Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas!

Meet Our Contributors

Kristina J. Adams has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Elementary Education and minored in English as a Second Language. Teaching sixth grade social studies in Middlebury, IN, she enjoys relating stories of growing up overseas when they connect to curriculum. She and her husband Ryan have two children, Mackenzie and Carter.

Deborah Agler received her master’s degree from Purdue University. She has a communications consulting firm, teaches communications and journalism at the university level, and writes features, nonfiction, and Christian-themed novels for young people. Spending time with her wonderful family is her great joy! E-mail her at [email protected].

Laura Amann is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and four children. Her award-winning essays have appeared in Salon, Brain, Child, Chicago Parent and Sun-Times Media. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ximena Tagle Ames was born in Chile and came to the United States in 1954. After retiring from a career as a psychotherapist, she began to pursue her love of writing and has won prizes for her poetry. E-mail her at [email protected].

Andrea B. teaches middle school Language Arts in Oregon. She enjoys going to the beach with her family, baking her grandmother’s famous breads, taking Taekwondo classes with her family, and practicing yoga. In her spare time, Annie likes to write about her family memories and classroom experiences.

Jennifer Yardley Barney received her master’s degree in psychology from Utah State University. She works as a school psychologist with children from elementary school to high school. Jennifer and her husband, Andrew, love hiking, backpacking, playing board games, and spending time with their families.

Garrett Bauman has written frequently for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, as well as for Sierra, Yankee and other publications. He retired a few years ago as a professor of English to assume full-time duties as grandpa and chief engineer of the family. E-mail him at [email protected].

Kara M. Bietz writes young adult fiction from her home in North Georgia, where she lives with her husband Steven and their two children, Ryan and Lauren. Her husband and children are her biggest cheerleaders, as well as an endless source of inspiration and laughter.

Barbara Black is an award-winning writer with thirty years experience, publishing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, articles, and opinion columns, as well as book, theater, and film reviews. She loves adventure travel, the arts, and gardening. She lives in Victoria, BC, with her cat and philosopher. E-mail her at [email protected].

Lil Blosfield is the Chief Financial Officer for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health. She loves writing and has been published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. In addition to writing, Lil enjoys family time, warm summer days and cozy winter nights. She always makes sure to take time to laugh! E-mail her at [email protected].

Long Beach, Washington author Jan Bono’s specialty is humorous personal experience. She has published several such collections, two poetry chapbooks, nine one-act plays, and a dinner theater mystery. She’s written for Guideposts, Star, and Woman’s World, currently writing a mystery series set on the southwest Washington coast. Learn more at

Debra Ayers Brown is a writer, humorist, blogger, magazine columnist, and award-winning marketing professional. Her stories have appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Guideposts, Woman’s World, Liberty Life, and others. She is a Southeastern Writers Association Board Member. Learn more at www.About.Me/DebraAyersBrown.

Leigh Ann Bryant loves to read, write, travel, and spend time with family. She and her husband Lonnie share three sons and three granddaughters. She is the author of In My Defense, a narrative nonfiction about domestic violence and the consequences of taking her abuser’s life in self-defense. Learn more at

Lori Bryant is an author, speaker, poet and inspirational storyteller. She enjoys working with women and speaks regularly in California women’s prisons. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series as well as Zoe Life devotionals and Conversations of Courage. E-mail her at [email protected].

John P. Buentello is the author of essays, stories and poetry. He is the co-author of the novel Reproduction Rights and the short story collection Binary Tales. He is currently at work on a mystery novel and a collection of children’s poetry. E-mail him at [email protected].

Dawn Byrne is a married mother of four and a grandmother. She writes full-time from her home in southern New Jersey about fictional and non-fictional families. She is a member of three writers’ groups, teaches Sunday school and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Reading is her obsession.

Barbara Canale is a Catholic freelance writer. She has been published in twelve books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She is the author of Our Labor of Love: A Romanian Adoption Chronicle, and Prayers, Papers & Play: Devotions for Every College Student, from Liguori Publications. She volunteers in her church and community.

Lorraine Cannistra received her Bachelor of Science degree in English and Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Emporia State University. She enjoys advocating, cooking, reading, writing and motivational speaking. Her passion is wheelchair ballroom dance. Read her blog at and e-mail her at [email protected].

Barbara Ann Carle is a personal essay writer and poet. Her work has been published in various anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery. Her poems have been widely published. She is a mother of four, grandmother of six and lives in Friendswood, TX with her husband.

Gene Chase is a retired professor of mathematics and computer science from Messiah College. He teaches History of Mathematics part-time. This autobiographical essay is part of his desire to leave a legacy of family for his children and grandchildren. E-mail him at [email protected].

Michele Christian-Oldham has been an established writer for over twenty years. She is a freelance writer for a local newspaper and has a variety of published short stories. Michele is currently working on her first children’s book. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit her website

Lisa Ricard Claro is a freelance commercial copywriter and award-winning short story author, nominated in 2012 for the Pushcart Prize. Published across multiple media, Lisa is a member of RWA/GRW and SCBWI. She resides in Georgia with her husband of thirty-three years and believes in love and happy endings.

Liz Cook is a recently retired nurse, pastor’s wife, mother, grandmother and foster parent. She loves to spend time with her family, writing, and looking after babies who need special love and attention. She plans to concentrate future writing on children’s stories. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sharron Cosby enjoys reading, writing, and family time. Her first book, a devotional, entitled Praying for Your Addicted Loved One: 90 in 90 was released in 2013. Follow her blog at and e-mail her at [email protected].

Betty Johnson Dalrymple is a freelance writer of inspirational devotions and stories and a contributor to numerous popular devotional books. She enjoys traveling, golfing and spending time with her husband and their large blended family consisting of nineteen grandchildren.

Connie Davidson is a wife, mother and grandma. She received her Social Service Worker diploma with honours from Fanshawe College and lives in Southern Ontario, Canada. This is Connie’s first story submitted for publication. Connie enjoys writing poetry as well. E-mail her at [email protected].

Star Davies received her Associate of Arts degree with high honors and is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing. She works as a freelance fantasy writer and as a writing specialist for the University of Wisconsin. Star lives with her husband and two young children. Learn more at

Linda C. Defew admits that her writing is a blessing. Telling her life experiences, which included a debilitating disease, turned her life around. Now, she writes hoping to inspire other women who face obstacles to follow her lead. E-mail her at [email protected].

Pam Depoyan holds a B.A. degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA. Her writing has appeared in Highlights for Children, Pray, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She loves crafting “word-photo stories” that draw readers into their own moments of God’s wonder. Read more at

Jeannie Dotson teaches middle school in Powell County, Kentucky. She enjoys writing, reading poetry, and teaching kids. This is her third contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny raise their brood of boys in Illinois. Her stories have been published in Guideposts, MomSense magazine, Marriage Partnership, Thriving Family, Cup of Comfort books, numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, and more. Visit her blog, “Family Grace with My Five Sons,” at

Laura Guman Fabiani has always loved the season of Christmas, especially decorating with the homemade gifts from her children. She still believes in the magic of Santa Claus. E-mail Laura at [email protected].

RoseAnn Faulkner is a retired elementary school teacher from Yuma, AZ. She credits her writing group, Write on the Edge, for providing inspiration, encouragement and invaluable story critiques. RoseAnn is married and has two sons. E-mail her at [email protected].

Peggy Frezon is author of the newly released book The Dieting with my Dog Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance, and other books about dogs. She’s also editor at Be the Change for Animals. Fetch her free newsletter, Pawsitively Pets, at Connect at her blog, Facebook or Twitter @peggyfrezon.

Lynn Gale is a part-time writer who lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, JP. She writes short stories, middle grade novels and adult romance. Through Sundowners Toastmasters, she turns her love of storytelling into speeches. She believes in finding and following your passion no matter what your age. Learn more at

Ron Geelan received his bachelor’s degree from Providence College in 1992. After spending fifteen years in financial services, he is now pursuing a career in law enforcement. Ron is a previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and his articles and essays have appeared in numerous regional and national publications.

Joyce Hager writes and is copy editor for Echoes of LBI, the arts and lifestyle magazine of Long Beach Island, NJ. She is currently working on a memoir about growing up with her older brother who is intellectually disabled. Read Joyce’s blog “Musing Off the Mat” at

Janie Hall has written talks and newsletters for Baptist Marriage Encounter and has been published in Texas Outdoor Sports News, Senior Circle, Western Woman and Granbury Showcase magazines. Janie has two published books, Scooter’s Adventures and Duty Honor Courage and is a member of Writers’ Bloc of Granbury, Texas where she lives.

Gloria Jean Hansen has been a writer since childhood, mother, grandmother, nurse and bluegrass musician more recently. She enjoys writing, camping with family, and skiing in her spare time. She has written five published books. One day she will live by the river and write full-time. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jill Haymaker is a family law attorney in Fort Collins, CO. She received her law degree from the University of Nebraska in 1995. She enjoys outdoor activities and sporting events with her three grown children and three granddaughters. She also writes contemporary romance novels. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jamie Henderson is a freelance writer who lives in Maine.

Zach Hively earned degrees at the University of New Mexico and Trinity College Dublin, as well as a Fulbright grant to Germany. He works as a freelance editor, writer, and teacher. He is also an environmental journalist for the New Mexico Mercury. E-mail him at [email protected].

Jill Jackson earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University with majors in Consumer Affairs and Written Communications. She has worked as a manager in health care and human services. She enjoys being a full-time mom to her three wonderful sons and writes in her free time.

M.M. Jarrell received her M.S. degree in Instructional Design from the University of South Alabama. As an academic advisor in higher education, she works with students to accomplish goals. Her philosophy is that challenges make us stronger, so view them as a learning tool. Ballroom dancing is her passion. E-mail her at [email protected].

Amy Travison Jasiewicz graduated summa cum laude from The College of Saint Rose with a B.A. degree in Public Communications. She is a freelance writer and editor and enjoys photography and volunteering. Her two daughters are her greatest creation and inspiration. E-mail her at [email protected].

Ron Kaiser lives in wonder that the most strikingly beautiful and witty woman ever to have lived chose to marry him. Compared to Ron Kaiser’s wife, Helen of Troy would look like a poorly embalmed, 2,000-year-old mummy. His wife’s hair alone is enough to make men cry.

Fallon Kane is thrilled to appear in her third Chicken Soup for the Soul book. She is currently studying psychology and criminal justice at Adelphi University. She would like to thank her mother, brother, Lucille, Kyle, Meredith, Casey, and the Bryants for everything they do for her. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels. Coffee fuels her mornings; chocolate, her afternoons. After graduating magna cum laude and working as an electrical engineer, Jill became a stay-at-home mom. When not writing, she adores magazines, fluffy animals, and her hilarious family. Connect with Jill at

Vicki Kitchner recently retired after teaching Exceptional Student Education for thirty years. She and her husband divide their time between North Carolina and Florida unless they’re off on an adventure such as backpacking around Mont Blanc or floating down the Colorado River in a dory. E-mail her at [email protected].

Elsie Schmied Knoke, a retired RN, has been published in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love. She enjoys singing in her church choir and working with their quilting projects. She has five granddaughters and four great-grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Miranda Koerner is a writer living in San Antonio, TX, with her husband and two Chihuahuas, Bitty and Bear. She’s been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and several magazines and newspapers. Her YA novel, Butterfly Dress, and middle grade novel, Blue Mermaid, are available. Visit

Joyce Laird is a freelance writer living in Southern California. Her features have been published in magazines including, Cat Fancy, Grit, Mature Living, and Vibrant Life. She contributes regularly to Woman’s World and to the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology. Joyce is also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Dorothy LaMantia writes stories of everyday redemption and faith. A former English teacher, she has won an award for reporting from the Catholic Press Association. She is married, has three children, and loves being a grandmother. E-mail her at [email protected].

Monika LaPlante is a marine biologist and environmental scientist with a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University. She is currently a graduate student at Pace University studying Computer Science. Monika is an avid scuba diver and underwater filmmaker. Check out her films on her website at

Rick Lauber is the author of Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, a freelance writer (print and online) and graduate of the Professional Writing Program (Grant MacEwan University — Edmonton, AB). E-mail him at [email protected].

Lynne Leite has two great loves — faith and family. She is a speaker and author and desires to be a blessing to others by sharing stories of hope and inspiration. You can learn more about Lynne and read her devotional blog by visiting her website at

JéAnne Leites received her diploma in freelance journalism in 1997. She has published several magazine articles and currently maintains a Christian poetry website. Ms. Leites lives with her husband, Robert, and her son, Denver, in a small town in North Carolina.

Kathy Levine has been writing about books for the publishing industry since 1986 and her essays have been published in Newsday and The New York Times. A graduate of Adelphi University, she is a member of the Long Island Writers’ Guild and Literacy Volunteers. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jaye Lewis is an award-winning inspirational author from the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Her constant companion is her doxie Dixie Mae, a rescue from a puppy mill. Jaye celebrates the miracles of every day by keeping her heart open. Visit Jaye’s author page on Facebook at

Jane Lonnqvist is a retired high school special education teacher, married forty-two years with two sons and two grandsons. She has had more than forty short stories published in small and literary magazines and was a columnist for four years with a local newspaper. Jane still submits occasional columns. Contact her at [email protected].

Ed Marriott once said, “To me, Christmas is about the birth of our Lord and Savior, Christmas carols, family and friends sharing a meal, giving toys to children, food baskets; and maybe, for a few days a year, we treat each other with a little more caring, kindness and respect.” Ed passed away on 04/12/2013. He will be missed!

Born in Boston and a die-hard Red Sox fan, LD Masterson lives in Ohio where she divides her time between writing and enjoying her grandchildren. She writes mystery and suspense, and recently published a short story in the anthology Flights of Fiction. Catch her at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Louise McConnell is a teacher and pastor. She has enjoyed reading all her life and has recently decided to try her hand at both fiction and non-fiction writing. E-mail her at [email protected].

Annette McDermott is a freelance writer and children’s author whose work has been published in both adult and children’s magazines and online. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of subjects but specializes in holistic living topics. When she’s not busy writing and raising her family, Annette enjoys singing, gardening, and reading. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bridget McNamara-Fenesy is a business consultant when she is not pursuing her passion of writing, and holds a BA degree from the University of Notre Dame, and a JD degree from the University of Denver. She thanks her family for being the source of her muse. E-mail her at [email protected].

Jane Miller is the founder of The RUFF Writers,, an intergenerational writing project that started with visits to a personal care home with her youngest daughter (the baby in the story) and the family dog. Jane is an adjunct journalism instructor at the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus. She and her husband Rick have been married for thirty-four years.

Kevin Mims lives in Sacramento, CA with his wife, Julie. He is a notary public, the operator of a vintage cookbook business, and a freelance writer. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, on National Public Radio, and elsewhere.

Katie Mitchell received her Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from Missouri State University. Currently, she is Communications Manager for a large outdoor retailer. She enjoys reading, traveling, flea markets, volunteering with non-profits and is a Big Sis in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

Marya Morin is a freelance writer. Her stories and poems have appeared in publications such as Woman’s World and Hallmark. Marya also penned a weekly humor column for an online newsletter, and writes custom poetry on request. She lives in the country with her husband. E-mail her at [email protected].

Nicole L.V. Mullis is a columnist and playwright living in Michigan. Her work has appeared in the Battle Creek Enquirer (2006-present), Stage of Life, Mount Hope magazine, The Broken Plate, and Epiphany. Her play, On Bended Knee, was the 2013 recipient of the Robert J. Pickering Award for Playwriting Excellence.

Katie O’Connell is a writer, teacher, mother of two, and lover of all things creative and inspiring. She is passionate about observing life’s little moments and the lessons they reveal if we give them our attention. Katie is currently completing a children’s book about her grandfather.

Mark Parisi’s award-winning “off the mark” cartoon appears in newspapers worldwide. You can also find his cartoons on calendars, cards, books, T-shirts and more. Visit to view 7000+ cartoons. Mark resides in Massachusetts with his wife and business partner, Lynn, along with their daughter, Jen, three cats and a dog.

Melba Payne is a graduate of Texas Christian University. She is the wife of a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, mother of two daughters and Nana to five fabulous grandchildren! She is a retired kindergarten teacher who enjoys writing and photography.

Melissa Pearn is currently enrolled in her fourth year at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology working toward her bachelor’s degree (honours) in Criminology and Justice Studies. Melissa enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. She aspires to become a lawyer and hopes to continue writing in the future.

Stephanie Piro is the Saturday chick of King Features’ “Six Chix” team of women cartoonists. She also draws and writes the single panel “Fair Game.” Her cartoons have been published in magazines, books, cards and calendars. She also designs gift items for her Cafepress Shop and Etsy shop. Learn more at and

Winter Prosapio is an award-winning humor columnist, freelance travel writer and media relations expert. Her regular humor column appears in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and she’s the author of two books.

Susan R. Ray’s weekly newspaper column “Where We Are” is available at A retired teacher, she plays with her six grandchildren, bakes bread, plays Scrabble, stitches, reads, and writes — columns, memoirs, and stories for her grands and contributes to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dan Reynolds’ cartoons are seen in every city in the country via greeting cards (from American Greetings, Papyrus, Nobleworks, and others) and nationally in Reader’s Digest.

Annie Riess is a freelance writer of stories about faith and family and has had numerous articles published in magazines and periodicals. She also teaches piano and farms with her husband in Western Canada. Annie takes pleasure in spending time with family and friends. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bruce Robinson is an award-winning internationally published cartoonist whose work has appeared in many consumer and trade magazines including the National Enquirer, The Saturday Evening Post and Woman’s World. He is also the author of Good Medicine and Bow Wows & Meows Dog/Cat cartoon books. Visit him at or e-mail him at [email protected].

Nan Rockey graduated from Taylor University in 2012 with a BA degree in Media Communications and a writing emphasis. She married a fellow writer, Jordan Rockey, in February 2013 and enjoys creating stories and spending time with her husband and pet tortoise in Bloomington, IN. E-mail her at [email protected].

Angela Rolleman is a social worker, writer, speaker, trainer, entrepreneur, wife, daughter, aunt, sister and friend. She is founder of Mission: Empowerment, a company that provides personal and professional development seminars and events. Angela loves animals, travelling, reading and spending time in nature. To learn more, visit or

Mona Rottinghaus has a passion for life, continually seeking new challenges. Her hobbies include sewing, embroidering, writing, music, and gardening. She plans to write an inspirational book documenting her journey into the world of mental illness and the lessons she learned. Learn more at or e-mail her at [email protected].

Gretchen Schiller holds out hope that one day eggnog will be for sale throughout summer. Recently divorced, she’s co-parenting with her ex-husband to raise their happy three-year-old daughter, Ana Lucia. Gretchen has started an online community via her website that supports and encourages healthy co-parenting. Visit her website at

After a twenty-five-year career in the communications industry, Jackie Shelton still has a hard time focusing on any one area of it, so she’s stopped trying. Now she runs a small marketing firm and teaches journalism in Reno. Her most important role, though, is mother to two teen sons. Learn more at

Margie Reins Smith is a retired journalist. She now writes for local publications, volunteers as a docent at the Detroit Institute of Arts, tutors Detroit Public School children in reading, maintains a blog ( and dotes on her four grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Diane Stark is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. She loves to write about the important things in life: her family and her faith. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail Diane at [email protected].

L.A. Strucke is a writer, songwriter and producer. A lifelong advocate for the arts, she seeks to inspire others through words and music. She graduated from Rowan University in 2005 and thanks her children, who have encouraged her to make a difference in the world. E-mail her at [email protected] or

Christmastime reminds us to be grateful. JC Sullivan’s prized possession is her passport. Having been to more than 100 countries, her goal is to see them all. Not financially rich, she barters, takes odd jobs, and sells inspirational prose. Learn more at

E. Sutton has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Texas. Her hobbies are writing and art. She belongs to a small writers’ group where the members help hone each other’s craft. E-mail her at [email protected].

Writing ever since getting her first rejection at age thirteen, Nancy Sweetland has published articles, juvenile poetry, stories, and picture and chapter books. She has published over eighty adult short stories, two romance novels and has won more than forty regional and national awards in short stories and poetry.

Donna Teti loves to write inspirational stories and poems that will lift a person’s spirit. She has previously been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology, Guideposts magazine, and many compilation books. Enjoy more of Donna’s inspirational stories and poems at or on Facebook at Twinpop Inspirations.

Elizabeth Laing Thompson, now the mother of four children, is a young adult novelist, inspirational speaker, laundry slayer, tantrum defeater, and giggle collector. When she is not elbow-deep in diapers and dishes, she writes for moms, for teens, and for her own sanity. Follow her at

Heather Thompson is a resident in obstetrics and gynecology in Canada. In her free time she enjoys skiing, cycling, hiking, and cooking. She is also passionate about travel and social justice. Heather hopes to work on overseas missions when she is finished with her residency. E-mail her at [email protected].

Patti Ann Thompson is an award-winning freelance writer, motivational speaker and author of Seeing God Through New Eyes. She is a 2001 honors graduate of Emporia State University and currently serves the Community Bible Study organization in Kansas. Patti Ann resides with her husband, Larry, in Shawnee, KS.

Stacy Voss is the founder of Eyes of Your Heart Ministries (, which helps women “See Life Differently. Live Courageously.” She loves to run, chase her two young kids and all things chocolate (dark, please!). She is a passionate speaker for women’s events, luncheons and retreats. E-mail her at [email protected].

Even as a young child, Sally Walls loved to write. She has a passion for encouragement and a heart for people. Other short stories she has written have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times.

Robert F. Walsh is a syndicated columnist and English teacher in Connecticut. He lives with his incredible wife Kristen, three puppies, and a rickety ten-speed without baseball cards in the spokes. You can read more at or follow him on Twitter at @RobertFWalsh.

After many years of being a “struggling” actor in Los Angeles, Alan Zacher came back home to St. Louis, MO to write. He has had several stories published at Kalikion, and in 2012 his murder/mystery novel, I’m No P.I., was published by Post Mortem Press.

Sheri Zeck enjoys writing creative nonfiction stories that encourage, inspire and entertain others. She lives in Milan, IL, with her husband and three daughters. She has contributed stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Guideposts, Farm & Ranch Living and various other magazines. Visit her website at

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