She believes the finished product is the better for it.
"I became accustomed to that — it felt natural," she said of the discussion. "There was a feeling of mutual support."
Thanks to constructive comments from fellow writers, Sullivan said she fleshed out some characters, changed a plot line that included what some suggested was a stereotypical racial bullying element, and "completely changed" what happened in the second half of the book.
Sullivan said she geared the novel to youth in fifth through seventh grades; precocious fourth-graders might also enjoy it. She said it's a favorite age group; she doesn't see herself writing novels for older teens with themes of teen angst.
She didn't fret over vocabulary and whether it was age appropriate, instead focusing more on the psychology of an 11-year-old boy like Arlo.
Sullivan said she's not easily able to imagine her characters' physical characteristics.
So she sought out faces online that seemed to fit, printed them out and stuck them up in her work area so she could look at them while she wrote.
"I really wanted to see them," she said.
The book is set in Virginia and Sullivan said she includes a bookstore that reminds her of Charleston's Taylor Books, where she has a book signing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today.
On Saturday, she'll be at Morgantown's Barnes & Nobles. Upcoming events include a book signing at the Richmond, Va., public library next week and an event in Martinsburg later this month being organized by the public library and Four Seasons Books there.
"All That's Missing" is available at bookstores and online at amazon.com, which also is offering a Kindle and audio version of the book. The publisher is Candewick Press.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.