After years of writing and editing for business and ministry, Clarice G. James now enjoys writing smart, fun, relatable contemporary fiction with a dash of humor, love, and mystery to keep things interesting. Double Header [Published by Mountainview Books LLC] was one of three winners in the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel contest. Her next novel, Party of One [Published by Elk Lake Publishing Inc.] will be out in 2017. Clarice and her husband, David, live in Southern New Hampshire. Together they have five children and ten grandchildren. She has been a follower of Jesus Christ for over 36 years.
Connect with Clarice...
Purchase: Double Header
Get to know Clarice...
--> You and Writing
When people ask me why I write, I answer, “’Cause God didn’t give me any other talents.” Truthfully, I’ve always enjoyed writing in some capacity or other: letters, essays, articles, editorials, and marketing materials. Most of it was nonfiction or business related. About nine years ago, my husband suggested I try fiction. Now I’m hooked. It’s legal lying—and most of the time my family and friends have no clue I’m putting them in my stories.
Here’s a snapshot of my personality, quirks and all …
- I started writing fiction because the truth in my life was not believable.
- My husband and I don’t keep score in Scrabble. We’re just happy we can spell.
- When our community school offered a punctuation class, I was beside myself.
- Time alone with my grandchildren gives me a legitimate reason to play make-believe.
- My mouth kicks in before my brain because I have a sentence to compl-inish.
- I believe debating–especially about politics—is a waste of my good hot air.
- Some of my characters’ funniest lines, I stole from my husband during our conversations.
- When I take a break from writing, it’s to work on a home decorating project.
- I collect names for characters for future books. Then I change them.
--> Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book...
In my debut novel, Double Header, protagonist Casey Gallagher credits a carefully crafted game plan for her wins: a solid marriage to Sam; a lucrative marketing career in Boston; and the popular sports column, Double Header, which she writes with her brother Griffin. When Casey discovers that her late father, the one man she idolized, had an affair which produced a son even he didn't know about, she’s determined to discover his identity before her father’s reputation is blemished.
The spiritual theme of the story is forgiveness. Readers have told me that Casey’s journey to forgiveness helped them conquer their own anger and resentment toward others. As an author, to hear that is a gift.
As a child, the only person I knew who followed baseball was my paternal grandfather. Since he usually fell asleep during games, I assumed baseball was boring. Later, I loved seeing my children get excited watching sports. Now, it’s even more enjoyable seeing them with their own children. When I came up with the premise, I thought it would be fun to incorporate my family’s love of baseball into my storyline. I had loads of fun with the sibling banter between Casey and her brother Griffin, mainly because much of it was based on my own three children.
Let’s talk about your writing life...
Since my husband and I recently retired, our favorite expression is, “Nobody’s the boss of us. We can do whatever we want.” Almost. Retirement is great—unless you like fancy vacations, expensive restaurants, and buying stuff. We had to come up with something to keep us out of trouble. I knew my husband had talent, so I encouraged him to join my critique group. Now, after our breakfast and devotional time, we talk about our works-in-progress, bounce ideas off one another, then get to work in our separate offices.
Two things have helped me immensely: 1) critique groups and 2) beta readers. The input of fellow writers and readers has been invaluable. I can’t stress this enough. In reviewing our own work, writers often read what we intended to write; we often tell readers less or more than is necessary; and we miss common errors. Even when writers are at different levels, their input is helpful.
My advice to writers is to use the gift God has given you to the best of your ability. Don’t let it go stale because you didn’t land that lucrative publishing contract. Make it count in ways that can’t be measured in dollars and cents. Write a serviceman. Write a note of sympathy. Write to encourage your children. Write stories for your grandchildren. Write for ministries. Write words of thanks and praise to your church leaders. Write for the pure enjoyment of it!
What’s one thing you are looking forward to in the New Year?
I love encouraging other writers. I plan to conduct a few Nuts & Bolts of Writing & Publishing workshops for those in the New England area.
What are your writing goals for this New Year?
I’ll work on getting my third book, titled Manhattan Grace, published. And I’ll finish my fourth novel, After Juliette. Once Party of One is released by Elk Lake Publishing, I’ll spend some time getting the word out.
What are you currently reading?
For my book club, I’m reading Hearts of Fire, edited and published by Voice of the Martyrs. For nostalgia, I’m re-reading the classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I just cracked open Maggie’s War by Terrie Todd, a work of historical fiction set in Canada.