Fascinating Ideas and Advice from Sandra Warren, Author

“Fascinating Ideas and Advice from Sandra Warren, Author” by Joan Y. Edwards

Today I’m honored to have Sandra Warren as a guest on my blog. One thing you’ll learn about Sandra is that she takes risks.

Thank you, Joan. Thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.
You’re welcome. Let’s get right to the interesting part your answers to my interview questions.

1. How did you do in English?
If you’re speaking about literature, I did quite well, but the writing part, grammar, punctuation and spelling, well, that part was a challenge. In fact, all through school I hated to write. If someone told me then, that I would become an author as an adult, I would have laughed in their face.

2. When did you decide to become an author?
It was thrust upon me by the needs of my children. I began writing to develop classroom activities to enhance creative thinking and encourage higher level thinking skills to keep them engaged in learning and excited about school. From their needs my first book, If I Were A Road, came to fruition. If I Were a Table and The Great Bridge Lowering followed within a year. That was thirty-three years ago. All three books are still on the market and still used in classrooms throughout the country.

 3. What is your favorite book of those you’ve written?

My favorite children’s book of those I’ve written would have to be Arlie the Alligator because it’s so much more than just a story. After completing the manuscript, I met song writer, Deborah Bel Pfleger.  Ms Pfleger wrote the four catchy tunes, which are woven into the story mini-musical style and recorded in her recording studio, Bel Productions, with actors and sound effects. You can hear a sample via the book trailer http://youtu.be/UtTxiIkHdWc

Arlie the Alligator, Paperback
Arlie the Alligator, CD
Arlie the Alligator (Kindle Edition) 

Arlie the Alligator CD cover

Although the story book can stand on its own, the story is enhanced by following along with the CD. Reading skills are encouraged and creative thinking skills tweaked as children follow along reading and singing with the CD.

Arlie can be enjoyed as a story book, a follow-along, sing-along story, a teaching/learning tool, and a theatrical production put on by adults or children for children of all ages. The theatrical production, sheet music, a reader’s theatre script and multiple classroom activities can be found in the Arlie the Alligator Communication Activity Guide, which was published by an educational company, Pieces of Learning, shortly after the original book came out.

The original Arlie, published in 1992, was ahead of his time. It was difficult to find a publisher because we had a story and a fully produced audio cassette. In the late 1980’s books-on-tape for adults were just coming on the market. Children’s books-on-cassette were in the infant stages. After 7-years of rejection, I self-published Arlie the Alligator in hardcover with an audio cassette. Now, 22 years later, in another risky move, I’ve brought Arlie back, newly illustrated but otherwise the same wonderful story.

4. How much research did you do to write Arlie?
Even though Arlie is a fictitious, I still felt the need to know something about real alligators. I researched and discovered 3 unusual things; First, young alligators have yellow markings that fade with age. In the Arlie story there’s a line: “Arlie knew he’d lose his beautiful yellow markings when he grew up; all alligators do.” Secondly I learned that male adult alligators bellow. Females do not. That’s why Arlie turns to his father when he doesn’t know what to do. The third thing I learned is that alligators have a different number of toes on the front feet than on the back feet. I couldn’t figure out how to use that information so I didn’t.

5. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you related to your writing?
Two things come to mind. The first is in relation to Arlie. At a conference an irate woman came up to me and told me that I was sexist because in the story Arlie asked his father what to do not his mother. “Why didn’t you have him go to his mother for advice?” she bellowed. (Ha! Couldn’t resist.) I let her rant and then very calmly explained that the World Book Encyclopedia said that female alligators don’t make a sound, only males do so how could I possibly have Arlie’s mother model bellowing for him?

The second incidence was in relation to my book, If I Were A Table. Illustrated by my brother, Tom Sjoerdsma, each table in the book has a pair of eyes on its edge. Each pair of eyes is unique. A very excited teacher approached me at an educational conference who proceeded to tell me she’d promised her students that if she ever met me, she’d ask if they were correct about the psychology of the eyes on the tables in my book, If I Were A Table. She went on to explain that her students had a huge discussion about why the eyes on one table were more feminine than another. I listened politely nodding my head as she spoke. Later that evening, I called my brother and asked him why he made each set of eyes different and he said, “I just thought it would be a funny thing to do!” So much for psychology and story analysis.

By the way, this incident taught me that you can’t control what people see in your work. It also made me very skeptical of those (teacher and professor types) who teach classes that analyze other authors’ works.  I’m guessing many beloved authors long gone are rolling over in their graves with laughter at what people said about their work.

6. I notice that you’ve been published in multiple genres. Is one genre more difficult than the other?
I would say, “no.” Persistence and patience is the key. The only reason I’ve publications in other genres is because when an idea comes to mind, I go with it and worry later how to get it published.

7. What’s your number one recommendation to other writers about getting published?
The number one thing I recommend to writers is to research FORMAT and SUBMISSION GUIDELINES and then give the publisher/editor/agent what they want in the format THEY want it in.

  • Know when they ask for a chapter by chapter outline what that means.
  • Know when they ask for a synopsis how long that synopsis should be.
  • Know when they call for a book proposal what a book proposal entails.
  • And know these things for the genre you’ve written and are trying to sell.

It doesn’t matter what your college professors, your critique group or your best writing buddy says about submitting your manuscript. The ONLY thing that matters when submitting to a publisher, editor or agent is that you send them what THEY want to see and in the format THEY want to see it in.
 Remember: Your submission package is your book’s first impression. Make it look as professional as possible.

8. What are you working on now?
My current project is an adult novel that involves two brothers who were separated by the Orphan Trains in 1929. About five years in the making, I based the story on a screenplay that I had optioned years back. When I complete that, I’ll begin a middle grade/YA historical fiction involving a true incident from my high school. I also have a couple of picture book manuscripts looking for a publisher. As I tell students, perhaps I’d be more successful if I’d stick to one genre.

Thank you, Sandra for sharing this fascinating information about you and your writing and your advice for writers! Thanks for giving a copy of your book and CD to a lucky person who leaves a comment for this post. You’re a jewel.

You’re welcome, Joan. I had fun. Here are links for people to find me on the web: www.sandrawarren.com


GIVEAWAY is complete December 2013. 

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

23 thoughts on “Fascinating Ideas and Advice from Sandra Warren, Author”

  1. Great interview, Joan! Sandra, I love your story about the irate woman at the conference. How funny! I hope she apologized after her rant! = )
    You are both such an inspiration to me–thanks for sharing all of this with us!

    1. Dear Becky,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview with Sandra. It’s great to remember the funny things, isn’t it? Thanks for the compliment.
      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

    2. Becky,
      I don’t remember her apologizing. I think she just said something like, “Oh!” It was quite a long time ago. The comment just took me by surprise. You know how sensitive we authors are. One thing I don’t think I’ve ever been is sexist. Well, maybe in certain situations, but I never intended it in Arlie.
      I’m glad the story touched you.
      As a bonus, if you have a Kindle, you can download Arlie today and tomorrow, Dec. 7th & 8th for FREE on Amazon!
      Thanks for your comment! Happy writing.

    1. Dear Mona,
      Thanks for writing. I am glad that you thought the interview with Sandra was great. It’s neat that you loved the tidbits Sandra found when doing research for Arlie.
      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

    2. Mona,
      At first I wasn’t sure how to use the information I was gathering on alligators. It was a challenge. I tried hard to try to use the webbed toe information. The resources I found explained why there were a different number on the front and back feet, even so, I just couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it. Perhaps I’ll use it in the next Arlie story.
      Thanks for your comment.
      As an added bonus, if you have a Kindle, you can download Arlie today and tomorrow, Dec. 7th & 8th for FREE!

  2. I enjoyed reading this interview with Sandra. I am sure I could learn a lot from her. I like especially what she said about writing in multiple genres. Thank you Sandra, for sharing your experience with us.

    1. Dear Megan,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad that you enjoyed the interview with Sandra. Megan, you write multiple genres, too. I believe writing should come from your heart not necessarily by genre. I think Sandra and you do right by writing what calls you.
      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

    2. Megan,
      I understand you write in several genres also. Perhaps it different for you but for me, I don’t know how to stick to just one genre. When the ideas come I have to go with them.
      The most surprising thing (to me at least) that I wrote was a science article on Radon for a Home Improvement magazine. Science has never been my thing but I was approached and couldn’t turn it down. It was easy once I found the experts to help.
      The other things out of genre were the two biographies from nurses who served in the Persian Gulf War. “Hidden Casualties: Battles on the Home Front” and “When Duty Called, Even Grandma Had to Go!” When the first nurse approached me and I hesitated, she told me that I had to do it because “God” sent her to me. Ha! How could I turn that down?
      I’m sure you will agree that when you love to write, you have to be open to the experiences that come your way.

  3. Sandra, have you ever thought that some people should just stick with, “It’s great to meet you.” I wish you much joy in your writing!
    Joan, thanks for helping us get to know Sandra better through a guest blog. I enjoyed it.

    1. Dear Linda,
      Thanks for writing. You’re welcome for my interviewing Sandra. I’m glad you were able to get to know her better through this blog post.
      It would be better if some people would say, “It’s great to meet you.”
      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  4. Linda,
    Oh, but if people just stick with, “It’s great to meet you,” you’ll miss out on some priceless interchanges and great memories. And, just think, had those ladies not approached me with their thoughts, I wouldn’t have had those two great comments to share with you!
    I think I’d worry if everyone just said, “It’s great to meet you.”
    We authors live for the positive comments but often it’s the negative ones or sort of negative ones that help us grow and keep us humble.
    If you have a Kindle, you can download Arlie for FREE today and tomorrow, Dec. 7th & 8th!
    Thanks for your comment.

    1. Dear Karen,
      Thanks for writing. Sandra does a great job of weaving bits of fact into her stories, doesn’t she? You are good at always giving compliments to writers. Thank you for being a great cheerleader for writers everywhere.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  5. Karen,
    Thanks for the compliment. It only seems natural to have somethings real and true even in fiction.
    I’ve written a little picture book story (still unpublished) about a spider who I saw as a “he” until a science teacher told me that only female spiders spin webs. Later, I found out there are a few types of male spiders that spin. But now, I’ve already reoriented my brain to think of the spider in my story as a she. I may change it back. It really doesn’t change the story but still….too much knowledge…you know how the rest goes. 🙂
    There should always be a sprinkle of fact in fiction, IMHO.

  6. Five people left a comment:
    Becky Shillington
    Mona Pease
    Megan Vance
    Linda Andersen
    Karen Cioffi
    I asked Random.org to choose a number between 1 and 5. It chose number 4. So Linda Andersen, you won the free paperback and CD of Arlie the Alligator. You lucky lady. Congratulations, Linda.
    Thank you, Sandra Warren for doing the interview and offering the free giveaway. Linda, please send me your name and address and I’ll forward it to Sandra.
    I will be doing other author interviews. Some of them will be doing giveaways, too. There will be other chances to win.
    All of you are winners in my book because you give me life by reading and commenting on my blog. Thank you very much.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  7. Great interview, Joan. I’ve read Sandra’s biographies of the nurses, compelling stories well told. And I love Arlie the alligator. So do my grands.

    1. Dear Gretchen,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you liked my interview of Sandra. I’m glad you and your grands are fans of Arlie the Alligator.
      Celebrate your love of friends and family

    2. Thank you Gretchen for your comments about the biographies, Hidden Casualties: Battles on the Home Front and When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To GO. I forgot to mention in the interview that I thoroughly enjoyed writing someone else’s story. Time permitting I’d do it again. It was a different kind of writing altogether than I was use to.
      I appreciate your comment.
      Sandra 🙂

    1. Dear Carol,
      Thanks for writing. I am very glad that you enjoyed the interview with Sandra. You are right. Her anecdotes are priceless. Thanks for your good wishes for Sandra and her new production and CD for Arlie and the Alligator.
      Celebrate your friendly ways,

  8. Thank you Carol. How sweet of you to take the time to comment. My fingers and toes are crossed with this one. If this past weekends Free Kindle Download is any indication of what’s ahead, Arlie will have tons of new friends. An unbelievable 14757 folks now have Arlie on their Kindle!!!!
    Wishing you well and much success also!

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