Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Meet Author Christy Brunke

In the winter of 2015, I met Christy Brunke at the Writer to Writer Conference in Hershey, PA.  I was smitten by her smile, enthusiasm, and sincerity. We were both finalists in the Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest. I thought, “Lord, I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if she won.” The Lord was gracious! We both won book publishing contracts that year–along with our soon-to-be-friend Linda Brooks Davis! 

CJ:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Who first supported you in this dream? 

CB: When I was born, my parents named me Christy after Catherine Marshall’s bestselling novel. You might say Marshall and her famous heroine were my first inspirations. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading, especially inspirational fiction.  

As a little girl, I was always dreaming up stories. I remember going into a patch of woods near our house and pretending I was the queen of a small kingdom. When my brother Jeremy was born, I was disappointed he couldn’t walk or talk. My solution? Create an imaginary friend named “Eremy.” In sixth grade, I won a short story contest and was rewarded with a Butterball turkey. From then on, I dreamed of writing novels, memoirs, and children’s books.

My mom, another avid reader, was the first to suggest I write novels. But I probably inherited by creativity from my dad. A former singer and songwriter, he helped me plot Snow Out of Season.

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

CB: Penning Snow Out of Season was an incredible experience, but, before that, the Lord led me on other adventures. I completed a bachelor of arts in English and moved to China to study Mandarin and teach at a university. When I returned to the States, I attended seminary and taught drama and music.  

Then God called me to Chicago to work at a multi-site church where I fell in love with a zany youth pastor. After we got married, a story grew in my heart, one I felt compelled to share. Now was the time to pursue that long-delayed dream.  

snow-out-of-sesasonCJ: Tell us a little bit about your debut novel Snow Out of Season.

CB: Two pregnant women separated by time . . . Are they more connected than they know? 

Shannon Henry is just starting to put her life back together after the death of her infant daughter when she discovers she’s pregnant again. When her doctor presents her with the choice of either raising a child with Down syndrome or terminating the pregnancy, Shannon is torn. 

Leslie Gardner is a high-school senior in 1979 who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, but discovers she is pregnant. If she has the child, her chances of a dancing career and college are over …

CJ: What inspired you to write this particular book? 

KB: As a teen and young adult, I longed for a God-scripted love story. I devoured books like Elisabeth Elliot’s Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity. Realizing my Creator knew me better than anyone, and knew every man as well, I asked Him to choose my husband.  And He did.  

Mark complements me perfectly and has been an incredible blessing to me and many others. But when his mom was pregnant with him, her circumstances would have led many women to have an abortion. I started wondering what my life would have been like if she’d made a different choice. 

So began Snow Out of Season, the dual stories of two women of two generations who struggle with the same questions. Is the child each carries worthy of life? What will it cost to keep the child? What will happen if each decides not to? 

CJ: How have your readers responded?

CB: Fiction lovers, book reviewers, and other novelists have blessed me with their reactions to Snow Out of Season. 

  • The Library Journal called it “. . . an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending . . . completely engrossing.” 
  • Award-winning author Brandy Vallance said Snow Out of Season is . . . a beautifully poignant and much-needed story.”  
  • Bestselling author Sandra Byrd said, “The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.” 

Amazon readers have encouraged me greatly with their 5-star reviews, including: 

  • “Best book I have read in years.” 
  • “Great New Author!” 
  • “Couldn’t put it down!” 
  • “I cried!”
  • “Fantastic  – A Must Read!!!”

CJ: What writing projects are you currently working on? 

CB: During this season of my life, I’m focusing on book events, blogging weekly, and writing articles for online newspapers. In 2017, I hope to begin writing my next book. Between novels, creative nonfiction, and children’s picture books, I have over a dozen ideas. 

On my website, I plan to share teasers for my best tales and ask readers to help me decide. Subscribe to my blog at ChristyBrunke.com, so you can tell me which one you’d like to read next!

christy-brunkes-author-photo

MORE ABOUT CHRISTY: Three months after her second daughter was born, she entered her manuscript in the Operation First Novel contest. In January 2015, Jerry Jenkins announced her story was a winner. In November, the Library Journal named Snow Out of Season the Christian Fiction Debut of the Month. By January, it topped Amazon bestseller lists. Christy Lives in Maryland with her husband, Mark, and their two adorable daughters. When she’s not at church or with her family, you can often find her blogging, writing articles, or dreaming up her next story.

Click HERE and scroll down to order all three winners of the last Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest: The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis, Double Header by Clarice G.  James, and Snow Out of Season by Christy Brunke.


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Jeremiah Peters: A Natural Born Storyteller

 CLARICE: Welcome, Jeremiah! Not everyone who writes is a natural storyteller. You are. When did you start telling stories? When did you decide to put them on paper?

JEREMIAH: I guess I’ve always liked to create stories. I remember sharing scary stories with friends, sometimes around the campfire. The first story I got paid for was back in fifth grade. My older sister was in seventh grade. Her English assignment was to “Write A Story.” She was having trouble, so I put together this four-page thing. It had evil Twains and good Trids. She got a B-. I thought that was pretty good. I think she paid me a quarter.

CLARICE: Who has influenced your writing the most and how?

JEREMIAH: I loved Ray Bradbury. His writings were imaginative. They aggravated me, too, not always turning out the way I wanted. Also, I loved Agatha Christie. She keeps me guessing until the end. I never figure out her mysteries. I guess I’m a little slow.

CLARICE: Who has supported you the most in your writing dream and how?

JEREMIAH: No contest. My wonderful wife, Jodie. I don’t know how many times I’ve been ready to quit, doubting my own abilities, when she’s been there to encourage me. She’s always believed in me.  Wait. I feel a Kenny Rogers’ song coming on . . .  “She believes in me. I’ll never know just what she sees in me . . . ” I think I’m going to cry.

A Message to DeliverCLARICE:  I first met you a few years ago at the writers’ critique group I was facilitating. Now you and I are in the same fiction critique group. What do you think you gain personally from being an active member in a critique group?

JEREMIAH:  Abuse. You people are too mean! Just kidding. The group offers much. First of all, we share advice about our work. I’m always interested in hearing what the others have to say. Being in a critique group also compels us to write. You don’t want to go empty-handed.

CLARICE: Your first published book, A Message to Deliver published by HopeSprings Books. How would you describe the story in 50 words or less?

JEREMIAH:  A woman, sent from Heaven to deliver God’s message of love, gets caught in a battle against an abortion center, and entangled in the spiritual warfare between an angel and a demon. When the secrets of her own past are revealed, she faces the ultimate question: Is God’s love and forgiveness enough to cover her sins?

CLARICEA Message to Deliver is a work of speculative fiction. Do you write in other genres? What are you currently working on and what other projects do you have planned?

JEREMIAH: I’ve dabbled in middle reader fiction in a trilogy called The Adventures of Amelia Black. Also, this summer, at a publisher’s suggestion, I’m working on a Christian fantasy book, tentatively titled The Dragons Are Lying. 

CLARICE: How do you come up with these varied ideas?

JEREMIAH: I have a couple of theories. 1) While I’m sleeping, Armenian leprechauns unzip the back of my head and stick the ideas in my brain. 2) There is an alternate universe where all these stories are real, and somehow certain people on our world are tapped into this reality.  I lean towards the Armenian leprechauns.

Sounds crazy, but isn’t it better than me shrugging my shoulders and mumbling, “I dunno”?

CLARICE: What is an average day in the life of Jeremiah Peters look like?

JEREMIAH: I guess it’s really kind of dull. I’m a Pastor, so I spend time doing my churchly duties: visiting the sick, preparing Bible studies and sermons, vanquishing evil, getting cats out of trees. Stuff like that. Also, I try to write each day. Unfortunately, I don’t always get this done.

CLARICE: Now, how would your wife answer that same question?

JEREMIAH: My wife would say, “My wonderful husband spends his day thinking of ways to make my life easier. He is such a dreamboat!” [Jeremiah’s wife Jodie was unavailable to either confirm or deny this statement. :-)]

CLARICE: What do you want your readers to know about you? What do you want them to experience while reading your books?

JEREMIAH: I want my books to bring out some emotional response in the reader. I want laughter. I want tears. I want people to say, “Jeremiah, that was a great story.”

In a book like A Message to Deliver it goes beyond that. I want people to think. From the beginning, I said that book was about forgiveness–forgiveness from God, forgiveness of others, and forgiveness of self. I hope when people read the book, it will make them deal with those issues in their own lives.

CLARICE:  One last question. Is it possible for you to be totally serious for any length of time? Do you think it’s even necessary?

JEREMIAH: I’m sorry, Clarice. I couldn’t hear you. There was a rubber chicken sticking out of my ear.

To learn more about Jeremiah Peters visit his blog Ramblings and Reflections or on Facebook. When Jeremiah is not writing you can find him preaching at the New Hope Church (150 Berkeley Street, Lawrence, MA) and sitting on his deck in Sandown, NH, enjoying the wild life. A Message to Deliver, published in June 2014 by HopeSprings Books, is now available on Amazon.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. ~ Ecc 7:14 (NIV)

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. ~ Jas 5:13b (NIV)

MnGJeremiah Peters is one of seven published authors who’ll be featured at the MEET & GREET LOCAL CHRISTIAN AUTHORS event scheduled for Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 3:00 to 5:30 pm at Bonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso, 8 Franklin St., Nashua, New Hampshire. Guests will enjoy FREE admission, refreshments, book-signings, special discounts, and a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Click HERE to register!