Friday, May 22, 2020

Memorial Day is just about here and I thought I would share a poem written by my brother, Don Dieleman, a Navy veteran. On this special day of remembrance, if you can't attend a service or parade, at least give thanks to those who have gone before us as well as the young men and women serving now to protect our freedom. In this day of isolation and the battle with COVID-19, the poem also seems relevant and applicable to those fighting this virus on the front lines.

FREEDOM ISN'T FREE         (copyright, Don Dieleman, 2004)

Freedom isn't free
Look around and you will see
Some are crippled some are lame
With their stories to proclaim. 

Some have scars you do not see
Cutting deep in memory
They gave their all for you and me
So that freedom we can see.

It's hard for young to comprehend
When family goes to war
But one day they will understand
What they went fighting for. 

We enjoy so much of everything
In a land of liberty we sing
Help us Lord to always see
That lives were lost for you and me. 

We seem very out of touch
With many places that have not much
Especially freedom that they seek
May we always freedom keep.

So pray that where our troops may go
To distant lands away from home
That they will always lead the way
To help spread freedom everyday.             (Copyright, Don Dieleman, 2004)

When you see a man or woman in uniform or just wearing a military hat, thank them for their service and say a little prayer that the negative memories embedded during their service will diminish, give them peace and a sense of pride.

I never served in the military but I had the privilege of writing two memoirs of Army Reserve nurses who served in the Persian Gulf War; then 2nd Lt. Dianah Kwiatkowski, When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go, and Sgt. Sara Raye (pen name), Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, as well as the WWII story of home front America and what a group of children from one school accomplished, We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of A Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Please SHARE and leave a comment before May 30th and I'll put your name in to WIN the book of your choice from above. 

Sandra Warren has published works in multiple genres. For SKYPE/ZOOM visits and/or CONTACT information see her website: or 


Saturday, April 25, 2020

"Keep me at it," is a mantra that applies to just about everything I start during this pandemic isolation. After over almost two months in quarantine, as I sit among boxes pulled out of my closet, I worry about my inability to stick with or to any one task. Like a humming bird flitting from flower to flower, I'm flitting from job to job. It seems to be my new normal as I struggle to adjust to these strange times.

Clear out and clean out is a worthy goal, but I'm finding it difficult to complete one task before starting another, consequently, there are boxes opened, some emptied, contents piled on tables in every room in the house. My office, a large second family room in our lower level, is almost impassable as I try to unload years of files filled with proof that being a wife and mother was just one of many hats I used to wear. Things on my computer aren't much better. Another distraction. Am I alone? 

In one of the files I was emptying, I found a letter from Anne Cox, a long ago. acquaintance, that contained words of inspiration; words I needed to hear at that precise moment; words by Marjorie Holmes that inspired me and I hope may inspire you. 

KEEP ME AT IT                                               by Marjorie Holmes

God, give me due respect for the abilities you have given me.
Don't let me sell them short.
Don't let me cheapen them.
Don't let me bury my talents through indecision, cowardice or laziness.
Plant in me the necessary determination.
Keep me at it!
Rouse in me the fires of dedication.
Keep me at it!
Give me the energy, strength, and will power to bring your gifts to their proper fruition.
Keep me at it!
When I falter or fall, lift me up and set me back on my destined path.
Keep me at it!

KEEP ME AT IT, seems especially pertinent to those of us who write or illustrate; a profession with so much rejection. If we give up, so many stories and wonderful pieces of art will never be told or shared. So KEEP AT IT!

Look around you. Whatever you've started or haven't started but know you should, whether it's cleaning or sorting or writing or painting or exercising or cooking or resting, remember Marjorie Holmes's words of wisdom to KEEP ME AT IT! If you do that today, then I will too. Now, I'd better get hopping or I'll never be able to clear a path out of my office.

Sandra Warren has published works in a variety of genres. She lives and writes in the NC mountains.

Contact Information:    


Consider the "What ifs?"

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

One of the things we're told to do when developing stories is to consider the "what ifs?" We look at an incident, behavior or personality of a character and think about changes that can move a story forward, add interest and an opportunity for character growth. Many times we don't want our characters to change, especially if that changed is forced upon us by an editor or critique from a writer we respect, and even  when we know the change will improve our story, sometimes it's just  hard to cast aside our original concept and respond to the "what ifs?"

The "what ifs," I'd like you to consider has nothing to do with the development of story but more about life itself. If we've learned anything from the pandemic we're all living through, it's that life is precious. With everything shut down, we've been given the gift of time to reflect and share with our spouses, children, family and friends in ways we've never done before. And all though we don't want to think about it, what happens if our family is hit with the virus and loses a loved one? And, what if that loved one is you? 

What if it is you? Have you left clear instructions as to how to access your computer files, your works-in-progress, contact information for the important people in your career; agents, editors, publicist, lawyer, publishers? If published, does your spouse or loved one know which publishers to contact regarding royalties and for which books? Royalties don't stop when you're gone.  

I could go on and on with more "what if" questions but I think the idea is clear. We all need to have a plan. We all need to prepare for the "what ifs!"

Have you ever considered this? Do you have a plan? I'd like to know.

Sandra Warren is the author of books in multiple genres. Contact via her website listed below.

Obsessed By A Promise: A Childhood Promise! A Lost Brother! The Orphan Train! A life On Hold!
She Started It All  - middle grade historical fiction of bomber story 
We Bought a WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The  
   Blue Ridge Parkway!  Book Trailer:   
Spivey's Web!  Book Trailer:

Pandemic: A Time to Pull Back, Reflect & Write!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Who among us could have ever imagined a time when everything, and I mean everything would shut down; churches, schools, movie theaters, Broadway shows, sports events and restaurants, and live television shows where the announcers and commentators are broadcasting from home? Where folks over 60 are told to stay home to stay safe? Where those that have to be out and about are told to stay six feet apart, bump elbows instead of shaking hands and absolutely no hugs? It sounds like a movie script about the future; fictitious words no one would believe. And yet, here we are in the middle of a World Wide Pandemic!

Writing, for those of us who love to create stories, will be the escape we so desperately need in these challenging times. Intellectually, we all know that what makes a story great are the trials and tribulations our characters face and overcome. That's where our characters change and grow, hopefully for the better.

Life has given us all the opportunity to model those positive changes in our own lives. We need to record and remember that the emotions we're feeling, the highs and the lows, the fears and bright spots along the way, words of encouragement and words that depress, can all be applied to the characters in our current works in progress, or in characters in stories to come.

Positive, extraordinary things can emerge from the most horrendous experiences.

Write on, writer friends. Write on!

Unearthing & Celebrating History

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I hated taking History in school. I don't know why--well, maybe I do. Events, dates, causes and consequences didn't interest me. For the most part, I couldn't relate. Too many things were going on in my teenage life. I didn't care about what happened years ago even if, as my teachers tried to explain, the past allowed me to have the freedoms I take for granted.

Today, we live in an era of technology where the Internet has given us access to information through videos, documentaries, nonfiction as well as narrative non-fiction, podcasts and blogs, Internet radio and even "Alexa" where you only have to ask "Alexa" to get the answers to most anything. The way History is taught no longer needs to be boring.

Whether or not a student clicks in will depend, I believe, on their sense of curiosity and timing; curiosity to begin to explore a topic in new and different ways or appreciate those that do and did, and timing that connects them to some part of the story. If I had heard about the Orphan Trains as a teen, I'm not sure I would have been as horrified with the process as I was years later as a Mother of three. The story certainly wouldn't have resonated with me in the same way.

In the early 1990's, while working for an educational publisher, I came across a little book called The Orphan Trains. Intrigued, I sat down and read it cover to cover. For days, weeks, no months, I couldn't get the information I had read out of my mind. I kept thinking of the "what ifs?" My father had passed away when I was six and we were quite poor. What if my mother hadn't been able to care for me and my brother? Would she have been forced to give us away? Could that have been us? What if my brother and I had been separated? What would my life or his have become? Slowly but surely, through all the thinking and imagining and researching, a story emerged; a story that would evolve over the next twenty-plus years before culminating in a book.

First titled, My Brother's Keeper, and then, They Called Me Blue, Obsessed By A Promise  follows the lives of two brothers separated in the Spring of 1929. The youngest is taken and eventually sent out west on the Orphan Train to a new family while the oldest is frantically searching for him. Devastated by the loss of his little brother, the elder dedicates the next fifty years of his life to the search.

Strangely, history also played a major role in one of my other books. We Bought A WWII Bomber centered on a historical accomplishment of students during World War Two. Doing research for that book unearthed a seventy-year old mystery, made history in a small town that had forgotten the important event, and resulted in the placement of two historical markers in two different States.

Experiences writing these two books have taught me to pay attention to the world around me. What is current today may be significant history tomorrow. Had you told me back when I was in school that history would become an important part of my future as a writer, I wouldn't have believed you. I hated History classes in school so it's very strange to me that I enjoy writing about it today.

To celebrate the NEW YEAR, I'm giving away an autographed copy of either We Bought A WWII Bomber, or Obsessed By A Promise. Leave a comment by January 5, 2020 and one winner will be able to choose their book of choice.    


Old Books Keep Coming Back!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The other day an author friend of mine said to me, "Once you publish a book, it's always with you. You never know when it will unexpectedly pop-up again." The comment was prompted by unexpected orders that arrived out-of-the-blue for the purchase of several of her books that hadn't sold a copy in months.

Her comment made me laugh because last November, I received a call regarding my children's mini-musical story book, CD and DVD package, Arlie the Alligator, asking about purchasing multiple copies for an alligator preserve's gift shop. I was thrilled, of course, and somewhat amazed. Although Arlie the Alligator has received modest success over the years, I never expected a bulk order at this time.

The original Arlie the Alligator came out in the early 1990's as a hard back book and audio cassette package. Then, in 2000 a CD replaced the audio cassette. The book was brought out in paperback with updated illustrations in 2013, and in 2014, a DVD was produced. By traditional publishing standards, Arlie the Alligator would have been relegated to the cancellation pile, but because it was independently published, it has remained on the market selling one book, CD or DVD now and again. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I received the request for a bulk order. Amazingly, thirty-eight years after it first hit the market, Arlie the Alligator has been given a new chance to continue delighting children in story and song, in a Texas gift shop.

This happened with two other books of mine, also. In 2016, publisher Royal Fireworks Press, re-illustrated and republished, If I Were A Table and Reflections On Being Gifted, a title change for a book originally called, Being Gifted: Because You're Special From The Rest. Both of these updates and returns to market were surprises to me since both books had original publishing dates on them of 1981 and 1986.

You never know when you put your heart and soul into a book or an idea if it will find an audience and have a lasting impact.

It's like my friend said, ". . . You never know when [a book you authored] will unexpectedly pop-up again."

Sometimes books are like volunteer flowers in the garden that surprise you in the Spring. They pop up to delight when you least expect them.

Has interest in any of your books popped up again after many years?

Leave a comment by October 10th and Sandra will gift one lucky winner with a copy of Arlie the Alligator. 

*     *     *      * 
Sandra Warren is the author of books in several genres.

Contact her at:

Sharing Your Secrets In Presentations

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

While planning a weekend presentation, it occurred to me that my audience might like to hear more than a synopsis or a reading of the book. I know I do when I attend an author event. Don't read me a page from your book. I can do that myself, later. Tell me something not in the book, something I learned from being at your presentation. 

Things like:  Where the idea came from and what inspired you to pursue it? How long it took to write? Did you have to do research? Are the characters based on someone you know? What was the hardest part of the story to write? How many times did you rewrite it? Where did the title come from? Sprinkle in your personal writing experience too; Is this your first book? Did you always want to write? Who is your favorite author? Who is your biggest supporter? Where do your other ideas come from? Do you have a critique group? And so on and so on.  

This weekend I will be speaking to group of adults and young adults at a local library about my newest work of historical fiction, She Started It All. But rather than talk about the story as written, I am sharing my secrets about how I turned a nonfiction story into the historical fiction they came to hear about. As interesting as I think the story itself is, I believe it's more interesting to share how I determined what facts from the nonfiction needed to be in the historical fiction. What pitfalls I faced? If I use real character names? Why or why not? Stuff like that. In my humble opinion, this will be much more interesting than merely telling the story. 

The flyer for my presentation reads like this: From A Bomber Story to She Started It All: Creating Historical Fiction From Nonfiction. 

If you're out and about near Morganton, North Carolina around 2:00 pm on Saturday the 9th, stop by and critique my presentation. I'd love to see you! 



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About Me

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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