Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Back Pain!

Meet Our Contributors

Mita Banerjee enjoys being a writer, teacher, mother, wife and friend. She is passionate about saving the environment, and spends much of her time encouraging that enthusiasm in the children of her neighborhood. She lives by the simple motto of doing (at least) one good deed a day. E-mail her at [email protected].

Carisa Janelle (Wyrwas) Burrows, a Penn State graduate, hails from Johnstown, PA, and now lives in Pittsburgh with her loving husband Ralph. She began writing two years ago as a way of coping with several unexpected spinal surgeries and thanks her family for their unending support and love. E-mail her at [email protected].

Now that Emily Chase has given up playing volleyball, she has more time for writing and speaking. Her seven published books include Help! My Family’s Messed Up (Kregel, 2008) and her newest book, Standing Tall After Falling Short (WingSpread, 2012). Visit her at to learn more!

Brenda Cook is a veteran teacher with thirty-two years of classroom teaching experience. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Brenda is also actively involved in women’s ministry at her church and participates in various mission opportunities.

James Daigh lives in Carlsbad, CA with his astonishing wife of thirty years, the mellifluous Marla. He is a poet, artist, magazine publisher and editor, filmmaker, photographer and cartoonist. His loves are poetry, drawing and painting, reading, acoustic guitar and travel.

Linda C. Defew calls rheumatoid arthritis a blessing in disguise. When it forced her to put needlework aside, her dream of writing took its place. Now, living on a farm with her husband and six dogs, she is thankful to God for a wonderful life. E-mail her at [email protected].

Terri Elders, LCSW, lives near Colville, WA, with two dogs and three cats. Her stories have appeared in multiple editions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She’s a public member of the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. E-mail her at [email protected] and read her blog 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 appeared in Guideposts, MomSense, A Cup of Comfort books, Christmas Miracles, Christmas Spirit, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She blogs at

An ordained Baptist minister, Malinda Dunlap Fillingim’s heart is full of precious memories of her brother, Scott. She attributes her life lessons of compassion for and understanding of others to Scott. E-mail her at [email protected] to come and share her stories of faith with your church.

Sgt. Danger Geist was honorably discharged shortly after returning home from Afghanistan and now lives with his wife and puppy in the Chicago area. To read more of his experiences in Afghanistan visit and pick up a copy of his book, I am Danger; I am Prisoner.

Marijo Herndon has developed stress management strategies that benefit the coaching programs for a leading health plan company. Her articles, ranging from humor to inspiration, appear in several publications and books. She lives in New York with her husband Dave and two rescue cats. E-mail her at [email protected].

Laura Hollingshead has a bachelor’s degree in Nursing but has held a lifelong dream of being a published author. She is currently working on a book for adult children of aging parents to assist in planning for retirement, post-retirement, and end-of-life issues.

Kimberly M. Hutmacher is the author of twenty-five books and numerous pieces of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for magazines and anthologies. To learn more about Kimberly, her published works and her workshop offerings, please visit her website

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

BJ Jensen is an author, inspirational speaker, dramatist and music-signing artist. She directs Love In Motion Signing Choir (, which travels internationally. BJ is happily married to Dr. Doug Jensen and they live near their son, daughter-in-love, and three precious granddaughters in San Diego, CA. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lynnette Jung received a B.A. degree from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN, in 1961 and her master’s degree in Social Work from The University of Utah in 1965. She is retired from the USAF, and she enjoys reading, gourmet cooking, hiking and Pilates.

Nancy B. Kennedy’s most recent books are the second title in her Miracles & Moments of Grace series, Inspiring Stories from Doctors (Leafwood, 2012), and How We Did It: Weight Loss Choices That Will Work for You (Leafwood, 2011). To learn more about her writing, visit her website at

April Knight is a freelance writer and artist. Her favorite pastime is riding horses. She also writes Christian romance novels and has a newspaper column.

Annette Langer, previous Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor, tempers occasionally-somber topics with humor. Healing Through Humor: Change Your Focus, Change Your Life! chronicles her brain injury to breast cancer challenges. A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to the World details her travels to all seven continents.

Phyllis McKinley recently moved from Florida to Maine without hurting her back. Her writing took triple first place awards in Florida’s 2010 Royal Palm Literary Awards, in Poetry and Children’s categories. She lives with her husband, Dr. Hanford Brace, in Calais, ME.

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, hiking Colorado’s trails with her dog and trying to learn Italian. She enjoys writing poetry for religious publications.

Paula Naughton lives in Michigan with her husband Don, three horses, four dogs, chickens and multiple cats. She rides horses in dressage and trail. Paula enjoys raising and preserving organic food. She is a nonfiction writer and currently working on a nonfiction narrative. E-mail her at [email protected].

Amy Newmark is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Chicken Soup for the Soul and co-authors many of the books as well. She and her husband have four grown children. You can reach Amy through [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @amynewmark.

Jennifer Quasha is a freelance writer and editor who is the coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog’s Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That! and Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Cat Did That! Learn more at

Jennifer Reed is a children’s author of over twenty-five books. She teaches Yearbook part-time and is currently working on her master’s degree at Vermont College. Jennifer enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and of course, writing! Visit her website at

Anna Rose Silver is a middle school student. She enjoys writing, dancing and eating pizza. Anna is the co-author of two children’s books that were published by the American Cancer Society titled Our Mom Is Getting Better and Our Dad Is Getting Better.

Diane Stokes received her Bachelor of Science degree from UMass Lowell and an MBA degree from Clark University. She is a founder at Oncology Rehab Partners, a company advancing cancer and survivorship rehab, and FitBricks, a triathlon coaching company. She enjoys competing in triathlons of all distances. E-mail her at [email protected].

Samantha Ducloux Waltz is an award-winning freelance writer in Portland, OR. Her personal stories have appeared 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

Bill Wetterman is a retired Vice President from an executive search firm. His second career is freelance writing, and he’s working on several novels. E-mail him at [email protected].

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