Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School


Meet Our Contributors!

Emily Adams received her Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance from Bishop’s University in 2007, and her Artist Diploma in Performance from the University of Western Ontario in 2008. Besides playing and teaching the clarinet, Emily’s interests include painting, working out, practicing yoga, and writing poetry.

Arin Anderson is a freshman in the ‘08-’09 school year. She likes writing and listening to music. She also likes to shop and hang out with friends. She hopes to be a famous writer some day.

Carol Band is a mother of three whose humorous columns on parenting appear monthly in parenting publications nationwide.

Bethany Beago currently attends middle school as a thirteen year-old seventh grader. She lives with her mom, dad, sister, and her many pets. She enjoys English, reading and art. Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Ms. Jackson Beard is an eighth grader. Jackson is an avid reader who also enjoys long distance running, African dance, and cooking. She is also passionate about global politics and environmental issues.

JoAnne Bennett’s greatest achievement has been raising three wonderful daughters alongside her husband of thirty-three years. One of JoAnne’s passions is making a difference in young peoples’ lives. She feels blessed to be able to continue sharing a number of her stories with the world. Her e-mail is [email protected].

Amy Bernstein received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Nazareth College in 2005. She lives, works and writes in Boston, MA. Amy enjoys traveling and spending time with friends. Amy grew up at a summer camp in upstate NY, where part of her story is set. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Chase Bernstein graduated from Boston University with a degree in Journalism in 2008. This is only the first of many great stories to come. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Nicholas Berson is a middle school student. The school subjects he likes the most are science, history, and English. His favorite activities include playing video games, reading, traveling, and hanging out with friends. He plans to become a writer of fictional books and scripts.

Harris Bloom is a writer, stand-up comedian and an accountant. Guess which one he would like to quit? He’s been published in books such as The Ultimate Dog Lover, Underground Voices and Surreal Magazine. He’s also been published online at, and You can find him at

Ginger Boda has contributed to various online publications. She is also published in Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, and the Christmas Edition of the God’s Way series. Ginger resides in California with her husband of thirty-one years and has three grown children and two grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Juliet C. Bond is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and children’s book author from Evanston, IL. She teaches at both Columbia College and Northeastern University in Chicago. She is forever inspired by the transformative power of an extraordinary story. Please visit her website at

Pamela Bostwick’s publishings include Chicken Soup for Soul: Children with Special Needs. Although she is legally blind and hearing impaired, she enjoys a fulfilling life. She loves her country home, the beach, playing guitar and is a volunteer counselor. She has seven children and nine grandchildren. She happily remarried 7/7/07. E-mail: [email protected].

Rochel Burstyn is an Australian currently living in Michigan. She enjoys her wonderful husband, her lovely children, ice cream, and trips to Australia with her kids. She hopes to one day become the president of some really marvelous organization, but right now she is a stay-at-home mom. She can be reached at [email protected].

Andrea Canale is a junior in high school maintaining high honor roll for the past three years. She also writes for the school newspaper. She is a percussionist in the school concert and jazz band. She volunteers in her community and hopes to pursue a career in the medical field.

Nacie Carson graduated magna cum laude from the College of the Holy Cross in 2007 with an honors degree in history. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and loves her work as a freelance writer. She is currently working on her first novel. Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Megan Carty is currently attending a high school of the arts in an extensive drama program. She lives with her mom, dad, two sisters, three cats, and puppy. Her hobbies include figure skating, track, baking, and scrapbooking. Megan would like to pursue a career in acting or directing.

Jennifer Chase is currently a full-time student at Salem State College earning her Bachelors Degree in English and Creative Writing. She volunteers for MASSPIRG, directing the Hunger and Homelessness campaign at her school. Jennifer is an aspiring writer and activist. Contact: [email protected].

Ariel Chu is an eighth grader who has enjoyed writing ever since elementary school. Writing about her middle school year has helped her overcome friendship issues and the challenges of seventh grade. She believes teens should see their problems through different perspectives and can do that best through words.

Kevin Chu received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and East Asian Studies from New York University in 2008. In his free time Kevin enjoys reading crime fiction and playing video games. Please feel free to e-mail him at [email protected].

Jennifer Lynn Clay, eighteen, has been published almost eighty times in national and international magazines and in several worldwide-syndicated books including Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms, Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul 2, Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul, House Blessings, and Forever in Love. She was a State Finalist for Power of the Pen in 2004.

Maddy Curtis attends high school with her brother Jonny—class of 2011. She loves acting and singing and plans a career in theater. She is the ninth of twelve children.

Emily Cutler lives in Alabama with her family and two dogs. She enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and has written a novel. Besides writing, her hobbies are reading, art, traveling, and swimming.

Massachusetts native Shana Donohue graduated from UMass Amherst in 1999, and lives in South Boston. She is a Boston Public School teacher, is pursuing a master’s degree in Math Education from the Harvard Extension School, and is a part-time tutor. Shana also writes and produces screenplays and music videos.

Ali Edelson is in seventh grade. She loves to read, write, sing, and draw. It has always been Ali’s dream to become a published author. She plans to become an architect when she grows up.

Lena James Edwards is a writer/executive. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling and learning how to garden. Her interests include (but are not limited to) reading, writing, yoga, household organization, metaphysics, philanthropy, new media and politics. She hopes to learn surfing in the near future. Visit for more.

Melissa Face received her Bachelor of Arts from Coastal Carolina University and her master of human resources from Webster University. She works as an English teacher at a private school and writes on a freelance basis. She has written for newspapers, magazines, and journals and has also done copywriting work. Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Andrea Feczko is an on-air personality, reporter, blogger, and writer extraordinaire. When not traveling around the world seeking adventure, she’s in New York City. She received her B.S. magna cum laude in Journalism and Communications from New York University in 2007. For more information please visit:

Victoria Fedden is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing at Florida Atlantic University. She lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with her husband and cat where she enjoys cooking, gardening and swimming in the sea. She plans to teach Creative Writing and to write more memoirs, fiction and poetry.

Carole Fowkes is a Registered Nurse who also has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. She is currently a Clinical Instructor in North Texas. In addition to her nonfiction works, Carole enjoys writing fantasies and science fiction. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Peggy Purser Freeman, author of The Coldest Day in Texas, Swept Back to a Texas Future and numerous articles including: Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul and public affairs shows for Radio Disney/Dallas, is currently editor for Granbury Showcase Magazine and teaches writing with games and fun activities.

AC Gaughen is twenty-three years old and a graduate of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she fell madly in love with the UK, and Scotland in particular. Check out her blog at, and please contact her at [email protected].

Nancy Gilliam is an accomplished performing artist, author, educator and mother. She has contributed three stories to Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, for which she also served as Special Projects Manager. Visit her at

Conrado Gomez is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa, AZ. He came to the United States from a small town in Mexico. He writes stories of growing up in a small Mexican village and his vicissitudes in moving to a large school and city.

Tina Haapala looks back on her middle school days as a time of learning and growing. Her wish for teens is that they understand the importance of being true to themselves during times of struggle. Tina enjoys reading, concerts, yoga, and belly dance. She can be contacted at [email protected].

Samantha Harper is a junior in high school where she participates in theater, cross-country, and writing. Her public speaking skills have led her to place 4th in the Wisconsin State Forensics Tournament sophomore year. She hopes to write her first novel this summer and someday open her own publishing company.

Juliana Harris is an actress, singer, and writer whose work has appeared in The Kansas City Star, The Mid-America Poetry Review and The New York Times, among many other publications. She moved to Connecticut last spring where she works in a bookshop during the day and sings in the evenings.

Miriam Hill is co-author of Fabulous Florida and a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She’s been published in The Christian Science Monitor, Grit, St. Petersburg Times, Sacramento Bee and Poynter Online. Miriam’s manuscript received Honorable Mention for Inspirational Writing in a Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.

Renee Hixson had barely survived middle school before she stumbled into the jaws of high school. Not a pretty story. Still, she had the presence of mind to document her struggles on stained napkins, toilet paper and bathroom walls. This nail-biting blurry-eyed author may be reached at [email protected].

Charlie Hoffert attends middle/high school in Vermont. He enjoys math, running, soccer, and playing the piano. Charlie would like to pursue a career in the renewable energy field.

Roswitha Houghton received her RN in Nursing from Mercer Hospital in New Jersey, her BA in Economics from George Mason University in Virginia and her Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. Her work as a nurse, an economist and muralist have all lead to her current efforts at writing and illustrating children’s books. You can view her work at

Claire Howlett is a sixth grade student who has always loved to create stories. Her writing experience includes first place fiction in the Stamford Literary Competition for two years. She also enjoys karate, acting and playing the piano, which she has been doing for seven years.

Kathleen Ingraham lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She has loved writing since first grade and has spent many years dreaming up stories. She hopes to someday travel the world but feels at this time there really is “no place like home.”

Josy Hicks Jablons is an eighth grader who lives with her two parents, younger sister and three dogs. She is very passionate about music, especially singing. She loves science, math, performing in operas, traveling to other countries, and working with young children.

Kelsey Johnson is an eighth grade student. She enjoys school, soccer, football, music, writing and spending time with her friends.

Pat Stockett Johnston is a published writer. She enjoys growing chrysanthemums for show, reading best-sellers, and the writing process. Her latest book is Should I Kiss or Shake Hands?: Surviving in Another Culture. She’s glad her middle school years are behind her. Contact Pat via e-mail at [email protected].

Rachel Joyce attended middle school in Colorado. She loves to write and follow politics with her family. Rachel plans to combine these two passions and become a political journalist. She lives with her mother, father, sister and dog Ginger.

Anna Kendall received her Master of Arts in Writing in 2007. She works as a freelance writer and editor in Chicago. Anna enjoys writing about her school experiences (and she hopes that other people will be able to identify with—and laugh at—some of her embarrassing school moments).

Erica Lyn Kinne is currently working toward her major in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. She enjoys playing piano, camping, yoga, reading, and of course, writing. Erica has written a few Young Adult novels and she plans to get them published in the future. Erica can be e-mailed at: [email protected].

Author Roger Dean Kiser’s stories take you into the heart of a child abandoned by his family and abused by the system responsible for his care. Today, Kiser lives in Brunswick, Georgia with his wife Judy, where he continues to write and publish most of his work on his website at

Mary Kolesnikova is working on her MFA in creative writing at the University of San Francisco, where she lives with her boyfriend and two cats. She is the author of the forthcoming young adult novel, Coven, and you can find her online at

Britt Leigh grew up in Florida. She now lives in Boston, growing up in different ways. She is earning her Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children at Simmons College. Her stories, real and imagined, focus on faith, friends, family and fancy. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Justin Lynema attends middle school and will be heading into high school next year. He enjoys playing video games and hanging out with friends and family. He mainly writes for school assignments, but is excited to be published.

Nancy Maggio hails from California where she received her teaching credentials in music. Still singing and giving vocal lessons, she works full time while enjoying writing, designing jewelry and volunteering in various ministries at her church. Nancy writes poetry inspired by sermons and non-fiction stories from life changing experiences.

Julia McDaniel, fourteen, spends her free time working on her school’s literary magazine and helping to create and manage Orb28, an online community for girls. When she is not working on a novel, she often horseback rides, goes to drive-in movies, and calls her best friend and pen pal, Emily.

Hale McSharry, twelve, lives with his family and grandparents. He is currently in middle school. Hale is an accomplished violist. Hale volunteers at the American Red Cross and his school’s Young Volunteers Club. He likes to ski, play water polo, swim, sing, act, and read.

Marshawna Moore received her Masters Degree in Education from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. She is the owner of Moore Professional Childcare, LLC in Chicago, Illinois. Marshawna enjoys traveling, reading, and working with at-risk youth. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Sharendalle Murga attends an arts middle school where she enjoys writing poems and short stories. She has been Figure Ice Skating for the past six years and participates in different dance schools. Recently she won gold, silver and bronze medals in ballroom dancing competitions. She hopes to be a published writer, an ice skater and a professional dancer.

Hank Musolf was born in Wisconsin and now lives in Minnesota. He plays the cello in his high school orchestra and is also on the Speech Team. Hank likes many activities but he still doesn’t like diving all that much.

Brittany Newell is an avid writer as well as a classical singer, horseback rider, and filmmaker. When she was ten, she had a story published in literary magazine Stone Soup—now, with one in Chicken Soup for the Soul, there seems to be some sort of theme....

Cindy Ovard enjoys writing and teaching. She teaches at Palomar College in San Diego. She plans on writing an anthology on the memories of childhood in small town USA in the 1960s and 1970s. You can e-mail her at [email protected].

Mark Parisi’s “off the mark” comic, syndicated since 1987, is distributed by United Media. Mark’s humor also graces greeting cards, T-shirts, calendars, magazines, newsletters and books. Check out: Lynn is his wife/business partner. Their daughter, Jen, contributes with inspiration (as do three cats).

Adam Patla has recently graduated and is going to be a freshman in high school this fall. He has been writing since he was six years old. He enjoys writing poetry and fiction and hopes to be a best-selling author someday.

Bobby Pellegrino earned degrees in Journalism and International Relations from Boston University in 2008. He has worked for publications in Boston and London and enjoys writing, traveling and all things awesome. Bobby loves seeing his name in print and hopes to break into the magazine industry. Reach him at [email protected].

Ava Pennington is a freelance writer, speaker, and Bible teacher, with an MBA from St. John’s University and a Bible Studies Certificate from Moody Bible Institute. She has published magazine articles and contributed stories to nine Chicken Soup for the Soul books. For more information, visit

Jennifer Perkin is now in tenth grade and enjoys drama club, reading and writing stories. Please contact her at [email protected].

P.A. Perry-Armes began writing in 2003 after a thirty-year hiatus. She enjoys a variety of crafts and writing, both inspirational and Southern-related short stories. She lives with her husband Steve and six furry, four-legged children. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Mariel Reed is currently a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. There, she is studying International Politics and Mandarin Chinese. She will be spending six months in China—hopefully, the first of many more adventures. She plans to travel and live all over the world.

Nicole Roberts is an eighth grade student who enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys reading, writing short stories, playing softball, and swimming. She plans to attend college and pursue a career in law enforcement.

Chloe Rosenberg lives in Connecticut with her wonderful parents, two brothers, three cats and two dogs. When she is not traveling, she is usually reading, cooking or chasing her brothers for dunking her kitten in the toilet. She hopes to become either a travel guidebook writer, lawyer or acclaimed pastry chef.

Carol S. Rothchild received her master’s degree in writing from The Johns Hopkins University. She is currently the Editorial Director of SIX78th, the junior high lifestyle magazine. She has previously published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and is passionate about writing for young adults. Carol can be reached at [email protected].

Sara Rowe has a BA in English Writing and History and is studying for her MA in Children’s Literature in London. She is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her wacky friends and family. She plans to write novels for teens. Contact her at: [email protected].

Suzy Ryan lives and works in Carlsbad, California. She is currently writing a novel about a teacher’s middle school experiences. Suzy enjoys running, swimming, biking, tennis, and reading with her husband and three teenage children. Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Myra Sanderman never lost her love of writing for children, even though she spent many years as an advertising copywriter. Now she publishes in Highlights for Children and Spider Magazine, among others, and is working on several children’s books. She lives in Chicago with her family. E-mail her at [email protected].

Theresa Sanders has four grown children, her greatest joy and accomplishment. She graduated with honors from the University of Maryland, worked for years as a technical writer, and has been published in trade journals. She lives with her husband near St. Louis, and is thrilled to be included in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Spencer Scarvey is a 2008 graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and now attends the University of Georgia. She sometimes enjoys writing, but plans to major in science. In her free time, she enjoys eating her sister’s baking and working out to compensate.

Quinn Scarvey, sixteen, lives in Salisbury, NC. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002, she wrote this essay in 2003 for the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation. Quinn feels great these days and recently completed a half marathon. She loves photography and walking her dog, Edy.

Laura L. Smith is the author of the teen novel, Skinny, and the children’s book Cantaloupe Trees. She lives in Oxford, Ohio with her husband and four children.

StarAsia Smith is an honor roll student. She is an ice skater, singer, dancer and future poet. E-mail her at [email protected].

Helen Stein lives in the Great Lakes state of Michigan. She has four children and five grandchildren. For eighteen years, she edited and wrote safety articles for a motor carrier. She spends time with family, assists her parents, digs in the dirt of her perennial garden, and plays tennis.

Cynda Strong is a high school English teacher in Springfield, Illinois, and the author of Where Do Angels Sleep?, her first children’s picture book. Cynda loves teaching others how to write. She and her husband Michael enjoy traveling, their grandbabies, and their lhasa apso, Honey.

Annmarie Tait lives in Conshohocken, PA with her husband Joe and Sammy the “Wonder Yorkie.” In addition to writing stories about life in a large Irish Catholic family, Annmarie also enjoys singing and recording American and Irish folk songs which reflect her heritage. E-mail address: [email protected].

B.J. Taylor often thinks about those difficult years growing up, but realizes that the hard times made her stronger. She is now an award-winning author whose work has appeared in Guideposts, many Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and numerous magazines and newspapers. B.J. has a wonderful husband, four children and two adorable grandsons.

Becky Tidberg and her husband Paul have been working with troubled youth for more than five years and have parented over 100 children through group homes, foster care, and their own children. She is a free-lance writer and speaker to teen, women and parenting ministries. To learn more, check out

Don Verkow received his undergrad and grad degrees from Western Michigan University. He is Assistant Principal at Paramount Charter Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Don enjoys traveling, reading, writing and studying Abraham Lincoln. He has been married to Katie for thirty-three years. Please e-mail him at: [email protected].

Wendy Walker is the author of Four Wives, released in 2008 and widely acclaimed. The Queen of Suburbia will be released in 2009. Wendy is also editing Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms. Look for Power Moms for Mother’s Day!

Carmelle Wasch is a twelve-year-old seventh grader. Her inspiration to write this story was the deep loss of her best friend, Sarah. Carmelle enjoys reading, sports, singing and her puggle Moxie. Her dream job is to become a news reporter some day.

Chelsea Watson has edited and submitted pieces to her school’s literary magazine. In her free time she plays soccer, tennis and track. Chelsea also plays piano and sings in the town’s select choir. She enjoys going to New York City, painting, musical theater, nature, movies, the beach and hanging out with her friends.

Carol Wong is a fourteen-year-old freshman attending high school. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, drawing, and reading books. She is currently working on her first novel and hopes to get it published before finishing high school.

Jennifer Youngblood is the co-author of Livin’ in High Cotton and of the bestselling novel, Stoney Creek, Alabama. She and her mom, Sandra Poole, write together. They’re currently working on their third and fourth novels. A native of Alabama, Jennifer currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and children.

Beadrin (Pixie) Youngdahl is a registered nurse, wife, mother, grandmother, knitter, quilter, reader, writer of fiction, essay and poetry and recently a chicken farmer. She is a life long Minnesotan which means she has all those long cold months to pursue all those passions. Reach her at [email protected].

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