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Q: How long did it take to get published?
A: My first book came out in 1996, eight years
after I started submitting to publishers. I sold it in 1994.

Q: Do you illustrate your books?
A: No, I'm not a very good artist. I have several different artists illustrating my books, seven so far.
They own half of the book, and I own the other half. I don't know them. The editor gets to pick them, not me.

Q: Which one of your books is your favorite?
A: They're all my favorites. It's like having kids. I can't decide!

Q: Are you a native Spanish speaker?
A: No, I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, with a family of English speakers. I started taking Spanish class in junior high school.

Q: Why do you write in rhyme?
A: I don't know. I think it helps people pronounce the Spanish words, and I think rhyming is a fun way to write.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: I get them from my kids, things people say to me, from newspapers, field trips, eavesdropping at the grocery store. Lots of things I hear can be turned into a story. It really depends on how you look at it. Usually if I get a good idea I write it down right away so I don't forget it.

Q: Do you write every day?
A: Yes, now that my kids are grown.

Q: Do you have an agent?
A: Yes.

Q: How did you get started writing?
A: I've been writing all my life. But I didn't try to get published until a friend told me her neighbor was a published author. I called the neighbor, and she told me about SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). She invited me to her critique group!

Q: Do you have any tips for someone with little experience that wants to get published?
A: Join SCBWI. Also, go to the library and look at picture books or middle-grade novels, or YA novels, whatever you are trying to write. Go to conferences, and read, read, read! Join a critique group. You can do it by fax or email if you can't do it in person.

Q: Have you sold all of your manuscripts?
A: No, not at all. Some will never be published, but there are a few I'd really like to see make it.

Q. Why does it take so long for a book to come out?
A. After the editor buys the book, she has to find an illustrator to draw the pictures. Sometimes the illustrator is busy, and we have to wait. It takes the illustrator up to a year to do the art. Then the book has to go overseas to be published.

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