Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Teresa Robeson and her award-winning book Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom.
What are the names of your book? Who are the publishers?
Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom (Sterling Publishing)
Two Bicycles in Beijing (Albert Whitman)
Give us a short summary of your book.
Meet Wu Chien Shiung, famous physicist who overcame prejudice to prove that she could be anything she wanted.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published.
My path to publishing in the kidlit world began when I took my very first ICL class back around 1990. My instructor, Carole Bolton, was kind and knowledgeable. An assignment in the class turned out to be the first thing I sold (to Ladybug Magazine, no less!).
I mostly stopped writing when I was homeschooling my 2 kids. But as they got older, I veered back to writing, taking the advanced writing course with the wonderful Deborah Vetter in 2010.
While I had only written for the magazine market previously, I was ready to tackle books. The path to book publication was a bit long and winding…and sometimes it got very disheartening. (I had an agent who left the business after only a year and she wasn’t able to sell anything of mine.)
But winning a mentorship with Jane Yolen (!!) through We Need Diverse Books buoyed my spirits. And when we were done working on that story that I started writing back in 2012, .I managed to catch the interest of editor Christina Pulles, and that, in turn, got me my second agent. This debut book came out in October, 2019 and has since won the APALA Picture Book Award, was a NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, and received the Nonfiction Picture Book Honor in the International Literacy Association’s Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Awards!
How long have you been writing?
I began writing in earnest in 1990.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I love writing nonfiction because I am a geek in addition to being a nerd.
How has taking our courses helped your writing and/or career?
The Intro class laid all the foundations for everything I know about writing kidlit. When I hear questions from newbies that are nebulous and broad (like, “How do I begin?”), I immediately know that they haven’t taken that excellent class…and that they SHOULD take that excellent class. It’s thorough and comprehensive. The Advanced class goes into great depth about writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and YA. These courses are the next best thing to getting a MFA degree.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where?
Yes! “Today, My Big Day,” one of the short stories I wrote in Carole Bolton’s class, was published in Ladybug Magazine.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
Don’t let anyone tell you you should get up earlier to write or stay up later to write; you need to write on a schedule that your body will agree to. And, also, follow my mentor Jane Yolen’s advice of BIC: butt in chair.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I would go back to around mid-1990s and tell myself that I should keep writing through the homeschooling years even though I’d be exhausted because the experience will provide a wealth of story materials that I will soon forget afterwards.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
One of the best experiences I’ve had with ICL (and all my experiences with ICL have been wonderful) was when I placed second place in a MG writing contest. It came at just the right time, a low and slow time, when my spirits really needed a boost.
What do you want written on your headstone?
“Perseverance is key.”
Teresa Robeson was born in Hong Kong, raised in Canada,and now writes and creates from her mini-homestead in southern Indiana where she lives with her scientist husband. A nonfiction winner of the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Program, Teresa advocates for greater scientific and cultural literacy. Visit her online at teresarobeson.com and on Twitter @TeresaRobeson.
Use ICL Market Guides as a launching point for your research—find a variety of publishers, what they publish, and their websites for further market research.
One of the biggest challenges to writing your book to the end is writer’s block. Jan Fields offers tips for getting past writer’s block and finishing your book.