Ashland Daily Independent

Twelve Novel Women invite Kentucky author to Flatwoods

Melissa Newman reading, signing her new book Sister Blackberry at Flatwoods Public Library

Ashland Daily Independent

Native Kentuckian and author Melissa Newman will be coming to Flatwoods for a visit Saturday, June 19. The Flatwoods Branch Public Library will host Newman with her novel Sister Blackberry for a reading and discussion beginning at 11 a.m.

Beginning at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 19, Melissa Newman, author of the novel Sister Blackberry, will be reading and discussing her book at the Flatwoods Branch Library, a division of Greenup County Library System. The reader’s group “Twelve Novel Women” has invited Newman for this book event. The Flatwoods Branch Library is located at 1705 Argillite Road, Flatwoods, Ky. 41139. Phone number: 606-836-3771. Those who attend will get a sneak peak at the first chapter of Melissa’s next novel House of Cleaving, to be released fall 2010.

A local reading group called Twelve Novel Women, contacted Newman after one of their members, Lynn Miller, of Flatwoods discovered “Sister Blackberry” last January.

“I picked Sister Blackberry because it grabbed my interest from the age of the characters, to history of family and how decisions made impact each other,” Miller said.

The novel begins with the discovery of a dead body and carries the reader through three generations of the Garland women of Rayes County. Set in 1936 rural Kentucky and Northern Ohio, Sister Blackberry is a story about women: friends, sisters, mothers, daughters and granddaughters, and how their relationships are affected by the secrets they keep.

Miller, a teacher at Greenup County High School, was happy to hear that Newman would be willing to travel to Flatwoods to meet the group and introduce Sister Blackberry to others in the Ashland area.

“I thought the book was enthralling and puts into perspective our values, especially our Appalachian values,” Miller said.

Twelve Novel Women is eight years old and was created by women who come from all different walks of life but have one common interest – a love of books. The group’s members are professionally diverse and include a Methodist minister, a college professor and a homemaker. Each member is responsible for picking a book each month of the year.

Newman is happy to see “Sister Blackberry” in good company on the groups’ collective book shelves. Some of the group’s other picks have been “The Secret Life of Bees” and “The Shack.”

“I am excited that Twelve Novel Women has taken on “Sister Blackberry” as a reading project,” Newman said. “I can’t wait to meet them all when I come to Flatwoods. They sound like very interesting and colorful women.”

It’s not uncommon for Twelve Novel Women to visit with authors both far and wide. Members of the group have invited many authors to read and discuss. The group has also travelled to book signings and readings all over the Midwest. From Jodi Picoult to Sharon McCrumb to John Grisham, these twelve women have taken their love of reading to a new level.

 Newman will also be giving those attending a sneak peek at her upcoming novel, House of Cleaving, scheduled for release this fall.

Newman will also donate three signed copies of “Sister Blackberry” to the Greenup County Library System. Her books will also be available for sale after her reading and discussion.

Flatwoods Branch Library invites the public to attend this event and hopes book lovers from surrounding areas will come and meet Newman. To learn more about Newman and her writing go to

The Flatwoods Branch Library is located at 1705 Argillite Road, Flatwoods, Ky. 41139. Phone number: 606-836-3771.

A Note to Readers

Just a Short Hiatus ... More Novels to Come

While Growing Up Wilder was my last novel, it will certainly not be my final. I have two outlines just dying to escape from my desk drawer and I often have to apologetically shove them back in when I find they have made it to the surface time and again.

I am currently working toward completing my doctorate degree (I am all but dissertation, folks!) and I am tangled up in research that uses storytelling and social media as a way to increase hope levels for individuals and entire communities.

This research is allowing me to focus on solving a problem within Kentucky's Appalachia - negative stereotypes.

Readers, please be patient. I will return to fiction shortly. Until then, please continue to share Sister Blackberry, House of Cleaving and Growing Up Wilder with your friends and family.

As always, I welcome your notes and messages.