Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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My Sources of Good Material

Not resting–people watching.

Collecting good material is all part of the writing process. Here are a few of the ways I gather mine.

First, I’m always on the lookout for new words (new to me, that is) to use in my writing someday. Yesterday I added “flumped” and “clots” to my list just because they made me smile.

I also collect phrases–mostly from listening to my quick-witted husband. I keep a small spiral pad with me at all times. When he speaks, I take notes. (It’s not really stealing if it’s common property; we are ONE after all.)

Unfortunately, he does not provide this service on demand. He  says, “I have no idea when something useful will float to the surface of the muck and mire. You have to take what you get.”  Watching his mind work is pure genius . . .  and a little bit scary.

I also eavesdrop on conversations–in restaurants, at church, while shopping, at meetings. Some might accuse me of being nosy; without hesitation, I admit I’m guilty.

People-watching is kin to eavesdropping, but you can do that from afar.  My husband calls it “rubbernecking;” I call it research. Many of my characters have been dressed in the get-ups I’ve seen while walking through a public place.

Then there are my co-workers, friends and family. In my latest book, Party of One,  some of my friends and family may recognize a few of their own quirks and characteristics. (I do hope they will forgive me.)

And I’m certain they will recognize mine.

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Janet Grunst! Winner of the 2017 Selah Award for Historical Romance

I’m honored to call this Selah Award Winner my friend. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Janet is a great encourager! We met at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Dallas in 2012–before we were both published–and we’ve kept in touch ever since. What a blessing to share and celebrate our publishing journeys together!

I hope you enjoy our mutual interviews both here and on Janet’s website.  And, if you comment on this post, you’ll have a chance to win either a print or Kindle copy of Janet’s award-winning novel, A Heart Set Free.

CGJ:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

JSG:  I was in my mid thirties and a stay-at-home mom.

CGJ:  Who first supported you in this dream?

JSG:  My former husband, Bob, who never read anything in this genre. He would read each chapter as I finished it and ask for the next one.

CGJ:  Who is your biggest cheerleader now?

JSG:  My husband, Ken, who encouraged me to get back into writing after I’d put it aside for decades. He encouraged me to try again to get this first story published. I provide him with red pens, and he loves to comment and edit.

CGJ:  What did you do before you became a writer?

JSG:  I was in the banking and mortgage lending industry before I had children. When I returned to work in the 90’s I worked for Community Bible Study (CBS), an international and interdenominational Bible study program with many classes throughout the United States and world. I have continued to serve in CBS Leadership before, during, and since retiring from employment in the ministry.

CGJ:  What genre do you prefer to write?

JSG:  Historical Romance and Historical

CGJ:  Which authors have influenced your writing and how?

JSG:  Secular authors: Jane Austen for most of her work; Margaret Mitchell for Gone With The Wind; Nevil Shute for A Town Like Alice; Charlotte Brontë for Jane Eyre; and Elizabeth Gaskell for North and South and Cranford. Inspirational authors: Too many to list but my all time favorite is General Lew Wallace for Ben Hur. All of these stories are ones that stay in your mind.

CGJ:  What do you want readers to experience while reading your books?

JSG:  While the stories may be in an historical setting, they communicate feelings and experiences that are timeless and the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain and bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.

CGJ:  Tell us a little bit about your book, the title and one or two sentences.

JSG:  A Heart Set Free  tells the story of a woman who flees Scotland in 1770 as an indentured servant to escape disgrace. In Virginia she finds forgiveness, faith, and a future she could never have anticipated.

CGJ:  How have your readers responded?

JSG:  I was so pleased with these reviews:

“I loved this tender and wonderful story. Amidst all the hurt and misunderstanding, we find forgiveness and grace. And along the way, we see love, slowly evolving, making its way into hearts that have been closed off due to hurt and loss. I found myself slowing down my reading as I approached the end because I just didn’t want the story to end.”

“This is a wonderful story! It has just the right amount of intrigue, romance, and adventure to keep the reader turning the pages – one of those books I didn’t want to finish too quickly, but didn’t want to stop reading. Please, where can I find the sequel?”

CGJ:  What lessons have you learned from this [publishing] journey?

JSG:  To always hold my writing with an open hand. I’m to do my part, and if it is God’s will, He’ll see it through to publication.

CGJ:  What writing projects are you currently working on? Is this book part of a series?

JSG:  A Heart Set Free  is the first story in a trilogy. Its theme is forgiveness. The second story is complete and in search of a publisher. Its theme is faithfulness. The final story is underway. Its theme is forbearance. They are each stand alone stories.

AUTHOR BIO: Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight. She lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband and West Highland White Terrier. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that can communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, and bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader. Janet is represented By Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency

Janet’s Website

Colonial Quill’s Blog 

Janet’s Facebook

A Heart Set Free ~ Winner of the 2017 Selah Award for Historical Romance.


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Twisted Word Puzzle #9

Here’s a twist on my word quizzes. I’ve listed 12 groups with five words each. Your job is to choose the category  in which the words belong.

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature,that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. ~ Genesis 2:19-20 (NIV)

  1. bine, drupe, glume, rhizome, and spidix – a) parts of a plant; b) types of poisons; c) plastic components; d) related to the belly of an aircraft
  2. durmast, garry, banksian, bull, and mugho – a) ancient pavilions; b) architectural moldings; c) parts of a sailing vessel; d) Canadian oaks and pines
  3. abra, bonnet, cowrie, horn, lion’s paw, and turret – a) farming tools; b) seashell collection; c) jeweler designs; d) Middle East hieroglyphs
  4. danbo, esrom, mysost, sprinz, and tilsit – a) types of cheese; b) unflattering Welsh terms for the under educated; c) types of grass popular in cattle ranges; d) middle age salves and potions
  5. axminster, beck, denier, kuster, and velva – a) foreign nicknames for buttocks; b) types of beer; c) carpet terminology; d) English royalty titles
  6. cameo, daisy, doric, spiral, and royal lace – a) types of depression glass; b) notable snowflake shapes; d) stitches used in weaving; d) terms used in jewelry-making
  7. John Astin, Art Carney, Ethel Merman, Cliff Robertson,  and Shelley Winters – a) actors in the first Titanic movie ; b) actors all related to at least one US president;  c) actors who appeared on TV’s Batman; d) actors who appeared on Sesame Street
  8. Brazos, Maumee, Neches, Owyhee, and Yadkin – a) US rivers; b) towns in Oklahoma; c) villages in Argentina; d) names of African tribes
  9. calf’s head, honeycomb, lozenge, rondelle, and scissors – a) types of caves; b) street names for illegal drugs; c) a variety of high wire circus acts; d) types of gem stone cuts
  10. Aquila, Cepheus, Dorado, Fornax, and Indus – a) Big Band record labels; b) types of constellations; c) names of theaters in Athens, Greece; d) brands of Mediterranean cigarettes
  11. curlew, drongo, grandala, hoopoe, and yuhina – a) Native American hand tools; b) birds found in Chinac) Brazilian dances;  d) Asian children’s games
  12. alforja, canniken, growler, kylix, and toby – a) types of fish found in the Southern Ocean; b) types of containers; c) Cockney words that describe a layabout; d) parts of the Hubble telescope

thinking capHave you chosen the correct category? If so, how many of the 5 words had you heard before? Scroll down to see how you did.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. ~ James 3:7-12 (NLT)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. bine, drupe, glume, rhizome, and spidix – a) parts of a plant
  2. durmast, garry, banksian, bull, and mugho – d) Canadian oaks and pines
  3. abra, bonnet, cowrie, horn, lion’s paw, and turret – b) seashell collection
  4. danbo, esrom, mysost, sprinz, and tilsit – a) types of cheese
  5. axminster, beck, denier, kuster, and velva – c) carpet terminology
  6. cameo, daisy, doric, spiral, and royal lace – a) types of depression glass
  7. John Astin, Art Carney, Ethel Merman, Cliff Robertson,  and Shelley Winters – c) actors who appeared on TV’s Batman
  8. Brazos, Maumee, Neches, Owyhee, and Yadkin – a) US rivers
  9. calf’s head, honeycomb, lozenge, rondelle, and scissors – d) types of gem stone cuts
  10. Aquila, Cepheus, Dorado, Fornax, and Indus – b) types of constellations
  11. curlew, drongo, grandala, hoopoe, and yuhina – b) birds found in China
  12. alforja, canniken, growler, kylix, and toby – b) types of containers

 

How did you do?

10-12  May I call you in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep?

07-09 When you speak, do blank faces stare back at you?

04-06 My kind of person!

00-03  I don’t think you’re trying very hard.


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Twelve Words for a Word Searcher’s Vocabulary #8

Gracious speech is like clover honey—good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body. ~ Proverbs 16:24 (MSG)
When I can’t sleep at night, I get up and read a couple of chapters of whatever book I’m enjoying. After that, I try to bore myself to sleep by doing a few word search puzzles. 

This usually does the trick–until I come across words I don’t know. Here’s a list of them. Do you know their meaning? 

  1. bismutha) gray and overcast; b) brittle, grayish-white metallic element; c) standing ovation; d) grandiose
  2. coeval – a) equally old; b) architectural detail; c) hut built over a mine shaft; d) wide and shallow
  3. drupe – a) ancient alphabet; b) to doubt; c) to hang on or over; d) any fruit with an outer skin, pulpy middle, and hard inner shell
  4. fipple – a) indecisive; b) block that forms a flue in wind instruments; c) type of dwarf tree; d) public disturbance
  5. jaggery – a) sharp protrusion; b) sugar made from the sap of a date palm; c) unrestrained indulgence; d) latest Rolling Stones album title
  6. muntin – a) aged; b) flesh of a mature sheep used for food;) playfully mean or cruel; d) strip separating panes of glass in a sash
  7. nitid – a) idiot-like; b) handmade; c) bright and lustrous; d) infected by the egg of a louse or other parasitic insect
  8. piggina) small wooden pail; b) newborn pigs; c) type of fastener; d) type of English pudding
  9. rondellea) type of French cheese; b) vegan casserole; c) circular jewel; d) type of saw
  10. scow – a) look of disapproval; b) jurisdiction over a territory or over people; c) large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends; d) fist fight
  11. twite – a) beyond a shadow of a doubt; b) small finch; c) stomach of a ruminant; d) to flutter about
  12. valgus – a) essential amino acid; b) earthly or mortal; c) not easily discerned; d) knock-kneed or bowlegged

thinking capHave you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. ~ James 3:7-12 (NLT)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. b) Bismutha brittle, grayish-white, red-tinged, metallic element used in the manufacture of fusible alloys and in medicine
  2. a) Coevalof the same age, date, or duration; equally old
  3. d) Drupeany fruit, as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, usually a pulpy and succulent middle layer, and a hard and woody inner shell, usually enclosing a single seed
  4. b) Fipple: a wooden block that forms a flue at the mouth end of certain musical instruments
  5. b) Jaggerya coarse, dark sugar, especially that made from the sap of East Indian (date) palm trees
  6. d) Muntin: a strip separating panes of glass in a sash
  7. c) Nitid: bright and lustrous
  8.  a) Piggin: a small wooden pail with one stave extended upward as a handle
  9. c) Rondelle: a circular object; especially a circular jewel or jeweled ring
  10. c) Scow: a large flat-bottomed boat with broad square ends used chiefly for transporting bulk material (as ore, sand, or refuse)
  11. b) Twite: a small finch, Carduelis flavirostris, of northern Europe, having streaked brown plumage and, in the male, a pink breast
  12. d) Valgus: an abnormally turned position of a part of the bone structure of human being, especially of the leg. Bowlegged, knock-kneed, or the like

Jumping for joy over your score?

10-12  May I call you in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep?

07-09 When you speak, do blank faces stare back at you?

04-06 My kind of person!

00-03  I don’t think you’re trying very hard.


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Twelve Words for a Thinker’s Vocabulary #7

Many of the words I chose are from The Thinker’s Thesaurus by Peter E. Meltzer.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. ~ Pslam 111:10 (NIV)

  1. apothegm – a) saying; b) growth on throat;  c) respiratory condition; d) architectural detail
  2. codswallop – a) British fish and chips; b) backhand; c) nonsense; d) swallow whole
  3. deflagration – a) slander; b) explosion; c) mass migration; d) corporal punishment
  4. harpocracy – a) berating; b) silence c) glad-handing; d) fear of harps
  5. keelhaul – a) rebuke; b) drill a doorknob hole; c) climb aboard; d) shuck shellfish
  6. mobocracy – a) agility; b) political control by a mob;) of robotic limbs; d) type of poem
  7. neoteric – a) lighthearted; b) self-centered; c) genius; d) recent
  8. ostreal – a) of or relating to oysters; b) night sky; c) of or relating to ostriches; d) unfathonable
  9. pleonasm – a) stinginess; b) type of political lobby; c) legal pleadings; d) redundancy
  10. rataplan – a) caste system; b) zuchini and tomatoe sidedish; c) repeating noise; d) type of roof shingle
  11. smellfungas – a) wine taster; b) faultfinder; c) mushroom tester; d) person with huge nose
  12. ulracrepidarian – a) presumptuous; b) liberal; c) delusional; d) unkempt

thinking capHave you chosen the correct definition? Can you use the words in a sentence? Scroll down to see how you did.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew. ~ Proverbs 3:13-20 (NIV)

Here are the correct answers.

  1. a) saying
  2. c) nonsense
  3. b) explosion
  4. b) silence
  5. a) rebuke
  6. b) political control by a mob
  7. d) recent
  8. a) of or relating to oysters
  9. d) redundancy
  10. c) repeating noise
  11. b) faultfinder
  12. a) presumptuous

Jumping for joy over your score?

10-12  So, I see you enjoy being an introvert and book worm.

07-09  People only pretend to know what you’re talking about.

04-06  You might not want to try out for Jeopardy.

00-03  If I were you, I’d stick with Word Search puzzles.


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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)

 

 


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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.