Monday, April 20, 2015

LIGHTNING ON A QUIET NIGHT - Donn Taylor - One Free Book

Bio: Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. He was chosen by faculty as "Scholar of the Year" at one and by students as "Professor of the Year" at the other. His poetry is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. In addition to his historical novel Lightning on a Quiet Night, he has published two suspense novels and a light-hearted mystery. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences and groups. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.

Welcome back, Donn. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
In one form or another, I write about the incompleteness of a life without Christ. Noble deeds themselves are never enough to satisfy: They have to be done in the context of Christian faith. Further, focusing too much on virtuous actions (instead of God as the source of virtue) can become a kind of idolatry. I write about characters whose demand for truth and integrity leads them inevitably to the Christian faith. Stated bluntly like this, these ideas don't seem like much. They only become meaningful when dramatized in the experience of a life-like character. I also celebrate the effect of God’s continuing work in the world (John 5:17). Why else does Christendom not practice the savagery that characterizes the rest of the world?

What other books of yours are coming out soon?
I'm trying to place a sequel to my mystery Rhapsody in Red, and I'm working on a sequel to the sequel.

I loved that book. If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?
I would choose the Hoover Institute scholar and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell. We are about the same age, and we both served in the Korean War. But more important than that, Sowell practices an absolute intellectual integrity. To faddish topics like race, slavery, and political correctness, he brings wide-ranging, solid research, and he does not commit on any issue until the facts lead him to a conclusion. He is a constant breath of fresh air in the nation's poisonous fog of fashionable opinion.

What historical person would you like to meet (besides Jesus) and why?
It's a tossup between these two: First, the British naval hero Horatio Hornblower. I'd like to ask him how he recovered a large group of European slaves from their African masters without paying a cent or firing a shot. (His biography is silent on that.) The second person would be the biblical character Zaccheus, the tax collector Jesus called down from the tree. Zaccheus is usually interpreted as having gotten his wealth dishonestly, but I think that's a bum rap. As I do the math on what he promised Jesus, he had to have come by his wealth mostly by honest means, or Jesus would have called him out for lying. I'd like to talk to him about it.

How can you encourage authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
If we haven't read their writing, we're limited to repeating stories about how many times some famous author got rejected. If we have read their writing, we can give honest critiques of it, crediting its strengths and identifying not more than three areas that need further study and work. I always begin and end by reminding them that Shakespeare began as a beginner.

Tell us about the featured book.
Lightning on a Quiet Night is a historical novel set in Northeast Mississippi in 1948, shortly after WW II and in the days when the Cold War was taking shape. It focuses on a small town, too proud of its virtues, that has to reconcile its vain self-image with the reality of its first murder. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in town. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa's contentious courtship reveals the town's strange combination of acute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about some of the town's foremost citizens. Beyond placing Jack and Lisa in danger for their lives, these discoveries pose a question: Will they lead the town to repentance? Or to denial and continuation in vanity?

Please give us the first page of the book.
The northeast Mississippi town of Beneficent, "A Town As Good As Its Name," had never known a murder until Friday, January 9, 1948. Nor, in the oldest memory of its 479 citizens, had the town known a single felony.

Until the fatal moment, that January day progressed as hundreds had before. The winter dawn came late, struggling through clouds and fog to shed a dull gray light more kin to night than day. Cold rain fell to drench the thrush-brown land, and stolid hardwoods thrust black skeletal limbs upward against an iron-gray sky. Farmers revised work plans in deference to the rain, and storekeepers pondered its effect on weekend sales. But more than rain would be required that night to keep them from the Coosa County basketball tournament, an event as fundamental to their lives as seedtime and harvest. From all corners of the county they came in mud-spattered pickups, the less affluent in mule-drawn wagons, to converge on Beneficent. All brought good spirits to share an experience that came but once a year.

Yet among that cheerful crowd one stranger would come unwilling …

In her bedroom in the darkening evening, Lisa Kemper stared at the rain that drummed against her window. She did not want to be there at all.

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? The psalmist's words leaped unbidden into her mind, but she shut them out. She was not here in captivity, the puddles in her yard were not the waters of Babylon, and she would not sit down by them and weep.

Still, she hadn't bargained for this. After her mother's death last August, she'd postponed graduate school for a year to help her father adjust to life as a widower. Then she would get on with her studies—that is, if she could ever decide what to study. But when she made that decision in August, she never dreamed Stephen Kemper would leave his position with an Indiana corporation to manage the small chemical plant the company was building here.

From first sight, she detested this backward town. She abhorred the unkempt fields and unpainted barns nearby, so different from the well-tended farms of Indiana.  Most of all, she abhorred the boastful motto "A Town As Good As Its Name" and the complacency of the townspeople who thought they made it that way.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Donn, for sharing this new book with us today.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Lightning on a Quiet Night Paperback
Lightning on a Quiet Night: In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues deals with its first murder. ($1.99 Book Series) - Kindle

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Mary Preston said...

The title fired up my imagination. I love it. This does sound like such a fascinating read.

Mary P


Melissa M. said...

Great writing! I think I'd like this book. :)

-Melissa M. in TN

Trixi said...

Sounds like an intriguing storyline! This would be one I'd like to read for myself, thank you for the chance! Blessings!

Trixi from Oregon

Donn Taylor said...

Thank you Mary, Melissa, and Trixi for your kind comments and enthusiasm. Hope you all enjoy.

Mama Cat said...

This sounds very interesting - would definitely be interested in reading it! Phoenix, AZ

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Looks awesome enter me!!
Conway, SC.

Donn Taylor said...

Thanks also to Mama Cat and Sharon. Hope you enjoy.

Danielle Hull said...

I would love to have more books to recommend to my husband and son! Danielle in Indiana

Donn Taylor said...

Danielle, you can't go wrong with any books featured on Lena's blog. If you want more male-oriented or male + female oriented, visit my Web site, Also, Richard Mabry's medical thrillers are good. All that I've mentioned are accessible to readers down to junior high level as well as to adults. I hope this helps.

Donn Taylor said...

More suggestions for Danielle: If you or your men like Westerns, type the name Terry Burns into Google and take your choice. He has many.