Tuesday, August 22, 2023

New Release Coming Soon + An Excerpt!


LESSONS IN LATTE will be my first published cozy mystery and I'm really excited! Below is my first advance review for LESSONS IN LATTE and I love it! 

Here's a short blurb: Melvin Mouse can talk and read minds, plus he’s a magnet for trouble. So, it’s no surprise when he accidentally agrees to help find his sworn enemy—a missing cat! Between a mafia hit man, a mysterious dead body, and a missing cat, Melvin might not survive this adventure! 

I'm so grateful for the endorsement from Paul Regnier, author of the Luke and Bandit cozy mystery series.

LESSONS IN LATTE is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also, check out my website for more information!

Here's an excerpt from Chapter One: 

This was all a mistake.

And it happened because I can never say no.
To cheese. Any kind of cheese. Swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, brie, gouda, or camembert, the stinkier the better. I don’t even care if it’s old and crumbly and moldy.

My name is Melvin Mouse and I’m an addict.

I know what you’re thinking.

If I’m a mouse, then what’s the problem? Cheese is good for me, right? I should be able to eat it all day long.

Well, you’ve never seen what I look like on a diet of cheddar for breakfast, mozzarella for lunch, and gouda for dinner. I get as big as a rat and not one of those cute rats you see in pet stores. Nope. I get as big as a city rat that lives on a pier and can beat up the neighborhood raccoons. It might sound fun to be the biggest, strongest mouse on the block, but I was born to be adorable, not fat.

And I do live on a pier, just not in San Pedro where the ships dock. I live on the Beach City Pier, where surfers and hippies and tourists enjoy year-round sunshine—and they all think that a sweet, mostly tame mouse is the best part of their trip to California.

There are even postcards of me.

I’m called Pier Mouse and Tame Mouse and, my favorite, Melvin Mouse. I liked that one so much I chose it as my name.

“Melvin Mouse, pleased to meet you!”

That’s what I would say with a deep bow.

I probably should have mentioned that I can talk. And maybe that was another reason why there were so many photos and postcards of me. And yes, that’s probably why so many people give me cheese.

Nobody ever knew what I might say next.

Because I can talk and I can read minds and I always know when trouble is brewing.

So I should have seen it coming when I met her. She didn’t mean to scare me.

She was just desperate.

She’d recently had her heart broken, and I could feel the pain, radiating off her in waves, and it almost broke my tiny heart.

So, everything that happened was my own fault because I approached her, tears in my eyes, my little head cocked to one side, my big ears standing up to hear her thoughts better.

Elspeth was an adorable nine-year-old girl with one brown eye and one blue eye. We were both lonely and in need of the comfort that comes from having someone to take care of you.

And, of course, there was the fact that she had a piece of cheese in her outstretched hand.

I’ve tried to give it up, I’ve done all the twelve-step programs, I flunked out of Mouse Anonymous just like I flunked out of middle school. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and I’ve always had a weak spot for girls in distress.

And cheese.

Lord, help me, I love cheese.

I know other mice have nice warm homes with regular meals, but I had California sunshine and ocean views. I had seals and seagulls for friends, and the occasional pelican who thought I should be his next dinner. I got scraps of yellowtail and spotted sand bass every day, pieces of hot dogs, the occasional chunk of baklava (oh, it was to die for!), and once in a blue moon, a sweet, seventy-year-old hippy vegetarian would share her salad with me.

But no one had ever tried to pick me up, pet me, or put me in their pocket.

Until the day I met Elspeth, who was originally from Chicago, Illinois, and who now lived with her grandmother above a coffee shop on Main Street.

Elspeth smelled like smoke, but it was just a memory. I often get current events mixed up with memories when it comes to humans. She’d been in a fire and when she looked at me with those sad mismatched eyes, I could almost see her engulfed in flames and smoke.

I coughed and blinked and then I whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Her eyes widened and her pink lips opened.

“You can talk?” she asked. At that point, I was still on the ground and safe. I could have run away.

“Promise me you won’t tell anyone?” I asked her quietly. Lots of people know I can talk, but I still try to keep it on the down low. Some people like to take advantage of creatures like me.

Some people already had.

Elspeth nodded and I could feel the excitement flowing through her. The clouds of smoke around her disappeared. Now, we had clear skies overhead and a wide expanse of Pacific Ocean below and the soft salty spray from the water as it bounced off the pylons holding up the pier.

We were both safe. No one was chasing us, although I could tell that they might be soon. This little girl was trouble, I could feel it, almost like she had a big neon sign above her head with flashing pink lights that said, Danger, Danger, Run Away!

But she knelt down, her hair smelling like lavender shampoo, her right hand holding a stack of posters—that I couldn’t read, of course. I’ve never learned to read. All of this might have been prevented if I’d only known what her posters said.
Her left hand stretched out toward me, palm open.

I sniffed.

There was no cheese this time.

Still, I crept closer and closer until I sat in her palm, staring up at her, my whiskers twitching.

“I’ll never hurt you,” she said, like it was a solemn vow and what I needed to hear.

I did need to hear it, by the way. If you didn’t already know this, a lot of humans are sketchy. I’ve even heard that some people do experiments on mice. Well, okay, rats mostly, but maybe mice too.

“You’ll always be safe with me,” she said.

Now here comes the scary part. You might want to close your eyes.

That was when she put me in her jacket pocket, zipped it shut, and started to run away.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Writer's Block Cure: How to Overcome Writer's Block and Get Back to Writing


I hate to admit it, but I know the challenges of staring at a blank page. Having a deadline and being under contract can make it even worse. Whether you're stuck on a scene or struggling to find inspiration, not knowing what to write can be both frustrating and discouraging. Fortunately, there are many ways to break through and get back to work. Today, in the Tuesday Ten blog series, I'll share ten tried-and-true methods that have worked for writers over the years. From taking a break to trying a new writing environment, these tips will help you reignite your creativity and get those words flowing again. So, grab a cup of coffee and let's get started!




1. Take a break: Sometimes the best thing to do when you're feeling stuck is to step away from your writing. Go for a walk, do some stretching, or take a nap. This can help clear your mind and provide a fresh perspective when you return to writing.

2. Write something else: If you're feeling stuck on one project, try working on something else for a little while. This could be a different scene in your novel, a blog post, or even a journal entry. The act of writing something different can help break you out of your writer's block.

3. Change your environment: If you're always writing in the same place, try changing your environment. This could mean writing in a coffee shop, a library, or even outside. A change of scenery can help stimulate your creativity.

4. Talk to someone: Sometimes talking through your ideas with someone else can help you get unstuck. Find a writing buddy or join a writing group where you can bounce ideas off each other.

5. Make a list: Write down a list of possible plot points, character traits, or settings for your story. This can help generate new ideas and give you inspiration.

6. Read something inspiring: Read a book or article that inspires you. It could be a novel in your genre, a memoir, or even a self-help book. Getting inspired by someone else's writing can help you break through your writer's block.

7. Use prompts: Writing prompts can help spark your imagination and provide a jumping-off point for your writing. There are many websites and books with prompts to choose from, or you can create your own.

8. Write badly: Give yourself permission to write badly. Just get the words down on paper and worry about editing later. This can help you break through any perfectionist tendencies that may be holding you back.

9. Free-writing: Free-writing involves setting a timer and writing whatever comes to mind, without any concern for grammar or structure. This can be a helpful technique for generating ideas and getting the creative juices flowing. Even if what you write during this exercise doesn't end up in your final work, it can help you break through and get back to writing.

10. Use a different medium: Sometimes, a change in medium can help. If you're used to writing on your computer, try switching to pen and paper or a different device. Alternatively, you could try dictating your ideas using speech-to-text software. Experimenting with different mediums can help you see your writing from a fresh perspective and spark new ideas.



Thank you for stopping by my Tuesday Ten blog series! I hope the tips shared here have been helpful and that you feel inspired to tackle your writing challenges head-on. Remember, writer's block is a common problem, and it doesn't have to stop you from achieving your writing goals. By using these tips and finding what works best for you, you can break through and continue to grow as a writer. So, mark your calendars and join me again next Tuesday for another set of ten ideas to help you on your writing journey. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and achieve our writing dreams.

Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling and Multiple Award-Winning author, Merrie Destefano writes lyrical tales of magic, mystery, and hope. Her books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, Walter Foster, and Ruby Slippers Press. She also worked as the editor of Victorian Homes magazine, Zombies magazine, Haunted: Mysteries And Legends magazine, American Farmhouse Style magazine, Vintage Gardens magazine and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Out of Ideas? Use these 10 Writing Prompts to Reignite Your Imagination

As a novelist, I've learned that the hardest part of writing is often getting words on the page. And yet, once I've found a spark of inspiration, the words often flow like a river. That's why I'm thrilled to introduce my new series called Tuesday Ten, where I'll be sharing ten creative ideas on a given topic. Each Tuesday, I'll provide a fresh set of prompts/tips to help ignite your imagination and get those words flowing. This week, we'll be exploring some fun writing prompts to help you jumpstart your creativity. So grab a pen and paper, or your favorite writing software, and let's dive in.

Writing Prompts:

  1. Write about a character who wakes up with no memory of the past year.
  2. Your character goes on a date with someone they met online. Things aren't what they seem.
  3. A small, seemingly insignificant event leads to a series of life-altering events for your protagonist.
  4. Write a story that takes place entirely in one room.
  5. Your character is haunted by a recurring dream that starts to feel all too real.
  6. Write about a character who can see into the future, but they're not sure they want to know what they see.
  7. Your protagonist finds a mysterious object that holds a strange power over them.
  8. Describe a scene where a person discovers something unexpected in an old box in the attic.
  9. Write a scene where a person is confronted by their worst fear.
  10. Tell the story of a character who falls in love with someone they shouldn't.

Thank you for stopping by!

As writers, we often find ourselves struggling to find fresh and unique ideas for our stories. But fear not, my fellow wordsmiths, for Tuesday Ten has arrived to save the day! In this new series, I'll be sharing 10 thought-provoking and inspiring ideas each week to help get your creative juices flowing. Whether you're a seasoned author or just starting out, Tuesday Ten is the perfect place to find your next big idea.

So, please join me on this exciting journey and let's explore the endless possibilities of storytelling together. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and I hope to see you again next week, same Bat channel, same Bat time.

Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling and Multiple Award-Winning author, Merrie Destefano writes lyrical tales of magic, mystery, and hope. Her books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, Walter Foster, and Ruby Slippers Press. She also worked as the editor of Victorian Homes magazine, Zombies magazine, Haunted: Mysteries And Legends magazine, American Farmhouse Style magazine, Vintage Gardens magazine and was the founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Monday, May 9, 2022

TV Series Review: ANNIKA

One of my favorite actresses, Nicola Walker, stars as DI Annika Strandhed in this 6-episode series on PBS, and wow, she doesn't disappoint! 

She was in two of my fave series, Unforgotten and River. (If you haven't watched those yet, put them on your list!) 

It took me a minute to get used to the format in ANNIKA, where Walker breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to viewers. But it soon became the best part of every episode. 

I think this series will appeal to readers and writers, since Walker's character defines each episode based on her literary preferences. The first episode centers on Viking sagas, another on a Shakespearian play. 

If you decide to watch this, make sure you see all six episodes. You don't want to miss a minute of this treasure!

Note: If you want to stay up-to-date on all my book and short story releases, please sign up for my newsletter! New members get a free short story.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Movie Review: In The Shadow Of The Moon


I just finished watching IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON on Netflix and, whoa, was it good! If you can handle gore (not my fave story element) and push past the beginning, which is a bit confusing, you might just stumble on one of your favorite SciFi/Horror flicks. 

Time travel, end of the world scenario, secret identities, mystery, and a redemptive ending, oh my gosh, I'd give this one 10 stars. 

It has echoes of The Tomorrow War, but this released in 2019, two years before TTW. 

IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON stars Michael C Hall, but don't let the fact that he's a minor character stop you from checking this one out! Every actor pulls their weight in this one.

Note: If you want to stay up-to-date on all my book and short story releases, please sign up for my newsletter! New members get a free short story.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Where there are wolves...

When I found out that Ye Olde Dragon Books was putting together a WEREWOLF-THEMED anthology I knew I wanted to have one of my stories included. The deadline was tight, so I was very excited when my entry, DOG BOY, was accepted!

Today, I'll talk about the MOONLIGHT AND CLAWS anthology!

This anthology has stories written by 17 different authors. Below is the blurb for the collection:


The Wolfman.

Where does the Hollywood version end and folklore begin? What is the truth about the wolfman, the werewolf, the were, the lycan, the skinwalker and shapeshifter?

You know what? It doesn't matter!

Because here between these pages, we invite you to explore and enjoy and shiver and cry and laugh and cheer and sigh and even fall in love with the amazing imaginations of seventeen authors, who explore their own particular twists and turns and reflections on just what it means -- or could mean -- to be the Wolf.

Just which version do you believe in? Lost soul -- cursed victim -- avenger -- motherless child -- star-crossed lover -- lonely heart -- healer -- music lover -- loyal friend -- hero?
Which version of the Wolfman most resonates with you?

Open the book, explore, and find out.

He could be someone you know. He could be the "boy next door." He could be you …


My story is flash fiction, which means it's somewhere between 1,000 words and 2,000 words long. 

The blurb for my story:

Sometimes boys don't cry wolf, because they ARE the wolf.

Below a short excerpt from my story, Dog Boy:

His hair stuck out in thick tufts, never combed or washed. His shirt had lost its color and its sleeves were gone, and I often wondered if he shivered while he tried to sleep. One night, when he and his pack of stray dogs were off prowling through alleys and along the riverbed, I crept out to his hiding place. I found a few toys lying about—a ragged, lopsided rabbit, most of the stuffing gone; a small truck, the paint almost completely worn off. There, I left an old blanket. And a Bible. I doubted that he could read, but I knew that if he could walk on two legs, then he had a soul.

And there was no doubt in my mind that he needed saving. 

You can purchase MOONLIGHT AND CLAWS in digital or print HERE.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the SECRET SANTA anthology.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Witch Anthology Should You Read?

Halloween is a great time to read a spooky book and get in the mood for the upcoming festivities. (Hello, Edgar Allan Poe, I know you born to celebrate this holiday.) This year I'm blessed to have stories in not one, but TWO chilling anthologies: Cursed! and Moonlight And Claws. In the next two days, I'll tell you a little about each one below and each of my stories that are included. I'll also give you a snippet/sneak peek of those stories! 

Today, I'll talk about CURSED!

This Halloween Anthology has six authors and six spooky stories. My story in this collection is The Bone Bride and it's set in the same world as my upcoming novel, Raven Heart.

The one-line blurb: A high-born girl learns she’s been sold as bride to a dead goblin prince.

A short excerpt from The Bone Bride:

There were tables filled with food, the sort of delicacies that Rowan had always been warned about—things that could enchant a girl so deeply that she would never find her way home again. Cakes and pastries and fruit from across the Shadowsea, sugared tangerines and salted beef and sweet buttered bread, glasses of wine that never went empty. And music, so tempting, she couldn’t hold still. As soon as her feet touched the ground in the grassy circle, she started to dance. She only paused long enough to take a slice of meat or a piece of fruit or a sip of wine, then she would laugh and start dancing again.

’Twas a magic circle, sure enough, but what sort of magic she didn’t know. Not Brightwitch magic, that only took place during the day. But this didn’t seem like Nightwitch magic either. Granted their magic took place during the night, but it was almost always done to confuse and torment humans.

Rowan wasn’t human anymore.

All around her, beautiful women and handsome men danced. She couldn’t see Prince Blackroot, although she knew he was here. The moment they had arrived, a dashing king wearing a golden crown had taken Blackroot by the arm and escorted him to the edge of the clearing. Now and then she could see the king—he would nod and smile benevolently at her—but the dancing crowd prevented her from seeing the Goblin boy who had saved her from being trapped in place for all of eternity.

She didn’t know where she was but it felt like Lightland, the place the saints and the priests all told little children about.

Except, now and then, it felt like something else.

Something horrible.

Every half an hour or so, all the dancers would come to a halt, unable to move. Then, the changing patterns on the Bone Brides’ dresses all became the same.

They all showed a horrific war that was going to forever change the land of the living and the land of the dead. And Rowan could tell by the events—which began with Rowan’s death—that this war was coming very soon.

And here are short blurbs of all the stories in that collection:

The Bone Bride: Unholy matrimony isn't the only thing to fear this Halloween.

Touch Of The Old Gods: A village under siege must make an unholy alliance in the hopes of survival.

Illusion At Midnight: A vampire searches for his mate, but she's not interested in spending eternity with a bloodsucker.

The Genie's Curse: After a genie is bound and cursed, she realizes she will do anything to have her freedom restored.

Cursed Birthday: A female child is only born once every 100 years—some say she's a blessing, others say she's a curse.

Secrets Of The Grave: When a ghost tour goes wrong, unwelcome secrets of the grave are unleashed.

You can purchase CURSED! here.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about Moonlight And Claws!