A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words--Or Is It?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A tremendous post came through on my Facebook page the other day about the discovery and processing of 31 Rolls of undeveloped film taken by a soldier during WWII. The film was processed as part of The Rescued Film Project and the results are amazing. Thirty-one rolls full of stunning historical photographs that no one has ever seen before.

As I sat watching a few of the photographs pass by on screen, I couldn't help thinking how much more poignant they would be with explanations of who, what, where, when and maybe even why? I wanted to know who the young soldier was who appeared in so many of the photos; what country were they in and where were they headed as they gathered at the train station in a city that did not look like any I'd ever seen in the United States? How long had they been away from home?  As extraordinary as the pictures were, I wanted to know more. I couldn't help thinking how much more significant the find would be with explanations. I longed for the words. The text. The verbiage.

This brought up the familiar saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Like the saying itself, it's origin sparks discussion. One source called it an "Old English Idiom." Another attributed it to Frederick R. Barnard, who mentioned it in an article about the effectiveness of graphics in advertising, in the early 20th Century. Mr. Barnard claimed it came from a Japanese philosopher.

The saying, like the age-old question, "which came first the chicken or the egg?" is one to which there is no right answer. I would agree that in some aspects of the art world, the saying might hold true, but for me, as a writer, the absence of words in the WWII photographs was a disappointment. The images touched my heart, moved me in unexpected ways and made me want to know more.

Ironically, as I sat down with my husband later that evening to watch one of the Netflix movies that had come in the mail, I was shocked and delighted to find a title, picked at random, I might add, called, Words and Pictures. Filmed in 2013, the film, featuring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche as instructors at a prep school, is about a debate they sparked in their students to answer the question, "A picture is worth a thousand words...or is it?"

I can't answer that question. I'm not sure anyone can. But I challenge everyone of you, especially all my writer friends, to rent Words and Pictures. Those of you who love words will delight in the battle between the two instructors to find multi-syllable words. The romance that emerges is also interesting. In my opinion, this film is well worth time taken out of your busy day. A must see for writers everywhere.

Is a picture worth a thousand words? What do you think?

The Rescued Film Project

Word and Pictures Trailer

Sandra Warren has published works in multiple genres. Her latest book, We Bought A WWII Bomber peaked her interest in the initial Facebook posting referred to in this post.

We Bought A WWII Bomber Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUmxqhIpadI


The Memoir Challenge: Write One!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Today, I challenge every writer, no matter the genre normally preferred, to capture just one memoir albeit your personal journey, stories from an elderly relative or that of an antique, a local building or pillar of the community. Why? Because we're losing our history, that's why.

In this throw-away world where media moguls promote multiple tips on how to organize and clear out the clutter, everything from grandmother's hats from a bygone era to family heirlooms are being tossed, given away or sold. And unfortunately, by the time today's young adults grow tired of the interior designed cookie cutter look of their pristine environments, and figure out the importance of their own personal history, it will be too late.

Writers are in a unique position to preserve and protect familial stories. And they should.

Since the publication of We Bought A WWII Bomber, I have been inundated with folks sharing wonderful stories from their elderly relatives. When I ask if someone has written them down or recorded them, I usually get a blank stare followed by, "well I guess I should." Trust me, if you don't do it, you'll never remember them nor will they be there for your children and their children. This came home to me many years ago, after my mother passed away. She had been the one person--every family has them--who knew who was related to whom and the details of family stories real or imagined. She was always there so I never thought much about that history. After she passed, there was no one to ask. The stories were gone.

Today, I was informed of the passing of 100-year old Maj.Arval Streadbeck, the WWII Captain of the B-17 bomber who was the focus of the story of the "Buy a Bomber" program. Then Capt. Streadbeck, ordered his crew of six to bail in dense fog not knowing what was under them. Because of his orders, his crew survived and lived to continue to serve their country when seven other bombers that crashed that same day produced different results. Fortunately, I was able to use his expertise and insight into the crash shortly after meeting him in 2015. Mentally sharp at 99-years of age, he edited the chapter on the crash and wrote the most wonderful foreword for the book. Now his legacy will live on for his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even though I had only known him for less than two years and through a few telephone calls, his passing has left me profoundly sad. His story will live on, not only in the pages of this book, but also in an historical marker that will be placed near the crash site.

None of this would have been possible if someone hadn't decided to tell this story.

So whose story can you tell? Surly there are family stories that need to be captured. And who better to do it than YOU a writer? It shouldn't matter if you never publish it. How many wonderful stories or starts to stories are sitting in your files right now? I'm guessing quite a few. So why not add some more but this time, take them from real life, your life or the life of a family member; something important that tells your history as only you can do it. Unless your history is something extraordinary, it's unlikely that a traditional publisher would want it. But so what? You can always do a photo book or self-publish it via one of the print-on-demand (POD) online publishing houses, places willing to help you publish a book for little or no cost, or you could just file it on your computer, but I encourage you to print it off and store the copy with important papers just in case no one can figure out your passwords or technology changes to the point where stored information is inaccessible at a later date.

So get out that digital recorder and start capturing those stories. You never know when something in your history might make history itself.

Have you written your memoir yet? If every writer wrote just one memoir, think of all the history that would be preserved!


Memoirs written by Sandra Warren:

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

Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, By Sara Raye with Sandra Warren, Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/jgg2t6v 

When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go, By Dianah Kwiatkowski as told to Sandra Warren 
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hyxuv62

Author of Arlie the Alligator and other books for children and adults!

The Parachute Wedding Dress

Saturday, February 4, 2017

     If there is one garment cherished above all others, it has to be the wedding dress. Most young girls plan for years and dream of the dress they will wear on their wedding day. For many, no expense will be spared, even though the dress will only be worn one for little more than twelve hours. More than any other garment, from that day forward, the wedding dress will carry the memories and promises made to each other in front of family and friends.
     During World War II and shortly thereafter when fabric was scarce, brides were forced to be resourceful. Some wore their Mother's dress, altered to individual preference, some wore their Sunday best suit or dress, and some created gowns out of fabric brought home by their husbands, fathers, brothers or sons returning from service in Europe or the Pacific. That fabric used was the beautiful silk from military parachutes.

     In 1947, one year after Maj. Claude Hensinger returned from WWII, he proposed to a gal he'd known since childhood. Instead of an engagement ring, he handed her his most important possession - the one that saved his life during the war - his parachute. He handed it to her and told her to make a wedding dress out of it. She did and the stunning dress pictured here is the result. Years later it was worn by their daughter and then their daughter-in-law after which it was donated to the Smithsonian where it is on display for all to enjoy.
     "And did you know a young girl made a wedding dress out of one of the pilots' parachutes?"
This was both a statement and a question I was asked over and over again by folks I interviewed while writing We Bought A WWII Bomber. The second half of the book is about the crash of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in Meadows of Dan, Virginia where townspeople came to the aid of the crew forced to bail as the plane was going down.

     The source of the rumor began when Captain Arval Streadbeck, the last to bail when the B-17 bomber ran out of gas in dense fog, landed in the mountains near a farm a couple miles from the crash site. The Barnard family was up doing morning chores when they heard a tremendous explosion. The father went out on the back porch and heard someone calling out. He was able to find the injured Captain and lead him back to the farmhouse. The Captain limped into the house carrying his parachute. The word is, he handed his parachute to Jesse, the oldest Barnard daughter and said, "Here, make a wedding dress out of this."
     Vera, the youngest of the Barnard girls, confirmed the first part of the story but said her sister never made the wedding dress. You see, the Barnard girls had a brother who was in the United States Army Air Corp. When he came home on leave and saw the parachute, he told his parents they had to send it back to the Captain's military base. So Mr. Barnard packed it up and sent it back to Lockbourne Army Air Force base.
     I wish the rumor of the parachute wedding dress had been true. I would have loved to include the story, complete with photographs, in the pages of the book. Instead, I added the story to other mythical gems that grew out of the day a B-17 bomber, circled the historic Mabry's mill twice and crashed in a pig lot in a tiny Virginia mountain town.

     Do you have a story and/or a photograph of a wedding dress made from a parachute or another unusual thing? I'd love to hear about.

Leave a comment, tweet or share and I'll put your name in a hat to win a copy of We Bought A WWII Bomber.

Parachute Wedding Dress story from The Vintage News  https://www.facebook.com/thevintagenews

Writing For Others Before They Are Gone!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Over the years I’ve written for many reasons; to help parents and teachers of gifted children; to inform homeowners of the dangers of Radon gas and how to protect themselves following a disaster; to enhance creativity in students; to share the publishing process; to entertain and teach children to think through music & song. It wasn’t until I shared the stories of two Persian Gulf Army Reserve Nurses that I began to feel the importance of sharing personal experiences.

When I was approached by Army Reserve Nurse, Second Lieutenant, Dianah Kwiatkowski about writing her Persian Gulf memories, I told her, “no." I had no track record writing biographies or memoirs and couldn’t guarantee that it would ever get published. She persisted until I reluctantly agreed. A short while later, her memoirs, When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go, were published. Through Dinah, I met Sergeant Sara Raye, whose Persian Gulf story was even more compelling. That started my second journey into writing for others. Sara's story, Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, initiated changes in the way the military deals with single parents. 

Both of these books were about the personal experiences of two brave women. It would be almost ten years before the opportunity to write a different kind of personal story would present itself; a story before they’re gone.

In December, 2015, I learned that an acquaintance I had met through a writer’s group in another state, was struggling in the final stages of Ovarian Cancer. I knew that Debbie, the acquaintance, had been working on a manuscript for years and dreamed of getting it published. Since I had self-published two of my own books, the decision was made to help Debbie fulfill her dream. Author friend, Gretchen Griffith agreed to help. 

The beautifully written book, The Picking Bag, was published in a race against time, in January of 2016. Debbie Beecher Nance had three weeks to hold her book in her hands and enjoy seeing her cherished story selling to family and friends. 

You might think it was a tremendous gift we gave to Debbie, but Gretchen and I feel we were the recipients of the biggest gift--that of being able to work with an amazing writer and a courageous friend. The Picking Bag is perhaps, the most important book we will ever publish.  

Gretchen is currently involved in another rush to publish. She is in the process of completing the setup of a book titled Back in the Time, the story of life in Spring Creek, North Carolina, a small mountain town. The elderly co-author and principal character, has serious health issues. 

Last week, The Bear Hunter’s Son, another book, written under similar circumstances, appeared on the market. The writer, Georgia Ruth Wilson, a mystery writer and lover of history, took on the task of capturing the story of a man “whose father was a legendary bear hunter around Marion, North Carolina. The legacy that this man leaves starts with the family’s landmark restaurant, the Lake Tahoma Steak House and ends with McDowell Children’s Ministry, a life of agape love.”

The bear hunter's son cried when his Hospice worker crawled into his bed to show him the book. Georgia Ruth then sat beside him and read his father’s story to him from the pages of his book. 

I don't believe Gretchen or Georgia or I ever anticipated that the importance of our writing would be in the act of creating rather than in the stories themselves. We've all learned that writing about the lives of others is a great responsibility, privilege and an honor.   

The greatest reward comes from sharing whatever talent God has given you, sometimes in ways you never expected.

Have you had unexpected results from sharing your writing or your talent?

Books mentioned in this post: 

When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had to Go - http://tinyurl.com/h46z2ua

Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front: http://tinyurl.com/hmjp6zc
The Picking Bag - http://tinyurl.com/h77vkv6
The Bear Hunter's Son -  http://tinyurl.com/hqjpshj
Back in the Time: Due out in February, 2017

Sandra Warren is an author with publications in several genres. Her most current book is
We Bought A WWII Bomber        Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUmxqhIpadI

For more information:

Cherry Blossoms & Bombers: An Interesting Parallel

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I just finished reading the wonderful new book, The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw, a middle-grade Historical fiction based on the author’s mother’s experience growing up in Hiroshima, Japan during WWII. Kathleen’s mother, Toshiko Ishikawa Hilliker, (Yuriko in the book) was twelve years old when the Atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, August 6, 1945.

The Last Cherry Blossom opens with twelve-year old Yuriko in a classroom concerned about an assignment she’s handed in on family history, when air raid sirens go off sending students under their desks. It was 1944 and the war between the United States and Japan had raged since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

Through Yuriko, we get a glimpse of the day-to-day life of Japanese school children during the war; their obligations and fears and patriotism for their Emperor and their country. As I read, I couldn’t help thinking about American children and how similar their lives must have been. They too were preparing for attacks not just from Japan, but Germany as well. They too were being coached to climb under their desks at school. A catchy jingle had been written called “Duck & Cover,” so they wouldn’t forget. They too had to be terrified of the unknown, this horrible thing called, War.  

In the book, We Bought A WWII Bomber, we learn of the wartime rationing of food, clothing, and gasoline, the same things that were scarce in Yuriko’s Hiroshima. Children in both countries participated in collecting paper, metals of all kinds, clothing and rubber. They made gardens to grow food for their families. They rolled bandages and did whatever they could. And in America, when one school was challenged to participate in the “Buy a Bomber” program, they worked hard initiating sales of over $375,000 in U.S. War Bonds and War Loan Stamps and bought a B-17 bomber to help end the war. 

In Japan middle school and high school students were sent to work in the factories while in America, some high school students chose to leave school to work in them. Patriotism was high among the children on both sides of the war. They revered their leaders, loved their respective countries and felt it was their duty to help in the war effort to bring their fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins home safely.   

While We Bought A WWII Bomber, enlightens readers to the amazing patriotism that permeated the United States of America during WWII, especially among American children, The Last Cherry Blossom, forces us to think differently about the Japanese as people, far different from their brutal leaders, who, from an American perspective, had been a terrifying enemy during WWII.

Both of these books, one a historical fiction based on the true life experiences of a 12-year old child who survived the bombing of Hiroshima and the other a non-fiction based on the extraordinary tale of the achievement of school aged children, remind us all that even though our political thoughts and beliefs may vary, at the core of humanity we are one.  

Both Books Available on Amazon: 

The Last Cherry Blossom      http://tinyurl.com/zwwz7fy
We Bought A WWII Bomber  http://tinyurl.com/hztqt3y

Writing Non-Fiction: Unexpected Adventures

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined where the writing of my last book would take me.

We Bought A WWII Bomber, is a story I felt compelled to write for the folks still alive who had lived it; folks who had achieved something quite remarkable and years later suffered a great disappointment. New information proved they had nothing to be disappointed about and I needed to tell them.

The story began in 1943 with junior and senior high students’ involvement in the “Buy a Bomber” program, a funding campaign initiated by the U.S. Treasury Department to encourage U.S. citizens to buy U.S. War Bonds and Defense Loan Stamps to help pay for WWII. The program promised any group, organization, church, city, county, business or school, if they could show proof of War Bond or Defense Loan Stamp sales of $375,000, they could buy a bomber, name it and have a dedication ceremony in their town. Remarkably, the students at South High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, accomplished the task, in nine weeks’ time and bought a B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber.  “The Spirit of South High School,” was dedicated on April 6, 1943 and flew off never to be heard from again. In 1990, alumni from that ‘40’s class learned, much to their disappointment, their bomber had been used for training and never saw battle. The story ended there until 2013, when new information, in the form of a military crash report, came to light.

In 2015, I began to write the story. When word got out, alumni came forward contributing over $1200 towards the purchase of the rights to the many photographs and news articles in the book and to help pay publishing costs. For them I am truly grateful.

The adventure began when I called the historical society in the small town where the bomber crashed. Folks at the historical society had no knowledge of a WWII bomber crash in their town on October 1, 1944. For reasons no one can explain, residents from
the time never talked about it. There were no records anywhere of the event. And yet, I had a military report telling me the farmer’s field where the bomber crashed and the names of local residents who came to the aid of the crew.

What was I to do? A radio interview helped as well as well-placed pleas in local newspapers. People came out of the woodwork to share their memories.

The second adventure began when I was informed that the property on which the bomber crashed was sold to the National Park system shortly after WWII for, The Blue Ridge Parkway, at the site of what is considered to be the most photographed spot on the parkway, Mabry’s Mill. Calls to their historian brought forth the same answer as before; what crash? Several months later National Park authorities verified it was indeed their property and classified it as an archaeological site.

The surprises and adventures continued.

From a reliable source I was informed that my little book is believed to be the only one written about the “Buy a Bomber” program, so it is being widely accepted historically as symbolic of the patriotism permeating home front America during that Great War. Publisher’s Weekly/Book Life honored it with a positive review; it received an endorsement from a World War II expert and a Finalist nod at the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. 

This little story has taken me to Florida to meet one of the pilots, now one hundred-years old; to Virginia to hear tales of the day a B-17 bomber fell out of the sky from then 6, 8 and 11-year olds, currently in their late ‘80’s and 90’s; to a WW2 Club in  Florida whose leader is a renowned WWII expert; to the Yankee Air Museum in Michigan to meet pilots and aviation enthusiasts; to classes of Civil Air Patrol Cadets, young patriotic teens who renewed my faith in the youth of today; to historical societies, libraries, museums, bookstores, senior communities and even a donut shop. And everywhere I go, people tell me wonderful stories of a time when American citizens worked together and sacrificed to help preserve our freedom.

But the greatest adventure is still to come. Several weeks ago I received a letter informing me that a Historical Marker will be placed at the crash site at Mabry’s Mill on The Blue Ridge Parkway to honor the pre-history of the bomber that crashed there during World War II. South High alumni are already planning a bus tour in anticipation of the dedication ceremony to take place sometime next year. And, as so many years ago, South High School alumni have stepped forward to raise the $2000 needed to pay for the marker.

Did I mention South High school closed in 1968? That undefinable “SPIRIT” of South High lives on.

This story was written to honor the alumni who attended South High School in 1943. In my wildest dreams I could never have predicted how it would resonate far beyond those alumni with Americans of all ages and result in the placement of a historical marker on The Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Writing this non-fiction story has afforded me adventures beyond my wildest dreams.

And yes, I’m from South High School and couldn’t be prouder!

Leave a comment and I'll put your name in a hat to win an autographed copy of the book. 

To have Sandra Warren visit your school or organization, visit the Contact page on her website: 
www.sandrawarren.com or www.arliebooks.com or email: sandra@arliebooks.com 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Non-fiction authors understand the frustration of doing tons of research for a book and then having to whittle it down for publication, often leaving awesome facts and photos on the cutting room floor. This happened to me recently after finishing the book, We Bought A WWII Bomber. I kept thinking there must be something I can do with all this wonderful extraneous material.

Then it hit me. Do a photobook!

After the book came out new facts and photographs came to light. Where could I put all this new information so it wouldn't get lost? Where could I put it so it would be handy to share at presentations?

Do a photobook!

Folks kept asking me things like, where I got the idea for this story? Where I looked for information? How did I know where to look? Others were curious about my research and writing process.

It hit me again. Do a photobook!

There's nothing that says a photobook is just for photos. You can explain your writing process through the pages of a photobook.

And then there are photos taken at my Book Launch, signings, presentations and other events, not to mention awesome reviews and even a national award. Should they get filed away in a box or lost on my computer?

They could but why not put them in a photobook?

Photos not in book 
Ring made from Bomber Part
 to me at a book signing

Photos of bomber crash given to me
at a presentation after publication
What is a photo book? Traditionally, it's exactly as it sounds; a book full of photos. But it doesn't have to be. All photobook software offers options for backgrounds and borders. You can even put picture frames around the photos. Included is a texting tool to add photo captions. You can fill the page with words if you prefer. You choose the size, number of pages, cover design, hardback or paperback. The final outcome is determined by your pocketbook and your vision.

Multiple online companies provide the service for reasonable prices. Once listed on their website you will receive discount coupons for various shapes and sizes. You create the book online after downloading company software. Once you plug in your photos and text and push SEND, the book will arrive on your doorstep most often within 10 days.

Three of the most popular companies are www.shutterfly.com, www.mixbook.com and www.photobook.com. The latter is the one I like best, probably because I've used it the most.

If you'd like to try a photobook from www.photobook.com, I was recently sent a coupon code to pass on to my friends. (I do not work for nor will I benefit from sharing this offer.) From now until the end of 2016, you can receive 60% off on a photobook of your choice by plugging in the following:

 Code: PBLOVE2908TG14 Voucher expires 31st December 2016 

Check on the photobook website of your choice for additional coupons. There maybe a better offer especially around a holiday. 

I'm thrilled with the photobook I titled, The Story After The Story. In it I've collected all the things mentioned above. And yes, it was like rewriting the initial manuscript again, but it was worth it. Now the story of my journey to publication is not only preserved for my family, it's also a wonderful way for me to relive, all in one place, my fun-filled journey writing, publishing and promoting, We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of A Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway.

One other tip: At every presentation, folks tell me the most amazing stories related to WWII. To preserve those stories and share them with readers, I've added a Stories Beyond The Book link to my website.

I'd love the hear how you've preserved your excess research and photos. Please share, or, if you have questions about my process, leave a comment and I'll do my best to find the answers if I don't know them off-hand. 

Sandra is always willing to answer questions you might have about her blogs or her books. She can be contacted at any of the following: 

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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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