Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Meet Our Contributors

Debbie Acklin believes that having realistic expectations is just another way of setting limitations on herself. She travels as much as possible and is looking forward to her next adventure with her husband Perry and her two grown children, Amy and Greg. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Lynne Albers earned an Elementary Education degree from Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS, and taught for several years before raising their now-grown children, Jennifer and Wade. Lynne and her husband Bob enjoy exploring the picturesque New Mexico landscape with their dog, Phoebe. You may e-mail her at [email protected].

Christopher Allen writes Southern humor, both fiction and nonfiction. His work has been anthologized in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Gathering: Writers of Williamson County as well as in the e-zines Metazen and Every Day Fiction, among others. He writes about his travels at

Monica A. Andermann lives on Long Island with her husband/ proofreader Bill and their cat Charley. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family. In addition to two previous Chicken Soup for the Soul credits, her poetry and essays have been widely published both online and in print.

Jennifer Azantian received her Bachelor of Science, with honors, from the University of California, San Diego in 2010. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in child psychology. Jennifer is also an author of several short stories and novels. Information about her fantastical tales can be found on her website:

Suzanne Baginskie has published many short stories, articles and poems and appears in eight other Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Retirement allows her to spend her free time writing and she is currently penning a legal thriller novel. She teaches a creative writing course at her local college. Visit Suzanne at

Carol Band is an award-winning humor writer whose work appears in publications nationwide. In her spare time, she raises champion dust bunnies and kills houseplants. To read more, visit her website at or her blog at

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a psychologist, author (Secrets of a Bar Mitzvah Mom), and comic. She has written for, Weight Watchers, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her second book, a humorous survival guide for parents of college applicants, will be available in 2011. Contact her at

Jan Bono taught school for 30 years on the Long Beach peninsula in southwest Washington State. She now works as a life coach, writing coach, Law of Attraction presenter, and freelance writer, with numerous articles and several books to her credit. Check out her blog at:

Ginny Dent Brant is an educator, counselor, writer, soloist, Christian speaker and Bible teacher who resides with her husband Alton in Clemson/Seneca, SC. Her first book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, will be released in the summer of 2010. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Marcy Brinkley, RN, JD, moved with her husband to Hawaii in 2009 where they enjoy snorkeling, hiking, and camping with their dogs. They hope to visit frequently with the kids and grandkids back on the mainland. Marcy is working on an inspirational romance novel. Please contact her at [email protected].

Douglas M. Brown has been writing since he was twelve years old. He has been published in several religious magazines, in Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul and Chicken Soup for the New Mom’s Soul. He lives in West Jordan, UT. You may contact Doug via e-mail at [email protected].

John P. Buentello is the author of numerous short stories, essays, biographies, the novel Reproduction Rights and the short story collection Binary Tales. Currently he is at work on a new novel and a collection of connected short stories. Contact him at [email protected].

Debbie Cannizzaro received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of New Orleans. She is the author and illustrator of We Live in Mandeville. When Debbie isn’t reading and writing, she enjoys making wheel-thrown pottery in her home studio. She and her husband Sal have three children: Nicole, Louis and Joseph.

A popular speaker at conferences and retreats, Emily Chase is the author of six books, including Why Say No When My Hormones Say Go? and Help! My Family’s Messed Up. Visit her at to learn more about her writing and her speaking schedule.

Jeri Chrysong wakes up every morning grateful for her miracle, losing 170 pounds without surgery or drugs. She enjoys long walks along the beach with her pug, Mabel. Jeri also enjoys writing, photography, traveling and being a grandma. Visit Jeri’s Remarkable Weight Loss Blog at

Harriet Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and language instructor. She specializes in writing creative nonfiction, humor and often writes about 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.

Kyle Therese Cranston currently works as a content specialist/copywriter in Boston where she also teaches creative writing part-time at the Boston Center for Adult Education. In her spare time, Kyle enjoys writing, hanging out at bookstores, dancing to 80s music, and spending time with friends.

Ruth Douillette is an essayist and a photographer. She reviews books for various venues, including the Internet Review of Books where she is Associate Editor. After a day at her laptop, she heads to the gym—some days more enthusiastically than others. Come visit her blog Upstream and Down.

Drema Sizemore Drudge is a 2008 graduate of Manchester College and is currently in the MFA program at Spalding University. She is an instructor with the Learn More Center in North Manchester, Indiana, where she and her husband Barry also reside. She is currently writing her first novel.

Melissa Face lives in Virginia with her husband and dog. She teaches, writes, and tries to squeeze into size 10 jeans. E-mail Melissa at [email protected].

Patricia Fish is a blogger who writes book, movie, restaurant and TV reviews. She is a Backyard Wildlife Habitat trainer and her yard is certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Pat loves to garden and loves the bird fellows. Her blog is

Peggy Frezon writes a twice-monthly column “5 Things About Pets” and has stories in The Ultimate Dog Lover, Miracles and Animals, and others. She’s a contributing writer for Guidepost magazine. Her first book, Losing it With My Dog, is about dieting with her chubby spaniel. Visit her blog: Peggy’s Pet Place ( Twitter: @ peggyfrezon.

Sally Schwartz Friedman, a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, writes personal essays for national and regional publications including The New York Times, AARP The Magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is married to a retired judge, the mother of three daughters and a grandmother of seven. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author of 12 children’s books, including The Happiness Box and The Invisible Book. She also coordinates a Jewish Big Brother Big Sister Program in Baltimore, MD. Bracha can be reached at [email protected].com. Her story was reprinted with permission from, a project of

Elaine K. Green is a native New Orleanian. She loves tennis, reading, and writing flash fiction. You may e-mail her at [email protected].

Judy Gruen is the author of three award-winning humor books, including The Women’s Daily Irony Supplement. Her essays have appeared in the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Ladies’ Home Journal, and dozens of other media outlets. Enjoy more of her work at

Alison Gunn is a writer who lives in Victoria with her husband and two daughters. She was previously published in Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul. E-mail Alison at [email protected] or visit her blog at

Lucinda Gunnin is a writer and mini-storage manager living in Illinois. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, four years after suffering symptoms. The symptoms disappeared with her change in diet. Lucinda has also been published in Elements of Time and Elements of the Soul from Twin Trinity Media.

Christina Marie Harris is a 20-something Jersey Shore Girl with a sharp tongue and an even sharper pen. A freelance writer by trade, she also works at Precision Garage Doors. ( She is also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Women. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Rebecca Hill lost 40 pounds with Weight Watchers and is now a Circuit Coach at Curves in Marina del Rey, CA. She remains a huge fan of her former boss, Kiana Tom, and encourages everyone to check out Kiana’s websites for fantastic health and fitness tips! and

Erika Hoffman has published inspirational, humorous, and travel pieces for an array of magazines and anthologies. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Theresa Hupp is a prize-winning author of novels, short stories, essays and poetry. She is also an attorney, mediator and human resources executive. Theresa is a member of the Kansas City Writers Group and the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Since 1995, Rabbi Mitchell M. Hurvitz (“Rabbi Mitch”) has served as the spiritual leader for Temple Sholom of Greenwich, CT. A well-published author of articles and columns, he also co-authored Facts on File’s Encyclopedia of Judaism. Please subscribe to his weekly teachings by contacting him directly at [email protected].

Kimberly Hutmacher is the author of eight books for children, including a picture book titled Paws, Claws, Hands and Feet. Besides spending time with her family and writing, she also loves to exercise! Learn more about Kimberly and read her book reviews at

Peggy James lives in Durham, NC, where you can often see her out walking. She has walked six half marathons so far, and hopes to one day walk a full marathon.

Christine Junge is a writer and editor living outside of Boston, MA, with her husband and many pets. She teaches writing throughout the Boston area. Christine has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She would love to hear from readers via her blog ( or e-mail ([email protected]).

Ron Kaiser, Jr. lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful and charming wife Meghan, and their three small dogs. He is currently seeking representation for a book of short stories, a novel, and the amazing true story of his father, who just so happens to be his hero. E-mail him at [email protected].

Shannon Kaiser received her BA in Journalism and Communication from the University of Oregon. She is passionate about travel, writing and endurance sports, and just completed her first half Ironman triathlon. She lives in Oregon with her favorite jogging buddy, her dog Tucker. Contact her at shannonkaiser or [email protected].

Elizabeth Kelly is a freelance magazine writer living in Knoxville, TN with her fiancé, teenage daughter, five cats, two fire toads and a dwarf hamster. Her obsessions include Crock-Pots and P.G. Wodehouse novels. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Nancy B. Kennedy has published two Bible story and science activity books for children: Make It, Shake It, Mix It Up and Even the Sound Waves Obey Him (Concordia Publishing House). She writes books, articles and essays, and blogs about other people’s weight loss success. Visit her website at

April Knight is an artist and freelance writer. She lives in Washington. She recently spent six months in Australia where she rode a camel 50 miles in the Outback. She has just finished writing a series of five romance novels. Contact her at [email protected].

Terri Knight has a degree in psychology, substitute teaches and has several pieces published. “Forward” won the 2007 Fiction Contest at Edison College. Later, St Anthony’s Messenger published it. She finished her first romance novel, Finding Home, and is starting her next one, Look Who’s Dating a Soap Star.

Kathleen Kohler writes for magazines and anthologies on a variety of topics. She lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest. Besides writing, she enjoys gardening, travel, relaxing at the beach, reading, and watercolor painting. To read more of her published work, visit

Nancy Julien Kopp draws from life experiences for essays, stories, poems, and articles. Her work is in nine Chicken Soup for the Soul books, other anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and e-zines. A former teacher, she still enjoys teaching through the written word. She blogs at E-mail her at [email protected].

As a hobby, Heidi Krumenauer has published eight books, more than 1,200 articles, and has contributed chapters to more than a dozen book projects. Her career, however, is in upper management with an insurance company in Madison, WI. Heidi is a 1991 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Annie Kuhn received a BA in art from Macalester College and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She currently teaches English at Eastern Maine Community College and works for a children’s bookstore. Annie loves travel, art, history, and eating out! Contact Annie via e-mail at [email protected].

Jennifer Leckstrom works in public relations. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communication at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She resides in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania with her husband and two stepchildren. She enjoys traveling and sipping good bourbon. Please contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Sherilyn Lee holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Creative Nonfiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her writing has been published by Prism Review, Kauai Backstory, Quiet Mountain Essays and other journals. She may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter @sherilynwrites.

Gloria Hander Lyons has channeled 30 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 short stories. Visit her website to read about them all:

Jan Mader lives in Columbus, OH with her husband Chuck. She has a passion for animals and animal rescue. Jan loves spending time with her grandchildren and riding her horse Tango. Jan is the author of numerous children’s books. She has blogs for writers and animal lovers at and

Emily Ann Marasco is finishing a degree in computer engineering and a minor in music at the University of Calgary. In her time outside of the lab, she enjoys playing her oboe, reading, and belly dancing. Emily is a student columnist for APEGGA, and is working on a fantasy novel.

Mimi Marie is a mother of two boys and works part-time in the medical field. Mimi enjoys yoga, fishing, and her volunteer work with Prison Ministry. She plans to continue writing inspirational articles and sharing the hope available through Christ Jesus.

David Martin’s humor and political satire have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Smithsonian Magazine. His humor collection, My Friend W, was published in 2005 by Arriviste Press. David lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife Cheryl and his daughter Sarah.

Toni L. Martin is a programmer-analyst by day and a group leader for the Florida Writers Association by night. Both are sedentary jobs. Her personal trainer, a 10-pound Italian Greyhound, does his best to keep her in shape in her spare time.

Beth (Waterkotte) Molinaro received her Bachelor of Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1981. She lives in New Milford, CT and enjoys spending time with her husband Anthony and their children, Zach and Annie. She describes her writing as “quick-witted & warm-hearted.” Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Lisa Coll Nicolaou graduated from Yale University. She is a middle school teacher and an aspiring writer. She still tries to get to the gym every morning. Lisa appreciates a good laugh and the support of her friends and family. Read more at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Linda O’Connell is an award-winning writer, poet and teacher in St. Louis, MO. Her essays appear in 11 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, numerous anthologies, literary and mainstream publications. Her idea of happiness is strolling hand in hand with her husband on a warm summer’s eve. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected] or

Caroline Overlund-Reid grew up in Oregon and attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. She is currently “retired” but works two days a week in her daughter’s consulting business. She enjoys writing, water colors, volunteer activities, her grandchildren, friends and family. She has been writing most of her life. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Mark Parisi’s “off the mark” comic, syndicated since 1987, is distributed by United Media. He won the National Cartoonists Society’s award for Best Newspaper Panel in 2009. His humor also graces greeting cards, T-shirts, calendars, magazines, newsletters and books. See Lynn is his wife/business partner. Daughter Jen contributes inspiration, as do three cats, one dog, a frog and an unknown number of koi.

Faith Paulsen’s writing has appeared in Literary Mama, Wild River Review, A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs and A Cup of Comfort for Mothers. Dennis Chipollini is a motivational speaker, personal trainer, and founder of Generation Hope.

Laurie Penner works full-time in computer assisted design (CAD). When she’s not helping her husband David build their house, she enjoys gardening, quilting, rock hunting, and spending time with their four grandchildren. Laurie plans to expand her writing career in her retirement years. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Saralee Perel, an award-winning columnist and novelist, is honored to be a multiple contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Saralee is agented for her book about her dog who became her caregiver after Saralee suffered a spinal cord injury, and her cat who kept her sane. Contact her via e-mail at her [email protected] or through her website

Lori Phillips lives in Southern California with her husband and children. Her husband plans to move the family into a one-story home so he can enjoy cheesecake once again. You can e-mail her at [email protected]

Sheri Plucker is a freelance writer who has published articles and children’s books on Down syndrome including Me, Hailey! She has a B.A. in Recreation Management from Eastern Washington University. She is inspired by her three children. Her youngest, Hailey, has Down syndrome. The family resides in Snohomish, WA. Contact her at [email protected].

Jeanne-Marie Poulin earned an Associate of Arts degree from Capital Community-Technical College in 1996. She is currently employed at a local elementary school and lives in Glastonbury, CT with her husband, daughter and Schnauzer. She also has a grown daughter and two grandchildren. Jeanne-Marie loves reading, writing, photography and traveling.

Felice Prager has accumulated hundreds of local, national, and international credits in print and on the Internet. Many of her essays have been included in popular anthology series including several Chicken Soup for the Soul volumes. She is the author of Quiz It: Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Jennifer Quasha is a freelance writer and editor who loves reading, and writing for, Chicken Soup for the Soul books. You can check out her website at, and see some of what she’s been doing since she went freelance in 1998.

Dwan Reed, a licensed Master of Social Work, and preacher’s wife, resides in Houston, TX. She spends her time as a professional public speaker, freelance writer, prison evangelist, and real estate agent. She can be contacted at [email protected].

Few topics make Nancy Higgins Reese as enthusiastic as health and positive body image. Check out her blog at Nancy has written several children’s books. In her spare time, Nancy enjoys singing, skiing, and spending time with her family.

Natalie June Reilly is a freelance writer and a single “football” mom of two extraordinary teenage boys. She is also the author of the children’s book, My Stick Family: Helping Children Cope with Divorce. If she hasn’t escaped with her family to the beach, Natalie can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Linda J. Rivers is a California native, now residing in the state of Minnesota with her husband Ernie, a retired military officer with the United States Army, and eleven-year-old daughter, Kira. She began her writing career in 1980 as a weekly columnist for the Statesman Journal newspaper in Salem, OR.

Amanda Romaniello graduated from Syracuse University in 2010. This is her second story in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Amanda loves to write, read, bake and spin. She writes about her love life in the blog “Fool for Love.” Contact her at [email protected].

Jo Russell is an inspirational writer living in northeast Arizona. She retired as a reading teacher five years ago and now sells home décor. Jo has a number of books in the making including a humorous women’s devotional titled Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out?

Linda Sabourin lives in Oklahoma. She enjoys reading, writing short stories and poetry, watching football and drag racing, and tinkering with old computers. She has seven cats and a boyfriend who has five. . . and often wonders what the future will bring. . . kittens, perhaps?

Deborah Shouse is a speaker, writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Newsweek, and Spirituality & Health. She is donating all proceeds from her book Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey to Alzheimer’s programs and research. Visit her website at

A career development professional, Fran Signorino is a career staff writer on Examiner and Factoidz; she also writes under the name, Marie Coppola. Having received her BS degree with honors in 1993, she was a human resource administrator until she retired to the beach and sun in South Carolina. You can e-mail her at [email protected].

Tulika Singh is a freelance writer and copyeditor. She has earlier worked with leading Indian dailies including Hindustan Times and The Times of India. She currently divides her time between the two loves of her life—writing and her four-year-old twins. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Lynetta Smith is a homeschooling mom and freelance writer. She lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, TN.

Peter D. Springberg, MD is a retired Air Force nephrologist and former medical center commander now living in northern Colorado. He’s been a story teller for nearly 40 years, a writer for six. His twice-weekly blog on diet/lifestyle issues is embedded in his website

Johnna Stein wears many hats: reading therapist, mother of two wonderful teenagers, freelance writer, women’s program director at her church and wife to her Prince Charming. Her non-fiction stories have appeared in children, teen and adult magazines. She is currently working on finding a home for her humorous middle grade novel.

Sandra Stevens was raised in Florida and lives in Seattle where she is currently working on a novel. She is inspired by family, good food, warm friends and great literature.

Kim Stokely received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in drama. She has toured churches throughout the country in a one-person musical about women in the Bible. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and an assortment of creatures including two teenagers and two dogs. Please visit her at

Sharon A. Struth is a graduate of Marist College. She lives in Bethel, CT with her husband and two teenage daughters. Her work can also be seen in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms, Sasee Magazine, A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers, and

Tsgoyna Tanzman’s career spans from belly dancer, to speech pathologist, to fitness trainer, to memoir teacher. Writing is her “therapy” for raising her adolescent daughter. Published in three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her essays and poems can be read online at,, and The Orange County Register. E-mail her at [email protected].

B.J. Taylor loves how she feels and how she looks, which keeps her motivated to make wise choices. She is an award-winning author whose work has appeared in Guideposts and many Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She has a wonderful husband, four children and two grandsons. You can reach B.J. at

Elaine Togneri is published in non-fiction, short fiction and poetry. She is the founder and a past president of the Sisters in Crime—Central Jersey chapter, and the editor of Crime Scene: New Jersey. Elaine holds an MA in English from Rutgers Graduate School. Visit her website at

Thurmeka Ward received her Bachelors of Art from St. John’s University and is currently obtaining her Masters in General and Special Education. She enjoys writing, singing, and working with children. She plans to continue writing in various areas. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Stefanie Wass’s essays have been published in The Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Christian Science Monitor, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron Life and Leisure, Cleveland Magazine, A Cup of Comfort for Mothers, A Cup of Comfort for a Better World, and seven Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Visit her website at

Bill Wetterman managed and trained some of the finest professional search consultants in the country before retiring from Wolters Search Group. He is a member of several professional writers’ organizations. Bill writes both non-fiction and fiction short stories and novels. You can reach Bill via e-mail at [email protected].

Janice M. Wilson has been a writer since her early teens. She is finishing her second novel, writes poetry, short stories, and founded a writers’ group based in southern New Jersey, where she lives with her daughter. She also enjoys the outdoors, reading, and cooking. E-mail Janice at [email protected].

Beth M. Wood lives in St. Louis with her three beautiful children and one three-legged Boxer. She is a marketing professional by trade, a writer by choice, a devout reader and semi-fanatic editor who will occasionally sneak a red Sharpie into restaurants to correct glaring, grammatical errors on the menu.

Joanna G. Wright is a freelance writer from Indianapolis, IN, where she resides with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys reading, gardening, drawing and quilting.

Susan Kimmel Wright lives in a western Pennsylvania farmhouse with her husband and an ever-changing assortment of animals and adult children. She has authored three children’s mystery novels and many Chicken Soup for the Soul stories. Contact her at

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