Monday, September 23, 2013
Tyreic Hemphill died in a car accident on Friday. He was sixteen.
My husband said that I didn't know him well enough to write a blog post about him. Most of the time, my husband is right.
But as I went on my daily walk today I couldn't avoid the push that I felt within my aching heart to write. Writing is my therapy, and after my walk, I knew I needed to put my anguished thoughts into written words. In fact, as I saw kids playing in the side streets and as I crossed Hope Valley Road, all I could think of was how frail we all are and how fleeting life is.
Whether we like it or not, death is present in every day of our lives. The fear of it can coil around us. Each time a loved one dies, we are reminded just how short life can be and how we have no control of when or where our last breath will take place.
True, I didn't know Tyreic. But there are things that I do know. I know what it is like to have that universal fear---death. I know what it is like to bury a child gone much too soon. Sixteen years ago my own son died at age four.
My youngest two, Ben and Liz, went to school today wearing red in honor of Tyreic. I thought of them and the other kids at Jordan High School having to go through the day without Tyreic. "How was the day?" I asked when my children came home. "It was depressing," Ben said. "Each class was quiet and solemn."
I ache for Tyreic's parents. I wish no parent ever had to be part of this parental bereavement club. It's one of the clubs no one wants to be initiated into. I remember meeting Tony, Tyreic's father, at Rogers Herr where my kids went to middle school. And I recall driving Ben to Tyreic's birthday party back when they were both in middle school. It was a paintball party and Ben had fun. Tyreic did, too. And Tony enjoyed being part of the party; he got covered in paint and laughed a lot.
I hate that Tyreic will never have another birthday. I hate that every fall from now on his family will have to recall the days before his last one. NC Highway 55 will no longer be a regular road, but one that will forever be a reminder of death. They will never be normal again, that has been stripped from them. All in one split second. Gone.
I hate that death has now separated them from their son.
I wonder how they will survive.
I wonder how any of us survive without our vivacious, funny, loving, and bright children.
Others might think they are exempt from death because they eat vegetables or wear seat belts or never stay out past midnight. We like to believe that we can sidestep death. "The death of a child happens to other people," we think.
We also like to believe that parents who lose a child can be comforted in knowing their child is not forever gone, but having passed through death to life, to a forever life in Heaven. While this belief can be solid and of solace to many, to the parent who has to live without his or her son or daughter, it doesn't replace the desire to hold a child. No parent should have to outlive a child. We parents expect to grow old with our child, continuing to share our lives with each other.
There is no way to make the death of a child right or good or happy. I don't understand why some try by quipping thoughtless platitudes. "He's in a better place." "God only takes the best." "You'll see him again in Heaven." I have heard them all.
What can we do as maneuver through the next weeks? We can reflect on Tyreic's life. We can be grateful that he was with us, that he lived and loved and taught us and was a son and brother and friend. We can let his parents know that he will be remembered always.
One day we will be able to focus on the fun memories of him. One day we might be able to laugh.
But right now, we just need time to grieve, to ponder, and to reach out especially to those who love him, those he has left behind. Death separates us from the ones we cherish, but the power of our love keeps us strong in spite of our frailty.
~ Alice J. Wisler
Saturday, September 21, 2013
So the other day Katelyn's mom, my good friend, Jane, told me that there was a mistake in Memories Around the Table. I felt a pain rise in my stomach and then a sensation like hot liquid pour over me. Katelyn's birth date was incorrect. In fact, it's today, September 21-----not September 2 as printed in the cookbook.
Like anybody else, I hate making mistakes.
Especially this kind.
Jane reassured me not to worry about it.
So of course I am all about wanting to rectify the situation. I have two ways I would like you to help me in making things "right". The first is: I ask you to be sure and pencil-in a number 1 after the 2 in your copies for Katelyn's birth date. Next, I ask you to think about your loved one and do something in his memory today, something unique, something that embodies part of who she was here when she was with you.
I never had the privilege of meeting Katelyn, but I am told she was generous. Her mother has taken her legacy and is one of the most giving friends I know. She has supported me and my workshops and books in ways that are so awesome, I see God's light and love shine through her. And I see the love she has for her baby girl.
Happy Birthday in Heaven, Katelyn!
Here is her recipe for Microwave Lasagna from Memories Around the Table.
September 21, 1985 ~ December 7, 2002
1 pound ground beef
1 (32 ounces) jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 lasagna noodles
Brown ground beef; drain. Add sauce and water. Mix all together and set aside.
In a bowl mix: 1 egg, pepper, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. Layer 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of 2- quart oblong dish, then add 3 uncooked noodles, 1/2 cheese mixture, 1/2 sauce, 3 noodles and cook on high 8 minutes, then medium low (50%) for 32 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
Katelyn prepared this lasagna recipe as a very young child. She loved to eat and she would eat almost anything. The weekend before her accident we celebrated her birthday with a group of young teen ladies by making Christmas chocolates and candies.
This recipe is simple and yummy. We used to use cottage cheese instead of ricotta and she never really measured anything. We would use homemade spaghetti sauce which already had the ground beef in it.
She arrived in Heaven 12/7/2002 and I don’t think we have made this recipe since. Maybe now is the time. We miss you baby girl!
~ Jane Latta
To order a copy of Memories Around the Table, please go to this blog post.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
I remember . . . I recall how when I first started in this writing business the way I felt. I started with a two-book deal my agent Kristin got for me. That was at the beginning of 2007.
My first novel arrived, smelling of fresh paper and anticipation.
Rain Song did exceptionally well for whatever reason. It sold over 40,000 copies within the first year. I was too young in the industry to realize what a good number this actually is. There was a publishing snafu with the cover for my next book (book two of the two-book deal) and How Sweet It Is ended up at the last minute with a new cover (the one it has now). Believe it or not, covers do affect sales, as the VP of Marketing at Bethany House tried to explain to me.
But this post isn't about snafus or sales or . . . Well, it is about sales. Because after my next two-book deal in 2009, I found out that Rain Song was going out of print. How Sweet It Is followed. "They are available in e-book format," my editor told me.
Yikes! My babies, out of print? Why now, why me?
Years earlier, I'd read about how other authors were dismayed because their books were out of print. Now it was happening to me. And I didn't even own a Kindle or Nook, but obviously readers did. And they liked to purchase e-books.
The sale of books for electronic devises has become really real for me this month. Rain Song is at #6 today on the Christian Contemporary Romance rank on Kindle. How Sweet It Is is at #20, also on Kindle. But Amazon has no copies of either book in print to sell. And I do have readers who are like me and actually enjoy an old-fashioned book.
So, I have learned a few things.
1) People like their Kindles and Nooks.
2) People like print books.
What exactly is this post about?
Good question! I answer with:
1) How novels do go out of print, regardless of how authors feel about it.
2) How if you are smart, you can still get a print copy, and even one signed by the author!
Y'all can all be smart today because I am offering How Sweet It Is to you in print. This means that you can smell the fresh pages, turn them with your fingers, and use a bookmark which I will also send to you. Remember, there are not many of these paperback books around anymore.
How Sweet it is when you get a book for only $9.99! (Yep, no shipping costs either!)
So that is what I am offering to my readers this week. Hurry and send a check to the address below or use the Pay Pal button and purchase a real print copy (signed) of How Sweet It Is. Offer good in the USA only and only until September 15, 2013.
Order a copy or two or three! The more you order, the more you save.
From School Library Journal
"Atlanta chef Deena Livingston returns home to the North Carolina cabin she inherited from her grandfather to start a new life far from the heartbreak she suffered in Georgia. But instead of becoming isolated in self-pity, Deena finds her grandfather's will also stipulates that she work with local middle-school children. Written with a seasoning of Southern charm and populated with richly drawn characters, Wisler's second novel (after Rain Song) mixes romance, humor, and drama and tackles such issues such as child abuse and self-image. Sure to appeal to fans of Susan May Warren, Lisa Wingate, Angela Hunt, and Rene Gutteridge."
1 copy for $9.99
2 copies of $16.99
3 copies for $20.99
Send check to Alice Wisler at:
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707 USA
Monday, September 9, 2013
Who doesn't love reading a cookbook? From the time I was a little girl, I enjoyed looking at my mother's cookbooks with all the colorful pictures of recipes. The afternoons spent turning the pages and reading recipes were magical. My love of cooking started with those early days.
Food for Thought: Simple and Easy Recipes for Homeschooling Families by Lorilyn Roberts is a cookbook with tasty recipes. As the title indicates, the dishes are simple and easy to prepare. From the section, "Easy Meals for Young Cooks", one of my favorites is Sweet And Sour Edamame Salad. I am a big fan of edamame (must be my Japanese upbringing). I also made the chocolate chip cupcakes and for an extra kick, added butterscotch morsels to the batter in addition to the chocolate chips.
Each recipe comes with an encouraging quote or verse from the Bible and a photo of the prepared dish. As author Lorilyn says, "My hope is for homeschooling families to make fond memories in the kitchen that will be remembered long after the food is eaten. The best recipe of all is love from the heart wrapped in prayer."
Get your copy of Food For Thought today!
~ Alice J. Wisler has published three cookbooks in memory of loved ones---Slices of Sunlight, Down the Cereal Aisle and Memories Around the Table.
Monday, September 2, 2013
Once again my publishers placed my first novel Rain Song as a free download on Kindle. The rankings on Amazon were great. For two months, Rain Song was on the top-sellers listings on Amazon. There were days it was at #34 and then at #53. It was even #1 in Christian romance and contemporary. Free, of course. So in reality, my novel wasn't "selling" at all because how do you sell something if it is already being given away for free?
As of September 1, Rain Song is no longer free. I was certain that it would no longer be on the top charts of Amazon either.
Because it's true, people love free. People will take free over paid.
So I wrote the following yesterday:
Some readers are only willing to "purchase" a book if it is free. I think the logic behind the marketing department of a publishing house is that a customer will get the free book, read it, like it and then want to read other works by the author. In theory that sounds great. Many wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed Rain Song, people I didn't know before. As a result I have lots of new Facebook friends. Some said that they would be reading my other novels, now lumped together on Amazon as the Heart of Carolina Series.
Reviews went up, too. There were only 184 reviews two months ago and after my novel's two months of freedom, there are now 291 reviews. I imagine some are good in order to keep it at a four-star rating, and I know some are poor. (I have given up reading reviews because my reactions to the bad ones made my husband crazy.) I have found that many times when a book is free, readers don't treat it as an investment (because it's not) and might lightly scan it, not bother to get into it, but feel free enough to add a "not so favorable" review based on the one or two pages read.
I like seeing my books on any top chart, free or not. I thrive on hearing from readers. I like meeting new people.
But when folks ask what is next for me and when my next book is coming out, I want to say, "You know, you can't keep writing just cuz you want to. An author has to make money with her writing in order to continue to be picked up by publishers."
If you like an author's work, why not help an author by actually spending money on a book? If you like her writing style and story lines, why not promote her so that others can also be introduced to her work?
Rain Song is no longer a free Kindle read on Amazon. Free is over and with it, all the hype it generated. Now it goes back to being a book that you need cash to purchase. Even so, it's only $2.60.
The way I see it, if a reader really wanted to show me some love, she or he could skip the second cup of morning coffee at Starbucks or at the Circle K and buy Rain Song. Or any one of my other four novels--How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl, A Wedding Invitation and Still Life in Shadows.
And I just might be able to continue to write and make my publishers (Bethany House and River North/Moody) happy.
Today I checked my babies (i.e. books) rankings on Amazon and lo and behold! Yes, lo and behold. What did I find? Rain Song is being bought! By Amazon readers! It is now on the top-sellers for Kindle Paid Books. #8 in Christian contemporary fiction. How Sweet It Is is at #13 in the same category.
Did somebody get the word out that writers need to make a living? If that was you, thank you!
I hope the great rankings continue, but I'm not holding my breath. For right now, I am surprised, grateful, pleased, and ready for another cup of Earl Grey tea.
Rain Song on Amazon.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Today I welcome Malo Bel to the Patchwork Quilt blog.
His new book, Four Given has been released. Here's what Malo has to say about it:
The mystery of Godliness and life eternal are hidden in the most sacred place of all, in the holy letters that define God. A mystery so divine, so life-changing, so real it is embedded in the essence of every human being. A mystery that charts a divine path to God, a journey that once undertaken will bring you to a place called Eternity.
Join me as I share my journey, as I am led by Him on His path. This is the mystery of Godliness and life eternal, and I never would have seen it had he not opened my eyes. Take the step of faith and your eyes will be opened to see "inexpressible things". Take the step of faith and discover life eternal today. Take the step of faith and discover the beauty of this divine path hidden right before you. Take the step of faith and you will never be the same again. I did and that is why I must tell my story.
It is a journey, a pathway encoded in the very name of God that I was stunned to see. It begins with a single and smallest Hebrew letter Yod, which means the open hand. Anyone wanting to begin this journey must begin by opening their hand - by giving. It’s what Jesus did in the greatest way possible, by giving his life for us.
And so to be true to this divine journey I will be giving away 50% of all my book sales during the launch to a charity (Community Outreach Programme Trust) that works in Africa. They work with disadvantaged people and especially the disabled, children and orphans. I thank you for your help to help me help them.
When asked, "What advice would you give to a beginning writer?", Malo says:
Write passionately – Edit precisely – Market persistently.
Start with passion. Write what is in your heart. Don’t overthink it. Of course you need to plan, to some extent, but let the story write you. I believe this is really true when we write for our Lord. We can open to him and let him direct us. It’s so exciting to see what will happen next as the chapters unfold. I was as much surprised by the twists in my story as you will be, and I was right there as it was happening. Amazing. Then edit and edit and edit. Did I say “edit”? There is nothing worse than a book that is full of editing errors. We are all human and these errors are always there. However, while one or two grammar errors will be overlooked, a book full of bad grammar – no matter how good the story – will be seen as unprofessional and will not succeed.
And then the hardest part of all – marketing. Here is the true test of an author. This is the test of whether you really love what you are doing. It may take you 6 months, a year, two years to write your book. Marketing will take 2, 3, 5, 10 years. On and on it goes. Something I have learned from running – if you don’t enjoy it, if you are not motivated, you will never continue to put one foot in front of another when you hit 7 hours, 9 hours, 11 hours…and still you have not reached the end. However if you love God, if you love sharing his message, it will seem “as a few days” because you will be doing what you love, as you blog, share, post, tweet, and do whatever is needed. It’s just awesome to tell your story, wherever you can, to whoever will listen.
"What book are you currently marketing?" I asked Malo.
He replied with: My book Four Given is the first part of a beautiful journey to bring us to life eternal. A life beyond comprehension, a life accessible now. I have already been blessed with a glimpse at three other books that could follow this one. However while the seeds of each of these are in my head, at the moment I have not started them. I am enjoying Four Given, rejoicing in the gift of those I am connecting with online. And so I am currently continuing my desire to write though my blogs and also sharing the message of God through my new micro-message ministry, 10 second videos. It’s all so exciting; I just wish I had more hours in the day.
"How can readers find you on the Internet?"
As one of my T’s is technology, I love connecting with people online and would love to share my story with anyone who loves to hear it. I can be found in the following places:
Website – www.malobel.com
Blog – www.malobel.com/blog - Would love you to subscribe
YouTube – www.youtube.com/4giventv - See my book trailers and the micro message ministry
Twitter – www.twitter.com/malo_bel
Google+ - http://bit.ly/malobel
Check below for the websites where you can order a copy of Four Given.
Links to Purchase Four Given
Amazon ebook - http://bit.ly/inGod (ASIN: B00BU3XV3O)
Amazon paperback - http://bit.ly/4-given
Smashwords – http://bit.ly/get-4given
Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/malobel