The Pulpwood Queen & Timber Guys Book Club is the largest meeting and discussing book club in the world. I first met its founder, Kathy Murphy, at her annual Girlfriend Weekend in January 2015, where tiaras, pink feathered boas and costumes are required (yes, that’s me in the pic, dressed as Scarlett, with Kathy, dressed as the Geisha!). I’m excited to be returning again this January as one of her guest authors. Below Kathy discusses her book-to-film project, her club’s mission … and how you can get in on the fun! Connect with Kathy on Twitter @PulpwoodQueen or visit her website: beautyandthebook.com.
This guest post is by Kristen Harnisch. Harnisch is the award-winning author of The Vintner’s Daughter, the first novel in a series about the changing world of vineyard life at the turn of the twentieth century. Her next novel, The California Wife, will be released in 2016. Harnisch has been a speaker at the Writer’s Digest Conference and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children. Connect with Kristen at kristenharnisch.com, on Twitter @KristenHarnisch, and on Facebook facebook.com/kristenharnischauthor.
You started the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club out of your Texas hair salon sixteen years ago with six members. How did you grow it into a global franchise with over 500 chapters and what’s your plan for the future?
Starting my book club has been deemed a brilliant marketing plan when, in fact, it was just a matter of survival. I started Beauty and the Book because I love to make people feel happy about themselves and I love to read. I thought if I ever wanted to be in a book club, I would have to start one myself, thus The Pulpwood Queens Book Club was born—a name based on the industry of East Texas. Super seedling pine trees are grown for pulp, pulp is made into paper, but we don’t read pulp fiction, we read everything.
The media loved that I combined my two passions: beauty and books! From my first author event, Oxford American Magazine covered my Grand Opening, which eventually led to Oprah’s OXYGEN Network feature, then Good Morning America features, and then a three-page feature in The Los Angeles Times entitled “The Tastemaker.” There were only twelve PQ book club chapters at the time and now we’re up to almost 600 chapters nationwide and in 15 foreign countries. Those media features and word-of-mouth publicity have turned the Pulpwood Queens into the largest “meeting and discussing” book club in the world. My future plan is to keep this literacy-promoting book club going with the next generations of readers, long after I am gone from this world.
What criteria do you use to choose the monthly book club selections? And how can an author submit his/her book to be considered?
1) The book must be well written. I don’t care who publishes it, but it must be well edited.
2) Since my book club is international, I am looking for stories that have not been told before or stories told from a different perspective. I don’t need another southern beauty queen read unless it has a fresh take. We want books that change people’s lives for the better. Books in all genres, written by men and women, that enlighten, entertain, and have redemptive qualities.
3) I love to help first time authors get discovered in a big way. I recently discovered the Donbridge novellas of author R.D. Vincent at a book festival and voila! These American folk and fairy tales are perfect for our upcoming “Once-Upon-a-Time”-themed annual Pulpwood Queen Book Club convention that we call Girlfriend Weekend, January 14-17, 2016. Anybody can read a New York Times Bestseller but I’m looking for the next undiscovered Harper Lee, the next Hans Christian Anderson, the next John Steinbeck, but with a new twist on the story.
4) We are also looking for stories that are discussable. We are looking for stories from a new perspective, like My Orange Duffel Bag by Sam Bracken with Echo Garrett. We are also looking for stories set around the world, like The Canal House by Mark Lee.
Please submit to:
Beauty and the Book @ The Nail and Hair Shed
Attention: Kathy L. Murphy
2501 S. FM 2869, Suite B
Hawkins, Texas 75765
Send a galley or finished book to the above address and include contact information. DO NOT CALL ME to see if I received it. You may email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will contact you if the the book does find a perfect fit with my Pulpwood Queen Reads! All of this is posted on my website, www.beautyandthebook.com!
Your book, The Pulpwood Queen’s Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life is headed for the big screen. Tell us about the process of collaborating with Hollywood screenwriter Clare Sera on your life story.
Clare Sera is the bomb! One of the nicest, funniest, loveliest people I have ever met. We have made a promise that no matter what happens with my book to film, we will remain friends forever!
As a consultant on the book to film, she has been just wonderful to work with but do note, The Pulpwood Queens film is based on my book but is not exactly like my book or life. Hollywood does tend to exaggerate or change up a story so please remember it’s just based on my life story, The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life. I can guarantee you, it will be highly entertaining while promoting books, authors, literacy, and READING!
What are your hopes for this year’s PQ Girlfriend Weekend, to be held from January 14-17 in Nacogdoches, Texas?
My hope is that more readers will make that connection with some of the best undiscovered authors in the country. That’s my mission—to help undiscovered authors get discovered in a big way and to promote authors, books, literacy and reading!
This year, we have nearly fifty featured authors—some famous, most undiscovered—who will dress up as fairies and woodland creatures for our “Once-Upon-A-Time”-themed Author Dinner, where they’ll be waiting the tables. This is a participatory event: all must participate in all activities, including the author panels. There will be music, drama, action, and even coloring time. We will give awards for the Best Pulpwood Queen Style and Books of the Year 2015. At our Grand Finale, the Great Big Ball of Hair Ball, guests will dress up as their favorite fairy tale character. There will be a Timber Guy Sexy Reading Contest and more Kodak moments than you could ever dream of. We still have packages available at www.beautyandthebook.com!
Favorite funny author or PQ Girlfriend Weekend story?
One year, Andrea Portes was a brand new author who had written a book entitled Hick that went on to film fame. She missed her flight coming in to Shreveport, Louisiana and hitched a ride to Jefferson, Texas with this older couple. Once she arrived in downtown Jefferson, she grabbed her rolling suitcase and walked into this bar called Auntie Skinner’s Riverboat Club and hollered out, “Anybody know where I can find Kathy Patrick (my name at that time)?”
A big-haired red-necked gal hollered back, “She’s having her Girlfriend Weekend just up the next block at Diamond Bessie’s!” Around 10:30 that night, Andrea Portes strolled into the end of our Author Dinner with a story to tell. I’ll never forget this little bitty thing marching in and telling us that story. You see folks, it’s all about the story and that’s why I’m on a mission to get the world reading while having some big laughs and big time fun!
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.