Monday, June 29, 2009

The Pineapple Chutney Following

When my novel, Rain Song, made its debut, I was eager to promote it with the typical book signings at local stores. I arranged three events and enjoyed each one; people came and bought books. However, I wanted more, something unique, something to stand out. As one friend said, with a wry smile, "You want a following." I grimaced; that sounded lofty.

Rain Song is set in Mount Olive, NC and has quirky southern relatives who believe in tradition and unity. They don Mount Olive Pickle Company aprons and make pineapple chutney while discussing the next family reunion. I wanted my novel to expand off the pages and generate some fun in the lives of others today. So, after the book signings, I hosted a Holiday Reunion Open House Event. I sent out printed invitations to neighbors, those in my writers group, friends, church folk, and relatives. I announced the event on social networking sites.

I'd never done this before, but with the help of my children and boyfriend, I knew the event couldn't go wrong. We planned the menu to reflect the food in the novel--hot ginger tea, egg salad and cucumber sandwiches, shortbread, and of course, homemade pineapple chutney. About an hour into the open house, I gathered everyone into the living room and read portions, primarily the food-related ones, from my southern novel. Books were for sale in the kitchen, and after the reading, many were ready to purchase with cash and checks.

I posted pictures on my Facebook page and, days after the event, I heard from two friends planning a canning party. Their delicacy of choice? Pineapple chutney, using the recipe at the back of my novel. They bought twelve ripe pineapples and enjoyed a day of chopping and cooking. Centering a copy of Rain Song in the twelve pineapple line-up, they took photos. The 48 jars of chutney they made were for Christmas gifts. (These friends also purchased twelve books between them to give as presents.)

You, too, can think about themes and topics that are evident in your books. Have fun! Fun creates a bright audience, an audience waiting and ready to talk about your novel, and anticipate your next.

I guess you could call it a following, and there would be nothing wrong with that.

Alice J. Wisler created the characters of her novel, Rain Song, by observing those around her in stores, airports, and restaurants. The recipe for pineapple chutney is in the back of her novel so anyone can make it and host his/her own reunion party. Read more about Alice's work and upcoming novel, How Sweet It Is, at

~ Published by WritersWeekly on 1/21/09

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Regulator Bookshop

Tomorrow is a night I'm looking forward to because there is nothing quite like a book event at the cozy Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street in Durham. I like being able to stand up on the podium with a mic and address my audience. I hope many can join me tomorrow for a fun discussion of getting away from it all, how you were named, favorite cake recipes and the power of journaling/writing through pain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review of How Sweet It Is --The Herald Sun

Review: Wisler's second a lesson in writing through pain

Jun 21, 2009

"How Sweet It Is"

By Alice Wisler

(Bethany House, 309 pages, softcover, $13.99)

Deena Livingston can't move on. Or get past it. She's just trying to get through it. What other option is there when your fiance almost kills you in a car wreck, then never visits you in the hospital, where you find out he's dating someone else. Deena is left with multiple scars -- deep rivers on her arms and emotional damage that won't seem to heal.

Enter the opportunity to move away from Atlanta to the mountains of Bryson City. The bad memories follow, but new memories are created, thanks to her late grandfather. Deena teaches cooking classes to troubled middle school students at her grandfather's behest, and she starts her own cake business.

"How Sweet It Is" is the second novel of Durham author Alice J. Wisler -- herself a baker of cakes.

There are pieces of Wisler in the novel, in terms of circumstance. Her 4-year-old son died, and she teaches a class in writing through pain. Deena writes through her own pain in a journal. Wisler once ran a cake business from home like Deena. And Wisler has a bachelor's degree in social work and worked with emotionally challenged children.

Her last novel, "Rain Song," also had personal elements. The setting is Mt. Olive, which Wisler had passed through, and the main character also lived in Japan, as did Wisler. She has spent the past 21 years in Durham and has three children.

Wisler's publisher, Bethany House, is a Christian fiction imprint. Religion is woven into the story in location and Deena's thoughts. The youth center where Deena teaches is in her church, and Bible verses posted throughout serve as reminders to Deena as well as the kids. And in Deena's own thoughts, she thinks how she is all the things she shouldn't be -- angry, jealous, unforgiving. Yet she also prays for things both trivial and serious about herself and reaches out to God for strength.

Faith is an undercurrent that bubbles up here and there throughout the novel as Deena deals with her new life. She constantly doubts herself. The words outside of quotes are her real self, while what she says aloud is guarded and cautious. She has flaws, which readers might find appealing in the sense that Deena isn't so different from the rest of the world. Everyone has negative thoughts. Everyone has a hard time getting through difficult times. Everyone jumps to conclusions about others until they get to know them better. Wisler shares these ideas in a casual way, a natural way as Deena's story unfolds. It is light and easy reading, but it deals with serious topics most of us face at some point in our lives.

Deena takes comfort in food, and in the faint presence of her grandfather. She didn't know him much at all, but learns about him through what he has given her -- his cabin, a job at the youth center, a letter about life, and a sense of home. She also gains family that isn't so guarded. Her aunt -- her dad's sister -- welcomes her openly and knits a family bond with her. That is new to Deena, whose mother kept her from her in-laws and urged her to keep her emotions bottled up. That makes it even harder for Deena to consider a new life, with a potential new love, a social worker she meets at the center. He tries to draw her out, but she is most relaxed around the local plumber, Jonas, who has his own mental challenges but keen insight.

Wisler gives readers the story of a woman who tries to find her way to recovery and forgiveness, with sweetness that is subtle but real.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday Afternoon Webinar Fun

Have you ever been part of a webinar? Well, if you haven't, it's not
too late to try it out.

Carly and I will be part of an afternoon of webinar fun as she
interviews me on Saturday, June 27th at at 2 PM EST. This is going
to be a state of the art production, thanks to Carly's webinar
master, also known as Del, her husband.

In addition to my novels, we will be talking about Avon, getting away
from it all, and all things Southern. You have the opportunity to
call in and chat with us, if you'd like.

Sign up is easy! Reserve your space today
by going to this site

Once at the site, you'll be registered. It's that simple! Then just be sure to listen in on the 27th from 2 until 3 PM.

Questions? Feel free to email me at:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meet some quirky characters!

Join us Friday, June 12 at 7:30 PM at the New Hope
Commons Barnes and Noble in Durham for a fun How Sweet It Is book event! How Sweet It Is takes place in Bryson City, NC and is filled with characters you will be amused to meet.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Peek at Deena's Bookshelf

Deena Peterson posted a great review of How Sweet It Is!

Check out her blog at A Peek at My
Bookshelf Book Reviews

Book Club

Thanks to Susan, and women in her neighborhood, we
had a fun evening last night discussing my novel,
How Sweet It Is. Susan's cake from Foster's
was an instant hit.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Review of How Sweet It Is

Thanks to Carla for writing a review of How Sweet It Is and for posting it at Carla's Writing Cafe

If anyone has an extra moment or two, please consider posting
a review of How Sweet It Is on Amazon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Traditions are made at Kanki

We went out to eat at Kanki to celebrate my newest two-book deal with Bethany House.
What a good time the five of us had!