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Monday, December 31, 2007

Good-Bye 2007

I cannot wait to bring 2008 into my family room. My
younger kids, Elizabeth (10) and Benjamin (12) can't
wait either. They've blown up about twenty assorted
balloons and hung them in clumps from the family room
ceiling. They have also made banners and streamers
and documented their accomplishments on digital camera.
My oldest, Rachel (17) is getting ready to join her
friends (away from us) later on. Elizabeth, Benjamin
and I will put on our party hats, watch too much TV,
light a firelog in the fireplace, roast marshmallows,
eat bowls of steaming Japanese noodles, shell peanuts,
and enjoy chocolate. At midnight we will toast
the new year with sparkling cider (they asked for
the expensive kind. It was $2.50
at Food Lion; I guess that's expensive enough)
and blow those crazy obnoxiously-loud noise makers.
And I will shout, This is the year my novel will
be published!


If you hear a shout, it is probably me. 2008
is going to be great!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas, right on time

The display of lights greet me each time I drive
around my neighborhood. Jingle Bells and Silent
Night
blare throughout every store and restaurant
I visit. There is no denying that Christmas is
nearly here.

A week from today it will all be over.

Some may think that is a "Bah Humbug" attitude
and I agree. I am weary of the pressure this
season places on every mom. When a baby was born
in a manger over 2,000 years ago I don't think
the intention was for parents to have to trek
all over town for the perfect gift to go under
the tree.

Actually, I used to like Christmas just fine.
Then a little boy died right after his fourth
Christmas and my thirty-sixth Christmas. He had
a stack of presents, even ones from saints at
the hospital. But not one of those were able
to give him a healthy body. Health cannot
be purchased.

Even though his death was ten years ago, I can't
spring back into enjoying the glow of this season
whole-heartedly.

Instead, I focus on the more meager and lowly
aspects around the season. I reach out to those
who are in pain and yet, somehow, think the
twinkling lights and a cup of hot apple cider
will bring them good cheer. In spite of
the agony of events in their lives, they wish.

I marvel at those who in spite of it all, find
meaning in the simplicity of living. They
bring joy to my world. Their lives - a
symphony of pain mixed with hope - display
in so many ways the truth that a
Savior has been born, not for those who
have it all together, but for those of us
who realize and recognize that life on this
earth is frail and sad and lacking.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thanksgiving....a little late


Sometimes writers log onto
Google and type in their
names just to see what's
out there.... Usually
we do this on days when
we wonder if anyone cares
about us... (You know
our egos are frail.)
Here is something I found
that I wrote when I was
the editor of Sascha's
LARGO.

THANKSGIVING IS FOR
THE BEREAVED AND BROKEN
By Alice J. Wisler
Revised from LARGO, Winter 2001

I have a hard time believing it is the
season of holidays again. While this
year should be easier since it will be
our fifth Thanksgiving, Christmas
and New Years without Daniel, I still
feel myself putting on an extra shield
of courage.

In the cool afternoon air I am reminded
of my first Thanksgiving
since Daniel’s death. On that day I
wrote a poem; it wasn’t very good
but it did express what I had learned
from reflecting on the origins of this
national American holiday.

For the first time I thought that the
initial Thanksgiving among the settlers
and the Indians couldn’t have
been that glamorous. Why not? For
one, there had been many losses.
Around those tables were certainly
fathers and mothers who had had to
bury children. While thankful for
much, these parents held heavy
hearts too.

Continuing to reflect this way helps
me realize Thanksgiving is also a
holiday with reality. It is not a
Norman Rockwell painting. While we
like the warmth this artist has
created in his capturing of a happy
Thanksgiving table, we know that in
most families everyone is not present.
Family members are gone from us
and at times all we can notice are the
silent empty chairs. How can we have
Thanksgiving when we are lacking?
This holiday does not have the be-
reaved in mind at all, we conclude.

But, in time, we are able to reflect on
the presence our loved children held
in our lives instead of only focusing
on their absences. They lived and we
are the more blessed because of their
lives – so vibrant and so loving. We
become more aware of just how
much they impacted our lives then –
and even now.

Light a candle this Thanksgiving for
those we miss. Recall how blessed we
were to have them, even for a short
while.

And remember that the origin of
Thanksgiving does not stem from the
situations of cheery and perfectly
intact families. There had been many
deaths during the difficult trek to
this land from England and Europe
and once the settlers arrived, more
deaths due to illness occurred. The
Native Americans experienced heart
breaking losses as well. Even so,
these men and women found reasons
to be thankful. So, although our
sorrow is great, we can be appreciative
for the memories we hold in our
hearts.

Thanksgiving is a holiday
which includes each of us – bereaved
and broken.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cover for Rain Song

My novel has a face now. My editor at Bethany House
sent the cover to me last week. My kids and I
cheered. We love it! Rain Song is to be published
in the fall. Only 10 months away, but who's counting?

New website for novel!

Please take a moment to head over to the
new website, http://www.alicewisler.com.
At AliceWisler.com you will be able to
learn about a grief writing course,
my novel RAIN SONG, and sign up for
Literary Lyrics, a newsletter sure
to be fun to get in your in-box!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Surviving the Tinsel

As the holidays approach, they can be difficult, to say the least. Christmas doesn't feel the same after the death of a close loved one. Tips on how to get through the holidays are available in my article, Surviving the Tinsel. Using the link to the right of this post, click to the article. Tell me what you think! I hope it helps.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Evening Peace

Book number two is completed! I am ready to send it to
my editor at Bethany House Publishers and see what she
thinks.

Evening Peace is set in Bryson City, NC, so dismiss the
earlier posts about Beaufort. Perhaps the third
or fourth book will be the one set in Beaufort.

Meanwhile, I am continuing with freelance projects and
waiting to see what is around the corner.

And if you are ever wondering what to do--
please visit Writing the Heartache, my website
on writing through grief.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Dozen Extra Years

I goofed. I found out today--a beautiful autumn day in
Durham, NC, by the way--that I accredited a comment from
one person to the wrong person.

This is not the way to go about winning friends and
influencing people to buy my novel. No, my novel
hasn't been published yet. Some days I wonder if it
will be published after my death.
Yes, my kind editor knows how slow I think the process
is going. I know it's all about teaching me patience,
patience, patience.

But, I digress.

I was at the Southwest Elementary School Fall Festival
earlier today and Julie was there. She told me she
enjoyed my blog.

Then Julie asked, "Is this a joke I don't know about?"

"A joke?" I said as kids around me dunked teachers in
the dunking booth and slid down the large inflatable
slide.

"Yes, I'm the one who posted the comment
about the Lock Out and last time I checked...."

"You don't live in Wales," I said with a smile. "You
live in Durham." I told her I'd change that
comment to read Julie in Durham.

So here I am changing it. Actually, I'm writing about
three hundred words to explain the situation. And hoping that
I won't confuse people. I do need friends and fans and mistaking
one person's message for another and then writing about it, is
not the way to grow my readership.

But the good news is that both Julie in Wales and Julie in
the USA are forgiving types. They're moms; they've
learned how to do this task well. If I toss a little
flattery both of their ways (did I mention what good
moms they are?), they can't help but stick with me.

Which brings me to the realization that a large part of
life is fixing the mistakes. If we never made any, how
much time would we have?

I'm guessing I'd have about a dozen extra years.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Are people actually reading this?

Aside from my friend Julie, in Wales, and my cousin Leif in Montana, I don't know if anyone ever reads my postings here. However, when Julie said she wanted to hear about my "lock-out" from my house, and my cousin faithfully reminds me that my last post was a month ago, I guess I should keep up a little better.

My second novel has reached that finished first draft stage, which is a major accomplishment in my opinion. Now I get to do the fun work of editing. Actually, the hard part for me is over. I don't mind it when it gets to this nice workable structure where the skeletal form is in clear view; I just have to pad with flesh to create the final product. (My kids, by the way, are tired of that flesh on bones analogy, but is there a better way to explain the process?)

I continue with freelance projects, along with my second novel, and wait to see what is next in store.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

School is back in session and the writing is good

I enjoyed the summer with my kids, but like most parents, I'm glad they're back in the halls of learning. Now I can have a schedule that suits me. And yes, it includes writing during the day, that is when I haven't locked myself out of my house, and have to creatively break in (long story, but with a happy ending).

My second novel has just begun. My editor suggested I wait on the one I was writing earlier this year, set in Beaufort. This newest one (due out in 2009) takes place in Bryson City, right at the lovely North Carolina Smoky Mountains. It'll take some time to get into this new novel; the characters are right now all hiding behind masquerade masks. It'll be awhile before I get to know them enough to really like them. Or dislike them.

I was thinking today as I sat in my new computer chair that actually is comfortable, what fun it is to be a novelist! There is nothing I'd rather do than create in this way. While I'm grateful for the freelancing work I had this summer and continue to have, I prefer dialoge, scenes, and themes surrounding a novel that hopefully, is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer and the Saxophone

Although it is still officially summer,
and most kids are on vacation from school,
my son Benjamin opted for year round middle
school at Rogers-Herr in Durham, NC. This
means that when July 16 arrived, his
alarm went off at 6:30 AM. That's
awfully early when you've developed a
writing schedule of staying up till
midnight. I have done this, of course.
We all were up late and slept in late,
as well. It was a good life.

Actually, if I can go to bed soon after
he does, even though my daughters are
still on vacation schedule and watching
TV, I can wake up when he does, take
him to school, come home, and get some
writing done before the house awakens.
I just can't, at the expression goes,
burn the candle at both ends. I'm,
believe it or not, a little
too old for that. When I write
early in the morning, I feel like a
real writer. In all the interviews
with the famous ones, don't they
usually say they spend about four
hours writing in the morning?

Benjamin is in band and learning to play
the saxophone which is another change
to our summer. The saxophone is a
beautiful woodwind instrument and is
adding a rich sound to my writing.
Benjamin practices after school while
I write. He is dedicated to his sax
and I'm thrilled. My musical ability
is ziltch. Who said we live through
our children?

Speaking of children, my cousin in
Montana has three. I'm not sure if
his kids play any instruments;
somehow I bet they do because my
cousin is talented, and as they say,
the apple doesn't fall far from the
tree. My cousin is also quite gifted
in the area of cleverness. Three times
this summer he has commented that he
wants me to write about him on this
blog. He keeps reminding me that I
haven't updated it with anything of
value--i.e., anything about him.
Now, at last, he won't be able to
harrass me anymore. His cleverness
has paid off. Here's to you cousin!

Happy summer, and here's also to my
newest favorite instrument, the
saxophone!

Friday, June 15, 2007

I Quit and Started.....

Well... to all those who use the
cliche, "Don't quit your day job,"
guess what?

Of course there were dozens of
reasons why I quit a secure
job--uh, there is one of them.
The job was no longer secure.
Financial woes, and I was asked
to cut back on my weekly hours.
Uh-oh! That meant no more
benefits.

Okay, so enough on that. I quit.
I took a risk, stepped out of the
boat during the storm, and knew
I could do it ONLY if I could
trust God's hand.

What would I do for money?
I hadn't won the lottery...yet.

Today marks Week Two of living
the freelancer's life. Having
novel advance money, plus a little
more in savings, helps. I wouldn't
recommend this quitting the day
job unless you have a little
something to live off of until
you get your next break. The
freelancing world, like everything
else, holds no guarantees.

But the bottom line is-- I am
excited about living this life.
Can I say that I have dreamed
of living the writing life
full-time? Yes, I can say just
that because I have.

True, I miss my co-workers, but
the flexibility of working from
home and having time to spend
with my three summer-vacationing
children is...you got it, priceless!

So, for now, this point in time,
this is what I'm doing.

Life is always subject to change
so I am ruling out nothing. Just
enjoying this part of the journey.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Down the Cereal Aisle

Why is going down the cereal aisle so painful after the
death of a child? Why does every sugar-coated morsel
from each cardboard box cry out, "Where is he now?"

Shopping for food when there is one less person to
shop for is not an easy task. The children we loved
and still hold dearly in our hearts, are no longer
around to tug at our sleeve and beg, "Please, please,
oh, please Mommy, can we please buy Cocoa Puffs?"

From the painful grocery store aisle to the
fond memories of my son Daniel, an idea came
to me. A cookbook is what I compiled. Down the
Cereal Aisle holds the memories of those children
who graced our tables once.

Siblings and parents contributed the heart-felt
pieces of this book. From it you can cook, yes,
and learn to make many exciting dishes. But the
best way to read this book is by using all your
senses and letting your heart be touched by the
lives of those we yearn for.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

e-Bay! Remembrance cards

Finally, for my first time since I opened my e-Bay
account, I have something to sell! My Songs From
Heaven cards are available via e-Bay as of tonight.
Go take a look!

Cards of Remembrance

I call them Cards of Remembrance or Comfort
Cards. Whatever you call them, I heard they
do help. These cards--two designs--are for
anyone to purchase and send to someone who
is remembering a loved one. A loved one gone.
Whether it be six weeks or six years since
the death of a friend's loved child or
spouse or mother, these cards are meant
to send. There are two designs, both in
full-color:

1. Songs from Heaven
"Who will remember those who no longer
sing on earth? We, who hear their
songs from Heaven." -Alice J. Wisler

2. I Wish You
"I wish you fond memories,
starry nights of laughter,
the beauty of a life well lived--
all wrapped in a blanket of solace."
--Alice J. Wisler

Check these cards out at the Writing the
Heartache website:
http://www.geocities.com/griefhope/index.html

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What is Writing the Heartache?

For a decade I have been writing some of
the most difficult stuff ever known to
man or womankind.

When I took my children to a neighbor's
birthday party ten years ago, shortly after
the death of my son Daniel, a man asked
what I did. I told him I wrote.

"What do you write about?"

"Well," and here I swallowed. "My son died.
He had cancer. I write about what it's like
to live after the loss of a child."

"Wow," he said, "That's a hard way to start
a writing career."

No, not so hard, I thought. I can do it.
Not going to be tough at all. I write well,
after all. Sort of...

Truth is, people don't really want to read about
losing a 4-year-old boy to cancer. They'd rather
read almost anything else.

Still, I wrote. I had to write--writing was my
sanity and my survival.

I started an online magazine and for five years
sent out an issue every month to other bereaved
parents all across the world.

My website, http://www.geocities.com/griefhope/index.html
continues with articles on how to write through devastating
pain.

I had a non-fiction book with an agent over six
years ago. She tried to sell Writing the Heartache,
a guide on how to write to heal, but bless her heart,
no one bit.

I still believe in the book. People need to know how
to capture all the anguish and beauty and love inside
and remember. Remember your loved one who has died.
This is how you heal.

Writing the Heartache workshops are ones I like to
present. Any time I am asked, I am ready to teach
on the value and importance of penning the heartache.
Just ask!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rain Song

While listening to Jim Brickman's CD and a variety of others,
I wrote my novel Rain Song. This story takes place just down
the road from me in Mount Olive, North Carolina. The main
character, Nicole, loves salt water fish and writes for a
website called Pretty Fishy. (Isn't that pretty clever?)
She hears from a fan, a man by the name of Harrison. He
lives in Japan. Japan is taboo for Nicole. There is
bad family history that took place there. Yet, Harrison
is so nice in his email messages, and he writes poetry,
and when he sends his picture, oh, my!

I won't disclose anymore because I need you to buy
the book, read it, and be surprised! See, I'm doing
you a favor by not writing another line about Rain
Song.

The road to fall 2008 is long and I hope you'll keep
me going by reading my posts until that joyous
publication day. Your comments are most welcome.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Alice J. Wisler

Welcome to my new blog, created for the sheer purpose of
sharing with you the designs from the lumpy patchwork
quilt of my life.

The big news is my two-book contract with Bethany House
Publishers.

Rain Song, the first novel, is due out in the fall of 2008.
Yep, that's eons away and I basically need something
to do before the publishing date. So I figured
I would do what millions of others do--create a blog--
and that would be the best thing to pass the time.

You may have some questions for me. Questions like:

What is Rain Song about?

What other web sites do you have?

And what does one do about taking an online course on
Writing the Heartache?

and

maybe even....

Who are you?

I'll answer these all for you.

First, I need to take a short break and write
a few pages on novel number two or else I'll
forget who is married to whom, and what is
motivating my Beaufort, North Carolina
characters.