The Shit No One Tells You About Writing

By Bianca Marais

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Description

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, publicists, copy editors, creative writing instructors, writing groups, book sellers, jacket designers, audio book narrators, and just about anyone and everyone who's involved in bringing a book to market. She's joined by literary agents, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra, from P.S. Literary Agency who read and critique query letters and opening pages in their regular Books with Hooks segment. Expect good advice, honest insights, and a few laughs along the way.

Episode Date
The Importance of Finding Your People
3022

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss making it clear what's at stake, and what the hook is, in your query letter; how important readability is; not leading the reader too much; pitching plot as opposed to feelings; limiting your use of punctuation; and guarding against white saviorism. After which, Bianca chats with Jessica Payne, the host of #MomsWritersClub about finding your people; the challenges faced by mothers who write; being creative when you're exhausted; drawing on creative reserves; having a sense of community; and keeping your tank full.



Jun 17, 2021
Plotting, Outlining and Structuring Your Novel - Hannah Mary McKinnon
3972

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss the heartbreak of the querying process; the power imbalance between agents and authors; giving agents an idea of whether your novel is commercial or literary fiction; picking your comps and inciting incident; and avoiding two heroes' journeys in one query. Bianca also challenges Carly to name her nemeses. We all talk and disagree A LOT about Mare of Easttown, and we take more of your questions. After which, Bianca chats with Hannah Mary McKinnon, bestselling author of You Will Remember Me, about plotting, outlining and structuring your novel; skeleton drafts; the 16 beat structure; layering your novel during edits; and choosing POV. 


Jun 10, 2021
Genre Tropes and Conventions - Uzma Jalaluddin
4557

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss leaning into unlikable characters but how to make them relatable; avoiding info dumps, especially in dialogue; starting at the right place; and trusting both yourself and your reader.  After which, Bianca chats with Uzma Jalaluddin, author of Hana Khan Carries On about writing rom coms; the tropes and conventions of the genre; choosing the best setting for your story; tackling important themes in all genres; the three-act structure; and keeping your secondary characters in check.

Jun 03, 2021
What Goes Into Overnight Success & Mastering Pacing
4131

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss being more explicit about genre and tone; establishing emotionality in your main characters rather than just having them being observers or vessels; giving your reader access to your character's thoughts and feelings, while balancing show vs tell; setting not just the story stakes, but scene stakes as well; and eliminating wordiness.  After which, Bianca chats with Heather Chavez, debut author of No Bad Deed, about pacing and tension; how long overnight success takes; being stubborn and passionate about your work; how to effectively integrate action/reaction sequences; and using action beats vs dialogue tags. 

May 27, 2021
Bonus Episode - Taking All Your Questions
2593

In today's bonus content episode,  Bianca, Carly and CeCe take all your questions about agents' and publishers' contracts; finding a reputable agent; being out on submission; the etiquette of querying;  why agents might offer R&Rs; the kinds of revisions you'll be expected to do, etc. 

May 24, 2021
Hooking Your Reader & Keeping Them Turning Pages - Jeffery Deaver
4096

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss falling in love with a story before falling in love with an author; what constitutes a memoir and the different types of non-fiction; giving time frames for your manuscripts; and using the present tense for more immediacy.  After which, Bianca chats with publishing phenomenon, Jeffery Deaver, about hooking your reader and keeping them turning pages; and why books are products with your readers being your customers. 

May 20, 2021
The Writer's Life - Lily King
3584

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss using pseudonyms; the difference between women's fiction and book club fiction; beginning your book with adult characters in adult novels; giving agents trigger/content warnings; how to propose sequels; and how to find the most compelling entry point into your story.  After which, 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.

May 13, 2021
What You Can Learn From Your Rejections
3816

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe discuss the issue of swearing in novels; how characters feel about the action playing out on the page; and moving around the puzzle pieces of a story. After which, Bianca chats with Katie Wall, a book coach at Craft Better Books, about what you can learn from your rejections; why patience will pay off down the line; and why you might do better working with a book coach.  

May 06, 2021
Writing Starter Novels & Establishing a Research Process
4180

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe fall in love with another submission; discuss writing from perspectives that aren't your own; what the 'arrogant win' is; how to write prologues; and writing second person PoV. After which, Bianca chats with Kristin Beck, author of COURAGE, MY LOVE, about writing and researching historical fiction; how to establish an effective research process; what you can learn from starter novels; and putting off writing your passion project until you're a better writer. 

Apr 29, 2021
What Every Writer Can Learn From Other Great Writers
3923

In today's Books with Hooks segment, Carly and CeCe fall in love with one submission; suggest using a different PoV for another; discuss how characterization can be revealed through what a character notices, and how a writer is an artist who doesn't get to see their audience. After which, Bianca chats with Daniel Ford, author and podcast host, about what he's learned about writing from his years of interviewing great writers, as well as the benefit of creating a writing playlist, and how patience really is a writing virtue. 

Apr 22, 2021
How to Build Your Author Platform in an Authentic Way
3092

Carly Watters and Cece Lyra are now co-hosts of the podcast (Yay!),  who will be doing the Books with Hooks segment every week, in which they discuss your query letters and opening pages. This week's segment specifically looks at how to trust both yourself and your reader. After which, Bianca Marais chats with author, Kerry Clare, about how to be a human on the internet as you work to raise your author profile ahead of publication.  

Apr 15, 2021
In Praise of Bookstagrammers
4440

In the regular Books with Hooks segment, author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with P.S. Literary agents extraordinaire, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra about query letters and opening pages that listeners have submitted.  After which, Bianca interviews Traci Thomas, Bookstagrammer and host of the wildly popular podcast, The Stacks,  about the value of Bookstagrammers, the influence of social media, and fighting for the the community who champions authors.

Apr 08, 2021
Career Advice from Bestselling Susan Wiggs
4097

In the regular Books with Hooks segment, author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with P.S. Literary agents extraordinaire, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra about query letters and opening pages that listeners have submitted.   After which, Bianca interviews bestselling author, Susan Wiggs (author of The Lost and Found Bookshop) about staying relevant; treating your writing like a business; showing up for yourself; and how to combine creativity with making shrewd decisions for your career. 

Apr 01, 2021
Writing From Rage & Own Voices Stories
3831

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with P.S. Literary agents extraordinaire, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra, in their regular Books with Hooks segment, in which listeners submit their query letters and first pages to get advice on grabbing their dream agents' attention. After which, Bianca interviews South African author, Keletso Mopai, about writing from rage, how to publish a short story collection, social commentary and activism in writing, and the necessity of #OwnVoices in publishing.

Mar 25, 2021
Capturing Time and Place - Ann Mah
3775

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with P.S. Literary agents extraordinaire, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra, in their regular Books with Hooks segment, in which listeners send in their query letters and first pages to get advice on grabbing their dream agents' attention. After which, Bianca interviews author, and food and travel writer, Ann Mah, about capturing time and place; how to be inspired by your travels; doing in-depth research; and when setting becomes character. 

Mar 18, 2021
Why Writing is a Marathon - Marissa Stapley
3409

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with agents extraordinaire, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra, in their regular Books with Hooks segment, in which listeners send in their query letters and first pages to get advice on grabbing their dream agents' attention. After which, Bianca interviews bestselling author, Marissa Stapley, about why being a writer is a marathon and not a sprint, and what it takes to be successful. 

Mar 11, 2021
Indie Publishers
3197

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with agents extraordinaire, Carly Watters and CeCe Lyra, in their regular Books with Hooks segment, in which listeners send in their query letters and first pages to get advice on grabbing their dream agents' attention. After which, Bianca chats with Alexandria Brown, co-owner of indie publisher, Rising Action Publishing Co, about the pros and cons of  the various types of publishing, and why you might want to consider going with an indie publisher. 

Mar 04, 2021
First Books with Hooks & Freelance Editors
3776

In this jampacked episode, author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with fabulous agents, Carly Watters and Cecilia Lyra, as they launch their exciting new segment, Books with Hooks. In it, Carly and CeCe read the query letters and opening pages of novels that listeners have submitted in order to get useful critique. This will be a regular segment of the show going forward. After which, Bianca chats with freelance editor, Rachel Spence, about everything you need to know about developmental edits and manuscript evaluations.

Feb 25, 2021
Turning Rejections into Success Stories
1747

Author and Host, Bianca Marais, chats with writing team, Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman, authors of Girls with Bright Futures, about how they turned their rejections into a success story, as well as learning to write fiction in your 40s; seeing headlines ripped from the pages of your novel; overcoming adversity; and believing in yourself and your work. 

Feb 18, 2021
Finding Your Process as a Debut Author
2198

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with award winning author, playwright, screenwriter and journalist, Byron Lane — author of the acclaimed A Star is Bored  (which was inspired in part by Byron's time as assistant to beloved actress Carrie Fisher) — about finding your process as a debut author; getting help when you need it; learning your craft; and mining tough times in your life for fictional gold. 

Feb 11, 2021
Showing vs Telling and Online Writing Retreats
2570

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with Amherst Writers & Artists method facilitator, Susie Whelehan,  about supercharging your creativity with online writing retreats. These 60-90 minute retreats are a great way to revive your imagination during tough times, and to remind yourself that there's a whole writing community out there; that you're not going it alone. Bianca also does a deeper dive into showing vs telling, exposition vs scene.

Feb 04, 2021
Creating Characters That Feel Real : Claire Lombardo
2500

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with Claire Lombardo, the New York Times bestselling author of The Most Fun We Ever Had, about creating characters that feel real, writing scenes that won't ever be used, showing vs telling, writing realistic dialogue, and keeping track of multiple timelines. It's an episode so jam-packed full of useful information that you may have to listen to it twice!

Jan 28, 2021
Balancing Heartbreak and Humor - Steven Rowley
2470

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with bestselling author, Steven Rowley (Lily and the Octopus, The Editor and The Guncle) about writing tearjerkers that are also hilariously funny. Steven gives his advice for writing humor and how to incorporate it when delving into heavy themes.  He also shares many nuggets of wisdom about point of view, writing from life, being a gay writer,  taking a circuitous route to publication, and how to talk about your work. 

Jan 21, 2021
My Journey to Publication - Julia Claiborne Johnson
1820

In this hilarious episode, author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with Julia Claiborne Johnson, bestselling author of Better Luck Next Time and Be Frank with Me,  about becoming a debut novelist in her 50s, her journey to publication, the challenges she faced with her second novel, juggling writing with being a mother, managing expectations, and the advice she'd like to share with emerging writers. 

Jan 14, 2021
Kicking Off a Wonderfully Creative Year
1803

Author and host, Bianca Marais, discusses the main reasons why writers give up, as well as all the things that get in the way of creativity: the pursuit of perfection; allowing the inner critic too much head space; not prioritizing your writing; procrastination and the fear of failure. Consider this your pep talk to ensure a kick-ass creative year!

Jan 07, 2021
How to Create and Maintain Suspense in all Genres
2493

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with Putnam editor and adjunct professor of publishing for NYU, Mark Tavani, about all things suspense: techniques on how to create it, how to maintain it, and how to apply these concepts across all genres. Suspense is why we read; it's what keeps us turning pages. A story without some elements of suspense will fall flat. Learn how to avoid making that mistake in your work in progress. 

Dec 31, 2020
Point of View and an Update on the Industry: Carly Watters
2535

Author and Host, Bianca Marais, chats with literary agent, Carly Watters from P.S. Literary Agency, about elements of craft and the state of the literary industry. Carly discusses factors you need to consider when choosing the right point of view (PoV) and PoV characters for your novel, as well as what the industry looks like after Covid and the Penguin Random House purchase of Simon & Schuster. 

Dec 24, 2020
The Latest Literary Trend: Writing Partnerships
1302

Author and host, Bianca Marais chats with bestselling author duos, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, as well as Lynne and Valerie Constantine (who write as Liv Constantine) about the pros and cons of writing partnerships, as well as everything you need to know to run one. After this discussion, Bianca is on the search for her bosom writing pal!

Dec 17, 2020
What All Writers Can Learn From the Thriller Genre
2026

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with bestselling author, Samantha M. Bailey, as well as Nita Pronovost, editor and vice president/editorial director at Simon & Schuster Canada, about the lessons all writers can learn from the thriller genre, including coming up with high concept premises; something known and unknown, something hidden and something shown; the labyrinth approach; considering your novel two halves when it comes to pacing; and how to nail your endings.  

Dec 10, 2020
Talking Audiobooks & Elements of Craft with Katharine Lee McEwan
1778

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with award-winning British actress, writer, and producer, Katharine Lee McEwan, about all things audiobooks — including producing your own — as well as: scriptwriting, narrative voice, tone, emotional impact, torturing your characters and incorporating humour. 

Dec 03, 2020
Why Writing Groups are Integral
2645

Author and host, Bianca Marais chats with two members of her BACKSpacers writing group, Alek Trpkovski and Suzanne Dugard, about why writing groups are integral in your writing journey. They tackle issues like: what you should look for in your writing group; how to critique each other's work; effectively managing a group; the highs and lows of getting your work critiqued; how to incorporate feedback; how to start a writing group. NOTE: this episode contains some profanity and mature themes. 

Nov 26, 2020
What You Need to Know About Self Publishing
2107

Author and host, Bianca Marais,  chats with author, K.A. Tucker, who's gone from self publishing to traditional publishing, and then back again. Kathleen explores the pros and cons of both kinds of publishing; moving back and forth between genres; building your brand; reader loyalty and Bookstagrammers; and what you need to know if you're considering self publishing. 

Nov 19, 2020
10 Harsh Truths Writers Need to Know
2552

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with literary agent and author, Cece Lyra, about the 10 harsh truths writers need to know about writing and publishing. In the discussion, Cece drops some truth bombs about the importance of standing out in the market, making a living off of your writing, not being able to please everyone, taking your craft seriously, dealing with rejection and the importance of a platform. 

Nov 12, 2020
Succeeding in the YA (Young Adult) Market
2152

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with the effervescent Liara Tamani, author of two YA novels, All the Things We Never Knew and Calling My Name, about writing for the YA market, knowing what young people want to read, getting your message across without preaching, her circuitous route to a writing career after being accepted to Harvard Law School, the importance of timing, as well as barriers to entry that writers of color face in publishing.

Nov 08, 2020
Two Opposing Views on Handling Tricky Backstory
2057

Author and host, Bianca Marais, finishes her discussion with Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius and Wired for Story. In this second of two episodes, Lisa unpacks her approach to backstory. Weighing in with an opposing view, is bestselling author, Karen Dionne (The Marsh King's Daughter and The Wicked Sister) with her advice of how to work in backstory without dragging your story backwards. Be prepared to pick sides!

Oct 29, 2020
The Biggest Mistake Writers Make: Lisa Cron
1666

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) and Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. In this first of two episodes, Lisa discusses the biggest mistake writers make, discovering your character's misbelief, the myth of plotting, and why character profiles don't work. Bianca and Lisa also disagree about backstory! This episode will be continued next week.

Oct 22, 2020
Writing Sex Scenes & Befriending Booksellers
1877

Author and host, Bianca Marais, loves booksellers! And she especially loves Rebecca Speas of One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. In this episode, Bianca and Rebecca talk about the power of the bookseller, why authors should foster relationships with their local indie bookstores, how you can be a feminist and love bodice rippers, and how not to write awful, cringeworthy sex scenes. This episode is a bit risqué and a lot funny. 

Oct 15, 2020
Talking with the Bestseller Whisperer
1961

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with Tara Singh Carlson, the first editor to have two of their novels picked by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club. Besides acquiring numerous bestsellers like The Silent Wife, The House at Tyneford and The Light We Lost, she's also edited the publishing phenomenon, Where The Crawdad's Sing by Delia Owens, which has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than two years. Tara discusses what it takes to be the next Delia Owens as she shares amazing insight into how bestsellers happen. 

Oct 08, 2020
What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Published - Courtney Maum
1863

Host and author, Bianca Marais, talks with the fabulous Courtney Maum, author of Before and After the Book Deal, about writing killer query letters and the ten things Courtney wishes she knew before she published her first book, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. The episode is filled with tons of practical writing advice and lots of laughs. Learn from someone who's been there, done that, and wishes they'd known better.

Oct 01, 2020
When You Don't Make Shit Up - Memoir & Nonfiction
1833

Author and Host, Bianca Marais, chats with Kelly S. Thompson, an award-winning writer and editor with a broad range of experience and education in the writing and editing field. Kelly is the author of the memoir, Girls Need Not Apply - Field Notes from the Forces, and instructs at several universities and colleges in Canada teaching creative writing and nonfiction. In this episode, Kelly discusses memoirs, creative nonfiction, fact checking, asking loved ones for permission, and various other aspects that nonfiction authors have to consider. CBC Canada Reads shortlisted author, Jesse Thistle, who wrote the memoir, From the Ashes, weighs in on honesty, paying tribute and putting personal stories out into the world.

Sep 24, 2020
Bestselling Jane Green's Advice to Writers
1806

Author and host, Bianca Marais, chats with the delightful international bestselling author, Jane Green, about her twenty-five year career in publishing. Jane gives insight with regards to rejection letters, bidding wars, bestselling novels, a writer's brand, when it's time to change agents or publishing houses, appreciating success, and the extreme highs and lows that are all a part of the industry.

Sep 18, 2020
How an Editor Acquires a Manuscript
2161

Author and host, Bianca Marais, takes you behind the scenes of publishing as she chats with editor, Kerri Kolen, about how editors acquire manuscripts; what the acquisition process looks like; how interminable the wait for news is; as well as how advances are calculated, how royalties work and Audible's opportunities that are available to authors.

Sep 18, 2020
Delving into the Author/Agent Relationship
1655

In today's episode, we're exploring the most important professional relationship that an author will have in their career - the one with their literary agent. Powerhouse author/agent team, Jill Santopolo (bestselling author of the The Light We Lost and More Than Words) and Miriam Altshuler (of DeFiore and Company) , give us a behind-the-scenes look at how to find the perfect agent, how to successfully pitch yourself to them, and how to ensure that the relationship is a successful one going forward. 

Sep 18, 2020