Linda Brooks Davis

Clarice G. James: Let’s Chat!

Welcome, everyone.

Clarice JamesClarice G. James writes smart, fun, relatable contemporary women’s fiction. Her four novels, Party of One, Doubleheader, Manhattan Grace, and The Girl He Knew, are woven together with colorful threads of humor, faith, romance, and mystery.

When Clarice G. James isn’t writing, she’s reading, encouraging fellow writers, or organizing author events. She and her husband David, a short story writer, live in Hudson, New Hampshire. Together, they have five children and ten grandchildren.

We Cannot Out Give God by Clarice G. James

About four months ago, I scheduled two back-to-back author talks and one book signing on Cape Cod for the first week in December. I was especially excited because I was raised on the Cape and had lived most of my life there.

The trip from my home in New Hampshire would involve an overnight stay, so I enlisted the help of my friend, Deb. In lieu of a paycheck, I gave her the title of “Road Manager” and promised her a hotel with a pool. She does love her a nice pool.

Clarice James
I
n addition to the hosts inviting their contacts, many people responded positively to my email invitations and social media posts. I’d even re-connected via Facebook with some of my former high school classmates who’d expressed interest.

And these are just the people I know about! I thought.

My bookmarks were printed, my author talks polished, and my outside signage was perfect to entice unsuspecting passers-by. I packed my books in multiple bins, even gift-wrapping many in time for Christmas. As my hopes grew, I’d add more books to my bins “just to be sure.”

Clarice G. James: The book tour to beat all my previous book tours!

Despite my expectations, I did my due diligence. I checked and double-checked with those in charge of each event to make sure we were still on before I confirmed my hotel reservations. Their answers were always a variation of, “Oh, yes! Can’t wait! Thank you so much! We’re so looking forward to it!”

Then, the night before I was to leave, I opened this email: “Hello Clarice, I am sorry to say due to an issue with our newsletter that went out late, we do not have anyone signed up for your talk here tomorrow at 1:30. If we could reschedule for a later date that would be great. All the Best.”

All the Best? Seriously?

I was disappointed … and perturbed. Dropping my head in my hands, I prayed. Deuteronomy 1:15 came to mind: “Some were responsible for a thousand people, some for a hundred, some for fifty, and some for ten.”

What are you trying to tell me, God?

I sensed I was supposed to go despite the dismal outlook, so I took a deep breath and typed: “I hope you will reconsider. Perhaps an email can go out today to let members know? Or a Facebook post? I’d be happy to help in any way I can.”

The host reconsidered, and I was on my way—albeit a little less puffed up than before.

Clarice James

We arrived twenty minutes prior to the start. A cluster of my former high school classmates were waiting at the entrance. I hadn’t seen these women since our graduation five decades ago. The truth is I hadn’t even known them that well in school and had never made much attempt to keep in touch with anyone from my class.

Another friend, who’d brought a guest along, waved to me from across the parking lot. When we entered the building, four other women were waiting inside. A minute into my talk, my sister-in-law slipped in.

Unexpected Delight

The total count of 15 was less than the grand number I’d fantasized about, but they sure made up for any lack by their enthusiasm. Those who had read some of my books had brought them for me to sign. They talked about my characters the same way I did myself. I have never been more encouraged by an audience’s response.

Since half the group was made up of my classmates, I mentioned our former English teacher who had inspired me to write. I was stupefied when a woman raised her hand and said, “He’s in the next room giving a talk now.”

“He is? Here? Now?”

Once the eighty-something-year-old teacher concluded his talk, he joined us. I was able to thank him in person after all these years. When I showed him his name in the Acknowledgements of my first novel, he seemed genuinely touched.

Clarice G. James: How good is God?

When Deb and I checked into our hotel, the front desk clerk informed me that I’d booked two rooms instead of one. She corrected my error right then, saving me an aggravating phone call. As a treat, we had the nice, warm swimming pool to ourselves!

The next morning, we were about 1,000 feet from the next venue when I got a call: “I’m so sorry. Only three people signed up, and two cancelled this morning. Do you want to reschedule?”

I chuckled and said, “One person is good enough for me! I’m on my way.”

The program director and her receptionist joined the lone guest for my talk. By the end of our time there, I knew beyond doubt that we were all there to encourage this one woman. She’d signed up as an attempt to break through her grief and loneliness during this difficult time of year. I’m pretty sure I did as much listening as talking that morning.

Unexpected Bonus!

The program director plans to consult with other Cape Cod directors to have me back for a Sheer Joy of Writing workshop in the spring.    

Clarice James

The next event—a book signing at a friend’s café—started off slow. In fact, my friend had even forgotten I was coming that day. Humility strikes again! Deb and I enjoyed lunch, then set up the book table. While waiting for someone, anyone, to come by, I prayed, Lord, please show me why I’m here. 

A few feet to my right, a middle-aged woman sat with a young adult male who was in his own world texting a friend.

I leaned over and joked, “Would you like a book to read until he’s done?”

She laughed, then before I knew it, we were in a conversation about her life and the daily challenges she faces: an autistic son, a five-year-old adopted daughter, and a demanding job. I don’t know if anything I said helped, but sometimes it’s enough to know someone cares.

Soon after our conversation came to a close, one by one, four longtime friends entered with wide smiles on their faces. We spent the next hour catching up.

What If?

What if I’d pouted and canceled? What if I’d listened to the world’s wisdom and made this trip about audience size and sales? Instead, I paid heed to the Lord’s leading and was rewarded with a passel of early Christmas gifts:

  • A fun road trip with a good friend.
  • A reunion with classmates.
  • The privilege to thank a mentor.
  • Mutual support and encouragement.
  • Five-star service from a three-star hotel.
  • The chance to listen and offer comfort.
  • An opportunity for a speaking engagement in the spring.
  • Laughter.
  • Hugs.
  • Joy.
  • Yes, even some book sales!

When will I learn I cannot out give God? 

During this Christmas season and in the coming New Year, I pray we all take the time to appreciate God’s gifts, designed specifically for us and wrapped in his love and faithfulness.

Clarice James

God’s best to you and yours in 2020!

Clarice G. James

How to find Clarice G. James:

Email: cjames@claricejames.com.

Website: www.claricejames.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarice.g.james

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClariceGJames

~ ~ ~

Lord, please bless each word Clarice G. James writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake

25 thoughts on “Clarice G. James: Let’s Chat!

  1. I love your story and positive attitude. Your immediate disappointment was replaced by many blessings. All to often, we only see the end goal and if it goes out of reach, we miss the blessings along the way. You couldn’t have had a better outcome and that’s because you set aside your goal and listened to God, prompting you to go anyhow. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story with humility and honesty. God always rewards our obedience, which you so beautifully demonstrated. As “ministers of God’s truth,” we do need to remember the importance of sharing with anyone, and even ONLY one. Loved your post and would enjoy reading your books. ❤️

  3. I appreciate your transparency in sharing this, Clarice. Clearly the numbers are not the highest goal; one person genuinely impacted can have lifelong, even eternal, consequences. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I enjoyed your story about your talks. Yes, this writing journey isn’t always about the numbers and sales.

    It’s great when you hear from readers how they were blessed and related to your characters. Happy it turned out well !

  5. Let’s try this again…lol I’d live a free book. Any will do since I haven’t read any of yours. Thank you for having this drawing!!

  6. This was a great read. You may never fully know the impact you had on those you had contact with during your time there, especially the woman grieving. Books have been such a blessing to me all my life but especially when my son was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and then since he died 9 years ago.
    I look forward to reading your work.

    1. Laura, I’m sorry for your great loss. My parents knew what it was like losing a child. My sister was killed by a drunk driver in 1995. I deal with some manner of death in all of my books. Most readers can relate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: