Saturday, 15 August 2015

Pitch Wars 2015: #pimpmybio

Jerry here. I've fallen in with the crazy kids over at Pitch Wars, so I'm going to play the mentee bio game. Pick me!

Genre: Late Viking-era historical allegory, set during the Scandinavian conquest of Normandy. Like Arthurian legend with scrupulous period research. Only, instead of Arthur, it's Rollo, and a theory about how the Viking age was caused by selective female infanticide.

Racial conflict. Religious oppression. Women fighting to rule. Maintaining personal ethics against the court of public opinion. You know, the little things. :)

More historically accurate than this, but I haven't gotten my own HBO deal yet.

A few things about me: In my 20s, I was a knight in shining armour by day and a CMS certified sommelier by night. I know it seems like those should go the other way around, but it's really hard to crush your enemies and see them driven before you after the sun goes down.

Now I travel and write full time. I run the Ubergroup, the most intensive writer's workshop on the internet, and run a bnb in Manhattan that allows my partner and I to take turns wandering around the world. We spent last winter in France and Morocco.

You may have seen me around the internet, running my mouth off about feudal nobility, warfare in the western world, and female professions of medieval Europe for Dan Koboldt's Fact in Fantasy, Science in Scifi series.

Why you should pick me as your mentee:

1. I work like a coked-out sled dog. The principles of aforementioned Ubergroup are work ethic, positive attitude, teamwork and helping each other becoming better writers. The main benefits of the Ubergroup are a rigorous structure that provides motivation; devoted moderators that intensively monitor consistency, quality, and tone of critiques to ensure everyone gets a large amount of useful feedback; and friendly, active members that create a positive but not sycophantic environment that constantly challenges us to grow. Yes, I do this for fun. And, you know... personal betterment.

Someone once described us as “a bunch of workaholics,” and that’s pretty accurate. Work it harder make it better.

I have a simple motto: Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep improving. Keep working. I am never 'done.' When I get an agent, it will be time to gut and redraft, when I get a contract and an editor, it will be time to gut and redraft. Sharon Kay Penman released a new version of her breakout 'Sunne in Splendour' with corrections in 2013, thirty years after it was an NYT bestseller in 1983. Robert Heinlein's estate released the uncut version of  'Stranger in A Strange Land,' the way he'd wanted it, thirty years after the original and after he was dead.

Pablo Casals (the musician) was asked at 90 why he still practiced every day, and he said, 'Because I think I'm seeing improvement.'

And to burninate the countryside.

2. I'm happy to kill my darlings. Art is a medium of communication. I never understood how artists could be attached to their untapped potential, yet to interact with anyone else and come alive in communication.

“Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

''Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. 

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

I'm not attached to my manuscript. I'm attached to you. My audience. I want to see you laugh. I want to see you cry and scream and stand up and shout obscenities back at the stage. I want to affect you. The art is in making you feel it. I want to see you feel it. I want to hear you cheer and boo until you're hoarse. I'll kill my darlings a hundred times over until I birth something that communicates. None of the other incarnations matter until we come up with the one that means something to you.

The kick comes from people, buddy boy.

At chest height. Flying through mid-air.

3. I live in Manhattan and love to cook. You needed an excuse to visit NYC. And a place to crash for free in this ludicrously expensive city. And to pet my cat. And to have brunch with me.

Library? Guest room? Why not both?

 Her name is Meyonce Knowles.

Times when life doesn't require champagne: never.

4. I am a mixed-race FTM transperson. Oh god, I never thought I'd say that in a professional venue, but everyone keeps wondering why I care so much about race and gender issues. I present male professionally (although I usually present female socially and you will hear my partner and some friends use the female pronoun.) I feel kind of cheap saying this here, as you're not coming to date me and therefore the bits between my legs should not be relevant... sooooooo let's not talk about this anymore and I'll pretend I didn't say anything and you just take me at face value. Really, I'm pretty hard to offend, I won't care if you use both pronouns interchangeably :)

This is your friendly neighborhood crazy guy, signing off. Hear me now, O thou bleak and unbearable world...

Pitch Wars 2015 Mentee Blog Hop by Christopher Keely


  1. Awesome bio, and good luck! And oh, BTW:

    1. I may co-opt the name 'the Unburninated.'

  2. Sounds interesting! I'm a huge fan of the TV show Vikings, btw.

    Good luck!

  3. Seriously, a jouster? That's awesome. (Random question: do a lot of jousters really train reining but ride in English saddles? I read that on some troupe's site and thought it made zero sense.)

    1. Jousting troupes vary (and it depends if it's theatrical or full-contact) but most people tend to ride mostly English with some neck-reining. If you think about what jousting is trying to do (knock the other guy out of his saddle) you can't be slouched back like a western rider. You need to be up and forward like you're going to jump. The neck reining is because, well, there's a lance in your right hand. If it's full-contact, people actually drop the reins entirely before impact, because you don't want to yank back on their mouths if you're the one who comes off.

    2. Also, I didn't see a mentee bio with your name! Are you pitching?

    3. I am, but for some reason I ended up logged in under my Google+ account, which I never use. Gotta fix that. (Tossing this out there since Google+ didn't:

      I think the troupe's site I visited did full-contact. That's the competitive stuff, right? I thought it was really interesting. I grew up riding dressage myself, and I always thought jousters rode dressage because it was originally the method of choice for training war horses wayyy back in the day. Though, what you say certainly makes sense! I'd hate myself if I hurt my horse's mouth coming off.

    4. Yup, full-contact is the competitive stuff, although a lot of people still do it in a performance venue as well, as that's largely where the money is to support the rather extravagant cost of jousting. Not something you can really do as a hobby unless you are independently wealthy or someone is paying you to do it for show.

      That performance orientations is why it's talked about in terms of 'troupes,' but being done explicitly for an audience does not = theatrical jousting. Sort of like.... WWF is theatrical fighting, and UFC is also something done for show, but full contact. Both are huge televised events and the money from that is definitely the reason either of them are possible, but one is scripted and the other is not.

      Which is not knocking on theatrical jousting *at all.* It's way too hardcore to get slammed off a horse at a gallop for ten passes a show, four shows a day, all weekend. Everyone would be out with injuries like rugby players in two weeks. Even full contact troupes will usually save the full contact for the last show of the day, and do exhibition stuff or theatrical falls in the earlier ones. So you'll usually only have 3 or 4 full contact passes per show day, two show days a week. And if I'm honest, usually at least one person still gets injured somehow per season. But being sparing about the full contact means lowering the rate to 'eh, maybe every couple years you'll have a bad fall' instead of 'every couple weeks.'

    5. One other thing I should make sure to be clear about: I am *not* personally paid to joust. I am not that l33t. I act, I ride, I jump, I did perform professionally at renaissance faires, and I am friends and coworkers with professional jousters, but I am *not* one of the like, six guys I know who are actually badass enough to joust competitively. I can repeat 'insider' information that I know from working the faire circuit with them, but I don't want to misrepresent that I am good enough to knock someone else off his horse myself.

    6. I remember reading an interview with another jouster who said that a good set of armor could cost as much as 10K. That's more than my truck & trailer combined. :/

      Ooh, I get it now! Thanks for clearing that up. That makes a lot of sense. When I went to the local faire this year, I remember the first joust of the day was actually more like training games. The second show was a little more, but half of it was them sword fighting in the arena, which was pretty funny. Their smack talk was great. Unfortunately, I had to work that night (restaurants, man...) so I couldn't stick around for the last show.

      Oh, and I won't hold that against you. I appreciate your input all the same. :)

  4. Best of luck, Jerry :) Your bio was a fun read!

  5. Love your bio & your plug for Ubergroup, and your cat is a tortie. How cool is that?

    1. One day we will manage these visit plans (aside from me coming to Madison, you shall come to New York) and Meyonce will wallow her loving little tortie butt all over you. She's ridiculously affectionate, including with strangers, and I think that's why we haven't killed her yet.