Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

Meet Our Contributors

Because of her experiences on her first trip to Bolivia, Linda Allen returns annually to work with medical and construction teams. She enjoys writing about her experiences and “second family” in Bolivia. E-mail her at [email protected].

Shannon Anderson has her Master of Education degree and lives in Indiana where she enjoys spending time with her family, running, writing, teaching, presenting, and learning. She taught first grade for sixteen years and is currently an elementary literacy coach and high ability coordinator. E-mail her at [email protected].

KT Banks has been an avid reader since childhood, reading all types of genres, and she still does. She believes in paying it forward and loves helping other people. Her novels are in the thriller genre, with lots of action, adventure and romance. Learn more at

Shinan Barclay is a ceramic artist and writer. Her first love is gardening. She is the co-author of Moontime for Kory, a rite of passage adventure, and she has been published in three other Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. She lives on the Oregon coast.

Valerie D. Benko received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Slippery Rock University in 2002, where she studied journalism and creative writing. She writes from western Pennsylvania and is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Visit her online at

Sarah Bergman is married to the man of her dreams and resides in her hometown with their three incredible children. She has been a classroom teacher, freelance writer, and has been involved in children’s ministry for most of her life. She loves to help kids come to know the love of Christ.

Rita Bosel, a native of Germany, lives in Flagler Country, FL. After more than two decades of work in a multinational company that took her to many countries, she enjoys capturing the defining moments that shaped her life’s stories.

Teresa Brightwell, award-winning writer, speaker, and former “woman at the well,” is passionate about sharing the hope of Christ. After a disastrous first marriage ended in adultery and the tragic death of her son, Teresa has a passion to empower others to become soul-healthy.

Alexander Brokaw received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University in 2011. He currently lives in New York City, where he is working on his first book. E-mail him at [email protected].

Maureen Bruschi is a freelance non-fiction, travel and sports writer and photographer. Her articles appear in a number of publications including GoNOMAD, BootsnAll Travel, TravelLady Magazine, Offbeat Travel, Real Travel Adventures,, Lovin’ Life After 50, Budget Travel, 40plus Travel and Leisure, The Writer and USTA Middle States newsletter. E-mail her at [email protected].

Georgia Bruton, a freelance editor and writer of children’s books, received her B.A. from University of North Dakota. Currently, she lives in Florida with her husband, Steve. A mother of two and grandmother of three, she spends time enjoying her family, working with children, walking, writing, and reading. E-mail her at [email protected].

John P. Buentello is an author who has published many works of non-fiction, fiction and poetry. He teaches college classes in creative writing, and is currently at work on a book about writing fiction. E-mail him at [email protected].

Jane Congdon is the author of a memoir, It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me (October 2011, Bettie Youngs Books). A native of West Virginia, she graduated from Concord University in Athens, WV, and was a textbook editor in Cincinnati, OH, for thirty years. Contact her at

Courtney Conover is a writer and yogini who resides in Michigan with her husband, Scott. And this fall, baby makes three: Their first child, Scotty Jr., is due in September. This is Courtney’s fifth contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Visit her online at

Freelance writer and speaker Julie B. Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications. She has published three Bible studies and one fiction book. Julie has one grown son and lives in Fort Worth, TX, with two cats. Visit her website at

Jeannette de Beauvoir is an award-winning author and playwright whose work has appeared in fifteen countries and has been translated into twelve languages. She lives and works in an old sea captain’s house at the tip of Cape Cod, MA, with one bat, two lovebirds, and thousands of books.

Diana DeAndrea-Kohn is a small business owner and writer. She has three boys, Kenny, Alex, and Brodie. She would like to thank her husband Scott for being so supportive of her writing.

Sheri Gammon Dewling, a former software executive, runs a small consulting business, while raising two small children in Markham, Canada. Sheri aspires to turn her life lessons into stories that will inspire others. E-mail Sheri at [email protected].

C.M. Downie received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arkansas in 1961. She balanced a thirty-five-plus-year career in information technology with an M.A. degree in English/Literature from the University of Minnesota in 1992 and various dabblings in print. She enjoys scuba diving, wilderness camping and several of the arts.

Danielle M. Dryke is a program evaluator and researcher with an M.S. degree in International Development from the University of Amsterdam. She has lived in Mali, Lebanon, The Netherlands, Denmark, and her native Minnesota. Danielle enjoys salsa dancing, socializing and retreating at ARC Retreat Center to work on her memoir.

Although Janet Perez Eckles lost her sight, she gained insight to serve as an international speaker, writer, columnist and author of Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta (Judson Press, August 2011). From her home in Florida she imparts inspiration at

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny raise their five sons in Illinois. She home teaches her youngest children and writes about their adventures. Her stories have been published in Guideposts, MomSense, A Cup of Comfort books, Christmas Miracles, Christmas Spirit, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Learn more at

Malinda Dunlap Fillingim enjoys writing, walking, and wondering what will unfold in her life next. Recently she and her husband David relocated to Wilmington, NC, and she hopes to have found a job as a minister by the time you read this. This will make it her twenty-sixth move and she hopes her last. Happiness is contagious!

Judith Fitzsimmons is a freelance writer and business consultant who lives in middle Tennessee. Her hobbies are aromatherapy, yoga, and fitness, but her passion is being a Mom.

Maureen Flynn is a Canadian working mother of three. She expresses her creativity through her writing and painting. She currently writes a weekly column titled “View from the Crow’s Nest” for a local newspaper and continues to pursue work on her murder mystery/ghost story novels. E-mail her at [email protected].

Betsy Franz is an award-winning writer and photographer specializing in nature, wildlife, the environment, and human relationships. Her articles and photos reflecting the wonders of life have been published in numerous books and magazines. She lives in Florida with her husband Tom. Learn more at

Jennifer Gauthier is currently studying Social Services at Laurentian University. She plans to one day work with children and teenagers. Jennifer could not have made it this far without the help of her mother Lynn, Janyk, Anne, Helene and her grandmothers: Gillette and Rachelle. E-mail her at [email protected].

Carol Gibson completed the Christian Writer’s Guild Apprentice Course in 2010 and is a registered nurse with the State of California. She is the author of the book Walking as Children of Light, a devotional currently being offered for publication.

Pamela Gilsenan is the mom of five adult children and various grandchildren. She graduated from Stephens College with an English degree. She hangs around bookstores and libraries looking for story ideas. E-mail her at [email protected].

Michael Gingerich lives in Hershey, PA, with his wife Kathy and his son Matthew. He is also the father of two other sons — Adam and David. He is an author, counselor and pastor. E-mail Michael at [email protected].

Nicole Guiltinan is a first-year college student in Northern California. She plans on entering the field of social work, and works on writing poetry in her spare time. Nicole enjoys reading, poetry, and art. E-mail her at [email protected].

Chelsey Colleen Hankins graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, CA, in 2010. Chelsey enjoys acting, traveling, snowboarding, writing, and directing. She currently resides in Los Angeles and is working on her first book and writing a web series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Judy Harch spent many years editing medical journals. As a freelance journalist, she contributed to The Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications. She is co-author of the book Alzheimer Solutions: A Personal Guide for Caregivers. Judy has written a novel and hopes to have it published. E-mail her at [email protected].

Nancy Hatten grew up in Belvidere, IL, where she enjoyed the change of seasons and fell in love with the Chicago Cubs. Now she lives in beautiful Austin, TX, where she often battles the heat but no longer snow and ice.

Miriam Hill is a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books 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.

Rebecca Hill is delighted to say that she is now in good health and is keeping her promise to God to write every day. She is the author of a children’s book called Don’t You Worry, Don’t You Cry and a novel entitled Confessions of an Innkeeper. E-mail her at [email protected]

Abigail Hoeft received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She plans to use her passion for writing and her own personal experience with schizophrenia to make a positive impact on the lives of others living with disabilities.

Erika Hoffman writes essays, non-fiction narratives, and mysteries. She lives with her true love (yes, that is her husband!) and also with her dad, who provides her with funny stuff!

Ruth Jones lives in Cookeville, TN, with her husband Terry and a very fat cat named Annabel.

Marsha Jordan is no stranger to hardships and suffering. But through it all, she’s kept her sense of humor. She shares her hard-earned wisdom, along with a few laughs, in her book, Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter. Visit her website at or E-mail Marsha at [email protected].

Shannon Kaiser is founder of, a wonderland of adventure, fun and fulfillment. A full-time travel writer, author, and adventure junkie, she inspires people to “love their life to the fullest” and make the most out of every moment.

Nancy Julien Kopp grew up in Chicago and now lives in Kansas. She began writing late in life, but has been published in eleven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, other anthologies, e-zines, magazines and newspapers. Once a classroom teacher, she now teaches through the written word. Visit her blog at

Victoria LaFave is a writer and Marketing Coordinator for nine Catholic schools in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She’s been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad, and My Teacher Is My Hero. Her stories have also appeared in Parents, FamilyFun and Woman’s Day magazines. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jeannie Lancaster, a freelance writer from Loveland, CO, finds happiness in simple things. She writes from her heart about the experiences that have defined her life. A graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, Jeannie has been a life-long lover of words and the power within them.

Lisa McManus Lange is a receptionist by day and writer by night in Victoria, BC, Canada. While writing towards publication in humorous women’s fiction, her work can be found in national and international magazines, as well as a writing reference book. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit

Dina Leacock has been writing for twenty years and has 200 short stories and two books published. When not writing she’s a senior citizen center director. The mother of two sons, Dina resides with her husband and her cat on the edge of the Pine Barrens in Southern New Jersey.

Laurie Leal holds a master’s degree in elementary education and teaches third and fourth grade in Massachusetts. Laurie enjoys scrap-booking, Tae Kwon Do, whitewater rafting, visiting with friends, and caring for animals. She is in the process of getting her first novel published. E-mail her at [email protected].

Craig Learn recently graduated from Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism. Craig is trying to break into the industry and hopes this can be his first break. He loves writing human interest stories, as well as sports stories. E-mail him at [email protected].

Linda Lohman, a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series since retiring in 2005, also writes a column for Miss Kitty’s Journal. She thanks God daily for a bounty of supporting friends and family. Living in Sacramento, CA, she loves life as a Red Hat Society Ambassador. E-mail her at [email protected].

Rita Lussier’s column has been a popular weekly feature in The Providence Journal for twelve years. Her essay, “A Sign of the Times,” took first place in the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, an honor she also won in 2006. Her essays have appeared in The Boston Globe and NPR.

Gloria Hander Lyons has channeled thirty years of training and hands-on experience in the areas of art, interior decorating, crafting and event planning into writing creative how-to books, fun cookbooks and humorous slice-of-life stories. Visit her website to read about them at

Shawn Marie Mann is an amusement park geographer and historian living in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. She loves sharing information on Pennsylvania’s amusement parks through her website This is Shawn’s fourth story in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at

Tim Martin’s work has been featured in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He is the author of There’s Nothing Funny About Running and Wimps Like Me. Tim had two children’s novels due out in 2011: Scout’s Oaf and Summer With Dad. E-mail him at [email protected].

Sara Matson lives with her husband and ten-year-old twins in Minnesota, where she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, and home-schooling her kids. She has previously written about her family in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Christmas. E-mail her at [email protected].

Debra Mayhew is a pastor’s wife and home-schooling mom to six children. After faith and family, her greatest passion is writing for children. Debra loves good books, long walks, and an empty laundry basket. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit to learn more.

Ian McCammon is an outgoing guy from Sugar Land, TX. This story is for him as well as the many people who will be inspired to be themselves and not let anyone get in their way.

Heather McGowan is a wife, mother of two young children, and owner of Sounding Board Marketing & Communications in Folsom, CA. Heather blogs about her experiences as a working mother on

Caitlin McLean lives in the Midwest, where she is now a writer, mother, and wife. When she is not writing, Caitlin enjoys other forms of creating, particularly cooking, sewing, knitting, and shooting pictures.

Kimberly Misra lives in western Massachusetts with her husband and four children. Her interests include writing, reading, home-schooling the kids, keeping chickens, and exploring New England. She is currently working on her first novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Richard Nakai is a graduate of the University of La Verne. His interests include Japanese history and European medieval history. He has two cats named Shadow and Tama. Richard is an Aspie. E-mail him at [email protected].

Janice Flood Nichols earned her B.A. degree from Seton Hill College and her M.Ed. from the University of Pittsburgh. As the author of Twin Voices: A Memoir of Polio, the Forgotten Killer she devotes her time to speaking about the importance of polio eradication and vaccination. Learn more at

Carrie O’Maley studied Journalism at Butler University and then received her Master of Library Science degree at Indiana University. She has worked for Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, Muncie Public Library, and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Library, and hopes to have a lifelong career in libraries. E-mail her at [email protected].

Tracey Miller Offutt graduated with a BSN, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University. Her clinical practice focuses on pediatrics. Previously, she was a journalist and editor. She now teaches and is working towards a master’s degree. She is married with two wonderful children. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cary G. Osborne received her B.A. degree from Mary Baldwin College and her MLIS degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2007. She is the author of six novels and a number of short stories. Currently, she is also the Political Papers Archivist at New Mexico State University. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jeannine Ouellette received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Education degree from the University of Ottawa. In 2000, she won the Laura Jamieson Prize for her book on women’s ways of learning. She is currently writing on the healing process. Learn more at

Margie Pasero is a musician and Health Rhythms facilitator. She plays clarinet in ensembles and teaches African drumming. Her women’s group, Namaste Women Who Drum, performs at summer fairs. She brings the spirit of well-being and joy to retirement homes, senior centers and retreat centers through her Health Rhythms programs. E-mail her at [email protected].

Faith Paulsen’s work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You, as well as Literary Mama, Wild River Review, Open Salon, several A Cup of Comfort books, and What Canst Thou Say? She is the co-author of Fun With the Family in Pennsylvania.

Donna Paulson lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her four children. She enjoys reading, walking on the beach, singing in church and laughing with friends. She plans to write novels based on her experiences as a single mother. E-mail her at [email protected].

Marsha Porter has written numerous short stories and non-fiction articles. She co-authored a video movie guide that reviewed 20,000 films. She perfected the 500-word essay in grade school when it was the punishment du jour. Currently she teaches high school English.

Robin Pressnall is Executive Director of Small Paws Rescue Inc., which is featured on Animal Planet’s Dogs 101. She has been a three-time guest on the Fox News Network’s Fox & Friends in NYC. Robin lives in Tulsa, OK, with her husband Dale, and their three Bichon Frises.

Karen Putz is a deaf mom of three deaf and hard of hearing children. She is a contributing writer for the Chicago Tribune, TribLocal and ChicagoNow blog. She is a speaker and board member of Hands & Voices. E-mail Karen at [email protected].

Jennifer Quasha has been a freelance writer and editor since 1998, and she loves to write for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When she’s not writing, editing, or reading, you’ll find her chasing after her human and canine family members, or asleep. Learn more at and

Monica Quijano is one of those awkward, geeky, high school freshmen always writing in a notebook. She hopes to one day be a full-time writer and is currently working on her first novel. This is her first published non-fiction piece. She lives with her family and two cats.

Jamie Anne Richardson is a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband live in a Dallas suburb where she is working on her first chick lit novel while raising their three young kids. E-mail her at [email protected] or check out her website at

Megale Rivera received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Florida Atlantic University, and Master of Education degree from the University of Phoenix. She teaches Adult Education to incarcerated individuals. She enjoys spending time at the beach, reading and spending time with her family.

Carolyn Roy-Bornstein is a pediatrician and award-winning writer. Her essays have been published in many medical and literary journals and anthologies including JAMA, Brain, Child magazine, Literary Mama and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her new memoir Crash! is due out in October of 2012.

Angela Sayers was a twenty-year-old cancer patient who sought to raise awareness for pediatric cancers, especially osteosarcoma. She loved books, writing, playing online Scrabble, and her cat, Charles Fitzpatrick The Third.

John M. Scanlan is a 1983 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps. He is pursuing a second career as a writer. E-mail him at [email protected].

Jenny Scarborough holds a M.Ed. degree from Loyola College in Maryland. She has been teaching since 1996 and currently teaches Language Arts to sixth graders in North Georgia. Jenny enjoys singing, reading, fishing, and spending time with her husband Rob and their son Konrad. This is her first time being published.

Larry Schardt, PhD, is a motivational speaker, facilitator, professor at Penn State and Pitt, and writer. Larry enjoys writing, reading, speaking, walking, community, skiing, football, and friends. His current projects are The Magic in Every Moment (non-fiction) and The Angel of the Mountain (fiction). Visit or e-mail him at [email protected].

Happiness is Lindy Schneider’s energy drink! She is an illustrator, author and inspirational speaker. She loves to help people find joy in the midst of their struggles. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit

Patrick Sepe owns a transmission shop and resides in Merrick, NY, with his wife Susan and daughters Allison and Brittany. He is a political junkie and enjoys a spirited debate. He is currently working on a memoir. E-mail him at [email protected].

Leah Shearer is a 2000 graduate of St. Bonaventure University. Having worked in education for ten years, she developed a special affinity for teenagers and their challenges. In addition to her work with Melissa’s Living Legacy Teen Cancer Foundation, she shares her inspirational story as a speaker. Visit to learn more.

Deborah Shouse is a speaker, writer, and editor. She loves helping people write and edit books and she enjoys facilitating creativity and storytelling workshops. Deborah donates all proceeds from her book Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey to Alzheimer’s. Visit and read

Anne Sigmon is a California writer, stroke survivor, and autoimmune patient who writes about adventure travel for people with health limitations. She is currently finishing a memoir about surviving a stroke and traveling to remote corners from Burma to Uzbekistan. Connect her at and follow her adventures on

Tracie Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island, Canada, and currently lives there with her family. Her stories have appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens. Tracie’s book, Harmonious Flight, is available at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Colonel George Smawley is an officer in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He wrote “The Lucky One” while serving in Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division. He received his B.A. in English from Dickinson College, and his J.D. from the Temple University School of Law.

Alaina Smith loves a good story. Her true tales appear in multiple anthologies including two other Chicken Soup for the Soul books, six Chocolate for Women books, five A Cup of Comfort books, and more. She enjoys writing, working for a musical theater company, and moviegoing with her husband, Frank.

Michelle Smyth founded Quad Cities Autism Center in 2006. She currently works as Center Director and lives with her husband David, son Jayden and daughter Caitlyn in Moline, IL. She thanks Sheri Zeck of Milan, IL for writing her story! Visit her website or e-mail her at [email protected].

Ruth Spiro is a freelance writer and author of the award-winning children’s book, Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist. Her articles and essays have appeared in national magazines, and she frequently speaks at schools and conferences. To learn more about Ruth, visit

JC Sullivan is a member of the Travelers Century Club ( Having worked in virtually every industry, she took her own advice and escaped the cubicle! Now she visits one new place a month and tries to do one thing a day that scares her. E-mail her at [email protected].

Annmarie B. Tait lives in Conshohocken, PA, with her husband Joe Beck and Sammy their Yorkie. Annmarie has contributed to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Reminisce magazine and the Patchwork Path series. Annmarie enjoys cooking, singing and recording American and Irish folk songs. E-mail her at [email protected].

Michelle Vanderwist is a graduate of Georgetown University and currently works for a software company in Madison, WI. She enjoys painting, reading, and playing board games.

Sharon Dunski Vermont is a full-time wife and mother and part-time writer and pediatrician. She received her M.D. degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in 1993. Her daughters, Hannah and Jordyn, and husband Laird are the inspiration for everything she does. E-mail her at [email protected]

Carolyn Wade has lived and gardened on three continents. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Portland State University. Living back home in the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, traveling with her husband, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Ray M. Wong is devoted to his wife, Quyen. He cherishes his children, Kevin and Kristie. Ray is studying creative non-fiction in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. He is working on a memoir about a journey to Hong Kong that changed his life. Visit him at or e-mail [email protected].

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