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Crazy from the heat!

Posted by Merri Hiatt on July 2, 2013 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Summer/Winter Sale at Smashwords!

Now is the time to explore the Smashwords site and get A*M*A*Z*I*N*G deals! All the first books in my trilogies are FREE! Short stories and standalone books are FREE! Second and third books in a trilogy are half price. Have I lost my mind? Maybe. I'm blaming it on the heat!

Smashwords allows you safe purchasing options for all e-readers. That's right! Kindle, Nook, Apple's iBookstore, and the list goes on and on. Stock up now for all your summer/winter reading needs.

Look for the coupon codes and enter them when you checkout (each one is listed on the book page).

Enjoy with my blessings!

Christmas in September!

Posted by Merri Hiatt on September 1, 2012 at 4:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Santa Hates Seattle is free at Amazon today, September 5, 2012!!! Snag a copy right away! Here's the link: Santa Hates Seattle at Amazon

Santa Hates Seattle has arrived exclusively at Amazon in e-book format. Let's celebrate Christmas in September!

It's only a few months early!

Why does Santa hate Seattle? Read on...

"Santa hates Seattle," a television news reporter declares after airing an interview with an inebriated gentleman who stumbled from Polanzky's Pub, slipped on an icy patch of snow and told reporters Santa Claus hit him with his sleigh. Eight-year-old Samantha Kinsey can't believe her ears. Her mother reassures her that Santa could never hate Seattle, but Sam is not convinced. She decides to send Santa an e-mail and make him a gift to show him how much she loves him. When Christmas rolls around the following year, Sam asks for an intangible gift. A wish even Santa will have difficulty granting.



This short story is approximately 15,000 words.

Now I'm in the Christmas mood. Is it too early to put up Christmas tree lights? Maybe just a bit. Then again, aren't we supposed to keep the Christmas Spirit in our heart all year long? I wonder where those lights are...

Blessings of the Season of Love!

Too busy for grass to grow under my feet!

Posted by Merri Hiatt on May 10, 2012 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I began writing a short story a few months ago, then put it aside to finish the novel I was working on at the time. The story has been percolating in the back of my mind ever since. It came to full brew a few days ago when I pulled an all-nighter because I could not stop writing (even though I had an early appointment the next day and needed to get some sleep!).

What emerged was a wonderful fairy tale of sorts with references to Jack and the Beanstalk (first seen in print by Benjamin Tabart in 1807).

The story opens with Sarah Carpenter having three days to pay her rent. She has less than four dollars in her checking account. To take her mind off her troubles, she heads to the local farmer’s market a mile from her apartment. A mysterious woman offers her a lavender pouch filled with contents unknown. Instructions to come back in one week and either return the pouch with the items inside or pay five dollars follow. Sarah takes the pouch. In doing so, she opens herself to the promise of hope and the gift of believing in magic.

This short story is approximately 7,000 words and is available now in e-book format exclusively at Amazon. Here's a link: Sarah and the Magic Beans at Amazon. It will be available soon in paperback, as well. 

FREE e-book - The Magical Christmas Cookies - five days only!

Posted by Merri Hiatt on December 23, 2011 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The Magical Christmas Cookies short story e-book is available exclusively through Amazon for the next five days FREE! Here's a link:

Loss seemed to surround the town of Maple Valley, until they were blessed by cookies, Magical Christmas Cookies.

When Laura Davidson and Holly Robinson teamed up to sell the sweet treats, wondrous things began to happen, even the weather changed.

As Holly’s ten-year-old niece, Vanessa, said, “Maybe the magic of the Christmas cookies isn’t so much in the cookies themselves, but the way people act after eating them.”

A nibble of compassion here, a taste of forgiveness there, and icing made of hope did what nothing else was able to do. It brought Christmas Magic to Maple Valley.

Happy Holidays to one and all!



Posted by Merri Hiatt on November 5, 2011 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (2)

A month or so ago, I submitted three flash fiction stories to FLASHSHOT. I learned today that all three submissions will appear on their website in November (November 6, November 13 and November 19 to be exact). Here's a link to the site: FLASHSHOT

I also subscribe to their posts via Facebook. Another link: FLASHSHOT ON FACEBOOK

Flash fiction is a term used for a short story (usually between one hundred and one thousand words) that tells a complete story with four components: character, setting, conflict and resolution all wrapped up in a frozen moment of time.

Free Short Stories

Posted by Merri Hiatt on October 18, 2011 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I love free. Who doesn't? I've created a new section here at titled Free Short Stories. Swing by any time to read a short story. Invite your friends. We'll have a party!

The ebook versions are also offered free at Smashwords. Here's a link:

You can download books to your Kindle, iPad, Nook, read it as a pdf, or even read it in your browser online.

It is my pleasure to offer these free short stories to readers.


"Sneak Peek" of The Magical Christmas Cookies

Posted by Merri Hiatt on October 14, 2011 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm working on a short story as a free gift for readers for Christmas and thought I'd post a "sneak peek." Enjoy!

Cinnamon, cloves, butter and vanilla danced as the beaters purred out a hypnotic rhythm.

“What are you adding now?” Vanessa asked.

“This?” Holly asked as she eyed the small round container.


“Oh this is something extra special. No Christmas cookies can ever be made without it.”

“What is it?”

Holly leaned forward and whispered, “It’s Christmas Magic.”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “But what is it?”

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin’?” Holly sang as Vanessa crossed her arms stubbornly, waiting for an answer. “Down the lane, snow is glistenin’.”

“How will I ever learn how to make Christmas cookies if you don’t tell me what’s in them?”

“All you have to do is follow the recipe on this card.” Holly handed Vanessa the three-inch by five-inch recipe card. Vanessa read the ingredients carefully.

“But this just says to add two dashes of Christmas Magic. Where do I get Christmas Magic?”

Holly smiled, but gave no answer. “How about helping me put the cookies on the sheet pan so we can get them into the oven?”

Vanessa sighed heavily as she slipped off the stool and joined her aunt on the other side of the kitchen island. Holly continued to alternately sing and hum Christmas songs as they diligently scooped the cookie dough into small mounds and placed them on the baking sheet.

“In twelve minutes we’ll have the most delicious Christmas cookies ever,” Holly said as she placed the cookies in the oven and shut the door, setting the timer in case time got away from her.

“Where do you buy Christmas Magic?”

“Oh, you can’t buy Christmas Magic, Nessa. You have to make it yourself.”

“Will you teach me?”

“I thought you’d never ask. I have the recipe right here.” Holly used a step stool so she could reach the cabinet above the stove. Even so, she had to stretch to reach the very back corner of the shelf. She pulled out a small box covered in purple velvet, the only adornment a gold tassel on the lid.

Vanessa watched with eyes wide as Holly opened the box. There was only one small piece of paper inside. Holly retrieved the paper and handed it to Nessa.

Vanessa read aloud, “One pinch of love, one dollop of hope, two dreams that can’t possibly ever come true, an ounce of compassion, one cup of inspiration, two tablespoons of forgiveness, and one-quarter teaspoon of salt for flavor.

This isn’t even a real recipe! All you added to the cookies was salt, that’s why it was white. All cookies have salt in them. I don’t think your cookies are magical at all!”

Vanessa threw the paper on the counter and ran out of the kitchen toward her bedroom.

Holly sighed. No one seemed to believe any more. It wasn’t just Vanessa. She saw it in people’s eyes as they walked down the street. They were struggling to pay bills and keep their jobs, not to mention trying to stay healthy. They’d lost hope.

She’d seen the power of the Magical Christmas Cookies firsthand, but never with an entire town. Did they have enough power to bring hope back into the hearts of the people of Maple Valley?

More to follow...

Mama Lives in My Hair

Posted by Merri Hiatt on September 29, 2011 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (2)

Mama Lives in My Hair
A short story by Merri Hiatt

Celia held the brick red Sharpie marker in her hand and carefully made an X on the calendar.


“How many days now, daddy?” she asked.




Celia clapped her hands together as her dad turned the calendar page so she could see the square with the big red circle around it. She would need to go to bed sixty-eight more times and then she would see her mother’s face again.


“We gonna celebate, right daddy?”


Mark Johnson swallowed the lump in his throat and said, “Yep, we’re going to celebrate. We’ll have a cake and balloons. What else should we have, Cee?”


“Music and dancing,” Celia replied, quickly making her way out of the wooden chair and spinning her body around in circles. “Lots of dancing!” she shouted.


Mark wished Jennifer could see their daughter now. Eleven months had passed since she’d been able to get leave and come home. There were days he needed a photograph to remind him of her smile.


“Dance with me, daddy,” Celia said, taking her father’s hand in hers and pulling him into the middle of the room.


Mark twirled his beautiful four-year-old daughter in circle after circle until his arm felt like it might fall right off. It reminded him of dancing with Jen on their wedding day. Oh, how she loved to dance. She wore him out.


He also remembered the day she told him she was being stationed in the Middle East. His heart dropped down into his shoes. It sounded chauvinistic, but he always assumed the family would be following him to wherever he was stationed, not the other way around. Where Jen was assigned, they couldn’t follow.


It was one thing if you were a clerk or a computer technologist, but Jennifer was a nurse. She was needed in the thick of the action. They talked about it, of course. They both knew when they enlisted in the Army they might have to give their lives for their country. They came to terms with the fact early on. It was only after Cee was born that the full impact of their promise lodged deeply in their soul.


They knew they were ensuring Celia would have a future and a freedom she could count on. It didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. She was too young to understand why her mother kept leaving. They read books, went to counseling, tried to explain, but it didn’t stop Cee from saying, “I want mommy.” There were some things you just couldn’t explain to a child in a way that still made them feel safe and loved.


They weren’t the only family dealing with these issues. The base was full of temporarily single parent families waiting for a mom or dad to return home. As if there wasn’t enough stress on the family having to move every few years. If they didn’t have Cee, it wouldn’t be so bad. Mark just hated to see that look in her eyes when she missed her momma.


“Me and mom can go to the park and feed the swirls like you and me do, daddy. We go gwocery chopping and to the moooovies. I can’t wait till momma gets home!”


“Me, either, sweetie,” Mark said as he lifted Cee up high and then swung her around in a wide circle as she giggled with delight. He then carried her toward her bedroom. “Right now, though, it’s time for bed.”


“I don’t wanna go to bed.” Celia began to squirm.


“We need to turn the page and see what’s going to happen next in our story book. Do you remember what we were reading?” Mark asked, trying to divert her attention.


“The Belbateen Babbit.”


“That’s right, The Velveteen Rabbit.”


“I wish mommy was here to read me the Belbateen Babbit.”


“She will be soon, honey, very soon.”


Once a few pages had been read and Celia’s eyes began to get so heavy she could no longer keep them open, Mark kissed her forehead, pulled her blankets up higher around her neck and left the room, making sure to leave the door ajar.


It was a heavy sigh that escaped his lips as he ventured into the kitchen and grabbed a beer. He wasn’t sure how many more times he could reassure his daughter that her mother would be home soon. He needed some reassuring himself. He’d been getting unofficial reports from a friend and he knew Jennifer was in harm’s way most of the time. She never said anything about it in her letters; that just reinforced the fact that things weren’t going well. Otherwise, she would have shared at least some information with him. Jen’s motto was the standard, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.”


Another month passed and Celia’s excitement showed itself in her behavior. She was easily agitated and more distracted. It was a pattern Mark experienced before when Jen came home, and again when she left. Their bedtime rituals took longer and longer and Mark found himself almost wishing Jen would stay away completely rather than have their lives disrupted on a routine basis.


It was a cloudy day in October when Mark heard a knock on the front door. He finally got Celia to take a nap and he didn’t want anything to disturb her, so he hurried to the door to see who was calling.


Seeing two Army personnel at your front door wasn’t such an unusual sight, but seeing them when you hadn’t heard from your wife in three weeks was enough to send you reaching for oxygen. The look on their faces told Mark all he needed to know.


“Are you Lt. Mark Johnson?” the man on the left asked.


Mark couldn’t find his voice. He nodded yes.


“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, sir, but…”


Mark didn’t hear the rest of the man’s words. The world faded to a dull blue-grey, then tilted sideways. He found himself leaning to try and right his view. The bush next to the cement stairs seemed to glow a fiery orange. He didn’t realize he was gasping for air until he felt his legs give way and one of the men caught him before he fell.


“Are you all right, sir?” the man on the left asked. “Should we call for a medic?” he asked the other officer.


“Do it.”


“Lt. Johnson! Lt. Johnson!” the man on the right yelled, trying to break through the hazy veil descending on Mark’s soul.


Mark began to sway from side to side, slowly at first, and then at a frenetic pace. A guttural moan boiled up from inside him and the sobs unleashed themselves at will.


By the time the medics arrived, Mark was on his feet and pacing.


“How did she die?” he asked, knowing full well there would be no answer that would satisfy. Then he became still, body rigid. “Cee. Oh, God, what am I going to tell Cee?”


“Sir, the medics are here.”


Mark dismissed the medics with a wave of his hand. “Thanks for coming. I don’t need medical care.” His words sounded hollow to his own ears.


“We have a letter from Lt. Johnson, your wife.”


Mark looked at the envelope in the man’s hand. It was all that was left of Jennifer; words on a piece of paper. He took the envelope from the man. It calmed him somewhat to know that he was touching something Jen had touched.


“We’re going to leave now, sir. Are you going to be okay?”


Mark nodded, but inwardly all he could think was hell, no, I’m not all right. Nothing will ever be all right again.


As the men left, he sat down on the front steps and opened the envelope. He wasn’t sure this was the best time to read Jen’s letter, but he was afraid if he didn’t read it now, he’d never be able to.


Dear Mark,


If you’re reading this letter, you know I am dead. Well, I’m not dead, my physical body is dead. You and I both know our spirit is what matters and my spirit is alive and well, whole and complete. I hope you can hold on to that fact.


I know it’s been hard having me gone, and then just as hard when I come back and we have to get to know each other all over again. I need to tell you a secret, though. I actually like renewing our love time and again. I’ve seen so many families who are together all the time get bored with one another. You and I have never gotten bored with each other. Maybe part of the reason is because we don’t spend as much time together and we cherish the time we do spend together.


Of course, the one thing I do regret is not having as much time to spend with Cee. I know you are an amazing father, Mark. I see it in the way Cee looks at you and in the way you are with her. I remember when she was just a newborn and you were so afraid to hold her in your arms. I think you thought you’d break her right in half. Ha! You didn’t. You were so careful and gentle with her and I knew you two would be okay if anything were to happen to me. I knew you would protect her and love her and you wouldn’t let her forget me.


Promise me, Mark. Promise me you’ll tell her every day how much I love her and how I think about her all the time. Spoil her with extra hugs and kisses and let her eat ice cream before bed.


When she’s older, when she can understand, tell her that there is a price for freedom and that her mother loved her so much and wanted her future to be secure so she risked everything so her life could be better. So she could choose what she believed and have the right to speak out against the things she didn’t believe in.


I want Celia to know that she has ultimate control of her body and can choose to believe in a god or in nature or in nothing at all and that sometimes you have to fight to maintain the rights you have or they just might get taken away. Tell her she has a voice and it matters that she uses it and not feel afraid or embarrassed or ashamed of expressing her feelings.


Mark, there is so much I want to say to her and now I’ve run out of time. I always thought I had more time. I wasn’t there when she took her first steps or when she lost her first tooth. I missed so many firsts. I’m so glad you had that damn video recorder by your side 24/7. I know I used to tease you about it, but it saved my life more often than you know.


It’s hard being away from both of you. Harder than I ever imagined it would be. When you send a tape or a scribbled crayon drawing Cee made for me, it made me feel closer to both of you, like you were just around the next block instead of worlds away.


I love you, Mark. I don’t even know how to begin to tell you what you mean to me. I don’t think my life really began until I met you. Before that I was just going through the motions, pretending I knew how to love. It was you who taught me what love really is. Your compassion and loyalty, willingness to do all the dirty jobs I hated (even with a smile on your face!), and your kindness. Your kindness softened my hardened heart like nothing else ever could. I had become so guarded by the time I met you I had all but given up on ever finding true love.


I know this letter is all over the place. I wanted to write all my thoughts in one cohesive, straight line, but you know me. When have I ever been able to jot a note that didn’t end up needing to be turned over and more written on the back and then turned sideways and written along the side edge? Brevity is not my strong suit.


What I’m trying to say is, I’m okay. Because of you, I’m okay. You can let me go, because my spirit really hasn’t left. I’m right there beside you, just like I’ve always been. I want you and Cee to move on and hold on to one another and the love you share. It will get you through the next few months. You’ll see. Love has a way of showing you what you are capable of.


I love you. I can’t seem to say it enough. I love you. I love you. I love you.




Jennifer’s letter both calmed Mark’s spirit and made him long for her even more. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. There were things that needed to be done, details to sort through. He felt hollow inside. Maybe that was better than feeling the pain, and ache.


He looked out across the yard. The world had righted itself. It was as if nothing had changed. Life hadn’t been altered in any way. Yet everything was different now.


He needed to find a way to tell Celia. He had no idea how he would find the strength to tell his little girl that her mother was never coming home again. If there was a hell, Mark was sure he was living in it right now.


She’d be awake soon, he had to think of something. What was he going to say? He had nothing. Jen had been wrong about him being a good father. Now was the time to test his mettle and he couldn’t even think of two words to say to his daughter.


A car pulling up in the driveway caught Mark’s attention. It was Patty, Jen’s older sister. It hadn’t occurred to him that her family would be beside themselves with the news.


Patty didn’t say anything as she approached Mark, but when she fell into his arms, he could feel her body heave as the tears spilled onto his shirt.


“I’m sorry,” she kept saying over and over.


Finally, she took a deep breath and pulled away. “Have you told Cee yet?”


Mark shook his head no.


“I can stay. I came over to help do, well, whatever needs doing.”


“Thanks, Patty,” Mark said, as they went inside the house. “Cee’s taking a nap now, but she’ll be awake any time.”


“I’ll put on some coffee,” Patty offered and headed for the kitchen.


Mark sat on the sofa and ran his hands through his hair, then placed his elbows on his knees as he hunched over, shoulders slumped.


As if on cue, Celia came walking down the hallway with her favorite blanket and doll in tow.


Mark’s back stiffened.


Patty came into the living room and Celia’s face lit up.


“Auntie Patty!” she yelled and ran over to her with her hands held up high.


Patty picked her niece up and gave her a hug. “Hi sweetie.” The pain of her sister’s death struck her anew and she bit her lip to keep the tears at bay. It wouldn’t help anyone if she collapsed in a heap right there in the middle of the living room.


When they were all seated on the sofa, Cee wiggled out of Patty’s arms and into her dad’s lap.


“Cee, remember how we’ve been counting down the days until mommy comes home?” Mark asked.


“Uh huh,” she said, playing with the buttons on Mark’s shirt.


“Well,” he hesitated, “mommy can’t come home like we’d planned.”


“I want to see mommy,” Celia insisted.


“Yes, I know, honey. I want to see mommy, too, but mommy isn’t coming home again.”


Celia thought for a moment, then asked, “Evah?”


Mark felt the noose on his heart tighten.


Patty saw Mark struggling and said, “Remember when cousin Jared’s hamster got sick?”


Celia nodded her head.


“He didn’t ever get better, and then finally he died.”


“Is mommy dead?”


Mark couldn’t bear to say the words. Tears escaped his eyes. He wanted to be brave for Cee. Jen was counting on him to be strong, to be a good dad.


“Why you cwying, daddy?”.


“Your daddy is sad, honey,” Patty said, putting one arm around Mark and one around Celia.


Of course she didn’t understand, Mark thought. She was much too young to be able to comprehend death.


“Daddy, it’s okay. Mommy’s here.”


“No, Cee, she’s not,” Mark said, his voice barely a whisper.


“You’re wrong, daddy, it says so in the book,” Celia said adamantly and then wriggled herself free and ran to her room to get the book to show them.


Mark and Patty exchanged confused looks.


“See!” Celia said, as she came back into the living room and shoved the book into Mark’s hands. “Read it, daddy. It says so in here. When you b’come real, you can’t b’come unreal. Just ‘cuz you can’t see mommy, doesn’t mean she ain’t here.”


Mark looked at his daughter. She seemed to understand death better than he did, or was it that Jen’s absence made her misunderstand and she thought Jen was just gone on assignment again?


Every day, Cee continued the routine of making an X on the calendar to mark the days until Jennifer was scheduled to come home. Mark tried to explain time and again that Jen was dead and she wouldn’t be coming back. Celia insisted that her mommy was real and she couldn’t b’come unreal.


Celia was upset when Mark didn’t make plans for Jennifer’s homecoming.


“But daddy, you said we could have music and dancing when mommy came home,” Cee reminded him.


“Celia,” Mark said firmly, “mommy is dead. We’re not going to see her again.”


Celia ran from the room and threw herself on her bed, yelling into her pillow, “She is coming home! She is coming home!”


The day finally arrived. The day on the calendar with the bright red circle around it. Celia waited all day for her mother to show up. Mark’s heart broke a little more every time Cee ran to the window to see if the noise she heard was a car bringing her mother back to her.


“Daddy, I don’t understand,’ Celia looked up at her father with tears in her eyes. “The book said if you’re real you can’t b’come unreal.”


Mark picked his daughter up and held her in his arms. “The book was right, honey. Once you’re real, you can’t become unreal. Remember when we were at the beach and the breeze was blowing in your hair?”


Celia nodded her head.


“That breeze is kind of like your spirit. You can’t really see it or touch it, but it’s there. It’s real, but it’s hard to define or describe.”


“Momma’s like the breeze?”


“Momma’s sort of like when you come home from the beach and you smell the salty sea air in your hair and you remember how it felt when the water tickled your skin. The warmth of the sun made you feel safe and your toes felt tingly from the sand and ocean.”


“Daddy, can momma see us?”


“I think so.”


“Can we wave to her?”


“Absolutely,” Mark replied. “And we can talk to her and smile at her.”


“And can we dance with her?”


“Yes, Cee, we can dance with her. Why don’t you pick out some music.”


“Momma loves this song,” she declared as she picked a CD from the basket and handed it to Mark. “Numba free.” He put it into the CD player and pressed the third track. They began to dance. Celia twirled around and around, never tiring of spinning in circles.


“Doesn’t momma dance good, daddy?”


“Yes, she does, Cee. Don’t tell momma, but I think you dance even better than she does.”


Celia giggled and spun around until Mark finally toppled to the floor to stop the game.


“Daddy, get up!” Cee said, pulling on his arm.


“I’m tired, Cee. I need to rest for a minute.”


“Okay,” Celia replied and sat down next to him.




“Yes, Cee?”


“I think it’s okay that mommy’s livin’ in my hair and in my toes. Know why?”


“No, why?”


“B'cause then she can never leave me.”


Mark wrapped his arms around Celia and kissed her hair. He could smell the sea and feel Jennifer’s presence all around them.


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