Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe

Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Italy - Week 1 - Jan. 2015

Good Morning Readers!

Buongiorno from Northern Italy!

For the next four weeks, I’ll be posting here on Lagniappe every Thursday to chat about my time in Italy. I’ll have pictures for you and a small play-by-play of what’s happening. I hope you enjoy the tour.

I’ve been here a week and loving it. Still having a difficult time sleeping all through the night. Not sure if it’s jet lag or the powerful cappuccinos!

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Arrived into Venice, Italy at 2:20 PM via Frankfort, Germany—my first time in Germany. So thankful my luggage arrived when I did. Always a great way to start the trip. Thanks, to all you prayer warriors who've been praying for me. You are the best!

My son was waiting. So wonderful to see him after more than a year. We left for the small town of Cavazzale about an hour northwest of Venice. Loved riding on the Autostrada and seeing all the different automobiles.

Didn’t sleep much maybe a total of 3 hours on the 12.5-hour trip. Hoping to keep awake to offset the jet lag and adjust to Italy time.

Got a nice welcome when we drove into Cavazzale--a sheep traffic jam. Kinda felt at home. It's the type of traffic jams we have in Meeker.

Wonderful to see grandbabies! All three! Including the newest member, Ryan born on 16 January 2015! 

Isn't he adorable?

 BTW: It's okay to overuse exclamation marks when you're referring to your new grand baby. All rules out the window!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Dropped the kids off at their school. Son and DIL took new baby for a photo shoot while I strolled along the downtown area of the small Italian town of Cavazzale.

Stopped into a coffee shop and had a wonderful cappuccino. The best coffee here, hands down. It’s smooth and bold and just yummy. Italians know coffee.

Also, stopped into a pasta shop. The owner makes fresh pasta daily. Bought a serving of Gnocchi and Polenta. Can’t wait to try it!

Words I’ve mastered:

With the kids:
Andiamo – Let’s go. Hurry let’s go.
Basta – Stop

Out on the streets:
Un – One
Cappuccino – cappuccino.
Buongiorno – good day, good morning
Ciao – hello or goodbye,
una Persona – for one person, and am using lots of hand signals and pointing to objects.

It was my first time venturing out alone. I really wish I could speak the language. It’s beautiful and I feel so separate. So much an outsider.

The people here are quiet and reserved if they don’t know you. But they come to life when meeting someone they know. It’s been interesting listening to their conversations. Animated and lively.  I love it!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Saturday is market day in Cavazzale. The square in front of the school is transformed into an outdoor market. 

Trucks park in neat rows and the vendors showcase their fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheese, clothing, leather goods, and kitchenware. It’s fun to see the townspeople come to shop. 

They greet one another and are busy at the various booths purchasing their needs for the week.

I loved the smell of everything. It seems things smell sweeter and more robust here. Could it be that it’s all fresh? Or could it be because I’m in Italy?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Went to church on Army post with son and grandkids—Daughter-in-law still in recovery mode. If you think about it, could you say a few prayers for her continued recovery.

It was nice to worship with the other families stationed in Vicenza.

Really enjoyed the message—stay stagnate or awaken. Hmm, suppose I’ll have to take that to heart.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Stayed close to home today. Actually wrote some on my Christmas story set in Cavazzale. Prayers for daughter-in-law's healing much appreciated.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Mornings with the kids are awesome. Upon awaking they’re so sweet and cuddly. I love it. Then the race begins to get dressed, eat breakfast, and don coats, hats, and shoes. I believe that part takes the longest. Even getting the 5 year-old's hair spiked is not too bad. A new experience for this MawMaw.

We walk a few blocks to their Italian school. Today, after dropping the kids off at school, I walked to the Catholic church here. Went in to pray for a while. It was hard to concentrate for gawking at the awesome art, architecture, and sculptures.  Two photos of the shroud of Turin adorned the area above the side doors. So awesome.

Dark stained wood and candles throughout. The ornate altar has a burst of gold and finely crafted relics. The heady fragrance of incense used for years greeted when I walked in. Bringing back many childhood memories. 

A sweet young lady tried to tell me something but I didn't understand her. She kept pointing to a side wing of the church. I think it’s chapel where the morning mass is held. Did I miss out on a wonderful opportunity because I wasn't brave enough to let her guide me to where she pointed? Maybe. From now on I think I'll be braver. Seek out where God is leading. After all, the word He spoke to me for this year is SEEK. If I seek, I'll find.  That verse in Matthew (7:7-8) is one of my favorites.

Returned to the same coffee shop this morning. Met a lady I’d met the day before. Her son and my grandson are friends. She remembered me. It felt nice to greet her and for her response. The lady (owner) there seemed to recognize me and greeted as though she did.
Was kinda nice.
I felt a little more like I belonged. 

Wish I could speak the language. I have a whole new appreciation for people who come to America and don't speak English. It's a different experience when you can't communicate. When you're the outsider. But, seriously, I am reveling in this experience!

I know God is teaching me much through this. The art of truly listening and learning is always a valuable lesson.
Comprehension comes in bits and pieces. 

This time has made me acutely aware of how we communicate through body language and facial expressions. There is so much more to true communication than speaking. As a writer this thorough understanding is immeasurable.

Three ladies were sitting in the coffee shop next to me. I loved listening to their animated speech, their laughs, and watching their hand gestures. I was a bit envious--I wanted to be part of a group like that here. I desire an Italian friend to have coffee with, to learn from and share with. I'm afraid a month is not long enough to find someone like that. Especially here where people are reserved around strangers.

As I sat drinking my wonderful cappuccino, I became aware of using all my senses. Listening to the women speak so lively, the quiet strains of American music playing in the background, the sweet yet bold flavor of the coffee and cream, the small cars buzzing by and people walking briskly in the cool morning air (bundled as though the temperatures were much colder than they are), and the heavy ceramic of the cappuccino mug. It all came together and I'm grateful to have this time. 

Perhaps with prayers and seeking I'll find exactly what God has ordained for this time here.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I'm finally getting into somewhat of a routine. Sleep patterns are still messed up, but then again, that happens at home.

See the Italian alps in the distance? 

Today I dropped the kids at school then headed for the coffee shop. After another marvelous cappuccino, spent some time in the church again this morning. There was a mass in the small room off the main church. Maybe I’ll make it to the mass one day. While it’s been a while since I’ve been to a Catholic Mass, I think it would be awesome to attend one in Italian.

Took the long way home today so I could enjoy the sunshine.
Added several hundred words to my story and found the house the heroine inherits from her grandmother. Perfect setting and location. Can’t wait to get her there!

Readers, thanks for visiting Lagniappe.

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

Until next Thursday, Arrivederci!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Maria Buscher - Genesis: A Harte's Peak Prequel

Good Monday Morning Readers!

Today, Maria Buscher visits Lagniappe. 

See how an all-girl country band fits into Maria's future!

Welcome, Maria! 

Tell us a little about your book - Genesis: A Harte’s Peak Prequel
It’s the first book I ever wrote to completion, even though Harte’s Peak was published first. Genesis needed a little work, and so before I submitted it I re-wrote it twice. Remember, I said I needed work. I think this story taught me how to write. For some reason I could never give up on it. I wanted other Christian mothers to know that sometimes their teenagers will be difficult, and it doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily done something wrong. It’s a tough situation, and I have personal experience. Writing this book was a little cathartic for me.

If you weren't a writer, what would be another dream job?
I often say I’d be a detective, which is funny to my family since I don’t write mysteries or suspense. That’s too true to life for me, and I like a romantic escape in my books. Still, I avidly watch Dateline every Friday night and often have fingered the culprit long before the end of the episode!

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing come from?
I grew up with a mother and a grandmother who loved books – there was never a shortage of them in my house. In fact, one entire wall in the garage was a bookcase with so many books it was a little like going to the library. Need something to read? Go check out the garage. True story. I never thought much about being a writer though I loved to read – but in high school I wrote a short story and my English teacher thought enough of it to encourage me. Ever since then the idea sat in the back of my mind where it cooked for a couple of decades. But looking back, I’ve always been a writer – whether it was a journal, long book-length letters to my friends (back in the days when we wrote letters – the 80s, such a cute decade), or little stories that I never completed.

If you could have been the author of any classic book, which one would you choose and why? 
I would have to say To Kill a Mockingbird, because I think it’s such a wonderful and courageous book. It may not be an inspirational novel, but it can’t help but inspire something greater in all of us. I hope that each one of my heroes has a little bit of Atticus Finch in him. 

What can we expect from you in the future? 
I’m working on a series idea right now, about an all-girl country band, and what happened to each one of them after the limelight faded. Spoiler alert: there will be a love story or two!

Plotter, Pantser, or Planser? Pantser, but more like a Plotser!

eReader or Paper book? Ack! eReader

Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes? Fried Green Tomatoes

Biscuits or Dinner Roll? Dinner roll

Debbie Macomber or Nicholas Sparks? Debbie, of course

Crawfish Etouffee or Seafood Gumbo? Gumbo mainly because I’ve no idea what “etouffee” is

What happens when you move three thousand miles away but still can’t outrun the nightmare?Fleeing from haunting memories, former U.S. Marshal Jack Butler winds up next door to his biggest nightmare: an attractive widow and her troubled daughter—a teen who reminds him of a past he’s yet to make peace with. Maggie Bradshaw is struggling to raise a rebellious teen and to forgive in-laws who betrayed her in her time of greatest need…but her new neighbor is a godsend. Her daughter Lexi needs a positive influence in her life, and a law enforcement officer is the perfect choice. Unfortunately, Jack isn’t interested in helping...until a stray dog walks into all their lives. Can God use a grieving daughter and a stray dog with an ulterior motive to bring healing to all?

Maria Buscher writes as Maria Michaels. 
 connect with her on Facebook
Her blog:

When early onset stage fright dashed dreams of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status, Maria Michaels tackled her first book in 2010, and now the people and voices that occupy her head refuse to leave.

She no longer sings unless you count randomly bursting into song to annoy her children (and the dogs).

Maria lives in northern California with her family, including two beagles, one who can say 'hello' and the other who can feel a pea through several pillows.

Maria, thanks for sharing with our readers!

Readers, thanks for visiting Lagniappe.

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


Monday, January 19, 2015

Pamela S.Thibodeaux - Circles of Fate

Good Monday Morning Readers!

Today, Pam S. Thibodeaux visits Lagniappe. 

See why her fiction is labeled as "Inspirational with an Edge"

Welcome, Pam!

Tell us a little about Circles of Fate

Circles of Fate is a romantic saga which takes the readers from Ft. Benning, GA to Thibodaux, LA and covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson who are constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate. The two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Purchase Links:
Create Space:

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

When I was newly published I attended a writer’s conference where Susan Grant was one of the guest speakers. She talked about the importance of a brand or tagline. At the time I seriously considered “The Nora Roberts of Christian Fiction” as mine. However, not sure how Ms. Roberts and her team would feel about that, I struggled with coming up with a tagline for quite sometime. In 2001 I began setting up book signings at the Books A Million stores (that was back when authors could bring their books in). While talking with one of the event coordinators he asked what my books were about. As I told him and mentioned they were reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message” he commented “so they’re inspirational with an edge.” 

I knew in that moment my search was over and “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ became my tagline from that day until this. I even use it for my nonfiction projects as I often write to inspire as well as challenge the status quo of what Christianity is and how a Christian should believe and behave. Always with the intention of encouraging them into a closer walk and a deeper, more personal relationship with God & Jesus of course.

If you could spend the day with a famous author, whom would you choose and why?

Nora Roberts is my all-time favorite author and I’d love to sit and chat with her just to gain insight on how she continues to come up with such great characters and stories and how she’s crossed over so many genres and yet, never lost herself or her unique style and voice in the process.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?

I didn’t choose my genre, it chose me.

When I first began writing in 5 subject notebooks I wrote steamy, sensual romance. However, in 1989 I recommitted my life to Christ and committed my writing to Him, praying I’d never write “just another romance” but something that would glorify Him and encourage readers to seek a close, personal relationship with Him. Not knowing anything about the “Christian” market, I went back through those stories and let the characters’ faith shine through. I had no idea the books were too steamy and sensual.

Until I started submitting.

It didn’t take long to find out my writing did not fit in this genre!

I continued to write and began to read Christian romances then started revising. Although my books are not always accepted by a traditional Christian publisher, they do stay within and teach biblical principles.

If you could have one of your senses (Touch, sight, taste, smell, hear) be a superpower which would you choose and why?

As Christians we’re called, and as writers we’re taught, to look a level deeper. However, I’d love to hear more than people’s words, but the deepest whispers of their heart and soul. By doing so, I’d be able to minister to them more effectively.  

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Sometimes when I’m feeling as though there is no real point to writing, I’ll read a couple of good reviews to boost my mood and remind myself why I write. Occasionally I’ll respond to a reviewer’s comments. As for dealing with the bad, I try to look for and focus on one positive note within the “bad” review and remind myself that reading is subjective and you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

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

Tell everyone they meet how much they enjoyed the book! Write a review. Purchase it as a gift to those whom they feel would enjoy and benefit from reading it.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I have 2 WIPs (Works in Progress) in various stages of completion and hope to get at least one if not both finished and contracted and/or published in 2015. I also have 2 NF (Non fiction) projects I’ve started and a whole bunch of ideas just waiting to be developed.


Plotter, Pantser, or Planser?
100% Panster! Half the time I can’t even come up with a blurb much less synopsis until the book is finished. About the only thing I know is the story will contain a true-to-life romance and end happily-ever-after.

For Thanksgiving: Pecan Pie or Pumpkin Pie? Oooohhh… Pecan; definitely. Although I do enjoy pumpkin pie, pecan is my favorite of the two.

Biscuits or Dinner Roll?
Yep LOL! Or cornbread or crackers or… bread is my weakness so anything….bread-like.

More important: Plot or Characters?
IMHO, great characters can pull off just about anything including a virtually unbelievable plot.

Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Website address:  
Twitter: @psthib

Pam, thanks for sharing!

Readers, thanks for visiting Lagniappe.

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