Me, circa last week.
Hi, my name is Zach. I’ve been hesitating about doing this for a while, but I’m going to put myself forward as a PitchWars mentee this year!
Thank you to Lana for hosting the #PimpMyBio this year, for more info and bios, you can check it out here!
I’m 25, I’m fat, and I’m fabulous.
Okay, that’s taking it just a little too far.
I live in the Southern California high desert after two years of living in Carson City and Reno, Nevada. I’m originally from Whittier, California, though, so it’s kind of like coming home without coming back home. I have been writing since I was in middle school, with a brief detour during the end of my high school career when I became enamored with theatre. It was only in my post-high school years, after a lot of struggling, that I realized that I was asexual, and maybe aromantic? Still struggling with that one, for sure, but it seems like it.
As I write exclusively YA, I’m a member of SCBWI. I’m a query intern for Pam Howell at D4EO Literary, and a virtual assistant to author Shaunta Grimes.
My #PitchWars Project: SOMEHOW YOU’RE SITTING HERE
Ev’ry five and a half minutes the universe expands four miles
and ev’ry time I blink another child enters the world,
the world has six and a half billion people this year.
There are eight million people in this city, on this island,
but right here, right now, SOMEHOW, YOU’RE SITTING HERE.
— Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk
from THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS
While some might think that moving from backwoods Arkansas to a Southern California beach town would offer the chance for a fresh start, sixteen year-old Rachel Cole knows better. As the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher, Rachel knows the rules: keep your head down, be quiet, and smile. It’s the perfect recipe for a boring, drama-free sophomore year at Skinner Magnet School for the Arts.
Except things aren’t quite as boring as Rachel expects. After a disastrous first date with a deacon’s son, she escapes into the world of high school theatre. She scores a leading role in the spring musical, no small feat for someone who’s never tread the boards before. Under the guidance of her new friends Cass and Jenna, Rachel begins to find her voice and question the rules that have kept her quiet for so long.
And when Cass kisses her under the stage lights, a kiss that definitely wasn’t in the script, Rachel is forced to choose: the crazy, passionate girl who loves her, or her faith and family?
Mariah, Me, and Saraya, circa 2012.
SOMEHOW YOU’RE SITTING HERE is my first novel, one that is very near and dear to my heart. The idea has grown over the last six years, the story of (at first) two best friends devastated by a tragic accident, to a love-story trilogy that marked the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship, quelle jeune supernova, to the story in its current shape: a duology that tells the story of how high school theatre brought two girls together, overcame a whole lotta ugly, and let them live happily ever after.
I was accepted in the 2015-16 Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, and had the opportunity to work with the amazing Heather W. Petty (Lock and Mori, S&S BFYR ’15). Working with Heather turned my contemporary YA from a 104k word disaster into a much better 83k, that got down to 78k before I started querying it. While I started getting some excellent feedback (and a whole lot of form Rs), it became obvious to me that I needed some more work, and had absolutely no idea on where to start, except that I shouldn’t tear the whole thing apart.
After a lot of trial and error (believe me: my first comp ideas — and I actually pitched an agent in-person with this, a long time ago — was “Sarah Dessen does Glee.”) I think I’ve decided on a comp title that speaks to what I’m trying to do with my novel:
The religious strictures of Jeff Zentner’s THE SERPENT KING meet the tentative, turbulent romance of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s MY LIFE NEXT DOOR.
Why you should choose me:
I’ve worked my butt off on this novel, and I’ve been passionate, since I’ve started writing it in 2010. This is the work that made me seriously plant my ass in a chair on August 1, 2013, and decide that I was going to write EVERY DAY until it was done. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been perfect about the every day part, but I finished this book.
I see the value in critique and I’m able to take it. One of my very first experiences with the writing world was on my high school’s newspaper. I remember when I first started writing, how I had to go through rounds and rounds of edits, pages soaked in red –except our copy editor my Freshman year, who used hot purple! — getting a story just right. By my senior year, I wrote one draft, and only had a few changes suggested before laying it out — and spent my time editing new staffers in turn. Same idea with learning how to write a novel except . . . wow, that’s a lot of column inches.
This story has been shouting at me for a long time, and I think it belongs with the world. While some might decry it as just another coming out story, I think there is something special about it. Maybe that’s just a wannabe debut novelist bullshitting himself, but I don’t think so. I think there’s something worth fighting for. And I’m usually able to sniff out a lost cause.
Favorite Books (in no order):
Me as Capt. Brackett in SOUTH PACIFIC, circa 2009.
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
- Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
- Identical by Ellen Hopkins
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Revenants trilogy by Amy Plum
- Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch
- The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
- The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
- Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King
- The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
- All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
- Vampire Academy / Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead
- House of Night series by P.C. Cast
Favorite Musicals (in no order):
- Next to Normal
- Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
- The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown
- Legally Blonde
- A Man of No Importance
- Edna Turnblad in Hairspray
- Alfie Byrne in A Man of No Importance
- Drs. Madden / Fine in Next to Normal
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at Victor Valley College, Victorville CA.
Performing the first two weekends of August!
The Cannula Girls