Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Throughout my journey as an author I've learned to accept the ups and downs of the profession. I know that everyone won't love my work or "get it," whatever the "it" is built into the particular story they've just read. I expected to get reviews and prayed they'd be good ones. I've come to realize that my readers, children especially, think it's pretty special to meet me. What I never expected were what I call, gifts of the heart, that I've been blessed to receive from my readers.

It all started years ago with my Arlie the Alligator: Story-Song Picture Book. Although designed for primary children, preschoolers caught on to the catchy tunes and insisted on playing the audio tape and then CD, over and over again. They loved to BELLOW with Arlie, much to their parents dismay. One three year old boy named Bryan, insisted that his mom buy Arlie's Mom, he called me that, an alligator necklace that he saw in a store. It was totally unexpected and I cherish it to this day.                   

  Other alligators followed. I've received  stuffed alligators, and wooden ones, puzzle alligators and ones made out of metal. Here are two more clever fellows that look just like Arlie. Inside their mouths sits a tiny bird. I named the bird, Odetta, and plan another Arlie adventure based on her. They were given to me by a friend who saw them in a jewelry display and had to buy them for me.  I wear them when I do school visits. 

Although my new book, Spivey's Web, is less than a year old, I've already received related gifts. One friend saw this cute mug and said she just had to get it for me. Another gifted me with this unique spider's web that I have hanging in my office window.

With my We Bought A WWII Bomber book, I've received several unique gifts. One, a ring made by a school boy in 1943 out of a part of the bomber from the story. After wearing it for a couple of years and fearing I would lose such a treasure, I donated it to the Patrick County Historical Society from the county where the bomber crashed. They will preserve and keep it safe museum. 

An exact replica of the B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber was also gifted to me complete with the correct tail numbers #229577 and the name given to the bomber by the students who raised the money to purchase it, The Spirit of South High, Grand Rapids, Michigan, painted on the fuselage. 

A real surprise gift came in the mail a few days ago from the caterer of the reception that followed the Dedication of the Wayside Historical Marker placed on The Blue Ridge Parkway, October 1st. For the reception, the caterer's husband made a B-17 bomber cookie cutter so she could make gingerbread bomber cookies. Two days ago a box arrived with a bomber cookie cutter inside. I am thrilled! What a wonderful surprise!  It arrived in time for me to make bomber cookies for the November 20th Book Launch of  She Started It All, the middle grade historical fiction version of the bomber story.

And last but not least, I can't forget to mention the wonderful cape made for me by the daughter of  one of the gentlemen from Meadows of Dan, Virginia, who came forward to show me the spot where the B-17 bomber, The Spirit of South High, crashed. He was an 11-year old boy at the time, heard the crash and went running to the site. Unfortunately, he passed away a few months ago and wasn't able to witness the dedication of the marker. Linda Fain surprised me with this beautiful fleece cape.   

All of these were SURPRISE GIFTS FROM THE HEARTS of my readers. Each and every one was totally unexpected. 

Have you received GIFTS FROM THE HEART? I'd like to hear about them. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

When an author's book finally hits the market they hold their breath hoping that the reviews will be glowing and sales will be swift. They have expectations that their baby in print will delight and inspire and captivate readers. What no author can prepare for is the unexpected.

In 2015, I was privileged to write a nonfiction book about an incident that occurred in my high school during WWII. It involved a funding program that put a tangible face on money Americans spent on United States War Bonds and War Loan Stamps. The largest of these programs was called the "Buy A Bomber" or "Bonds for Bombers" campaign. Students in my school, South High School from Grand Rapids, Michigan initiated War Bond sales totaling $375,000, earning the right to name a a small Pursuit Fighter and a B-17 Flying Fortress. They named them both "The Spirit of South High School. War Bond sales paid for 57% of the cost of WWII, after taxes. 

My purpose in writing the story was solely to tell the alumni from the school, what happened to their bomber. For 71-years they had no idea. One of my classmates, Joe Rogers, found it on a crash report that said it came down stateside in a small mountain Virginia town located on The Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Monday, October 1, 2018, a Wayside Historical Marker was dedicated on The Blue Ridge Parkway at Mabry's Mill, near the sight where that bomber crashed. 
Approximately 150 folks attended including 15+ alumni from that high school in Michigan. Media from three television stations attended as well as newspaper reporters.  Those attending enjoyed a reception at the Meadows of Dan Community Center courtesy of the Patrick County Historical Society and the VFW Organization. 

I was overwhelmed to say the least. 

One of the reporters asked me what I hoped students and adults will get out of seeing and reading the marker. Here's what I said: "I hope folks will be reminded and impressed with the importance of Americans working together for our country. WWII was a time when patriotism was the norm and permeated our great country. If ever we needed that kind of patriotism, it's now. I also hope students see that they can achieve great things and make a difference. I pray readers will catch the "Spirit of South High School" exhibited there. 

The marker is beautiful! If you're ever on The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, Milepost 176.2, at Mabry's Mill, stop by and see it and know that wonderful and unexpected things can happen when your book comes out.  

Here is the link to one of the broadcasts:



We Bought a WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway!  
2017 State History Award: Private Printing Category, Michigan Historical Society 
2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist

Middle Grade Historical Fiction version: 


Making History: YOU ARE INVITED!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

It's here!

Finally, confirmation of a date for the Dedication of the placement of a Wayside Historical Marker on The Blue Ridge Parkway honoring the events surrounding the non-fiction book that was written in 2015 titled,  We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of A Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway and the newly published middle-grade historical fiction, SHE STARTED IT ALL.

It's an extraordinary thing that is about to happen and YOU are invited!

When: Monday - October 1, 2018 -(The 74th Anniversary of the crash!)
Where: Milepost 176.2 on The Blue Ridge Parkway - Meadows of Dan, VA
Time: 1:00 pm followed by a Reception at the Meadows of Dan Community Center, 2858 Jeb Stuart Parkway, Meadows of Dan, VA 24120

So how did I get from there to here you ask? Let me explain.

Following the completion of the research for the non-fiction book mentioned above, it seemed only natural that the next step should be the placement of a historical marker near the site. Research indicated that the Superintendent of the National Park System was the decision maker and you had to prove via articles and primary and secondary resources that a site qualified as historical.

Armed with that information, I rationalized, what would be better; a letter containing proof of historical significance from one little old lady or a letter containing proof of historical significance along with petitions signed by a multitude of folks indicating they would support a historical marker at the site? With a historical marker as a goal, I started collecting signatures on petitions where ever I shared the story of the students, the campaign, the bomber and the crash; from aviation museums to Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, historical societies, senior communities and libraries and to audiences of all ages. Armed with over three hundred and twenty-five signatures, I put a presentation package together. Within that package was a letter of introduction indicating why I felt the incident should be considered for a historical marker, the non-fiction book about the bomber that told the entire story and the stack of over three hundred twenty-five signatures on the petitions.

Two months after sending the letter, I received notification that my request had been approved. A Wayside Historical Marker would be place at Mabry's Mill on The Blue Ridge Parkway. Two months after that, a site for the marker was approved. That was in 2016. Now, two years later, after the designing and the fabricating and the shipping and the installing, the dedication is at hand. 

Multiple alumni from the Michigan school involved, will make their way to milepost 176.2 on The Blue Ridge Parkway. Together with the good people of Willis and Meadows of Dan, Virginia, they will mingle and share this wonderful event. 

I look forward to seeing YOU as well as my neighbors, friends and writer friends in Meadows of Dan on October 1st!


For more information about the story, check out the Book Trailer 

NON-FICTION                    NEW Middle-Grade FICTION


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

Taking a Story From Non-fiction to Historical Fiction

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The success of my book, We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway, took me by surprise. Even though I wrote it to tell the alumni from the high school that I attended, what happened to the bomber they bought by instigating sales of War Bonds and Stamps of over $300,000 during WWII, I never could have imagined the story would resonate throughout the country as a symbol of the patriotism that permeated the country during that Great War, nor did I realize at the time it was the only book written about the "Buy a Bomber" or "Buy a Plane" funding program.

Because the book was written for students who are now adults in their senior years, I didn't occur to me to tag the story as a middle grade or young adult non-fiction, when in fact, the extraordinary accomplishment attributed to these adults was instigated when one of them was an eighth grader and achieved when they were in junior and senior high. It seemed only logical that the next step would be to write a middle-grade historical fiction version of the story.

Where to begin?

I began with looking at the facts I wanted to incorporate.

Two separate communities in two different States and in two different decades make up the true story.
1. First there was the 1943 Grand Rapids, Michigan story of the junior high and senior high students at South High School who raised the $300,000 to buy the bomber.
2. Second there was the 2015 discovery of the crash in Meadows of Dan.

I wanted to make sure the story of how the students instigated $300,000 in War Bond sales, was told in as much detail as possible, as well as the part that unfolded decades later connecting the bomber to a small mountain community in Virginia along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Where and how to connect the two was the big question?

Here's how I turned my Non-fiction into Historical Fiction.

I chose an Advanced History, middle-school classroom in Patrick County, Virginia as the setting. (Fictitious.)  Patrick County is where Meadows of Dan resides. (Fact.) To carry on long established tradition, these students must study and create a poster as well as give a presentation on a specific era in history. This years project centers around WWII. All is well until the teacher assigns the school's math whiz, a young boy, United States War Bonds and Defense Stamps, and assigns WWII aircraft to a girl. That sets up a secondary plot as the two students are at odds with each other and the teacher because of their unwanted topics.

In the story, the young man, a model airplane builder and lover of WWII aircraft, won't be happy until he discovers the Grand Rapids, Michigan story of the South High students and the "Buy a Bomber," program. He will do the research I had to do when discovering the facts of that story.

Meanwhile, the girl learns, by chance, that her great, great aunt was a WASP (Women's Airforce Service Pilot) and that there had been a crash of a B-17 bomber in their own town of Meadows of Dan, in 1944. The Virginia part of the story will unfold for the girl like it did for me through my research.

The big question then was, how to make the stories come together?

I decided that each Advanced History student had to give a report, first to the other eighth grade classrooms and then to parents at an evening event. The boy presents first. He tells the Grand Rapids story and shows the model airplane he's built; an exact replica down to painting the identification numbers on the tail and the name chosen by the students, The Spirit of South High, on the fuselage 

Meanwhile, the girl gives her report about her great, great aunt and the story of the unknown crash of a B-17 bomber that landed near the old mill in Meadows of Dan on The Blue Ridge Parkway. In the summary of her report, she mentions the tail numbers of that bomber.

At that exact moment that the boy realizes they've been reporting on the same bomber! Chaos breaks
out as both students realize their reports are about to make history; he's solved a 72-year mystery for the students at the Michigan high school, and she's unearthed the story of a crash that even the Patrick County Historical Society knew nothing about. (Back to facts again.)

Turning my non-fiction into a middle-grade historical fiction novel was as much fun, or more, as uncovering the facts for the non-fiction book. I can't wait to share it with you. Look for, She Started It, to come out this August.

It's time to think about turning your favorite non-fiction into Historical Fiction.

Leave a comment by August 1st (updated from June 20th) and I'll send you a copy of the non-fiction, We Bought A WWII Bomber from which She Started It was adapted. 

Sandra Warren is the author of books for children and adults. Check out her other publications on her website.    

Seeking a Publisher? Don't Overlook The Smaller Presses

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

     The manuscript you've been working on for eons is finally finished. Beta readers have critiqued it. You've revised it multiple times and are ready to send it out to publishers. Now what do you do? Do you submit to agents or directly to publishers? Where do you begin?
     Every author dreams of being picked up by their number one agent, you know, the one with all the connections to the major publishing houses; the one who represents your favorite author; the one who can get you a huge advance and a book tour throughout the United States. Yes, that one. It could happen for you and I sincerely hope it does, but if you are like most authors, rejection will be your experience. Along the way you'll need to be persistent, do a great deal of research and submit multiple times before finding that perfect manuscript to publisher match.
     On the way to finding that perfect match, don't overlook the thousands of mid-sized and small presses out there. It might be the best choice when first starting out. Years ago, after my fourth rejection from major publishing houses, I turned to a small press and found success.

 If I Were A Road was followed by If I Were A Table and then The Great Bridge Lowering. The year was 1980 and 1981. All three books are still being used in classrooms. This year, 2018, If I Were A Table was updated with more modern illustrations. It's the same great book with a different look ready for another thirty plus years. That same small publisher went on to publish five more of my manuscripts.

Unless you've created a classic, it's safe to say it would be unusual to have three books on the market for over thirty years with a major publisher.

Small to mid-sized publishers often accept unagented manuscripts. No agent necessary. Their submission guidelines, however, will be similar to larger publishing houses so it's important to study those guidelines and follow them completely.

That means knowing:
     1. Proper manuscript format.
     2. The components of a proper Book Proposal.
     3. Details of a great synopsis?
     4. The difference between a Cover Letter and a Query Letter.
     5. Whether to send a partial manuscript or full manuscript.
     6. Whether to email or snail mail the manuscript.

After you've isolated several publishers you feel are right for your manuscript, it's time to look further. study their list of published books. Note how many they publish a year? Email a couple of their authors and ask what it's like to have them for a publisher? Are they, the editor/publisher easy to work with? Do they respond to questions? Are royalties paid on time?

One concern not only with small publishers but all publishers is their viability to stay in business. Do your homework before you submit. It's easier to do it prior to acceptance than after. Once you hear "yes" from a publisher, you will be too excited, relieved and happy to even think about checking them out or turning them down.

After you've isolated several publishers you feel are right for your manuscript, it's time to look further:
1. Study their list of published books.
2. Note how many books they publish a year.
3. Email a couple of their authors and ask what it's like to have them for a publisher? Are they, the editor/publisher, easy to work with? Do they respond to questions? Are royalties paid on time? Ask what the pros and cons are with working with the publisher? Would they choose that publisher again?
4. Note how many years each publisher has been in business.
5. Do they pay an advance? (Many small publishers do not. That's not necessarily a bad thing.)
6. What kind of marketing do they do...catalog, Internet, bookstore, conferences? 

Throughout the 30 plus years the three books mentioned above have been on the market, they were cancelled from one small publisher and then picked up by another who several years later went through Chapter 11 reorganization and opened up with a new name. That publisher has been going strong ever since.

Don't give up on your dreams. Do your homework and be persistent. A small publisher may not be what you imagined when you envisioned seeing your name on a book, but one could be your ticket to years of success as a published author.

Leave a comment before June 10th and I'll put your name in a hat to win a copy of either Spivey's Web or We Bought A WWII Bomber. 

Check out more from Sandra Warren at
Instagram: sandrawarren_author



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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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