Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


Lego My Ego

letto-egoI have a list of a thousand things–all good things–I want to do before I die. Sometimes I think I have to cram them all into one month.

When my activities start to overlap, things get pushed around: my priorities out of order, my finances out of line, my emotions out of control, and my back, well, just out.

I have a ready list of excuses too.

  • If I don’t do this, no one else will.
  • They’re counting on me.
  • It’s all part of marketing my book.
  • But I want to.
  • I’m not getting any younger. [Tell me, is anyone?]

Recently, when my serenity was crowded out by busyness, I had a hard time hearing God’s voice. And I needed to. [Duh.] So I prayed for the Lord to speak loud enough for me to hear over the din of my daily activities. He gave me this personalized paraphrase of 1 Kings 19:11-14 instead.

Go stand over there and be quiet. Don’t check your email or Facebook and stay away from Pinterest. Wait for God to speak.

A reader posted a 5-star Amazon review and bolstered my hopes before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the Amazon review; after the review, a great idea for another writers’ event, but God wasn’t in the event; and after the great idea, positive comments on a blog, but God wasn’t in the comments or the blog; and after the positive comments, a gentle and quiet whisper.

When Clarice heard the quiet voice, she muffled her face with her great lap blanket, went to the mouth of her writing cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Clarice, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Clarice said it again, “I’ve been writing my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of God have turned toward the secular market, destroyed your places of Christian publication, and murdered the written word. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”

egoOh, the ego of it all! When I feel like I’m not able to give up some of my activities, writing or otherwise, because there is no one who can possibly replace me, that’s when I know I’m in trouble. OVERBLOWN EGO TROUBLE.

To make it right, I need to let go of my ego and refresh my soul.  So now I’m waiting– really waiting– to hear the Lord’s gentle whisper.

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. ~ 1 Peter 2:11-12 (MSG)


Beauty Tips for Ladies of an Uncertain Age Only

And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it. ~ 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (MSG)

The advantage of being my age is that I’ve mastered a few beauty tips over the years which I am transparent enough to pass on to my readers.

dirty-eueglassesFirst, clean your eyeglasses!

You know that blouse you’ve been wearing three days in a row—it’s covered with drips and dribbles. Oh, yes, it is. No one will tell you because they’re just relieved it’s not them.

I once worked with a woman who kept pushing her eyeglasses up her nose while she ate her tuna fish sandwich. By the end of lunch, her glasses were smeared with mayonnaise. Please! This is not a good look for you–first, because you won’t be able to see. And, second, it’s hard for people to take you seriously when you have tuna hanging off an eyeglass hinge. 

Clean your eyeglasses before you attempt to pluck those thick spikes which crop up in your eyebrows. If you don’t, you’ll end up with bald spots. It’s not easy to do a comb-over on an eyebrow.

If you don’t like the look of little pieces of bloody toilet paper on your face, wear your clean eyeglasses when plucking those half-inch chin hairs that pop out overnight. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

Along this line, wax or at least trim your mustache. (Yes, I know why women get them–but I don’t get why they keep them.)cutting-hair

Rethink cutting your own hair–especially at 3:00 a.m. If you do cut your hair in the wee hours of the morning, do not follow that act with plucking. You won’t like the results, believe me.

Read the directions on how to use a curling iron. Click here to see what could happen.

hairplugsThere’s always a period of time before your roots start to show and your next hair appointment. A temporary solution is to use eye shadow on your roots. (I’d stay away from blue or green.) Again shadow, not mascara. I got the wand caught in my hair. And not eyebrow pencil. Those little pencil marks made me look like I had hair plugs.

Don’t try waxing your armpits. No matter what QVC says about their product, trust me on this one. First, it’s tiring holding your arms up waiting for the wax to dry. Second, your armpit skin is stretchy—and pulling the wax only stretches it further. Do you want saggy armpits? I mean, it might work if you have someone holding your skin while you tug on the wax. But how many people do you know who would hold your armpit? [Never mind, I don’t want to know.]

dsc03767-35x5My final tip is to smile—all the time. No one will guess you still have wax in your armpits. And it’ll distract them from the spots on your blouse and the ticks on your hairline, too.

There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.  Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. ~ 1 Peter 3:2-4 (MSG)


Pregnant with Fashion Faux Pas

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. ~ Matthew 6-27-29 (MSG)

This post is meant to make you feel better about yourself—at my expense, of course. It’s a brief history of my fashion faux pas.

BACKGROUND: I was the second oldest of six children. My sister Suzanne was just shy of two years older; the four youngest were boys. Part of my responsibility as one of the oldest was to help my brothers look presentable. I washed their faces, buttoned their shirts, pulled up their pants, and made sure their shoes were on the right feet.

USA, New York, New York City, Paperboy (14-15) holding newspapers, shouting

It’s what sisters did for their little brothers back then. My mistake was thinking it was what all girls did for all boys in any situation.

THE SCENE: My mother and a neighbor were having coffee at our kitchen table. My 11-year-old self was present when the neighbor’s 15-year-old son, and our paperboy, stepped into the kitchen to deliver the newspaper.

I noticed his fly was down, so I quickly reached over and zipped it up for him, hoping to save him some embarrassment at the next house. His mother laughed, my mother scolded me, and his face turned bright red. It took me years to understand what their problem was.

BACKGROUND: Back to my older sister. I envied her when she started to develop in all the right places. Especially the summer she got the black and white one-piece bathing suit that emphasized her curves. I insisted the same suit with the stiff built-in cups fit me as well as it did her. I talked my mother into buying one for me too.

THE SCENE: At the pond, wearing my suit, the 7th grade boys all abuzz.bathing-suit

To get away from the 7th grade boys’ google eyes and wisecracks, I dove under water, swam along the bottom to the raft. I climbed up, planning to sun bathe away from shore with the more sophisticated high school crowd. When I sat and leaned back on my hands, to my horror I saw my two cups crushed almost flat, revealing my less than full figure. I dove back into the water, poked the cups back out, swam to shore, went home, and didn’t return to the pond that summer.

BACKGROUND: As a junior high student, I had a crush on the aforementioned paperboy. I wanted him to notice me. When the neighborhood kids got a game of softball together, I decided to go. I chose my striped top and a pair of short-shorts I’d inherited from someone somewhere. (My mother never would have bought them for me.) Of course, I didn’t want my parents to see what I had on, so I feigned chilliness and wore a hand-me-down London Fog trench coat over my outfit. Pathetic that it made sense to me at the time.

london-fog-coatTHE SCENE: In a big, bare field, all the neighborhood kids in jeans and t-shirts, playing softball. I, alone, in a raincoat.

I hung around clutching my coat closed until it was my turn at bat. The longer I waited, the more I was afraid to take the coat off. When I finally did, I felt like Gypsy Rose Lee [Younger people, ask your parents.] I stepped to the plate. No one whistled, but all the kids laughed. My softball career ended that day.

BACKGROUND: In high school, my nerves got the best of me. For a period of time, I sweat like a pig. [They still say that don’t they?] Nothing could stop it. Going to the prom with a boy I hardly knew made it worse.

THE SCENE: Not wanting sweat stains to show up on my hot pink prom dress before my date arrived, I stuffed tissue under my arms to absorb the nervous moisture. It worked so well I forgot it was there. Until I was standing in the middle of a crowd at the prom and a damp wad of tissues slipped through my dainty cap sleeve and plopped at my feet. My date made himself scarce the rest of the night. Never did like that guy.

BACKGROUND: Married with three kids early in life, I didn’t have much of a budget for clothes. My mother-in-law gave me this cool African top, made of stiff cotton in bright colors of orange, browns, and yellow. I wasn’t quite sure it was my style, but I wanted to be in style, so I wore it.

african-topTHE SCENE: While waiting at a traffic light, a car rear-ended my Pinto without slowing down. I hit the car in front of me and so on down the line. The ambulance was called. While the EMTs checked everyone out, I leaned against my car with my head in my hands, more upset about my car and the inconvenience than my physical condition.

One EMT seemed especially solicitous of me. I didn’t know why, since I wasn’t hurt. Then I heard him speak into his radio: “We’ve got a pregnant one here.” I looked around for a woman with child, praying she wasn’t hurt. Then I realized he was talking about me.

I look down at my African top and back at him. Now when a woman has to tell a strange man she’s not pregnant, that is not a good thing for either of them. He was back on his radio: “Scratch that. No baby. Repeat. No baby.”

The day I got my Pinto back, the African top went to the Salvation Army.

BACKGROUND: The windbreaker I’d received as a birthday gift was too small. I had gained some weight and was not happy. I went to the store to exchange it.

THE SCENE: While trying on the next size windbreaker in the busy department store, I realized it, too, was small. Aggravated, I tried to pull it over my head; it got stuck, and so did my arms. Blindfolded by the windbreaker, I walked around the store calling for my husband. He tried to pull it down when he saw me; frustrated at his ignorance, I pulled it back up. When I finally listened, he explained that my blouse was caught up with the windbreaker and I was standing there in my bra. The bright side: No one could see my face.

I know I’m not alone. Want to share one of your faux pas with me?


I Have Questions. Where is King Solomon?

QuestionsWhen the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem . . . she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. ~ 1Kings 10:1-3 (NIV)

The US is a complicated place, and the people who live here even more so. I have a few questions. If there’s a King Solomon out there, give me a call.

Do you have questions too?

  1. When a company advertises its frozen chicken product as having “ingredients like all meat chicken,” what exactly do they mean by like?Strawberry-Roll-ups
  2. Why do we say “You’re only [pick any age] once” and “You’re not getting any younger” as if it’s a lost nugget of Solomon’s wisdom?
  3. Why were consumers caught unawares when it was disclosed that strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups contain no strawberries?
  4. One day, a doctor can tell a woman smoking may harm the baby in her womb. The next day, another doctor can end that same baby’s life in that same womb. What kind of choice is that?
  5. Yes, bacon soap is real—but why?
  6. Speaking of soap, what happens to soap scum that doesn’t stick to your tile?
  7. Why does the news media blame drug addiction on everyone except the person who started taking the drugs? I know the problem is complicated, but shouldn’t we hold the addict accountable too?da14_bacon_soap_closeup
  8. Who decides what to do when an endangered animal eats another endangered species?
  9. That brings me to this: Why do sharks get more respect (and news coverage) than the seals they eat?
  10. Why can’t gruntled people get as much attention as their disgruntled counterparts? Sheesh. The word’s not even recognized by spell-check.
  11. Have you seen the ad for the Preparation H Totables which come in a “discreet, convenient travel size”? Pardon me, but isn’t all use of any Preparation H product meant to be discreet?PH
  12. If, for unknown reasons, either and/or both of our presidential nominees were unable to continue their race for office, how would a replacement candidate be chosen?  No, seriously, how?



Through a Glass Darkly: The Potluck Widow


For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~ Matthew 7:2 (NIV)

As an author, here’s how I imagine things versus how they really are. Sort of.

The Scenario:

SingleA middle-aged widow attended Small Church in Small Town. Though she loved the church, it didn’t have a promising selection of eligible men. None, to be exact. When she heard about an active Singles Group in Big Church in Bigger Town about an hour’s drive from home, she signed up for their Potluck Social two weeks away.

As excited as she was, she had a few concerns:  How much weight could she lose in two weeks? Could her hairdresser do her roots the day before? What would she wear if she lost weight? And what would she wear if she didn’t? Most of her friends were married–could she walk in alone? If she invited a single friend, would it increase the odds against her? More importantly, what could she make that would make a man’s mouth water?

The way I imagined it happened . . .

bacon and tenderloinThankfully, the widow’s hairdresser was able to fit her in the day before and even added red highlights. Then, with one quick stop, she found all the ingredients on sale to make double bacon-wrapped tenderloin tips and molten chocolate lava cakes. She grabbed a family-size bag of barbeque chips just in case.

dress printThe morning of the event she stepped on her scale. She was ten pounds lighter! Off to a great start, she happily chose a dress she hadn’t been able to fit in since she bought it. Once she’d prepared her delectable contributions to the potluck meal, she packed them in the  thermal containers and was off!dress print

There was very little traffic, so she found Big Church without a hitch. She had arrived early enough to appear polite, yet not desperate. Greeted warmly by a gray-haired woman a few years older and a few pounds heaver, the widow set her creations on the buffet table between an egg salad sandwich platter and a bowl of pickled beets.

mocha lava cakeThe aroma of her double bacon-wrapped tenderloin tips caused a mad dash of single, well-dressed, good-looking, middle-aged men to rush in through multiple doors. All were suitably employed and loved to cook, do housework, and redecorate rooms.

The biggest problem the widow encountered that day was which single man to keep.

The way it really happened . . .

Her hairdresser wasn’t able to fit her in, so she colored her own roots and added red highlights. She mustn’t have waited long enough for the root color to set because the highlights turned her gray roots hot pink.

She scrambled around multiple food stores, confused about what to make for the Potluck Social. Not much of a cook and on a limited budget, she ended up buying an accidently-thawed Mrs. Smith’s pumpkin pie and a crushed box of Choco Mallows from the seconds bin. She grabbed a bag of chips, but ate them on the way home.

frumpy dressThe morning of the Potluck Social she weighed herself (before dressing, after peeing). Stress-eating over this whole affair had resulted in a gain of eight-plus pounds. Off to a crummy start, she had to wear that navy, flowered dress she’d vowed never to be seen in again.

She baked the thawed pie according to the directions on the box. The crust burned so she removed it and cut the rest of the pie into weird geometrical shapes, some of which  rocked. She unwrapped the Choco Mallows to make them look more homemade, then put them and the pie bites in disposable plastic containers. And she was off!

She got lost trying to find Big Church in Bigger Town. An hour late, she was greeted by a blonde, twenty years younger and twenty pounds lighter, who said, “Where did you come from?” When the widow told her Small Church in Small Town, the younger woman said, “Then why don’t you start your own singles group there?”

With no real answer, the widow found the buffet table where she placed her squished chocomallowspumpkin shapes and melted Mallows near an empty platter that still had the aroma of bacon and beef. She weaved through the full room of singles carrying a paper plate filled with a beet-juice-soaked egg salad sandwich and three cold pigs ‘n a blanket.

There were way more women than men in attendance. And from what she overheard, most of the men her age were talking about their mothers–whom, it seemed, they still lived with.

She found a seat in an outside circle of chairs. Inside the circle, smaller circles of people stood and chatted amiably with their backs to her and their backsides inches from her plate.

No one, other than the blonde, spoke to her the long, painful hour she was there. It was as if a secret alarm had sounded: WARNING! WARNING! NEW WIDOW ON THE PROWL! (Not nice,  even if it was true.)

The biggest problem the widow encountered that day was how to find the exit out of  Big Church so she could get back to Small Town fast.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)




Eleven Lousy Excuses

Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,” will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know— Someone not impressed with weak excuses.  ~ Proverbs 24:11-12 (MSG)

  1. The brief definition of the sentence “My husband will understand” is “rationalization.” The expanded definition is “I better start praying for a real good reason before I get home.”
  2. If I find myself repeatedly saying– “Laugh, that was a joke” –it doesn’t necessarily mean the people to whom I’m speaking are dense. It could be my jokes aren’t that funny.
  3. When I preface a sentence with, “I shouldn’t say this but—” then I shouldn’t say this—period.
  4. If my main reason for not going to the doctor’s is because I don’t want to get weighed, it means I’m overweight and vain and in denial and not too bright.
  5. Since the little I have to offer won’t make a big difference, I’ll wait until I have more before I give.   Bored audeince
  6. If three or more people yawn (or fall asleep) while I’m speaking, it’s not them or the heat or their lack of sleep, it’s me . . . being boring.
  7. If I have to defend my friend’s words and actions over and over with this sentence: “You know, she’s really quite smart,” chances are my friend has to work harder to prove my hypothesis.
  8. When my fellow writers don’t “get” a scene I’ve written now, a rewrite is always better than a long-winded explanation that my readers won’t put up with later.
  9. I’m able to watch all the TV shows and movies I want by skipping over the offensive parts.
  10. Why should I tell them how Jesus changed my life? They won’t listen anyway.
  11. I cannot vote for one presidential candidate and don’t want to vote for the other, so that means I’m not obligated to vote.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?  ~  Galatians 5:13-15 (MSG)




Linda Brooks Davis: An Inspiration

Ella McFarlandFor all you wannabe writers out there who think your AUTHOR date of expiration has come and gone, Linda Brooks Davis is the inspiration you need to see that your dream is not dead, just waiting on God’s timing.

ME:  Linda, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

LINDA: In high school I learned there was a spot inside me, somewhere around the heart, that came to life when I wrote. Later, at a local college, a quirky English professor asked me if I’d ever considered creative writing for a career. I was astounded. 

Expose my inner self to the world? Horrors!

It wasn’t until I went away to college that I discovered letter writing brought that spot to life. I wrote copious letters home. I remember hurrying back to the dorm between classes to start a letter or add to one, imagining my loved ones’ faces as they read and laughed and cried—experiencing college vicariously. (Think “The Waltons.”) Believe it or not, my mother saved every single letter. When she died in 1995, I discovered reams of them. I’ve organized them as a history for my offspring.

After college, life got in the way, and my writing pen remained in a drawer.

Fast forward to 2004. My daughter called me at work with news: Our first grandchild would arrive—in triplicate form. Not only was the news astounding, but so was my reaction. People in offices on the first floor came up to see what all the racket on second floor was all about.

My daughter’s at-risk pregnancy, mainly in the hospital, was indeed something to write home about. Her physician urged her to abort one baby, painting a landscape of dire predictions, but she refused.

When the babies were born at 28 weeks at just over 2 pounds each—and survived and thrived—you can bet that spot around my heart that comes to life when I write shifted into overdrive.

That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I would leave a legacy of faith in writing. Pow!

ME: You mentioned your work place, what did you do before you became a writer?

LINDA: In 1968, I began a 40-year career working with individuals with special needs. I was a speech pathologist in public schools and in clinical settings. The last ten years were as an administrator of special programs. I retired in 2008.

When not writing, my husband and I dote on our six grandchildren.

ME: How did you get involved in writing for publication? 

LINDA:  Ready for another story? Remember my dream of leaving a legacy of faith in writing? That 2005 goal took me to the internet where I stumbled across an essay contest sponsored by the host of a local talk show. (One of the program sponsors was Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.) For fun, I wrote an essay entitled “Why I Should Attend the Writing for the Soul Conference.” I didn’t know what the conference was, but it sounded like a grand event. It was at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, after all.

I didn’t tell anyone I entered. Actually, I forgot all about it.

Weeks later, I received a call at work. I recognized the voice … the host of the radio show … calling me … I’m one of three finalists … and I’m to read my essay on air … in forty-five minutes.

What? I didn’t remember where I put the essay. Was it still on my computer? Could I even find it?  Yikes.

Whew! Found it. Printed it. And caught my breath. I read, and with the clock ticking down to the last seconds of the show, the announcement was finally made. The host had made his decision . . . What? I won?

That’s how it happened. My husband and I were treated to the Broadmoor and the conference and all that went with it. I was open-mouthed and uninformed and naive. But I soldiered on.

Ten years later came the Operation First Novel win and publication of THE CALLING OF ELLA McFARLAND, a novel based in my family’s stories about hardship and faith and grit—a legacy of faith in writing.

God is so faithful, even to a ditzy woman like me who prayed for something and then was astounded when it happened. Will I ever learn?

My advice: Get the story down, no matter the form or quality. Keep learning. And don’t quit.


Linda-Brooks-DavisLinda Brooks Davis, first-place winner of the 2014 Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel award, has lived in multiple states and outside the U.S, but she speaks Texan. 

Set in 1905 pre-statehood Oklahoma, THE CALLING OF ELLA McFARLAND, an inspirational historical with a strong romantic thread, debuted on December 1, 2015.

When not writing, Linda enjoys teaching 4-year-olds at church, reading, and researching genealogy. She and her husband dote on six grandchildren.