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.