Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Fabulous Pulpwood Queen

RHYS: it isn't often that one meets a true character these days, but Kathy Patrick is one of a kind. I met her when we were both speakers at a charity luncheon in Dallas. I thought she had been invited as a token local author. But when she started to speak I was mesmerized. I watched these rich and jaded Dallas matrons laughing and crying as she told her story. And what a story it is ... how many people have started a bookstore beauty parlour in their living room and wound up on Oprah? Or is started a book club that has become a worldwide phenomenon. So welcome to Jungle Red Kathy.

RHYS: Kathy, you have a most amazing story and I'm dying to share it with our readers. Let's start with how you came up with the idea of a combined hair salon/bookstore.

KATHY: The idea came from my sister, Karen, she's the marketing genius, not me. Yes, I got downsized from being a book publisher's representative back in October 1999, the 4th to be exact and took to my bed. That's what they do in the south. I wallered up with a stack of books and a big ole box of Russell Stover chocolates. I had big pity party and was the only one in attendance. My family ran for the hills!
I'm not sure what I ran out of first, the books or the chocolates, but as I was out of hissy fit ammunition, I decided to shower and regroup. I then called my sister, Karen, and whined to her awhile. She told me to get a grip and open my hair salon back up. I had become a hairdresser to put myself through college. When I told her that I would be bored just doing hair, she then retorted, "Well, do the book
thingy too!" That's when all these bells and whistles starting going off in my head! Ta da, I opened the first Hair Salon/Book Store that I then named Beauty and the Book!

RHYS: Now tell us about your other remarkable venture, the Pulpwood Queens, and how one small bookclub morphed into a phenomenom that made it to Oprah.

KATHY: It's really very simple. I selected a book, "Bald in the Land of Big Hair" by Joni Rogers about a women who got cancer in the land of big hair, Houston, Texas. I, being a hairdresser decided that who better than a beauty professional to say that it is more important how we are perceived on the inside than on the outside. We all want to look good too but truly beauty does come from "within". I decided to have a Best Bald Head contest and Best Wig contest to go along with the event. HarperCollins called and told me that Oprah's OXYGEN Network was interested in this take on the book and would I be interested in being on this show that was dubbed "Dallas Style". Would I ever?
My biggest thrill was not that I was actually on the show but who I was on there with. Would you believe they featured too this new singing group from Houston called Destiny's Child. Yes, I got my start with Beyonce'. How cool is that? I guess the Oprah organization just kept up with me after that because next I was
featured on the same show with Queen Latifah, when her film "Beauty Shop" came out! I feel like the Forrest Gump of the book world! READ KATHY READ!

RHYS: So how is your bookclub different from others? let's start with the wine...

KATHY: Imagine that, we did. In fact, when I announced at the first book club meeting when six complete strangers showed up at my shop, one timid hand was raised. I nodded for her to speak and she told the group she did not think she could wear comfortably a tiara, wasn't that just for beauty queens? As I stood and announced my response to that declaration, I simutaneously started pouring more wine. We were going to be "beauty within" queens because we were readers. Afterall,
doesn't true beauty come from within and I turned again to pour more wine.
At the end of the evening as the women tottered off, I had them convinced we could indeed crown ourself QUEENS!

My book club began because shortly after opening the local book club invited me to join them for their meeting. We had a fine time with a four course luncheon. We discussed the book which oh, serendipity, I had read. We sipped cordials at this magnificent southern antebellum home. All was fine and dandy until my Yankee self, blurted out, (I hail from Kansas and from here, that makes you a Northerner), "I am just thrilled to be invited to be in your book club. I have always wanted to be in a book club..." I was cut off short as the diminuative hostess grabbed my big ole Kansas farm girl arm and hauled me out into the galley. That's what they call hallways in the south,galleys and do drag out the syllables.
"Excuse me Kathy, but I'm so sorry. We didn't invite you to join our book club. We invited you as our guest," all of this whispered to me on her tippy toes. She then went on to tell me that the book club was for just eight people as that was all that would fit around their table. Neverthee mind that I had just sat at the table. I was mortified with embarrassment. "You see," she continued to whisper, unless someone dies or moves away it's just eight.
As I was driving home, I wondered, "Who made up that RULE?" I went home and immmediately starting planning my own book club in my Hair Salon/Book Store and I was going to invite everybody. I crowned myself QUEEN of The Pulpwood Queen Book Club empire and declared as our motto "where tiaras are mandatory and reading good books is the RULE!", not exclusivity. Is that a word?
We were going to be an inclusive book club and forget the table, we would gather in my shop. Our mission would be to promote authors, books, literacy, reading and help undiscovered authors get discovered in a big way! Now as we reach our 11th year an our book clubs nationwide and in ten foreign countries, we are the largest "meeting
and discussing" book club in the world!
What really makes our book club so different than other book clubs is we don't take ourselves very seriously as you can tell from my responses to your questions. But we do take our reading of our books and our authors very seriously. That is why it is not necessary to come to every meeting but if we do, everyone is to have read the book. That is important as I arrange to either have the author in for a teleconference or in person. We want to have a real discussion of their book when they take the time to grace our door! At first I had to really beg to get authors to do this but now they or their publishers call me. We are really helping a book and their author get discovered in a big way.

RHYS: How many book clubs are there now?

KATHY: 402 but who's counting, hahhaha!

RHYS:How does it work?

KATHY: Basically, someone decides they want crown themselves Head Queen of a chapter. They gather their friends once a month, plunk down $25 for membership which includes my book, "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life" as their first book club read, plus a membership certificate and card to display prominently and often and they are in for life! It's all up on my website at www.beautyandthebook.com, click on Pulpwood Queens for the full details. Do they all read the same book at the same time? Absolutement! I select the books and they all read what I pick! It's better to have one chief than too many Indians. Politically correct, not. It's as I always say, "Who made up that RULE that members select the book!" They get all clicky when they do so I am the Queen and I'm ruling when it comes to the READ!

RHYS: and not content with all this you run incredible girlfriend weekends--tell us about them.

KATHY: Girlfriend Weekend started out as me inviting back all the authors we
had featured the year before for a big bookloving party. I held that first event in my front yard under some tents. We bused in the entire Jefferson Elementary for storytimes and I think I had more authors than attendees but every year we double the attendance and now we have completely SOLD OUT for our 11th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend except for our recently added FILM FEST! The program is all up at
(Comment from Rhys-- I'm going to be a speaker at one of Kathy's weekends in May. Can't wait.) Kathy, what did you set out to achieve?

KATHY: World Peace, hahhahaha! No, I am not kidding, really. The more we read the more we understand each other.

RHYS: And what is next for the Pulpwood Queen?

KATHY: Next up? It just so happens that I am shooting pilots for a NEW book club talk show with me as the host to be called Beauty and the Book. Seriously, the premiere show will be at our Girlfriend Weekend and official press release will be announced shortly on that literacy promoting endeavor. As you can see I like to talk as much as I like to write and nothing would please me more than featuring authors in a NEW and different way to showcase their books and their stories. It will be a real trip, just wait and see!

RHYS: Anything you'd like to add?

KATHY: Well yes, I am anxiously waiting to see what happens as GalleyCat on Facebook has been running this contest to get an author on Dancing with the Stars! Evidently, I was nominated and at the top in the running. GalleyCat is sending my petition to get an author on Dancing with the Stars, much the same way that Betty White was championed to be featured on Saturday Night Live. Years ago I took clogging lessons as I thought "Clogging for Literacy" would be pretty cool. Now I'm thinking Dancing with the Stars could really send the message home that reading takes you to really amazing places. All I know is for me, promoting authors, books, literacy, and reading has given me a wonderful life and a life that is true, authentic, and full of purpose and promise. Now you tell me, who wouldn't want to join me on this bookloving journey?

Thanks Rhys, for letting me talk the talk and now walking the walk all in the name of literacy!
Tiara wearing, Beauty and the Book sharing,
Kathy L. Patrick
"Hairdresser to the Authors"
and THE Pulpwood Queen!

RHYS: thank YOU Kathy. It was a delight to meet someone who still sees life as fun. And who throws herself into living it to the full.


  1. Wow, Rhys, that's an interview and a half! Thanks for coming to visit us on Jungle Red Writers Kathy--I especially love the story about only 8 at the table:). Thank you for all you've done for reading, books, authors, and literacy. And from now on, I don't think the Jungle Reds should go anywhere without a tiara!

    So how do you choose what books your gang will read?

  2. OMG, does this mean I can take the tiara out of the closet and wear it public?
    Lovely to meet you, Kathy - what a great story! I've been in one of those stuffy book clubs, and dang, it's not supposed to be homework, it's supposed to be fun. I want to check out the sidebar on your website too - maybe Roberta and I will put on our tiaras and cowboy boots and pay you a visit!

  3. ...I just saw that Fannie Flagg is going to be at your Girlfriends Weekend - I'm so bummed I can't be there. She's one of my favorites..I'm reading I Still Dream About You now.

  4. I love your story, Kathy - not to mention your voice and incredible chutzpah! Talk about makin' lemonade! My tiara off to you!!

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