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Melissa Payne Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Secrets of Lost Stones (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Melissa Payne is a literary fiction author who made her name with the novel “The Secrets of Lost Stones.” Payne has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. She was born the middle child and believes that she was born to be a storyteller. She has written everything from newspaper features to her master’s thesis and blogged about motherhood and marriage. However, she started out writing as a hobby and it was not until she got a job at a day and residential treatment center for neglected and abused children that the importance of storytelling became very real. She was charged with writing the letters and speeches to raise funds for the treatment center. The truth of the stories was so painful and piercing since she wrote to invoke her readers to help, to give and to take action to make a difference.

Melissa Payne retains her love for penning and sharing stories in different forms. Even after finishing her thesis and leaving the treatment center, she thought that she needed to write stories. She went on to start a blog on marriage and motherhood. Over the years, she moved on to write literary fiction and she wrote her first manuscript, a magical realist fiction which she pitched to Jessica Faustin who was one of the best in the genre. Payne published “The Secrets of the Lost Stones” in 2019. She loves to set her stories in beautiful places peopled by imperfect and flawed characters in difficult relationships. These relationships may be between friends, daughter and mother or even between strangers. She also includes a hint of the supernatural and ethereal to pique the imagination of her readers. Payne currently lives with her husband and children, a very loud cat and a friendly mutt in the foothills of the Rockies in Colorado.

The lead character in Melissa Payne’s “The Secrets of Lost Stones” is Jess a thirty-something-year-old woman that had been broken until she found Lucy. She was in a lot of pain and very fragile from losing her son and needed someone to lean on. Lucy is an eighty-year-old clairvoyant that despite her age is unbelievably strong and charming. She is the type of woman that always brings a smile to everyone that she does meet. Lucy had adopted a fifteen-year-old foster child who was living on the streets after she ran away from an abusive foster home. Lucy has bumped into the child and invited her into her home just as she has invited Jess. Initially Jess does not have a good reaction towards Star, most probably because she was still dealing with the loss of her son who was about the same age. Jess has good intentions though her feelings sometimes get in the way and make her seem unfair, particularly towards Star. Nonetheless, she is still a likable character though it is clear that she has been hurt deeply. On her part, Star is clever, tough, smart ass and strong girl who was very intuitive and understood things real fast, unlike Jess despite the fact that she is half her age. Over the course of living with Lucy, she shows herself a girl full of hope, and grateful towards Lucy as the shell she had when living in the streets melts away and she becomes an ordinary teen girl. Nonetheless, her time in the streets and foster homes has made her mature for her age and this helps her bond and interact better with Lucy and Jess.

Melissa Payne writes in an emotive, flawless, beautiful, and descriptive style in a small-town setting. The novel is set in the small town of Pine Lake and combines love, beauty of nature and great characterization. The characters live in a huge Victorian house in a small town that gives the story something of a haunted feel. Payne tells the story from the perspective of both Jess and Star and they bring to the story an intense voice that eloquently tells of their ocean of memories, grief, and loss. While they both tell their stories, they also tell of the stories of other characters such as Lucy with just as much eloquence. While the leads are lovable and sensible Payne also makes provision for some realism as she tosses in the heartless and deceiving character Villain. The lives of the characters are ruled by fear, grief, hopelessness, anger, and loneliness. Reading the stories, one can easily empathize with what they were dealing with. Jess never believes she could ever become a mother again but then she meets Star and she brings out in her the motherly nature she had been suppressing after losing her son. She takes care of Star just enough and right to remind her of her mother and make her feel wanted again. This creates a very strong bond between the three different generations of women in the story. Payne combines supernatural and realistic elements seamlessly in her analysis of the themes of redemption, letting go of the past, second chances in life and the freeing up of pent up energy and emotions.

“The Secrets of Lost Stones” by Payne is a novel that analyzes the bonds between child and mother and the redemption that comes from confronting the past and reconciling oneself with it. Jess is a thirty-two-year-old woman that just lost her apartment, her job and most tragic of all her eight-year-old son that died in a heart-wrenching accident. She is haunted by grief and memories and decides to pack her things and leave town to go to someplace she can find peace. Jess heads off to Pine Lake, a small mountain town where she meets and becomes the caregiver of Lucy, an eccentric eighty-year-old woman. Lucy is believed to be a clairvoyant though she is a loving and welcoming woman who immediately recognizes that Jess is in a lot of pain and needs closure. She invites her into her huge Victorian house where she lives with a teenage girl named Star, who just like Jess has been through a lot of pain. Jess soon learns that she has to work with Star and Lucy, love and care for both of them so that they can share their pain, confront their pasts and finally live the life they need to live.

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