Saturday, December 29, 2012

After Christmas Novel Sale

Want an after Christmas special just for being at my blog?

Of course you do! My novels go well with that flavored coffee Santa brought you.

So act now!

Order any one of my five novels for only $14.00.

Rain Song
How Sweet It Is
Hatteras Girl
A Wedding Invitation
Still Life in Shadows

Yes, order any novel for $14.00 (includes S/H). I'll sign each one. Order by January 3, 2013! The offer ends then.

Send a check for $14.00 to:
Daniel's House Publications
c/o Alice Wisler
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707


Use the Paypal tab below. The menu drops down; choose your selection.

Choose a novel for only $14.00

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grief at Christmas: Finding that Simple Quiet

Hang on, it’s begun. I heard my first Christmas carol on the radio two weeks before Thanksgiving and neighbors, as well as store owners, must have heard it, too. Lights and tinsel are popping up everywhere. The holidays. Watch out. I recall being in Burma (back when we called it Burma) and the simple Christmas Eve with communion. There was a loaf of bread and a chipped glass of wine inside a modest church, no blaring music about Santa, not a spruced-up fir in sight.

“What’s wrong with her?” others whisper as they joyfully join in the carols and stand in line at Target to purchase ornaments for the tree. “It’s a season to celebrate, to sing, to eat, to decorate the house, and to be happy with your family. Get with it!”

That’s the problem. Many can’t. Many Americans are unable to embrace good cheer and lift their glasses to festivities with family and friends. The holidays, for many, are a sobering time, a time of sorrow, of joy-less-ness, of memories of what used to be and what is not now.

It’s not that we don’t want to celebrate, it’s that our naivety has vanished; our eyes have been opened. For me it came when my four-year-old son was presented with an abundance of gifts at the hospital. Generous givers entered his room and the rooms of other sick little boys and girls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. They handed out toys. If only, I thought as my weak child opened each gift, one of these gifts was health.

Daniel died six weeks later. The next Christmas I had no desire to get excited about much of anything. The memory of his thin body injected with medicine, seated on the sterile bed opening gifts was just too painful.

I had to buy gifts though; I had three children who had each given me lists. One afternoon, I reluctantly wandered into a store and was drawn to a small porcelain manager scene, a broken one. Someone had glued it; the line of glue was right above the donkey’s ear. Feeling it was symbolic of my new life, I bought it. I would start a new tradition. This broken and repaired scene with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the donkey would be my new decoration in memory of my son.

Years later, I was able to find a morsel of hope in a few Christmas hymns as I realized that the season was, of course, not about lights or parties at all. Those had the potential to steal from the season, making one feel that if her calendar wasn’t filled with party invites, she was unable or unworthy to enjoy the meaning of Christmas.

I held my decoration and rubbed my finger over the thin broken line. As I did, I felt the brokenness from my own heart. A baby born in a manager came into the world to heal that crevice, and offer peace, love, salvation, and hope. Why did our society let all the noise of commercialism get in the way of that simple, and yet very profound message?

“I am sometimes asked how I get through the holidays now,” a parent whose son died wrote to me. “Do I ever feel the Christmas Spirit these days? And after ten long years, I can finally say that the Christmas Spirit somehow always finds me. It might only l last a little while, but it’s there.”

May our grief open our eyes and hearts to reflect on that first manager scene when hope was born. May we find time to ponder, to listen, and to rest in the quiet. As we continue to miss loved ones, may we pray for strength to reach out to those around us who have lost hope so that they can experience even a little while of the Christmas Spirit.

Alice J. Wisler lives in Durham. Her new book on grief and loss is Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (Leafwood Publishers). Read more at her blog:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Update on the Sandy Hook Comfort Project: What does it mean to lose a child to death?

The outpouring for the families in grief and loss from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT has been amazing. People are eager to donate books as an act of love to those mourning the loss of loved ones.

Originally the plan was to send a book (Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache) to Sandy Hook for each family who had been affected by the tragedy in the loss of a child--young (student) or adult (teacher). That was a meaningful act of comfort, and thanks to each of you, that goal has been accomplished!

When I read again the message from Lisa Schorp (the woman with the vision who posted on my Facebook page last Saturday), I noted that she said it would be great to be able to send copies of my book not only to the families at Sandy Hook Elementary School who lost a loved one, but to all the families. I suppose I overlooked that part of her message because it seemed too big a goal.

This project has morphed. That is amazing to me. Thanks to the generous donations that have come from all over the USA and Canada, we can send more books. The local churches in Sandy Hook can use copies of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning for their libraries and others in the devastated community can benefit from a book on hope and healing in the midst of loss.

When do we send this gift of love? Although the media is consumed with reports of what is going on now in the Newton community, we know from past experiences that the "hype" will soon dissipate. Humans are like that. We tend to move from one news-breaking event to another.

But the families who lost loved ones are only at the beginning of their journeys . . . When a child dies, the world stops for a parent. The first weeks, even months, are like living in a fog. When that anesthesia wears off, the reality kicks in.

My child is gone. He is not coming back.


Parents need help and support for the rest of their lives. I continue to cherish those who have walked this bereavement trail with me. It's been fifteen years since my son Daniel's death and I still yearn for his smile and hug.

Right now we plan to send the books after the first of next year.

Here is what we are looking at:

1. An autographed book with the name of each child who died for the child's family

2. One of my Songs from Heaven empathy cards with each book

3. A letter with the names and hometowns of each of the donors (that would be you all) for each family

Thank you, each one, for your donations to this Sandy Hook Comfort Project.

If others would like to donate, click on this link and scroll to the end of the post.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Update on the Donation of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning for Sandy Hook

The outpouring has been wonderful!

Currently, we have raised enough to donate 15 copies of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning to the families affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Thank you to all of you!

If you would like to donate, please go here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Donate comfort for Sandy Hook Parents and Families

On December 14, 2012, a tragedy too awful to believe could happen, did happen. Twenty-six people were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newton, Connecticut. Twenty children died. Six adults died.

I know the devastation of having a child die.

My cousin in Maryland asked if I'd donate one of my novels for an auction to benefit the survivors---those lost in the anguish and sorrow. I signed one of my novels and put it in a mailer to her.

Later today, a Facebook friend, Lisa Schorp, wanted to know if my new book, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, could reach the hands of those devastated. Her message: To tell them that God is near.

Suddenly I realized that maybe I should act on this desire of Lisa's.

People could sponsor my new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache and a batch of my books could be sent with a note to the elementary school for each family who lost a loved one.

My book is written as raw and real; I know the pain of loss. There are also passages of hope, love and comfort. This book has been called a companion through grief. Eugene Peterson writes about it:

"Believe me, you will be changed as you read this book---a book of grief and comfort. Written without easy answers, but with gritty, courageous prayer, wrestling like Jacob with God's angel." ~ Eugene H Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Recent College, Vancouver, B.C.; translator of The Message

"Hope stirs fresh in Getting Out of Bed in the Morning as Alice Wisler tenderly challenges the remnants of our grieving hearts to a healing journey. This book is a safe place to reconcile painful losses; a graceful guide through the uncharted and often complex landscape of grief and loss. Alice’s heart whispers an understanding that comes only from one who has tasted consuming heartache yet uncovered the hope of God’s sustaining grace." ~ Jo Ann Fore, Author, Founder of

(Read more about Getting Out of Bed in the Morning here.)

If you like this idea and would like to make a donation, please press the Paypal DONATE button below. Or send a check made out to me using the snail mail address below. If you want to stay tuned in and have updates on the amount contributed as well as when the books will be sent, etc., email me at with the subject: "Comfort to Sandy Hook". I will send out periodic updates.

Let's make Lisa's wonderful suggestion come true!

Mail your donation to:
Daniel's House Publications
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707 USA


Donate via Paypal.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Guest post: Attitudes of a Good Book Reviewer

Whether you're doing it for personal enrichment or you're being compensated as a critic for a newspaper, reviewing books is your job. Before diving into that very first review, getting your mind in gear to tackle the process is important. The following tips will make sure you've got the right attitude to craft an excellent book review!

Looking at the novel as entirely "right" or "wrong" will likely be unhelpful for any review. If a book is excellent or terrible, you may say so. However, try to consider what other individuals enjoy. For example, individuals who hate fantasy but who are critiquing a fantasy book should attempt to look for positives. They should realize that as a non-fan of fantasy, they are probably going to dislike the book as a whole. However, maybe something redeeming exists in the imagery, characterization and so forth.

*Pre-Conceived Notions*
Another similar, although slightly different, problem arises when reviewers jump into a book with pre-conceived notions. Maybe you have read bad things about the author, or heard a friend say that the book was bad. These will not play a factor in the book review, so the reader needs to pack them away once the cover has been opened. Going into the book with a fresh perspective allows both the positives and the negatives to stand out. Remember, pre-conceived notions need not be negative. A reader might assume the book is wonderful because his or her friend wrote it, but this individual will soon find out the reality is quite different.

*Consider the Audience*
Many book reviews are written by individuals who have already graduated college and are working in the full-time domain; they are not necessarily written by middle or high school students. However, young adult literature is a genre in and of itself. What is a book reviewer to do when reading a novel that is intended for an audience much younger than him or herself? Such readers must try to place themselves in the shoes of the young, old, or whatever niche it is geared toward. Would I have enjoyed this in high school? Does this novel provide teachable moments to youngsters? Is it easy to read? All of these questions, amongst others, allow the reviewer to produce a brilliant write-up.

After considering all of these factors, the book reviewer must also be honest. While cursing the book out is generally not the best way to show distaste for a novel, especially for new book reviewers, they can say that the book was not so great. They must include information as to why this was so though. For every critique that they make about the book, information must be included to back up that statement.

~ Caroline Jones is a reviewer, teacher, writer & mentor. Recently, she has written a great deal on helping young writers and readers find the best undergraduate degrees in social science.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rescue Me!

Join me for just 15 minutes at noon (EST) today as I read an excerpt from my new book, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning. I'll be reading chapter 7, Rescue Me!

Often in our grief, we want to be saved from the despair, cared for, and nurtured. We are in great need of help when life seems to have swallowed us whole.

Turn in to Writing the Heartache to hear some encouragement as well as some writing tips to help you during your season of grief.

And if you listen closely, you'll hear a way that you can get yourself a special gift.

For the podcast (in case you miss the show), click this link.

Thanks to all for listening!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fun sharing on this radio show

I so enjoyed being on two radio shows this week! You can listen to the podcast of the one from last night by clicking this link for Christian Devotions, Speak Up!

I talk about my missionary life in Japan (both as a child and as an adult), being in trouble in the dorm in high school, how I used to write and illustrate stapled books with stick figures, and the value of writing through grief. My new book, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, even got a commercial blurb! Listen to how well this pitch for it is done by Scott McCausey.

To hear the other show I was on, The Vital Connection on 1450 AM radio, click this link for the podcast. Here I talk about my devotional that has just come out, and how hard the holidays can be for those in grief.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Guest blogger: Jo Huddleston

Today I welcome guest blogger and author Jo Huddleston to my Patchwork Quilt Blog. Her new book, That Summer , has just been released. Here's Jo's story of how her novel came to be.

How That Summer Came To Be:
The setting of That Summer is the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee where my ancestors and I were raised. I’ve listened to the older generations tell their stories at family reunions about time before telephones and automobiles. Their stories fascinated me and caused me to want to write about a time before I was born.

This story percolated in my mind in the late 1990s. I’m what writers call a panster type of writer. I don’t outline my plot on paper. My entire plot and characters simmer in my mind before I write a word. Many times I don’t know the ending but I know how to get there. Of course, sometimes characters surprise me by going this way when I intended them to go another way. I love how my stories many times work themselves out as I write.

While this story still rumbled around in my mind, in 2001 I received a life altering health diagnosis with a negative prognosis. My first symptom was the loss of penmanship that nobody, even I, could read. Then I began to have involuntary muscle spasms that prevented me from holding my fingers on the home keys of a keyboard. I couldn’t write and couldn’t type—this was before speak-to-type.

I thought my writing career had vanished. I cleaned out my files—even trashed all my rejection letters I’d been saving. Now I wish I’d kept them to prove that I really am a writer. I gave away most of my writing craft books.

My mind was still intact but my body wouldn’t do what it was told. My balance while walking started to diminish and I quit going to writing conferences. My doctor advised me not to drive. I was dependent on my family to even get to my doctor’s appointments and still am.

In 2008, I began to improve. My hands were steadier and I could get my story started. The biggest aggravation when I write anything is the time I have to leave my story to research the facts. When the story starts pouring out of my mind I want to write. I write continuously, not indicating chapters but I do indicate scene and POV changes. After I finish that first draft I go back and do those things.

I have outlived my doctor’s prognosis by over a year and a half. I’m writing the second of a 3-book contract and feel fine other than fatigue when I don’t stop to rest now and then. Fatigue does bring on more unsteadiness in my hands and legs.

From 2001 to 2008 I had a lot of time to meditate. A relative marvels that I’ve never questioned God, why me? I have not become bitter because of the health issues. I think God just gave me time to understand a lot of things when I was inactive. I’m a more peaceful, patient, and faithful me.

This is the way That Summer came to be: hibernated for seven years, then became a story on paper.

Jo's publisher will offer her novel, That Summer, at a discounted price through this month of December only. You can buy the book for $9.99 if you click on this link.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grief During the Holidays: Surviving

Survival, getting through, trying not to think too much . . . Yes, believe it or not, I'm talking about the holidays. Handling them after the death of a significant loved one can be brutal. The heart is filled with anguish and no amount of festivities can ease the pain.

Many want to hide, or close their eyes and not wake up till January 2.

We put so much emphasis on making the holidays happy and joyful, that often we wonder why those sentiments are so important for us. Can we have a season that is more reflective? Can we dare to let ourselves and others shed tears even while hanging the twinkling Christmas tree lights? Can we be real?

Deep down we know that Christmas is not all about unending joy because of a new diamond or a skateboard or even a BMW. Christmas is the gift of God with us. He came as a baby to live among us in this sad world. He wants to be with us during those times when we feel sorrow, regret, and even when our hope dwindles. He wants to be our hope.

Here are a few tips that I've found helpful on how to deal with the Christmas and New Year's season. These are especially for those who are new to this rocky path of grief and loss.

Remember Your Loved One Don't neglect his memory and all he means to you. Do something in his honor---write a poem, give to a charity he liked to support, bake her favorite Christmas cookie.

Write About It Journal a few lines each day if you can. Writing releases pent-up frustration.

Think of Others Chances are, you are not the only one who is missing a loved one and days gone past. Reach out to others who are also having a difficult time this season. People are laid off, lose loved ones, and hurt from broken relationships every December. You can listen and extend concern. That gesture will help your friend and help yourself.

Take it Slow You don't have to accept every invitation for each musical program or dinner. Don't overextend. Wherever you do choose to go, take plenty of soft tissues.

Get Plenty of Rest Don't burn the candle at both ends. Get the sleep you need. Grieving takes a toll on the body and so can the season before you. Replinish your body with the best sleep possible every night so that you have energy to face each day. Things go better with sleep.

My prayer is that God will be real to you this season and meet you in your grief.

Want to hear more about tips on getting through the tough part of the holidays? Join me for The Vital Connection on WHKP radio on Monday, December 3rd, at 10 AM EST.