Pitch Wars 2018: Boost My Bio

Hi, I’m Scott, and this is my fifth year in PitchWars. I’ve been a middle grade hopeful three times, and a young adult hopeful once. I’ve also been a middle grade mentee.

I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’ve been exiled to Utah for more years than I can count. It’s all my fingers and pretty much all my toes worth of years. I try to get back as often as I can, slipping in under cover of night like a ninja in a film noir, if there were ninjas in film noirs. Films noir. Whatever.

I’ve also lived in Austria and worked a summer in Germany. I speak German and Weanarisch.

This is me, the time I decided to try wearing a man bun:

Something doesn’t quite look right. Maybe I should have shaved first.

What I love about Pitch Wars

Even after being a mentee–which I loved–my favorite thing about Pitch Wars is the community. I have a lot of fun participating in the feeds and encouraging other hopefuls (and being encouraged by them), especially those who share my #pitchwarsmg blanket fort and lunch table.

Based on my experiences, I’ve written the Unofficial Pitch Wars Survival Guide, one way I’m paying back the community that has meant so much to me. It’s available for download free on my website. I hope other hopefuls find it useful.

My submission: The Historie of Henry the Fifth Grader

This year, I’m submitting my contemporary middle grade retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V plays. It’s an idea I found in a short note in my idea file from 2008. When it became time to start a new project at the end of 2017, that note captured my imagination.  It feels like a weird choice of plays to retell in MG, but the challenge sounded fun. The end result is a lot different than my original note.

So what’s it about?

Now that he’s ten, Henry “Hal” Bolingbroke V wants to choose his own path and his own friends. But he’s a fifth grader at a school named after his great-grandfather, where his dad teaches and his mother works, so choice takes a back seat to expectations. Especially since Hal’s afraid if he disappoints his father, his dad will fall out of love with him like he did Hal’s mom.

Hal is elected captain of the ragtag school kickball team his dad coaches. Despite his parents’ disapproval, he’d much rather hang out with his older friends, who often get into trouble. Hal’s world changes, though, when his father is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Hal turns away from troublemaking and leads his team toward the championship tournament, determined to make his dad proud before it’s too late.

This is how I imagine the kids on Hal’s team. Hal’s in the top left corner.

My writing

I’ve been writing since before I was first published at the age of eight.

I have published a middle grade short story in Spaceports and Spidersilk and poems in Kolob Canyon Review and other small literary journals. I published an article in The Writer, as well as online markets. I am a technical writer and editor, and have been for a long time. I started with Atari, back in the late eighties, and now work for Adobe.

In addition to being a Pitch Wars mentee in 2017, I finished my Master of Professional Writing degree. I also have a B.A. in both English and Languages and an A.A. in Liberal Arts.
I am also a member of SCBWI and The Academy of American Poets, and a regular participant in a couple middle grade chats on Twitter. I volunteer at a local independent living facility for seniors, where I lead a monthly literary club.

One of my favorite writing accomplishments was the time one of my poems, “Buying Baseball Cards,” was put on display at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Library and was featured in a lecture by the Hall of Fame librarian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s really a middle grade poem.

Most of the time, I work from my Schreibwinkl, my home office.

This has become my favorite place. I’m surrounded by pictures of writers, illustrations, quotes, and other things that inspire me.

Books are, of course, an important part of my hideaway.

My favorite part of PitchWars is hanging out with all the writers. I’m looking forward to meeting more hopefuls this year.

Favorites

I like to read fairly widely, from kidlit to classics to medieval and ancient.

I’ve read all of Shakespeare’s works, most multiple times. I’ve also read the entire Shakespeare apocrypha and many plays by his contemporaries. Other stories I’ve written have a Shakespeare influence, especially my YA, but this is the first time I’ve attempted a direct retelling.

But I’m subbing a MG story, so here are some of my favorite MG books I’ve read recently, in no particular order (unless alphabetical is “particular”):

  • Chronicles of Prydain
  • Enginerds
  •  The Evil Wizard Smallbone
  • Fiendish Deeds
  • Half Magic
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale
  • The Last Boy at St. Edith’s
  • The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary
  • Mrs Smith’s Spy School for Girls
  • My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights
  • The Nest (the creepy one about the wasps)
  • Never That Far
  • The Night Gardener
  • OK For Now
  • Out of the Dust
  • The Riverman
  • A Tale Dark & Grimm
  • Treasure at Lure Lake
  • The Wednesday Wars

There are so many more.

PitchWars: PimpMyBio, 2017 Edition

Hi, I’m Scott, and this is my fourth year in PitchWars. Or Fifth. Fourth. I can’t remember. Less than sixth. Last year I entered in YA, but this year I’ll go back to MG like the two previous years. So probably fourth, then.

I’m still trying to decide between two stories. One is ready. The other needs to be trimmed by about 15,000 words, now that I’ve completed a major revision. Working on that now.

UPDATE: This year, I am submitting my middle-grade fantasy. The other story I considered got good responses two years ago and is more polished, but this is the one that could benefit most from a mentor’s help. I’m wrapping up a major revision while I wait for PitchWars to open, and I’m happy that it will be ready. I’ve added info about the story to the end of this bio.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I’m feeling good about this story right now. I made the right choice.

I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’ve been exiled to Utah for more years than I can count. More than six. I try to get back as often as I can, slipping in under cover of night like a bad guy in a Dashiell Hammett novel. Usually in disguise.

 

I’ve also lived in Austria and worked a summer in Germany. That’s why I speak German and Weanarisch.

This is me, the time I decided to try wearing a man bun:

Something doesn’t quite look right. Maybe I should have shaved first.

I’ve been a professional writer and editor since 1988, when I started working for Atari, where my favorite thing was making up stories for the beginnings of game manuals. I’m currently writing for Adobe. I’ve also done a lot of freelance work. On the creative side, I’ve been writing since I was first published at the age of eight.

Last year I published two pieces, a poem and a middle grade short story about alien bugs that turn the junior high basketball and their goat mascot into brain-eating zombies. Because zombie goats rock.

One of my favorite writing accomplishments was the time one of my poems, “Buying Baseball Cards,” was put on display at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Library and was featured in a lecture by the Hall of Fame librarian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s really a middle-grade poem.

Most of the time, I work from my Schreibwinkl, my home office.

This has become my favorite place. I’m surrounded by pictures of writers, illustrations, quotes, and other things that inspire me.

Books are, of course, an important part of my hideaway.

I’m also surrounded by maybe too much tech.

Who am I kidding? You can never have too much tech.

Another great PitchWars will add to a pretty great year. I finished my Master of Professional Writing degree in May, and recently hit my target weight after losing close to 80 pounds in two and a half years, putting  me at the weight I was when I graduated from high school back in the Pleistocene.

My favorite part of PitchWars is hanging out with all the writers. I’m looking forward to meeting more hopefuls this year.

About The Loom Of Fate

The Loom of Fate is an upper middle-grade time travel fantasy that draws on my lifelong obsession with mythology and folklore, and decades of reading medieval lit, especially Norse, Anglo Saxon, and German stories. It has Vikings, dragons, ghosts, witches, giants, a faithful dog, a rude horse, and a very special sword. And a lot of derring do. Because you can never have enough derring do.

I wrote the story as a YA book, but realized later it would be better as a MG novel. I revised with that in mind, then eventually shelved it while I wrote two and a half new novels. I considered it a learning experience and moved on, but the story had other ideas and kept calling me back to it.

Much of the inspiration for this story came from my own bookshelves:

When I returned to the manuscript, I wasn’t thrilled with what I found. I’d learned a lot since I wrote it. I’ve put a lot more work into it, and think it’s worth the effort, but I could use the kind of feedback and mentoring this contest offers.

Favorites

I like to read fairly widely, from kidlit to classics to medieval and ancient. But I’m subbing a MG story, so here are some of my favorite MG books I’ve read recently, in no particular order (unless alphabetical is “particular”):

  • Chronicles of Prydain
  • Dead End in Norvelt
  • The Evil Wizard Smallbone
  • Fiendish Deeds
  • Half Magic
  • The Inquisitor’s Tale
  • The Last Boy at St. Edith’s
  • The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary
  • My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights
  • The Nest (the creepy one about the wasps)
  • Odd and the Frost Giants
  • OK For Now
  • Out of the Dust
  • The Riverman
  • Secrets of Selkie Bay
  • A Tale Dark & Grimm
  • The Twits
  • Under the Egg
  • The Wednesday Wars
  • The Westing Game
  • Westmark
  • When You Reach Me