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Cabarrus Magazine

Former Concord Tribune Employee Publishes First-Ever Book, Brings it to Cabarrus County

Jun 10, 2017 06:21AM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Tony, Lula Mae, Lee and Maria with the barn in the background.

Maria Santomasso Hyde is a fresh new author with a her first-ever novel published, and used to work at The Concord Tribune back in the 1980s. She recently was at the Art Walk in downtown Concord signing books on June 9th, 2017.

Maria in the newsroom of
The Concord Tribune, 1981

Maria landed her job at The Concord Tribune right out of college, where she  attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. After her stint at The Concord Tribune, Maria was a public relations writer. She then entered the world of sales as a rep for college text book publisher Holt, Rinehart, and Winston/Harcourt Brace.

Now, Maria owns and manages Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis, NC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, Lee Hyde.

Her book, titled He Gave Me Barn Cats, released March 14, 2017, from Dancing Lemur Press. It's Maria's first book ever, and she has been thrilled to release it. Read on to read the synopsis as well as a few reviews.


After many years of care-giving and too many losses too close together, Maria has a sadness bordering on darkness.  When she discovers her barn is home to a mother cat and kittens, they teach her as only animals can do… but the darkness envelopes her like the fog that blankets her Blue Ridge Mountain home each morning.  She creates a scorecard:  God: 9, Maria: 0.  Her questions turn into anger at God.  Will she learn to trust again?  Will the barn cats help her heal?


Reviewers have called this book "a yarn exquisitely told, a raw and truthful journey" (Tom Mayer, editor, The Mountain Times); “engaging… with unexpected perspectives"  (Cathy Pickens, author of the Southern Friedseries); "compelling and infused with the heart-breaking and heart-lifting realities of life" (Kurt Rheinheimer, editor, Blue Ridge Country magazine); "The narrators draw us in to tell a complex, age-old story of love, loss, and learning to trust again."  (Hope Squires, author of The Flourishing Tree)
A reader said, “I got your book today. It was here when I got home from work, so I took a quick shower, ate a bite and began reading. It was so good I couldn't put it down. Therefore, I've read it in one evening. I really enjoyed it and can't wait for Cat-Tales! Hearing your words and pain are so familiar to my feelings when I lost my mother.”
Another reader said, “The book is very well written, at times both humorous and heartbreaking, and a compelling read.  I recommend this book on the depth of feeling, pain, joy, conviction, and genuine soul searching Maria allows the reader to witness through her writing.”

Upcoming Readings:

Alta Vista Gallery is hosting a Book Launch Party on Saturday, June 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., for He Gave Me Barn Cats.  The public is invited to this free event, and refreshments will be served.  

The gallery is located at 2839 Broadstone Road, Valle Crucis, NC -- between Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex -- only 10 minutes from Boone, NC.  For a map and directions to the gallery, visit

Did you catch Maria at the Art Walk? If so, let us know in the comments! 

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