Q: How do you find your illustrator?

A: I don't have anything to do with that. After an editor decides to publish a story, the editor and art director search for an illustrator whose style will work well for this particular book. They look for an illustrator whose art will enhance the words and make the story more than it was before.

Q: What if you don't like the illustrations?

A: That's out of my control. I have rarely been disappointed. When a talented artist illustrates my words, I'm delighted. It's like getting an amazing present.

Q: How did you first get published?

A: My first publications were in magazines. Short stories for Cricket and others, and articles for Ranger Rick and Highlights. When I wrote Mrs. Toggle's Zipper, I thought I was writing a magazine story. But then I realized it had some of the ingredients of a good picture book: changing scenes, humor, action, colorful characters. It was rejected twice before being accepted out of the slush pile at Four Winds Press, Macmillan Co. (a publishing house which no longer exists!)

Q: Any suggestions for a somebody who wants to get a children's book published?

A: In most cases the road to publication is long. But don't concentrate on getting published. Concentrate on writing the best work you are capable of. Expect rejection. Welcome revision. When you send a manuscript out, begin something new:

Q: How do I find that editor?

A: Not easy! Look for books you like in libraries and bookstores. Find out who published them and who edited them. Study the Children's Writers and Illustrators' Market (at your library or bookstore.) Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Go to conferences to acquaint yourself with editors. (But don't force manuscripts on them.) Join a writers' email list. Check out publishers' web sites. And don't get so bogged down in all that, that you forget to write.

Q: What children's books and writers influenced you?

A: Here are a few but there are many others.

Q: What's the best writing advice you ever received?

A: From a speech by William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, at Syracuse University: "Humanity and warmth belong in all good writing. So does humor. Make words dance for you." Finally, I'll always be grateful for this advice from a fellow student in an early writing workshop: "Think playfully." I was in the middle of writing a serious story for adults. I took a break, thought playfully, and wrote Mrs. Toggle's Zipper, my first children's book.