"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Welcome to the "Roar" Series-Featuring Prolific Author & Award-winning Blogger, C.S. Lakin

As many of you are aware, March is nationally recognized as Women's History Month.
In conjunction, for the last few years, I have produced a popular series ("Roar"), that seeks to highlight, honor and support the collective contributions of successful women worldwide.
Today's interview continues the tradition with author C.S. Lakin. Please join me in welcoming her to Pen and Prosper.

Q. Welcome, Susanne! Can you share a little about who you are and your professional background, with Pen and Prosper readers?

A. Sure. I’ve been writing novels for about thirty years, on and off, and have had a long and challenging writing journey. After writing six novels and going through three literary agents, I finally landed a publishing contract after 23 years. It was quite disheartening, for I spent years really working on my craft and trying to be the best novelist I could be. I got into editing and then critiquing manuscripts about five years ago, then realized how much I loved teaching writing and mentoring writers. So my focus shifted to working full-time as a copyeditor and writing coach, teaching workshops, and providing free instruction and encouragement via my blog Live Write Thrive. I went on writing, and now have sixteen novels and four writing craft books out (my Writer’s Toolbox Series), and although I’ve had six agents and nine books traditionally published, I had landed all my contracts myself via conferences and contests, and now solely self-publish (and love it).

Growing up, I was immersed in the world of television, with a mother screenwriter/producer and stepfather director/producer, so I grew up on sets and around actors, which greatly influenced both my writing style and teaching methods.
Q. What is a typical day like? Do you write every day?

A. Nope. I hardly find time to write. Usually I just set aside two months of the year and tell my clients I’m busy writing and just burn out a book or two. I do write my writing craft material via my blog and in short bursts, but I rarely write. Next week I plan to take one day off to plot out my next novella and will take four days off later this month to write it (and plan to publish in April).
Q. I see you’ve recently released another book. Congratulations! With all the craft books saturating the market, what makes “The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction” different? What one thing do you want readers to take away from it?

A. This book is greatly different from anything out there. It’s the product of all my years of editing and thousands of critiques. Meaning, I see the same issues, problems, mistakes, and challenges over and over with novice writers, and two of the hardest challenges for writers is to get novel and scene structure and to go from idea to fleshed-out novel. So my method really tackles a holistic way of building a story, as well as showing how brainstorming and mind mapping will take you there. My workbook actually includes sample mind maps and an idea I came up with and show developed using the questions and prompts in the workbook.
Q. What would it surprise others to know about you? Any guilty pleasures?

A. I’m proud to admit my chocolate addiction. No guilt.
Q. Your blog, Live, Write, Thrive has been recognized with “Top Blog” honors for several years consecutively. What‘s the secret to becoming a blogging rock star?

A. Wow, I don’t feel like a star, but I’m honored by the recognition. I strive to put a ton of quality time into the content I give away on my blog and fully believe in giving away lots of free instruction and helping other writers find joy and success in their journey. This has been such a great joy for me—getting to know so many other bloggers who have the same love of teaching and helping other writers. All these top bloggers who help writers are doing this as a labor of love—for others and for writing—and it’s fantastic. I benefit just as much by reading others’ blogs and material as I hope my readers glean from my blog. We all give and it goes around. We live in a new era where writers are helping one another instead of competing for those few coveted publishing spots with traditional publishers. Now, everyone can publish, have best sellers, grow their fan base, and enjoy success (whatever that means to you).

Q. You’re trapped on a desert island with only two books in your possession for your reading enjoyment. What are they? And why?

A. Well, the Bible is a given, since it’s my life and my faith. But . . . if you said fiction . . . I would choose my novels The Map across Time and Intended for Harm. Self-centered? Maybe. But those books are so deep and close to my heart, and speak to my core and all that I struggle with, need, and embrace. I need to read those books every year but I don’t have the time. If I had to choose some other author’s book, that would be tough. I love so many novels. I really couldn’t choose. Here are some: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman), The God Hater (Bill Myers), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), The Book of Atrix Wolf (Patricia McKilip).
Q. What are your thoughts on the importance of social media for today’s writer? Blessing or burden?

A. Good question. Too many choices, too much time wasted, yet great ways to connect. Easy to get addicted and waste time. So it’s mixed.

Q. As a writer, what’s the biggest challenge you face?

A. To stay off the Internet. I’m getting more and more easily distracted and ADD due to all the ways I can not work or write. Sometimes I go to the mountains and use a yellow pad and pen to plot out novels where there is no phone reception or Internet. Seriously, my self-control has been slipping, as if I’m dying of a terminal illness. Maybe there is a ghost in those machines that is taking over. So my fight is always with my attention span and determination to focus without distraction. Writing is never hard or a problem once I’m doing it.
Q. Of all the creative “hats” you wear, which is your favorite?

A. Great question. I would say editing and helping writers is the most fulfilling. It’s always more blessed and joyful to give than to receive. I love to teach in person and via my blog and with my individual clients. If you hire me to help you with your project, I’m there 110%. I love seeing so many of my clients write awesome books and become best-selling authors (not everyone does, but watching that process is exciting, and seeing their joy and success makes me feel all warm and fuzzy all over!).
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

A. If you are striving to become a great writer, and particularly a novelist, know it’s a long haul and a huge learning curve. Get professional help (no, not a therapist, although we writers do need that!), hire a writing coach, get a professional critique. Don’t go too far without that help. Writers waste years of their life writing badly structured books and not knowing it. Buy all my books and subscribe to my blog! (seriously, they will help you and spare you a lot of wasted time and heartache!).

Thanks for having me here!
You're quite welcome.

To learn more about C.S. Lakin, her books, products, or services, visit  Live, write, Thrive.

Questions or feedback readers?


  1. I like the question about what books would you like to be stranded with. It's always fun to find new material!

    1. Hi Sally,

      Indeed it is! Thanks so much for stopping by and starting us off. :-)

  2. It's the first time I've ever read a writer say they don't write every day! That's an interesting approach, to block off time and just rip through a couple of books.
    There's something liberating about the approach, rather than fighting to grab a minute here and there. Plus, I would imagine you'd find easier to focus.
    I might try it ... are there any pitfalls I should know before hand?

    1. Hi T.O.,

      We appreciate the feedback here. Actually it's a more common practice than you might realize. In fact, I don't write everyday either.

  3. Your style is so unique compared to other people I've
    read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will
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  4. Hi. T.O., each writer has to find what works best for him or her. Some of my writer friends write a half hour a day. One does it on the commuter train. I could never write a book in tiny pieces like that. I find I need to immerse deeply with long days, as many in a row as possible so I can keep the story mulling in my mind. I don't know if there are pitfalls to that other than the housework and dinners get neglected for a while!

    1. Hmm ... neglecting housework ... I don't know, it sounds really tough, but I think I could do it. :)

    2. C.S.,

      I agree. Writing is definitely not a "one size fits all" profession. :-)

  5. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the
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  6. Excellent interview and so insightful. Thank you, Ms. Lakin. I, too, think it's refreshing to know that it's okay not to write every day. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 13, 2015 at 6:57 AM

      Thanks so much, Sue. Glad you enjoyed it. :-)

  7. Loved the interview, thank you both! It's great to learn more about Susanne and her journey. It's encouraging to hear that others don't write everyday either. :) Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 13, 2015 at 6:58 AM


      It was a pleasure! And a pleasure to reconnect with you here as well. Thanks so kindly.