Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Party of One: I See Lonely People

Party of OneI was widowed in 1998, around the same time the movie The Sixth Sense came out. Every time I saw the trailer and heard the line “I see dead people walking around; they’re everywhere,” I would think, “I see lonely people walking around; they’re everywhere.”

I still do—over fourteen years later.

During the eight years I was widowed, God gave me a heart for single adults—especially those who have slipped through the cracks between active couples and busy families. You know who I mean. They’re the ones who volunteer to help at social events so they have a purpose in attending; the ones who sit alone in church; or the ones who dine out in restaurants at tables, always meant for more than one, trying to look less awkward than they feel.

When I dined alone in a restaurant, I would often wonder how other single diners would react if I invited them to join me. I even drew up a plan, picked out the restaurant, and came up with the name “Party of One.”

It never happened; I chickened out.

In 2006, I was blessed to remarry. When I told my husband David about my passion for lonely singles and my former plan to create A Party of One fellowship, he suggested I turn my idea into a novel. I did, and its title—you guessed it—is Party of One. (My agent is shopping it around to publishers now.)

But something was missing: An actual Party of One fellowship.

So, in October of 2011, Party of One, A Fellowship for Those Tired of Dining Alone, was founded.  Its purpose is simple: to fellowship with single adults at a communal table. (To be clear, when I use the word “single,” I don’t mean single as in dating, but single as in dining.) Not a Singles Club

Party of One people include men and women of all ages, some single by choice, single by circumstances or “spiritually” single. It also includes others, like my husband and myself who are called to encourage them.

We extend an open invitation to all who are “tired of dining alone.” We do not limit attendees to Christians, although many of us are. None of us were Christians before God invited us to sit at His table, so God decides who He wants to show up. 🙂

We have people from nine neighboring towns in southern, NH. They include white and blue-collar workers, those who are employed full-time, many retired, democrats, republicans, and independents, maybe even a few intellectuals, holy rollers, and rednecks.

Matthew 5:46-47: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”

To allow as many as possible to attend, we rotate between Friday night, Saturday day, and Sunday afternoon—three of the loneliness times for single adults. On average, we meet twice a month. We change-up venues often between reasonably priced restaurants, fundraising events, and potluck meals.

If I’ve learned anything in the past 18 months, it is that there is a need for this fellowship.

How about you? Is God speaking to you? Is this idea jumping off the page at you? It’s a simple concept. You just get together over a meal and talk and laugh. There is no cost to join or to start a Party of One chapter. Check out our blog to see what goes on:  Party of One.

People have told me that this is “a brilliant idea.” I’m not that smart, so I strongly suspect God’s intervention.

Call me. Let’s talk. 603-578-1860.


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Character Mining: The Man in the Cheap Green Suit

Man in the Green SuitWriters need to make up real lives for their fictional characters. They don’t appear fully developed in a scene. This takes detailed, accurate research.

I do this by observing people wherever I go.

When I was called for grand jury duty a few years back, I had a lot of time to people-watch. The day dragged, until I got into the courtroom and witnessed the initial trial proceedings. That’s when things picked up.

While the judge and state prosecutor bandied some legal mumbo-jumbo back and forth, the defense attorney whispered to his client. I decided to get a fix on the defendant whose jury I might be called upon to serve. At the same time, I could gather some shady character nuggets for my next book.

I looked this thirty-something guy over.  He needed a shave; his hair could have used a style; and his cheap green suit was wrinkled.  The charge against him was embezzlement. (The thought crossed my mind that, if I’d been him, I would have taken some of that money I embezzled to buy a better suit for my hearing.)

I watched his every move. He yawned like he was as bored as everyone else in the court room. Not a good move for a defendant. He bit his nails and snorted. I tried to keep an open mind before I heard the evidence, but in my gut I knew this guy was guilty

When the judge and the prosecutor stopped their hashing about, the judge spoke: “Will counsel for the defendant rise.”

Up stood the man in the green suit.

Huh?

No problem, easy fix.  Now my shady character is a dishonest public defender.

PS:  True story. You may be relieved to know I was not chosen to serve on this jury.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mt 7:1-2)