VALDESE – Daniel Morton is used to telling a story.
Serving as a pastor, he has known the responsibilities and pressures of delivering a message in a way that will not bore an audience.
He has taken that art to books he believes tell a story of hope when all seems lost in life.
Morton and his wife, Beverly, held a book-signing in Valdese featuring his first book “Eyes of the Ocean” and its newly released sequel in what will eventually be a trilogy.
“I’m working on the third one trying to get it out this fall,” Morton said.
The former pastor of United Baptist Church in Valdese said he has always loved to write but has struggled with the confidence to actually put a book on the shelves.
“Most of the time I would write something and throw it in the trash can,” he says with a chuckle.
His first opus was three years old when he rediscovered it while transferring files to a new computer.
“I looked at it and thought it was pretty good and decided to send it to one publisher, and they sent back a letter a week later and said let’s do it,” Morton said.
He can laugh now. With his first book a success, a second one just released and a third in the works, it’s obvious Morton has developed confidence in his writing skills.
His wife said she knew he was good all along.
“I was a teacher when the state was doing writing assessment tests and I would take all the classes about that, and that really made me aware of how good he is,” Beverly said.
She is a sounding board for his writing, saying they often ping-pong each other with suggestions on his writings.
“There is one thing in the first book I don’t like,” she said with a smile. “Everyone else says it needs to be there, but I still don’t like it.”
The books are themed as murder mysteries, but Morton emphasizes there is no foul language or graphic violence.
“There might be a ‘gaping wound’ just because of what it is,” he said. “It’s no more graphic than an old TV crime drama.”
His initial series follows the story of a man who had it all and then loses it all, forcing him to face the struggles of everyday life.
“He struggles with hope, his freedom and then struggles to move on,” Morton said. “He thinks that life has everything because it was given to him and then it’s taken away.”
Morton says the story is Christian-based because the main character shares that faith.
“It’s not blatantly Christian, but it does share a story of hope which is a major part of the Christian message,” he says.
Morton said has been approached about turning his books into a movie. It could be his own story might be even better.
The Mortons have raised 29 foster children over the last several years.
Why he would take on such responsibility? He laughs and gives a one-word reply: “Insanity.”
But he turns serious as to why the couple decided to take on that responsibility.
“We have done quite a bit of work for the county Department of Social Services,” Morton explained. “Our youngest foster child is three years old.”
“I want to invest my life into someone else. If I am trying to instill values and teach someone else about life, what better way to do it?” he said. “If you look at the lives these children would go through if they were put back into the system. It’s the choice of me being willing to give up a little bit of my mental wherewithal for the sake of making their lives better. It’s an easy choice.”
He said he resisted for eight months before the last child was brought into the family.
“But, when it came down to looking at what life they would have there was no way I could say no,” Morton said.
Morton’s books can be found at most book stores or ordered through major book-selling web sites.
He said he will be signing books at the Waldensian Festival and the Morganton Festival this year.