Meet The Pitch Week XXVI Finalists
Ann M. Casey, The Letter Keeper
For Frances in Ann M. Casey’s adult novel, The Letter Keeper, the integral weave of family lives intertwines within life and death, where the dead whisper their secrets in the quiet. The last letter her mother wrote requested that she be sent home to her father and buried in Cairn Morgan, Scotland. The pushback came from the fisher folk in New Bedford, Massachusetts to stay and carry on running her mother’s pub, The Last Mate, to others pushing her to sell up and leave and take care of a grandfather she never knew of nor met, swirled within her own turmoil and grief, shoving any clarity of thought far behind.
Ann M. Casey wrote the history of her own parish of Saint John’s, plus searched the Catholic history of North America, for volume one of three, Our Tenacity of Faith, soon to be published.
When Ann was five, her mother read her Aesop’s tale, “The Grasshopper and the Ants.” Ann asked how the Grasshopper is the bad guy when he gave the gift of playing his music for free. The query was met with puzzlement, so Ann stayed the path of the Grasshopper seeking the truth and still convinced he is the real hero of the story.
Elizabeth Donley-Leer, The Town that Time Forgot
The Town that Time Forgot by Elizabeth Donley-Leer is an Adult Horror/Gothic Thriller novel. In order to keep the citizens of Oakwood safe in 1944 during WWII and maintain their peaceful lifestyle, the town’s leaders sign an agreement with Mr. Blanchard, a devious outcast who has suspected ties with the devil. The contract’s conditions state that the town must perform an annual human sacrifice. Only town elders and the entrusted secret seven responsible for keeping the contract know of the contract or its details. Every year, they select an out-of-town stranger to sacrifice, killing them in tribute; then covering it up.
In 1984, hearing about this quaint Town that Time Forgot, a journalism student visits to write his thesis about the community. Doing his research, he finds a creepy pattern of unexplainable supposed accidental deaths. This discovery and its timing make him the next sacrificial target.
Elizabeth Donley-Leer’s writing experience includes online articles, blogging, SEO Ad work, Web-Content, catalog descriptions, and travel destination descriptions for an online travel guide site. Additionally, she has written and self-published two children’s books, been a reviewer for the 2012 Denver Film Festival, and is a published poet. She’s a former freelance Children’s Book Primary Editor for an upstart online publishing company.
Adelene Ellenberg, A Watchful Turn of Mind
In Adelene Ellenberg’s suspense novel, A Watchful Turn of Mind, Mickey Quinn, a politically connected bar owner, threatens to call the cops on his bartender for smoking weed in his parking lot after work, unless she has sex with him. The rape gets Darlene pregnant. Will she abort this child?
Quinn persuades Darlene to bear this child with promises of lavish child support. None of his prior wives had borne him any children; this child will be his “legacy.”
Meanwhile, Quinn has shot and killed his third wife, Clarisse, because she dared to testify against him in a corruption trial. He lands in jail.
Darlene gives birth to baby David. Quinn, the town big-shot, gets out of jail. His intentions are to snatch up his son and flee the country. Quinn’s henchman tries to kidnap David, but is thwarted. Will Darlene and David ever be free from Quinn’s obsession with his son?
Adelene Ellenberg is a llama-and-goat-keeper, karate-brown-belter, art-museum-educator, Gamma-Phi-Beta-sister, chorus-singer, and yes … a retired lawyer. A person of faith, she was born in Kentucky, raised in Illinois, and now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and family. Her grown children are pursuing their life dreams and frequently return to the circle of family. Please visit for more, including her legal thriller, Eminent Crimes.
Holly Christiana, 67 Houses
Holly Christiana’s novel, 67 Houses, is about a woman who has indeed lived in 67 Houses (give or take). A single mother who experienced generational poverty and all the obstacles that entails, but has been to Rome and seen the Rockies and raised her Aspergian son. It tells of life as the ninth of eleven children from a variety of fathers, countless attempts at college, and finding fulfillment at work and beyond. The main character’s strong voice will make you think about things you haven’t thought about before, see things as you haven’t seen them, and wake up with renewed vigor to see life get better for those no longer along the margins.
Holly Christiana’s writing documents a lifelong and continuing struggle in the trenches of the underclass, with all the deprivation and disappointment usually associated with such a history. With writing infused with warmth, humor, and pathos, stories ranging from her first communion to meeting her biological father for the first time will evoke both laughter and a lump in the throat.
Holly has been writing since Kindergarten, is a staunch progressive, and lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley, always wondering if the time has come to leave her home for more affordable pastures. Onward and Upward is her favorite email sign-off.
Teresa M. Shafer, One Soldier’s Minute
In Teresa M. Shafer’s novel, One Soldier’s Minute, 15-year-old Steven’s family is killed in a car accident, and he loses his sense of home and safety. In its place, he finds rage and desperation. One night, with his body and mind full of alcohol and drugs, he almost kills a woman. Her compassion and understanding give Steven a second chance at redeeming his own life. At her urging, the court gives him a choice: prison or the Army. Steven chooses the Army.
Twenty-five years later, Steven, now an Army sniper, lays on a berm in Afghanistan waiting for his final target, recounting how he came to be where he is both physically and emotionally.
In Teresa M. Shafer’s teen years, her parents and she joined the Christian–based cult, The Way International. After 16 years, Teresa left The Way and went back to school, received an associate degree in Criminal Justice, and joined the local Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy. She soon moved on, and for many years, she worked with machines; they were less complicated.
After 9-11, Teresa decided to serve her country as a civilian working for the Military. For 20 years now, Teresa has been one of the unofficial counselors and friend to hundreds of men and women who deployed to combat zones, forward operating bases, and basically any scrap of dirt that the Military wanted nailed down.