Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers

Meet Our Contributors

Jim Alexander has contributed a humor column, entitled “Notes from Downtown,” to the Montecito Journal since 1996. His non-fiction stories have also been published in the Los Angeles Times and the Santa Barbara News-Press and his short story “Community Service” was published in 2012 by The Whistling Fire.

Christopher Allen, a corporate trainer in Germany, is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (a Satire), published in 2012. His fiction and non-fiction work has appeared widely both online and in print. In 2012, Allen was nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Visit his blog at

Alyssa Ast is a mother to four wonderful children and a wife to an amazing man. Alyssa is a freelance writer, journalist, and a SEO, SEM and social media marketing specialist. She is also the co-founder of Wakening Media, author of The Fundamentals of SEO for the Average Joe.

Jessica Ball is currently studying computer animation at Missouri State University. She enjoys storytelling and art, and with these she hopes to inspire people. She also hopes that her memoir, The Camera and the Calculator, available as an e-book on, will be an inspiration to others.

T. J. Banks is the author of Sketch People, A Time for Shadows, Catsong (winner of the 2007 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award), Derv & Co., Souleiado, and Houdini, a novel that the late writer and activist Cleveland Amory enthusiastically branded “a winner.” She is a Contributing Editor to laJoie.

John P. Buentello writes stories, essays, and poetry. He is the co-author of the novel Reproduction Rights and the short story collection Binary Tales. Currently he is at work on a collection of short stories and a new novel. E-mail him at [email protected].

Barbara Ann Burris, her husband Bruce and their dog Alex live in a log cabin in Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. Find other stories by Barbara in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog’s Life and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love.

Carisa J. (Wyrwas) Burrows is a previous contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Back Pain! and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband Ralph. She started writing after several surgeries as a way of healing through humor. E-mail her at [email protected].

Robin A. Burrows is a writer and poet from Arkansas. She discovered she could create stories like those she loved to read when her third grade class had to write a story using their spelling words. Robin writes fantasy and children’s books. Learn more at

Barbara Canale is a freelance writer and columnist for The Catholic Sun in Syracuse, NY. She has been published in ten Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is the author of Our Labor of Love: A Romanian Adoption Chronicle, and Prayers, Papers, and Play: Devotions for Every College Student, by Liguori Publications.

Lorri Carpenter, along with her mother, writes under the pen name HL Carpenter. A mother/daughter duo, they admit to having way too much fun writing together. Their most recent book, The SkyHorse, is a young adult e-novel published by Musa Publishing and available on Amazon. See more of their work at

Beth Cato is an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She’s originally from Hanford, CA, but now resides in Buckeye, AZ with her husband and son. Learn more at

Emily Parke Chase began writing in 1995 and now has six books in print, including Help! My Family’s Messed Up (Kregel, 2008). Her newest, Standing Tall After Falling Short, will be released in 2013. She encourages new writers by speaking at writers’ conferences and doing one-on-one critiques. Visit her at

Linda S. Clare is an award-winning author of five books, including A Sky without Stars, due out in 2014. She teaches writing for a community college and as an advisor for George Fox University. She lives in the Northwest with her family and three criminal cats. Visit her blog “Linda Clare’s Writer’s Tips” at

Phyllis Cochran has been writing and publishing stories for over twenty years. She has run writers’ workshops and taught classes on “Writing for Publication.” Phyllis enjoys visiting friends and family and traveling with her husband, Phil. They often care for their children and grandchildren’s dogs. Her memoir, Shades of Light, was published in 2006.

A true romantic, Sebastian Cole’s life is defined by following his heart and pursuing his dreams, which is why he has become a novelist. Sebastian writes from the heart, believes in true love, love at first sight, and finding the one person in life you’re meant to be with. Learn more at

Harriet Cooper is a freelance writer and has published personal essays, humour and creative non-fiction in newspapers, newsletters, anthologies and magazines. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She writes about family, relationships, health, food, cats, writing and daily life. E-mail her at [email protected].

Gayle Allen Cox is an award-winning writer from Texas. She has written op-eds and essays for various newspapers and magazines and is a returning contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. E-mail her at [email protected].

Michael Damiano is a non-fiction writer and journalist who writes in English and Spanish about art and history. His first book, Porque la vida no basta, was published in Spain by Anagrama (and by Empuries in Catalan) in 2012. He is working on his second book, in English, about Easter Island. He is a 2010 graduate of Georgetown University.

Linda C. Defew began writing ten years ago. She has gone on to write articles for Christian Woman, Kaleidoscope, Kentucky Explorer, The Writer, and this is her fourth story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She has formed a writers’ group that serves as a great source of inspiration. E-mail her at [email protected].

Although blind, Janet Perez Eckles has been inspiring thousands to see the best in life. She is an international speaker, writer and #1 bestselling author of Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta. Her mission is to ignite in you a passion to overcome and reach success and excellence. Learn more at

Terri Elders, LCSW, lives in the country near Colville, WA. A lifelong writer and editor, Terri’s stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Contact her at [email protected] and read her blog at

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

Melissa Face lives in Virginia with her husband and son. She teaches high school English and spends countless hours editing student work. She is a stickler for details. E-mail Melissa at [email protected].

Victoria Fedden received her MFA degree in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University in 2009. She is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. She has just completed a memoir about life in South Florida. E-mail her at [email protected].

Peggy Frezon is author of Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw and Dieting with My Dog, pet columnist, writer for Guideposts magazine and Be the Change for Animals. Find her at and Facebook: Twitter: @peggyfrezon.

A longtime personal essayist, Sally Friedman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal and in many regional and local publications. Her most important work is family: husband Victor, three daughters and sons-in-law, and seven astounding grandchildren.

Valerie Frost lives in San Diego, CA. She and her husband Terry are parents of three grown children. They have nine energetic grandchildren, and two turbo-charged Jack Russell Terriers, named Rocket and Daphne. E-mail her at [email protected].

Kathleen Gerard is an award-winning writer whose work has been widely published and broadcasted on National Public Radio (NPR). Her novel, In Transit, won Best Romantic Fiction at the New York Book Festival 2011. Learn more at

Jenna Glatzer is the author or ghostwriter of twenty books, including the authorized biographies Celine Dion: For Keeps and The Marilyn Monroe Treasures, and the memoirs My Stolen Son with Susan Markowitz and Unthinkable with Scott Rigsby. She’s also mom to the world’s coolest kindergartener. Visit Jenna at

Arlene Rains Graber is an award-winning freelance writer and author of one devotional book and three novels: Devoted to Traveling, released in 2010, by AWOC Publishers; A Plane Tree in Provence and Angel on My Shoulder, both released in 2011; and The Cape Elizabeth Ocean Avenue Society in 2012. Learn more at

Amy Green is a senior professional writing major at Taylor University. She is the author of a juvenile fiction series, the Amarias Adventures, published by Warner Press. Amy enjoys playing board games, talking to interesting people, baking cookies, and saying funny things, some of which she blogs about.

Wendy Greenley earned a master’s degree in microbiology from the University of Delaware and a J.D. from the Villanova School of Law. Wendy is a SCBWI member, writing picture books and middle-grade novels. Her writing has won awards in both local and national competitions. E-mail her at [email protected] or visit

A freelance writer and editor, Sarah Hamaker’s stories have appeared in previous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband and four children, and is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach. Visit her online at, where she blogs about parenting issues.

Wendy Hobday Haugh’s stories and articles have appeared in dozens of national and regional magazines, including Woman’s World, Highlights for Children, and Saratoga Living. She is inspired by the antics, wit and wisdom of her three grown sons and her soon-to-be four delightful grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

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

Diane Hurles has studied creative non-fiction for the past five years. A former journalist, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI. She has worked in public relations and financial development for the YMCA for more than twenty-five years. E-mail her at [email protected].

Kelly James-Enger has been a full-time freelancer and author for sixteen-plus years. She’s also the lucky mom of two children — Ryan and Haley — through open adoptions. She lives outside Chicago with her family, and her latest book is Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success.

J.A. Jance is The New York Times bestselling author of forty-five contemporary mysteries in four different series. Born in South Dakota and raised in Bisbee, AZ, she now divides her time between homes in Tucson, AZ and in Bellevue, WA. Second Watch, her forty-sixth novel, will be published in September 2013.

Beckie Jas, an environmental media specialist in Southern Ontario, creates education campaigns for children and adults. Her third children’s book will be published in 2013. She writes for the Restless Writers:, and has received awards for publication excellence, including a 2012 Gold Quill Award. She also writes young-adult fiction.

L.S. Johnson lives in Northern California, where she currently works in book production. She has written short stories, interviews, and essays, and has recently completed the first book in a trilogy set in the 18th century.

Vickey Kall is author of the novels Death Speaker and The Boomer Book of Christmas Memories (a collection of toys, trees, and trivia from the 1950s and 1960s). She loves to write about history and pop culture, often under her real and unpronounceable name, Kalambakal. Her blog is at

Rory C. Keel has served as an Evangelist since 1989. Ordained as an Elder in 2007 with the Amarillo Church of Christ. He is actively involved in writing with the Panhandle Professional Writers, IWA! and OWFI. Rory writes inspirational, historical and Christian fiction. E-mail him at [email protected].

Brenda Kezar is a short story writer living in North Dakota. She enjoys fishing, camping, and spending time with her family, including her dogs, Abby and Roscoe Pascal. Someday she’s going to make the leap to novelist! Visit her at

Elizabeth Stark Kline earned her B.A. degree with honors in English and history from Vanderbilt University in 1977. A medical biller by day, she continues to write fiction and enjoys metal detecting, crafting, and keeping up with her two kids, four cats and a dog named Linus.

Mimi Greenwood Knight is a freelance writer living in South Louisiana with her husband David and four spectacular kids, Haley, Molly, Hewson and Jonah. She enjoys knitting, gardening, Bible study and martial arts. Mimi is blessed to have over 500 published articles and essays, including stories in two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Randi Kreger is the author of Stop Walking on Eggshells (with Paul Mason), The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook, The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder, and Splitting (with Bill Eddy), about divorcing someone with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder. Visit her at and

Sharon Kurtzman’s writing has been published in All Things Girl, moonShine review, The Scruffy Dog Review, Airplane Reading, Still Crazy and Raleigh’s The News & Observer. Her novel, Cosmo’s Deli, was published by Boson Books. In 2012, she ran her first marathon, after which she checked it off her Bucket List.

Cathi LaMarche is the author of the novel While the Daffodils Danced and has contributed to numerous anthologies. As a composition teacher, author, and writing coach, she spends most of her day reveling in the written word. She resides in Missouri with her husband, two children, and three dogs.

Dawn M. Lilly’s inspirational writings have appeared in devotionals, anthologies, and DaySpring Cards. This is her third story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She and her husband live in Seattle where she gardens, spends time with her grandchildren, and is working on her first novel. Contact her at

Sarah Darer Littman is the author of Confessions of a Closet Catholic, which won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award; Life, After, a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor book; Purge; and Want to Go Private?, a 2012 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and an award-winning columnist for Contact her at or Twitter @sarahdarerlitt.

Gail MacMillan is an award-winning author of twenty-seven published books and numerous short stories both in North America and Western Europe. She is a graduate of Queen’s University and lives in New Brunswick, Canada with her husband and two dogs.

Catherine Madera is an award-winning writer based in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been widely published and includes two novels. She also serves as editor of The Northwest Horse Source magazine. Catherine enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her family. Learn more at

Joyce Styron Madsen is a librarian/educator who has done corporate and medical research. She is an animal welfare advocate, foster mom for rescue dogs, Wisconsin Humane Society volunteer, and mother to four former puppy mill dogs. She’s also very proud to say that she’s a writer. E-mail her at [email protected].

James C. Magruder is an award-winning advertising copywriter and executive speechwriter. He has had articles published in Writer’s Digest, Writers’ Journal, Marriage Partnership, HomeLife, Christian Communicator, Today’s Freelance Writer, and The Art of Self-Promotion. He blogs about the writing life at

Former newspaper journalist Diane Majeske has published three books —Death on Deadline; Magic, Miracles & Mistletoe; and Mom Tales: Stories of Parenting, Potties and Post-Partum Panic. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children, and is a writer for the University of Michigan.

Shawn Marie Mann is a freelance writer and geographer living in central Pennsylvania. She is currently studying the history and people of her hometown for future writing projects. Contact her at

David Martin’s humor and political satire have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and Smithsonian magazine. His latest humor collection Dare to be Average was published in 2010. David lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife Cheryl and their daughter Sarah.

Timothy Martin is the author of numerous young adult novels and screenplays. His work has appeared in over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books and several literary journals. E-mail Tim at [email protected].

Dodie Milardo’s decision to take a cruise to celebrate her fiftieth birthday completely changed her life. From the corporate world, she is now author of roman à clef novel Penelope’s Cruise. She also hosts radio talk shows and has raised more than $60,000 for charities to date. Learn more at

Suzan Moyer has been enjoying teaching for the past twenty years. She is currently a middle school Learning Center teacher in Kansas. Now that her four sons are grown, she enjoys gardening, reading, playing the piano, and spoiling her grandchildren. E-mail her at [email protected].

Diane Nichols has been a worldwide journalist for twenty years with more than 300 magazine and newspaper features in print. She is also the author of Prison of My Own: A True Story of Redemption & Forgiveness available at E-mail her at [email protected].

Marc Tyler Nobleman is the author of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. Outlets including USA Today, NPR’s All Things Considered, Forbes, and MTV have covered his work. Marc is invited to speak at conferences, schools, and other venues nationwide.

Novelist, blogger, and award-winning food writer, Perry P. Perkins is a work-at-home dad, and the owner of He has written for hundreds of magazines, and his inspirational stories have been included in many Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Perry lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Mary C. M. Phillips is a writer of narrative essays and short stories. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Cup of Comfort series, and Bad Austen: The Worst Stories Jane Never Wrote. She is blessed with a loving family and resides in New York.

Felice Prager is a freelance writer and multisensory educational therapist and the author of five books: Waiting in the Wrong Line, Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Negotiations, TurboCharge Your Brain, SuperTurboCharge Your Brain, and Quiz It: Arizona. Her essays have been published locally, nationally, and internationally. Learn more at

Anna Redsand is a retired educator and counselor. Her YA biography, Viktor Frankl: A Life Worth Living (Clarion, 2006), has received four awards. Her work has appeared in Third Coast magazine, Friends Journal, Fireweed, Rockhurst Review, and other periodicals. She lives in Albuquerque and writes full time.

Jennifer Reed has been publishing for both children and adults since 1990. She has over twenty-five books published for children and a slew of articles and stories in various magazines. She has her master’s degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Visit her at for more info.

Amelia Rhodes is the author of Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break? Doing Life Together in an All-about-Me Kind of World and a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride. Amelia lives with her husband and children in Michigan. E-mail her at [email protected].

Tammy Roark-Proctor recently retired from a twenty-four-year newspaper career. The former executive editor and writer has interviewed thousands of people, all who have a story to tell. Leaving Ohio for the warmer climate of North Carolina, she is currently a full-time grandmother and freelance writer.

Robert Robeson is a professional member of the National Writers Association, the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and the Military Writers Society of America. He retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel, has a BA degree in English from the University of Maryland and has completed extensive graduate journalism work.

Sioux Roslawski is a third grade teacher in St. Louis and a teacher-consultant for the Gateway Writing Project. She is a proud member of the infamous WWWP (Wild Women Wielding Pens) writing critique group; her favorite genre is memoir. Read more from Sioux at

Hank Phillippi Ryan reports for Boston’s NBC affiliate. Winner of twenty-eight Emmys, former U.S. Senate and Rolling Stone magazine staffer. She is president of national Sisters in Crime and MWA board member. Author of six novels, winner of two Agathas, the Anthony and the Macavity awards for crime fiction.

Steve Schultz is a teacher who has been published in Educational Leadership magazine and four other books: Hey Leader, Wake Up And Hear The Feedback, A+ Teaching, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for Teens, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball. E-mail him at [email protected].

Nicole Scobie is a Canadian mom to three great boys, wife to one great Dane, living in Switzerland. She describes herself as a “Cancer-Mom instead of a Soccer-Mom.” Her stories about life in the cancer world are sometimes heart-wrenching but also uplifting and inspiring. Read more at

When Sophfronia Scott published her novel, All I Need to Get By, with St. Martin’s Press, one reviewer referred to her as potentially “one of the best writers of her generation.” Her work has appeared in Time, People, More,, Sleet Magazine, Numéro Cinq, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Jodi Iachini Severson resides in Wisconsin and was raised in Johnstown, PA. Her large Italian-Irish-Catholic family (as do her co-workers) provides a constant source of humor and inspiration for her short stories, many of which can be found in other Chicken Soup for the Soul books. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dayle Allen Shockley is an award-winning writer whose byline has appeared in dozens of publications. She is the author of three books and a contributor to many other works. She and her husband (a retired fire captain) enjoy traveling RV-style, enjoying God’s handiwork. Dayle blogs at

Deborah Shouse is a writer, speaker, editor and creativity catalyst. Her writing has appeared in magazines, newspapers and Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her book, Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey (Central Recovery Press: November 2013), focuses on finding the blessings in the Alzheimer’s journey.

Michael T. Smith lives and works in Idaho with his beautiful and loving wife Ginny. Michael works in the telecom industry and writes inspirational and sometimes humorous stories for himself and readers of his newsletter “Hearts and Humor.” You can subscribe to his newsletter at

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 the author of Teachers’ Devotions to Go. E-mail her at [email protected].

Tsgoyna Tanzman’s career spans from fitness trainer to speech pathologist, to memoir teacher to life coach. Writing is the ultimate “therapy” for raising her daughter. Published in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her essays and poems can be read online at and E-mail her at [email protected].

Prudy Taylor-Board has twenty-four published books — two mysteries, three horror novels, eighteen regional histories, and a book about writing and selling your first novel. She is a member of Mensa, president of the Writers’ Network of South Florida and a project editor with Taylor & Francis.

Ashley Thaba is a missionary and mom of three small children in Botswana, Africa. The highlight of her day is their nightly 10k walk. She pushes one child and her husband pushes the other two. The proceeds of her book cover her son’s medical expenses. E-mail her at [email protected].

Leticia Velasquez is the editor of A Special Mother is Born. She contributed to the award-winning Stories for the Homeschool Heart, and The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science and Social Policy. She is currently writing her first novel. You may reach her at [email protected].

Pamela Walker is a mother, a wife and an observer of life. She loves old things and heirlooms, farmhouses and her husband. She enjoys spending her days on her Midwestern farm avoiding housework, homeschooling her three little chickadees, writing whenever she can and occasionally baking the world’s best caramel apple pie.

Rachel Wallace-Oberle has an education in journalism, as well as broadcasting. She is currently working on a degree in communications and is senior marketing writer for a software company. Her work has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Homemakers, Canadian Living, Woman’s World, Today’s Parent, and numerous other publications.

Samantha Ducloux Waltz offers people inspiration, courage and a fresh perspective on life as the writer of more than fifty creative non-fiction stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Cup of Comfort and other anthologies. Naomi, her feline accountability partner, keeps a close eye on her.

Roz Warren and Janet Golden are a Philadelphia-based writing team. You can reach Roz at or Janet at

Ray Weaver, of Clearwater, FL, and his wife Ellie have been married for fifty-four years. They have two children and six grandchildren. His novels, Tightrope to Justice, Miami Justice and European Justice are available on Amazon and B&N. Justice 4 Willis will be released in the summer of 2013. E-mail him at [email protected].

Valerie Whisenand is the author of many Christian fiction novels, written using her maiden name of Valerie Hansen. These books are available as both paperbacks and e-books. When she moved to the Ozarks she found fresh inspiration, as well as a beautiful atmosphere filled with loving, caring folks. E-mail her at [email protected].

Mary Z. Whitney has written an inspirational fiction book and is a regular contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series as well as Angels on Earth and Guideposts. When not penning praises to her creator, she can be found gardening, walking her dog Max or spending time with family and friends.

Tamara Wilhite is a mother, author and technical writer.

Gail Wilkinson loves writing stories, and is a third-time contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul publications. She is the author of Alice & Frosty: An American Adventure, highlighting rural Midwestern life in the early 1900s. She enjoys traveling, people, family, and all the stories they tell. E-mail her at [email protected].

Josie Willis received a master’s degree in English from Southwest Missouri State University. A full-time writer, she is currently completing a book of grief poetry, after which she plans to write children’s books. She shares her home with her two “parrot” muses, Nacho and Taco. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dallas Woodburn’s work has appeared in Nashville Review, Monkeybicycle, Prime Number, and the Los Angeles Times; her plays have been produced in New York City and Los Angeles. Her manuscript, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress, was a finalist for the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

Amy Zhang is an exceedingly average junior in high school. She edits the school newspaper, plays tennis, and occasionally texts during class. Secretly, she is an author represented by Emily Keyes of the L. Perkins Agency. She is currently revising her second novel.

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