My books get around

I was making my usual weekly library run this past Wednesday…yes, I borrow way more books than I can read…and was chatting with Kathy, one of my favorite people who works in the Children’s Department.

She mentioned that it seems like my books are always checked out. She said that whenever she wants to use one, she has to put a hold on it. Not only that, but she also said that it’s highly unusual for nonfiction books to have so many holds on them!

Of course, me being me, I didn’t really believe her, so I looked up my books on the library site…and what do you know? She was right. 😃

And also…

Well, way to warm an author’s heart!

Hey! I’m in Taiwan!

Or my book is, anyway. I wish I were, too.

This Traditional Chinese edition is being published for the Taiwanese market and looks wonderful!! (TeamTraditionalChinese here)

Here’s the original cover in English:

And here’s an ad for the series:

I am super excited about this new since my dad, whose English is not very good, will finally be able to read my book! Or at least he won’t have an excuse not to. 😁

New Year gratitude + hopes and dreams

I think all of us authors are always concerned about how our books will be received, but I had special nervousness for Queen of Physics because I was representing Chinese-Americans and also scientists with this book and I wanted people to be receptive.

Aside from a couple of blah to lukewarm reviews, the book received some lovely accolades:

NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book
Booklist starred review
Booklist Top 10 Sci-Tech Books for Youth: 2019
Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Books of 2019
SLJ Betsy Bird’s 2019 Unique Biographies list
Nerdy Book Club 2019 Nerdies Award: Nonfiction Picture Books list

I want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU!!! to all those who actually get it and appreciated the difficulty of writing this book.

And my hopes and dreams for 2020? Good health and sanity is at the top of my wishlist, of course, but for writing, I hope that my next picture book, Two Bicycles in Beijing, will be at least as well received as my first. I also hope that my agent will be able to sell my middle grades (one nonfiction and one fiction) for me this coming year. But even more, I hope that she can sell my #OwnVoices picture book story that has been haunting me (in a good way) for a while now. I think about it a lot even when I’m not actively working on it.

What about the dreams? Well, selling any or all of those at auction would be the dream!

What about you? What are you grateful for in 2019 and what are your goals/dreams for 2020? Happy New Year and may your dreams come true!

Write for that one person

I make it a point not to read reviews because my sanity is more important than my vanity. Good reviews are lovely, of course, but they don’t really add to my enthusiasm for writing. Bad reviews, on the other hand, can obliterate a myriad of good reviews like an asteroid wiping out 70% of life on Earth.

But while searching for something related to my book, I inadvertently came across a snippet of a review: “However, the difficulty of the language and the grade level of the text make it a bit out of reach for the average picture book reader.” I thought it was a valid comment and I want to address it specifically.

It’s true that the language could potentially make it out of reach for the average PB reader, but the average PB audience would not be reading this book (or most other books) on their own. A parent, teacher, librarian, or some other adult would be reading picture books to kids of that age. When an adult reads a book to a child, the adult will explain any new or difficult words. I recall my doing that when I read to my younger child.

Then, too, I have often heard, children are very smart and can guess the meaning of words they don’t know by the context.

But the main thing for me is that there is an oft repeated piece of writing advice which I have taken to heart since day 1: do not write for the general audience; write for someone specific. When you write for everyone, you write for no one.

When I write a story, I write most often for myself…me as a child, me as an adult. For this story, I also wrote with my older child in mind. This kid taught himself to read by the age of 2 and by age 3, he was reading adult reference books (he had “The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Disease and Insect Control” mostly memorized by the time he was three and a half). A book like this would have not proven to be a challenge for him.

Someone else writing this story might have wanted to simplify things, but in my opinion, that would have served a smaller and limited audience. I believe that whatever the fault people believe lies with my story, it is one that can be read on many levels: as a basic biography for the youngest kids that touches a bit on nuclear physics, as a reference for older kids doing research on an extraordinary woman, and as inspiration for kids of any age as to what can be achieved despite tremendous odds against them.

We interrupt our regular blogging schedule…

…in order to announce this bit of exciting news:

I admit to being a bit clueless when it comes to awards, so this was not on my radar. Besides, given how so many other nonfiction books I know of that have received much more public praise, I wasn’t holding my breath that my book would be recognized anywhere.

But I am so very grateful to NCTE and the Orbis Pictus committee for appreciating how difficult it was to write not just a biography of an extraordinary woman, but to explain some basic nuclear physics in addition.

Also, I want to add, my dear friend Barry Wittenstein won the award for his fabulous book, A PLACE TO LAND! You may remember him and the book from the post about my first L.A. SCBWI Conference this past summer?

fun with friends!

My very first bookstore appearance

I was invited by Miranda Paul and Ruth Spiro to appear with a group of established authors for a Women In STEM presentation the last weekend of September.

First stop was Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL. They are AMAZING! They’re a strong indie that hosts many terrific events for authors.

There is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing your first book on a shelf at a bookstore!

The event was a learning experience (and a bit of a humbling one). I had a great time, considering my introverted nature, and can’t wait to do another at Humpty Dumpty Bookstore in Vancouver next year!

Author copies!!

Apologies to those who follow my Facebook author page because I’d already shared there but on Tuesday when I came home, I discovered that my author’s copies from Sterling Publishing had arrived! This is one of the milestones in the birth of a book and is as exciting as when your baby rolls over or goes to the potty on its own for the first time…but even better because you won’t have to stay up late at night worrying who your book is out partying with or if it’ll need a ride home. Heh.