Author Spotlight: Dan Walsh

Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with L.K. Malone is ElenaR! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (amy@litfusegroup.com)

This week Dan Walsh is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of his book, Remembering Christmas, leave a comment on this post!

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Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?

Before I share a little about myself, let me start off by thanking you, Suzanne, for inviting me to spend some time with you and your readers. And congratulations on your success with A Lancaster County Christmas. My wife loved it and now that I’ve gotten it back from her friend, I’m reading it too.

I’ve been married to the only woman I’ve ever loved for 35 years. Cindi is my best friend (no one else even comes close). We have two married children and this past year we’re so happy to welcome our first grandson to the family. In September, 2010 I retired from being a pastor after 25 years to write fulltime.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

If your readers haven’t read any of my books yet, most magazine and blog reviewers compare my writing to Nicholas Sparks (that happens quite a lot actually). And my Christmas books are often compared to Richard Paul Evans (bestselling author of The Christmas Box and more recently Lost December).

As far as genre, my first 3 novels are definitely historical fiction with a strong romantic thread. But Remembering Christmas is set in 1980 (not sure if that’s far enough back to be considered historical). I have 2 more novels coming out in 2012. The Discovery starts off in the present then goes back to the 1940’s. But The Reunion, due out next Sept, is contemporary.

I’ve been told by my agent and editor that my “brand” isn’t so much a time period I write about, but the way I write. Relationally-driven stories that pack a strong emotional punch. But my books will always have a strong dose of romance and, hopefully, inspire us to put our hope more fully in the Lord.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?  

I’ve wanted to write novels since the 11th grade when Mrs. Connie Longnecker, my composition teacher, took me aside to tell me she thought I could be a writer someday if I really wanted to.

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published? 

After experiencing a call to pastor in my early twenties, I put aside my writing dreams. They resurfaced temporarily in the mid-90’s, which is when I got the idea for my first novel, The Unfinished Gift. But that turned out to be a premature leap (a long story), so I set it aside again until 2007.

Cindi suggested I take out that book and finish it. Both of us really felt a green light from the Lord, so I did. I finished the book that summer. Two of the first three agents I contacted wanted to represent me. I signed with one, Karen Solem of Spencerhill Associates. She had the contract with Revell in 2-3 months (that book wound up winning 2 ACFW Carol Awards last year).

Even though things simmered for many years, it does seem like it all came together very fast once I finally got in sync with God’s timing.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing? 

I normally start every day with a lengthy quiet time (prayer, reading my Bible and sometimes a helpful book). This is my anchor for facing the day, not just my writing. Since we live in Florida, I love to write outside. Here’s a picture of where I often write.  It’s under an awning out by our pool. If you look closely, you can see Darcy, my little writing buddy, under the table. We’ve lived in the same house for over 26 years, so we’ve been able to add on to it over time. It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood, with a private backyard.

After my quiet time, I’ll get caught up on my emails, spend an hour or so on Facebook and other social networking sites, then I’ll write for the next 4-6 hours.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?

Probably the encouragement of others, mostly some important women in my life. Starting with that 11th grade teacher, then my mom, then (and now, the strongest voice in my writing life) my wife Cindi. I didn’t actually go to a writer’s conference or even attend a writing group until after my first novel was already published.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? 

Not at all. Guess I had bought into the Hollywood stereotype of published writers getting huge advances, then retiring to a quiet lakeside cabin to write in peace, as their novels glide effortlessly to the bestseller’s list.

That has not been my story, starting with the money. It is now enough for us to live on, for which I’m grateful (I’ve learned the majority of authors don’t earn enough to do this fulltime). But, so far, it’s not been near enough to consider buying that lakeside cabin.

And though my readership is growing, and I’ve won some wonderful awards, my books have yet to “glide” onto either the CBA or ECPA bestsellers lists yet (of course, any help your readers could provide would be greatly appreciated).

What are your biggest distractions? 

Probably social networking. Emails, blogging, Facebook, Twitter and, actually doing things like this (giving interviews). Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy these kinds of things. That’s the problem. Because I do, I can easily spend so much time on them, I don’t have enough time left in the day to write.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like? 

Probably not knowing how to make the best use of my social networking time. There are so many things I could do, and that list seems to get bigger not smaller as time goes by. What do I like the most? Ah…the writing. I LOVE to write. I wondered after doing this for several years as my “spare time hobby” if I’d grow tired of doing it once I went fulltime. The answer, happily, is NO. I still love the time I get to spend writing the most.

What is the role and importance of an agent? 

I would be lost without my agent, Karen Solem. She not only knows and connects me with the best people on the business side of things, she cares for me as a friend and looks after my interests as a writer better than I could for myself. She handles all the contract/legal side of things and helps me understand what all the big words mean. I know for a fact I would not be able to write fulltime now apart from the work she’s done on my behalf.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Involve the Lord in all you do. Jesus told us that God knows the number of hairs we have on our heads. I believe He said this to help us realize God cares about every detail in our lives. That certainly includes something as important as our writing. Keep fueling your love of writing by feeding your love of reading. Read good books. Read them first as a reader, then go back and read them as a writer, trying to understand what makes them work so well. Read good books about writing and―this is very important―get comfortable listening to input and advice.

Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book. 

Only because you asked…

“Want to buy a book you will hate to put down once you start, one whose characters will grip your heart and not let you go till the last page? Do you like books with endings so good they make you cry? Then here, you’ve got to read Remembering Christmas!”

What’s on the book horizon for you? 

My two new novels coming out in 2012, The Discovery and The Reunion (I loved writing these books). I’ve just recently written the first 10 chapters of my first novel with Dr. Gary Smalley (who co-wrote the hugely successful Redemption series with Karen Kingsbury). It’s been wonderful getting to know Gary on a personal level, not to mention how much his books have helped me. I’m drawing from several of them as I write this new series with him.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

They can visit my website at www.danwalshbooks.com. Also I’d like to invite them to visit me on Facebook and “Like” my Author page there. I go there every day, sometimes several times a day. It’s www.facebook.com/DanWalshBooks.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

It’s been my pleasure, Suzanne. And please let your readers know they can feel free to comment or ask me any other questions they might have in the Comments section.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I would love to win this book to add to my library….I have a whole shelf just for books about CHRISTmas.

    mardisgators@verizon.net

    Hope you all have a wonderful day

    Mardi Moye

  2. Sandi's Thoughts and Reviews says:

    I would Love to win a copy of Remembering Christmas. Please enter me into the drawing.

  3. Carol Evirs Quinn says:

    Dan, I have read some of your books and i love them! Here's hoping i get to read another, please enter me to win your contest. Merry Christmas to you, your family and also to Suzanne and her family.
    God Bless, Carol Evirs Quinn

  4. Kim F says:

    Dan Walsh is a great story teller – and I love collecting Christmas stories to read every year

  5. Judy says:

    Dan is a new author to me and I am so looking forward to reading Remembering Christmas. Winning a copy would be wonderful!

    Blessings and Merry Christmas to you both, Suzanne and Dan!

    Judy B
    judyjohn2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

  6. Angie M says:

    I would love to win a copy of Remembering Christmas. Please enter me in your contest. Thank you for offering this opportunity. Best wishes and Happy Holidays to you and your family!!
    Angie M
    angelicamac77@msn.com

  7. Angie Adair says:

    I'm very excited to read this book…it's on my list! angadair@nwcable.net

  8. Kaye says:

    I love Christmas books and this one has one of the most gorgeous, welcoming covers I've seen so far.

  9. Robin Prater says:

    What a great interview!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Love when people open up and allow us a glimpse into their life and dreams.

    Blessings to you both,
    Robin Prater

    srprater@gmail.com

  10. Angie Adair says:

    I am anxious to read this book…Merry Christmas! angadair@nwcable.net

  11. leeswa says:

    Dan, thank you for sharing a look into your life and work as a pastor and author. I would love to read Remembering Christmas.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and little doggy Darcy.

  12. Connie says:

    Dan, I am a librarian and discovered you a few years ago. We have added your books to our Inspiratonal fiction collection and I have read all of them. If I had Never read you I would add Remembering Christmas because of the beautiful cover. It will be added to our library catalog but I would love my own copy! Merry CHRISTmas and I wish you continued Success

  13. Kristie says:

    I LOVE Christmas books. I love Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans so I think I'll give your book a whirl. I am impressed with your faith and the way you seem to lead others to a closer relationship with God subtly by writing your books and not by showing off or being preachy. I hate that. Take care and Merry Christmas. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

  14. Anonymous says:

    this was a good interview–and I will read this EVEN IF it is after Christmas!

    loretta

    eveningstar888@aol.com

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the chance to receive a book, a christmas book.

    babyfacezxzx@aol.com

    eric smith

  16. Knitwit says:

    Thanks for all the interesting tidbits about your journey as an author – I'm forwarding the link to my daughter, who is an aspiring author.

  17. Nicole L says:

    I would love to win this book!! Christmas books are my favorite! I have not read any of your books yet so hope I win this one!!

    Happy Holidays!

    Nicole Lemasters

    niccilem@yahoo.com

  18. Dan Walsh says:

    Thanks everyone, for all the kind thoughts and comments so far. And I agree with you, the Art Dept did a magnificent job on the cover. With Suzanne's cover, too.

    And congrats Suzanne on your book making the Top 20 on ECPA's bestseller list. SO happy for you!

    I'm down in Ft Lauderdale doing some book events for Remembering Christmas. But I'll check in some more as I can.

    If anyone has any other questions you'd like to ask, feel free. Merry Christmas!

    Dan

  19. Carrie Fancett Pagels says:

    Very nice interview and congrats on your successful long marriage and ministry, Dan. True blessings from God as is this new mission of writing he has given you.

    Thanks Suzanne for the interview, very nice.
    Many blessings!

  20. Cynthia Fisher Adams says:

    Thanks for acquainting us with different authors every week. I have been adding their books to my wish list! Happy Holidays!

  21. Suess says:

    The book sounds very interesting…I love meeting new authors. God bless.
    Sandi A.

  22. Dan Walsh says:

    Thanks Carrie. Cindi makes it easy for me. Hope the Lord gives us many more years together. And I really am grateful to God for opening this door to allow me to write this way. It really is one of those "above what we can ask or think" kind of things.

    Dan

  23. Chris Meyer says:

    I would love to read Dan's book! I love his advice for someone longing to write. I have been looking for nudges in that direction. Dan's book is on my wish list!!

  24. Nancy. Lilquackerjack@yahoo.com says:

    I love the interview!! It is so nice to get some back stories. Somehow it makes us feel mote like friends! Love the picture of where you write… I can picture you there. Thank you for sharing your words and you!

  25. Nancy. Lilquackerjack@yahoo.com says:

    I love the interview!! It is so nice to get some back stories. Somehow it makes us feel mote like friends! Love the picture of where you write… I can picture you there. Thank you for sharing your words and you!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I never tire of a good Christmas story! I would love to win a copy of Dan's book and get to know his writing style. Thanks for the chance to win!

    ~Amber

    Carpediem7884(@)Rochester(dot)rr(dot)com

  27. Sally says:

    Thanks so much for a wonderful post. I have been hearing a lot about Dan Walsh lately, but I don't have any of his books. I would love to win this one! I am a freelance editor; it is so interesting getting the background history of a writer. Dan, I would love to know the long story of the premature leap for your first novel. That sounds like a great story about God and His timing, not ours! Thanks so much for this chance to win your book. I appreciate it!
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  28. Dan Walsh says:

    Thanks Nancy, and I love writing there, especially now that the weather is cooler.

    Sally, if you'd like to read the longer version of my journey, I remembered I was asked to write about it in the Seekerville blog when my first book came out 2 years ago. Here's the link: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2009/11/seekerville-welcomes-dan-walsh.html

  29. Darlene says:

    I would love winning a copy of Remembering Christmas. I have read all of your books Mr. Walsh & enjoy lending them to others. I don't own a copy of your latest book and would love to add it to my collection!

  30. Luvmikidz says:

    Dan, it is so wonderful that in your interview you point toward God in what you do. That is what really matters, giving God the glory and seeking His guidance in what you do. I have not read your book but will look forward to it now after reading this.

  31. Tonya Stoker says:

    I have all of Dan Walsh's books and can't wait until his new ones are released–Remembering Christmas will warm your heart. I love the way he writes wonderful stories and includes the Lord.

  32. Andy Bueno says:

    I would love to win a signed copy of Remembering Christmas. Thanks.