Saturday, December 19, 2015



When logs glow warm in the fire
And Mama in a rocker sews
Children yawn, begin to tire
Slide warm socks o’er chilly toes
With cider brewing in a pot
And sugar cookies nice and hot
Drink it in
Little ones
These are memories that smile

When the coals burn red and deep
And twinkling lights flicker low
Children reluctant to go to sleep
Until they’ve seen new snow
Eager for the early day
The hallowed birth to celebrate
Drink it in
Little ones

These are memories that smile

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Man in the High Castle

Based on a friend’s recommendation, I started watching a new TV series on Amazon Prime called, The Man in the High Castle.

Holy wow.

I’d never heard of it, and I had no idea what the show was about. But, here’s a snapshot: In an alternate history, the Axis powers defeated the Allies in WWII. The United States surrendered after a nuke was dropped on Washington, DC. What remained of the United States was divided between the Nazis and the Japanese, and only a small strip in the middle of the former States serves as a buffer between the two empires.  The show is set in 1962, and in this alternate history, we see what roughly 20 years of uninhibited Nazi occupation would look like, complete with Jewish and Christian extermination, and super-sized kilns.

I can honestly say, I’m unnerved.

What would our lives be like had the Greatest Generation not stood the gap and defeated one of the worst evils in world history? This stark glimpse of what could have been has significantly frightened me. Can you imagine having the SS Nazis serve as our police force? Or the Kempeitai, the Japanese version of the Gestapo? Can you imagine how radically different our lives would be? No, you cannot. That’s why you must watch The Man in the High Castle. Not because it’s enjoyable and intriguing, but because we must all know and appreciate the sacrifice our Allied troops made in protecting us from evil.

In the same turn, I’m ashamed of how our Nation and the World is now cowering to a similar evil in the Terrorist Wars of the last 20 years. This storyline should re-awaken the proverbial sleeping giant, and rouse us from our lethargy, for we could face a similar occupation.

Historically, America has served as a bastion of freedom, a sentinel against evil, a beacon of light to a dark and dying world. However, in The Man in the High Castle, there is no stop-gap measure. There is no Dutch boy with his finger stuck in a dyke. There is no one to stand against the two world Empires. There is no America. There is only power and pain, and suffering is a fact of life. Information is a commodity. Life is meaningless. Hope no longer exists.

Am I upsetting you? I certainly hope so. I highly recommend you watch this show. It’s rated TV-MA, but not for graphic sex scenes. Be warned, there is bad language and some brief scenes of nudity, but it’s the kind of nudity you’d find in a prison camp. This is not a show you will watch because you enjoy it. It’s a show you will watch because you should. And I promise you, the next time Memorial Day rolls around, you will find deeper appreciation for our soldiers than you ever imagined possible. It’s your duty as an American to watch this show and utter a prayer of thanksgiving.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Marian P. Merritt, Author: Who is This Southern Belle?

Today I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine, who is absolutely fantastic. You’re gonna love her from the get go. Her name is Marian P. Merritt, and she writes Christian Romance, and Woman’s Fiction, which is my favorite of her work. But, I’ll get to that later. For now, I want you to know who she is and what she’s about.

 But first, I want you to see why I wanted to highlight this amazing woman...

When Charleston Charly Maynard loses her job just weeks after her fiancé calls off the wedding, she decides to visit the cottage in the quaint village of Cavazzale, Italy she’s inherited from her grandmother. She’s hoping the time there will help her to decide what to do about her future. When she meets André Lagneaux, a handsome man from Bayou Country, who is visiting his brother in Cavazzale, Charly ignores the attraction. After all, she's not looking for romance. When André Lagneaux’s parents set up a family trip to Italy, André is eager to spend Christmas with his brother and godchild. Meeting the beautiful American woman at the airport adds to his excitement. He'd loved to get to know her, but her cool demeanor tells him she's not interested. Will she let down her guard and allow them to get to know one another? When Charly finds a prayer in her nonna’s diary that makes her realize God may have His own plan for her future, she must learn to trust. But, what if His plan includes the dark-haired Cajun?

How awesome is that? Right?

Q. You don’t appear to be from Boston…

A. Hardly! I grew up in South Louisiana in a small community south of New Orleans. Although there were times my Cajun accent was mistaken for one from the Northeast. Go figure…

Q. So, you’re one of those bayou gal’s who was always saying, “You know how those uppity folk are. They live way up north in New Orleans?”

A. Yes, I’m officially from “down the bayou” and New Orleans was considered “town.”

Q. I take it you love the South?

A.  I love a lot of things about the South. Especially the food and the people!

Q. You lived for a while in Colorado, and I gather you really enjoyed your time there.

A. Yes, I’ve lived in Colorado for the past eight years and while I missed so much about the South, I learned to appreciate so much from that state.

Q. You now live in Texas. How did that happen, and do you feel like Texas is as much of a home as Louisiana?

A. My husband was transferred by his company to Houston. We’ve lived here before so we were glad to come back to reconnect with friends. While I’m happy to be living back in the south closer to family and fresh seafood, I do miss the mountains, cooler temperatures, and low humidity of Colorado!

Q. Writing is clearly a passion for you, and it’s something you dearly hope will help inspire others. What was the key book you read as a kid that sparked for you?

A. I’m not sure there was one book in particular. I read so many books growing up “on the bayou.” The Island of the Blue Dolphin and Chita: A Memory of Last Isle were two books that have stayed with me. The characters were so vivid that I felt I was in the story with them. I appreciate the authors giving me that experience.

Q. You attended the University of South Alabama. What was your field of study and how does it influence your writing?

A. I have a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. My medical background gives me another dimension to add to my characters.

Q. I saw on your fabulous website,, “While this bayou girl is glad to be back in the south because she loves her Southern roots, doesn't wear white after Labor Day, says y’all and can make a killer roux, she misses living in the mountains with it's low-humidity air and white Christmases! That's why you'll find a Louisiana/Colorado connection in each of her books.”

I have to admit, I was immediately reminded of the old television show, Designing Women, which was set in Atlanta, NOT Louisiana. I know that show was much before your time, but which of the characters mostly closely mirrors you?

A. Actually, Travis, I remember the show well. It was one of my favorites! I relate with Mary Jo. I know what it’s like to be a single mom trying to earn a living. I can also relate to her sharp wit.

Q. What is your favorite Christmas memory?

A. Going to my grandparents house and getting the wonderful Christmas fruit baskets they had for us each year.

Q. What is your deepest regret?

A. Deepest regret? Hmmm….I try really hard not to dwell of things of the past. I believe God wants us to live in His plan for our future and if we do, there’s no room for regrets.

 Q. If you could live for one year in any place on this Earth…

A. Wow, there’s so many places I would love to live. My number one place would be on a farm/vineyard in Tuscany, Italy.

Q. Is outer space something that interests you?

A. No. I’m a bit claustrophobic so the space suit would really freak me out.

Q. Is there another creative passion in your life?

A. I love photography and pottery. While I get to play with my camera often, I don’t get to use my wheel as much as I’d like.

Q. Who was your secret teenage crush?

A. Oh wow…blushing. That would be Donny Osmond. Big poster on my bedroom wall and all the Teen Beat magazines that he was on the cover.

Q. Sweet tea or coke?

A. Neither. I try to avoid sugar so I go with Unsweetened tea.

Q. How far back do your Southern roots go?

A. Good question. At least 6 maybe 7 generations or more. I haven’t actually counted. But I know there are several generations of grandparents buried in the same cemetery in the bayou town where I grew up.

Q. If you could go back and visit with your younger self, what age would it be and what would you say?

A. Twelve. I’d take myself to lunch and say, “No matter what. Don’t settle for anything less that your dream no matter how impossible it may seem.”

Q. Let’s talk about your books. Which of your novels is your favorite?

A. Now Travis, that’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite! I like each of them for different reasons. The Vigil is a story close to my heart because God sent me so much of that story in the middle of the night.
I'm going to insert ONE small sentence from the description of The Vigil. It was hooked immediately: "While reading a dying patient's Korean War love letters, family secrets shatter Cheryl's beliefs about her family and herself and shed light on the reason she fled her hometown."

Q. Why do you choose your current genres? Is there a genre you want to explore?

A. I love reading Women’s Fiction and can relate to those characters so it was a natural path for me to write those stories. I may have a mystery swirling through my brain that may one day materialize on the page.

Q. What’s next for you?

A. I’m brainstorming another Christmas novella. This one set in the fictional town of Bijou Bayou where The Vigil is set. Some of those characters will make an appearance.

I’m also working to complete a Women’s fiction story set in Tuscany, Italy and Mandeville, LA.

Lightning round!

Q. List 10 things you like:

A. Here’s is the list I have on my website:
My Family
Snow – only when it's falling
Baby Giggles
Puppies (who doesn't love puppies?)
Vintage Sports Cars
Saints and Broncos Football

Q. What? You got something against the Dallas Cowboys?

A. Sorry, Travis. They are not on my list of favorites.

Q. List 10 interesting things about you:

I cried when I saw Michelangelo's David.
I drive a truck.
I've climbed Diamond Head in Hawaii.
I've owned two Harley Davidson motorcycles: A Sportster 883 and a Road King Classic.
I believe in pursuing your dreams.
I can shuck an oyster.
I graduated with a degree in physical therapy at thirty-four.
I've walked on the Great Wall of China.
Most of my childhood was spent running around barefoot.
I "kinda" speak Cajun French. (I can understand a lot and speak a little.)

Q. What’s the best way to follow you?

A. I have a readers group on Facebook that I share information with my readers.

Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. Her tagline, Where the Bayous Meets the Mountains, grew from both loves.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women's Fiction Writers Association.
This Louisiana native writes her Christmas romances and Southern women’s fiction with a Louisiana/Colorado connection from the Texas home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle.

Connect with her through Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Buy links to Marian’s Books:!/cnec