Scott Remer of Beachwood doesn't claim to have the last word on spelling.
But as a two-time winner of The Plain Dealer Cuyahoga County Scripps Spelling Bee, and a former finalist in national competition, he knows plenty about a contest in which success means being letter perfect.
Champion speller Scott Remer, a 10th-grader at Beachwood High School, has written a book to help others be sucesful ... uh, successfful ... uh, successful, yeah, that's it ... in the Spelling Bee.
Though he's now too old to compete, the Beachwood High School sophomore will cheer on the seventh- and eighth-graders in this year's Bee.
And he is sharing what he's learned in "Words of Wisdom: Keys to Success in the Scripps National Spelling Bee," a 292-page guide he spent 16 months writing.
"When I started out in the spelling bee, my mother and I looked to see what sort of resources we could find," he said. "They were pretty limited, so my mother decided to take it upon herself to coach me, and we had a good time doing it.
"What occurred to me after my bee experience was that it seemed like a rather haphazard way of going about it. I told my mother that she should write a book, because I didn't want all of the knowledge we had accrued to go to waste. She said, 'No, you should write a book.' So I did.
"There's advice from previous spellers in the contest, musings on the significance of the spelling bee and mundane advice for making the most of your experience in Washington," he said. "I wanted to craft a comprehensive and authoritative guide, and I wanted to save spellers time."
Advice for contestants
Scott Remer, who has written a book on the national spelling bee, has advice for the 47 contestants competing today in 'The Plain Dealer Cuyahoga County Scripps Spelling Bee:
"Keep your cool. When you're onstage, it can be daunting. If you can just deal with the word and analyze it, you're more likely to get the word correct."
"Keep the big picture in mind. No matter the outcome, just being there is a significant accomplishment. Losing is not the biggest deal. If you win, try to not inadvertently make anyone feel bad."
"Keep reading. It will help with your spelling and give you wider appreciation for the language."
Without a guide, prepping for the Bee can be time-consuming and laborious. The only restriction on words is that they must be found in Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary.
"It has 475,000 entries," Scott said. "Obviously that's a pretty wide selection."
His book, $25 at spellingbeebook.com, compiles the words that have been favored by judges over the years, rules of the languages that the words come from, plus spelling exercises and tips.
Scott was thrilled to see last year's local winner, Anamika Veeramani of North Royalton, advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals in Washington by spelling a word included in the book -- fedelini, which is a type of pasta.
Anamika, an eighth-grader at Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights, is again representing her school at the local bee.
She's coached by Janice Hearst, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, who may be the Paul Brown of spelling coaches. Incarnate Word Academy has produced seven local spelling champs since 1994. Hearst, who is in her 11th year at the school, coached the last five.
"It's the students we have," she said. "If you don't have the students with the capability and the drive and the dedication, there's only so much a coach can do. If they don't take the time to work on their own, all that I say is for naught. I've been blessed with students really giving it their all."
Scott is an avid reader, fascinated by words. He'd like to join the spelling bee staff someday.
"I hope to be a word panelist and help select the words," he said. "It's such a classy competition. I'm a little sorry I can't go back. I really did have a good time."