Monday, September 30, 2013

I'm honored to be invited on the Blog Tour. Thank you Joan Edwards,  for the invite. What fun it is to share and compare the ups and downs different writers experience. I hope my experiences will inspire and confirm your journey as much as the other authors on the tour have inspired me.

What are you working on right now?

Although I am working on an adult novel, my focus in children's literature is the return of one of my story-song picture books, Arlie the Alligator. After 22-years, I'm bringing Arlie back with all new illustrations and in several formats; paperback, CD, mp3 download and in a Kindle/Kindle Fire version.Within four months,  Arlie the Alligator will also be available on iTunes with surprise animations. Kindle Fire couldn't handle the animations and the music so we've had to delay that version.

Folks might wonder why I'd take a chance on an old story. To explain, please allow me share a little history.

Years ago, after completing the manuscript for Arlie the Alligator, I met Deborah Bel Pfleger, an extraordinary song writer who wrote four catchy tunes to accompany my manuscript. Since Deborah also owned a recording studio, we decided to produce the story on audio cassette using actors, sound effects and the music. With a completed manuscript and a fully produced audio cassette in hand, I began the search for a publisher. Finding a publisher proved difficult because the fully-produced cassette followed the story word-for-word and publishers couldn't change it. In addition, this was at a time when books-on-tape were a new concept and books-on-tape for children were just entering the market. Arlie the Alligator, an unknown character by an unknown author, was ahead of his time.

After seven years of receiving the most complimentary rejection letters ever, my husband and I decided to self-publish, even though marketing a self-published book, way back then, was next to impossible without national support. So, Arlie the Alligator, that curious young alligator who longed to speak to the creatures (children) at the beach, was born.

 Now, jump ahead 22-years to 2013 and the mass marketing potential of the Internet through Amazon and all other forms of social media. The temptation to try again was hard to resist. Still, I ventured forth cautiously.

I'm a huge fan of online FREE webinars. When one was offered on "Cashing In With Kindle," by Howard VanEs, a marketing expert from, I jumped at the chance. A half hour consultation with Howard resulted in my hiring him to help me revise and revamp Arlie the Alligator.

I'm thrilled to present the newly updated version of Arlie the Alligator: A Story and Picture Book for Kids Ages 4 to 8. 
         Kindle/Kindle Fire

     I think he's pretty cute!

Did I change the story at all? Nope. It's the same story and the same wonderful catchy songs, but, Arlie's got a brand new pair of ...well...a whole new facelift, updated for a new generation of children.

How does Arlie the Alligator differ from other works in its genre?

Well, there's simply few if anything else like it on the market. It's a story, its songs, its a mini-musical, its told from an alligator's point of view so there are things for young readers to figure out, its fun and entertaining, has a subtle communication theme, and the 4 catchy tunes will have children singing the first time they listen.

With it's fully-produced CD, Arlie the Alligator was ahead of it's time way back in the 1990's and with its animations in the ebook, it's cutting edge again. Amazon couldn't load it on Kindle Fire so we have to wait for iTunes.

Why do you write what you do?

I probably would be more successful if I stuck to one genre but that's not how my mind or my interests work. My published works are quite eclectic. They include things in several genres like educational activity books, children's, parenting the gifted, gifted education, "how to," poetry, journal, newspaper, magazine and adult biography as well as educational video production. I've also written and optioned screenplays. Check out my website for more detailed information.

Why do I write, you ask? Because I have to.

How does your writing process work? 

I wish I knew! I'd like to say that I have a well-orchestrated plan; that I write every day; that I outline before hand and know the direction I'm headed at the get-go; but that wouldn't be honest. My process is as eclectic as my interests. Although I try to write everyday, I don't always.

I do a great deal of mental writing; figuring things out in my head before ever committing words to my computer. I try not to get upset when life intervenes and takes me away from writing. Invariably, during that downtime, I'll learn something I needed to know for the work at hand. Writing delays for me always result in better work.

I'm in a "brutal" critique group and I highly recommend that kind of group to every writer. At the developing stage of the game, writers don't need the kudos. To grow in your craft you need honest, straight-forward, sincere, and yes, even brutal analysis of your work. Find writers who you respect and hang on for the ride. Your writing will be better for it and by the time your work is accepted and you get the rewrites from the editor, you'll be prepared to accept all those sticky notes in a professional manner without drama, trauma and tears.

Recently, I read a wonderful book that was poorly written. Huh? Yes, that's what I said. The author had the kernel of a wonderful story and I was envious of the way she was able to describe feelings and setting. The problems were, to name a few, too much description, too many adjectives and point-of-view changes two sometimes three times on the same page, often within the same paragraph. On the acknowledgement page, the author thanked a creative writing class at a certain university. When I saw that, I just shook my head and thought, what a disservice that creative writing class and that professor did to that writer. They had to know better. If they did or if they didn't, shame on them.

In addition to critiquing, my brutal writer's group is taking a 24-lesson class by Professor Brooks Landon, Professor of English at the University of Iowa, called, Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft.  We all bought the $39 DVD set and are working our way through it together. It's been fun. The best part is we've all seen improvement in our writing since beginning the course.

Any departing words of wisdom for other writers? 

Believe in your work. If you don't no one will.
Study the craft of writing; take a class, attend a conference, take on-line webinars
Find that "brutal" critique group.
Be thankful for negative critiques. If someone doesn't "get" your story, then you're not telling it right.
Listen and learn, yet still believe enough in your story to know when to change something and when to leave it alone.
Save those rejection letters. You'll need them to inspire other aspiring writers to never give up.
Study proper submission formats and guidelines. Many rejections have more to do with how a story was presented than the story itself.
Never give up. If it was easy getting published, everyone would be published.

It's been fun sharing my newly revised Arlie the Alligator,  with you. I wish you could all join us at his Book Launch on October 5th, at the McDowell Public Library, in Marion, NC. We're going to have a lot of fun. I'll make an alligator hat for you!

Keep writing!

NEXT BLOG TOUR: October 7th
Meet: these three amazing children's writers:

Debbie Nance - and MG fiction writer, who, after surviving cancer twice has branched out to work on a memoir of her experiences.

Ann Eisenstein - - MG and YA fiction writer.

Becky Shillington - - children's writer working towards her first publication.


Becky Shillington said...


What a wonderful interview! Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us, and for your honesty about what it takes to write a really great book. That 24-lesson class sounds interesting--I will have to look into that.

Thanks again for including me on your blog tour! I will have my post up on Monday!

= ) Becky

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra, I am proud of you. I look forwards to reading the new Arlie, the Alligator. It is great that your critique group is taking a course together.

You have learned a bunch through the process of reworking Arlie.

Thanks for sharing and encouraging others.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Carol Baldwin said...

Enjoyed your blog--particularly your notes about how to receive negative critiques!

Amy White said...

I love that you brought up the need for a brutal critique group!
Beginning writers can keep the soft, touchy feely, you're so good reviews.
Those of us that have been in trenches, know the true value of a friend who will tell you what's what with no holds barred.

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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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