Between Authors & Illustrators

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This past weekend I was proud to announce the publication of SPIVEY'S WEB, a picture book with a Christmas twist at the end. More than a holiday book, Spivey's Web is about developing your talents against all odds and having the courage to forge a new path, because when you do, you just might be surprised with what wondrous things might result.  

 Writer's are like Spivey. They begin with a concept that's original and develop it until it's ready for production. Then, they go through the hoops to find the perfect publisher. And some end up self-publishing because they believe so strongly in what they've created despite rejection. They write because they have to write. And like Spivey, they won't be happy doing what everyone else is doing. 

Spivey's Web germinated in my brain about 15 years ago. It's been so long I'm not sure where the idea came from, but it was an idea that wouldn't let go. I wasn't sure if  it would ever get published until I met Susan Fitzgerald, a Fine artist by reputation, who had a dream of illustrating a children's book. 

I was reading a recent blog post written by author Marion Dane Bauer in which she talked about the illustrator of her new picture book, Winter Dance. What she had to say about the unique relationship between authors and illustrators couldn't have been said better. 

"The writer has to come up with the idea, and the idea is key, of course.  But without the artist’s bringing another whole world of ideas to the page, the story would be only half born."
                                                                               Marion Dane Bauer
                                                                   Just Thinking: Riding Piggy Back

Spivey's Web was half born until Susan Fitzgerald worked her magic bringing Spivey, her friend Marintha and all the other characters to life. I couldn't be more pleased!

Thank you Susan Fitzgerald and ALL ILLUSTRATORS everywhere! The work you do interpreting our words is an awesome task. We never know where your creative endeavors will take our story. You make it fun to be a writer! 

Spivey's Web is available on Amazon - just in time for Christmas! 
Buy it Now:

Sandra Warren is the author of Arlie the Alligator and other books for children and adults!


Learning NEW Technology: The Ugh! Then The Ahhhhh!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to learn a NEW piece of software, something you either need to use or just want because a trusted source recommended it? Unless you're young and grew up in the technology age, your mind is just not programmed for this kind of understanding. Well...I guess I should speak for myself. I really have to work at it to make it happen. And the learning curve is always rather bumpy.

Last summer, blogger guru, writer and friend, Carol Baldwin asked me and one of my critique partners if we would learn WIKI, a collaborative website that allows you to communicate directly sharing files and conversations, even class assignments and homework. At the time, Carol was preparing a presentation for a September, Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
(SCBWI-C) conference and she wanted to be able to use our experiences as new WIKI users.

"It's really easy," Carol insisted, "once you get the hang of it."

Well, isn't that true of everything?

With a certain amount of reluctance, I agreed to participate. Timing was perfect because I was in the process of working with critique partner, Gretchen Griffith, to combine a presentation related to my We Bought A WWII Bomber book, with new research she had just completed involving the City of Lenoir, North Carolina's WWII contribution to the war effort. The Historical Society of Lenoir had offered us a meeting date and we were excited to be working together on the project.

Our first WIKI lesson involved learning to share messages back and forth. Unlike Dropbox, at least what we knew of Dropbox, WIKI allowed us instant back and forth as if we were talking face-to-face. As soon as I saved a comment, Gretchen was able to see my comment and give an immediate response. Our initial discussion centered on where her research would fit into my PowerPoint presentation slides and what visuals would we use.

Next we had to learn to share the PowerPoint slides. It didn't take but a few minutes, with Carol's expert guidance, to post, insert and even change my slides to accommodate Gretchen's work. Later it involved tweaking those changes and even the PowerPoint slides for consistency.

To our surprise, WIKI was working well, almost better than if we were sitting side-by-side, making the decisions and initiating the changes. The best part was we were able to do all this without one of us making the hour long trek to the others home, and fitting our time working together within a specific schedule. We were able to do it all at our convenience each sitting in our own home office.

For our project, Gretchen and I just touched the surface of all WIKI has to offer. Carol utilizes it to a much great extent when teaching writing classes, to keep track of students, their work and grades as well as a direct avenue to read, correct and critique assignments. She, as the administrator, can critique one-on-one or allow the entire class to see and critique each others work.

WIKI can also be used when sharing work in a critique group. Each critique partner can view, read and insert their suggestions for a given body of work.

So if you're looking for a way to share information, teach a class or collaborate on a project, you might give WIKI a try.

Thank you Carol for forcing me out of my comfort zone to learn a new program.

Favorite WIKI resources posted by Carol Baldwin following her SCBWIC presentation:

Check out Carol's amazing blog:

Sandra Warren
We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway.

Oh The Places You'll Go...One Author's Reality

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Life as an author is never what you expect, at least that's been my experience.

Years ago, when I first dreamt of becoming a published author, I had visions of television interviews and paid book tours, stops in big cities and long lines circling book stores anxiously awaiting my arrival. That does happen and has for one or two of the many authors I know. But the vast majority of authors, myself included, experience a different reality; one that involves ingenuity and creative marketing strategies to keep their books in circulation and in the forefront of prospective book buyers.

                             Never give up an opportunity to promote your work! 

In my 25+ years as a published author, I've had the pleasure of speaking and exhibiting my books in a number of very different venues from book stores to libraries, historical museums, aviation museums, senior communities, schools, book clubs, colleges, book fairs, Spring, Summer and Fall Festivals, Holiday Bazaars, churches, a luxury resort and even a coffee shop or two. The quirkiest place and the one where I sold the most books ever, was a Donut Den in Wyoming, Michigan!

                Think outside the box when identifying interest groups for your book! 

In search of an audience, I've shared my books and writing journey with multiple organizations including veterans groups, church groups, all the typical community groups like Rotary, Kiwanis and  Ruritan, historical societies, senior groups, elementary, middle school and high school students, life-long learning groups, retired nurses and even to members of an aeronautical historical society. Audiences have included all age groups from preschool to great-grannies with attendance numbers from two to in excess of two hundred.

       Always give the same presentation for two as you would two hundred! 

One of my most memorable speaking engagements involved a female business owner friend of mine. She invited me to be the luncheon speaker to her "little business group." I didn't realize what I'd gotten myself into until we were riding up the elevator in a very swanky office building, crowded with gentlemen wearing three-piece suits and wing-tipped shoes. My friends "little business group," turned out to include all the movers and shakers in a major city, a group in which she was one of two female business members. I quickly revised the speech I had prepared and talked about the similarities between being an author and a small business owner. Afterward, all I could think of was, thank goodness I wore a suit that day!

              Promoting a book is the job of the Writer not the publisher or agent! 

When you have a book published, it's up to you, the author, not the agent or editor, to do everything in your power to see that your book remains in circulation. The only way to do that is to get out there and promote your work and yourself.

                An author without a box of books in their trunk isn't doing their job! 
Being an author has taken me places I never would have imagined, throughout the United States, from Florida to Alaska, London, England and British Columbia. I can't wait to see where it leads next.
                        No one can promote your book better than you can! 

Where is the quirkiest place you've promoted your work?

*             *             *             *
Leave a comment before Dec. 1st and I'll send one lucky winner a copy of my new picture book, Spivey's Web which is due out mid-December.

Contact Sandra Warren at one of the following:

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:

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:

Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, By Sara Raye with Sandra Warren, Amazon: 

When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go, By Dianah Kwiatkowski as told to Sandra Warren 

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

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 -

Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front:
The Picking Bag -
The Bear Hunter's Son -
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:

For more information: 

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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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