Monday, February 28, 2011

Excerpts from Publisher's Weekly

If you've been following my blog, you know we've been expecting a writeup in Publisher's Weekly (PW), regarding my upcoming novel, The Deepest Waters. A few weeks ago, they contacted me for a phone interview and said they'd be reviewing the book, as well. For those who don't about PW, it is to publishing what the Wall Street Journal is to finance. It's been running continuously for 138 years and read by almost everyone in the publishing industry.

Well they ran both the interview and review today. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"I'm a writer who became a
pastor; back in 11th grade I got bit by the bug," says Walsh, who dedicated his first book, The Unfinished Gift, to Mrs. Connie Longnecker, his high school English teacher. So after a 25-year pastorate at a church in Florida, Walsh is returning to a love of writing he developed when Mrs. Longnecker took him aside and inspired him.

As a pastor, he wrote 6,000–8,000 words a week for his sermons, so he had plenty of practice before 2010, when he stepped down as a full-time pastor and
became a full-time writer. "My blood pressure is doing much better as a writer. Writing has been really a relaxing thing for me, very calming," Walsh says.

The Unfinished Gift (2009) and T
he Homecoming (2010) were both set during WWII, but The Deepest Waters is set in the 19th century. "The first two are more like Hallmark movies, but The Deepest Waters is more like Masterpiece Theater," Walsh says. [Note from me here...didn't mean they deserve to be on Hallmark and Masterpiece Theater; he'd asked me how this book differed from the first two].

With The Deepest Waters, Walsh establishes himself as the writer he started out to be before taking a 25-year detour into ministry: a writer of character-driven historical fiction, crafted by a man who's been telling stories to a live audience for a quarter of a century.

Here's an excerpt from the PW review of The Deepest Waters:

"Walsh, a pastor turned full-time writer, surprises with a swashbuckling tale of a sunken pre–Civil War era steamship and its cargo of gold--and a newlywed couple who must make a harrowing decision. When a steamship heads directly into a hurricane on the Atlantic coast, John and Laura Foster must choose to stay together or be separated when women and children are evacuated to another ship. What makes the story more than romantic fluff is its basis in a true event, the sinking of the SS Central America and its payload of gold, and a dramatic subplot of Micah, a slave who longs to be free along with his family...With this novel Walsh establishes himself as a Christian historical fiction writer who crafts credible character-driven stories." -- Publishers Weekly

I can't wait for the book's release, now just one month away.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Major Book Club picks The Deepest Waters

My publisher just informed me of some exciting news. Crossings Book Club has decided to make The Deepest Waters (my 3rd novel releasing April 1st) available to their book club members. Crossings is one of the largest book clubs and the largest Christian book club in the country, with 400,000 members.

One of the nicest aspects of this deal for me (and for the Crossings club members), is having this beautiful cover available in a hardback edition. I love all kinds of books, even ebooks, but hardbacks are still my favorites.

When the art department first sent me this cover, I was so taken with it. It is by far, my favorite one yet. I remember thinking as soon as I saw it, this is a cover that deserves to be a hardback (click on the cover to see it bigger). I hope thousands of Crossings club members are drawn to it, buy it, and love reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Wonder of Looking at Him

There are certain things in life that catch us by surprise. Things we see that are so captivating they possess the power to instantly stop us from giving our attention to whatever had preoccupied us so thoroughly just a moment before. Wonders. When we see such wonders, we can’t help but stare. Seeing them is enough, it becomes a thing to do all by itself.

An amazing sunrise, a breathtaking sunset. A ferocious thunderstorm. Roaring waterfalls. A full moon. You turn a corner traveling through some treacherous mountain pass and it opens to a majestic mountain scene, a panoramic vista that not only takes your fears away, but your breath as well. We must pull over and take it in.

I remember my wife and I once drove through Sedona, Arizona at sunset. For us, it was just a place on a map, a route to get us from Flagstaff to Phoenix. We had no idea we would be traveling through one of the most beautiful places on earth. There are no words to describe the scenes we saw that day, no pictures could ever do justice to the pictures in our minds, created by our own eyes that day.


I’ve been having moments like these over the past several days holding my first grandchild. I can’t stop staring at him. I held him and rocked him for almost two hours the other day. Went by like five minutes. Staring at wonders will do that, alter the space/time continuum. He makes me smile. He doesn’t have to do a thing to earn it. It just happens. He produces joy in me simply by being there. That’s the affect wonders have on us.

They transcend the fixed boundaries of our lives, interrupt the schedule, compel us to take notice. They are, as someone eloquently said, the “fingerprints of God.” He is the author of these moments, delighting to give us brief foretastes of glory divine. The Creator, revealing aspects of His nature and personality through wonders, big and small. These aren’t times for analysis or debate. Words are poor judges in moments like these. The thing is…to just sit or stand there and take it in.

Thank you God, for allowing me to gaze at Your wonders. For allowing them to exist in this dark and difficult age, reminding me of a time yet to come, when I will need a brand new body to behold even more amazing things than these.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Don't Do Snow

I'm from Florida. I've spent one wintry week in Texas. I've come to the conclusion...I don't do snow.

Don't get me wrong, it's pictures or looking out the window (from a well-heated room). I suppose if I grew up in it, I'd think differently. Think of all the fun I'm missing. Breaking my legs skiing or breaking my neck ice skating.

Well, I don't have to break my neck skating; I can do that just walking through a parking lot (pick one). I'll admit, for one morning, one blessed morning, the snow looked nice. I'd go so far to say, beautiful even. We took pictures. "Look, it's snowing."

Then it stopped being nice for 4 days. Cars slid off the road driving 20mph. Snow in the street morphed into slush, the slush morphed into something resembling black fungus. Wouldn't you know it, 4 days later, all the snow had melted except these chunks of black fungus.

Drove past a good number of snowy fields (slowly). Didn't see a single horse-drawn carriage ridden by cheerful people singing wintry wonderland songs. It does make a great scene for a holiday card. Who'd want to buy a card of a shopper falling on his butt at Wal-Mart, as he slipped on a chunk of snowy black fungus.

Okay, snow lovers...let me have it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Word Weavers 2011

Last weekend I had a wonderful time at the Word Weavers retreat in Fruitland Park, FL. If you've been following my blog, you know it was the first time I've done any public speaking about writing (I was a pastor for 25 years, so speaking in public wasn't a challenge). Seemed to go well. No one threw anything at me, nor did anyone get up and leave while I spoke. I consider both of these things a plus.

Larry Leech, the President of Word Weavers, served as host and emcee. Did a great job, made it a lot of fun. "Media Circus" was the theme (if you've seen any of the pictures, explains the circus motif). Revell author Eva Marie Everson and Cheri Cowell, both VP's of Word Weavers, did a workshop on social networking. Gave me some great ideas. Eva also gave an encouraging word from Ezekiel 36:26-28. She actually did a word study, elaborating on what all the Hebrew words meant in the passage.

I did a workshop on what it looks like transitioning to writing fulltime, shared my writing journey, and talked about keeping our eye on what matters most along the way. The WW chapter volunteers did a great job organizing everything. The whole weekend went smoothly (they had an incredible snack table). Even the food in the cafeteria was good.

But I think all there would agree, the highpoint was a surprise visit from Jerry Jenkins, the President of the Christian Writers Guild, who recently acquired Word Weavers, to serve as their model for establishing critique groups for writers throughout the US. Jerry is the NY Times bestselling co-author of the Left Behind series, as well as dozens of other books (a total of 70 million in print).

I found him to be humble, warm, funny and big-hearted. He gave each of us free signed copies of two of his books. Actually changed the cover of one in honor of the occasion, and the other was Riven, his favorite novel. He answered questions, told some great stories and shared his vision for how Word Weavers will work together with Christian Writer's Guild to make a difference in the writing community.

In the group pic, L-R: Jerry Jenkins, Eva Marie Everson, me, Cheri Cowell and Larry Leech.