I’m more than willing to revise my picture book. However…

I’ve now written a half dozen revisions. Some bits of each of them are pretty good, some are not so good, some may be awful, some may be just right. Figuring out how to choose those bits and eliminate the rest has become my dilemma.

This is what I’m going to try. I will put each revision in the same document, but each will have its own color. Then I will cut and paste bits of the different colored versions that are related to one another.

My hope is that when I see the opening page in all the different colors, I can meld the best words and phrases together.

Maybe it will work. May not. If not? Try again!




This morning a note from an editor gave me the news that she can’t accept my picture book of Mary Colter as it is. She recognized that I have done extensive research and closed with the hope that I will consider revising it.

I will definitely consider revision. Now comes the hard part. How to put another person’s life in a form that is interesting and helps you know that person. Colter wrote almost nothing about herself. Her correspondence dealt with her work as an architect. Some quotes about her from other people give us an insight into her personality. Her interests and personality also come through in her buildings. OK. Now I have those insights and personality traits into words –words that children will understand.

I’m thinking along the lines of buildings that tell stories. It will be a while before I try to commit this idea to paper, but I am making notes as I think of them.

When I am in a project , writing is an all-consuming task whether or not anything is put on paper.


After World War II, Mary Colter continued to work for the Fred Harvey Company. Lots of people were traveling. The trains of Mary’s earlier years had lost favor. New, bigger, and more comfortable automobiles–now rolling out of Detroit’s factories– were the transportation of choice.
Grand Canyon National Park was a prime destination in the Southwest. Mary Colter already had eight buildings to her credit in the park. All of them are now on the National Register of Historic Places. The park had increased the number of hikers to take the two-day, seven-mile trek to the bottom of the canyon. The number of people riding mules into the canyon had also increased. Phantom Ranch, the overnight hotel was being stretched past its limit. It needed an update.
Colter had designed the ranch in 1923 and knew it intimately. She was called to enlarge it and install a laundry, so linens would no longer have to be taken to the canyon rim for care. Mary must have had an indefatigable constitution. She was now seventy-seven. Whether or not she rode a mule into the canyon, we are not sure, but it’s difficult for me to imagine that Mary wouldn’t oversee the whole project in person.
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter was a tough lady, who could wear pants and boss the construction men during the day, and then put on an elegant dress with more than ample Native American jewelry to have tea that afternoon.