Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Pulpwood Queen, the "Forrest Gump" of Book Publishing!

I have this uncanny ability it seems to me to be at the right place at the right time.  Remember Forrest Gump, the book by Winstom Grooms and the film?  Forrest would appear at the most opportune moments. The first time I really noticed this was when I stepped off a plane standing between what I thought were two of the ugliest guys I had ever seen.  Camera crews came swooping in and I was stuck between them.  I had just landed in Austin and was heading to Willie Nelson's Last Picnic.  I think I was around 19 or 20 at the time.  These reporters were shouting questions and I just stood there just like Forrest Gump, stuck.  I couldn't move forward and I couldn't move back.  Later I found out it was The Who!  Whose The Who I thought and was told, you ninny, that was Peter Townsend and Roger Daltry.  All I remember was their really bad skin and that Peter guy had a broken arm.  I know we made the nightly news and newspapers.
Years later, I got lost at Book Expo and went through a wrong door.  I entered a room packed to the gills with a line that ran all the way through the convention center.  I shockingly realized I was standing right behind Oprah Winfrey and wearing a really enormous hat.  I quickly turned to try to go back the way I came but the door had locked behind me.  All these cameras were flashing as I slowly moved along the wall trying to get out of camera frame.  I laugh to myself thinking who was filming this thinking, who is that crazy hat lady sliding across the wall.  I have many, many of these type of stories.  Yes, I can relate to Forrest Gump.
Flash forward to when I first opened my Hair Salon/Book Store, Beauty and the Book, I had scored a real coo by getting author, Cassandra King to come to my shop and visit my book club.  I had no idea that Cassandra had married New York Time's Bestselling author, Pat Conroy, I had just fell in love with her book, "Making Waves", about a young southern woman who had inherited her aunt's hair salon and home, a perfect read for my newly formed Pulpwood Queens Book Club. 
Anyhoo, Cassandra was talking to me about her story when I told her I was writing my own story, the story of Beauty and the Book and my book club.  I asked her who her literary agent was and she told me Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates.  I slapped my head and told her, "Are you kidding me?  I know Marly!"
Years ago when I was a Children's Book Store Manager and Buyer, I had met Marly per phone as I was trying my darndest to get Pat Conroy to come to Texas.  "Beach Music" had just been released and I was determined to get my all-time favorite author to come to East Texas.  Cassandra laughed her beautiful laugh and told me, "You do know I am married to Pat Conroy!"  Well, I just about croaked on the spot.
I shared my story on how I had met Marly and had actually worked with her quite a bit in bringing authors to that independent bookstore but lost touch with her when I became a book publisher's representative. She filled me in on all their lives, again a Forrest Gump moment.
Later Marly emailed me and as I was emailing her back, she called.  She had heard from Cassandra that I was writing a book and she wanted to represent me.  Ole "Forrest", a.ka. Kat could not have been more thrilled.  It was Marly who took me and my book proposal to the New York publishing houses to pitch my book.  She's the one who got me my Grand Central Publsihing book deal. January 2008, my book, "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life" was born!
When people say they can't thank their literary agents enough, I understand completely.  But we made a pact, Marly and I, no matter what happened regarding my writing, we would remain good friends.  Till the day I die, we will always be the best of friends.
Now Cassandra has been back to my shop and my events many times.  I even got sent one of Pat's best friends, Pulitzer Prize winner and author, the late great Doug Marlette.  Our brief friendship will always be one that I will treasure forever.  You see he was killed in a hydroplaning car accident.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of Doug and his incredible intelllect and distorted sense of humor.  I would never have met him if it wasn't for Cassandra and Marly and then this past year, Pat Conroy finally came to East Texas.  He not only came for my 10th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend, he brought his author/daughter, Melissa Conroy, and his good friend and author, Janis Owens.  What wonderful, wonderful people and such wonderful books!  Life is good my friends.
I still keep pinching myself remembering what a time we had at my Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club Convention which we call Girlfriend Weekend.  My life in books has come full circle but it's not over my friends.  The blessings I receive everyday all come because I am a reader.
So if you are a new writer out there, my advice.  Read.  Read alot.  The more I read the more the more great things happen to me. 
I was reading that day right before I got off that plane in Austin, probably why I was oblivious to being smack dab in the middle of the band The Who!  I was also reading that day I took the wrong door and ended up right behind Oprah at Book Expo.  Little did I know then that years later I would appear on her show!
Oh, I know you are thinking these were just random occurances, you were just lucky.  But like Forrest Gump, I believe that someone who is pure in heart in their passion, good things will happen to you.
You've heard the saying a kazillion times, "Run, Forrest, Run".  The Kat is saying "Read, You All, Read!"  my dreams have come true and yes, "Life is like a box of chocolates".  Somebody just gave me a big ole box!
Tiara wearing and Book Sharing,
Kathy L. Patrick
Author of "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life"
Founder of the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club
P.S. Come meet me in person as I will be at the Arkansas Book Festival the second week in April and then at the Alabama Book Festival the third weekend in April.  I can hardly wait to see who I will meet at these festivals.  Hmmm, perhaps Winstom Grooms!


Anonymous said...

I just love this post. So encouraging as if the fates were looking after you!

K. Harrington said...

I love reading encouraging stories like yours, Kat. Thanks for sharing. I wish you continued success.

River Jordan said...

Had dinner tonight with Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Michael Morris, and Kerry Madden in B'ham. Subject of conversation? You and what a force you are or as MM says - "a force of nature". We are all in awe of you.