What’s New in 2016?

What’s on your reading list for 2016?

What are your goals for the new year?

One of my goals was to start a YouTube channel—it’s a way for me to bring a more multimedia experience to the blog. It also helps me break up the monotony of text-only blogging. I’d rather tell you about my favorite books than write to you about them. Plus I’m a visual person, and I’m really excited to become a part of the BookTube community. And I’m excited to start interacting with you all in a different medium.

Here’s my first video, with a “cameo” of a 2006 version of me.

Are you on YouTube? What are your favorite channels?

The next few posts on here will be video-heavy as I talk about my favorite books of 2015, but then I’ll get back into more writing topics. Is there anything in particular you’d like to know more about? Anything you’d like me to revisit? I’m open to suggestions!

Why stories?

As 2015 wraps up, what is one thing you are proud about yourself? What is one thing you want to accomplish in the new year? What is the best book you read in 2015? Only one thing each—being selective is hard, but it’s an essential trait of a successful writer. Comment below with your answers.

Thank you for reading my blog! 2016 has potential for some big changes, and I look forward to getting to know more of you! In the meantime, I’m taking some time off to read and spend time with family, but I want to leave you with this quote from Robert McKee’s Story:

Story isn’t a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality, our best effort to make sense out of the anarchy of existence.


Follow me on Instagram! @larathelark



  • 15 Bookish & Writerly Things I’m Thankful For
  • My Gift to You
  • Small Business Saturday–Cyber Monday Editing Deals

15 Bookish & Writerly Things I’m Thankful For

  1. My editing clients! I wouldn’t be able to blog or stay home with my kids if it weren’t for you. I’m daily inspired and encouraged by your creative spirits. You’re THE BEST.
  2. The books patiently waiting by my bedside for me to read them
  3. My local library, for saving me hundreds of dollars a year with all their books and comics and movies.
  4. Librarians, for being insanely helpful and brilliant.
  5. This reminder from Shannon Hale:
  6. This GIF:
  7. Indie Booksellers (like Addendum Books) and lit mags (like Revolver) who put on awesome literary events.
  8. The social media accounts which show how hilarious and human book publishers are.
  9. The couple hundred writers who participated in #pg70pit this summer—Thank you! We’ll be doing it again in 2016!
  10. The readers & writers who joined in my first BookDeeply writing seminar / book club. (You can still join! Nominate next spring’s debut author in the comments below.)
  11. My fellow MS Editors—you raise me up so I can stand on mountains. Oh, wait, that’s Josh Groban.
  12. Writing/editing/reading social media—Twitter, for helping me find my tribe, and Bookstagrammers, for making my daily doses of books and design easy and convenient.
  13. The community of comics creators at OA Live.
  15. And YOU, for reading my blog! Thank you!


What literary wonders are you thankful for this year? Share in the comments!

My Gift to You

If you are not of a geeky persuasion and/or have no appreciation for popular culture, you probably won’t appreciate this. But if you know who Pavel Chekov is, then I hope you like and enjoy.

I made a series of geeky to-do/checklists for you. I call them…

wait for it…


I’ve got blue ones with trekkie insignia…


Assorted colors for color-coders:

and black and white sketchy ones for those trying to save some toner…

They’re free! You can download them by clicking the image below.

If you do download them, and if you enjoy them, do me a favor and rate them on Teachers Pay Teachers, please!

Eventually I’ll add more writing worksheets to that site, so let your writing instructors know about it. 🙂

Have fun with these, print out a bunch for friends, enjoy!

downloadEditing Deals

From now through Cyber Monday, request a quote from me to receive big discounts!


Note: November is the craziest month for Marine families, so my posting schedule is a bit off! We had the Marine Corps Birthday Ball last weekend and have Thanksgiving tomorrow, so November’s query workshop and the Act Three post will be a bit delayed.

BookDeeply excerpt: Foreshadowing and Deus ex Machina

The following is an excerpt from my first BookDeeply event. To help me decide which novel or genre to do next, leave a comment below! To join and unlock TruestSem at any time, start here.


Foreshadowing & Chekhov’s Gun

“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, […] it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” — Anton Chekhov

[Truest spoilers removed]

The trick to writing foreshadowing is that you don’t write it.

You plant it.

And then you make it blend into its surroundings.

If you know a character is going to get shot, you go back to the very beginning and put a gun on the wall.

Sometimes you’ll plant foreshadowing during revision.

Sometimes you’ll have so much foreknowledge of your plot, you can write it in as you go. If you’ve ever read the Harry Potter series, you know that J.K. Rowling planted foreshadowing several novels ahead. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

Writing is rewriting. The best writers are average writers who kept rewriting.

What about other details—if nothing happens with them later, are they red herrings? No, they’re set design.

(For more information on writing details, see my post Becoming a Fan Favorite: Writing Description and Direction.)

Deus ex Machina


Back in the times of ancient Greek drama, a contraption might spring forth a god to save the protagonist from almost certain doom. Hence the name deus ex machina. In contemporary fiction, the protagonist needs to face their greatest fight—or question—without the help from their allies.

Next up:

Help me pick a debut novel to read in March 2016! What genre or novel would you like to BookDeeply?

The novel needs to

  1. be a debut (meaning the author hasn’t had a novel traditionally published before this one)
  2. have been published between January 2015 and March 2016
  3. be any genre other than YA contemporary romance (since that’s what Truest is)

Leave your questions, comments, or BookDeeply suggestions below!