Meet The Author Luncheon

2023 – Deborah Goodrich Royce

The 15th annual Meet the Author Luncheon was a delightful and beautiful spring day!  Deborah Goodrich Royce entertained almost 300 guests at Gaston Country Club with stories of her earlier years, including acting roles in several films, and then the television series “All My Children.”  She currently has three published novels, including “Reef Road,” which was available at the luncheon. 




2022 – Karen White

Third time was the charm!!  After rescheduling our event in 2020 and 2021, Gaston Literacy Council welcomed guest author Karen White to Gaston Country Club on May 4th!  Almost 300 persons attended the 14th annual Meet the Author Luncheon, and were delighted with Karen’s sense of humor and story of her journey to become a New York Times best-selling author!  Many guests received signed copies of one of her latest books, The Shop on Royal Street.

Karen’s most recent book, The Lost Summers of Newport was released May 17, 2022!  Sounds like it will be a great summer read!  Thank you, Karen



2019 – Mary Alice Monroe

Almost 300 persons attended the 13th annual Meet the Author Luncheon, featuring New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe. Mary Alice enthralled the audience with her stories of sea turtle hatchlings and how her ideas for writing begin.  Monroe’s novels are published worldwide. 

She has achieved many lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and SIBA. She has received numerous awards, including several readers’ choice awards, RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the Girls Scouts of America Woman of Distinction Award, the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing and was featured at the national Festival of the book, the 2008 International Book Award for Green Fiction for The Butterfly’s Daughter, the 2015 Florida Book festival distinguished author award, and the ASPCA Henry Bergh award for Children’s Fiction. the SC Academy of Authors inducted Monroe into the Literary Hall of Fame for her fiction work. Her novel A Low-country Christmas won the 2017 Southern Prize for Fiction. Monroe’s bestselling novel The Beach House has been adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie in May 2018, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. 

Monroe is an active conservationist and lives in the Low-country of South Carolina. 


2018 – Ron Rash

Ron Rash delighted a sold-out audience on May 2, 2018 at the Gaston Country Club.  Ron is an American author of novels, short stories, and poetry. Born in Chester, SC and growing up in Boiling Springs, NC, he is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University and Clemson University from which he holds a B. A. and M. A. in English, respectively. The New York Times Bestselling author lives in the western North Carolina area with his wife, Ann. They have one daughter and one son. Rash holds the John and Dorothy Parris Professorship in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University, where he teaches poetry and fiction-writing in the department of English.

2017 – Charles Martin

Gaston Literacy Council welcomed speaker Charles Martin to the 11th annual Meet the Author event held at the Gaston Country Club on May 3, 2017. Martin is the author of 12 novels, including LONG WAY GONE and THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US, which was adapted into a movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba (released October, 2017.) It is a captivating story about two strangers who crash into a frigid mountain wilderness and must learn to trust and rely on each other to survive.

Other novels by Charles Martin include A Life Intercepted, Thunder and Rain, Where the River Ends, Chasing Fireflies, and When Crickets Cry. His work is available in 17 languages.

The New York Times Bestselling author lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and three sons.

2016 – John Hart

The tenth annual Meet the Author event was held on May 11, 2016 at the Gaston Country Club. Featured novelist, John Hart is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, THE KING OF LIES, DOWN RIVER, THE LAST CHILD and IRON HOUSE. His novels have been translated into thirty languages and can be found in over seventy countries. A former defense attorney and stockbroker, John spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia, where he writes full-time.

In a glowing review of The Last Child, The Washington Post declared: “Hart is still far too young for The Last Child to be called a crowning achievement, but the novel’s ambition, emotional breadth and maturity make it an early masterpiece in a career that continues to promise great things.” The only author in history to receive the coveted Edgar Award for consecutive literary thrillers, John has also won the Barry Award, the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award, and the North Carolina Award for Literature.

2015 – Robert Inman

On May 6, 2015, novelist, playwright and screenwriter Robert Inman spoke to a sold-out crowd at the Gaston Country Club about his love of reading and the individuals in his life who motivated him to become a writer.

He is the author of five novels: The Governor’s Lady (2013), Home Fires Burning (1987), Old Dogs and Children (1991), Dairy Queen Days (1997), and Captain Saturday (2002). He is also the author of Coming Home: Life, Love and All Things Southern (2000) and The Christmas Bus (2009).

Inman has written screenplays for six motion pictures for television, two of which have been “Hallmark Hall of Fame” presentations. His script for The Summer of Bell Tyler, a Hallmark production, won the Writers’ Guild of America Award as the best original television screenplay of 1997. His other Hallmark feature was Home Fires Burning, a 1989 adaptation of his novel.

He is also the author of eight stage plays, the most recent of which is Liberty Mountain, a drama about the Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain, which premiered October 2014 in Kings Mountain, NC. His other plays, including two musicals, are Crossroads, The Christmas Bus, Dairy Queen Days, Welcome to Milj’ord, A High Country Christmas, The Christmas Bus: The Musical, and The Drama Club. Inman’s plays are published by Dramatic Publishing Company.

2014 – Wiley Cash

Gaston Literacy Council’s 8th annual Meet the Author Event featured International bestselling author – and Gastonia’s own – Wiley Cash.

Wiley ’s first book, A Land More Kind than Home, is a New York Times bestseller. His second, This Dark Road to Mercy, was set in Gastonia and is an O Magazine Top Ten Title.

An amazingly gifted story teller, Wiley fielded questions from the audience and shared plans for his next novel that will be about the 1929 Loray Mill Strike. All of the available books were sold and the bestselling author was extremely gracious chatting with our guests and autographing their copies.

More than 250 people attended the sold-out event held on May 7, 2014 at the Gaston Country Club.



2013 – Janice Holly Booth

At Gaston Literacy’s 7th annual Meet the Author Event, Gastonia’s very own Janice Holly Booth, author of Only Pack What You Can Carry, presented an inspiring story built around conquering fears and applying that success to everyday life.

Everyone enjoyed her easy style of discussing her writing, the value of setting life goals, and the importance of literacy. The event was held on May 1 at the Gaston Country Club.

Born in British Columbia, Janice has lived in the U.S. since 1985. She is an award-winning non-profit CEO, a best-selling author, an international speaker, a lifelong equestrienne and full-on Adventurista. Only Pack What You Can Carry, published by National Geographic, is a guide to personal growth through solo adventure travel.

2012 – Brenda Wilhelmson

Two hundred thirty-two individuals gathered at the Gaston Country Club on May 1, 2012 to hear Brenda Wilhelmson, author of Diary of an Alocholic Housewife, share her inspirational story of recovery.

A functioning alcoholic, Brenda made the decision to get sober in 2001. The basis for her book is the diary that she kept of her first 15 months in recovery. The chronology included familial struggles, her experiences in AA meetings and support groups, the challenges and necessity of finding the right sponsor, and ultimately finding happiness with a new circle of friends where alcohol was not the reason for gathering. As if her journey were not difficult enough, she also had to deal with her alcoholic father’s terminal illness and death.

In the end, she learned to cope with the daily difficulties and discovered the pleasures of living each day without alcohol. Her book offers insight, wisdom, and relevance for readers in recovery, as well as their loved ones.


2011 – Kerry Hannon

Kerry Hannon, career reinvention expert, was featured at our Meet the Author event on May 3rd at the Gaston Country Club.

Kerry is a nationally acclaimed personal finance contributing editor and retirement correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and a featured blogger on second careers at

The annual event raises funds to support Gaston Literacy Council services while promoting awareness of our community’s literacy condition. It is a wonderful way to thank valued employees, honor special clients, or gather with friends! The afternoon was completed with a book signing.  

2010 – Celia Rivenbark

Celia Rivenbark, award-winning Nationally Syndicated Humor Columnist and freelance journalist whose work has been compared to a cross between Erma Bombeck and Hunter S. Thompson, was the guest speaker at this year’s annual Meet the Author Event.

Celia has won numerous awards including Southeast Book Sellers Association best-seller, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Nonfiction Book of the Year, best title of 2006 by Entertainment Weekly magazine, Thurber Prize semi-finalist for humor. She was one of three finalists for the SIBA Nonfiction Book of the Year and she was a finalist for the 2010 SIBA non-fiction book of the year.

Nearly 200 people attended the occasion held at the Gaston Country Club on May 4, 2010.

2009 – Elly Bache

Ellyn Bache, Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee, was the guest speaker at Gaston Literacy Council’s annual Meet the Author event on April 22, 2009.

Ellyn’s first novel, Safe Passage, about a family waiting to hear the fate of a son at the site of a terrorist bombing, was made into a film starring Susan Sarandon and Sam Shepard.

With her late husband, Terry, she authored a teen novel, Takedown, under the pen name E.M.J. Benjamin that was a Foreword Magazine Best Book of the Year finalist.

More recently, she has written several books for elementary school children that are widely used in public school classrooms. 



2008 – Stuart Albright

Stuart Albright, Gastonia native and author of Blessed Returns and Community of Saints, was the guest speaker at Gaston Literacy Council’s Meet the Author event on May 2, 2008.

Albright is a teacher, coach, freelance editor, and a regular guest lecturer on issues of urban education. In 2007, he received the Milken National Educator Award, dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine.

“Children cling to hope when they find others who will participate in their journey, and hope originates when a community exists beyond the basic framework of a classroom wall. It is this sense of community that drives much of the excellence we see in many schools.”

Stuart Albright
Community of Saints                                                                                                                                                                                                      


2007 – Sheri Lynch

On April 17, 2007, Gaston Literacy Council hosted its first annual “Meet the Author” book signing event at the Gaston Country Club. One hundred seventy-four guests were treated to a delicious lunch while being entertained by the fabulously witty Sheri Lynch, Co-Host of 107.9 Bob and Sheri in the Morning.

Sheri advised the audience, “Life can be tragic, hard and senseless, and it’s tough to go through it alone, which is why I suggest you bring a book…When you learn to read, you’re never lonely, you’re never separate.”

The author of Hello My Name Is Mommy and Be Happy or I’ll Scream!, Sheri is the winner of the Gracie Allen Award and the Marconi Award, and has been voted Creative Loafing’s Best Local Radio Personality for over a decade.