Deep Dive Series 2024 from The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing
We’re super excited to announce the 10-week Deep Dive Series which is the only series/retreat that The Shit No One Tells You About Writing will be offering in 2024.
Each two-and-a-half-hour weekly Tuesday session, run from 8pm – 10:30pm ET, will include an author/editor/agent/leading industry expert speaking for an hour (while referencing their own work or the work of others as practical examples of the theory they’re discussing) and then answering questions for half an hour afterwards.
This will be followed by a one-hour session which will either be:
- a workshop session in which Bianca, Carly or CeCe will lead group discussions along with writing exercises so that you can immediately put into practice what you’ve just learned, while at the same time getting to network with other writers.
- a getting-to-know you session where you’ll get to network with other delegates in the breakaway sessions.
- a Q and A in which you get to ask Bianca, Carly and CeCe your most burning questions.
These sessions will alternate weekly.
We have 25 hours of jam-packed, amazing content lined up for you featuring the following phenomenal speakers:
- 16 Jan – Ruta Sepetys is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it. Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over thirty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.
- 23 Jan – Sara Weiss is an Executive Editor at Ballantine Books, where she focuses mostly on nonfiction, while also publishing select fiction titles. She is interested in voice-driven, widely accessible nonfiction that is engaged with pop culture; i.e., books that are in conversation with the most urgent issues of the day (whether they be ones of identity, politics, art and entertainment, science, or even food!). She’s been privileged to publish bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Linda Holmes, R. Eric Thomas, Emily Nagoski, Stephanie Foo, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Hannah Gadsby, Annie Hartnett, Lilly Singh, and Lauren Graham. Her upcoming list includes NBC News reporter Yamiche Alcindor’s memoir, Don’t Forget, the novel, Blue Sisters, by Coco Mellors, and This Dog Will Change Your Life, by the creator of the popular Instagram account The Dogist (@thedogist). Prior to Ballantine, she worked for many years at Grand Central Publishing. Sara is a graduate of the University of Chicago and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
- 30 Jan – Kirthana Ramisetti is the author of Dava Shastri’s Last Day, a Good Morning America Book Club selection which is in development as a television series for HBO Max, and Advika and the Hollywood Wives, a Book of the Month pick and named one of the Best Books of April by Apple Books. She has had her work published in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Salon and elsewhere, and earned her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College.
- 6 Feb – Steven Rowley is the New York Times bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, a Washington Post Notable Book of 2016, The Editor, named by NPR as one of the Best Books of 2019, The Guncle, a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist for 2021 Novel of the Year and winner of The 22nd Thurber Prize for American Humor, and The Celebrants, a TODAY Show Read With Jenna Book Club pick. His fiction has been published in twenty languages. All of his books are in development for feature film or television adaptation.
- 13 Feb – Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 23 novels for adults and teenagers, and the recipient of Great Britain’s Talkabout prize, The Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards, and named to the short list for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, with more than 3 million copies in print in 34 languages. It was later adapted into a major feature film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. She served on the Fiction jury for the 2003 National Book Awards and was editor-in-chief of Merit Press, a Young Adult imprint under the aegis of Simon and Schuster.
- 20 Feb – Nicolas DiDomizio holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Connecticut State University and a master’s degree from NYU. His debut novel, Burn It All Down, was published in 2021 and praised as “unforgettable” by James Patterson. He lives in upstate New York with his partner Graig and their smooshy bulldog Rocco. The Gay Best Friend is his second novel.
- 27 Feb – Dongwon Song is an agent at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency representing science fiction and fantasy for adults, young adult, and middle grade readers as well as select non-fiction. They were formerly an editor at Orbit, a product manager for an ebook startup, and has taught at institutions including Portland State University and New York University. They have a newsletter about the business at publishingishard.com. DongWon is Korean-American, trans, and nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns.
- 5 March – LaToya Watkins’ writing has appeared in A Public Space, The Sun, Kweli Journal, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Kenyon Review, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. She is a Kimibilo fellow and has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, MacDowell, OMI: Arts, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Camargo Foundation. She is the author of Perish and Holler, Child.
- 12 March – Eric Smith is a Young Adult author and literary agent with P.S. Literary living in Philadelphia. He’s worked with New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors across genres and categories.
You can check out some of the books he’s worked on here!
In his author life, his latest book, With or Without You, is due out with Inkyard Press this November, and is available for preorder now.
His other books include You Can Go Your Own Way (Inkyard Press), Don’t Read the Comments (YALSA 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection), the contemporary fantasy novel The Girl and the Grove (Flux), and the IndieBound bestseller The Geek’s Guide to Dating (Quirk).
- 19 March – Nita Prose is the author of The Maid, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide and was published in more than forty countries. A #1 New York Times bestseller and a Good Morning America Book Club pick, The Maid won the Ned Kelly Award for International Crime Fiction, the Fingerprint Award for Debut Novel of the Year, the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the Barry Award for Best First Mystery. The Maid was also an Edgar Award finalist for Best Novel. Nita’s second novel, The Mystery Guest, publishes in November in North America and January in the UK. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where as Nita Pronovost she serves as Vice President and Editor in Chief at Simon & Schuster Canada. Find out more at nitaprose.com.
Topics of the presentations include:
- Tapping into Personal Narratives
In this workshop, #1 New York Times bestselling author Ruta Sepetys will discuss how tapping into personal narratives can make your writing and creative work deeper, richer, and more authentic.
She’ll present examples from her powerful guide to writing, You: The Story – A Writer’s Guide to Craft Through Memory, to help you reflect on your own projects.
- Advice for Memoirists
Sara Weiss, Executive Editor at Ballantine Books, will talk about what she looks for in a memoir submission, what makes for a strong proposal, how important platform is, whether or not you need a “hook,” and she will answer any questions about memoir writing and the publishing of memoir, as well as any general questions about commercial nonfiction.
- Writing an Ensemble Cast
Writing a novel is a daunting prospect in itself. But when your premise includes a large cast of characters, there is so much that writers need to get right. This workshop will offer advice on writing a novel with an ensemble cast based on Kirthana Ramisetti’s experience writing her novel Dava Shastri’s Last Day, a multigenerational family saga with fourteen family members. From character development to voice to point of view, the workshop will aim to provide a blueprint on how to ensure distinct characterizations for each member of the ensemble, while also achieving balanced storytelling.
- Writing Heartbreak and Humor
From Steven Rowley, New York Times Bestselling Author of Lily and the Octopus, The Guncle and The Celebrants ,and winner of the 22nd Thurber Prize for American Humor, comes a ninety-minute Deep Dive Workshop on the art of writing both humor and heartbreak in novel format. Join Steven as he discusses voice and the difference in wringing emotion from both first person and third, creating humor authentic to character, writing topical comedy in a long-lead industry like publishing, and the importance of pairing humor with genuine emotion — finding balance when writing for both laughter and tears. Other topics include differences in comedy that’s written vs. performed, and how to find solace in writing jokes in novel form knowing you won’t be there for the laugh. (Unless you stalk your readers and listen outside from the bushes, which Steven is not above doing.) Come prepared to have fun. Tears optional, and hopefully only from laughter.
- How Will I Know? (Testing Your Idea for Book Worthiness!)
Almost all the taxi drivers Jacquelyn Mitchard ever met, asking what she does for a living, said, “Everybody tells me I should write a book!” And you bet, that may be true! However, a collection of vignettes, a series of incidents, or even one epic tale of a meeting doesn’t necessarily constitute a story – much less a story or a novel that can be published.
So, what does? How can you know if the story that obsesses you is worth the effort, anguish, and time it takes to write a great story.
The bestselling author of 25 books for adults, children and teens, Jacquelyn Mitchard gives you specific guidance on how to ‘test drive’ your idea for its merit – and how you can fix it if it’s not there yet.
- Learning from rejection and cultivating persistence.
Rejection is a necessary evil for writers at all career stages, and this talk will explore ways to cultivate persistence even when it feels like the odds are stacked against you. Nicolas DiDomizio will tell his rejection story — from being in the query trenches to struggling on submission to the new forms of rejection he started facing once he became published — and then share several philosophies and techniques he’s developed over the years in order to stay motivated and inspired regardless of how many times he’s heard the word “no.”
- The Art of Method Writing
We often hear about method acting as an approach for actors to get closer to character. In preparation for the 2002 film The Pianist, in which he portrayed the real-life musician Wladyslaw Szpilmanl, Adrian Brody practiced piano three hours a day, got rid of all worldly possessions, and broke up with his girlfriend. Daniel Day-Lewis, Charlize Theron, Forest Whitaker, and various other actors have gone similar routes for the sake of character connection. But what if writers used similar immersive techniques to get close to characters? This talk by LaToya Watkins will explore method writing as an avenue to an authentic sense of character; it will also discuss the importance of “becoming” the character in every practical, possible way.
- First Pages in Young Adult Books: How to Make an Impression
Join Eric Smith for a talk about opening pages in Young Adult novels. Writers often stress about them, especially while querying, and will sometimes throw as much action and excitement as they can into what gets cut-and-paste into an email… but not all books are meant to be written that way. Some have plans for a slow burn, others need a (gasp!) prologue (which is okay!), and a few have quiet stakes that don’t get introduced until later. In this talk we’ll dig into first page misconceptions in Young Adult fiction, showcase some great examples, explain what agents (as well as editors and readers!) look for, and teach you to relax. Let those early pages, and yourself, breathe.
- Polishing Your Prose—Tips for Self-Editing & Getting Your Manuscript Ready for Submission
So you’ve finished a first draft (or are getting closer to it). You know you’ve accomplished something, but you also know your manuscript needs work before it’s ready to be seen by agents and publishers. There’s just one problem: you have no idea what to do next beside spellchecking, and you’ve changed that one comma to a semi-colon so many times your head is spinning. What should you do next?
The answer: self-edit. But how?
This workshop by Nita Prose will teach you the fundamentals, including: common first-draft problems; how to audit your structure/story to isolate problem areas to revisit; how to know when you’re meeting genre norms and when you’re not. This workshop will also cover what it is larger trade publishing editors and agents are looking for when they assess submissions.
- TBD – Topic on SFF by Dongwon Song
What if you’re in a different time zone that will make joining the series difficult?
More than 40% of our delegates for the DDWS in 2023 couldn’t attend the Tuesday sessions due to time zone differences. They would get the recording and materials the next day, and then arrange their own Zooms during the week to work through the workshop questions together to still experience the sense of community we work so hard to create.
We will encourage the same in 2024. The hosts will also make themselves available via Zoom on Saturday the 17th of February and Saturday the 23rd of March at 9am ET to answer any questions these delegates might have.
The cost of the 10-week virtual series is US $599.00 and includes all recordings and materials which will go out each Wednesday.
(Zoom unfortunately doesn’t allow for a discounted rate for those who will be watching the recordings instead of attending the sessions. It also doesn’t allow for a payment plan. We keep asking for these features!)