Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Friday, November 28, 2008

He Knows...

I love how the Lord gives us what we need, when we need it.
With starting a new full-time job, my time and enthusiasm for writing had waned. Finding the energy and the time to write seemed a daunting task. My church and friends were praying for me and I asked God to remove all desire and let me feel okay about NOT WANTING to write. Well that didn't happen and an awesome thing did. I met another ACFW member in my small town of 2500 people. A women who is enthusiastic and so eager to learn. Her enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. Thank you, Lord. We've become face-to-face critique partners and I love seeing writing through her eyes. And it's been great to be accountable to someone on a weekly basis. And to be able to share what I've learned so far. And to be editing my second novel, The Moon Has No Light.
Thank you, Lord. You know what I need when I need it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Review - An Irishwoman's Tale

I met Patti Lacy over the internet a couple of years ago then in person at the ACFW conference in Dallas in September of 2007. After reading her debut novel, I saw her personal beauty shine through in the way she told this story. Patti has an awesome way with words. READ HER BOOK. You won't be disappointed...

Review of An Irishwoman's Tale:

Bravo to first time author, Patti Lacy! The story, the characters, the plot all gel to make An Irishwoman's Tale a book worth reading. Based on a true story, Patti has woven the elements of fact and fiction to take the reader through the life of Mary, a poor Irish girl whose life is a series of rejection and poor choices. But it is also a story of an unlikely friendship, of unselfish forgiveness, and God's amazing redemption. In this fast-paced world where reading is a luxury few can afford, this book, filled with deeply drawn characters, is definitely worth your time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time, Time, Time

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I've last posted.
Yet, there's been so much that's happened, it's easy to see how time has slipped away.

Brief catch-up:
My Dad indeed passed away at the end of April. God blessed me with two weeks to spend by his bedside before he went on to be with our Savior.

Two weeks later, we moved into our new house. Pics to come later.

Two weeks later, my daughter graduated from high-school and we hosted 8 family members for several days. Lots of fun and it was great for my Mom to travel to a new part of the country.

In the midst of the above, I started a full-time job working for a local Oil company. Helps to offset the costs of the house and a daughter starting college in a few weeks!!!!

I continue to receive rejections on my first manuscript. But they are getting more personal and provide some encouraging feedback. Who would have thought that a rejection could be encouraging?

I'm currently working on a Certification as a Health Specialist in Ergonomics and hoping to write a book for writers...all those hours at the keyboard.

Life sure has a way of keeping us on our toes and sometimes in a tailspin. I've come to understand--that's normal. How we react to those tumultuous moments can mean the difference between chaos and trust.

I've had many moments in the last few months to examine my reaction to life events and quite frankly, sometimes chaos edged closer than I preferred. But in the end, peace and trust reigned. Why? Because I handed those moments to the Lord. He does a much better job than I.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Gentle Giant

The waters of Lake Pontchartrain welcomed like a grand dame hosting her own. Although the view was limited by the size of the plane's window, the sight stirred pent-up emotions. From deep within.

In the distance, the afternoon sun reflected from the newly-repaired roof of the infamous Superdome--more stirrings. I'm Home.

My heart twitches with a bevy of emotion. I visit, not to enjoy once again the plethera of seafood, not to take in the good times of family, and not to take in the quiet history of oak-laden plantations. I come to say goodbye.

I come to grab those last moments that God would allow with the man who I will always, despite today's sad reality, view as invincible. The man who could fix anything (including his own lacerated thumb). The man who seemed unstoppable (as evidenced by carrying over 300 wheelbarrows of dirt), the man who stood for strength and stability and as the anchor of home. My dad.

As I take in the worn body, one struggling for the last breaths malfunctioning lungs allow, I see his spirit--it's still invincible. Still strong. I see a gentle giant who rarely complains and still smiles behind the annonying mask pumping massive amounts of oxygen to lungs refusing to accept the life-sustaining mix. But what I see, maybe for the first time the quiet courage of a gentle man who knows his days on this earth are coming to an end. As I watch his struggle to do what I can without effort--breathe, I fully grasp the essence of my father--his spirit, his courage, his character. With a heavy heart, I wonder--Would I exhibit such grace were I in his position? Did I inherit a small measure of his character to endure in quiet dignity what he now endures?

The question burns in my heart. Am I prepared to say goodbye? Are we ever? Yet, I pray for God's mercy on him. To relieve his suffering. My father's exit will leave an unfillable void. And as I prepare, as best I can, to grieve, I cling to hope assured. I can see his smiling face and envision his joy as he reunites with his own parents comfortably in the arms of his Savior, Jesus. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Housing Development - April 6

I know it's been awhile since I've posted pics. Truthfully, we've been pretty busy. I've started a part-time job, the house is getting close to completion, and Hope will be graduating in less than two months! Phew, life really does come at you fast!

Here are pictures of the latest in our house-building saga--yes, saga. It seems to go on and on...

But one day I know it'll be finished and worth the wait.

The tongue & groove ceiling in the great room is going up. I'm really loving the way the knotty pine looks. We're using a light oak colored stain and it's really warming up the room and going well with the paint colors.

The kitchen tile is down (grout left to do) and some of the cabinets are in place. It's starting to look like a place where meals will one day be prepared!

The master bedroom. The stacked boxes are hardwood flooring for the great room.

The master bath - getting close...

We're hoping to be finished within the next month. But I've learned not to get my hopes up. This whole building process seems to have a mind of its own.

Until next time...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Interview with Megan DiMaria

Please welcome one of my ACFW writer friends. Her debut novel Searching for Spice is out. Look for it online or at book stores!

Megan please tell the readers about yourself?
I love to spend time with other writers and be an encouragement to colleagues on their writing journey. I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, HIS Writers, and am assistant director of Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, Rocky Mountain Region.

I was born and raised in New York State and attended SUNY Plattsburgh where I earned my B.A. Degree in Communications. I have been a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, editor and marketing professional. My husband’s job moved the family to Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey and ultimately Colorado. My husband and I live in suburban Denver near our adult children. We often travel back to our roots in Long Island, NY to visit family and get our fill of delicious Italian food.

Tell us a little about your book?
Searching for Spice, my debut novel, tells the story of Linda Revere, a married woman who wants to have an affair—with her husband of nearly 25 years. Of course life isn’t scripted, and nothing goes according to plan.

What inspired you to write this particular book?
Searching for Spice was written as a response to a running joke I had with some girlfriends because despite being happily married, women still want romance in their lives. God hard wired us to crave closeness and a special connection with the men we love. Unfortunately, some times we need to remind them of that.

Tell us a little about your main character and how you developed him/her?
Linda is loyal, loving and life-like. By that I mean she definitely has flaws. She desperately wants to live a life to please God, but she often recognizes when she fails. Her character sprang from a situation a friend told me about years ago. She was expecting guests to arrive for a weekend visit when she spotted a smudge of cream cheese on her carpet. From there I imagined what it would feel like to be a woman, sitting on the floor, scraping cheese off the rug and wishing for something more in life.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Least?
The most fun I had in writing Searching for Spice were the parts where Linda and her husband Jerry interacted. Sometimes their romance hit the spot, and sometimes they couldn’t get on the same page, so to speak. My least favorite parts of writing the story was when Linda got into the thick of difficult situations. I’m so sympathetic, I wept for her.

What has been the most unexpected challenge you’ve had with becoming a published author?
I don’t think I’ve had any more challenges than other writers on this journey. When you’re unpublished I think it’s sometimes difficult to remain motivated. With God’s help, and the support of my husband and family, I was able to press on.

What one bit of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write regularly, read regularly, join a writers group or two, hang out with writers, have your work critiqued and attend conferences if you can. I confess, many times in my writing journey I was tempted to throw in the towel. But the moral of the story is, don’t give up. Hold on to your dreams. Press on. Trust God.

What author’s books do you enjoy reading?
Oh, goodness. That’s like asking me who my favorite child is. I read CBA and ABA fiction, and mostly books written by my ACFW friends.

What message do you hope readers gain from your novel?
Life is hard, and that’s a reality that must be accepted. We shouldn’t be caught off guard when we hit a bump in the road. The message I hope readers gain from Searching for Spice is to know you can trust God despite what your circumstances look like. That was a lesson I had to learn during a difficult valley I walked through. At the time it looked like nothing good could come of that situation, but now I see the hand of God guided me. Equally important to me is the message that marriage is valuable and precious and should not be lightly regarded. Another message I hope readers grasp is that friendship is priceless, and we should cherish the people in our lives.

Tell us what we have to look forward to in the future. What new projects are you working on?
My next book, Out of Her Hands, is scheduled to release this October. Out of Her Hands has the same characters as Searching for Spice, but the focus is more on the relationships Linda and Jerry have with their children. Like many parents of young adults, the Reveres want their children to be careful about making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. As usual, there is always more than one situation clamouring for Linda’s attention. They’re helping Jerry’s father get on with life after he’s widowed, Linda’s best friend is moving out of state, and then their son decides he’s falling in love, but the object of his affection doesn’t share his Christian values.
Thanks you very much for the opportunity to visit your blog. Feel free to send visitors to my website at or for more interactive information, stop by my blog at

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Housing Development - March 17

Here's the latest pictures of our house. The inside is sheetrocked and ready for paint!

The front "lines" will be stained to match the green siding and the trim around the windows will match the redwood soffit and fascia.

Things are moivng a little faster and we're hoping to see much progress in the coming weeks!

Stay tuned...we'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We all make mistakes...

Dear readers,

A writer friend recently sent an email asking to post the following apology. She wants to reach as many readers as possible to explain something that may offend some of you.

From Linda Windsor in reference to her book, Wedding Bell Blues.

My heartfelt APOLOGIES regarding Wedding Bell Blues. I had two regrettable errors in this publication that, when called to my attention, I didn't at first believe it.
I didn't remember my hero having a Rhett Butler moment when he said "D_mn, I still love you, Alex."
And while I'd written unsaved character Sue Ann exclaiming, "Oh my g_wd!" with the intent of convicting Sue Ann of its blasphemy in her own book #4, I changed her mind after discussing it with my editor and deleted those occurences rather than offend anyone. Well, I missed one. The GOOD NEWS is that these have been removed from future printings and book club issues.
To anyone who read Wedding Bell Blues and was offended, my humble apologies. I'd written this book after my husband died and during those months of brain fog, I almost stopped writing because it was so hard to put coherent thought together. Then I turned it in months late, which put my publisher in a bind as far as getting the usual multiple editings. This was the result. Granted, I must have written these blunders or they would not have been there. For that, I can only ask for your forgiveness and understanding.

Linda Windsor

I hope you check out her latest release, For Pete's Sake.

Stay tuned. Pictures of our latest housing developments coming! I can't wait to share with you all that is happening. Sheetrock, siding, etc...It's getting close...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Housing Development - Sweet progress

Hello Family and Friends!

Here are the latest pictures of our house building. Some progress has occurred and we're really hoping to be in by the end of March. I'm sure that's wishful thinking, but our builder assured us that things move faster in this phase of the "game."

"Front" of house. This is technically the back, but it's the side that faces the street. The plastic sheeting is covering the stone facade the bricklayer is working on. He has a heater running under there to keep the mortar at the correct temperature for curing.

This is the "back" technically the front that is facing the ridge.

The siding is emerald green cement board with cedar soffit and fascia in the same materials. The trim will be stained to match the fascia. This middle section with the large windows will have stone instead of siding. Also there will be a deck across this part of the house.

The kitchen

The Great room.

The insulation is complete and the sheetrockers are scheduled to come this Monday.

As you can see the builder has started installing the siding and will continue through this next week. I'm excited about all the progress and ready to see what the next phase of work will look like.

Until then, I ask for your prayers for the building to run smoothly, safety for all the workers, cooperation from the weather, and that the entire process, every phase, glorify God.

I'll post more in a few days as progress continues.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Community Coffee Snob

I think it's finally happened—I've turned into a coffee snob.

No, not the coffee of the green symbol with the lady's face on it.

But the coffee of my youth.

The coffee that created a bond between granddaughter and grandfather.

The coffee that I now have to order online because it's not available in Northern Colorado.

But worth it.

Because every morning's cup gives more than a caffeinated morning jolt. It takes me home.

Just the smell of Community's coffee and chicory brews the most delicious memories. Images of my late grandfather, who lived across the street, rising early to hand drip his coffee come to mind, and with the memory comes a smile.

I'd quickly dress for school then dash over to Paw Paw's house to have a cup of coffee and a couple of the small biscuits he cooked every morning.

Orange and brown curtains covering the old oak door's window were parted as a signal. The rousing aroma of strong coffee and steaming hot biscuits filled the air along with the Cajun French, chanky-chank music from the portable radio. And sometimes, the lingering scent of menthol. Evidence of an aging idol. The scene conveyed warmth, goodness, heritage.

He'd speak French and I'd answer in English. Both understanding the other, but comfortable speaking our own language. Two generations bridging the gap. A twelve year-old feeling grown-up, special. He'd "pass" a wink as he filled the demitasse that held my portion. More milk than coffee.

During the rare times when cold air crept into the South Louisiana swamps, those mornings have special meaning. Two pine rockers hugged the small gas heater in the kitchen/living room combination. Their worn wooden slats warmed and waiting for two different generations to share the space, to share the difference in experience and education and language. But to also share the same love of good coffee and hot biscuits. The music? Well, there are some things that younger generations don't appreciate until later...

He's been gone for almost ten years and our conversations wiggle through my brain as though they occurred just this morning. His voice and the way his prickly thin mustache moved when he spoke, continue to fill my thoughts with clear images.

Ones, I love.

Ones, I want to hold on to for as long as I can.

They comfort.

And when I think of the things I missed because I grew up in the southern most regions of Louisiana, I quickly remember those mornings with Paw Paw and nothing I missed really matters.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Housing Update

The unusal amounts of snowfall have stalled the house-building arena. Trying to pour cement for deck pilings and a driveway and sidewalks--well, let's just say--A major challenge.

Looking out the bedroom door...
The plumbing and electrical work starts this week so some progress continues.

We picked out cabinets this weekend, doors, and did a walk-through with the plumber and electrician. This helped pull me out of the doldrums. It's nice to see some forward progess and feel that there will be a day when we'll actually live in this house!

Your prayers for smooth building, protection for all the workers, and workable weather are so appreciated!!

Here are the latest inside pictures and a few outside ones. (although, the outside hasn't changed much!)

The loft - my future office.

Looking down on the great room from the loft. Yes, the white stuff is snow!

Facing west and the entry door into the kitchen. The framing on the right is the pantry and the left, a half-bath.

The stairs going up from the basement.

I'll have more pictures as developments happen.

Until then, we're enjoying the winter, staying warm, and wishing you could enjoy this winter with us!
Drop me a line and let me know what's happening with you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Interview with Sharon K. Souza


Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift

1 . Your debut novel Every Good & Perfect Gift is releasing this month from Nav Press. Can you tell us a little about the book?

DeeDee and Gabby have been friends since the sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband DeeDee changes her plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby - now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally results in the birth of DeeDee's demand.
Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

2. What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?
I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds? In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

3. You've incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer's. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?

The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character's growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character's growth came as a result of the Alzheimer's.

4. Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?

It's exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That's not to say there aren't serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

5. What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?

There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I'm not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don't find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

6. What are your feelings about a couple's decision to intentionally not have children?

Again, that wasn't my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren't equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don't' believe it's a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it's wise. That's not to say a person's feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it's up to the couple to make the choice that's right for them.

7. What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I've experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: ". . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That's been the case in my life over and over.
8. Do you base any of your characters on real people?

The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer's. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes--almost like a caricature--in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.
9. If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?

I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real "home town" of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There's some debate about whether or not "our" Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, "Stuck in Lodi." Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.
10. What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?

I've had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write "the truth." Two answers come to mind. First, that "burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn't deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven't yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Sharon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just Write It!

It's official - I've just launched my new writer program: Just Write It!

Are you a writer who

has set goals for the new year, but struggling to get started.

hasn't set goals and seems to be "stuck" in a rut.

is writing, but struggling to get words on the page.

is Blocked!

just wants to make new friends in the writing world.

just wants someone to be accountable to.

If any of these describe you, then check out Just Write It! on my website.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Snowfall on Sage

Okay, it doesn't sound as intriguing as Snowfall on Cedars, but it certainly describes our last winter storm. Usually the Sage brush peeks through the snowfall, not this time. They're covered!

Over a foot overnight and our little town is back into it's covering of snow. Our recent heat wave, two days of above freezing weather had changed the pristine white to a mucky, brown slush. Not nearly as appealing. But now it's back.

On the housing front—

The builder is progressing. Most all the inside framing is complete. YAY! It's so nice to see where rooms and closets will be. Most of the roof is covered. The area where the porches tie-in are still exposed and the window openings. But I believe he'll be working on the windows sometime this week. It's exciting to see the house begin to resemble a real house! I'll have pictures on my next post.

On the writing front—

My first manuscript, Legacy of Grace, is being shopped by my agent. And while waiting for word on that one, I'm working diligently on my second novel, The Moon Has No Light. I'm close to finishing the first draft. About 10K words. Then the editing begins!

I'll leave you with a few photos from Meeker after the last snowfall.

Our backyard and the "infamous" utility trailer!

Our front porch.

Radar up?

"If only my legs were longer, my belly wouldn't be so cold!"

Blessing to you for a great day!