Meet The Pitch Week X Finalists
Stephani Nur Colby, Walking with the Ineffable: A Spiritual Memoir (with cats)
From childhood Stephani Nur Colby has felt fleeting touches of grace, like the brush of unseen bird of Paradise wings from another world. They drew her on in search of healing for herself and others from a great ineffable harmony she sensed at the core of everything living. Spiritually seeking, Stephani was already bathed in the powerfully mystical atmosphere of the Greek Orthodox Church from birth but over time explored other Christian expressions as well, a rich and subtle Sufism open to those of all faiths, a Native American transmission carried through hawks, owls, and falcons, herbal apprenticeship, and the study of various gentle but dynamic forms of energy-healing — trying always to follow the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Walking with the Ineffable is a memoir of one woman’s walk through the mystery of spiritual experiences. It is about the changing weather of belief: what we believe, why we believe, and when we believe. Steeped in the mysticism of multiple spiritual transmissions and pilgrimages, Stephani brings a broad spiritual perspective to the perennial quest of the human soul to know itself and its Maker, and to the discovery of that hidden splendor, waiting to shine, in the depths of us all — aided by the vibrant company of a host of wise-eyed, mischievous cats.
Christine Marie Eberle, Finding God in Ordinary Time
Where is God in all this? That’s the question Christine Eberle has been asking for the last thirty years. It is the central question of her faith, far outweighing any quest for doctrinal certainty. Originally a shy English major drawn into campus ministry for reasons having less to do with the appeal of religion than the appealing guy at a retreat sign-up table, Christine added theology as a double major and went on for her master’s degree in pastoral ministry. She served in a street center for homeless people, did a year’s residency as a hospital chaplain, and then returned to her roots to work with college students. In these varied ministries, her mission has been constant: to draw connections between Scripture, spirituality, and everyday life, making an ancient religious tradition fresh and accessible for busy people in our contemporary world. Inspired by her Jesuit education, she strives to find God in all things, from the delights of childhood to the depths of grief, and from the gritty streets of Mexico City to her backyard strawberry patch. Both in person and on the page, Christine desires not only to feed the faithful, but also to offer nourishment to people skeptical or weary of religion. In her writing we encounter a God who may be playful or compassionate, merciful or intimate, but is always relevant.
Jen Epstein, Don’t Get Too Excited: A Collection of Personal Essays
In her sophomore year of high school Jen Epstein was accepted into a poetry program. Always providing an unassuming presence, she stayed out of the spotlight and waited to read until the final weeks of the semester. That day after reading she found a note in her backpack from the star of the class, who wrote how hurt she felt that Jen had waited so long to read and that she “wanted to eat her poems and get fat on them.” Writer, activist, filmmaker, worker-bee, Jan has held positions in the television industry as a Project Manager and Media Librarian, and completed an MA in Media Studies at the New School and a collaborative documentary arts fellowship at UnionDocs in Brooklyn, both while working full time for the non-fiction media company Discovery Communications. Using both a David Sedaris-like self-deprecating sense of humor and raw emotion, Jen exposes her inner demons to the world in Don’t Get Too Excited. Though her stories are deeply personal and sometimes heart-breaking, she offers nuggets of wisdom and funny anecdotes throughout. Jen taps into the minutiae of life and offers a unique type of universal appeal. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Justine E. Hyland, Dream a Little Dream
Growing up in a small barrier island town in Central Florida, Justine E. Hyland edited the school newspaper and literary magazine, and starred in many school and community theater productions in Palm Bay and Cocoa Beach. Her favorite theater role was Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream because there’s nothing like a saucy woman in charge falling in love (quite literally) with an ass. After years of working as a marketing maven in public radio and then as rare books librarian in academia, in addition to enjoying a ton of live concerts in and around Boston, Justine realized that the reason she remembers everything in excruciating detail is that she was meant to write it all down. Her writing draws from a multifaceted mix of life, imagination, and way too much reading. Her coming-of-age story from a young woman of the “lost generation,” caught between Generations X, Y, and the Millennials, relates the ups and downs of life in her twenties. From the banality of workplace idiocy, romantic disappointments, and ridiculous shenanigans in dark bars as well as broad daylight, Dream a Little Dream covers it all in a wry, confessional mode. In between writing novels and blogging poetry at foolishmuse.wordpress.com, Justine enjoys hiking, photography, and inventing new kinds of pizza. She lives in Massachusetts with her daughter.
Anita K. Newman, Clark The Colorblind Chameleon
Anita K. Newman began writing stories in the fourth grade about the adventures of her family, neighborhood friends, and their dogs and cats, holding “author readings” for all involved. She never stopped writing and has written, staged, and produced ten original children’s musicals (story, music, and lyrics). The musicals were performed in schools, at the University Theater, and on stage in Rome, Italy. Anita is a National Board Certified Teacher who has a BS in Performing Vocal Music, an MA in School Psychology, and a Juris Doctor. She taught Music, Kindergarten, and First Grade in Sutton, Massachusetts; Rome, Italy; Bridgewater State University; and Bridgewater/Raynham, Massachusetts. She was also a reporter for Worcester Telegram and Gazette. Clark The Colorblind Chameleon is a story written for a Kindergarten class when they were targeting a child for his differences. This story is especially timely with the political atmosphere of intolerance for anyone who is different. Often those very differences lead to brilliant creations and new ways of viewing and understanding each other, and ultimately enrich our lives. Anita is currently updating many of her children’s stories and her memoir.
Terry Watkins, Darling Girl
A native of nowhere and a traveler everywhere, Terry Watkins has been on the road since the day she was born. She has visited all seven continents and particularly enjoyed being ship-wrecked in Antarctica. The notion of rootlessness permeates her life and writing. Terry came to writing as a teacher of middle-grade students. While demonstrating how to write a personal narrative, she found her own voice on the page. It wasn’t until she joined a writing workshop group that she began to think of herself as a writer. Darling Girl is a novel told in a series of vignettes spanning fifteen years and four continents. Traveling from the deep South to apartheid South Africa, to Australia, to the capitals of Europe, DG’s family lives like so many dancing bears in a traveling circus with her father as the ringmaster. DG’s is a journey from youth to experience; to the realization that her mother’s mental illness isn’t the family’s only problem, it’s not even the main one. She must accept that her father poses a greater threat to her independence than her mother ever could. When not writing or traveling, Terry reads, knits, and putters in the garden. A survivor of a large family, she has a stepson, a daughter-in-law, and two grandsons, all of whom she adores. She shares a home with her husband — Mr. Wonderful — three cats, and a great deal of clutter.