Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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What’s the Upside to Beating Yourself Up?

Pink boxing gloveThis is what the LORD says— “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert  and streams in the wasteland.” ~ Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

It’s January 2016 and you’re beating yourself up for not doing as well as you’d hoped and/or planned last year. Your storehouse of self-control is still full because you didn’t use an ounce of it.

You’re scolding yourself for not finishing those projects you needed to get done. You’re disappointed in yourself for not keeping those commitments you made. You’re cranky because you didn’t reach the height needed to offset your weight.

When you’ve finished beating yourself up, tell me, what’s the upside of it? Does it make you feel better, maybe more pious? Does it change anything? Is it encouraging? Are you investing your time and efforts wisely? Or are you wasting your breath and your energy on what-ifs?

Are you appreciating the abundant and FREE grace God has for you? Or are you squandering it on self-pity, regrets, frustration, worries, and/or doubt?

Here are 12 tips to help you stop wallowing in your boohoos.

  1. Stop beating yourself up and be okay with not being perfect.
  2. Ask for help.
  3. Help someone else.
  4. Take one step, then another, then another–even if one is backwards.
  5. Celebrate each victory and write them down.
  6. Don’t give up.
  7. Remember impatience doesn’t get you to your goal faster.
  8. Don’t wait until tomorrow to be thankful today.
  9. Learn from your mistakes.
  10. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  11. Be grateful to God for another chance to do things better.
  12. Stop whining. It’s so unattractive.

stop beating

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. ~ Romans 8:1-4 NIV

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God’s Antonyms to News Sound Bytes

hope PsalmIn the wake of the world events of last week, I could find nothing funny to write about. When God makes my heart merry again, the upbeat person I purport to be will return.

Until then, God help us all.

“. . .  if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.: ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Antonym — Noun. A word that means the opposite of another word.

  • Allies vs. Enemies
  • Balanced vs. Radical
  • Blessing vs. Tragedy
  • Comfort vs. Torture
  • Compassionate vs. Heartless
  • Concern vs. Disregard
  • Defend vs. Attack
  • Educated vs. Ignorant
  • Feed vs. Starve
  • Forgiveness vs. Bitterness
  • Free Will vs. Brainwash
  • Gentle vs. Brutal
  • Genuine vs. Fake
  • Healed vs. Injured
  • Healthy vs. Sick
  • Heaven vs. Hell
  • Hero vs. Villain
  • Holy vs. Evil
  • Hope vs. Despair
  • Joy vs. Heartache
  • Kindness vs. Harm
  • Life vs. Death
  • Light vs. Darkness
  • Love vs. Hate
  • Mentor vs. Mislead
  • Merciful vs. Merciless
  • Peacemaker vs. Terrorist
  • Peace vs. Violence
  • Purification vs. Defilement
  • Rescued vs. Imprisoned
  • Reverence vs. Desecration
  • Reward vs. Payback
  • Spare vs. Kill
  • Sensitive vs. Desensitized
  • Sighted vs. Blind
  • Tenderhearted vs. Hardhearted
  • Truth vs. Lies
  • Victory vs. Defeat

One more antonym:  God’s bloodshed for the love and salvation of us all versus man’s bloodshed for hate and power over all.  

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him [Jesus] there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar  and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews 

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  ~ Luke 23:33-4 (NIV)


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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!  

 


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Meet & Greet Author Eleanor Gustafson

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

ELLIE: I want to engage, to hook readers right off and keep them turning pages until they arrive at the meat of the novel.

CLARICE: Tell us about your books. 

ELLIE: Dynamo is one of those page-turners, so readers tell me. Jeth Cavanaugh is searching for a new life along one of Pennsylvania’s mountain ridges when he stumbles upon a stable of show jumpers owned by Rob and Katie Chilton. Throw in a bad-tempered, gaited stallion named Dynamo, and Jeth will do anything to work there. He earns his living by training and showing Rob’s jumpers, but Dynamo is his primary passion. Everything changes when God enters his life—via a hard slap by an old girlfriend—and ignites a new, greater passion within him. But with that fervor comes fear at the undeniable evidence of God’s hand on his life. Inexplicable events, both good and bad, make him moan plaintively, “Why does God do this to me? I get the feeling I’m being set up for something.”

He is, indeed. Jeth’s life is anything but predictable, much like the God he serves. The real Dynamo and his ultimate trainer emerge out of an excruciating mix of disaster and brokenness, which are never beyond the reach of redemption.  This story is God in your face: Who is He, really? What does He ask of us?

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. ~ Psalm 139:1-6 (NIV)

The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David: Next to Jesus, David is my favorite Bible character. As I soaked in his story, I felt compelled to put flesh on the bones of history. The fascinating and complex characters who surrounded him—Joab, Absalom, Abigail, Benaiah, Ahithophel—needed a place to stand and be heard. Who were they? How did they influence David? Shepherd, warrior, musician, king, ladies’ man, lover of God, despicable sinner. Only God could use such a man, not only to establish the Israelite kingdom, but also to plant a seed—in the least likely of his wives—that would ultimately bear the righteous Son of David.

CLARICE: What inspired you to write Dynamo

Gustafson DynamoELLIE: God put horses in my life early on, and each summer I was exposed to a show that featured some of the finest horseflesh on the East Coast. Though I never owned a horse, my experience back then made a permanent mark on my life. My passion for horses met my passion for God, and Dynamo came forth.

CLARICE: Do you have a story or two of how your books have impacted individuals for the glory of God?

ELLIE: One of my valued pre-readers had this to say concerning Dynamo: “On a personal note, I had recently been praying to be a weapon in the hand of God—a weapon of mass creation and healing, not a weapon of destruction. Shortly after praying this, I was able to read this book. Be encouraged, people. He is still VERY involved on this planet.”

After finishing The Stones, a reader said, “This book is one of just a few works of historical fiction that is truly life changing, and I know I will NEVER read the Psalms the same again. They now seem so much more relevant because I better understand the events and emotions from which they sprang. I also identify much more closely with the psalmists because I realize that they were just as human as I am. Pretty good outcome for such an exciting read!” [I won’t mention that my son posted this on Amazon. J ]

CLARICE: What lessons have you learned from this journey? 

ELLIE: In Dynamo, Maybelle taught me along with Jeth. She’s a piece of work and serves as Jeth’s personal prophet and God interpreter. She loves Jeth and walks him through the spiritual minefield of God’s unusual activity in his life. Even before Jeth becomes a Christian, she somehow knows that God has chosen him for a special purpose. Drawing on Old Testament prophets, she feeds him passages that strike terror in his heart but that bolster him at critical moments. Mentor, yes; spiritual goad, yes; but tower of strength when Jeth desperately needs one.  Maybelle became my spiritual mentor, as well, and I can’t begin to say all that David/Stones taught me.

CLARICE: Which is easier for you—coming up with a story idea or actually writing it?

ELLIE: Actually, neither of these is easy, but once I get a draft, then the fun begins. I love weeding out verbiage, polishing the rough edges of sentences, mining for metaphors that zing.

CLARICE: What writing projects are you currently working on?

ELLIE: I have a work, An Unpresentable Glory, that is tottering on the edge of hopeless. How do you knit together the disparate threads of gardening, politics, and American Indians? My valued pre-reader, mentioned above, thinks it could well fail but believes the last chapter to be worth the struggle of making it work.

CLARICE: Where can our readers (or listeners) meet you and get a copy of your books? 

ELLIE: For copies, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD, and Christian bookstores. To meet me—hey, I’m here! I’m accessible by email egus@me.com . If you want a signed copy for someone, let me know, and I’ll mail it and tack on the Media Mail charge—$2.69.

MnGEleanor Gustafson is one of eight 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 MULTIPLE door prizes–including a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Click HERE to register!  For more information, call Clarice James at 603-578-1860 or Cindy Saab at (978) 821-6547.


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Meet & Greet Author Susan Call

But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. ~ Psalm 9:18 (NIV)

Susan CallCLARICE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

SUSAN: Sitting in the audience at a large women’s conference, the transparency of one of the speakers really impacted me. I realized that the more genuine she was in sharing her difficult journey, the more the audience heard and felt God. Through her story, God was demonstrated so vividly. Soon, my own story started percolating – so much so that I could no longer be silent. I had to write! My sincere hope is that through my writing and sharing of my testimony, that people are encouraged and see how faithful God is!

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

SUSAN: I entered my first manuscript into a writing contest, hoping to win, but never really thinking I would. Imagine my shock when I learned I was the grand prize winner! The prize – my book, A Search for Purple Cows – A true story of hope, was published as a self-published title. Within two months of the release, I had a contract to release my book with a traditional publisher, Guidepost Books.

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

SUSAN: I want my readers to experience refreshing hope for life’s challenges. One of the biggest lies this world has to offer is that we’re the only one struggling and that everyone else has “life” all figured out. We’re not alone in our difficulties. I would love for readers to know that no matter what life has dealt them, they are not alone. God is available, present, and loves them. Life’s lions may be close but the same God that protected Daniel in the lion’s den can give each and every one of us His strength and peace.

Call CowsCLARICE: What do you want your readers to know about you?

SUSAN: I’m an imperfect person following where God leads. My high school senior writing teacher told me I was an awful writer. She said I should “never write.” I’ve heard it said that God doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies the called. I guess I’m living proof! I think the second things I’d like my readers to know is that I love hearing how they’re impacted by my writing. The notes, feedback, and reviews encourage me to keep going. And, I’m always blessed to witness God touch the heart of someone through a word He’s allowed me to deliver.

CLARICE: Tell us a little bit about your book.

SUSAN: A Search for Purple Cows – A true story of hope is my memoir. A few years after marrying my husband, I realized that the idyllic life the world saw–a beautiful home, two wonderful children and everything a family could desire was a façade hiding my difficult truth. Behind closed doors, I was tormented by my husband’s alcoholism, domestic abuse, and infidelity. Through the unlikely source of a Christian radio station, God found me in the midst of my pain and brought me hope that fostered a new faith. I eventually found the strength to flee and start anew. Written with candor and grace, A Search for Purple Cows – A true story of hope will leave you laughing, crying, and believing that God is present and able, ready to bring hope and healing.

CLARICE: What inspired you to write this particular book? 

SUSAN: My story deals with alcoholism, abuse, and infidelity, all topics that are remarkably common, yet often not talked about. I want others to know that there is hope. There is a way. And, they are not alone!

CLARICE: Has the Lord used you for his purposes through the writing and distribution of your book(s)?

SUSAN: I’ve been so blessed by watching God move through the release of my story. Both through speaking engagements and through my book, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with so many others who have shared a similar journey. From a woman in Arizona finally ready to get help to be safe, to the divorced single mom in New Jersey who had lost hope, I’ve had a front row seat watching God touch and change the lives of others with His peace and strength. My writing is a tangible modern-day example of Romans 8:28. The difficulties of a broken marriage marred by abuse and infidelity, is being used for good and bringing Him glory!

CLARICE: What are some resources you recommend to readers who want to learn more about the topics you address in your book? 

Websites:

www.thehotline.org – The National Domestic Violence Hotline – A national resource available to assist with domestic violence. (1-800-799-7233)

www.divorcecare.org DivorceCare is a divorce recovery program offering valuable resources dealing with the issues faced by those confronted with divorce or separation.

Books:

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend

I Should Forgive, But… by Dr. Chuck Lynch

CLARICE: What writing projects are you currently working on?

My newest project will be released mid October this year. I’ve written a short story “Secondhand Miracle” in A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Additionally as part of the book launch, I have an article in the October Guideposts magazine. In addition, I am currently working on my next book project. I’ve had the opportunity to pitch the abstract to a few publishers who are now waiting for my full proposal. Stay tuned for more information on that project. Readers can also find my blog online at www.susancall.com.

Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. ~ Psalm 62:4-6 (NIV)

 

MnGSusan Heim Call 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 door prizes–including a chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Click HERE to register!  For more information, call Clarice James at 603-578-1860 or Cindy Saab at (978) 821-6547.