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The Shit No One Tells You About Writing
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The Shit No One Tells You About Writing

Author: Bianca Marais, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra

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This is a podcast for emerging writers, who are looking to improve their work with an aim to having it published, or anyone who would like a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing industry. Your host, Bianca Marais (the author of 'Hum If You Don't Know the Words' and 'If You Want to Make God Laugh') will be interviewing 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 and opening pages in their Books with Hooks segment. Expect good advice, honest insights, and a few laughs along the way.
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In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are kicking it back to the old format in which they look at the same three queries together. They discuss how important it is to show that there's enough plot and escalation to merit a whole novel when writing a query; the pitfall of using the term "crossover"; being mindful of when your book is coming off as quiet or too interior to the protagonist; avoiding a recap beginning, where you give too much background info, like a recap on a show; looking out for redundancies during the polishing phase; the difference between telling the reader something versus making the reader FEEL something; and how it isn't enough to just paint a picture - the picture needs to feel real.After which Bianca chats with Kerri Maher, author of The Paris Bookseller, about fictionalizing real people (including the potential pitfalls and how to do it in a meaningful way); the social contract involved in writing/reading historical fiction; how to quiet the doubtful voice when writing, granting yourself permission to write a particular story; and how to frame novels that span a significant period of time.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comKerri Maher on Instagram: @kerrimaherwriter and on Twitter: @kerrimaherbooks
In today's Bonus Episode, Bianca chats with two awesome guests. The first is Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart, who discusses querying a book that's ten years in the making when you’re not sure if it has a place in the market; the whirlwind of quickly getting an agent and book deal; turning your NaNoWriMo novel into a successful book; avoiding info-dumping through dialogue; creating a narrative outline; and reading outside your genre.In the second interview, Bianca chats with Jes Trudel, co-founder of writingcommunity.ca about The Story Endings Matrix. Jes discusses how publishers use a SWOT Analysis to analyze a manuscript; how YOU can use a SWOT analysis to identify areas of weakness in your manuscript; how to ensure you have the proper ending for your book in any genre; and reverse outlining—working back from your ending to the beginning.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comGenevieve on Instagram and Twitter: @gengornichec Jes on Twitter: @jes_trudelwww.writingcommunity.ca
In today's Books with Hooks, guest agent Veronia Park joins us from Fuse Literary to discuss Joanne's and Gaylen's submissions with them. In the segment, Veronica chats about straddling the line between two age categories; knowing, with MG fiction, who your target parents and teachers are because they're the ones who're going to be putting your book in their children’s hands; writing a dual-POV query letter for a dual-POV novel; letting your characters lie a little, or hold back truths, especially in the beginning; and including the first few pages of each POV character in a dual-POV situation.After which, Bianca chats with the amazing Tomi Adeyemi, #1 NYT bestselling and award-winning author of Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance about working through rejection to use the feedback you’re given; making the most of opportunities like Pitch Wars; reading new releases in your genre so you know what’s currently doing well; knowing when to give up on a project and move on; getting validation from yourself rather than external sources; how to be inspired rather than intimidated by great work; why trying and failing isn’t a bad thing; and how rejected books can act as your MFA. Tomi also discusses her amazing writer's masterclass called The Writer's Roadmap.  Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comVeronica Park on Twitter: @veroniKaboomFuse Literary on Twitter: @FuseLiterarywww.fuseliterary.comJoanne on Twitter: @JoanneKelleGaylen on Twitter: @gaylenjoyTomi Adeyemi on Twitter: @tomi_adeyemiTomi on Instagram: @tomiadeyemihttps://www.thewritersroadmap.net/
In today's Books with Hooks, guest agent Veronia Park joins us from Fuse Literary to review four submissions. During the segment, Veronica discusses having the query vibe matching the sample pages vibe; under-promising and over-delivering with the sample; ensuring you have stakes at the end of each POV paragraph in the query; when not to include the prologue in the sample pages; and the three-part rule: what does your MC want more than anything, why can’t they get it, and what will happen if they do/don’t get it?After which, Bianca chats with Alka Joshi, author of The Henna Artist and The Secret Keeper of Jaipur about how there isn’t a ticking clock for publishing; having and listening to external cheerleaders; tooting your own horn; when an MFA is worth it, and when it’s not; five crucial tips for emerging writers; taking time away to recharge and then coming back to appreciating your story; and the importance of knowing the story behind the story.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comVeronica Park on Twitter: @veroniKaboomFuse Literary on Twitter: @FuseLiterarywww.fuseliterary.comAlka Joshi on Twitter: @alkajoshi and on Instagram: @thealkajoshi
In today's BONUS EPISODE, Bianca chats with Janet Forbes and Dimitris Havlidis of World Anvil about how the right writing software can take your writing to the next level. Janet and Dimitris discuss how they came up with the World Anvil software and the many ways it can assist with world building for those working in speculative or historical fiction. They also break down the ways in which the software can improve the writing process for those writing in different genres including the aspects like the community building, forums, feedback and writing sprints.World Anvil is offering a 50% discount on all levels of its software for those attending the The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Virtual Retreat in January.Find them at www.worldanvil.comTwitter and Instagram: @worldnanvil
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by writers, Michele and Lynne, who have submitted their work for critique. Carly and CeCe discuss writing a story from the perspective of the other; ensuring you have done lots of research to tell that story properly and sensitively; not starting the opening pages with a lack of curiosity; fear or desire as conveyed through surprise; and having sample pages for different POVs if you’ve written a dual- or multi-POV novel.After which, Bianca chats with the author of The Way We Weren't, Phoebe Fox, about how editing other writers' work is the best way to learn craft; how to incorporate backstory into your writing; context, memory, and flashback types of backstory; treating backstory like a puzzle; how backward momentum slows the forward momentum; being confined to a character’s perspective when you’re in their POV; and using an author pen name and whether or not to disclose the use of it.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comKofi: https://ko-fi.com/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingPhoebe Fox on Instagram and Twitter: @phoebefoxauthor Michele on Twitter: @michele_lomb and on Instagram: @michelevlombardoLynne on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlynnebryant and Instagram: @lynnebryantauthorWebsite: www.lynnebryant.com
In today's BONUS episode, Bianca chats with the writer Clarisse Baleja Saidi about everything you've always wanted to know about writing residencies. Clarisse gives her top 5 pieces of advice for applying for residencies, and breaks down why applying for—and attending them—could be the boost you need to finish your WIP. Prepare to be surprised!Find us on our socials!Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comKofi: https://ko-fi.com/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingClarisse on Instagram: @clarissebaleja and on Twitter: @FreeBaleja
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss starting a book with dialogue; having tension from page one; using sharp visuals from your character’s perspective (specificity); having the right comps for the setting, plot, tone, etc.; using time and character stamps in multi-POV novels; using the story-forward rule to make the reader curious about what’s going to happen next; and reversing stereotypical roles in characters.After which, Bianca chats with Lindsay Zier-Vogel, author of Letters to Amelia,  and Wayne Ng, author of Letters From Johnny, about epistolary-style writing in novels; how to write this way and not have it be pure exposition; moving through an epistolary scene so that it feels natural; using voice in epistolic scenes; and developing your own authentic diary/letter writing voice so you can nail it in your character’s voice.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comKofi: https://ko-fi.com/theshitnoonetellsyouaboutwritingTwitter: lindsayzvIG: lindsay.ziervogelWayneNgWrites.comamazon.com/author/WayneNggoodreads.com/WayneNgWritesInstagram.com/WayneNgWritesfacebook.com/WayneNgWritestwitter.com/WayneNgWrites
In today's Books with Hooks, Emmy Nordstrom Higdon joins us from Westwood Creative Artists to chat with Tyler and Vickie about their work. Emmy unpacks starting with action to get a good sense of voice and character; how the story needs to be front and center with opening pages before digging into issues; starting with something dramatic and compelling; showing the MC out of their depth with internal and external conflict; and dramatizing epistolary parts of a novel.After which, Bianca chats with Kirthana Ramisetti, author of Dava Shastri's Last Day, about how transitioning from a pantser to a plotter paid off; having your pick of agents and what criteria you can use for deciding on one; writing an ensemble cast and introducing a lot of characters quickly; writing a sweeping family saga; tracking character arcs and timelines; how to choose your POV character for each chapter; writing a story that’s based in the future; making choices about character and plot that work for your story, and incorporating backstory in an organic way.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author Instagram: @biancamarais_author @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comEmmy Nordstrom Higdon on Twitter: @emmy_of_spinesKirthana Ramisetti on Instagram: @kirthanaramisetti and on Twitter: @popscribblingsTyler on Twitter:  @writerthoughts 
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by writers, Sally and Katherine, to discuss their query letters and opening pages. We discuss trigger/content warnings in query letters; being specific without being spoiler-y; as well as weaving in emotion. And... wait for it... we actually suggest a prologue! Yes, we do that sometimes!After which, Bianca chats with Jayne Allen, author of Black Girls Must Die Exhausted, about how rejection doesn't mean your writing isn’t any good; how indie-publishing can lead to traditional publishing; not letting the publishing industry choose what’s relatable and what’s not; reaching your audience; believing in your own story and championing it yourself; and how your journey to publication may take a different route to what you imagined.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comJayne Allen on Instagram: @jayneallenwrites and on Twitter: @JayneAllenSaidSally on Instagram: @Sally_Lotz and on Twitter: @SallyJLotzKatherine on Instagram: @kcaldwellwriter and on Twitter:  @kcaldwellwriter 
In today's Books with Hooks segment, we have Emmy Nordstrom Higdon from Westwood Creative Artists join us as a guest agent to review submissions not directed at Carly or CeCe. In this episode, Bianca and Emmy discuss authorial voice; jumping right into where the action is; how using appropriate comps can help cut down on a query's word count; including sample pages for more than one POV; and carefully choosing your story’s timeline/setting.After which, Bianca chats with PJ Vernon, author of Bath Haus about the value of art; changing publishers in between books; trusting your gut when it comes to writing a story you want to write; differentiating POV voices; playing around with interesting structures; starting your book with high stakes; and book club conversations you'll be having once you're published.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author Instagram: @biancamarais_author @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comEmmy Nordstrom Higdon on Twitter: @emmy_of_spinesPJ Vernon on Twitter and Instagram: @pjvernonbooks
In today's BONUS episode, Bianca chats with Ami J. Sanghvi and Patrick Hogan of Gutslut Press about the top ten reasons why indie presses reject submissions even if the writing is really great. After which Bianca chats with author, Lee Matthew Goldberg, about sharing your drafts with other writers; the writing process when it comes to writing characters whose gender and age are different from your own; using sensitivity readers; muzzling the critical part of your brain, and giving yourself permission to draft; how crowdsourcing information can help generate interest in your book; authoring books in different genres; and using song lyrics in your book.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author Instagram: @biancamarais_author @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.comAmi Twitter and Instagram: @HotWraithBonesAmi Website: www.amijsanghvi.comTwitter and Instagram: @gutslutpressEmail: gutslutpress@gmail.comLee Twitter: @LeeMatthewGLee Instragram:@LeeMatthewGoldberg
In today's Books with Hooks segment, Liz and Jami join us to discuss their submissions. Carly and CeCe unpack when to put the stakes at the beginning of the query instead of at the end; the Pixar storytelling rules about coincidences; weaving in emotion with explanation to make it more showing than telling; writing a story in first person and then going back with a “you” lens to make it hybrid second person; and giving a character a small but important goal in the beginning of the book that’s tied to the larger arc. After which, Bianca chats with world-renowned bestselling author, Ken Follett, about what to do when what you write isn’t coming out the same way the idea played out in your head; having a solid research process including reaching out to experts to ensure authenticity in your story; how to give crucial background information without it sounding like an info dump; tips for stitching unrelated scenes together; and the empathy that’s required to be a historical novelist and a writer in general.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @@ceciliaclyra Instagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss whether publishing is ready for Covid stories yet; using an inciting incident that is super specific, but doesn’t give away any spoilers; the importance of having a great, unique hook and a beautiful first line; why emotion needs to be on the page before description in a tense scene; and how a protagonist’s unconscious should also be on the page.After which, I chat with The Holiday Swap's Maggie Knox, the pen name for writing duo, Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley, about when two writer friends have a wild idea to write a book together; how they facilitated the process; how they seamlessly brought their writing voices and styles together; and what advice they have for writers looking to co-author a project.Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @@ceciliaclyra @maggieknoxbooksInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing @maggieknoxauthorFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com
In today's Books with Hooks segment, Melissa and Stephanie join us on the show to have their query letters and opening pages critiqued. Carly and CeCe discuss the importance of hitting current social and class elements; not missing opportunities to let readers know more about the MC by adding in descriptions and reasons behind their choices; when and why a prologue works; and anticipating readers' questions and answering them at just the right time.After which, Bianca chats with the author of My Sweet Girl, Amanda Jayatissa about submitting to POC agents/editors vs. non-POC agents/editors; structuring your novel in a linear vs. non-linear way; using old journals if you have them to put yourself in the mindset of a younger character; using Aeon 2.0 Timeline software; and why you shouldn't compare yourself to other writers. Find us on our socials: Twitter: @SNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @@ceciliaclyra @amandajayatissaInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writing @amandajayatissaFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com
In today's revamped Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe each tackle two queries that have been directed at them via the new submission process. They also discuss writing your first scene as if it were being filmed; trigger warnings vs. content notes; deciding what to include in the first five pages, and what to put elsewhere in the story.After which, Bianca chats with Jesse Q Sutanto, author of the hugely successful Dial A For Aunties about her journey to publication; participating in NaNoWriMo; using the Ginko app for story structure; how a previously small deal can make a big splash later on; and the secret to overnight success.
In today's Books with Hooks segment, Emma joins us on the show to discuss her query and opening pages. Carly and CeCe tackle sparking curiosity;  hooking the agent with keywords; repetition with dialogue tags and replacing them with action beats; writing in multiple POVs and making the reader question who’s doing the narrating; as well as homemade pasta!After which, Bianca chats with Leila Slimani, author of In The Country of Others, about sticking to what you’re good at;  how Moroccans can identify with American Western movies and Southern Lit; finding your distinctive voice; having confidence in your reader; when to break the rules of writing; and dealing with imposter syndrome.
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss putting a fresh twist on a popular trope; taking care not to use titles of novels that are already published; how the present tense offers tension and immediacy; not burying the hook in your query letter; not inadvertently dating your work; and stating specifically what obstacles are getting in your character’s way.After which Bianca chats with Ella Berman, author of The Comeback about writing a novel that gets swept up in a social or legal movement; moving on from rejection; staying authentic to the characters; having characters experience quiet reckonings; the process of querying agents; dealing with rejection at every stage of your career; going out on submission to publishers; allowing yourself to process your disappointment; developing complex secondary characters; incorporating subplots; and writing as social commentary.
In today's bonus episode, we have three romance/rom-com authors who join Bianca to discuss all things related to the genre. NYT bestselling Lana Harper discusses her queer rom-com, Payback's a Witch, as well as world-building, character development, her inspiration for the novel, and her change of genre. Sarah Echavarre Smith, author of On Location talks about writing those racy sex scenes and the conventions of the genre. Jane Igharo, author of The Sweetest Remedy chats about how romance can tackle serious issues, and her journey to publication. 
In today's Books with Hooks segment, we do a lot of brainstorming, which doesn’t necessarily align with the author’s vision for her novel, reminding us all that the author is the one who decides what their story is and isn’t. Carly and CeCe also chat about how editors like unlikely friendship stories; authors not having to give up on manuscripts, but persuing the ones that give you the best chance at publishing; taking care not to give resolutions in the query letter; aiming for a pressure cooker vibe; and how life-tense and story-tense differ.Bianca chats with Amy Einhorn, President and Publisher at Henry Holt & Company, and editor of Liane Moriarty, Sarah Blake, Jenny Lawson, Laurie Frankel, Min Jin Lee and many other award-winning and bestselling authors. Amy shares a wealth of information about publishing, editing, the qualities of a good story, what makes an author successful, and much more. 
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Comments (1)

Michael Scott

Thanks for this podcast. I believe that good writing skills are important and therefore start working on improving them. Although, writing has never been my strong point, and I have always found the final paragraphs the hardest to do. This source has proven to be quite helpful to me https://paperap.com/conclusion-generator The free paragraph generator always helps me cope with the final part of my work, and thanks to this I get a good result and a high grade.

Nov 24th
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