Meet The Pitch Week XII 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.
Stevie Z. Fischer, River Rules
Stevie Z. Fischer can tell Vladimir Putin to buzz off in Russian, order a fine Bordeaux in French, and demand perfect MLA format from every college student while simultaneously inspiring all four of her kids to misinterpret her best intentions. She grew up in the New York metropolitan area surrounded by depressed and shouting immigrant relatives. After several ill-suited career efforts, including wine sales, banking, and journalism, she needed to self-invent. Now, she teaches academic writing at several universities and conjures up stories. Although imperfect, she is trying to live the dream.
In her novel River Rules, Peter Russo could just keep his head down and focus on his new food truck, his rescue pit bull, and rambling along the river, but Bridgeville needs heroes. Peter’s creative protest against a rapacious utility company brings consequences beyond anyone’s imagination. Sometimes, enemies of your enemies are still enemies. And sometimes, they’re saviors, both human and canine.
Stevie hopes that River Rules reflects her passion for the humor, challenges, and grace of life lived outside of the spotlight, where people connect and intersect in ways that have exponential impacts.
Judith Krummeck, A Native of Shropshire
As the Napoleonic Wars are coming to an end in Regency England, Sarah Barker sails from Portsmouth with her new husband on a voyage that brings violent storms and an attack by an American privateer. They are bound for Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa, and from there they will trek overland to the Eastern Cape, where they will serve as missionaries to the indigenous Khoi of South Africa.
Two centuries later, Judith Krummeck, Sarah’s great-great-granddaughter and a new immigrant to America, sets out to search for Sarah, and to trace the lineage that links them. Through diaries, letters, archives, and visits to the Theopolis and Bethelsdorp mission stations in South Africa, Sarah’s story gradually takes shape, and issues like colonialism, evangelism, and apartheid come into focus through the lens of hindsight. What unfolds is a love story of sorts, as Judith is drawn to her protagonist by a deepening emotional bond.
Judith is a writer and broadcaster living in Baltimore. She programs and hosts a live, five-hour air shift Monday through Friday for Maryland’s classical music station, WBJC 91.5 FM. She also produces a monthly segment called Booknotes, and she conducts interviews with artists who have ranged from Placido Domingo to Joshua Bell. Judith’s work has been published by Baltimore Style; literary journals such as Welter and Passager; and online publications including Atticus Review and Baltimore Fishbowl.
Neile Parisi, Today My Name Is Neile
Neile Murray has it all, a promising career in teaching, a loving, supportive, hard-working, handsome husband, and two wonderful, healthy sons. Her family unit is perfectly intact until someone lies. She is betrayed and feels hopeless knowing that her world is falling apart around her and that she has no control over any of it. Her own husband starts to doubt the truth, and colleagues whisper about her. She loses her job, her entire career, her reputation, her husband, her family, all because of a lie.
Neile Parisi taught for 18 glorious years in public schools. She experienced both joy and tragedy in her classroom, but continually loved her students. Today My Name Is Neile is a novel based upon an incident in her life as an eighth grade teacher, where she lost her job and her career. Following this, she became a Registered Sanitarian. Currently she is a Realtor, who by the way won Second Place in The Woman’s Arm Wrestling competition in Las Vegas, and promises she won’t let anyone “twist your arm.” She is also a stand-up comic on the weekends, drawing from her varied background of jobs.
Sharyn Skeeter, Dancing with Langston
Carrie’s father, Doyle, who died two weeks ago, instructed Carrie to care for her elderly Cousin Ella, a dancer in the Josephine Baker era in Paris. Doyle, Ella, and Carrie are related to Langston Hughes.
Carrie must move Ella from her condemned Harlem apartment into an assisted living facility. Carrie must sign documents to sell her own condo so she can move with her husband Bill to Seattle the next night. Ella and her partner, Jack, want to stay in their 1940s Parisian-style apartment. Carrie is caught between the stubborn, eccentric elderly couple and her practical, materialistic husband. Will she move with Bill as her father wished? Will she, as late as 50, find a new way to fulfil her talents as did Ella and Langston?
Sharyn Skeeter is a writer, poet, editor, and educator. She worked at Mademoiselle and Essence magazines and was editor in chief at Black Elegance. She also judged Miss Teen USA and Miss USA. As an assistant professor at Emerson College and the University of Bridgeport, she taught journalism, literature, and writing. Her poetry and fiction has been in journals (Fiction, Connecticut Review, Re-Markings, The Café Review, Callaloo, American Poetry Review, and others) and anthologies, which include In Search of Color Everywhere and Our Black Sons Matter. Dancing with Langston is a novel with some reference to her father’s maternal Langston family member Langston Hughes.
Amy S. White, Hard Lessons from the Big Easy
Hard Lessons from the Big Easy is the tale of how Amy S. White arrived in New Orleans a naïve graduate student and spent five years receiving a real-life education there. The lessons she learned didn’t come from my professors or from any of the ancient Roman authors whose works she studied so diligently. Rather, they came from a complicated man in a seductive city who ignited in her a passion for food and cooking, and changed her life forever, for better and for worse. Peppered with dozens of tempting recipes inspired by the city’s cuisine, this forthright story proves that falling in love and learning to cook have many things in common. And oftentimes, the end result is neither what we expected nor what we wanted.
Amy started a food blog in 2008 called A Couple in the Kitchen where she documented the culinary adventures she shared with her husband, Chris. Several of her original recipes have won national contests. She has attended cooking classes at home and abroad, studied food writing with chef/author Priscilla Martel and participated in the 2017 LongHouse Food Scholars program run by Molly O’Neill. Amy is a regular contributing writer for Go Local Magazine and Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine, and won a Connecticut Agricultural Journalism Award in 2016. She lives, teaches, cooks, eats, and writes in eastern Connecticut.