instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Blog

I wish you'd been there!

Well, it's that time of year again. I've just returned home from three glorious days in the small town of Jefferson, Texas, ground zero for the Pulpwood Queens. The event: the annual extravaganza,Girlfriend Weekend. I stayed at the beautiful Alley-McKay house, and I had a blast.

It all started Thursday evening, with a dinner where the authors, including moi, waited on the PQs who gathered at the Jefferson Convention Center. The amazing Kathy L. Patrick, founder of this mushrooming book club (400 chapters and growing), fed the authors first, then we each claimed a table. I served dinner to the fine ladies from Southwest Louisiana's chapter. Wonderful women with ready smiles and good hearts who put up with my well-meaning if rather inept attempts at serving sweet and unsweetened tea, a barbecue dinner followed by yummy bread pudding. There were free autographed books and everyone went to their hotel or B&B with a smile.

On Friday, we were all back early, and the weekend kicked into gear with Kathy and her co host, the superb Robert Leleux (author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy) front and center. For the next two days, they moderated the panels, asking questions and keeping us all laughing. That morning, Mark Childress (Crazy in Alabama) was the keynote speaker, and he was so funny. I loved the reading from his new book, Georgia Bottoms. Lucky for all of us he gave everyone copies.

I won't attempt to list all the authors who spoke on Friday. There are simply too many, but here are a few: Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand), Judy Christie (Goodness Gracious Green), Denise Hildreth Jones (Hurricane in Paradise), Janis Owens (Cracker Kitchen), Kathy Appelt (Keeper) and Melissa Conroy (Poppy's Pants). If I'm counting right, there were about 20 discussing their work and their lives on the stage that first day.

The talent show that night was great fun. So many imaginative acts. I heard Nashville's Marshall Chapman sing and play her guitar for the first time and loved it so much I sprung for a CD. Marshall also has a new book out: They Came to Nashville.

The following morning, Saturday, the great Fannie Flagg began the day with a rousing talk about dyslexia, writing, and the surprises live brings. She was charming and heart-warming, detailing the process that began imagining the ghosts that inhabited her family's dilapidated and abandoned homestead and ended in a beloved book: "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."

Two more panels, including mine, followed her. Wouldn't you know that Kathy would name my panel "Stories that are Killer?" On the stage, I was a bit nervous. (There were lots of folks there. At least 300, my guess.) But BobKat(Robert and Kathy) put us all at ease, giving us the opportunity to discuss our books and answer questions. I read a short passage from THE KILLING STORM, the Pulpwood Queens' main selection for July 2010.

It turned out that my panel was the opening act for the inimitable Pat Conroy Read More 
3 Comments
Post a comment

A Weekend with the Pulpwood Queens!

We all know this. It isn't news, but I'm going to spit it out: There are some pretty special people in the world. Now, you ask, how do I define "special?" Those who are able to spread enthusiasm, to get the rest of us up off our keesters (as my grandma used to say). Those who inspire us to live better lives and to help others.

One of those people is Kathy L. Patrick, founder of the Tiara wearing, book-reading Pulpwood Queens.

Yup, you got it right; I did put Tiara wearing and book reading in the same sentence. So does Kathy. She founded the club in her Jefferson, TX, beauty salon/bookstore ten years ago, and it's going strong. Last time I asked, she had something like 220 chapters and counting. Each month Kathy picks a book and an alternate for the Queens, and they read their pick then get together to discuss it.

It's true that Kathy picked my second novel, BLOOD LINES, as last November's main read, but, honestly, that's not why I'm writing this post. It's because of all Kathy does. In addition to the book clubs, she's active in a long list of other projects and still finds time to volunteer teaching literacy at a shelter. More amazing is how she influences others to become involved in good work. For instance, the Southwest Louisiana PQs raise money and supplies for a South American orphanage, and the Alaska bunch has an outreach program in a women's prison.

In fact, Kathy's so persuasive, she's inspired me to start working on a project. It's not at a point where I can talk about it yet, but when it comes together. I'll tell all of you about it.

So, you women (sorry, guys, but the club is for gals), if you have a group of friends, or if you'd like to make new friends, if you love good books and having fun, start your own Pulpwood Queen chapter. Kathy's link is on the right hand column of every page on my Web site, so it's easy to get in touch. Then get ready to be inspired!

One last note: Make sure you come to Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson next year. Oh, my goodness, such a party. Authors from all over the country will be there, maybe dressed up like this past January as the Wizard of Oz or a munchkin. It's a blast! Read More 
2 Comments
Post a comment