Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less


Meet Our Contributors

Monica A. Andermann lives and writes on Long Island where she shares a home with her husband and their little tabby, Samson. Her work has been included in such publications as Woman’s World, The Secret Place and Guideposts as well as many other Chicken Soup for the Soul titles.

Jema Anderson left Minnesota in 2011 for the open road as a full-time traveler in an RV. Jema shares a humorous and raw perspective of life through writing, photography, and video. Jema weaves stories of travel, adventure, and community through her authentic storytelling of the people she meets to the places she visits.

Mary Anglin-Coulter majored in English and Communication and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bellarmine University. She is a freelance writer living with her wife and their three daughters. They lovingly refer to their home as the Estrogen House.

Elizabeth Atwater lives on a horse ranch in a small town in North Carolina. She enjoys writing, gardening, the out-of-doors, and volunteering with senior services and hospice. Most of all, though, she enjoys the love and devotion of her husband Joe who is her soul mate.

Katie Bangert’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom. She lives in Texas with her husband, three children and many family pets. Katie finds those many hours spent waiting in carpool line provide great literary inspiration. Read more at

Denise Barnes unfortunately sold her estate agency business to two conmen, resulting in her book, Seller Beware. She has since published Annie’s Story and Juliet’s Story in The Voyagers trilogy. She has a B.A. (honors) in the Arts and is crazy about her rescued white cat. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brianna Bell is a writer from Canada. She is married to her college sweetheart Daniel, and has two young children, Penny and Georgia. E-mail Brianna at [email protected].

Bruce Black, the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press), received his MFA degree in writing from Vermont College. When he’s not practicing yoga or writing, he’s taking photographs of the plants and flowers that blossom in his front yard or that he discovers on his morning walks. He lives in Sarasota, FL.

Veronica Bowman is a poet and writer who aspires to inspire others with her writing. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a menagerie of pets.

John P. Buentello is an author who has published essays, fiction, poetry and nonfiction for adults and children. He is the co-author 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].

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.

Christopher E. Cantrell has several diplomas from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology. He teaches Industrial Maintenance in Middle Tennessee and was in the maintenance field for twenty-four years. He and his high school sweetheart started dating at sixteen and have been married since 1991. They have two children, and love to travel.

Brenda Cathcart-Kloke is a retired school district administrative assistant in Thornton, CO. She enjoys spending time with her family, oil painting, reading, and writing short inspirational stories.

Joy Choquette has been writing professionally for the past eight years and loves to find new ways to de-clutter her life to focus on what she loves. In her spare time she makes junk art, upcycles, and enjoys spending time with her family outdoors. E-mail her at [email protected] or read her blog at

Maril Crabtree lives in the Midwest and enjoys writing about her far-flung and amazing family. Her award-winning poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. More of her work may be seen at

Priscilla Dann-Courtney is a writer and clinical psychologist living in Boulder, CO. Her columns have appeared in a number of national magazines and newspapers. Her book, Room to Grow: Stories of Life and Family, is a collection of her essays. Yoga, meditation, running, writing, family, and friends light her world.

D.S.A. enjoys her career as a wordsmith and believes everyone should have a favorite word, one that brings a smile and serenity upon hearing it. Hers is “lovingkindness,” chosen for what it represents. She hopes every life is graced each day by moments of both receiving and bestowing lovingkindness.

Barbara Davey is the Director of Community Relations at Crane’s Mill in West Caldwell, NJ. She received a B.A. and M.A. from Seton Hall University, where she majored in English and journalism, and is an adjunct professor at Caldwell University. She and her husband live in Verona, NJ. E-mail her at [email protected].

Gwen Daye is a wife, homemaker, dog rescuer, parent of two teenagers, and is thrilled to have her second piece accepted into the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Mary Dempsey, a former teacher and bookstore owner, resides in Bluffton, SC. Her writing has appeared in newspapers, magazines and five Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is a freelance writer for a local newspaper and has recently published a book of short stories. Mary enjoys traveling and is an avid cycler.

Katie Drew is a retired lawyer, enjoying her slower-paced life and the chance to do the things she never had time for before. Less really is more — more breathing space for the things that matter. E-mail her at [email protected].

Aimee DuFresne is a writer and coach for women ready to embrace their true power. After publishing her book, Keep Going: From Grief to Growth, Aimee and her husband packed up their Prius in 2014 and have been traveling the country speaking, housesitting and petsitting ever since. They continue to spread joy wherever they go.

Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She and her family recently moved to their dream home in the mountains above Denver, CO. She writes inspirational romance and can be reached via her website at

Sally Friedman is a longtime and proud contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle, and national and regional magazines and newspapers. She writes about real life, with her own family as her favorite material. E-mail her at [email protected].

Robyn Gerland is the author of All These Long Years Later, a book of short stories; a past editor of the internationally distributed glossy, Hysteria; a frequent author in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and a contributor and columnist for several magazines and newspapers, including the Federation of British Columbia Writers’ WordWorks.

Heather Gillis is a military wife, mother and nurse. She is a blogger, speaker, and author of Waiting for Heaven. She is founder of Bowen’s Hope, a ministry that helps “Kidney Disease Kids and Their Families.” To learn more about Heather or to read her blog, visit

Bracha Goetz is a Harvard grad who loves to write about the deepest topics in a simple and delightful way so children can understand them. Her more than thirty spiritual picture books can all be seen at

Kelti Goudie has a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honours, in Spanish and a major in English with a concentration in creative writing. She enjoys listening to music and playing with her cats. She is looking to become a professional freelancer and work with her own writing on the side.

Carol Hartsoe is a retired teaching assistant and former newspaper columnist. She stays busy with writing, visiting schools to share her own children’s stories, and spending time with family.

Jill Haymaker is an attorney and author of Western contemporary romances. She lives in Colorado and has three grown children and three granddaughters. This is her fifth story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Contact her at [email protected] or

Miriam Hill is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and has been published in Writer’s Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Grit, St. Petersburg Times, The Sacramento Bee, and Poynter online. Miriam’s submission received Honorable Mention for Inspirational Writing in a Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Maggie Hofstaedter is a freelance writer who tries to find inspiration in everyday life and express it through her writing. She works from her home in Lansdale, PA where she lives with her husband Dan, their kids Molly and Zach, and their dog Casey.

Amelia Hollingsworth wishes everyone could have a friend like Lois Thompson Bartholomew. When Amelia told Lois that she was interested in writing, Lois encouraged her. She mentored Amelia, and even sent her the submission guidelines that led to Amelia’s first publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens.

David Hull was a teacher in upstate New York for twenty-five years before joyfully retiring to do more writing, reading, watching old movies, gardening and spending time with his nieces and nephews. David writes a monthly column in a local newspaper and has stories published in other Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Jennie Ivey lives in Tennessee. She is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including stories in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Learn more at

Jeanie Jacobson is on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers in Omaha, NE. She’s been published in seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and is writing a Christian-slanted fantasy series. Jeanie loves visiting family and friends, reading, hiking, praise dancing, and gardening. Learn more at

Tanya Janke has worked in three schools, two shopping malls, a theatre, a market research company, and a berry patch. She now spends her days writing. Her first play, an adaptation of The Little Prince, was produced in Toronto in 2010.

Celia Jarvis is a trained journalist with a love for both exotic food and travel — ignited after her trip to Nigeria. She currently lives in London, where the weather is often bad but the culture is always good, and makes her living copywriting.

Debby Johnson lives in Southern California with her husband Ron, and youngest child, Christopher. Her four older children have flown the coop enjoying life’s adventures. She has published one book of poetry and two illustrated children’s books. She is also an artist, showing her art in various galleries.

Terri Kafyeke is a Canadian tree hugger and traveler, currently based in the German capital where she works as a researcher. She studied environmental biology and environmental impact assessment in Montreal. Terri enjoys reading, writing and exploring the world while cultivating a popcorn addiction.

K.D. King is a freelance writer who specializes in holistic health and wellness articles. She is also busy working on her first novel. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gardening, traveling and knitting.

Suzannah Kiper is a graduate of the University of Louisville and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Tim, for over eighteen years. She is the mother of two amazing kids and two Maltese dogs. She is a seventh-generation Kentuckian and enjoys reading, singing, crafting, and traveling. She often blogs about her adventures.

This is T. Jensen Lacey’s thirteenth story in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. In addition, Lacey has published fourteen books and/or novels and, as a freelance journalist, has published more than 800 articles for newspapers and magazines. She enjoys reading, hiking, being outdoors and cooking. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ruth Lehrer retired from her fifth grade classroom thirty years ago, began writing Personal Essays and became an Elderhostel coordinator. Her memoir, My Book of Ruth: Reflections of a Jewish Girl, is dedicated to her two grandsons. She conducts a writing workshop at the Bay Club in Queens, NY. E-mail her at [email protected].

Susan Leitzsch, a retired microbiologist, lives and travels full-time across the United States with her husband Tom. She has two grown children (twins), and one grandson. Her many interests include traveling, nature, hiking, knitting and several other creative outlets.

Kate Lemery earned an undergraduate degree in English literature and a master’s degree in art history. She worked for the National Gallery of Art and Smithsonian Institution for fifteen years before resigning to be a stay-at-home mom. She’s finishing her first novel and lives with her family in suburban Washington, D.C.

Sydney Logan is an elementary school librarian and the best-selling author of six novels. A native of East Tennessee, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat. Learn more at

Barbara LoMonaco has worked for Chicken Soup for the Soul as an editor since 1998. She has co-authored two Chicken Soup for the Soul book titles and has had stories published in numerous other titles. Barbara is a graduate of the University of Southern California and has a teaching credential.

Patricia Lorenz is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series with stories in nearly sixty of them. She’s also the author of fourteen books, her latest being 57 STEPS TO PARADISE: Finding Love in Midlife and Beyond. E-mail her at [email protected] to contact her as a speaker for your group.

Shehfina Mamdani has a passion for teaching and hopes to make a difference in the world and the lives of her students through her teaching. She loves to capture every moment with her amazing family and friends through pictures and has been lovingly encouraged by them to internalize these memories through “mental selfies.”

Rebecca Smith Masterson lives in Phoenix, AZ, where she is a litigation attorney, special education consultant for parents, and most importantly, a mother to her adopted son. Rebecca has been featured in numerous publications, including The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and Autism Speaks.

Though her career as a teaching artist for The Walt Disney Company and The Young Americans keeps her very busy, Cynthia McGarity has a large following for her blog, God’s Daily Message for the Terminally Dense, and has been published in several anthologies. Her app, Branching Out in Faith, is available at the iTunes store.

Phyllis McKinley has one house, two citizenships, three step-grandchildren, four children, five grandchildren, and soon-to-be six books published. She has lived in seven houses in eight years and nine cities in ten years. She collects books, quotes and friends wherever she goes. E-mail her at [email protected].

Heidi McLaughlin is an international speaker and author of five books. She inspires women to become beautiful from the inside out. Heidi lives with her husband Jack among the beautiful vineyards of Kelowna, British Columbia. She loves her eclectic family of five children and nine grandchildren. Learn more at

Dee Dee McNeil, educator/singer/songwriter/poet/journalist/producer and playwright has received several national commendations and awards for her journalism and music contributions. She has a column at and has contributed to for the past six years. Learn more at

Marybeth Mitcham holds a B.S. degree in biology, is completing her MPH in nutrition, and currently works as a community educator. A contributor to The Mighty website, she is a freelance author whose writings have been published online, in Celebrate Life Magazine, and in several printed and e-book anthologies.

Geri Moran is a technical writer and craft artist who lives in New York. She loves to make people smile with the handcrafted products she sells at Geri is thankful daily for her wonderful friends and family, and is especially grateful for her son, Paul.

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]om.

Nicole L.V. Mullis is the author of the novel A Teacher Named Faith (Cairn Press 2015). Her work has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies, including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Her plays have been produced in New York, California and Michigan. She lives in Michigan with her husband and three children.

Kaitlin Murray loves to travel, write, and volunteer. She was born in Holland and has also lived in Germany, France, the USA, and Italy. For the past two years, Kaitlin has been traveling full-time and volunteering all over the world. She also founded a charity called Kids Unite 4 Hope to help children in need. Read her blog at

Leah Shearer Noonan is a two-time cancer survivor, writer and wife who has worked both in non-profit and education. Leah graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2000 and has worked with teens with disabilities for over a decade. She speaks nationally on behalf of young adult cancer survivors.

Cindy O’Leary has been in education for thirty years. She is married to her college sweetheart, has three daughters and three grandchildren. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, scrapbooking, and painting. She has also written a children’s chapter book, Leprechauns on the Loose.

Nancy Panko is a retired pediatric RN who has had the honor of contributing to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series several times. A member of the Cary Senior Writing Circle and The Light of Carolina Christian Writers group, Nancy plans to publish a novel, Guiding Missal, in 2016. She lives with her husband in beautiful North Carolina.

Ava Pennington is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher. She authored Daily Reflections on the Names of God, a devotional 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-one Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Visit

Mary C. M. Phillips is a caffeinated wife, working mom, and writer. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Cup of Comfort series, Bad Austen: The Worst Stories Jane Never Wrote, and various other anthologies. She blogs at Follow her on Twitter @MaryCMPhil.

Connie Pombo is an inspirational author, speaker, and freelance writer. She is a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and is currently touring South America with her husband. When not traveling or writing, she enjoys spending time with her granddaughter. Learn more at

Marsha Porter co-authored a movie review guide for twenty years and taught a class on foreign films. She’s published hundreds of articles and written a monthly column. Her attempts to finish a great American novel have repeatedly failed but left a variety of short stories in their wake.

Kris Reece is a licensed counselor, speaker, and author of the book Build a Beautiful Life Out of Broken Pieces. Kris devotes her time to helping others heal from brokenness and become all they were created to be. She lives with her husband and their three children in New Jersey, and loves cycling and animal rescue.

Natalie June Reilly is an author and a mother of two good men. She is also an empty nester who graduated cum laude from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. She has written two children’s books: My Stick Family: Helping Children Cope with Divorce and Pax the Polar Bear: Breaking the Ice.

Mark Rickerby is a writer, singer and contributor to multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. His proudest achievements are co-authoring his father’s memoir, The Other Belfast: An Irish Youth; and Great Big World, a CD of fifteen original songs he wrote and sang for his daughters, Marli and Emma. He’s currently writing a children’s book series.

Louisa Rogers has been an international business trainer, workshop leader and writer for thirty years. She divides her time between California and Mexico. Her articles on personal/professional development have appeared in over 200 publications, including Glamour, Entrepreneur and Yoga Journal. E-mail her at [email protected].

Liz Rolland lives on a small farm with her husband, two daughters, and two rescued Akitas. Her blog, Balance Salad, features healthy recipes, weight loss tips, spiritual musings, and occasional restaurant reviews. She collects sea glass, shark’s teeth, and unpublished novels.

Kimberly Ross earned her Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology. After a career in ministry, she enjoys sharing her gifts as an intuitive, teacher, writer and energy healer. She recently moved from the Midwest to Arizona, where she enjoys delightful times with her small grandson and the warm winters.

Julie Sanderson has focused her career on helping people. She taught fifth grade before becoming a police officer. She is involved with a church camp and foster care. She now works with alcoholics and veterans on probation. She loves to hike and snowshoe with her black Lab, Brady. E-mail her at [email protected].

April Serock earned an M.A. degree in writing from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband and son where she can see the sun rise over the Appalachians each morning. She’s published romantic short stories with Woman’s World magazine and writes nonfiction articles for money-saving websites.

Paula Sherwin received her Master of Education degree from Utah State University. She adores her two adopted daughters, three cats and dog. Paula enjoys traveling, illustrating, and writing. She is currently writing and illustrating several children’s books.

Selena Singh earned her Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, from McMaster University in 2014. When she isn’t writing, doing crafts or baking, you can find her traveling and spending time with family. She plans to write children’s science books and become a healthcare professional. E-mail her at [email protected].

Gene Smillie received a bachelor’s degree in three stages at Wheaton College, with intervals of several years in between. Then, master’s degrees at Princeton and Wheaton, and after years of missionary work in Africa, South America, and Europe, a Ph.D. at age fifty-one. Since then he has alternated between pastor and college professor.

Sheila Sowder and her husband Jimmy still live in an RV, but they recently traded in their small RV for a really large model with lots more storage room, which they immediately filled up with things they don’t need. She continues to write about their experiences while living on wheels.

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

W. Bradford Swift has written several true-life stories for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He and his wife co-founded Life On Purpose Institute in 1996 ( He also writes speculative fiction under the pen name of Orrin Jason Bradford. Learn more at

Kamia Taylor is a real estate paralegal who changed her life by moving from Los Angeles, CA to a small organic farm in the Midwest. She began writing professionally and doing large black dog rescue after becoming disabled because a drunk driver hit her truck head-on at 70 mph. E-mail her at [email protected].

Stacy Thibodeaux lives in San Antonio, TX, where she writes a weekly column for the Hill Country Weekly. She enjoys running, reading, wine tasting and spending time with her husband and four children. This story is dedicated to all those who asked Stacy: “What in the world are you going to do with a degree in English?”

Author Julia M. Toto shares stories of hope, forgiveness, and second chances. Both City Sidewalks and Wait for Morning (Pelican Books) have earned five-star reviews on Amazon. “A Letter to Daddy” appeared in It’s a God Thing (Worthy Publishing), and “Home Free” in Family Fiction’s The Story 2014. Learn more at

Miriam Van Scott works in a variety of media ranging from magazine articles to television projects. Her books include Song of Old: An Advent Calendar for the Spirit, Candy Canes in Bethlehem, Encyclopedia of Hell and the Shakespeare Goes Pop series. For clips, photos and more information, visit

Vidya lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, two children and her octogenarian father-in-law. She enjoys writing, dancing and cooking for her food-loving family. She is currently learning to be a Reiki practitioner and hopes that someday she will be able to touch plenty of lives through her healing and inspirational writing.

Pat Wahler is a retired grant writer and proud contributor to eleven previous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Pat resides in Missouri and draws writing inspiration from family, friends, and the critters that tirelessly supervise each moment she spends at the keyboard. Visit her at

Joan Wasson received her Bachelor of Arts degree, with an emphasis in Accounting, from California State University, Fullerton in 1979. She lives with her husband Charlie in Orange, CA and enjoys teaching children.

Marjorie Woodall works as a freelance copy editor and lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills with her husband. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dallas Woodburn is a writer, editor and teacher living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has contributed to more than two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Connect with her at her blogs and

Following a fifteen-year career in nuclear medicine, Melissa Wootan is finding her joy by exploring her creative side. She enjoys refurbishing old furniture but is most passionate about writing. Her stories have appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and Guideposts. Contact her at

Susan Wright lives (and writes) in an old farmhouse, along with her husband, a dog, three cats, and the current foster dog. Learning to want less has opened the door to a beautiful life, filled with the things money can’t buy. E-mail her at [email protected].

Susan Yanguas is a five-time contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She plans to embark on a major purge over the next year to simplify her life and make room for new opportunities. Susan hopes her de-cluttering campaign will result in more time for writing her mystery series.


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