Unearthing & Celebrating History

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I hated taking History in school. I don't know why--well, maybe I do. Events, dates, causes and consequences didn't interest me. For the most part, I couldn't relate. Too many things were going on in my teenage life. I didn't care about what happened years ago even if, as my teachers tried to explain, the past allowed me to have the freedoms I take for granted.

Today, we live in an era of technology where the Internet has given us access to information through videos, documentaries, nonfiction as well as narrative non-fiction, podcasts and blogs, Internet radio and even "Alexa" where you only have to ask "Alexa" to get the answers to most anything. The way History is taught no longer needs to be boring.

Whether or not a student clicks in will depend, I believe, on their sense of curiosity and timing; curiosity to begin to explore a topic in new and different ways or appreciate those that do and did, and timing that connects them to some part of the story. If I had heard about the Orphan Trains as a teen, I'm not sure I would have been as horrified with the process as I was years later as a Mother of three. The story certainly wouldn't have resonated with me in the same way.

In the early 1990's, while working for an educational publisher, I came across a little book called The Orphan Trains. Intrigued, I sat down and read it cover to cover. For days, weeks, no months, I couldn't get the information I had read out of my mind. I kept thinking of the "what ifs?" My father had passed away when I was six and we were quite poor. What if my mother hadn't been able to care for me and my brother? Would she have been forced to give us away? Could that have been us? What if my brother and I had been separated? What would my life or his have become? Slowly but surely, through all the thinking and imagining and researching, a story emerged; a story that would evolve over the next twenty-plus years before culminating in a book.

First titled, My Brother's Keeper, and then, They Called Me Blue, Obsessed By A Promise  follows the lives of two brothers separated in the Spring of 1929. The youngest is taken and eventually sent out west on the Orphan Train to a new family while the oldest is frantically searching for him. Devastated by the loss of his little brother, the elder dedicates the next fifty years of his life to the search.

Strangely, history also played a major role in one of my other books. We Bought A WWII Bomber centered on a historical accomplishment of students during World War Two. Doing research for that book unearthed a seventy-year old mystery, made history in a small town that had forgotten the important event, and resulted in the placement of two historical markers in two different States.

Experiences writing these two books have taught me to pay attention to the world around me. What is current today may be significant history tomorrow. Had you told me back when I was in school that history would become an important part of my future as a writer, I wouldn't have believed you. I hated History classes in school so it's very strange to me that I enjoy writing about it today.

To celebrate the NEW YEAR, I'm giving away an autographed copy of either We Bought A WWII Bomber, or Obsessed By A Promise. Leave a comment by January 5, 2020 and one winner will be able to choose their book of choice.



Old Books Keep Coming Back!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The other day an author friend of mine said to me, "Once you publish a book, it's always with you. You never know when it will unexpectedly pop-up again." The comment was prompted by unexpected orders that arrived out-of-the-blue for the purchase of several of her books that hadn't sold a copy in months.

Her comment made me laugh because last November, I received a call regarding my children's mini-musical story book, CD and DVD package, Arlie the Alligator, asking about purchasing multiple copies for an alligator preserve's gift shop. I was thrilled, of course, and somewhat amazed. Although Arlie the Alligator has received modest success over the years, I never expected a bulk order at this time.

The original Arlie the Alligator came out in the early 1990's as a hard back book and audio cassette package. Then, in 2000 a CD replaced the audio cassette. The book was brought out in paperback with updated illustrations in 2013, and in 2014, a DVD was produced. By traditional publishing standards, Arlie the Alligator would have been relegated to the cancellation pile, but because it was independently published, it has remained on the market selling one book, CD or DVD now and again. So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I received the request for a bulk order. Amazingly, thirty-eight years after it first hit the market, Arlie the Alligator has been given a new chance to continue delighting children in story and song, in a Texas gift shop.

This happened with two other books of mine, also. In 2016, publisher Royal Fireworks Press, re-illustrated and republished, If I Were A Table and Reflections On Being Gifted, a title change for a book originally called, Being Gifted: Because You're Special From The Rest. Both of these updates and returns to market were surprises to me since both books had original publishing dates on them of 1981 and 1986.

You never know when you put your heart and soul into a book or an idea if it will find an audience and have a lasting impact.

It's like my friend said, ". . . You never know when [a book you authored] will unexpectedly pop-up again."

Sometimes books are like volunteer flowers in the garden that surprise you in the Spring. They pop up to delight when you least expect them.

Has interest in any of your books popped up again after many years?

Leave a comment by October 10th and Sandra will gift one lucky winner with a copy of Arlie the Alligator. 

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Sandra Warren is the author of books in several genres.

Contact her at:

Sharing Your Secrets In Presentations

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

While planning a weekend presentation, it occurred to me that my audience might like to hear more than a synopsis or a reading of the book. I know I do when I attend an author event. Don't read me a page from your book. I can do that myself, later. Tell me something not in the book, something I learned from being at your presentation. 

Things like:  Where the idea came from and what inspired you to pursue it? How long it took to write? Did you have to do research? Are the characters based on someone you know? What was the hardest part of the story to write? How many times did you rewrite it? Where did the title come from? Sprinkle in your personal writing experience too; Is this your first book? Did you always want to write? Who is your favorite author? Who is your biggest supporter? Where do your other ideas come from? Do you have a critique group? And so on and so on.  

This weekend I will be speaking to group of adults and young adults at a local library about my newest work of historical fiction, She Started It All. But rather than talk about the story as written, I am sharing my secrets about how I turned a nonfiction story into the historical fiction they came to hear about. As interesting as I think the story itself is, I believe it's more interesting to share how I determined what facts from the nonfiction needed to be in the historical fiction. What pitfalls I faced? If I use real character names? Why or why not? Stuff like that. In my humble opinion, this will be much more interesting than merely telling the story. 

The flyer for my presentation reads like this: From A Bomber Story to She Started It All: Creating Historical Fiction From Nonfiction. 

If you're out and about near Morganton, North Carolina around 2:00 pm on Saturday the 9th, stop by and critique my presentation. I'd love to see you! 



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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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