Forever Families Anthology

This is the third book in the Forever series. In 2008, Forever Friends, an anthology of short stories and poems written by writers from all regions of the world, proved to be very successful and so led to the second book in the series, Forever Travels, in 2010.

Four years on, the revival of the short story continues, especially with all the new forms of electronic reading devices and the increasing number of online e-book retailers. There has never been a better time for readers and writers of short stories. As with the previous two anthologies, the attraction of this collection of work lies in its diversity and variety of genres: from non-fiction to creative non-fiction and fiction. With such a wide choice, there is something to entertain every reader. The length of the stories varies from concise to extensive. Every story, whether short or long, offers a unique look at family life. While some are poignant, others raise a smile.

The seven sections that make up the book take the reader through the joys of a happy childhood to the sadness of a death in the family, with fond family memories, faithful family pets, risky family business ventures, eventful family weddings and the ups and downs of family life in between. So, find a comfortable chair, sit back and enjoy the diversity of reading experiences in Forever Families.

Now available on Amazon

I have set up a Facebook page for Forever Families.  Please join the page, follow the comments and add your own. Click on Like below to join this page:

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Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow is Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS (Chicago’s Public Broadcasting Station) and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago.

Shelagh: Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Elynne.

Elynne: I am an author and adult storyteller.  My non-fiction stories and essays have been published in magazines, newspapers and the following anthologies:  The Revolving Door in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover’s Soul (HCI Books); Grandma Lebedow in The Wisdom of Old Souls (Hidden Brook Press);  The  Red Pen, The Elevator, Mr. X and Mr. Y, and Life 101 in Forever Friends (Mandinam Press); His Way in My Dad Is My Hero (Adams Media Publishing); The  Hat in The Ultimate Teacher (HCI Books); The Needle in the Haystack and My Gift of Now in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages (All Things That Matter Press); Ronald in Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love (Simon and Schuster)

My story, A Tale of Two Vardas, was published internationally December 2009 in the Jerusalem Post Magazine. The sequel, A Journey of the Heart, was published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine January 2010.

June 1, 2009 marked the recording debut of my audio fiction story, Professor Gabriel and her 101 Posse. The story airs on The Deepening Website (World of Fiction) and is recorded by D. L. Keur.

I am married to my best friend Richard Noel Aleskow.

Shelagh: When did you begin writing and in what genre(s)?

Elynne: I have been writing since I was around nine years old. As a young girl, I used to write stream-of-consciousness prose that bordered on poetic prose. That writing was just for me. It was a way to express my most personal feelings as I was growing up. Two and one-half years ago I decided to retire from college teaching. My husband wisely suggested that I have a plan in mind for retirement and asked me what I would like to do. Having had successful and fulfilling careers in Public Television and teaching, I answered that there was a dream I had always wanted to do. I wanted to write and publish my stories. And so I began my third career.

I had always been a reader of the short story genre. Artistically this genre gave me great pleasure as a reader and writer. The only difference was that my stories were non-fiction. With the experiences I had lived and knew about, non-fiction was a natural and exciting genre for me. I could never imagine in fiction writing some of the events that I had lived. The first year and one-half of my writing, the stories poured out of me. I was productive and inspired and wrote everyday. Then my submissions turned into published stories and I have not looked back since.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Elynne: Many of my non-fiction stories are inspirational. I want my readers to be moved and to understand and empathize with the reality I am conveying.  I want my stories to offer my readers insights and to entertain them. Many of my travel stories are very funny recounting the travel adventures of my husband and me.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest stories.

Elynne: My stories are presently published in seven anthologies and several magazines including the international Jerusalem Post Magazine. Two very important stories about my life, The Needle in the Haystack, the story of how my husband and I met in middle age and, My Gift of Now, about my retirement and the beginning of my writing career, have just been published in the anthology, Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages.

I intentionally have chosen to submit my stories for publication in a variety of anthologies because I feel that they will get the best distribution and variety of readership this way. Each editor and publisher along with the contributing authors works hard to market each anthology. I believe it is an advantageous way to establish an audience for one’s work.

Shelagh: How are the anthologies marketed?

Elynne: Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages (All Things That Matter Press) is being marketed to the public as well as to Universities and Colleges as a text for Women’s Studies Programs. That thought thrills me. I see this book as an eloquent mentor to the next generation of women. It can be purchased from the publisher and at

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Elynne: My point of view preference in writing is first person. There is a personal quality and tone that a first person narrator is potentially able to convey in telling the story. As a reader, I have always been attracted to and interested in storytelling and the narrator’s role and effectiveness in this process.

In performing my stories, I find the audience engages naturally with a first person narrator. The first time I performed a program consisting solely of my own published stories was a moment I will never forget. I had achieved my dream.

For me performance of my work is a natural extension of my art as a writer. To perform my work for an audience establishes a connection and bond between them and me as I function as both the writer and the performer. The audience feedback is immediate. Will they laugh where I intended them to laugh? Will they feel moved as I intended them to feel? Will my interpretation of my story parallel their own interpretation as readers?

As an artist, combining writing and performance is an exquisite challenge.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Elynne: I have received many wonderful and insightful reviews about my writing and my performing. I would be happy to share one of each.

The following is a review of my audio fiction story, Professor Gabriel and her 101 Posse, which is available at   It is a short story that lends itself well to being read and recorded. It was recorded by D.L. Keur.

Elynne’s vivid and creative story touches the reader with emotion, just as Prof. Gabriel touched her students…The story of LK and the kidnapping would make an inspirational anticipatory set for any curriculum on creative writing … punctuated with chapter-like titles; i.e. “The Attic”, “The Billboard”, “The Conversation”, etc. the reader is held captive. I love how the story of Miguel is woven as a sub-plot to help clarify the Prof’s “mission” to help LK. The wisdom that the writer (and Professor Gabriel) imparts throughout is invaluable. “My burden was to help him lose his arrogance.” … “She taught us how not to be afraid” … Listening to her story was a very “deepening experience”. Thank you.

C.J. Breman

The feedback I have received from my performance programs are reviews that are indeed gratifying. The following is one of my favorites:

Most writers are Sooooo disappointing as speakers but you are dynamite wrapped in silk.
Illene Ashkenaz

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Elynne: My most current writing project involved a Facebook experience that became two non-fiction stories published internationally in The Jerusalem Post Magazine. After the first story was published, the Jerusalem Post Magazine editor invited me to write a sequel. The entire experience from living the stories to writing them was magical. And gaining an international audience through this paper’s print distribution and website was an invaluable opportunity.

I have stories accepted in two more anthologies that will be out toward the end of 2010.

I am always either thinking about my next story or writing it.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Elynne: The anthologies with my stories, my performance schedule, reviews and book signings can be found at

March 22nd I have been invited with other contributing authors to the University of Maine to perform my stories in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages. Both Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, the editor of Passages, and I are contributing authors to the anthology, Forever Friends edited by Shelagh Watkins.

Shelagh: Thanks for joining us today, Elynne.

Elynne: I am delighted to be interviewed by you. Thank you for the invitation.

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Maggie Stevens

Today’s guest is Maggie Stevens, author of Parent Fix.

Shelagh: Hi Maggie, please tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Maggie: I graduated from Brigham Young University with my BS/CA degree in Youth Leadership. Professionally, I work with youth groups, parent groups and educators offering parenting help in today’s world. The health of any society lies in the strength of its families. Thus, strengthening families will strengthen communities and nations.
Currently, I am partnered with Borders Book Stores presenting parenting workshops across the country. In addition to Borders, I regularly visit The King’s English Book Shop, Barnes & Noble book stores, Frost’s Book Stores and Sam Wellers Books. I will be presenting parenting segments on KUTV news and KJZZ morning news program. In San Diego, I work with the San Diego Unified School District and present parenting segments on XETV Bay City Television. Coming soon: A talk radio show with KFNX 1100 in Phoenix. I am the proud mother of five grown children.

Shelagh:When did the writing bug bite?

Maggie: I have always enjoyed writing and I began my writing career writing travel articles for the travel sections of local newspapers. Ten years ago, a dear friend of my son who spent most of his growing up years in our home, asked me if I wouldn’t write down my philosophy on parenting. He was expecting his first child and wanted to be the best dad. I was thrilled he would ask. As my notes came together, chapters formed and ParentFix became a book.

Shelagh: Please tell us about your latest book.

Maggie: When parents change … kids change

The majority of parenting books on the market are about changing the child’s behavior. After raising 5 children, I can vouch for the fact that it is impossible to change another person, especially your child. Parent Fix focuses on understanding a child’s needs and why certain behaviors occur. A child’s behavior should be used to teach parents about the needs of their child. When you help your child meet his needs, the bad behaviors disappear. This approach to parenting works so much better than the everyday battles that are occurring between parent and child. Currently, the most common reaction parents have to their child’s bad behavior, is to get angry about the behavior and then punish them. This destroys relationships. As parents we need a strong relationship with our child when they hit the teenage years. It is possible to avoid teenage rebellion and have an enjoyable life with a teenager!

Shelagh: Is there a message in your book?

Maggie: Most definitely yes. We are all watching the moral decline of our nation. The family, which is the basic unit of our society is under attack. We are failing in our homes. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant with our youth. Eating disorders, teen pregnancies,trouble with the law are just a few of the challenges parents face with their teens. It is sad that our most important relationships end up being the most painful part of our lives. It is time to change the way we do things. When parents open their hearts and their minds and try the methods in Parent Fix, they find success.

Shelagh: What can parents learn from this book?


    How to create a Safe Haven
    How to motivate your child
    How to improve your child’s education
    Constructive ways to deal with anger
    How dangerous control is and how to stop using it
    How to teach by example
    How to help your kids make their own decisions
    Why you should not punish kids for behavior
    How to help creativity flourish
    How to live with teenagers
    How to build a strong relationship with your child
    How to relax and enjoy your kids
    How to understand your child’s behavior

Shelagh: Share the best review you ever had.


In today’s day and age of troubled youth, broken families, and a slew of mixed messages from the media, the Internet, self-help books, and talk shows, this book is a breath of fresh air in its honest and down-to-earth approach to helping parents be the best parents they can be, while making clear that mistakes will be made and that there is no quick fix for dysfunctional family, unruly teens, and family fights. It is also refreshing to hear the author speak from her own experiences and explain how parents need to be open to change in order for their children to change. Stevens, additionally, offers sound advice for approaching their teens’ “odd” interests (hobbies, haircuts, styles), by not dismissing them altogether, but by getting to understand them and finding ways to compromise, something that takes an open mind and an ability to let go of some control over their children’s lives. Stevens’ advice is very practical, very doable, and can create a peaceful home, a good relationship between parents and kids, and aid in the formation of responsible, educated, happy young adults.

Writers Digest Magazine

Shelagh: What current projects are you working on?

Maggie: I love being in the zone of writing. When ideas hit and I sit down at my computer, hours fly by. Because of that, I have decided to stay with book writing instead of any other type of writing I could do. I am currently working on another self help book entitled Stuck. As I have traveled promoting my book and presenting parenting workshops, I have found many mothers who love the ideas in my book, but they are unable to implement them. These moms feel such guilt because they know they are failing. Hopefully this new book will help them move forward.
I am also working on a novel. It is a slow go with all the promoting, writing and just living life, but hopefully there will be more to tell in the next few months.

Where can people learn more?

Maggie: At my website: We have it set up with a question and answer page, a blog page, my speaking engagements and you can even book me for a parenting workshop.
My book is in local bookstores, and at

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Elizabeth Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett is currently listed with Who’s Who and has been recognized as one of the Great Women of the Twenty-first Century by the American Biographical Institute.

Shelagh: Please tell us a little about yourself, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: I grew up in the state of South Carolina. I’m a 1995 graduate of Clemson University with a M.Ed in Guidance and Counseling Services. I worked in the agency setting with children and adults for six years. Since 1995, I’ve been working on Peer Abuse through observational research and theory development. Through speaking engagements, talk radio, newspaper, internet and television, I’ve been able to educate others on Peer Abuse in the USA and Canada.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Elizabeth: I played around with writing as a teenager by writing plays. I wrote for the newspaper in college and as an adult have been writing. I blog, write articles and wrote my book “Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying from a Psychological Perspective”. So, off and on I have been writing for about 20 something years. Now, it is part of my work.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Elizabeth: When I started writing it was for fun. I never had any goals set at all. Now, I do as I try and use my writing in educating others. I try to write at least three times a week.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Elizabeth: My book is a stand-alone. I use it as an educational tool on bullying and the fact that bullying is abuse.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Elizabeth: That Peer Abuse is an adult problem because as adults, we allow it to continue.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Elizabeth: As I was bullied growing up and during the early part of my adulthood, it helps tremendously in educating others and knowing this problem and the realities of it.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Elizabeth: “I met Elizabeth through networking after I was a Crisis Counselor at Columbine High School 4/20/99. I had researched the main causes of school violence and being bullied, as told by teens, was the top reason why. Having been through Peer Abuse herself, Elizabeth has dedicated her life in helping others understand how harmful bullying can be. The affects of being bullied as children can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Elizabeth, in her book and networking, shares such important information about bullying and how it can be stopped. For that I highly applaud her journey as she educates others.”

Ruthie Owen, former Columbine High School Crisis Counselor. Colorado

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Elizabeth: Basically, writing each week on my blog and articles. Also, speaking at two schools in the near future to educate children and adults on the dangers of bullying.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Elizabeth: Please visit me at or can follow me on Twitter at .

Shelagh: Thank you for visiting us today, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Thanks for all you do and have a good week…

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Maryanne Raphael

I would like to welcome the prolific writer and award-winning author, Maryanne Raphael.

Shelagh: Hi Maryanne, please tell us a little about yourself.

Maryanne: I was born in Waverly, Ohio, the oldest of ten children. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio University, then went to the Sorbonne in Paris. I was an editor at Prentice Hall and an editorial assistant at Woman’s Day Magazine. I taught at the New School in New York, at Ohio University, at Parker School and the University of Hawaii. I met Mother Teresa and became a co-worker and with her permission wrote two books about her work. Now have ten books for sale on Runways, The Man Who Loved Funerals, Anais Nin: The Voyage Within, Along Came A Spider: A Personal look at Madness, Alexandria, Mother Teresa: Called to Love, What Mother Teresa Taught Me, Garden of Hope, Dancing On Water, Saints of Molokai.

Shelagh: When did you begin writing and in what genre?

Maryanne: I got my first rejection slip from St. Anthony Messenger when I was five years old. My grandfather typed up a story I dictated to him and we sent it out. I wrote short stories for several years and collected rejection slips. Grandfather says a rejection slip shows you are a professional writer. We write and send it out.

Shelagh: What goals do you want to accomplish? Is there a message in your books?

Maryanne: My goal is to write about things I feel passionately about and share that passion with my readers.  My message is “life is precious” and I hold up various parts of life to myself and my readers.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Maryanne: Saints of Molokai is a nonfiction narrative about the people with Hansen’s disease who were arrested, sent into exile with no prepared shelter, food, water or medicine. It tells of the Kokuas, healthy men and women who accompanied their diseased loved one into a life of isolation. It described Father Damien who cared for the exiles until he caught the disease and Mother Marianne and the Franciscan Sisters who lived in the colony until they died.

Shelagh: What is the hook for the book?

Maryanne: Father Damien was canonized on October 11, 2009.and President Obama praised him and the Congress made a resolution to celebrate him as an American Saint. Also there is an interest in National Parks and the Congress declared Kalaupapa, Molokai A National Memorial Park.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters?

Maryanne: I made a mixture of all the interesting people I know who remind me of the character in my head. It may be a movie star, a friend, a character from a book or play. As I write the characters take on their own personality and characteristics.

Who is your favorite character?

Maryanne: My favorite fiction character from my own books is Charlie: the man who loved funerals.

Shelagh: How do you keep the plot moving?

Maryanne: Almost all of the action comes from the nature of the characters: the conflicts, the relationships, the happiness and sorrows.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred point of view?

Maryanne: My style is to use the shortest strongest words. I want my work to be easily read by young adults and be interesting enough that everyone will want to read it. I like to write third person limited.

Shelagh: How does your upbringing influence your work?

Maryanne: I was raised Roman Catholic and growing up with 9 brothers and sisters I learned early to love and forgive, to have compassion and passion; that helps me understand all kinds of people.

Shelagh: Share with us the best review that you’ve ever had.

Maryanne: Runaways Reviewed by Anais Nin:

“This is an important book. No where else have I seen the theme of the runaways treated as thoroughly, honestly, unflinchingly. It is important because it not only describes the various stories fully, but because it offers suggestions for improving a tragic situation.”

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Maryanne: My web site is:
All my books are for sale on

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