Forgiveness is the Hardest Thing
In 2020, Rica Keenum suggested the possibility of an anthology based on the topic of Forgiveness. As the world ground to a halt under the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic the idea took a back seat, but in 2021, during the prolonged lockdowns, twenty-one women from across four continents were invited to write about their experiences of forgiveness through the medium of poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction. The result is an anthology that lays bare the shared need to forgive or to be forgiven.
Featuring the writing of multiple-award winning authors, hailing from Las Vegas to Florida, from South Africa to Northern Ireland and from near Perth in Scotland to near Perth in Western Australia, Forgiveness is the Hardest Thing is an inspiring collection to draw from when you too are wondering, how can I forgive?.
Meet the Authors
Scroll down to read more about each of the featured authors within the anthology.
Forgiveness is the Hardest Thing
Rica Keenum is a senior magazine staff writer, the author of Petals of Rain: A Mother’s Memoir, and a second book, forthcoming in 2023. She does yoga, loves dogs, eats everything with chopsticks and writes first-person essays for Scary Mommy, Motherwell, Literary Mama, The Sunlight Press, Ellipses Zine, Elephant Journal, Huffington Post and other online and print publications.
Orla McAlinden is the author of The Flight of the Wren, The Accidental Wife and Full of Grace. She has won the Cecil Day Lewis emerging writer 2016, the BGEIBA Irish Short Story of the Year 2016 award, the Eludia award, and others.
Donna Noble is an Author, certified yoga teacher, Wellbeing Coach, Anti-Racism and DEI Educator, speaker and founder of Curvesome Yoga, an organisation dedicated to making yoga accessible and inclusive for all. She was one of the original co-creators of the UK’s first Black wellbeing and fitness festival. Donna is also a writer and her articles have been featured in countless digital and print media; The Guardian, The Independent, Elephant Journal, Thrive Global, HuffPost, Stylist Magazine, Happiful Magazine, and Metro Online. She has also appeared on Channel 4 and on BBC Radio London. She lives in London, UK.
For Gogo Buzz truth must prevail because it spills over and colours her stories and poems. Her truths are legion: family first, and dogs who think they are human, endorphins released through endurance adventure racing and the sensory overload that comes with travel in farflung places to name but a few. She is currently working on a novel. It’s a slow work in progress and it may even be the one she started when she was eleven. She shares her writing journey on social media and her website. Gogo has left a sliver of her heart in the land of her birth in the shadow of Table Mountain. She now gets to call Australia home and cherishes its embrace. For more information, go to www.gogobuzzwriter.com.
Kerry Buchanan is a former veterinary surgeon who recently turned to a life of crime, at least in the literary sense. She writes the Harvey and Birch crime thriller series, set in Northern Ireland, but she’s also known for her fantasy and science fiction successes with many published short stories in magazines and anthologies. Kerry lives in amongst the rolling hills and lakes of County Down, Northern Ireland, surrounded by family and a menagerie of animals. Until very recently, she was sole carer for her father, who suffers from dementia, but after a severe illness he is now in professional nursing care, and Kerry is slowly coming to terms with this, learning to forgive herself. You can follow Kerry on social media or through her website, www.kerrybuchanan.com.
Anita Brienza is a U.S. business writer, communications consultant and creative writer who lives just outside of Washington, D.C.. She captures the poetry, pain and humor of humans in their best or most pivotal moments: the small gestures, the big kindnesses and great loves; and the remarkable energy of the written word. Her previous work has appeared in Mobility, Tiny House Magazine, Washington Family Magazine, Red Fez, and The Deadlands. She is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee for fiction.
Mai Black lives in Suffolk, England and is the founding member of Suffolk Writers Group, offering a range of courses in creating short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Mai has been published in Best Magazine, The Fens and The Telegraph. She has also contributed to a range of educational materials for schools. Her new poetry collection, Thirty Angry Ghosts, features the voices of famous historical figures including Tutankhamen, Queen Victoria and Abraham Lincoln. It has proved popular with adults and young people with an interest in history, even those not usually keen on poetry. Thirty Angry Ghosts is available on Amazon and from other local retailers. For more information about Mai, visit www.suffolkwritersgroup.com.
Mel Bradley is a spoken word artist, writer, playwright / theatre-maker, multimedia artist and actor. A gatherer of the untold stories of women. An outspoken queer feminist performer with a candid voice and an unhealthy obsession in the Virgin Mary. A self-described creative genius with the attention span of a gnat who began her spoken word career as a slam poet and now boasts two spoken words shows, a play and her third show ‘For the Love of Mary’ is tabled to have its first full performance in 2022.
Lee Gaitan is an award-winning author of four books, including the Amazon #1 Bestseller My Pineapples Went to Houston, First Edition, and Lite Whines and Laughter, which garnered three international book awards and for which she was named a First Place Winner for Georgia Independent Author of the Year. She has authored chapters in several bestselling books and award-winning anthologies. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Erma Bombeck Humor Writers’ Workshop, The Good Men Project, Mothers Always Write, Enchanted Conversations, and Bella Grace among others. Her blog entries have earned a first-place win and honorable mention from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and she is a winner of the Nickie’s Prize Writing Competition. Her 2021 release, My Pineapples Went to Houston, Second Edition, has already won two awards.
Robin Collison is an award winning author who has worked in the entertainment/writing industry since age seventeen when she won first prize— luncheon with Poet Laureate Carl Sandburg—in a nationwide poetry contest. After graduating as valedictorian of the University of Maryland, she spent fifteen years as a movie/theatre/music critic for seven coast-to-coast newspapers and wrote international advice columns. Robin served as director of a charitable non-profit for 40 years, copyrighting over 250 handouts and 102 counseling seminars to help severely mentally and physically disabled individuals overcome barriers and find employment. Her books include: The Fine Art Club of Shrimpboat Key (trilogy, two awards); The Listener of Morpho Island (WIP Dystopian trilogy, three awards); 26 Years of Rape; and Maximize Your Health/Get Your Life on Track, a Guide for Individuals with Life-Altering Disabilities. She has written three prize-winning short stories, published numerous poems, edited eleven books, and composed the lyrics to three original songs.
Alex Reece Abbott is a New Zealand-Irish writer, writing across genres and forms. Her stories are widely anthologised, including in Bonsai: Best Small Stories from Aotearoa New Zealand, The Broken Spiral (UNESCO Dublin City of Literature Read), The Real Jazz Baby (Best Anthology, 2020 Saboteur Awards), MIROnline, Flash Fiction Festival Anthology, Grindstone, Pure Slush, Truth Serum, Tishman Review, The Short Story, Ruby, Pulp Literature, Fictive Dream, Blink- Ink, Hypertext, Reflex Fiction, Bath Flash Fiction, Flash Frontier, Casket of Fictional Dreams, Splonk, Spelk and Heron (Katherine Mansfield Society). She is also a Penguin Random House WriteNow finalist and Irish Novel Fair, Northern Crime, Arvon, Crediton and HG Wells prize winner. Alex’s short fiction is a finalist in, among others, the Sunday Business Post/Penguin Prize, Maria Edgeworth, Mslexia, Tillie Olsen, Bridport, Cambridge, Grindstone, Word Factory and Lorian Hemingway prizes. Discover more at www.alexreeceabbott.info and @AlexReeceAbbott.
Suzi Spinelli is a qualified Early Childhood Teacher and mother to an energetic and bookloving little girl. Completing her Bachelor of Arts in Writing in 2007, in 2018, Suzi independently published the life story of her late father, called Fighting Spirit. She is one of the founding members of the Bunbury Writers Group and has several stories included in their anthology, Death, Despair & Other Happy Endings. Suzi is a member of Creative Kids Tales and three of her children’s stories appear in their anthology, The Creative Kids Tales Story Collection 2, released in October 2019. Her first picture book, My Daddy is Different, was released through Empowering Resources in November 2019. For more information, go to www.suzispinelli. com or www.facebook.com/suzispinelliauthor.
Joss Cannon is more of a dog person than a cat person, but they’ll eat anything if it’s done right and isn’t too spicy. They write to exercise their angelic hoard, but also to get the international space adventurers, demons, dragons, out-laws, in-laws and dispossessed divinities, into the fresh air. They’ve written stories for the anthologies: Death, Despair and other Happy Endings and Happy Disenchantment Day. They were highly commended in the 2015 Shorelines competition and written and performed in the 2021 spoken word performance Unfettered Voices. In July 2021 they were short-listed for the Little Black Dress Spooky Story Competition.
Sharon Dempsey is a Northern Irish based crime writer. The first in her new crime series, Who Took Eden Mulligan? was published in 2021, by Avon Harper Collins. The second book in the series, The Midnight Killing will be published in March 2022. She is undertaking a creative-critical PhD at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in Northern Irish crime fiction and has published four novels and three non-fiction books. As an undergraduate student she studied Politics and English at Queen’s University and went on to study newspaper journalism at City University, London. She was a journalist and health writer before turning to writing crime fiction and has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times.
Kathleen Quinlan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been practicing in her field for more than thirty years. Her postgraduate experience with world-renowned psychiatrist, Milton H. Erickson MD and years of study in a variety of spiritual traditions, including A Course in Miracles, helped her create a unique synergy of clinical and spiritual approaches to healing. Kathleen developed and administered many clinical programs in both the public and private sectors including interventions for breast cancer, infertility, HIV/AIDS and veterans with PTSD. She uses guided imagery and meditation in her work and has produced four powerful CDs. She is the author of The Inner Champion: A Seven-Week Practical Guide to Peace, Happiness and Miracles, and host of the popular podcast, The Inner Champion. For more information about Kathleen, you can visit her website: www.kathleenquinlan.com.
Emma Slade / Ani Pema Deki is a Buddhist nun and founder of the charity Opening Your Heart to Bhutan. She teaches on yoga, meditation and Buddhist practices and is the author of Set Free – the inspirational story of how her hostage situation led her to leave a high flying career as a banker and pursue deeper questions on fulfilment and contribution. Find out more at: www.openingyourhearttobhutan.com.
Kendra Reynolds is Research Associate in Literature for the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland. She has poems published in a number of anthologies and journals, including The Bangor Literary Journal, The Honest Ulsterman, and The Paperclip. Kendra is currently working on her debut collection of poetry and is passionate about the power of writing to effect change.
Lindsey Porter is a Yoga teacher, benefits of yoga for all minds and bodies. A mental health and wellbeing advocate and supporter of the work and teachings by Pema, she is also the author of, Whirlpools, Yoga and the Balance of Life. Find out more at: www.yoganuu.com
Emma O’Connor is a mother, daughter, sister and friend (and wife too). An Australian, she resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband and two sons. Emma’s first book, Everyday Happy, is a selfempowerment tool to help children, young people and adults to raise themselves out of anxiety. Her second book, Under Grandma’s Table, a children’s illustrated book shortlisted for the 2020 Selfie Awards, delightfully demonstrates that imagination is our only limitation. Currently working on future book projects, she also blogs about happiness at www.everydayhappy.co.uk.
Kerriann Speers is a writer and poet whose short story, The Muse and The Murderer, won Writing Magazine’s Historical Fiction competition. Her work was shortlisted for the TU Dublin short story competition as well as longlisted for the Bath Short Story Award. She has published poems in anthologies, North Star and We Are Not Shadows. A member of Flowerfield Writers Group, Portstewart and Women Aloud NI, Kerriann lives on the north coast of Ireland where her soon-tobe- published short story collection is set.
Lisa Anderson is the Publisher and CEO of Lisa Anderson Media. A seeker of stories, Lisa publishes magazines and books to inspire herself and others. She has a strong desire to bring people together through our common thread of humanity. Lisa’s work can be found in publications such as The Chews Letter, Locala, In Fitness and In Health, and elsewhere. The publisher of and participating author in the captivating anthology, Shameless: 40 Women Share Their Journey of Self-Awareness, Self- Love, and Leading with Light (releasing June 2022), Lisa plans to continue expanding her library of published works. A Wisconsin-native, Lisa now lives in North Central Florida with her significant other and their two dogs. Connect with her on Instagram @lisaandersonmedia.
Forgiveness is the Hardest Thing