Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gift Idea: Send bread in a can!

Christmas is coming. Instead of fruitcake, why not send bread in a can?

Yes, this offer is back again this year!

I like modern technology and that includes the oven and range, but when it comes to making bread, I don’t mind being old fashioned. Neither does Ashlyn. She’s the sheriff’s daughter in my new release, Still Life in Shadows. Ashlyn makes bread. Not just any bread, but bread steamed inside a can.

Generations ago when there were no stoves and only fires to cook over, bread was made this way. A coffee can was used to pour flour, milk, and other ingredients into and then the can was sealed and steamed in a kettle of water. As the water boiled, the bread inside the coffee can, baked.

After two hours, the can was removed from the pan and if greased well, out slid a round bundle of bread. Often known as Boston brown bread due to the color of the flour and the molasses, some cooks also added raisins as an ingredient.

The recipe Ashlyn uses has molasses, buttermilk, raisins, cornmeal, whole wheat and rye. It’s truly a tasty and healthy treat. Her finance Luke, an ex-Amish man who left the Old Order lifestyle and now works as a car mechanic, likes it when she brings the bread to his shop.

Sound good? It is! Slice a round of this bread, warm it in the toaster oven or microwave and serve with butter or a dab of cream cheese. Tastes great at breakfast!

If you like the flavor of gingerbread, you'll love bread in a can!

Orders for Bread in a Can will be taken the whole month of November. Place your order by November 30th. The bread will be packed and shipped to you or to a friend's and arrive between December 11th and 15th.

Simply use Pay Pal or send a check to the address below. Also, you can order a round of bread and a copy of Still Life in Shadows. Pricing is as follows:

* 1 delicious loaf (actually in the shape of a round coffee can) of bread -- $14.99 (includes priority shipping)

* 1 delicious loaf plus an autographed copy of Still Life in Shadows -- $27.99

* Order four loaves and get one loaf sent to you or to a friend's for free! (Five loaves for the price of four!)

Send check to:
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707

Use the PayPal tab below

Bread in a can

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is Your Workspace Killing Your Creativity? Eight Tips to Get the Muse Back

When I was a little girl, I wrote anywhere I could. I lived back in the dark ages, so there was no computer with which to create my stories on and the only typewriter was in my dad’s home office where we weren’t allowed unless something was on fire or bleeding. A notebook and pencil were my faithful tools. I wrote when commuting to elementary school on the train, wrote at the kitchen table while Mom made dinner, and on nice days, wrote outside underneath the trellis in our back yard.

Now, a full-time author and workshop instructor, I have my own laptop. I also have a work space set up in the home office. Well, I did, up until three months ago when my eldest came back to live and gained my office (her old bedroom) once again. After this change, I had to set up on the end of the dining room table. While that was an adjustment due to having to move a lot of my writing gear (desk calendar, notebooks, notes, etc.) down stairs, the experience has taught me a lot.

At first having a new work place increased my writing. I chalk that up to the view from the dining room windows. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a butterfly bush with delicate purple blooms and a colorful butterfly stopping by every hour?

But after a month I was back to spending more time on Facebook than actually writing. Writers block? No, because I don’t believe in that. However, I do believe there are things that keep us from productivity and steps that we can take to avoid or deal with any form of lack of creativity that can come our way.

1) First, make sure your desk is in a comfortable location. This doesn’t mean it has to be in a posh office, it just has to be accommodating to you. The chair has to feel right and the desk able to hold your computer or stack of books, resources and other paraphernalia.

2) Think about clutter and distractions. Everyone is different. Sometimes the messiest desks belong to the most prolific. However, if your desk is piled too high and it takes you twenty minutes to find anything, then the clutter distracts from your work. Spend a day cleaning up to create a workable environment. Place necessary items needed every day like a desk calendar to your left or right.

3) Take a walk. Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Wallace Stevens, walked over two miles to his office each day. During that time he composed poetry, claiming, "I write best when I can concentrate, and do that best while walking."

4) Put on music. I like Celtic music without words so as not to distract me when I write my novels. But on bleak days when I need energy, U2 gets me going. With or Without You.

5) Head out to a coffee shop. Get there before the lunch crowd so that you can chose a table removed from a busy counter.

6) Find a secluded park bench. This works best when the weather is ideal, like a day in the spring or fall. Don’t neglect what the outdoors can do for your writing. D. H. Lawrence called trees “living company” and preferred to write beneath their shade.

7) Mix it up a bit. If you normally use a computer, spend some time writing by hand and vice versa.

8) Know thyself! Know when it is time to get up and get moving to a different room, a new view or a new place. Ask yourself the important questions: Am I too distracted or lacking when I sit here? What can I do differently so that I can be productive? Know what you need and make sure you get the most out of your writing hours.

Try these tips to enhance your work space and watch how that demon known as writers block is erased like an over-used adjective.

Alice J. Wisler dreams of writing in a woodsy cabin with multiple windows. She is the author of five novels with a new one on the way next year, and the grief and loss devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache. She teaches writing workshops both online and at conferences. Read more about her workshops here:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

God's Waiting Room . . . Revisited . . . Again and Again

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings as eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

I used to think that the person who would do all of this soaring in the sky was doing it AFTER his waiting was over. So as a waiter, I sat and hoped and prayed. Weary, I read how one day I would run and walk without the burdens of wondering and waiting.

The other night as I sat under a crescent moon on my porch stoop, I saw it all differently.


Because although we do have to wait, and often painfully long, God is a God of now.

He is calling us to live now.

Even in our waiting, He doesn’t go on vacation or cease to listen to our cries or leave His throne.

He grows us.

We grow while we wait.

In fact, my waiting has produced some of the best growth and spiritual character. In spite of waiting I can still live today. I can still experience joy and contentment (as the Apostle Paul wrote of). I am learning in the waiting room of God. I cling to Him. I have also felt the needs of His people, praying often for others who must wait, dear friends old and new who have asked me to pray for their really tough circumstances.

Last night I promised God that when He answered one of my prayers in this waiting room, that I would not feel as though I was done with needing Him or trusting Him. I promised that I would not grow cocky or overly proud or think I had accomplished anything. I told Him that I would still love Him, still seek His face, and still know desperately that I need Him. Always. And that I can do no good thing without Him. I told Him I would never want what He has taught me to be taken away from me.

I felt as though the clouds of my mind had parted. It was a growth spurt.

Today, as I was going about my usual writing and wondering when God was going to act, I received a wonderful surprise. I received an answer. I was given a writing assignment from a publishing house to write for them! I rejoiced. I wanted to run, to soar.

Hallelujah! At last!

Happy, I was eager to celebrate with a hunk of chocolate or drink that special tea or even open the bottle of champagne. God had heard my cry, God provided me with work!


But the truth is, this is not my first time to have to cling to God and wait nor will it be my last. I still have other areas of my life to wait over.

Yet this time around, instead of wanting to hurry up the wait or push it aside or hold my breath until it leaves, I'm learning that waiting upon God is not at all ONLY a season. The truth is, it is a way of life.

Before I thought once my prayer was answered, I could kick up my heels and I'd be done with waiting. (I used to be young once and I think youthful minds think this way.)

Now I see the value in waiting, the beauty in growing, the honesty of a cultivated-by-God heart.

Dear God, I am your servant. I belong to you.

And I wait.

Because you are a God worth waiting for.


Are you waiting?
What are you waiting for today?
What do you want to learn as you wait upon Him?

[First posted on the Broken Psalms blog on October 3, 2013 with the title: Why is Waiting on God a Way of Life?]