Meet The Pitch Week XXIV Finalists
Amy Bleu, In My Secret Life
The novel In My Secret Life follows the adventures of Amelia, a freelance art and fashion model who also does adult content. She becomes bored of working for amateur photographers, and so she begins following them in her off time and taking pictures of them. She is searching for meaning in her life and her work, and is also trying to figure out what she wants in a romantic partner, after being single and focused on her modeling for many years.
Rife with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the tag line for this novel is: “Take a hit and follow Amelia on her strange trip.”
Amy Bleu is a writer, musician, social worker, mother, and retired model living in Portland, Ore. Her work has appeared in magazines such as BUST and in anthologies such as Quarter Passed and Flatmancrooked’s Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics. This is her first novel. After spending several years touring as a musician and freelance model, Amy primarily does her work out of Portland now, providing social services to impoverished adults, and booking live shows for herself and other local and regional musicians. She is currently working on a collection of poetry, a children’s book, and a collection of essays about life on the road.
Julie Cadman, Mask Up: Our Pandemic Life
In the adult contemporary novel, Mask Up: Our Pandemic Life, suddenly, overnight, life changes. Jenn’s kids and husband are now home all day, every day. School is online, her husband is working from home and her parents are calling with urgent requests. Everyone wants a piece of her and she feels like there’s nothing left to give.
Jenn is in a no-win situation, caught in the middle between her family her parents and her work. Despite the circumstances, 48-year-old Jenn, her 16-year-old daughter, Kylie, and her 73-year- old mother, Patti, strengthen their relationships amongst the drama of the COVID-19 lock down. Kylie becomes the bridge between her mother and grandmother. Being forced to slow down and stop the insanity of life brings forth some unexpected blessings that exist because of the global crisis. The backdrop of the Pandemic is critical to strengthening and helping the women to go forward and also forces tough conversations and discussion of longstanding issues.
Julie Cadman, former automotive executive turned writer, is also the co-founder of the non-profit, Healing Complex Kids, which focuses on helping families recover their children with special needs and complex medical conditions. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their son and two daughters.
Shawn Samuelson Henry, Maiden Maine
Poverty haunts Edgewater, as most of the town’s economy depended on the mill, in YA contemporary novel Maiden Maine. The tragic drowning of a five-year-old boy with Down Syndrome serves as the catalyst for change. Seeking meaning from the senseless death, the high school juniors put their economics lessons into action. Their goal? Raise enough money to teach Edgewater’s children to swim.
The project grows to encompass the community, from the women’s knitting group to the unemployed mill workers. The rotating voices of the six narrators, whose lives become intertwined, expose the harsh realities of prejudice, addiction, and shame, all hopefully balanced by grace.
Having lived in eleven states and three countries, Shawn Samuelson Henry is keenly aware of the significance of place in literature. Maiden Maine, opens the traditionally sealed doors of a rural community. After teaching English for many years to teenagers in Maine, Wyoming, North Carolina, and New Jersey, Shawn served as a school librarian in Michigan. She is a prizewinning playwright whose plays have been produced in many different venues from Seattle to Nova Scotia. A lover of mountains, books, and sports, Shawn currently resides with her husband and three children in Davidson, North Carolina. When she’s not writing, she is probably running on a trail, chauffeuring children, or doing laundry.
Rebecca Lowry Warchut, Catastrophe Theory
In the novel Catastrophe Theory, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Vera Garcia flies with her mom, Eliza, to St. Petersburg, Florida. Vera lost her vision due to a rare brain tumor, and they hope the surgery will fix her vision.
Across town, the Dalitorium is abuzz with its newest Artificial Intelligence exhibit, complete holograms of Salvador Dali. Lucia Banks, curator extraordinaire, hopes its raving success solidifies her promotion at the museum.
Catastrophe Theory follows three women grappling with loyalties and legacies, with sacrifice and success—and the danger of believing that they can determine their fates and escape their entangled destinies.
During a solo work trip to St. Petersburg, Florida, Rebecca Lowry Warchut was inspired by Salvador Dali’s surrealist art, the majestic banyan tree, and perhaps even a ride on a certain infamous mechanical bull. Later, she and her husband traveled to Barcelona and Figueres to delight in Dali’s stomping grounds. She studied theatre and philosophy at Wake Forest University, where she adapted, directed, and produced Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. When she’s not teaching writing and social studies in central Connecticut, mothering two young daughters, or crafting new stories, she relaxes by soaking in a vintage tub, surrounded by stacks of books. Intrigued by complicated decisions and moral dilemmas, she also loves playing board games with friends.
Alison McBain, The New Empire
In The New Empire, an adult alternative history novel, ships from Imperial China establish trading outposts on the West Coast of North America in the thirteenth century. Like European colonists, West Coast tribes import slaves to form the backbone of their labor force. Unlike Europeans, their slaves come from Chinese dissidents and itinerants arrested and sold to them by Beijing.
Jiangxi is forced into slavery as a boy when his father, the Emperor, is killed in a coup. As a young man, he becomes a figurehead for the slaves’ struggle for freedom and part of an underground movement to help them escape.
Diversity is one of Alison McBain’s passions. With dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship, a Japanese-American mother, and a B.A. in African history and classical literature, she has a bit of an eclectic background. With over a hundred publications to her name, her stories, poems, and books range in tone from serious to silly. Her work covers nearly every genre, including literary, romance, horror, science fiction, fantasy, history, and adventure. Alison’s most recent book is Enchantress of Books, a fantasy short story collection released by Fairfield Scribes in 2019. When life gets a little too hectic, she does origami meditation or draws all over the walls of her Connecticut house with the enthusiastic help of her three kids.