With A Little Help From My Writer Friends

Sunday, August 16, 2020

 Ask any writer how they developed their writing skills and you'll get a wide range of answers from degree programs to writer's conferences, workshops, webinars and books written on that very subject. Everyone's path is different and no one path is better than the next. 

It's also safe to say that every writer develops their own circle of writer friends, those they admire and study and trust to give them the feedback they need to improve their skills. I have been extremely fortunate in the forty years since my first book came out, to have many writer friends along the way who have encouraged, inspired, taught and even critiqued my work, sometimes brutally, to make me a better writer. Because of my writer friends, my writing and story telling skills have significantly improved. 

One of my favorite ways of learning has been to attend writing conferences; conferences that today have all been either shut down or forced to go digital. And although the quality of information being given won't suffer, I as a conference goer will miss the camaraderie of meeting and interacting with other writers more skilled than I. 

But adapt we must and adapt we will. 

Many opportunities are opening up that will allow us to learn from home in front of our own computers. One great opportunity is being offered by "Write 2 Ignite, a Christian writers group dedicated to helping writers provide excellent books for children and adults," as per Carol Baldwin's blog. Here is the information: 

MASTER FICTION WRITING                                                                                                                    Taught by award winning author, Joyce Hostettler 

Includes 3 talks by Joyce:
Creating Memorable Characters
On Writing Plot: What's The Problem
View Point and Dialogue

September 19th 
9:00 am to 5:30 pm (recorded and password protected for 2 months) 
Register: www.Write2Ignite.com  REGISTER NOW


If you are unable to attend a workshop, webinar or conference, remember to tap into the knowledge of your writer friends. They will not only inspire and challenge you, they'll be there to pump you up when you need it most. Having said that, I need to give a shout out to my critique partners, Debbie, Teresa and Gretchen who have been the writing friends I've needed during the last decade of writing journey. 

What part have your writing friends played in your writing journey? 


Contact Sandra Warren 


Movies about Writers!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

 I've noticed lately that many movies have been made with a writer as the main character or one of the main characters. Not only on the big screen but also television channels like Hallmark Movies tackle ways to involve book writers or song writers into their screenplays. What I didn't realize was how many movies have been made with a writer as a main character. 

Google movies about writers and be prepared to view lists and lists; 10 of the Best Movies about writers, 20 of the best movies about writers, movies about real writers, movies about female writers, horror movies about writers, screenwriters, etc. There are even lists of movies that motivate writers and movies that teach writing. The lists go on and on. Who knew? 

My interest in this topic came from watching Finding Forrester, a wonderful movie about an award winning one-book-wonder author who mentors a young black teen. Forrester, played by Sean Connery, is said to be loosely based on the life of J.D. Salinger. What stuck with me was a line from the movie that I shall never forget: "The first draft you write from the heart, you revise from the brain."

After reading the synopsis of multiple movies about writers, I've learned that many of them have tidbits of writing advice woven throughout their screenplays. What a great way to learn as you watch and listen, especially during these COVID 19 quarantine times. 

I seem to naturally gravitate toward movies about writers, sometime knowingly and sometimes by accident. Either way it's always a pleasant surprise. Even so, I'm surprised that I've seen so few of the recommended films.

The list of movies I want to see has grown substantially since I began this post. It's been surprising to me that there are so many. But, rather than give you my choices for 'gotta-see' writers flicks, I'll challenge you to Google. "movies with writers" or "movies about writers," and make your own list. 

What movie or movies about writers has inspired you? What tidbits about writing, if any, have you gleaned from watching a movie?   


Sandra Warren has published products in multiple genres. 

Contact her at: 


Of Grief, Garlic & Gratitude - A Book Review

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Rarely does a book come along that everyone, and I mean everyone, should read; a book that teaches us how to comfort those who have lost loved-ones, especially those who've lost children, and how to make it through each day if the family involved is yours. 

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Do you remember what you were doing on October 9, 2013? Probably not. It's a date that the Franceour family and their friends will never forget. The date is forever embedded in their minds and hearts as the day they received the terrible news, news no parent should ever receive, news that their charismatic, happy, friend-to-all-son Sam, passed away. 

Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude takes you on an unthinkable journey with Kris Franceour as she shares her day to day struggle to accept the fact that her fun-loving, caring, twenty-year old son is never coming home again. Through raw emotion and inspirational thoughts, Franceour reminds us that nothing compares to the death of a child and, even though love is everlasting, pain also follows for days, months and even years beyond the passing. The book ends with thoughtful suggestions for those who suffer a similar loss as well as those left to comfort the bereaved. There is much to learn from this brave and heart-wrenching story.

You may not think this book will have value for you. It's not a fun read, but it's an important read that is also inspirational. Years ago, within a two year period, my husband and I were friends with six families who lost children; five boys and one girl. Four months ago we learned of another. All were unexpected. All were devastating. I wish I had, had the suggestions listed at the end of, Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude to know how to be a better positive source of comfort for each of those friends.

Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude: Returning to Hope and Joy from a Shattered Life―Sam’s Love Story


Contact Sandra Warren 



Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Never have I read a book that made me angrier than Fly Girls by P. O'Connell Pearson. 

The story itself is the amazing true account of the 1102 women who became WWII WASPS (Women Air Force Service Pilots) risking their lives on a daily basis, flying planes their male counterparts wouldn't fly and accepting missions the men refused to take, with little thanks and support from from the male dominated Army Air Corps. They bought their own uniforms, paid for their own meals and housing, paid their own way back home after delivering their assigned bombers to bases all over the country and parts of Europe, all while keeping quiet about what they were doing so as to not undermine the egos of the military male pilots. 

Whereas the men were trained and flew only one type of aircraft, the WASPS flew and were expected to fly all different types, sometimes on a moments notice, flying in a cockpit they'd never seen before with the directions in their laps. Some pulled targets behind their airplane so soldiers on the ground could practice with live ammunition hitting flying targets. And yes, several WASPS lost their lives to men who failed to hit the target and brought down the plane instead. 

It would be 35 years before the WWII WASPS were granted full military status after years of battling the chauvinistic military establishment and Congress. Prior to the bill being passed, arguments were still brought forward claiming WASPS were not under military discipline when they flew. This was hogwash since all the WASPS received the same training as the U.S. Army Air Corps male pilots and all of their missions were ordered by the U.S. Army Air Corp. 

This story is dear to my heart because a women who graduated from the high school I later attended, Jane  Baessler Doyle, was a WASP. I had the privilege of meeting her prior to her passing, at 97-years of age. Up to that time, she was clear minded and youthful. You have only to Google her name to see and hear her story profiled on many television spots. My greatest regret is that I didn't interview her when I had the chance and offer to document her story.

If you have a relative or neighbor or church member who served in WWII, please sit down with them and record their stories. You don't have to write a book about them. Just record their stories and send them to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Hats off to ALL our service personal but especially the WWII WASPS who are still living. 

To read more about these amazing women, check out the National WASP WWII Museum in Sweetwater, Texas.    www.waspmuseum.org. 

Sandra Warren has written has written a WWII story about what children accomplished during that war; We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of A Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as, two biographies of Army Reserve nurses who served in the Persian Gulf War; When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go and Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front


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: www.arliebooks.com or www.sandrawarren.com 


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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUmxqhIpadI   
Spivey's Web!  Book Trailer: 

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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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