Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blog Tour: Girl Wonder Tens List

The blog tour for Girl Wonder is being hosted by The Teen Book Scene (you should go check out the other awesome tours they have). As part of the Girl Wonder blog tour I asked Alexa Martin what were her ten reason for becoming a writer. Here's what she had to say!

1. My parents read to me when I was young in very animated voices--and for this reason I internalized the rhythm of language. When I started to read I HEARD the voices in the story. To be a good writer I think you have to be a good reader.

2. In the third grade I won a contest for a "book" I'd written, and my teacher took myself and three other students to see a "real" writer and illustrator. That made quite an impression on me. I wish I could remember this writer's name but alas, I don't. However, he drew really cool rats and I still draw rats the way he drew rats.

3. In the fourth and fifth grade I went to a literary magnet program at a public elementary school. The two teachers I had for those grades had us do all kinds of poetry writing and "book" making. This was a very creative time for me and these two teachers were the BEST teachers I had until college. Very early they helped me to find my voice.

4. I had a God-awful middle school experience. I was bullied. High school wasn't much better. I was a kid who moved around a lot. I've read somewhere that people become writers for one of two reasons... or both: A miserable childhood and/or a failed love affair. You will see, if you read GIRL WONDER, that my main character Charlotte experiences both in spades. Writing about the emotional aftermath of these experiences was ultimately a very healing thing for me, and what I hope, more than anything, is that my book will help teens who struggle feel less alone and hopeful in spite of their suffering.

5. My first year of college I had a teacher's assistant for a college composition class who took an interest in my writing. Without telling me she submitted a couple of my pieces to a college literary magazine and one of them was published. That felt really affirming. Here, at last, was something (writing personal essays) that I could do well.

6. My main creative writing professor in college called me to his office one day and grilled me at length about why I was pursuing writing. He pointed out a bunch of flaws in one of my short stories. I started to cry and then he started to patronize me, to which I burst out "Quit patronizing me!" He respected that. I think, in this moment, he saw that I had the hunger of a writer, and he allowed me to stay in the program. My final piece in college was work-shopped in one of his classes. After the students made their comments he said "In my opinion this story is absolutely perfect." I look back at that piece now and see in it's themes early precursors to GIRL WONDER and Charlotte. That was a very redemptive moment for me.

7. I did a magazine internship a few years after college and learned how to think and read like an editor and proofreader. When it came time to submitting my own work, I turned in very clean and professional looking pieces and manuscripts.

8. I got an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and had the four best teachers a girl could ever have, Susan Cheever, Lucy Grealy, Bob Shacochis, and George Packer. They set the bar very high, but at the same time they really believed in me. One of them wrote in his final evaluation "I predict Alexa will weather the inevitably early rough going of a literary career." You have no idea how those words sustained me my darkest moments of writing a book. Because I respected my teachers I learned to respect myself and my writing.

9. I read the book Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War by Deborah Copaken Kogan. This is a memoir of a young woman working as a war journalist who often has nothing on her side more than gumption. This book was a kick in the pants for me, and made me realize during a time when I was NOT writing that I was being cowardly and letting fear dictate my life. It's a great book... and a great book for women and teens to read! (check it out here)

10. I read Miss Snark, the agent blog. Everything. Her archives are still up on the web. Read her. And read Janet Reid.  These two blogs taught me how to write a query letter and a synopsis. I had a great query letter. That opened the door in every way. Thank you Miss Snark and Janet Reid. My book is going to be released
on May 3rd because of YOU!

Thank you again to The Teen Book Scene for hosting this wonderful tour, and also to Alexa Martin for stopping by and answering some questions!

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