Tuesday, March 5, 2013

C. S. Lakin - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Award-winning Author C. S. Lakin. She is the author of the seven-book fantasy series The Gates of Heaven. Also, Susanne is a freelance copyeditor and writing coach at Critique My Manuscript.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Website: C. S. Lakin - a novel life
Author's Blog: C. S. Lakin - a novel life
Blog: Live Write Thrive
Twitter: @CSLakin
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description:
C. S. Lakin is a novelist and professional copyeditor who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, dog, and three cats. The first four books in her seven-book fantasy series, The Gates of Heaven, have been released: The Wolf of Tebron, The Map across Time, The Land of Darkness, and The Unraveling of Wentwater (July 2012), allegorical fairy tales drawing from classic tales we all read in our childhood.

Lakin's relational drama/mystery, Someone to Blame, won the 2009 Zondervan First Novel award, released October 2010. She just completed writing her eleventh novel, a modern-day take on the biblical story of Jacob called Intended for Harm and her twelfth: The Crystal Scepter (book five in The Gates of Heaven series). Also available on eBook are two mystery/psychological dramas: Innocent Little Crimes (top 100 in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest) and Conundrum. Don't miss Time Sniffers: a wild young adult sci-fi romance that will entangle you in time!

Lakin has two websites for writers: www.livewritethrive.com with deep writing instruction and posts on industry trends. Her site www.CritiqueMyMaunscript.com features her critique services.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Congratulation on your new book called The Crystal Scepter. I have included the book details below. Do you have plans for another book in the Gates of Heaven Series?

The Crystal Scepter is book five in a seven-book series. The next book, The Sands of Ethryn, will be out next January and is inspired by the epic 19th-century poem “The Hound of Heaven” and my favorite Star Trek episode (okay, you’ll just have to wait to find out more about that one!).

Each of the seven books features one of the seven gates of heaven, which have been set up around the world in my kingdom to keep evil at bay. But they have been torn down and abandoned and so evil is getting the upper hand. The last book, which I’m about to start, will wrap up the series and be a kind of curtain call for all the characters from the six previous books. So I’m looking forward to plotting this out and hope it will do justice to the other books in the series!

You have a great following on Twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Because I work full-time as a writing coach and copyeditor, my social networking is primarily for my business. I do see a lot of response on Twitter as regards readers discovering my novels and buying and tweeting about them, and that’s so appreciated. I certainly noticed a big increase in chatter and sales as my Twitter followers increased. But I am all about relationships, and I do a lot for my clients and love my work. I’ve been thrilled to help many land agents and publishing contracts, and because I know so many professionals in the book publishing world, I have a lot of fun “matchmaking.”

I never do a book launch. I had my first three novels come out within eleven months and it was too overwhelming, so aside from sending out about 200 advance reader copies of my novels, I don’t do anything to launch my books. I just have no time! I have friends who do huge launches, blogs tours (tried that), throw online parties, tour, do books signings, etc., but I just don’t have time while working the schedule I do. I write two books at year as well, and have to entertain the dog. It’s all very exhausting!

And I would love to encourage writers to follow my blog: Live Write Thrive and jump into the discussions!

You have great covers especially in the Gates of Heaven Series. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development? Give credit here, please.

I chose my artist, Gary Lippincott, years ago because of his beautiful watercolor covers for writers like Ursula LeGuin. Rarely do you see covers done in watercolor. I am in charge of the cover design of my books and so work with the artist to come up with the cover ideas, and I designed the font and titles with my daughter, who is a great artist and designer (and she does all my websites!) So I coordinate between the artist and my publisher (production manager, designer, editor, etc.) and help with the interior design as well. I worked for years as an illustrator for books and magazines and in commercial art as well, so I really wanted to be sure the covers were terrific. For fantasy books, that’s crucial.

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote your books online?

I am not fond of book trailers. I’ve never seen one I liked. I think they are usually cheesy and tacky and maybe they help sell books, but I don’t know. What sells a book is to write a terrific book and have readers praise it and spread the word. I love getting great reviews and having readers tell me how much they love my books. Everyday someone new discovers my novels, and I gain new fans, and that makes me happy. I write to move readers and stir their emotions.

Between your book writing, blogging, editing and coaching, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I do have a schedule, but I wish I had time to write my novels. My big problem is I just work too much. It’s so hard to turn down all these writers that want me to edit and critique for them, or to make them wait months until I can help them. So I have a problem there. My daily schedule is: wake up at 6. Run two miles on the treadmill. Take a shower. Play Frisbee with the dog. Work an hour (email, Twitter, start editing) then play bouncy ball with the dog. Work another hour, then play more Frisbee. Then go to the library to get away from the dog and edit or critique for about five hours. Then come home and play more bouncy ball or Frisbee or both, then make dinner, do laundry, clean the house, etc., until hubby comes home. Then we chill, watch NBA basketball or some movie and relax.

Then there are the conferences and workshops I teach at or attend. And one day a week I take the dog to doggie day care to get a day off from dog duty, which is very demanding. It’s like having a toddler. He’s a 130-pound young black lab and he sleeps in bed with us. With the two cats . . .

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing, your coaching and the relationship with your readers and fans?

The eBook explosion hasn’t changed the way I write, since I don’t write for the market, although it’s tempting to do so as many of my friends make between $10k and $50 a month off their very commercial eBooks.

However, I have always been driven to write intense stories, and in unusual styles and ways, pushing the envelope and being creative. That’s why I write—as a creative expression and not to fit a niche to sell millions. I would love to be a best-selling author, and I actually plan to write two novels soon, both very high concept with a lot of commercial and film potential, so maybe that will be my big break lol. I do a lot of marketing through Twitter, which is really the best and only good place for authors to promote their work, other than blogging and guest blogging with some nonfiction tie-in topic (which I would do but have no time).

All my successful author friends say Twitter is it, and I’ve found that to be true. No one discovers you on Facebook; they have to already know you to go to your page. But Twitter is where people tweet about the books they read and recommend, and I’ve really grown my fan base over this year that way. I do help a lot of authors format and get their books up on Amazon and other sites as eBooks, and it’s fun to see some of them selling big right out the gate.

I write a lot on my blog about indie publishing options and experiences, and have a lot of guest posts on the topic. I am experimenting with both traditional publishing and self-publishing venues and am sharing what I learn. The main thing I’ve learned is that there is no secret to success, but a great author needs to write great books and stick with it for the long haul to get name recognition. And they need to put out the best books they can write.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I’ve given a few books away here and there, but not many. I don’t feel book giveaways really do much.

You’ve published many great Fiction novels. How you are writing Non-Fiction technical books. Which type do you enjoy writing the most? Does moving from one to the other give you some breathing room or a change of pace?

I just finished writing my second nonfiction writing craft book, Shoot Your Novel, which is the year-long course I am teaching on my blog this year. Last year I did Writing the Heart of Your Story, and made that into a book.

Both books my agent is trying to sell right now. But if they don’t sell, I’ll publish them and sell them myself. My blog surprised me with such success and being chosen as a top ten blog for writers in 2012, and so I am a bit overwhelmed with all the work involved, which takes a ton of time. Some days I have a hundred comments to respond to, as well as tweets. I love writing nonfiction, though, mostly because I love to teach writing, and it’s so fulfilling to constantly get great feedback from writers who have been inspired and spurred on to write by what I teach. It’s more satisfying than a great book review! I only plan to write one nonfiction book a year, though, to blog my book as a course. So the rest of my writing, if I ever find the time, will be novel writing. I have a book due this month but I haven’t started it yet! Pressure’s on!

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. I have to reference your post: Manuscript Critiques—A Help or a Hindrance?

With all the book success you have had, how rewarding is it to help other authors? How do YOU handle having to criticize new author’s writing, knowing their dreams are so high?

Note: Post reference above was from the blog:
The Book Designer by Joel Friedlander @Jfbookman

As I mentioned, I love helping writers. My husband thinks it’s hilarious that I get to “criticize” people for a living. I’m not allowed to criticize him, so I guess that’s why it’s funny, right? Just kidding. I am really a great cheerleader for all my clients.

I love working with new authors who really don’t know much at all and helping them with the big learning curve. I spent two decades getting rejections on my novels because I had no one to mentor and help me, so I want to save my clients years of pain. It’s exciting to see a yucky first draft by a client, followed by a really terrific rewrite.

These new writers work hard, and when they apply what they learn, they really excel! It’s exciting for us both! I embrace their dreams and help them on the way, but I am tough and honest. One client I got together with at a conference shook his head and told everyone during introductions that “I kicked his butt.” But he laughed.

I just have to ask this question and I’m going to date myself. Let’s talk about your dog and his name. How did you decide on the name, Coaltrane? Where you referencing John Coaltrane, the jazz musician from the 1960’s?

Yes, John Coltrane (spelled like this) is who my pup is named after. My husband played the sax (jazz and classical) for years and taught it as well, and we are big jazz enthusiasts. We thought since he’s also black, we’d call him Coal. He gets called “the freight train” and “the body slammer” at doggie day care. And he barks at ants and flies. He’s very cute. I’m attaching a photo of him here.

Author's Book List
The Crystal Scepter The Gates of Heaven Series
When Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, learns of the hidden realm of Elysiel and the crystal scepter that protects that northern land, he journeys to kill the Keeper and steal the scepter. But his defiant act unleashes a terrible curse, and the Seer foretells his death one day at the hand of his son, now a newborn babe. To thwart the prophecy, he attempts to murder his child, but the queen escapes and sends the babe off in a trunk across the sea, where he is found and raised by a humble fisherman.

Years later, Perthin, the cast-off babe now grown, hears his call of destiny, and is visited by a specter who tells him of the land of Elysiel and of the Gorgon—the evil creature fomenting war in the Northern Wastes. Perthin’s village of Tolpuddle is being ravaged by a monstrous sea beast sent by this enemy, and Perthin accepts the challenge to kill the creature by cutting off its head—although anyone who looks upon it turns to stone. Armed with magical shoes and a legendary sword, Perthin arrives in Elysiel, where the trolls lead him to the ice cavern where the sacred site made of crystal slabs awaits him to show him his future. Perthin feels a strange connection to this land, unaware that he is the heir to Elysiel’s throne.

With the help of heaven’s army, Perthin bests the enemy and returns to stop the sea monster as the beast is ravaging the kingdom of Paladya. He rescues the princess, who has been set out in the harbor as a sacrifice for the beast, and then stops the sea monster by exposing it to the Gorgon’s head, yet through his heroic efforts he unknowingly fulfills the prophecy foretold by the Seer. He returns to Tolpuddle a hero, where many surprising revelations await him as to his heritage and legacy, for he learns he is not truly a fisherman’s son but a king foretold. The Crystal Scepter is an adventurous retelling of the classic story of Perseus and Medusa with a twist, as the heart of the story involves the gates of heaven—the sacred sites erected by heaven to prevent evil from taking over the world of mankind. It also has parallels to the story or Oedipus Rex, the 17th-century play by Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca entitled Life is a Dream, and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Christian Books
A happily married man with three small children decides one day he no longer wants to live. He gives himself leukemia and nine months later is dead. This is the conundrum Lisa Sitteroff is determined to solve regarding her dead father—the tale her mother, Ruth, told Lisa and her two brothers, Rafferty and Neal, throughout their childhood. But Lisa, now thirty and watching Raff suffer from the ravages of bipolar illness, believes if she can solve this puzzle, she might somehow save her brother. For Raff’s pain is intrinsically tied up with feelings of parental abandonment. What starts as a noble goal for Lisa soon grows into a vicious family war, wreaking destruction on Lisa’s marriage. Lisa discovers details of her parents’ relationship that her mother has long hidden.

Shocking clues appear as Lisa reads a letter her father, Nathan, wrote before he died, prompting her to visit Nathan’s former boss, Ed Hutchinson. From him, Lisa learns that her engineer father helped design a generator run by radioactive materials. Ed lets slip that Nathan participated in a dangerous secret experiment, a fact her mother discounts as Nathan’s cause of death. Accusations and excuses fly. Yet, how much of what Lisa uncovers is true? Is truth solely subjective? Lisa sifts through layers of lies as she journeys into her father’s story, seeking to understand this man she never knew.

Meanwhile, her mother responds in fury and tries to destroy Lisa’s life, determined to keep Lisa from uncovering her dark secrets.

Conundrum explores the rocky landscape of betrayal and truth, asking whether a search for truth is worth the price, and showing how separating from toxic family members might sometimes be the only recourse for survival. Lisa pays a high price for truth, but in the end finds it worthwhile.
Order the Book From: Amazon
Innocent Little Crimes
Six naïve guests plus revenge served cold equals a recipe for disaster…

Lila Carmichael may be a rich and famous comedienne, but she’s hidden her greatest talent from her adoring fans--her ability to simmer, spice and serve a carefully constructed tour de force at a cozy reunion on her private island in the Pacific Northwest.

Six unsuspecting guests have forgotten the innocent little crimes they committed against poor, gullible Lila fifteen years ago in college. All are teetering on the brink of ruin, hoping the famous Lila will come to their rescue. But their desperation plays them right into her hand.

One by one, Lila's guests are figuratively killed off in a vicious parlor game called Wolves. And revenge turns bittersweet when the weekend is over…and one guest is dead for real.
Order the Book From: Amazon
The Unraveling of Wentwater The Gates of Heaven Series
When the simple, backward village of Wentwater begins disappearing one word at a time, no one can figure out how to stop it. Not the learned men living up in the Heights nor the superstitious leaders of the village. But those who had attended the baby naming ceremony seventeen years earlier remember the words of the marsh witch, and her pronouncement that the babe would one day cause the unraveling of Wentwater. In their fear, the villagers banish the parents and set their cottage on fire, and the babe was thought to have perished in the flames. But . . . did she?

Teralyn lives in the Heights and wants nothing more than to create beautiful music on her lap harp. When she comes down to the village for a festival, she falls in love with a villager named Fromer, much to the fury of Fromer’s brother, Justyn. Justyn’s jealousy moves him to make a deal with the witch, and when Wentwater vanishes due to a backfiring spell, it leaves Teralyn, the only person left in the kingdom, with a terrible choice. She must leave her life and forget Wentwater, or she can spend seven long years restoring everything back to the way it was, by spinning nettle into thread and stitching the world back . . . one word at a time.

The Unraveling of Wentwater explores love, jealousy, mercy, and judgment. It spins a tale about the power and magic of words, and as the marsh witch, who keeps words in a jar, warns, “Be careful with your words, they have consequences!” Secrets and superstitions abound in the kingdom, but only a water creature who lives at the bottom of the lake and guards the sacred site knows the truth and can help Teralyn restore all.

In this fourth installment of The Gates of Heaven fantasy series, readers will learn of the fourth of seven sacred sites heaven set up on earth to prevent evil from gaining a stronghold over the hearts of men. Inspired by the traditional fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, readers will be taken on a journey that will leave them, in a word . . . Speechless.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Christian Books
A Thin Film Of Lies
Fran Anders is a dedicated, no-frills homicide detective who takes her job seriously but has a wry sense of humor. She suffers from the unbearable heat, from unrelenting allergies, but does not suffer fools. As much as she wants to please her superiors, she knows her true boss is—God—and she answers first and foremost to his leading, which sometimes takes her beyond the call of duty, often to the ire of those around her. A middle-aged, divorced, single parent with two teens, Fran hopes someday to find a great man and remarry, but she’s not holding her breath. Right now, she just wants to be a good cop and mother, and use her faith to help those she encounters in her line of work learn there’s someone “up there” who truly cares for them.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Intended for Harm
At the height of the Vietnam War in 1971, Jake Abrams is desperate to leave his oppressive home in Colorado and begin a new life in college in LA, but his dreams are waylaid when he meets Leah, an antiwar protester who pushes him into marriage and family. Jake tries to juggle school, his job, and raising four children, but Leah turns to drugs and drinking, and finally runs off with her rock band, leaving Jake reeling.

When he falls for Rachel and marries her, his children rebel. And when Joseph, their love child is born, Jake makes the same fatal mistake his own father did--he shows favoritism to this divinely gifted boy who has the power of healing. After Rachel dies in childbirth, bringing Ben into the world, Jake turns his back on God and buried himself in denial. His children are wild weeds, and as they grow, the older sons' resentment of Joseph's gifts fester until they can take it no longer. The family hides a dark secret of murder, which Joey threatens to spill out of righteous indignation and fear of God, and the only way to stop him is to kill him. The intend harm for him, but God has other plans for Joseph, and in a divinely orchestrated twist, years later Joseph confronts his brothers, who do not recognize him. True to the Bible story this is patterned after, Joseph is reunited with his estranged brothers, and Jake finally welcomes his long-lost son back into his arms, which brings closure and healing to his hurting family.

Written in a contemporary flash-fiction style, Intended for Harm covers forty years, each chapter a year, with a theme from a hit song for that year. Each scene is a fifteen-minute snapshot of the Abrams family, a "photo album" of Jake's life of wandering "through the wilderness" and coming home to faith at the end of his life. Anyone familiar with the Bible will recognize many similarities to the famous story of Jacob and his son Joseph. At the heart of this story is an exploration of fathers and sons, of loyalty and betrayal. And mostly, how we often intend harm to others because of wounds we carry in our souls, often without our knowing.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
The Land of Darkness The Gates of Heaven Series
“It is not the land that is dangerous, Callen. The danger lies in your heart. Others have lost their lives searching for the bridge. Are you certain you are prepared to pay that price?”

Jadiel is twelve and things couldn’t get much worse—or could they? Not long after her mother is killed in a tragic accident, her father, Ka’rel, marries a vile and abusive woman named Huldah, but Jadiel sees how he simmers under Huldah’s intoxicating enchantment. Jadiel’s wicked stepmother means to get rid of Jadiel, and sends her off with a threat and an impossible task: bring back the leaves from the Eternal Tree by the next full moon or her father will die. Heartsick and hopeless, Jadiel sets out alone and afraid.

Callen, a woodworking apprentice for Jadiel’s uncle in Wolcreek Vale, discovers some weathered drawings of an exquisitely detailed bridge made entirely of wood and embellished with mysterious symbols that appear to be ancient script. Obsessed with finding this bridge, he sets off seeking clues to its possible existence, unknowingly beginning a perilous and mystifying undertaking. On his journey, he rescues Jadiel from brigands and learns their quests are linked—as the elusive bridge Callen seeks is crafted from the rare tree Jadiel must find. The trail of clues leads them to the forbidden Land of Darkness, where they must face the greatest dangers of all—what lies in their hearts.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Christian Books
Time Sniffers (Shadow World)
An explosion at a secret laboratory. A rift in space-time. Alien dogs that can camouflage and sniff rips in time with their supervac noses. Be prepared to traverse shifting time streams and deeply entrenched shadow worlds in a wild and crazy fantasy/sci-fi near-future that will make your head spin and your heart pound.

Chockful of science and romance (yes, the two are compatible!), follow Bria Harrison, brilliant teenage daughter of two prominent scientists, as she searches for her mother, whom she insists is alive, despite the devastating explosion at the National Laboratory. While re-creating her mother’s last experiment in her basement, Bria, her autistic brother Dylan, and four friends cause a rip in time-space—and out of the resultant black hole tumbles K-Six, a time sniffer who has come to get them.

This doglike alien takes them back through the rip to his training world, where the teens must be altered to adapt to dangerous time confluences and worlds they must traverse to save the scientists trapped in a time eddy. If the scientists cannot be rescued soon, dark energy, now streaming into the galaxy at an alarming rate, will cause horrific destruction—including the end of all life on earth.
Order the Book From: Amazon
The Map Across Time The Gates of Heaven Series
MapAcrossTime.com The Map across Time, a sweeping epic of unfailing love and trust, shows how those who feel they are insignificant and unworthy have merit and serve heaven s purpose, even if that purpose is hidden.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Christian Books
Someone to Blame: A Novel
In the wake of heartrending family tragedies, Matt and Irene Moore move with their fourteen-year-old daughter, Casey, to a small town. Their goal is to get far away from the daily reminders that leave each of them raw and guilt-ridden. Their hope is to find redemption, repair, and renewal. Instead, the threads that hold them together unravel even more.

Breakers, a small community perched on the rocky coast of the Pacific Northwest, is draped with cold isolation that seems to mirror the hearts. As they settle into their new life, old grief settles with them. Matt is always on edge and easily angered, Irene is sad and pensive, and Casey is confused and defiant. They've once more set the stage for calamity. Into this mix comes Billy Thurber, a young drifter with his own conflicts, whose life unexpectedly entangles with the Moores'. His arrival in Breakers parallels a rash of hateful and senseless crimes, and soon the whole town -- eager for someone to blame -- goes after Thurber with murderous intent.

Out of this dangerous chaos, however, the Moores find unexpected grace and healing in a most unlikely way. Author C. S. Lakin explores our need to assign reason and fix blame for the pain and grief in our lives. Though the circumstances are fictional, the emotions are real and universal, making Someone to Blame a great and inspiring read.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Christian Books
The Wolf of Tebron (Book1) in The Gates of Heaven Series
A young blacksmith must undertake a perilous journey to the four ends of the world to rescue his wife, who is held captive by the Moon. Along the way, he befriends a powerful wolf who encourages, protects, and ultimately sacrifices his life to save his human friend. A stirring allegory of Gods love in classic fairy tale tradition.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - ChristianBooks
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner.
Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

No comments:

Post a Comment