Monday, November 12, 2012

And They Guest Blogger Dan Walsh

Thanks again to Tina for inviting back to be with you all again. Always one of my favorite stops on the Internet. Look forward to spending the whole day with you. Now, about the title for my post…. 

How does the story end? You know what comes next, right? They lived happily ever after. Growing up as a kid in the late 50s and 60s, I was used to stories ending this way. It was the norm. Certainly, every Disney movie did. 

All of the family-oriented movies did (and there were plenty of those in the theaters). Almost all the love stories did, too. 

It’s one of the reasons people read books, watched TV and went to the movies. To be encouraged and entertained, occasionally inspired. Life was hard. We didn’t want to be reminded just how hard by our storytellers. Okay, sometimes we did. But we could always count on a happy ending. Before that last page turned or the credits rolled up there on the silver screen the guy gets the girl, the runner wins the race, the crime gets solved, the bad guy gets it, the world gets saved.

The message was reinforced: there is always hope for a better tomorrow. 

By the end of the 60s, certainly throughout the 70s, things began to change. Under the banner of realism―and, perhaps yielding to the new air of cynicism brought on by the Vietnam War, Watergate and a series of tragic assassinations―it wasn’t uncommon to find books and movies ending sadly. If not sadly, then vaguely. As if the writer’s message was: “Now, you think about that.”

I’m seeing in books and movies, particularly in secular storytelling, a resurgence of this same air of cynicism and commitment to “gritty realism” that we saw back then. In my writing, I try to combat this trend when I can, especially in the way I end my books.

Three Cheers for Happy Endings

I make no apologies. I believe in happy endings.

I said “happy” endings, not sappy (a distinction I heard Allen Arnold make at a conference last year; Allen was the former fiction publisher at Thomas Nelson). I don’t believe all our stories should end with unicorns and rainbows. But I think a lot of what’s out there today is WAY too dark, and the endings often leave us stuck there. 


In part, I can understand why. Life is hard and, for many people, it’s been hard a long time. For those who do not know the Lord, the outlook is often bleak. It can even seem hopeless. I think our books need to reflect that to be relevant and connect well with readers. 

After all, conflict is the essence of good fiction. 

But this is also where I think believers can make a real difference. We have a real message of Hope to offer, not a fiction one. I believe one of the goals of Christian fiction should be to lead people from that dark place to a place of hope.

God’s ways are all about redemption; through Christ he offers us a “narrow way that leads to life.” I’m a firm believer in writing what I call “Romans 8:28 Endings.”

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”

I think that’s part of my calling as a Christian fiction writer, to reveal God’s ways through stories that accurately reflect those ways, as we see them taught in the Scriptures. God’s plans for us are filled with hope and even happiness.

That happiness doesn’t come overnight, or all at once. But in time, it does come. It definitely does come. I’m simply suggesting that we keep writing our story until we reach that part, the part where hope is born, where faith in God and His goodness is seen to be a credible alternative to the bleak, often despairing outlook offered by writers who have no such hope.

A Tribute to Vietnam Vets

Like most of my other books my most recent novel, The Reunion, includes a love story but it also offers hope for those needing reconciliation within their families. And it includes a tribute to Vietnam veterans (really, to veterans from every war).

It’s appropriate to end my post on this note, considering today we celebrate Veterans Day. Vietnam Vets, in particular, did not experience a “Happily Ever After” ending to their story. Most came home to an ungrateful nation who treated them terribly, as if they were to blame for this unpopular war. All they did was try to serve their country when called upon to do so. Most didn’t even have a choice; they were drafted (forced) into service.

In The Reunion, we follow the story of Aaron Miller, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who came home addicted to painkillers and wound up losing everything, including his family. He even spent much of the 70s and 80s on the streets and now works as a handyman in a trailer park. The three men whose lives Aaron saved have not forgotten what he did for them that day. They set out to find him, to finally and properly thank him for what he did, and for the full lives they have enjoyed ever since.

I’ve been amazed at the reaction to this book so far. It received a 4.5 Stars/Top Pick review from RT Books, has been optioned for a movie by a major Hollywood producer and, in two months time, has received 100 customer reviews on Amazon (averaging 4.8 Stars). 

Most of the comments I’ve received, not just from these reviews but from countless emails and Facebook messages, pay particular attention to the ending of this story. Obviously, I can’t go into it here, lest I ruin it for some of you. But I think at least part of this reaction comes from the strong sense of hope readers feel when they turn that last page.

That’s on purpose. 

That’s what I want my readers to experience when they finish one of my novels. A contented sigh, perhaps the need for some tissues. A fresh appreciation for life, love, their families and with this book, the veterans who’ve put their lives in harm’s way for so many years, so that you and I don’t have to.

How about you? How do you like stories to end? In the books you read and movies you watch? How about in the stories you write?

Dan’s Bio:

Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 7 novels, published by Revell and Guideposts, including The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Reunion. For those who haven’t read Dan’s books, reviewers often compare them to Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. His latest project is partnering with Gary Smalley on a 4-book fiction series. The first is called, The Dance. 

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years and now writes fulltime. He and his wife Cindi have been married 36 years and have 2 grown children, both married, and 1 grandson. They live in Port Orange, FL. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter, or read his blog. There are buttons to connect to these, as well as preview all his books, on his website at

 Dan has sent Seekerville a copy of The Reunion. We'll be giving that away to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Jenny Blake said...

Welcome Dan
Im a reader and do like happy ever after endings or happy endings. I like the ones where there is an epilogue a bit further down the track showing either them about to marry or having married and now about to have a child or even further down the track. I like these more so than a book ending with an engagement or promise of an engagement. I know in life not all will be smooth sailing but its nice to read books where the couple fall in love and get married.
Your new book sounds really good and interesting I do remember the end of the vietnam war it would have been so hard for the vets returning to a country protesting against the war and almost being forgotten or looked down on for going.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Dan.

I wonder how many writers write the HEA first?

I often do.

Yes, I admit it, and I often read the ending first.


Helen Gray said...

There will be plenty of coffee come early morning. Double helping for any who wish them.

My brother is a Vietnam vet, my youngest son an Iraq vet. So this book sounds like a really good read begging my attention.

Thanks for being here, Dan.


Tina Radcliffe said...

The Reunion sounds wonderful.

As a Vietnam Era Vet myself the Vietnam War timeline is 1969-1975

(I served in the US Army in Germany not Vietnam)

I certainly can't wait to read your book.

Anonymous said...

I have to have a HEA! I've even been known to read the end first just to make sure! I've enjoyed some tearjerkers (though some I didn't realize would be tearjerkers when I started them)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I can count on one hand the number of books I love that didn't have an HEA. I would say it's a non-negotiable but there are still a few that slip through.

Dan, love the premise of this book, and LOVE the 4.5 star and movie option and 100 reviews!

Wow, that sort of feedback is a wonderful reassurance you're writing what God wants you to write.

Can't wait to read this one!

Julie Steele said...

Dan, I have two dents in my wall from books thrown when they did not end happily.

I don't mind books that end realistically. But I don't like being sucker-punched. Don't lead me down a happy road, only to turn down a gut-wrenchingly sad path at the very end.

Congrats on a great story and reaction to it. Must read.

Peace, Julie

Jenny Blake said...

Julie, I have a few books I almost did that to. I hate books that don't end and leave you hanging. if its a series its not as bad although I hate waiting. But when its a book that there may be a sequel but its not confirmed I hate it. One I read last year ended and the hero and heroine still were not christians and it just ended very anticlimatic and It drove me mad. The other started with a prologue which was for the end of the book and we then had the story to that point only it didn't go right there and the person in danger at the beginning I never did find out who it was and who was after them it was one that would have gotten a really good rating except I was left needing to know, I even emailed the author to find out and still have no idea.

Jackie said...

Hi Dan,

I want a happy ending. I feel cheated when I read a book that doesn't have a good ending.
Once I read a book where the ending was vague, so in my mind the heroine lived. The movie came out and my mother said she died in the movie. To this day I refuse to watch the movie.

I agree that our hope is in God and as Christian writers we should weave that hope into our stories.

I'm so glad you shared with us today. I'll definitely be looking for you book.

Jackie L.

Debra E. Marvin said...

A movie would be an awesome way to touch hurting people with the redemption message. How exciting!

Thanks Dan.

I don't think I could write a story without a happy ending...though a 'happily ever after is a bit too much to hope for. At least when our 'romance' hero and heroine face future disappointments they can do so together!

Happy Veterans' Day and have a great week everyone!

Elaine Clampitt said...

So excited about the movie, Dan. I already have The Reunion and got you to sign a copy for my sister at ACFW in September. My family loves your books.

I write romance so a HEA is pretty much a must, even though as Debra said, the couple then face future disappointments together. I love to show how we are not alone because I think so many people feel that way in our world today.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Dan, Welcome to Seekerville again. And congrats on the great reviews and acceptance of your novel. I remember meeting you in Denver right after your first book came out and after reading it I knew you were destined for a great future in writing. A real life HEA. smile

Have fun today and thanks for sharing.

I'm so happy about the topic too. I wrote a novel in the 80's about a Vietnam Vet and it received awards, etc. but it was too early. Before its time. I think we are ready to hear about it now. We need to ask forgiveness and forgive ourselves as a nation on how we treated those vets. Great going Dan.

pol said...

I have looked forward to this post today knowing Dan Walsh would be here, I found your stories this past year and so happy that I did, anxious to read this "Reunion book". I do like HEA ideas but more then that, I like to know everything was finished that got started,sometimes we are left wondering.
Life as we know it now is nothing like it was when I grew up in the 50's and I am sad about that-I become disallusioned each day at the births out of wedlock and watching same sex marriages become the norm-I yearn for more of the old ways....
thanks for your post Dan-will be looking forward to reading more of your work.
Paula O(

Jessica Nelson said...

What a beautiful and pertinent post!!!
I'm looking forward to reading your book.

I like books to have an HEA, but if not, then at least a hopeful ending.

Books that end sadly...I just don't read them.

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Dan! Welcome back to Seekerville.

I don't like to read books without a HEA ending, even though the book might be fantastic. Life is hard enough at times so I enjoy something uplifting.

The Reunion sounds great. Like Tina I'm a VietNam Era vet. I can remember a lot of hostility to the military.

Julie Lessman said...


Welcome, Dan Walsh, one of my FAVORITE authors and people!! And, yes, yes, YES ... give me a happy ending, PLEASE!!

Like you, I feel "life is hard" and often the outlook "bleak," so deliver me from the violent and gut-wrenching realities of today and let me savor that family dinner as it was meant to me ... those marital conflicts that deepen love rather than diminish it ... and that life-changing encounter with God that lifts blinders from a character eyes and shackles from their heart. I have made no bones about it that I am a "Calgon, take me away," type of gal versus "slice of life," and frankly, like you, Dan -- I want my happy ending.

I have to laugh when I get e-mails from readers who are 3/4 through one of my books, telling me they are scared to death the hero and heroine won't end up together. I admit that as a CDQ, I have a devious penchant for making it appear that way, but I assure all of my readers that by the last page, a happy ending awaits.

I have The Reunion on my Kindle, Dan, and have been saving it to read for Christmas, so I can't wait!!


Jan Drexler said...

Good morning, Dan.

Your post? Amen and amen.

As Christians, we know the only hope for the world. As writers, we have a unique way to let this hope shine for our readers.

I'm looking forward to reading The Reunion!

karenk said...

a wonderful posting, dan....thanks for sharing

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Rose said...

Hi Dan,

First I like stories to end on happy or hopeful note.

Second, I want to tell you that I couldn't agree with you more about the Vietnam war vets. My lastest release through Heartsong Presents, Rose of Sharon, is a late life love story between a Vietnam vet and a former war protestor nurse. After I turned that book in, I told me husband they'd probaby reject it because of all the stories I've written through the years, this was a statement book for me, that said "Shame on the generation for treating these men with such little respect." But they didn't!

Thanks for letting me share that!

Dan Walsh said...

Jenny, I love books with an epilogue also. I've written them for several of mine. It's kind of like a movie that puts up several paragraphs after the story ends. I always pause the screen and read them. Just a quick word about my new book, The Reunion, it's not really a book about the war but about how the consequences of the war affected several families. It actually includes a nice love story, too.

Thanks Tina, glad to be back. My son does that, too (read the ending first). I never do. I'd rather be surprised. Of course sometimes the surprise is not a good one (in which case I decide not to read any more books by that author).

Helen, both your husband and son have my deepest respect. They may both enjoy this book, but especially your husband. Many Vietnam vets and family members have already written me to say the book touch them deeply.


Anonymous said...

Got to have a HEA. If I wanted realisim, I'd just read all the depressing stories in the newspaper.

Dan, your book sound so inspiring. Can't wait to read it.

Connie Queen

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Dan, and welcome back to Seekerville! Years ago, when I was very ill and had a lot of time on my hands, I decided to read a number of a daytime talk show host's recommendations, many of them award-winning. But what struck me in book after book is how I FELT when I finished them. Utterly WITHOUT HOPE. De-energized at a time when I needed all the inner strength I could muster. That's when I decided that even though I don't want to write "Pollyanna," I do believe people need something to hold on to that gives them the strength to carry on. Encouragement that they can get through whatever challenge they are facing. Assurance that while it's not always easy, God's right there with them no matter what. Thank you for writing that kind of book!

Dan Walsh said...

Tina, sometimes we forget that the Vietnam era was also the Cold War era. I've met lots of vets who served in Germany during that time.Virginia, I have been surprised at the strong reaction to this book. All of my others received very encouraging reviews. Five received the same 4.5 Stars/Top Pick rating from RT. But this is the first to hit 100 reviews on Amazon (and in less than 2 months), and the first for a movie option. I'm not sure what's making the difference.

Julie, LOL. Love the 'dents in the wall' thing. I taught a writer's class in New Mexico last week, based on a Facebook survey I had done earlier, where I asked readers to name the Top 3 things that mattered most in a novel. "A satisfying ending" came in third. Virtually everyone in that class agreed they wouldn't read another book by an author with a lousy ending.

Jenny and Jackie. Obviously, you agree with the folks in my class.


Jeanne T said...

Dan, I'm with you. I love HEA's. ;) my hubby and I watched a movie a couple of years ago, and the ending was not happy. He informed me he would rather watch movies that end happily. So, I don't think it's just a woman-thing. :)

My cousin served in Viet Nam. I have many family members who have served active duty and most in a war. My heart is forever grateful to those men and women who serve our country.

Your book sounds like an excellent read. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Marianne said... know your readers well. Although i love a good conflict in the novel (internal or external) i want the happy ending, not sappy. After all, life has a happy ending for us if we're devoted to Christ, and i know you write for those who are not necessarily followers of Christ, but hopefully the story holds out for a brighter tomorrow (heaven). i haven't read this one yet, but do love your novels, Dan. Thanks for being here.


Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Debra at Elaine for stopping by, and for the kind words.

Sandra, I do think timing has something to do with the reaction to this book. It's clear to me that, as a nation, we learned our lesson (at least on this topic). Even people who disagree with the war in Afghanistan and Iraq still treat the returning soldiers with admiration and respect for their service. Something the Vietnam vets never saw.

Paula, I grew up in the late 50s, early 60s. A totally different world. I think if you took someone from back then and brought them forward in a time machine to today, they wouldn't believe things could possibly have deteriorated so badly. I'm getting a fresh dose of this right now, since the book I'm researching is set in 1962.

Thanks Jessica. Agreed. Who needs sad endings?

Cara, that's great that you and Tina chose to serve back then. I noticed you live somewhere in northwest FL. A good bit of The Reunion takes place around Perry, FL and the Suwanee River area down there.


Anonymous said...

I want to see an actually ending to a book or movie. That is, if there is no sequel to them. I need closure.
Amy C

Mocha with Linda said...

Yes, yes, yes for the happy ending! I will never forget how I felt after watching The Perfect Storm. I just knew someone was going to make it off that boat. I felt like I had wasted my time. Absolutely hated it.

Of course, you know how much I love your books! :-)

Dan Walsh said...

Julie, great to hear from you again! It's obvious from your answer that were kindred spirits on this (though I'm not sure I am a "Calgon guy", but I do enjoy a good soak in the spa). And what you said about simmering the suspense till the end is exactly what I taught in my class last week. Even though the endings are somewhat "pre-planned" in love stories and historical fiction, no reason we can't keep them guessing until the end.

Thanks Jan and Karen K.

Rose, congrats on tackling such a challenging topic. I'm glad they accepted it, I hope you sell a ton.


Anonymous said...

Dan, so glad you are here today...always enjoy learning more about you and your books! I have read them all and loved them. I do appreciate your views on what you want your books to portray and you do it well!
Don't enter me, since I've read it, and I wait for your next book...impatiently. Blessings~~
Jackie S.

Dan Walsh said...

Glynna, thanks, and thanks for writing this way too. Can't have too much of this. The world is experiencing a definite 'deficit of hope" at the moment.

Jeanne, my wife and I had the same experience last year on Netflix. We were watching this movie that seemed so good for the first hour and a half. We marveled that we had never heard of it before. Then it had such a stupid, bad ending, and we instantly understood why. No way we'd ever recommend it to anyone.

Thanks Marianne!

Linda, I know what you mean about The Perfect Storm. There's something else that dawned on me about the ending. Since everyone died, there was no one left to tell us what really happened or what was said on that boat. Which means most of what we heard was totally made up. Great to hear from you again.


Mary Connealy said...

To me one of the great endings of all time is when Bruce Willis dies in Armegeddon.
Wow, that hits so hard and I always cry or feel the urge to cry.

Of course he's dying to save the world. Really noble.

But I've watched it a few times and deliberated tried to be analytical. Figure out what about it makes me cry.

Just as he's saying good-bye to his daughter, as he's ready to push that button to detonate the incoming meteor, there is this flashing montage of pictures. A child running, and American flag flying in the breeze, I can't remember now what all they are but I think they are specifically chosen to touch the viewer emotionally in a visceral way.

It's a happy ending, he saves the world after all. But also so so so sad.

Mary Connealy said...

Maybe it's the MIX of emotions.

I need to invent someone good and kill him off just to experiment.

It can't be the hero or heroine, right???

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Dan. I always enjoy your visits to Seekerville. Your post inspired me. As a romance writer and reader, I want, even need, happy endings. I enjoy using the hero and heroine's faith journey to show in their lives the hope we all have in Jesus.

Congratulations on all your success. I'm excited about your movie contract. The Reunion sounds wonderful. Will download it today, along with Julie's eBook A Light in the Window.


Janet Dean said...

Tina, I cannot imagine reading the ending of the book first. I'm guessing you peeked at your Christmas presents early too. LOL


Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Dan! I loved what you said about writing books with a Romans 8:28 ending! Christians know there's always hope, and therefore, sad, depressing endings just make me mad! I want my readers to feel hopeful, not hopeless, when they read my books. Satisfying endings are a must!

Your book really sounds powerful, Dan. You are the Nicolas Sparks of Christian fiction! Congratulations on the movie deal! My you continue to be blessed and highly favored. :-)

Melanie Dickerson said...

May you!

Clari Dees said...

Thank you, Dan! I agree wholeheartedly.

Working in a library gives me access to books by famous, prolific authors and their books tend to have vague, dispiriting endings. (Not that I read them, I just listen to my patron's reviews. :-) I realized a long time ago, that those authors can't offer hope because they don't know the Author of Hope.

Myra Johnson said...

Great post, Dan! Did you attend T. Davis Bunn's continuing class at ACFW? He talked a lot about postmodern readers and their general lack of hope. Also about how as Christian fiction writers we have the responsibility to convey truth to those readers in such a way that it invites them to hope again.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Dan, congratulations on all your accomplishments! I completely agree with the HEA! I hate to be left dangling or thinking the turmoil is endless! Thanks for reaffirming my need to write a HEA :)

Dan Walsh said...

Mary, I think endings like that work because the sacrifice is so noble, it outweighs the fact that it's a hero (or heroine) dying. We're put in a position that either they give their life, or we all die.

If you try it, just make sure we have no choice, then we won't be made at you :)

Thanks Janet. The guy has to get the girl in the end (or vice-versa). I'm NOT okay if they don't. I don't care if it's 'predictable,' this isn't a whodunit. It's all about the journey. Can you imagine Emma ending with Mr. Nightly marrying anyone else but her?

Thanks Melanie (and congrats again on winning that Carol!).


Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Clari! I agree with what you said, and it's sad, though true.

Myra, I was there and nodding my head the whole time. What he said about post-modern lit explained a lot.

Thanks Eva!

Tina Radcliffe said...

So, Dan, this is the first time you've visited us and NOT recapped what's going on in your world.

I want to know.

pat jeanne davis said...

A wonderful post, Dan, and thank you for visiting again. Always enjoy it. I can agree with your observations on entertainment since the late 50's through subsequent decades. The deteriorating changes in society are shocking. I stopped going to the cinema years ago.
I want to read books and see films that offer hope at the end of the story. I feel most of us do and try to emphasize the message of Rom.8:28 when writing.
So happy for all your success. A film would be so fantastic.
Thank you for your tribute to all veterans. Many of them made huge sacrifices.

Nancy Kimball said...

I HAVE to win this book! But if I don't, I'm buying it. Seriously. And YES, thank you, Dan. The HEA is the point of the story. Loved the doesn't mean unicorns and rainbows, but seriously, it needs to end well.
Off the top of my head a book like that I love I Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield.
The hero dies at the end but his long lost love seeks him out in death and he is memorialized forever along with the other men who you've come to love that are now all dead but you understand why they did what they did so it's happy in the sense of the greater good was preserved.

I've seen you in the blog community a lot Dan with a lot of good things to say but this one really resonated with me. And now totally makes me need to read one of your books. I'm so into heroes.
Thanks for being here today!

Dan Walsh said...

Tina, I guess you're right. Okay...what's going on in my world? I just finished my second book with Gary Smalley (Book 2 of the 4-book Restoration series). Both come out in the 2013. The first in April, called "The Dance." The second in September, called "The Promise." It's hard to believe the book I'm starting now is my 10th and won't come out until 2014. It's one of my own, and a standalone called "Stolen Treasures."

We're hoping and praying the movie deal for The Reunion becomes firm. The producer's shopping it with Hallmark right now.

I've recently started an author's blog with two friends, Jim Rubart and Harry Kraus, called "3 Men Walked Into a Blog." We've been threatening to do this for over a year and finally got it online last month. The link is

I'm starting to speak a little more often. Last week I taught a fiction track at a writer's conference near Santa Fe. This Saturday I'm giving a lecture on "Writing the Great American Novel" at a local museum. And in March I share the stage with Alton Gansky and Steven James at the Florida Christian Writer's conference.

On a personal note, Cindi and I just celebrated our 36th anniversary and we're really enjoying our 22-month old grandson.

Thanks for asking.

Janet Dean said...

Great example, Dan. The wonderful thing about a well told romance is that no matter how strong the conflict between the hero and heroine, the reader sees that these two people are exactly right for each other and no one else will do.

Congratulations on your 36th anniversary. Know with a toddler you'll be having a special Christmas this year.


Debby Giusti said...

Dan, thanks for joining us in Seekerville today.

I'm getting your book for my retired military hubby--a Vietnam Vet--and my active duty son. Of course, I'll read it as well.

Such a difference from when my hubby came home from war and my son's returns from four deployments. Now folks clap when the soldiers get off the planes and enter the tarmac. Folks shake their hands and say thank you. A number of times good people have picked up the tab when my son and dil are having a special night out.

I'm so proud of our military! Proud of our military Seekers, too! Yay, Tina and Cara!

As for me, I want an upbeat ending.

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Pat, and Nancy, I hope you do win. I'm into heroes, too. Not enough credible ones out there these days.

Janet, I love the way Jane Austen toys with her readers. You know who should get together way before the characters do and, by the time they finally do, she's got you thinking they might just miss their moment.

I've tried to adopt this approach, but I'm sure I don't do it as well.


Terri said...

Dan - I definitely want a happily ever after or I don't want to read the book!

Looking forward to reading yours. I save my Christmas books up for December.


Mary Cline said...

Thanks Dan,
I am afraid this might be long, sorry.
I just finished reading a book for my son. He bought a whole set by this author for his girlfriend for her birthday. He is her favorite author. I thought, sure, I could get to know her a little by reading what she likes and my son recommended this one and hurry before he takes it to her. It was a book written for teenagers. I was not surprised by the sex and language, disappointed but not surprised but I plowed through it, I knew it was not a Christian book.
What did surprise me, was it was so dark and sad. The beautiful vivacious girl dies in the middle of it. It bothers me that impressionable kids apparently like this author and even say it is realistic. There was not an HEA there was barely a hopefully ever after.
I am thinking if I read a book my son recommended, he will read one I recommend and The Reunion might be the one.
I am convinced we need more Christian YA books, but they have to be realistic, I know that has been discussed here before if anyone has suggestions let me know.
Have you written YA books Dan?

This post was very timely for me after reading the other book and because of Veteran's day thank you.

Christina said...

Welcome, Dan.

Last night hubs and I were watching The Vow. To me the ending was satisfying, but hubs seemed to want a better, happier ending. I think the endings, whether in books or movies, reflect on the entire story. It it ends badly then we tend to hate the story, if it ends with hope we tend to rave about the story.

Tina, I've been known to write the HEA first but it almost always changes by the time I get there again.

Missy Tippens said...

Dan, thank you for coming back! I say a big YES on the need for happy endings! I try to do the same. I want to leave people with hope.

Reunion sounds amazing! I look forward to reading it.

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, Cara and any other of our Veterans, I want to thank you!

Rina said...

I've seen this book several times around the blogosphere but never stopped to read a description. Sounds really interesting! But I always do a double take when I read the author's name b/c a cousin (once removed?) has that same name and I know he isn't a writer!

Dan Walsh said...

Debby, your husband and son have my deep respect. It's great to know we learned that lesson. I've seen many of the same things you mentioned about how we treat our vets now. I think that extends even to the Vietnam vets. Has your husband noticed a difference in how they are treated today?

Mary, I haven't written any YA books but he may like The Reunion. Several vets who fought during the war said I nailed the realism part. What you've said is just what Myra Johnson and I were talking about. Davis Bunn gave a lecture about this at ACFW last September. He mentioned how everyone under 30 looks at the world differently now than those of us were older. Events like 9/11 and all the hopelessness and uncertainty that followed, have left them with a gloomy outlook about the future.

They are almost cynical about anything that points to a hopeful end. Mainly, because they haven't seen anything all that hopeful in reality. Our endings will only come off as "realistic" to the extent that we tie that hope to the sovereign activity of God, not to, as I said, unicorns and rainbows.

Christina, like your husband, I'm always rewriting endings when we watch movies. I haven't seen The Vow, but there's a good chance I'd find some need for improvement :).


squiresj said...

I love happy endings. The older I get I want my happy endings even more. I love stories and movies that uplift and encourage as one goes through life. A friend of mine who is Amish just recommended The Miracle Dogs and I cannot wait to see it on DVD. I got it but haven't had time to see it. I love books that show how others work through hardships in them too.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com

Dan Walsh said...

If you're not too busy, take a moment and read another short tribute I wrote to Vets at Suzanne Woods Fisher's blog. It just posted a little while ago at

Audra Harders said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Dan. Always a happy event to have you here with us.

I love HEA. From an early age, I wanted that happy ending, that feeling of hope. That's why I read romance.

When I was young, I used to think I was hooked on "romance" stories. I remember the rude awakening I had when I went to see Love Story in the theatre.

Yes, conflict!
Yes, devotion!
Yes, insurmountable odds!

Wow, it stopped there. Those odds were truly insurmountable. No HEA.

I was truly stunned.

But, it made me realize what I wanted out of a book or movie was HEA, not the romance. I didn't want the dark side to win, or accept the unfortunate lessons taught, or being forced to accept the "gritty reality" of life.

I'm Pollyanna personified. And I'm proud of it.

The world needs more hope and joy and HEA.

Audra Harders said...

Jumping up and down over the reviews and celebration for The Reunion. The Vietnam era was a very confusing time in history.

Thank you for showing the joy of it.

Happy Veterans Day!

CatMom said...

Welcome back to Seekerville Dan! I didn't actually "meet" you at ACFW in Sept. but we rode the elevator together to breakfast on the last morning of the conference. I was mentioning an author-friend's brother who is "in awe" of you, and I remember you modestly made the comment that no one should be in awe of you. But it sounds like lots of readers are! ~ Am eager to read your books (especially The Reunion) and grew up in those same years you did (although we're still *very young* you know *wink*). I also enjoy a happily ever after ending in stories---actually, in LIFE too. In fact, my husband used to call me Cinderella because he said I wanted everyone to live happily ever after *sigh*. ~Thanks again for visiting us today, and CONGRATS on all your writing success! Please enjoy my Georgia Peach Cobbler I just baked--warm from the oven. Blessings, Patti Jo

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Dan!

I myself enjoy an HEA or at least a hopeful ending, and I love how you tied that in with Romans 8:28! Christians KNOW that God works all things for good, and I feel it is a Christian author's duty to show that to the world. Why dwell on the negative, when it's all around us, when we can be uplifting in fiction?

I do, however, think a "hopeful" ending can be better than an HEA, simply because, as you pointed out, things make take YEARS for them to be "happily ever after." I like knowing things will work out eventually, and maybe have an epilogue to show that they do. But I don't want to fool readers into thinking everything will work out in days or months, or however long the story's time span is. Let them know the real world takes time, and to not be discouraged, but take heart and hope. And pray.

The Reunion looks awesome! Count me in to the drawing!

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Oh Dan,

You are speaking my language! THANK YOU!

You said what I believe so beautifully, not much to add. Other than to say, please help some of us in the children's book world. The utter despair and darkness that passes as literature these days is appalling. And we know, if you can get the kids while they're young...

RAILING against the dark side with you. Thanks for being out there. And congratulations. I hope The Reunion in a theater near me in the near future!!!

Happy Veteran's Day to all veterans and families. We are so blessed by you. Thank you. We pray for you daily.

Nancy C said...

"Happy, not sappy." Gotta love it!

Wow, congrats on the movie option, Dan, and all the excellent response your book is receiving.

I like what I guess could be called 'emotionally satisfying endings.' It doesn't need to be happy happy, but as long as I can see that the characters have grown and their future has promise, I feel I've read a good book or watched a good play/movie/TV show. Maybe I'll be watching your book as a movie someday :-)

Nancy C

Dan Walsh said...

Audra, I remember the Love Story, also how popular it became (think it started a crummy trend). I'm out to combat those kinds of crummy "Now you think about that" endings. They're making a comeback.

PattiJo, I remember that encounter and that awestruck brother. If it's the same guy, I did meet him, but his sister told me he wound up forgetting to ask me to sign the book for him after we chatted. I'd love some of that peach cobbler. But since we're being bad, might as well put some vanilla bean ice cream on top.

Stephanie, couldn't have said it better myself (about the diff between a hopeful and HEA ending).

Thanks so much, KC! I think the producer is shopping this book more as a Hallmark or cable movie production. Praying that happens. I'm sure you'll hear something when it does (I'll be blabbing all over about it).


Cindy W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vince said...

Hi Dan:

Thanks for a very interesting post.

The ending depends on the genre.

I like a romance to end with a surprise yet I want it to be the necessary outcome of the prior events. When I look back on the story, the ending should seem to have been inevitable. I want the HEA to be earned by the actions of the hero and heroine and not just be the result of good luck. It helps if the ‘actions’ came at a personal cost and took moral courage to perform. I also want the ending to have power. I like the ‘stand up and cheer when can I buy the author’s next book’ type ending.

My very favorite ending for a romance is in Julie Lessman’s “A Love Surrendered” which really has eight HEA’s…if you’ve read the five books that came before it. Also Mary Connealy has very strong HEA's on both her Christmas novellas. I like novellas because the HEAs come quicker but can be just as enjoyable as a full novel.

One thing I don’t like is an ending where I didn’t realize it ended! This can happen on a Kindle because a book can end at the 90% mark if there is a sample chapter for the author’s next book after a book’s ending. I just read a Carol award winner that did this to me. But it was not a romance and did not require an HEA. What a let down that was.

I definitely want to read “Reunion”. I just love reunion books. Two good ones: “The Rancher’s Reunion” and “Oklahoma Reunion”. Both of these are by a veteran writer: Tina Radcliffe.


Donna said...

I can't wait to read The Reunion and cast people in my head who should be in the movie!

Congratulations on all of your success and your 36th Anniversary!

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks so much Cindy. Just wanted to clarify something. You mentioned The Homecoming (my 2nd novel). We're giving away a copy of The Reunion (my newest one). Do you have that? If not, you can still be in the running to win that?

Vince, I think we agree on everything you said, including sudden endings that leave you hanging. I don't think there's ever a good time for that, even if we're in a series or the book has a sequel. I'm for wrapping up all the major issues in the same book. The way to create appetite for the next book is to foreshadow some new things that could be seen as happening in time after the main story ends. Could a love form between these two characters? Could he go after that other goal?

There are all kinds of things that could work. But it doesn't work for me if a writer leaves major things hanging in mid-air. We're not writing comic books or TV shows that pick up next week.


Naomi Rawlings said...

Wow Dan! Great post! I've often thought this myself. It seems like so many secular novels are terribly depressing. They end with despair rather than hope, and who wants to read a novel like that? Not me! I don't understand why these types of stories are so popular.

Pepper said...

Dan, I always LOVE reading your wise words. What an encouragement - and your books have such beautiful endings. There are plenty of struggles along the way, but it's worth the trial to get to the triumph, right?

You said it so well! Christians have the "Edge" on hope and we should sprinkle it out to a world in need. We do have the happiest ending out is it beginning :-)???

Yes, I like happy endings (and if they have just a teensy bit of sappy, I might be okay too...but just a teensy bit) :-)

Kav said...

I'm late, but just had to add my happy dancing about the possibility of a movie. Every time I read one of Dan's books I think about how perfectly it would translate to the big screen. The Reunion would be the perfect debut movie. What an ending!!! And no one should read the ending of this book before it is time!!!!!

Dan, I got goosebumps reading your blog post because I could picture that powerful Reunion conclusion. It made such an impact on me on so many levels! God bless your Happily Ever Afters!!!!!

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Vince said...

Hi Dan:

I thought of two more books after dinner I’d like to mention.

If the story is a thriller or suspense, then I’d like the ending to ‘wear me out’. The ending should be worthy of the build up. “The Officer’s Secret” by Debby Guisti was like this. Each time you think the climax is about to happen new developments occur even to the point of nature herself posing a life or death threat. When this book ended, I was exhausted but I wanted to go our and buy the whole series…which was not written yet...but I still wanted to!

I also admire the ending of “Autumn Rains” by Myra Johnson. In this story the hero and heroine face so many problems, usually not dealt with in romances, that in the end you can honestly say that they ‘earned’ their HEA. Even the weather acts as a pressure cooker for the whole book and as the story climaxes, nature finds it’s own release. Totally powerful. Totally wonderful. I’m hoping that this book comes out in digital format so it can get the larger audience it deserves.


Dan Walsh said...

Naomi, it's just a weird trend. Sometimes weird, off-the-wall things get popular for a time. Artsy people, some of them anyway, drift toward what people expect. Those of us who are older saw this in the mid-60s through the 70s. Not a fun time (not to mention the worst hair-dos). It's odd, but actually crafting positive, hopeful endings in our stories is a bit avant-garde right now.

Pepper, a teensy bit of sappy never hurt a fly.

Thanks so much, Kav. That ending got me too. Not just when I wrote it, but through every edit.

Vince, you keep pushing books by the ladies here in Seekerville. I tell anyone who asks me for great tips and help with writing fiction to come here. Over the years, I've been visiting, I see 'em one by one getting published, now many with several books out. It's like having your own writer's conference online every week.


Dan Walsh said...

It's getting a little late for me here on the East Coast. Going to sign off for the night. I'll check back in the morning in case anyone came on after this.

Been wonderful to be with you all once again!


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Susan Anne Mason said...

Happy endings are a must. But another pet peeve are happy endings that end too quickly! Give us some time to enjoy it!

Congrats on the success of your newest book!


Tina Radcliffe said...

Dan,once again, thanks for spending the day with us. I for one look forward to that movie deal.

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Cindy W. said...

Dan, I absolutely love your books. I learned early on to always have tissues nearby. I am so very excited that The Reunion has been optioned for a movie. When I finished it I think I cried for a least a good hour. Your books pull me into the story every single time. I love your work!

Please don't include me in today's giveaway as I have already read The Reunion and it sits on my "keeper" shelf! Whoever does win is in for a wonderful, unforgettable read.

May God continue to bless you in your writing journey Dan!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


shelia hall said...

I love a happy ending! I love Dan's books!Love to win "the Reunion"

Dan Walsh said...

Susan, the 'rushed ending'...not good, agreed. We need to spend as much time unwinding the ending as we do building the suspense in the beginning.

Thanks so much Cindy, Sheila and, of course...Thanks again Tina for the invite.

I'll certainly let you all know if/when the movie deal gets firmed up.


Vince said...

Hi Dan:

You wrote:

[Coming to Seekerville is]… like having your own writer's conference online every week.”

I can sure agree with this as these visits have helped my writing no end. (Which is good because I still have a long way to go.)

I must say, however, that what I do is showcase moments of brilliance found in Seeker books so as to attract the attention of the very readers who would most love to discover those works. In a way, there is no greater reading joy than introducing a reader to an author who they will love and enjoy for many years to come. This creates a magic bond. It’s so good a feeling! I think of it as showcasing and not as pushing. (Though Tina has called it 'kissing up'.) : )


Tina Pinson said...

Hello, Dan,

I'm a touch late to the party, but I too believe in fairy winkles. I mean happy endings.

of course I do like to put some of my characters through the paces.

and I totally agree that it is important to give people the Truth. The real happy ending.

Sarah said...

I would love to win!!
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
Sarah Richmond

Carol Garvin said...

Welcome back to Seekerville. The Reunion sounds like an excellent read. I'll bet my hubby would love it, too. Maybe I can get it for one of his Christmas gifts, but buy it early enough to read myself before wrapping it up. :)

When I think back to my finished manuscripts I see them with HEA endings in the making. I tend to suggest a happy conclusion but stop a bit short of spelling it out. It seems I write what I like to read.

DebH said...

late to the post, but i loved it. yes, there is a huge need for that happy ending. i've never been a fan of the "gritty", "real-life" ending of movies or books.

The Reunion sounds like an excellent read. I wonder if my husband (ret NAVY) would like it. He tends to avoid stories about what vets of any war have to deal with (he did tours of Bosnia and first Gulf War).

thanks for sharing.