Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Meet Our Contributors

Kristi Adams is a travel writer for Europe’s Stars and Stripes, and an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland School of Architecture. An Air Force veteran, Kristi lives in Germany with her husband and the world’s neediest rescue cat. She’s currently working on her debut young adult novel.

Valerie Testa Almquist is the author of Look Back Move Forward, an inspirational, historical fiction adventure. She has a Master of Arts in Education and Human Services, and plans to continue writing inspirational books. She is married with two sons and resides in New Jersey. She enjoys family time, music, and dance.

Amy Anderson is an author who enjoys reading and writing nearly any genre. When she’s not immersed in a book, she loves spending time with her family, rock climbing, cooking, and looking for new stories.

Mary Anglin-Coulter works as a full-time freelance writer and graphic designer. She lives in Bardstown, KY, with her wife and three daughters, lovingly referring to their home as the Estrogen House. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Bellarmine University. This is her fifth story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Allisa Bahney received her BA in English Language and Literature, with minors in Creative Writing and Film Studies, from the University of Northern Iowa in 2009. She lives with her wife in Iowa and teaches high school English. Allisa enjoys traveling, boating, writing, and working with kids and animals. She hopes to someday be a successful screenwriter.

Lainie Belcastro has many titles in the arts, but her most treasured title is mom to her daughter Nika. As trademarked storytellers, Mrs. Terra Cotta Pots & Twig, they plant dreams for children with their first book coming soon! She is thrilled to be a member of the Chicken Soup for the Soul inspiring family! Believe!

Rob Berry is a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield. He and his wife Amy have three sons. He enjoys cycling, hockey, and spending time with his family.

S.L. Blake was born and raised in Northern California and now lives wherever the Army sends her active duty husband. She loves giraffes, chocolate, and reading. She spends her time writing novels and raising her two biggest fans.

Emma Blandford has hopes of traveling to as many countries and states as possible, and learning from new cultures along the way. She currently spends most of her time outside of work caring for her adopted mix-breed puppy and trying as many new ways to cook vegan foods as possible.

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

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.

Penny C. is an aspiring writer.

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow is a Pushcart Prize-nominated author of My Gift of Now, which was named one of the 25 Most Inspirational Books of 2015 by Conversations magazine. Elynne is founding general manager of WYCC-TV/PBS and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago. Her husband Richard is her muse.

Penelope Childers is a published author and enjoys life-changing true stories. She and her husband live in Fresno, CA. Penelope dedicates her story “Last Gift” to her inspirational mother, Lorene Penrod.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy and Ohio APME award-winning journalist and speaker with a Master of Ministry degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Her inspirational novel, Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife, will be released soon. Learn more at

M. Scott Coffman lives in Central Illinois with his wife and two of his three kids, the oldest having married and moved on. By day, he works at an insurance agency. By night, he writes his blog, Truth Mission, and is the author of Do You CARE? (with James P. Rousey) and the upcoming epic sci-fi series, The Servant Saga.

Geneva Coleman is a freelance writer from Eastern Kentucky. She and her husband, Mike, have four adult sons and three grandchildren. She credits her inspiration to write to her parents, Joe and Opal France, and the confidence to write to her husband and most supportive fan, Mike.

Candice Marley Conner loves all fairy tales, and has to take turns with her six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son on who gets to be the evil villain. She lives at the bottom of Alabama where the antebellum lady dips her toes into the Gulf of Mexico.

Peyton Woodson Cooper writes Christian fiction, inspirational nonfiction and children’s books. She offers simple stories, told well. She feels that we live in a Twitter and Facebook world and attention spans are short; that’s why her novellas and short stories offer quick reads for the busy reader. Let her books inspire you.

Laure Covert is a long-time resident of Pennsylvania where she juggles freelance writing, interpreting Spanish, and teaching English as a Second Language. Her favorite job is being a mom to her three adult children and a grandmother to her granddaughter Lily. Books and birds are her two personal passions.

Prithwijit Das received his Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University, and Master of Science in Education from Hunter College of the City University of New York in 2016. A native New Yorker, Prithwijit has taught kindergarten in the Bronx and plans to continue working with children and families in the city he grew up in.

Michele Ivy Davis is a freelance writer and photographer. Her stories and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines, newspapers, and law enforcement publications, and her debut novel, Evangeline Brown and the Cadillac Motel, received national and international awards. Learn more at

The youngest of six kids, Ellicia Dawn grew up in a small town that some would consider the end of the world. She began writing in high school, making it her preferred outlet for her thoughts and dreams. A book lover, she is now pursuing a career in writing novels.

Louis De Lauro has taught elementary school for twenty-five years. He is the Founder and Board President of the charity Juggling Life. He is a computer teacher, a chess coach, and a juggler. He adores his wife Krista and daughter Ava, who was adopted from China in 2005. Louis writes inspirational stories and poems daily.

Jonathan Doll, Ph.D. is an education leader who has worked internationally and at the state level. He’s an advocate of social justice and equity and earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in ESL. He writes a Huffington Post blog about education issues. E-mail him at [email protected].

Patricia Dublin received her Bachelor of Nursing and Associate of Arts, with honors, from Austin Peay State University. She has four daughters and is married to her loving and supportive husband Sergeant Troy Dublin. She enjoys cruising and writing, and this is the first story she has ever submitted to be published.

Chava Dumas is a doula, writer, public speaker, and health crisis support counselor. She is a wife, mother, and grandma who believes a sense of humor is essential! She is the author of Preparing for Pesach… B’simchah! 40 Lifesaving Lessons to Help You Make It to the Finish Line. Learn more at

Emily Dupree enjoys living in agriculture country and divides her time between gardening, traveling, preparing taxes at H&R Block, and reading. Her first short story for a class assignment won a creative writing competition and was subsequently published in 2007. She plans to write children’s and young adult fiction.

Kim Edwards is an aspiring writer who enjoys helping people in her free time, watching Ellen, and playing with her cat Colton. She is a home health aide at Hospicare, finding new ways to give back by caring for others. Her struggles with depression and an eating disorder are what inspired her writing. She is now studying Psychology.

Barbara Farland is an accomplished writer, creative thinker, wife, and momó. She loves being able to wear all these hats at once through her short stories, blog posts, poetry, and books. As a communications expert by trade, she believes “stories make us, and stories make us known.” Learn more at

Leila Feliciano received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Communications degrees from Western New England University in 2012 and 2016 respectively. She lives in Puerto Rico. Leila enjoys reading, yoga, music, movies, and writing poetry. She hopes to one day publish her own book of poetry.

Kate Fellowes credits her success as a writer to early encouragement from her mom. She writes mystery novels, romantic short stories, essays, and poetry. Kate loves animals and books, and the feel of a pen scratching over paper. She blogs about work and life at

Judith Fitzsimmons is an author, yoga instructor, aromatherapist, and most importantly, a mom. She lives with her adopted cat Parker in Franklin, TN, near her beautiful daughter Chelsea.

Marianne Fosnow has been an avid reader and fan of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series for many years. She is proud to have stories included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident. She lives in Fort Mill, SC.

Major Jody Fuller is a comedian, speaker, writer, and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. As a lifetime stutterer, he’s an advocate for stuttering awareness. Jody has worked with some of the biggest names in comedy and has entertained troops in fourteen countries around the world. Jody lives in Alabama with his dog and cat.

Christina Galeone is a freelance journalist. She writes regularly for Beliefnet, Community Advocate, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, The Yankee Xpress, and The Catholic Free Press. She’s grateful to be a part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family and grateful to be able to honor her selfless, beautiful, loving mom, Barbara, in this way.

Kim Goodrich was inspired to write her story while she was mourning the loss of her beloved mom, Marlene. Kim has always had a passion for writing and found that writing about her experience was healing. She is grateful for her mom’s unconditional love, which gave her the courage to write and submit her story.

Melissa Basinger Green received her Bachelor of Science in Secondary Science Education from the University of Georgia in 1995 and her Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Theatre from the University of Georgia in 2001. She currently resides in Georgia and works as a 911 dispatcher. She has two teenage sons.

Derek H. is the author of several novels and a collection of short stories. His books are widely read and are available on

Barbara E. Haley, an educator and reading interventionist, lives in San Antonio, TX, and enjoys writing at IHOP and spending time with her grandchildren. She has published devotions on living with chronic pain and three juvenile chapter books. Learn more at

A freelance writer and editor, Sarah Hamaker has written Ending Sibling Rivalry and Hired @ Home. Her stories have appeared in previous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and she’s a frequent blogger for The Washington Post’s “On Parenting.” Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband and four children.

Carol Elaine Harrison writes to her mother and father, Joe and Opal France, and her grandmother, Ethel Lee. She credits the confidence to write to her most supportive fan, her husband, Mike.

Hilary Hattenbach, a writer and marketing strategist living in Los Angeles, is the co-author of The Kitchen Decoded Cookbook (Skyhorse 2104.) An aspiring tap dancer and joyologist, her work has been published in Entropy and The Eastsider. She’s working on a collection of personal essays for publication.

Christy Heitger-Ewing, an award-winning writer and columnist who writes human interest stories for national, regional, and local magazines, has contributed to a dozen anthologies and is the author of Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat ( She lives in Indiana with her husband and two sons.

Kelly Hennigan loves being able to share her writing with others. She thanks her mom, Nancy Sanderson, for believing in her writing. Nancy always patiently listened when Kelly shared her latest prose. She treasures her mother and asks all who read this to please pray for her mom’s healing from lung cancer and Crohn’s disease.

Julie Hornok’s stories have appeared in several publications and websites, and this is her fifth appearance in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When she is not busy driving her three kids all around town, she loves to teach yoga and support families living with autism. Learn more at

Allison Howell has been published twice before in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and writes a bi-monthly column for her local newspaper, The Frontiersman. She enjoys reading, community theater, and outdoor fun in Alaska with her husband and children.

Sharilynn Hunt is a retired medical social worker and founder of New Creation Realities Ministry, a teaching and prayer ministry. She authored Prevailing Prayer, a training manual for prayer groups. She writes devotionals and her new 31-day devotional book, Grace Overcomes Today, will be released this year.

Karla James is a devoted wife and mother of two beautiful boys. She is an elementary educator with fifteen years of experience. Karla enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and writing.

Deborah Kellogg has a BA and MA in German, and is finishing another MA in English. She is a tenured professor in German at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN. She has three children and two grandchildren. She loves traveling, writing, biking, and anything having to do with the German.

Anna Sofia Kendall is the author of College PaperBuddy, a guide for writing academic papers. She has also previously been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and various journal articles. She isn’t a mom in the traditional sense, but is “turtle mom” to the world’s coolest box turtle, Monèt. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sylvia J. King is a sixty-nine-year-old author enjoying retirement. Writing has been a lifelong love. She keeps herself busy by being the learning coach for five online, home-schooled children through the K12 program.

Miranda Koerner received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University in 2006 and has been working as a writer and a journalist ever since. She will graduate with her master’s in education and creative writing in May 2017. She lives with her daughter, Adrielle, her husband, Ben, and two Chihuahuas, Bitty and Bear.

Pauline Koh-Banerjee is a former tenure-track professor turned full-time mom and freelance writer living in California. When not shuttling her kids around town, Pauline can be found volunteering in the classroom, working out in the weight room, or coaching youth soccer.

Crescent LoMonaco used her knowledge from years 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 California coast with her husband and son.

Originally from upstate New York, Linda Lou is a humor writer and stand-up comic who has made Las Vegas her home since 2003. Her Amazon bestselling memoir, Bastard Husband: A Love Story, is a hilarious account of her experience starting over in Sin City after a mid-life divorce.

Nancy Maggio is a native of California, where she received her teaching credential in music. Now retired, she lives in Leisure World Seal Beach and still enjoys singing with two different groups. She is also active in creative writing and theater groups. Nancy writes nonfiction stories from life changing experiences.

Tina Wagner Mattern is a Portland, OR writer/hairstylist/wife/mother. She has been blessed with not one, but two, awesome mothers, the one who gave birth to her and the one who adopted her at the age of seven. This will be her eleventh story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Gena McCown is a women’s ministry coach, public speaker, and writer from South Florida. Married for over eighteen years to her husband Justin, they have been blessed with three daughters. Gena has a heart for serving women, and sharing messages of hope, love, and forgiveness.

Sarah McCrobie has contributed to multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. A native of Oswego, NY, Sarah enjoys photography, writing and making memories with her family in the small port city she calls home. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Oswego and does public relations work in an academic setting.

Judy Mickelson enjoys visiting shut-ins and being a hospice volunteer. She reads voraciously, travels widely, plays bridge, and has been a “Foreign Friendship Family” for twenty years. She would like to thank Jan Bathke, who is Irma’s daughter and Judy’s friend, along with her friend, Barb Frailing, for their help in writing the story.

Katelyn Mills is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master’s degree in elementary/special education. She has a passion for teaching, writing, traveling, and fitness.

Monica Morris writes from her century-old farmhouse where she lives with her husband, Joe, one dog and three cats. She is a regular contributor to Guideposts and is at work on her second book, a historical novel set during the Civil War.

Skip Myers is a leading security industry expert and speaker specializing in fraud prevention and risk analysis. He resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and family.

Trudie Nash, a retired educator, has worked for over forty years with the Greenville County School District. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Winston-Salem State University and her Master’s of Education from Columbia College. She is the grandmother of three of the world’s most adorable children.

Julie Osborne is a former editor, feature writer, and columnist for Current Publishing in Carmel, IN. She recently launched into the freelance world with her blog Tales of Oz at Her best friend is a rescue dog whose name happened to be Toto when they met. E-mail her at [email protected].

Gordon Osmond is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School. He is the author of eight produced stage plays, three published novels, and three published nonfiction books about English, his life, and sports. He loves dogs, cats, and select humans. E-mail him at [email protected].

Eleanor OToole was born and raised in northwest Connecticut along with eleven siblings. Her writing is inspired by people and life events. Eleanor works in a private school and loves reading, baseball, and the beach. She shares her home with the love of her life, Joe, and a sixteen-year-old cat named Mandy.

Nancy Emmick Panko is a retired pediatric nurse who began writing her real life experiences at the urging of a friend. She is a seven-time contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and is the author of the inspirational novel, Guiding Missal. Nancy and her husband live in North Carolina near their two children and four grandchildren.

Jamie D. Parker wrote her story after the passing of her mother. She misses her greatly.

Galen Pearl lives in the Pacific Northwest, close to her five kids and two grandchildren. She is the author of the book 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), and of the blog No Way Cafe, found at E-mail her at [email protected].

Tina Plantamura is a writer at heart and a seamstress by trade. She lives on the New Jersey Shore with her husband, three sons, and two black cats. Tina hopes to publish her first novel soon.

Sandra Plawski retired in 2015 after forty-five years of traveling and being self-employed in the jewelry and exotic water plant business. She and her husband live on a farm in rural Colorado. She enjoys nature, her cat Jet, and stargazing at night, when she gets ideas for her writing to inspire people of all ages.

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].

Georgia Putney received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Virginia in 2013. She currently resides in her hometown in Virginia where she works at an advertising agency. When she’s not working, Georgia enjoys reading and writing, playing tennis, and being with friends and family.

Leah Reynolds received her Master of Science degree in 2009 from the University of Maryland. She is married with two boys and is an author of psychological thrillers and nonfiction novels. Leah enjoys writing, traveling, reading books of all genres and spending time with her family.

Terri Rilea simply enjoys writing. Writing is one way to share our life’s experiences and to keep those memories alive. It has been a lifelong dream of hers to become published. That dream came true when the Chicken Soup for the Soul series decided to publish this story. She is beyond delighted!

Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from New Hampshire. She is a married mom of five grown children and a couple of extras. Her favorite role is that of Nana to Lilly and Aiden.

Rose Robson is a Coast Guard veteran turned stay-at-home mother of two wonderful daughters, Sarah and Lily. She is married to the love of her life James, and they chose to make their home in Rose’s hometown of Newnan, GA. Rose recently completed her BA in Criminology in 2016 and is currently enjoying life with her family.

Thom Schwarz, RN, is approaching the decade mark of his hospice and palliative care nursing work and forty years as a registered nurse. He thinks it’s time to retire and write his historical novel, The Keeper and His Wives, set in New England in 1887-88.

M.J. Shea is a freelance writer in Clinton, CT. She and her husband enjoy kayaking, antiquing, biking, and frequent walks to the shore. M.J. recently left a lengthy career with the judicial branch of the State of Connecticut to pursue her dream of writing and illustrating children’s books.

Drew Sheldon was raised by a single mother in a time and place where that was highly unusual. That led him to follow an uncommon path through life and he’s now aspiring to be the kind of writer his mother would like. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his girlfriend and their blended family of fur-babies.

Alison Shelton received her Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master’s degree and taught high school English for thirty years. Now retired, she enjoys her family, two dogs and a variety of craft projects. She writes for an association magazine and, occasionally, for other periodicals.

Katelyn Stanis grew up in Michigan and has been writing since she was in second grade. She currently resides in Jersey City and enjoys running, barre dance classes, and cooking. Katelyn writes inspirational stories for young women. For partnership inquiries, contact Katelyn at [email protected].

Noelle Sterne received her Ph.D. from Columbia University and has published over 400 essays, writing craft and spiritual articles, and fiction. Her book, Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation, evolved from her coaching practice with struggling graduate students. Her book, Trust Your Life, helps readers release regrets and reach lifelong yearnings.

Dawn Storey is a wife, mother, and a systems specialist. A spiritual seeker, she dreams of writing books that inspire readers. Her first book, Discussions with My Best Self: Journaling to the Soul Within, is a result of her passion for metaphysics and her love of journaling. Learn more at

Sheila Taylor-Clark received her BBA, with highest honors, from Jackson State University in 1993. She is a CPA who enjoys traveling, fine dining, and blogging. Sheila is married to Nate and is a mom to McKenzie. A two-time breast cancer survivor, she plans to write her first novel soon. E-mail her at [email protected].

Shannon Thompson is a middle school student who is active in her community. She loves drama, choir and all things music. Shannon plans to pursue a career in musical theater and performing arts, attending a prestigious musical college like Juilliard or American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Tanya J. Tyler is a freelance writer and editor living in Lexington, KY. She is also an ordained minister in the Christian church, Disciples of Christ, and has served churches in Kentucky and Illinois.

Patricia Voyce writes from her home in Pleasant Hill, IA.

Bev Walters is retired and lives in Kansas with her husband and children. She is from a large family and writes about growing up and hopes to write her life story within the next three years. Writing has been her lifelong passion.

Marcia Wells taught middle and high school students for twenty years. After encouraging her students to reach for their dreams, she decided to retire early to pursue her own. She has written two young adult fantasy novels. She and her husband live in Eastern Washington. Marcia enjoys family, skiing, and snorkeling.

Stacie D. Williams received her BA in English and Writing in 2012, and her MA degree in English in 2016. She enjoys spending time in the country, reading, cross-stitch, working on crafts, and writing. Stacie currently resides in Southern Oregon with her mother. She plans to write full-time in the future.

Margie Williamson has degrees from the University of Georgia and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She works as a writer and editor and writer of Life Bible Study Curriculum. She loves to travel, spend time with her family and friends, and bury herself in a good book. Her greatest joy is being a mom and grandmom.

Marjorie Woodall is the mother of two, stepmother of two, and grandmother of one darling baby. And even though she still tends to think she always knows best, she reluctantly admits that she continues to learn from her own mother even today.

Dallas Woodburn is a writer, editor, teacher, and literacy advocate living in the San Francisco Bay Area. To date, she has been a proud contributor to more than two-dozen titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She regularly blogs about simple, joyful, healthy living at

Rebecca Yauger is the web manager for American Christian Fiction Writers. She worked in radio and TV before starting her writing career. She scribbles away on various projects and blogs at She and her husband live near Dallas and have two grown children and one grandchild.

Hannah Yoder lives on a small farm in southern Ohio. She particularly enjoys training horses, especially ex-racehorses. She appreciates fine literature and would love to join the ranks of classic authors.

Amelia Zahm lives in rural northeastern Oregon and spends her time in the mountains, valleys, and canyons of Wallowa County, either on foot or on horseback. Her work has been published at The Manifest-Station, Oregon East, and Jenny. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Eastern Oregon University.

Sheri Zeck enjoys writing creative nonfiction stories that encourage, inspire, and entertain others. She lives in Illinois with her husband and three daughters. Sheri’s stories have appeared in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Farm and Ranch Living and numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Learn more at

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