Author gives back to Friends of the Library

October 26, 2010 – Crossville Chronicle

 The Friends of the Library (FOL) Annual Author’s Luncheon, Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Cumberland County Art Circle Library featured a sold-out luncheon catered by Forte’s Restaurant. Bernice Durbin, FOL president, initiated the event by saying, “Welcome book lovers!”

 She proceeded to identify dignitaries and many in the audience who have contributed to the success of the FOL, Art Circle Library, and the event preparation. Durbin followed with an introduction of the main course and the sizzle of the event, provided by guest author Melissa Newman.

Newman, an award-winning journalist and writer, rose to become an editor and publisher during a 20-year career in the newspaper industry.

Melissa Newman, keynote speaker for the Annual Friends of the Library Author's Luncheon, donates her check back to FOL President Bernice Durbin.

She is currently Alumni Relations Director at Union College in Barbourville, Ky. The position allows as a novelist on the storytelling she adores.

Her first novel, “Sister Blackberry,” was released in 2009. Set in 1936 rural Kentucky and Northern Ohio, “Sister Blackberry” is a story about women – friends, sisters, mothers, daughters and granddaughters. Her storytelling artistry unfolds their relationships and how those relationships are affected by the secrets they keep.

Newman’s newest novel, “House of Cleaving,” is scheduled for a worldwide release next spring.

Newman’s roots are here in Cumberland County. She attended Homestead Elementary and Martin Jr. High School before moving to Kentucky. Her sister, Denise Melton, also an award winner in her own field of expertise, is the highly-motivated and successful director of the House of Hope.

Newman, with typical tongue-in-cheek humor, identified Melton as the “do-gooder” in the family.

Newman’s presentation was spiced with humor, particularly when she described her collegiate experiences at Union College.

At Union, she initially attempted to become an accountant, a CPA to be specific, even though she had minimal aptitude for mathematics. Her true talent as a writer and storyteller were finally realized when she won a prestigious writing contest.

She began to realize that not everyone had the natural ability for writing that she took for granted.

Newman’s confidence in her writing skills and excitement about the characters, plots and scenarios she is now developing for future novels was evident in her enthusiastic presentation.

Her insightful comments about choices: what is important for an individual and how to choose a happy and full life was a bonus, as was her decision to donate her $300 retainer back to the Friends of the Library. It was a successful event that left some of the attendees wondering if a larger venue and more parking might be required for future events.

Such is the burgeoning success of the Cumberland County Art Circle Library and the talented authors and entertainment that are featured at the weekly special events and each day through the resources of the library.

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.