Thursday, January 24, 2008

LONG LIVE THE PULPWOOD QUEENS!















My Night With The Queens
- Michael Morris -

My year has already been adventurous and the first month is not even over. After the holidays we returned home from St. George Island, Florida and welcomed the queen of hearts and books, Kathy Patrick and three of her reigning Texas book club queens to our home. Kathy and her entourage – Jean, Joyce and Kay – were on the road promoting the Pulpwood Queens and Kathy’s latest book The Pulpwood Queen’s Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide To Life. She had a terrific signing at Jake Reiss’ Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, followed by a dinner at our home and evening entertainment – one of the ‘big hair make-overs’ that Kathy provides a lucky audience member at a signing. Only at our home, it was my wife Melanie, me and our dog Frisco who received the star treatment with Kathy fixing us up in Raquel Welch hair extensions! (Let me just add that Melanie and Frisco looked a whole lot better in the wigs than I did.)

Kathy is one of those people who exudes energy and from the second I met her I felt that I’d known her my entire life. In fact, she tells everyone that I’m her adopted brother. In a way that is fitting because I first learned about Kathy from my mama. As many of you know, Kathy and the Jefferson City Pulpwood Queens launched “Good Morning America’s” Book Club several years ago with a live feed from Kathy’s store – the only book store/ beauty shop in the country. Her club empowers women to read, to promote reading with their friends and community and to celebrate their inner beauty. (To celebrate that beauty they wear tiaras with a confidence that they would make any Miss America proud.)

After Kathy and her fellow queens appeared on “Good Morning America”, my mama called and said that she felt these women would be the ideal readers for my first novel, A Place Called Wiregrass -- a story about the power of friendship and the determination of the human spirit in overcoming abuse and celebrating second chances. I searched Kathy out on the internet, figuring that after I sent her an email detailing the story and how my mama had spotted her on TV, that would be the end of it. Well, it wasn’t. Kathy wrote back and offered her address. She read A Place Called Wiregrass, kindly posted good words about the book on her website and when my second novel Slow Way Home came out, she made it an official Pulpwood Queen selection. A highlight of the book tour was visiting Kathy and driving around with her throughout East Texas and Western Louisiana, visiting the Pulpwood Queens and talking about life and books. At the book clubs I felt at home. I had found the women I wrote about – strong, smart and courageous women who seemed to share a special sense of family, the sort that can be even stronger than blood ties.

The Pulpwood Queens are a great deal more than fun-loving ladies with hearty appetites for books. They are a force of nature. Kathy Patrick leads the charge in promoting literacy and helping young people discover the wonders of the written word. Whether it’s talking about her latest book, organizing fundraisers for literacy or passing out picture books at elementary schools, Kathy talks candidly about how reading helped her retreat from life’s disappointments and brought her inner strength that eventually led down the road to form the largest book club in the world. In this campaign for literacy Kathy has used her wonderful flair for the flamboyant to get the word out – known as the ‘reading lady’ by the children she reaches, Kathy has gone so far as dressing up in full body leopard in July and even recruiting her dog to perform in the act. Kathy Patrick does whatever it takes to make children intrigued enough to reach out, accept her gift and discover the magical power of reading. I bow to the queen of reading and thank her for her example. Long live the Queens!

Michael Morris is the author of the award winning novel, A Place Called Wiregrass and Slow Way Home, which was named one of the best novels of 2003 by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the St. Louis Dispatch. His novella, Live Like You Were Dying, was a finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Award.

3 comments:

The Pulpwood Queen said...

Michael,
Well, now you know why I adopted you as my brother! You are the best! Melanie too and now onward and upward book soldier! The Pulpwood Queens and I are on a mission to promote literacy and the ride is so much more enjoyable when you have the authors riding with you!
Love you forever bro!
kat
Founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs
P.S. For more photos on the book tour, Alabama Booksmith, and the Morris's go to www.pulpwoodqueen.com

River Jordan said...

Michael,

You were missed bunches this year in Texas. But as you know the queens did their Pulpwood thing to the hilt. And Kathy looks DIVINE on the pink scooter!

River

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