: https://www.sararead.net/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sarareadauthor/
     and Twitter at https://twitter.com/sarareadauthor
    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 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 9 min
    Metaphor and Meaning in Memoir

    Metaphor and Meaning in Memoir

    In today's Books with Hooks, Bianca, Carly, and CeCe are joined by two guests, author Rachel Kapelke-Dale and her agent, Sarah Phair. They discuss ensuring your comps align with each other and with your work; making sure your query is representative of your whole novel and not just one part; using your author bio to help show why you're the one to write this story; the concept of auto-fiction; the importance of highlighting the POV you're writing from; being specific with your plot points in your query; finding the right balance between what you withhold and what you reveal; and the need to show your character's emotions, especially messy ones.
     After which, Bianca interviews Kelly McMasters, author of The Leaving Season which is a memoir in essays. The two unpack writing essays vs a linear timeline in memoir; publishing essays from the collection ahead of the book’s release; deciding what to include and what to leave out; how to know where to begin; using external events and settings as metaphors for your character's emotionality; what memoirists owe their readers vs what they owe themselves; community vs platform; and making it all matter to the reader.
     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 Kelly can be found at https://www.kellymcmasters.com/
    She's also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/kelly_mc_masters/
     To sign up for the All About Memoir webinar on the 11th of May, go to: https://www.biancamarais.com/all-about-memoir.html
    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


    Our Sponsors:
    * 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 22 min
    April Bonus Episode: Writing Without a Pricetag

    April Bonus Episode: Writing Without a Pricetag

    In this month’s bonus episode, Bianca interviews poet, novelist, and Chair of the Amherst Writers (AWA), Sue Reynolds. They discuss the AWA workshop method and how it differs from other workshops; what occurs in an AWA workshop; the importance of giving writers a safe and encouraging space to share their work; the concept of strength-based feedback; the specific practices within the workshops; writing without a 'pricetag'; the AWA method's commitment to holding space for marginalized and previously silenced voices; the connection between disclosure through writing and healing; the point at which an AWA workshop can be helpful in the writing process; and how to find an AWA workshop.
    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 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/
    Information about an AWA workshops available near you can be found at https://amherstwriters.org/
    More information about Sue can be found at https://inkslingers.ca/about-2/susan-lynn-reynolds/
    She’s on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/suereynolds7997


    Our Sponsors:
    * 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 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
624 Ratings

624 Ratings

One Street Over ,

Favorite writing podcast of all time!

Bianca, Carly and CeCe provide weekly engaging content and great tips for aspiring writers. Carly & CeCe’s query critiques are so interesting, and Bianca is a master interviewer, always asking smart, thoughtful questions of the authors who come on the show. Can’t recommend the podcast highly enough!

A in Spain ,

Love, but more nonfiction pls!

I wasn’t sure how I would like a “writing” podcast. Most of my info about publishing comes from articles, webinars, etc. But after one episode of this, I can’t get enough! It’s so helpful. I wish they would cover more memoir/CNF but otherwise, a great listen for writers!

Writeheidiwrite ,

Incredibly helpful advice for emerging writers

I began listening to the podcast for the query letter reviews, which I find extremely valuable in my own querying journey, but I quickly realized the importance of the author interviews in improving my understanding of the publishing world overall. The entire podcast is a magnificent help in navigating the publishing journey and I’m so happy I found it! Thank you to all three hosts, to the guests, and to Emily, the bookseller who helps with comps (and recently answered my own comp request). I love listening!

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