Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Meet Our Contributors

Tamara Albanna received her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature, and her master’s degree in International Relations. She is the author of My Name is Inanna, and also has an upcoming book of poetry. Tamara currently resides in Vienna, Austria with her family.

Andrea Amador is “The Juicy Woman.” She’s a curvy and confident Professional Empowerment Coach who leads women to step into their power so they can feel worthy and wonderful and sexy and sassy at every size. Andrea is the proud author of the book, Lovin’ the Skin You’re In. Learn more at thejuicywoman.com.

Nicole F. Anderson was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She’s currently a college student pursing a degree in journalism and creative writing and is the Editor-in-Chief for her college’s newspaper and literary arts magazine.

Darbie Andrews is a single mother of two sons, a bilingual high school teacher, and a teen counselor. She’s appeared in various media for her teaching and writing, her work with at-risk teens, and her various charity efforts. She has a B.A. and M.A. degree from University of California, Santa Barbara and California State University, San Bernardino.

Mary Anglin-Coulter received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bellarmine University. In early 2016, she quit her job to start a freelance writing and graphic design business and is working on her first book. This is her fourth contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Mary is married with three children. E-mail her at [email protected].

Shantell Antoinette is a recent transplant to Rock Hill, SC by way of Cleveland, OH. Shantell is a spoken word artist, published author, singer/songwriter and performing artist. She and her husband, Leonard Johnson, share a love for poetry and music, combining this love to form the poetry duo, Eight Sideways.

Violetta Armour is a former English teacher and bookstore owner. She published her debut novel I’ll Always Be with You in 2015, which has become a book club favorite. She would love to Skype with your book group. Contact her through her blog at serendipity-reflections.blogspot.com.

Elizabeth Atwater lives on a horse ranch with her husband Joe in a small town in North Carolina. She enjoys tending to her rose garden, reading when she can find a quiet, uninterrupted part of her busy schedule to do so, and writing, of course.

Pat Ballard became a “health at any size” activist after she stopped twenty-two years of dieting. Pat has written and published thirteen books encouraging others to love the body they were born with. Her story and books can be found at patballard.com.

Lainie Belcastro has many titles in the arts, but her most treasured title is mom to her daughter Nika. They are the creators of Mrs. Terra Cotta Pots & Twig, trademarked storytellers, who plant dreams for children. Lainie, a published writer in many genres, is thrilled to share her stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series!

Melissa Berry is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle publicist and founder of CancerFashionista.com, a valuable fashion and beauty resource for those undergoing breast cancer treatment and beyond. Melissa lives in New Jersey with her two daughters. E-mail her at [email protected].

Kristina Bigby received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, and her Master’s of Journalism degree from the University of Maryland. Kristina, a leading body positive advocate, coined the phrase #ForTheLoveOfCurves. She explores confidence and positive self-esteem on CurvyGirlChronicles.net. She thanks God for her family.

A plus fashion pioneer, Alexandra Boos has propelled forward in the industry by working as a model, on-air spokesperson, fashion, fit and brand consultant, fashion show and photo shoot producer as well as Marketing and Creative Director of the top plus fashion magazine. She now is the Curves Director at TRUE Model Management in New York City. In 2016, Alexandra was honored as a LEGEND by FFFWeek.

Joyelle Brandt is a radical self-love warrior. As an artist, author and speaker, she works to help women heal their relationships with their bodies and recover from abuse trauma. She is the author/illustrator of Princess Monsters from A to Z, and co-editor of the Trigger Points anthology.

Karla Brown attended St. Joseph’s University years ago! Married, and living in Pennsylvania, she loves her family, gardening, and adopting cats. Her first novel, Miss Darling, will soon be published by Soul Mate Publishing.

Michelle Bruce received her degree and began working as a nurse in 1990. She and her husband Jeremy have four children and enjoy watching their sports and cheerleading. Michelle loves travel, swimming, and flower gardening. Michelle spends her days writing and is currently working on a new book.

Ray Budd taught music for thirty-three years in public school, and then spent seventeen years as a computer programmer at Carnegie Mellon University. He has been a professional jazz musician all his life and lives with his wife Bernice in Pittsburgh, PA. He also has a story published in the magazine Good Old Days.

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.

Emily Canning-Dean is a graduate of The University of Akron and works as a reporter for a weekly suburban newspaper. She lives in Ohio with her husband Eric and their cat Mr. Muffins. Emily loves swimming, hanging out with friends and family, and playing cards.

Nicole Caratas is a junior at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. She is studying English Writing and Humanistic Studies and serves as the Saint Mary’s editor for The Observer and the contributing editor for the Saint Mary’s Odyssey. She enjoys reading, writing, history, good music, puppies, and donuts.

Candace Carteen has been writing since the age of eight. She’s a widowed mom with a sixteen-year-old son who’s in the entertainment business. He writes for The Huffington Post. As he moves on toward college, her writing world becomes bigger to fill in that loss. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cindi Carver-Futch specializes in creative nonfiction and short story writing, but is also a technical writer, creative writing mentor, and performer. She has degrees in English and nonprofit management, and when not traveling she lives in Charleston, SC with her husband, daughter, two dogs and an occasional foreign exchange student.

Kathrine Conroy struggled with body image for most of her life before finding yoga. Through yoga, she learned to love herself and her body and learned how strong she can be — mentally and physically.

Priscilla Dann-Courtney is a writer and clinical psychologist living in Boulder, CO. Her columns have appeared in national and international magazines and newspapers, and in her book, Room to Grow (Norlights Press, 2009). Yoga, meditation, running, baking, writing, her work, family, and friendships light her world.

B.J. Dilley is an author and blogger living in Idaho with her husband and two children. She graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, with honors, and has published two novels.

Kris Dinnison spent nearly two decades as a teacher and librarian. Her work has appeared in One Teen Story, YARN, Germ Magazine, HelloGiggles, among others. Her first novel, You and Me and Him, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kris loves to hike, read, and binge watch TV shows.

L. Joy Douglas resides in northern Indiana with her husband, two dogs and several chickens. Her work was first published in 2008. As a freelance writer, she has sold stories to several major publications and is currently working on her fifth book. Other interests include photography, reading and gluten-free cooking.

Drema Drudge is an MFA in Creative Writing graduate of Spalding University and is agented by Lisa Gallagher. Drema and her husband Barry live in Indiana, where she is working on her second novel. They are the proud parents of Mia and Zack. Learn more about Drema at dremadrudge.wordpress.com or on Twitter @dremadrudge.

B. R. Dunkelman has worked as an X-ray tech and Realtor, but has always been a writer. She is married and has one son, who is in the Navy. Brenda enjoys her small farm and all things Italian. She writes mostly fiction from her home in Chino, CA. More writing projects are in the works!

Joanna Dylan lives in a peaceful seaside community in New England with her author husband and very mischievous cat. In addition to writing, she loves exploring unknown areas, photography and hiking. She is currently writing a romantic suspense novel. She lives each day with a sense of gratitude and faith.

Maura Edwards is currently pursuing her Ph.D. She loves writing, cats, plants, and dancing.

Rebecca Eicksteadt is a health educator, fitness instructor, and writer living in Wisconsin. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She enjoys running, reading, painting, and leading worship at her church.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-six years. They raise five sons in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. She’s contributed to many titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and you can follow her adventures at shawnellewrites.blogspot.com.

Elizabeth Farella is a proud graduate of Molloy College where she received her teaching degree. She earned a master’s degree in Reading from Adelphi University. She has been happily married for twenty-eight years and has three lovely daughters who inspired her story for this publication. E-mail her at [email protected].

Victoria Fedden is the author of the memoir This Is Not My Beautiful Life, and she’s also a mom and an English teacher. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with her family. For updates and inspiration visit her at facebook.com/victoriacfedden.

Melanie Flint is a mother of three and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker currently in private practice in Houston, TX. She enjoys time with her husband and family in nature, road trips and cooking. Professionally, Melanie takes a special interest in women’s issues and supporting parents through the wondrous and choppy waters of parenthood.

Martine Foreman is a speaker, writer, blogger, and ACE-certified health coach. She enjoys reading, kickboxing, sandwiches, and a great glass of wine. Every day Martine gives thanks for her crazy, happy life with her husband, two kids, and her sassy cat, Pepper. Her first book will be published in 2017.

Marianne Fosnow resides in South Carolina. She was thrilled and honored to have a story included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. She’s an avid reader and also enjoys photography.

Beck Gambill loves people. She works full-time as a high school paraprofessional, and loves raising two special kids with her husband. If there was one thing she could tell each person she meets it would be —“you matter!” She writes about living with purpose on her blog, Becoming a Woman of Influence, at becomingawomanofinfluence.wordpress.com.

Every summer James Gemmell can be found long-distance hiking in Europe. His hobbies, apart from hiking and hiking, are painting, art history, playing guitar and writing. James is the proud father of two grown children who can not only beat him in discussions but also at chess.

Jessica Ghigliotti is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of three children (so far). She enjoys painting in acrylics and watercolors, and remodeling the family’s old fixer-upper home. She hopes to begin studying in a few years to become a midwife, and is currently working to publish her first children’s book.

Angela Williams Glenn is a teacher, wife, mom of three, author of Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, as well as the author of numerous other articles and essays on balancing motherhood with life. Read more of her writing on her blog Stepping into Motherhood.

Carmella de los Angeles Guiol is a Floridian gardener, dancer, adventurer, photographer, and writer. She has traveled to five continents and has worked as an artisan baker, organic farmer, and yacht deck hand. You can often find her kayaking the Hillsborough River, but you can always find her at therestlesswriter.com.

Georgia A. Hubley retired after twenty years from the money world to write about her world. Her stories appear in various anthologies and magazines. Once the nest was empty, Georgia and her husband of thirty-eight years left Silicon Valley and relocated to the Nevada desert. Learn more at georgiahubley.com.

Stephanie Tolliver Hyman is a native of the Appalachian Mountains. She earned a master’s degree in English in 2005 and was the 2012 recipient of the R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award. She has a beautiful daughter, Harper, a loving husband, Cory, and two affectionate cats, Sookie and Remi.

Carole Johnston received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Communications from Brock University in 1999. She lives with her husband, son and daughter in Ontario, Canada. Carole works at a local college, and enjoys running, going to the gym and reading. She loves to write pieces that people can relate to.

Devon Kab currently resides in Brooklyn, NY and works in Pharmaceutical Advertising/Plus Modeling. In her spare time Devon enjoys playing basketball and soccer, traveling, and speaking to the younger generation about positive body image. She became involved in modeling to share her journey of body confidence and self-love. E-mail her at [email protected].

Shannon Kaiser has been named in “100 Women to Watch in Wellness” by MindBodyGreen, and is a seven-time contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She is the best-selling author of Adventures for Your Soul and the forthcoming book The Self-Love Experiment (August 2017). Connect with her on playwiththeworld.com.

Wendy Keppley, a Florida native, counseled troubled teens and taught college courses for high school honor students. She enjoys family, playing with her grandsons, and living in the woods near Tampa, FL. Wendy also loves writing, kayaking, reading, yoga, exploring waterfalls, and oneirology. E-mail her at [email protected].

Shelby Kisgen is a writer seeking publication for her debut novel. Her Bachelor of Arts degree qualifies her to work in many boring, entry-level positions. Instead, she follows her passion for stories. Shelby enjoys reading, traveling, and laughing with her husband.

Annie Kontor is a native Nebraskan and holds an M.A. degree from The University of Kansas. In true superhero fashion, she is a government employee by day and a freelance writer and editor at night. She is also the content creator of the PlusOneWoman.com blog, the only website geared specifically to single, curvy women.

Mallory Lavoie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maine in 2012. She lives in Maine, where she works as a marketer and figure skating coach. She enjoys running, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with her dog, Mowgli.

After beating stage 3 endometrial cancer, Kathryn Lehan has reimagined her life helping other women learn how to use God’s word to beat cancer and other chronic diseases. The ultimate goal of her company, Be Fruitful Alliance, is to teach women to unleash their divine purpose as an unstoppable warrior for Christ.

Alexes Lilly is a Toronto-based writer. She lives alone with two cats and a vivid imagination.

Maighread MacKay is the pen name of Margaret Hefferman, a Canadian author and visual artist from Durham Region in Ontario. She is a member of The Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR), the VFA (Visionary Fiction Alliance) and SINC (Sisters in Crime)–Toronto Chapter.

Debra Mayhew is a pastor’s wife, mom to seven (usually) wonderful children, part-time teacher, editor and writer. She loves small town living, time with family, good books and long walks. Learn more at debramayhew.com.

Patrick Michael McIntyre graduated from James Lick High School in San Jose, CA in 1975. He is a father of two, stepfather to two more, as well as a proud grandparent of four. Michael, as he was called by SweetestRedHead, enjoys playing old-timers baseball, golf, and is currently writing a supernatural fictional work.

Phyllis McKinley cherishes life and finds something beautiful to admire each day. A former Canadian now living in Florida, she translates her common daily experiences into thoughtful poems and stories that have won many awards. This is her fifth contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Anne Merrigan is a therapist by trade, working in the field of trauma. Her personal experiences on “earth school” motivate her to assist others in discovering their own inner light. Anne enjoys painting, gardening, friends and family. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jamie Leigh Miller received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Southern Methodist University. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and pets. Jamie Leigh finds joy in sharing the tragically humorous moments in life with others.

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].

Courtney Lynn Mroch is the Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism for Haunt Jaunts, a travel site for restless spirits. When she’s not exploring haunted places or writing, it’s a safe bet you’ll find her on a tennis court or yoga mat somewhere. She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband.

Tamara Paylor is Associate Editor of Daily Venus Diva magazine, a plus lifestyle magazine; owns her own graphic and web design firm, Mae Lea Designs; and launched a clothing line as of January 2016 called Entrepreneur Life Apparel. Tamara enjoys being a mom and helping others become successful in business.

Beth Pugh is a wife, mother, and daughter trying to find contentment in a world of chaos. She writes hoping to inspire others to do the same by sharing lessons she’s learned along the way. Her work has been published by The Good Men Project, Scary Mommy, Sasee, and The Sun magazine. E-mail her at [email protected].

Robin R. believes when inspiration strikes, you must act on it. When she’s not acting on her latest inspiration, she can be found listening to classic rock music, blogging and playing with Samson (German Shepherd), Delilah (rescue), Sadie (Vizsla), Sable (Vizsla), and Sasha (rescue). Follow her on Twitter @RobinDarling.

Mudita Raj lives in Noida, India with her family. She is a student of Banasthali Vidyapeeth and is pursuing a B.A. degree. She is currently studying management, public administration and psychology. Mudita loves reading and watching movies.

Sunil Ramchandani is a fashion expert and creative director working with leading design firms in New York City. A graduate of FIT, he shares his love of style and design through his website and blog at sunilr.com.

Denise Reich is an Italian-born, New York–raised American-European freelance writer and lifelong Star Wars fan. She’s a frequent contributor to the Canadian magazine Shameless and TheMighty.com. Her Broadway memoir, Front of House, was released in 2015.

J. Renee received her Doctor of Education Leadership degree from Harvard University and has devoted over fifteen years to working on behalf of children. She enjoys writing, public speaking, trying new recipes, and going for power walks. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Learn more at jrenee.net.

Donna Roberts is a native upstate New Yorker who lives and works in Europe. She is an Associate Professor and holds a Ph.D. in Psychology. Donna is an animal and human rights advocate. When she is researching or writing, she can be found at her computer buried in rescue cats.

Jennifer Roberts writes under the pen names Jenna Mattison and JR Mattison. She is a filmmaker and novelist with her work displayed at The Academy of Motion Pictures Library and is also a best-selling mystery series author. Her movies have garnered international release and critical acclaim.

Regina Sunshine Robinson is a motivational speaker, talk show host and empowerment coach who wants to get you into a powerful “Regina Sunshine State of Mind”! Regina Sunshine loves sharing her message of self-love, positivity, and empowerment. Her motto is “It’s Not Over Til I Win” and she wins when she sees others winning.

Lauren B. H. Rossato lives in Silver Spring, MD with an extensive collection of games and books, as well as a very tolerant husband. She may or may not have an addiction to yarn. Until this publication, her father did not know she was once an art model — Hi Dad!

Jillian Rossi is an author of horror, supernatural/science fiction and fantasy. She is a registered nurse and a member of the AACN. She advocates for pediatric oncology non-profit organizations to bring awareness to under-funding in development of better treatments. She currently lives in the South Bay with her family and son.

John Scanlan is a 1983 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and retired from the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel aviator. He currently resides on Hilton Head Island, SC and is pursuing a second career as a writer. E-mail John at [email protected].

Jenni Schaefer is a National Recovery Advocate with Eating Recovery Center (ERC, 877-957-6575). ERC provides specialized eating disorders treatment across the U.S. ERC’s Insight Behavioral Health Centers (877-737-7391) provide treatment for mood and anxiety disorders, including PTSD. Learn more at JenniSchaefer.com/Seek-Help.

Jenna Schifferle earned a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Oswego, where she graduated summa cum laude, and a master’s degree from the University of Rochester. She hangs her heart in Buffalo, NY, but keeps her running sneakers ready to hop on the first flight going anywhere. Learn more at JennaSchifferle.wordpress.com.

Sherri Shepherd is an Emmy Award winner as co-host on the hit ABC talk show The View. She executive produced and created her own sitcom, Sherri, on Lifetime television. She is a New York Times best-selling author for her book Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes Even if You Don’t Have To. Sherri can be seen co-staring alongside John Lithgow in the new NBC comedy Trial & Error starting March 2017. Sherri has a beautiful son Jeffrey and two dogs, Lexi and Ashley.

Danielle Sibila was born in Southern California and moved to North Alabama after high school. She enjoys creating and fixing anything, from knitting to heavy equipment maintenance. She would like to acknowledge her friends and family, for their innumerable contributions in her life.

Ashley M. Slayton is an award-winning blogger and multimedia journalist. Ashley has written for BET.com, 002houston, D CEO, the Longview News-Journal and the Daily American. She currently works as a digital producer for KLTV 7.

Kelly Smith is a writer and changer of diapers who believes that people are essentially good. She lives with her husband and sons in the Midwest where she is a college communications instructor. Kelly earned her master’s degree in English from Northern Illinois University and recently completed writing her first novel.

Jennifer Sommerfelt lives in Iowa with her husband and three daughters with whom she loves to dance. She would like to thank her friend and old college roommate, Jennifer Rathe, for writing her story in such a fun and creative way to inspire others. Jennifer is happy to be a part of the beginning of her friend’s writing career.

Diane Stark is a wife, mother of five, former teacher, and freelance writer. She loves to write about the important things in life: her family and her faith. E-mail her at [email protected].

L.A. Strucke is a freelance writer from New Jersey and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Rowan University. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Guideposts and other publications. A mother of four, she enjoys writing about family and inspirational pieces. Read more at lastrucke.com.

Jimmie Ware is a freelance writer and poetess. She has lived in Chicago, Alabama, Alaska and currently resides in Arizona with her daughter Nicole where they continue to perform and host poetry events. Jimmie is founder of the Black Feather Poets and former radio personality on KFAT 92.9FM in Anchorage. Jimmie breathes poetry.

Dorann Weber has been a fan of Chicken Soup for the Soul books since they were first published in 1993. She loved them so much she tried her hand at writing stories. She is a freelance photographer for a local newspaper and a Getty Images contributor. She lives in New Jersey with her family. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jenny Wildflower is the owner of Wildflower Floral Events, a successful wedding and event floral design company in the Hamptons. She is also the proud mother of a USMC veteran. Her flowers are made in an 1800’s old barn located behind her yellow farmhouse.

Following a fifteen-year career in nuclear medicine, Melissa Wootan is joyfully 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 facebook.com/chicvintique.

A. Kay Wyatt writes from her home city of Chicago, IL. Along with writing, she explores the city on skateboard, plays guitar, and tends bar. On the weekends, she coaches high school students in the art of rhetorical debate. She lives with her cat, Dr. Indiana Bones.

Brenda Yoder is a licensed Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, writer and motivational speaker on life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image. She is a wife and mom to four kids, teens to adults, and lives on a farm in Indiana.

Maxine Young is a writer based in New York City. She is an avid listener of audiobooks, a passionate lover of tea and an enduring fighter of multiple sclerosis. She is a big fan of planting seeds of encouragement. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lydia Young-Samson has a Master’s of Education, and taught science for four years before becoming a full-time author and starting her own business. Her blog and devotional can be found at theunculturedchristian.wordpress.com. She is currently working on her first fiction book and is getting settled in her marriage.

Lori Zenker likes to walk and talk (even in snowstorms) around the small Ontario, Canada town she lives in. She’s a mom of three teenagers and collects and sells old junk. She loves to write, and is always on the hunt for inspiration to write — this is the sixth Chicken Soup for the Soul book she’s been privileged to be a part of.

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