My bio

I have had a distinguished career. By my sixteenth birthday I had already ridden freights and hitchhiked across the country and had accomplished the first of several incarcerations. Before I was out of my teens I had been fired from two waitress jobs for general inefficiency, one job as a B-girl for the same reason, and two jobs for refusing to sleep with the boss.

Desperate, I joined the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), but was discharged in less than a year for general inadaptability. After a series of short-lived jobs in machine shops and cocktail bars (I had learned to quit before I was fired), I turned to a life of crime, which seemed to offer high wages for people like myself, that is, with no particular skills. After failing at that as well, eventually ending up in a federal prison, I tried marriage, the worst disaster of all. When you’ve failed at everything you ever tried, what’s left? To become a writer, of course.

As a writer, I continued the pattern of failure for many, many years, but eventually found an agent who recognized the value of my work. In 1986 my first book was published (under the name Patricia McConnel): The Woman’s Work-At-Home Handbook: Income and Independence With A Computer (Bantam Books). While working on that book I won my first creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1983) for work that eventually became my book of autobiographical fiction, Sing Soft, Sing Loud, about women on the street and in prison, published originally in hardcover by Atheneum and now available in paperback from Logoría.

A second NEA fellowship came in 1988. My short story “The Aviarian” was chosen as one of the Ten Best PEN Short Stories of 1984. In 1985 I was invited to give a reading at the Library of Congress. I have won several other literary grants and awards, but, with few exceptions, literary magazines still do not publish my work.

With two published books in lieu of academic credentials (in fact, I never finished high school), I taught creative writing for a year at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, but failed to adapt successfully to the academic environment. I have visited jails and prisons in five different states to give readings and teach writing workshops, resulting in Creativity Held Captive: Guidelines for Artists Teaching in Prisons.

Having accepted once and for all that I am unemployable, I make my living at home as an independent contractor doing technical writing and editing. I teach occasional writing workshops, and I’m at work on a novel, The Quest of Elizabeth Halfpenny (pronounced hay-penny), which is an attempt to write a heroic quest myth that has relevance to the lives of 21st century women.

I live on the edge of a national forest in northern Arizona with two cats, Samantha and Mitzi; assorted freeloaders such as feral cats, a raccoon, a skunk, and a porcupine, all of whom come in the cat door to raid the kitchen; and two old trucks, Serafina and Suzie, at least one of which is not running at any given time. I attempt to repair them myself but, of course, I usually fail.