Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

Meet Our Contributors

This is Val Fletcher Adolph’s third story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She writes historical fiction based on the lives of women in gold rush times. Her first novel, Bride Ship Three, is about three women arriving on a bride ship. Val worked in a large institution for many years, appreciating vastly different realities.

Joan Bailey is a Wisconsin writer and farmer currently living in Japan where her work focuses on food, farming and farmers markets, with a bit of travel thrown in for good measure. When she’s not getting her hands dirty in the garden, she and her husband Richard are off hiking, biking, or just plotting their next trip.

Rosemary Barkes began her writing career at age sixty-four, after winning the 2000 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. She has been published since in newspapers and magazines, and has written The Dementia Dance to honor her mom. She holds B.S. and B.A. degrees from OSU and an M.S. degree from the University of Dayton.

Mary Kay Bassier lives on a farm in southeastern Michigan. She is a mother of three, proud grandma of four, and a retired teacher. When she is not helping edit her daughter’s stories, Mary Kay is writing her own memoir detailing the misadventures of being the only Christian teacher in an Islamic school.

Andrea Bates is a native New Yorker living in North Carolina and has become accustomed to wearing flip-flops year-round. An LCSW, she spends her free time volunteering to support women in various stages of motherhood. She blogs at Good Girl Gone Redneck, where she shares the ins and outs of parenting, family and relationships.

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 been in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom. Learn more at

Lil Blosfield is Chief Financial Officer for Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health. She loves writing and sharing her stories. Lil also enjoys reading, going for long walks and pretty much anything else that is fun! E-mail her at [email protected].

Trish Bonsall has been married to Al for thirty-three years and still refers to him as her “boyfriend.” She is the proud mother to four sons and three daughters-in-law. Her heart has been hijacked by her three precious grandsons, Luke, Beckett and Nathan, and being their Nanny is the highlight of her life. Life is full and fabulous.

Stephanie Ray Brown is thrilled and tickled each time a story so near and dear to her heart touches another person’s heart. She dedicates her story to Aunt Myrna Stone. She loved children and wanted them to be warm in the winter, just like a good pair of red mittens.

John P. Buentello has published fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essays in many publications. He is the coauthor of the novel Reproduction Rights and the short story collections Binary Tales and The Night Rose of the Mountain. E-mail him at [email protected].

Jaycee Burgess has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities and a master’s degree in Personal Development and Communication. She has two daughters, four stepchildren, and a supportive husband that are a constant inspiration for her hobby of writing humorous anecdotes about the joys and challenges of daily life.

Beverly Burmeier is a former public school teacher, now a freelance writer for numerous national and regional publications. She blogs about travel and also writes about family, health, gardening, and life. She lives in Central Texas and loves sharing stories about her children and grandchildren.

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.

Allison Barrett Carter is a freelance writer who lives on the coast of North Carolina with her husband and two young boys. She is on a journey to keep learning and finding the best life amid the chaos, documenting it all on her website Every year her New Year’s Resolution is to take yoga classes.

Eva Carter is originally from Czechoslovakia. She was raised in New York and resides in Texas with her husband Larry. In her past life she was a dancer in New York and Las Vegas. She enjoys photography, yoga and writing. She is a stay-at-home mom to a kitten named Ollie. E-mail her at [email protected].

Founded in the UK, but representing artists all over the world, CartoonStock is a searchable database of over 500,000 humorous and political cartoons, cartoon pictures and illustrations by more than 1000 of the world’s top cartoonists, all available for instant licensing and download.

Joan Clayton retired in 1992 after thirty-one years as a teacher. She then began her second career as an inspirational author. Joan has been published in over 300 articles and has six books to her credit. She also served as the long-time Religion Columnist for the Portales News-Tribune, Portales, NM.

Rose Couse is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She lives in Cambridge, ON. Rose is passionate about time with family and friends, writing and photography. E-mail her at [email protected].

Judy Davidson received a BSEd degree, summa cum laude, from Temple University. She has been helping people in need since she was a teenager. Judaism teaches that helping others is a commandment. This was the first time she undertook the task of assisting an entire family shelter. She continues to help people in spite of her disabilities.

Lola Di Giulio De Maci is a retired teacher whose stories appear in numerous anthologies, newspapers, and children’s books. She enjoys crossword puzzles, books, her children, and new beginnings. Christmas traditions brought to America from Italy by her parents still grace her holiday table today.

Donald L. Dereadt is a retired Air Force Officer, currently residing in Shelby Township, MI. His works have been published in Reader’s Digest, Michigan History magazine, Reunions Magazine, Good Old Days, Reminisce, and The Storyteller Magazine.

Victoria DeRosa is a writer and editor living in New York City. She received her Master of Arts in Literature from New York University in 2012. She previously has been published in Mental Floss magazine and spends her free time reading and baking.

Denise A. Dewald is an inspirational writer whose work has been read on Family Life Radio and printed in many publications. She has two grown sons and has been married to her husband for thirty-four years. Denise enjoys the outdoors and travel. Her first book, Book of Carmichael, was released in August 2015.

Laurie Carnright Edwards is a writer and a paraeducator, as well as ministry partner with her pastor husband, Dale. She has previously been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and on Leadership Journal’s website. Laurie is a proud mother and mother-in-law, and a graduate of Berkshire Christian College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Cindy L. Ely is a previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. As a retired educator she has opened the door to new adventures in her writing. She is currently working on a children’s book and her twelve grandchildren are her best critics. Cindy spends time traveling to schools as a storyteller and a mystery reader.

Nancie Erhard received her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 2002. After teaching Religious Studies for ten years at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS, she retired to Windsor, ON, where she lives with her husband, writes, and gardens.

Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She was published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, and also has poems in Silver Boomer Books anthologies and Old Broads Waxing Poetic. Joanne is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba. Look for her books on Amazon. E-mail her at [email protected].

John Forrest has placed seventeen stories in ten Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He writes about the exceptional events and wonderful people that have enriched his life. He lives in Orillia, ON with his wife Carol. E-mail him at [email protected].

Shari Cohen Forsythe received a B.A. degree in Teaching from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. She is the mom of two sons, one of whom she wrote about in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum. She is married to the love of her life and enjoys writing, singing and tennis.

Cindy Willimon Fricks received a master’s degree in Reading from Furman University in South Carolina in 1984, and became a NBCT in 2001. She’s taught for thirty-six-plus years. Cindy has always told amusing stories and is now planning to publish them. Cindy’s husband Pug is her inspiration! E-mail her at [email protected].

Beck Gambill lives in the foothills of north Georgia with her husband Chris and children, Max and Maggie. She enjoys the beautiful things of life like hiking, laughing with friends, traveling, exploring art museums, and time with family. Her novel Sisters is available on Amazon.

Donna Goering is a Registered Dental Hygienist. She volunteers in the Awana program at her church. She enjoys spending time with husband Marvin, daughter Rachel and Charlotte the puppy. She enjoys reading, watching sci-fi, drinking hot tea and eating chocolate.

Susan J. Gordon writes essays, articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers. She and her husband have two wonderful sons, two amazing daughters-in-law, and six spectacular grandchildren. Susan’s book, Because of Eva: A Jewish Genealogical Journey, will be published spring 2016. Learn more at

Kristine Groskaufmanis has been scribbling in a journal since she was eleven years old and spent too much time writing poems about squirrels. She lives in Toronto with her two favourite playmates, her husband Andrew and their dog Bella. She writes about battling her hoarder tendencies on her blog, Minimalist Wannabe, which can be found at

Sharon Grumbein graduated from Craven Community College in 1986 with an A.A. degree. She plays flute at Two Rivers Healthcare for the elderly. She lives in Havelock, NC with her four youngest children, and her cat Dusty. Sharon has been writing for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series since 2011.

Hana Haatainen-Caye is a professional voice-over talent, writer and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Hana has been published in previous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, numerous magazines, and over eighty children’s books. She teaches writing and is available for speaking engagements. Learn more at

Janet Hartman sailed away from New Jersey in 2000 to follow the sun along the East Coast for six years. While afloat, she left software consulting to pursue her never-forgotten dream of writing. Since then, her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and e-zines.

Beth Braccio Hering graduated from Northwestern University in 1990 with honors in Sociology. She has been a freelance writer for more than twenty years, specializing in career and workplace issues, education, and trivia. E-mail her at [email protected].

Eileen Melia Hession is a former teacher and publisher’s representative whose writing has appeared in various publications. She has one daughter and enjoys running, yoga and ceramics. She believes there is a need for more levity in life and her writing reflects that belief.

Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. She lives in Portland, OR with her husband and two daughters and enjoys writing about things that inspire her: family life, her community, reading, and family literacy. Learn more at

Author of Do-Overs and Murder Goes to Church, Christine Jarmola started life as a small-town Oklahoma girl, but followed her adventurous side living in Europe and various other states. In her heart she was always an Okie, where she now resides working as a theatrical director at OKWU when not writing her next book.

Vicki L. Julian, a University of Kansas alumna, is the author of four inspirational books, various newspaper and magazine articles, and a contributor to four anthologies. She also writes a faith-based blog as well as a column for the Topeka Humanitarian Examiner on the make-a-difference theme. Visit her at

Published in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books, eight anthologies, Angels on Earth and WordSmith Journal, Alice Klies hopes her essays produce a smile. President of Northern Arizona’s Word Weavers, she can be reached at [email protected].

Award-winning author Sharyn Kopf longs to offer hope to single women over forty through her novel and nonfiction book, both titled Spinstered, and through her speaking ministry. Besides writing and editing, she spent seven years in radio production at Focus on the Family. And she adores living near her nieces and nephews.

Joyce Laird is a freelance writer living in Southern California with her menagerie of animal companions. Her features have been published in many magazines including, Cat Fancy, Grit, Mature Living, I Love Cats and Vibrant Life. She contributes regularly to Woman’s World and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Julie Lavender is married to her high school sweetheart David, and the two are proud parents of Jeremy, Jenifer (married to Adam), Jeb Daniel and Jessica. Julie loves an excuse to celebrate and enjoys writing for Guideposts and her local newspaper.

Arlene Ledbetter earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Dalton State College. She has written adult Sunday school curriculum and been published in numerous magazines. She relishes the time she spends with her children and grandchildren at her home in Chickamauga, GA.

Lisa Leshaw is now dreaming of her midlife career as a writer. Until the dream pans out she is quite content to spend her days watching Mush and Gab on the lacrosse fields of Long Island. When she has free time, Lisa suns herself and plays with her husband Stu.

Crescent LoMonaco used her knowledge from years of working behind the chair and owning a hair salon to write the “Ask a Stylist” column for the Santa Barbara Independent. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She lives on the Southern California coast with her husband and son.

Cynthia A. Lovely is a freelance writer and musician from upstate New York. Published in various periodicals and anthologies, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She has completed a contemporary woman’s novel and a Christmas novella. Visit her at

Maighread MacKay is an author from Toronto, ON. She has published three books for children: Bedtime Treasures, The Mysterious Door and The Crystal Grove under the name Margaret Hefferman. Her novel Stone Cottage is her first foray into adult literature, to be published in 2015 by Solstice Shadows Publishing.

James C. Magruder is an award-winning advertising copywriter and executive speechwriter. He has had articles published in Writer’s Digest, Marriage Partnership, HomeLife, Christian Communicator, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and other publications. He blogs about the writing life at

Carole Marshall was a newspaper columnist and has written numerous features and health articles for American Profile magazine. Two of her stories were selected for the American Profile/HarperCollins book Hometown Heroes. She has written three books, poetry, and blogs at

A day in Katie Martin’s life begins with a vigilant eye, and an open mind to the many stories that lay behind the daily events of people, places and things. A well-published writer, with an appetite for life, Katie brings a warm glow to ordinary things… making them extraordinary!

Terri Martin has a B.A. degree from Norwich University. She has led self-esteem groups for women at recovery clinics and worked as a counselor at summer camps for underprivileged kids for over ten years. She has published three children’s books and many articles on women’s issues. Her new book, The Whirlpool, will be available in spring 2016.

Debra Mayhew is a pastor’s wife, mom to seven (usually) wonderful children, and writer. She loves small town living, long walks, good books and family time. Visit her at

Jeri McBryde loves sharing her life experiences in Chicken Soup for the Soul books in the hope of helping others. Jeri lives in a small southern delta town. She is retired and spends her days reading and working on her dream of publishing a novel. A doting grandmother, her world revolves around her faith, family, friends and chocolate.

Shannon McCarty is a freelance writer and personal trainer from Austin, TX. Her hobbies include soccer, fitness competitions, and one season of women’s professional football. Her teenaged children, Riley, Tess, and Tabitha, are underwhelmed with it all and just want to go to the mall.

Alicia McCauley is a first grade teacher and a teacher consultant for the Writing Project. She’s happily married to her high school sweetheart. Alicia is President of Vigilante Kindness, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing sustainable education opportunities to students in developing countries.

Jen McConnel writes YA and NA fiction, in addition to poetry and nonfiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on her yoga mat or teaching composition. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Visit to learn more.

Erica McGee grew up in Knoxville, TN, and is a University of Tennessee graduate. She is a playwright and currently performs and tours in her production, Girls Raised in the South-GRITS: The Musical throughout the U.S. She now calls Charlotte, NC home, where she is proud to be Tara’s mom and Ryan’s wife!

Carolyn McLean started her life on a farm in Ontario. She married her childhood sweetheart and together they have raised three children. In 2001 a fork in the road took her life’s journey to Canada’s Arctic (Nunavut and the Northwest Territories) for twelve years. She enjoys travelling, gardening and genealogy.

Danielle Soucy Mills is the award-winning author of the children’s book Tina Tumbles and novel Illusion of an Ending. She studied creative writing at Rhode Island College before earning her MFA degree at Chapman University. She enjoys nature, gymnastics, reading, and writing, and resides in San Diego, CA with her husband and daughter.

Vince Monical is an entrepreneur and former Googler who lives in Piedmont, CA. He is the father of three wonderful children: Erica, David, and Max, the inspiration for “The Sinister Snowman” story. Vince’s mission is to enjoy life, spread the word that life is good, and leave the world a little better than he found it.

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.

Ann Morrow is a storyteller, photographer and frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She and her family live in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. You can contact Ann through

S.K. Naus has enjoyed writing since grade school and likes to enter contests on a lark. Words are important and arranging them in the right order can create wonderful stories, which is her favourite part of writing.

Judy O’Kelley’s work appears in magazines, newspapers, greeting cards and musicals from the Midwest to Beijing. A passionate tutor, Judy finds inspiration in her insightful students. She enjoys sunrises, storm chasing, midnight board games and any time she spends with her adult kids. E-mail her at [email protected].

Shirley M. Oakes is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of thirteen, and great-grandmother of two. Her greatest joy is her family. She and her husband live on a mini-farm where she enjoys all that the country life has to offer. Her hobbies include family history, writing, painting, gardening, sewing, and knitting.

Lynn Obermoeller is an author of articles and essays and lives in St. Louis, MO, where you can find her hand-writing letters to family and friends. Lynn blogs at

Laura Padgett is an award-winning author who received her M.A. degree in Storytelling, with honors, from Regis University in 2009. She loves writing, dancing, and traveling with her husband, Keith. Her first book, Dolores, Like the River, about beauty and purpose in aging, was published in 2013 by WestBow Press.

Susan Allen Panzica works with her rock-star chiropractor husband, is a mom of two, a speaker for women’s groups, Bible teacher, writer of the devotional blog Eternity Café, and co-founder of Justice Network, which educates and advocates about human trafficking. Learn more at and

Mark Parisi’s “Off the Mark” comic panel appears in over 100 newspapers worldwide and is distributed by Universal Press Syndicate. Visit to view over 8,000 cartoons. Mark’s cartoon feature has won best newspaper cartoon twice and best greeting card once by the National Cartoonist Society. Lynn, his wife/business partner, and their daughter, Jen, contribute with inspiration, (as do four cats and a dog).

Kathy Passage calls Edmonds, WA home. Life with her handyman hubby, two Elkhound pups and her autistic adult son provides fodder for her pen. After eighteen years as a specialty food broker, she changed course. She swam laps, gained two puppies, lost fifty pounds, and started writing again.

Lisa Pawlak is a San Diego, CA-based freelance writer and regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Additionally, you can find her work in San Diego Family, Hawaii Parent, Coping with Cancer, The Christian Science Monitor, Mothers Always Write, Sweatpants & Coffee, The Imperfect Parent and Working Mother.

Ava Pennington is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher. She authored Daily Reflections on the Names of God, endorsed by Kay Arthur. Ava has written for magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, and contributed to twenty Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Visit her at

Saralee Perel, an award-winning columnist, is honored to be a multiple contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Casie Petersen, a wife for thirty-three years and a mother of four children, is passionate about her faith, family, fitness and food! She is using her personal experiences to inspire others to be healthy and successful in all areas of life. Learn more about her devotion to living a healthy lifestyle at

Susan R. Ray writes a weekly newspaper column entitled “Where We Are” available at A retired teacher, she volunteers in a second grade classroom, and she writes, reads, and takes field trips with her eight grandchildren. Susan likes to travel, bake bread, and quilt. E-mail her at [email protected].

Known as the Wandering Writer, Karen Robbins and her husband have visited all seven continents and circumnavigated the globe. Karen is the author of five novels. The most recent, a historical romance, Ruby, is set in the Cleveland area where she grew up and still resides.

Heather Rodin currently serves as Executive Director of the mission Hope Grows Haiti and from these experiences wrote the book, Prince of Vodou: Breaking the Chains, released in 2014. Heather also has a passion for story and humor and as a freelance writer and author she loves when they come together.

Loretta Schoen grew up in Brazil and Italy, and now resides in Florida with her husband, a cat and two dogs, all of which are of retirement age. She enjoys traveling, and spending time with her grandson. She conducts workshops on how to survive medical adversity, and is writing a devotional of medical parables.

Helen Scieszka is a retired advertising executive, psychologist, college professor, parish pastoral associate, diocesan married and family life director, and a published author. She is an avid reader, loves travel, music, photography, art, sports, collecting books autographed by the author and working on her family genealogy.

Is there anything more wonderful than daughters who can cook? Deborah Shouse is a writer, speaker, caregiver’s advocate, editor and creativity catalyst. Her writing has appeared in a variety of periodicals and books. She is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia. Visit her blog at

David Michael Smith of Georgetown, DE, loves Christmas and writing, so his story’s appearance in this volume is the completion of a “bucket list” item he is most proud of… almost as proud as he is of his wife Geri and children, Rebekah and Matthew. E-mail David at [email protected].

Jackie Smith-Thrasher is a baby boomer who returned to school and completed two master’s degrees. She is a native of Atlanta, GA, mother to three adult daughters and grandmother to six (five boys, one girl). She is an avid reader who enjoys writing, creating inspirational plaques, and traveling. She has three children’s books finished.

Bonaventure Stefun was pastor at a parish in Ohio when the incident reported took place. He has published many articles, especially in theological magazines. He now sends poems to friends as a substitute for the homilies he is no longer physically able to preach. The Christmas story is another way to share beauty and love.

Sandra Diane Stout received her associate’s degree in Business Studies from Indiana University and is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Diane is a retired secretary from Indiana University, an accomplished pianist and loves to sing. She writes children’s non-fiction. E-mail her at [email protected].

Daryl Wendy Strauss is a Certified Angel Card Reader, Reiki practitioner, trained actress, and heart lover. She self-published a photo book of heart rocks and enjoys creating calendars of her other heart find collections. A firm believer in angels and the spirit of the Universe, she seeks to continue following her heart.

Mary Vigliante Szydlowski has published seven novels, one novella, and four children’s books under various pseudonyms. Her articles, essays, short stories, poetry, and children’s stories appear in anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet. She lives in Albany, NY.

B.J. Taylor fondly recalls that special Christmas twig tree. She’s an award-winning author whose work has appeared in Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and numerous magazines and newspapers. You can reach B.J. through her website at, and check out her Charlie Bear dog blog at

Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning freelance writer for various outlets including Faith & Friends magazine, and cbnsports. com. Her favorite activity, along with her husband Peter’s, is being included in whatever their four adult children have going on.

Paula Maugiri Tindall, RN, finds inspiration through personal life experiences and nature overlooking Lake Emerald in South Florida. She was previously published in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jana Tritto lives in rural North Idaho with her husband and family. She is retired from a career in medicine, and now loves all things outdoors, woodworking, and travel. Jenna has always enjoyed writing to record personal experiences and thoughts.

Miriam Van Scott is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer whose works include books, magazine articles and television projects. She’s a graduate of George Mason University and resides in Northern Virginia. Please visit for more information or to see Van Scott’s photos, reviews and excerpts.

Aaron Vlek is a storyteller whose work focuses primarily on the trickster mythos in its role as transformer, bringer of delight and wonder, and proponent of strange and disquieting humors. Her short stories, poetry, and novels center on the jinn, and the Native American trickster Coyote. She lives in Berkeley, CA.

Roz Warren, the author of Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor, writes for The New York Times, The Funny Times, The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and Forward. And she’s been featured on the Today show.

Ernie Witham writes the syndicated humor column “Ernie’s World” for the Montecito Journal in Santa Barbara, CA. He is the author of two humor books and his work has appeared in many anthologies, including twenty Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He is on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

Ferida Wolff is the author of seventeen books for children and three essay books for children. She writes a blog at feridasbackyard.blogspot. com that looks at the nature/human connection. She has a passion for traveling and observing the world’s birds, plants, and animals. E-mail her at [email protected].

More stories from our partners