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In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe analyze two query letters each, and in the process discuss what constitutes a long query, in respect of word count; how statements in dialogue shouldn't be made simply to tell the reader something; avoiding vague references in queries; and getting a submission that reads like a published book. After which, Bianca chats with Alexa Martin, author of Better Than Fiction, about her journey to publication; writing teacher books; planting curiosity seeds and having the reader be an active participant instead of spoon-feeding them everything; character arcs and how they are so integral to the character’s wants/needs; flipping genre tropes; Story Genius, character misbeliefs, the third rail, and causality; and putting hooks in your books.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting, www.biancamarais.com and www.carlywatters.com Alexa can be found at www.alexamartin.com and on Instagram at @alexambooks 
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are left unsupervised as they critique two query letters each, in the process discussing the best way to frame your novel if it has series potential; the difficulty of marketing a quiet novel right now; how you should open your novel; matching query tone and novel tone to your genre; and the importance of readers being invested in your characters.After which, Bianca chats with one of the bestselling authors of all time, Jeffrey Archer, about his latest novel, Next in Line; his 14-draft process; how he writes a story in 45 days and finishes a book in a year; writing what you know; plot twists vs. reveals; manipulating the reader; fictionalizing historical figures; the two levels of research; and magic moments in storytelling. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting, www.biancamarais.com and www.carlywatters.com Jeffrey can be found at www.jeffreyarcher.com and on Instagram at @jeffrey_archer_author
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by two authors, Melissa and Elizabeth, whose work they critique. In the process, they discuss ensuring each that timeline in a dual timeline is its own story; keeping scenes condensed to keep propelling the story forward; mentioning the pandemic in contemporary fiction; baking in subtle references to things instead of explaining them to the reader; finding ways for a character to interact with other characters, especially when we’ll be spending a lot of time in their head; making small cuts to decrease word count; how not naming dramatic moments that change everything could mean losing agent request opportunities; telling the reader what’s going to happen vs letting them theorize; and ensuring you surprise the reader with something in the first chapter.After which, Bianca chats with Jennifer Hillier, bestselling author of Things We Do in the Dark, about writing away real-world fears and anxieties; how she writes and includes/doesn't include backstory; how she structures her novels without the use of an outline; having no ego when receiving critiques; and the importance of planting curiosity seeds.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting, www.biancamarais.com and www.carlywatters.com Jennifer can be found at www.jenniferhillierbooks.com and on Instagram at @jenniferhillierbooks
In today's Books With Hooks, Carly and CeCe look at two critiques each, discussing the importance of using sharp specifics and strong interiority; ensuring there’s tension and stakes in the first pages; having distinct character voices; dropping hints but leaving them unanswered; challenges with omniscient POV; keeping all the metadata together in one paragraph; stories within stories slowing down the pacing; leaning into complicated emotions and revealing contradictions from the get-go; and making intentional stylistic choices, especially in literary fiction.After which, Bianca chats with Amita Parikh, author of The Circus Train, about choosing comps; hitting the sweet spot to get agents’ attention; what to do if you keep getting rejections; adding tension and conflict and stakes to a novel that’s not working; writing at a scene and chapter level; writing historical events as a backdrop, not a history lesson; and not allowing your character to have the benefit of your hindsight when dealing with historical times/events.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting, www.biancamarais.com and www.carlywatters.com Amita can be found at www.amitaparikh.com and on Instagram at @amita_parikh 
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe each look at one submitted query letter, after which they each discuss a query letter that they ended up representing as an example of what grabs their attention. They discuss redacted titles; explaining POV in a query letter; putting the hook front and center; coincidences in the story; too much internal and not enough external in the first pages; dual POV in a query letter; tension leaks and starting with proper interiority and not narration.After which, Bianca chats with Felicity George, author of A Lady's Risk , about regency romance and what the genre is; how she tackles getting the language of that era correct; her novel’s inciting incident and the key event; Felicity's reasoning for her POV choice; and her road to publication.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting, www.biancamarais.com and www.carlywatters.com Felicity can be found at www.felicitygeorgeauthor.wordpress.com, on Instagram at @FelicityGeorge_romance and Twitter at @elizabethwelke
In today's Bonus Episode, Carly and CeCe answer all your questions and Emilie Sommer from East City Book Shop gives you comp titles. After which, CeCe chats with Susie Yang, author of White Ivy, which was a Books with Hooks Book Club pick in the spring.CeCe and Susie discuss fairytale elements and omniscient POV; how suspicious writers make the best writers; what it’s like to work with an editor after getting a book deal; Susie's experience as a debut author; craft resources she uses; writing many different versions to get to the right one; and having an unsettling ending. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsites: www.theshitaboutwriting, www.biancamarais.com and www.carlywatters.com Susie can be found at www.susiebooks.com and on Instagram and Twitter at @susieyyang 
In today's Books with Hooks, Jael Richardson (author of Gutter Child) joins Carly and CeCe to critique query letters. During the segment, they discuss starting in the right place; using time stamps to make it easier for the reader to ground themselves; ensuring there’s interiority with the narrating character; the web effect in query letters; clarifying the emotionality of the main character; teasing the tone/vibe of the book in the query letter; starting a book with a letter; ensuring your query letter voice matches what’s in the pages; and how to make good choices about where you begin and how you get there.After which, Bianca chats with Christina Romeril, author of A Christmas Candy Killing, about the expectations of cozy mysteries; using Pinterest for inspiration; using a map for your setting to help maintain consistency; creative writing procrastination; using the resources available to become a better writer; setting up red herrings, planting clues, etc; and using a spouse or friend to help with accuracy in details. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.Christina can be found at www.christinaromeril.com and on Instagram at @christinaromerilwriter
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by Jennifer and David, two authors who submitted their work for consideration. During the segment, they discuss whether you should have themes in a query letter; query letter vs proposal for memoirs; having something happening every five pages; letting the reader ask the question before you answer it as the author; keeping passive plot points out of the query letter; showing connections between important characters; showing a very clear goal in the opening pages;  using an emotional entryway into the story; adding another clue every time you dangle the carrot for the reader; the contrast between vague thoughts and specific visuals;  creating a synopsis for your first five pages; and goal and power imbalance, and giving very clear reasons/stakes below the surface in the opening pages.After which, Bianca chats with Jordan Aaronson, a Marketing Manager for the Penguin Publishing Group at Penguin Random House. They discuss what a marketing manager does at a big publishing house; the acquisitions process in a publishing house; how important comps are at the acquisition stage; factors considered when deciding on advances; the importance of platforms; how important TikTok can be authors; the difference between marketing and PR; how marketing and PR budgets are decided; trends in the market; how to stand out to publishers to make them want to buy your book; advice for emerging writers; and how publishing is changing for the better.Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.Leftie's podcast can be found at: https://leftie-aubes-writing-podcast.simplecast.com/  
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 @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: 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/
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 @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.Jonathan can be found at www.jonathanevison.netLeftie's podcast can be found at: https://leftie-aubes-writing-podcast.simplecast.com/
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 @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting. Marie and Victoria can be found at www.authormariebenedict.com and www.victoriachristophermurray.com
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 @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comEmilie can be found on Instagram at @emiliegsommer and East City Bookshop can be found at @eastcitybookshopElizabeth can be found on https://whattoreadif.substack.com and on Twitter at @ElizabethHeld 
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 @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comJohn can be found at www.johngalligan.com 
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 @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comDeanna can be found at www.deannaraybourn.com and on Twitter and  Instagram at @deannaraybourn  
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss the target audience for a coming of age novel; the pitfalls of the early 2000s as a setting; the importance of your major dramatic question in a query; the issues with setting your novel up as part of a duology or series; and writing 'leading' dialogue.After which CeCe chats with Jessie Stephens, author of Heartsick: Three Stories About Love, Pain, and What Happens In Between about what made her proposal successful; how Jessie's background in media helped with publishing her book; the tenuous connection between having a large following on social media and selling copies; publishing without an agent and the pros of having one now; the impressions of the offer Jessie got for her first book; the ways in which she was naïve when she began writing; and Jessie's new book. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comJessie can be found at www.mamamia.com.au and on Instagram at @jessiestephens90
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by Nurin and Layne who submitted their work for critique. During the segment, they discuss a romance query that succeeds in delivering ample stakes; whether you should include mentorship programs in your query; the importance of having movement in an opening scene; needing major dramatic questions for each main character in a novel; and the importance of inner life.After which, Bianca chats with Amanda Quain, author of Accomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel, about her transition from indie bookseller to debut author; the inspiration behind Accomplished (and yes, it includes the Jonas Brothers!); “rules" when creating adaptations of classic literature; advice for writers of YA; fanfiction and RPGs; character interiority; and how conversations are like a tennis match. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comAmanda can be found at www.amandaquain.com and on Instagram and Twitter at @quainiac
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe look at two queries each, in the process discussing what is meant when agents want specificity in a query, particularly when it comes to world building; the hurdles of writing a book centered around trauma or featuring particularly traumatic scenes; using fewer comps for greater agent interest; the use of interiority in a query letter; advice on how to successfully write in the omniscient POV; curiosity seeds not being watered; and the difficulty with starting your pages with a character's regular day.After which, CeCe interviews Bianca about her upcoming novel, The Witches of Moonshyne Manor. During the conversation they discuss an author working collaboratively with an agent; character development and naming with an ensemble cast; planting curiosity seeds to keep the reader turning pages, the concessions that need to be made with regards to plot when you focus on character development; getting confused as to which character's heads you're in when writing in omniscient POV; and which editorial notes Bianca most feared and how she worked on them. CeCe also challenges Bianca to see who's going to dance on Twitter! Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.com 
In today's Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe discuss having a strong sense of place in your work; an example of a good prologue; when it can work to put comps at the end of your query;  examples where you can be too detailed in a query; the idea of stakes going in both directions; and the perfect query letter.After which, CeCe chats with Melissa Fu, author of Peach Blossom Spring, about how she began her fiction writing journey; the genesis of her debut; using memoirs and collections of oral histories to do research for your historical fiction novel; how her agent found her; leaving your “writing fingerprint” around for people to discover; starting with a sneaky prologue; books that start conversations; and letting the story be bigger than you. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comMelissa can be found at www.melissafu.com, Twitter at @MelissaLFu, and on Instagram at @MelissaFuWriter
In today's special Books with Hooks, Carly and CeCe are joined by guest literary agent, Jenni Ferrari-Adler who represents Susie Yang (whose novel, White Ivy,  was the #BookswithHooksBC pick for June).  Jenni helps Carly and CeCe evaluate three query letters, in the process discussing leaning into specificity;  sprinkling backstory info rather than dumping it in;  setting up your bombshell moments with the right information; and the importance of emotionality in sample pages. CeCe and Jenni also illustrate how subjective agent opinions can be when reading pages and how the process works when an editor is evaluating a manuscript.After which, Bianca chats with author, Kath Jonathan,  and freelance editor, Lisa Rivers,  about how an author can maximize their interaction with a freelance editor. In the chat, they discuss what kind of info an editor likes to see from the author; breaking up a book into quarters for edits; making point-form notes for each chapter; handling the emotional turmoil after getting edits back; how editors push for the emotional truth and elevation of a manuscript; determining if a scene really needs to be there (get out your highlighter!); how to know when you’re ready to approach an editor; and how endurance and fight can help you meet your goals. Find us on our socials:Twitter: @TSNOTYAW @BiancaM_author @carlywatters @ceciliaclyraInstagram: @biancamarais_author @carlywatters @cece_lyra_agent @ the_shit_about_writingFacebook: @tsnotyawWebsite: www.biancamarais.com and www.theshitaboutwriting.comKath can be found on Instagram at @wolverleighgardensLisa can be found on Instagram at @ lisarivers.editorial and you can email her at thewriterstrek@gmail.com 
In today's episode from the archives, Bianca chats with award-winning and bestselling author, Lily King (author of Writers & Lovers) about the writer's life; scrapping novels halfway through; dealing with rejection; and starting the process all over again with a new book.
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