Featured: Burning the Midnight Oil by Donna Cummins
Some are just stories; some are descriptive writings; some are opinionated analyses of modern life, and some are heart-breaking memories of a soul laid bare.
From the award-winning author of RAIN OF TERROR, named to “Best Kindle Books of 2015” by Digital Books Today, BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL represents a sharp turn from Donna Cummins’ characteristic mystery thriller/romantic suspense novels.
Instead, this powerful, eclectic collection of writings runs the gamut from flash fiction to short stories to personal—and often intimate—musings and reflections. The author’s penchant for suspense and intrigue echoes throughout many of the fictional storylines while her reflective pieces are emotionally-driven—sometimes poignant, sometimes strongly-opinionated—and always message-oriented.
Cummins, the author of the chilling, edge-of-your-seat Blacklick Valley Mystery Series, explores both the darker side of humanity as well as the strength and virtue of the human spirit in BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL.
This versatile, thought-provoking collection of narratives combines passion, intrigue, suspense, humor, heartbreak, revenge, and sorrow; and whether the reader is brought to laughter or to tears, he will not come away untouched.
From Donna Cummins:
I have always loved the mystique and the power of the written word. For me, creating my own tapestries with words was a natural spin-off from reading the works of others.
Writing became a means of expressing all of the thoughts and feelings and dreams and emotions that I harbored within myself–a place where all things were possible and my imagination could run free and wild. I wrote primarily for myself—from journals to essays to short stories to finally my first novel, RAIN OF TERROR, Book 1 in The Blacklick Valley Mystery Series.
I was later honored to have RAIN OF TERROR named to “Best Kindle Books of 2015” by Digital Books Today. RAIN OF TERROR was quickly followed by A REASON TO KILL, ANGUISH, and DEADLY SECRETS. Although the series follows the saga of Sheriff Jed Tyler; his wife, Jenny; Laura Kinkaid; and Samantha Jessup, all of the books can be read as stand-alone novels.
Thanks to my loyal readers, The Blacklick Valley Mysteries have consistently maintained 4.6 to 4.8-STAR ratings. The series is set in the mountains of western Pennsylvania where I was born and raised. I’ve tried to stay true to the authenticity of the scenery, the climate, and the culture of the area. As all of my books exemplify,
I have a proclivity toward the mystery/romantic suspense genres. The twists and turns in the plot, the questions, the clues, the suspense, the final revelations, the challenge of bringing it all together fascinate even me because often I’m not certain where my characters will take me.
Most recently, I have taken a sharp turn from my characteristic mystery thriller/romantic suspense genres in publishing BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL.
This powerful, eclectic collection of writings runs the gamut from flash fiction to short stories to personal—and often intimate—musings and reflections. My penchant for suspense and intrigue echoes throughout many of the fictional storylines while my reflective pieces are emotionally-driven—sometimes poignant, sometimes strongly-opinionated—and always message-oriented. Whether the reader is brought to laughter or to tears, he will not come away untouched.
On a personal note, I graduated cum laude from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Education and a concentration in the Social Sciences.
I have also taught at Webster College in Tampa where I currently live. When not writing or reading, my life revolves around my family, two dogs and five cats, cooking, and gardening–the quiet passions that seem to define me.
Review by Professor:
Burning The Midnight Oil is an unusual collection of short writings that tends to defy categorization. The essays are not bound by any common theme. Some are just stories; some are descriptive writings; some are opinionated analyses of modern life, and some are heart-breaking memories of a soul laid bare.
What they do have in common, however, is the unmistakable stamp of Cummins’ elegant prose and crisp, trenchant observations on life and nature. Cummins has a deep insight into the heart of things, and whether she is waxing lyrical about the elements, or making acerbic observations on life and its institutions, her writing is invariably rich, decisive and impressive.
Some of the essays have leapt out at me for different reasons. Regardless of her mood, Cummins’ love of nature never deserts her. Even in “A Night to Remember”, a story of the impact of a sudden and terrible storm, a powerfully graphic story that leaves the reader gasping for breath, there are some gloriously intense descriptions of the force and the beauty of nature, even at its most cruel. These depictions elude analysis. They can only be enjoyed.
And even as I mention one story, another, possibly even more dramatic in its descriptive quality, springs to mind. It is the story of “Niko”, a wolf. Here Cummins excels herself and offers us a tour de force of lyrical writing, overlaid with extraordinary empathy for the animal’s emotions and perspectives. Amazing!
Donna takes a look at modern life in a couple of her stories, “Virtue” and “Once Upon a Time”, and laments the passing of a time when safety, goodness, and community could be taken for granted. While much of what she says cannot be contested, I do believe that in making her arguments, she forgets that the horrible headlines she quotes are the stuff that prompts what, in today’s twisted values, counts as news.
Unlike rape and murder, virtue, neighborliness, quiet well-lived lives, do not engender large headlines. But just because they tend to be part of the gentle backwaters of life, just because they are timorous, just because they are so frequently shrouded in anonymity, does not mean that they do not exist. They can be found living unheralded in many pockets of society, even today.
Then there are stories for tears and reflection, for remembering, for sadness, and for joy. The reader can only tiptoe, tight-lipped and silent, through the searingly painful and powerfully personal “Love Lost: Memories of Christmas” and move on.
This short collection may be eclectic but the essays tug strongly both at the heart and mind and leave us gazing inwards at the end, teased almost out of thought. As the book blurb says, “whether the reader is brought to laughter or to tears, he will not come away untouched.” A wonderful read.