Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Meet Our Contributors

Christopher Allen received his MA at Middle Tennessee State University where he was Graduate Student of the Year in 1994, and received awards for his essay “The Myth of Masculine Conscience” and for outstanding achievement in the study of literature. A corporate trainer in Germany, Allen writes fiction, literary humor and material for ESL training.

Diana M. Amadeo, award-winning author of books, short stories and essays, lives in New Hampshire with husband, Len, and children Angelique, Antony and Desiree and grandchildren Brody and Tavin nearby. Her father, Jerome Schmitt, is a published author and her mother, Josephine Schmitt is the most prolific writer of them all... mostly in letters to her family.

Ronda Armstrong lives with her husband and two cats in Iowa. Retired from school social work, she writes creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. Three nonfiction pieces were published recently in the Des Moines Register. She also enjoys ballroom dancing and connecting with family and friends. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brenda Barajas will graduate high school in 2011. She does well in all academic subjects and is proud of her 4.0 GPA. Brenda loves to play volleyball and spend time with family and friends. She hopes to get into a great college when she graduates.

Kerrie R. Barney lives with her border collie MacAiogdh and several dozen healthy houseplants in Powell Butte, Oregon. She is happy to say that the latest descendant of Brian, the Golden Pothos, is alive and well.

Glenda Barrett, a native of North Georgia, is an artist, poet and writer. Her chapbook, When the Sap Rises, is for sale on Amazon. com, and her artwork is on display at Glenda’s writing has appeared in Woman’s World, Nostalgia, Farm & Ranch Living, Rural Heritage, Living with Loss and others.

M. Garrett Bauman and his wife live one mile from the nearest road in rural New York. He recently retired as a Professor of English at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. He is the author of Ideas and Details and essays in Sierra, Yankee and The New York Times.

Elizabeth Bogart writes about her domestic violence experience on behalf of battered women everywhere. She’s written professionally in a corporate environment, and her poetry and nonfiction have received awards from The Greater Dallas Writers and Florida Writers Associations. A Texan at heart, she resides in Florida with her husband, Gary. E-mail: [email protected].

Juliet C. Bond is a Licensed Clinical Social worker and children’s book author. She is the author of Sam’s Sister, a picture book about open adoption and has been published in other collaborative works. Juliet is forever inspired by the transformative power of a great story. Please visit her at

Marcia E. Brown lives in Austin, TX. Marcia is a widow and freelance writer and has been sharing family stories in magazines, newspapers and anthologies including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series for fifteen years. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women and Writers League of Texas. E-mail: [email protected].

Irene Budzynski, RN, is a surgical nurse at a city hospital in New England. Her work has been published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books,, HeartTouchers, and has been heard on Nightsounds Radio.

John P. Buentello is a writer who has published short stories, essays, and poems. Together with his brother Lawrence Buentello, he is the author of the novel Reproduction Rights and the short story collection Binary Tales. He can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Renie Burghardt, who was 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].

Kathe Campbell lives on a Montana mountain with her mammoth donkeys, a Keeshond, and a few kitties. She is a prolific writer on Alzheimer’s, and her stories are found on many e-zines. Kathe is a contributing author to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, numerous anthologies, Rx for Writers, and medical journals. E-mail: [email protected].

Leah M. Cano has written for Transitions Abroad, MAMM Magazine and Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Soul. She received her BA in Spanish at UC Irvine and Masters of Education at UC Santa Cruz. She teaches Spanish and French in Laguna Beach, CA. You can e-mail her at [email protected].

Linda S. Clare is an award-winning writer and the author of several nonfiction books. Her debut novel, The Fence My Father Built, (Abingdon Press) releases in August 2009. Linda teaches writing at the college level in Eugene, Oregon, where she lives with her family and five wayward cats. Visit her blog at

Harriet Cooper is a freelance writer and instructor. She specializes in writing creative nonfiction and articles. Her work has appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. She often writes about health, nutrition, family, cats and the environment.

Billy Cuchens teaches music, pours coffee, and writes. He is living below his means in an apartment in the Dallas area along with his wife and two children. You can read more of his essays about being a husband and father in a multiracial family on his blog:

Leslie Cunningham has over seventeen years of professional experience in leading personal development workshops, developing educational programs and coaching individuals and businesses to achieve their extraordinary dreams. She is a sought after speaker, certified personal life coach and business consultant. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Kay Day is a full time wife and mother. Her former career was in nursing, but now her sights are set on literary goals. She enjoys reading, blogging, attending Words for the Journey Writer’s Guild, and gazing at her view of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Kay is currently writing her first novel. E-mail: [email protected].

Denise A. Dewald has been writing for the Christian market for over twenty years with her work appearing in many places, including radio. She enjoys her family, church, the outdoors, reading and her pets. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Sharon Donovan has been writing since the loss of her vision. Art was her passion. A new dream has resurrected. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, she paints her pictures with words. Visit Sharon at:

Christina Dymock graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations. She is an avid reader and enjoys all genres. She has four children, a dog, two cats and seven chickens. It’s a crazy life—but a good one.

Kristen Eberhard traveled the world as a model before returning to New York to earn her BA from Fordham University. She currently lives in the Catskill Mountains where she manages small businesses when she is not coaching her son’s soccer team. Kristen’s creative talents and spirit inspire her to help others turn obstacles into opportunities.

Although blind, Janet Perez Eckles thrives as a Spanish interpreter, international speaker, writer and author of Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow—Overcoming Adversities in Life. From her home in Florida, she enjoys working on church ministries and taking Caribbean cruises with husband Gene. She imparts inspirations at

Jeannie Eggers is happily staying warm through the dark Alaskan winter with hubby Shawn. They’ll welcome spring with salmon fishing and camping. Her forthcoming book, The Prodigal Wife, is taking form. A contrite wife seeks reconciliation with her family, but is met with a storm. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Jill Eisnaugle has published the poetry books Coastal Whispers, Under Amber Skies and Beside Still Waters. Her work has been featured in magazines, newspapers and other collaborations, including more than one dozen radio airings. She lives in Texas City, TX with her family and pets. Please visit Jill’s website,

Annie Mannix Eitman resides in Southern California with her two sons. She has written for several regional publications. She enjoys music, horses and books that make you smile. Annie is currently writing a humorous book about her childhood. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Terri Elders, LCSW, lives near Colville, WA, with her husband, Ken Wilson, two dogs and three cats. A public member of the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission, she received the 2006 UCLA Alumni Association Award for Community Service for her work with Peace Corps. Contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Betsy Finn is a Certified Professional Photographer and Artist; she was named Michigan’s Top 7 Photographer of 2008 & 2009. Her business, Betsy’s Photography, is located in Southeast Michigan. Betsy enjoys all things artistic, reading, scuba diving, and spending time with family. Betsy can be contacted via her website

Kathrin Fleming is the Corporate Relations Manager for a Fortune 100 company. She lives in New Mexico with her husband and five children and is very active on non-profit boards, assisting domestic abuse shelters, cancer organizations and health and human services. She can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Sally Friedman, a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, lives—and sometimes vacations—in Moorestown, NJ. Her writing about family life frequently appears in national publications, including The New York Times. She is the mother of three daughters, and a grandmother of seven perfect grandkids! [email protected].

Sherry Gaba, LCSW & Life Coach has helped hundreds with lifelong addictions. She aired on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab 2 with Dr. Drew using her trademark sensitivity to help cast members.

Amber Garza lives in Folsom, CA with her husband Andrew and her children Eli and Kayleen. She writes Christian fiction and hopes one day to fulfill her dreams of publication. She works as the Administrative Assistant to Outreach at Lakeside Church.

Monica Giglio is a published columnist, fine artist, interior designer, and contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery. Her local newspaper column, Monica’s Corner, is humorous, reflective and inspirational with a positive take-away message for the reader. View her artwork at, or e-mail her at [email protected].

Tracy Gulliver writes for magazines and anthologies, including Epilepsy USA and Chicken Soup for the Soul. “A Minor Inconvenience” is from her memoir, Unplanned: a mother’s journey through her daughter’s pregnancy. Tracy has received grants from the McKnight Foundation and the Lilly Endowment. E-mail [email protected], or visit

Linda Handiak teaches History in Montreal. She has also worked abroad as a language teacher and a volunteer for conservation projects. More information about these volunteer experiences can be found in her book, 101 Green Travel Tips, and in articles she has written for Transitions Abroad magazine and for

Betty Harrigan, born and raised in Port Alberni, BC, is a stay-at-home mother of two. She has always had a love of the written word, finding comfort and a place to hide in the magic that all stories, be they fact or fiction, can provide.

Laura Harris is an entrepreneur, author and professional speaker. Her passion is teaching business owners how to build businesses where employees think and act like owners. E-mail her at [email protected].

April Heide-Kracik has a BS degree in Art Education from Bemidji State University and an MA in English from Governor’s State University. She is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel set in the Chippewa National Forest of Minnesota. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Ann Holbrook lives in Northwest Arkansas. She has been published in The Storyteller, The Ozarks Mountaineer, Writing on Walls Anthology II, Echoes of the Ozarks Volumes III and IV, and Voices Anthology Volumes I and II. She is currently working on an inspirational book for cancer patients and their families.

Patricia Hurtado attended BYU and received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1979. She recently transitioned into the education field as a teacher’s aide. Patricia enjoys reading inspirational books, working with special needs children, writing short stories and spending time with her family.

Robbie Iobst, blessed wife of John and proud mom of Noah, is a freelance writer and speaker. She lives in Centennial, Colorado and is a member of Words for the Journey Christian Writer’s Guild. E-mail Robbie at [email protected] or her blog

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe is a retired RN. Her career spanned thirty years in Maritime Canada. She is the mother of two grown children and the grandmother of one little girl, all of whom live in the Canadian West while she and her husband now live in their home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Rebecca Jay writes from the heartland of Kansas where the buffalo no longer freely roam. She is the mother of one incredible son and the owner of one multi-colored cat. R.J. enjoys singing, gardening and raspberry chocolate anything.

Christy Johnson is a freelance writer and speaker who publishes Tissues for Your Issues, an inspiring column offering Biblical insight for life, love and the pursuit of decorating. She is working on two non-fiction books, Finding Purpose Past the Pain and Breaking Up with Relationship Addiction. Visit Christy at

Jennifer Lee Johnson is a freelance writer and editor from Baltimore, MD. You can read more of her finance writing on her blog,

Karen Kilby resides in Kingwood, TX with her husband, David. She is a Certified Personality Trainer with CLASServices, Inc. as well as a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries. Karen enjoys sharing her life experiences and has several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as other publications. E-mail: [email protected].

Matthew Kinne received his BS from Wheaton College and his MA from Regent University in Communication. Matt was a writer/editor with MOVIEGUIDE Magazine and is now a freelance film producer. He published Reflections for Movie Lovers with AMG Publishers in 2004. Please e-mail him at [email protected].

Kathy Kitts received a BA in English from the College of Mt. St. Joseph. A former teacher and computer programmer, Kathy enjoys volunteering, gardening, and writing. She has written a children’s non-fiction book called The Minesweeper, about a teenager who served with the 88th Infantry Division in Italy in WWII.

Karen Kosman is an inspirational speaker and author whose stories have appeared in several magazines and books. Wounded by Words, her book on verbal abuse, offers needed encouragement for victims. Karen enjoys her grandchildren, swimming, and gardening. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Madeleine Kuderick lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and an MBA from Saint Leo University. She is a member of the SCBWI and a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Learn more at

Joe Lair is a writer and speaker who lives in Montana with his wife and three children. As a family they enjoy hiking, skiing and biking. Joe can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Susan LaMaire currently lives in Parsippany, NJ with her husband Brian, three hermit crabs and many fish. She has worked as an English teacher, waitress, reporter and day camp counselor. She is currently working on a collection of humorous short stories. You may e-mail her at [email protected].

Jeannie Lancaster is a freelance writer from Loveland, CO. She is a lover of words—sharing them through her written work, weekly storytelling with a delightful group of preschoolers, and thirty-seven years of late night word games with her husband. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Sharon Landeen, a retired elementary school teacher, continues to work with youth by being a 4-H leader for over twenty years and by mentoring reading and teaching art in the local schools. If you have any information regarding her missing son, please contact her via e-mail at [email protected].

Marya Latson has a Juris Doctor degree from Florida State University. She lives in Central Florida with her husband, their twelve-year old son, and a menagerie of pets. Both Marya and her son are budding authors who keep each other intellectually stimulated through fervent debates and discussions.

Heather Pemberton Levy lives with her husband and two young children in Weston, CT. A graduate of Smith College, she had careers as a technology journalist, magazine editor and corporate vice president, before settling down to write, a blog of insights and ideas for raising young children.

Deanna Lowery is a published author who continues to write every day. Her best days are spent playing in the sand with her girls, relaxing in the sunset with her husband and finishing the day off with a few written words. Feel free to e-mail her at [email protected].

Alexis Ludeman is a sophomore in high school. She loves writing and has been writing since she was six years old. Alexis also enjoys math, science and photography. She likes to inspire other people and cares about how they feel. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Natalia Lusinski created her first newspaper, Nat’s Neat News Notes, at age ten. Since then, she has worked as a writers’ assistant on several TV shows, and just associate produced a documentary for The History Channel. She also writes film and TV scripts, and short stories. E-mail her at [email protected].

Evie Mack does lay counseling part-time. She enjoys walks with her dog, reading, and gardening. Evie loves to write short stories from real life, history and the Bible. She is currently working on a collection of inspirational parables called Puppy Tales and Other Parables. E-mail her at [email protected].

Karen Majoris-Garrison is an award-winning author, speaker, and teacher whose stories have appeared in Woman’s World, God’s Way books, Barbour Publishing, King Features’ syndicated newspaper column and others. Karen credits God and her family as her sources of inspiration. Please visit her website: or e-mail her at [email protected].

Tim Martin is the author of four books and seven screenplays. He has two children’s novels, Scout’s Oaf (Cedar Grove Books), and Fast Pitch (Blitz Publishing), scheduled for publication in 2009. His web page can be viewed at Please e-mail Tim at [email protected].

Michelle McCormick is currently attending seminary after completing a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and a Master’s in Journalism. She plans on writing Bible studies and non-fiction books geared toward high school age to the mid-thirties. Feel free to e-mail her at [email protected].

Mother of four and author of Cancer Rhymes with Dancer, Linda McCowan describes herself as an eclectic soul. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and she loves to zumba, write, illustrate and travel. Feel free to e-mail her at:

Daniel McGary’s story was inspired by his experiences in the foster care system. He began writing to express himself at an early age, and enjoys working as a freelance writer to this day. He is also involved in efforts to reform the foster care system in Texas. Contact Daniel via e-mail at [email protected].

Sarah Clark Monagle is a Navy wife, mother of three daughters, guidance counselor, and brain tumor survivor. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Counseling. Her personal goals include beating the brain tumor and having a book published. She can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Bill Mullis writes from the Upstate region of South Carolina, surrounded by his wife and family. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Common Ties, and The Ultimate Dog Lover.

Karen Myers is a freelance writer who lives in San Francisco, CA. She is co-editor of the anthology My Body of Knowledge: Stories of Chronic Illness, Disability, Healing, and Life. Please visit her website at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Author and motivational speaker, Jennifer Oliver, hails from Copperas Cove, TX, where she and househubby are raising four magnificent creative life forces. Her stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books and other heartwarming publications. She dedicates this story to her wise and wonderful neighbor, Doris Morgan.

LaVerne Otis did not begin writing until her mid-fifties, has no formal writing education but hopes to take writing classes soon. She has had several stories published in Country and Birds and Blooms Magazine. Other hobbies include photography, reading, gardening and bird watching. You can e-mail her at [email protected].

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

Diane Perrone, M.A., writes between babies—sixteen grandchildren so far. Her articles have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books and periodicals (Redbook, Catholic Digest, Our Family and aviation magazines). Diane speaks to seasoned citizens and companies that market to them. E-mail: [email protected].

Rebekah Phillips received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from UNT in 2002. She has been teaching preschool children in a North Texas Christian school. Rebekah enjoys learning about God, sewing, reading, teaching, exercising, and being with friends and family. She would love to publish inspirational books and articles.

Jennifer Quasha is a published author of more than forty books. Her book The Dog Lover’s Book of Crafts won the DWAA Best General Interest Book in 2002. Currently, she is a freelance writer and editor. Check out her website at

Jennifer Quist is an amateur general contractor and a freelance writer and researcher. She and her husband are currently raising five handyman sons in their home in western Canada.

Natalie June Reilly is a single mother of two handsome, teenage boys, Billy and Alec, and she is the author of the children’s book, My Stick Family, Helping Children Cope with Divorce. She lives in Peoria, Arizona and can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Samantha Richardson lives in Westerly, Rhode Island. She is currently in high school and plans on writing a book in the future.

Michelle Rocker is a woman who is passionate about her love for God, her husband, her four children, music and writing. She has been published in over 200 magazines throughout the United States over the past three years. She is currently seeking to publish an inspirational book and a novel. Please visit

Debbie Roppolo is a freelance writer residing in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking competitions, and photography.

Sharon Rosenbaum-Earls holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. She had her first short story “The Best Gift” published in Whispers from Heaven in April 2003. Sharon is currently working on her second romance novel. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Ashley Sanders is a published writer who lives in Kentucky with her husband and daughter, and a new arrival on the way. You can find more of her work on her personal blog,

Holly Sanford graduated with an accounting degree but her first love has always been writing. She currently lives in Louisville, KY with her two sons, Michael and Nicholas. Holly enjoys watching her boys play sports, traveling, and reading. She hopes to write a full-length novel in the future.

Eva Schlesinger is the author of the chapbooks, Remembering the Walker and Wheelchair: poems of grief and healing (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and View From My Banilla Vanilla Villa (slated for publication by Dancing Girl Press in December 2009). She lives in Berkeley, CA.

Elaine Ernst Schneider is the author of 52 Children’s Moments, found at, and the senior editor of the curriculum web site She is also a practicing artist, painting on canvas, as well as antique wood and tin. She may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

Joyce Seabolt is a nurse and a writer. Upon retirement from the Genesis Corporation, she will be devoting all her time to writing and teaching. Joyce lives in Red Lion, PA with her husband, Hal. Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Myla Seabrook is a student at Hofstra University, majoring in Creative Writing and Fine Art. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and generally just going out and having fun. Myla aspires to write and illustrate books after graduation, particularly children’s books. She seeks to inspire through her art.

Diane Shaw is an empty nester and is now staying at home after serving for eleven years as an Executive Secretary to a pastor of a large church in Colorado Springs. Diane enjoys writing, reading, playing with her grandchild and traveling with her husband. Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Deborah Shouse is a writer, speaker, editor and creativity catalyst. Her writing has appeared in various periodicals. Deborah 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. For more information, visit Deborah’s website

Candace Simar is a lifelong Minnesotan who writes poetry, inspirational writing, and historical fiction. Her debut novel, Abercrombie Trail, will be released by North Star Press in summer 2009. To see more of her writing or to sign up for her weekly devotional, check out

Johnna Stein received her BA from The College of William & Mary. She’s studied in France and recently returned after ten years in The Netherlands. She’s the proud mother of two spunky teenagers and wife to her devoted husband. Three of her stories will be published in inspirational magazines in 2009.

Jean Haynie Stewart lives a simpler life these days with her husband in Mission Viejo, CA, and feels sure these tough times won’t last. She is an editor and also writes stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul, other anthologies, magazines and newspapers while enjoying her children and grandchildren.

Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Poetry and personal essays have been included in hard and soft cover book anthologies. Collections of her personal items/photos/memorabilia are in major museums including twelve different divisions of The Smithsonian.

Carol Strazer was a recent winner in Woman’s Day and the American Library Association’s essay contest. Carol is writing a book about WWII German refugees, has a BS in Speech/English Education, Northwestern University and MA in Counseling Psychology, Lewis Clark College. Carol and Bob have three married daughters and three grandsons.

Janet Taylor is a registered nurse living in Franklin, TN with Robert, her biggest supporter. Her Mississippi family provides inspiration and is often the topic of her stories. Janet is a member of a wonderful writing group, “The Red Bandanas.” Please e-mail her at: [email protected].

Joyce Terrell is an avid reader who has been writing for leisure for twenty years, letting most of her writing come from personal experience. She enjoys cooking and gardening. Please e-mail her at [email protected].

Marla H. Thurman lives in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, with her dogs Oreo and Sleeper. She is currently working on draft four of her memoirs. Her dream is that one day her favorite author, Pat Conroy, will ask for her autograph.

In 2006, Aimée L. Urban was named a top 40 business professional under 40 and one of PA’s Best 50 Women in Business in 2007. She serves on the Workforce Investment Board and is a past president of the American Business Women’s Association. Aimée’s greatest passions in life are her husband, two children and three dogs. E-mail: aimé[email protected]

Don Verkow is Assistant Principal at Paramount Charter School in Kalamazoo, MI. Don and wife, Katie, love to spend time with their three Labs, traveling, and spending time at their summer cottage in South Haven, MI. Don can be e-mailed at [email protected].

Beverly Walker enjoys writing, photography, scrapbooking, and being with her grandchildren. Her stories and poems appear in Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort, and in several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Samantha Waltz is an award-winning freelance writer in Portland, OR. Her stories appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Cup of Comfort series, and a number of other anthologies. She has also published adult nonfiction and juvenile fiction under the names Samantha Ducloux and Samellyn Wood.

Lisa Wright-Dixon received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Syracuse University. She currently resides in South Carolina with her husband Gregory and their six cats. Lisa is currently working on other short stories and plans to write a book of childhood memoirs.

Mary Jo Marcellus Wyse is a graduate of Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. She is a former high school English teacher and currently a stay-at-home mom. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in various publications. She and her family live outside of Boston.

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