Monday, November 22, 2010

The Unfinished Gift for German!

Don't you like getting packages in the mail? Especially ones you didn't expect?

Today I opened a box sent from my publisher. Staring back at me were three little hardback books with my name on the cover, the only words I understood. Here's a picture of the cover, taken from Amazon's German counterpart.

If you'd like to see the page, click here (you can get it for a mere 12,95 Euros).

I was told last year a German publisher had purchased the rights to translate it into German, with plans to market it online and in retail stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But I thought it wasn't happening until next year. So this is a pleasant surprise. Guess it's on shelves in those countries right now.

You might notice the little wooden horse on the cover. An interesting story here. The German editor sent me a nice email last year, asking permission to change the story, just a little. If you've read the book, you know Patrick's grandfather had begun to carve a wooden soldier for his son, but never finished it (where the title comes from). They wondered if I'd be open to them changing this soldier into a little wooden horse.

She explained in Germany, ever since World War II, their culture has downplayed the idea of children playing with war toys. It was an easy concession to make, since the nature of the toy itself isn't really central to the story. I think it makes for a really nice cover. My wife said she'd buy it in a heartbeat, if she saw it on the shelf (and could read German).

One last item, there were already two nice reviews on the German Amazon site. My son translated them for me using Google Translator. Here's an excerpt from one, translated literally. I must have read similar comments hundreds of times from English-speaking fans. It was great to see the German translation is having the same effect:

"His book I devoured in a few hours. Maybe he has pressed a little too much given to the tear glands..."

I'm humbled and deeply honored to see others take such an interest in my work. Wouldn't it be wild if the book took off over there and Cindi and I got a chance to do a booksigning tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jonathan Edwards on the Excellency of Christ

My first introduction to the legendary Jonathan Edwards came, oddly enough, in the same class in 11th Grade where I first discovered that I loved writing fiction. I had not yet become a Christian, but I had become a "seeker." Our English teacher led us through a brief study of Edwards' infamous "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon. Sadly, this lone sermon for the overwhelming majority of people forms the beginning and end of all they know about this man.

Some three decades later, I had the privilege of reading a wonderful biography of Edwards by a history professor from Notre Dame, George Marsden. It's called, simply: "Jonathan Edwards: A Life." I had already learned by then that there was much more to Jonathan Edwards than this sermon I'd read in 11th grade. I knew, for example, that he loved God with an intense passion and preached about the love of God even more than he did about the fires of hell.

But he most certainly did preach about the reality of hell, in a literary form and style that cast him, even centuries later, as the crown prince of fire and brimstone preachers. But I also learned something in Marsden's book about what motivated Edwards to reflect so often on this "hot topic."

It was love, not anger.

Some of you know, I retired at summer's end from being a pastor after 25 years. I did my fair share of funerals during that time, but rarely for someone who died suddenly in the prime of life. Almost all were for people who'd lived to a ripe old age. But in Edwards' time, he regularly presided over funerals for young men, women and children who died from any number of ailments that today they would have easily survived.

Young mothers died in childbirth. Children died when common colds became pneumonia. Teenagers died from the flu. Think about every one you know who got over something because they took an antibiotic. Now think of them dying instead.

These were the times and challenges Edwards' faced. He didn't feel he could ignore the unpopular subject of hell when so many people he loved faced the possibility of sudden death. You might say, his sermons were aimed at "scaring the hell" out of people, literally. His goal was that no one would face such a horrible fate, when infinite love and eternal paradise was available to them through Christ.

Edwards loved people. He loved his Savior even more. Consider something else Edwards has written, about the Excellencies of Christ. Besides his obvious love for God, he was one incredible writer:

"What is there that you can desire to find in a Savior that is not in Christ? What excellency is missing? What is there that is great or good; that is impressive or winning; what is there that is adorable or endearing; or what can you think of that would be more encouraging, which is not found in the person of Christ? Would you have your Savior to be great and honorable, because you are not willing to be indebted to a mean person? And is not Christ a person honorable enough to be worthy of your dependence; is he not a person high enough to be appointed to a work so honorable as your salvation?

"Would you not only have a Savior of high degree, but would you also have him
notwithstanding his exaltation and dignityto be made also of low degree, that he might have experience with afflictions and trials, that he might learn by the things that he has suffered, to pity them who suffer and are tempted? And has not Christ been made low enough for you; and has he not suffered enough?

"Would you have your Savior to be one who is near enough to God, so that his ability to mediate might be ever with him? And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only-begotten Son, of the same essence with the Father? And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free access to him? And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the body to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit? For so he will be united to you, if you accept him…

“What is there that is missing, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Savior?"

As I reflect on Edward's question, here at the end, my answer is...absolutely nothing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lord, Change My Story, However You Will

In my quiet time this morning, I reflected back on something I had written in a journal a few years ago. I'd forgotten all about it. As I read it, I realized, it carries even more meaning for me at this point in my life than it did back then.

It's really a prayer: Lord, Change My Story, However You Will

Lord, how often have I prayed
that you would have Your way
with me?

I say, 'Let Your will be done on earth
as it is in Heaven'; meaning,
that You should be in charge
of all that happens to me this day.

But then I so quickly set about to write
my own story, my own way.

I cast the characters, and I determine
how they should act and behave,
what I want them to do
and not do.

I develop the plot along the lines
I want it to go.
I even think through
all the twists and turns;
allowing for some adventure
but always within the bounds
of my control.

When I finish creating my story, I sit back
contented that this is how my life
should now unfold.

It is what's best; I am its author.
I imagine it needs no editing or review.

But then You, mercifully, begin inserting Your views.
You edit my plot and change my story;
the characters no longer follow
my carefully devised and appointed roles.
New characters suddenly appear.
Unplanned things begin to happen.
Twists and turns I had not considered.

It seems Your story barely resembles
the one I set out to write.
I realize I am no longer the writer of this tale.
I am instead one of the characters
in a story You are creating.

You are more than an editor of my work
You are the author of my story.

It is, as David said:
"All the days ordained for me
were written in Your book
before one of them came to be."

As I look back on my life, I realize
It has always been this way.
I write my lines,
Then You write Yours
And Your lines become my story.

And what You have written
Always turns out to be
Far better and far beyond anything
I could have imagined.

As I reflect on this, it gives me hope
even a good measure of joy,
for all of the new changes You have just added
to my story

And I find a new prayer in my heart:
Lord, change my story, however You will
not just today, but
every day after that.

Dan Walsh

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some Fun Developments with CBD

There have been some fun developments this week with, one of the largest online & catalog retail stores for Christian books.

For the holidays, they created a site called "Author's Christmas Memories." A number of authors were asked to share their favorite Christmas memories. Mine is included. I talked about my last childhood Christmas spent in the snow (the memories of that Christmas actually inspired some of the scenes in my first novel, The Unfinished Gift. You can check these out by clicking here.

Also, I was just informed they posted an interview with me, mainly discussing my next novel, The Deepest Waters, due out in the Spring of 2011. If you'd like to get a preview of that story and what inspired it, click here.