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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rain Song in The Durham Herald-Sun!

The actual article starts on page one of the Sunday edition of The Herald-Sun and carries over to the Books and Leisure Section and spans to the next page.

The article comes with a large, full color photo of me and Rain Song's cover, as well as a listing of upcoming book events. Of course, being able to see, feel, and breathe in the full newspaper affect adds to the excitement I feel for this piece.

Author's newest story an outlet for her grief

By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan : The Herald-Sun

Oct 19, 2008

"Rain Song"

By Alice J. Wisler(Bethany House, trade paperback, 304 pages, $13.99)

Alice J. Wisler was passing through Mount Olive, N.C., one time and stopped to eat at a restaurant there. The town -- home to the pickle company and annual pickle festival -- became the setting for her debut novel, "Rain Song."

Wisler, who has lived in Durham for 20 years, has previously self-published cookbooks and ran a small cake decorating business. Food is a popular topic for discussion among the "Rain Song" characters as they plan the annual family reunion. And they make and eat a good deal of pineapple chutney. Main character Nicole enjoys her grandmother, great aunts and other quirky extended family.

But it is Nicole's immediate family relationships that cause her pain. Nicole was born in Japan to missionaries. Her mother was killed in a house fire when Nicole was just a toddler. It left a longing and unanswered questions in Nicole and led to a distant relationship with her father. So Nicole takes comfort in her familiar surroundings in Mount Olive, her contributions to the Pretty Fishy Web site and her job as a middle school teacher. Until she connects with a man who has fish too, but more importantly lives in Japan and holds the key to Nicole's understanding of her young life there. As she learns about her past, her comfortable world is shaken.

Like her character, Wisler is also the daughter of missionaries and lived in Japan as a child. She has also dealt with the loss of a close loved one. Wisler's son died at age four. Over the past dozen years she has used writing to deal with grief and showed others how to do so, too. Writing is something she has always done, though she put it on the back burner as she raised her children. She is also mom to a freshman at East Carolina University and two middle school students. After her son died, she was writing for survival.

"It took on a whole new course," Wisler said. "My writing became a lot more realistic. Now it's not so happily ever after."

The ending of "Rain Song" leaves the readers an opportunity to continue the story in their own imagination. Wisler actually finished the novel without the final chapter, which her publisher asked her to write to provide some closure. She doesn't plan to write a sequel, but she does have another novel coming out next year. Her publisher, Bethany House, which publishes Christian fiction, signed her to a two-book contract. "Rain Song" includes church and religious references as part of the daily lives of the characters in the small Southern community.

"I wanted to add the Christian influences but didn't want it to be overly saturated with it. I wanted it to be entertaining, not a sermon," she said. Wisler attends Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham.

Her next novel, "How Sweet It Is," takes place in Bryson City, on the edge of the Smoky Mountains. It features a woman from Georgia who moves to a cabin there and teaches cooking at a church-run foster children's program. Wisler has worked with foster children and studied social work in college at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

She has been part of a writing group in Cary for eight years. Wisler said she had been rejected many times before, and had just three chapters of "Rain Song" completed in 2007 for her soon-to-be agent. The agent asked for the entire book, and Wisler frantically wrote her final draft while her children slept or were at school. She already has a third book in a draft stage -- another novel -- which does not have a publisher yet.

"I want to have one ready," Wisler said.

Copyright 2008
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