Friday, September 6, 2013

"Everything old is new again," or can be if you believe! 

I have a story that I believe in and I want to share its history with you in hopes that something in my journey might spur you onward with a story of your own, after all, if you don't believe in your work, no one will. 

Years ago I had an idea to write a story about a curious alligator who longed to talk to the creatures (children) at the beach. The idea evolved from an article a friend shared with me about tourists in Florida feeding an alligator marshmallows; not a wise decision for the tourists or the alligator. From that article, an alligator story I titled, Arlie the Alligator, was born. 

Shortly after completing the manuscript, I met songwriter extraordinaire, Deborah Bel Pfleger and she offered to write some songs to accompany the story. When the four catchy tunes were finished, she announced that she owned her own recording studio and suggested that we record the story with actors, singers and sound effects. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. 

Then began the search for a publisher. With a manuscript and a fully produced audio of the book in hand, I queried and submitted to multiple publishers for the next seven years. And, for the next seven years, rejections came in with glowing accolades about my little story with audio cassette, but no one would take a chance on it. This was at a time when books-on-tape were just becoming popular and children's books-on-tape were an experiment using only the classics, Disney stories and Sesame Street. Arlie the Alligator was ahead of its time. 

And so, after much deliberation and agonizing over what to do, my husband and I decided to self-publish. I researched the "how tos" and we took the leap of faith. 

I interviewed four illustrators and chose the beautiful, soft, pastel images created by Ohio children's portrait artist, Deborah Thomas. And thus, Arlie the Alligator was born. 

Arlie the Alligator was and still is a very unique concept. The original book contained song lyrics interwoven within the dialogue in mini-musical style, a page that explained the difference between a real alligator and a pretend alligator like Arlie, and concluded with the sheet music for the four songs. 

Even before the manuscript was published, I began doing school visits. Intuitively I knew the importance of making a "classroom connection." Children loved thinking their way through a story told from an alligator's point-of-view and teachers enjoyed creating classroom activities around the communication theme. 

My work in gifted education led me to write the Arlie the Alligator Communication Guide for educators and include in it a full theatrical script, a full reader's theater script, the sheet music and multiple classroom activities keyed K-6+. I recognized early on that, although the Arlie the Alligator story itself was designed for primary aged children, when used as a theatrical production, it could be utilized by all ages, even adults. 

Initially, the Communication Activity Guide was published by Pieces of Learning, a wonderful mid-sized educational publisher whose products emphasize upper level thinking strategies, good for all students but essential for gifted learners. Those publishing rights have subsequently been turned back over to me. 

Jump ahead to 2013 and the evolution of the Internet and with its publishing arm, CreateSpace. Jump ahead also to the increasing popularity of free Internet webinars; one in particular on Kindle Marketing was given by marketing expert, Howard VanEs of That webinar sparked the idea of bringing Arlie the Alligator out on Kindle. And so, under Howard VanEs's expert guidance, a newly illustrated Arlie the Alligator: A Story & Picture Book for Kids Ages 4 to 8, was born

I'm thrilled to announce that a paperback, revised Arlie the Alligator is now available on Amazon. It's the same story and the same wonderful catchy songs with updated illustrations to capture the attention of a new generation of children. Soon to follow will be the fully produced CD, Mp3 Download and an animated Ebook for Kindle Fire. I'll keep you updated on my website,

I sincerely hope something in my journey with Arlie the Alligator inspires you to push forward with a story you believe in whether via the traditional agent/editor/publisher route or through self-publishing.

Like I said in the beginning, "if you don't believe in your story, no one will."  

Let me know if my journey started you thinking about one of your manuscripts. I'd love to hear from you. 


Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra,
I am very proud of all you've done. It is simply amazing the transformation of Arlie in the new book.

Celebrate you and Arlie.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Gretchen Griffith said...

I'm glad to read the story behind the story of how Arlie came to be - twice! I agree, Joan, it's time to celebrate. This is truly a "Never Give Up" lesson.
Gretchen Griffith

Sandra Warren said...

Thank you BOTH -- Joan and Gretchen for you comments. It's a very scary thing I've done...twice. But I love the new Arlie and think kids will also.

In the ups and downs of being a writer, it's important to have such wonderful support from other writers.
Thank 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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