Interview with Sandra Warren

I see you write in all different genres. Why don't you stick to just one?
It's hard for me to just write one kind of book. I get an idea and go with it no matter the genre. I'd probably be more successful if I stuck to just one, say Children's books, but that wouldn't be half the fun.

I enjoy writing children's books but I also really enjoy writing non-fiction as well as adult biographies. I love to interview folks and weave their life stories into books as I did with When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had To Go and Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, the stores of two different Army Reserve Nurses who served in the Gulf War/Dessert Storm.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for publication since 1980 when my first book came out. Prior to that year, I hated to write. It as my least favorite thing to do as well as my worst subject in school.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This story was conceived so long ago, I no longer remember when the idea first hit me. I do know that the part about Spivey taking down her special web came about because I watched a very industrious spider do that very thing across our doorwall in our mountain cabin. For several days in a row, the spider would spin this great web and in the morning, it would be gone only to return later that very same day.

Spivey's Web follows a very imaginative and creative barn spider who longs to spin a web of her own design and is unhappy until she does. And when she does, a marvelous, unexpected thing happens.

Yes, the surprise twist at the end makes it a Christmas story BUT it's so much more than that. Spivey shows children that it's important to find time to do what makes them happy; to spin a web of their own design.

Spivey embodies the many gifted children I've advocated for over the years, children who are out-of-step, not because they're behind others their age, but because they're minds work faster, often light years ahead of their age mates which puts them at odds with their peers and often with the very educational system that should be nurturing their gifts.

All children need to learn to appreciate their talents and find their own path, but that path is often more challenging for gifted children. It wouldn't seem so. Society loves and reveres brilliance when it they need it but has a very difficult time accepting children who know more than they should. In this little book, Spivey finds a way to spin a web of her own design.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I became an indie author in 1991 after trying for seven years to find a publisher for a children's story-song picture book called, Arlie the Alligator. Back then, books-on-tape were just becoming popular and the only ones out for children were the Classics, Disney and Sesame Street. My Arlie the Alligator, was fully produced with actors, sound effects and music. Although editors and publishers loved it and complimented me on the audio recording, none were willing to take the chance on an unknown character. So, I published the book along with an audio cassette, myself. Self-publishing way back then was a huge "no-no," especially in children's literature.

In 2013, Arlie the Alligator was reborn with a new illustrator and a new concept but with the same great story and audio track.

I decided to indie publish Spivey's Web after several years of rejection. Again, the rejection letters came with applause for the great story and wonderful audio production. What stopped one agent in particular was the Christmas twist at the end. She said Holiday book were genre specific and difficult to sell. It also seemed that Spivey's Web was too secular for the Christian market and too Christian for the secular market.

What really tipped the bucket towards indie publishing Spivey's Web was meeting Susan Fitazerald, a Fine Artist, who asked me if I had a manuscript she could illustrate. She'd always wanted to illustrate a children's book. And the rest is history. I couldn't be more pleased with Susan's concept of Spivey and all the characters in the book. It takes a special artist to make a spider adorable. Susan Fitzgerald did it.
Then what prompted you to write?
Writers write for a multitude of reasons. My first book, If I Were A Road, was prompted by the educational needs of my children. They were in need of materials that stimulated their creativity at higher thinking levels than required by most children their age. I created those materials in my first published work. An educational publisher, Royal Fireworks Press, picked it up and had me write two more, If I Were A Table and The Great Bridge Lowering.

Now I write because I have to. It's what I've come to love .
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy to being a writer is to witness audience reaction to the various books. Some books have helped people. Some moved them emotionally. Some were just plain fun to read. A couple were hard to believe. And some moved people in unexpected ways.

The reaction of children is the best. It's fun to see their eyes light up when they finally get a punch line or understand what a story is all about or ask you about one of the characters as if they were real. Children are eternally optimistic and honest. They'll come right out and tell you if they didn't like something. That kind of feedback, although tough to take sometimes, is cherished.
What are you working on next?
Currently I'm working on a middle-grade Historical Fiction version of my non-fiction book, "We Bought A WWII Bomber: The Untold Story Of A Michigan High School, a B-17 Bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway." Since the non-fiction original version is the true story of how 7th-12th grade students initiated War Bond and War Stamp sales of over $375,000 to earn the right to name and dedicate a B-17 bomber, it lends itself perfectly to a fictionalized version for students. The working title is, "She Started It!"

I also have an adult novel centered around the Orphan Train movement that's in a final edit.

Look for both in 2018!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I never aspired to be a writer so the first story I wrote became my first book, "If I Were A Road." That book and story was written to enhance creative thinking in students. It included activities to be used in a teaching atmosphere and geared to develop high level thinking skills. It was followed by two additional books in the series, "If I Were A Table," and "The Great Bridge Lowering." All three books are still on the market and used in classrooms after thirty-seven years.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is as eclectic as my work. I'm what is called a "pantster." I write by the seat-of-my-pants. In other words, I don't write from a typical outline. I do, however, pay attention to standard story writing techniques and make sure my work meets good story construction morays.

Once I have a good portion of a manuscript written, I share it with my critique group of three awesome writers. Each of them are painfully honest and pour over my work with a fine tooth comb. They aren't afraid to say, "get rid of Chapter 12 or that character would never say that or none of this makes sense, start over!" I call them my "brutal" critics but I love them dearly. And yes, their comments do shut me down sometimes, but in the end they've made my writing so much better.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still searching for the most effective marketing techniques. At present I try everything. In-person presentations garner the most immediate sales but I can't be everywhere all the time or even part of the time. I'm utilizing all the social media avenues. This is my first work on Smashwords and I'm hopeful that will make a difference.

One of the biggest myths about becoming an author is that the publisher will market your book for you. Now more than ever, marketing your book is in your hands. But that's really not that different. I has ALWAYS been the authors responsibility to market their book/s whether traditionally published or indie published. The few authors you see on television or in huge book store autograph sessions, represent about 1/2 percent of the number of authors out there.
Describe your desk
My desk is as eclectic as my brain. I am very right-brained which means I live with piles! On the occasion where I decide it's time to get traditionally organized and file things away, I can never find anything. But show me the pile and I can tell you what scrap of paper I wrote what on. Further more, to my right I have a television tray with more stuff on it and to my left is a small table on which I have placed additional items.

I usually have several projects going on at the same time which calls for separate piles.

One of my more organized friends commented: "I could never work like this. "

Each author, each person must define their own personal space in which to do their best work.
Published 2017-12-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Spivey's Web
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 250. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent
Spivey's Web, is the story of a barn spider who longs to spin webs of her own design. Find out what happens when one of her webs calms a very special baby on the only night when one star lit the world.