Guilded Leaf Book & Author Luncheon to Benefit Children’s Literacy

Carmel Clay Public Library staff work yearround to host the annual Guilded Leaf Book & Author Luncheon. Team members include (left to right) Becky Bryenton, Nancy Newport, Sheila Morone, Andy Murphy, Ruth Nisenshal, Lynn Watson, and Beth Smietana.

The Guilded Leaf’s 6th Annual Book & Author Luncheon is generating quite a bit of excitement in the heart of the luncheon moderator, Andy Murphy. After all, the event melds two of her passions in life: writing and literacy. Andy, a published author, speaker and executive director of the WriteStuff Writers’ conferences and events, is spreading the news of The Guilded Leaf luncheon wherever she goes.

Scheduled for October 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the signature fundraising event hosted by the Guild of the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation will be held at the Ritz Charles in Carmel. Wendy Phillips, executive director of the library, is excited about the Guild’s line up of six best selling authors, which includes Roy Blount, Jr., Brian Haig, Joyce Maynard, Sena Jeter Naslund, David Wiesner and Jason F. Wright. Proceeds from The Guilded Leaf Book & Author Luncheon go to the Carmel Clay Public Library children’s literacy programs.

Raises Funds for Children’s Literacy Programs

Andy Murphy, the moderator of the Guilded Leaf Book & Author Luncheon, is a published author and speaker.

The library has several programs that are designed to promote literacy and the discussion of literature. The Early Literacy program targets children from birth to age five and lays the foundation for pre-reading skills. Other programs encourage reading for the elementary through high school ages. In addition, the library has established the annual, community-wide Carmel Clay Reads program. Funds are also needed to meet the needs of children in the community who are learning English as a new language.

Finally, proceeds from The Gilded Leaf will be used to underwrite the program. is an independent, online tutoring program, which is completely free for library patrons. Students simply log on to Live Homework Help from via the Carmel Clay Public Library’s website. The service can be accessed from 5:00-10:00 p.m. daily, either at the library or remotely, and it links students directly to professional tutors in a variety of subjects. Students from kindergarten to adult learners can use this service.

And these are all worthy causes to Andy, because literacy is an issue that makes her come alive. “Where would we be without the written word?” she asked. “Reading is the foundation for learning anything.” Andy understands this at a deeper level than most people. Complications from the disease Sarcoid erased a huge portion of her memory at the age of 38. She found herself in a child-like position of having to redevelop her reading skills all over again. “I understand how hard it is not to be able to read and how the world opens up to you when you finally grasp the alphabet letters and paragraphs. … So that’s a very important cause to my own heart,” she said.

Boosts Local Community

Besides the obvious benefit to the literacy programs, The Guilded Leaf will also be a boost to the local community. “How often can you meet six different best-selling authors who come and talk to you about their books and careers and then sit and talk to you as they sign your book?” queries Andy. She points out that even if you can meet your favorite author in a bookstore signing, you have relatively little time to interact with the author as you wait in line.

The Guilded Leaf, however, is designed to allow the authors and the attendees to interact. It’s a fun, uplifting day for the approximately 400 people who attend. Andy points out that authors are flattered when they meet fans that have read their works and know their stories and characters and backgrounds. And the attendees are able to see the authors as real people who were not always famous, but may have even struggled with numerous rejections before getting a book published.

Andy stresses that this opens a window of hope to those attending, who may still be wrestling with their own publishing hopes or other dreams in their lives. “You’re never too late to change your life,” Andy emphasized. “I was 45 when I wrote my first book.”

Luncheon Schedule

The Guilded Leaf Book & Author Luncheon is a leisurely day with ample time for author presentations built into the schedule. The time from 9:30-11:00 a.m. is designated for meeting the authors, book sales, book signings, a raffle and silent auction. From 11:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. an elegant lunch will be served while the authors speak. Finally, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. the event continues with more book sales and signings. Individual admission is $60, while a corporate table of 10 may be purchased for $1,000. For reservations (please respond by October 18), call 317-814-3905.

Author Presentations

A favorite part of the luncheon for Andy is the author presentations. The authors are funny, insightful and sometimes emotional, reaching out to the audience. That’s important to Andy. “People need to be touched. They need emotion,” she said. This in turn feeds back to the authors. “If you touch someone and get a reaction, as an author … that’s joy,” she said.

Of course, an event like The Guilded Leaf could not be pulled off without a whole host of volunteers. Ruth Nisenshal is the director of the Guild of the Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation. She and the Guild membership of about 80 people put in hundreds of hours to prepare for the luncheon. Co-Chairs for this year’s event are Mary Eckard and Joyce Winner.

“Carmel has strong support from corporate sponsors who care about literacy and prove it through their donations,” states Nisenshal.

Ultimately, in a day when many arts programs are being cut from budgets, Andy is delighted to be a part of a program that emphasizes the importance of literacy and the arts in the Carmel community. At the end of The Guilded Leaf, both the authors and attendees benefit. The authors have had an opportunity for feedback on their work. “It’s a day they will walk away from, and it means something to them,” Andy said. And, aspiring writers will “go home and go back to that novel in the back of their minds and write with renewed energy,” she emphasized. It’s a passion that will be shared and passed on in the life of our community.

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