It is my privilege to introduce someone who I consider a mentor. C.S. Lakin is a novelist, copy editor, writing coach, mom, backpacker, and avid animal lover. Her blog is a gold mine of information for authors at all writing levels delivered consistently and professionally. I subscribed to Lakin’s email blog over a year ago, using her amazing tips to edit my latest novel, Dreadlands, which I was able to secure an agent with (the fabulous Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of D4EO Lit).
Lakin’s latest novel is a compilation of her blog posts in which she discusses the heart of your novel. I immediately bought the book and asked Ms. Lakin if she would be interested in an interview for my blog. Here is what she had to say:
ENGLE: Thank you very much for stopping by for an interview. First, talk about your film background and how it has influenced your work?
LAKIN: I actually don’t have a personal background in film. I was raised by a mother who was a successful screenwriter and TV producer and spend a lot of years reading scripts. I later did work loosely on some development projects for TV series with her, but I never had the ambition to get into the screen trade. However, reading all those scripts and watching a lot of movies, TV, and filming had a strong influence on both my writing style and my teaching approach. I feel readers want to see a story unfold in a visual manner, the way we watch them on the screen. The media has greatly influenced our lives, and authors would do well to adjust their writing style to work within this “newer” framework of the last few decades.
ENGLE: Your blog Live, Write, Thrive is fabulous! I have learned so much over the years following your advice. Your latest book is a compilation of blog posts. Tell me how that came to be and why you chose this topic to compile.
LAKIN: Both of my recent releases—Say What? and Writing the Heart of Your Story are basically compilations from my blog. I meant to create these blog sections in a way that I could later compile and enhance into books. It’s something my friend Nina Amir teaches and writes on: blogging your book. Or, in these instances, I “booked my blog”—turned my blog into books. For Shoot Your Novel, which ran on my blog last year and will come out in print and eBook this fall, I first wrote the book, then “blogged my book.” As far as the topics of my blog sections/courses go, they are centered on the things I feel passionately about as an author and copyeditor, and much is inspired by what I see are problems in the 200+ manuscripts I edit and critique each year. My aim is to help writers, save them time and heartache, by sharing things I’ve observed and learned over the last three decades as a novelist.
ENGLE: What is an interesting or bizarre fact we don’t know about you?
LAKIN: Hmm, I’m not sure what someone might consider bizarre or interesting; I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. I used to have a commercial pygmy goal farm (for ten years) and delivered a lot of babies. I love animals and would be happy having a gazillion pets. But, alas, I can’t fit that into my life. I’m a huge NBA fan (go Spurs!), and if I had free time, I would spend it mostly underwater, at about 60 feet (with scuba gear, of course!). I love diving and haven’t done it in a long time.
ENGLE: You have quite an impressive collection of published books. How do you come up with your ideas and what’s a typical writing day like for you?
LAKIN: Well, I don’t have a typical writing day because I almost never have time to write, since I work full-time as a copyeditor. When I do need to write, like now, I take a couple of months off and write like a maniac. Sometimes I will try to write a few hours a day after editing all day, but that’s hard on my brain and creativity. I wrote Colorado Promise (under pen name Charlene Whitman) in ten weeks in the afternoons and evenings after working all day. It was a huge challenge (especially because the novel ended up 125,000 words) but fun. However, I can’t keep up a pace like that! So these next two months I’ll be writing all day finishing up book 7 (the last one) in my fantasy series (called The Hidden Kingdom) and then writing Colorado Hope, the next Western romance in my series. I plan to release that this fall as well. Let’s just say I have learned to write quickly and efficiently. I plot extensively, which takes the most time and energy, but once I have the story all worked out, I’m off and running.
ENGLE: If you were trapped on a deserted island with one book, one drink, and one friend from literature what would that look like?
LAKIN: Fun question!~ I would love to take The Map Across Time (my book) because I love that book more than anything. However, I would have to say the Bible, since it’s my guide for life and can’t live without it. One drink? If I can’t get fat, it would be a chocolate malt with whipped cream. Or a Starbuck’s cookie crumble frappuchino. One friend from literature? Wow, I’m thinking Enzo from The Art of Racing in the Rain, so long as he’s a young puppy and eager to play. A dog companion will probably be more fun and less aggravation than a human.
ENGLE: As my friend and colleague Jim Knight has mentioned you are also a wonderful editor. How can aspiring authors work with you and what level of writing is necessary before you take them on as clients?
LAKIN: I don’t require any level of writing ability. Anyone can hire me to help them with their books. I mostly do critiques, and those are often first novels. I love helping writers become better at their craft and create books they can be proud of (and sell!).
ENGLE: If you could be a Muppet who would you be and why?
LAKIN: I would probably be Gonzo or Animal just to let out a little of my crazy side. Although I’m sure I have some of that Miss Piggy snarkiness and whine in me at times.
If you truly want to explore how to get to the heart of your story, you can purchase the ebook on Kindle. For Nook, click here. Other formats via Smashwords here. The print book is available here on Amazon. Don’t write a good novel; write a great one!
C. S. Lakin is novelist and writing coach who spends her time divided between developing new book ideas and helping writers polish theirs. She is the author of fourteen novels – six contemporary novels, seven in the fantasy/sci-fi genre, and one in historical Western romance. Whether she is exploring the depths of the human psyche and pushing her characters to the edge of desperation, or embellishing an imaginary world replete with talking pigs and ancient magical curses, she is doing what she loves best – using her creativity and skills to inspire and affect her readers.
C. S. Lakin, Author, Editor