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Saturday, November 29, 2008

End of the year...

I know we still have a month to go, but nevertheless, I'm reflecting
over this year. This year holds much significance. I think the
four major "events" include:
* Meeting Carl, the wonder of my life
* Elizabeth starting middle school
* Rachel starting college at ECU
* Rain Song (finally) making her debut

When 2008 entered, I knew Elizabeth and Rachel would make it to
their new schools. I also knew that Rain Song was to arrive in
bookstores by October.

The biggest surprise of the year has been meeting Carl. Yes,
folks, via the Internet. He moved from New York to Durham, NC
in May so he could be close to me.

I am counting blessings. It has been a memorable year...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Inspired by the northern shore



In 2001 I had the privilege of spending a week with Alice Walker ... Actually, it was a writing shed named for her. Inside that tiny space, I spent days working on fiction and non-fiction manuscripts. In the evenings the fire in the large cabin blazed while I read to other writers what I had written. There are some things in life you forget quickly, but the week at Norcroft will never leave my mind.

Outside of Duluth, in Lutsen, Minnesota, a piece of land hugged the northern shore of Lake Superior. The owner of the land opened this space up for women writers from all over the globe. All you had to do was get to Norcroft. Once there, room and board were taken care of.

Nancy Harless also had the gift of time at Norcroft. She was more productive than I was for her days there resulted in her new book, Womankind: Connection and Wisdom Around the World.
Because fellow-Norcrofters find each other and hold this common bond of time spent in this hideaway in the woods, we decided to exchange books. I sent her Rain Song and her book arrived for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure I was able to take as I read about women and places around the world where Nancy visited and worked. The accounts of these ventures are penned in this collection of stories--rich and poignant. These pages record the voices of women, women who don't have it easy, and yet find assurance in connecting with other women.

Many parts of Nancy's book stand out for me. Perhaps one I think of most often comes from the elderly Lillian, a maid in Jamaica, who said, "Oh, I have been very good. I am blessed. I have life, and life is enough." Sometimes, despite all that I have personally been through, I know that life should be enough.

My own novel, Rain Song, came after my time at Norcroft. (What I was working on in that shed during my time there never made it to publication.) I like to think that by spending a week at the northern shore I harnessed the inspiration to years later, develop my novel. Perhaps the encouragement from the women at this beautiful location in Minnesota gave me the desire to write a story that binds the lives of women a little further South---united by what keeps us all strong---family, love, and tradition.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reflecting on a dream

Missing my Son
~ Alice J. Wisler

I dreamed of you last night
silky blond bandaged head
toddling down the corridor
dragging a stuffed dinosaur.
I dreamed of you last night
as though you were seated on my lap
Laughing at the alligators,
giggling over monsters.
I dreamed of you last night
and when I woke
your smile was woven into my heart.
Eleven years since I kissed your cheek
and heard you call my name
Yet when I dreamed of you last night
it was as though the years had never been
As though we left off just as we were
with shelves of books to read
games and puzzles to complete
Not like ice cream sundaes
melting of hope and promise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tell me your thoughts

Readers,

Feel free to post under the comments section
your review of Rain Song.

Thanks!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Not Another Flower

There was a day when the sun ceased to shine. You may have missed it; it didn’t make the headlines of any national paper. February 2, 1997, to most, was only Groundhog Day. For me, it was nothing as trite as whether the furry creature did or did not see his shadow. Forget the promise of spring, what did it matter now? My life as I dreamed it stopped when my four-year-old laid lifeless in my arms.

How I remember those early months after his death. I wanted to be like my Victorian ancestors and wear black, even a veil. Then my clothes could shout to my neighbors, those in the grocery store lines, and the many at church -- look at me, I am a parent doing the impossible: living without her child.

I remember those who helped us as we put one foot in front of the other on the rocky path. My husband, three children, and I couldn’t walk it alone. Friends, with embraces as strong and wide as eagle wings, circled us, cried with us. They brought meals, sent cards, provided listening ears, and took care of our young children.

Then there were those uncomfortable with our grief. During the first weeks they joined our tears, but as the months dragged on, their expressions and subtle hints were shouting, “Get back to normal. Look at the joyous side of life. Heal your broken heart!" For some reason, as you may know, people put a timeline on grief. I think the general consensus is that you’re only allowed two to three weeks of sorrow.

When you are new to grief, even simple tasks can be laborious. Your energy and patience levels are low. But hear a comment or two that is completely out of line for anyone to say, and suddenly, you are propelled by anger. How can I forget the older lady in our church that called me every day for two weeks? She’d start off by asking how I was doing. My guts felt like they were stripped out of my body and my heart, mangled. I’d say, "It’s hard."

One afternoon this woman told me with all the sincerity she could muster, "God needed another flower in his garden in heaven and took Daniel." I nearly dropped the phone. This was supposed to provide comfort? I eventually did hang up, but politely. My frustration flared. I got a lot of laundry done that afternoon -- throwing clothes into the washing machine, banging the lid shut, flinging socks and shirts into the dryer.

I am bolder now. When people tell me certain lines, aimed to help me and they don’t work, I let them know. My new mantra is, "Cry with me. Don’t pretend you understand why my child died. Don’t try to rationalize why my son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three and died at four."

Those who have helped are the ones who continue to remember his birthday and think of how hard it is to live the holidays without him. I appreciate the friends who join me at the cemetery, named by my children “Daniel’s Place”, and lift a helium balloon into the sky with me. Watch it soar.

I believe my son is vibrant and alive in Heaven now. I hope the balloon reaches him. Don’t tell me it pops when it gets out of sight. Let me be like a child and not know the laws of the stratosphere. Let me wish he knows how much I love and miss him. Let me believe he is alive and touching the face of God.

The sun does shine again in my world. Although the hole in my mother’s heart is always present, I’m grateful for the times I can tell Daniel’s story. Remembering him, writing about him, even sharing his jokes with those I meet, brings healing.

I place flowers at his grave. But Daniel is not another flower.
~ By Alice J. Wisler

Friday, November 7, 2008

Daniel, again

I dreamed of my little Daniel early this morning. He was walking down
a corridor with a bandage and surgical tape sticking out of the back
of his head. I called his name and eagerly, filled with warmth and
smiles, he came and sat in my lap. We talked and laughed as though
we had just seen each other. As though it has not been 11 years
since I grinned over one of his jokes.

I dreamed of Daniel, my son. There are gifts and then, there are
gifts. The joy from that dream is a gift that is impossible to
describe unless you've had the experience to join your precious
child in the realms of a dream... Because once a child dies, the
dreams are all you get.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

This week Rain Song is featured at the CFBA. Check out the interview and review here at Window to my World.