Hanging with the Pulpwood Queens

They've got tiaras and leopard print. I've got a book I desperately want the Pulpwood Queens to read. Welcome to Girlfriend Weekend!

Pulpwood Queens attack! (Photo by Joe O'Connell)

If you want to be a book-selling monster, you go to Oprah. If you want to hang out with people who love books (and buy lots of them), you go to the Pulpwood Queen's Girlfriend Weekend, which officially gets going on Friday in the tiny East Texas bed-and-breakfast hamlet of Jefferson. As a featured author (my novel Evacuation Plan was excerpted in the Chronicle here), I came early for the Thursday night bash featuring authors and a select few tiara-clad book lovers. We dined on homemade vittles and schmoozed each other. Most of all we reveled in the notion that for a moment we were rock stars. The actual Pulpwood Queen is Kathy Patrick, a former book rep who opened Beauty and the Book, a combo bookstore/beauty parlor, in Jefferson in 2000 and suddenly found herself featured on Good Morning America and even Oprah's Oxygen Network. She's got a not so secret ulterior motive--she likes books and thinks we all should be reading more of them. She has gone so far as to create a program promoting literacy among the area homeless. She's also got a bubbly, infectious personality that makes Girlfriend Weekend, a convention of her--count 'em--209 Pulpwood Queen chapters, a lot different that say the Texas Book Festival. Authors rub shoulders and leopard print with readers and everybody dresses to excess.

Kathy Patrick with the cat dolls her true book believers were awarded with Thursday. (Photo by Joe O'Connell)

For authors it's nirvana. And this year's include such recognizable names as Robert Leleux, who showed up with his mother made famous in Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy (sorry, I didn't get a photo of them--yet!). For Queens, there was the presentation of cat dolls to the truest of the true. Meow.

The evening ended with a stop at Beauty and the Book, where all authors were instructed to autograph the Powder Room door, located right next to a life-size cutout of Queen Latifah and not far from the hair dryers. Then the authors went home to rest up for more, visions of Oprah dancing in their heads.

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