Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

Meet Our Contributors

Sami Aaron is a software developer in the Kansas City area and is developing a program that will teach people how to “green up” their events while managing all the planning details. Sami teaches yoga breathing and meditation workshops to offer her healing journey to others. Contact her at [email protected].

Cate Adelman currently lives in the Midwest and serves as an advocate for people with disabilities. She has completed a Bachelors degree from NLU, and religious studies with the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary. Her passions include issues of peace and justice, the arts, and the spiritual journey.

Larry Agresto is a Life and Business Coach and the founder of Peak Performance Coaching. He is also a writer, author and speaker. His work and writings focus on “breakthrough changes” in life and business.

Jude Bagatti likes challenges and has pursued passions as diverse as photography, hiking, writing, acting, triathloning and adventurous world travel. A master gardener and massage/Reiki therapist, she holds BA and JD degrees from the University of Miami. Her nature photo/poetry book, Fauna, Flora & Fantasy, was published in 2010. E-mail her at [email protected].

Teresa Curley Barczak retired from AT&T in 2007 and devotes her time to writing, reading, cooking and spending time with family and friends. Teresa enjoys traveling, gardening, and volunteering for her church. She plans on completing a collection of short stories. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jane Barron received her Bachelor of Science, with honors, in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from the University of Alabama in 1994. She taught elementary school until 2002 and is now a full-time mom, author, and owner of a small gift business. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brenda Black, an award-winning author, Christian speaker, pastor’s wife and mother of two sons, has written over 1,500 published works, including three books. The country girl lives near rural Deepwater, MO, and delights in beautiful music, family, friends and a good laugh. Visit to learn more about the author.

Bob Brody lives in Forest Hills, NY, with his wife and two children, Michael and Caroline. He is an executive and essayist whose pieces have appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian and Reader’s Digest, among other publications.

Donna Brothers received her BA in Communications from California Polytechnic University. She worked for CBS Television for several years before receiving teaching credentials in Language Arts and Special Education. She has published a short story in Woman’s World magazine and enjoys photography, scrapbooking, and hiking. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ann Brown currently resides in Southern Indiana where she is the director and instructor for a non-profit Suzuki violin program. She also performs regularly as a violinist with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra in Owensboro, KY. After spending twelve summers working in Glacier National Park, she now returns each summer for several weeks of hiking and swimming.

Barbara Ann Carle is a personal essay writer and poet. Her essays have been published in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover’s Soul and several anthologies. Her poetry has been published in several magazines. She is the mother of four; grandmother of six. Barbara lives in Friendswood, TX, with her husband.

Brenda Dillon Carr loves caring for her husband, Patrick, and children, Landry, Kelley, Carissa, and Aliceyn. Her oldest son, Shane Dillon, lives nearby and visits often. She continues to speak for the Victims’ Impact Panel of Oklahoma and is available to speak at your church or women’s event. E-mail her at [email protected].

Candace Carteen has written dozens of short stories. In 2007 her best friend, cheerleader and husband died, leaving her a widow and single mom. She is helping her son understand that life sometimes gives you horrible blows, but you acknowledge them and move forward. E-mail her at [email protected].

Paige Cerulli received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Music from Westfield State College in 2010. She is also a certified equine massage therapist. Paige enjoys playing her flute, writing and riding her horse. E-mail her at [email protected].

David Chalfin is a television and film editor in Los Angeles by way of New York where he was born and raised. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he has always referred to himself as a non-practicing writer—until now. He owes his creative spirit to his father, and his ability to pursue it to his doting Jewish mother. E-mail him at [email protected].

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago, is an author, public speaker, adult storyteller and award-winning educator and broadcaster. Her nonfiction stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her husband Richard is her muse. Visit

Carly Commerford is an aspiring writer with hopes of completing her own book someday. Raised in Thorold, Ontario, Carly currently attends Queen’s University where she is studying to become a teacher. Carly would like to thank her Aunt Janice for her endless love and inspiration. E-mail her at [email protected].

Harriet Cooper is a freelance writer who specializes in writing creative nonfiction, humor and articles. Her topics often include health, exercise, diet, cats, family and the environment. A frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, her work has also appeared in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, anthologies, websites and radio.

Mandi Cooper Cumpton is a mother of two girls, Shelby and Katy. Mandi is an RN, with an oncology certification. She is married to a Louisiana State Trooper, Keith. She and her family live in Quitman, LA. E-mail her at [email protected].

Michael Cunningham graduated from St. John Fisher College in 1984. A marketing copywriter, he has also written two screenplays, Driver Ed and Swing Vote (2nd place in the 2001 Scriptapalooza screenwriting competition). A former standup comedian, Mike enjoys family, friends, creating music and film. E-mail him at [email protected].

Priscilla Dann-Courtney is a freelance writer and clinical psychologist living in Boulder, CO, with her husband and three children. Her book, Room to Grow, is a collection of personal essays previously published in national newspapers and magazines. Her passions include family, friends, yoga, running, skiing and baking.

Aleesah Darlison lives in Sydney (Australia) with her husband and three children. She writes picture books and novels for children and reviews books for The Sun-Herald. The true story appearing in this anthology deals with her mother-in-law’s two-year battle with lung cancer. Learn more about Aleesah at

Brenda Dawson is a sixty-three-year-old mother of four and grandmother of seven beautiful grandchildren. Recently retired from a twenty-year service in Dietary and Nursing Resident Care, she now splits her time between Michigan and Florida—finally a “Snow-Bird.” Brenda is also active in her church.

Rebecca Degtjarjov is a military wife who travels the world. She, her husband, and their rowdy Anatolian Shepherd currently reside in Northern California, where Rebecca works in retail. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lola Di Giulio De Maci is a contributor to several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her grown children and former students inspire her children’s stories, some appearing in the Los Angeles Times. Lola has a Master of Arts in education and English and continues writing from her sunny loft overlooking the San Bernardino Mountains. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sheri Gammon Dewling, a former software executive, runs a small consulting business, while raising two young children with her husband in Cornell Village, Markham, Canada. Sheri aspires to turn her life lessons into stories that will inspire others. You can reach Sheri via e-mail at [email protected].

Kathy Dickie completed her Human Resource Management and Business Administration education at the University of Calgary, SAIT and BCIT. She lives in Vancouver, B.C. and works as a coordinator in Business Development for an Alberta-headquartered utility company. Kathy enjoys travelling, quilting and documenting ancestry research.

Terri Elders, LCSW, lives near Colville, WA, with her two dogs and three cats. Her stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthology collections, including several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. E-mail her at [email protected] or follow her at

Antonia Everts lives in Oregon with her family and loves the Pacific Northwest weather. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration and teaches gymnastics to children. Antonia is an avid runner and baker and is currently working on a novel about life with dogs. E-mail her at [email protected].

Barbara Farland of New Hope, MN, operates an independent business communications and creative writing practice. Her latest works appear in Christmas Traditions: True Stories That Celebrate the Spirit of the Season, A Cup of Comfort for Fathers and Hugs Bible Reflections for Women. Visit her website at

Susan Farr-Fahncke is the founder of, where you can find more of her writing and sign up for an online writing workshop! She is also the founder of the amazing volunteer group, Angels2TheHeart, the author of Angel’s Legacy, and contributor to over sixty books, including many in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Visit her at

Jo Anne Flaming is the Creative Founder of Queen Beedom. She can be found buzzing about as an innovative writer, speaker and facilitator, inspiring her clients to reinvent their tired, boring lives into their “sweet life,” emerging from their royalty within. Find her blog at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Jenny Force is an occupational therapist in Columbus, OH. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends. Jenny would like to say thank you to her husband Rob for all his endless love, support, and laughter. University of Pennsylvania graduate Sally Schwartz Friedman has been an essayist for over three decades, sharing the sounds of her life. Her husband, three daughters and seven grandchildren provide those sounds. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, AARP Magazine, and numerous national and regional publications. E-mail at [email protected].

Melissa Frye graduated from nursing school in 2004 and has since received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She will earn her Master’s degree in early 2012. She is currently a Labor and Delivery nurse in southern Arizona. She enjoys traveling, football, and spending time with her husband and little boy. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cindy Golchuk lives near Las Vegas with her husband and not so angelic grandson, Zack, and two dogs that rule her house with iron paws. Her passion runs deep when it comes to writing, whether it be inspirational nonfiction or placing the finishing touches on her three manuscripts. E-mail her at [email protected].

Libby Grandy lives in Claremont, CA, with her husband, Fred. She has published magazine articles and is currently marketing her novels: a mystery and a women’s fiction trilogy. Libby belongs to the California Writers Club and facilitates a weekly critique group. Visit her website at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Jan Grover lives in Houston, TX, and writes, drawing upon her experiences to help other grieving parents in their loss process. She is the author of Forever Connected... A Guided Journal For A Parent Who Has Suffered The Loss Of A Child. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit

Brigitte Hales received a Bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. After five years in the film business, she took a hiatus to give birth to her first child and her first novel. She has great hopes for both. E-mail her at [email protected].

The writing bug bit Thomas P. Haynes during his mid-life crisis. A native Arizonian he uses life experiences to dominate his tales, enhanced by his vivid imagination. Between writing classes, conferences and writing groups Thomas has worked at perfecting his craft. E-mail him at [email protected].

Diane Helbig is a business development coach, author of Lemonade Stand Selling, and the host of the Accelerate Your Business Growth BlogTalkRadio show. She works with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. E-mail her at [email protected].

Amy Hert graduated from Indiana University in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, concentrated in English. She works as a substitute teacher and spends her free time reading and traveling. She has been writing since childhood and is excited to see her first piece published (for real-real).

John Hitchcock grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and started his teaching career in central New York. He now lives in Southern California, still teaches science, enjoys golf, fly fishing, writing and maintaining his website,

David Hull has been a teacher for over twenty years and writes a monthly column for a local newspaper. He also enjoys gardening, reading and spending time with his family. E-mail him at [email protected].

Amy Schoenfeld Hunt is a professional freelance writer and the author of three published books, as well as a costumed historical interpreter at an outdoor museum that depicts life in the 19th century. She lives in Milwaukee, WI, with her husband and three daughters. She loves to hear from readers. E-mail at [email protected].

Craig Idlebrook is a freelance reporter and essayist in New England. He has written for over thirty publications including Mothering, Mother Earth News and Funny Times. When not writing he takes his daughter to as many different libraries as possible. E-mail him at [email protected].

Jennie Ivey lives in Cookeville, TN. She is a newspaper columnist and the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including stories in several Chicken Soup for the Soul collections.

Peg Kehret is the award-winning author of more than fifty books for children, including Ghost Dog Secrets and Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. Her books are known for their emphasis on family, friends, and kindness to animals. Learn more at

Jean Kinsey resides in Brooks, KY. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and traveling. Jean teaches Sunday school and enjoys her seven grandchildren. She has multiple stories in variable anthologies and periodicals and hopes to find a publisher for her novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Allison Knight-Khan received her M.A. in English Literature from the University of Waterloo. She teaches high school students with autism in Marietta, GA. Allison enjoys gardening and hiking with her children. She writes historical time travel novels for children. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ruth Knox has loved writing ever since she could first hold a pencil. She believes in the power of the written word to unite people. Currently living in Boise, ID, this grandmother just learned to ride a bike. Ruth is now working on her first novel. E-mail her at [email protected].

Joseph Kruger was born in Auburn, NY, and received his master of education from Nazareth College in 1996. He is a middle school special education administrator in upstate New York. He enjoys traveling throughout the United States and spending time with his children and granddaughter.

Susan LaMaire lives in Parsippany, NJ, with her husband Brian. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People and Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family. She is working on a collection of humorous short stories. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bobbie Jensen Lippman is a prolific professional writer who lives in Seal Rock, OR. Bobbie’s work has been published nationally and internationally. She writes a human interest column for the Newport (Oregon) News-Times, in addition to a radio program which is available as a podcast on She can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Barbara LoMonaco received her BS from the University of Southern California and has an elementary teaching credential. Barbara has worked for Chicken Soup for the Soul since 1998 as an editor and webmaster. She is a co-author of Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution.

Rob Loughran has 200-plus articles and nineteen books in print. Check out for his Funny, Funny Kidz Jokebook. Rob lives in Windsor, CA.

Cheryl MacDonald has written, co-authored or edited nearly forty books on Canadian history as well as numerous articles and essays. When she’s not researching or writing, she can usually be found talking about history or at a War of 1812 re-enactment. E-mail Cheryl at [email protected].

Sandra E. Maddox lives in Newport Coast, CA, with her husband, Ron. She is active in service at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Sandra leads Treasured, a mentoring ministry to mothers of preschool children, and has written a children’s book with co-author Peggy Matthews Rose. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bridget McNamara-Fenesy received her BA from the University of Notre Dame, and her JD from the University of Denver. She works as an independent business consultant when she is not pursuing her passion of writing. She enjoys travel, gardening, and spending time with her husband and daughter. E-mail Bridget at [email protected].

Shaylene McPhee graduated in Fashion Design Technology in 2007 and became a licensed cosmetologist in 2009. She loves art in all its forms and enjoys writing, playing music, painting and photography. She aspires to write a novel in the future. E-mail her at [email protected].

Claire Mix composes children’s music and is a documentary filmmaker. She has two books being published by Screaming Dreams Publishing in 2011. She is writing a young adult book based on her mother’s experiences as a volunteer in the Japanese American Internment Camps of WWII. E-mail her at [email protected].

Highland Mulu is an American Samoan who belongs to six children: five boys and one girl. He still lives close to his childhood home of Independence, MO, and works in the IT field. Highland enjoys playing and composing music. He continues to write inspirational stories of his childhood. E-mail him at [email protected].

Scott Newport, inspired by the short and profound life of his son Evan, began writing in 2002 to help himself cope. He quickly discovered that his writing also helped other families facing similar challenges. This is his third publication in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Scott lives in Michigan.

Laura O’Connor earned her nursing degree, with honors, at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in 2010. She resides in north central Pennsylvania with her fiancé and two children. Laura enjoys the outdoors, reading, writing, and spending time with family. E-mail her at [email protected].

LaVerne Otis lives in Southern California where she loves writing, photography, bird watching, gardening and spending time with family. LaVerne is recently retired and is taking classes at a local community college. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books and various magazines. E-mail her at [email protected].

Freelance writer by day, fiction writer by night, Susan Palmquist is the author of four novels. Her work and short stories have appeared in Arthritis Today, Health, Woman’s World and American Profile and in both the UK and US. Two of her short stories will appear in upcoming anthologies. Find out more about Susan and her work at

Laraine Paquette and her husband, Ken, have a language school in the Boston area. Besides teaching English, she does children’s entertainment (story-telling, magic, face-painting and balloon sculpture.) She is a mother of six and a grandmother of eleven. She holds a BA in English. E-mail her at [email protected].

Saralee Perel is an award-winning columnist/novelist and multiple contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her book, The Dog Who Walked Me, is about her dog who became her caregiver after Saralee’s spinal cord injury, the initial devastation of her marriage, and her cat who kept her sane. Contact her at [email protected] or

LeDayne McLeese Polaski is the Program Coordinator of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America which works around the world for peace rooted in justice. She lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband Tom and daughter Kate. E-mail her at [email protected].

Amanda Pool lives with her husband and children in Massachusetts. She is a stay-at-home mom who spends her time writing and advocating for suicide prevention. Recently she has completed the Out of the Darkness Walk to prevent suicide in Boston. She created and maintains a Facebook fan page called “Life Is A Highway” to help others cope with the loss after a suicide.

Kathryn Radeff has over twenty-five years experience as a professional writer and educator. She teaches writing workshops in Western New York and South Florida, and enjoys empowering aspiring writers to follow their dreams! She loves to travel and spend free time with her dog, Remington. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jacqueline Rivkin lives in New York and has a Masters degree from The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in several publications including Newsday, Self and The Philadelphia Inquirer on topics ranging from retirement planning to chocolate. Since the death of her husband in 2009, she has been experimenting with personal essay writing.

Sallie A. Rodman lives in Los Alamitos, CA, with her husband Paul and has three grown children. Her work has appeared in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and various magazines. Sallie feels that she learned many life lessons when coping with the death of her beloved mother. E-mail at [email protected].

Liza Rosenberg is an Israel-based freelance writer and blogger, writing about subjects that include current events, fertility, parenting and loss. She also writes poetry, has a serious coffee habit and harbors a penchant for dark chocolate. Married and mom to a six-year-old son, her website address is

Carolyn Roy-Bornstein is a pediatrician and writer whose essays, book reviews, clinical reports and short stories have appeared in numerous medical and literary journals. You can read her work at her website,, or e-mail her at [email protected].

Suzanne F. Ruff is the author of the recently published book, The Reluctant Donor, described by critics as a “beautifully written, gut-wrenching memoir.” Along with a closet filled with black and white clothes, Suzanne lives with her husband, Bill.

Heather Schichtel is a freelance writer and special needs advocate. All of the inspiration for the story in this book came from her sweet daughter who is missed every day. She thanks her husband, family and an incredible group of friends for constant love and support. You can follow Heather at

In addition to authoring twenty-six published romance novels, Candace Schuler also writes case studies, white papers, grant proposals, press releases, marketing collateral, and more. She shares her life with her husband of thirty-seven years and two seventy-pound Dobermans who think they are lap dogs. Visit her website at

Lisa Naeger Shea works in corporate communications and writes from her home in St. Louis, MO, which she shares with her husband, three daughters and precocious puppy. Lisa earned her Bachelor of Science in Education and Writing Certificate at the University of Missouri. E-mail her at [email protected].

Pat Snyder, a recovering attorney and humor columnist from Columbus, OH, writes and speaks about life balance. She recently published her first book, The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life. Learn more about Pat at

Lorna Stafford launched her “writing” career at age seven copying the Bible by hand. She didn’t get far but soon began writing more original material. A public relations professional, newspaper columnist, feature writer, and author of several almost finished novels, she still loves the written word.

Joyce Stark has retired from local government in Northeast Scotland. She does freelance writing, currently concentrating on travel articles about her road journeys thru the USA. She plans to explore all fifty states, and has only five to go. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sharon Svitak is recently widowed and now retired from her position as the Finance Department Office Manager of a local municipality. She writes regularly and is the newsletter editor for “Write Around the Valley,” a monthly publication of the Tri-Valley Branch of California Writers Club. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lisa Tehan received her Bachelor of Arts from Purdue University and her Master of Science from Indiana University. She plans to go back to school (again!) for nursing because of her experiences with David. She lives in Indiana with her wonderful husband AJ and their two crazy dogs.

Kelly Van Etten spent twenty-two years in the Air Force and now works in Air Force Emergency Management as a civilian. She is also a senior at The University of Oklahoma pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Administrative Leadership. Kelly enjoys traveling, swimming, gardening, and her four dogs. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sarah Wagner lives in West Virginia with her husband and two young sons. Her work has appeared in The Front Porch, Celebrations: Love Notes to Mothers, and A Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers. You can find her online at

Bettie Wailes tutors, writes, and runs in Winter Park, FL. She is working on a memoir about her experience as a back-of-the-pack runner, including her relationship to Paul, her biggest cheerleader. E-mail her at [email protected].

Beverly F. Walker lives in Greenbrier, TN, with her retired husband. She enjoys writing, photography, and scrapbooking pictures of her grandchildren. She has stories in many Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and in Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort.

Meaghan Elizabeth Ward is a high school senior. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, kayaking, horseback riding, and spending time with her family. She dreams of one day becoming a full-time novelist and sharing stories that will truly honor God. Check out her blog at

A retired hospice RN from north central Pennsylvania, Jeanne Wilhelm has experienced the grief journey to renewed joy in life. Newly wed in August 2010, her darling husband, children, grandchildren and volunteer work fill her days. She writes to encourage and share hope. E-mail her at [email protected].

Diane Wilson is a voracious reader and an aspiring author. Having taken a college course in Expressive Writing, Diane has received the inspiration for her stories from her wonderful family and her life experiences. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ferida Wolff writes books for children and adults. Her essays appear in newspapers, magazines and online. She speaks at schools, women’s groups, and writer’s conferences. She also writes a nature blog— Visit her website at

Theresa Woltanski started writing young adult and adult fiction after a stint in the scientific world writing reports and journal articles. She is the author of several novels. She lives on a farmette in Michigan with her husband, children, a too-big garden, and a number of obsessive-compulsive animals.

Verna Wood’s story, “Cancer’s Gift” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms. She is in the process of writing a book about some of the tragedies she has endured. She hopes it will help women going through the same things. E-mail her at [email protected].

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