Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Meet Our Contributors

Maggie Anderson lives in the enchanting city of Chicago with her boyfriend and their Goldendoodle puppy. She received her Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University. Maggie works as an environmental consultant, but her passion is reading and writing fantasy.

Katie Bangert was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength. She lives in Texas with her husband, three children and many family pets. Katie’s passion is raising awareness for those suffering from facial paralysis. She is currently at work on her second novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Thanks to her mom’s notes, Gretchen Bassier finally became a published author in 2011. Gretchen holds a B.A. degree in Psychology and works as a home healthcare aide. She loves animals, reading, writing and superheroes. Visit her blog for writing resources, reviews and more at

Garrett Bauman’s essays and stories have been published in Yankee, Sierra, The New York Times and a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He is a Professor Emeritus from Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY.

Bobby Bermúdas is a native of California currently studying in Minnesota. He plans to pursue a career in computational linguistics while hopefully writing horror fiction, about science, and about himself on the side. All with an understated, comedic bent, to be sure. E-mail him at Bobby. [email protected].

June Harman Betts is the author of the trilogy Father Was A Caveman, We Were Vagabonds, and Along Came a Soldier. June’s stories have previously appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love. Learn more at

Terrie Lynn Birney lives in North Carolina with her husband Chris. Born with cerebral palsy, she has faced many trials and always finds a way to overcome any challenge. Terrie has the support of a wonderful family and friends. She has always loved to write and is thrilled that her dream of being published has come true.

Susan Blakeney is a writer of fiction for children and young adults with several novels in various stages of development. “On Solid Ground” is Susan’s fourth short story published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology. E-mail her at [email protected].

Suzanne M. Brazil has been writing most of her life and has just completed the first draft of her first novel. She is married to her high school sweetheart and credits him, along with their daughter and son, for supporting her writing dreams. One of her core beliefs is “give a girl a good mom and she can do anything.”

Mary Wood Bridgman’s work has appeared previously in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives as well as in many other publications. Mary has written two middle-grade books, for which she is seeking a literary agent. She is currently writing an adult mystery novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ayanna Bryce is currently studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree in both Psychology and Creative Writing. She loves reading, music, and drawing. She plans to go into social work in the future. E-mail her at [email protected].

John P. Buentello is the author of numerous stories, essays, poems and articles. He is the co-author of the novel Binary Tales and several short story collections. E-mail him at [email protected].

This is Eva Carter’s third story for the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology. She has always had a desire to write but never had time until now. She and her husband live in Dallas, TX. E-mail her at [email protected].

Pam Carter earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bellarmine College in Louisville, KY. She is married to Rick Jeffries and has two grown daughters and two grandchildren. A retired IT professional, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and traveling with her husband. She is currently writing her memoir.

Jennifer Lynn Clay is twenty-five years old, and has been published close to one hundred times in national and international magazines and in several worldwide-distributed books, including House Blessings, Forever in Love, and Gratitude Prayers. Her work has appeared in seven other Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Carol Commons-Brosowske is a native Texan. She’s been married to her husband Jim for forty years. Together they have three children and a granddaughter. She writes a weekly column for Frank Talk magazine, and has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Not Your Mother’s anthologies.

Harriet Cooper writes essays, humor, creative nonfiction and health articles for newspapers, newsletters, anthologies and magazines. She’s a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She writes about family, relationships, health, food, cats, writing and daily life. E-mail her at [email protected].

Maril Crabtree grew up in Memphis and New Orleans, but has made Kansas City her home for many years. A former French teacher and lawyer, she turned to writing as her main midlife-crisis relief. Her poetry, creative nonfiction, and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Contact her at

Kyle Therese Cranston is a Boston-based writer who lives for the written word. Besides trying to get her first novel published, Kyle likes to spend her time dork dancing, drinking wine, and serving as co-editor of the hilarious essay series, Mug of Woe. Check it out at

Lorri Danzig holds a master’s degree in Jewish Studies focused on aging. Her “Let It Shine” programs for elders ( approach aging as a journey of deepening wisdom and expanded possibilities. Lorri’s works of nonfiction and poetry are published in journals and anthologies. E-mail her at [email protected].

Amy McCoy Dees enjoys reading and reading and writing! She is the proud mother of four. She is a civil servant and advocates for public education. She loves life and Jesus! She is currently putting the final edits on her first young adult novel, Freedom’s Secret.

Denise Drespling is pursuing an MFA in creative writing from Carlow University. She discusses books and writing in her blog The Land of What Ifs ( and lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, cats, and vast book collection. She’s been called “more entertaining than cable” and “uniquely unique.”

Rita Durrett is a teacher in northern Oklahoma. She is a mother of two sons and grandmother to four young boys. She belongs to a cat named Mousey and has two big attack dogs that might lick an intruder to death but, she admits, wouldn’t bite unless someone came between them and their food.

Diana Creel Elarde, BA, MA, teaches psychology for Maricopa Community College. Her husband Vincent encourages her quest to become a successful writer. Amanda and Zdravko, her children, are her great sources of inspiration. She is a featured writer for Thrive Detroit. E-mail her at [email protected].

Logan Eliasen graduated from Wheaton College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical and theological studies in 2014. His favorite books are The Great Gatsby and The Fault in Our Stars. Logan enjoys a good cup of coffee, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with his family and friends.

Linda Fisher lives in Missouri, where she writes short stories and blogs about early-onset Alzheimer’s. She became an Alzheimer’s volunteer and advocate when her late husband developed dementia at age forty-nine. During her spare time, she can usually be found at her grandchildren’s sporting events.

Judith Fitzsimmons is the author of Not at Your Child’s Expense, due to hit the bookstores in 2015. A previous contributor to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Judith is a certified aromatherapist, technical writer, and yoga instructor. She lives in Franklin, TN.

Heidi Gaul lives in Oregon with her husband and four-legged family. She loves travel, be it around the block or the globe. In addition to contributing to Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, she is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and Oregon Christian Writers. She is currently completing her third novel.

Marge Gower has two daughters and four grandchildren. Marge enjoys her cockatiel, parakeet, and French Bulldog Bugg. Marge’s publishing credits include Devozine, The Third Kingdom, Love is a Verb, Fellowship of Christian Writers’ Express Gratitude 2014 Chapbook, and other Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Elizabeth Greenhill enjoys writing essays and articles about her many interests, including travel, pets, business, backpacking and wine. She has two adult children, Jordan and Regan. She owns and operates a consulting firm with her husband Lyn. E-mail her at [email protected].

R’becca Groff attended business school and worked in many interesting office settings before leaving that work arena to join the writing arena. She freelances from her home office in eastern Iowa. R’becca is an avid cook and baker, loves the outdoors and spending time on the biking trails.

Annette Gulati is a freelance writer living with her family in Seattle, WA. She has published more than seventy-five stories, articles, essays, poems, and activities in numerous magazines and newspapers. Visit her at

Alison Gunn is a writer living in Victoria, BC, Canada. Her work has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game. Contact her through her blog at

Kathy Lynn Harris is the author of two published novels, the Amazon #1 bestseller Blue Straggler and the national award-winning A Good Kind of Knowing. Kathy has also published children’s books, essays, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, and poems. Read her blog at

Carol Hatcher is a Christian author and speaker. She has been published in a variety of books and magazines. Carol is on The Presidential Prayer Team writing staff and writes a column for Just 18 Summers parenting blog. This Southern belle works to serve the least of these in Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Jill Haymaker is a family law attorney in Fort Collins, CO. This is her fourth story for Chicken Soup for the Soul. She also writes contemporary romances. Jill has three grown children and three granddaughters. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected], through her blog at or on Twitter @JillLHaymaker.

Christy Heitger-Ewing is a freelance writer living in Avon, IN with her husband and two sons. She is a columnist for Cabin Life magazine and also writes regularly for Christian magazines. Her first book, Cabin Glory (, was published in 2014. Visit her website at

Carol Henderson received her master’s degree in early childhood education in 2008. She is a fifth grade teacher, mother of three, and Gigi to nine wonderful grandchildren. She is currently working on several writing projects.

Darlene Herring received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and master’s degree in English from University of Texas. She has two daughters and loves sharing her passion for reading and writing with her grandchildren. She is a retired high school English teacher and enjoys traveling with her husband.

Georgia A. Hubley retired after twenty years in financial management to write full-time. Vignettes of her life appear in various anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Once the nest was empty, Georgia and her husband of thirty-six years left Silicon Valley in the rear view and now hang their hats in Henderson, NV. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dale Jackson is a professional air ambulance pilot and writer. He received his MBA from Heriot-Watt University in 2007. He currently resides in Las Vegas, NV, and can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Stephanie Jackson, who prefers to go by Steph, is the youngest in a set of quadruplets. She is a self-described introverted-extrovert, or an extroverted-introvert depending on the day. In her free time she likes to write, read, roller skate, juggle, eat cinnamon candies, and craft.

Jeanie Jacobson is on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers in Omaha, NE. She’s published in five Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, and is writing a Christian-slanted young adult fantasy series. Jeanie loves visiting family and friends, reading, hiking, praise dancing, and gardening. E-mail her through

Bill Jager lives in Bakersfield, CA with his wife Carrie. Bill is an elementary school principal. He loves surfing, golfing, fishing and writing. His favorite times are those spent with his family, his wife, three daughters and their husbands, and his ten grandchildren. And of course, he loves to read.

Judith Lavori Keiser, founder of The Culture Company, teaches “peace thru play.” Her Culture Camp programs guide children toward empathy using world cultures. Her Pearls programs for adults offer inspiration for life’s transitions. Judy lives in South Florida. E-mail her at [email protected].

Nancy Julien Kopp is a Kansan originally from Chicago. She writes creative nonfiction, memoirs, inspirational nonfiction, poetry, articles on the writing craft and award-winning children’s fiction. She’s published in fifteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, other anthologies, newspapers, e-zines and Internet radio. Read more at

M.G. Lane is a Michigan-based writer and teacher who enjoys interesting conversations with witty people, traveling, documentaries and spending time with family and friends. She holds a B.A. degree in English, M.Ed. degree in teaching and is pursuing a doctorate in Reading, Language, and Literature. E-mail her at [email protected].

A court reporter by day, Jody Lebel mainly writes romantic suspense novels. Her book Playing Dead was released by The Wild Rose Press in 2012 to excellent reviews. Jody was raised in charming New England and now lives with her two cats in southern Florida.

Mark Leiren-Young is an award-winning Canadian author, journalist, playwright and filmmaker. He has published two comic memoirs: Free Magic Secrets Revealed and Never Shoot a Stampede Queen (winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour). His comedy act, Local Anxiety, has been featured on CBC (TV and radio), PBS and NPR.

Lynne Leite is a storyteller at heart and believes in the power of story to entertain, heal and give hope. She loves faith, family, friends and fulfilling God’s purpose in her life—and sharing stories whenever possible! Learn more about Lynne at

Aileen Liang is a grade 11 student who is primarily interested in science and literature. She enjoys baking, writing, snowboarding, and playing with her little sister in her spare time. In the future, she would like to become an optometrist and travel the world with her family.

Rachel Loewen is a survivor of an eating disorder, and she is a fierce advocate for mental health awareness. She is finishing up her high school education and plans on attending university in order to pursue her passions in psychology, medieval history, and film studies. E-mail her at [email protected].

Linda Lohman writes nonfiction short stories about her faith, family, Yorkie, and 9/11 experience in New York City. She has stories in fifteen anthologies. A California State University graduate, she belongs to the California Writers Club in Sacramento. Expecting miracles, she would love to hear from you. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lorraine Mace is a children’s author and columnist. Writing as Frances di Plino, she is the author of the crime/thriller series featuring D.I. Paolo Storey: Bad Moon Rising, Someday Never Comes, Call It Pretending and Looking for a Reason.

A graduate of Queen’s University, Gail MacMillan is an award-winning author with thirty-four published books, and short stories and articles published across North America and Western Europe. Gail lives in New Brunswick, Canada with her husband and Little River Duck Dog named Fancy.

Mary Beth Magee’s faith leads her to explore God’s world and write about it. She writes news, reviews and feature articles for print and online publications, short fiction, poetry, and devotions, as well as recollections in several anthologies. A novel, Death in the Daylilies, joined her anthology work in 2014.

Dayna Mazzuca has a B.A. degree in Political Philosophy and diploma in Journalism Arts, plus courses in theology. She is currently freelancing, storytelling and leading seminars. She is working on a second book of poems, a workbook for those who feel called to write, and enjoying an outdoor life on the West Coast with her family.

Sarah McCrobie has contributed to multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. A native of Oswego, NY, Sarah enjoys photography, writing and making memories with her family in the small port city she calls home. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Oswego and does public relations work in an academic setting.

Kathy McGovern is a well-known author and speaker in the Denver area. She is a frequent contributor to national publications on scripture and spirituality. Kathy writes a weekly scripture column that appears in parish bulletins around the country. Learn how to subscribe by visiting her website at

Larry Miller is General Assignment Reporter and Sunday Late Edition Editor for The Philadelphia Tribune.

Marya Morin is a freelance writer. Her stories and poems have appeared in publications such as Woman’s World and Hallmark. Marya also penned a weekly humorous column for an online newsletter, and writes custom poetry on request. She lives in the country with her husband. E-mail her at [email protected].

When Gail Molsbee Morris isn’t chasing after God’s heart, she chases rare birds across America. She can be reached through her nature blog,, or Twitter @godgirlgail.

Irena Nieslony is English, but now lives on the island of Crete in Greece with her husband and her many dogs and cats. She has an honor’s degree in Drama and English from the University of London and was previously an actress and puppeteer. Now she loves to write and has had five novels published, all murder mysteries.

Alana Patrick is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota working toward her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. She wrote “Safety Arms” in high school as a tribute to her mother, Jana. Alana continues to enjoy writing and was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hooked on Hockey. E-mail her at [email protected].

Connie Pombo is a freelance writer, author and speaker. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications and compilations, including Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Connie enjoys traveling, running and swimming. She is working on her first novel, based in Sicily. Learn more at

Chris Rainer is a graphic designer with a post-graduate degree in psychology. She has taught calligraphy, bookbinding, paper-making and stress management. She lives in a small South African village with her husband, a Border Collie that herds birds and four calico cats who try to catch them.

Marisa Bardach Ramel is author of the forthcoming memoir, Sally’s Circle, which was heralded as “beautiful” by Wild author Cheryl Strayed after an excerpt was published on Marisa’s work has also been featured on,,,, and more. She lives with her husband in Brooklyn, NY.

Susan R. Ray’s weekly newspaper column is entitled “Where We Are” and is available at A retired teacher, she volunteers in a school and writes columns, memoirs, and stories. She keeps a bag packed for the next trip. Susan loves to play, read and write with her seven grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Joe Ricker teaches writing at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, where he lives with his dog Kamani.

Tyann Sheldon Rouw lives in Iowa with her husband and three sons. She writes poignant and funny stories about her family’s adventures with autism. Visit her blog, Turn Up the V, at or follow her on Twitter @TyannRouw.

Maria C. Sandoval received her Master of Education degree from the Azusa Pacific University in California in 2006, and taught K-12 in California and Houston. She is happily married and has four daughters and one son. Maria enjoys traveling, cooking, walking and writing. She plans to publish children’s books and memoirs.

Donna Savage is a pastor’s wife who loves encouraging women. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s trying to simplify her life, see more joy, and conquer her addiction to chocolate. Her phone contains over 100 photos of her grandchildren. E-mail Donna at [email protected] or learn more at

Rick Schafer is a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer whose wife, Sara, has had three stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. They have two children, one grandson, one dog and three grand-dogs. Rick enjoys volunteer work, creating gourd birdhouses and spending time with their toddler great-nephew.

Eva Schlesinger is the author of Remembering the Walker and Wheelchair (2008) as well as two other poetry collections. She has also contributed to Changing Harm to Harmony: Bullies & Bystanders Project, ed. by Joseph Zaccardi (2014), and has completed a young adult novel.

Edie Schmidt received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of the Cumberlands in beautiful Williamsburg, KY. After thirteen years as an editor and radio host, she left broadcasting to be a stay-at-home wife, mother and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time with her family in Central Florida.

Thomas Schonhardt is soon to be married to his wonderful fiancée and currently lives in Columbia, MO. He works for an ad agency and volunteers for the fire department. You can find his work in additional Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. E-mail him at [email protected].

CF Sherrow practiced as a physician assistant for twenty-three years and is now a counselor. She writes novels of supernatural suspense as well as a counseling blog on her website, She lives in Colorado, where she enjoys gardening, music, and hiking.

With both her sons grown, Michelle Shocklee and her husband of twenty-eight-plus years work as estate caretakers, living on a gorgeous 400-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country. With sheep, llamas and chickens, plus wildlife galore, there are always plenty of crazy adventures to write about on her blog,

Alisa Smith grew up in Nigeria, West Africa as the child of missionary doctors. She is a graduate of Duke University who became a freelance writer after a career as an intensive care nurse. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her husband, animals, children and grandchildren nearby.

Diane Stark is a wife, mother of five, and freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She loves to write about the important things in life: her family and her faith. E-mail Diane at [email protected].

Tyler Stocks is a writer and junior majoring in public relations at East Carolina University. His writing has been published nationwide. He enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with his girlfriend and their blind kitten, Fitzgerald. To learn more, visit

After twenty-six years, Mike Strand retired from Andersen Windows and went back to school. He earned his B.A. degree in English Literature in 2014. He has been a columnist for the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance’s quarterly newsletter Mind Matters since 1999. He and his wife enjoy travelling and rehabbing vintage furniture.

Johnny Tan is a talk show host, inspirational speaker, consultant, author and founder of From My Mama’s Kitchen. His Internet FMMK Talk Radio show has amassed over one million listeners. Johnny’s bestselling and award-winning book, From My Mama’s Kitchen, honors his nine moms. He welcomes your comments at

Jennifer Clark Vihel won the Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul nationwide short story contest in 2001. Several other of her inspirational stories have been published by Guideposts magazine. From her cabin in the redwoods of Northern California, she also writes novels about second chances. E-mail her at [email protected].

Clarissa Villaverde is a blogger, foodie, traveler, and an artist. She aspires to be all of the things she ever dreamed of becoming when she was little, including to be a published author and a pianist, and she is working on those aspirations every day. She wants to see and experience everything the world has to offer.

Donna Duly Volkenannt fell in love with books when her mother read to her The Little Engine That Could. Donna lives in Missouri with her husband, grandchildren, and black Lab. In 2012, her humorous essay won first place in the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Global Humor Writing Competition.

Pat Wahler is a grant writer by day and award-winning writer of essays and short stories by night. She is proud to be a contributor to seven previous Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. A lifelong animal lover, Pat ponders critters, writing, and life’s little mysteries at

Joseph B. Walker began his professional writing career in 1980 as a newspaper reporter. Since 1990, he has written a weekly newspaper column that appears mostly in small, community newspapers. He has published three books, including Christmas on Mill Street. He and his wife, Anita, have five children and eleven grandchildren.

Zachary Waterman is twenty-one years old and currently enrolled at Auburn University. He is also a combat medic in the Alabama National Guard.

Michelle Watkins, a Midwest native, began her professional career as an architectural designer. Feeling a need to work more closely with people, she left the field to become a part-time paraprofessional. She resides in Omaha, NE with her husband, Gary, and pursues interests in writing, gardening, art, volunteer work and reading.

Brenda Watterson left a career to be a stay-at-home mom. Her work has appeared in several publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood, Pooled Ink, Women on Writing,, and Scribes Valley Publishing. She lives in Algonquin, IL with her husband and four children. Contact her at [email protected].

Dorann Weber is a freelance photographer for a local newspaper as well as for Getty Images. Her photos and verses have been published on Hallmark greeting cards. Dorann lives in New Jersey with her family and various critters, including dogs, cats and chickens!

Susan DeWitt Wilder is the planner for the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. She and her husband Paul Austin have spent way too much time restoring their old houses in Maine and North Carolina. Twelve years ago, they founded Whole Home Resource, providing architectural design and interior decoration.

Karen Wilson received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 2014. While she works as a psychiatric nurse, she has had a lifelong love affair with telling stories. She plans to pursue writing more, now that she has completed her education. E-mail her at [email protected].

Raymond M. Wong earned an MFA degree in Creative Writing at Antioch University. His writing has appeared in USA Today, U-T San Diego, San Diego Family, Small Print Magazine, and Segue. His memoir, I’m Not Chinese: The Journey from Resentment to Reverence, was published in 2014. Learn more at

Jenni K. Worley is a proud wife, mother of one, and grandmother. She lives in the Ozarks region of Missouri and spends her time doting on her granddaughter, writing, sewing, gardening, and crafts.

Lori Zenker lives in a very old house in a small farming town in Ontario, Canada. She has great hopes of turning her entire back yard into a vegetable garden (a dream her three teenagers do not share). This is the fifth Chicken Soup for the Soul book she’s been privileged to be a part of. E-mail her at [email protected].

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