The End of NaNoWriMo

For some of you, today gives you great reason to celebrate. You’ve achieved the coveted NaNoWriMo badge and all the accolades that accompany it.
And then there are others who are asking themselves: what the F@$% is NaNoWriMo?

Oh, let’s not forget those who have not met the NaNoWriMo…I have fallen into this category in the past.

NaNoWriMo is the name of a nonprofit organization that assists and encourages people to write. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. People are encouraged to write 50,000 words, which is an acceptable length for a novel. Their website is HERE!

My feelings for NaNoWriMo are mixed. I always like it when people find the correct tools to help them achieve their goals, and for some, NaNoWriMo offers such tools.

For others, though, it’s a reminder of their past failures or just another stress in their life—an impossible task with their workload.

Have I ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Every time I do, I fail miserably. But it’s not due to being a slow writer or writer’s block. I do things when I do them, and if NaNoWriMo starts when I’m in the middle of edits, I’m not straying from my edits.

On multiple occasions, I’ve written 65,000 words in three weeks. When the novel has been sitting in your head for a while, sometimes the words just flow from you. NaNoWriMo is not a tool I’ve ever needed, and at worst, it could have been something that made me second guess going into writing. That certainly didn’t happen to me, but I can imagine it weighing on others. It never feels good to have unmet goals.

Do I recommend giving NaNoWriMo a try next year? Depends. If you are someone that needs to set clear goals and push yourself, it might be a good idea. If you are overburdened and feel dejected when you can’t finish something–stay the F@$% away.

That’s my take on NaNoWriMo. Congratulations to those who made it to 50,000! I know how hard that can be, especially when life comes at you hard and fast. If you fell short, well, you’re in good company. Many authors do. It could be that NaNoWriMo just isn’t the tool for you.

The copyright issue that we need to watch…

I am encouraging EVERY writer, artist, and creative type to head on over to the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website and read Alan Dean Foster’s claims against Disney. Not only is it BONKERS if true, which I have no reason to believe it isn’t, but it has to potential to affect every single one of us.

If you see the hashtag #DisneyMustPay trending, this is the reason why. Read it from the source below because details are so often butchered when reading regurgitated accounts.

Click HERE or below:

Dialogue tags and all the bad advice….

One of the wonderful things about social media is that it provides a gateway for like-minded people to meet and interact in ways that weren’t around in previous decades. The ‘writing community’ is alive and thriving on several social media platforms, full of positive energy and a willingness—no eagerness to help.

This is both good and bad. It’s good that people can come together with others who share the same interest, but sometimes we step outside of our areas of expertise by giving advice that may or may not be correct. Or even just opinion based.

Years after entering the ‘writing community,’ the debate on dialogue tags is still alive and thriving. I’m going to break it down and go over it analytically, though I will pepper in opinions of my own at the end.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert. I have a masters in business, not in writing, which is why I’m doing an analytical analysis. 

The Debate: 

Opinion #1: You should only use said and asked when writing. Readers will read over those words without noticing them.

Opinion #2: Said is dead. Use diverse tags.

Opinion #3: Cut as many dialogue tags as possible and replace them with action tags!!!!

Opinion #4: Don’t use any tags. All tags are dead.

What is a writer to do when they post their question on social media and are inundated with very different pieces of advice, like the example above?

It’s simple. When writing, seek out professional advice. There are people that have never been published or held a job that encompassed writing, giving very specific advice that is best left to professionals.

Now, back to dialogue tags. I have an answer for you. A good one. A professional one, but not as a writer or an editor. As an analyst.

It’s usually best to follow industry-standard in your genre, and dialogue tag usage may vary from genre to genre. In a very FAKE example that has no bearing on reality: it’s possible that western romance normally uses said, but medieval fantasy uses numerous other tags like whispered, shouted, muttered. I’m just saying that genres may use different practices—and that’s okay!

So, it’s never a bad idea to pick up a popular book in your genre and see what tags the author uses. For example, GRRM in A Game of Thrones uses: told, put in, insisted, shouted, reminded, continued blithely(yes, he uses adverbs with tags), and agreed among many other tags…including said.

Let’s check out prolific author Stephen King. He uses: replied, hissed, whispered, told, added, said breathlessly(another adverb in a tag!), muttered, roared, and many other tags…including said.

Let’s check out Nora Robert’s Hideaway: looking at the Amazon preview, there are almost zero dialogue tags. ZERO!!! I did find a whispered, but it’s almost all action tags.

So, based on initial analysis of very few books, it appears that two prolific authors use several different tags. And one barely uses any. 

What does this mean? Should you make a decision based on that small sample size? No. It means that you should do what you want knowing industry standard, finetune it, then send it for editing and beta reading to see what others think. It means that you shouldn’t just take arbitrary advice from people off the internet, including myself.

Now for my opinions….

And they are just that. Opinions. 

  1. I hear the advice, “You shouldn’t have to say whispered, the scene you set up should make it obvious.” —BULLSHIT. Sometimes whispered is the perfect word that gets you to the next, and the reader is going to be fine with it.
  2. I love action tags! Action tags help move everything along better and can make it obvious who is speaking when there are more than two people.
  3. Not every dialogue requires a tag, but having too few is confusing.
  4. Said and asked get repetitive and boring. Example:

“Hi,” Jake said.

“Hi. How are you?” Sue asked.

“I’m fine. How about you?” Jake asked.

“Okay, but my back does ache,” Sue said.

“I fell in love with this little Mexican restaurant down the street,” Jake said.

“The Purple Taco? I got sick eating there,” Sue said.

“I have an iron gut,” Jake said.

“Wish I did,” Sue said.

5. Although said and asked get repetitive, too many different action tags get exhausting to read. 

“Hi,” Jake said.

“Hi. How are you?” Sue asked.

“I’m fine. How about you?” Jake questioned.

“Okay, but my back does ache,” Sue answered.

“I fell in love with this little Mexican restaurant down the street,” Jake enthused.

“The Purple Taco? I got sick eating there,” Sue responded.

“I have an iron gut,” Jake said.

“Wish I did,” Sue muttered.


So, there is a balance with how you should use tags, and receiving feedback from the right people is critical in perfecting your manuscript. If you’re unsure, have beta readers go over a chapter with a lot of dialogue and ask them what they think. Click HERE to learn more about beta reading.

So…that’s the blog. Some of you will disagree on some of my points, and that’s fine; just realize you’re not going to change my opinion, and arguing with me will be like talking to a brick wall—because I’ll be working. 

Yours in Adventure,


Lessons Learned From Beta Reading

Hello, Friends! Today I’m not going to talk to you about any of my books. Instead, I’m going to prattle on about an important part of the writing process: the beta reader.

Beta readers read and critique polished manuscripts—basically, an early reader of your manuscript. 

I’ve beta read over one-hundred manuscripts across multiple genres. It can be a great experience, giving important information to the reader—or it can be a nightmare.

Not only have I beta read a ton, but I’ve also had all of my works beta read—so I know what it’s like receiving feedback. Sometimes it sucks. Like, I’ve cried reading some of the critiques…but I’ve never mistreated a reader.

Below I’m going to go over some lessons learned I’ve experienced over the years. 

Asking for a beta reader when you need an alpha reader

By the way—I have done this. I have seen the way!

You need a beta reader when your work is polished. You need an alpha reader when your work is at a point where it needs editing. The problem is, some people don’t know that their manuscript requires work. I hate taking on beta reads only to find errors because I’m not one that can overlook them, so I sink HOURS more into a project.

How you can avoid this: If this is your first time having people read your work, always ask for an alpha reader.

Unsolicited requests for reads

It may sound like a great plan to simply ask someone to read for you. This person LOVES sci-fi—I write sci-fi! I’ll let them read my work for free!

Why might this be annoying: Some people don’t like giving feedback -or- they have a pile of books to go through -or- they’re busy -or- they hate saying no…so many reasons.

How to get a beta reader: There are places where beta readers linger. Facebook groups for beta readers are FULL of people wanting to read for someone! Also, Twitter. If someone’s profile says Beta Reader, approach them. People’s websites will advise if they beta read. If you know someone of a similar genre is looking, you can offer an exchange.

Hurt feelings

When you read as much as I do…you give a lot of criticism. I try to give it constructively, but people have varying levels of tolerance to your thoughts.

Most of the criticism I’ve given, I really shouldn’t have to. If someone is constantly correcting your tags, you should have had it proofread first. A true beta reader should not be editing, though I find myself doing this quite often.

Now, when I do find real issues, like plot holes and missing information(during edits, many people forget to add details back in), I type it in my notes and move on. It makes me feel terrible when the author gets distraught or is argumentative. I’ve had people say they’re going to abandon their manuscripts over very little things. DON’T DO THAT!

Beta readers can often spot a problem, but don’t give the best advice on how to fix it

I did NOT come up with that quote, but I find that it rings true. I wish I could credit who did come up with it.

Basically, they’re like drug dogs sniffing out the problems….but that’s all a drug dog can really do. You might get an excellent beta reader that knows exactly how to fix an issue…but it’s rare. And some genres are easier to fix than others.

A beta reader is only one opinion

Do NOT make major changes you don’t feel good about UNLESS you have several people telling you there is a problem. One opinion is just that, one opinion.

For a full-length novel, I recommend five beta readers. Right now, I have three dedicated readers because I’m having a hard time finding a permanent and reliable 4 and 5.

Your beta readers should be your target audience

You don’t want a grimdark fantasy reader to read your romance novel. TRUST ME!!! They will not be your target audience! They’re going to tell you shit like: while your happily ever after is cute, maybe at the end the woman could cut open the man’s stomach and eat his entrails… I mean, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. 

Being too critical

I give criticism, but I never comment on someone’s ability to write and if they should write. I might say, “You really need to run this by an actual editor that can give you better feedback than I can.” I NEVER say, “You shouldn’t quit your day job. You’re never going to be a real author.”

EVERY BOOK STARTS OUT AS AN UNPOLISHED TURD! It may be rough, but I can’t speak to its potential.

Manuscript THEFT!

Okay, this is a real issue. I know people who have had their manuscripts stolen, and with how publishing works now, it’s easy to steal.

Some people choose to get an actual copyright for their work first. Technically, the work is copyrighted when written, but you cannot sue without going through the process of obtaining the copyright. It’s also really easy to prove when you’ve written your work, so some don’t worry about getting the copyright in advance. It’s not like many of us can afford to take these issues to court, which means even if your work is stolen, you might not be able to do anything about it.

Others choose to watermark their work. It’s not hard, and it can assist in making it harder to steal, but not impossible.

I would argue that choosing your readers carefully is the most critical step in ensuring your work’s safety. When I was finding them on FB, I would make sure the readers had profiles that extended years back with normal, human stuff in them. People who steal usually don’t do so if you can find out who they are so you can sue them. I never use Twitter because of the anonymity. I do think that paying a reputable company for beta reading services is a smart move if you can do it.

Have a list of questions lined up for the reader

It makes it so much easier to beta read when I know specific feedback is being requested. 

So, there it is…my advice and pearls of wisdom. Some people will argue with a few of these points, and that’s fine, but they’re certainly not going to change my mind.

If you have good advice or lessons learned from beta reading, it’s great to share with those getting their feet wet. It could save the writer a lot of time, and the reader a lot of frustration.

Until next time!


Savage in the Sheets

This is a book written from the heart! Savage in the Sheets is about Jenna Savage, a work oriented woman that needs to be taught to chill out and cut loose every once in a while, and her best friend who is oh-so happy to assist her.

Did you know that I’m obsessed with work? Oh my gosh—I haven’t told you.

Hello, 👋 …my name is Lark, and I’m obsessed with data, statistics, and everything nerdy. I THROW myself into whatever it is I’m doing, and it’s hard to distract me once I’m in my groove. Just ask my starving children.

Kidding! I joke too.

If you haven’t notices…most of my main characters’ careers take a center focus in my story. I’ve made them program managers, attorneys, scientists, journalist, and their work is usually a MAJOR plot point. Why do I do this? Because it’s the most REALISTIC part of my story. I really don’t run into that many hot billionaires, but I have run into SOOOooooo many workplace issues, and I think that resonates with my audience. I’ve actually received mail from readers telling me that a work plot point ‘triggered’ them because they’re dealing with a similar issue in their everyday life(SORRY!) They ended up LOVING it though, because it made the main character more relatable.

Anyway, Savage in the Sheets is a WILD ride that promises a Happily Ever After with NO cliffhangers…which I know you ladies like.

Savage is available for pre-order now on Amazon, but it will also be available for purchase on KOBO.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it.

Yours in Adventure,


The Bad Girl Pre-Release

By: Lark Anderson

The Bad Girl!

When Good Girl Nadine Winters finds herself given a second chance with a sexy bad boy from her past, she seeks help from her boss, the brazen Maxwell Stryder, to shed her innocent persona and adopt a sexy and dangerous new look.

Purchase HERE!

My fourth contemporary romance novel, The Bad Girl, releases 6/27, and let me tell you—I want to cry! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my other novels, but I feel like I have such a strong bond with the protagonist in this one. Nadine is a ‘good girl’ who does the right thing, and makes good choices. She’s safe and secure and is basically the wheat bread of the carb family.

And let me tell you. A LOT of people think I’m some kind of badass, and it’s like, “Honey, no. I go to bed at around 9:30 each night. I have to be wary of spicy food because of my digestion. I drive the speed limit.”

So, Nadine was a very comfortable character for me to write. Completely relatable in every way. And able to step outside of herself for what she wants.

Which is where I fail. I see things I want, but I don’t take risks. Say I was single, and with no other qualifiers, there were two men in front of me. A sexy 30-year-old with a six-pack and a decent job and a 40-year-old with a dad bod and a good job—I take the dad bod every time. For one, I like to rest my head on it. But also, men grow, I truly believe with age comes wisdom. I think the 40-year-old might appreciate the qualities that I have. That I’m a fantastic cook, that I am considerate of time, and that I’m thrifty. I could be wrong, but dad bods feel safe and comfortable to me. Besides, a muscular, fit man is never going to eat my food. I’ll be wasted on them.

Well, Nadine took the risk I’ll never take. She moved outside of her comfort zone to achieve her goals. There are so many times I’ve dreamed of this myself, and so few times I’ve followed through and taken the leap. The most notable was when I published my first novel, The Billionaire’s Board. I was scared. Anxious. So many fearful emotions. But I did it! And then I it again. And again. And now I’m here, book four about to release, and book five DONE!

To all the women that read The Bad Girl and fall in love with Nadine—I hope you take your risk.

Yours in Adventure,


Join my VIP Readers List and get a FREE full-length book! I promise I won’t bombard you…and…GIVEAWAYS!!!!

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Lark’s Favorite RomComs!!!

By Lark Anderson
April 28, 2020

Hello, Friends! I thought that with the lockdown still going on, now might be a good time to recommend some of my favorite RomComs to my fellow romance fiends!!!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) – OMG – THIS IS MY FAVORITE ROMCOM EVA!!! Prepare yourself for culture clash as a Greek woman(Nia Vardalos) falls for a non-Greek man(John Corbett), and it becomes a family affair! (This really resonates with me as I married into a Thai family.)

There’s Something About Mary (1998) – CLASSIC! When Ted(Ben Stiller) reunites with his childhood crush, Mary(Cameron Diaz), things get a little out of hand.

As Good As It Gets (1997) – When Melvin(Jack Nicholson), an OCD writer, is forced out of his comfort zone, his ‘emotional support’ waitress(Helen Hunt) must struggle to help him.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003) – Harry(Jack Nicholson) suffers a heart attack at his much younger girlfriend’s house. While he’s recuperating, he finds himself drawn to his girlfriend’s mother(Diane Keaton), and hilarity ensues.

Mortal Kombat (1995) – You might be surprised to see this on the list, but really, it fits into every movie category.

50 First Dates (2004) – Think Groundhog Day as Henry(Adam Sandler) falls in love with a woman(Drew Barrymore) who has memory loss, and each day, her memories of the day before erase.

I hope you’re all doing well during this unprecedented time! Stay safe!

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Romance & Quarantine

By Lark Anderson
April 20, 2020

Hello Friends!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. I’ve just been so busy with projects and clients that I haven’t had the time.

But suddenly, with the covid-19 crisis, my schedule has cleared. Hooray???

I hope everyone is doing well and remaining safe during this difficult time. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced loss, whether it be a job or a loved one.

During my social distancing, I’ve also been diving into some books. Right now, I’m reading Death in Neverland by Isadora Brown, and after that, I’m going to pick up a grimdark fantasy, then I’ll return to romance again.

Another thing I hope to do is update my blog more and give shout outs to the books and authors that I love!!!

So, stay tuned! I’ll have new content coming soon.

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Don’t F**k With Cats

By Lark Anderson
February 11, 2020

True Crime Docuseries


Don’t F**k With Cats(DFWC) came on my radar after watching an episode of Command Zone on YouTube(it was their recommendation). I don’t think I would have considered watching it otherwise, but it was worth the time.

DFWC is a true crime docuseries showing internet sleuths investigating and identifying a cat torturer. 

I’m going to start by saying, it is very well done, but I can’t necessarily recommend it to the masses. It will affect some people negatively, and it’s not worth the bad feels it ignites in some cases. I’ve watched horror movies since I was a child, and even I didn’t really want to see some scenes.

That being said, there is a lot to learn from the true crime docuseries, and I think it would be useful as a teaching tool for some lines of work.

It starts with a woman who goes online under an alter ego and finds a video of a man murdering kittens. Outrage ensues, and a vigilante group forms thereafter, pitchforks are grabbed. 

Now, this group grows huge rather quickly and encompasses many different types of people. I’ll put them into two distinct categories: 
1. The emotional investigators.
2. The analytical investigators.

Because I’ve done fraud investigations, skip tracing, and business analytics, I identify more with the second group. The data analytics portion is the best part of the series. I know what it’s like to track down shady people. There’s a thrill involved.

And I’m not overly emotional. I’m not a pitchfork grabber. I wouldn’t harass anyone online other than a snarky comment usually meant to be good-natured, especially because in the logical portion of my brain, I know it could impede an investigation. I would gather evidence, try to get access to more information, and report it to the police.

That is NOT what happened, and the first group really fucked up. They harassed a man that seemed to have issues but didn’t commit the crime, and low and behold, he committed suicide.

The level of rage I felt during that moment of the show validated how I feel about many online communities—which is not good. It’s easy to harass with anonymity in today’s internet world.

But there are fucking consequences.

After the death, the group splits, and honestly, it should have split sooner.

They eventually receive the name of the pet torturer, but even with a name, it’s wasn’t easy to catch him. Especially because he’s a globe trotter—you’ll have to watch to get more details on this.  

Perhaps the greatest missed opportunity throughout the situation is that they didn’t play on the guy’s vanity. If I were investigating, I would have enlisted a producer to assist me with offering him a position on a reality show or something. Have someone famous go online and be like, ‘Who is this guy? We think he’d be perfect for whatever fake reality show we’re filming?’ He wanted to be famous. BAIT HIM! You can even pretend to be a producer yourself.

I’m no necessarily criticizing as much as I’m putting on my ‘investigator’ hat and anticipating what may have caught him sooner.

Back to the show. Eventually, the animal torturer moves on to humans, which he had threatened to do, and a video is posted of him killing a man bound to a bed. There is a puppy in the video, and this is where things get weird.

There’s a female detective on the case, and eventually, the video is shown to her. She goes through how she watched the death and the murderer messing with a dismembered head of the man. At that point in the film, the murderer focuses on the dog, and the investigator is like, I just couldn’t watch at that point.

So, you watch a man being killed, dismembered(not sure if that is on camera), and the murderer playing with a decapitated head, but you had to turn it off when the puppy came on screen? As unfunny as what happened is, I had to almost laugh. WOW!

I’m not going to spoil the rest, so if you want to know anything more, you’ll have to watch. I tend to be very picky with what I watch, and I consider this a good investment of my time.

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Happy 2020!!!

By Lark Anderson
January 6, 2020

A picture from this year!

Hello, everyone! I’m here! I’m alive!

I know I haven’t been posting or blogging much, and I hope to change that soon. I just got caught up in a busy season with a LOT of work.

The last couple of months, I’ve been revising my sitcom for producers in addition to sending my movie script in for review and doing manuscript things. Throw in the holidays, and I’ve had no time for blogging or interacting.

I really hope to have a lot of exciting things coming out in 2020. Stay tuned! I promise it’s worth the wait.

Please, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you’d like to interact with me, Twitter is the best platform to do so on, but I’m getting better at Instagram(though I am NO instamodel), and if anyone wants to help me on that platform, I welcome suggestions.

So 2020 is poised to be a big year for me, and I hope it’s a big year for you too. I hope everyone works hard to achieve their goals and is met with excellent outcomes.

I also hope we practice kindness to each other and seek to inspire one another. Being the best version of ourselves is what we should all strive for, and although I have a long way to go until I become who I’m meant to be, I’m making a difference every step of the way.

This year, my goals are:

  • Encourage other writers.
  • Develop better dialogue.
  • Turn another book into a screenplay.
  • Have a greater social media and online presence.
  • Land an agent for my unreleased series.
  • Get back into running.
  • Collaborate with more incredible people.
  • More dress up! I want a better elf getup and possibly an angel and vampire outfit.
  • Practice thankfulness and gratitude.

Thanks to everyone that has stayed with me through this sometimes messy ride. I hope everyone meets their goals/resolutions for the new year, and if you’re struggling, reach out for help. You’d be surprised by the kindness of online strangers.

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