Meet The Pitch Week XVIII Finalists

Meet The Pitch Week XVIII Finalists

Alisha Bashaw, Four Eyes

Four Eyes is a memoir about Alisha Bashaw’s parents, Butch and Sherri, tied together through love and loss woven throughout the couple’s vows: in sickness and in health. Six months after Sherri’s heart attack, Butch landed in the hospital with a heart attack of his own, and they found themselves neighbors in the ICU, fighting for their lives.

Alisha recounts her parents’ rocky story of disbelief, recovery, acceptance, amputation, rehabilitation, falling and rising again and again, ending in organ donation. Alisha struggles to find meaning in the seemingly pointless repeated defeats that captured her thirties and rerouted her life straight to the four recipients of her parents’ corneas. This equally touching and heartbreaking, witty memoir portrays the challenges of chronic illness, caretaking, wrestling with the unknown, redemption in strangers, and surrendering to the truth that some good is rooted in the terrible.

Alisha Bashaw is a writer, musical theater enthusiast, and an equine mental health therapist residing in Denver, Colorado. She is learning what life is like as an adult orphan, and continues to see joy in hard times when she truly looks for it. She sees life as a story, and couldn’t get through hers without playing and singing music, hanging with her two beloved cats, Olive and Pax, and reveling in the immense power of kindness.

Vincent Casale, CPOP-1986

The year is 1986 and the New York City Police Department is working diligently to implement the Community Patrol Officers Program (CPOP). Its concept is to advance police community relations by putting the cop back on the beat, door to door, store to store.

The male protagonists in the novel CPOP-1986 are flawed, using unnecessary cynicism and hedonistic nightlife adventures to shield their emotions. The female lead, Ann Caputo, is born wired to believe she can make a difference. Will that stay true when she cannot protect herself from violence and the guilt that engulfs her?

CPOP-1986 is a study in the psychology of maturing policemen, facing danger, enduring conflict, and learning empathy. They own issues of divorce, drinking, and machismo, all while witnessing the worst life offers.

Vincent Casale is a twenty-year veteran of the NYPD, two years in the first experimental CPOP Unit. He has been in contact with many victims of serious crimes and knows their stories well. His first book, The Coparazzi, is a memoir of his time in the NYPD movie squad. He has written many articles for local Long Island newspapers and has authored two other books: The Casualties of Divorce, a raw tale of the pain men experience after leaving the home, and Forty Octobers, a book of verse up until the age of forty.

Tara Fishler, Up-Rooted: A Story of Family, Adoption and Divorce

Up-Rooted: A Story of Family, Adoption and Divorce is the gripping memoir of Tara Fishler’s journey through the long, muddy tunnel of divorce, finally standing strong in the light.

As the author of articles on bullying from the playground to the workplace and the mother of four, Tara is no stranger to multiple sides of conflict.  Her writing draws from her lifetime of journals and her blog while adopting her daughters from Ukraine, She fiercely advocates for her children’s special needs and prepares other people to do so for the children they care for.

Her dual training in law and mediation has led to rave reviews from the thousands of participants in the workshops she’s led over the last twenty-five years. With all the workshops she leads in conflict resolution, communication, mediation, restorative practices, and working with children with special needs, Tara’s expertise was no match for her brutal divorce, which “Up-Rooted” her from her family. It took four years before she was able to regain stability and recapture the love ripped from her by the courts.

Tara wrote Up-Rooted so others who struggle can know that they too can claw their way through their own dark tunnels and emerge into the light, stronger for themselves and for their children.

Chauncey Fitzsimmons, Living While Female

What happened to Chauncey Fitzsimmons all those years ago? Was that an assault? Was that a sexual assault? Was that rape? Was that rape with a weapon?

While giving birth, Chauncey was deeply wounded physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Her memoir, Living While Female, is not so much the ordeal itself as the Rage and Resolution that followed, allowing her to journey from victim to survivor and finally thriver. Perhaps other women who have experienced obstetric violence might find new words to describe what they have experienced. The people who love them might be better able to understand that what they endured was wrong.

Key to Chauncey’s healing has been forgiveness, and acceptance of all aspects of this experience. The surrender of every detail to a loving Higher Power has brought her great peace and clarity.

Chauncey is a retired physiotherapist living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is a mother of two children and grandmother of five. She has traveled to many interesting places in her retirement, including at the age of 61 climbing Kilimanjaro with her daughter, also a physiotherapist. Chauncey told their guide that the last day of climbing before summiting was a lot like childbirth labor. The tenaciousness that got her to the top of the mountain is the same quality that led her from the birth of her baby to the birth of her book — from despair to triumph. The work she did to heal has made her life richer and caused her to look at all stages of her life as female.

Kathi Havener, Fenster and the Amazing Hotdog Tree

Fenster is a little yellow dog with some very big dreams — most of which involve digging holes and eating hotdogs! One day, his boy gives him a big bunch of hotdogs, and Fenster decides to find a safe place to hide some of them to eat later.

As Fenster searches for the perfect hiding place, he dreams of burying his hotdogs and growing a great big hotdog tree, so that he will never run out of hotdogs. But someone has found his hiding spot. Can Fenster save his hotdog tree?

Fenster and the Amazing Hotdog Tree is a story by Kathi Havener for young children about having a dream and working to make it happen.

Kathi knew she wanted to be a writer when she was just nine years old and would make up stories about herself as a pirate, a spy, and sometimes even a rock star. A self-described “word nerd,” she is also a technical writer, editor, communications mentor, and story teller.

For more than 30 years, Kathi has worked with children in various church camp settings—cooking, teaching, telling stories around the campfire, and dodging water balloons.

Always ready for a good story and a great laugh, Kathi makes her home in Michigan with Jay, her husband of 40 years. Together they raised two boys and now have a grandson named Sully. They also have an assortment of rescue dogs and a toothless calico cat named Good Golly Miss Molly. Life is good!

Maria Price, Loving You Still

When Maria Price learned she was carrying her second child, a perfectly healthy baby girl, she felt like she was living a dream life. Then Maria found herself at full-term, staring at an ultrasound screen that was now, heartbreakingly, still.

Love You Still is a memoir that honestly, achingly chronicles the journey of a bereaved mother and her devotion that never dies, even when her child did. Maria navigates a stormy sea of depression, guilt, anger with God, the insensitivity of others, and a nerve-racking, unplanned pregnancy.

Through all this, Maria must find a will and a way to survive. She finds a deeper relationship than she knew to be possible with her husband, whose persistent love provides shelter from the downpour. She is buoyed by the generosity of others, the unconditional love of a gracious Father, and a connection with her daughter that transcends even death.

It is a journey of heartbreak, healing, and, through it all, love.

Maria Price makes her home in Iowa, right on the Mighty Mississippi, where the river runs east to west. While she makes a living as a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, Maria makes a life as a wife, and a mom to three beautiful children: Joey and Benjamin on Earth, and Julia in Heaven. Maria is passionately involved in supporting bereaved parents on social media, in support groups, through awareness campaigns, and in quiet local coffee shops.