Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America

Meet Our Contributors

Cathy Ancewicz began writing in 2013 when she joined a creative writing ministry at her church. She loves sharing her stories with her grandchildren. When she is not writing, Cathy enjoys reading, calligraphy, and pen and ink drawings. She lives in South Florida near her daughter and family.

Elizabeth Atwater lives on a small ranch in North Carolina where she and her husband Joe raise Standardbred racehorses. In her spare time, you can find her tending to her roses, curled up with a book or in her office writing.

Joan Bailey currently lives in Japan where she divides her time between teaching and writing about food, farming and farmers markets. Learn more at

Jan Bono’s new cozy mystery series set on the southwest Washington coast is now available! She’s also published five humorous personal experience collections, two poetry chapbooks, nine one-act plays, a dinner theater play, and has written for magazines ranging from Guideposts to Woman’s World. Learn more at

Michelle Bruce is a registered nurse from Nebraska. Michelle has been married to her spouse Jeremy for twenty years. Together they raise their four teenagers. Michelle enjoys traveling, swimming, writing stories, watching her kids’ sports and spending time with her numerous pets.

Carisa J. Burrows is a writer and contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She lives with her husband Ralph. She thanks her parents, Gary and Carmellina, for a childhood full of memories and a lifetime of love, along with her siblings Garrett, Melina and Gina for making those memories so great. E-mail her at [email protected].

Hetie Burt received her Bachelor of Arts in Horticulture from Auburn University and is currently a stay-at-home mom. She is married with three beautiful boys. Hetie enjoys writing, gardening, scuba diving and volunteering at her kids’ schools. She plans on continuing to write non-fiction, children’s books and articles.

Corinda Carfora is a graduate of the University of Miami. A multi-talented creative professional, she has sung backup for Bruce Springsteen, performed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, produced videos, and built a twenty-five-year career in book publishing. An avid animal lover, she also helps support Animal Care Sanctuary.

Eva Carter has spent many years as a financial analyst. She is now concentrating on creative endeavors such as writing and photography. She was born in Czechoslovakia and has traveled extensively. She and her Canadian-born husband, Larry, live in Dallas, TX. E-mail her at [email protected].

Beth Cato is the Nebula Award–nominated author of The Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is Breath of Earth. She’s a Hanford, CA native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at and on Twitter @BethCato.

Sara Celi is a television journalist and published author. She lives outside of Cincinnati, OH.

A.B. Chesler is a writer and educator from sunny Southern California. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends, and finding the lighter side of life. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit her blog at

Penelope Childers is a published author and enjoys writing inspirational true stories. She and her husband Larry live in Fresno, CA. She dedicates her story to her classmates at Corcoran High School, class of 1965.

Randy Collins is American Humane Association’s National Director of Red Star Rescue & Emergency Services for Animals. He has a long history in emergency response including work with the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and the armed forces. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years on active duty and six years in the reserves.

Christie Schmitt Coombs is a freelance writer and blogger who graduated from The University of Arizona. After her husband’s death in the 2001 terrorist attacks, she and their three children started The Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation: a foundation in Jeff’s memory. Christie oversees the foundation and volunteers for several other nonprofits.

Amy McCoy Dees is a patriot at heart. A mother, historian, civil servant, and published author, she loves her country and honors all that have served — past and present. She writes American history novels for young adults/children and loves traveling into the past to discover “hidden gems” to share with her readers.

Karen DeVault earned her B.A. degree in English, with honors, from Oakland University in 2007. She lives with her husband in southeast Michigan, with two daughters and grandchildren nearby. Karen enjoys motorcycling, fishing, bicycling, running, and acting. She is currently writing her first novel.

Laurie Carnright Edwards loves living in New Hampshire with her pastor-husband Dale. She has been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and on Leadership Journal’s website. She is a proud mother and mother-in-law, and a graduate of Berkshire Christian College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Terri Elders, LCSW, served with the Peace Corps in Belize, Dominican Republic and Seychelles, as well as in the USA following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Her stories appear in over a hundred anthologies, including two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She blogs at

Josephine Fitzpatrick is a wife, mother and grandmother. She is a retired attorney who loves to write. She co-facilitates a memoir writing class at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Long Beach, and has been published in Creative Nonfiction magazine, The Sun, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Marianne Fosnow has enjoyed writing stories and poems since childhood. She raised two children and now enjoys her grandchildren. Marianne is also interested in photography. She loves to end each day relaxing with a good book. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ronelle Frankel loves reading all kinds of inspiring books and stories, especially in her role as an editor for Chicken Soup for the Soul. When she’s not reading, Ronelle enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, going to the beach, trying new restaurants, and testing out healthy recipes.

Sally Friedman is a longtime contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series who uses her life and experience as inspiration. The material is always there! A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she is the wife of a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge, a mother and grandmother.

Diane Gardner holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts degree in mass communication and journalism. She is a full-time editor and writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys traveling, painting, theater, street fairs, anything chocolate, and quiet evenings at home with her husband.

James A. Gemmell is a married father of two children. Most summers he can be found hiking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. His other hobbies include writing, playing guitar and collecting art.

Peter Green lives near Niagara Falls, NY and is the producer and co-writer of an original dinner theater show called Niagara Falls — America’s Wonder. As a professional musician and entertainer he hosts tours of Niagara Falls in addition to performing in Niagara Falls, NY throughout the tourism season.

Award-winning author, speaker and teacher, Lynn Hare has published numerous devotions, articles, and poetry in Christian periodicals. She enjoys praying, playing the piano, hiking and photography. She lives in Portland, OR with her husband Tim, three adult children and a grandson. E-mail her at [email protected].

Samantha Harmon-Thompson is a self-described geek and loves life. She is a wife, and a “mom” of three dogs and a cat. Samantha enjoys baking and cooking for her parents, in-laws, husband, and her two sisters when they visit with her nieces and nephews. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cathryn Hasek is a freelance writer from North Ridgeville, OH. She is active in her local VFW Post where she is editor of the newsletter and webmaster of their VFW website. She enjoys building new websites, fixing computers, hanging out with her husband and their Beagle, and writing creative nonfiction.

Lori Hein is a freelance writer and author of Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Visit her at

Suzanne Herber received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from the University of Colorado Denver and went on to complete the three-year acting program at Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York City. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband, son, and Australian Shepherd. Suzanne is an avid soccer, tennis, and pickleball player.

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 manuscript received Honorable Mention for Inspirational Writing in a Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Sylvia Garza Holmes is a native Texan. She enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1974. She has attended Oregon Institute of Technology and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. She and her husband have been married for forty years and live in Oregon. Sylvia spends her time writing for children and teaching English.

Following a career in fundraising at the University of California, Los Angeles, Karen Howard now enjoys hiking, yoga, long walks, lively discussions with her book club, volunteering at Descanso Gardens, and life with Richard and her two cats, Belle and Jedi Jack.

Lois Hudson co-authored Ending Elder Abuse: A Family Guide, and has been published in devotional collections. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys photographing the beauties of northern Nevada where she lives. She is the mother of two adult sons (with their wives), and grandmother of two amazing grandsons.

David Hull is a retired teacher who has published short stories in numerous magazines and Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Besides writing every day, he enjoys gardening, reading, and watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. E-mail him at [email protected].

Daniel Hurley immigrated to the United States, from Ireland, when he was two years old. In his free time, Daniel enjoys exercising, spending time with his family, and being involved in local, state, and federal politics. Daniel has future plans to pursue a career in public service.

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming writer. The author of inspirational dog books for children and adults, she’s also contributed to other titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She enjoys photography, visiting national parks, and supporting pet rescue groups. Learn more at

Jeffree Wyn Itrich is the author of four books and numerous articles. She has a master’s of social work and a master’s of journalism. Her new blog,, shares good news and positive stories that warm the heart.

Jennie Ivey lives in Tennessee. She is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including stories in many Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Visit her website at

Jeanie Jacobson is on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers. She has been published in eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her new book, Fast Fixes for the Christian Pack-Rat, is on Amazon. Jeanie loves visiting family and friends, reading, hiking, praise dancing, and gardening. Learn more at

C. Joy is a medical professional with a passion for storytelling. As a freelance writer from the cornfields of rural Iowa, she enjoys reading, painting and traveling. Her greatest accomplishments are being a parent to five children and grandma to two grandsons.

Although Tziyona Kantor has a B.A. in Journalism from BU, she catered instead. She wrote a cooking column for two and a half years. Parents of seven, grandparents of more, she and her husband have lived in Israel for thirty-five years. She is back to writing about what she loves: family, learning, Judaism, Israel, touring and even cooking.

Named by TIME magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World,” Dean Karnazes is an ultramarathoner and NYC bestselling author of the book 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days — and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! He lives with his wife and family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Multi-published, award-winning author Larry C. Kerpelman holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester. This is his second story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. His memoir Concrete Steps: Coming of Age in a Once-Big City is being published in 2016. Learn more at

Pamela Landwirth is president and CEO of Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit resort near Orlando, FL that serves children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. More than 144,000 families have visited the Village, and Pam works tirelessly to create for them the happiness that inspires hope.

Susan Lendroth is a children’s author with two new picture books slated for a 2017 release. She lives with a clueless, but cute, cat named Kitten, and if ever stranded again, would rather spring for lodgings than ask the sheriff for a spare cot in the cells.

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.

Vita Lusty has work appearing or forthcoming in Green Lifestyles, Luna Luna, Penny, Paper Nautilus and the collaborative manuscript By One’s Own Hand: Writing About Suicide Loss. She is now hiding in the Joshua Tree desert and finishing her first book in a key lime house with a pack of rescued dogs.

Renae MacLachlan has been a licensed battlefield guide for fourteen years at Gettysburg National Military Park, where she received the Superintendent’s Award for Excellence. She wrote Treasures of the Civil War, a book and exhibit for Gettysburg’s 150th Anniversary. Renae is at work on a new book and lives in Gettysburg, PA.

Australian-born author Grant Madden immigrated to the USA in 2005 and currently resides in El Cajon, CA. By the time of publication, Grant expects to have his American citizenship. Grant’s cover stories have appeared in Sailing, Cat Sailor and the San Diego Reader. Learn more at

Bridget Magee is a writer, editor, and educator. When not writing, Bridget can be found reading. She lives in Tucson, AZ with her husband, two daughters, and crazy dog, Smidgey. Her personal essays, blog posts, and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications.

Author and speaker 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; fiction, poetry, and devotions, as well as recollections in several anthologies. E-mail her at [email protected].

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

Tiffany Marshall is a freelance writer residing in Fort Worth, TX. When not at the keyboard, she enjoys books, movies, waterskiing, board games, college football, and The Big Bang Theory.

Dana Martin received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University, Bakersfield. She has written for Woman’s World magazine and has been previously published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Her current goal is to figure out God’s plan for her life. E-mail her at [email protected].

Susan Mathis is a published author in Colorado Springs, CO. Her first two books, Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage and The Remarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, were co-authored with her husband, Dale. Learn more at

Phyllis McKinley has received multiple writing awards. She is the author of four poetry books and one children’s book, an avid reader, and enjoys cooking, walking and spending time in nature. She dedicates this story, her fourth in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, to her four children and five grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dee Dee McNeil has been a published songwriter and freelance journalist for nearly five decades. Her music has been recorded by icons like Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Nancy Wilson, the Four Tops, and Edwin Starr, and her Storyteller CD was well received in 2015. McNeil’s poetry and essays appear in numerous anthologies.

Harriet E. Michael is an author, freelance writer, and speaker. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. She has authored two books: Prayer: It’s Not About You and Glimpses of the Savior. Born in Africa as the daughter of missionaries, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother. Follow her blog at

Dean K. Miller is an author, poet, and editor residing in northern Colorado. He has published three books and his work has appeared in over three dozen print and online literary magazines. He is the creator of The Haiku For You Project. This is his second story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Learn more at

Jackie Minniti is the award-winning author of two novels: Project June Bug, the story of a teacher and an ADHD student, and Jacqueline, a middle-grade historical. She is a columnist for The Island Reporter in St. Petersburg, FL and is a previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Learn more at

A Navy wife and mother of three, Lisa Smith Molinari writes the award-winning blog and syndicated column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in civilian and military newspapers including Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper for U.S. Armed Forces. Read more at

Sarah Morris is a writer for Major League Baseball Advanced Media and a novelist. Her first novel, Vengeance, is available through Amazon. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Jonita Mullins grew up in Haskell, OK and earned an English degree from Oklahoma State University. She has published six books focused on Oklahoma history. She is a frequent speaker on history and is a passionate preservationist. Jonita owns a historic home in the Founders’ Place District.

Nicole L.V. Mullis is the author of the novel A Teacher Named Faith (Cairn Press). 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 children.

Nancy Norton received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rowan University. She has three grown daughters and teaches second grade in New Jersey. Nancy enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her grandchildren. She is the proud daughter of a ninety-four-year-old World War II veteran.

Welby O’Brien loves her veteran husband as they face the daily challenges of PTSD. With a master’s degree in counseling, she has authored the book Love Our Vets: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD, and leads the widespread Love Our Vets — PTSD Family Support network. Learn more at

Linda O’Connell, a retired teacher and accomplished writer, is a firm believer in positively affecting others. She and her husband, Bill, have a blended family. Their four adult children, nine grandchildren, and great-grandson have given her laugh lines. She enjoys a hearty laugh, dark chocolate and walking on the beach.

Karen J. Olson is a writer from Eau Claire, WI. She graduated from the UW-Eau Claire with enough knowledge in psychology and sociology to make people-watching a job. She loves reading, walking, and all things Midwest. She especially enjoys writing humor and inspirational pieces. E-mail her at [email protected].

Allison Paster-Torres was raised by a pack of wild libraries in South Jersey. She currently lives in upstate New York, where she is completing her MFA in creative writing.

Kay Conner Pliszka received her master’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Now a retired teacher living in Florida with her husband of forty-four years, Kay enjoys choir, golf, bridge, writing, editing and public speaking.

Kay Presto has stories published in several books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She’s an award-winning television and radio broadcaster, and photojournalist, covering motorsports. She has recently completed a middle-grade novel, and is currently writing several children’s books. E-mail her at [email protected].

Connie Kaseweter Pullen lives in rural Sandy, OR, near her five children and several grandchildren. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Portland in 2006, with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. Connie enjoys writing, photography and exploring nature. E-mail her at [email protected].

Antoinette Rainone is an award-winning journalist and inspirational writer for Guideposts. She is currently working on a memoir about bonding with her dad during the 1978 Yankee season where she learned comebacks are possible — in baseball and life. Read her blog at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Natalie June Reilly is an author and a proud American and Navy mom. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cindy Richardson resides in Missouri with her husband Tom, where she teaches kindergarten. She enjoys the friendship of her three grown daughters and loves being Nana to six grandchildren. She hopes to encourage and inspire others with her writing and speaking. Learn more at

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

Maureen Rogers is a transplanted Canadian who has lived in Seattle, WA for over forty years. She writes fiction and poetry as well as nonfiction, and her work has appeared in various newspapers, online publications and several titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Robyn Rothermel is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. She grew up in Maine with her parents and two siblings. She survived childhood leukemia and chose to enter the service as a way to give back to all of those who helped her.

Mitali Ruths grew up in Houston, TX about a mile from NASA. She now lives in Montreal with her husband and three children, but feels even more American now that she’s north of the border.

D.J. Sartell is a freelance author living in a quiet suburb outside Sacramento, CA with her spouse and teenage daughter. An animal lover who enjoys spending time with friends and family, D.J. is hoping to get exposure to further her growing writing career.

Aaron M. Smith earned a degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1998 before working as a sports editor and writer in the newspaper industry. He now works as a freelance writer and has written two books. Smith lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Chrissy, and three children, Sierra, Aidan, and Natalie.

Judee Stapp is a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and women’s events. She writes to inspire people to use their God-given gifts. She has a son in Pennsylvania, a daughter, son-in-law, and three grandkids in Minnesota, and a daughter, son-in-law and grandson in California. Judee and John live in Placentia, CA. Learn more at

Katelynn Stream is an Army wife of ten years to her husband, Paul. They have four young children: Isabella, Greyson, Paxton, and Keegan. She is a labor and delivery nurse and enjoys volunteering with the Army Family Readiness Group. She is the recipient of the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jan Sydnam has authored several nonfiction books since 2008. Her writing icon is Nicholas Sparks. Her true crime books are definitely hard to put down. Although multitalented, writing has been a mainstay in supporting her addiction to horses and equine competitions.

Annmarie B. Tait lives in Conshohocken, PA with her husband Joe Beck. Annmarie has been published in over twenty Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as various other magazines and anthologies. Annmarie and her husband also enjoy singing and recording Irish and American folk music. E-mail her at [email protected].

A Western Canada native, Elaine Thomas writes award-winning nonfiction from her country home near La Grange, TX. Elaine considers it an honor to be entrusted with sharing and preserving the memorable stories of individuals that offer invaluable insight into life. Learn more at

Lisa P. Tubbs is a widowed mother of four who lives in the Fort Worth area. She has enjoyed reading and writing stories and poems since early childhood and has had numerous publications of online content. She plans on using her knack for writing to share her Christian faith with others in the near future.

Gayle Veitenheimer is a writer and mother of four. She is married to her high school sweetheart and resides in Fort Worth, TX. Her blog, Cross Training for Character, can be found at

Pennington Walker is a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major after twenty-eight years of service. He is a proud father of one daughter currently serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Currently, Pennington is the USO Center Director in Dubai and prior to that served five years in Afghanistan supporting the USO Kandahar and USO Camp Leatherneck.

Arthur Wiknik, Jr. served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and has appeared on the History Channel and Military Channel. This is the seventh Chicken Soup for the Soul book he has been published in. Arthur frequently shares his military experiences at schools and civic organizations. Learn more at

C. F. Williams received her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University at Albany and Master’s of English degree at Marshall University. She and her husband raised four sons. C. F. teaches writing in West Virginia and enjoys knitting and reading in her spare time. She plans to continue writing both nonfiction and fiction and to enjoy her grandchild.

Woody Woodburn is a national award-winning journalist and the author of Wooden & Me: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach and Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece” and Strawberries in Wintertime: Essays on Life, Love, and Laughter. Learn more at

Linda C. Wright lives on the Space Coast of Florida with her husband Richard and four-legged friend Ginger. Several of her personal essays have been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, photography and bike riding. E-mail her at [email protected].

Susan Kimmel Wright grew up in Lambertsville, PA. She’s written several books, and has had many stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and elsewhere. She dedicates her story to the people of Somerset County, PA, and the passengers and crew of Flight 93 and their families. E-mail her at [email protected].

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