This will be my 2nd year entering Pitch Wars, and I couldn’t be any more excited. To celebrate, I’ve created an official mentee bio so all the potential adult mentors know what they’re getting themselves into.
I’ll be submitting a totally new MS this year in the adult category titled Chuck Steak. It’s a hard book for me to classify. It’s a satire, sure, but it’s also a thriller. A throwback to the first book I ever tried to write but didn’t possess the knowledge nor skills to (that book was a police procedural). It’s also an ode to the powerful women who helped forge me into the man I am today. The women who raised me and the women who remain by my side. And since Chuck Steak the character is a cop, it only felt right to try and tackle the most obvious issue surrounding our present-day law enforcement: that of race, of being blind to it, of being part of the problem knowingly or unknowingly.
Chuck Steak incorporates a lot of stuff I’ve personally witnessed in life. Everything from weight loss struggles to growing up half-ass Catholic to a family member’s coming out gone horribly wrong to dementia and how we can never truly save those we love and cherish. Sound too dark? Don’t worry, Chuck Steak also has a beautiful love story to tell.
My writing style is also quite…um…Deadpool-ish? Yeah, that sounds about right. For instance, here’s a gif which sums up my 1st chapter quite well:
I apologize for what’s probably going to turn into gif abusage, but I place all of the blame solely on Monica Hoffman (@ who taught me that nearly every thought should be accompanied by unnecessary moving pictures.
Moving along, here’re some interesting tidbits about me as a person and author.
This is me:
Don’t worry, I’m not actually 5. I know it’s a little dated, but this is the only professional headshot I’ve got.
- First things first: I’m really laid back.
- I’m a huge fan of metal music and enjoy having it rupture my ear-drums while I write. I’ll switch between this and movie scores to summon forth my sensitive side.
- I keep 1 drumstick in my car, and people often ask me what it’s for while moving it out of the way so it doesn’t jam them in the rear, and I explain that they’re sitting on my drum set, and they sometimes think I’m joking, but I’m not. From what I’ve been told, this is what I look like cruisin’ down the street:
- Back in the day, my drum instructor was Jeremy Hummel who was the original drummer for Breaking Benjamin. He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met, for real.
- I’ve seen an obscene amount of movies. My collection of ticket stubs is in the 400-500 range.
- I’m sorta big into fitness but also sorta big into late-night nacho parties, so they tend to cancel each other out resulting in a mediocre body.
- Don’t let my jokey-side fool you—it’s often a result of coming up for air after having spent too many hours writing/editing/obsessing over ideas.
- My family is my world. I try to bring joy to them every chance I get. While I write, I often get excited about the possibility of them reading my work (my sons will have to wait until they’re at least 18+ to read a majority of it).
- I take boxing classes to relieve stress. More recently I’ve gotten into painting, like walls of houses. It’s pretty cool to be like, “You see that wall?” and smirk. “Yeah, I painted that. It’s Peach Tickle.”
- Most of my upper back is covered in a mural of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (from Revelations, not X-men) which I had inked when I was about 19.
- When I was little, I had a water jug that I filled with loose change. When I moved away to college, I cashed it all in and bought two upright arcade machines: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Killer Instinct. I don’t own them any longer, but sometimes I think about them and who they’re with and if they’re being played with respect or by some button-mashing-son-of-a-bitch.
- The movie Red Dragon inspired me to write my first novel, because I thought it sucked and that I could do better. I was sorely mistaken. Funny story: about a decade later, when I had met my wife, I told her I was a writer and she asked to read my latest book. I accidentally sent her my 1st book, which was God-awful. She said she enjoyed it, and after a few minutes of talking more in-depth about the story, we realized we were talking about two different things, at which point I realized she had just read the worst thing I’d ever written, and yet she still loved me anyway, so that’s how I knew we were meant to be.
- My “voice” is a combination of everything which motivated me to become a better writer: Chuck Palahniuk’s beautiful brutality, Kurt Vonnegut’s satirically dark examination of the human spirit, Agatha Christie’s brilliant and unrivaled murder-mysteries, and Stephen King’s general despair. Or basically this:
- I’ve written 11 different novels to date. Some are terrible. Some are okay. Only 3 are good enough to see the light of day.
- I’ve written well over 100 short stories. A few have gotten published in smaller venues. As of late, I’ve received personal rejections/so-close-it-hurts acceptances from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Glimmer Train, One Story and Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. Almost there!
- I only write what motivates me, and I love playing with form and exploring my creative side.
- I’ve always been attracted to the darker things in life.
- I used to cut video for the local ABC/FOX news and saw my fair-share of fucked-up shit.
- I curse at random but don’t have Tourette’s.
- I can’t really put into words how much I love Mexican food. When I was in grade school, my uncle would always take me to Taco Bell after doctor and dentist appointments. When I was around 10, I once ordered 20 hard-shell tacos and ate them all before my mom picked me up after work. A few years ago, when I woke up from a procedure, the first thing I asked was to be taken to Taco Bell for some hefty chalupas dripping globs of golden cheese. Moe’s Southwest Grill tends to send me swag at random and just the other day asked for my t-shirt size because they understand my passion for burrito bowls. If I could have a superpower, it’d be this:
- Another thing I can’t really put into words is how badly I want to be selected for Pitch Wars. I missed out last year, and rightfully so. After I saw what had made the cut, I realized I needed to elevate my game, which I think I did.
- (Backstory time) Growing up, I switched back and forth between Catholic and public school. I was considered a “hyper” kid, a “handful” so-to-speak, and I sure got into my fair share of trouble. I have a specific memory from 1st grade which will never leave me. My classmates and I took off our shoes and lined them up under the chalkboard. Then we left the room and were told that Saint Nick would be stopping by. When we excitedly rushed back in and fought for our shoes, I found mine empty. Everybody else around me pulled out treats. I was confused until the nun told me the reason I didn’t get anything was because I was a bad kid. I’ve never been angry over this, more so just sad. But on a happier note:
- I grew up in a place called Shamokin (surrounded by coal mountains). A place where its claim to fame is owning the world’s largest man-made culm bank, a place where Santa was shot by a teenager, and a place where the Dunkin Donuts was just set on fire by yet another teen and all the residents have never been more depressed. Seriously, you should watch this video (and no, it’s not from The Onion).
- Women are powerful in my eyes and should be represented so on paper. I was raised by a strong, single mother who did everything to ensure I had a better life than her, and I love her for that. We grew up best friends, and I love her for that, too. Since my grandmother passed right before I was born, my aunt filled that roll, and I remember hiking up the hill, stopping by to play rummy or drink iced tea or get a dollar to go buy candy or cards or Pogs (remember Pogs?). My wife is the rock of our present-day family. She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever met, hardly ever complains, and I consider myself the luckiest guy on the planet to be married to her. I’ve learned all of my core values from women. They’re my idols, and they defy all stereotypes, which is why Chuck Steak serves as an ode (or a love story) to them.
- I work for the State of Ohio in a very diverse environment and enjoy chatting with my friends (who are ethnically different) about the many issues facing our society. I like to learn how others view the world and what they see that I’ve overlooked or have simply been blind to.
- And this is getting kinda long, isn’t it? So how about I end on a good note with some good old-fashioned lists?
My top 5 favorite TV shows (in order):
- Breaking Bad
- Dexter (seasons 1-4)
- Game of Thrones
- The Flash
- Silicon Valley
My top 5 favorite movies (not in order, and this is very, very hard):
- Terminator 2
- True Lies
- V for Vendetta
- The Matrix
My top 5 favorite books (also not in order):
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My top 5 favorite short stories (also not in order, and also very, very hard):
- The Dressmaker’s Doll by Agatha Christie
- Marionettes, Inc. by Ray Bradbury
- The City by Ray Bradbury
- Guts by Chuck Palahniuk
- Wool (part 1) by Hugh Howey
Thanks for stopping by and reading. I look forward to meeting some new peeps!