Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

Meet Our Contributors

Lorraine Allison received her Master of Arts in English, with honors, from Salem State University in 1993 where she now teaches composition and literature. She has one son and a Shetland Sheepdog. Lorraine enjoys book collecting, listening to jazz music, and taking walks by the shore. She plans to write a historical novel.

Tammy Allison has a BA in gerontology and her MBA. She also writes feature stories for her local newspaper. Tammy has worked in long-term care for sixteen years and loves working with the older generation. She is married to her high school sweetheart and has two children who are the inspiration for her writing.

Michelle Armbrust lives in Virginia with her husband, Brian, daughter, Isabella, and son, Isaiah. She is passionate about leading women into becoming lovers of God’s Word, which will enable them to live the abundant life they were meant to lead. She is working on creating her own line of Bible study journals for women.

Natasha Basinger lives in Northern Indiana with her husband of ten years. She has two young children, Ava and Andrew. Natasha enjoys vacationing in Traverse City, MI and taking her children to Disney World each year. She hopes to one day publish her own children’s and/ or young adult book. E-mail her at [email protected].

Emily Bednarz received her Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2012. She completed her Master’s degree in English at the University of Western Ontario, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Wilfrid Laurier. She resides in Kitchener, Ontario, but loves visiting Cape Breton, Nova Scotia whenever she can.

Brooke Bent resides in Bozeman, MT with her husband Tim and daughter Zoey. She uses her passion for writing along with her degrees in Spanish Education and English Literature to write about her life experiences. Follow her blog at

Patty Benz is now the proud Grammy of four and still continues to be visited by the bumblebees.

David L. Bishop was raised in a small Missouri town by loving parents who both worked in education. This instilled in him a respect for education and books. After graduating with a degree in political science, he turned to his passion of writing. When not writing, David enjoys watching sports and having conversations with good friends.

Lil Blosfield is the CFO for The Counseling Center of Columbiana County in Ohio. She has been writing since she was a young girl and has accumulated an eclectic collection of stories and poems. Lil also enjoys seeing people smile and a good laugh! E-mail her at [email protected].

Susan Grady Bristol is a retired pediatric/NICU nurse. She and her husband, Dennis, have three grown sons and four grandchildren. Besides family, writing is her passion. She has written several short stories and articles in professional journals. She belongs to the Nebraska Writers Guild.

John P. Buentello has published essays, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He’s the co-author of Reproduction Rights, Binary Tales and Night Rose of the Mountain. He’s at work on a mystery novel and a picture book for children. 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.

Emily H. Cappo is a mom to three sons, married to her college sweetheart, and a writer, blogger and Essay Specialist for a college prep company where she works with high school students on their college application essays. Emily is also an iced tea junkie and a tennis-playing fanatic whose game never improves.

Cynthia Siems Carlson is a wife, mother, grandmother, and special education teacher in Rochester, MN. She loves quilting, reading, and writing about family history.

Eva Carter is a freelance writer living in Dallas, TX with her Canadian-born husband. She was born in Czechoslovakia, raised in New York and is an avid photographer with a background in finance. E-mail her at [email protected].

Savannah D. Cassel is a registered nurse living in Central Pennsylvania. She is honored to be publishing her second story in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and is married to the man that inspired her first story featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.

Bridget Chambers is a Life Coach and writer at Her advice has been featured in outlets such as Teen Vogue, Elite Daily, SheKnows, and Huffington Post. Through coaching, speaking engagements, and contributions to the media, Bridget is regarded as a go-to personal development expert for Generation Y.

Teri Anne Conrad grew up riding on the back of her mom’s motorcycle and has been riding her own bike since 2003. She is an avid writer, editor, and photographer. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and stand-up paddle boarding. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online magazines.

Maril Crabtree grew up in Memphis and New Orleans but calls the Midwest home. Her most recent poetry book is Fireflies in the Gathering Dark (Kelsay Books, 2017). Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. More of her work can be seen at

Elaine D’Alessandro enjoys writing fiction for children, and nonfiction short stories for adults. Her work has appeared in children’s magazines, and a child anthology. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband. She has four children and five grandchildren. Elaine enjoys gardening, snowshoeing, hiking, and walking by the ocean.

Trudy M. Davies enjoys writing for adults and children. She has written and illustrated three children’s books and published a collection of her poetry for adults paired with her husband’s beautiful photography. Writing poetry is a way of sharing smiles, ideas, and saving special moments. Learn more at

Twink DeWitt and her husband raised three sons while he served in the Air Force. They then volunteered with Mercy Ships and Youth With A Mission (YWAM). Twink speaks about her book, The Trust Diamond. She has five stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Xochitl (so-cheel) E. Dixon serves as a writer for Our Daily Bread. She is currently working on a devotional for dog lovers who desire deeper relationships with God and others. She enjoys being a mom, traveling with her husband, Alan, and encouraging spiritual growth at and

Jocelyn Drawhorn is a creative writing professional and photographer who calls North Carolina home. Aside from photography and corporate work, Jocelyn dabbles in poetry, music, and marketing. She is an upbeat, resilient individual who loves to create. Regardless of the avenue, she’ll find a way to squeeze something out of it!

MaryLou Driedger is a newspaper columnist, art gallery tour guide, and university faculty supervisor who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She and her husband love to travel. They have two grandsons. MaryLou is currently trying to find publishers for a middle-grade novel and a picture book she has written.

Laurie Carnright Edwards enjoys writing and working with children. She has degrees from Berkshire Christian College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a proud mom and mother-in-law, and the happy wife of her husband Dale. She has had stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and Leadership Journal online.

Penny Fedorczenko is a retired teacher living in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening, reading, and, of course, writing in her spare time. She has had several other stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and is currently working on some children’s stories and a romance novel.

A native of Atlanta who now lives in Sugar Hill, GA, Timothy Freeman loves his wife, his family, his Coonhound, Georgia Tech Sports, Atlanta Braves baseball and southern rock & roll (in that order). He spends his time piddling with his guitar, writing songs, and writing short stories.

Steven Friedman has a Master’s of Arts in Anthropology, and currently teaches middle school social studies in Northern California. Widowed in 2010, he has two children, and recently remarried. Steven enjoys cycling, running, music, and books.

BJ Gallagher is an inspirational speaker and author of more than thirty books, including an international bestseller A Peacock in the Land of Penguins and Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Other Women and The Power of Positive Doing. Learn more at

Kevin Gerard lives with two feline friends, Jesse and Jelly. When not writing or teaching, he enjoys the San Diego Zoo, South Cardiff State Beach, and the local Pizza Port. He also enjoys playing Halo on the Internet; look for him in the rocket games as one of the characters from Diego’s Dragon or Conor and the Crossworlds.

Pamela Gilsenan is the mother of five adult children whose names all start with the letter “J.”

Besides her Master’s thesis in archaeology, C. J. Godwin has written for college journals, local papers, and community newsletters, and currently ghostwrites online media for a handful of local businesses. C. J. graduated from the University of Florida and lives in St. Augustine with her family.

Anita Gogno has been a writer, editor, hospital PR Director, and columnist for local newspapers. Her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Charlie and their beloved dog, Roosie.

Karen Gorback is a former college dean with a doctorate in education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her award-winning novel, Freshman Mom, tells the story of a single parent’s struggles and joys in returning to college. Learn more at

Arlene Rains Graber is an award-winning journalist, novelist, and devotional writer in Wichita, KS. She is published in magazines, newspapers, and periodicals, and is the author of seven books. When not writing, she enjoys scrapbooking and yoga. Visit her at

Brenda Davis Harsham lives in New England with her husband and three kids. When she isn’t writing, she photographs nature and scarfs chocolate. Her award-winning poetry and prose have been published in numerous anthologies and journals. Visit her popular website at or on Twitter at @BrendaDHarsham.

Maureen Hart is a retired teacher who enjoys reading, time spent with family, friends and pup, frozen mochas, and smelling the roses. She is a literacy volunteer.

Suzan Teall Headley is a former small business owner. She lives part-time in Kona, HI, part-time in Bozeman, MT, and part-time at their respective airports. When she’s not traveling, she dedicates her time to writing novels, painting, and making ceramic art in her studio.

Sheila Helmberger has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and has been a freelance writer for nearly twenty years. She lives in Minnesota and has three children and three grandchildren. She enjoys telling stories of everyday life and is currently working on a handful of children’s books. E-mail her at [email protected].

Christine L. Henderson’s stories have been featured in numerous anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Heaven Touching Earth, 21 Days of Love, and Life Lessons from Dads. She is an active member of the Children’s Writers Workshop and Christian Writers Group of San Antonio.

Eileen Melia Hession is a former teacher and publisher’s rep whose writing has appeared in many publications. Her book, Vittles in Verse, was published in 2017. She loves running, yoga, and her fabulous daughter. She believes there is a need for more levity in life and her writing reflects that belief.

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

David Hull is a retired teacher who enjoys writing, reading, and spoiling his nieces and nephews. He lives in Holley, NY.

Jeanie Jacobson is on the Wordsowers Christian Writers leadership team. She has been published in ten Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Jeanie loves visiting family and friends, reading, hiking, praise dancing, and gardening. Grab her fun book, Fast Fixes for the Christian Pack-Rat, online. Learn more at

Cassie Jones graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014 and now teaches in Houston, TX. She enjoys writing, reading, and playing video games in her spare time.

Jean Jones enjoys hiking, horseback riding, and reading, and is eternally grateful for the incredible gift of second chances.

Jill Keller is a novelist who lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. When not writing, she enjoys pursuing her passions of cooking, visiting the library, taking walks on the Appalachian Trail and reading to her children. Learn more at kellerjf.

James Kinneen is a freelance writer from Braintree, MA. His writing has appeared on and

Kathleen Kohler writes about the ups and downs of family life for numerous magazines and anthologies. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, and have three children and seven grandchildren. Visit to read more of her articles or enter her latest contest.

Nancy Julien Kopp is a Kansan, originally from Chicago but she has lived in the Flint Hills of Kansas for many years. She writes creative nonfiction, memoir, inspirational, award-winning children’s fiction, poetry and articles on the writing craft. She’s published in eighteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, other anthologies, ezines and Internet radio.

Dr. Beth Krone-Downes is a licensed clinical psychologist, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and clinical educator, a scientific researcher, a pet rescuer, an organic gardener, a music enthusiast, a pretty good cook, and a mother of three wonderful human beings. This is her first published literary work outside of academia.

D.K. Laidler has two Bachelor degrees plus a Master’s in Literacy from the University of Michigan. She is a special education teacher with the Department of Corrections and enjoys traveling, photography, and writing. She is currently working on her first novel.

From the time her mother taught her to read at age three, Traci E. Langston has read everything she could get her hands on. Now her reading has led her into being an author. She writes in a variety of genres from children’s books to romance. She enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and their three cats.

Denise LaRosa is a children’s book author, educator and CEO/founder of Mom Talk with Denise LaRosa, LLC. A devoted wife and mother of two precious girls, Denise earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in dance from Radford University in 2003 and graduated from Carlow University in 2008 with a Master of Education degree.

Brenda Leppington lives in Saskatchewan, Canada and works as an Information Manager within the healthcare system. She is a previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Brenda enjoys traveling, writing, and spending time with her horses.

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.

Donna Lorrig is a writer and an award-winning photographer, with articles and photos appearing in Colorado’s Front Range news publications, including The Gazette and the Colorado Springs Independent. She is a homeschooling mother of seven, and previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She thrives on the creative process.

Cynthia A. Lovely, of New York, is a freelance writer, musician and minister’s wife. Published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, she is working on a novel and a non-fiction title. She is forever grateful for the God-gift of her husband and the gain of a lovely signature. Learn more at

Katherine Mabb is a teacher, a freelance writer, previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and a proud mother—not necessarily in that order!

Crissy Martin received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Wesleyan University in 2007. She currently works as an art teacher in Fort Worth, TX. Cristin enjoys writing, painting and photography. She plans on writing children’s books in the future.

Carolyn McCartney is a teacher in Jersey, UK. She was born in Belfast and has published a novel set during the troubles in the 1980s. Carolyn also writes pantomimes, loves Elves and Leonard Cohen, has a wonderful son and a long-suffering soul mate of some twenty years. Her mission is to make poetry popular!

Christine McCleod is a lawyer and treaty negotiator in Canada’s far north. She lives in the Thousand Islands region of Ontario with her husband, and they enjoy road trips, playing guitar, canoeing on their mill pond, and a good craft beer in front of the woodstove.

Ronni Meier received her Bachelor of Science at Taylor University, majoring in Professional Writing and minoring in Christian Education and Youth Ministry. She loves to write, sing, cheer for the Indianapolis Colts, and encourage others. Ronni plans to write inspirational young adult books and become a public speaker.

Cindy J. Morris received her Bachelor of Arts from Boise State University in 2013. She enjoys biking and hiking with Rob, her husband of twenty-eight years. She has two daughters, Jessica and Brittney, who live near her in Boise, ID. Her weekends are often spent with her three grandchildren spending the night and going on adventures.

Nicole Muchowski has been writing fiction for four years, in the spare moments between raising children to school age—not yet there, but very close. Prior to that, she wrote scientific reports as an environmental consultant. Writing full-time will be the next big chapter for Nicole.

Elaine Herrin Onley, a retired public relations professional and former missionary, has written extensively for religious publications. Elaine is the author of three books and co-author of a fourth. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book and Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love.

Blogger, lover of Jesus, and Detroit native! Candace L. Parker is thirty years old and lives by the motto, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!” Connect with Candace on her blog,, where she spills about life, love, and so much more!

Kesha Phillips is a passionate creator and consumer of art and media. You’ll find her all around the web sharing her parenting journey, which includes everything from hilarious family videos to her refreshing takes on raising kids today. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and twins.

April Pollack has enjoyed writing for the past fourteen years. She recently received her AA in Liberal Arts from Bismarck State College and is currently pursuing her life-long dream of attending cosmetology school. She is blogging her way through it at so future cosmetologists know what to expect.

Kay Presto’s stories have been published in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She recently published a middle grade go-karting mystery novel, Chasing the Checkered Flag, which has recently won two national awards. Kay loves writing, and has written ten additional children’s books. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jilly Pretzel earned her MFA in creative writing from Chapman University and her BA in Philosophy from the University of Redlands. She is a California native, and enjoys loitering in bookstores, watching Netflix with her fiancé, and hanging out with her cat, Kierkegaard.

Beth Rice never became a journalist. Working odd jobs, she married and raised a family. When her father intervened with a request for her to return to writing, she did. Beth has one children’s book, I’m Adopted, I’m Special, to her name. She works as a content writer for JMX Brands, contributing to the DutchCrafters blog.

Mark Rickerby has contributed eighteen stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He is co-creator and head writer of a western TV series in development, co-author of his father’s memoir The Other Belfast: An Irish Youth, and he wrote/sang fifteen songs on Great Big World, a CD inspired by and dedicated to his daughters Marli and Emma.

Rebecca Rimmer is a writer and blogger who lives in Warwickshire, England. She likes to look closer at things, contemplating the world around her, through the power of words. This philosophical outlook is also why she is an avid tattoo collector, and is covered in memories and meanings that she will wear forever.

Liza Rosenberg is an American expat living in Israel with her husband and thirteen-year-old son. Tech writer by day and freelance writer by night, Liza writes for a variety of local and international publications. Her passions include music, escaping to the desert, and making ice cream. Learn more at

A nationally-published essayist and public speaking instructor, Joel Schwartzberg is the author of two award-winning personal essay collections: The 40-Year-Old Version and Small Things Considered. Learn more at

Cathy Shavalier-Chernow received her BA in Anthropology and her M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities. Retiring after thirty years of teaching, she now has the time to pursue her creative spirit in other avenues: painting and writing.

Angelena Shepard lives in Los Angeles with her husband and cat. She is currently earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing/ Screenwriting. During her down time, you will likely find her at the beach (weather permitting), or watching Hallmark movies. E-mail her at [email protected].

Leigh Smith is a middle-age life voyager who currently resides in South Carolina with her enduring confidant and husband of twenty-three years, a wickedly intelligent and visionary teenage son who lights up their world, and two feline entertainers. She plans to keep dreaming and continue writing.

Reverend James L. Snyder is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including Guideposts In Pursuit of God: The Life of A.W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 from Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited thirty books altogether.

Sandeep Sreedharan lives and works in New Jersey. He used to do the same in India, Africa, and the Middle East, marketing a range of consumer products along the way. Sandeep and his wife love travel, food, and traveling for food. He revels in translating experiences into words.

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

Gary Stein has enjoyed a long career on Wall Street and in media. He built a thirty-time Emmy-winning kids TV firm and has consulted for Lionsgate, Miramax and Seventh Generation. A frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Gary’s blessed with a loving wife and some amazing mentees.

Lynn Sunday is an artist, writer, and animal advocate who lives near San Francisco with her husband and two senior rescue dogs. Eleven of her stories appear in ten Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and numerous other publications. E-mail her at [email protected].

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

Johnny Tan is a keynote speaker, talk show host, award-winning and bestselling author, and founder of From My Mama’s Kitchen. His radio show has amassed over one million listeners. From My Mama’s Kitchen Inspirational Signs are available online. Johnny welcomes comments at

Two years ago, Sylvia Brich Thompson and her husband moved to San Luis Obispo, CA. SLO (slow) is what the locals call this ideal central coast college town. Sylvia enjoys writing, nature, and cooking. Gardening is a challenge, sharing vegetables with pesky ground squirrels! And, with her remarkable family, Sylvia is always grateful.

Christine Trollinger is a freelance author who has had many of her stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. After retiring from the insurance business she took up writing for pleasure and was soon being published. She is a widow with three grown children.

Dawn Turzio is an award-winning writer whose work has been featured in many publications including The New York Times, MSN Lifestyle, Yahoo! News, and Salon, which can be found at

Ed VanDeMark has three previous stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He has a new book titled We May Have Done It Sort Of, Almost Exactly Like This, available online. He lives in Owego, NY with his wife Linda. They have three adult children and nine grandchildren. E-mail him at [email protected].

Lizette Vega received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministries from The Master’s University in California. She is the author of NINE! The Nine Virtues Known as the Fruit of the Spirit, and two children’s books, Alligator Loose in the City! and its sequel Alligator Loose in the Train Depot!

Dorann Weber is a freelance photographer for a southern New Jersey newspaper and a contributor for Getty Images. She has a newfound love for writing, especially for Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She lives in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey with her family and loves taking long walks. E-mail her at [email protected].

Marcia Wells taught middle and high school students for twenty years. After encouraging them to follow their dreams, she decided to retire early to pursue her own. She has since written two young adult fantasy novels and is working on two others. Marcia lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and family.

Audrey RL Wyatt is a multi-award-winning author, writing instructor, and speaker. Audrey’s novel, Poles Apart, has been honored with five awards and her essays and short fiction have been published in various forums, both in print and online. Learn more at

Charlie Wyatt was born in Alabama and received a BA in English Literature from Auburn University. He served in the Navy including in Vietnam as skipper of a PCF (Swift Boat). He has been writing short stories and memoirs for the past ten years. He currently lives in Southern California.

Hannah Yoder is a misplaced Tennessean wandering the foreign lands of Southern Ohio. She is a full-time crazy horse lady, part-time trainer of retired racehorse Thoroughbreds, and part-time freelance writer.

Luanne Tovey Zuccari is the mother of three and the grandmother of eight who lives in western New York. She is an online freelance copywriter and a retired community relations specialist for public schools. Her memories of growing up in Kansas include many of her mother’s lessons in kindness and empathy for others.

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