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March 21, 2008

The Book Club Queen Hits The Road --- As An Author

Posted by carol
Kathy L. Patrick is the owner of Beauty and the Book, the only Hair Salon/Bookstore in the country located in historic Jefferson, Texas. She also is founder of The Pulpwood Queens Book Club, which is the largest "meeting and discussing" book club in the world. I had the pleasure of meeting her last June at a book convention where she was a panelist on a panel that I moderated. After years of hosting authors at her salon and at her three book festivals in the Arkansas/Louisiana/Texas area --- Books Alive, Girlfriend Weekend, and the International Book Club Author Extravaganza --- Kathy hit the road recently to promote her own book, The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing Book-Sharing Guide to Life. Today we bring you Part One of her blog about the tour with Part Two to follow on Monday.

I just finished my first book tour. Returning home sleep deprived, dazed, and confused, I turned off the phone, the laptop and crashed for almost a week. You all, I had no idea. I had dreamed of writing my own book, my own story, for it seemed like forever. It took six years from start to finish. I thought I was prepared for a book tour. As I recuperate I am thinking Dickens here. You know the quote from A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

So a little back story....

My publisher leased me a Suburban (we call them Texas Cadillacs here in Texas) for my book tour road trip where I was traveling with four of my Pulpwood Queens to 27 bookstore destinations in 10 states. I left on January 3rd for a more-than-month-long trip with a final stop schedule for February 7th. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. What fun, to travel with my girlfriends to new and exciting places and be the featured author. This really was a dream come true. I was to be Cinderella at the book selling ball!

As we packed our 24 assorted bags into the back of our platinum-colored Texas Cadillac, I was on cloud nine. Fast forward to that first stop in Oklahoma City. We drove most of the day to get there and when we arrived, it was colder than a witch's tit, pardon my French. First thing, my Oklahoma Sooner red cowboy hat complete with tiara blew off my head headed toward the freeway. Pulpwood Queen Elizabeth Stokes sprinted to catch the little sucker and no harm done, just one nice long black skid mark under the brim. I slapped the hat on to keep my hair from whipping in my face. Onward book soldiers.

My first reading, I read the one scandalous story in the book. Scandalous meaning it had the "s word." No biggie, right?

The only male in the audience came up to me right after my book talk and reading and told me how much he enjoyed my talk. He also told me he had written a book too that was an overview of all the world's religions. Have you guessed? Yes, he was a minister. I noted to myself, you must rethink the reading.

Tulsa was just fantastic then onward to Wichita, Kansas just an hour from my hometown. As we pulled into the parking lot of Watermark's we all got a rush as women packed in cars were pulling in in droves all wearing tiaras. How cool was this going to be --- and it was! The bookstore sold out of books, and asked, "Did I have some perhaps with me?" Are you kidding, I thought? I brought two cases, just in case. They wanted them all. I handed them over thinking this book tour is going to be so cool. Here it's just the beginning and we are selling out.

The next stop was the brand spanking new library in my hometown of Eureka, Kansas. I was on pins and needles thinking who in the world might show up. Classmates, people from church, I could hardly wait, only one problem. The library had not known they were supposed to order books. I am now thinking, man, I wish I had those two cases of books.

No problem as I just pre-sold the books and promised everybody I would get them, sign them and send them back to them when I got home. Everybody was so nice about it that when I got home I donated signed books to those who helped, the library, the schools, and the museum. I also found out I was the only published author from my county.

Now in the midst of all this I am staying in pretty swanky hotels, courtesy of my publisher and also staying with friends. Again, pretty swanky digs. My best friends from home own the Teichgraeber ranch. Move over, J.R Ewing. It made Southfork look like the ranch hands' bunk house.

I was getting use to, "Would you like valet parking?" One hotel in St. Louis even asked if we would like our Texas Cadillac detailed. They even had an in-house theater that ran first run films. All the girls were dying to see "The Kite Runner." I wanted to see it again as saw a preview screening at Southern Independent Bookseller's Convention in Atlanta. After my booksigning that evening, we were too pooped to go.

Onward to Blytheville, Arkansas with crosswinds whipping us back and forth even in our loaded down Texas Cadillac. I was hanging on for dear life to the steering wheel as semis blasted past us. We named the G.P.S. device in the car Ruby Magnolia. Only we kept calling it our U.P.S. As in "Check the U.P.S. Kay, I think we should be there by now."

We barely made it into town in time for the booksigning so the girls told me they would get my stuff, and that I should run on ahead. Run I did. Pulpwood Queen Joyce Smith --- 71-year-old Joyce Smith --- was right behind me. With her big hair with tiara bent to the wind, wearing my faux leopard full length fur, my leopard cowboy boots, and pulling my leopard rolling suitcase, she was quite a vision. Right as she got the store, a young man with a child on his shoulders bundled for a blizzard, ran up to Joyce.

"Excuse me ma'am, is there someone I can call for you. You shouldn't be out in this weather all night." She yanked the suitcase into the bookstore perturbed. She wasn't sure if he thought she was a lady of the night or homeless. We laughed until we all about wet our pants. Well, maybe I did, just a little bit.

Now at every book store, I also did big hair makeovers courtesy of Raquel Welch HairUWear "Put on Hair Pieces." You see, I am not your typical author. I also own the only Hair Salon/Book Store in the country, Beauty and the Book. My book, The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life is my story of my life in books.

It is also the story of Beauty and the Book and The Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs, which I started with six women here in East Texas. Today it is the largest "meeting and discussing" book club in the world! Move over Leonardo DiCaprio, "I'm the Queen of the WORLD!" Well, the book world that is. Well, after Oprah then maybe Queen of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club World. Hard to explain how this all happened in one blog so you will just have to read the book.

----Kathy L. Patrick

Monday Kathy and her Queens drive onto Memphis, home of THE King to continue their book tour adventures. Tune in to read more about the glamorous life on the road.