Terri-Lynne DeFino was born and raised in New Jersey but escaped to the wilds of Connecticut back in the nineties when her kids were babies and everyone wore flannel. She is the second of four children born to a homemaker and a then-fledgling attorney, in a Paterson, NJ household that included two grandparents and the occasional uncle, where Sunday dinner was a given and the noise level often required earplugs. According to her mother, she started writing stories at the age of seven, and learned to cook at any elbow she could wedge herself under. These days, her famiglia is larger, and louder, which might explain why she’s still in Connecticut, but if you knock on her door, she’ll invite you in and feed you, because you can take the Italian girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey Italian out of the girl.

Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story 

(February 14, 2023)

“Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story is fun and funny, wonderfully exuberant, and incredibly wise. These endearing characters—their voices and stories— will be with me for a long time to come. I didn’t want to say good-bye.” –Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Hieroglyphics

An utterly delightful and surprising family drama—think Moonstruck and My Big Fat Greek Wedding set in New Jersey—about a boisterous, complicated Italian family determined to help their widowed mother find a new boyfriend. 

Lively widow Varina Paladino has lived in the same house in Wyldale, New Jersey, her entire life. The town might be slightly stuck in the 1960s, when small businesses thrived and most residents were Italian, but its population is getting younger and the Paladinos are embracing the change. What Varina’s not embracing, much to her ninety-two-year-old mother’s dismay, is dating. Running Paladino’s Italian Specialties grocery, caring for her mother, and keeping her large, loud Jersey Italian family from killing one another takes up all of Varina’s energy anyway.

Sylvia Spini worries about her daughter Varina being left all alone when she dies. Sylvia knows what it is to be old and alone, so when her granddaughter, Donatella, comes to her with an ill-conceived plan to find Varina a man, Sylvia dives in. The three men of the family—Dante, Tommy, and Paulie—are each secretly plotting their own big life changes, which will throw everyone for a loop.

Three generations of Paladinos butt heads and break one another’s hearts as they wrestle with their own Jersey Italian love stories in this hilarious and life-affirming ode to love and family.


The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses) 

Contemporary Fiction; William Morrow.

Praise for The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses)

“A tale that emphasizes that second chances, artistic redemption and true love — in all its forms — can come at any time and any age. DeFino has a unique gift for language that captures the nostalgia and still-sharp wit of her aging artists perfectly” – RT Book Reviews

“This is a book to feel as much as to read…an intense texture of enchantment and reality” – Historical Novel Society

“It’s a profoundly moving story or rather stories. DeFino has an interesting way of introducing mysteries in an almost offhand way.” The Girly Book Club

Praise for Finder…

“…DeFino’s first novel creates an exotic desert environment as a backdrop to the story of a young man’s coming-of-age and a young woman’s search for the only family she has left. VERDICT Compelling characters and a fascinating world background make this a good addition to most fantasy collections.” ~Library Journal

Praise for A Time Never Lived…

…a dangerous quest across a magnificently-depicted multicultural fantasy world for the legendary city of Valadur. This is a memorable saga of supernatural power and human love from the increasingly impressive DeFino. ~Publishers Weekly


How cute was I, huh? Baby T, summer of 1966

Praise for Beyond the Gate…

…an Odyssey-like quest—with cursed pirate ships, a mad Dread Queen, seductive fairy lords, and treacherous slavers—to return to a kingdom very different from the one they left…the story unfolds into a quietly surprising and unexpectedly satisfying conclusion.  ~Publishers Weekly

Praise for Jingle (an original fairy tale)…

“I haven’t read an original fairy tale in ages, and now I’m reminded of what I’ve missed. Jingle, the story of a beautiful child born to a terrible fate and the catkin who loved her, is equal to anything Barbara Leonie Picard ever wrote. Beautiful language, a simple story, and best of all, it felt fantastic the way so little fantasy does today.”           ~Amazon reviewer

More praise!? Why yes–for Seeking Carolina

To juggle more than one subplot to bring the love story, between a man and a woman, and among the women of the Coco family, forward is a feat in itself which Ms. Defino does very well. She has also allowed one to see the internal conflict of each of the characters in varying degrees (including that of the secondary characters) leading to a rich tapestry of the lives and loves of the people in Bitterly, Connecticut.

…Ms. Defino is one author to watch out for because of the beautiful stories she writes.”

~Ind’tale Magazine (4.5 crowned hearts)

…and Dreaming August

“Ms. DeFino is a remarkable storyteller. Her writing style is as beautiful as it is original. One wishes that they lived in Bitterly, Connecticut in order to know Benny and Dan, as well as a host of other secondary characters that give meat to the story. These characters have their own stories to tell and are not just included in the story as props. Readers will come to love August and Mrs. Fargus and get a glimpse of what life after death must be like. Their dialogue about the great beyond is as humorous as it is bittersweet. Ms. DeFino is definitely an author to watch!”

~Ind’tale Magazine (5 crowned hearts)

…and Waking Savannah

“Waking Savannah” is an amazing story that takes an in-depth look at the main characters’ survival of violence in their lives, as they find out who they really are when the world is stripped away. The haunting spirits of Bitterly are an integral part of the story, and create a suspenseful atmosphere as Savvy and Ade find out why and how the spirits are connected to the Bitterly town folks.  The plot is filled in throughout the story with all characters adding something to that experience […] as to how loved ones are always close, love can cure what ails a person, and love can be the roots to stop running from the past.

~Ind’tale Magazine (4.5 crowned hearts)

16 responses to “About

  1. Veronica Wohlschlaeger

    Worried that my Facebook message didn’t go through because it’s blocked at work…
    Hi Miss Terri. I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I was waiting for life to slow down and for when I got a peaceful moment to sit with my thoughts…. However, I think that “calm” won’t happen until I’m well in my sixties. I just read your blog post and couldn’t let another second go by without reaching out. It was beautiful and incredibly touching with the most valid well presented points on the stigma of mental illness that I’ve EVER come across. I did not, could not, believe the news of Chris’s death. When i first heard, I chalked it up to small town rumors. No way could someone so promising and kind be lost. Once I confirmed it, it was devastating to think about such a wonderful person being in such a dark place. I remember Chris clear as day. When I think about him, I picture him at his locker which was right by mine in high school, in his football jersey with crutches/brace from the knee injury. He was kind and funny and handsome. I also remember him as a constant presence at Girl Scout meetings and always goofing off to put a smile on our faces. There is no denying that he was the product of an amazing family. In fact, I was always jealous of Gracie and her relationship with her siblings when we were younger and in Girl Scouts. I so desperately wanted to be her with a family full of older brothers and a sister. Now I find myself hurting for her so much now that she also knows the pain of losing a sibling. It’s something I would never wish on anyone and after almost ten years of losing Joey, I still am at a loss for words when I hear that it happens to someone else. I’m not quite sure what else to say besides “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry that this happened to not just a wonderful family, but to an amazing person like Chris. You hit the nail on the head in your blog post with the comparison to cancer. Some people get better and some don’t. It makes no damn sense and mental illness is life’s greatest tragedy. I hope that your bereavement journey is filled with loving memories of Chris and that you are comforted by the fact that he was a very loved and admired member of my childhood. Please be sure to reach out to my mom and grab coffee to catch up and talk. She’s a good resource to have in the upcoming months and years. In the meantime, I’d love to send Gracie a letter. Can you give me her home or work address? I love you all and I will never forget Chris. My heart physically aches for your family. I’m so sorry.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Oh, darling–tears in my eyes. I know you understand on so many levels. Your words are just…they’re filling me up right now. Thank you. I’ll PM you Gracie’s addy.


  2. Hi Ms. DeFino — I’m writing from the library in Bar Harbor. Clearly, we must have you here for an author event. Which is to say, I’d love to speak with you about coming to the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor to talk about “The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers [and their Muses]”.



    Dear TLD,
    I relished BarHarbor … but was confused by the unexplained death of Enzo (unless I missed it) and what happened to Aldo and Celia. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.



    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Hello, Eitan! I’m glad you enjoyed my book. There was no explanation of Enzo’s death. You didn’t miss it. I left it up to the reader to decide what happened to Enzo, and how things ended up with Cecilia and Aldo. What do you think happened?

      Many readers have asked, and I know what happened with Enzo in my own mind. Nicky (Cecilia’s brother/Tressa’s husband) discovered the affair and killed Enzo. Being Cami’s son would let him get away with it within the family, and the crime family.

      As for Cecilia and Aldo, I feel their time was over almost as soon as it began. They were never meant to be together. A tragedy rather than a romance.

      Hope that answers your questions!



        Thank you, TLD, for your reply. I considered an Enzo suicide after Also and Celia left together but Enzo’s character and sense of duty made me give that up. If Cecilia had made an appearance at the end I would’ve assumed Enzo’s death was caused by disease or accident but she was kept hidden, so I am really challenged. Enzo’s character leada my to the latter conclusion. Did Cecilia die in an accident with him.- seems like a possibility..


      • Terri-Lynne DeFino

        Honestly, anything you can imagine is possible. That’s why I left it up to the reader. It’s more fun that way!


  4. Scott Freitag

    Hi T-L! I literally just finished “The Bar Harbor. . . . .” and felt compelled to write to you as what grabbed me the most in the story was how, twice, early on, you shared the expression “A grief to come.”, which, once planted, became a seed that would grow and grow until just before the end, it all came together, when you (“Tressa”) chuffed (ha!) “Grief does terrible things to us all.” . . . . to me, these stories within the story, really spoke of losing and of finding . . . .most clearly in the finding of love and respect for one’s self and in the process, for others, but also in how to graciously and humbly accept our individual struggles with loss . . . and yes, with grief.
    Not to get too sappy, but initially when I first read “A grief to come.”, it made me think of my wife, of now 42 years, Jan, and how every now and again, once we said “good night and sweet dreams” and have had our heads on our pillows for a few minutes, or more, I’ll reach over and mindfully just rub her arm, or a hand, with my fingers, knowing, mindfully, that “this too shall pass”, that there will come a day, when we, together, are not here, as one . . . . as “Cornelius” say’s “Some say there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes; but there are three – death, taxes, and heartbreak.”
    God Bless,
    Scott Freitag
    Woodbury CT


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      I just got home from doing a lovely book club on the green in Middlebury, CT, and found your note. If anything could have made an already great night better, this was it. Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to write me. I’m glad you enjoyed my work, and that it spoke to you in such an intimate, and meaningful way. Your insight is beautiful. Thank you for sharing that with me. I’m truly honored.


  5. Berta Morgan

    Good evening,

    I just finished the Bar Harbor book and I loved it. I began wondering how you would make both stories equally interesting and ended the book wanting to give you a high five. Nicely done. I have always wished for a retirement home for women and this book very nearly gave me the perfect place to finally get to talk to my friends without interruption until we are all talked out. Thank you…


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Berta, and that it spoke to something inside you. It does a writer’s heart good to hear from those who spent a few entertained hours with her characters. Thanks for writing!


    • Ed Wugalter

      Nice to hear !

      On Sat, Feb 22, 2020 at 10:32 AM Modesty Is For Suckers wrote:

      > Berta Morgan commented: “Good evening, I just finished the Bar Harbor book > and I loved it. I began wondering how you would make both stories equally > interesting and ended the book wanting to give you a high five. Nicely > done. I have always wished for a retirement home for wom” >


  6. Christina L Herndon

    Dear Mrs. DeFino, I finished Bell Harbor this morning at 0300. Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end. I had my own grief that the story (stories) was done and everybody was gone. Thank you, thank you for a book like this that I haven’t found in years. I worked 30 years as a coroner investigator/coroner, starting much younger than most of my peers. I used to tease them that I would build a coroner retirement home where we could all be together to tell the tales that no one else would understand why we laughed so hard.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      How lovely to hear from you, Ms Herndon. Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy you enjoyed my book, and that it touched you in such a way.
      Spending our elder years with birds of a feather would truly be a dream come true, even if it’s not a full-time home. I hope you still enjoy the camaraderie of your peers!
      Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to contact me.


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