TRcruiseFinally! A Tuesday 12 x 12 author who loves sleep as much as I do! I always thought I was the only one who was rabid about getting enough sleep. ;-) Meet Teresa Robeson, who has brought so much humor and heart to the 12 x 12 challenge (AND a recipe for vodka creamsicles!). Just read her bio at the end of this post and you’ll have a good sense of how lucky we 12 x 12 folks are to get to steep in her enthusiasm and energy every day. Please welcome Teresa! 

Once upon a time, a young girl loved writing and drawing so much that her mother urged her to take creative writing or fine arts at university. But like any cranky kid, she didn’t listen to her mom and tried to do a science degree instead.

Fast forward a few years – while panicking about turning 30, the girl decided to get serious about writing. So she took a writing-for-children course and wrote what she thought was a nice picture book based on autobiographical material. Turns out it was more of a short-story, and while Ladybug Magazine published it, the girl thought she was a failure as a picture book writer and moved on.

You might think this was the end of the story, but fast forward again a bunch more years, and this girl, now no longer young, had her interest in writing PBs renewed when she came across Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee. Sometime thereafter, she “met” Julie Hedlund at Write-On Con and Verla Kay, and the rest is 12×12 history! The end.

Kidding. Smile But I’ll stop talking about myself in the third person.

I joined 12×12 because it sounded like what I needed after doing NaPiBoWriWee. So far, 12×12 has exceeded my expectations. Through it, I have become a part of the most amazing critique group (love you ladies – Kristen, Elaine, Victoria, Yvonne, Renee, and Sylvia!), written 3 drafts and polished a couple of old ones, submitted to the three scheduled agents, and made friends with a bunch of supportive and talented writers.

I usually don’t feel qualified to give people advice, but you’re probably here to read some and not just to see me ramble on about myself. LOL! Three things have worked well for me in my so-called writing career. I want to share them with my fellow PB-Padawans:

1) Get thee to a critique group. I can’t believe I wrote (on and off) for 20 years without one. Now I have three and they are my guiding lights, my partners in crime, and my cheerleaders extraordinaire! I was invited to join these critique groups by invitation via a Gotham Writer’s Workshop class, the local SCBWI chapter, and the 12×12 Challenge. Whether you’re already part of one or need to start one yourself, I recommend the book “The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide” by Becky Levine to help guide you.

2) Don’t believe the lies and excuses you tell yourself about why you can’t spend more time writing. I love my sleep. I used to joke that the top three things I love most are my family, food, and sleep, not necessarily in that order. I claimed that I couldn’t give up sleep to write like professional writers urged us to do. This year, with the big Five-Oh breathing down my neck, I decided that it was time to stop making excuses. I started getting up 1.5 hours earlier than I used to and, holy cow, I got so much more writing in! It’s apparently decent writing too because I’ve won two contests since and was a finalist in a third.

3) Never stop learning. I’ve taken classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature, Gotham Writer’s Workshop, and Indiana University Continuing Education, and am currently taking Picture Book Academy and will be taking Making Picture Book Magic in June, taught by the fabulous and talented Mira Reisberg and Susanna Hill, respectively. And, of course, read voraciously about the craft and all books in general.

Teresa grew up in Hong Kong and Vancouver but, these days, find herself in the middle of nowhere Midwest as a homeschooling mom and a wannabe-homesteader. Baking is her preferred method of procrastination but she also enjoys knitting, sewing, crocheting, making cheese and yogurt, and will soon start spinning and weaving. She was raised by Star Trek and Chinese fairy tales, and writes speculative fiction for adults and YA in addition to picture books. She has a degree in Speech Science/Linguistics that she never uses, and still wants to be an astrophysicist or opera singer when she grows up. You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about her at her webite, teresarobeson.com, or blog, Growing, Writing, and Creating.

 

 

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Goals, Guest Blogging, NaPiBoWriWee, Picture Books, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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94 Comments

  1. We love you, Teresa!!! You go, girl! :)

  2. I can’t imagine 12×12 without you, Teresa. You are a cheerleader extraordinaire and your support means a whole lot to me. Great advice, and go you on all your successes so far this year!

  3. The big 5-0?! Seriously? I’m looking forward to your next post about your youthful appearance. Is it the sleep? The vodka creamsicles?

  4. Love you pal! What a super de duper post. You rock lovely lady. xoxo

  5. Fantastic post, Teresa! I loved learning more about your writing background. I so appreciate that we’ve connected through 12×12!

    • Thank you, Beth! I’m really glad to have connected with you too. I loved learning about your background and your parents, and feel we have a kinship through our Canadian citizenship. :)

  6. Fun post, Teresa! I like that you confronted the number one excuse I use myself – not enough time to write. Early morning, before my kids are awake is key. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm!

  7. Hey, gorgeous! So happy to be in your critique group. I’m hoping some of your boundless energy rubs off on my toute de suite! I guess I wasn’t around for the vodka creamsicles, but they must be your secret weapon. Smooches!

    • You’re so silly, Renee! =D I’m glad you’re in my critique group too; you bring so much expertise and joie de vivre (see you’re not the only one who throws around foreign phrases…LOL!!). If you can get whipped cream flavored vodka in Italy (they might have a ban on bad alcohol though…heh), make yourself a Creamsicle by adding some orange juice! xo

  8. We all know your heart, humor and enthusiasm, Teresa.
    Lovely to learn more of your backstory here as well!

  9. Hi Teresa. I love this post! And we have yet another thing in common (you must be my long-lost twin): I love to sleep too. When I was in college and my roommates and I were having a BS session, the question of the moment was – what would you do if you knew you had 24 hours to live? I included in my answer 8 hours of sleep. :) Your three pieces of advice are spot on.

    • LOL, Sylvia! You are definitely my long-lost twin…we even look alike (seriously, I think we have the same smile!). So glad you’re in my critique group!

  10. MEOWWW- We love Teresa!

  11. Hi Teresa. I really enjoyed hearing your story. It has been a joy to get to know you via 12×12. 3 critique groups, homeschooling, writing, plus other hobbies. wow! best of luck to you.

  12. Great post Teresa! I knew there were many reasons why I liked you, but now I get to add to the list! Thanks Julie for sharing this post with us…

    Donna L Martin

  13. I’m all over the term PB-Padawans, Teresa! And where’s that recipe for vodka creamsicles–must have it since my husband owns a vodka company. :-)

    • Susan, so glad you liked that term, Susan! The vodka creamsicle recipe is super easy. It’s just whipped cream flavored vodka and orange juice in whatever proportions suits your taste. :) I think if you used regular vodka, you can always add in real whipped cream which would make it creamier. Hmmm, I might have to try that myself! How neat that your husband owns a vodka company!

  14. Love it. We are so blessed to have you as part of 12 x 12, Teresa!

  15. What a wonderful interview, Teresa. We all love youvto bits and are so happy for your achievements.

  16. Jarm Del Boccio

    Yes, critique groups are so important. Thanks for your encouragement, Teresa. I need my sleep as well, and continue to rise about 5:50 each morning, but many times, I end up doing email or Facebook instead of writing! I need more discipline. . .

    • Jarm, wow! 5:50?! I’ve not been able to accomplish that yet. I get up anytime between 6 to 6:30a.m. since my family doesn’t get up until 7:30 or 8am. I keep moving my alarm back so maybe one day, I’ll do 5:50am too. :) It’s so easy to get sucked in by Facebook…

  17. Great post, Teresa! A critique group really makes a writer get serious, doesn’t it? Thanks so much for sharing. Your peppy personality just shines through in this post!

  18. kelly mcdonald

    Love this post…what a beautiful lady

  19. I only wish I could sleep more – internal clock just won’t let me! Have loved getting to know your spirited self through online comments, and now glad to know more (I might be hitting you up for your yogurt recipe!) I have a friend who’s Dad is an astro-physicist and translates opera for the subtitles, so keep dreaming!

    • Julie, I wish my body wouldn’t let me love sleep so much. ;) Oh, to be an astrophysicist AND know a language well enough to be a translator…how wonderful is that? I envy your friend’s dad!

  20. Teresa, it was great to learn more about you! Thanks for the tips.

  21. Great post, Teresa. Yes, yes, and yes to all 3 of your pieces of advice. Especially the critique group. I’ve been with ‘em and I’ve been without ‘em, and with ‘em is better.

  22. So nice to get to know you more, Teresa! What a fascinating story. You were meant to write! Hoping our paths will cross one day.

  23. Woo! I LOVED this post! You have an excellent sense of seriousness! Here is my motto (To not imagine is to die.) in my favorite language (French) – Pour ne pas imaginer, c’est de mourir. :)

  24. Fabulous post Teresa, It is great to get to know you a little better. I hope one day I get to meet you ‘in person’.

  25. Love your post, Teresa. You have a great critique group and I know we’ll be seeing more about you on these pages! You are a dynamo.

  26. Teresa, so glad you took the plunge and guest posted!!! :) I’m an early morning writer too, and I also couldn’t live without my critique groups. And I bake to procrastinate–we have so much in common. Thanks for all of your wonderful enthusiasm in the PB world!

    • Thank you, Marcie! <3 I just love connecting with fellow writers with similar interests! It's a good thing we don't live next to each other though…we would share and eat far too many baked goodies to be healthy. ;)

  27. Great post Teresa (no surprise there) and thank you for the “shout out.” I loved having you in the Picture Book Academy writing course and really hope to help you with your illustration too in the new course :)

  28. Congratulations on all your successes, Teresa! Hey, I homeschool, too! Glad you’re in the 12×12!

    • Thanks, Tina! I remember from your Forum intro that you homeschool. :) I hope your homeschooling journey is going well! I’ve loved mine but also look forward to the kids graduating.

  29. Hi Teresa Love your post. from a reader old enough to be you mum. I agree sleep is important, I just don’t function on less than seven hours. The old saying is sleep eight hours: work eight hours and keep eight hour for fun (in my case that’s writing, dancing,gardening, walking, badminton)
    Cheers NanaGaye

  30. For some reason the wrong image came up on my reply. This is nanagaye with the old lady who swallowed the fly and lots of other things

  31. Fabulous post, Teresa! Loved getting to know more about you! And that is all excellent advice! :)

  32. Wonderful post, Teresa! It’s nice getting to know you a little better, although I feel somewhat of a kinship with you! (We both came in 2nd in Children’s Writer newsletter contest and we both won places….you first…in Susanna’s contest. Plus we’ve both taken Mira’s course!) We’re practically sisters! :O Looking forward to meeting you at the LA SCBWI Conference!

    • Jill, :) You and Sylvia and I can be triplets, separated at birth! Alas, I am not going to the L.A. SCBWI Conference. I just came back from the Midwest one (incredible experience, as always), and won’t be able to attend the L.A. one. One day though….

  33. Loved your post Teresa! I was lucky enough to be in Teresa’s crit group for Picture Book Academy, thoroughly enjoyed it. :D

  34. Teresa, this is such an awesome blog post about you! Did you add the link to the WANA children’s tribe? You’ve got to share this. I love that picture of you. Fifty? No way!

    • Lynn, I forgot to add the WANA tribe link here…doh! I think I have it on my website though (will double-check when I’m done replying here). That pic of me is from 8 years (I think) ago; I’m muuuuch older looking now! ;) Actually, when my sister sends me the photo that was taken of us and a friend at the SCBWI conference I attended this past weekend, I’ll post it on my blog or website for you!

  35. Teresa, first of all, girl, you are absolutely ADORABLE!!! I chuckled all the way through your interview. I totally agree, joining a good critique and making a comittment to the group is the best thing a writer can do for their career! And…”never stop learning,’ that’s some excellent advice. And hey, listen, you were published in Lady Bug on your first try. That’s pretty darn good! I can hardly wait for your pic books to hit the shelves! I’m already a fan! :-)

    • Maria, that’s what I think when I watch your YouTube videos too: you are ADORABLE!!! ;) You always cheer me up with your great personality. Thank you for being so supportive! Oh, and I’ve not been on FB as much lately, so be sure to tag me and let me know when Butterfly Hollow is for sale because I want a copy!

  36. Stacy S. Jensen

    Love your tips. I also hear the way you procrastinate. I am also guilty of this. I stress baked a little too much last week. Still trying to catch up, but did finish NaPiBoWriWee just before the computer turned into a pumpkin.

    • Stacy, oh no…another baker-procrastinator! LOL! What’s your secret to staying slim? That’s the hardest part because I love eating what I bake. ;) Yay, glad you completed NaPiBoWriWee! I couldn’t do it this year but might try again next year.

  37. YAY, Teresa! Keep learning: check! Crit group: check! Sleep: check! You don’t look 50: check! Creamsicle martini: (insert record scratch sound). Weren’t we promised a recipe? I thought I could have that as desert to my garlic martini (oh yeah. I said it. And it’s awesome. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.)

    • Katie, garlic martini!?! I have never heard of it before! Vodka Creamsicle’s simple. It’s just whipped cream flavored vodka and orange juice in whatever proportions suits your taste. The key is the whipped cream flavored vodka. I imagine, as I mentioned to Susan above, that if you use regular vodka, you can add real whipped cream and it would be pretty darned tasty that way too! And now I want to know your garlic martini recipe!

  38. Great post! And I learned a few new things about you. You are one amazing woman, and so glad to share a crit group with you!

    • Yvonne, I loooove being in the same critique group as you!! I wish you didn’t live so far away but maybe some day, we will still get to meet (I’ve never been to Oz after all). :)

  39. Great (and fun!) post! :-)

  40. Very happy to read more about you, Teresa! I write spec as well.

  41. Melanie Ellsworth

    I loved reading about your journey to writing, Teresa, and your advice is spot on. It has taken me longer to come to writing than it should have, but just as a looming 50 got you going again, an approaching 40 made me take a break from teaching and try what I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. I’ve been pushing my morning time earlier and earlier too; I just have to make sure I don’t use it to catch up on laundry and e-mail!

    • Yay, Melanie! Way to go taking that plunge! Yeah, I know…I have to stop myself from checking mail too when I get up early to write. :} And, thank you!

  42. Great post. I’m also a home school mom, trying to teach and write etc… but I think getting up a bit earlier to have time to write every day would definitely be a great benefit. Now to stop pressing that snooze button.

  43. Kathleen Cornell Berman

    Thanks for sharing your journey Teresa. It’s great to get to know you. Good luck with your submissions
    this year!

  44. Thanks for the inspiration Teresa!

  45. Howdy Teresa…can’t believe I missed this great post!
    Just participated in Mira’s Q&A webinar…and if I hadn’t already decided to sign up for the next available slot in her picture book writing class, that…and all the praise she has received from 12×12 people…would have made the decision for me. :)
    You don’t look anywhere near approaching 50…are you sure your birth certificate is correct? :)
    Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey…I’m so thrilled to be joining you in this part of it. :)

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