Meet The Pitch Week XVII Finalists

Meet The Pitch Week XVII Finalists

Grace Agnew, Sanctuary

 2050. The carbon footprint was a hob-nailed boot stomp on the planet. The survivors live sadder but smarter in sealed-off cities. World Builder Miranda recreates what they lost, while raising her sixteen-year-old son, Alex. Unknown to Miranda, Alex’s father, Peter, entices Alex to join him on the outside. Miranda has no choice but to follow. The outside is everything she feared, including marauders preying on the lost and clueless. She only survives by stumbling into Murray, an outsider mercenary, who becomes her reluctant guide and her lover.

Sanctuary is an adult science fiction novel, of the subgenre “cli-fi” (climate fiction). It incorporates Grace Agnew’s strong understanding of climate change, its near-future effects, and the steps people can take to heal the planet. Unlike many books in the “cli-fi” genre, her plot combines unflinching realism with hope.

Grace is a nationally recognized data specialist and librarian who has advised the National Science Foundation and its grantee universities on large-scale data projects to monitor the Pacific Ocean and other large ecosystems. She is the recipient of over $8 million in grants from the National Science Foundation for data research projects. While this is her first novel, she is the author of three well-received nonfiction books on data management.

Karen Devaney, Between the Vines

Sixteen-year-old Tomasina grew up tending the vines of her Italian immigrant father’s winery. Tiago Costa, also an immigrant, of Brazilian and Mexican decent, runs a struggling new winery with his father. Tomasina’s brother, Gianni, who was in Italy fighting in WWII, finally returns after the family was told he was missing in action. He is broken from the war, and desperate to find the love he left behind, Luciana, a beautiful Italian girl and accomplished pianist. Tomasina’s life is interwoven with Gianni and Luciana’s, as she and Tiago toil to create a life despite setbacks and family tragedy. Tomasina clings to her determination to become the first female vintner, and lets nothing get in her way, not even love.

Adult novel Between the Vines is a story of struggle and shredding the status quo, and the fabric of two cultures.

The Great Forgotten, a play and pilot Karen Devaney wrote with her daughter, is now being considered for a Netflix series. Karen’s first children’s book, Frederick the Forgetful Rattler, was commissioned as a play for Frank Sanchez musicals.

Karen is also a yoga instructor and dancer, who loves teaching classes and giving retreats that combine movement and creative writing.

Desirata Gamble, In the Hollow of My Bones

Find yourself a quiet morning spot on your back porch swing with your steaming coffee or your perfect evening spot on that soft rug in front of a crackling fire, a glass of wine or mug of cider in hand. Now, slip between the delicious covers of Desirata Gamble’s book of poetry, In the Hollow of My Bones. She invites the reader to explore sadness and joy, love and laughter, heartbreak and resiliency, the profound and the mundane, with her words but through the reader’s experiential life lens.

Desirata combines her paintings with her poetry, which often sets the mood for contrast or support of the emotional component of a given poem.

She has had numerous one-woman exhibitions and book readings and at present, has one book in print, My Thoughts Walk. Desirata has lived along the Coastal Plains of North Carolina and loves to travel the world but calls the Appalachian Mountains her home.  Currently, she dances joyfully through her life as volunteer, devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, friend, beekeeper, lover of nature and mom to nine rescue dogs and a talking parrot.

Amanda Headlee, Till We Become Monsters

From a very young age, Korin Perrin is convinced his brother, Davis, is a true monster. Davis does everything he can to get what he wants, when he wants it, all the while leaving a wake of destruction … or bodies.

This work of horror is Amanda Headlee’s first novel and is the beginning of a two-part series. Till We Become Monsters will cause readers to have nightmares with the fear that monsters may truly exist in the heart of every one of us, and readers will wake hungry for more of Amanda’s terrifying tales.

Born with a love of scary stories and folklore, Amanda Headlee has spent her entire life crafting works of dark fiction. She has a fascination with the emotion of fear and believes it is the first emotion humans feel at the moment they are born. Most of her work focuses on horror associated with folklore as well as writing that would fall into the category of “cosmic horror” — the fear of humanity’s insignificance in the vastness of the universe.

By day Amanda is an Information Services Program Manager; by night she is a wandering wonderer. When she isn’t writing or working, she can be found logging insane miles on her bike or running the back country of Pennsylvania. She’s one of those crazy people who competes in long distance endurance races. She is inspired by the works of Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, Margaret Atwood, H.P. Lovecraft, and Joyce Carol Oates — all who write terrifying tales of their own.

You can follow Amanda on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and at her website:

Elisabeth Lava, Stillness and Wilderness: A Wild Ride to Bliss, Transformation and Love

In this memoir, repeated lost love, ensuing grief, isolation in a remote mountain town, and trauma plunged Elisabeth Lava’s soul into the dark depths of depression. As she dove deeper within herself and practiced being fully present to stop suffering, she unleashed an intense awakening, bright light, and resulting power from within, a power that resides in every human. In the end, she ultimately found love in the most unexpected way.

Elisabeth is a travelling mystic, a mobile transformational and holistic health, life, and spiritual emergence coach®, a yoga instructor, a worksite wellness consultant, and an advocate, champion, and spokesperson for reducing stigma surrounding mental health challenges. She is a former dancer, veterinarian, deadly disease investigator, and competitive triathlete who still loves cycling, yoga, van life, wilderness, and horses, and she intertwines these passions into her services.

Elisabeth plans to live in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado for a portion of each year to create a spiritual site for group meditation that honors all spiritual paths and a healing program and space for women who have been assaulted, abused, or have been in the sex trade industry. Proceeds from this book will help create this healing space and program.  For more information, visit

Rhonda Voigts, Mother Can You Hear Me Now

Rhonda Voigts’s memoir is about her relationship with her narcissistic mother and her loving brother. It is more than that, though: it is about being pregnant at sixteen, an unwed mother, an abused wife, and abandoned by her church, and it is a wonderful love story. It’s the humor of raising four children under six and how they grew to be well-adjusted adults. It’s being the “talk of the town” and the main source of gossip for years — to becoming accepted as partners and parents. Rhonda shows resilience in overcoming horrific sexual and mental abuse that led her to a psych ward and to a new and better self.

Rhonda wrote this book to expunge her soul of these memories and to possibly assist others to overcome adversity and become survivors and not victims.

She persevered to work her way up to the highest levels at the University of Saint Francis to developing the RN to BSN Fast Track program. Director of Nursing at a maximum security prison, Rhonda used her caring and skills while dealing with the world’s most dangerous inmates. She has also coached young girls to softball victories.

This debut book will make you cry, then cheer on Rhonda as she pushes through to find true love and a life filled with contentment.