She didn’t learn to read until the end of eighth grade, yet sold
her first novel to Avon Books at the age of 24. A prolific writer, she
is the author of numerous published books, and still writes daily. She
sometimes illustrates her children’s books, and is also a composer and
lyricist with 37 recorded songs by Broadway, TV, and Hollywood stars
Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, and Sandy Duncan.
Her memoir, Cry into the Wind, reads like a Dicken’s tale of triumph over tragedy. Her children’s books spark the imagination of parents as well as children. Her nonfiction books, How to Write a Great Story and Secrets of Successful Writers inform and inspire students. One of her instructions on writing has received worldwide recognition:
“Before you begin to write a sentence, imagine the scene you
want to paint with your words. Imagine that you are the character and
feel what that character feels. Smell what that character smells and
hear with that character’s ears. For an instant, before you begin to
write, see and feel what you want the reader to see and feel.”
Othello’s spiritual books reveal little known and frequently
overlooked scriptures that empower readers who are searching for
enlightenment and peace.
Her first—and bestselling children’s book, Whoever Heard of a
Fird, garnered over 100 licensed products that were marketed as
“Firffels” by Remco Toys. Unfortunately, this book and all of the
merchandise associated with it—as well as seven other books by Othello,
published by Caedmon, mysteriously “disappeared” when Harper & Row
acquired Caedmon Books in 1987. However, the mystery was solved a few
weeks later when Disney introduced a new cartoon series based on
Othello’s concept of “two-feature creatures” – combining two animals to
create a third. Disney’s combination animals were called “Wuzzles.”
For 20 years, Othello hounded Harper for an accounting of her
books, and for 19 years she received the same answer: “We don’t have
your work. We don’t know what you’re talking about.” On the 20th year, a
new lead attorney responded to her inquiry – and 90 days later Othello
had the rights back to her eight books.
For those 20 years, Othello was unable to sell new work or find
an agency to represent her. Explaining the situation suggested possible
legal ramifications, and not explaining made it appear she had no
credits. Consequently, there was no interest from publishers or agents.
None of this, however, kept Othello from writing. In 2007, she began publishing her work under the name “Choice Books.” To date, she has written over 80 books (55 for children) and continues to write and publish her stories, compose music, and sometimes illustrate her children’s books.