Meet The Pitch Week VIII Finalists

Meet The Pitch Week VIII Finalists

James Hornor, Victoria Falls

james-hornor-cropJames Hornor is an educator, writer, and speaker who lives with his wife and two children in Brunswick, Maine.  Following his own background, his character James Monroe is on mission in both Zimbabwe and Kenya as a World Bank consultant. Despite his worldliness, James Monroe’s actions betray a late Twentieth Century innocent abroad who embodies both the bravado and the debilitating insecurities of the modern American male. In its exploration of American male stereotypes and in its suggestion of vulnerability as a key to masculine authenticity, Victoria Falls dares to embrace those humane qualities of love, kindness, and creativity that have of late been extolled as the provenance of soul-searching women but have been largely ignored in American fiction about men.

Mike Keren, Four Funerals and No Marriage

mike-keren-photo-cropMike Keren has tried on many hats, from psychologist and psychoanalyst to stand-up comedian. Always a fighter for social justice, he has seen his psychology work as an extension of the fight but that is not a view shared by many of his peers. As the health care system moved away from “helping relationships” to being “providers” to “consumers,” he began to despair. Leaving a system where rocking the boat was seen as a crime, he decided if he couldn’t work for “good” he would work for money: he would strike it rich as a stockbroker. Ethics quickly got in his way. As he tried to make the professional change, he was forced into an abrupt shift when the need to take care of his and his partner’s dying parents took control of his life. The strong and loving bond of Mike and his husband, Tom, carried them through. Despite the strain, Mike wouldn’t trade those three years for anything. Four Funerals and No Marriage tells that tale with brutal honesty and sharp wit.

Lynn Laurelton, The Good Girl

lynn-laurelton-photo-cropLynn Laurelton was born and raised in the suburbs of western Massachusetts. Like many bored suburban teens, she thought it was fun to party, run around with boys, and get into trouble. This lead to her getting pregnant at the age of fifteen and dropping out of school. She had two more children by the time she was twenty years old. After a tumultuous five-year on again/off again relationship with the father of her children, she left him due to his addiction issues and abusive behavior. She also struggled to overcome her own addictions. A relationship with another recovering addict resulted in a fourth child and a failed marriage. Then she met her soulmate, had yet another child, and they have been happily unmarried for fifteen years. With his support and encouragement, she finally had the strength and perseverance to build the life she had always wanted for herself and her children. She now has a rapidly growing brood of grandchildren, is a cancer survivor, and has a successful career in human services. She currently lives with her family in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Christine Davis Merriman, At the Far End of Nowhere

christine-davis-merriman-cropChristine Davis Merriman’s father was 72 years old (old enough to be her grandfather) when she was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1950; her mother was 37. When she was about four, she wrote her first story (about a mouse who pushed a cannon up the stairs and fired it on his worst enemy, the big man who lived at the top of the stairs and set all the mousetraps). Her mother died just before she entered eighth grade, and Christine took on the role of housekeeper and companion to her aging father. Less than a year into college, she dropped out to take care of him. Finally, in 1975, with her brother’s support, she completed her bachelor’s degree (summers, evenings, junior year in France), with double majors: English and French. In 1977, she completed her MFA in Imaginative Writing—Fiction. But then “life” intervened with marriage, a son, divorce, a second marriage, and a 30-year career at Johns Hopkins. So now, with great excitement, Christine embarks on publishing her first novel, At the Far End of Nowhere (where everything begins).

Annette Rodriguez, Lifeforce

Born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, a twin by birth and bumped to middle child nine years later by her little sister, Annette Rodriguez grew up with the words conflict mediator behind her name. In her school years, she was labeled the “nerd” and the “come libros” or “book eater” in Spanish. In Lifeforce, Annette’s character Gillian is struggling to perfect her powers as a witch, while experiencing nightmares she is sure are a result of her connection with her first love, a vampire. Without the powers to hide her current location from her ex, Gillian needs help. But how to tell Addison, Mom’s best friend and then Gillian’s legal guardian, and did she mention? Stubborn and short-tempered vampire. All right then, plan B. Tell Addison’s should-have-been mortal enemy now turned best friend werewolf anesthesiologist Forrest Wolfe. But wait—when did he start looking so cute? She should know better. After all, immortality is nothing to trifle with. And love is a powerful weapon to wield both for and against eternal life. What a pickle … and this time, neither magic nor immortality can fix it.

Shabnam Samuel Thakar, A Fractured Life

shabnam-samuel-thakar-cropShabnam Samuel Thakar has a story to tell, of abandonment, of neglect, of being belittled, and of disownment. She is hoping that with her story she can reach out to people, especially women, who are struggling with the fear of stigma, acceptance, and lack of courage, and enable them to see that someone before them has walked that path.  This is the journey that she is embarking on after a lot of soul-searching and the fact that her support system right now will carry her through all the sand storms that will come her way.  Shabnam is a writer, coach, social media trainer, and the founder of the Panchgani Writers’ Retreat in India. The retreat incorporates mindful living following Ayurveda principles, with yoga, meditation, and writing workshops.