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.

Schreibwinkl: A Tour

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my Schreibwinkl, my combination home office/mancave/refuge. So follow me. I’ll show you around.

It’s not hard to find the Schreibwinkl, thanks to the sign on the door.

People always ask, so i guess the words on the sign aren’t as obvious as you’d think.

Schreibwinkl is German for Writing Nook. It’s a reminder when I open the door that it’s time to work.

Lego Verba Mea is Latin. It means I read my words. But for me, it has a second meeting, my personal motto: Words are my LEGO.

OK, so maybe the sign is a little nerdy. But you haven’t seen nerdy yet. Let’s open the door.

The first thing you’ll notice is that you are greeted with insults, thanks to this great new Shakespeare Insults rug my wife just got me for my birthday:

You might also notice my unusual light switch:

Most likely, though, you’ll notice that there are desks everywhere. I’ve divided the room into workspaces, each with its own general purpose. Although I sometimes mix it up a little, for the most part, when I’m in each space, I know what I’m there to do.  We’ll get to those.

Let’s take a quick look around. We’ll start with the corner just inside the door.

There’s not much space here, so what I can do is a little limited. In my house, where there’s a space, there are books. This corner is no exception. This shelf has most of my medieval books.

The white board is often covered with sticky notes. I’m not planning anything at the moment, though, so it’s been taken over by my grandson.

Working around the room, we come next to my work corner.

I work from home much of the time, sometimes four days a week, so I spend a lot of time in this corner.

Under the window next to the work corner, is my writing desk.

Theoretically, this is where I do much of my writing. And it is, at least when I need a bigger screen. Much of my writing time, though, is spent untethered in the recliner in my cozy corner.

This is where I am right now, in fact. That bookcase has my writing craft books, most of my poetry books (although there are few places in my house where I hang out that don’t have poetry within easy reach), and some language and tech books.

The other corner has my desktop computer. It’s dominated by my Wall of Inspiration.

This was my personal writing corner before I got my Surface Book 2. Now I use it mainly for general computing and media. The hard drive with my digital jukebox is connected over here. The Raspberry Pi I used to build a distraction-free writing computer is in this corner too. I don’t use it much but I could, and that’s the important thing. I have another Raspberry Pi hooked up to another of the monitors on another desk, set up as a retro gaming station.

That’s the grand tour. There are all kinds of little details I might share with you sometime, like cable management strategies (important in a room with so much tech), toys and play spaces, and other little things that help make this space mine. If there’s interest, I can tell you more about these sometime.

I love this room. I shared a bedroom growing up, and never had a room of my own until the kids started moving out. This is my own space, and I spend a lot of time in it. I’m constantly tweaking it, making it a place I like to be, which is important for a room where I spend so much time working and writing.