Pitch Wars Bio

Posted: August 7, 2015 in Books
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About me:

Most people are surprised to learn that I’ve been married for 11 years now. When I tell my students this fact (I’m a college writing instructor), they are shocked and immediately want to know how old I am. But I never tell them. And I’ll never tell you.

I’m an Army veteran. I served for five years as a Linguist and Intelligence Analyst. One cool fact is I got to work at the National Security Agency (NSA) for three years while in the Army. Did I listen to your, or anyone else’s phone conversations? Maybe I did. So what?

After the Army, I earned my Bachelor’s in English, a Master’s of Education and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing: Fiction. So I’ve been in the world of Academia for a long time now and, since I’m a teacher, that won’t change anytime soon.

Besides my hometown of Chattanooga, TN (where my novel is set), I’ve never lived anywhere for more than three years. And I like it that way. I’m a wanderer, a nomad. My current abode is the San Francisco Bay Area.

About my book:

My Young Adult Contemporary novel puts every bit of my desire to travel beyond the humid and oppressive South into my 18-year-old main character, but doesn’t let him. He’s stuck at home, living with his parents and having to attend the rundown, semi-racist college that is more like an extension of high school, the 13th grade.

My MC is also in love with his best friend, but he’s been stuck in the friend-zone with her for as long as they’ve known each other.

Enter the hot-blonde who is sexually forward with my MC. He’s a virgin, socially awkward and emotionally inept, so he’s not used to this type of attention, but likes it.

Then come the family secrets my MC can’t ignore. So basically, he has to juggle his attraction to two women, a family mystery and how he’s going to get out of town to pursue his dreams of traveling and discovering the world.

And now the Gifs:

Is my writing smart? Let’s hope the Don isn’t referring to me.


How I feel each morning when I hit my thousand words:


How I felt when I finished the first draft of my novel:


How I looked like when my thesis advisor (Rosemary Graham [if you don’t know her, read “Stalker Girl”]) told me I needed to rewrite my entire novel from scratch in 1st person instead of 3rd:


What I really wanted to do to Rosemary when she told me to rewrite:


What I did to her after the rewrite knowing she was absolutely right:


How I feel now preparing to submit for Pitch Wars and figuring out who to submit to:


I think that’s it for now. Maybe I should get back to writing : )

7 X 7 X 7 X 7 Challenge

Posted: August 31, 2015 in Books, faith, Writing
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I’ve been awake for about three hours already (since 2:45am PST), and I finally check Twitter to find that I’ve been given a challenge by my gal from down South, Sidney T. Blake (@sidneytblake) to present to the world seven lines from the seventh line from the seventh page of my work in progress. And I accept this challenge. Because what better way to show off my immaculate writing ability?

My book is currently untitled, but it’s about a guy fresh out of high school who has enlisted in the Army. He’s ultra competitive and very serious about his faith. But he’s also close-minded, and a little prideful. While his goals are to convert his fellow soldiers and become the Honor Graduate of Basic Training (goals that will be tested along the way) he also has to deal with the difficulties of a long-distance relationship with his girl back home, and his growing attraction to a fellow soldier.

“But wait,” you may say, “what about the fourth ‘7’?” Well, I shall challenge seven others to follow suit. But here’s the good stuff from me:

I look around at the others. Some look the part – shaved heads, chiseled faces

with serious, death stares, ready to become Rangers or something. Others, however, look like

they might be joining the Army simply to avoid prison time. One guy’s hair is down to his

shoulders, and he has gauging in his ears – piercings the size of half-dollars that I can see straight

through. It’s hard to pin down the girls, though. They seem more ready for this than any of us. Or

maybe they’re too tired to show any emotions one way or the other. Then I wonder what they

think when they look at me, which helps me catch myself judging others based on their looks.

I Got Saved!

Posted: January 7, 2015 in Encouragement, faith, Inspiration, reason, Writing

I got saved no less than six times during my childhood, and was baptized nearly as much, too.

I grew up Catholic, so I was baptized when I was an infant (oh that evil infant baptism, as the Baptists would say). I don’t remember that one, but I remember the next one pretty clearly.

Camp Joy. A week-long sleep-away hellhole camp for special needs and at-risk kids. A scare-the-hell-out-of-you-so-you-will-ask-Jesus-into-your-heart salvation factory, meeting the quota of “1,000 brought to Christ annually” (their website, as of this writing).

It was the summer between 3rd and 4th grade. This kid Stephen from school, who I never really hung out with, invited me. Even at eight years old I was a people pleaser, so I couldn’t say no, even though every instinct in me told me to. The struggle is real, folks.

Camp Joy was run by a very large and influential church in Chattanooga, TN – the Mt. Zion of cities in the Bible Belt. The Buckle of the Belt. I was not privy to these facts at that age, though. All I knew was I was headed to my first sleep-away camp.

The first, and most traumatizing thing I took note of at Camp Joy was the camp counselors. I don’t know how old they were, high schoolers maybe, but they certainly established themselves as authority figures right away. They did so by handing out vicious wedgies to anyone who stepped out of line. Literally. We lined up everywhere we went, and if anyone got out of line for just one second, boom:  wedgie. The counselors also told us that no one could escape it, that everyone by the end of the week would receive at least one good, scream-worthy wedgie. The only question was when.

The second dreadful thing I noticed was the bathroom. I would have to hold it for the week.

The third thing:  the tetherball court and the seventh grader (who must have been volunteering at the camp) who presided over it, daring anyone to challenge him.

The fourth thing:  the strict segregation of boys and girls. This may be where my memory fails me a bit, but I think we only ever saw girls in the Tabernacle sessions. We wouldn’t even pass them when marching to and fro.

The Tabernacle sessions:  I suppose these were the cornerstone of Camp Joy. Sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it? Stevie Ray Vaughn: The Tabernacle sessions. But alas, it wasn’t anything like that. Actually, it’s where we learned of the inherent evils of rock and roll and the demonic MTV. It’s also where we learned about Heaven and Hell. Mostly Hell, though. Paired with death. Death and Hell and wedgies. It was one night during a Tabernacle sessions that I got saved.

We would first sing old time hymns, then a speaker would come tell us a scary story about death, whether it be about these two kids who were innocently playing on their swing set, and the next thing they knew were getting hit by a train, or about some kid who got caught up in rock and roll and rap or whatever and got into drugs and overdosed. On the third night of camp, a man told this mono-tonal, yet intriguing story about how his car overheated. He got out and checked the radiator cap and burned his hand. He then proceeded to unscrew the cap with a hand towel and the cap and steam exploded in his face and he almost died. I thought it was kind of cool, but it also got me pondering my own mortality and, of course, whether or not I wanted to spend an eternity in Hell if I ever died from a radiator explosion. So when it came time to sing emotionally-charged songs about surrendering all and asking Jesus not to pass us by and questioning our tarrying while Jesus is pleading for us, all during which the speaker was entreating us to ask Jesus into our hearts, I raised my hand to be saved.

One of the counselors came and grabbed me, and I thought I was about to get my first big wedgie. Instead, he pulled me aside with a group of about six other kids and told us to repeat this prayer, and then we were saved. But we weren’t done yet. We had to be baptized.

The next day, instead of going swimming in the shallow end of a not-an-olympic-sized pool (you had to pass a swim test to be able to swim in the deep end, and only three boys out of at least 150 passed, so the rest of us crowded and waded in the warm shallow end missing home and the Harrison Bay pool where I could not only swim in the deep end, but could jump off the fifteen-foot high dive), me and about a hundred other kids went to be baptized.

We went to some church down the street and lined up like factory workers on Friday waiting for their check. One by one, we stepped up and into the baptismal and were dunked (the biblical way to get baptized) into the water and were proclaimed baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – buried in the likeness of His death, raised to walk in the newness of life. No counselors were around to hand out wedgies, so I got out of line when I saw a bathroom. It was the first time in four days I was able to go. I came back out in time to be the last one baptized.

The only thing to ruin my rebirth was tetherball. Everyone lined up to face off against the seventh grader, and one-by-one we all fell hard to him. I just knew I would beat him, though, despite having never played tetherball.

It was awful. He was Robert Duvall, and I was Will Ferrell. Finally, I wasn’t put out of my misery, but rather, I severely stubbed my finger, and I walked away holding my hand in pain and holding back my tears in desperation. I needed medical attention immediately, but I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. Good thing it was at night.

I don’t want to hold up just the imperfections of Camp Joy to the light, though. Some of the highlights:  (guided) horseback riding. Canoeing to a rope swing. And I didn’t get sick like that one kid in the blue shirt who carried a bucket around with him to throw up into. And that’s about it. Oh, wait – I went the entire week and didn’t get a wedgie! “How in the world?” you may ask, since I was such a problem child. Well, I guess I was street-smart enough to know which fights to pick and which ones were better left for another day. I knew I couldn’t fend off high-schoolers if they wanted to give me a wedgie, so I played it safe, flew under the radar for the week. I kept to myself. Didn’t get too riled up over anything. And it worked. I think getting saved helped, too. Like I was protected by God from any evil being done to me or something.

Later when my Step-mom found out about my conversion from Catholicism to a born-again Christian, she became very upset and gave me a stern lecture. I didn’t see what the big deal was, but I knew things had changed. She saw me differently. My brother, too. But that was my fault.

Before Camp Joy, my brother and I watched MTV every single day and competed with each other over the countdown. I sided with Coolio and his hit “Fantastic Voyage”, while Spencer took Warren G’s “Regulate”. It was a constant battle for #1. We also rapped along with Snoop Dogg, F-words and all. Especially the F-words.

On the car ride home from Camp Joy, my brother sat up from the back seat and stuck his head around my seat back and told me that the two songs flip-flopped at #1 and #2 every day of the week. He had this big grin on his face, like he couldn’t wait to tell me this bit of information. I don’t even know if it was true or not – I like to think it wasn’t because it would show me that my brother missed me and really liked me, even though he would never admit to it.

But it breaks my heart every time I think of my response to him. I said a feeble, “Really?” and didn’t say another word about it. And that was the last time we talked about music or MTV. We never ghangsta-rapped together again. I was born-again, and having Jesus in your heart means there’s no room for MTV or Snoop Dogg in your heart as well.

I truly believe this was the point in my life where a fissure was created between me and Spencer that has only caused us to move further and further away from each other. I didn’t even ask him to be my best man in my wedding. But hey – I got saved!

Author’s Note

Posted: May 5, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I think I may have put the finishing touches on my thesis this morning in the form of an Author’s Note and an Epigraph (though I didn’t actually write the epigraph – I just used a quote). But, like most things I write, I am unsure of these two pieces. But, but, also like most things I write, I think they are awesome.

So I am pasting them here so that I could hopefully get some kind of consensus on which category it falls in:  “Complete Awesomeness” “Utterly Disastrous” or “Meh”. Feel free to comment here or on Facebook or on the Twitter.

Many thanks!

Author’s Note

Language is an extraordinary thing. Little symbols placed on a page with an ordered intentionality can transfer ideas, emotions and imagination from one person to another. The written word has the potential to take both the writer and reader on a journey of discovery and rediscovery. It has the power to rip through the veils over the heart and mind to uncover a beauty that has been there all along, waiting.

With the idea of language in mind, know that words can tell stories, whether true or false, real or imagined. So note that everything following the epigraph below is a work of fiction. Though many of my personal ideas and emotions find their way into Eli’s story (I tried unsuccessfully to avoid this), the characters and story are just little fabrications I have been stitching together in my mind these last few years.

My hope, though, remains the same – that the words on these pages can accomplish just a smattering of their potential, that my own intentional ordering of these symbols is powerful enough to reach you and strip away your own veils.



In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. . . . The Word gave life to everything that was created . . . 

(John 1:1, 4 – NLT)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014. 6:15 AM.


“Hey duuude! How’s the writing?” ––Friend via Facebook


“Hey man! Writing is going…ok.” ––Me via Facebook


Wednesday, February 26, 2014. 2:00 PM.


“You have set up what will be a really good Young Adult story here . . . but it’s not ready to send out. . . . The voice just isn’t working. You need to rewrite your book. Not edit. Rewrite.” ––Paraphrase of my MFA Thesis Advisor


Wednesday, April 9, 2014. 9:00 AM.


I always imagine me picking up a chair and throwing it through a window. Or bashing my old wooden Army Wall Locker with a baseball bat. But, being a responsible adult, I do neither.


My Kindergarten teacher told my mother that I had a problem with my temper. I think I finally found ways to deal with my temper in High School. Not in 9th grade when I ripped in half a failed assignment in my teacher’s face. So maybe 10th grade? Since then, I have found ways to pack up my anger into a compression bag and vacuum seal it inside me. I think that’s why I have a tremor in my right hand.


When I sat in my thesis advisor’s office and she ripped my heart in half in front of my face, I tried my best to imagine my chair and my bat, and not let my anger and disappointment show. “Okay,” is about all I could manage to say.


Two years. Dissipating. Burning off like a morning fog in the rising sun. Two years, 65,000+ words, a complete rewrite of the first 80 pages, multiple edits, and a final tally of 271 pages turned into just another document in my computer’s folder titled “Chase’s Writings”.


Now I have another document – “Complete Rewrite”. It took me a complete week of mourning my loss before I stared at another blank page. Now, six weeks later, I have 73 pages and 17,615 words of . . . . 




Yes, joy. As much as I hated giving up my firstborn, this new draft has been a blast to write. I have finally found my voice, which was confirmed during a second meeting with my thesis advisor where I was fully prepared for the consequences of throwing her through the window. Thankfully, for both parties, it didn’t come to that.


Now, I won’t lie – the plot is kind of lacking. But I can fix that. This rewrite is just another draft. I could pump out another 271 pages and figure out I need to rewrite again. Would that suck? Yes. Especially since my end goal is publication, and a rewrite would mean another postponement of that dream.


But I want to remember today. I want to remember the past six weeks. I want to remember that this process is actually enjoyable. Because I am a writer. And, just with anybody in any profession, a writer should enjoy what they do.


Friday, July 1, 2005. 7:00 PM


“Write your heart out.” ––My wife, upon giving me a journal as a wedding present.




^Christmas present from my wife.

On: Finishing a Book

Posted: August 22, 2013 in Books, Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: ,

I haven’t properly celebrated yet, but I accomplished something this week that no one can ever take away from me. It’s not something entirely unique, but it’s special to me.

I finished writing a book. I have to say that again for my own benefit (forgive my self-indulgence):  I wrote a book. I wrote a freakin’ book.

Now, I know it’s only the first draft and, given this, it probably reeks of bad writing and storytelling. I know that there will be much editing and rewriting and more editing to go.

There will also be the moment I hand my work to others that are going to tear it apart. I will probably go home and cry after my workshops, but hopefully I will get over it fairly quickly so I can begin paste the pieces back together.

This is why I am even in California. I am a writer, but a writer needs a writing community – a select few that will be honest with you. People who, unlike the parents who have told their kids lies their whole lives, telling them that they are good singers, and then the kids audition for American Idol and humiliate themselves, (that was a really long supplemental phrase [followed by this aside]) will break me down and build me back up.

But even harder than handing my work to my colleagues, I will be letting Jami (my wife) read my work. She is my best reader, but she is also the harshest. Well, she might not be the harshest, but it always seems unbearable to hear her questions and critiques. I mean, she’s supposed to love and support me, and cheer me on, etc. but, on many of these occasions when we discuss my work, we end up in an argument because I become so defensive. I mean, it’s my precious work that I have labored over for hours and days and weeks and months, and she just guts it open. She might as well be gutting me open.

But there eventually comes a point where I stop guarding my writing with my life and realize she is doing what she is supposed to do:  love me.  Love me enough to not coddle me.

So what next? I’m going to tuck this bad boy away for a few weeks and forget about it. Then I’m going to break out the red pen (I actually prefer a pencil, but you get the point) and get to work again. Then I’ll hand it off to my friends. Then I’ll take their critiques into consideration as I work on further edits and polishing the crap out of it before querying some agents, who will undoubtedly queue up at my door and fight to represent me. You know how it is when you know you’re great.

Anyway, thanks for reading this post, and thanks to everyone who has taken this journey with me, dragging me along at times. My bi-polar writing self (if you don’t know what this means, ask) couldn’t have done it without your support.


Favorite Sushi Restaurants?

Posted: August 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

As you may have noticed, the title of my blog is a type of sushi roll. You may have also noticed that I have a section titled “Favorite Sushi Restaurants”. You may even have noticed that there are no pictures or links there from California, where I reside. The reason for this is because I have yet to find a sushi joint that is even as half as good as the only one listed, which is in Nashville, TN. We’ve been to a few interesting places, such as Myozan which has a conveyor belt that brings your sushi around, but the sushi at these places just hasn’t lived up to my expectations. Sorry, California. You need to get your act together – a landlocked state in the southeast is sushi-ing you.