Crossroads of Humanity

Dec 31, 2012

Indie Writing Tips

In light of the New Year, I've created a list. After all, today is all about lists, isn't it?  Lists, goals and resolutions help us stay focused throughout the year. Since I'm an Indie writer, here are 10 writing tips for Indies. If you think of yourself as something other than a writer, please substitute where necessary, as many of these tips apply well across fields.

Tip #1: Enjoy what you do. If you don't enjoy every aspect of being a writer, then focus on the parts you do enjoy.

Tip #2: Write often. Write quickly. Get your thoughts down on paper.

Tip #3: Take some time away from a piece before editing it. Prepare yourself to read it with fresh eyes.

Tip #4: Slow down when editing or reviewing your own work. Read it aloud. If you stumble, STOP. Be prepared to read portions line by line and rework it until it reads smoothly.

Tip #5: Be willing to cut, a lot! You've heard the saying, "Less is more." When we write, we write quickly and put all our ideas out there, but all our ideas actually bog down a story. Try to figure out the most succinct way of getting your idea across. Then snip, snip, snip. If that's just too painful, keep the cut parts in a separate document.

Tip #6: Learn your own most common mistakes. These are not the same for everyone. Figure out what you most often do wrong. Pay attention to others; they're the ones who are most likely to notice your most common mistakes. Use the find and search functions to correct your most common mistakes.

Tip #7: Know your strengths. Are you a creative storyteller? Are you a clean writer (editing-wise)? Is formatting your forte? Maybe you're stronger with the visual arts; are you good at creating book trailers and cover art? Find out what you do well.

Tip #8: Use your strengths to help other Indies. We're stronger when we rely on others. The Big Publishing Houses offer help in the way of editing, formatting, distribution, etc. Indies have enough talent to do the same, if we're willing to work together.

Tip #9: Rely on others to strengthen your weaknesses. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You don't have to be an expert in every area to produce a top quality book, but you do have to ask for help and accept advice.

Tip #10: The famous, "Show, don't tell." This is a hard concept to discuss because as writers and storytellers, that's what we do. We tell stories. So here are a few tips I keep in mind when I'm writing. These work for me. Please use them if you think they'll work for you.

  • A. Use the "find" feature to search for every single use of the words "is" and "was" in your document. A few are all right, and sometimes they're necessary, but often I can think of more descriptive words or simply rearrange the sentences to make them sound more interesting. I won't lie, this is time consuming.

  • B. Instead of telling your reader how a character is speaking, show it.

         INSTEAD OF: "You are," I said, angrily.

         TRY THIS:      "You are," I said.
                              "What?" Keira took a step back as if I'd slapped her, and in                               a way, maybe I had.

Well, that's it! My list of 10, brought to you just in time for the New Year.

Dec 29, 2012

Indie and Proud of It

Sometimes it feels like I've wandered onto a battlefield when all I want to do is write, create, and polish my stories. To date, I've published two novels, and my third is literally days away from completion. Of course, I also like knowing that my stories are being enjoyed by readers everywhere. And some things I've come to love about Indie publishing, are the support networks I've stumbled upon and the friends I've made. What I like least is talk of Indies vs. the Big Six and readers vs. writers. As far as I can see, we're all in this together.

I chose to self publish, and all that really means is that I've chosen to self publish. Others choose to submit their work to contests, small publishing houses, or one of the Big Six. Thankfully, I've been told that readers don't really care how a book is published. I hope that's true. I like to think that people are smart enough to know their own tastes and to use features like free previews to check out merchandise before purchase.

I've chosen self publishing because I'm against big business. My work is mine, and I'm not about to give away my rights to some big corporation. Here is my written response to a publisher who wanted to know what I was looking for.

You asked me to let you know what I need from a publishing house. 

Since I am a teacher and the mother of a very young child, I would first need to know that I would be allowed to work at my own pace because my day job and my child must come first. My husband and I have worked out a schedule that allows me to focus on writing, editing, publishing, etc. an average of eight hours per week.

Second, I would need to earn a decent percentage of the profits. When I publish myself, I earn 70% of the royalties. I know a publisher can't offer me the same because when we share the work, we share the profits. Please let me know what your publishing house offers.

Third, I would require retaining the rights to my work: no changes without my consent and no changes to the cover art.

Finally, what I need the most help with is marketing and distribution, and I don't mean, "tell me what to do, and I'll do it."  I mean, I really need someone else running the show when it comes to marketing and distribution.

That publisher had a favorable response. They offered everything I'd asked for except marketing. Sadly, what good is all the rest if marketing isn't behind it?

No matter what my personal beliefs are, I don't harbor any negative feelings toward authors who choose to submit their work to a publishing house, even to one of the Big Six. That must be made perfectly clear. We're all in this together, all hoping for the same outcome, for our work to fall into the hands of readers, many readers. Overall, I believe what works best for one person isn't what's best for another. If you are a writer, you need to decide the best route for you.

Dec 23, 2012

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Kate P, winner of the ebook/gift card package of the Holiday Blog Hop. Kate won a $10 Amazon gift card and ebook copies of: If Only by Robin Nadler, The Temple by Heather Marie Adkins, Letters from a Bipolar Mother by Alyssa Reyans, Wicked Sense by Fabio Bueno, Big Dragons Don't Cry by C.M. Barrett, Chosen by Jolea M. Harrison, and Canvas Skies by S.L. Wallace.

Dec 20, 2012

Kyra Dune - Author Extraordinaire

Please welcome Kyra Dune.

My name is Kyra Dune and I write fantasy fiction for adults and YA. The first thing I want to do is thank Sarah for letting me guest post on her blog. Now I'll tell you a little bit about my books.

Shadow Born (Time of Shadows Series #1) is High Fantasy. This series is going to be five books that will take you from the birth of four very special children to a war that will decide the fate of the world. There are a lot of characters and the storyline is very complex. It's set in a medieval type setting.

Flight of Dragons is a standalone fantasy/adventure. It's a story about a man who ran away from home when he was a teenager because of shame over something he did. But he can't escape his past.

Elfblood (Elfblood Trilogy #1) is YA Urban Fantasy. This trilogy is about a fourteen year old boy who must find a lost elven magic in order to prevent a mad king from starting a world war.

Shadow of the Dragon is a standalone YA Epic Fantasy. It's about a young woman whose world is gripped in an endless winter, the cause of which no one knows. When her home is destroyed she and her younger brother must make a dangerous trek across the snow covered land in search of civilization.

My next book, The Silver Catacombs (Elfblood Trilogy #2), comes out in February 2013 and the final book in the trilogy, City Of Magic, comes out in August 2013. I also expect to see Shadow Prince (Time of Shadows Series #2) and Firebrand (Firebrand Trilogy #1) coming out sometime in 2013.

Here's a brief excerpt from Shadow of the Dragon.

The shelf had collapsed, but there on the ground were two loaves of bread that looked edible if you didn't think about it too much. A shadow shifted in the corner and Micayta jumped, heart pumping. Clutching the bread to her chest, she held perfectly still and strained to see what might be there. Nothing moved. It must have been a trick of the light or a product of her imagination. What else could it be?

She laughed; an echoing sound that only heightened her sense of unease. There was a feeling coming over her. A feeling of being watched. As if the crumbling walls themselves had eyes. She shook her head, wondering where such silly thoughts were coming from, and exited the bakery.

Micayta was glad enough to step back into the street, where at least the horror was plain to see and not lurking in the darker corners of her mind. That feeling of relief only lasted a moment before the sense of being watched returned.

Nothing moved but what was stirred by the ceaseless wind. No sounds reached her ears save for that same wind moaning as it passed through decimated buildings. Micayta tucked the loaves of bread up under her arm and reached for her dagger.

Something fluttered at the corner of her vision. She whirled, dropping the bread as she drew her dagger. But what she saw was so incredible, so impossible, that she froze with her hand poised in mid-throw, unable to do anything but stare.

Connect with Ms. Dune!
Website:  Kyra Dune |
Facebook: Kyra Dune
Twitter: Kyra Dune (KyraDune) on Twitter

Dec 15, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Welcome to the hop!

Here you have the chance to find many new authors. Welcome to Baron Driden, who was kind enough to tag me in this event.

Baron Driden
Author of the crime thriller, Silent Destruction
Blog 2, follow this to the hop!

In this particular hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered 10 questions where you get to learn about our current work in progress as well as some insights into our process, from characters and inspirations to plotting and cover decisions. I hope you enjoy it!
Please comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?
Heart of Humanity

2: Where did the idea for this book come from?
My original idea came from a dream about a society divided between the haves and have-nots. That dream transitioned into a short story that continued to grow. Heart of Humanity is the final book in the trilogy.

3: What genre does your book come under?
It falls under the broad category of science fiction, but in reality is a dystopian political thriller with elements of romance.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, please don't ask me this. Casting would be in someone else's hands if it ever came to that.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
If the world were divided which side would you choose?

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It is self published.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I began writing Heart of Humanity in March of 2012. I plan to release it before December 31, 2012.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It's in the same vein as 1984, the Hunger Games trilogy and the Chaos Walking trilogy.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The trilogy was inspired by a dream followed by political turmoil in the state of Wisconsin. Heart of Humanity specifically, was also inspired to help raise awareness of the issue of bullying and the greater issue of Human Rights.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I've been told by a number of people that although at first they didn't think my story was their preferred genre, my trilogy changed their mind.

Below you will find authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday, December 19. Be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on Works In Progress and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

1. Kyra Dune
2. Robin Nadler
3. Meka Blizzard-Rob
4. Julie Frayn

Dec 9, 2012

Seven fabulous books, half a dozen ways to win!

Welcome to the 2012 Holiday Blog Hop! Many ways to play, up to 10 chances to win on this page. Many more contests through the hop!

One lucky person will receive a $10 Amazon gift card plus a copy of the following ebooks: If Only by Robin Nadler, The Temple by Heather Marie Adkins, Letters from a Bipolar Mother by Alyssa Reyans, Wicked Sense by Fabio Bueno, Big Dragons Don't Cry by C.M. Barrett, Chosen by Jolea M. Harrison, and Canvas Skies by S.L. Wallace.

Winners will be selected using and once contacted, the winner will have seven days to claim their prize package.


You will receive one entry for each action. To make sure I don't miss anyone, please also send me an email with the words HOLIDAY HOP in the subject line, letting me know which ones you did. Send to:
  • Follow me on Twitter: @authorSLWallace
  • Like my FB fanpage: Reliance on Citizens
  • Friend me on FB: Sarah L. Wallace
  • Follow this blog
  • Think of five friends who would enjoy one of the books in the prize package and send them here! Crossroads of Humanity
  • EXTRA! EXTRA! Participate in the Scavenger Hunt below and comment with your responses for 5 additional entries! (Comments won't be made public until the end of the Hop!)
  1. If Only, book 2 in the Family by Choice series by Robin Nadler is a contemporary fiction story of triumph and hope. Brittany and Tommy learn that existing is not the same as living, and sometimes we really do deserve more. Visit Nadler's Novels and then post a response to the following question. Why is the character of Brittany a hard sell?
  2. The Temple by Heather Marie Adkins is a paranormal mystery. Vale Avari is an exceptional woman with a long list of superpowers. However, when people start dying mysteriously in her new hometown, she is determined to prove that there is nothing supernatural about it! Visit Heather Marie Adkins: Where Witchcraft and Writing Collide and post a response to the question, How many Vale Avari novels has Ms. Adkins written to date, and what are their titles?
  3. Letters from a Bipolar Mother by Alyssa Reyans is a nonfiction novella based on her own experience. Covering a span of five years, Alyssa Reyans shares both her pain and strength in a struggle against an incurable illness that many women today also share. Visit Alyssa Reyans: A Writer Unread and respond to the following: Where is Alyssa originally from, and where does she live now?
  4. Wicked Sense by Fabio Bueno is a YA paranormal romance. She was looking for a mighty witch; she found a guy with rock-hard abs and a sense of humor. Not bad. Visit Fabio Bueno, author: Dream Hard and respond to the following question. When was Wicked Sense officially released?
  5. Big Dragons Don't Cry (A Dragon's Guide to Destiny) by C.M. Barrett is a fantasy novel about a water dragon, a young woman, a kitten, and the guardian of Oasis. Somehow these four must overcome communication difficulties, mutual mistrust, and delusions of human superiority to save the country of Oasis. Visit A Dragon's Guide to Destiny and answer the following: How many books has C.M. Barrett written and which one sounds most interesting to you?
  6. Chosen by Jolea M. Harrison is a fantasy adventure about a young man who must come to terms with his life when he's barely become a spirit. Visit Author Jolea M. Harrison and answer this question: Which photograph of Ms. Harrison's do you like best?

Dec 5, 2012

In It Together by Cody L. Martin

Join me in welcoming author, Cody L. Martin. He was born in Edmond, Oklahoma but raised in Wyoming. After moving to Alabama and attending the University of Alabama, he moved to Japan to become an assistant English teacher in Yamaguchi Prefecture, helping teach junior high school students. He currently lives there, with his wife Yoko.


I'm a teacher, first in the public sector with middle school students, and now as a tutor. I wasn't trained as a teacher or got a degree in teaching. I don't even teach in America. I teach in Japan. And it's different.

I came to Japan five years ago on the JET Program. For five years I taught at the junior high level, the American equivalent being 7th through 9th grade. Even though my own middle school days were far behind me, I remembered enough to realize how different the school system was, and I'd like to talk a little about that now.

First, please forget the image of obedient, uniformed kids sitting in rows, dutifully hanging on the teacher's every word, and writing in unison. Just like America; Japan has the quiet kids, the noisy kids, the ones that can't sit still, the nippers and the book readers. They're not drones, they are their own individuals with just as widely varying personalities as you'd find in any classroom all over the world. While a higher importance may be placed on tests than in America, they don't spend every waking second cramming and studying, and don't burst into tears when they get less than 100% on their tests. I've seen a student get a 98% on an English test and two seats over in the same class, a student got 10%. All kinds.

What surprised me the most as I worked in the Japanese school system was how much the students work, not just on class work but other things as well. Like most schools in America, kids here have about six classes a day, fifty minutes each. They have homeroom before and after each school day. Come lunch time, there is no cafeteria. Students are assigned lunch duties and they must get the food from the lunch hall, bring it to the class, and serve it to each student. For the most part, food can't be refused and 'trading' is looked down on. If you don't like what you're eating, you're out of luck. At the end of the day comes cleaning. There are no janitors, every student is assigned a task and everyone, teachers included, help cleaning the school and the school grounds every day. This includes putting all the trash together, wiping windows, sweeping, and washing the floor with a rag on your hands and knees. No mops here.

Unlike American schools, most students don't have homework every day. They wouldn't have time since most students are in some sort of after school club: baseball, table tennis, volleyball, art and many more. These activities start after cleaning time, around 4pm, and let out...whenever. I've seen kendo club players still at school at 8pm. Most clubs, especially sports clubs, also have practice on Sundays and Saturdays.

By now, you're thinking this is pretty draconian, "But at least they have summer break, right? Three months of vacation, family trips, and free time." Summer break is forty days, and since it is not in between school years (the new year starts in April and ends in March), the students have summer homework and, mostly for sports, club activities almost every day. When I told my students about American summer break, they all wanted to go to school in America.

I'm not trying to paint a bleak picture. These kids enjoy school. They have Sports Day and Culture Day, class trips, and fun events. By working hard together, either through cleaning or clubs, these kids get to know each other. Unlike America, students stay in one class room, the teacher for each subject comes to their classroom. The kids are almost always together, doing things together. Junior high is a precious time for them and an important time to make friends. They may seem to have rough. But they have it rough together.

"Adventure Hunters" is Cody's first novel. When he isn't writing he enjoys watching movies, listening to Morning Musume, and reading.

Nov 25, 2012

Record Powerball Jackpot

Have you heard about the current Powerball Jackpot? It's pretty high, at an estimated $425 million for this Wednesday's drawing.

"I Wanna Be Rich" by Calloway and "If I Had a Million Dollars" by the Barenaked Ladies are just two examples of songs that encourage us to dream, and dream big...or small in the case of the Barenaked Ladies.

So...what would you do if you won?  Let's not even talk about amounts, but what would you do if you suddenly had a large sum of extra money coming your way?

The first thing I would do is wait.  That's right.  I'd wait.  All right, maybe I'd splurge with my family by going out for a celebratory dinner, but that's it.  And I wouldn't spend a dime of the winnings for at least a month.  We're doing okay financially.  (No, that's not true.  We're really not, but that's beside the point.  We could afford to sink a little further while we take some time to think and plan.)

And then...

First I'd repay the people I owe.
Then I'd pay off our financial debts such as credit cards and financial aid.

And then...I'd insist that we wait some more.  There are people I'd love to help, places I'd love to go, things I'd like to do...but more important that all of that is my dream of no longer needing to worry about money so that I can focus on what's really important to me: time with family and friends and time to write.

Would you keep your day job?  I would, for now.  Would you buy a new car?  I wouldn't, but I would repair the one I have.  Would you move?  I wouldn't right away and then not to a place much bigger or more extravagant than where I live right now.

Now that you know what I would do, what would you do?

Nov 22, 2012

Black Friday Sales

Price of a Bounty will be free from November 23 - November 26, 2012.  It's exciting for me to know that many readers who are not typically into sci fi or distopian fiction, have publicly stated that my books have changed their mind. Won't you consider trying book 1 to see if that's true?  Each of my books can be read as stand alone novels. They are all approximately 300 pages in print. You can learn more at the Reliance on Citizens FB page.

Nov 2, 2012

Does anyone else wish they could control the flow of time? I wish I could stop it for everyone else and give myself a little extra time every day to relax, to vent and to write.

You see, I'm a full time teacher by day who runs two after school clubs per week to try and make ends meet. I'm also a mom of a very active preschooler. And I'm sick and tired of being told I'm worthless.

Wait...worthless? Who says that? You're right, no one says it to my face. But public policy that lowers my wages instead of increasing them every year sends a strong message. Busting public unions so that no one has my back, sends an even stronger message. Putting me in a position where I'm required to obtain a higher degree than thousands of "leaders" who make over three times my salary (and that figure may be going easy on them) sends the message that I'm expected to do a whole lot for little to nothing.

During my free time, I enjoy writing. When I can't find a pick-up volleyball game, it's another way I've found to blow off steam. And it's also a way to make new friends. I've found a tremendous support network on the Indie writing scene comparable to that I find in teaching, from other teachers and even from some administrators.

But that worthless feeling kicks in every now and then when it comes to writing too. Have you noticed it? Have you ever gotten "the look"?  You know the one. It's the look people give when they realize you published your book all by yourself. It's a look that says, "Oh, you must not be very good if you have to self publish." Well guess what? I chose to self publish. At some point, I may choose to submit some of my work to a publisher but not today. And when I do, it won't be because I need someone else to validate my creations.

It makes me want to scream! Are readers really not willing to use the free preview feature and decide for themselves whether or not a book is any good? Are so many people really that lazy?

Thank you for reading my rant. I welcome open discourse. Hopefully, even if we don't agree, we'll still have a lot to talk about.

Sep 29, 2012

Conviction Pandemonium!

Have you ever been in a public place and overheard a conversation you wished you had not? Yes, I have too, and I'm about to share it with you.

Let me set the scene. People sit at small tables enjoying each other's company while they eat a light lunch and drink a bit of coffee. Music plays softly, a backdrop to the gentle hum of conversation. Suddenly, a voice cuts through my concentration. It grates, not because of the tone or volume but because of the words.

I sigh and put my work aside.

Two university students sit nearby, young and attractive with flawless complexions. I believe they were working on an essay for a religious studies course. Their conversation about faith could have been deep. Indeed, one offered insightful comments and asked interesting questions. The other told anecdotes about court cases in which the defendants used examples of priests getting away with rape as a reason that they should be able to do the same. She told these stories to her friend in a gossipy tone. She made inflammatory statements and said nothing to back them up with facts. She repeated her comments and anecdotes over and over again. The comments she made had no bearing on their discussion of faith. Meanwhile, she texted other people questions about faith, laughed at their responses and proceeded to work on her essay, using others' thoughts as her own.

When she said, "I never participate in class discussions. They move too fast," my jaw just about hit the floor. Being a teacher, part of me wanted to exclaim that there is no good reason not to participate in class discussions while the other part of me decided that may not be such a bad thing.

Sep 16, 2012

A Driver's Tale of Woe

 For those who are wondering and would like to hear a driver's license tale of woe, please lend me your ear...

Part of moving to a new state requires the official giving up of the old driver's license in order to obtain a new one. We decided to move in early June. By August 1, we were in our new home. (THAT story has already been told. If you are interested, just scroll down.) In addition to that, my license expired at the end of June. I contemplated just letting it stay lapsed until after the move (Why pay twice?), but in the end, we decided to use all available drivers to move, meaning I would need a current license. So I applied for my renewal on July 30.

From July 30, until this past week, an official receipt acted as my license. Last Monday, I realized my receipt was due to expire on Thursday. Thus my first dilemma. I had not yet received my official license, and I would be driving to a camping experience with my students on Wednesday. We were due to return on Friday, when I would no longer be able to legally drive. I called to see what was going on only to discover that my license had been returned because we were no longer residing at our old address. Apparently, the post office will not forward driver's licenses.

“Okay,” I thought, “no problem. I'll just have to explain what happened.” On Tuesday afternoon, I left work early to go and take the required written driver's test and apply for my new license. How hard could it be, right? Those tests are all about common sense, and I've been driving for years!

My next dilemma. I failed the test by being extra cautious with every question requiring an exact measurement of distance. I walked up to the desk thinking, “They must want me to hit bicyclists to have me driving that close!”

The gentleman behind the desk smiled and explained that I could take the test again tomorrow. As in Wednesday. As in the day we were leaving for our camping trip at 9:00 A.M.

I studied that night and at 8:00 the next morning, I was third in line at the testing center. By 8:15, I had passed the test with flying colors. I approached the desk only to learn that they would not be able to accept the receipt from my last state, and because of where my last state had punched through my license (obliterating the expiration date), they would need a certified copy of my driving record. I asked for a fax number. The man wished me luck but explained that in his experience, my last state wouldn't fax certified records. I would have to order a copy for a fee.

I was pissed. If they'd actually sent me my license, a license I had paid for, this wouldn't even be an issue. I called the number they gave me and explained my situation. I even asked for a refund. The woman was very nice and explained that she would fax a letter with the same information they were asking for in the certified driving record. She didn't know if they would accept it, but it was worth a try.

It was now 8:45, and I needed to get going. An entire classroom of students and parents were counting on me! So I called the other teacher who was going on the trip, and we quickly created a backup plan. She would ride to the camp with one of the parents and a group of kids and would ride back with me. In the event that the faxed letter didn't work, she would drive my car back on Friday.

Well...the letter worked! Still, it was a good thing we had a backup plan because as the man behind the counter stamped my paperwork, making everything official, he explained that their camera had stopped working, and he asked if I could come back later in the day.

Friday afternoon, exhausted and disheveled from camping for three days with over 20 kids, I smiled for the camera.

Addendum: I received my driver's license in the mail today.  My last name is spelled wrong.

Sep 15, 2012

Failure is not an option, or is it?

Today, I re-realized something I've thought about on many occasions.  I am hard on myself, probably too hard.  The truth is, I'm a perfectionist but only when it comes to me, meaning I do not expect perfectionism in anyone else...just me.  If I set out to do something, failure is not an option.  This is not to say that I won't ask for help when I don't know how to do something or if I encounter something new.  On the contrary, I most definitely ask for help all the time.  But not when it's something I should be capable of doing myself.  So what happens when I overestimate my strengths?  I keep at it until I'm ready to scream.

There are support groups for people who suffer from everything under the sun, ranging from eating disorders to alcohol abuse.  Why are there no support groups for us perfectionists?  Hm...probably because we'd be too busy telling ourselves that we don't need support and that we should just keep at it (whatever IT is) until we knock ourselves unconscious.

I realize that this is a form of self abuse, so why do I continue to do it?  I will not tolerate failure in myself, even though I know without a doubt that I am as flawed as the next person.  I'm also well aware that we learn from our mistakes.  Oh yes, those are the lessons I remember best!

So what is it that makes asking for help so difficult?  Why do I feel like a failure when I finally admit that I do not know how to do something?

I have a message I'd like to pass along to myself today, and Sarah, I want you to listen and listen well.  Go easy on yourself.  Love yourself for who you are no matter the outcome of your actions.  You are talented and important, and it's okay to lean on others.

Sep 4, 2012

Caution: Scientific Minds at Work!

People tend to think a lot of things that aren't true.

I love when we see thinking minds at work though.

True story...

My daughter has this little pink football that she wanted to go to sleep with one night. She asked, "Can I sleep with my orange ball?"

I said, "It's pink, and yes you may."

She insisted, "No, it's orange."

I tried to explain how in the dark, things loose their color.

Still she insisted that it was orange.

I said, "Here, let's turn on the hall light and you'll see that it's pink." (I didn't want to turn on the light in her bedroom because she was finally settling down.)

Still she said it was orange.

I said, "Okay, you may sleep with your orange football."

The next morning, the first thing she said was, "Oh look, now my ball is pink!"

I said, "It was always pink."

She said, "But with that light on, it was orange."

She then proceeded to take the ball into the hall and turn on the light. Then she said with surprise, "Oh, it's pink!"

She's only 3, and I'm so glad she's already testing her theories rather than simply believing what she's told. 

Aug 22, 2012

Back to School!

With the beginning of another school year upon us, my author friend, Troy McCombs, asked me a wonderful question. I hope he won't mind if I share it with you, along with my response.

Troy: What would you rather do, write or teach? If they both paid the same, and the money was consistent?

Sarah: Hmm...good question. It's close!

Troy: I imagine that teaching is very rewarding.

Sarah: I'm glad to be away from the headache of the public sector for the time being. But the teaching part is great! Yes, very rewarding. And in both teaching and Indie writing, I've found people to be super supportive.

Troy: Cool.

Sarah: I'm not a morning person, but if I chose writing, my daughter would still get me up early...

Troy: LOL

Sarah: I guess I'd like to teach three days a week and devote three days to writing/editing/publishing/etc. And take one day off.

Troy: That sounds good.

Sarah: Yes, a nice balance.

Aug 16, 2012

What's Wrong with my World?

Lately, I've been hearing words I've never heard before. That's not to say that they didn't exist or were not used before. They did, and they were. But they weren't a part of my consciousness and I'm guessing were not part of the general public's awareness because I really don't think they were all that common.

So let's take a look...

Furlough. defines a "furlough" as: a usually temporary layoff from work

I first encountered this term a few months ago when some friends were over for dinner. One who works for the local newspaper told us he would be free for the next week because he would be on furlough. He said it so casually, as if it were a sabbatical or a vacation or something. I was shocked to learn that our local paper was forcing everyone on their staff to take a one week unpaid vacation. Not all at the same time, mind you. Newspapers would still be delivered to every customer's front door step without interruption. I would have never known about this if it weren't for my friend. To this day, I'm still shocked. I understand times are tough and money is tight, but I can't believe they are that tight. It used to be that full time employees had some sort of paid vacation time scheduled into their contracts.

Ah, contracts...another term that has quickly faded out of fashion. I'll get back to that in a bit. But first, let's take a look at another term.

Externship. defines an "externship" as: a required period of supervised practice done off campus or away from one's affiliated institution.

Another friend of mine is presently searching for an externship. She's paid the university an exorbitant amount of money in tuition and understands that it is their practice to require students to complete an externship instead of a paid internship. Way back when I completed my undergrad program in teaching, we had a choice: one semester of unpaid student teaching, alongside a qualified and experienced teacher or a one semester paid internship teaching on one's own with regularly scheduled supervision. I don't really have a problem with externships per se. What I have a problem with is that her institution is not providing adequate help or placement opportunities for the number of students completing their program.

The overall problem I have with both furloughs and externships is the underlying causes. Our state says we have no money. Many states say they have no money. But that's not true. The money is there. Rainy day accounts have been set up all over the place. Our local paper ran a story about one nearby municipality that had a rainy day account. You see, it's really more about how those at the top are deciding to spend the money that is there. And they're not spreading it out among their employees.

Instead, unions are being busted, contracts voided, senior employees forced into early retirement. This is what's wrong with our world. People are being fired to make way for less expensive younger employees. Workers are being provided with inferior health care at higher personal expense. City workers are having their salaries lowered to minimum wage. People are being hired as part time employees so businesses don't have to provide any health care at all. That is what's wrong with our world.

Seven years ago, my husband was hired to fix computers. He drove all over the state replacing hardware for people who held warranties on their computers. His salary wasn't great, but it was okay, and he was paid for mileage as well. That first Christmas, only five months after he'd accepted the job, the company sent us a ham. We laughed about it at the time and commented on how it was a flashback to the 50s, but you know what? We felt appreciated. Three years later, things had changed drastically. Along with everyone else in the company, my husband had received pay cuts instead of raises. No more hams arrived at Christmas. By the time we decided to have our first child, we realized that it would be better financially for my husband to stay home and become a stay-at-home dad in lieu of using his entire paycheck to pay for childcare and have someone else raise our child. At the time, my job paid better and provided insurance. We've never regretted him leaving that job.

Flash forward to February 2011. Scott Walker busted public unions. I marched alongside thousands of other public employees at the state capitol and in my hometown. I privately cheered when local high school students marched out of classes in protest, publicly showing support for their teachers. They marched right past the playground where my students were out at recess. This raised a great many questions. I responded by staying out of their debates. They could talk - I've never been one to stop open discourse - but I kept my opinions to myself and redirected them to the nightly news and their parents.

Then I wrote a letter to the editor titled, "It's Not About the Money." The response? I was blasted on a local radio talk show. I was held up as an example. The host said, "She says it isn't about the money, but here's her salary..." And you know what? He got it wrong. When I found out, I immediately called my husband and said, "You just did our taxes, did I earn x amount last year?" His response? "I wish!" To be fair, I located the website the radio announcer must have used. It was inaccurate, and he should have checked his sources. But what really made me angry was that I was described as the problem. Here's the thing, I have not only a bachelor's degree but also a master's degree and a Montessori degree and, at that time, 12 years teaching experience. And I'm educating future citizens.  I should have been earning a lot more!

But it truly is not about the money. Our school district supports their teachers. I believe that because in March 2011, they rushed through a two year extension on teacher contracts. That will be up at the end of this school year. Then, along with every other teacher in the state of Wisconsin, teacher contracts will be a thing of the past.

What will that look like? For one, inequality in education will reign supreme. For another, salaries have been frozen and will likely decrease. More and more work is being piled on with no extra compensation or time.

I will not allow my daughter to go to school in a state where the school system is so flawed. We will not allow that. So the night of the recall election, when Walker won and we realized that none of his decisions would be overturned, we decided to leave.

It's not about the money. We rely on my income alone. My husband is still a stay-at-home dad who picks up odd jobs when he can. Our book sales help a little. I have taken a large salary cut to work at a private school in another state.

And I know we have made the right decision. Why? Because we're happy, and our little girl is intelligent, inquisitive, funny, happy and independent. Responding to the things that are wrong with my world have helped to make it all right.

Scranton, PA City Workers Salaries Slashed
Rachel Maddow - Thank you, Wisconsin!
WI Senate Vote - Actual Footage
Union Busting Bill Ruled Illegal

Aug 13, 2012

Author Nicole Hill's world of Paranormal Romance: Indie Author Spotlight

In honor of my latest interview, I decided to post an excerpt from Price of a Bounty.  Keira is one of the main characters.  She's a Freelancer - think bounty hunter/thief - who has decided to join the Resistance.  This scene takes place right after she unexpectedly bumped into Eberhardt on another job.  Eberhardt has been a member of the Resistance for quite awhile but is a supporting character.  Keira is driving.  When you're done, please take a moment to check out the interview at Author Nicole Hill's World of Paranormal Romance: Indie Author Spotlight

After we dropped her off, Eberhardt turned on me. “What the hell were you doing back there?”

“The same thing you were, apparently.”

“But why? You work for the Resistance now.”

I turned my head away from the road and stared at him just long enough to make my point. “Work for the Resistance? What work have I been given to do exactly? It's not like I haven't asked! I need to keep my skills sharp. I need to keep in practice. What would you have me do?”

“Train with me,” he suggested.


“I know what you're going through. Do you think I just sit around in the car all day?”

I shook my head, surprised at his outburst.

“I get it. You're bored. You want to be where the action is. So come train with us.”


“Yes, the other Raiders and me. We practice regularly, to keep our skills sharp.”

I pulled into the garage beneath Guy's apartment and stopped the car. Then I turned to face Eberhardt completely.

“What about keeping everyone's identity a secret?”

“Yes, that's important too, but it's also important to practice working together. Remember what I said about backup?”

I nodded.

“We practice in small groups,” he continued. “None of the Raiders know all of the other Raiders, and most of them have never met Guy, but we do form networks. To start, you can work with me and the girl you met tonight.”

“Thanks, I guess. I might just take you up on that. But...”


“Why didn't you tell me about this before?”

“I should have. It's just…Guy didn't want it that way. I've got your back now though.” He exited the car, and then walked around to open the door for me.

What a strange thing for him to say. I thought he already had my back.

Aug 3, 2012

Moving, almost there!

Moving, moving... Moving. The word incites feelings of anxiety and excitement.

The joys of packing. Categorize everything: pack, store or discard. I could not believe how much stuff got discarded! Some of it became useful. Packing material that my husband had saved from his comic book business was just as useful when packing dishes and glassware. Boxes and paper that filled a room helped us move a houseful of stuff.

Then, we moved out so our renters could move in. We were in limbo. Living in someone else's house, living out of suitcases, living in between with no wi-fi of our own. Sleeping with a toddler who kicks and turns in her sleep. It was difficult but good. We had time to adjust, to celebrate with friends, to spend time with family, to say goodbye. I wouldn't change it for the world.

My cherished memory from limbo. I woke before my daughter and went to the living room. She appeared a short time later and her face lit up with joy. She hurried over to me and said, "Mama, when I woke up I was crying onto my pillow." I asked her why, and she explained, "Because you weren't there."

With the help of friends, loading the U-Haul took a mere three hours. Final cuts, not everything we'd packed fit. Some stuff was left behind and will have to make the trip another time.

The next morning...working on little sleep (to the tune of four hours) we hopped into our vehicles and began the long drive.

The next few days are still a blur, snapshots in my memory:

  • Rooms filled with furniture and boxes in no particular order, no place to sit, barely room to walk.
  • Running to Big Lots for a shower curtain because ours was in a box "somewhere."
  • Collapsing into bed, the only furniture set up at the end of day one.
  • On day two, frantically unpacking the kitchen and maneuvering furniture into place so that we could "live" in our new home.
  • The dog making new friends with the neighbors' dogs.

Waking on day three after my husband but before my daughter, I remained in bed just a little while longer and smiled. The pressure to hurry, gone. Now we can simply "be" in our new space.

Congratulations to the Winners!

I would like to take a moment to congratulate the winners of the Dystopian Fiction contest, part of the Summer Splash Blog Hop 2012:
Anthony R.
Emily W.
Katrina P.W.

Jul 31, 2012

Blog Hop Prizes to be Awarded

The hop ends shortly, and there will be winners! I will notify the winners of the dystopian lit contest this weekend. I hope you don't mind the short wait, but my family and I are moving tomorrow. I'll need just a little time to catch up with regards to prizes. Don't worry, I won't forget!

Jul 29, 2012

Jul 28, 2012

Can You Keep the 777 Challenge Going?

Okay, my turn! The 777 Challenge is when authors showcase seven sentences from either page 7 or page 77 of their work-in-progress. I was nominated by Brad Fleming who was nominated by Joe McCoubrey who was nominated by Susan Condon. You get the idea.

I'm currently about a third of the way through the third book of my Reliance on Citizens trilogy, to be published later this year. The first book, Price of a Bounty, is free today and tomorrow and is also part of a prize package in the Summer Splash Blog Hop! (scroll down to learn more)

Here are seven sentences from page seven:

Again he said, “You always knew you were a guest in Mediterra.  What was done to you, though beyond your control, is highly illegal.”

A new thought occurred to me.  “Have you jeopardized relations with Terene by keeping me on for so long?  Maybe you shouldn't have let me stay.”

He smiled.  “Always thinking of others...President Leclair would be a fool not to notice all the good you've done."

So now I'll pass on the challenge to seven authors I admire, in no particular order:
Sarah Williams
Andrew Augustine
R.K. Ryals
Jay Merin
Rhodora M. Fitzgerald
Troy McCombs
Walter Eckland

Jul 24, 2012

Brief Description of Prizes

3 Lucky Winners of my Giveaway will win their choice of ebook packages. Please scroll down to the next post and add your comments about dystopian literature.

Package #1: 1984 by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Two classics of dystopian literature. "Big Brother is watching," is a common phrase that comes from 1984, and Fahrenheit 451 describes a future in which books have been banned.

Package #2: The Giver and Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
These two companion YA novels tell of a future in which some communities have chosen strict control over the citizens while others rely on survival of the fittest.

Both packages will also include ebooks of the Reliance on Citizens trilogy by S.L. Wallace: Price of a Bounty, Canvas Skies and Heart of Humanity.
My trilogy examines a future in which there is no middle class. The reader gets to experience the Divide through a variety of viewpoints offered by different characters. As the trilogy progresses, the Resistance works to close the Divide and bring everyone together. The final book, to be released later this year, examines the consequences on a variety of people of all ages.

Jul 23, 2012

Ebook Giveaway

For my Summer Splash Blog Hop Giveaway, I'm asking visitors to explain their interest in dystopian fiction. Why do you enjoy reading dystopian fiction? What is it about dark alternate realities that thrills you? What are some of your favorite dystopian titles? Let's get a discussion started! To enter the contest, click on the Rafflecopter link on the right.

We are animals too!

Why do some people feel the need to distance themselves from life around us? I've heard people say, "I'm not an animal!" Then I have to wonder, "So what are you? A plant? A mineral? Something else?"

Thinking that humans are something else, something removed from and even better than other living things, is dangerous. Knowing that we are animals too connects us to the Earth. We are more likely to be compassionate toward others when we understand this connection.

I think birth and death are two instances when we feel the strength of this connection. People "oh" and "ah" when they see babies, whether they're baby humans, baby birds or baby crocodiles. Let's face it, babies are cute, and they entice a feeling of protection out of most of us. Death. I cannot think of any other time when I've seen animals demonstrate their feelings more clearly. When they play, when they mate, when they teach their young...we can say that all of these actions can be attributed to instinct, but I can't say the same about death.

Three instances immediately come to mind:

Driving home from the store one day, I saw a red-winged blackbird swooping away when cars drove past and then immediately return to the road. As I drew closer, I saw another red-winged blackbird dead on the road, hit by a car. I drove past and wondered, was it a mate, a child? Although I was already running late, I called my husband and told him what I had to do. I returned and removed the dead bird from the road. I didn't think I could live with myself if I let another bird get hit because it was in mourning. As I removed the now lifeless carcass to the tall grass on the side of the road, I noticed many more red-winged blackbirds watching me from perches within the grass.

Years ago, I noticed two baby raccoons on the side of the highway, waiting next to their dead mother. It was a Sunday, and I didn't know who to call. I felt helpless. Now, I know to call the non-emergency police number. Did you know they have a key to the local humane society and will drop off animals during non-work hours? I don't know that they'd do the same for a wild animal, but I'm sure they know who to contact.

Yesterday, I noticed two squirrels in the other lane of a local street. One was dead, hit by a car. The other's actions spoke clearly, "Get up! Chase me! Get out of the road!"

It concerns me when I see dead animals on the side of the road. I understand that it is not always possible to avoid an animal, but I also understand that some people think it's fun to try and hit them. Why don't they recognize their connection to other life? Why can't they see that this hurts them as well as others? What if it were two baby humans instead of raccoons, and their mother had just been struck down? Would those same people drive on by? What if it were a teenager skateboarding in the road? Would those same people try to target him with their car? I think not, but is it really so different?

May 5, 2012

In my third book, Heart of Humanity, to be released later this year, readers will get to know Noah, a preteen who is living with diabetes.  I've been learning a lot from Noah, and I hope you will too!

Apr 25, 2012

Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews

I was recently asked to be a guest at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews.  A fabulous giveaway has been included. Two lucky readers will win not one, but three ebooks each.  If you already have one or more of the books, I'll be happy to send them to a friend of your choice.  Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews

Apr 20, 2012

School's Out!

Why do many people believe teachers and other school staff don't work on inservice days? The point of inservice days is for professional training and meetings so that we can do our jobs better. One day last year, I had a meeting scheduled with a woodworker who was planning a project with my class. He never showed up so I called him to find out why. He said he'd bumped into one of the parents who told him we had the day off and that he would need to reschedule. Even some of my students think teachers don't work on inservice days.

Yesterday as my students left, I said, "Have a great three day weekend!"

One little girl turned to me and replied, "You too!"

Just for fun, here are some phrases I heard today during our Professional Learning Communities training:

to hear the voices...

This is about distributive leadership.

When the elephant's in the room, you've got to name it.

If you go to the affective conflict, you're going to lose every time.

There's a difference between dialogue and discussion.

Leading change is a planned journey into uncharted waters with a leaky boat and a mutinous crew. -Michael Fullan

Apr 6, 2012

Critical Thinking, A Lost Art?

If democratic practices are to survive, critical thinking skills are a necessity.  People say they want a voice. Then they need to know how to question, analyze and think critically.  Facts must be made available, and citizens must have access to opposing viewpoints.  We all must have a voice, all of us.

History tells us that people want to be heard, right?  Remember what you were taught about the American Revolution?  I learned that the colonists wanted a voice in government.  That was the main reason colonists took up arms, to fight for their rights, wasn't it?  Interesting fact, only about 1/3 of the colonists wanted to break away, another 1/3 were Loyalists and the final 1/3 weren't speaking out one way or the other.  Hmm...sounds familiar, doesn't it?  People say they want a voice but not everyone shows up at the polls.  Instead, it's usually a smaller group of outspoken people who are passionate about a subject.  They're the ones who cause big changes when election time rolls around.

So why don't more people vote?  Is it because they don't care?  Is it because they don't think their vote will make a difference?  Or is it because we don't teach our children critical thinking skills?  I'm not saying that as a jab against specific teachers or school districts.  I am a teacher, and I know there are many who are teaching students to think critically, but let's pause and look at history again.

The United States is built upon Christian ideals and a school model that comes from the Industrial Revolution.  Both work against critical thinking.  The most traditional of churches teach their members to read the Bible and to follow the word of the Bible, not to question it or think critically about the world.  The emphasis is on faith which really means believing without proof.  Again, not all churches and not all clergy do that.  Many alert their congregations to what is going on in the world today and encourage them to make positive changes in our world.  Now take a moment to think about schools.  The traditional school model emphasizes the teacher as the expert whose job is to impart knowledge to the students.  Many schools today are shifting to a "guide on the side" viewpoint whereby the teacher encourages and guides the students while still teaching them basic skills so that they can navigate through their own learning.

Whose job is it to teach critical thinking skills?  I credit my parents and some of my teachers, and I'm carrying on the tradition by teaching my own daughter and my students to think critically and to problem solve.  Others are doing the same.  Bringing history to life is one way.  (Check out this fun video about Suffrage by Soomo Publishing.)  Bringing in news articles to analyze and discuss is another.  (The recent City Pages April Fool's article about a new breed of woolly rat that has been discovered on the Wisconsin River was an excellent teaching tool.)  Teaching research skills is yet another.  The list goes on and on.

Mar 26, 2012

Mar 19, 2012

Goodbye Senator Galloway

I'm glad to see that Senator Pam Galloway knows what's best for Wisconsin. She wouldn't even listen to the opposition this past year. Isn't she supposed to represent all of us? I guess she finally figured that out!

Interview for Canvas Skies

A third interview has posted.  You can read all about it at Interview at Rachael Dixon's blog.  Ms. Dixon is the author of Slippery Souls.

Mar 8, 2012

Canvas Skies - Now Available

Canvas Skies is available!  If you enjoyed Price of a Bounty, please help me spread the word.  (I have been told it reads well as a stand alone too.)  If you have not yet read the beginning of this trilogy, Price of a Bounty is free today and tomorrow, Thurs. - Fri.

Feb 18, 2012

Woman Burned Alive for Witchcraft

People should not be burned alive for their beliefs.

And are government should not be arguing whether or not contraception should be legal in the U.S.

Feb 15, 2012

1000 Words Wausau Flash Fiction

     Sunlight glinted through the open window. A cool breath of spring air followed close behind. Inside the tank, it was a balmy 76°. Ripples moved gently overhead.
    "Here they come!" thought Tessie with trepidation. Her black skirt caught on some coral as Danny and Dan zoomed by.
     "Jousting again," said Tessie's best friend, Tessa, referring to the crazy antics of the Zebra Danios. Daniel hurried past, pausing to salute the girls before taking off after his friends.
     "Let's go. Don't want to be late!" said Tessa.
     "I do," grumbled Tessie. "I thought school was where we were supposed to go to learn."
     "We do!" chirped Tessa. "Don't we?"
     "Don't you remember yesterday?"
     "Hmm...not really. Don't you just love this striped skirt?" Tessa twirled around, showing off her fins.
     "It's the same outfit you wear every day," Tessie reminded her, "and it's beautiful! Now about yesterday, none of them meant business. They jousted with each other and chased us all day. Don't you want to learn anything? Don't you want to be somebody?"
     "Of course, but would grammar matter if I can catch Daniel's attention another way?" Tessa replied with a shy smile.
     Even if Tessa was superficial, she certainly had a lot of pluck. She was also kind, unlike those conniving Mollies, always huddled in the corner, gossiping amongst themselves.
     Tessa gazed through the transparent wall toward the books on the other side of the den. She resolved to cleave to her principles and get a good education.

Feb 4, 2012

Love People for Who They Are

As I read stories like the recent article in Rolling Stones titled, One Town's War on Gay Teens, I am floored and find myself wondering, "Why don't people love others for who they are?  After all, it's our differences that make our communities strong.  What are people so afraid of?"  The Rolling Stones article can be found at

If you want to learn more or help spread the word about this phenomenon that is sweeping our nation, encourage educators in your local school district to order a free copy of Bullied from Teaching Tolerance.
Bullied: A Student, a School, and a Case That Made History

Jan 31, 2012

Helping Children

This is new and very worthy project created by Matthew and Danielle Drake.I will let them tell you what this is all about:

Kourageous Kids Storybooks.

My husband and I have been writing for a long time. It’s a passion, always has been, always will be. Recently, a friend found out her son has to have surgery.

Our own story for him was unique, it featured him as the hero. His mom confided that he loves science and horror. So, after thinking about it, we wrote him a story about zombies. He learned that people were becoming zombies due to a lack of Malic acid and that apple juice was a sure cure. So, armed with a squirt gun, his little cuz, and a helpful officer, he saved the world in his short story.

So the idea of writing perfectly tailored stories for children was born. The stories will be personally handed over to the parent to read to, or let their child read. Pictures the parents provide will be made into illustrations, so the child is even pictured as the hero. In every way they are the focus of their story.

When we get ten or so stories written we will publish an anthology, those will be available for purchase. Proceeds made from the anthology sales will be donated to Stand Up To Cancer and the National Children's Cancer Society.

The service is FREE to families, and we are taking names now.

Jan 17, 2012

1 Million Signatures!

1 Million signatures in the "Recall Scott Walker" effort - yay! This is an older clip from the Rachel Maddow show called "Like Weekends? Thank Wisconsin Unions." It's well worth a review at this time. Here are two more, just for fun: and 

Jan 8, 2012

Animal Sounds

Yesterday my daughter asked me, "Mama, what does a llama say?"  I had no idea, so I asked her what she thought a llama might say.  She said, "The llama says, 'Hmmm.'"

Well, I do know what frogs say, and most do not say ribbit.  Today, my little girl asked me to once again visit the USGS frog site so that she could hear a green frog and a bullfrog.

Let me explain.  In the spring and summer, I am one of many volunteers who helps the DNR collect information about frogs and toads.  Before I go out "frogging" as I call it, which really means spending 2-3 hours driving a set route at night listening to frog calls during their mating season, I always refresh my memory by visiting this site:  Now it may sound silly, but if anything goes out of balance, acquatic animals such as fish and amphibians can be the first to show signs of distress.

Anyway, early last June, I took my very young daughter out late one night to hear the bullfrogs and green frogs at a local park.  As I pulled to a stop in the inky black parking lot and looked around at the other cars, I was reminded that this was also a local hangout for "couples" who were probably wondering what a lady was doing putting a toddler into a stroller and wheeling her down toward the pond at 10:00 at night.  In fact, one couple even stopped me to ask me about it.  No, I was not some crazed lunatic taking a child out to "swim with the fishes" but instead was a very consciencious parent raising her child not to fear the darkness but instead to appreciate the beauty within it.  That night was a very special experience for both of us.  I know because my daughter will frequently ask to hear the sounds of those two types of frogs over all the others.

Lots of animals (and plants) share our world, but it is our responsibility to care for the planet.  After all, we're the ones messing it up, not them.

If I could share only one book about this topic, it would be Schim Schimmel's Children of the Earth... Remember.  His artwork is astounding and his message is clear.  I can hardly wait until my daughter is old enough to enjoy it.