By Jeff Salter
But lest I carry-on about budget/political woes in libraries, let me turn this over to the author:
Introducing The Cherry Cola Book Club
By Ashton Lee
I had the pleasure of becoming friends with Jeff Salter about thirty years ago when he was a librarian in Shreveport, LA, and I was a book vendor to his library and many others. Many years and much life experience later, we are both published authors — he as J.L. Salter and myself as Ashton Lee. We keep in touch often and support each other’s efforts as writers. Networking is truly the best thing writers can do for each other. There is plenty of room in the universe for fresh voices.
My current novel – The Cherry Cola Book Club – is the first in a series from Kensington Books and has just been released nationally. My love affair with libraries inspired me to create this particular universe.
In it a small-town Mississippi librarian, the feisty, idealistic Maura Beth Mayhew, has all she can handle with a pitiful budget and local government officials who don't think the library is necessary anymore. Her pleas for on-site parking and computer terminals previously have fallen on deaf ears. Circulation has suffered as a result, and she keep getting the blame.
Suddenly, a bad situation gets even worse. Her City Council informs her that she has five months to increase circulation, or they’ll take what money she has and put it towards the creation of an industrial park to create jobs in the struggling town of Cherico. What to do?
With help from an eclectic circle of friends, she decides to form a book club to get more patrons into the library and increase its profile. The Cherry Cola Book Club takes off, reviewing, even deconstructing, Southern classics over potluck dinners. Meanwhile, some of the members grow closer, revealing their secrets and problems, and the library becomes the ‘buzz’ of Cherico. But will it be enough to keep the local politicos at bay?
For those whose mouths may water at the descriptions of some of the potluck dishes served over reviews of Gone With the Wind, and To Kill A Mockingbird, there’s a recipe section in the back of the book, as well as a reader’s guide for actual book clubs. The sequel to Cherry Colahas already been written and will be released in April of 2014.
Ashton Lee was born in historic Natchez, MS, into an extended Southern family which provided great fodder for his future novels. He obtained a B.A. in English from Sewanee (University of the South) and studied creative writing under Andrew Lytle, then editor of the Sewanee Review. He now lives in Oxford, MS, where he intends to write until he drops.
Given the premise above – that her library will lose its primary financial support unless circulation and use both rise dramatically in a specified (short) period –would YOU come to the aid of Maura Beth Mayhew and join the Cherry Cola Book Club?