Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Meet Our Contributors

Melissa Abraham resides with her husband in south Louisiana. She is a freelance translator specializing in French, Spanish, and Italian. She is the Newsletter Editor for the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana and is currently working on a young adult fantasy novel. Follow her blog at

Kathryn Hackett Bales lives near Elko, NV with two Pit Bulls and a Rottweiler. She is a retired bus driver and a Navy veteran. Her first novel, Crazy Ladies on a Bus, was published in 2013, with a sequel due in October. The proceeds from the series will go to Pit Bull rescue.

Kelsey Kate Bankert writes from a small island off the Georgia coast. She has a B.A. degree cum laude from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. degree in modern European history. Her most recent book is The Architecture of Trauma. She is currently writing children’s fiction and has happily taken up the ukulele.

Linda Bartlett, Christian, wife, mother of three, grandmother to four, teacher (forever), flight attendant (former), dog lover (big time), and now writer. Linda has traveled to all seven continents and loves to spend her free time with children, nature, books, and of course, dogs.

Gretchen Bassier holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She lives in Michigan with four cats, eleven doves, and four horses—all sources of inspiration for her writing. She has written numerous short stories, one and a half novels, and hopes to start a nonprofit to benefit feral cats.

Diane Ganzer Baum has been writing professionally since 2004. Patrick the Wayward Setter was her first published book, followed by many more for readers of all ages, both fiction as well as nonfiction. She is married and lives in a little town on the prairie in western Minnesota, where she plans to keep writing and gardening.

Susan Blakeney is a writer of fiction for children and young adults with several novels in various stages of development. These include two historical novels and a number of works of speculative fiction, one being the story that awoke her passion for writing several years ago. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cynthia Briggs embraces her love of cooking and writing through her cookbooks Pork Chops & Applesauce and Sweet Apple Temptations. She enjoys speaking to women’s groups, coaching budding authors, teaching memoir writing and writing for various publications. E-mail Cynthia at [email protected].

Karla Brown lives in Philadelphia with her husband and cat. She loves to garden, swim, cook, read, pursue all things chocolate, and daydream. She hopes to become a novelist, as she also writes paranormal romantic suspense, YA and middle grade.

Jill Burns lives in the mountains of West Virginia with her wonderful family. She’s a retired piano teacher and performer. She enjoys writing, music, gardening, nature, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Kimberley Campbell lives in Centreville, NB, with her husband, two cats and two retired racing Greyhounds. She enjoys skating, biking and walking with her husband and hounds, as well as reading, writing and spending time with her three young nieces.

Lorraine Cannistra has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Emporia State University. She enjoys advocating, cooking, writing and motivational speaking. Her passions are wheelchair ballroom dance and her service dog, Leah. Enjoy her blog at

Jim Carey lives in Sheboygan, WI with his wife Janet and their two Golden Retrievers—Molly and, the star of the story, Nemo. Jim is a practicing chiropractor and the author of the Civil War novel, Echoes from Home.

Mark Carlson and his wife Jane live in San Diego with his retired guide dog Musket and new guide dog Saffron. Legally blind, Mark is an aviation historian and writes for several national magazines. He is the author of Confessions of a Guide Dog and Flying on Film: A Century of Aviation in the Movies.

After spending the majority of her life with dogs, Katharina Cirko is convinced that the main purpose of their too-short lives is to teach humans how to love completely and selflessly. She hopes to one day write a book of stories about all the dogs who have brought such joy to her life.

Helen Colella is a freelance writer, retired teacher and grandmother of three. Her published works include educational books and materials; articles and stories for adults and children; Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies; parenting magazines; Explore & Discover National Parks, a family activity book; consultant for blue13creative.

Linda Veath Cox lives in southern Illinois with the Bone Mafia—her two mixed breed mutts. A retired secretary from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, she has had short stories and devotions published and is a regular contributor to Divine Detour at

Linda Delmont lives in Orange County, CA, with her husband and a menagerie of pets: two dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and ten spoiled hens. She graduated in 2012 with an MFA degree in poetry from California State University, Long Beach and works as a substitute teacher. Her hobbies include gardening, reading, and raising monarch butterflies.

Laurie Doyle is a corporate communications executive living in Massachusetts. She received a B.A. degree in Russian from Middlebury College and an MBA degree from Simmons College. She has one daughter, Kira, who is her greatest pride and joy. In addition to her miracle dog, Charlie, Laurie has two cats, Clyde and Hannah.

Janice R. Edwards received her BAT degree, with honors, from Sam Houston State University in 1974. She taught English and journalism before working for Texaco. Now she writes freelance for Image magazine, showcasing Brazoria County, TX. She has published stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog’s Life and Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That!

Karen Ekstrom graduated from the University of Texas, where she majored in Chi Omega and fun. Five kids later, Karen just finished her first novel and started a blog— If humor is your thing . . . Contact her at [email protected].

Terri Elders lives near Colville, WA with a dog and three cats. A lifelong writer and editor, she’s published stories in dozens of periodicals and anthologies, including multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She co-edited Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Travel and blogs at

Lisa Erspamer is the president of Unleashed Media and the creator of the A Letter to My Dog, A Letter to My Cat and the upcoming A Letter to My Mom books. Before starting her own company, Lisa served as Chief Creative Officer for OWN and as the Co-Executive Producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Lisa lives in Los Angeles with her two pups, Lily and Grace.

Samantha Eskew received her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University. She is a third-year medical student and new mom to daughter, Madison. Samantha enjoys spending time with husband Ryan and their two dogs, Baron and Boden. Between a new baby and their four-legged family members, there’s never a dull moment!

Carol Lee Espy is a multi-hyphenate . . . that’s right, it goes like this: singer-songwriter-multi-Mid-Atlantic-Emmy-winner-producer-writer-TV-Radio-voice-over-artist-mom-wife-darn-good-friend. She is prone to spontaneous golf outings and stealth dawn patrols at estate sales. She employs writing and popcorn as cheap therapy.

Antonia Everts lives near Portland, OR with her family—where she teaches gymnastics. In addition to writing, she enjoys running, gardening, reading and baking. She is currently at work on a novel about the relationships between people and their dogs. E-mail her at [email protected].

RoseAnn Faulkner is a retired elementary school teacher. This is her third story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She lives in Yuma, AZ. E-mail her at [email protected].

Kristi Cocchiarella FitzGerald has degrees in English and Theater and pursued graduate work in costumes until she realized she’d rather be writing. She lives in a place of spectacular beauty where she shares her life with her rugged Montana fisherman, their two Shih Tzus, Panda and Koala, and a diva cat named Moose.

Judith Fitzsimmons lives in Franklin, TN, and has been writing for personal enjoyment and professional use for over twenty years. It is with the fondest of memories that she dedicates this story to “my Ubu boy,” who continues to warm her heart and spirit.

Carol Chiodo Fleischman’s writing has appeared in books, newspapers, and a textbook. Her topics cover a wide range of everyday events. A recurring theme is life as a blind person, especially the joys and challenges of using a seeing-eye dog. Pelican Publishing has scheduled a release for a children’s book about her guide dog, Nadine.

Peggy Frezon writes for Guideposts magazine, and is author of books about the human-animal bond: Dieting with my Dog; The Dieting with my Dog Guide to Weight Loss & Maintenance; Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw; Greetings at the Front Door (2015). Fetch her free newsletter at

Nancy B. Gibbs is a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. She is an author and motivational speaker. Nancy has had stories in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books and many other anthologies, devotional guides, newspapers and national magazines. E-mail her at [email protected] or through her website at

Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer and the mother to three children and one dog named Porsche. Read more of her writing at

Judy Gyde is a retired nurse and a freelance writer from Toledo, OH. Her work has appeared in fifty publications and her first book, Harvest Fields, will soon be in print. Judy and her husband love to travel, garden, and spoil their ten grandkids. She continues to surprise her neighbors’ dogs with delicious treats.

Hana Haatainen-Caye, speaker/writing instructor, has a copywriting, editing, and voice-over business. With over forty children’s books published, she has won awards for her poetry, short stories, and blog ( She is the author of the nonfiction book Vinegar Fridays. E-mail her at [email protected].

Elizabeth SanFilippo Hall received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana College and her master’s from The University of Chicago. When not working part-time at The International Kitchen and freelance writing, she’s a full-time mommy to a daughter born in April 2014 and Kafka the Bulldog. E-mail her at [email protected].

Karen R. Hessen is a speaker and author of inspirational nonfiction and humor. A frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Karen also writes the column “Out of the Ark” for the Seaside Signal and The News Guard. Karen and Douglas live in Oregon. E-mail her at [email protected].

Charlotte Hopkins is a writer from Pittsburgh. Her first book, Everything You Wanted to Know about the Heroes in Blue, was published in 2012. She has two children and works in childcare. She is writing a children’s book series to teach preschoolers in a fun way and a life skills book for teens titled And Then I Stepped in Gum.

Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and speaker whose works include inspirational children’s books, other Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations, magazine articles, and two devotional books for dog lovers. She conducts presentations to groups and classrooms. Learn more at

Jeanie Jacobson is on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers Group. She’s currently writing a Christian fantasy series. She’s active in ministries at her church, including the praise dance team. She loves spending time with family and friends, reading, hiking, and gardening. E-mail her at [email protected].

Pamela Jenkins lives with her husband in rural Oklahoma. Her hobbies include writing, crocheting, and growing irises on their farm.

Debbie Kalata received her BBA and MBA degrees from Florida International University. She lives in south Florida with her three-year-old Westie—Sir Brodric MacGreggor. She enjoys writing and has dabbled in essays, short stories, nonfiction, and novels. Her goal is to publish in all four categories.

Amanda Kemp earned her bachelor’s degree in English and women’s studies in 2002, then added to her collection in 2005 with a master’s in education. After teaching for eight years, she is staying at home with her two young sons. She is an aspiring fiction writer, scribbling madly during the fleeting moments of alone time.

Alice Klies is a past contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls. She is a member of Word Weavers International. She is published in Angels On Earth, The Wordsmith Journal, and four anthologies: God Still Meets Needs; Grandmother, Mother and Me; Grandfather, Father and Me and Friends of Inspire Faith.

Ian Kochberg and his wife Arlene live with their Black Russian Terrier, SchuBRT, very near to their wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren. Ian is a lifelong dog lover, as well as being a full-time artist/master printmaker. Arlene has managed the company (and Ian) for the past thirty-six years. Learn more at

Joyce Laird is a freelance writer living in Southern California with her menagerie of animal companions. Her features have been published in many magazines, including Cat Fancy, Grit, Mature Living, I Love Cats and Vibrant Life. She contributes regularly to Woman’s World and to the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Cathi LaMarche spends most of her day reveling in the written word as a composition teacher, college essay coach, and novelist. Her work has appeared in twenty-three anthologies. She lives in Missouri with her husband, two children, and three spoiled dogs.

Diana Lynn is a business owner and freelance writer in Washington State. This is her sixth story published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. She jokes often about how no one is safe in her world; anyone can end up in a story—even the dog. E-mail her at [email protected] com. The award-winning author of thirty-two published books and a graduate of Queen’s University, Gail MacMillan lives in New Brunswick, Canada with her husband and two dogs.

David Martin’s humor and political satire have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Smithsonian magazine. His latest humor collection Screams & Whispers is available on David lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife Cheryl and their daughter Sarah.

Tim Martin is a contributing writer to over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He has two books due out in 2014: Fast Pitch and Don the Dull-Shelled Turtle (Cedar Grove Books).

Jennifer McMurrain has won numerous awards for her short stories and novels. Her novels, Quail Crossings and Winter Song, are now available on Amazon. She lives in Bartlesville, OK with her husband, daughter, two diva cats, and two goofy dogs. Learn more at

Melissa Meyers is a registered nurse and has a bachelor’s degree in cross-cultural communications. She has worked for almost a decade in Central Asia. She loves stories of all kinds, and has recently enjoyed focusing on writing more. E-mail her at [email protected] com.

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 humorous 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].

Lisa Morris has been an educator for the past twenty-three years and a writer for a lifetime. She recently added adjunct professor of education to her résumé. Lisa has published five educational books, two memoirs, and this is her third contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Ann Morrow is from Custer, SD, and is the proud pet parent to three dogs. In addition to her pet escapades, she enjoys family, writing, photography and the outdoors. Ann’s humorous stories have appeared in other Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Contact Ann through

Rebecca Muchow lives in Sherwood, OR with her family and a growing collection of four-leggers. She is a self-employed medical transcriptionist and hopes to write full-time one day.

Born in England, Irena Nieslony received a B.A. honors degree in English and Drama from the University of London. She now lives on the island of Crete, Greece with her husband and their many rescue cats and dogs. Irena has had three murder mystery novels published, with a fourth being released in August 2014.

Speaker, author, and blogger Brenda Nixon lives in Ohio—home to the largest number of Amish settlements nationwide. She has two daughters, a son-in-law, and two “adopted” sons from the Swartzentruber Amish.

Molly O’Connor lives in a century-old farmhouse where she raised her children and now lives with her grandchildren. Between the children and the assortment of animals that surround her, many stories surface. Molly spends her winters in Arizona, always with her camera at the ready to capture wild flowers at their best.

David O’Neill is retired from Health & Hospitals Corporation in New York City. An avowed animal lover, David lives with his rescue dogs in upstate New York. He thanks Ava Pennington for her help in telling his story.

Joan Oen is an English teacher. Joan and her husband enjoy watching their son pal around with their beloved Sammy the Schnoodle. Check out Joan’s “That’s What Moms Are For” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers & Daughters and “What Would I Do Without You?” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives.

Jacqueline Pearce writes fiction for children and teens, including Dog House Blues and The Truth About Rats (and Dogs), both written for the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) Kids Club. She and her family still feel the absence of their dog, Dylan, who died three years ago.

Lori Phillips writes about spirituality, dreams, marriage and relationships. Visit her dreams site at

Robin Pressnall is Executive Director of Small Paws Rescue Inc., which has been featured on Animal Planet. She is a frequent guest on the Fox News Network’s Fox & Friends in New York City. Robin has also appeared on Inside Edition with Deborah Norville and is a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Julie Reece-DeMarco is an attorney, educator and author. She is married with four daughters and enjoys being a mom, spending time outdoors in the great Northwest and playing sports. Approximately one million copies of her books are in print.

Julie Richie received her MFA degree in creative writing in 2011 from Lesley University and a B.A. degree from Brown University in 1993. She has two boys and a dog, Lucy. Julie is working on her first novel.

Teresa Rigg is an artist, poet, and memoir writer. She is a frequent winner at county fairs and competitions for her art and poetry. An Oregon native, she is the daughter of an American serviceman and an Australian war bride who gave her words for toys. Teresa lives in Coos Bay with her adorable and adoring pet family.

Stacey Ritz is an award-winning freelance writer and Executive Director of Advocates 4 Animals, Inc. Learn more at

Deborah Henderson Roberts grew up in Rhode Island and now makes Maryland home. She is a freelance writer currently working on a historical novel for young adults. Her story “The Middle Rock” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids.

Gwenyfar Rohler is proud to manage her family’s independent bookstore, Old Books on Front St. in Wilmington, NC. She goes to the theatre every week as a theatre reviewer for Encore magazine and routinely fails to recognize the famous when they visit the bookstore.

Lee Rothberg, freelance writer and former nurse, works at the Matawan Aberdeen Public Library in New Jersey. While a medical staff writer for The Woman’s Newspaper of Princeton, she received several awards from the National Federation of Press Women. She is compiling family stories and recipes for her three granddaughters.

Ruth Ann Roy’s story about her father previously appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us, released in 2013. She continues with her journey of writing as she prepares engaging books for children in lessons of good character traits.

Marcia Rudoff is the author of We Have Stories—A Handbook for Writing Your Memoirs. She lives and teaches writing in Bainbridge Island, WA. Favorite free-time activities involve grandkids, travel, and writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

charly s. is a twelve-year member of a Barnes and Noble writers group in Norcross, GA, and published a nonfiction book in 2013 on Kindle/ Nook, completed a contemporary novel and finished a science fiction novel that has yet to find a publisher. charly enjoys writing, reading, and helping with the Red Cross as a volunteer.

John Scanlan is a 1983 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and retired from the Marine Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel aviator. He currently resides on Hilton Head Island, SC, and is pursuing a second career as a writer. E-mail John at [email protected].

Annabel Sheila grew up in Stephenville, a pretty little town on the west coast of Newfoundland. She now calls Moncton, New Brunswick home with the love of her life, Rick, two senior cats, and her little dog, Ziggy. E-mail her at [email protected].

Thomas Smith is an award-winning writer, reporter, and TV news producer. His supernatural suspense novel, Something Stirs, was one of the first haunted house novels for the Christian market. He is married to his best friend, and his dog Chloe gave this story two paws up.

Cheryll Lynn Snow has been a registered nurse for over twenty-four years. She has been married for thirty years and has a wonderful son and grandson. Cheryll enjoys writing, reading, music, traveling and has been a human parent to three rescue animals—so far.

Tanya Sousa writes fiction and nonfiction about human interaction with the environment and other living things. She has published children’s picture books, articles, essays, and most recently a novel, The Starling God.

Lynn Sunday is an artist, writer, and animal advocate living in Northern California with her husband and two senior rescue dogs. Her stories have appeared in other Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and numerous other publications. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dr. Swift sold his veterinary practice in the late 1980s to pursue a second career as a writer, coach and public speaker. He and his wife co-founded Life On Purpose Institute in 1996 with the vision to be a catalyst for creating a world on purpose ( E-mail him at [email protected].

Jodi Sykes is the author of Rhyming Activities for Beginning Readers (T.S. Denison & Co.), I am Special—The Power is in ME! and The House on Pancake Hill ( She is also a daily blogger of Living La Vida (Lymphoma). Jodi resides in St. Augustine, FL.

Mary Vigliante Szydlowski has published six adult novels, one novella, and three children’s books under various pseudonyms. Her articles, essays, short stories, poetry, and children’s stories appear in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet. She lives in Albany, NY.

Stephen L. Thompson grew up—as he likes to say—a short drive from the middle of nowhere on his family’s farm in northwestern Pennsylvania. With a B.S. degree in Physics he worked as a lab technician at a company just outside of Philadelphia for seven years. He’s now returned to the peace and quiet of the country to write.

Sarah-Elizabeth Viman is a student and loves school with a passion. During her junior year of high school, she was voted student body secretary. She dreams of becoming a French teacher. Sarah-Elizabeth enjoys playing the guitar and piano, listening to music and taking her dogs for long walks every day.

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

JoEllen Wankel received a Journalism & Mass Communication degree from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 2004. She is a freelance writer and mother to two wonderful girls and one precocious boy. She has shared her life with numerous rescues, including two ferrets, Star and Gus.

Roz Warren writes for The New York Times and the Funny Times, and recently appeared on the Today show. Visit her website at, connect with her on Facebook at or follow her on Twitter at @WriterRozWarren.

Michelle Watkins received a master’s degree in architecture from University of Nebraska—Lincoln while serving as a contributing editor for the architectural student publication, the Ampersand. She recently left design to work as a part-time paraprofessional and pursue interests in writing. She resides in Omaha, NE, with her husband, Gary.

Geni White is a retired RN with a B.S. and M.S. degree. Geni enjoys reading, writing, reviewing books, hiking, swimming, gardening, teaching, art, music and her husband of fifty-five years. Their three adult children live in Chicago, Maryland and Taiwan. She’s been writing full-time since 2000.

Beth M. Wood is an award-winning marketer, freelance writer and mom of three. Her social media addiction pays the bills while copywriting gigs and published articles and essays feed her shopping habit. She blogs about social media at and digresses about life and parenting at

Sue Owens Wright, author of the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery series, is a multiple winner of the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America for best writing on the subject of dogs. She is a fancier and rescuer of Basset Hounds, frequently featured in her books and essays.

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