Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

Meet Our Contributors

Gordon Allen retired as a constable on the Toronto Police Service and now writes children’s novels in British Columbia. He and his wife Linda have four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His children’s book about a mermaid meeting Santa Claus, Celesta’s Magical Journey, can be purchased at

Tanya Ambrose is a retired teacher. She lives in rural Eastern Ontario, where she enjoys gardening, walking, cycling, snowshoeing and cooking. Occasionally she even writes, and has had several short stories and essays published. She continues to travel the world for adventure and enlightenment.

Kathy Ashby is the author of Carol ‘A Woman’s Way’ published by DreamCatcher Publishing. Her book was nominated for the 2010 Muskoka Chautauqua Reading List and she was chosen to participate on the We Wise Woman website: E-mail her at [email protected].

With a camera around her neck and a notebook in her backpack, recently retired Barbara Baker spends her free time racing up and down the Rocky Mountains to capture their story. Her passion for writing is dedicated to finishing a YA novel, unless of course a bird flies by her window.

Ardy Barclay is a retired teacher whose career started in Lobo Township, near London, Ontario. It was there she met her husband Robert. She likes to fish, garden, and be outdoors. Ardy has had many life experiences, and likes to share them with others through her writing.

Irene Bastian lives with her husband and daughter on a farm in the Municipal District of Foothills near Okotoks, Alberta. A former high school teacher, Irene is moving into semi-retirement, which she hopes will bring her more time for writing, painting, and spending time with family and friends.

Luanne Beresford is a wife and mother to two brilliant kids. She loves to spend time writing, gardening and working with animals. She also has published a children’s story, “Lady the Light Brown Dog.”

Barbara Black’s articles, columns, book, film, and theatre reviews have appeared in numerous North American publications. Her award-winning writing also appears in CV2, FreeFall, and Poems from Planet Earth, fiction in The New Quarterly and poetry in What Can’t Be Contained. She lives in Victoria, BC. Learn more at

Ellie Braun-Haley, a former newspaper correspondent, has three children. She designs greeting cards, presents talks on miracles, and writes. She and her husband publish a newsletter. E-mail her at [email protected].

Michael Brennan, a veteran runner of sixty marathons, left a job where he commuted two hours each day to start his own business organizing running races. A home office means time to walk his young daughter to school, walk the dog and plan events with his wife’s able assistance. This is his third story published by Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Deborah Cannon is a fiction writer. She recently won an honourable mention for her story, “Twilight Glyph,” published in Canadian Tales of the Fantastic (2014). She is best known for her archaeological suspense novel series, The Raven Chronicles. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her archaeologist husband and two dogs.

Janet Caplan lives near Victoria on Vancouver Island. Her work has appeared in Dogs in Canada, Animal Wellness, Ocean magazine and Tiny Lights, as well as in several print and online anthologies.

Linda Carpentier received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba and her Associate of The Royal Conservatory diploma in Piano Pedagogy. Now retired from music teaching, she has more time to devote to her lifelong interest in writing.

Eva Chagnon has spent her working life as an independent entrepreneur. However, since her son’s tragic accident in December 2007, she has begun to work from home and intends to utilize her lifelong writing passion in future endeavours. E-mail her at [email protected]

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, a Pushcart Prize-nominated author, is Founding General Manager of WYCC PBS and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College. Her stories, which she has performed throughout the USA and Canada, are published in numerous anthologies and adapted to film. Lean more at

Cindy Armeland Clemens graduated from the University of Windsor. Her story “Shoe Shoe Train” appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter. She’s had a diverse career, but her most important title is Jacob and Jonathan’s mom. She and her husband Mark live on a hobby farm. E-mail her at [email protected] com.

Deborah Janes Collins was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and grew up in the small town of Paradise. After completing high school, she acquired a diploma in early childhood education, and worked in that field for twenty-two years. She now resides in Bolton, Ontario with her husband.

Harriet Cooper writes essays, humour, creative nonfiction and health articles for newspapers, newsletters, anthologies and magazines. She’s 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].

Lynn Dove’s stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her award-winning blog, “Journey Thoughts,” has a worldwide audience. She enjoys writing, teaching, and spending time with her family and friends. Connect with Lynn on her blog at and on Twitter @LynnIDove.

Diane Driedger grew up on a family farm in rural Manitoba. Diane rode and broke in horses, milked cows and took care of all the farm cats and dogs. Diane is married and has two boys, two dogs and a cat. She loves swimming, camping, reading and telling stories.

Donna Fawcett is a freelance writer, an award-winning novelist, songwriter and poet. She received two university writing certificates, which led her to teach creative writing at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. Donna continues to write for magazine and book markets.

Lori Feldberg’s first joy is writing, followed by “necessary exercise!” She writes fiction as well as nonfiction, and has dabbled in poetry. Lori works with writing groups in her central Alberta hometown and surrounding area, and is always looking for a writing contest to enter.

Denise Flint is a freelance journalist based outside St. John’s, Newfoundland on the edge of the North Atlantic. She’s lived in four provinces and three countries, and her interests are diverse. Denise’s articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country, and she has received several awards for her work.

Liz Maxwell Forbes writes for a local newspaper, tends her garden, and cherishes time with her life partner and blended family. A charter member of the Chemainus Writers Group, she is published in a number of anthologies as well as being a third time contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

John Forrest has sixteen stories in nine Chicken Soup for the Soul books about the exceptional events and wonderful people who have enriched his life. Scrivener Press has published his Christmas anthologies Angels Stars and Trees and Home For Christmas. He lives in Orillia with his wife Carol. E-mail him at [email protected].

Kathleen Friesen loves reading and writing stories that encourage faith in God. She especially loves sharing them with her five wonderful grandchildren. Kathleen enjoys visiting with family and friends, travelling, kayaking, and puttering in her garden. She is currently working on her third novel.

J.A. Gemmell spent most of his working life in industrial settings. Possibly as a result of this, he now spends as much time as possible outdoors hiking, fishing, snowshoeing and walking continental camino routes. To date, he has racked up more than four thousand kilometers hiking in Spain and France.

Robyn Gerland is the author of All These Long Years Later, a recently published book of short stories, and is also a contributor to various magazines and newspapers. She is the past editor of the glossy, Hysteria. As a graphic artist, her work has been shown in several Canadian cities, London, England, and Sydney, Australia.

Paula Gillis received bachelor’s degrees in arts and education from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia in 1980 and 1981, and immediately moved to Alberta. She taught briefly and then worked as an employment specialist for people with disabilities. She volunteers, practices yoga, reads and is trying snowshoeing.

Pam Goldstein is a seasoned writer with short stories published in more than a dozen books; many are in the Chicken Soup for Soul collections. She edited Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter, has written several children’s stories, three adult manuscripts, and two plays. One was professionally workshopped in 2013.

Anita Grace is a writer and mother who spends many winter evenings buried in knitting projects and books, and many winter days romping in the snow with her kids.

Peter Green is a native of Toronto. He and his family operate Encounter Niagara Tours, a tour company showcasing the best of Canada and the U.S. in Niagara Falls. Formerly a professional musician, Peter lives with his wife Danielle and daughter Maddie in Kenmore, New York.

Ross Greenwood has degrees in sociology, theology and education from the University of Toronto. He is a retired teacher. He lives with his wife Jennifer in Orillia, where he is the president of the Mariposa Writers’ Group. Ross’s interests include gardening, tropical fish, travel, writing and spending time with his five grandchildren.

Kristine Groskaufmanis has been scribbling in her journal since she was eleven years old and needed an outlet for her childhood angst. She lives in Toronto with her husband and favourite playmate, Andrew. She is currently trying to figure out how to make a fortune as a full-time pet cuddler.

Gloria Jean Hansen has been writing for most of her life, in between working as a nurse, enjoying four children and a growing number of grandchildren. She has published several novels and is always working on the one book that will be the bestseller. Gloria also plays in a bluegrass band. E-mail her at [email protected].

Rachel Lajunen Harnett is a teacher with a passion for writing short stories. She runs (often chasing her husband, two kids and Great Dane!), bikes and plays Ultimate Frisbee. Rachel is a graduate of Carleton University’s Journalism Program. She lives in Toronto. E-mail her at [email protected].

A retired teacher with two grown daughters, Patricia Harrison enjoys reading, traveling, and entertaining friends. She loves historical fiction, and has had five Regency novels published. Her nonfiction work, A Quiet Hero, was self-published. At present, she is writing a mainstream novel of Scottish immigrants in Canada.

Rob Harshman has been a social science teacher for over forty years and has traveled to over forty countries. He is married, and has two married daughters and a grandson. Rob’s hobbies include travel, gardening and photography. He plans to continue writing short stories.

Cheryl-Anne Iacobellis is a mother of four and lives in Barrie, Ontario. She enjoys writing short stories, camping, gardening and kayaking. She is currently studying with the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Don Jackson is the former host of Canada’s #1 evening FM radio program, Lovers and Other Strangers. He now produces a unique webcast about life, love and relationships on his website heartbeatoftheinternet. com, where he can also be reached. He plans to write inspirational books and novels. He is married and a father of two.

Donna Janke lives in Winnipeg. She enjoys reading, traveling, wintering in Arizona, and playing her piano. She writes both fiction and nonfiction, and blogs about travel and the writing life. She believes in love, miracles, and looking after each other. She laughs a lot.

Tanya Janke has worked in three schools, two shopping malls, a theatre, a market research company, and a berry patch. Now she spends her days writing. Her first play, an adaptation of The Little Prince, was produced in Toronto in 2010.

Shannon Kernaghan has published two books as well as hundreds of stories in anthologies, journals and newspapers. She’s still waiting to find that “singing clock” in her Christmas stocking! Connect with her at

Deborah J. Kinsinger is a psychotherapist in private practice, a writer, a mom, a traveller and a lover of all things Christmas. She has been writing forever and is delighted to share this Christmas memory.

Mary Ellen Kot is an Ottawa freelance writer and retired teacher whose work has appeared in the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen and The Globe and Mail. She is currently working on a book of humorous vacation mishaps. Follow and contact her at and [email protected].

Liisa Kovala is a writer and teacher living in Sudbury, Ontario with her husband and two children. Her fiction and creative nonfiction work has appeared in a variety of Canadian publications. Liisa’s current project is a family memoir about her father’s experiences as a Finnish merchant marine imprisoned by the Nazis.

Stephen Lautens is a writer and lawyer who has written a weekly column for a number of major Canadian newspapers, including the National Post, Toronto Sun, Calgary Sun and The London Free Press. When not writing he can be found on Twitter. E-mail him at [email protected].

Mark Leiren-Young is the author of two comic memoirs, Free Magic Secrets Revealed (Harbour) and Never Shoot a Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo (Heritage), which won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. He is also a playwright, performer, filmmaker and journalist.

Marla Lesage is an aspiring author and illustrator from New Brunswick. She enjoys reading, writing, sketching, painting, and playing ukulele. Her favourite mornings are spent catching rainbows with her children.

William Leskevich has worked in the entertainment industry for more than two decades. Currently a theatre scenic artist, he’s been learning and exploring the craft of writing for almost just as long and is working at completing his first novel.

Ruth Levenstein is a professor, with a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto. She has five boys, who keep her quite busy whenever she is not working. In her “spare time,” she also plays violin in an amateur string orchestra and is an avid hobby photographer. She also loves the great outdoors.

Suzanne Lindsay lives in Toronto with her two children and works as a freelance producer in the world of commercial photography. Her favourite quote is by Jodi Hills: “She wasn’t where she had been. She wasn’t where she was going… but she was on her way.”

Julia Lucas is a freelance designer, specializing in needlework designs published by embroidery magazines, fabric companies and craft catalogues. She lives with her retired husband, has two stepsons and two grandchildren.

Catherine MacKenzie writes all genres but mostly dark fiction women can relate to — stories perhaps bizarre, yet ominously real. A published author, she’s also self-published several poetry and short story collections on Amazon and Smashwords. Cathy lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and winters in Ajijic, Mexico. E-mail her at [email protected].

The award-winning author of thirty-two published books, Gail MacMillan is a graduate of Queen’s University. Her stories and articles have appeared in magazines across North American and in Western Europe. Gail lives in New Brunswick with her husband and two dogs.

Marie MacNeill is an interior designer in the Toronto area. She enjoys travelling, power walking, gardening and writing, and is currently working on an authorized biography. Marie is looking forward to carrying on her Christmas traditions with her new grandchild.

Australian-born author Grant Madden immigrated to the United States in 2005 and currently resides in San Diego, CA. He writes for the Eugene Daily News in Oregon, and has cover stories in Sailing, Catamaran Sailor and the San Diego Reader. He can be reached at

Lesley Marcovich, biography coach, believes everyone has a story to tell. And she is always “all ears.” She runs a writers’ group, biography workshops, and volunteers at hospice. She lives near Toronto with her husband Bruce and an ever-growing family, all great fodder for her own life story. E-mail her at [email protected].

Brandy Lynn Maslowski follows her passion as a quilt teacher, speaker, judge and the host of Canadian Quilt Talk. She just published her first picture book called Kristy’s Quilt. Learn more at

Nancy Koruna McIntosh is a Food Bank Community and Development Coordinator. She’s been a radio announcer, newspaper columnist, clothing and art designer, and won numerous marketing awards for corporate window displays, merchandising and advertising campaigns. She hopes to travel, paint more and illustrate children’s books. E-mail her at [email protected].

Sally Meadows is a freelance writer and recording artist. She began her career in the sciences, segued into education, and now passionately pursues the arts full-time. She is a two-time national award-nominated lyricist, aspiring children’s book author, and Ambassador for Compassion Canada. Contact her at

Sharon Melnicer is a writer, artist and teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has frequently aired her “Slice of Life” pieces on CBC radio. A retired high school English teacher and university instructor, she continues to teach life-story writing to adults and is a recognized artist who shows and sells throughout North America.

Patricia Miller is an author, wife, and mother of two living in Bradford, Ontario. She loves lakes and cottaging in the Haliburton Highlands. Her first adult romance novel, The Mausoleum Road Affair, is a sizzling love story arriving Fall 2014 from Swoon Romance. Visit Patricia at

After a life of school teaching, Joyce MacBeth Morehouse decided to put down some funny episodes that had occurred over her lifetime. As a twelve-year-old, Joyce published her first poem, and poetry has always been a “first love.” Over the years, several writings have found their way into periodicals.

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].

Bob Mueller is a self-taught artist and writer. Achieving a seventh-degree black belt in karate, he became a pioneer in teaching children martial arts across Canada. At age forty-seven, he discovered his passion as an artist. He and Steve Sabol at NFL Films made Finding Your Butkus, a movie about Mueller’s life story that won the 2008 Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Long Feature.

Janette Oke is celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry, including books such as Love Comes Softly and Where Courage Calls. Her novels have sold more than thirty million copies, and several have been made into Hallmark Channel original movies. Janette and her husband live in Alberta, Canada.

Born in Grand Bank, Newfoundland and Labrador, Robert C. Parsons continued his career in education after his first year teaching in Philips Head, completing thirty years in the elementary classroom. He has three children and four grandchildren, and is the author of over thirty books of marine related stories of eastern Canada.

Alexa Danielle Patino is a young aspiring writer, filmmaker, song-writer and musician. Attending an arts school in Toronto, she majors in vocal, plays the piano, guitar and left-handed bass. She enjoys skateboarding, mixed martial arts, making YouTube videos and fashion! Alexa hopes to write full-length novels one day.

Danielle Mathieson Pederson is a part-time working mom of two toddlers. Her husband accepts their overflowing bookshelves as part of the home decor. She loves to read fantasy, science fiction and romance. She is also an active blogger and book reviewer. She started writing her first novel in grade nine and has loved writing ever since.

Judi Peers has published many children’s books (Brontosaurus Brunch; Home Base; Shark Attack; Sayonara, Sharks; Guardian of the Lamp) and contributed to several anthologies. She is also a speaker and literacy advocate, who just happens to love Christmas. Judi and her husband Dave make their home in Peterborough, Ontario.

Born in northern Alberta, Gloria V. Phillips lived in various locations throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan before settling in Ontario. Her interest in genealogy and history led her to write two historical fiction novels — A Pilgrim Passing Through and A Pilgrim’s Daughter. Her writing was also featured in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider.

Jan Piers lives on the Canadian Prairie in Edmonton, Alberta, where the winters are long, cold and dark. Yet she describes Christmas as her favourite time of the year. Jan is ecstatic to have her story included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada. She is working on a novel and hopes to have it published soon.

Lea Ellen Yarmill Reburn resides in beautiful central Ontario and was born and raised locally. Lea Ellen loves to write true-life experiences — some typical and some not! Previously published in A Cup of Comfort for a Better World, Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter and other periodicals.

Kim Reynolds received her B.A. degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal. Her essays have appeared in newspapers, online and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide. She lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children. Visit her blog at

Kendra Rice received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Alberta in 2004. She currently resides and works in Tofino, British Columbia. She has two children — Lela and a two-month-old girl — and a loving husband. She enjoys travelling, surfing, camping, hiking and working with the First Nations.

Annie Riess farms with her husband in Saskatchewan. She also teaches piano lessons and does freelance writing. She enjoys spending as much time as possible with family and friends. E-mail her at [email protected].

Chris Robertson is an author and award-winning speaker. The diary of his historic first journey from the bottom of mainland Canada to the top has been published in the book To The Top Canada. Order autographed copies of the book or get Chris as a speaker for your next meeting at

Encina Roh lives in British Columbia with her parents and two siblings. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, photography and painting flowers.

Caroline Sealey’s life consists of the 4F’s — faith, family, friends and farming. She is a freelance writer, works at a local newspaper and is excited and thankful to be published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book for a second time. Her future plans include an inspirational children’s farm book. Check out her blog at

Ritu Shannon has had her stories published in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She has recently accepted a major promotion to become a sales manager within her company and is now learning to balance work/travel with family life. The loves of her life are her children, Priya and Keegan, and her loving husband of nine years, Jamie.

Stella Shepard is a journalist whose stories were published in Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Like Mother, Like Daughter and Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter. “The Christmas Card” is in memory of her beloved sister, Marie Shepard. Contact her at [email protected].

Laura Snell, her husband Dave, and their dog Gus Gusterson live in Wasaga Beach, Ontario where they operate their web development and online marketing firm, Her son Ryan lives in Melbourne, Australia. E-mail her at [email protected].

John Stevens, a man with a wandering soul, has pursued many roads in life. He has worked in TV, as technical director of Softball Canada, executive director of the Canadian Association of Journalists, a computer instructor, and supply teacher. He is currently teaching ESL and running his B&B with his wife in St. Marys, Ontario.

Vera C. Teschow is a certified Ontario teacher and mother of monozygotic twins. She also holds a Private Pilot License (PPL). Based in Toronto, Vera spends her summers on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. Visit Vera online at

Crystal Thieringer is blissfully retired, yet busier than she has ever been. Writing stories was something she dreamed of as a child but didn’t pursue until she bid adieu to her career. Now she lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband. Together they are the live-in people for their stubborn and rather opinionated cats.

Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning freelance writer for various publications, including Faith & Friends, Sports Spectrum magazine and The Buffalo News; she has also written for E-mail her at [email protected].

Lisa Timpf is a graduate of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Lisa enjoys writing, nature walks, and organic gardening, and has published a collection of creative nonfiction and poetry entitled A Trail That Twines.

Lori Twining is a writer, blogger and social media guru. She’s an executive member of the Writers’ Community of Simcoe County, a key organizer for the Muskoka Novel Marathon and Owen Sound’s Ascribe Writers’ Group. She’s a lover of books, sports and birdwatching, and a hater of slithering reptiles and beady-eyed rodents.

Lloyd Walton, as director-cinematographer, has won over thirty-five national, provincial, and international film awards. Reflecting on extraordinary experiences all over Canada, his autobiography, Positively North Street, is a collection of encounters with extraordinary people like Pierre Trudeau, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and a 108-year-old Ojibwa elder.

With a background in vocal performance, Kyla G. Ward brings a creative and relational approach to all she does, including her storytelling. Though she originally hails from Winnipeg, she considers herself an island girl, having lived in Victoria since she was two. Kyla enjoys serving as a pastor, wife, and mom of two.

Brian Wettlaufer was born and raised in Canada, travelled extensively throughout the world on his student loans and now lives in Wisconsin re-paying his debts. He enjoys a good cigar with a cold martini by a warm fire. And oh, he loves his wife, eh? E-mail him at [email protected].

Deborah K. Wood is a writer, a mom, a life coach, and a Christmas enthusiast. Many of her best memories, stories and adventures are centered around the Christmas season.

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