Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Dating and the Half-Blood Prince

Nine years ago, I remarried after being widowed for eight years. I found a great guy who understands meyet, amazingly, has never tried to run off.

That I know of.

Because I found happiness again, single women often ask me how I met my husband. As if how I met David would work the same way for them.

My advice to them is to pray and wait. Do things you enjoy, learn something new, help someone less fortunate, and spend time with your family and friends. If God has someone for you, He is more than able to bring you two together—without your help.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. ~ Proverbs 27-13-14 (NIV)

Why am I qualified to give this advice? Because I did everything wrong.

Most of my seeking was on faith-based, online dating sites. Though I found a number of men in my age-bracket, our other brackets didn’t line up. I know “wacko” isn’t a nice word, but let’s just say, I had family and friends who would’ve chased these men off with a stick.hoFleischmannRapidRiseYeast (2)

  • The man who took turns doing jail time with his fourth wife on domestic abuse charges. He told me, “Don’t worry, we’re getting a divorce.”
  • The man who refused to date a woman who had ever had a yeast infection.
  • The man who lived in the woods while waiting on the Lord to give him a trailer.
  • The man who lived in a trailer while waiting on the Lord for the right time to downsize.

To be clear, I didn’t date many men at all during those years. Sometimes just reading their profiles was enough (or should have been). However, I did communicate with a number of them via the websites, email, or phone.

I often asked myself why. Why did I respond to every inquiry? Why did I continue after the initial exchange? Why did I agree to speak by phone?

The answer is complicated. Since I was lonely, bored, and insecure, empathy played a big part. I felt bad for them. I didn’t want to be mean or rude and make them feel worse. Sometimes it was the writer in me, rubbernecking from a safe distance. Their lives were so different from mine; I wanted to get up close, but not too personal.

I knew my curiosity wasn’t healthy. It got the best of me the night I agreed to meet one of the online bachelors at a Borders bookstore. I knew we weren’t a good fit the moment I saw him. Yet fascination drew me in. And there was the whole not wanting to be mean thing.

We ordered coffee and found a table. He sat facing the window; I sat facing him and the store. Since my interest had peaked prior to the date, when he told me that he and his older brother lived with their mother [Did I mention they were in their fifties?], what little interest that remained waned.

Trying to salvage the conversation, I asked, “So what do you do for a living?”

His face lit up. “I mow lawns. My brother has a paper route.” [Did I mention they were in their fifties?]

tumblr_kzb0vfjtHR1qbrupjo1_400 (2)Pretending to pay attention is a lot like lying. And I’m not good at it; I felt guilty. So when an eerie pale-faced, bald man dressed in black slithered through my peripheral vision, I thought I was being chastised.

I recovered my composure and changed the subject. Since his profile had been on a Christian website, I asked, “So what church do you attend?”

“We attended a great church in New Jersey, but we haven’t found one we like here yet.”

“Oh. How long have you lived here?”

“Eighteen years.”

I tried to morph my “you’re kidding me” face into a calm “I see” expression. My disingenuous reaction only stirred up an even more ominous-looking apparition, which skulked back and forth behind my date’s chair.

I remember thinking, “If I keep my eyes straight ahead and try to be kind and truthful, maybe the hallucinations will go away.”half-blood

It didn’t work. I started seeing witch hats and broomsticks between the books shelves. And it was June.

But when Harry Potter himself sat down nearby for a chai latte with Professor Dumbledore, I had to ask my date if he saw them, too.

“Sure. J.K. Rowling’s latest book. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out today. Most of the staff and customers are in costume.”

I scanned my date for the umpteenth time. Was he dressed up, too? Did I dare ask?  I considered his two possible answers. Neither would brighten our future.        

The very next day I surrendered my will and my search and deleted all my online dating accounts. As I was doing one final click-through, Yahoo Personals popped up–a site I had not joined. Or had I? I did a quick look to be sure.

And—yahoo!—I found David.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)


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But That’s Okay. We’re Boomers. We’ll Figure Something Out

Welcome My Guest Blogger Kathleen D. Bailey!

KBailey-2015 - Small

Kathleen is a freelance and staff writer with a lifetime devotion to the printed, and now the digital page. Born in 1951, she was a child in the 50s, a teen in the 60s and 70s and a young mom in the 80s. Kathleen says, “It was a turbulent, colorful time to come of age. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and written about most of it. I share some of that on my website Kathleen D. Bailey, along with book reviews and snippets from my fiction writing. Join me in the wonderful world of words!”

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. ~ Pr 16:31 (NIV)

I’m so happy to be asked to blog with Clarice! I’ve enjoyed getting to know her this past year. We have a lot in common, from Catholic childhoods, don’t get me started, to home decorating, to, of course, writing.

I’ve been able to cheer her on in the process of getting Double Header between covers and on to bookstore shelves. But I was dismayed to learn recently that an editor rejected her first book, Party of One, because stories about older women don’t sell. I’m not blaming them, they don’t control the market, but sheesh. As an older woman, I didn’t like hearing that I’m not all that interesting.

But wait, it’s about to get worse.

Intrigued by the promos for TV Land’s new series Younger, I decided to give it a try. I lasted about 20 minutes. I’m from the three-dot school and I thought Fifty Shades of Grey was about hair coloring. I left these 20-somethings to their courting of Chlamydia and escaped. But like Lot’s wife I looked back, not at the sexual content but at the premise.

Younger tells the story of Liza, a suburban divorcee of 40 who can’t get a job in New York Publishing because of her age. This is the same New York Publishing (capital letters intentional) where Anne Hathaway has trouble being true to herself in The Devil Wears Prada, and the stakes are higher for Liza. She’s in pretty good shape for 40 and her best friend urges her to “pass” for 26, whereupon– bingo–she lands the job.

7--year-old Dame Helen Lydia Mirren in the movie RED.

70-year-old Dame Helen Mirren in the movie RED. “But that’s okay. We’ll figure something out. We’re Boomers.”

There is so much wrong here I don’t know where to begin and I guess I’ll start with the perception of 40 as “old.” Forty was supposed to be the new 30 and if it isn’t, what is 30 not the “new” of?

I’d love to have my 40-year-old body back. The mind, not so much. I’d like to have my 40-year-old memory and sharpness, but not the judgmental spirit and bad decisions. I wouldn’t want to give up what I’ve learned, sometimes through dark places, in order to be “young” again. But I don’t need to worry. According to the TV show, 40 isn’t young.

I cringed to see “Liza” adopting her co-workers’ slang and hanging out with them. I watched long enough to see her acquire a 26-year-old boyfriend. Whatever did they talk about? Oh, right, these people don’t talk.

What were the first 40 years of her life worth? Apparently not enough when placed against the grander scheme of New York Publishing.

It’s also significant to me that the producers didn’t go for a 50-or 60-something pretending to be 40 or 30. Was it simply too impossible to make a 50-or 60-year-old hot enough? Or was it too impossible to imagine them in New York Publishing? Or was it too impossible to imagine a REALLY OLD PERSON doing something that dumb?

This isn’t resume tweaking, people. It’s a denial of who “Liza” is, who she’s spent 40 years becoming. No job is worth that.

And it’s a denial of what older people, seniors, elders, whatever, have been working toward since the Boomers began to age. The right to age with dignity, to be respected for what we’ve done and who we are. To love and learn and take risks, to keep our minds and bodies as sharp as we can for the next adventure. To matter.

Except for Betty White, who’s not typical, we’re not going to see a lot of women on the small screen who look like us. And unless some people publish independently, we’re not going to read about them. Nobody’s going to validate us unless we do it ourselves. But that’s okay. We’re Boomers. We’ll figure something out.

And Clarice will get her book between covers somehow, some time.

Because our stories need to be told.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ~ Isa 46:4 (NIV)

More About Kathleen:  This year, Kathleen semi-finaled in American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis, finaled in Lone Star, and won in her category in TARA. She’s an active member of Journey Church, teaching the children’s mission program and working in its homeless ministry. She also enjoys baking for college students, service people, and community events. She and her husband David live in Derry, NH. Find Kathleen on Facebook and LinkedIn. [She does kind of a lot for an “old” Baby Boomer, don’t you think? – CJ]

image001Readers (and Publishers?): Please check out these novels which feature older protagonists.

STAND-ALONE BOOKS:

SERIES:

 


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Twelve Words for a Thinker’s Vocabulary #6

Marsha-Thinking-Cap-200Many of the words I chose are from The Thinker’s Thesaurus by Peter E. Meltzer.

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. ~ Proverbs 2:10-11 (NIV)

  1. alexia – a) automated procedure; b) written material;  c) respiratory condition; d) architectural detail
  2. clerestory – a) type of window; b) cleric’s quarters; c) talkative; d) clearing house
  3. echopraxia – a) practice of echocardiograms; b) uncontrollable mimicking; c) art of yodeling; d) military maneuver
  4. glaciate – a) freeze; b) sink; c) glad-handing; d) make wide at the bottom
  5. lentiginous – a) contentious; b) freckled or speckled; c) liable; d) originating in a certain region
  6. maculate – a) impure; b) manly; c) eye condition; d) sterile or clean
  7. nobby – a) light-hearted; b) boney; c) pimple-faced; d) fashionable
  8. osculate – a) rotate; b) kiss; c) debate; d) insert breathing tube
  9. potable — a) able to be transported; b) plants that grow best in pots; c) type of Irish potato; d) fit or suitable for drinking
  10. rip-rap – a) lower class; b) material used to protect a slope; c) type of sail; d) brand of of bubble wrap
  11. salariat – a) employees; b) a lasso expert; c) toastmaster; d) dental suction tool
  12. tuft-hunter – a) upholsterer; b) furrier; c) hanger-on; d) hound dog

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

    The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools. The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. ~ Proverbs 16:21-24 (NIV)

    Here are the correct answers.

    1. b) written material
    2. a) type of window
    3. b) uncontrollable mimicking
    4. a) freeze
    5. b) freckled or speckled
    6. a) impure
    7. d) fashionable
    8. b) kiss
    9. d) fit or suitable for drinking
    10. b) material used to protect a slope
    11. a) employees
    12. c) hanger-on

      Jumping for joy over your score?

      10-12  Did you spend your entire childhood alone in your room reading the Oxford English Dictionary?

      07-09  Many of your friends just pretend to know what you’re talking about.

      04-06  You’re a better guesser than most.

      00-03  You are monosyllabic like me.


      11 Comments

      Which Character Would You Like to See in My Next Book?

      I’ve been saving some character sketches for my next novel. I need your help. Which one (or ones) of the five characters below do you want to learn more about in my next novel?

      1.  USED FOREIGN AUTO DEALER FROM MISSISSIPPI:

      Besides having a serious lisp, USED FOREIGN AUTO DEALER has three daughters named Shelby, Solara, and Sienna. And naming his sons Yugo and Yukon was not without its challenges. The name Yugo turned out to be a name-fulfilling prophecy, for even in his adult years the kid wasn’t a self-starter and seldom went the distance. Yukon was more industrious. He patterned his life after Sergeant Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounties from the 1950’s TV series. Yukon patrolled the wilds of Fayette, Mississippi, population 1,604, on his horse Rex with his faithful dog Fayette King, battling both the elements and criminals. He shared a few rooms with Yugo, Rex and King in his father’s basement.

       RCMP and King
      2.  BUCKET LIST WOMAN: [In case you’ve been living in a bomb shelter since 1955, a bucket list is a description of the things you want to do before you die.]

      The first item on BUCKET LIST WOMAN’S list is to finally try Popeye’s Chicken. The second item is to find a good home for sixty pairs of shoes that never did fit her, most of which had belonged to a dead woman she had never met. Third on the list, win the storage war against her plastic storage containers.

       messy storage
      3.  IMPORT DEALER HUNTING FOR A VACATION HOME:

      IMPORT DEALER from Lawrence, Massachusetts, looking to buy a vacation home in Columbia, South America close to his suppliers. It has to be near the beach, have an airstrip, and have bullet-proof glass–you know, to eliminate the noise from the airstrip.

       1268236358_top-10-drug-kingpins_flash
      4.  EAR CANDLER: 

      Within the cosmetology profession, her specialty was ear candling. In what moment in time did EAR CANDLER decide on ear candling as her major? How did this fascination with ears and their wax build-up begin? What was the pivotal moment? And were her parents proud as peacocks?

       shrek
      5.  FATALEST PHILATELIST:

      Thirty years ago, the FATALEST PHILATELIST could depend on a good stack of envelopes in his mail each day. Rummaging through the post office trash bins had been a lucrative sideline, too. He’d found some of his most precious and valuable stamps at the yard sales of the elderly. However, with the coming of email, his fate was sealed.

      Submit your vote and I’ll choose the winner!

      Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. ~ 1Co 12:12-14 (NIV)

       no email


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      Seymour the Mohel Knows When a Loss Becomes a Win

      Seymour 2I’ve learned a lot from my friend Seymour the Mohel. [Gentiles: Think Jewish, think rabbi, think circumcision.] With one eye and two fingers missing on his right hand, he’s had a number of challenges in the profession to which the Lord has called him.

      Becoming a follower of Yeshua did not do much to enhance his career either. But that’s a story for another day.

      Seymour is one of the most optimistic souls I have ever met. After every rejection, disappointment, or loss, his reaction is always the same: “Praise God! Could it be that You have an even greater plan for me?”

      He believes God’s plan is the best and only option for his life. He considers roadblocks, detours, stops signs, and dead ends blessings along the Way. And he is thankful for every one of them.

      Seymour stands on the Word of God:

      The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with [us] . . . (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

      More often I equate the wonderful plan God has for my life with only good things like acceptance, winning, and publishing contracts. My definition of “wonderful” and His are often at odds.

      I want to be more like Seymour. To respond the way he does to every disappointment. To run not after the world, but after God who has my best interests at heart.

      For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:32 NIV)

      When contemplating my current semi-finalist status in a novel writing contest, I first prayed that winning would be part of His big picture for me. Then I moved onto hoping that my plan and God’s would cross somewhere in the middle. Finally, I prayed,

      Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Psalm 139:23 NIV)

      Yesterday, while pondering a possible loss with the end of the contest only days away, I found myself parroting Seymour: “Praise God! Could it be that You have an even greater plan for me?”

      I have Seymour to thank for this attitude adjustment. It seems the more I develop Seymour’s character– who, by the way, is a lead character in my latest novel– the more God develops mine. While a win could very well be part of the Lord’s big picture for me, so could a loss. And it is well with my soul, as the old hymn goes. Wait. It’s more than well, it’s exciting!

      The advice I found from author Winn Collier recently in InTouch Magazine said it well.

      Hold onto the things in your life — wins and losses — loosely. For with God, whatever we have—whether little or plenty—is always enough. (InTouch Magazine, December 2014-12-22)

      Note: The picture above is not really Seymour. But I imagine he might look something like this.

      PS: Here are the semifinalists in the Operation First Novel Contest in alphabetical order by book title. We’ll know the results this weekend. Three of them will receive publishing packages. The remaining eight will receive God’s greater plan for their lives.

      1. A Town Called Pickings by Daisy Sohne
      2. Double Header by Clarice G. James
      3. Greater Still by Linda Brooks Davis
      4. Heirlooms by Jeannine Brummet
      5. Intelectric: J058 by Katie Lohr
      6. Meaghan’s Choice by Donna L.H. Smith
      7. Rosetta Assassin by Richard New
      8. Simply Amazing by Deborah J. Neuenschwander
      9. Snow Out of Season by Christy Brunke
      10. The Tale of the Quilt Told by Mary Kay Moody
      11. Unexpected Riches by C.S. Boyll


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      12 Words for a Thinker’s Vocabulary #5

      thinking capMuch of this vocabulary quiz is based on The Thinker’s Thesaurus by Peter E. Meltzer.

      Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  ~ Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

      1. appanage – a) detriment; b) adjunct; c) an extra toe; d) long-term contract
      2. busker – a) street performer; b) corn husker; c) overly talkative; d) abrasive
      3. desiderate – a) beat down; b) yearn; c) deliberate; d) separate
      4. formic — a) according to a formula; b) clay-like; c) of or relating to ants; d) quinine water
      5. gamboge – a) swollen; b) yellow; c) an expert gamer; d) bogus
      6. lightsome – a) light-hearted; b) well lit; c) easy to fool; d) nimble
      7. lusus – a) abnormality; b) clarity; c) richness; d) a constant
      8. meiosis – a) farsightedness; b) hyperbole; c) a type of irony; d) scalp condition
      9. neoteric – a) recent; b) earth-like; c) wise; d) historian
      10. pother a) a potter’s wheel; b) pick-up game of polo; c) pest; d) commotion
      11. rimple – a) pimple; b) simple; c) wrinkle; d) dimple
      12. schmaltzy – a) cheap; b) flavor of a malted drink; c) scheming; d) sentimental

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

        May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

        Here are the answers.

        1. b) adjunct
        2. a) street performer
        3. b) yearn
        4. c) of or relating to ants
        5. b) yellow
        6. d) nimble
        7. a) abnormality
        8. c) a type of irony
        9. a) recent
        10. d) commotion
        11. c) wrinkle
        12. d) sentimental

          For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)

          Jumping for joy over your score?

          10-12  Youse a reel genius.

          07-09  People must have a difficult time communicating with you.

          04-06  I bet you do well at Scrabble.

          00-03  Call me sometime. We can practice our one syllable words.


          3 Comments

          Author Melinda Inman — A Prodigal Now Returned

          Official Author Photo Melinda Viergever Inman

          Melinda Viergever Inman was raised in the tornado capital of the U.S.—Wakita, Oklahoma, of “Twister” fame. There her roots were sunk in a storytelling family. During years of relocation, tragedy struck. Wounded and heartbroken, Melinda forsook her roots and ran from herself and from God. A journey of trial and heartache brought her home again. A prodigal now returned to her secure foundation, she writes with passion, illustrating God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes. Refugeher first novel, is published by Koehler Books Publishing.

          CLARICE: What lessons have you learned from this writing journey? 

          MELINDA: I’ve learned that God comforts believers in hardship, equipping us to illustrate his goodness in trial. This requires suffering. We are then able to encourage broken people, showing how God orchestrates beauty from our ashes. I wanted a rosy, sunshine-filled, pain-free life, but God continues to equip me to write for this particular audience.

          My heart overflows with compassion for those who suffer from their own choices, from situations outside their control, or from the actions of others. I am one of them. If the Lord can orchestrate my messy life for good, I know he can do the same for my readers.

          CLARICE: As a committed Christian, do you plan to seek publication solely in the Christian market? If not, how do you see yourself fitting into the general publishing market?

          MELINDA: This raises a question. If we write raw, emotional content for broken people like us, should we aim solely at the Christian market? Or should we try to embrace the secular market as well? Penning this type of material shapes how we seek to publish.

          RefugeRefuge is the story of Cain, Abel, Lilith—the sister Cain desires to marry, and what happens next. It deals with sibling conflict, a relationship we would consider to be incest, fratricide, immorality, cutting, attempted suicide, revenge, and redemption. It’s gritty.

          I made the decision to seek a broad audience. So I was thrilled when I received a contract with Koehler Books, a traditional publishing house owned by a Christian publisher. For distribution we chose to label Refuge as both Christian and open-market historical fiction. Straddling both made for tricky marketing and a learning experience.

          CLARICE: How has your faith played a role in helping you share your story? 

          MELINDA: Authors and publishers must learn to think creatively for the good of our audiences—the people who need the uplifting themes of our stories. We must move outside our comfort zones. This isn’t easy. There will always be people who don’t understand why we’ve written or marketed our stories as we have, but the impact these novels have on broken lives makes it worth the challenge.

          My publisher and I have walked a fine line in moving Christians to buy a novel from a traditional house while prompting the open market to respond to a novel that has “Christian” attached. As we discuss publishing Fallen, the next novel, we tweak our strategies.

          CLARICE: What else have you written? And what are you working on now?

          MELINDA: There are three books in this first series, but I have also written stories in other genres. All of them deal with faith issues from the perspective of a protagonist who is wounded or suffers within the story. My lead characters make tragic mistakes, have had crushing childhoods, or have been hurt by religious people. They have an ax to grind with God.

          These types of stories appeal to both church-injured, world-weary Christians and to those who don’t claim to have faith, have been hurt, and yet still yearn for God.

          CLARICE: How do you plan to get these stories to your target audience? What if you can’t find the right publisher?

          Melinda ay B&NMELINDA: I love and trust my publisher, but I believe we also need to have open minds about quality self-publishing. He agrees. We may want control over the details and timing of a novel, we may plan to publish an off-genre tale from our usual niche, or, just maybe, we don’t want a Christian label on a project we’ve aimed at a wider market. This business decision is especially true if we’ve written a book that draws unbelieving people to Christ.

          To target this audience we must be willing and able to avoid preaching. We don’t have to supply every detail about God or faith within each story. We have to let our characters be true to themselves without our author voice intruding to moralize. Consequences, both good and bad, must be shown, not told. Or, as we did with Refuge, we have the option of including a study guide that has reflective faith content, if the reader desires it, leaving the story more accessible to a general audience.

          In whatever ways we yield as finely honed tools in the Lord’s hands, he draws the reader. Writing for both markets has been difficult, but rewarding. When I hear how my story has touched hurting or discouraged readers, believer or nonbeliever, I am full of joy.

          Serving the Lord in the area to which he has called us as writers provides great reward, whoever the audience or whatever the subject matter.

          Have you found your niche? Do you seek to write outside the boundaries of the typical Christian market? What are your experiences?

          SPECIAL NOTE: Enter the Refuge holiday giveaway and e-book sale at Deck the Shelves for the giveaway. To order an e-book for $.99,  click on  Kindle or Nook.