Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Teresa Robeson, The Queen of Physics, and a Swag Giveaway! by Kathy Halsey


Teresa Robeson has long been drawn to science, writing, and creative pursuits. So kismet, her talent and hard work paid off in her debut picture book, The Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom, illustrated by Rebecca Huang. The book drops October 8, 2019, but you can pre-order here https://www.teresarobeson.com/my-books.html, Meanwhile you can find out more about Teresa and possibly win a cool "Women in STEM" bag if you leave comment on the blog. (My rescue boy Wiley Corgi will pick the winner.) 

Book Review
The Queen of Physics has already received a starred review from Booklist and praise from Teresa's We Need Diverse Books mentor, Jane Yolen. "A wonderfully written biography of an important woman scientist hardly known outside her field." Jane goes on to say, "Not just for little girls, but for children of all ages. About achievement, honesty, hard work that follows a passion. Do not miss this one."

As a layperson who doesn't know my neutron from my proton, this book lays out physics concepts in an enjoyable and even lyrical way. For example, she explains beta decay (a seminal part of Wu's life work) like this: ". . . where a neutron inside an atom broke into an opposite nucleon . . . It was like opening one present and getting three different gifts inside." With four pages of back matter, we learn more about Wu Chien Shiung's story as well as science terms used in the biography. Robeson includes tidbits of humor in these definitions, too. ("Positron - the antiparticle of an electron—sort of like the electron's opposite evil twin, except it's not evil.")
Madam Wu protesting
This 48-page picture book biography, designated for grades K-2, can easily be used as an introduction to physics to older students, too. Teachers and librarians will appreciate the historical context of Wu Chien Shiung's life over the decades from protests against warlords, then against Chiang Kai Shek, to Madam Wu's struggles in the 20th century gaining acceptance as an Asian woman in the male-dominated world of science. Readers will root for Chien Shiung, the courageous hero, who proved herself in every arena in China, the United States, and the world. 

Q & A with Teresa Robeson
Teresa Robeson
K: Queen of Physics and your 2020- release, Bicycles in Beijing, both feature diverse characters or settings. How do your own life experiences work to influence your books and what you write?

T: Being an Asian American who is an immigrant gives me an outsider’s view of this society--I feel like I can see both the forest AND the trees. But, primarily, my culture is the lens through which my experiences are filtered. It permeates pretty much everything I write. My very first published piece was a short story in Ladybug Magazine about my kindergarten graduation in Hong Kong. Since then, nearly everything I write has had a Chinese touch or influence…even the adult works (I have received very good reviews on Amazon for a short story I wrote called Unfillable Void with a Chinese woman as the central character. It was published in an anthology called “Out Of Time” by my sci-fi group, the Minnows Literary Group).

Since I mentioned the Minnows’ anthology, I want to add that every penny earned from the anthology goes to Doctors Without Borders!


K: Tell us a bit about your WNDB mentorship with Jane Yolen. What did you learn that best helped you on your writing journey?
Teresa and her amazing mentor, Jane Yolen!!!
T: The Penguin Posse, my wonderful picture book critique group, convinced me to apply to the We Need Diverse Books mentorship. I didn’t think I would get it so imagine my surprise (and joy) when Miranda Paul called and told me that Jane Yolen picked my manuscript to work with!

Jane, as you know, is the consummate professional. She taught me through example how to put BIC (butt in chair) and focus. She also taught me how to paginate pages to get a sense of the rhythm and pacing for the story, as well as how to take a piece of prose and make it more lyrical. Those are strategies that I am still using.  

K: I know you have many interests and talents – illustration, soap-making, and gardening to name a few. How do these pursuits inform your writing?

This is only part of Teresa and her husband's garden!
T: They don’t inform my writing so much as distract me from my writing…LOL! I do sometimes work gardening and my love of nature into stories. Illustrating has also inspired me; I’ve drafted several stories based on drawings I’ve done (though, sadly, none of those stories have sold yet). 

K: Your critique group, The Penguin Posse, was recently featured in a Mid-Atlantic  SCBWI publication. What tips do you have for writers on critique groups? How did you find your group?

T: I’m actually in more than one critique group. The Penguin Posse was founded when some of us in 2013’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge decided to form a group. My in-real-life SCBWI critique group, the Scribblers, was formed in 2011 and encompasses writing from PBs up to NAs. The third one is the Minnows Literary Group, also formed in 2011. That’s my critique group for science fiction and fantasy for older kids to adults. 

For anyone thinking about forming or joining a critique group, I highly recommend the book, The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions by Becky Levine. It has pretty much everything one needs to know to be a part of a successful group. 

I learned critiquing rules from taking classes through Gotham Writer’s Workshop. I want to give a shout-out to Michaela Rossner who taught the SF I and SF II classes I took, which were truly amazing.

The key to having a long-lived critique group is having committed members who are also flexible as the group grows and changes directions. It may sound heartless, but it helps to have firm rules about kicking out members who continually shirk their duties. The group cannot grow intellectually if the members don’t take it seriously.

I'd also like to give a shoutout to these debut groups who have helped me in my journey to publication: The Notable 19, Picture Book Buzz, and the 19 PB Bios (not a debut group but a group for biography PBs.)

K: You write across genres – fiction, nonfiction, from PB to YA.What skills transfer from one type of writing to another?

T: Jane Yolen’s evergreen advice of BIC (butt in chair) is a skill that everyone should learn and that can be used no matter what you write. Another skill I am still trying to master is making my words sing: writing lyrically yet with lightness. That is something that can elevate any piece of writing for any age and genre.

K: What’s up next for you? Book launch, author visits, what else?

T: Oh, my goodness, I have a lot of things going on! Yes, a book launch, some author visits, plus doing a small blog tour, and setting up a pre-order contest. (K: YOU can order now!)


Enter to win at the address above.
I have to make time for actual writing, too, since I am in the midst of revising a couple of picture book manuscripts. I’m writing a nonfiction MG proposal and a contemporary MG. On top of that, I just started my term as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Indiana chapter of SCBWI. My predecessor, Sharon Vargo, did an incredible job and I want to live up to her legacy. 

K: Hey, readers, here's a shot of the cute tote bag that Teresa and Wiley Corgi will give away to one lucky person who comments on this post. The winner can choose a bag with a white handle or a blue handle.
Comment below to win one of these two bags. 


Teresa Robeson's Biography and Newest Book Deal
Teresa Robeson, a transplanted West-Coast Canadian lives with  her professor/scientist husband, quirky kids, and even quirkier chickens on a moderate-sized hobby farm in the Midwest, U.S.
Born in Hong Kong in 1964, she was lucky enough to view the first lunar landing and be raised on a healthy dose of Star Trek. This series of fortunate events turned Teresa into a total nerd/geek-girl who loves to write and read science fiction, science, and modern fantasy. She also have a life-long love of children’s lit, having never really grown up. The Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom is her debut picture book.  

Teresa's newest picture book, Bicycles in Beijing, illustrated by June Wu, is set to release spring 2020. Connect with Teresa here on her web site, Twitter, and Facebook.
Wiley Corgi and I are ready to ready to read comments and pick a swag winner. 










68 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview! So happy for your success Teresa! Jane Yolen for a mentor? What an honor! Cant wait to read your wonderful stories! Congratulations!

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    1. Hi, Sherry. YO will love THE QUEEN OF PHYSICS.

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    2. Thank you, Sherry! Working with Jane was a dream come true!

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  2. Great interview! Congrats, Teresa, on all your success and especially for landing Jane as your mentor! Writing "lyrical with lightness" sounds interesting!

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    1. Hi, Tina. Yes, writing "lyrical with lightness" is something I'm aiming to do.

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    2. Thank you, Tina! Yeah, I want to write with the soul of a poet but not take myself too seriously. :D

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  3. Teresa, your journey is inspiring! Great interview, Kathy and Wiley! So many points to attend to in my own writing, especially BIC!~

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    1. Great to see you here, Damon. Yes, the BIC - we all need to do more of it!

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    2. Thank you, Damon! I've not yet been able to be as good about BIC as Jane it yet (but she's had more years of practice. LOL!).

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  4. Great interview! Thanks Kathy and Teresa! Can't wait to read The Queen of Physics. (And Kathy - I'm positive you know the diff between a proton and a neutron)

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    1. Tee-hee. Yes I do, Sue. Thanks for your support!

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    2. Thank you, Sue! I agree: Kathy is way smarter than she lets on! ;)

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  5. What a fabulous book! Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations, Teresa, on your new book and your journey to publishing!

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    1. Hi, Beth. Thanks for stopping by the GROG to read.

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    2. Thank you, Beth! I appreciate the good wishes!

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  6. This book, QUEEN OF PHYSICS: HOW WU CHIEN SHIUNG HELPED UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE ATOM is capturing my curiosity. All the best Teresa.

    Thank you, Kathy and Wiley.
    Suzy

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    1. Baroo, Garden Girl. It is a fascinating subject.

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    2. Thank you, Suzy! I hope you'll check it out at your library and that you'll enjoy it!

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  7. Can't wait to have my very own copy of QUEEN OF PHYSICS by the talented, kind, and uber-hardworking Teresa! TY for all you do and give back to the book community!

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    1. Hi, Cathy. I agree Teresa gives so much to our community.

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    2. Thank you, Cathy! <3 You're making me blush! And Kathy, I thought Cathy meant *you* when she mentioned contributions to the book community! :)

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  8. Such a great story! Can't wait to read QUEEN OF PHYSICS! I love the BIC. If only I would do that on a schedule. Maybe when school starts...Congratulations! P.S. This tote bag is wonderful! Light weight, beautiful, roomy...If you draw my name, you can choose a different one. I've already won a tote from Teresa. And I LOVE it!

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    1. Ha, you are already a winner. It looks vr classy. Thanks for stopping by to read and support Teresa.

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    2. Thank you, Angie! I'm so glad you like the bag. Bower Fibre Goods makes wonderful hand-sewn items!

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  9. Sounds like Teresa's book will be a great way to introduce young readers to physics! Can't wait to read it!!

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    2. It is a fabulous book, useful across the curriculum. TY, Michelle, for stopping by the GROG.

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    3. Thank you, Michelle! I hope you'll like it!

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  10. Fabulous review and interview! I'm eager to read Teresa's books -- Teresa is a gem of the highest order.

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    1. Hi, Beth. Yes, it is a wonderful bio and Teresa is a gem, as are YOU. TY for reading this.

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    2. Beth, you are such a dear and a wonderful friend...just like Kathy! <3

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  11. Love, love, love this interview! Always so much fun to learn even more about my writing friends! And of course I can't wait for your books!!!!!!

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    1. Hi, Deb, reading what our authors friends do and their journey stories is always inlightening.

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    2. Thank you, Debra! And I can't wait for yours!!!

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  12. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to reading your book, Teresa! (well, maybe I am telling you, LOL) And I will forever be in awe of you being a mentee of Jane Yolen's. Such a priceless experience! I'm sure you're putting every bit of advice to good use. Would love to know how you balance out the novel writing with PBs. I'm struggling to revise a novel right now.....such different forms...

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    1. Yes, Jilanne, I feel that jump from PB to novel would be huge.

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    2. Jilanne, thank you! Balancing out novel and PB writing...hmmm, I think everyone has their own methods, but I work on one until I feel a bit worn out by the project and then I switch over to another to put some variety in my life. :) The hardest part is that it takes a lot longer to wrap my head around a novel once I've set it down. PBs you can easily re-read and pick up almost right where you left off. It's not as easy to read, say, 8 chapters to remember what you did in the story before you switched to another task. But I guess there's where a general outline comes in handy so you sort of know where you are in the story even after setting it aside for a few days.

      Plus, there is where the magic of revising comes in. Just get that first draft down and worry about making everything consistent after you've gotten the whole story out of your head.

      Good luck finding the method that works best for you!

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  13. Congrats,Teresa!Thank you Kathy and Wiley for an inspiring interview.Can't wait to read this book!

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  14. Love, love this interview and have been a fan of Teres'as ever since I met her online. She will be featured on my blog on MOnday 8-26, so check it out: www.darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com
    Congratulations, Teresa!

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    1. I am delighted that some of my dear writing friends think so much of me as to feature me on their blogs. Thank you, Darlene and Kathy!

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  15. Great interview! I cannot wait to read this book and give copies to my science-minded granddaughters. Theresa, you must have mastered BIC pretty well to be handling all that you do!

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    2. Deleted due to typos. I agree - science-minded girls will love this.

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    3. Julie, thank you! I hope your granddaughters will go into the sciences and have fulfilling careers!

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  16. Congrats on the new book, Teresa! And great interview, Kathy Halsey! So excited to see this new title.

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  17. A fantastic interview! Congratulations on the book, Teresa.

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  18. Kathy, thank you for interviewing this wonderful woman! I love how even in her interview, she's so well-spoken "I feel like I can see both the forest AND the trees." Teresa, you rock my world daily, can't wait to see what's in store next.
    And I really appreciate the book advice for critique groups. I've had a few bumps in the critique world and I feel like I worked them out,but that book might help me too!
    Cheers! To fantastic writing , fantastic women, and fantastic reviews fir your book!

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    1. I have been following Teresa's journey now for about 5 years and met her IRL finally at a NESCBWI. She is amazing, I agree. I might need to find that critique group book, too. TY for reading and responding to this post.

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    2. Awww, you are SO sweet...I'm blushing! I hope the book will be useful to you!

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  19. Great post! Teresa, I couldn't be happier for your success. I may be using your book as a mentor text soon! Congrats! Kathy, thanks for this wonderful interview. You rock too!

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    1. Thanks so much, Ellen! Having my book serve as a mentor text is such an honor!

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    2. TY, friend. I learn so much when I interview others.

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  20. This looks like an excellent read aloud for my Middle Schoolers can't wait to read it. Always looking for ways to include more Science in my ELA classroom.

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    1. Oh, I am so glad to hear that, Jeanne! I hope it will prove to be a useful book. I am hoping to put together some teaching resources soon and will provide them on my website. :)

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    2. Bravo, Jeanne. Picture books aren't just for younger grades. YOU rock.

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  21. So much booster-rocket level book-goodness here, Teresa & Kathy.

    My admiration for Jane Yolen is unbounded & I treasure a photograph of her & her talented daughter Heidi, with our daughter at a library book event (...of ages back!) Her TOUCH MAGIC book is among my favorite shelf-educators; it helps my lyrical writing, since you mention expanding that aspect of your world.

    Congratulations on your illustrator mentorship undertaking with SCBWI, all your forthcoming books & especially your ability to inspire young readers by helping them understanding a little-known brilliant history-making scientist who will become beloved by many teacher-nerds, student-nerds, due to your focus on her neurons :) I can already imagine the book reports, personable stand-up bio presentations, poems written about her & even more creative interpretations of her life that will occurs in classes because of your hard work.

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    1. Thank you, Jan! Aren't Jane and Heidi the best? So glad you have that wonderful memory of them!

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    2. HI Jan. TY for reading this post and adding your signature touch via the comments. You are poetic.

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  22. I want to thank you, Kathy, and GROG, for hosting me! I enjoyed this interview very much!

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    1. I was a great collaboration with you, Teresa. Thank you!

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