Crossroads of Humanity

Jun 27, 2013

Cover Image Reveal Contest

This contest is also posted on my official author website - Latest News Page - where you can read short excerpts and help me decide upon a title for my latest novella. The giveaway is open to everyone 18 years and older, anywhere in the world.

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Jun 24, 2013

Anamnesis? Remembrance? I just don't know!

Where do your story ideas come from?

Both my Reliance on Citizens trilogy and my latest unnamed novella came from dreams. Yes, dreams, as in the stories we get to enjoy at night. And they all centered around big questions.

For my latest story, I wondered what if strange occurrences such as possession, hauntings, out of body experiences, and certain mental illnesses such as multiple personality disorder, all had one common cause? And what if that common cause was sentient? You can read excerpts from this book on my website here: S.L. Wallace Official Website

When I wrote Price of a Bounty, I wondered what would happen if there were no middle class? What might society look and feel like? How would people react and survive in such a world? Some will play the system, many will give in and let the system play them, and some fight back with a vengeance.

Canvas Skies continues the drama that began in the first book. This time I wondered, what would it take to close the divide between the classes? The characters in the first book were already working toward that end, so it only made sense to see how it would all play out. Here is one of my favorite scenes from Canvas Skies:

He handed me a pencil. I stood and began to sketch. Hisoka did the same, working at the easel next to me.  I lost track of time and became fully in tune with my creation.

When my sketch was finished, I stood back in awe. Had I really created something so beautiful? It was perfect. The juxtaposition of the three crooked apple trees with people emerging from within, against a very realistic backdrop gave the drawing an otherworldly quality.

Hisoka moved behind me. “Wow! This can't be your first.”

“It's not,” I said. “I took a techniques class at the Art Institute, but this is the first time I'm not recreating someone else's work.”

“It's amazing. You're a natural.” He smiled and put a hand on my shoulder. “Who are the people in the trees? What do they represent?”

“I don't know,” I lied. “I think the one in the middle is me.”

They were us: me, Keira and Scott, but I couldn't tell Hisoka about them without revealing a whole lot more.

“What about him?” He pointed to a figure on the right. A man lurked in the shadows, facing the trees.

“Oh, that's you,” I lied again. I couldn't explain, not even to myself, why Brody had appeared in my vision.

Heart of Humanity takes place years later. This story is mostly told from a child's point of view. Noah Maddock is 11, nearly 12 years-old when he returns to Tkaron after living abroad, where there was no such divide between the classes. The adults in this series have been so focused on improving their world that at first all they can see are the problems, and later all they can see are the improvements. I wondered if the next generation would feel that it was enough of a change. Noah's perspective adds depth to an already deep story, and he also has to deal with another issue that is relevant to far too many students in our schools, bullying.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

For me, the most difficult part of the writing process is thinking up a good title (see above). The second most difficult task is thinking of a tagline. And the third most difficult part is writing the synopsis. I am astounded by people who are good at boiling ideas down to the bare bones while drawing readers in and somehow not giving everything away.

For my Reliance on Citizens trilogy, I finished the first book and started on the second, and I still didn't know what I was going to call it. To this day, it's the title I like the least. Meanwhile, Canvas Skies (book 2 in the series) was one of the titles I'd considered for book 1, and Heart of Humanity basically named itself.

Now, I'm stuck trying to name my new novella. Would you consider helping me out by taking the survey I've posted here? S.L. Wallace Official Website If you don't like any of the titles, can you think of a great one? If I end up using a title you suggest, I will send you free e-copies of all of my books, including this one when it's released. Thank you very much!

What is your favorite part of writing?

I love getting to know my characters. It takes me some time to get into their heads, but once I'm there, the writing flows naturally. It's one of the reasons I like writing from different points of view.

For my latest work, I absolutely loved doing research. I learned so many fascinating things about history. It was so much fun seeing how things just fell into place and finding gems under rocks. For example, when I was doing research on Connecticut colony, I stumbled across the story of the Wyllys Oak which was far more exciting than the story I had originally planned for that chapter of the book.

As part of my sweepstakes running through July 5, I now have a question for you...

If you could travel to any period in history, when would you go and why?
Posting a comment here will allow you to enter for +5 additional points toward the drawing. Images and details can be found here:

Where can your books be found?

All of my books can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. My paperbacks can also be purchased directly from Create Space: Price of a Bounty, Canvas Skies, and Heart of Humanity.

Jun 8, 2013

Commentary on Public Education

Guest post by Matt Posner.

There are very few bad teachers, but their impact is considerably less than the impact of bad administrators. In contrast with the few bad teachers there are, there is a relentless pounding attack upon the teaching profession in the political arena, with constant call for our heads and our jobs, with constant accusations that we do not deserve the pay and benefits we have and the assertion that we should voluntarily accept impoverishment, ill-health, insecurity, and abuse for the benefit of children who in reality would be better off with teachers who had no such concerns and were able to focus their greater energies upon meeting the needs of those children.

On the one side we are battling for our careers against corporate smear campaigns and dunderheaded politicians, and on the other we are trying to unlock the mysteries of a generation of young people who are aggressively resistant to the educational process, who are frequently deficient in curiosity, responsibility, skills, and background knowledge, in a way my colleagues and I cannot recall prior generations being. Quantitatively, this generation reads more, but anecdotally, the evidence is not visible in our daily struggle to energize them for learning. It is the paradox of vast informational resources being combined with a vast lack of motivation to use them. And while we contend with this professional challenge, we are also compelled to battle for our careers as we are publicly characterized as self-serving leeches upon public funds.

This will continue until it stops. What will happen after that? I don't know. But I am over forty and can't really retrain for a new career. So I am in this one until I'm told that I'm not. But when public school teachers are pushed out of the arena, then who is actually left to take care of the kids? I don't know the answer to that.

You can read more about Matt Posner by visiting his official website.

If Matt's post made you think, you may enjoy this video on YouTube.

Jun 2, 2013

Equal High Quality Education is a Must for a Democratic Nation to Thrive

The following is a post written by Rep. Mandy Write from Wisconsin:

Should every child in Wisconsin, regardless of economic status or disability, have access to an excellent education? Do we still believe in the American Dream, that you can work hard and achieve your dream?

I am alarmed like never before about the future of our public schools and what it means for our kids, our communities, and Wisconsin as a whole. As a newly elected State Representative that is the only teacher who has been in a classroom within the past ten years and with three young children attending public schools in my hometown of Wausau, I have a different perspective on how the Wisconsin Legislature interacts with education policy.

The backroom deal developed last week that will be voted on by the Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday is disgusting. Within 2 years we will have 'a voucher in every backpack', which will dismantle our public education system. If you have never gotten involved in advocacy for our schools before, now is the time. Your voice matters. You care about our kids, and people in your community know that.

If you'd like more information on how to advocate for our kids, feel free to follow my Legislative Page, I keep it updated and there are many opportunities for you to be involved in big and small ways. And THANK YOU for all you do for our kids. Working together, we will make the future even better.
Mandy Wright Assembly Representative for the 85th District of Wisconsin Contact info: 608-266-0654;
My response to Rep. Wright's post:

This is exactly why we left Wisconsin and why we cannot go back. What has been done and is continuing to be done to the state school system there is disgusting. Our daughter will be entering school in a few short years. I refuse to subject her to state schools that are unequal and of low quality. The declining quality of the public schools in Wisconsin is not the fault of the teachers nor the administrators. Their hands are tied, just as mine were when I lived there. The schools are beginning to fail and will continue to decline unless drastic measures are taken to assure a high quality education for all children regardless of race, class or religion. Please, listen to what Rep. Mandy Wright has to say. She knows what she's talking about and as a past teacher with three children in the public schools, she has a vested interest in making sure the right policies are put into place.

S.L. Wallace is the author of the Reliance on Citizens trilogy and Retrospection.