Fern Michaels: “Persevere and you will prevail.”

Mary Ruth Kuczkir created the perennially best-selling Fern Michaels brand, and the rest is history. Ms. Kuczkir’s books have been so successful that she was able to put all five of her children through college, and she’s set up the Fern Michaels Foundation to fund scholarships and help single mothers. She lives in a 300 year-old plantation house in South Carolina.

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Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Love

Elizabeth Gilbert is the quintessenial role model for leveraging a person’s talents to learn how to survive, thrive, and find joy. When life handed her the lemons of a bitter divorce, she squeezed those lemons into the stratosphere of best-selling books. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia was on the best seller lists for over a year. She’s been on Oprah, and Julia Roberts will star in the movie. In true Pretty Woman tradition, she rescued herself before she met the charming Brazilian “prince” Felipe.

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Carole May: Winning Attitude

In my Life Rafts section, I’ve told the stories of celebrities and famous people who have survived tough times yet gone on to thrive and find joy. This story is about Carole May, the proverbial girl next door. We met at our apartment complex swimming pool. She’s a teacher by profession who spent her career with the Brooklyn diocese in New York City. Here in Washington State, she is the web goddess for David Lanz, a Grammy nominated pianist.

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