Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Meet Our Contributors

Pamela Underhill Altendorf lives in Wisconsin with her husband. She studied writing at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her stories have appeared in Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune, Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul, and several other magazines and newspapers. Pam is also a volunteer tutor in English as a Second Language, and enjoys traveling.

Desiree Diana Amadeo is the proud daughter of Diana Marie Amadeo and Leonard Ray Amadeo. Desiree is truly appreciative and thankful for her family and for their continuous love and support. Desiree is currently studying Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in preparation for a career in alternative energy.

Michelle Anglin received her Bachelor of Arts, with high honors, from Salem State College, where she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Middle School Education. Michelle enjoys writing non-fiction pieces, and plans to write children’s books someday.

Joyce A. Anthony is a writer, mother and animal advocate with a strong Psychology background. She is currently working toward a Criminal Justice degree in Forensic Psychology. Her “motto” is “Writing Rainbows of Hope.” Contact Joyce via e-mail at [email protected].

Ronda Armstrong and her husband enjoy ballroom dancing. They also chase after their two beloved cats and connect with family and friends. Ronda’s essays and stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Des Moines Register, and a Midwest anthology—Knee High by the Fourth of July. E-mail her at [email protected].

Aditi Ashok is currently a high school student living in the Bay Area. She enjoys writing, photography, lacrosse, and spending time with friends and family.

Elizabeth Atwater is a small town Southerner who has loved writing ever since she was old enough to grasp a pencil in her hand. Life is sweet and contentment abounds on the nine acres she shares with her husband Joe, where they raise race horses.

Christy Barge was born and raised in Papillion, NE. She is currently a sophomore at Nebraska Christian College.

Sandra R. Bishop graduated from Purdue University, and is a Registered Nurse and an Elementary Science teacher. She lives with her wonderful husband of thirty-one years and enjoys writing and photography. Sandy’s role as Mom and Nana has been her true vocation, an honor inspired by her mother, Marian.

Julie Bradford Brand received her BS from Susquehanna University and went on to attend NYU toward her MBA. She worked in Human Resources before deciding to stay home with her three children. Julie enjoys running and spending time with her family. Her mom continues to be a source of inspiration to her.

John P. Buentello is a writer who has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He is the co-author of the novel Reproduction Rights and the story anthology Binary Tales. He is currently at work on a collection of non-fiction and a new novel. He can be reached at [email protected].

Steve Chapman received his B.A. in 1996 and his Master’s in 2006. He teaches English at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri and is the author of The Miller’s Wife. Steve currently lives in Monett, Missouri with his wife Sabina. Contact him at [email protected].

Harriet Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and language instructor. She specializes in writing creative non-fiction, humor and articles, 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.

Maryanne Curran is a freelance writer based in Lexington, Mass. This is her first contribution to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Maryanne enjoys traveling and reading. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Sheila Curran is the author of Everyone She Loved, about a woman’s efforts to protect her own family even after her own expiration date has come and gone. Her first book, Diana Lively is Falling Down, a romantic comedy Jodi Picoult called warm, funny, inventive and original and Booklist called a gem. Visit for more information.

Jim Dow lives in the Northeast with his wife and two children. He enjoys reading, watching sports, and spending time with his family. He is pursuing a college degree in night school.

Aviva Drescher lives in New York City with her husband Reid and three children. She attended The Fieldston School, Vassar College where she received her BA, New York University to receive her MA in French and Cardozo Law School. She spends her free time counseling amputees.

Megan Dupree received her Bachelor of Arts from Texas State University-San Marcos where she currently works in the Housing Department. Megan enjoys reading, traveling, writing and spending time with her family which includes her husband Geoff and daughter Lilah. Megan can be e-mailed at [email protected].

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny raise their five boys in an old Victorian on the Mississippi River. She home teaches her youngest sons. Her work has been published in a number of magazines. She writes about life, family, friendship, and God’s grace.

Stacia Erckenbrack, born and raised in California, graduated with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from San Diego Mesa College. She has always enjoyed writing, hiking and water sports. Her favorite activity is spending time with her loving family. Stacia can be contacted at [email protected] or (707)655-3303.

Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. Published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, she has stories and poems in Shine Magazine and Freckles to Wrinkles. Joanne is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba. Check out her blog:

Norma Favor currently lives in British Columbia with her daughter and family. She comes from a long line of story tellers. Norma loves to put those stories on paper. She has had a number of stories printed in Chicken Soup for the Soul books and some have been used by Adams Media.

Aaron Felder is the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Queens Conservatory of Music, a community music school in New York City. He lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn with his wife Michelle and their daughter Lucy. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Ellen Fink lives in Woodstock, Georgia. She is married and has three children. When she’s not writing, she spends her time gardening, walking her dog, reading mysteries and doing volunteer work.

Christina Flaaen currently resides with her parents, sister, six cats, and two dogs. She enjoys reading, traveling, and collecting Lucille Ball memorabilia. Christina is presently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Arizona State University. Following graduation, she hopes to study Entertainment Law and someday become a television executive.

Carol Fleischman has been a regular contributor to the Buffalo News. Her articles cover a wide range of everyday events, from yard sales to wedding showers. Carol’s recurring theme is life as a blind person, especially the joys and challenges of working with guide dogs.

Carolyn Mott Ford enjoys spending time with her family at the Jersey Shore and writing poetry, essays and children’s stories. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including several Chicken Soup for the Soul books and her picture book, Ten Hats, A Counting Book, has just been published.

Betsy Franz is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in nature, wildlife, the environment and human relationships. Her articles and photos reflecting the exquisite wonders of life have been published in numerous books and magazines. She lives in Florida with her husband Tom. Visit Betsy on the web at:

Originally from Upstate New York, Rachel Furey is a current PhD student at Texas Tech. She is a previous winner of Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize for fiction. Her work has also appeared in Women’s Basketball Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More, Freight Stories, Squid Quarterly, and Waccamaw.

Michelle Gannon graduated from Princeton with a degree in art and archeology. After building up her frequent flier miles as a consultant, she returned to her true passion, the arts. Following graduation with a master’s from Columbia, Michelle began teaching Humanities, literature and film. Michelle just finished teaching at Temple University in Japan to move back to the US.

Diane Gardner received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Master of Arts in Mass Communications from California State University, Fresno. She and her husband live in beautiful Colorado, where she works from home as a freelance editor. She enjoys oil painting, reading, attending the theater, and working with children.

Jessica Gauthier received her B.S. in art education from Millersville University of PA in 2002. She works as an art educator at the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania. Jessica is the mother of one daughter, Camden Isabelle and is currently working on a series of children’s books.

Jenny R. George lives on a five acre hobby farm north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with her husband and two children. She grew up in Alabama but calls the Northwest home, relocating soon after graduating from Arizona State University. Jenny’s parents moved nearby to watch the grandkids grow up.

Jennifer Gilkison received her Bachelor of Arts in English and American Literature from the University of South Florida in 1995. She resides and works in Lutz, FL. Jennifer enjoys horseback riding, women’s ministries and writing about the simple pleasures in life. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

H.M. Gruendler-Schierloh has a BA in journalism and advanced credits in linguistics. Working as a language instructor and translator, she also has been writing for years. Some of her shorter pieces have been published. She is currently seeking a publisher for two novels while working on a third one.

Stephanie Haefner is a wife, mother and novelist of Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Her first book, A Bitch Named Karma, will soon be available from Lyrical Press. Visit her blog at or her website at

Kris Hale is currently working on her degree in English. She plans on becoming an English teacher at her former high school and following in the foot steps of her favorite teacher Shiela Dunn. She has worked with children for more than twenty years. She enjoys reading, movies, traveling, and spending time with friends. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Gemma Halliday is the author of several romance and mystery novels, including the High Heels romantic mystery series, and the Hollywood Headlines series. She currently makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, but you can visit her cyber home at:

Kathy Harris graduated with a B.S. in Communications from Southern Illinois University and works full-time in the entertainment industry. She recently completed the second book in her Christian fiction trilogy, the A New Song Series. Visit her website at

Christopher Hartman received his Bachelor of English Education, with honors, from Minot State University in 2008. He teaches at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. Chris enjoys coaching hockey, tennis, and traveling.

Rebecca Hill is aware that the relationship between mothers and daughters can be complex. Recently, she’s longed for situations as simple as the one described in “You’ll Always Be ‘Mom’.” Through good times and bad, Rebecca is grateful for the love her mom, dad and brother have shown her. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dr. Doug Hirschhorn has a PhD in Psychology with a Specialization in Sport Psychology. He is the author of 8 Ways to Great (Penguin/G.P Putnam’s Son). His clients include elite athletes as well as many of the largest financial institutions in the world. You can reach him at

Teresa Hoy lives in rural Missouri with her husband and a large family of rescued cats and dogs. Her work has appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, The Ultimate series, and other anthologies. In addition to writing, she creates art from recycled paper. Visit her at

Elizabeth M. Hunt is a stay-at-home mother of two. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, arts & crafts, and spending quality time with her family.

Janelle In’t Veldt, of Ontario, Canada, wrote this story at the age of sixteen, and owes this success to everyone who cheered her on. In her spare time, Janelle loves to edit videos and perform in musical theatre. She would like to thank her mom for being such an amazing role model.

Jennie Ivey lives in Tennessee. She is a librarian, a newspaper columnist, and the author of three books. She has published numerous fiction and non-fiction pieces, including stories in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Hope Justice graduated from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She is currently teaching 5th grade in Northern California. Hope enjoys spending time with family, friends, and the many animals on her mini ranch that she shares with her long time partner, Robyn.

Kiran Kaur has been writing stories since grade four. Her hobbies include reading, writing stories and screenplays, travel, and her dog. She has always found escape in good books.

Mimi Greenwood Knight is a freelance writer living in South Louisiana with her husband, David, four kids and way too many dogs. She has over four hundred articles and essays in magazine, anthologies and on websites. Mimi enjoys butterfly gardening, baking artisan breads, Bible study and the lost art of letter writing.

Karen Kullgren is a freelance writer/editor with a particular interest in exploring women’s lives, spiritual journeys, diverse cultures, and the universality of human experience. For twelve years she’s been Contributing Editor for Washington Parent and Washington Woman, where her “Grace in the Gray Areas” column appears monthly. Learn more at or via e-mail at [email protected].

Terri Lacher is a freelance author and columnist, and mother of a blended family of six, grandmother of fourteen. Her love of storytelling was encouraged by her family, providing her an endless supply of humor and wit. She lives in Texas with her husband and Lab. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Tom LaPointe is a loving husband and stay-at-home dad for a special-needs adopted son. A compelling motivational speaker and trainer, he runs an automotive marketing company from their Florida home. He’s a longtime freelance magazine writer and author of Modern Sports Cars. Contact him at, [email protected] or 727-638-0195.

Mary Laufer is the fifth child of Betty Jane Smithley Penfold, an extraordinary mother who inspired her daughters to write stories and poems. Laufer’s work appears in several anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Military Families. She lives in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Corrina Lawson, a mother of four, is currently a core contributor to the Geek Dad blog on and also writes romantic fiction. Her first book, Dinah of Seneca, an alternate history romance, is due out in 2010. You can find her at

Kiashaye Leonard, age 12, is on the Student Council for Figure Skating in Harlem and a New York State representative for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council. She is a High Expectations Scholar at the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, and enjoys writing, crocheting, collecting unique Barbie dolls, ballroom dancing and singing.

Linda Burks Lohman retired from the State of California and has been published in Reader’s Digest, Solidarity, and The Sacramento Bee. She contributed to the Red Hat Society Travel Guide and spends time “playing” with Red Hat friends. She enjoys beading, writing and four grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Gary Luerding is a retired army NCO and resides in southern Oregon with Lynne, his wife of forty-six years. They have three children, eight grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.

Jeannie Mai is the host of Style Networks’ popular makeover show How Do I Look? and a correspondent for Extra. Influenced by her mother to always stand out in a crowd, Jeannie enjoys transforming lives one makeover at a time by helping people feel beautiful from the outside in.

Kathy Marotta lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Mike and son Zachary. She received a BS in Interior Design, with honors, from Florida International University’s College of Engineering and Design. She enjoys writing, blogging, photography and cooking. She is currently marketing her first devotional book. Please e-mail her at [email protected], or visit

Barbara Mayer is a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, a monastery in Atchison, KS. She received her Master’s degree in English from the University of Kansas. Barbara is a freelance writer in Kansas City, KS, who has had poetry published in several literary and religious magazines. She enjoys traveling, reading, cooking and helping students with writing.

Kate E. Meadows is completing a personal essay collection recounting her experience as an only child growing up in rural Wyoming. She is pursuing an M.F.A. degree in Professional and Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University. She lives in Omaha, NE, with her husband and baby boy. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Fate as well as six other thrillers. His first non-fiction book, Heroes For My Son, was just published, and his newest thriller, The Inner Circle, will be released in January 2010. But to see what’s far more important, please go to: P.S. He still loves Marshall’s.

Judy M. Miller lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She holds degrees in anthropology and forensic science. When not writing she enjoys time with friends and family, traveling and hitting the tennis ball around the court. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen books for adults, teens and children—including the first selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, The Deep End of the Ocean. Mitchard lives with her husband and nine children. Visit Jacquelyn on the web at

Tasha Mitchell resides in Northwest Georgia with her husband Heath and son Parker. She is a full time student pursuing a nursing degree. She enjoys traveling, writing, and spending time with her family. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Kym Gordon Moore, author of Diversities of Gifts: Same Spirit, is an award winning poet, syndicated freelance writer and transformational speaker. She is co-founder of the mission, “Favorite Things for a CAUSE” and is completing work on her next book scheduled to be released in 2010.Visit her at

Robert S. Nussbaum lives in New Jersey in the same town as his mother, who is now ninety-two. They spend several days every week reminiscing of past good times. Robert’s writing also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Golf Book, and he frequently posts essays to his blog,

Ann O’Farrell is an MA graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. She is the author of two Irish historical novels, Norah’s Children, the sequel, Michael, and several short pieces published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Ann is presently working on the third novel in her Irish family saga. Learn more at

Rebecca Olker received her Bachelor of Arts from UC Riverside and her master’s degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University. She is an accountant in the heart of Silicon Valley. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, knitting and spending time with loved ones. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Penny Orloff was a working LA actor when a Juilliard scholarship took her to NY. Currently an arts journalist and holistic life counselor, the former NY City Opera principal soprano and Broadway featured actress lampoons her showbiz misadventures in her novel, Jewish Thighs on Broadway. E-mail her at [email protected].

Emily Osburne is the author of Everyday Experts on Marriage, and she leads marriage workshops for newlyweds in the Greater Atlanta Area. She and her husband Clay have been married for nine years and are the proud parents of a lazy Golden Retriever. Learn more through her website at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Saralee Perel is an award-winning nationally syndicated columnist and novelist. She is honored to be a multiple contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Saralee welcomes e-mails at [email protected] or via her website:

Tom Phillips served thirty-six years in the Armed Forces. He led a unit through a terrorist incident, served as Director of the Air Force Personnel Readiness Center during Operation Desert Storm, and commanded troops in Bosnia. He plays softball at every opportunity and is the author of the books A Pilgrim in Unholy Places and Battlefields of Nebraska.

Janine Pickett is a freelance writer living in Anderson, Indiana. She is currently working on the biography of George R. Durgan, a popular mayor of Lafayette, Indiana. Janine loves spending time outdoors with her family. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Mark Damon Puckett received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of Houston, as well as his M.A. in English and M.Litt. in African-American Studies from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. He admires and loves his intelligent mother. Visit him at

Jennifer Quasha is a freelance editor and writer. Check out her website at

Over five hundred of Stephen D. Rogers’ essays, stories, and poems have appeared in over two hundred publications. His website,, lists these and other timely information.

Stephen Rusiniak is a husband and father of two. Stephen is a former police detective who specialized and lectured on juvenile and family matters, he now shares his thoughts through his writings and has appeared in various publications, including the anthology Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul. Contact him via e-mail at [email protected].

Theresa Sanders considers it an honor to be a frequent Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor. An award-winning technical writer and consultant, she lives with her husband in suburban St. Louis and is blessed with four beloved children, two beautiful daughters-in-law, and one sweet soon-to-be son-in-law.

Shannon Scott is a mother of two children: ages three and five. She is blessed with a large, loving extended family that has always supported her dreams. She works in Atlanta, Georgia as an administrative assistant and spends her free time writing and being with her family.

Michael Jordan Segal, who defied all odds after being shot in the head, is a husband, father, social worker, freelance author (including a CD/Download of twelve stories entitled POSSIBLE), and inspirational speaker. He’s had many stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. To contact Mike or to order his CD, please visit

A recovering public relations executive, Al Serradell currently resides in Oklahoma City, OK, and works as a Compliance Officer for Federal grants. Although born in Los Angeles, CA, Al has completed the Sooner transformation and considers himself an “Okie.”

Keith Smith, retired park ranger, received his Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Services from the University of Maine at Maine in Presque Isle in 1982. He’s currently Manager of Minocqua Winter Park & Nordic Center in Wisconsin. Keith enjoys bicycling, hiking, skiing, and good coffee. E-mail him at [email protected].

Sandy Smith received her degree in Childhood Education and is currently teaching private school. She LOVES being a wife and mother and believes that writing is one of the most important forms of expressing the emotions of the soul. She plans to continue mentoring young writers who also dream of discovering the joys of writing short stories.

Kathy Smith Solarino feels blessed to be able to share her thoughts, feelings and ideas through words. She lives in NJ and works for a non-profit arts in education organization. Kathy wrote feature stories and articles for local publications. She hopes to devote more time to her writing in the future.

Joyce Stark lives in Northeast Scotland and since retiring from local government splits her time between touring in the USA and writing for journals in the UK and US. She has also written a children’s series under review for TV rights.

Wayne Summers has a Diploma of Teaching (Primary), Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) and a Diploma of Counseling. He works as a teacher and counselor in Perth, Western Australia. He enjoys writing horror stories and has been published many times in both the US and the UK. He also enjoys movies and the beach.

Annmarie B. Tait lives in Conshohocken, PA with her husband Joe and Sammy the “Wonder Yorkie”. Annmarie has contributed to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Reminisce Magazine and Patchwork Path. When not writing, Annmarie enjoys cooking along with singing and recording American and Irish folk songs. E-mail address: [email protected].

Rebecca Lasley Thomas dreams of living by the ocean, but currently resides in Albuquerque with her husband and special needs daughter. Rebecca and her husband share six daughters and seven delightful grandchildren. She loves writing, reading, gardening, traveling and Bible studies. This is her first published work. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Samuel Torres traveled to the United States in 1998, where he was played with Arturo Sandoval, Richard Bona, Tito Puente, Lila Downs, Boston Pops, LA Phillarmonic, amongst others. Samuel won the Second Place at the 2000 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition for Hand Percussion. His second CD “YAOUNDE” is coming out in 2010. More info at: &

Kara Townsend received her Bachelor of Arts at Texas A&M—Corpus Christi in 2006. She is currently an actor in New York City. She enjoys reading, writing, and walking through the city.

Terrilynne Walker holds a Masters Degree in Education Leadership and is currently an educator in Southwest Florida. All of her adult life, Ms. Walker has been an active volunteer in a political party, holding office and running political campaign headquarters. Her family and country are her most vital interests.

Jane Dunn Wiatrek, a retired educator, and husband Ben, live in Poth, Texas. Her sons are Grayson, Jared and Cory and she has one daughter-in-law, Cory Rene. Jane is active in her community and church. She enjoys reading, writing and working on her small farm. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brandy Widner is a freelance medical content writer. She received her degree in nursing in 2002 but after the birth of her son, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and stay at home and devote herself completely to him. For questions or inquiries about this wonderful story please contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Gail Wilkinson lives in Illinois where she works as a human resource director for a software company. Gail loves traveling and writing, and is interested in stories that preserve and honor family histories. Her middle grade novel about her grandparents’ lives, Alice and Frosty: An American Journey was recently published by Iowan Books. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ferida Wolff is author of seventeen children’s books and three essay books. Her work appears in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. She is a columnist for and recently started a nature blog Her latest book is Missed Perceptions: Challenge Your Thoughts Change Your Thinking. Visit her at

Ray M. Wong is a devoted husband and father. He’s also a freelance writer and contributes the column “Family Matters” to newspapers in the United States. He has completed a memoir called Chinese-American: A Mother and Son’s Journey Home. Visit his website at or e-mail him at [email protected].

Dallas Woodburn is the author of two collections of short stories, a forthcoming novel, and eighty articles in publications including Family Circle,, The Los Angeles Times, and seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Learn more about her nonprofit literacy foundation and youth publishing company at her website,

Lucas Youmans is a grade 9 student in Calgary, Alberta and enjoys all forms of art and entertainment media. Lucas enjoys writing poetry and short stories, drawing, digital photography and basketball. He regularly publishes his work on Facebook. Please e-mail him at [email protected].

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