"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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Ask the Expert" With Author and Editor C.S. Lakin

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a recent interview conducted with novelist, copyeditor, author and coach, C.S. Lakin. Many of you may remember her from her inspiring guest post contribution some time ago, on the blessings of discouragement. For my new followers, you can read that popular post again here.
Please make her feel welcome with your questions or comments.

Q. Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your creative background?

I've been writing novels for more than thirty years, and after doing a lot of learning and practical application, I began editing and critiquing for authors. I was raised by a TV screenwriter/producer and had a director for a step-father, so my childhood was entrenched in Hollywood, which influenced my story structure. I have two grown daughters, a hardworking husband, a black lab, and three cats. I divide my time mostly between writing books and editing.

Q. Which do you consider more difficult to write--fiction or nonfiction? Why?

I can only speak for myself, personally. I find both are challenging, but neither is harder than the other. They both require thought, organization, creativity, imagination, and purpose.

Q. Describe your brand. What does it entail?

I don't have one. I write in numerous genres and have three pen names. It's difficult to brand each one and it takes time, but it must be done. With my nonfiction, of course, my brand is tied in with me being a blogger, writing instructor, editor, and novelist. I'm all about helping writers write great books.

Q. As an editor who reviews approx 200 manuscripts a year, what are some of the most common mistakes you observe writers making?

I'd say the biggest issues are lack of study (of craft and genre) and resultant skill and an impatience in becoming a proficient writer--meaning, most throw together a novel or nonfiction book without taking the time to learn how to write well and structure their book. It seems a waste of time, effort, and money to write a book without first taking the time to learn how to do it well. It's kind of like trying to bake a five-tier fancy wedding cake without ever having cooked a thing, without reading a cookbook, and just throwing ingredients into bowls and cooking the mess, hoping somehow it will come out of the oven a picture-perfect cake.


Q. I see that your blog accepts guest post submissions. How many do you receive monthly? How can writers increase the odds of getting their work published at Live, Write, Thrive?

I get a steady stream of guest post requests. Most I turn down--because the writer hasn't read my guidelines (which are clearly stated on my blog) and often want to post something completely off topic. The other problem I see a lot are queries from people who can hardly write a clear sentence. If their query shows that much of a lack of a firm grasp of the English language, I know the post will be a disaster. Read my blog, know who my audience is, then write a unique and fresh (and personal) post that will benefit my readers, in typical blog structure.

Q. Based on your publishing track record, you seem pretty prolific. What tips can you share with us on dealing with writer's block?

I don't believe in writer's block. There is only lack of preparation and procrastination. I give lots of great advice on how to be super productive in my latest release Crank It Out!

Q. What would it surprise others to know about you?

Not sure. I used to have a commercial pygmy goat farm, and once upon a time I played in a rock band. Most people seem very surprised that I'm both a devout follower of Jesus and a die-hard liberal who believes in helping the poor and oppressed. For some reason, a lot of people seem to think those two things are mutually exclusive, while I believe they are mutually inclusive. But we're not here to talk faith or politics, though those two issues are ones I'm very passionate about.

Q. What advice can you give us on how to use social media with greater savvy?
I'm slowly drawing away from social media (though I have a lot of tweets regularly running). I spend about two minutes a day on Facebook. I believe more in building a mailing list of fans and giving away free books. I see that authors who do that see the most success.

Q. You've garnered several blogging awards over the years. To what do you attribute your success?
I provide a lot of helpful free content and work my butt off to do so.

...Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're a novelist and need help with your writing, subscribe to my blog and join my Fast Track email group (no participation required). You'll get a lot of free books and PDFs and advice--all to help you fast track to success. Sign up here: https://cslakin.lpages.co/writing-the-heart-of-your-story-opt-in/


C. S. Lakin is the author of twelve novels, including the seven-book fantasy series “The Gates of Heaven.” She also writes contemporary psychological mysteries, including her Zondervan contest winner Someone to Blame. She works as a professional copyeditor and writing coach and loves to teach the craft of writing. Her websites are dedicated to critiquing fiction and building community to help survive and thrive in your writing life: www.LiveWriteThrive.com and www.CritiqueMyManuscript.com. Come join in! You can read more about her and her books at www.cslakin.com.
Follow @cslakin and @livewritethrive. Facebook: C. S. Lakin, Author, Editor.


  1. It's nice to see C.S. here. I've been a Live Write Thrive follower for years. Appreciate the insight and advice here and on her blog. Thanks for hosting, Jen. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks for your time and comment, Karen. Her blog is definitely informative.

  2. Jen, thanks for this interview. I will most certainly check out C.S. Lakin, whose philosophy on writing, religion and politics, I agree with. I would like to know more about her. Thanks again.

  3. Lin,

    You are quite welcome. It was a pleasure. I believe you will be enhanced by reading her blog.