Shabnam Minwalla has spent most of her life with words— editing her school magazine, working as a journalist with the Times of India and writing non-fiction, for example, a book on the quirky area of Colaba in Mumbai. She writes food columns and features for various publications, but what she most enjoys is writing books for children. Her first book, The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street is being used as a reader and has been performed as a play by many Mumbai schools. Her books for younger readers -- `The Shy Supergirl', `Lucky Girl’ and `When Jiya Met Urmila’ -- are immensely popular. `The Shy Supergirl’ was shortlisted for the Singapore-based Red Dot Award. While `When Jiya Met Urmila’ won the Neev Book Award. `What Maya Saw’ – a fantasy, clue-hunt in Mumbai—was published by HarperCollins and was nominated for the Crossword Book Award, the Neev Book Award and the Peekabook Award. Shabnam has also written the laugh-a-minute Nimmi series, short stories in a number of anthologies, a stack of picture books and a popular non-fiction book on the Mumbai neighborhood of Colaba. Her two new books for young adults -- `Saira Zariwala is Afraid’ (Winner of the AttaGalatta Bangalore Lit Fest Award) and `Murder at Daisy Apartments’ (winner of the Auther Award for Children's Book of the Year) have delighted horror and mystery buffs. Shabnam has been a speaker at the Jaipur Lit Fest and has conducted workshops and book readings at Bookaroo, the Kala Ghoda Festival, the Tata Lit Live festival and lit fests around the country. She got her MA in Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She was also a Chevening Scholar at Wolfson College in Cambridge.
Statement: As someone who adores words, imagination and the happy anticipation that comes whenever I pick up a new book, I would love to share the joy and the craft with a mentee who shares my excitement over stories and ideas.
Writing discipline: Fiction for children and young adults.
Rosaria grew up in rural North Carolina, where she climbed trees and read a lot of fanfiction. She studied politics and classics at Princeton and lives in Chicago with her husband and two cats. She is the author of the Aurelian Cycle, a young adult fantasy trilogy that begins with Fireborne (Putnam 2019).
Why they are a mentor and what they are looking for in a mentee:
I remember how meaningful it was to have writing mentors when I was a young writer and I'm excited to try to pay it forward. I'm looking for any mentors who love writing and are unafraid to revise.
Writing discipline: fiction
Madison Siwak has recently worked as an Editorial Intern with Triada US Literary. In 2019, she was the recipient of a Watty Award in Historical Fiction and her work has been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She is a graduate of Wayne State University, where she received a BA in Global Studies. Madison enjoys reading fantasy, historical fiction, and anything with a dash of romance, especially if it's queer. This will be her third year mentoring for The Young Writers Initiative and she couldn't be more excited!
What I'm Looking For For/Writing Discipline: When it comes to a mentee, Madison would love to work with someone who is passionate, hard-working, and dedicated...but who also loves to have fun! She is open to working with most genres, excluding crime/thriller/horror. She specializes in fantasy, historical fiction, romance, and adventure. (And retellings. She loves those.)
Madison is not one for deep edits or intense critiques, but is happy to look over your work and engage in discussion about it. She is looking for someone with original ideas, a passion for their work, and an open-mind. She's not here to tell you how to write, but rather how to make the most of your writing. Whether you need help worldbuilding, restructuring, or even just brainstorming, Madison will support and guide you through the process!
Tia Ross is an editor, creative and technical writer, and entrepreneur with 30 years of experience across industries that include book and magazine publishing, film, television, information technology, legal, events, and travel. A pioneer in the literary community, Tia was the founder of the first 501c3 literary arts association to organize online for Black writers (1998) (blackwriters.org). She created Black Writers Reunion & Conference, the first touring conference for Black writers (2000), and she is the host of a series of domestic and international writers retreats. Tia is also the owner of Boss Events & Travel, through which she organizes and manages conferences, retreats, and group travel for corporations, associations, fraternal, and social organizations. Tia works primarily as a freelance editor, offering copyediting, line editing, and proofreading of technical documentation, training materials, business documents, digital content, fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays (tiarosseditor.com). Within I.T, Tia's specialties include information architecture, content management, web development and design, and web applications programming as well as documentation for project management, software development, and computer forensics. Learn more via her primary website at tiaross.com.
Statement: I’ve been helping people to achieve their dreams since 1995 when I started my first editing services company. Shortly after that, I formed my first writers group. Nurturing writers (and editors) is second nature for me. I see mentoring as an immensely fulfilling way to make a positive difference in others’ lives and help further their successes. I would like to mentor a young writer with an inclination toward technical writing, editing, novel writing, or writing for the web. I prefer to give high-level editing feedback, but I don’t mind answering other questions, especially those they can’t easily Google or read a book to find the answer to themselves. I am looking to work with an African American or Afro-Hispanic young writer.
Writing disciplines: technical writing and fiction (fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, thriller/suspense, action/adventure, mystery/crime, coming-of-age, family saga, women’s fiction, magic realism, historical).
aty s. besham
Aty is an Iranian writer, artist, translator, TEDx speaker, and a full-time writing mentor and teacher. She graduated in English Translation BA, and has been teaching writing and art for the past ten years, mentoring writers, story coaching, and judging in writing competitions. Aty introduced the first English Novel Writing classes in Iran, and is currently teaching the international standards of writing in her country. Aty is working on the upcoming manga DARYAN, the novel DIME A DOZEN, and the comic WHITE SATIN. Aty is the director and producer of one of Iran’s most popular podcasts, Yuri On RADIO. She has published short stories in the UK, and was a mentee with her novel Coup De Grâce. Aty has worked as an editorial assistant, cover artist, and art director in the US and the UK. She works as a full-time writing mentor and teacher, mentoring writers, story coaching, and judging in writing competitions. She was a Pitch Wars mentor 2018-2021.
Why she wants to be a mentor and who she is looking for in a mentee: I’ve been a writing mentor for years, and enjoy helping writers achieve their goals. I particularly love mentoring writers whose voices need to be heard. I'm a hard-worker, and would mostly love to work with those who are also diligent when it comes to writing and making the story better.
Writing discipline: Fiction (Young Adult/ Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, Horror, Contemporary)
Hello! I’m Ariana, the author of Our Mistaken Identity and The Hunter in the Room! I’m also a freelance editor and book formatter, and I love helping and supporting my fellow writers how I can.
Statement: I want to make the journey of publishing and making author dreams come true that much easier for young writers. It’s an incredible, unbeatable journey that I believe everyone should have the opportunity to start.
Writing discipline: Fiction (contemporary fantasy)
Meg Long is a sci-fi author and content writer who originally wanted to be a spy. Her debut sci-fi novel, COLD THE NIGHT, FAST THE WOLVES, was released in 2022 from Wednesday Books. While she never did become a spy, Meg used her political science degree to teach middle and high school for eight years before jumping into the tech and video game industry as a content designer. She was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2018 and a mentor in 2020. When not reading or writing, she’s kicking things at her Muay Thai gym with her boyfriend, playing video games, or obsessing over Sailor Moon fanart.
Statement: Meg is hoping to be matched with a mentee who's interested in traditionally publishing a Young Adult novel that's either sci-fi or fantasy. She'd prefer a mentee that has a fully completed manuscript and feels ready to enter the query trenches as this is where she has the most experience mentoring. As for the manuscript, she's drawn to fun, fast-paced, hopeful, adventure-filled stories with characters she can fall in love with. She's not a good match for anything outside the SFF umbrella (sub-genres within SFF are okay!) or work that's too issue-driven or contains heavy subject matter. Meg's especially excited about diverse stories and submissions by marginalized authors. Writers do not have to disclose anything about their identity or whether their book is “own voices” or not, but she welcomes stories that showcase diverse perspectives.
Writing discipline: Fiction
Rosiee Thor began her career as a storyteller by demanding to tell her mother bedtime stories instead of the other way around. She spent her childhood reading by flashlight in the closet until she came out as queer. She lives in Oregon with a dog, two cats, and an abundance of plants. She is the author of Young Adult novels Tarnished Are The Stars and Fire Becomes Her and the picture book The Meaning of Pride.
Why they are a mentor and what they are looking for in a mentee:
Mentorship has played an integral part in my own publishing journey and I wouldn't be where I am without both the mentors and mentees in my life. I hope to work with a creative mentee with a unique story to tell who is eager to learn and try new things, and I am especially eager to work with marginalized creators!
Writing discipline: Young Adult (preference for science fiction and fantasy)