Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Humbled by Response to Meet & Greet Christian Authors Event

A few days before the first Meet & Greet Christian Authors event was to be held on Saturday, November 1, 2014, I had my doubts. Will we have a good turnout? Will our authors sell books? Will dead air reign in the midst of strangers? Will the buttercream frosting slide off my cupcakes and leave them bare? Will we get to the venue to find it packed with mourners from a funeral? [Yup, I thought that.]

BonhoeffersBonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso in Nashua, New Hampshire was our venue. The Café, located in a two-story, converted factory, is owned and operated by Gate City Church. All profits go to help feed needy children around the world.

My husband and I attend Gate City Church. We feel blessed that they allowed us the use of their beautiful facility for this event.

The minute we walked in the door, my doubts about how the afternoon would go were blown away like pesky dust bunnies in a Nor’easter. The Cafe’s brick walls, golden maple floors, wood ceiling with steel beams, all exuded warmth and charm. The bright fire burning in the huge stone fireplace made it easy to forget the rain and wind outside.

01People—all ages, shapes, and colors—came from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We had a good turnout— eighty-five in all. They represented a multitude of congregations from a dozen different denominations. As guests mingled, chatted, and even prayed for one another, the sweet scent of Jesus permeated the space. (I wasn’t the only one who noticed; others said the same.)

Our seven local authors sold 119 books. There wasn’t one moment of silence from the beginning to end. My cupcakes stayed clothed. The venue was packed with friends, old and new, celebrating the achievements of our authors, our common faith, and the faithfulness of God.

02The plan for this event started back in June 2014 when I offered to help Jeremiah Peters, author of A Message to Deliver with his book launch. Then Teresa Santoski, author of Prayers for Oppa: From K-pop to J-pop, A Devotional for Performers & their Fans, joined us. Both were in my writers’ critique group, so finding them was easy.

Then, I reached out to my fellow Hartline Literary Agency clients who live in the area: Eleanor Gustafson, author of  The Stones and Dynamo; and Susan Call, author of A Search for Purple Cows: A True Story of Hope. I googled and snooped around Facebook and found John A. Theo Jr., author of The Grotto Under the Tree.  When I contacted the manager of my local Christian bookstore, she told me about Nancy Ferrin and Darin Michael Shaw.  Nancy’s books are When a Prodigal Breaks Your Heart: … the Search for Understanding and Hope and Where Is My Baby?  Shaw’s books are Big Buts of the Bible – A Revealing Look at Jesus Christ and Chronicles of War.

03We started with eight authors and ended up with seven. Well, you know what they say about that perfect number.

In the midst of all this, my co-coordinator Cindy Saab joined me. We’re not sure exactly how we met, but we’re sure we know Who was in charge of the introduction.  Cindy is a natural-born promoter. Not the pushy kind, but the kind whose excitement is contagious. She shared her enthusiasm with the many people she knows. I like to say, while I was in charge of administration and online promotion, Cindy was in charge of building momentum in person. We made a good team. Of course, God knew we would.

We were blessed to have a number of our friends volunteer to greet guests and handle the refreshments. And Kathy Marotta of Visionare Photography of Londonderry was there to take headshots of the authors and candids during the event. (Most of the photos you see here are her work.)

There were a few things we’d change. Like the detailed author introductions I’d written out and rehearsed. We didn’t need them because the authors and guests took charge of introducing themselves. And next time we’ll remember to bring bags for customers venturing out in inclement weather with their book purchases. We’ll also put the registration table in a spot less apt to get bottlenecked.  And I’ll make brownies, so I don’t have to worry about buttercream landslides.

All in all, good problems to have.

04 CJ at FireplaceCindy and I had enormous fun planning and executing the Meet & Greet Christian Authors event. We’re glad we had each other. Who else would have listened to us go on and on about paper goods, colors schemes, door prizes, and flag placement on cupcakes?

When the event was over, we were humbled by the response of the guests and the gratitude of the authors. But we shouldn’t have been surprised. The event had been bathed in prayer for months, and it showed.

Special Note: We’re planning our next Meet & Greet Christian Authors New England event for April 2015. A dozen authors have already signed up. If you’re a published author with print copies and are interested in being featured at one of our upcoming events, you can submit an application here.  After our Editorial Review Board approves your book(s), we’ll send you additional information. Keep writing!

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Author Teresa Santoski and Her Love of East Asian Culture

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ~ Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

Clarice:  Your recent book, Prayers for Oppa, is a devotional for performers and their fans, with a focus on the East Asian entertainment industry. Do you mind telling us how a young woman from Brookline, New Hampshire became interested in East Asian pop culture?

Teresa: It’s something that’s always had a presence in my life, in various small ways. We lived on a military base in Massachusetts when I was really little, and my mom was friends with an officer’s wife who was from Korea. They swapped recipes, and her son and I played together. My first-grade teacher had a Japanese exchange student, and she incorporated a lot of Japanese culture into our lessons. 

Things came to a head in college, when my friends recruited me for their anime viewing parties because I had a TV and a VCR. Anime (Japanese cartoons) was my main entry point into East Asian pop culture, followed by music, movies, musicals, and more. I always wanted to do something meaningful for the performers who brought me so much joy through their work. That something took shape as Prayers for Oppa.

Clarice: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And who supported you in this dream and how?

Teresa: I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, but I didn’t do much writing outside of school assignments until my first year of college. At that time, I began writing for various college publications as well as a newspaper and an online magazine.  My “ah-hah” moment, however, didn’t come until the summer going into my junior year. I had declared a double major in Japanese Studies and Cinema and Media Studies, but I wanted to take a class on short story writing.  Soon, I realized that no matter what I studied, I wanted to write after I graduated. So one week into my junior year, I dropped both of my majors and started from scratch as an English major.

PFOfullrescoverHands-down, my family has been my biggest supporters. They have always believed in my God-given gifts as a writer and encouraged me to take hold of opportunities to do more with my craft. They also let me write about them in my award-winning humor column, Tete-a-tete, which has been reassuring readers that they aren’t the only ones with odd families since May 2008.

Clarice: I first met you a few years ago at a writers’ critique group. You were working on a charming anthropomorphic story featuring feline characters. Please, tell my readers more about this story and how you came to choose this genre. What are your plans for this story?

Teresa: The story has its roots in a conversation I had with my oldest younger brother. He was talking about how he would like to own two cats in the future. One, named Beardsley, would be an evil mastermind who was always causing trouble, and the other, named Porkins, would be a pudgy and lovable oaf who was always taking the blame for Beardsley’s escapades.

I asked Oldest Younger Brother’s permission to develop his future felines into full-fledged characters, and he consented. Beardsley became a former general with a checkered past and a disabled leg due to his service in World War I, and Porkins morphed into a clueless aristocrat with a heart of gold whose family has fallen on hard times in the war’s aftermath.

At the time, also through Oldest Younger Brother’s influence, I was quite interested in monocles and Pickelhauben (those German military helmets with the spike on top), so interwar England seemed like an appropriate setting for my characters. (To see a monocle and a Pickelhaube in action, I encourage you to visit Oldest Younger Brother’s website, www.wanderingwalltoskis.com, and look at the header image at the top of the page.)

Clarice: Family life is a great source of material and inspiration for your humor column Tete-a-tete. Since turnabout is fair play, how would your siblings describe you?

Teresa: I gave each of them the opportunity to describe me in their own words. Here’s what they came up with.

Oldest Younger Brother, age 28: “As a family, we make fun of Teresa for moving slowly. However, this affords her the opportunity to drink in all that happens around her, distilling it into finely tuned wit. While she is never quick on the sidewalk, she is also never quick to anger. It is this ability to always take her time that fills Teresa’s work with nuance, both physical and spiritual, that would elude other writers. Teresa has also afforded me the knowledge that if I were born a woman, I’d be pretty good looking. [Teresa’s note: Oldest Younger Brother once grew out his hair. We looked like twins.]  If Teresa were a Harlem Globetrotter, her nickname would be Frozen Molasses. Love you Teresa!”

Youngest Brother, age 16: “I would describe my sister as a humorous person who enjoys life, cats, and literature. She is in my life to brighten my day and put a different spin on things when the necessity arises. She also is my chauffer when I need her to.”

Younger Sister, age 15: “You are very slow and make weird cat voices and make things become alive.” [Teresa’s note: I make our cat talk, and I give voices and personalities to any stuffed animal that happens to be handy.] “You are nice, but kinda bossy.” [Teresa’s note: I’m her big sister. I’m supposed to be a little bossy.] “You make cool origami boxes and fancy cards and those are cool, and you talk like you’re reading from a dictionary and that can be annoying, but it’s cool. Oh, and you burn easily.” [Teresa’s note: SPF 45 is the best friend of those of us with Irish ancestry.]

More About Teresa Santoski: In addition to being an award-winning humorist and a devotional author, Teresa Santoski is the editor of the English language editions of Living Life and Sena English, two monthly Christian devotional magazines published by Duranno Press, a division of the Seoul, Korea-based Duranno International Ministry. Having spent ten years in the newspaper industry, Teresa continues to write her award-winning humor column, Tete-a-tete. She resides in New Hampshire, “the birthplace of Tupperware and paintball and home of the world’s largest wooden barrel.” Visit her website at www.teresasantoski.com.

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Teresa Santoski  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 multiple chances to win a door prize, including a Kindle Paperwhite! Click HERE to register!  


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Meet & Greet Author Darin Michael Shaw

MnGDarin Michael Shaw 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!  

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” ~ Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

CLARICE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?Darin Michael Shaw

DARIN: I’ve been writing my entire life. I’ve known I wanted it to be both a career and ministry for the last twenty or so years.

CLARICE: Who supported you in this dream?

DARIN: My wife, family and church families have all been huge supporters of my writing endeavors.

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

DARIN: I spent 21 years in Pastoral Ministry. It’s only since January of this year (2014) that I’ve been writing full-time.

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

DARIN: Writing, blogging and preaching for years, I suppose it just felt like time to package some of that up in book form—so in 2013, I added author to my bio.

CLARICE: What genre do you prefer to write?

DARIN: Big Buts is non-fiction/Christian living, but I also dabble in other genres. I have a historical fiction title and a ‘how to’ out there. I’ve got a follow-up to Big Buts coming this fall, and I’m working on a religious thriller for 2015 release.

CLARICE: Which authors have influenced your writing and how?

DARIN: Those who’ve influenced me aren’t typical for a Christian writer. My literary coach Ariel Gore has had a significant influence on my craft. She’s helped me find my voice and style. I also very much enjoy the work of Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin. They’re great biographers, but even better storytellers.

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

Shaw ButsDARIN: Great story. Whether fiction or non-fiction, to be able to get what I’m trying to convey, and enjoy it as it unfolds—that’s my hope.

CLARICE: What do you want your readers to know about you?

DARIN: I want them to know that I am very, very thankful that they’ve picked up a copy of my book and read it. What a privilege that is for me!

CLARICE: Tell us a little bit about your book Big Buts of the Bible: A Revealing Look at Jesus Christ.

DARIN: But: The little three-letter conjunction that will forever change the way you read the bible.  In 21 years of pastoral ministry I met so many people who wanted to read their bibles more often and get more out of it when they did. I believe this book—this concept, looking for appearances of the conjunction ‘but’—will help.

CLARICE: What is your writing style and/or voice?

DARIN: I consider my writing voice and style a little irreverent—not in a moral or religious way, but in a literary way. I write like I speak, and sometimes that throws grammatical curves. But I am a grammarian at heart—so my voice is grammar irreverent, with a conscience.

CLARICE: Which comes easier to you? Coming up with the story idea or actually writing it?

DARIN: I am surrounded by story at all times. Daydreaming it up comes easy. Writing it is more challenging.

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

DARIN: My faith is a part of everything I write.

CLARICE: What writing projects are you currently working on?

DARIN: A follow-up, Big Buts of the Bible: Insights from Hindsight, which will trace the 160 appearances of the word ‘but’ through the book of Genesis. I’m also working on a Native American religious thriller called Ghost Dance.

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

DARIN:  I’ll be at the Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors Event with seven other authors from 3:00 to 5:30 pm Saturday, November 1, 2014 at Bonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso, 8 Franklin Street, Nashua, NH.

 

 

 


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Meet & Greet Author Nancy Ferrin

MnGNancy Ferrin 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!  
Nancy Ferrin

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

NANCY: My books, Where is My Baby and When a Prodigal Breaks Your Heart: The Search for Understanding and Hope (Westbow Press, 2012) address difficult life situations, so my desire is that readers find hope and encouragement as they relate to what is shared. Each book recounts my personal experience, ties it to scripture, and includes application questions to further engage the reader. Ideally the reader will be surprised by what we have in common and then optimistic that the Lord will provide the strength needed for their journey.

CLARICE: What do you want your readers to know about you?

NANCY: I am an ordinary woman, serving an extraordinary God. There is nothing commendable about me except that the Lord saw fit to enable me to share from the heart about my broken places. I am available via email for those who desire some personal support. Future plans also include the formation of support groups for parents of prodigals.

CLARICE: Tell us a little bit about your book When a Prodigal Breaks Your Heart: The Search for Understanding and Hope (Westbow Press, 2012).

NANCY: It’s a book for those who are experiencing the heartbreak of a wayward child or young adult. Each chapter addresses a common emotion felt by the parent in this situation, along with biblical truth to anchor the heart.

CLARICE: What inspired you to write this particular book?

NANCY: When one of my sons chose the prodigal path, I was worried about his choices and had no thought of writing a book. Over time, the Lord showed me the outline and I was ready to write. However, He closed the door on my ideas and I sensed in my spirit that I should wait. A few years later, my daughter choose a similar path and I realized I had more to learn before writing. One summer, the floodgates opened and I wrote the first nine chapters in less than two months. Another “hold” was placed by God so I waited nearly a year before writing the last chapter. In the years following, another one of my five children chose a different, but equally divergent path. So this life journey continues to challenge me to trust God’s plan despite what I see – to walk by faith and not by sight. I know He will be faithful.

Ferrin ProdigalCLARICE: If you could impart one thing to your readers, what would it be?

NANCY: You are not alone. God has not forgotten you or your prodigal. He can be trusted to complete what He has begun in each one of us. Keep looking to Him!

CLARICE: How have your readers responded to your personal stories?

NANCY: Readers have been extremely supportive and kind. Many have told me they could relate to what I shared and have found hope in their own struggle. My two children whose stories are shared in the book are glad to know their troubled past is being used to shed light and spread hope to others.

One reader wrote: “I appreciate your insights and your honesty. You have walked a long and often lonely road and found victory in Christ. I’m grateful for the praying and encouraging friends God put in your life. He does indeed take care of His own.”

Another shared: “I read your book and felt such encouragement as I read it… Thanks for writing this book. Your sweet sweet spirit and strong faith shine like a beacon of hope. May God bless many lives with this book.”

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

NANCY: God directed the process for each book. They were written according to His timetable and sometimes the words just poured into my mind as my fingers tried to keep up. Much prayer has surrounded the project, asking that He would use my words to encourage others. Funds were also miraculously provided for the expenses involved with getting the prodigal book into print.

CLARICE: What did you do before you became a writer? Or what do you do besides write?

NANCY: Besides writing, I enjoy leading ladies’ bible studies and speaking at retreats and workshops. Occupationally, I was a computer programmer for many years, and now teach math at a public high school.

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

NANCY: At the Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors Event, 3:00 to 5:30 pm. Saturday, November 1, 2014 at Bonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso, 8 Franklin Street, Nashua, NH. They can register online by going to www.EventBrite.com and searching Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors. If they have questions about this event, they can the Event Planners Clarice James at 603-578-1860 or Cindy Saab at 978-821-6547.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. ~ Luke 15:22-24 (NIV)

MORE ABOUT NANCY: Nancy is the mother of five adult children, two of whom chose a prodigal path. Her ministries include Bible studies, speaking at retreats and workshops, and overseeing discipleship and women’s ministries. Formerly a computer programmer, Nancy teaches math at a public high school.  www.steppingcloser.com


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Meet & Greet Author John Theo Jr

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John Theo Jr 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!  

CLARICE:  What genre do you prefer to write? John Theo Author Photo

JOHN:  Young adult fiction. In this genre you can address both adult and youthful themes. For instance you can deal with crushes, peer pressure, etc. along with macro themes like life and death. In adult fiction you are more limited on scope and range. I also like screenwriting as it is very formula driven and, compared to prose, easy to write in.

CLARICE:  Tell us a little bit about your novel The Grotto Under the Tree.

JOHN:  Sebastian and Sara mistakenly descend into a mystical land where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mythological creatures live. The two discover they have stumbled into an ancient battle between these fair folk and evil creatures called the Kylo. Their guide on this journey is Capri, an elf  lord who is on a quest to find his lost tribe. The Kylo chase the children and Capri in his flying galleon north into the Arctic Circle where they find the most unlikely ally. During the final battle the children learn about sacrifice, love and ultimately forgiveness.

I also re-address the caricature of Santa and try to bring him back to his Christian roots.

CLARICE:  Which authors have influenced your writing and how?

JOHN:  Tolkien and CS Lewis were very big influences. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the Christian themes embedded in the Narnia and Lord of The Rings novels were the things that really separated them from other fantasy novels and stuck out to me.Theo Grotto

CLARICE:  What do you want readers to experience while reading your books? If you could impart one thing to them, what would it be?

JOHN:  Obviously I’d like them to be transported to this imaginary world I created. I hope they can scratch the surface and understand the Christian theme(s) in my writing as well. In Grotto the theme is that there is only one path to salvation.  If I could encourage anyone to come to the Lord or grow in their Christian walk I would be thrilled.

CLARICE:  What lessons have you learned from this journey? How has it changed your life?

JOHN:  Writing this book has shown me that I can stay focused and finish projects, and that writing is hard work and rarely glamorous. Ironically the process has taken some of the allure from writing enough to realize it’s not “all about the art” like a lot of people believe. Life is more important than art. My faith and my family are more important than my writing.

CLARICE: Which comes easier to you? Coming up with the story idea or actually writing it?

JOHN:  Probably coming up with the story. I am a militant “outline geek.” Taking it from that mess of thoughts and putting into a story is very hard laborious work.

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?

JOHN:  Grotto is published through a secular publisher, Astraea Press. They label themselves as a “clean” publisher and carry a bunch of Christian authors, so they reach across a lot of markets. For future novels I’m not opposed to Christian or secular publishers. If my writing is published via secular outlets there is a strong argument that it will reach more non-believers.

CLARICE:  What writing projects are you currently working on?

JOHN:  I’m about to hand in a dystopian science fiction manuscript (Mission Trip) to my agent. It’s a retelling of the Pilgrims story. In the future there is a societal collapse. Christians are persecuted in the United States and a group of them flee the country to start anew on a floating city in the middle of the ocean. The themes are sanctification along with “those that do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.”

I’m also halfway through a story that takes place in the White Mountains of NH (False Flag). It revolves around a Christian Park Ranger who stumbles across a governmental conspiracy. The theme/questions I ask in this story go back to the Revolutionary War. How involved should churches be in culture and politics? I address the potential need for the Black Robe Regiment to come back. These were pastors labeled as terrorists by King George because they stirred up the people to rebel.

CLARICE:  How would you encourage others who have a story to tell?

JOHN:  Just do it. Start allocating time and just write. Don’t worry about getting published. Find a mentor if you can. This will shave years off your learning curve.

CLARICE:  Where can our readers meet you and get a copy of your book?

JOHN:  You can order the book online at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Or get a copy and meet me in person at the Meet & Greet Local Christian Authors Event scheduled from 3:00 to 5:30 pm. Saturday, November 1, 2014 at Bonhoeffer’s Café & Espresso, 8 Franklin Street, Nashua, NH.

MORE ABOUT JOHN THEO JR: In addition to John’s middle grade fantasy, The Grotto Under the Tree, published by Astraea Press in 2013, he also has numerous published articles on arts, culture, and sports figures. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA. During the day John serves as Vice President of Operations for Blue Sky Holdings and also as an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, where he teaches screenwriting. John and his wife live in Manchester by the Sea, MA. www.johntheo.com.