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Words with Friends: Dan Walsh

Dear Friends, It may not look much like Christmas here in Mount Dora, Florida, with temperatures in the 70’s today–but we’re celebrating anyway. Tomorrow morning is our little town’s annual Christmas parade. And my friend Dan Walsh, whose recent release, Keeping Christmas, is set in Mount Dora, has two appearances here this weekend. Saturday, December 5, from 1 – 3 p.m., he’ll sign copies of his books at our wonderful hometown bookstore, Barrel of Books & Games. And Sunday evening, December 6 from 6 – 8 p.m., he’ll participate in the Christmas Book-tactular at the Donnelly Building in Donnelly Park. If you live in the central Florida area, I encourage you to come out and meet him and the other local authors. But since many of you don’t live here, I thought we’d take some time today and get to know Dan and Keeping Christmas. (Read my recent review here). I first met him a few years ago when he was just making the transition from busy pastor to full-time novelist. But I’ll let him tell you about that.                 Welcome, Dan. For those readers who don’t know you, could you give a little background on how you came to the writing life? I know yours is quite a story! Thanks, Marti. I do have an unusual story. Let’s see if I can share it in a paragraph. After serving full-time as a pastor for over two decades, I was experiencing some burnout, so I began writing a fiction novel to help me unwind and relax. After completing it, I polished it up and began the effort to get it published. To my shock and surprise, it was picked up almost immediately by an A-list literary agent, who had a contract with a major publisher in two months. That book, The Unfinished Gift, sold very well and won two Carol Awards. This led to more book contracts and eventually I left pastoring (at the twenty-five year mark) to write novels full-time. Keeping Christmas is my fifteenth novel and I have already released book #16 (Rescuing Finley) on Nov 19. Yours is the story of which so many writers dream. Of course, I was especially interested to read Keeping Christmas because the novel is set in my wonderful hometown of Mount Dora, Florida. How did you choose this location, and what research did you do? When I got the idea for the story, I initially thought to locate it in a northern town. But two years ago, my wife and I visited Mount Dora during Christmas time and fell in love with the place. We had never seen a town so devoted to the Christmas holiday before, especially in Florida. Add in...

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Review: Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me: I love Christmas. As soon as the Thanksgiving dinner is cleared away, our house undergoes a tinsel-and-tree transformation as we prepare for the Christmas season. We make large pans of fudge and (with a nod to my Ohio roots) hundreds of peanut-butter-chocolate Buckeyes. We bake dozens of cookies. We even wrap all the paintings on our walls in Christmas paper—an inexpensive holiday tip borrowed from a physician’s office years ago. So it’s no surprise that I also love Christmas books. This year, I’m excited to share the latest release from my friend and fellow Florida author Dan Walsh. Keeping Christmas: A Novel is a story to which I can relate. Not only does it take place in my beautiful hometown of Mount Dora, Florida, but the central characters are empty-nesters—just like my husband and me. Christmas looks different to us in this stage of life than it did when our five children were small, and it does to Stan and Judith, too. Their three children are grown and gone, with families of their own—and none of them can make it home for the holidays. All the couple has left are their memories and a box of what they call “The Ugly Ornaments,” lovingly crafted by their children through the years. Stan, an avid fisherman, seems eager to embrace their new lifestyle. After all, this is the Christmas when he and his best friend plan to buy their dream rig, the fishing boat of their dreams. But Judith has more than a bit of trouble moving beyond her loneliness and into the wonder and beauty of Christmas.    Walsh, as always, does a masterful job of creating characters about whom we care. This time, he weaves the threads of their lives into a beautiful tapestry with more than a hint of compassion, love, and Christmas magic. Include this book on your list of books to read—and give—this Christmas, and watch for my coming interview with Dan about Keeping Christmas along with news of a Christmas contest. If you live in the Central Florida area, be sure to visit charming Mount Dora on December 6, 6-8 p.m. and enjoy an in-person visit with Dan at the 2015 Christmas Book-tacular. Maybe I’ll see you there!   (FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel free from the author. I was not required to post a review or a positive response.) Find a local Christian bookstore where you can purchase Keeping Christmas. Find this book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book Distributors. Read Marti’s article about Christmas in Mount Dora in More to Life Magazine (page 60).    ...

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