Monday, April 29, 2013

Three workshops to get you moving in the right direction

I will be facilitating three workshops this spring/summer on writing.

Write to Create will be held in Raleigh, NC at the Comfort Inn near Crabtree Mall on June 15 and is for all writers who want to learn the nuts and bolts of not just the craft, but of the industry. We will be spending time talking about writing query letters that sell and proposals for non-fiction books as well as how to obtain an agent. If you are interested in self-publishing a book, we will learn the steps needed to take to do that. Read more here.

Writing to a Healthier You! will be held at the Hampton Inn in Norcross, GA on June 22. Fellow bereaved mom, author and counselor, Mary Jane Cronin, will be teaching this workshop on grief-writing with me. We'll share how effective writing can be and exercises to make your writing time beneficial. Register here.

Journey through Life's Losses will be on July 27 at the Hampton Inn in Raleigh, NC and will focus on writing through many of life's losses. We'll dive into the emotions that expand from grief and talk about how instrumental writing is for health, hope and healing as we create many works of prose and poetry.
Sign up today.

Join us!

Friday, April 19, 2013

When Is the Right Time to Send a Book to a Grieving Friend?

Shortly after Daniel died, a co-worker of my husband's gave us a book. The book was accounts of local parents who had lost children in various ways. One of the women shared how she lost a son 40 years ago to neuroblastoma, the same cancer Daniel had. According to her bio, she lived in nearby Raleigh. I looked her up in the phone book and called her. I'll never forget the feeling of calling a stranger to tell her about the death of my son. Would she think I was crazy? Too forward? I didn't care; I needed to connect with someone who had had a child die. Plus, her story was touching and from her written words, she seemed kind.

When she answered the phone, I told her what had happened to me. We were both excited that we'd found each other through a book. "Thank you for calling me," she said at the end of our conversation. She invited me to her house for lunch. We got together many times after that and became friends. She listened to my questions. Not only was she kind, she was living proof that life could go on for me.

I share this to say that I feel any time after the death of a child is an okay time to send a book or a gift. When the idea was birthed to send donated copies of my new devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning , to the families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, people asked, "When is the best time to send your books? Should we wait a few weeks? Months?"

I say, go for it now. The bereaved parent may be like I was and delve right into the book (I tended to gravitate toward books written by other bereaved parents as opposed to those written by the theologians, although I was gifted with both). Or the particular parent may not be able to read or want to read anything for a while. Every parent is different. But there is no harm in sending a book right away.

Perhaps it would help if we recognized a couple of things about grief. When a child first dies, it is devastating beyond words. Months later, it is still devastating. Sometimes the later months are even worse than the onset of the moment when the news is delivered that he has died. Reality kicks in---he is not coming back. He is not backpacking in the Appalachian mountains, he is not away at camp. He is not at college. He is not napping in his crib. He is not, he is not, he is not, is not, is not . . .

He is dead.

The truth is, friends, this parental bereavement journey continues for the rest of the parent's life. Yes, that's thirty, forty or even seventy years. It is not going away.

So when to send a book? Any time. Let your message be: "I care for you. I want to do something." If you send my book, send it with a note sort of like this: "Here is a book my friend wrote after the death of her four-year-old son. I wanted you to have it."

Unfortunately no book will "fix" a bereaved parent. But books can help. Books can become comforting companions. "We read to know that we are not alone," wrote C.S. Lewis.

The hosts of the recent radio show I was on (one a bereaved mother and one a bereaved sibling) said many books written about the death of a child are either all about the situation (acknowledging emotions, etc.) and nothing about God or all about God and little about the situation. The hosts commented that Getting Out of Bed in the Morning is a mixture of both emotions faced when a child dies and God. I feel that books that gloss over the overwhelming emotions and get right to "how God has a better plan" provide a disservice to grief and loss. Grief needs to be brought to the surface, as ugly and uncomfortable as it might make us feel.

No one knows why children die. No one should pretend to have the answers. God of Mystery is a chapter in my book that deals with the not knowing why. In spite of not knowing, I do know faith is trusting even when the path is bleak and the winds knock you down. Faith is not easy. Trite responses and Band-aids do not give me comfort. But I do know that I need God on this journey and I need to trust that Daniel resides in Heaven with Him.

If you'd like to order a copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, please head over to Amazon.

Autographed copies can be ordered from my Rivers of Life Gift Shop.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sandy Hook Comfort Project April Update

As most of you know, back in December, the idea came about to send copies of my book on loss and grief, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning , to those who had lost loved ones from the horrendous Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, CT. Books were donated at a very generous level (even my publisher donated a large amount) and I was able to send 106 autographed copies to a church in Sandy Hook. Personalized notes for the families of the victims were also included with 26 of the books.

A few weeks after sending the two heavy boxes, I called the church to make sure that the books arrived; they had.

Last week I received a hand-written thank-you note which reads:

In the midst of our tragedy in Sandy Hook, your thoughtfulness was truly appreciated. Your gift was a symbol of comfort to our community in the face of great loss. We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers; you have already touched us profoundly.

With deep thanks in Christ,
The People and Staff of Newtown United Methodist Church

I want to thank each of you who were involved in making this comfort project a success. I hope the books are meaningful and helpful to many.

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." Psalm 3:5

If you'd like to order a copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning in either Kindle or print, click here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Makes a Good Writing Workshop?

What makes a good writing workshop? (A guest blog at Chip MacGregor's blog posted on 3/27/13)

Thinking about that first all-day writing workshop I was paid to speak at still makes me cringe. I don’t know how the organizer found out about me, but she invited me to speak, and made me sound really good in the glossy colored brochures she printed. This workshop was going to draw a crowd. We might have to add more chairs to the hotel’s conference room.

What a disappointment when the day before the event, she was begging people to come, even letting them in for free. These people had no idea who I was and the big bucks the organizer was charging was too much for those she had targeted. I know that in the end, the only big thing about the workshop was that she lost big money.

But that experience taught me. Ten years later as I set out to conduct my own all-day writing workshops, I had that first workshop experience in mind. I focused on what the organizer had done right and especially on what she had done wrong. They say bad experience is a good teacher—or something like that. Some thoughts on creating a good workshop…

Plan in advance – Don’t think of an idea and then have a workshop the next Saturday. Plan at least three to four months ahead. A Saturday far from any holiday is good. Avoid the Christmas or New Year season. Ask potential attendees to choose between two or three dates that suit them best. Spend hours working on all aspects of the workshop. Will you serve lunch? Snacks? Coffee?

Book a choice location – This should be easily accessible. Where I live, I like the Hampton Inn and Suites in Raleigh, North Carolina, for a variety of reasons from the inviting lounge to the cushioned chairs in the conference room to the mints they place in bowls at each table to the outdoor garden where attendees can write during one of the silent sessions. Don’t select a location without first checking it out and asking yourself if the participants will appreciate it.

Advertise – This doesn’t have to cost a lot. Craigslist, Facebook, your own website, and blogs are obvious places to promote your upcoming event. You can guest post on other’s sites by providing an informative article on whatever your workshop is about. Target groups that can benefit most from your workshop. My workshops are for those experiencing heartache in their lives, so I post at parental bereavement groups and within my own circle of friends who have lost a child as I have.

The right price – You need to make some money. Even if you love facilitating writing workshops, there is nothing wrong with earning money. In fact, if you are going to look at facilitating workshops on a regular basis, you need to take something home and not just break even. Look around to see what others are charging for what you are offering and price accordingly.

Agenda – The titles of your sessions need to speak to the needs of the people attending. Often the thing that convinces someone to attend is the specific titles you’ll be offering in your workshop. As well as making the day full of value for each attendee, be sure to allow time for potty breaks and snacks. (I like to have plenty of dishes of chocolate because I feel chocolate always bring out creativity.)

Be open – Flexibility, I tell myself. Which is more important: To get through every detail of my outline or to allow for conversation during my presentation? I often tailor the last segment of my workshop to make sure I meet the needs of the attendees. Some are interested in getting their work published, while others only want to write for healing and hope for themselves. My last Journey through Life’s Losses workshop went overtime due to the many questions the attendees had for me about how to get published. That’s when I went home and created another all-day workshop, solely for writers desiring to sell.

Prayer – You may not agree with this, but in my area of expertise I’ve found that spending time praying over those registered for a workshop is vital. Each day before the event, I pray that their goals for attending the workshop will be met. Of course, if you are going to serve a catered lunch, you might want to pray that the food arrives on time!

I love the gift of writing and how it can be used to unleash the gravity of anguish and sorrow. I would be thrilled to hold a writing workshop at least once a month. Every day I remind myself that I think I’ve got a great idea, and I want to share it with others. I feel I was born to conduct workshops, and perhaps one day those doors will open. Right now, I am grateful for the four or five events I conduct a year.

~Alice J. Wisler is the award-winning author of five inspirational novels, two cookbooks and one devotional. She’s represented by the MacGregor Literary Agency. Read more about her Journey through Life’s Losses and Write to Create (brand new for aspiring writers) workshops at her website.

How Sweet a Spring Deal Can Be!

It’s spring and that’s a great time to read a book. This week I am offering my second novel, How Sweet It Is (Christy Finalist 2009), about a young woman who winds up at her grandfather’s cabin in the mountains of North Carolina and has to teach cooking to disadvantaged kids. To get an autographed copy of How Sweet It Is for only $11.00 (retail value is $13.99), follow the instructions below. You can’t beat this deal, but hurry, it only lasts till Saturday, 4/6.

"A delightful story set in the Smoky Mountains with well-developed characters that must learn to deal with their scars, the power of forgiveness, and be vulnerable to each other. Highly recommended!"

To get this deal:
Send a check to Alice Wisler for $11.00:
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707


Pay with Paypal