image: header
image: gownflare

Friday, December 04, 2009

Blog Tour & Review - Dan Walsh and The Unfinished Gift


DAN WALSH is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, a church he helped found 23 years ago. He is the author of The Unfinished Gift and lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area.

by Dan Walsh
Published by Baker/Revell


Can a gift from the past mend a broken heart?

Ian Collins is an old man without his son. Patrick Collins is a young boy without his father. On his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather’s house. And he wants the dusty wooden soldier in Grandfather’s attic–the one he is forbidden to touch.

Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift is the engaging story of a family in need of forgiveness. With simple grace, it reminds us of the small things that affect powerful change in our hearts–a young boy’s prayers, a shoe box of love letters, and even a half-carved soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of reconciliation will touch your heart.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Readers, buy your copy of The Unfinished Gift today!


This book is a keeper to be read again and again. It should be right at the top of favorite Christmas reads. If you love nostalgic stories, heartwarming family interactions, memorable characters and a message that rings true, straight to the heart, you won't want to miss this book. But make sure you have your tissues handy. The emotions in this book will resonate with even the toughest of readers.

You experience a rollercoaster of emotions and are taken on a ride through a time in our country when war was tearing the USA and many other nations apart. From Patrick to Mrs. Fortini, from Ian to the crochety old Grandpa and the entire ensemble of characters in between...everyone in this story leaves a mark on you as you read, and you pull for each and every one of them in turn. You won't want to put this book down!

Thanks so much to Donna Hausler at Revell for my copy...which I'm giving away in a drawing to those who leave a comment on this post.


1. You've penned an amazing story of redemption, forgiveness, and healing within a single family. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Every Christmas my wife and I love watching those classic stories on TV, the ones that really grab your heart (like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol"). For several years after watching them, I'd have this strong desire to write a story like that, one that at least had the potential to affect others the way these stories affect me.The Unfinished Gift actually came to me just after Christmas in 1998 over two or three days. I saw the ending of the book first, like a scene from a movie playing in my thoughts. Over the next two days, different parts of the story kept dropping into my head. I kept stopping and writing them down. In a few days, the whole story was there, from beginning to end, like a detailed synopsis. From there I sat down and started writing the book. Though many more details emerged as I wrote the book, as far as the story itself, what you see in the book is exactly what came during that burst of inspiration back in '98.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I'm sure at some level, I'm drawing from life experiences when I write, but as best as I can tell (and my wife of 33 years agrees), all the characters in The Unfinished Gift are who they are without any help from me. Ian Collins looks like my grandfather, but my grandfather was a wonderful man, and I adored him. Both my Mom and grandmother had the strong affectionate traits of Mrs. Fortini, but they were both shy, timid types. One parallel that might be in play is the idea of family members becoming so offended with each other that they shun each other for years (like Ian did with his son). My mother told me of feuds like this that existed in her family (back in the 40's and 50's), where some became bitter and didn't speak again for the rest of their lives, wouldn't even attend the funeral.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Fair to say, I've never thought of people as ice cream flavors. Let's see, Ian as ice cream. Do they make a black licorice flavor? The thought of that is revolting, so that might be a good pick. For little Patrick, perhaps mint chocolate chip (without the green food coloring). One of my favorite flavors. Got an Irish feel to it, light, bright and refreshing.

4. Are there any themes in The Unfinished Gift that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

I can think of one...I wanted to indirectly encourage Moms, who often work so tirelessly and sacrificially, serving in obscurity, pouring their lives and hearts into their kids, wondering if it's enough, wondering how they'll do when these young ones are thrust out into the harsh world beyond their reach. Patrick demonstrates that God sees it all and is able to make it enough. Elizabeth's influence lives on in Patrick's heart and God's sovereign, providential care insures that all these significant obstacles will work together for good.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

I cried numerous times while writing the book. Sometimes I'd see the scene as if I were right there in the room watching events unfold, and I'd have to stop, regain my composure and keep writing. It only got worse as the story unfolded. But I knew where it was all going, and I cried all the more when we got there. Then I cried almost as much during the many rewrites and then again when I read the book, as a book, when the publisher sent it to me back in August. I don't deliberately set out to write tear-jerkers, but I've decided it's okay to cry at the right times, about the right things. I want to feel whatever you're supposed to feel whenever the love of God breaks through, whenever I see or read things that affect my heart in a good way.

As far as favorite scenes? There's this one scene early on in the book when little Patrick is crouching in this cold, dark bedroom of his grandfather's house, terrified of the dark, of being alone, of all the uncertainty before him. He sees moonlight slipping through the blinds and turns to God in this wonderful childlike way. The way he talks to God and the things he matter how many times I've read that scene, it still gets me.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is called The Homecoming, the sequel to The Unfinished Gift. It will be released on June 1st. If I say too much about it now, I'll give away the ending of the first book. After the holiday season is over, I can probably speak more freely about it. I can say this, when I completed The Unfinished Gift, I hadn't planned on a sequel. But virtually everyone who read it--my wife, my test readers, my agent and my editor--all said something like this at the end: "Now in the future, this is going to happen, right?" They all suggested the same thing, something I had already begun thinking about. I can give you this clue, the sequel includes a powerful love story (one I believe Jane Austen fans will appreciate, even though it's written in the 1940's).

You can see the cover for The Homecoming on my blog ( It's even available for pre-order on Amazon. But be aware of a spoiler alert, if you go on Amazon. The intro blurb for the 2nd book gives away the ending of the 1st book.

* * * * *

Thank you, Dan, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of The Unfinished Gift.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when the winners are announced each time.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

I just finished this book and posted my review, too. I absolutely loved this book! I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Thank you for sharing!

Merry Christmas!
~ Lori

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

So sorry, Tiff! I forgot to say, please don't enter me in the contest...I already have a copy. :)

Michelle said...

Thank you for entering me, Tiff! And thanks for the great review. : )
I look forward to reading the book.

scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

Linda said...

The reviews on this book make this sound like a heart-warming book to read. Please enter me
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Carole said...

This book was already on my wish list and I really enjoyed the interview. Thank you for the chance to win a copy, Tiff.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Merry said...

The Unfinished Gift sounds like a touching story. Please add me to the drawing. Thanks!


Dan Walsh said...

Tiff, what a wonderful review, thank you so much. So glad you liked the book. I am humbled by your words. And thanks for all the time you've spent on my behalf.

I don't think any man deserves all the encouragement I've received this past week. 77 blogs on the tour between US and Canada). The upside is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that so many seemed to have gotten exactly what I'd hoped they'd get when I wrote the book(there's a sentence that needs some work).

The downside...I am so sick of seeing my picture, over and over.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, you and your family.

Dan Walsh

Casey said...

Please don't enter me, I already have this book, but I wanted to weigh in with my two cents.:) I enjoyed this book, it's the perfect kind to snuggle up to a crackling fire with a mug of something warm to drink. I look forward to reading the sequal, I still think about the characters from this one.:)

SuperMom said...

Oh, please enter me! Sounds good!!!

ladyverlina AT yahoo DOT com

Cherie J said...

Ooh! Sounds like my kind of book. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

I am so anxious to read this book! Please enter me. Thanks!

Rosalie Patience said...

Please enter me in the drawing. It sounds like an amazing book. ~Abby

abster dot rose at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Would very much enjoy reading this book...thanks for the opportunity.


Anonymous said...

would enjoy reading this book...thanks for the opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Have heard so much about this book, please include me for the giveaway.

ldneuhof at hotmail dot com