Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Meet Our Contributors

Monica A. Andermann lives on Long Island with her husband Bill and their cat Charley. In addition to several credits in various Chicken Soup for the Soul collections, her writing has appeared both online and in print in such publications as Sasee, Skirt!, The Secret Place, and Woman’s World.

Linda Apple is the author of Inspire! Writing from the Soul and Connect! A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers. She is a motivational speaker for writers’ groups and conferences. She also serves as the Arkansas Regional Speaker Trainer for Stonecroft Ministries. Please visit her website at

Suzanne Baginskie lives on the west coast of Florida with her husband, Al. She loves volunteering for the local sheriff’s office and her community. Suzanne writes short mystery stories, flash fiction and writing articles. She is currently penning a legal thriller novel. Visit her website at

Dana J. Barnett is a writer and English teacher. Her favorite things to do are writing, reading, hiking, watching movies, junking, and doting on her cats. Currently, among other projects, Dana is working on a children’s book. Please send good thoughts her way. Feel free to e-mail her at [email protected].

Mary Alice Dress Baumgardner has a B.A. degree from Gettysburg College and an M.A. degree in Studio Art from Marywood University. She writes and illustrates children’s books: her latest, Esther Oyster’s Irritation: A Story about Turning Hurt into Beauty. She and husband, Allen, live near Waynesboro, PA. E-mail her at [email protected].

Linda Benfield lives in Gastonia, NC. She loves God and His creation and enjoys coaching people on living life to its fullest. Having experienced her own share of life’s disappointments and pain, she uses these obstacles to help others make better choices to enable them to enjoy life to its fullest.

Margo Berk-Levine went from actress/model to founder/owner of a successful New York staffing company to writer. This is her second appearance in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Her stories have been in the Scribblers’ Journal, as well as magazines. Works in progress include a series of short stories and a memoir. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bonnie Beuth received her bachelor’s degree with honors in Computer Information Systems and works as an information systems trainer for a law firm in Atlanta. She enjoys travel, writing, playing piano and spending time with her dogs. She hopes to complete a collection of short stories. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jeanne Blandford has found her dream job as an editor at Chicken Soup for the Soul. When she is not reading inspirational submissions, she and her husband, Jack, are visiting their two children; working on documentaries; writing and producing children’s books or volunteering for OPIN, a local animal rescue.

Sage de Beixedon Breslin, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and Intuitive Consultant and an accomplished author. Her latest publications have been written to inspire and touch those who have struggled with life’s challenges. Her books, stories and chapters are available on her website at E-mail her at [email protected].

Debra Ayers Brown, a marketing professional, received her B.A. degree with honors from the University of Georgia and her MBA degree from The Citadel. Visit her at and link to her blogs: Slice of Coastal Life, Southern Deb, and My Yellow Bluff. E-mail her at [email protected].

Marcia E. Brown lives in Austin, TX, and is a widow and freelancer. She loves sharing family stories in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including several in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She is now trying her hand at children’s stories, especially to please her grandson.

Renie Burghardt, born in Hungary, is a freelance writer with numerous credits. She has been published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and other anthologies and magazines. She lives in the country and loves animals, nature, and spending time with her family and friends. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress lives in Tennessee where she writes books and magazine articles. Lettie celebrates life with long hikes, lunch at outdoor cafes, clip-on earrings, and chocolate mint! Her favorite people? An understanding husband, five super sons, three daughters-in-love, and six “grand” children. Learn more at

Barbara Canale is a freelance writer and columnist for The Catholic Sun in Syracuse, NY. She has been published in nine Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is the author of Our Labor of Love: A Romanian Adoption Chronicle, and Pray Your Way Through College, by Liguori Publications. She enjoys skiing and gardening.

A.B. Chesler is an educator and writer living in Southern California. She enjoys eating, traveling, and spending time with her cats and husband. You may contact A.B. at [email protected].

Jane McBride Choate lives in Loveland, CO, in the foothills of the Rockies. She lives with her husband of thirty-eight years and her cat who believes she is of royal descent. Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul is a dream come true for Jane.

Jeri Chrysong, a legal secretary, lives in Huntington Beach, CA, with her pug, Mabel. Jeri enjoys writing, photography, traveling, travel writing, and being a grandma to Lucas and Clay. You can visit Jeri at “Jeri’s ‘You’re Worth the Fuss to Fix’ Blog” at jchrysong.wordpress. com.

Phyllis Cochran worked for twenty-five years for the telephone company. She turned to writing as a second career and has published two books. Her inspirational stories have appeared in national magazines and in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Phyllis resides in Winchendon, MA, with her husband, Philip.

Mary P. Collins, LCSW-C, has an intuitive healing practice near Baltimore, MD, offering psychotherapy, life coaching and energy work. She enjoys photography, hiking, travel, and her cats’ adventures. She and her husband David Bashoor treasured their spiritual journeys to Maui, their hearts’ home. E-mail her at [email protected].

Maril Crabtree grew up in Memphis and New Orleans, but has made Kansas City her home for many years. She writes creative nonfiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals. She is currently poetry co-editor for Kansas City Voices. Contact her through

Diana DeAndrea-Kohn is a freelance writer and small business owner in Washington State. She is married to her husband, Scott, and has three boys, Kenny, Alex, and Brodie. This story is deep in her heart and she is very thankful Chicken Soup for the Soul chose to share it!

Wendy Delaney has a teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin and taught in private and public schools. Wendy enjoys writing and has a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Miracles. In addition, she enjoys travel, reading, biking, wellness, and spending time with her daughter, Margaret. Visit her at

Terri Elders, LCSW, lives near Colville, WA, with two dogs and three cats. Her stories have appeared in multiple editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s a public member of the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected] and read her blog

Susan L. Ellis graduated from Furman University with a B.A. degree in Business Administration. She lives in the Atlanta, GA area with her husband and two daughters. Susan’s career is in sales management. She enjoys hiking, reading, travel and gardening. Please contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Joan Eva Engelbart, LCSW, JD, attended the University of Hawaii. She works for a hospice program in California. She is certified in Thanatology and as a Laugh Leader. Joan is interested in medical ethics, enjoys word games and fabric arts and appreciates good grammar. E-mail Joan at [email protected].

Laura Fabiani, the mother of three children, has written articles for Exceptional Parent magazine, and a humor blog for their website. Laura loves reading, film, music, and watching the Philadelphia Flyers. She believes life’s lessons can be learned from many sources, and counts her children as her greatest teachers.

Norma Favor lives in British Columbia. She is an active member of The Salvation Army church. Her kids, twenty-three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren are the loves of her life. She has written a number of stories for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and other publications.

Denise Bernadette Fleissner is a professional organizer and simplicity coach. After leaving a career in television production to raise her two children, she created Soulfully Simple, a consulting business dedicated to teaching people how to simplify their lives — physically and spiritually. Her company now operates in both Virginia and Colorado.

Lonnie Frock is the owner of Bella Nozze Bridal Boutique. She is actively involved in HTC Writing Group, focusing on personal short inspirational stories. Married for twenty-eight years to a wonderful supportive man, together they have four beautiful adopted children and five amazing grandchildren.

Marilyn Ellis Futrell lives just outside Orlando in Winter Springs, FL, with her husband Glenn. She lost her son, John Robert Woodfin, to an allergic reaction to medication in December of 2005. He was nineteen. Marilyn has had numerous signs from him since his crossing and writing about them has become a major part of her grief recovery process.

Esther Griffin, a graduate of SUNY Geneseo, has been writing since she was a child. After a few published articles, she stopped writing to raise four children, working as a teacher and librarian. In retirement, she has taken writing courses and returned to her early love of writing.

Carolyn Hall received her bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University. She and her husband live on a river bluff overlooking the Kansas River. She loves writing about her family, cooking and baking. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cathy C. Hall is a writer from the sunny South. Her essays, stories, poetry, and articles have been published in markets for both kids and adults. Come visit her online to find out what she’s working on now! You’ll find her blog at

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].

Sonja Herbert is the author of many award-winning stories. Her biography, Carnival Girl, will be published August 2012. After a two-year stay in Germany, where she was doing research and getting re-acquainted with her family, Sonja returned to live in Provo, UT. Visit her website at

Camille Hill is an animal intuitive who communicates with animals in various countries. She writes a pet column for The Aquarian newspaper in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is a contributing writer to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She lives in Kenora, Ontario, Canada with Ed and a variety of animal friends. E-mail her at [email protected].

Janice Miner Holden, Ed.D., LPC-S, LMFT, NCC, is a professor of counseling at the University of North Texas in Denton. Her primary research interest over the past twenty-five years has been near-death experiences, and she developed and teaches a graduate course on the transpersonal perspective in counseling.

Carol Huff is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She has also had her work published in other national magazines and currently has a novel on Her spare time is spent taking care of her thirty-plus animals on her farm in Georgia. Contact her via e-mail her at [email protected].

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

Christy Johnson, dynamic speaker and author of Rehab for Love Junkies, is passionate about sharing the hope of Christ. After a disastrous first marriage ended in adultery and the tragic death of her son, Christy has a passion to empower others to become soul-healthy. Visit her at

Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from UNI and lives in Manchester, IA. She has been published in national magazines and anthologies, including three previous Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. She writes for the local newspaper and teaches couponing and writing classes. She blogs at Her author website is

Mary Knight has enjoyed a career as a professional writer for over thirty years. She is currently working on an MFA degree from Spalding University and will soon complete her first young adult novel entitled Unspoken. She lives in Lexington, KY, with her husband and two cats.

Joanne Kraft is the author of Just Too Busy: Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. A sought-after speaker, with articles appearing in numerous family/parenting magazines, she frequents California coffee shops with her husband Paul and loves being a mom to their four children. Visit her at or

Virginia Kroll has had seventy children’s books published to date. She teaches folk art at a local youth center. She has six children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandson. She shares her house with many pets.

Brenda Louque received her nursing degree from Danville School of Practical Nursing in 1984. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and quilting. She participates in many bereaved parent support groups. Her goal is to someday write a book. E-mail her at [email protected] net.

Tim Martin is the author of There’s Nothing Funny About Running, Summer With Dad and Wimps Like Me. He has several novels, including Scout’s Oaf (Cedar Grove Books) due to be released in 2012. Tim is a contributing author to numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Jeri McBryde lives in a small southern town outside Memphis, TN. She recently retired from the library system and spends her days reading and working on her dream of publishing a novel. Jeri loves crocheting and chocolate. Her family and faith are the center of her life. This is her third story to appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Heather McGee is a busy work-at-home and homeschooling mother of two children, Justin and Shelby. After working in finance and education, she truly enjoys the fulfilling work of teaching her own children and having the freedom to meander down interesting paths.

Caroline McKinney is semi-retired from the School of Education at the University of Colorado where she has been an adjunct for over twenty years. She spends time with her seven grandchildren and hiking Colorado’s trails with her big dog. She enjoys writing poetry for religious publications.

John Miller is a senior technical staff member with IBM, thanks to the encouragement of his friend and manager, Paul Carmine. John and Marie-Therese live in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley and are the parents of five. Marie-Therese is an author of nonfiction books for children and teenagers. Learn more at

Michelle Close Mills’ poetry and short stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies including several volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Michelle resides in Central Florida with her wonderful husband, two great kids, two ornery kitties and three cockatiels. Learn more at

C.G. Morelli’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Philadelphia Stories, Highlights for Children, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Jersey Devil Press, House of Horror and The Ranfurly Review. He is the author of a short story collection titled In the Pen (2007).

Michelle Tompakov Muller received her Bachelor of Arts degree in French language and literature from SUNY at Stony Brook and a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing management from Pace University. She teaches English to speakers of other languages at two community colleges in the Baltimore, MD metro area.

Val Muller’s fiction has appeared in a handful of magazines and anthologies. Her first novel, Corgi Capers, is a middle-grade mystery. You can keep track of her at, and contact her at [email protected].

Janice Flood Nichols earned her B.A. degree from Seton Hill College and her M.Ed. degree 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

Tammy Nischan is a Christian teacher, writer, and speaker. As the mother of six, two of whom are in Heaven, Tammy’s passion is ministering to other grieving moms. Visit her blog “My Heart. . . His Words” ( anytime. She would love to hear from you!

Sally O’Brien was married for forty-five years and has five grown children. She recommends retirement and enjoys the opportunity to spend entire days writing. Her work has been published in two other Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes as well as several magazines. E-mail her at [email protected].

Linda O’Connell, a teacher, writes from St. Louis, MO. She believes all things are possible. A blended family of four adult children and nine grandchildren bring tremendous joy to her and her husband, Bill. Linda is a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She blogs at

Tracey Miller Offutt graduated with a BSN degree, magna cum laude, from Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies. Her clinical practice focused on pediatrics. Previously, she was a journalist and editor. She was married with two children. She passed away in September of 2011 from Crohn’s disease. Family can be reached at [email protected].

Los Angeles native Penny Orloff attended Juilliard, played featured parts on Broadway and sang twenty principal soprano roles at New York City Opera. Her best-selling novel, Jewish Thighs on Broadway (available at, is the basis of her long-running solo show. Visit her at

Iowan Kristi Paxton lives in the woods with her husband and wirehair fox terrier. A former postmaster, she is now a teacher, freelance writer and Mad Housewife Wine spokesmodel. Kristi loves cooking and hates cleaning. For fun, she kayaks, reads and dreams of beaches. E-mail her at [email protected].

Andrea Peebles lives with her husband of thirty-five years in Rockmart, GA. She enjoys reading, writing, photography and spending time with her family. She has been a loyal reader of Chicken Soup for the Soul books for years and now enjoys contributing her own stories. Contact her via e-mail [email protected].

Cathy Pendola is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and resides in Flower Mound, TX, with her husband Manny, daughter Francesca and their dog Scooter. She is currently working on getting her first book published.

Cheryl Pierson is the multi-published author of three novels and many short stories, both fiction and nonfiction. She teaches short story and novel writing classes in the Oklahoma City metro area. E-mail her at [email protected], and visit her Amazon author page at:

Carol Reed is a retired office worker. She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends. She plans to write a book sharing her story of her husband’s illness and his miraculous road to recovery.

Brianna Renshaw finds inspiration for her writing on daily long runs accompanied by her daughter Makayla, in her jogging stroller, through their neighborhood in Scotland, PA. Every run allows her to see the world in a new way while strengthening her body, mind and faith. Visit her blog at

Dan Reust lives and writes in the Denver, CO area. Contact him via e-mail at [email protected].

Grace Rostoker writes both fiction and nonfiction, and is fulfilling her ambition to be a full-time writer. She enjoys reading, music, walking, swimming and the California sunshine. Grace lives in San Diego with her mathematician husband and their lively dog. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lee Rothberg, freelance writer and former nurse, works at the Matawan-Aberdeen Public Library in New Jersey. While a medical staff writer for The Woman’s Newspaper of Princeton, she received several awards from the National Federation of Press Women. She is currently compiling family stories and recipes for her three granddaughters.

Marcia Rudoff is a memoir writing teacher and newspaper columnist in her hometown of Bainbridge Island, WA. She is the author of We Have Stories — A Handbook for Writing Your Memoirs. Her stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Her personal interests include family, friends, travel, baseball and chocolate.

Tammy Ruggles is a freelance writer, artist, and filmmaker who lives in Kentucky. She is also a mother, grandmother, and retired social worker. Her first book, Peace, was published in 2005. Her screenplay, The Legend of Hayswood Hospital, was turned into a low-budget horror feature in 2010.

Tara Scaife has a psychology degree from the University of Toronto. She has been writing since the age of sixteen, starting with poetry before branching out into short stories. Tara is current working on her first novel. She enjoys martial arts, scuba diving and curling up with a good book. Tara currently resides in Toronto with her cat, Apollo.

Kim Seeley resides in Wakefield, VA, with her husband Wayne. A former English teacher and librarian, she now teaches handicapped adults part-time. She loves to read, travel, and spend time with her grandson, Evan. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee magazine and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Jennifer Short attended Trevecca Nazarene University, then graduated from West Virginia University in 1998. Jennifer began writing as a toddler by telling stories to her mother who would then type them. Jennifer loves to read and often reviews books on her blog: She also enjoys traveling and her three guinea pigs.

Shirley Nordeck Short has combined her love for writing and guinea pigs and has written numerous picture books featuring one or more of the delightful cavies she has owned through the years. She’s been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Reader’s Digest and Guideposts. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Mary Z. Smith is a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She also writes for Guideposts and Angels on Earth and has an inspirational fiction book out entitled, Life’s A Symphony, available at

Erin Solej is a language arts teacher and a writer. She is currently writing her first novel, Visiting Hours, in memory of Catherine, Henry, and Michael Walsh. Dedicated to: Tomas, Lucas, and Hanna Solej; Joan and Don Woodruff; Teresa Walsh and her children Michael, Kathleen, Teresa, Bernadette, and Patrick.

A former advertising executive, Sheila Sowder currently writes from a motorhome while traveling the country with her husband. Her stories have appeared in several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she is the author of O’Toole’s Irregulars (A Neighborhood Bar Mystery). Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

A writer and performer, this is Kim Stokely’s third contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her fiction has appeared in Writers’ Journal and she is a contributor to Kim has performed a one-person musical, about women in the Bible, in churches throughout the country. Please contact her at

Deborah Sturgill lives in Ohio’s countryside with her husband and their family of parakeets, cats, and an energetic Australian cattle dog. She is an entrepreneur, a Christian Life Coach, and writes books on spiritual and inspirational topics. Contact Deborah at [email protected] or visit her website at

Mary Beth Sturgis, RN, PhD, has been previously published in nursing journals. Working with older adults with acute and chronic illnesses has provided opportunities for spiritual connections and professional growth. Mary Beth is semi-retired, grateful for additional time with her husband, Ed, and her extended family.

Joyce Sudbeck is enjoying her favorite hobby — writing. She also enjoys sharing life with her husband of fifty-eight years and her Chihuahua. Joyce is humbly grateful for all her recent publishing opportunities. She says, “If I live long enough, who knows, maybe I’ll get that novel written.” Anything is possible.

Annmarie B. Tait resides in Conshohocken, PA, with her husband Joe Beck. In addition to writing stories Annmarie also enjoys cooking, crocheting, and singing Irish folk music. Annmarie has stories published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes and many other anthologies. You may contact Annmarie at [email protected].

Nina Taylor is the Editorial Director for Pneuma Books, the book producer for Chicken Soup for the Soul. In between raising her husband, three teenage sons, and a toddler, she edits and ghostwrites books and dreams of finding the time and energy to write young adult novels. E-mail her at ni[email protected].

Donna Teti loves her life in Pennsylvania as a wife, mother, aunt, writer and speaker. She also loves being a teacher’s assistant to adorable four-year-olds at Goshen Friends School. She has been previously published in Guideposts, Christmas Miracles and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her website is

Jean Vaux is a retreat speaker and life and health coach in Cedar Falls, IA, where she also coordinates an annual writers workshop. She is working on writing two books of her own and also publishing a children’s book her mother wrote before she passed away. Contact her at or [email protected].

Pat Wahler is a freelance writer in St. Peters, MO. She attempts to balance a full-time job working with juvenile offenders, a family, and writing career with varying degrees of success. Pat has published stories in several anthologies and blogs all things animal at

Samantha Ducloux Waltz is an award-winning freelance writer in Portland, OR. Her personal stories appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, numerous other anthologies, The Christian Science Monitor and Redbook. She has also written fiction and nonfiction under the name Samellyn Wood. Learn more at

With over thirty years experience in advertising and marketing, Luann Warner is a freelance writer. In addition to her contributions to Chicken Soup for the Soul books, she hopes to complete her first book in the near future. Luann enjoys photography and spending time with her family. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brittini Watkins, a junior in high school, works for Kart Kountry. Brittini attributes her quick-thinking leadership to her four-year rigid training at Louisville Starlings Volleyball Club. Brittini’s upbringing molds her into a strong woman. She dedicates this story to her granny, Jean Kinsey.

Janie Dempsey Watts’ stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Ultimate Gardener, Stories to Warm a Grandma’s Heart, and in magazines. Her fiction has been published in anthologies and journals. Please visit her at

Lisa Wojcik teaches literacy and art to low-income elementary grade children through a Florida public library system. Degreed from the University of New Mexico, Lisa is a science researcher, artist, and writer. Her short stories, poetry, children’s literature, and research work can be seen at E-mail her at [email protected].

Ferida Wolff is the author of books for children and adults. Her essays appear in anthologies, newspapers, magazines, and online at She also writes a nature blog Learn more at

Melissa Wootan resides in La Vernia, TX, with her husband Joey, and son Joshua. Her story, “LadyBug Love,” appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times. She most enjoys writing children’s books and loving the two wonderful guys in her life. E-mail her at [email protected].

Helen Zanone lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and three children. She is on the board of St. Davids Christian Writer’s Conference. Helen is active in her writers’ group and fulfilling her love for writing. She has multiple stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Marilyn Zapata works as a transcriber for court reporters. Her major client is her husband, Art, and after forty years of service, she has achieved tenure and cannot be fired. To view her other, more artistic pursuits, including a four-volume tome of their travels, visit

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