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Today’s guest on Wednesday Writers is Clarice G. James, who has a very unique story to share with us about second chances and her contemporary Women’s Fiction book Party of One. I have to confess, as a romance author when I read this title I was intrigued. Welcome, Clarice!

 

 

Thanks, Catherine.

Six months after I was widowed, I returned to the diner my husband and I had frequented for decades. It was tough. While seated at the table we had called ours, a server approached and asked if someone would be joining me. When I told her no, she asked me to move to a stool at the counter because they liked to save their tables for two or more.

In the midst of one person’s insensitivity, a seed was planted. I began writing a memoir about my experiences as a widow. Although it felt good to write again, I was concerned my transparency would trample on the privacy of friends and family. So, I put my project on hold.

Eight years later, I was blessed to remarry. When I discussed my memoir with my husband, David, he gave me a solution to my problem: Turn my non-fiction work into fiction. I titled my novel Party of One. During my single years, I’d toyed with the idea of starting a singles supper club, but I never went through with it. Party of One is based on that premise. The story opens with the incident at that same restaurant.

One day I realized I didn’t have to be single to reach out to the lonely. So, even before Party of One was released, I started Party of One: A Fellowship for Those Tired of Dining Alone. The group grew after a local newspaper did in a story about us. People were blessed! My sweet husband, David, joined us in these twice monthly singles suppers for over two years. Not every day a husband agrees to his wife starting a singles club!

Standing on God’s word that he “sets the lonely in families” (Ps 68:6a NIV), I believe both the Party of One novel and fellowship were God-inspired. I fully expect and welcome God’s intervention in the next stage of my life!

                                     Party of One

By Clarice G. James

 

When widow Annie McGee breaks through grief, she falls flat on her face into loneliness. In a bold move for this private woman, she founds Party of One, a communal table for single diners. Outside of these weekly gatherings at a local restaurant, she has no intention of getting involved in the diverse lives of the people who join her.

Set in her ways and critical, Annie believes she has all the answers she needs for her life and some left over for others. When confusion and curiosity chip away at her pride, she asks God for a sign, then gets way more than she hopes for. Her self-assurance continues to falter when she realizes the only thing weirder than the quirks of her eclectic tablemates is her fear of losing their company.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

My husband was dead—I wasn’t—and I hated eating alone.

Yet there I stood, a party of one, on the steps of the Ebb Tide Diner. With Exxon pumps out front and the motto “Eat Here and Get Gas,” you didn’t expect fancy. The home-style cooking is what kept this place packed.

Ned and I had discovered this local favorite after our move from the Boston area to the Upper Cape Cod town of Sandwich. Ebb Tide transitioned into our Friday date-night eatery after the kids were grown and gone. I hadn’t been back since he died.

Now, two years to the day, I needed to deal with some things. Coming back here alone was one. The start of the New Year was as good a time as any.

I’d had my hair done for the occasion, covering a few grays which threatened to dull my natural nutmeg. I even wore the peacock-blue sweater set and dangly silver earrings Ned had given me. Why? I guess for the same reason I spent time staring out over the ocean rather than the cemetery: Ned would’ve been pleased.

The place was crazy-busy as usual. The smell of Yankee pot roast and fried clams awakened tasty memories. A fast-walking waitress, plates running up her arms, slowed down long enough to tip her head in the direction of the last vacant table—the one Ned and I had called ours.

I took a seat, my seat. With my hands clasped under my chin, I leaned on my elbows and stared across the table at the empty chair. I let my mind drift back in time until the word pathetic chided my resolve. I recovered, then scolded myself.

Keep moving, McGee. Self-pity is not on tonight’s menu.

Summoning images of us in times past brought a smile instead of tears, consolation in place of sadness. I could feel grief turning.

I can do this.

A waitress startled me out of my reverie, but her familiar face put me at ease. She extended a pair of menus. “Will someone be joining you?”

A bit bruised she hadn’t recognized me, I pretended not to notice. “No, just me tonight,” I said, my voice an octave too high. What I wanted to say was, “Don’t you remember? I’m Annie of Annie and Ned, your old regulars?”

“Oh.” She pulled the menus back before I could accept one. “Then would you mind moving to the counter? We like to save our tables for two or more.”

Want to read more? Check out Party of One at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946638137

 

About the Author:

Clarice G. James writes smart, fun, relatable contemporary women’s fiction from a Christian worldview. Her first two novels are Party of One and Double Header Her third novel, Manhattan Grace, will be released in 2018. After 23 years of marriage and three children, she was widowed. Eight years later, she was blessed to remarry. Clarice grew up on Cape Cod, but she and her husband David now live in southern New Hampshire. Together, they have five married children and ten grandchildren. When Clarice isn’t writing, she’s reading, encouraging fellow writers, participating in ladies Bible studies, or involved in a home decorating project.

 

Contact Links:

Website: https://claricejames.com

Facebook: Clarice Gregoire James https://www.facebook.com/clarice.g.james

Twitter: Clarice G. James https://twitter.com/ClariceGJames

Email: cjames@claricejames.com