Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Blah Revisited

Christmas 2010
~ Alice J. Wisler

Another Christmas. Here I go again . . .

Gearing up to this season, there were the nuisances from living (basically, things not going how I wished they would) that many of us face. I’ve learned to adapt to most of those because I’ve had lots of years of living to adapt!

Yet, what got to me was that feeling of apathy as I set out to do the inevitable—fight the crowds at Christmas shopping. I felt lifeless. Joyless.

What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel so ho-hum this Christmas?

The songs on the radio didn’t help. I couldn’t get excited over hoping for a white Christmas of wondering what Santa would bring me from his sleigh of goodies. And that was even after I realized he had to bring me something; I’ve been pretty good this year.

I decided that I needed to combat this mood with gratitude, so I counted my blessings. I have so many, including five kinds of tea in the pantry and a computer that works, and is currently, virus-free. With kids and a husband who love me, what was the problem?

When Mariah Carey sang, "All I want for Christmas is you," the words stuck, lodging in my heart.

Of course. I was missing my son, Daniel, and the desire to have him here, was heavy. Without his mother’s permission, Daniel would spend another Christmas in Heaven.

Putting on a pair of earrings and a scarf I love in hopes that they would make me feel festive, I set out to shop. With so many decisions to make, I took my time, the lump of blahness still filling my heart like the lumps of coal the naughty kids are threatened with.

It was while standing at the boxed chocolate that one word came to me. Write. I teach writing through grief and what amazes me, is that even after all these years since my son’s death, I sometimes forget that I need writing to help me cope.

Just knowing how helpful and healing writing is for my soul, I smiled, grateful that once this shopping ordeal ended, I could slip behind my computer and pour out my sadness.

Yes, I was missing Daniel. Yes, it has been thirteen years since he breathed his last. And, no, Christmas will never be complete without him here.

However. I typed that word really big. In spite of it all, or because of my loss, perhaps, I have learned. If Christmas is just a feel-good occasion with a romantical (this is a word, I know, my husband used it once and I told him it doesn’t exist, but some old Oxford dictionary agrees with him that it does) side, then no wonder I feel empty. If it’s about feeling warm and cozy or about being excited over a tree with presents underneath, then I feel cheated.

Because I don’t feel warm and cozy. And, compared to the rest of the world, I live in an affluent society; I don’t need more things.

Except for the gifts that cannot be purchased by humans. Peace. Self-less-ness. Humility. Grace. Forgiveness. The ability to forgive others. Over and over.

These lavish gifts were given. They came on a night halfway around the world thousands of years ago. These are the treasures that do more than sparkle and dazzle. These are what my aching heart need.

Christmas again. A season where so many promises are made on TV, telling me that all will be merry if I just bake the right cookie or buy the silver sedan for my loved ones. Of course I don’t buy into those notions. Yet, I would like to feel at least a little Christmas cheer.

And, lo and behold, I do! Because I’ve taken the gift of writing and used it to guide me into a peaceful realization! The conclusion has been the same every year since Daniel’s death: I am broken, frail, and wounded. There are days I’m tired of being me and wish some gracious, loving, carefree woman would take over.

There was a time when I was able to focus less on the Christmas story and the hope it brings, and more on the fleeting exhilaration of decking the halls and having a cup of eggnog. But no more. My son’s demise and death made me appreciate the birth of Jesus Christ more. I know what it is like to struggle, to suffer, to sink into sorrow.

For in the birth comes God with us: Emmanuel. Love Incarnate stooping down to meet us in our nasty conditions, in our pain, our shame, and blahness, so that we can have those valuable intangible presents he bestows. These are the priceless gifts the world with all its fortune can never master. Great blessings of His Heaven!

"How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Oh holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us, our lord Emanuel." ~ From “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

To read more about writing through grief, check out this article: How to Use the Tool of Grief-Writing to Healhttp://www.associatedcontent.com/article/115539/how_to_use_the_tools_of_griefwriting.html?#comments

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas at Harrington's: Review by Alice J. Wisler

Fresh out of prison, Lena Markham is on her way to New Haven, Minnesota to start a new venture. It takes some time for the reader to learn exactly why she was sentenced, thus providing some mystery to this story. (I always like mystery in my novels, no matter what the genre, so this was a plus for me.) Lena's money is running low, she has rent to pay, and her job prospects dwindle. Yet in the midst of her struggles she meets many who become helpful and supportive friends. At last, Lena lands a job as Mrs. Santa at the Harrington Department Store.

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson provides an easy-to-read tale that will warm hearts at Christmas. The pages turn quickly and the story shines with hope. This is a book that can be read and enjoyed by women (and men) of all ages.

A hardback copy of Christmas at Harrington's was sent to me by the publisher so that I could read and review.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On Lookin' Good and Wondering Why: Stories of Book Signings Far From Ideal

Dressed for the occasion with my dangling umbrella earrings that match my first novel’s cover, I’m ready. Gas is in the car, bookmarks in the glove compartment, and the GPS is programmed to get me where I’m headed. It all seems good until arriving at the location---the bookstore, the conference, or the church. A squirmy feeling in my stomach tells me: This is not at all what I‘d hoped for!

The sun was invisible that day in mid-November when my friend Beth and I drove to the coastal town of Elizabeth City, NC. The independent bookstore was quaint and cozy. Although there was no poster on the door or wall announcing my event and I’d understood it was to be a book reading, instead of a signing, I was not discouraged. My novels were there, their covers ready for me to open and autograph for potential buyers.

I suppose my optimism waned when there came a warning from an author who was packing up his table. Yet even so, just because his luck was not good, did not mean mine would follow suit. I’d contacted churches and groups in this area, Twittered and Facebooked, and believed those who said they’d show up to meet me this morning.

“The streets are blocked off for the Thanksgiving Parade,” said the author before leaving the shop. “There is no way for anyone to get here.”

Yet the manager had told me that this was a high-traffic area with vendors on the grassy harbor front across the street, vendors that would help to draw a crowd. Seated at the wobbly wooden table, I waited for customers to enter the bookstore.

The rain drizzled. Vendors took their tents down and loaded their vehicles to go home.

Beth and I went outside, beckoning people to come inside, enticing them with my bookmarks. The manager waved good-bye and left.

An elderly man entered the store and I cheerfully told him about my book. He interrupted with his thoughts on the smut in today’s novels and how his wife refused to read them. I told this man that my novels were rated G, and encouraged him to get one for his wife who was home sick in bed. Ignoring my suggestion, he ventured into some tale about his cat, his brother’s girlfriend’s trip to Walmart, and a few other topics I wasn’t sure of----I had tuned him out by then.

Misery loves company, and I suppose having a story of my own about a book signing gone bad makes me actively listen to other authors and their accounts.

Kim Sawyer, author of dozens of novels including the recent release, In Every Heartbeat, always wears her “hope” pin and something purple. She also makes sure to have chocolate on hand. Of course, none of this helped when a bookstore in Kansas forgot she was to be there and placed her at an undecorated table in the back corner of the store with only two novels. Kim spent the day directing women to the restroom.

Last summer, a bookstore wasn’t ready for authors Jim Rubart (Rooms), Tosca Lee (Havah: The Story of Eve, among others), Robin Carroll (her latest work, Fear No Evil) or Brandilyn Collins (her most recent, Deceit) either. After purchasing their own cloth to cover the drab plastic table, the four sat in front of stacks of their books only to sit some more.

Obviously, even decorated tables are not enough to sell books. Angie Breidenbach, author of Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance, always wears her Gems of Wisdom jewelry and non-fatigue-showing clothing to her book events. At one store where she was scheduled to be, she was greeted with a lovely table displaying her cookbooks, complete with a gorgeous prize basket. Although she was told that the day before the shop had been booming with customers, the day Angie was there, the store was practically vacant.

Perhaps as we sit or stand in the cold and wonder why the event is not as we expected, we can see beyond our disappointment. It is in that moment that we realize the day can be redeemed.

In Elizabeth City, I started talking to the young employees, answering their questions on novel writing. Later, my friend Beth treated me to lunch at a restaurant in town. The crab cakes filled my stomach with happiness in spite of my earlier feelings of doom. She commented that at least the staff had learned something from me.

During our third book signing together, Marybeth Whalen considered leaving early. The store had only a few copies of her novel, The Mailbox. Yet so many of her friends came out to see her, that she stayed to talk with them. “It was not the optimum way to do a book signing,” she later wrote to me, “but I am moving forward and figuring that there was some reason I was supposed to be there that didn't involve selling books."

The art of peddling our wares to the public can be daunting, especially when we are an unknown name among shelves of bestselling books. However, Angie, along with my marketing and sales husband, Carl, would agree that establishing a rapport with book store employees is a brilliant business practice. When these employees are asked in the future to recommend a book, it just might be your book they select because you have taken the time to get to know them. Angie says, "The most precious things come out of the hard ones.” In the empty store, she spent time with store employees, building relationships with them. She concluded, "The beauty for me is in the new friends."

"Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life,” writes Charles Swindoll, pastor and author. “The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.”

Here’s hoping we’ll respond well, through the good events, as well as through those that invite us to build character.

~ Alice J. Wisler

Want to share your story about a book signing gone bad with me? Email at info@alicewisler.com

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Famous Bailey House Lemon Cookies

You have to try these lemon cookies. Yes, they are famous! In my novel, Hatteras Girl, Jackie and Minnie need the recipe for the famous Bailey House Lemon Cookies, and when they find it, they know that they can carry on the cookie tradition at the bed and breakfast in Nags Head, North Carolina.

At a recent craft fair, I sold these cookies and received many wonderful comments.

Enjoy making these cookies today! Easy to make, and so yummy! The recipe is from the back of the novel. If your eyes are like mine, you'll need to click on the photo of the recipe to enlarge so it is readable.

Happy baking!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Saturday at Cornerstone Bookstore in Boone

I enjoyed an afternoon at Cornerstone Bookstore in Boone this past Saturday. This beautiful bookstore is one of the most inspirational shops I have ever been in, so what a nice gift to be able to sign copies of all my novels there, along with author Marybeth Whalen (The Mailbox).

One of the highlights for me was to see my childhood friend, Jo Moore Haynes. My novel, Hatteras Girl, is about friendships and childhood dreams coming true, and Jo is connected in a round-about way to that. When she and I were at Kyoto International School in Japan, we used to spend our Saturdays writing love stories. Jo seemed to love mine and her encouragement has played a part in my own story of becoming a published novelist. So, to see Jo, her husband, and the many friends she invited to the bookstore, was a fabulous treat!

The store had a pen engraved with my name and one for Marybeth. They also served refreshments to the customers while we signed. The Russian tea was delicious!

Marybeth and I will be in Wilmington on Saturday at the Salt Shaker Bookstore and Cafe from 2 to 4 PM and at Family Christian Stores on 301 Crossroads Blvd. from 11 AM to 1 PM on the 30th. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hatteras Girl comes alive!

Today, October 1, marks the debut of my third novel, Hatteras Girl. While the heavens have yet to light up and a plane with a banner reading Hatteras Girl skirting across the sky has not been spotted, nevertheless, I am grafeful.

There have been postings on Facebook (a.k.a. the 21st century's town crier) and emails from readers, singing sweet songs of recognition.

Tonight, I will have the privilege of reading from and signing copies of Hatteras Girl at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC. (Jimmy Carter was unable to make his book date there earlier this week, but I'll be there.)

So, here's to readers, family and friends, who offer support and encouragement. And here's to the wonderful region of the Outer Banks, my inspiration for writing about Jackie Donovan, the young woman eager to run a bed and breakfast on North Carolina's coast.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hatteras Girl goes to Hatteras, NC!

We took our friend, Rick (visiting us from England) to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. What a fun time I had making sure Hatteras Girl (release date 10/1/10) got into nearly every photo. Stopping at the Orange Blossom Bakery and Cafe was a sweet treat. The bakery is mentioned in Hatteras Girl, so the staff there gave us the sweet royal treatment!

Friday, September 17, 2010

And Hatteras Girl arrived!

Excited that my new novel, Hatteras Girl, arrived. Thanks, Bethany House, and the Fed-Ex man!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Choosing to SEE: a book review

At first, Choosing to SEE, by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn, appears as a mother's tale about her life, the wife of a famous singer and songwriter, Steven Curtis Chapman. Upon opening the first pages, you soon learn that the chapters hold so much more. This memoir to me is really little Maria's story. Four-year-old Maria's words and life rang throughout the book and filled them as did the poignant line she often said: "Just SEE the glory of God today."

As a mother who has also buried a child, my heart goes out to Mary Beth and her family. It has been stated by many that the worst loss is when a child dies. My son Daniel was also four when he died from cancer treatments. I know of the screams, the tears, the agony, and yes, the anger at God that consumes you after losing a child. I also know that the longing to be with your child never ends. When a class of young children wrote notes on balloons and lifted them up to Maria in Heaven, Mary Beth writes: "Part of me couldn't help but want to go right along with the balloons . . . to be gathered up by the wind and swept to heaven to be with Maria." I completely understood.

Like so many bereaved parents, the Chapmans chose to create a foundation in memory of their daughter. Maria's Big House of Hope is located in one of the poorest provinces in China and provides orphans with the care they need. Maria's legacy lives on as these children are given medical attention, food, clothing, love and hope.

While the Chapmans have celebrity fame and status, Choosing to SEE shows that no matter who we are or what we have accomplished, when we lose a child to death, our hearts break. To experience that deep anguish and sorrow is the nature of being a parent. If the book had denied the reader of that truth, and tied to sugar-coat the tragedy with spiritual platitudes, it would have been a shame. I appreciated the honesty of this memoir and am sure others will as well.

~ Alice J. Wisler
Author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, and Hatteras Girl

[A copy of the book was provided for me by Revell upon request to write this review.]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hatteras Girl!!

My third novel, Hatteras Girl, makes her debut soon! And we are going to celebrate with two events. The first is at Starbucks on 3801 Guess Road in Durham, NC on Saturday, September 25 from 4 to 7 PM. Come, get your favorite coffee concoction and listen as I read from Hatteras Girl.

On Friday, October 1 at 7 PM, we'll gather at The Regulator Bookshop on 720 Ninth Street in Durham, NC for a book reading and discussion. If you have a favorite tomato pie recipe, come ready to share it. Or how about a dream you've had since childhood and at last have seen it fulfilled? Come, ready to share those stories.

Hope to see you at one or both of these events!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Interview with K. Dawn Bryd

1. I have always been fascinated by your name. Tell me about how you got the name K. Dawn Byrd.

K. Dawn Byrd is a pen name due to the fact that my employer wasn't entirely comfortable with my using my real name. I think my pen name is kind of catchy. I've been called everything from Kay to Karen to you name it.

2. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love, love, love to plot! It's the best part as far as I'm concerned. I plot heavily before beginning a new novel, but I do allow my characters the freedom to take a life of their own. That's when things get really exciting!

3. What is the most humbling aspect of being an author?

I'm totally humbled by all the work that goes into marketing. Prior to a new release, I'll spend days just filling out blog interviews.

4. What inspired you to write your recent book, Killing Time?

I've always been an avid reader and planned to write a book one day. When I began work as a counselor in a jail, I thought that would be a neat setting for the book. I began to jot down notes about the environment such as sights, sounds, and smells. Before I knew it, my heroine had formed in my mind, begging me to tell her story.

5. Summer is a great time for a break from the routine. Where do you like to vacation best, and why?

I enjoy the beach and go at least once a year, sometimes twice. Since I live in the mountains, it's nice to escape to a new environment for a while. However, I'm always glad to return to the mountains when vacation is over.

Thanks, K. Dawn, for the interview!

Read more about K. Dawn Bryd and order Killing Time today!

Queen of Hearts (April 2010) & Killing Time (August 2010)
YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/user/kdawnbyrd#p/a/u/0/grqPjGvfRa0
YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ncljBid61g
BLOG: http://kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another workshop on the horizon

The first Writing the Heartache All Day Workshop was a wonderful experience, and we are going to have another! This one will be held at the Hampton Inn in Cary, NC on August 21 from 8 AM to 5 PM. We will have a full day to write from our pain for healing, health, and hope. Come to write with us--poetry, from photographs, letters, and essays.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bookmarks and Postcards for Hatteras Girl!

The new bookmarks and postcards for my novels has arrived! I am so pleased with the creativity of these. As you can see, all three of my novel covers are on these items--all looking lovely.

Hatteras Girl makes her debut in October. If you'd like to pre-order a copy or two, please do so by August 1. My website holds the details of how to order a novel. This special deal ends soon, so order Hatteras Girl for only $10.99 now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Writing to Sanity

The all-day grief-writing workshop held at the Country Inns and Suites in Morrisville, NC was a dream come true. Nine attendees were present, all eager to learn and write. We talked about coping with grief and how to write effectively for healing, health and hope. We wrote poems, essays, timelines, and letters. We shared stories and listened to each other. There were tears, revelations, and understanding.

What a wonderful day!

We plan to do many more Writing the Heartache Workshops. So stay tuned to see when the next one will be.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hatteras Girl & How Sweet It Is in St. Louis

On June 26th, I flew to St. Louis for the 2010 Christy Awards and the International Christian Retail Show.

The Christy Awards was a dynamic event. How Sweet It Is received a nice medallion in the Contemporary Romance category.

What fun it was to be at the Baker Booth at the International Christian Retail Show at the convention center after the Christy Awards! The awesome cover for Hatteras Girl was displayed and truly made me smile. At noon on the 28th, I signed advanced reading copies (ARCs) of Hatteras Girl.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One of the recipes in the upcoming novel, Hatteras Girl

This recipe is from my upcoming novel, Hatteras Girl. Hatteras Girl takes place on the Outer Banks of NC, home to all things Southern.

L. J.’s Cornbread with Bacon

1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of white corn meal
1/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs
1 cup of sour cream
1 can of creamed-style corn
1 cup of crumbed bacon, fried
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add eggs, sour cream, and corn. Lightly blend and add bacon. Bake in a greased 13-inch pan at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Don’t overcook! (L. J. will tell you that if you do, it just won't taste as good.)

When Fathers Weep At Graves

I see them weep
The fathers at the stones
Taking off the brave armour
Forced to wear in the workplace
Clearing away the debris
With gentle fingers
Inhaling the sorrow
Diminished by anguish
Their hearts desiring what they cannot have
To walk hand in hand
With children no longer held
To all the fathers who leave a part
Of their hearts at the stones
May breezes underneath trees of time
Ease their pain
As they receive healing tears
. . . the gift the children give.

~ Alice J. Wisler

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Interview with Mom 2 Mom Connection

Interview: Alice J. Wisler’s Novels and Help for Grieving Parents
Interview with Heather Ivester of Mom 2 Mom Connection

Those of you who’ve been reading here for a while know I’m crazy about Japan. I taught English in Osaka for a couple of years, and when I came home, I left part of my heart over there. Well, I’ve become acquainted with a Christian mom who writes novels in North Carolina, after living in Japan 18 years! I’m so happy to introduce you to author Alice J. Wisler.

Hi Alice. Welcome to Mom 2 Mom! We’re so glad you’re here. Can you tell us a little about your background as the daughter of missionaries in Japan?

I was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties to career-missionary parents. I went to Japanese kindergarten in Osaka and an international elementary school in Kyoto. High school was in Kobe, and since the distance was far, I lived in the high school dorm for four years. Then I went back to teach English in a church-run school in the eighties after college and a stint in the Philippines. So, I’ve lived 18 years total in Japan.

Wow. That’s amazing! Do you still find yourself remembering Japan? How do you keep your memories alive? Do you have any favorite Japanese dishes that you like to eat or cook?

Japan is a huge part of my life. I love authentic Japanese food (Kanki and any restaurant that serves their food with sword-like knives is not what I grew up with). Sushi is my favorite. I like to make tempura at home with my fourteen-year-old son. I sing Japanese songs from childhood around the house all the time.

How did you get started writing fiction?

Click to read the rest here at Mom 2 Mom Connection.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I remember when I told my boyfriend I felt vulnerable in our relationship. Actually, I wrote the word in a note. He told me I'd spelled vulnerable incorrectly. How was I to know it had a "l" after the "u'? When I said the word, I never acknowledged that sound.

Seems as a missionary kid growing up with strange English being spoken and mixed with my own mother's made-up words and Southern phrases, I often was not sounding like a native speaker. To add to my confusion, the English bookstore in Osaka, where I bought many books, sold books printed in England. Not only did I have to deal with Japanese-English, Momisms, and Southernisms, but there was the Queen's English. Those Puffin books put "u" in so many words that when our spelling tests at Kyoto International School rolled around, I never knew what the proper spelling was for color and favorite.

I guess I was always a little off-kelter, a little lost in the crowd. At five-foot-nine with blond hair, I stood out. Literally.

Things haven't changed. While my spelling is more sound on most days (on other days I rely heavily on spellcheck), I am still vulnerable. And on days like these, my sadness surprises me.

For you see, it's been thirteen years. And after that length of time, apparently, a mother isn't supposed to miss her son anymore. Which makes me feel even more of a freak.

Here in the US, this is Memorial Day weekend, a time of celebrating with hamburgers, dunks in the pool, flags, lemonade, and retail sales.

All I can do is remember the sound of the pediatrician's voice--a real native American speaker, educated at the finest schools---telling me that my son had cancer. I remember the curtains in the family room were light blue with dots. I remember how weighty and big the phone felt in my palm. That was fourteen years ago, and yes, I recall it better than yesterday.

Some days I feel like steel, toughened by this bereavement thing. Watch out world, here I am! Look at me, I am courageous and bold and compassionate and capable. I am a survivor!

Today I am annoyed by the mail, text messages, the woman who cut me off in the grocery store, and especially my own tender heart.

I have traveled far on this rocky road. I'm no longer angry at the doctors, friends who failed, family members who did not step up to the plate, or even God. That is washed away--forgiven, as I've forgiven myself.

But today, on the beginning of this weekend that will never fade from being Diagnosis Weekend even if it is called Memorial Day weekend by everyone else, I am reduced to tears.

Vulnerable. No matter how you spell it or pronounce it, it sits right there underneath my ribcage, lodged in every crevice of my heart.

I miss you, my Brave Cookie. I miss sitting by the pool and cooking you a hamburger. Perhaps by this age, you would have learned to like pickles and even called them pickles----not radishes, as you used to do.

On days like these, the language of the grieving heart sounds the same--yearning for what might have been.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Dream Coming True!

Many know that I believe in the value of writing through grief after loss. I've seen it bring healing to my own life when my son died, and to the lives of others, as I've taught across this country and conducted my online workshops.

For some time, a dream of mine has been to have a Writing the Heartache All Day Workshop. You know, in a real location, with coffee and people, stories, pens, paper.

Sometimes, dreams do come true.

On July 17th from 8 to 5 PM there will be a Writing the Heartache All Day
at the Country Inns and Suites near the Raleigh-Durham Airport. What is nice about this hotel is that there are places to venture outside, should one want to get some fresh air while writing a poem, letter, or memory.

There will be time for instruction, music, coffee breaks, and a catered lunch. And each participant can read from their work, should they choose to share.

I hope you'll join me for this day of writing, healing, hope and health. I look forward to seeing you there.

Read all the details here and be sure to register soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Boy and His Tree

“It was time to dig up the thin maple that died last fall and, like Daniel, did not bloom in the spring.”

It was time. In an hour the November afternoon would be dark. With Baby Elizabeth in the stroller, we headed to our front lawn. Benjamin immediately began to run around, but my husband, David, seven year-old Rachel and I stood beside the thin tree. Rachel held the order of ceremony that she had spent the afternoon writing. It was three pages of her own creation, the "service" for our family's gathering that afternoon. Five members were visible to the human eye; the sixth member was held within our yearning hearts.

"We are very sad at this moment," Rachel began to read from her printed page. "We think of the things we did together, and we think of the sad things that happened too, and it won't be so hard. But we will still be a little sad in the heart." Then she somberly passed the papers to my husband. She had written the next lines for him to read and they ended with, "It's going to be hard to keep the tears away, but we will still dig up this tree, even if it hurts."

And that was our reason for the ceremony. It was time to dig up the thin maple that died last fall and, like Daniel, did not bloom in the spring. It wasn't just any old maple tree. The tree had so much significance, and that was why it had taken us all of spring and summer before we were ready to uproot it. Without leaves, it spent months in the front lawn. I was prepared to tell neighbors why we couldn't dig it out of the ground, but no one asked why we kept a dead tree in our yard. Could they
have known it was the very tree we planted three weeks after Daniel's birth? Did they realize it died only a few months before our four-year-old son?

I had looked at that tree many times since Daniel left us, remembering how he played by it, rode his Cozy Coupe under it and ran around it. Just the other night when looking through the hundreds of pictures we have of him, I found one with him at age three in a hat and funny sun-glasses, holding the tree. Never in our wildest dreams, had we known both boy and tree would be gone in the same year. When the lines of
the memories of Daniel had all been read, David dug up the dead tree. "Good-bye, Daniel," I said within my heart.

It was as though a part of Daniel was again being taken from me. It was the same feeling of "good-bye" as I had felt when the men from the Vietnam Veterans had come to take the old, plaid sofa. Daniel had lived on that sofa during his last months. There he'd eaten cereal, watched videos, looked at books and thrown up.

David cut a few branches from the tree, and Rachel announced we could make a cross out of them to place in the little memorial garden we have by the side of the house.

Then, with David placing the maple over his shoulder, he and Rachel began to walk toward the nearby woods. Daniel had enjoyed the woods so much, and we knew it was a fit-ting place to carry his tree. I was reminded of the time he and Rachel had ventured in there alone and were rescued by the brother of one of our neighbors. And there was the time Rachel, Daniel and I, along with one of Daniel's friends, went for a walk in the woods and got lost. It as raining when we finally found our way out. We had no idea where we were, so we asked directions to get home. A kind, elderly man offered to drive us home. The kids had been excited about riding in his Oldsmobile, while I just felt foolish for getting lost.

When we returned from taking the tree to the woods, David placed a stake in the ground where the tree had been. This was to mark where we wanted the next tree to be planted. The local nursery was to come that week with a new tree, given to us by friends who wanted to do something in Daniel's memory.

What a surge of joy I felt when I looked out the window the next day to see the newly planted tree! We had chosen a gentle and drooping weeping willow, because there was such significance in its very name and stature. It would be a reminder to others of our weeping spirits over the loss of our precious son, and, to us, we would watch this tree grow and flourish, as our memories and love do for Daniel.

By Alice J. Wisler
Reprinted from BEREAVEMENT MAGAZINE, November/December 1999,
5125 N. Union Blvd., Ste. 4, Colorado Springs, Colorado 89018

Friday, May 14, 2010

Announcing a new site for writing through grief


Please join me as I launch the new Writing the Heartache website.

This site is where online courses, grief-writing postings, talkradioblog
segments, and seminars for my organization, Writing the Heartache, will be shared.

Thanks for spreading the word!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Remembering Daniel on Mother's Day

As Mother’s Day Approaches

Time, back in time,
A moment well-etched
The road swerved
the course changed
And the path led only uphill
to thick darkness
where boulders blocked the way
Clawing over them,
I almost lost my breath
Putting my head down
Tempted never to
Watch another sunrise.

But in the stars I saw your smile
By the honeysuckle I felt your kiss
From the brook, I heard your voice
Day dawned; I kept on.

Time, too much time
My feet are calloused
My arms sore
And some days the tears
Grip me without warning.

It’s been seasons since I held you
And while the myth taunts me:
It’s not supposed to hurt anymore
You’re still gone
And it does.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Signing on Saturday, May 1!

It was a nice afternoon of seeing old friends and signing copies of
How Sweet It Is! Thanks to all who stopped by, and thank you
Life and Faith Tours for being there as well with your giveaways.

Special gratitude for Family Christian in Durham and their store's staff.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What a sweet treat!

The Christy Award nominees for 2010 were announced today and
How Sweet It Is is a finalist in the contemporary romance

Last year, Rain Song was nominated in the First Novel category.

While last year I was excited to hear the news, this year I am even more

Thanks to all who have encouraged me along this journey.

And thanks to my inspiration, my sweet and brave
Daniel Paul Wisler (8/25/92---2/2/97). Miss you, son.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Interview on building self-esteem after the death of a child

When a child dies, our self-image suffers. Join me and Gloria and Heidi Horsley on Open to Hope Radio as we discuss how to build self-esteem and confidence after the death of a child.

The show has been recorded and will air on May 13 at noon (EST),
9AM Pacific time.

This link will take you to where you can listen to the program via your
computer speakers. It'll only take 18 minutes of your time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Check out this new novel: K. Dawn Byrd's Queen of Hearts

About the book:
Daphne Dean is proud to be serving her country stateside during WWII as a reporter and an Office of Strategic Services operative. When the photograph she takes of the crowd at a murder scene places her on the mob's hit list, she's forced into hiding in a vacant mental asylum in the middle of nowhere with terrifying secrets of its own.

Daphne believed herself to still be in love with her ex-fiancée, Kenneth, until she spends several days locked away in the asylum with Vito, the mob boss' son. Can she put the terrifying events that occurred there behind her and allow herself to pursue a relationship with Vito? Or, will she return to Kenneth who has turned his back on his country by becoming a draft dodger and a black market racketeer? One thing's for sure, it won't matter if she can't escape the mental institution alive.

About the author:
K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational romance. She holds a masters degree in professional counseling from Liberty University that she believes gives her better insight into the minds, feelings and emotions of individuals, which helps her to better understand her characters and develop them more fully. Queen of Hearts, a WWII romantic suspense will release April 1 and Killing Time, a contemporary romantic suspense will release August 1, both with Desert Breeze Publishing.

Order the book:
From Desert Breeze Publishing

From Amazon

Visit K. Dawn Byrd's website where she features many authors and their works.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beverly Lewis and Me!

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to hear bestselling Bethany House author, Beverly Lewis, speak at Cary's Page Walker Center, an event sponsored by the Wake County Libraries.

Beverly shared how she grew up in Lancaster County, PA, observing the Amish culture around her. She enjoyed playing with her Amish friends and recalled the fun of riding on a tire swing at one of the farms. Her knowledge of this group of people was remarkable. Later, Bev took questions from the gathered audience and then signed copies of her books, the newest being The Telling.

As for me, I was happy to just be there. The icing on the cake was being invited to eat lunch with Bev, Steve Oates and Julie Klassen---all Bethany House people. How nice it was to talk with folk from the home office as we dined outside at the Czech restaurant, Klara's.

One of the fun facts I discovered about Beverly in addition to her sweet nature, is her love of dessert! Her choice was the apple strudel. Julie selected the ice cream with espresso sauce. Steve and I went without. (Only because I knew that night I'd be dining at my writers' critique group and Catherine would have a scrumptious dessert. She did, and I had a deluxe-size portion of strawberry shortcake. Not sure if Steve got dessert or not yesterday.)

What a fun day it was, and what an honor to experience a small portion of Bev's 2010 book tour.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog Talk Radio: join me!

I like doing new things, for the most part. And I get to this April 23rd
at 1 PM (EST). I'm going to be on my own Blog Talk Radio program talking
about easy steps to writing through grief. I do hope that many of my
friends will join me and listen in. You can learn more at this link here.

For those of you who want to know the tools of writing through grief,
please tune in and share how writing has helped you in your journey.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book event at Raleigh's Family Store

What a nice time I had this afternoon at Family Christian Stores.
Thanks to Sarah, John and James, plus all those who bought novels.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hope at Easter

The first Easter after Daniel died, we left Durham for the coast of
Virginia. On that Sunday, we attended a huge outdoor celebration,
happy with resurrection songs of praise and a lengthy sermon. I
recall telling the stranger next to me that my son had just died.
I also remember leaving the service early with my broken family.

Desperately, I wanted to see my own child alive, laughing and enjoying
his Easter basket, along with his new baby sister, brother, and older

Now thirteen years later, I still see in my mind, my little son
with his Easter basket, digging into all the gooey candy. Easter brings
back a cartful of memories. At age two, he had his photo taken at Olan
Mills in a gray suit (his Easter suit), his blond hair in need of a
haircut. He also had gum on his lapel. The Easter he was three was just
a month before his cancer diagnosis. We were naive then, content, joyful,
as Daniel searched for the colorful eggs his grandparents hid. We
didn't know what the future held.

Easter makes me grateful that because of the resurrection, that
because of forgiveness, mercy and grace, there is new life.
Easter is hope. Easter reminds me that those who have died are
still alive, just hidden, like eggs, from our earthly eyes.

See you soon, Daniel.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Newest Fan---Carolina Country

And so the mystery has been solved as to why I received three copies of
the April issue of Carolina Country in the mail last week.
Today, while flipping through the magazine (yes, I should have been
writing my fourth novel, tentatively titled, A Wedding Invitation),
I saw a familiar sight. On page 17 is a picture of my novel, Rain Song,
and beneath it, is a blurb about it. Thrilled, I posted my findings on
Facebook, and not only joined the Carolina Country Facebook Fan Page,
but wrote a thank-you email to the editor.

For all of you Carolinians, please come to my book signing and get your
own copy of Rain Song! I'll be at Family Christian Stores across
from Triangle Town Center in Raleigh from noon until 2 PM on Friday, April
2. I'll be at Family Christian Stores across from Southpoint Mall in Durham
on May 1 from noon until 2 PM. Chocolate and prizes! See you there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A weekend of comfort

March 19 and 20, 2010, was the regional Compassionate
Friends Conference in Frankfort, KY. I was honored
to be part of this meaningful weekend. The Memorial Garden
was especially beautiful.