Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Meet Our Contributors

Linda E. Allen is enjoying living happily ever after on the prairie of western Oklahoma. She writes about her family, pets and gardens, and volunteers her teaching experience to various groups. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lauren Ball studied nursing at Chamberlain College in Jacksonville, FL, worked as a Realtor and now has settled in to pair her experience in life with her love of writing. She is married to Tyrone Ball and has four children. She enjoys cooking, riding her horses, camping, fishing, homesteading and, most of all, writing.

Jacqueline (Jaki) Baskow came to Las Vegas in 1976 with $300 and created the largest and most successful talent, meetings and event company in Las Vegas. Discovery Channel named her “Queen of Las Vegas.” She was named one of the top ten star brokers in the world. Jaki would like to thank Karie Millspaugh for co-writing the story with her.

Lola Bendana holds a degree in international relations and specialized in Latin American Studies, Interpreting and Translation. In 1997, she launched Multi-Languages Corporation, a multilingual translation service provider. Lola has served on several non-profit executive boards. She is passionate about psychology, life coaching and health.

Bonnie L. Beuth received her Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in Computer Information Systems. She works in the legal industry as an Information Systems Trainer and Chair of an international nonprofit. Bonnie enjoys time at the beach with her two dogs, reading and writing short stories.

Michele Boom turned in her teacher’s chalkboard to be a stay-at-home mom. While juggling two toddlers and a traveling husband, she began to write. Her work appears in regional magazines in the U.S. and Canada. This is her fourth story to appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Visit her at

Janet Newlan Bower is a retired professor of history teaching for over thirty years. Her publications include contributing a chapter to Women in the Biological Sciences: A Bibliographic Sourcebook, Tigerpaper, National Parks and Conservation, The Explorer, Environment Southwest and Child Life, among others. Read her historical blog at

Sage de Beixedon Breslin, PhD is a Licensed Psychologist and Intuitive Consultant. She is an accomplished author and screenwriter, generating material to inspire and touch those who have struggled with life’s challenges. Her books, stories and chapters are available on her website at E-mail her at [email protected].

Jill Burns lives in the mountains of West Virginia with her wonderful family. She’s a retired piano teacher and performer. She enjoys writing, music, gardening, nature, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Courtney Campbell left the corporate world after twenty-five years to coach others in life and business. Her passion is helping others overcome adversity and achieve success as she has. She lives in Florida and enjoys sailing, traveling and spending quality time with her family.

Kay L. Campbell received her communication degree and paralegal certification from Florida Atlantic University. She currently works in education marketing. An avid reader, she also enjoys writing devotionals for The Upper Room and The Secret Place. Her hobbies include golf, tennis and Argentine tango.

Lorraine Cannistra is an author, speaker, blogger, wheelchair dancer and proud partner to her service dog, Leah. She enjoys using her writing to challenge negative perceptions some may have about those with disabilities. Follow her blog at and contact her at

Kathy Caprino, M.A. is an international career coach, writer, and speaker dedicated to the advancement of women in business. Author of Breakdown, Breakthrough, and Founder of Ellia Communications and The Amazing Career Project, Kathy is a Forbes and The Huffington Post contributor and top media expert on women’s career success.

Katie Cash earned her Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy in 2011. She is a Surface Warfare Officer stationed in San Diego, CA, where she enjoys surfing, hiking, and triathlons. She is an aspiring novelist and loves to travel the world.

Marcia Castro-Rosenberg lives in Las Vegas, NV, with her awesome husband and amazing kids. She is a nurse, teacher, and strategic intervention coach. Her passion is helping people access internal resources and design the life and relationship of their dreams. She loves music, traveling, skydiving, dancing and thriving.

Lucy Lemay Cellucci is a dance educator in Ottawa, ON. She is the mother of two fantastic children and author of the young adult novel True Colours. Lucy is passionate about strong coffee, mellow wine and the elusive journey to becoming a real grown-up. E-mail Lucy at [email protected].

Matt Chandler is the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP. He is the author of eleven books and two previous essays in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He also works as a freelance entertainment writer for The Buffalo News. Learn more at

Jane Choate has been telling stories to friends and family since she was a young girl. Now, a much older girl, she continues telling stories. Being part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family is a dream come true.

Mike Conrad is a serial entrepreneur. He has been married for sixteen years and has two amazing kids. He loves to spend his free time with his family. To learn more about Zaycon Foods visit

Lorri Danzig holds a master’s degree in Jewish Studies. She teaches non-denominational programs for elders that approach aging as a journey of deepening wisdom and expanded possibilities. Her essays and poetry are published in journals and anthologies. Learn more at or e-mail her at [email protected] com.

Barbara Davey is the Director of Community Relations at Crane’s Mill, a retirement community in West Caldwell, NJ. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in education from Seton Hall University, and teaches business writing at Caldwell University. She and her husband live in Verona, NJ.

Shirley Deck is a retired Clinical Microbiologist living in the Pacific Northwest, where the rainy days inspire creativity. Shirley has a passion for reading, writing, drawing and engaging in outdoor activities. Her stories are most often centered around her priceless family, personal recollections and life’s lessons.

Denise A. Dewald has been writing for nearly thirty years. Her work has been widely published and featured on radio. She has two grown sons and enjoys the outdoors, travel, reading and writing to uplift others. E-mail her at [email protected].

Manpreet Dhillon is a freedom catalyst for women. Manpreet is a certified personal and business coach, Heal Your Money Story Certified Coach, and a certified human resources professional with a master’s degree in Organizational Management.

Kristin Doney is a content writer and event consultant based in Southern California. In memory of her sister, Kristin founded Kate’s Karts, a non-profit organization that delivers toys, books and gifts to hospital-bound children battling cancer. Kristin is a graduate of The Ohio State University and a proud Buckeye.

Chelsea DuHaime received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She continues to explore her horizons in Los Angeles, CA, turning her dreams into a reality.

Sharon Earls received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1990. She is the proud grandmother to Andrew, Ella, and Ava. She lives in Tennessee and is a small business owner. Sharon enjoys writing short stories and is currently revising her first romance novel.

Janet Perez Eckles is an international speaker and best-selling author. She dances the salsa of gratitude for the privilege of inspiring you, teaching you to conquer fear and helping you see the best of life. Learn more at

Terri Elders recently moved back to her beloved California. Her stories have appeared in over one hundred anthologies. She blogs at E-mail her at [email protected].

Cindy L. Ely received her Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Cindy is the retired mother of four children and grandmother to twelve. Cindy enjoys time with her family, latch hooking, reading, and water aerobics. She plans to write children’s books and inspirational articles.

Pat Fish is a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She is also a blogger and writes often of local and national politics. Read Pat’s blog at Join her on Facebook at

Heidi FitzGerald is a produced playwright, screenwriter and author. She lives with her eight-year-old twins in the Minneapolis area, where she is a freelance editor by day, creative writer by night. Learn more at

Josephine Fitzpatrick lives in Southern California. She has been published in Creative Nonfiction magazine and the California Prose Directory. She co-facilitates a memoir writing class at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes located on the campus of California State University at Long Beach, CA.

Judith Fitzsimmons has been a freelance writer for twenty-plus years. Her newest book, Not at Your Child’s Expense, published by Morgan James Publishing, is now available. Learn more at A certified aromatherapist, she lives in Franklin, TN, and enjoys teaching yoga.

Writing about exceptional events and wonderful people, John Forrest has had seventeen stories appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He has published the Christmas anthologies Angels, Stars, and Trees and Home for Christmas. He lives in Orillia, ON, with his wife Carol. E-mail him at [email protected].

Cortney Fries is a freelance writer and Chicago mom of two. She believes in facing challenges head-on and focusing on the joys in life — family, love and adventure. Cortney writes about patience, gratitude and family fun. She loves crab legs and a good lip balm.

Sam Georges practiced law for seventeen years in Ohio and subsequently was the CEO/President and General Counsel of the Anthony Robbins Organization in San Diego, CA for twenty-two years. He served in the United States Air Force with the Strategic Air Command in the U.S. and Asia. He is now retired and lives in Las Vegas, NV.

Dianna Graveman is a former teacher, manuscript editor, college instructor, and training designer. She is co-author of four regional histories (and one forthcoming), co-editor of an anthology, and author of numerous articles and stories. Dianna owns 2 Rivers Editorial & Design, LLC.

Karen Gray-Keeler became addicted to the adventure and adrenaline buzz of bike trips. Since biking the Rockies, she has enjoyed exploring the world by bike with her husband and adult children. Her stories have also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters.

Neha Gupta is the founder of Elite Private Tutors, a national company focused on making moms’ lives easier. She is also the author of The 4 Year Plan, a guide to help get your child into college. A graduate of Rice University, Neha loves working with children and helping them find their passion at an early age.

Andrea Hadhazy is a full-time voiceover actress and singer who resides in Las Vegas, NV, with her dog Ruxin and her brother James — a nationally ranked competitive flair bartender. She voices national and local TV and radio commercials, video games, and corporate explainer and narration videos, living each day with gratitude.

Michelle Hauser is a former professional fundraiser turned humorist, newspaper columnist and freelance writer. She and her husband Mark live in Eastern Ontario, Canada with their son Joseph. Her work includes contributions to CBC Radio and numerous Canadian newspapers and magazines.

Mary Ann Hayhurst loves to write and read inspiring stories that lift the spirit. She loves to travel and spend time with her family.

Deirdre Higgins, a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. She’s written for the stage as well as for the screen. She teaches writing at the American Language Center at UCLA. She has two children and is busy finishing up her first novel.

On Mondays, Rebecca Hill can often be found “socializing” (i.e., playing with) the cats at the Lange Foundation, searching thrift stores for a new dress or roaming the candy aisle of CVS looking for a special treat. She probably won’t answer her phone on a Monday, but you can try e-mailing her at [email protected].

Ann Hoffman is a retired university lecturer of English and music. Her hobbies are choral singing, patchwork quilting and writing. She has five children, eleven grandchildren, and lives with her husband in the small coastal town of Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.

Stephanie Jackson received her B.A. degree in Speech Communications and certification as a Health and Wellness Coach. She has a teenage daughter and lives in the Northwest. Stephanie enjoys being outdoors, traveling, music and being with friends and family. Her life’s work is helping other women live a life of joy and meaning.

A graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology, Linda M. Johnson has held executive and leadership positions within hospitals, charities and other NGOs. Linda recently sold her California business, a full-service salon of twenty years, to move to Las Vegas, NV with her kitty, Scarlet.

Ericka Kahler has lived in eight states, each progressively farther north. She graduated from the University of West Florida with a B.A. degree in History in 1999. Ericka is now a web developer in Michigan, sharing her home with a husband and way too many dogs.

Sarah LM Klauda has been a full-time writer for four years and loves writing for young adults. She is an active volunteer with animal rescues in the Baltimore area. In her spare time, Sarah likes to camp, hike, fish, play video games, and read.

Ryan Kluftinger is a fiction and nonfiction writer from Montreal, QC. He studied physics and art history at McGill University, and still pursues these passions alongside his writing. Ryan is married to his high school sweetheart and loves exploring life’s adventures with her.

Krystal Klumpp is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and currently resides in Japan. She began the site to help empower women to go out and explore the world. In her free time she enjoys photography, Netflix binges and trying out new and delicious food. E-mail her at [email protected].

April Knight’s favorite thing to do is riding horses. Nothing comes closer to flying than galloping a horse on a windy day. April just finished writing a romance novel, West of Nowhere.

Ruth Knox has loved writing ever since she could first hold a pencil. She believes in the power of the written word to unite people. Born in Alberta, Ruth now lives in Idaho with her new husband and is working on her first novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Geetanjali Krishna is a journalist, children’s book author and mother of two. She loves to read, travel the world and walk. This year, her resolution to have 365 really “good” mornings has meant that every day she listens to Bach, with a cup of tea in hand, for a slow, happy hour after waking.

Beth Levine is an award-winning writer whose work has been published in O, Woman’s Day and many other national magazines. She was last seen on stage as Villager #6 in Fiddler on the Roof. Critics are still referencing her breakout performance (cough). Learn more at or through twitter at @BethLevine75.

Anna Lucas is a real-deal Wellness Advisor and founder of Crave Yoga & Wellness LLC. She is a prolific writer, national speaker, an avid stunt kite flyer, a free-flowing yoga instructor, a pro-world traveler, and an expansive grinner. She hails from Wisconsin. E-mail her at [email protected].

Rhonda Maller is a professional writer who writes blogs and social media and marketing copy for companies throughout the U.S. She is also a freelance inspirational writer/speaker. Rhonda enjoys reading, writing, crafting, traveling, and spending time with her family, including thirteen grandchildren, and friends.

Alana Marie once tipped the scales at 528 pounds. The addictions to food and alcohol wrapped their arms around her and held her captive for nearly twenty years. In 2012 she had an epiphany and changed her life. She stopped drinking, lost 250 pounds and began writing stories about her life for a book called Pick a Struggle Cupcake.

Denise Marks has a business administration degree and is CEO of a manufacturing company. Her stories appear in multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. In 2014 she published a children’s book, Remember the Rainbow, to address bullying issues. Denise enjoys her three grandkids and writing for her devotional blog.

Judith Marks-White is an award-winning Westport News (CT) columnist of “In Other Words.” She has authored two novels published by Random House/Ballantine Books: Seducing Harry and Bachelor Degree. Her work appears in magazines and anthologies. She teaches humor writing, lectures widely and is working on her third novel.

Alison P. Martinez lives with her husband Richard in sunny Tucson, AZ. She writes for magazines including Woman’s World, Purpose, Live, and Light.

Australian-born Buzz McCarthy, a traveller since the age of twenty-one, has visited eighty-five countries and lived in several. She has a PhD in Psychoneurology and a large toolkit to help people transform their lives. Divorced with one son, she lives in London and enjoys summers in her beautiful villa in the hills of Tuscany, Italy.

Brianna Mears is a high school student from Austin, TX. She feels the most herself on the court with her tennis team and enjoys spending time with friends. Brianna has always enjoyed her academic courses, but has recently discovered her passion for English and writing.

Originally editor of an in-house magazine, Marsha Warren Mittman recently returned to writing. Numerous poems and short stories of hers have been published in anthologies, as well as a chapbook for use in meditation programs. A second chapbook, Patriarchal Chronicles, was just completed. She is the recipient of six writing awards.

Tamara Moran-Smith is a mom who enjoys reading (loads) and writing (of course), spending time with her family, music, dancing, travel, and being tugged around the neighborhood by her dog. She writes inspirational and humorous essays about life.

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].

Karen Coffee Nicholson is a graduate of the University of Washington and Western Washington University. She is a fifth grade teacher in Shoreline, WA. She loves books and sharing them with her students. Karen is the proud mother of an adult son and daughter. She loves to travel!

Emily Oman is currently working towards her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Northeastern University in Boston. In addition to maintaining a 3.8 grade point average, she is also a stay-at-home mom to a twenty-month-old daughter and wife to her husband of seven years. She enjoys reading, drawing, hiking, and spending time outside.

Lisa Pawlak is a freelance writer, avid traveler and mother of two adventurous boys. A regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Carlsbad, Orange Coast Magazine, and San Diego Family magazines, her personal essays can also be found in Coping with Cancer and The Christian Science Monitor.

Timothy Peterson is an award-winning marketing executive who received his B.A. degree from Yale in 1987. He and his partner of twenty-five years live on Long Island, NY, and spend much of their time together enjoying and collecting art.

Connie Pombo is a freelance writer, speaker, author of two books and contributor to numerous anthologies, including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When she’s not writing or speaking, she enjoys traveling and divides her time between South America and California.

Connie Kaseweter Pullen received her Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from the University of Portland in 2006, with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, at the age of sixty-three. She is the mother of five grown children and also a grandmother and a great-grandmother. Connie enjoys photography and writing.

Dr. Mitra Ray was born in Kolkata, India. She received her B.A. degree from Cornell University and her PhD from Stanford Medical School. Today she speaks around the world and has written several books — her latest: Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful? She resides in Washington with her husband and two daughters.

Denise Reich is an Italian-born, New York City–raised world traveler, writer, dancer, photographer, music fan and baseball aficionada. She contributes to the Canadian magazine Shameless and has written for publications in the U.S., Canada, Bermuda and elsewhere. Denise is very happy to be a repeat Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor.

Anjie Reynolds holds degrees in English from Western Washington University and teaches Writing at Rogue Community College. She is the recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts fellowship for Children’s Literature and lives in Ashland, OR, with her husband and their two children. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sallie A. Rodman received her Certification in Professional Writing from California State University, Long Beach, where she currently teaches a class for seniors at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Her work has appeared in many Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. E-mail her at [email protected].

Nicole Ross is a corporate marketer, freelance copywriter, aspiring novelist, recovering blogger, and chronic hobbyist who is equally at home on the back of a horse, inside the boxing ring, pounding away at her keyboard, or perched in downward dog atop her yoga mat. Learn more at

Stephen Rusiniak is a former police detective who specialized and lectured on juvenile/family matters. He now shares his thoughts through his writings and has appeared in various publications, including several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Contact him via Facebook, on Twitter @StephenRusiniak, or e-mail him at [email protected].

Beth Saadati is currently teaching high school writing classes, homeschooling her son and daughter, and drafting two narrative nonfiction books. In memory of her beloved daughter Jenna, she completed her second half marathon — this time without injury — 366 days after her first. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sue Sanders’ essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Real Simple, Parents, Family Circle, Salon, Brain, Child and others. She’s the author of Mom, I’m Not a Kid Anymore.

Jenni Schaefer is a leading motivational writer and speaker, appearing on Dr. Phil and in The New York Times, at conferences and on college campuses nationwide. Her books include Life Without Ed; Goodbye Ed, Hello Me; and Almost Anorexic, written in collaboration with Harvard Medical School. Learn more at

Edie Schmidt is a freelance writer and full-time mom, originally from Southeastern Kentucky. She earned her B.S. degree at University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, KY. She lives with her husband and two children by the sea, where she enjoys baking bread, coloring and going to the park.

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is the fourth woman in the U.S. to achieve the highest wine title in the world, Master of Wine. She is also an author, host and professor for The Great Courses, and partner in Wine Ring, a smart technology firm granted three U.S. patents that provides recommendations based on preference.

Paula Klendworth Skory received her B.S. and M.S. degree, summa cum laude, from the University of North Texas. She is a registered CPA and lives in Washington, IL, where she and her husband raised their three children. She is the youngest of ten children, and a breast cancer survivor. She tries to find the beauty in the little moments of life.

Sandi Staton is retired and enjoys creating digital designs. She makes piano recordings for family, friends, and nursing homes. She is married, has a son — four grandsons, one granddaughter, and one great grandson. She loves her family and the time she spends with them. She plans to write a book of poems and an inspirational devotional.

The more she concentrated on taking those five minutes, the more changes occurred. Remarkably, what was insurmountable was now do-able. JC Sullivan left Corporate America to backpack and is now happily (except for the cold) based in New York City, where she writes, acts and directs. E-mail her at [email protected].

Crystal Thieringer is blissfully retired yet busier than ever. She and her husband are the live-in people for two stubborn and rather opinionated cats. Her blog, Muse & Meander, also showcases her photography. It can be found at She is currently working on a contemporary series for young adults.

Elizabeth Titus has been an English teacher, journalist, advertising executive, and communications director (fifteen years at American Express). She has an M.A. degree in English and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. She is guardian in the U.S. to Sabira, now at Trinity College.

Ann Vitale lives in rural northeast Pennsylvania, has a University of Michigan degree in Microbiology, and worked in hospitals and research before joining her husband in their Ford dealership. She trained dogs and their owners for many years. She took the advice in her story and enrolled in beginning drawing and yoga classes.

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 eight titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A lifelong animal lover, Pat ponders critters, writing, and life’s little mysteries at

Kate Wan is an executive and leadership coach. When she isn’t coaching, she’s a passionate family woman who cares for her three children. She loves time with her husband, skiing, yoga, traveling, dining out and a glass of wine to bring a day to a close. Kate is always looking for a newfangled way to inspire the best in others.

Allyson Hawkins Ward is a motivational speaker, trainer and executive coach. She holds an MBA degree from the University of Michigan, a B.A. degree from Boston College and is an NLP Master Practitioner. She lives with her husband and daughters. Her passion is coaching career woman to balance love, life, career and parenting.

David Warren lives in Kettering, OH with his wife Angela and daughter Marissa. He is Vice President of Lutz Americas. David is the author of the children’s book Mealtime Guests. He writes for Dayton Parent magazine and has now appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series three times.

Benny Wasserman grew up in Detroit, MI. He was a former aerospace engineer and has been an Einstein impersonator since 1992. His book, Presidents Were Teenagers Too was published in 2007. Benny has been a journal writer since 1985, and has completed his autobiography. He is an avid reader and Ping-Pong player.

Sheila Wasserman has a science degree from York University in Toronto and a business degree from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago. When not traveling, she slips courses into her schedule at St. Petersburg College in Florida. Her husband and writing group, Women of the Round Table, encourage her written word.

Angela Wolthuis finds inspiration for her writing in everything around her and loves to share her stories as encouragements for others.

Berni Xiong is the author of The Year of the Brave Bear: Speak Up. Stand Out. Change Your World. She owns Brave Bear Media, a coaching and consulting firm serving entrepreneurs around the globe. She is a certified Weight Management Specialist, Reiki practitioner, speaker, and writing coach for change-making authors.

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