Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dead Spots By Author Dan Walsh

Dan Walsh is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). His first novel, The Unfinished Gift won 2 ACFW Carol Awards. His newest book and 4th novel, Remembering Christmas, came out in September. Dan recently signed a 4-book deal to write a fiction series with Dr. Gary Smalley, bestselling author with over 6 million books in print. For those who haven’t read Dan’s novels, reviewers often compare them to Nicholas Sparks, Richard Paul Evans and Jason F. Wright. He writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area, where he lives with the love of his life, Cindi, his wife of 35 years. They have two grown children, both married, and one grandson. As they await more grandchildren, they enjoy the company of two mini-aussies, Bailey and Darcy. You can reach him or find out more about him at www.danwalshbooks.com .

Dead Spots? Really?

Doesn’t sound like a very Christmassy title for a blog article running in December, by an author whose featured book is called Remembering Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all the joy and cheer the season brings. I don’t just enjoy Christmas books, but Christmas movies, Christmas music, the decorations and one of my favorite holiday treats, egg nog lattes.

But I felt compelled to write about something different this time, instead of talking about my latest book or some helpful writing tips. Instead, I want to turn our attention to the subject of mission. To look at one aspect of our mission as writers of Christian fiction.

Let’s face it, we write stories. That’s how we communicate. And we’re Christians, lovers of Christ, those called to be His witnesses to a dying world. By His grace, we know “the reason for the season.” Whether we weave a strong gospel message into our stories or just write from a Christian worldview, our books are referred to as “Christian fiction.”

As fiction writers, we always have to be on the lookout for being too preachy. Nobody wants that in fiction books. That’s not why people read fiction, even Christians. We’ve got a ton of great teaching books on Christian living and theology we can turn to for that. And some amazing devotionals. Not to mention the thousands of preachers in Christian churches who can “tell us like it is” every Sunday.

People read fiction for a different reason. Fiction, good fiction, like good music, has a way of coming in the back door and grabbing hold of our hearts. Through the lives of characters and the things we put them through, and their reactions to those things, we tell a tale. It’s there where the “Christian” aspects of our fiction have a chance to shine through.

I think one of the ways we can do this in our writing is by drawing attention to the “dead spots” in our consciences; the things God sees, wants us to see, but we rarely do. Mainly because, well…we don’t want to. We prefer not to look in these directions. They may cause pain if we do, not physically but emotionally. Seeing them might make us feel guilty, because they point out our selfishness and our indifference to the suffering of others.

Jesus was notorious for pointing out dead spots.

Even as I write this, so many Gospel examples come to mind (and I have so little space). But let’s consider one very familiar story Jesus told (talk about an amazing storyteller). The Good Samaritan. The whole point of this parable was to awaken us to see people the way God sees them, and to point out how easily we turn and look the other way, preferring not to see.

We all know how we want to be treated by others. The most glaring evidence of The Fall is that humans constantly and continually fail to treat others this way. Some victimize others, treating them horribly. Others turn and look the other way, preferring not to see. Jesus calls us to “Love our neighbors.” To treat them the way we want to be treated, to love them as He loves us.

I think one aspect of the mission of Christian fiction is to look for ways to get mankind to see these dead spots we all have. To find ways to “come in the back door” with our stories and grab people’s hearts, so that they do see, and look long enough to allow the heart of God to provoke us to actually want to respond to the call of Christ to love and care for others as He does. To get us to see children, husbands and wives, friends, co-workers, strangers…even our enemies in a new way.

Christian fiction gives us a wonderful opportunity to do this, to confront our own hearts as well as draw others attention to things God cares so much about. And at this time, this “season of giving” my own heart was confronted and drawn to something God cares about by a Facebook invitation I received from Novel Rocket’s very own award-winning, bestselling author Gina Holmes.

So please, take a moment to see for yourself. Click this link and read about one way you can make a big difference in the lives of others. http://www.inspireafire.com/940/. I hope you all have a wonderful and joyful Christmas. There is much to be joyful about.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)

Remembering Christmas

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He's never liked Art and resents the man's presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick's attitude sours even more.

Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons--as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day--work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas. With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story will have readers rememberin
g every good and perfect gift of Christmas.


Gina Holmes said...

Great food for thought, Dan. And thanks for the link to Jess' article.

Ane Mulligan said...

What a great post, Dan. I love that! Shining lights in our own dead spots. You know, I've always held to the theory that people let down their guard when they think they're being entertained. And that's when the subtlety of Truth can seep into their hearts, as our words reach out and touch their hearts and change lives.

Write on!

Jessica Dotta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica Dotta said...

Dan, wonderful thoughts, and thank you SO much for the link to my article! I love the idea of remaining conscious of highlighting dead spots in our fiction.