It has been said that a writer is a hermit. I am, during my first drafts written by hand. But as soon as the story gets into the computer, I print it and read it to my writing group. I am one of those rare writers who takes rough drafts to her group. The early feedback helps me learn what I need to delete and add. During the meeting I am there thinking, "They don't get it," but a few days later, I begin to agree. Maybe what they were trying to say wasn't at the sentence mentioned but around it. I respect my writing group. I must. They are: Eric Kimmel, Susan Fletcher, Winnie Morris, Pamela Smith Hill, Dorothy Morrison, Susan Fletcher, Nancy Coffelt, and David Gifaldi. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today.
Then the manuscript goes to the editor. My editor uses the old ways: A ten page revision letter that I don't read for days. When I finally sit to revise, I begin with what I agree and small changes. After I walk around the block several times, I tackle the huge issues. My editor says that she likes me because I always agree with her. Not quite true. But she's a seasoned editor and I believe in her judgement. She wants the best book from me.
You know that we don't get to collaborate with the illustrator. But as famous as David Diaz is, I have found errors. He knows that I talk about them. So, here I go again. In César he illustrated the teacher as a man. It was a woman. After I told my editor, David took the same character and put a dress on it. (At the time teachers didn't wear pants) But David also enhanced that book. He added a chaperon to the scene in which César and Helen were going out. That's what an illustrator does, enhance your story. For illustrator to do that, he/she needs freedom, not an author saying that she/he didn't see it that way.
I am lucky enough to be able collaborate with Marshall Cavendish marketing people. They treat me like a queen, and as you can see here, I tell the world how fabulous they are.
A writer asked me to collaborate in a book she's writing. I have written stories for anthologies, but writing a story with a friend scares me. Her friendship is more valuable to me than writing a book together. I declined her offer. That doesn't mean that others cannot collaborate in a story. It has been successfully done.
Now to my good news:
I am a recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts fellowship. The money will allow me to travel to Europe to research Picasso.
Diego: Bigger Than Life is the recipient of a Pura Belpré Honor Award.