Online Courses

Here are some of the courses at that will help you level up your writing!

Your Cast of Characters: How to Populate Your Story with Just the Right Characters

Characters are the heart of every story. Without them, stories would be flat, boring, uninspiring. We read fiction to immerse ourselves in the lives of characters—their journeys and struggles, their hopes and failures. And when we go on these journeys, we long to be moved, even changed, by the characters we care about. If we’re lucky, we’ll gain some important insights about ourselves, our world, and those we share life with.

As fiction writers, our task, first and foremost, is to tell a great story. The challenge is to populate that story with a cast of characters that is exactly what’s needed to tell that story in the best way possible, whether we’re writing a play, a movie, a short story, or a novel.

Here’s some of what you’ll learn in this extensive course:

  • What the basic types of characters are and what roles they play in a story
  • How your plot and premise inform the characters you develop
  • How to determine if a character is essential to your plot or just “filler”
  • What kind of supportive characters does your specific story need and how you can determine that
  • How to create characters that act as symbols
  • What archetypes are and how you can utilize them to create fantastic characters
  • How incidental characters can make or break your story
  • Why understanding character motivation is paramount

These video modules feature numerous excerpts from novels, movie clips, and deep instruction. In addition, you are given assignments to help you develop a great cast of characters, which you can download and do over and over as needed.


In addition to the intensive instruction in these video modules, you’ll also have access to numerous video interviews with best-selling authors, who share their process in developing their cast of characters as well as give tips to authors on how to come up with great characters! These video interviews are not available anywhere else.

Don’t guess how many characters your story needs. Don’t just throw in random character types to fill out your novel or play or screenplay. This course will give you the guidance you need to make smart decisions about your cast of characters.

Enroll in the course HERE!

Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers: How to Effectively Show Emotion in Characters and Evoke Emotional Response in Readers

Mastering the emotional craft of fiction is perhaps the most difficult challenge facing a writer. And the most important and yet overlooked.

Readers read to care. They read to feel.

Readers of fiction aren’t reading to acquire facts, such as they might do when studying a nonfiction book. They read to be entertained, affected. They read to be tense, laugh, worry, get excited. In other words, they read to feel something.

If we writers don’t succeed in making our readers feel something, we fail. If they don’t feel what we want them to feel, we fail.

To be an effective writer, we must master the emotional challenge of our stories. It won’t do to hope we will move our readers in some way. It won’t do to hope we get across our characters’ emotions.

If we want to be masterful writers, we have to become a master of emotion.

Here are some of the essential things you will learn in this course:

  • The 3 key ways to show emotion in your characters and which one is the most powerful
  • What the action-reaction cycle is all about, and why you must understand it to be an emotional master
  • Why you need to manipulate your readers’ emotions, and why that’s a good thing
  • How to recognize complex emotion and transfer that onto the page
  • What microtension is and why it’s essential for emotional mastery
  • Ways to craft mood that will evoke emotion in readers
  • How to work at the word, phrase, and sentence level to masterfully convey emotion
  • How to find the perfect balance of showing and telling emotion in your characters
  • How to deconstruct masterful writing that evokes and shows emotion and emulate the effect in your own scenes

This course is jam-packed with excerpts from novels, movie clips, handouts, and exercises—all designed to help you become an emotional master!

This essential instruction is not available anywhere else. There are no books, podcasts, blog posts, or courses that tackle this topic and to this depth. Few writing instructors teach anything pertaining to the emotional craft of fiction. Yet, it is just as important—if not more so—than a great plot or compelling characters.

Check out this intensive course HERE!

Targeting Genre for Big Sales:

Want to know the system that has reliably produced THOUSANDS of book sales for even the most discouraged authors?

Face it: with more than 4,000 new ebooks published daily, the chance that your novel will sell big is slim.

99% of self-published novels never sell more than a handful of copies.

flaming arrows and target 1000 wideDespite extensive marketing and promotion efforts, most authors still fail to get discovered, resulting in frustration and heartache.

There is nothing more disappointing for an author than to write a terrific novel and watch it flop. Few sales. Few reviews. A handful of new fans.

All those months of hard work writing a stellar novel . . . and zilch returns.

Why is it that some authors’ books skyrocket up the best-seller lists, when their books are comparable to yours—often even worse? Why should their not-so-great books get awards, attention, and TONS of sales, while yours is completely ignored?

You’ve slaved for months—probably years—carefully crafting your novel. And it’s time your book got the attention it deserves.

What Some of These Best-Selling Authors Know That You Don’t

Yes, some writers get lucky breaks. Others have clout or connections. Great marketing and targeted promotion can help only to some extent.

But what most undiscovered writers don’t understand is how to take advantage of genre.

Genre plays a huge part in sales. And learning to target the right genre can mean the difference between a novel no one’s heard of and one that sells hundreds or even thousands of copies a month.

Yet, there is hardly anything online or in books that teach you how to write books to a moneymaking genre—one with the potential to get you consistent monthly sales.

I spent more than two decades trying to sell my novels, and although they garnered high praise, they didn’t neatly fit into a niche genre slot. Fed up and needing to justify spending years of my life writing books that didn’t pay the bills, I decided to do an experiment.

In 2013, I set out writing a novel in a genre that I learned “sold itself.” Meaning, it was a niche genre that had high demand but little competition. The results?

Using a pen name and with a minimum of promotion, my book jumped to the tops of the genre lists in a matter of weeks, selling thousands of copies per month.

This led me to these conclusions:

  • Genre plays a huge part in big sales, and supply and demand are important to consider
  • You need to learn how to identify these niche genres that sell well but don’t have tough competition
  • Writers need to narrow their focus to target a specific audience rather than cast a wide net
  • Writers need to understand how to deconstruct books in their niche genre and tailor their cover design, keywords, and description copy to position their book alongside best sellers in their targeted genre

I went on to write additional books in my niche genre that sold tens of thousands of copies. Using these same strategies and methods, my nonfiction writing craft books also saw this kind of success:

  • My books hit the top of the category lists (top ten) within 24 hours of putting them up for sale on Amazon before I sold even one copy. And in my course, I’ll show you how your books can do the same.
  • My books populated in the “hot new releases” feature at the top of the search pages for categories before I sold even one copy.
  • My books continue to populate in the top-ten search results indefinitely when the main keywords are entered into the search bar in the Kindle or Book store.

As a result of my research and experimentation, I’ve put together a step-by-step easy method for you to write to a genre that will give you the best strategy for high, consistent book sales. While these steps apply to nonfiction as well, this unique course specifically for self-publishing fiction writers to learn how to target genre successfully.

This course has a proven twofold strategy—targeting genre, then targeting Amazon.

You’ll learn not only how to choose a great niche genre and write the perfect book that will fit that genre—you’ll also learn the secrets to optimizing your Amazon product page so your books will come up at the top of the search results when potential buyers search for a book like yours.

While there’s no guarantee that following these methods will launch you into bestsellerdom, applying these strategies will skyrocket your chance at success.

No risk! I stand by my 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you don’t feel this course is helping you, you can get a full refund.

Don’t wait any longer to see big sales with your novels on Amazon. Make this the year you hit the top of the best-seller lists!

“This instruction has been a game changer for me personally. I went from selling practically nothing to a couple of thousands books per month just from following the steps you laid out!” —S. D.

My book jumped to #1 the first day of a 5-day promo. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this immediate success is due to your guidance on carefully selecting key phrases and writing them into the product description, then selecting the less competitive categories. There is no way I would have had this success without optimizing the Amazon search engine according to the information and directions set out in your course material. I’m forever grateful for this, Susanne.”  —Garry Rodgers

“Following C. S. Lakin’s directions, I was able to change the keywords for my book so that every one of them brought it to the first page of results. I expect this to have amazing results when it comes to future sales. I’ve never received such valuable information. Thank you!” —Karen Saari


 The 4 Essential Pillars of Novel Structure:

Writing a novel is a daunting task.

Few succeed at creating a story that holds together. Even those who have taken countless classes and read dozens of books on novel writing still don’t have a clue how to construct a strong novel.

Why is it so hard? Isn’t it just a matter of laying out an interesting plot and crafting empathetic characters?

No. It’s not. Most novels are seriously flawed, despite careful planning and creative ideas. Why? Because the structure won’t hold up the story.

slidebackgroundNovels, like buildings, need to conform to time-tested structural principles. And while many great books on writing craft teach helpful skills, if a writer doesn’t first build the four key pillars needed for support, his story will collapse. It’s that simple.

Just as a solid framework is needed for a building to support a heavy roof, a novel needs a strong foundation to support a plot. And this foundation can’t be built in separate pieces.

Most writing craft books, bloggers, and instructors teach about the important elements that go into a novel. But few, if any, take a holistic approach.

What does that mean? That, similar to a builder who has to envision the finished structure at every stage of the building process, a novelist must construct his story by working on all the primary foundational pillars together.

Just as corner pillars that support the Parthenon must be perfectly placed and identical in size and strength, the four corner pillars of novel construction must be solid and in place before a substantial story can be built upon it.

Once a writer builds those 4 solid pillars, his story will have a base to stand on.

This course will help writers test and develop the foundational elements of their story so that they can ensure they have what’s needed to build a solid novel.

Here’s what this course will cover:

Concept with a Kicker: Novelists need to understand the difference between idea, premise, and concept. A great idea does not make a novel. Ideas have to be taken to a higher level; they have to have a kicker. Premise is plot with a hero, villain, and stakes. Concept transcends plot and premise by adding that one intriguing “what if?” question. Concept empowers and drives idea, plot, and premise. Without a riveting concept, a novel’s support will be flimsy, like a house built with twigs.

Conflict with High StakesConflict creates plot. Your protagonist wants something. Someone prevents him from immediately gaining that thing. Conflict ensues, and a story is born. Too many novels have minimal conflict—internal and external. Conflict needs to involve high stakes—both personal and public—in order for the story to propel forward with the necessary tension. Concept and conflict go hand-in-hand, for without conflict the concept won’t have momentum.

Protagonist with a Goal: All too often protagonists of novels are aimless, just reacting to events as they happen without having a specific plot goal. But a novel needs a clear objective for its hero—and each major supporting character also needs a goal, including the antagonist. Protagonists’ goals are tied in with the concept and premise and so must be set up right away in a novel, and the protagonist’s journey to achieve that goal drives the plot and is decided at the climax of the book. It’s not enough to create an intriguing main character; protagonists must have a core need that drives them.

Theme with a Heart: Even if writers don’t have a conscious theme in mind for their novel, there is a reason they are writing it, and a theme or themes being implied by the premise. Why bother writing a book if you are not passionate about something in this story? Theme is an essential pillar because it gives a novel focus and depth. And the way the theme is presented throughout the story should show the “heart” that underlies the plot.

This course is meant to help you fashion the blueprint for a terrific story. While there are 12 key pillars of novel construction that are essential to get under your belt, these first 4 pillars are key. Once you have your 4 corner pillars strong, you can move on to your 8 supporting pillars.

Why this course will help you in a way no other will:

You’ll learn how to build each of these 4 corner pillars so that they will stand up to scrutiny and the test of time. To build a timeless, memorable novel, you need a killer concept, a unique protagonist with a compelling goal. You need conflict and high stakes oozing from your pages. And you need theme with a heart to make your readers love your book.

In addition, you’ll get worksheets and questions and checklists to help you brainstorm your ideas and solidify your story.

So what are you waiting for?

Get ready to put your ideas through the wringer. You’ll come out the other side with a terrific foundation to support your story. A story you can build that readers will love and that you can be proud of.

Only $49. Enroll HERE!

The Ten Key Scenes That Frame Up Your Novel:

Writing a terrific novel is a complex endeavor. And while there are hundreds of books, podcasts, and blog posts that teach aspiring authors how to structure scenes and plot out a solid story, none implement the most intuitive and effective method for success.

Novels are made up of dozens of scenes, and regardless of genre, time-tested structure dictates what key scenes are needed and where. Most writers are familiar with some of those scenes: the Inciting Incident, the Midpoint, and the Climax, to name a few.

But novelists need more than a few landmarks to find their way across the tricky terrain of novel plotting.

They need a surefire method to organizing all their scenes.

In this video course, you’ll be introduced to an innovative, intuitive method for arranging your scenes and crafting a beautifully structured story. Nearly every great story, whether a novel, a play, or a movie, follows this time-tested structure. And it isn’t all that hard!

The ten key scenes are your story foundation. If you don’t construct them well, your story will collapse.

In this course, you’ll learn these crucial elements of novel structure:

  • What the 5 major turning points are and where they’re placed in your novel
  • How to know exactly where to start your story and how to set up your premise
  • What the ten key scenes are that serve as the framework for your novel
  • What pinch points are and why you need them
  • How to craft those essential twists and where they’re placed in your story for greatest impact
  • Why your protagonist’s goal is the key to great storytelling
  • What the six stages of character transformation are and where those specific scenes go

Don’t guess what scenes you need in your novel. Don’t guess where your scenes go. Guessing usually leads to novel failure.

With the method, you’ll guess no more. You can write terrific novels, every time, if you follow this blueprint!

Your course includes video modules for each lesson, slides and movie clips, and charts, along with passages from novels, to help you fully understand the content. You’ll also get handouts you can download, including worksheets to use to help you brainstorm your turning points, key scenes, and the protagonist’s transformational journey.

This course lays the foundation for the intuitive layering method outlined in Layer Your Novel: The Innovative Method for Plotting Your Scenes. Once you’ve mastered your ten key scenes, you’ll be ready to brainstorm your second layer of scenes. An online video course will be added to this school later this year to help you layer your next ten scenes!

International best-selling author Jerry Jenkins says of this layering method:

“I loved this book. There is so much here, yes, even for us pantsers—because in every novel manuscript there comes that point where we wish we were plotters. And as much as C. S. Lakin eschews winging it, her layering method actually allows for enough creativity and innovation that we get the best of both worlds.

If the idea of outlining repulses you, admit there are times when you wish you’d done it, and give Layer Your Novel a peek. It’ll make you a better storyteller.”