Hi there! I’m Jim Belich and this is my #BoostMyBio post for PitchWars 2018.
I’m originally from Saint Paul, Minnesota, but several years back my wife, my son, and I left the frozen north behind to settle in northeast Florida. We’re now a short drive from the beach and haven’t looked back. Do I miss snow? No. No, I don’t. I do, however, miss my Minnesota writing group (shout out to Jane and the Muskrats!). They taught me a lot.
I write plays, picture books, and middle grade novels. My middle grade sci-fi novel, GRAVITY AND MONSTERS, was a winner in the 2017 Revise and Resub contest. Working with editor Ellen Brock was a wonderful experience—and A LOT of work. But I came out of it with a much stronger novel and I’m not afraid to put in that kind of work again. I also run the local SCBWI critique group in Jacksonville, FL.
My PitchWars submission this year is a middle grade mystery pitched as “Sherlock Holmes meets The One and Only Ivan” – it’s set in a zoo and features a crime-solving snake. I’ve always loved a good mystery, from Agatha Christie to Dorothy Sayers to (of course) the Sherlock Holmes stories. And The Westing Game has been one of my favorite books ever since I first picked it up as a kid.
By day, I’m a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer. Even though I studied science in school (I’m a recovering physicist with a Ph.D. in solid state physics from the University of Minnesota), I’ve been in love with telling stories pretty much my entire life. I honed my dialogue skills through many years of acting and writing plays (as a playwright that’s all you get to share the story), but I found my true love in writing middle grade.
- I have my motorcycle license and have ridden over 10,000 miles on two wheels (no, I don’t ride a Harley; I zip around on one of these)
- I once lived in a castle as part of a study abroad program
- My plays have been performed on every continent except Antarctica (even though I wrote a play about penguins)
- I love to travel and I think trying new foods is the best part of any trip
- My doctoral thesis was titled Electronic Transport and Noise Studies of Amorphous and Nano-Structured Hydrogenated Silicon Thin Films
- During a visit to London, I performed a monologue on the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe in front of Mark Rylance – he liked it
Some of My Favorite Books (in no particular order):
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
- Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
- Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
- The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
- Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
- The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
- In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth (Hey look! A non-MG book!)
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
- Plus classics like The Chronicles of Narnia, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Phantom Tollbooth, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler