South Charlotte

SoMeck writer sets appearances

September's a busy month for Lori Johnson. The SoMeck author and Memphis transplant is spending a lot of time getting the word out about her debut fiction book, “After the Dance” (published this spring by Dafina/Kensington; $15).

She planned to be at the Charlotte Literary Festival on Saturday promoting the novel on author's lane. This upcoming Saturday, she'll be at a book signing at Barnes and Noble-Arboretum, from 1-3 p.m.

Next out later this month is an audio version of her book. And she'll be at Sugar Creek Library on Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. for an author talk in celebration of the branch's fifth anniversary.

In “After the Dance,” readers meet the cynical Faye Abrahams, 34, trying to resist the charms of her next-door neighbor Carl, 42, a divorced father of three. (See more at

Johnson started the book years ago as a bet with a friend who loves Harlequin Books. Johnson isn't a fan of romance novels.

“I make the distinction between a romance and a love story,” Johnson said of her book. “It's lighthearted, it's fun, it's old school like I am, it's full of old school music.”

All the bustling around town this month is a good way for the 40-something author to get a feel for her relatively new hometown. Johnson, her husband and middle-school age son moved to the Arboretum area from Memphis two years ago for his work with the federal reserve bank.

Can Charlotte make for a good fiction backdrop?

“We shall see,” says Johnson. “I love the blue skies, I even love the hills in Charlotte, and the weather is just like home.”

News, notes

All 18 N.C. locations of Massage Envy – including the southern Mecklenburg ones in the Arboretum, Ballantyne Village and the RiverGate Shopping Center in Steele Creek, and one in Union County in Cureton Town Center in Waxhaw – will give free one-hour massages on Sept. 15 to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Customers can give a personal donation. The suggested amount is the value of the massage. All funds support local breast cancer research. Massage Envy will make a $250,000 guaranteed donation.

The one-day event runs from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Appointments will be accepted starting tomorrow: 800-944-ENVY (3689);

The Assistance League of Charlotte is requesting donations of used jewelry, handbags and gold and silver scraps (like broken necklaces) for an upcoming fundraiser. The league, a nonprofit group that helps needy children and families, will raise money by selling the items during its Oct. 11 “Baubles & Bags” event. Donate items at the Assistant League Thrift Shop, 3600 S. Tryon St.; 704-525-5000.

Nichole Bell