Lightning on a Quiet Night

I hate to admit it, but finding fresh blog topics isn’t always easy. I normally write my posts for the following Sunday and Wednesday on the previous Wednesday, and I often already have decent ideas in mind. But not today.

Not until I finished my third reading of a novel called Lightning on a Quiet Night a few minutes ago. Due to be released in November, its author is a friend of mine, Donn Taylor.

Donn is quite a fellow. We’ve known one another from writing conferences for almost ten years now. He’s former military and also a retired college English professor. He is extremely literate and well spoken–a real gentleman–and his novels reflect that fact. He is a poet as well as a novelist.

You probably wondered about my choice to read Lightning on a Quiet Night three times, though. I would if I were you.

Donn originally asked me to endorse his book. You know, write that clever little bit that goes on the cover or front page meant to make potential readers see just how much they’ll enjoy the book. So I read an electronic copy. I was so well impressed I wrote this for my endorsement:

“A unique and intriguing story, expertly told, with compelling characters and an ending that left me sobbing with satisfaction. What more could any discriminating reader ask for?”

And I meant it!

A few months later, Donn was looking for Beta readers. If you’re unfamiliar with the publishing process–unless you need to, I’d recommend you not ever have to go through it yourself–a Beta reader reads a printed copy of the book, looking for mistakes that the book’s editor and proof reader missed. I found only a handful of mistakes.

What I didn’t realize (I didn’t have to go through the Beta process with my two novels from Barbour Publishing) was a second Beta reading would be required to make sure corrections from the first were made and to determine whether additional mistakes can be found. So when Donn approached me for a third read, I was happy to oblige. In fact, I would’ve been thrilled to help even if Donn hadn’t promised to help me the same way.

Interestingly–and this gives you an idea how thorough Donn is–when he read The Devil and Pastor Gus for endorsement purposes–he also made a list of corrections needed. A pre-Beta read, I suppose you could call it.

Lightning on a Quiet Night is quite different from Donn’s other novels. For one thing, it’s a historical novel, set early in the post-World War 2 years. I thought Donn did a wonderful job of reflecting life in that time period. Another difference is that it’s just as much a love story as it is a mystery/suspense. Finally, the town itself almost seems like one of the characters.

The townspeople believe their town to be perfect and good–until the first murder in memory takes place. Even then, they want to believe the murderer must be an outsider. By the end of the story, the residents recognize that their belief in the town’s virtue has blinded them to its faults.

Just as lightning on a quiet night revealed a dead body, so horrible circumstances can bring to light things that are not easily seen otherwise.

Donn’s book is available now for pre-order. Look for it here.

Please share your opinion of Donn’s book based on what I’ve said or leave a comment about whether you mind my writing about somebody’s book periodically.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25. It’s available for pre-order HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

 

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What Do You Read for Entertainment?

books(Just a few of our hundreds of Christian novels. Todd Starnes’ God Less America is non-fiction; it got into the picture by mistake.
Click on picture for larger image.)

NOTE: My apologies to those of you who received this post by email a week or two ago. I didn’t intend to use it then. I could undo the post itself, but I couldn’t undo the email.

What do you read when you’re bored with TV and want something engrossing–hopefully a book that will keep you turning pages chapter after chapter?

I admit it. For the greater part, I read Christian fiction. Not too surprising considering that’s what I write, huh?

There’s a lot of confusion about what constitutes Christian fiction, though.

  1. Does it have to have overt Christian content (e.g., someone gets “saved”)?
  2. Is it biblical fiction (e.g., fictionalized telling of Queen Esther’s story)?
  3. Does it reflect strong Christian values (e.g., strongly pro-life/anti-abortion or anti-alcohol/anti-drugs)?
  4. Is it anything that’s clean enough for your kids and your grandmother to read? (no vulgarity or cursing, minimum violence)
  5. Is it anything a Christian author has written, whether it contains Christian content/values or not?
  6. Can a non-Christian write legitimate Christian fiction?

As you can see, the possibilities are almost unlimited.

I have opinions, but no official answers. Referring to the points above,

  1. I hope Christian fiction has at least mild Christian content.
  2. It doesn’t have to be biblical fiction.
  3. It should have strong Christian values, but may need more.
  4. Wouldn’t safe readability by kids make Mother Goose eligible to be categorized as Christian fiction?
  5. John Grisham is a Christian–or so I understand–but I doubt you’ll find his books in the Christian fiction section of Barnes & Noble.
  6. I strongly doubt that a non-Christian author could write authentically or avoid incorrect popular stereotypes .

I don’t write biblical fiction, although I frequently refer to Scripture. Some of my books have more overt Christian content than others. They all reflect Christian values, though, and they are clean enough for anyone to read, although several of my unpublished manuscripts are more appropriate for adults..

I’m proud to call my novels Christian fiction, and I’m more interested in the positive effect they have on my readers than I am in the number of copies sold or the amount of money I make. Of course, even Christian publishers have to pay attention to sales, though–if they want to stay in business. So my main concern about earnings is to try to keep my publishers in the black.

If you’ve made it this far in this post–anyone who hasn’t won’t be reading this, of course–I commend you.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about this subject, and I’m not sure I’ve done it justice. But let me share some of my favorite Christian novelists with you. Look them up on Amazon if you’re interested and you’ll see what a wide variety of genres fall within the broader Christian fiction category.

  • James Rubart
  • Alton Gansky
  • Brandilyn Collins
  • Steven James
  • Deb Raney
  • Stacy Hawkins Adams
  • Don (not Dan) Brown
  • Randy Ingermanson

Making that list was dangerous. I’ve left out dozens of equally worthy novelists whose books I enjoy just as much. If you have a question about one of these or someone not listed here, please ask.

What’s your favorite novel–Christian or not? Please leave a comment. Do you have an opinion about Christian fiction? We’d love to hear it.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Be on the lookout for my next novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, which releases on November 25.

Best regards,
Roger