First, my gratitude to any mentors who happen to read this. Your willingness to donate your time and energy to make Pitch Wars happen is beyond generous.
Second, a cheery hello to fellow mentee-hopefuls. It's heartening to meet other writers and I hope you each find the success you envision.
A little about me:
I live alone on a small and thorny island, entirely off the grid, and just wrestling with the raw materials of each day is the art-form that most intrigues me. It's difficult, constantly changing, often uncomfortable. I have (solar-powered) internet but no indoor bathroom; no running hot water and very little electricity. When I'm not writing, I'm wrestling a downed branch out of my pathway or tying a couple of ropes around my waist so I can get up on the roof and scrape moss off the shingles. The sheer physicality balances out my tendency to live in the world of ideas.
I've done more kinds of work than I can count. I'm good at advocating for people who are being ground down by poverty or injustice. (I've been an urban social worker and those instincts are still keen.)
I've just begun seriously writing in the last couple years: stories, essays, poetry and whatever. A few pieces have appeared in decent journals. (Crab Creek Review, Creative Nonfiction, Quiddity, Pacifica Literary Review (under a pseudonym.)) Long ago, The Sun published an essay of mine, as did a now-defunct online journal called Ramshackle Review. I'm part way through an adult novel based on Capgras Syndrome and the folklore of changelings, but I also have mounds of short fiction and poetry always underway.
The manuscript for PitchWars is a MG, contemporary-magical realism work that just bubbled up unexpectedly - perhaps because this was a difficult year and I was seeking warmth by trying to provide it to readers, the way good children's literature so often does. The theme centers on the island as a character, and also on the power of dolls and representations of human figures that we create.
I do art with whatever's handy, as a form of play and sometimes a way to bring pleasure to people. On a windowsill next to me right now are hunks of porcelain clay and oil paints (I'm currently painting orange and blue lizards on my pantry door), agates I collected on the Aegean shore two years ago and lichen I gathered out of my clearing after the last rain storm. You can click through my portfolio to see some of my work, although lots of it hasn't made it onto there yet. Most of the stuff you see there has been sold, but artwork isn't my daily bread.
Earning a living
I do that by writing, too; mostly tedious web dreck with titles like "Top Ten Ways to Strengthen Your Digital Strategy." Under a pseudonym, naturally, so my clients won't ever see this page. The thing is, that kind of writing pays the bills pretty efficiently and doesn't (usually) eat up my creativity. It also means that writing deadlines are part of my daily life.
A few favorite books at the moment:
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz.
Hour of the Bees, by Lindsay Eagar. Fresh new MG magical realism with a powerful sense of place.
The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self, by Anil Ananthaswamy. Written by a neurologist, it opens doors of understanding into what it is to be human.
Also LOTR, and Jane Austen over and over, and anything at all by David Sedaris, David Rackoff, and Dan Savage.