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  • Writer's pictureMARIAN P. MERRITT - AUTHOR

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

la·gniappe (lnyp, ln-yp) n. Chiefly Southern Louisiana & Mississippi 1. A small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer's purchase. 2. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. I hope these entries give you a little something extra with posts about this southern gal living in the north, a dish I tried and loved, sometimes about writing, a few author interviews, new releases, and whatever else moves me! I also post occasional photos from my photography sojourns. Thanks for reading!

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  • Writer's pictureMARIAN P. MERRITT - AUTHOR

Death By Wasabi

Deciding my palate needed stimulation, I ventured to the sushi counter at the local grocery store.

Not only would this be fresh and exciting, but something I could say with a measure of class. “Why yes, I love sushi.”

Anxious to join the ranks of the other sophisticates, I eagerly opened the package and examined the California rolls. The small tray held six of the delicately wrapped goodies along with a package of soy sauce, a small bundle of translucent flesh-colored slices, and a marble-sized piece of avocado. Why would this avocado be rolled into a ball?

I popped the “avocado ball” into my mouth fully expecting the smooth taste and texture. Instead, a pasty glob assaulted my tongue.

But then—OH MY!

An inferno unleashed into my head. The burning spread like a brush fire through a dry wheat field.

The intense flames traveled unmercifully through my sinus cavity leaving a blazing trail of torture. I grabbed my head and hopped about the kitchen as though performing a ritualistic pain dance.

Tears distorted my vision. Through the blur, I read the ingredients. Aha, the weapon of wrath—Wasabi.

My heart raced. Odds were not in my favor for surviving this Wasabian adventure.

“I’m going to die!” I bellowed to the empty kitchen and the midday newscaster.

Would the anchor on tomorrow’s midday news be broadcasting my demise? I imagined tomorrow’s headline. “Woman dies of Wasabi overdose.” Not the epitaph I’d hoped for.

Pain seared through my head and set each cranial nerve ablaze.

Natural childbirth—a walk in the park compared to the torrents of torment I’d fallen captive to.

My sinuses—a runaway faucet. As a river of fluids gushed from my face, I prepared for imminent death. Please Lord, don’t let me die like this. Not—death by Wasabi.

I envisioned a gloved CSI team examining my kitchen, the scene of this gruesome crime.

What if forensics can’t trace Wasabi? My death would be a mystery. The only evidence—a tray of uneaten sushi. Would anyone notice the missing Wasabi ball?

As I rolled my head on the cool counter in an effort to ease the pain, my physiological need for oxygen prevailed. I braved a deep breath.

I now knew what inhaling broken bits of glass felt like. Please, instead, give me a root canal without anesthesia, a red-hot poker in my eye, bamboo shoots under my fingernails, or perhaps, a guillotine.

The pain continued its search and destroy mission. Survival consisted of short shallow breaths and hopping around the kitchen like a bare-footed kid walking on oyster shells.

Dare I try another breath? Not a walk through a spring meadow, but at least it didn’t feel like I’d snorted gasoline. A flicker of hope ignited. The pain recoiled. Its mission accomplished.

The sardonic circles of calamity sat there so innocent looking.


Approaching the rolls like a lioness stalking her prey, I sneered at the tray. Were there more of the little green marbles of malice?

Both my appetite and confidence withered. Hours later when hunger returned, my ego-bruised palate dined on a simple PBJ sandwich with extra grape jelly.

The rolls? Gone.

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  • Writer's pictureMARIAN P. MERRITT - AUTHOR

Please welcome my good friend and author, BJ Mayo. I had the privilege of reading his debut novel, Alfie Carter, and was honored that he trusted me to read his first draft in its rawest form. His story is amazing and his characters are unique and memorable.

I fell in love with Jackaleena. She stole my heart with her courage, innocence, and fledgling faith. I think she will steal your heart as well!

And Alfie...what can I say about Alfie. He starts out as a salty small-town detective and I wasn't sure I liked him. But, as with some people, once I got to "know" him, he also stole my heart.

This story is a faith-filled journey of how the path of two unlikely people can cross and bring long-needed healing in the most unlikely way.

I think you will enjoy the journey this novel will take you on!

About Alfie Carter

The seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned. Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the only survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City's customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.m her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

This is your debut novel. How does it feel to actually see your story in print?

I would say to see your work in print, especially in the public sector, is certainly something that will give you pause. I would hope that this novel as well as others to follow are digestible in the positive sense.

Tell our readers what inspires your stories and how do you use that inspiration to create a completed novel?

My story inspirations are for the most part, purely fictional in nature. Some may be fiction and drawn from actual historical accounts for chronological context perhaps. However, individual character development is based on actual personality traits or in some cases “blended” traits of characters I have met from places traveled and worked in the world. Although it is a rigorous exercise to bring a work to finalization, just bringing the characters to life and telling their story is a compelling inspiration for me. Once the characters are brought to life, it is interesting to dwell in their minds and walk their life paths to say the least.

Tells us about Alfie Carter, the character, what drives him and describe his personality to our readers.

I think there is a little bit of Alfie Carter in a lot of men I know and I certainly include myself in that category. As with some men, he is driven by his work. His work ethic is certainly a desirable trait. I would say one of the most undesirable traits is his blind inability to accept and come to grips with the past and move on. Perhaps this very human flaw in Alfie Carter certainly is a detriment to his relationship with the only woman that truly loves him, Beatrice.

What message, if any, did you hope to portray with Alfie Carter?

I strongly believe that people and events that are placed in our life, both from a positive and negative standpoint , are in the guiding hands of God. You might call it “divine providence” rather than happenstance. The one person that is able to change Alfie Carter’s life was a little girl from Angola West Africa. She does not let her tragic life circumstances overcome her desire to succeed in finding her “higher purpose”.

How and when did you begin writing? And what prompted you to start?

This novel and others have been in my mind for quite some time. I actually started Alfie

Carter about six years ago. Due to my travel schedule and “work”, most writing was done in the evenings on the weekend. What prompted me to start? That is a good question. I would say that creative writing may be something in your DNA that is not easily removed.

Would you care to share a little about yourself?

Having spent over 43 years in the energy industry, I had the privilege of working in some very diverse places within the United States and overseas. These opportunities allowed me to gain a unique perspective on how people live and survive in other lands both within and beyond our borders. My wife and I have been married for 47 years and have two grown children. We live on a working farm close to San Angelo, Texas.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

When you are inspired to write, take the time to capture the inspiration sooner rather than later. Write with the reader in mind.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

There are several books in various stages of progress.

. “ Sparrows of Montenegro” A Western set in Mexico and Texas circa 1870

. “Two Step” A modern Western set in Montana, Minnesota and Arizona.

. “ The Ferrier” Non-Fiction Bio with photo selections

Future Books

. “Tracks of the Chupacabra” Fiction Thriller

. “ Archie of Weedpatch” Fiction- Set in California during the Great Depression

. “ Apples of Okanogan” Fiction set in Washington State

. “Fantasmas Del Pasado” (Ghosts of the Past) Fiction Thriller

. “Boys of Springhill Road” Fiction

. “Verbosity” Fiction

. “Horses of Begonia” Fiction

. “ Felicity Two-Feathers” Western Fiction

. “Slick Rock” Fiction set in the Moab Region of Utah (Aged Mountain Bikers)

Updates on current and future novels will be posted on my website below:

Buy Alfie Carter

Congratulations, BJ on the publication of your first novel. There is no doubt that we will see many more from you!

Readers, thanks for visiting and be sure to leave a message to show BJ some love!

As always, may you find a little something extra (Lagniappe) in each of your days.

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