Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Monday, December 07, 2015

Lillian Duncan - No Home for the Holidays

Good Monday Morning Readers!

Today, Lillian Duncan visits Lagniappe to discuss his/her latest release, No Home for the Holidays

Welcome, Lillian!

Unlike the Prodigal Son, Chloe Sullivan knows she can’t go home for the Christmas holidays or ever—not if she wants to stay alive.
She’s resigned to the fact she must stay in hiding to keep herself and her family safe. Lonely and desperate for God’s presence, she’s drawn to a nearby church.
Ex-FBI agent turned preacher, Colton Douglas, mistakenly identifies Chloe as the person breaking into local churches. A midnight chase ensues that ends with him snapping her photo. When the photo goes public he learns more about the mystery woman than he bargained for. . .
And that changes everything! 

To celebrate the release of No Home For The Holidays, Lillian is running a contest on her blog, Tiaras & Tennis Shoes. Five lucky winners will receive a $10 Amazon Gift card. So hop on over to and leave a comment under the No Home For The Holidays blog post so you’ll be entered to win one of the gift cards. Winners will be picked on Dec. 23—just in time for Christmas!

My latest release is No Home For The Holidays, a Christmas-themed suspense novella. Christmas and suspense? I love the challenge of finding a way to mix the two together. The gist of the story is about a “prodigal daughter” who wants to go home but knows she will put her family in danger as well as herself if she does.

That got me thinking…Christmas…home…prodigal

In a way, we’re all prodigals, searching for our home here on earth.

Jesus left his home in heaven to come live among us so that we could go home to live there someday with our Heavenly Father and the rest of the family! Think what a joy-filled experience that will be! As Christians, we don’t have to wait until then to experience God’s joy.

One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 1:8: Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
WOW! Doesn’t that sound amazing, an inexpressible and glorious joy? Unfortunately, that inexpressible and glorious joy often gets lost in the details of our daily lives, especially during the busyness of Christmas.
We get so focused on the details of Christmas that we can lose the joy of Christmas. But it doesn’t have to be that way—you may have noticed the word WOW that I used in the previous paragraph. Do you want the WOW back in your life?
Then how about…

W is for Worship. Spending more time worshiping God for who He is will put joy back in your life.

O is for Obey. Jesus said, “if you love me, then you will obey me.” God’s instructions are meant for our good. The more we obey Him, the more peace and joy we’ll experience.

W is for the Word Of God.  There is no better way to find inexpressible and glorious joy than to study God’s Word. Life can be tough, but God’s Word will light our path. But first we have to know the Word to use the Word.
Now, a quick word about my latest release. No Home For The Holiday is a Christmas-themed novella. In it, Chloe Sullivan needs a miracle but has given up on getting one. As sad as it is, she’s resigned to the fact that she has to stay in hiding if she wants to remain alive as well as keep her family safe.

Ex-FBI agent turned preacher, Colton Douglas believes in helping others. When Chloe enters his life, he’s sure God has put her in his path for a reason—to help her. And that’s just what he plans to do, whether she likes it or not.

Both Colton and Chloe learn a great deal about themselves and about life as they face death.

At the beginning of this devotion I talked about how we’re all prodigals, searching for our home. Our home is God. He will never turn us away when we are searching for Him. And we should all be searching for him all the time.

So this Christmas season (and the rest of the year) put more WOW in your life. As you do, you’ll feel as if you’ve come home to God. Wishing you a very merry Christmas!


Tell us a little about Lillian.
My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. But I love being back. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.
I was a school speech pathologist for many, many years, but now I’m a full-time writer. So in a way, you could say that words have been a big part of my life for all my life.
In 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors which led to another diagnosis of something called neurfibromatosis Type 2 (NF2). In spite of difficult health issues, God has blessed me and keeps on blessing me with the ability to keep writing stories—for which I’m very grateful.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
The answer to both is Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in from time to time. I guess writing is sort of like eating. You are what you read, and for me that means I’m a suspense/mystery writer.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it?

I would! It’s just like the story of the boy who walks along the beach throwing the stranded starfish back into the ocean. He knows he can’t save them all, but it makes a difference to the ones he does throw back in.

No Home For The Holidays is a Christmas-themed story. It’s part of my publisher’s annual Christmas Extravaganza. Each year, they release twenty-five novelettes (meaning short novels) that all have a Christmas theme in all different sorts of genres. So there’s something for everyone, no matter what you enjoy reading.

I love finding a way to mix suspense into a Christmas story. There’s always so many possibilities for what the characters can learn as they journey through the story. And, of course, I love all the Christmas symbolism available during my favorite time of the year.

In No Home For The Holidays, Chloe Sullivan needs a miracle but has given up on getting it. As sad as it is, she’s resigned to the fact that she has to stay in hiding if she wants to remain alive as well as keep her family safe.

Ex-FBI turned preacher, Colton Douglas believes in helping others. When Chloe enters his life, he’s sure God has put her in his path for a reason—to help her. And that’s just what he plans to do, whether she likes it or not.

Both Colton and Chloe learn a great deal about themselves and about life as they face death.
How long did it take you to write this book?
NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is a novella so it didn’t take anywhere near as long as a full-length novel. I would say I finished the first draft within a month. Then another month to revise and polish before I submitted it to my publisher.

Tell me a bit about your main characters. Who did you have the most fun creating? Why?
Chloe Sullivan is a good girl gone bad who wants to be good again. So she was a lot of fun to get to know more about as I wrote the story. Colton on the other hand is your classic hero, wants to help anyone and everyone, except himself.

What’s the setting for No Home?
The story starts in the city of Wooster, Ohio. Coincidently, it’s a city I’ve lived near most of my life. But, of course, the story is fictional and not based on reality! But that’s just the beginning, they travel to Akron and then on to the state of California.

Is NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS the first book you published?
I’ve been blessed to have several books published in the past several years. My last release was DEADLY INENT, part of the Deadly Communications series that features a crime-fighting speech pathologist. . NO HOME is actually my second Christmas story with the first being THE CHRISTMAS STALKING. It features a country singer with a stalker, of course!

So, you were a speech-language pathologist. Tell us a little about that job.
I retired as an SLP from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.
I loved my job and would still be doing it except for some serious health issues.

What sort of serious health issues?
In 2012 I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. Fortunately, they weren’t cancerous, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t wreaked havoc on my life but…I recently finished treatment and am looking forward to getting healthy again—with God’s help.

What do you want readers to take away from NO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
I want everyone to know that they always have a home with God. He never turns anyone away if they’re sincere. Just like the prodigal son, he’ll always welcome you home.

What is your writing process?
I’m what they call a “pantser” meaing I write by the seat of the pants. I never know what’s going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.
When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

How long does it take to write a book?
That's a questions that I get asked a lot, and I still don't have a good answer for it. Because I might work on a story for a few weeks or a  month, then move on to another project, then come back to it at a later time. Another thing I do is work on several writing projects at a time. That means I might spend 30 minutes on a story one day or 2-3 hours on it another day. 
Once the first draft is finished, I always set it aside for a while, then come back to it to edit, revise, and polish. I do this several times before I send it to my publisher.
So as you can see, it's really hard to estimate how long it takes me to "write" a book. But I can say that from start to finish, any full-length book is worked on for at least a few hundred hours.  My novellas would be a shorter time, of course.

Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?
Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I’m surprised right along with my readers. Sometimes, I think I know who the killer is through most of the book, but then throw in a shocker at the end.

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?
I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s okay, I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.
I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.

What are you working on now?
I just finished the final edits on the third in the Deadly Communications series. Its title is DEADLY SILENCE. In it, Maven will be back and facing some very difficult life circumstances.
Along with that, she’s working with a late-deafened adult as a client. A subject near and dear to me since I’ve lost all my hearing in one ear and a significant amount in the other because of the brain tumors. I also have several other stories in various stages that I’m working on.

My website is and I have a devotional blog at My blog is TIARAS & TENNIS SHOES at  I’m also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at


Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!
Lillian is a multi-published writer with several Amazon bestsellers, including The Christmas Stalking and Betrayed. Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch or two of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us
Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: Tiaras & Tennis Shoes is her personal blog at

Readers, thanks for visiting Lagniappe.

I pray you find a 
“little something extra" 
in each of your days.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Candee Fick - Catch of a Lifetime

Good Monday Morning Readers!

Today, Candee Fick visits 
Lagniappe to discuss her latest
release, Catch of a Lifetime.

Welcome, Candee!

Tell us a little about Catch of a Lifetime

Catch of a Lifetime is a contemporary, inspirational romance that tells the story of a rookie college football coach and a football-hating graduate student, athletic trainer who must work together to salvage the season while avoiding a scandal. Cassie’s past is affecting her present and until she can get past the bitterness and stereotypes, she won’t be ready to step into the future. Of course, Reed’s competitive drive to win will be affected by his growing attraction to the new girl and their requirement to interact professionally around the team.

He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport. After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare. Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game he cherishes and the woman he loves.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what's on your writing playlist these days?

I love music, especially when it helps me get into the mood of the setting as I write a particular scene. For instance, when writing Catch of a Lifetime, I listened to the soundtrack from the movie Rudy when writing some of the football action scenes. For a different story set in the mountains, I tried a playlist full of nature sounds. Currently, I’m brainstorming a book that’s set around a dinner theater that is running the show “White Christmas,” so I’ve got that musical score feeding my imagination. Quite a variety!

Give readers your brand/tagline and share how you came up with it.

My tagline is “Stories of Faith, Hope, and Love.” That trio of characteristics comes right out of the Bible, but applies to my niche of Christian (faith) romantic (love) fiction (stories) that leave readers with hope for the future. My desire is that readers are encouraged as they discover a little bit more about God’s love for them packaged in a fictional adventure.

What are the biggest misconception people have about your subject/genre?

When some people think of a romance, they picture a line of “bodice-ripper” covers near the grocery store checkout and find it hard to pair that idea with the Christian faith. However, the Bible is the greatest love story ever told since it depicts God’s pursuit of a relationship with us, Jesus laying down His life to buy our freedom, and ends with a wedding feast and happily-ever-after eternity. I believe a Christian romance can be a reflection of that same love story in ways our frail humanity better understands. In addition to flawed characters trying to serve and love each other, the strand of faith woven through their relationship can point readers to the only One who can ultimately satisfy their longings.

If you weren't a writer, what would be another dream job?

Hands down, I’d be a librarian so I could hang out with stories every day. Of course, I might get in trouble for reading the books instead of shelving them, so perhaps I should be a book reviewer instead. Or an editor. Anything with books, right?

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing come from?

My mother taught me to read at the age of four, so by the time I reached kindergarten, I was already beyond the dry adventures of Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. However, my imagination was fed by my grandmother who sent new books for every special occasion. Often those characters lived in my brain and acted out new adventures while I waited a new book to arrive. Of course the more I read, the more I imagined stories I wished were available to read. Eventually I started writing down those ideas.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

If you enjoyed my book, tell someone! Word of mouth is the best marketing tool available and yet authors are dependent on readers to do it. Recommend the book to friends and acquaintances in your circle of influence. Even buy a copy as a gift. But please go to Amazon, Goodreads, and/or other book-related sites on the Internet and tell your virtual friends what you loved about the book. The more people who chime in with a review, the higher the book ranks in those mysterious search algorithms and the more often it gets included in the “people who viewed this also viewed” suggestions so more readers can find it.

What can we expect from you in the future?
My second contracted book is currently with my publisher’s editor and is due to release in September 2016. Tentatively-titled Dance Over Me, it tells the story of a fledgling actress searching for her place on the stage and her long-lost brother. It takes place at a dinner theater so imagine tap dancing, musical numbers, and Big Band trumpet playing by the hero. I’m currently plotting the sequel and recording ideas for book three in that series.

Please include buy links and your website/FB/Twitter etc links.

Please leave a question you’d like readers to answer.

If you are a football fan, who is your favorite team and why? If you would rather do without football, what other sport/band/show are you a fan of?


Nora Roberts or Diana Gabaldon?   Diana Gabaldon
Sandals or FlipFlops?    FlipFlops
Artist: Monet or Van Gough    Monet
Women’s Fiction or Romance?   Romance

Plotter, Pantser, or Planster?    Planster

Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, and Special Olympics games. In what little free time remains, she enjoys exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.

Candy, thanks for sharing!

Readers, thanks for visiting Lagniappe.

I pray you find 
"a little something extra" 
in each of your days.