GROTON -- Groton writer Sean McGinty ( is among the 92 winning writers whose work is included in a new anthology about illness and the struggle to cope and persevere.

Last fall Mike Savage of Savage Press set out to honor his niece Kelly Culhane, a 41-year-old Minnesota mom who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010, leaving behind two young children and her husband, by announcing the Kelly Culhane Writing Prize.

Writers had a chance to win a grand prize 10-day writing retreat at the Burren Cottage in County Clare, Ireland (lodging and round trip airfare to Shannon provided), a first-place prize of a Kindle Reader and a two-hour Lake Superior cruise, and the opportunity to have their essay published in a book.

Savage explained, "As Kelly's uncle, knowing she did a tremendous amount of writing about her diagnosis, treatment, fears, and joys, I wanted to honor her memory, promote writing as therapy, and provide a memorable trip to Ireland's West, a place Kelly wanted to, but was unable to visit."

Laurie Hertzel, senior books editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was the final judge.

Containing 94 heartfelt essays about cancer, depression, grief, loss, Alzheimer's and mental illness, this anthology seems to have a little of something for everyone.

"What an amazing book. I cried and I laughed and I traveled a sacred path with so many people. It has inspired me to take a closer look at how I spend my time," writes Lynn Dufresne of Forest Lake.


To honor Kelly Culhane's birthday and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, copies of the book were mailed to the 92 submitters Oct. 9; a tribute to a woman Mike Savage describes as vivacious, courageous, talented, wise, and totally compassionate.

"Kelly Culhane Prize Essays Upon Arrival of Illness - Coming to Terms with The Dark Companion" is available online at for $14.95 with a portion of proceeds being donated to cancer research.

One author, Heidi Schauer of Wyoming, Minn., has set out to positively impact 34,000 lives with this book before her 34th birthday in January. Schauer says, "The essays are brave, honest and insightful -- they leave the reader with a lot to be thankful for. Especially during the holidays, I think this book is an incredible gift."

Bios and photographs of all 92 authors, and some interviews, can be viewed on Schauer's project page at