Hi Math is Everywhere readers,
We have a SUPER post today! Debut author Karla Valenti is here to tell us about her books in the Super Science Heroes series, the first of which was just released in April: Marie Curie the Super Scientist with the Power of Persistence. See, I told you it was going to be super 😉
Kaitlyn: Thanks so much for joining us today on the Math Is Everywhere Blog.
Karla: I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my story.
Kaitlyn: It’s my pleasure. I love chatting with you. First off, how does it feel actually having your book, Marie Curie the Super Scientist with the Power of Persistence, out and about in the world?
Karla: It’s amazing. I’ll tell you a secret: the first time I held the book in my hands I cried. Being a published author is something I’ve been working towards for sooooooooooooooooooooo long, and I simply couldn’t believe it when it finally became a reality. Those tears were hard earned!
Kaitlyn: That’s so lovely; your hard work definitely shows and has paid off. I absolutely the idea of scientists as superheroes, so I have to know, how did you come up with the idea?
Karla: I actually responded to a contest that was run by a global science association (the Marie Curie Alumni Association). They wanted to partner with an author to write a book about Marie Curie. Their challenge was to write a book that would connect with young readers and inspire them to delve into science (especially those readers who might be hesitant or intimidated by science). For me, that meant providing a unique and novel perspective of what it actually means to be a scientist.
Kaitlyn: That’s so exciting, and what is that perspective?
Karla: For starters, you don’t need to be brilliant or a genius or a math whiz to love science. You don’t need to solve super complicated problems to be a scientist. You don’t need to make brand new discoveries for others to see you as a scientist. Of course, many scientists are brilliant and solve very complicated problems and make amazing discoveries. However, I don’t think that’s not what makes them a scientist.
Rather, someone is a scientist because they are intrigued by something in the natural world, they follow that interest wherever it takes them. A scientist is prepared to pursue their interest no matter how difficult or complicated or confusing things get. And that is really difficult to do. Indeed, this kind of persistence is almost like a super power!
As I explored this perspective of what it means to be a scientist, it occurred to me Marie Curie was a perfect example of the power of persistence. Throughout her life, Marie encountered a great deal of opposition as she tried to get an education, make enough money to go to college, find the resources she needed to explore the world that intrigued her, and ultimately make the incredible discoveries she made. This opposition was, in a very real sense, her nemesis.
Thus was born, Marie Curie the Super Scientist with the Power of Persistence, battling Mr. Opposition (one of the minions of Super Evil Nemesis).
I submitted the story to the Marie Curie Alumni Association and ended up winning the contest! I then began working with MCAA and the amazing illustrator (Annalisa Beghelli) to prepare the book for a crowdsourcing campaign MCAA was planning in order to raise funds for the book publication. Less than a month after the campaign went live, Sourcebooks had found out about the book and made us an offer. We have now happily partnered with Sourcebooks to develop more books in the series, and hopefully empower future super scientists all over the world.
A sneak peek into Marie Curie the Super Scientist with the Power of Persistence
Kaitlyn: What a brilliant journey you’ve had! Can you give us some special insight to your next book?
Karla: I’m really excited about the next book in the series. This one will be about Alan Turing, the “Father of Artificial Intelligence.” The book will be full of riddles and codes and enigmas for young readers eager to develop their power of curiosity.
Kaitlyn: You have amazing resources for writers on your website, can you share with us the best advice you can give to authors?
Karla: I would say that one of the best things an author can do is join or create a good group of critique partners (in person or online). These are fellow writers or illustrators who are serious about writing and serious about helping you on your journey as an author or illustrator.
You want partners who will be thorough and honest in their feedback; partners who will celebrate your accomplishments and share in your MANY disappointments. I can honestly say that my critique partners are some of my dearest friends (even though we’ve only ever met in person once and some I haven’t even met in person at all).
Being a writer requires we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and authentic. A good critique partner will know that, honor that, and respect that. Which means, you are connecting with someone in a truly profound way. Also, a good critique partner can save your career (true story).
It also helps to take classes and really understand how to craft a story well (or get professional critiques from people in the industry). Learn as much as you can and be prepared to revise revise revise revise revise…
Things I wish I’d known when I started on this path
- Children’s publishing takes a VERY long time. Unlike everything else in our life, kidlit is an incredibly slow moving business. That’s because it takes a long time to create such wonder. Getting a story from the page to the bookshelf could take five to ten years! Be patient.
- Be patient. Seriously.
- You will get rejected A LOT. I stopped counting after 500. Here’s the thing, many of these were rejections telling me my work was wonderful and the agent or editor would have loved to acquire it. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the right fit at the right time. There are dozens of reasons why a manuscript won’t sell, be prepared for many rejections.
- Children’s publishing is a very subjective business. This means that you may do everything right and still not sell a book. Publishing is a business, like everything else. Agents and editors are quite often looking for something specific and you may (or may not) be offering that at a given moment in time. Try not to take it personally.
- Learn to write well and be constantly improving on your craft. Given how subjective the industry is, you want to make sure you’re always putting your best words forward.
- Be patient.
- Be kind. To yourself and others. This can be a heart-breaking business, but it is also full of some of the nicest and most supportive people you will ever meet. Be one of the heroes. Cheer, celebrate, support your fellow writers along this journey. They will reciprocate ten-fold!
Kaitlyn: If you didn’t have your notebook out, you should definitely get it and write down some of this amazing advice! Thanks so much for joining us today, Karla!
Karla: Thank you for being a fan and giving me a space to share these thoughts. I love your platform and the important work you are doing to empower and excite young minds.
Kaitlyn: Aw, you’re making me blush, and I am SUCH a HUGE fan!
What if superheroes didn’t have supernatural powers, but were humans with incredible drive, who worked really hard to expand their knowledge? What if our superheroes were scientists? This first book in the My Super Science Heroes series is about Marie Curie and her many glowing achievements. Using a fictionalized storytelling approach, readers will learn about Marie Curie’s many accomplishments, the power of persistence, and will feel empowered to become science superheroes themselves
Karla Valenti has created an exciting and innovative way of reading about important people in STEM. Kids and teachers are going to eat this up for its inventive analogy and entertaining storytelling. And BONUS, they’ll be enjoying learning! As I was reading, I kept thinking how creative this approach to writing is. The story itself is wonderfully told and the facts included are interesting as well as presented in a fun, cool way that I just adore. And illustrator Annalisa Beghelli’s creative art is the perfect match for this inventive storytelling style.
Karla Valenti was born and grew up in Mexico city. Since then, she has made her home in a number of wonderful places: the U.S., Japan, France, and most recently Germany. She currently lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband, three kids, two cats, and hundreds of books. Karla writes picture books and middle grade novels. She also offers a Master Course on Picture Book Writing and Editing and Picture Book critique services.
PB: Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence (Sourcebooks, 2020)
PB: Alan Turing and the Power of Curiosity (Sourcebooks, 2021)
MG: Loteria (Knopf/Penguin, 2021)
Pat is giving away a copy of Marie Curie the Super Scientist with the Power of Persistence (US only please)
How to get in on the Giveaway:
- Comment on this blog post
- Retweet the tweet about this post
- Request that your library order a copy of Marie Curie the Super Scientist with the Power of Persistence and share in the comments that you did so
Each one of the above gets you another entry into the giveaway!
Thank you all for reading and supporting wonderful authors like Karla and her gorgeous and super creative STEM books!
And if you haven’t signed up for Spring Into Writing hosted by Dani Duck, check it out here: my post on Voice is on Monday and there’s a giveaway of a manuscript critique, too!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez