Discover more from The Shit No One Tells You About Writing
The biggest mistake new writers make and how to avoid it, the secret sauce to keep your readers turning the pages
✨Plus, an expert weighs in on whether pitch events are worth it✨
Hello and welcome! We’re so excited to share lots of writing and publishing goodies with you this month! Whether you’re just starting your first draft or are ten years and fifteen drafts deep, our aim is to share expert insight that will support and empower you on your writing journey. We want to make this newsletter as helpful to you as possible. Is there something you would love us to cover? Hit reply here or find us on social media, we’d love to hear from you!
❤️ The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Team
A monthly newsletter chock-full of guidance and support from publishing industry insiders. Expect author interviews, guest blogs, giveaways, and more! Sign up and immediately receive an exclusive webinar from literary agent Carly Watters
SHELF LIFE with New York Times-Bestselling Author Kate Quinn
We caught up with the bestselling author to discuss what she has learned later in her career that would have surprised her younger self, how to build a supportive writing community, and how new writers can avoid sinking themselves before they even get started.
Kate Quinn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. She wrote four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books in the Italian Renaissance before turning to the twentieth century with The Alice Network, The Huntress, The Rose Code, and The Diamond Eye. The Alice Network was a Reese’s Book Club Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, a GoodReads Best Books of the Month, and an NPR Best Book of the Year. The Huntress earned similar accolades and was a Library Reads Pick, an Indie Next Pick, and one of Marie Claire’s Best Women’s Fiction Books of the Year. Her latest novel, The Diamond Eye, was released in March 2022.
SHELF LIFE: What is something you’ve learned about yourself later in your writing career that would have surprised your younger self?
KATE QUINN: The importance of adaptability. At some point in any writing career, you’re going to hit a wall: when you do, you can either be stubborn and keep hitting your head against that wall, or you can pivot—stop what isn’t working for you and find something that does. It might mean a change of direction in your writing, and that can be scary: for me, it came after I’d published six books and was faced with the decision whether to move away from a project that wasn’t going to sell and write something completely new and different. That book was The Alice Network, and writing it convinced me that willingness to adapt and pivot with an ever-changing market is the thing that will make or break a writing career.
SL: You’ve spoken in other interviews about the importance of being surrounded by supportive friends and colleagues. What do you think you’ve done right during your career to build a strong and supportive writing network?
KQ: I’ve tried to pay it forward and pay it back, wherever I go. I remember what it felt like as a brand-new author when terrifically successful writers reached down and gave me a cover quote or a helping hand (looking at you, Margaret George and Diana Gabaldon!) so I do the same for as many new authors as I can. And I genuinely want to celebrate the achievements of my colleagues, so I always get out my pompoms when they hit a list or get a new deal. I want us all to succeed—a rising tide lifts all boats in this business.
SL: Do you have any regrets about your journey so far? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
KQ: I feel so very lucky and grateful to have the career that I do, I can’t imagine how it would look if things had gone differently! If there’s anything I regret it might be that the further you get as an author, the more the business of writing (the emails, the events, the social media, the nuts and bolts of the career you’ve made) takes time from the writing itself. I do miss the days when all I had to do was hammer out pages. But I’m not going to complain about that too much because I know how many people would love to have this as a problem, and I go right back to feeling very lucky to be where I am at all.
SL: Is there any piece of advice that resonated with you while writing your debut, Mistress of Rome (Berkley, April 2010), that you still stand by today?
KQ: My first agent (who acquired Mistress of Rome) told me something that has always stuck with me: in her experience, fifty percent of new writers sink themselves before they even get started, by being either unwilling or unable to edit their own work. You have to be willing to kill your darlings in order to make your work publishable. I’ve never forgotten that advice
You can purchase Mistress of Rome and The Diamond Eye on our Bookshop.org affiliate page here. Buying books through this link supports a local indie as well as The Shit No One Tells You About Writing 📚❤️
SHELF LIFE is produced by Bronwen Keyes-Bevan, a Toronto-based writer and editor. Bronwen is newsletter editor at The Shit No One Tells You About Writing and is at work on her debut novel. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their son. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at her website.
Let’s Talk About… Curiosity Seeds
In this monthly advice column, Bianca Marais shares concrete, actionable craft tips that you can use to immediately elevate your writing. This month Bianca talks about curiosity seeds: why you need them, how to plant and water them, and when you should allow them to bloom.
CeCe says it on the podcast all the time: writing is seduction.
In the same way that you wouldn’t sit next to an attractive stranger at a bar and immediately begin by telling them about your lifelong struggle with ingrown toenails and back acne—and how boring your job is and how you suspect most of your colleagues hate you—you shouldn’t do this kind of oversharing with your reader upfront either.
In the bar scenario, you’re aiming to come across as witty and interesting, telling the person anecdotes about yourself that will frame you in the best possible light, thus making them want to ask you out so they can find out more about you. You want to actively engage in a back-and-forth conversation with them as opposed to you just giving an endless monologue that will make their eyes glaze over.
And while you’re having this lively chat, they might be delighted by your theory that Amy Adams and Isla Fischer are secretly the same person because, while they never considered that before, now that you mention it, the similarity is uncanny. They might also be wondering why you’re wearing leather boots when you just told them that you’re a strict vegan; it’s a contradiction that they find intriguing. Perhaps they’re glancing at the initials you have tattooed on your wrist and theorizing over whose initials they may be.
Without realizing it, you’re planting curiosity seeds about yourself which will then hopefully get to bloom over time as you both spend more time together.
In much the same way, you’re wanting to get your reader actively engaged in your story. You don’t want the reader sitting there passively, eyes glazed over, as you tell them every single thing that you as the author know about the characters and the plot. You want to allow your reader to become an active participant in the story so that they can be surprised and intrigued even as they form opinions and theories about what’s happening.
So, let’s say you’re writing a scene about a celebrity mother and daughter who have the most terrible relationship, and they’re just about to be interviewed together by a journalist at a high-profile magazine. You could start it off with one of the narrators telling the reader how difficult their relationship is, how much they resent each other, how long this has been going on for, what started it, etc. This would be a lot of telling and it would also be quite boring.
Or you could begin with them having a huge fight before the interview, in which the reader sees the animosity on the page and can then decide for themselves that the two hate each other. This would be showing, which is certainly better than all the telling and at least allows the reader to reach their own conclusions.
Or, even better, you could begin the scene during the interview where the mother and daughter are each saying the most wonderful things about one another to the journalist. They get misty-eyed and hold hands while speaking about their close bond and what good friends they are. But when the daughter, Kara, enthusiastically references the white dress that her mother, Diane, wore to Kara’s wedding, you can show Diane’s fake smile faltering.
Perhaps when Diane references how much she loves Kara’s husband, you can show Kara choking on her water. Perhaps she accidentally knocks the water over onto her mother’s lap and then, while she professes to be such a klutz and tries to blot the water up, her mother ‘accidentally’ steps on Kara’s foot.
The reader is wondering why Diane would wear a white dress to Kara’s wedding as that seems like a mean thing for the mother of the bride to do. They’re wondering why Kara had such a big reaction to the comment her mother made about Kara’s husband. They’re getting clues and realizing that all is not as it seems, and they’re forming theories about what’s actually going on. They’re curious to see if they’re right and so they continue reading to find out.
Perhaps the journalist asks to be excused to go to the bathroom, and this is when Diane hisses at Kara to get it together, saying that if she can’t put on a good show, Diane will tell the journalist all about what happened in Vegas.
Now the reader has a ton of questions. Why are they faking this awesome relationship? Why not just avoid each other? What happened between them? What the hell happened in Vegas?
And this keeps them turning pages to find out.
Maybe they find out in chapter three why they’re faking the relationship. It’s because they’re promoting a film together about a mother and daughter with an unusually close bond, and if the public learns the truth of their own terrible relationship, it would be bad publicity for the film. So that was a curiosity seed that was planted and then bloomed pretty quickly.
But you can reference the Vegas issue in future chapters in other oblique ways by adding a few more details each time: How it involved a man who wasn’t Kara’s husband. How Diane was the one who found Kara in the hotel and then had to pay the concierge to cover things up so it wouldn’t leak to the media. And then you only reveal the full truth about the Vegas drama in chapter fifteen. So that’s a seed that you planted early, kept on watering so it could grow, and then only allowed to bloom much later on.
Each time you find yourself telling the reader things for contextual reasons or backstory, ask yourself what can be withheld and used as a curiosity seed instead.
Don’t tell us that the woman who is trapped down in the basement can’t call out for her husband Dave to come let her out, because she actually killed him ten minutes ago, which is why she’s in the basement in the first place, because she came down there to find a tarp to cover him with. Show the basement door closing behind her, and she looks down at the tarp and then back at the door. And she thinks she can’t call Dave to help her because what’s the use?
Now the reader is thinking: Why’s she in the basement? What’s with the tarp? Who is Dave? Why can’t she call him?
Don’t tell us that the man who’s sitting having a tattoo done is only there because he has a huge crush on the tattoo artist, and this is the only way he can get close enough to start up a conversation with him. Show him sitting there looking at the tattoo as it’s being inked, thinking how ugly it is and what a pity it is that he had to get it, and wondering how much tattoo removals cost down the line.
Now the reader is wondering: Why he’d get a tattoo that he didn’t even like? Did he lose a bet?
Don’t tell us that the woman is arriving back home to stay with her parents in her small town because she broke her leg on a skiing trip in which her boyfriend also broke up with her. Show her arriving on their doorstep, struggling up the stairs with crutches. And when her father opens the door and asks what happens, have her bursting into tears and saying she doesn’t want to talk about it.
Now the reader is wondering: What happened to her leg? Why didn’t she tell them she was coming? Why is she so upset?
When you have the reader actively engaging with your story, forming theories about what’s happening, asking questions, and being intrigued, you’ll keep them turning pages! And don’t just think you should be doing this in genres like mysteries or thrillers. This applies to all genres, even literary fiction!
As always, you’ve got this!
Bianca Marais is the author of the bestselling The Witches of Moonshyne Manor, as well as the beloved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh, and the Audible Original, The Prynne Viper. She taught at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies where she was awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award for Creative Writing in 2021. She is the co-host of the popular podcast, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, which is aimed at helping emerging writers become published.
Foreign Rights: What Are They And Why Do They Matter?
Literary agent Kimberly Brower breaks down what foreign rights are, why you should care, and shares some facts that might surprise you.
I have a ritual when I travel. In every new foreign country I visit, I buy a copy of Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone as a keepsake, a way to memorialize my visit. I now have versions in Hungarian, Polish, German, French, and while it doesn’t necessarily count, I have the UK version as well. Have you ever stopped to wonder how books are translated into different languages, and more importantly, what the process is for this to happen?
Welcome to Foreign Rights 101. Your foreign rights are your right to get your work translated into different languages. When selling these rights to a foreign publisher, whether through your English-language publisher or your agent, this gives that foreign publisher the right to translate your work and distribute it on all retailers, including in bookstores.
Here are some quick facts to give you the basics on all things foreign rights:
If you are a self-published author, selling your translation rights in no way infringes or prohibits you from continuing to sell the English language version of your work in that specific territory nor does it violate any Amazon Terms of Service if you are in Kindle Unlimited.
Print books are still the most common format of books that people read throughout the world, not ebooks.
Foreign publishers normally do not care when books have been published in English, especially since they continue to acquire backlist titles, which has become more prevalent since TikTok has become popular.
Just because a title is doing well in the US does not necessarily mean it will be successful, or even sell, overseas. What works in the US or Canada does not always work in other countries.
There are three different ways for you to profit from selling or utilizing your foreign rights—(1) selling the rights to your English language traditional publisher as part of a publishing deal; (2) selling your rights to a third-party foreign publisher directly; or (3) self-publishing your work in different languages.
While having an agent is not necessary to sell or utilize your foreign rights, it is strongly recommended to have an agent handle these deals. Most agencies either have someone who handles foreign rights for their clients in house or work with a co-agent(s) to oversee the agency’s foreign rights.
Here’s hoping that one day someone will be collecting foreign editions of your work when they travel. Good luck!
Kimberly Brower owns Brower Literary & Management, a full-service agency that not only offers full literary representation to authors, but also represents self-published authors looking to have their subsidiary rights managed. She represents traditionally published, self-published, and hybrid authors. For more information, please visit the agency’s website. You can find Kimberly on Instagram or via email at email@example.com.
The Great Beta Reader Match-up is back!
Are you looking for beta readers for your work-in-progress? For feedback from fellow writers with whom you might form a writing group?
Sign up to be matched with between three and six other writers who work in similar genres and time zones. Each group will receive their peers’ submissions along with instructions on how to critique the work. Your manuscript does not have to be complete to sign up!
For more info or to sign up, click the button below.
“If it isn’t a f*ck yes then it’s a f*ck no”: a Q&A with Carly Watters
Ever wonder who the hosts of The Shit No One Tells You About Writing podcast are beyond agents and authors? We asked you to submit your questions for our hosts and you did not disappoint. Here Carly reveals how she manages to balance her career, family, and everything in between; the joys of blending high street and designer labels; and how the oft-quoted phrase “we all have the same hours in a day as Beyoncé” falls short. Tune in next month when Bianca Marais will dish all!
Last book you read totally just for fun, and LOVED??
I’m reading an early copy of Jessica Knoll’s BRIGHT YOUNG THING (S&S, October 2023) and it’s going to blow people away. I think we’re going to hear a lot about this one. It’s VERY well done.
Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to try?
There are a lot of things I’ve dabbled in because I’m very open to trying new things as an adult to get out of my comfort zone: I took a water colour class when I was post-partum with my eldest, I took up downhill skiing at age thirty-three, I started doing triathlons during the pandemic, etc. I’d love to add pottery, boxing, rock climbing, and surfing to my list.
How do you manage to make it all—agenting, podcast, your family—work? Any time management tips?
If it isn’t a f*ck yes then it’s a f*ck no. There’s nothing that gives you more clarity over your time than becoming a parent. You only have so many hours in a day and you better do what you want to do with them or your mental health will deteriorate. I’m technically self-employed and have been my entire working life so my time is mine and I decide who and what to give it to. I make time for and commit to the things that light up my life. I’m proud that I’ve found success in my lane.
The other thing I want to acknowledge is that my husband is a 50/50 partner in my life, we have lots of help from family, and we have a housekeeper so my mental and physical load is very balanced at home so I can make time for my hobbies, interests, and career. I acknowledge this privilege. Yes, we all have the same hours in a day as Beyoncé, but we’re not all billionaires you know?
If you could change two things about publishing—right this instant—what would they be?
1. Increase in royalties, in favor of creators, across the board.
2. More large independent publishers the size of Sourcebooks.
How does Carly always manage to look so amazing when she lives such a busy life?! Tips?!?
I feel like I have an essay brewing in me on this topic of beauty and personal style as we age. The bottom line is that I love clothes and style and I always have. I talked above about how I make time for things that are important to me and keeping up with fashion is something that I genuinely enjoy. My first blog was a fashion blog back in 2007 or so. I worked in retail and fine jewelry when I was in school and also when I was subsidising my agenting career at the beginning. When I was in my twenties I used to watch every S/S and F/W fashion show on Vogue.com and Pinterest-board my favourites from each season. I know not everyone cares about clothes and personal style but it’s just a core value of mine. Personal style is incredibly unique and I love discovering it as I evolve through the different phases of my life. I find pieces I like everywhere I go from Walmart to Joe Fresh to Ganni to The Row to Gucci. I love my high-low wardrobe. Regarding beauty, I’m on the fence about Botox, but I’m booked in for my first medical grade facial so bring on the lasers! I just honour where I’m at whenever I’m there. I chopped off my hair twice, I have tattoos, I like exercising and feeling strong in my body. We make impressions professionally and socially with how we look but the most important thing is that we love ourselves.
Thank you to @bethmorriswrites @sophiedominiquewrites @SMillrWrites_on @karismol and everyone else who submitted such great questions for our hosts!
Carly Watters is a SVP and Senior Literary Agent at P.S. Literary and the sitting VP of PACLA, the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents. She is the co-host of popular writing podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Carly received her MA in Publishing Studies from City University London. Her clients’ books have been translated into over 40 languages, optioned for TV and film, adapted into podcasts, and have been on every bestseller list from coast to coast.
Many querying authors’ biggest fear is the unknown: what should my submission package look like? What are agents looking for? How do I avoid looking like a rookie?
This webinar will cover: how polished your manuscript must be for submission to agents, how to know your project is ready to submit, what type of synopsis to prepare in advance, how to format your query letter, what a non-fiction proposal looks like, etiquette around corresponding with agents, behind the scenes on how agents evaluate queries, and much more. The class will be 90 minutes long with 30 minutes for Q&A at the end. All questions will be answered. Slides and replay will be available to those who sign up in advance.
May 24 | 8pm-10pm ET | $69 USD
About Your Host:
Carly Watters is a SVP and senior literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency. She has a MA in Publishing Studies and has been in the book business since 2009. She is known for her long-term vision for her authors and being an excellent collaborator with a nose for commercial success. She has close ties to publishers in the major markets, is a member of the AALA and PACLA, and works directly with film agents to option film and TV rights to leading networks and production companies. Her clients’ books have been translated into 40 languages, optioned for TV and film, adapted into podcasts, and have been on every bestseller list from coast to coast, including the New York Times, USA Today, the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star, and the Globe and Mail.
Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
To Pitch or Not to Pitch
Whether through an online conference or at an in-person retreat, the opportunity to connect one-on-one with a literary agent can seem appealing to a querying writer. But is it worth it? Literary agent Cecilia Lyra weighs in.
To pitch or not to pitch—that is the question. I am referring, of course, to pitch events, a subject that often comes up when I chat with writers. Whether through an online conference or at an in-person retreat, the opportunity to connect one-on-one with a literary agent can seem appealing to a querying writer. At the same time, there are often costs—including financial and time-related—involved. Which is why so many writers want to know: Is it worth it?
The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding: It depends. As a writer, what’s your reason for attending a pitch event? I recently posed this very question on social media. Below are the top answers, along with my thoughts on the “worth it” aspect of each one. Of course, this is just my opinion. Also, please also read the fine print below.
“To know whether it’s a yes or no right away.” / “Because I feel it will increase my chances of getting a partial/full request.”
I understand—and empathize—with the emotions attached to this line of thinking. Querying can feel like unrequited love: after years of pouring your soul into a manuscript, you send it off to literary agents and then… crickets. It’s brutal! When meeting face-to-face, it’s true that an agent might hear your pitch and tell you right away, “Sorry, this isn’t for me,” in which case at least you’ll know it’s a no. It might even be true that an agent would be more inclined to ask for pages since, for example, the energy in your delivery might have piqued their curiosity in a way that your query letter would not have. But at the end of the day what matters is the execution, i.e., the writing. A pitch event can be an efficient way to determine if your story’s premise is intriguing—not your pages. So when an agent requests a partial or full manuscript, you’ll still be waiting. Maybe you’re thinking, “At least I’m one step closer,” and that’s fair. Just manage your expectations accordingly. There is no fast in publishing, only degrees of slow.
Worth it? Yes, as long as you’re realistic about the overall timeline and next steps.
“To convince agents I’m a great person to work with!”
Let’s get one thing out of the way: no reputable agent will offer representation based on your winning personality. You might be the world’s most persuasive, magnetic person—you might have the chocolate version of the Midas touch—it won’t happen. Nor should it. An offer of representation will come after an agent falls in love with your story. The storyteller matters, too, of course, but assessing that chemistry is a two-way street that comes later.
Worth it? No.
“To get feedback on my pitch.” / “To practice or improve my pitch.”
Offering feedback on a pitch is not a literary agent’s job*. Writers are there to wow agents with their story. Agents are there to wow writers with their ability to advocate for their interests. If the wowing is mutual, a match will be made. (And, if you’re like me, champagne will be popped!) That being said, feedback can happen organically. For example, I once listened to a pitch for a fantastic psychological thriller centered on a toxic friendship between two women. The writer delivered their pitch with mastery: the premise and ensuing plot points had me on tenterhooks. When she was done, I promptly asked, “I might have missed this info, but is your story told in dual POV?” My brain was already trying to position her novel and knowing this stylistic element felt relevant. The writer’s lips curled into a knowing smile as she replied, “You’re the third agent to ask this. Clearly, I need to work that into my pitch.” Naturally, writers have full control over what they include in their pitch, but if three agents react in a similar way, then it could indicate that an element of your pitch needs tweaking. A savvy writer will pick up on this!
* = Except, of course, when feedback is the goal of the meeting, e.g., educational platforms such as Manuscript Academy.
Worth it? Yes, as long as you calibrate your expectations.
“Because I don’t trust the slush pile.”
I understand not trusting the slush pile—and not just because its name is a branding nightmare. It feels impersonal: a treadmill of content that can easily lead a writer to get lost in the shuffle. In contrast, a pitch event can feel like a clear lane on the yellow brick road. I understand, but I don’t agree. I can’t speak for every agent, but for me, the slush pile is still where I’ve found most of my clients. And reading queries is one of the most fun parts of my job! Don’t believe me? Remember: agents work on commission, which means we don’t just want to find great stories—we need them. It’s how we get paid.
Worth it? No.
“Because I want to get a glimpse of what interacting with an agent is like since we might work together.”
The competitive nature of the publishing industry means that signing with a literary agent is difficult. I don’t like this reality, but it is the reality. Here’s another bit of reality: a bad agent is worse than no agent. Which is why I absolutely understand the urge to meet face-to-face with an agent—this will allow you to get a sense of their personality, a feel for their energy. A pitch event can be a great place to figure that out! Do keep in mind that it’s still essential to thoroughly research an agent (and their agency) before signing with someone, since charisma does not equate to character. Also, it’s possible that the agent will be drained after taking so many one-on-one pitches, so their energy level might be a little off.
Worth it? Yes, as long as you also do your research.
“Because I’m more comfortable talking about my book than I am writing about it.”
I know what you’re thinking: Shouldn’t writers feel comfortable with the written word? Yes, when it comes to a story. But a pitch letter is marketing copy. It’s sales—not storytelling. Strong writing is required, but the writing chops needed to draft a compelling novel are completely different from the ones needed to compose a query letter. If you’re the kind of person who is skilled at talking about your book, but you are not keen on tackling a query letter, then a pitch event might be a great opportunity. Do keep in mind, however, that when you get a bite from an agent, they might still expect a query letter to be attached to the partial or full manuscript, since they likely won’t be able to read your material right away and the letter will serve as a much-needed refresher. But it’s fair to assume that the positive first impression in your one-on-one delivery will still count in your favor.
Worth it? Yes, as long as you understand that a query letter will most likely still be required.
To pitch or not to pitch? Like all questions, it’s up to you. Whatever road you choose, know that we’re rooting for you!
Fine print: An important—and hopefully obvious—disclaimer on the answers I offered above is that whether or not a pitch event is worth it will depend on what the event will cost each person. I am mindful that not everyone can take the time off to meet one-on-one. Not everyone can responsibly afford the financial costs associated with these meeting (even if the event is free, time is money). Not everyone would be comfortable meeting with an agent. If this isn’t something you can afford—whether because of your mental health, time constraints, financial situation, or any other reason—please remember scores of bestselling novels had their start via the slush pile.
Cecilia (CeCe) Lyra is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency and the co-host of the popular podcast, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Find out more at her website.
Would you like to advertise in this newsletter? Drop us a line at theshitaboutwriting.newsletter at gmail dot com!
Upcoming webinar alert! Join CeCe on May 18th via Zoom to learn all about Putting the Hook In Your Book!
If you’re reading this, then chances are you listen to our popular segment Books with Hooks (if you do listen, thank you!), and know that its name is a nod to the fact that a strong hook is essential to a good story. But what exactly makes for a compelling hook? And how can a writer know when they have it? Join CeCe for a two-hour workshop* that will cover the elements of hooks in book, including:
what is a hook, anyway?
different types of hooks (in different types of books)
elements of a compelling hook
real-world examples of hooks that sell
most common mistakes when defining a hook (hint: it has to do with what a hook isn’t)
how to sharpen your hook
tips and tricks to brainstorm hooks
how to frame a hook in a query letter
If you’ve attended CeCe’s webinars before then you know she often goes overtime because she has a talking problem. Apologies in advance. She will try to make up for it by offering a fun giveaway to the person who correctly guesses the webinar’s end time—stay tuned!
On The Podcast This Week
Check out this week’s podcast episode plus the Bumper Edition: April Bonus Episode below!
In this week’s Books with Hooks segment, Carly and Cece discuss descriptive specificity; comping to famous writers; sensitivity when describing mental health and mental illness; picking the correct comps; the importance of interiority to dual narrative experience; and choosing titles that work best for you.
After which, Bianca chats with J Ryan Stradal, author of Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club, about his path to publication; being a good literary citizen; standing your ground with setting; having setting inform plot elements and character; outlining multi-POV and multi-timeline novels; flashback vs separate timelines, starting a book with a theme; knowing the ending and starting far away from it; how you learn from each book that you write; and advice for emerging writers regarding querying agents.
And in the latest bumper Bonus Episode, in an incredibly emotional interview, Bianca talks with Carol Major, author of the memoir The Asparagus Wars, about the difference between cerebral writing and visceral writing; the reliability of memory; the importance of being intentional; allowing the reader to become a part of the story; creating meaning for the reader (not just the memoirist); why people read memoirs; the journey of finding the meaning of your story while writing it; dealing with the potential fallout after publishing a memoir; writing with integrity; and the awards Carol has won.
Carly and CeCe, who are joined by Andrea Guevara, author branding expert, take your questions, discussing acceptable word count; social media presence; the concept of stakes; querying for feedback; examples of novels that excel in interiority; red flags for agents; the journey to publication; defining your genre; and pen names.
Bianca chats with Patti Callahan Henry, bestselling author of Surviving Savannah, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and The Secret Book of Flora Lea, about how much heavy lifting the first line, paragraph, and pages need to do; omniscient POV in the opening chapter; knowing how to open a book; drawing on myths and legends to spark a story; writing on a line level; the gardening vs architecture of writing a story; ensuring both past and present timelines have a story-forward plot; and writing a book within a book.
Support The Shit No One Tells You About Writing on Ko-fi
Each podcast episode costs us five hundred dollars to produce and edit and we aim to air at least four episodes and one bonus a month. The biggest compliment our listeners give us is that our episodes don’t have any filler, just one hundred percent helpful content. Your support helps keep it that way. Once-off and monthly supporters have access to Carly and CeCe’s written critiques as well as other exclusive content. Once-off supporters have access to the additional content for one month after their donation date. Monthly supporters will have access on an ongoing basis. Please register on Ko-fi and then follow us there to ensure you have access to the materials.
That’s it for this month! Thank you for joining us, we hope you enjoyed this issue :) Let us know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter and spread the word to your writing pals. Until next month, happy scribbling ✨
❤️ The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Team