The Pulpwood Queens Virtual Girlfriend Weekend: January 14-17 2021

2021 International Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Virtual Online Zoomathon Book Club Convention that we call our Girlfriend Weekend Slumber Party!

From Founder, Kathy Murphy: We really like to roll out the red carpet, or should I say leopard print carpet, for all the authors that grace us with their presence during our annual book club convention that we call Girlfriend Weekend.  The books of authors that I select are made either Official Pulpwood Queen Book Club Selections or Bonus Book Club Selections.  These authors are invited to attend and be featured at our annual convention always held Martin Luther King Weekend.  This year marks our 21st Anniversary and will be the first virtual event in the history of The Pulpwood Queens. I love to treat all our authors royally, and bow to the feet of our author Kings and Queens!

Pulitzer Prize winners, Edward Humes and the late great Doug Marlette, Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg, John Berendt, Alice Hoffman, Lisa Wingate, and even Supermodel Paulina Porizkova have been featured at our Girlfriend Weekend.

These authors provide a great draw, but our real mission is to include the first time, first book author, and the undiscovered author who we like to help to get discovered in a big way.

We showcase all of them each year, close to 50 authors who always grace our annual book club hosted festival which we call GIRLFRIEND WEEKEND, always held Martin Luther King Weekend in January of each year. The dates for the 2021 online event are:

January 14 – 17, 2021

We will have Keynotes, Marilyn Simon RothsteinMary MorrisCaroline Leavitt, and more plus panels of authors with blogger and special moderators for three days of events.

Look into The Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend information, and how to join us at the online Book Club Event here:

Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend Packages and Tickets! (thepulpwoodqueens.com)

See you there with TIARA ON, they are mandatory!

Kathy L. Murphy, whose vision became 800 International Book Club Chapters all under the banner of The Pulpwood Queens Book Club!

Artist/Author/Founder of the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Clubs and Author of “The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life”

From The Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend 2020

Author Kathleen Rodgers ( The Flying Cutterbucks) is a 2021 Featured Author

Members of The Pulpwood Queens Book Club Houston, Chapter!
Authors being interviewed on stage talking about writing and their books, and afterwards signing their books!
Dressed up for the theme: How the West Was Won at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend. At left, author Johnnie Bernhard of Sisters of the Undertow and others; far right, author Susan Cushman, Friends of the Library and others!

I wrote this for Southern Writers Magazine in 2019

For the uninitiated, first I’ll answer the question, “What in the world is meant by the Pulpwood Queens?” Thank you for asking. The Pulpwood Queens is a book club. It is the brain-child of one fabulous woman from Texas, Kathy L. Murphy, a painter and hair stylist who owned a salon in Jefferson, Texas, worked as a publisher’s rep until she lost the job, and, rather than lying down, bounced back by consolidating her talents. She opened Beauty and the Book, the world’s only combined hair salon and bookstore. From there, she founded The Pulpwood Queens of East Texas Book Club, which exploded into a nation-wide success. Today, The Pulpwood Queens has 765 book club chapters comprised of the most enthusiastically dedicated readers under the sun. I know this because many of the book club members showed up last weekend in Jefferson, Texas for the annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend. They brought their giddy-up in their get-along, wore tiaras and full costume for 2019’s How the West was Won theme, and, for the first time, I was there as a featured author. I will tell you in no uncertain terms that the weekend was the Mardi Gras of the book world. Three days of back-to-back panels comprised of authors introducing themselves and their latest work to a rapt audience of readers eager to discover new books. And in the middle of it, Kathy Murphy: the hub of the wheel, the Pulpwood Queen herself, her magnanimous heart on her sleeve in the middle of her mother-hen joy.

The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend was an organized, over-the-top, combined book and love-fest. It’s not so easy to corral unbridled enthusiasm into a manageable space, though we all made the trip to Texas for the same reason. We came to fraternize with each other in an arena without hierarchy. We were there because we love books, the people who write them, and all those who read. All this reported, there was a plan. There was structure, lest the two hundred or more participants melt into a fawning, neck-hugging puddle of ecstasy over meeting a long-admired author in person for the first time, or someone known only through Facebook, now within arm’s reach.  For months prior, Kathy Murphy’s right-hand administrator, Tiajuana Anderson Neel, sent notice via social media about what to expect from the weekend and when. She posted a list of recommended lodging, suggested costumes, and shared the weekend’s schedule of events on the Pulpwood Queens Website, where she instructed all authors on how to donate an item pertaining to their book, for silent auction, whose proceeds were to benefit everyone’s favorite non-profit, The Pat Conroy Literary Center, in Beaufort, South Carolina.   

On a personal note, I wasn’t going to miss this. No fire, torrential rain, nor threat of mudslide could keep me from leaving Malibu, California and making my way to LAX. I was going to Jefferson, Texas on January 17, if I had to walk, spurred by the fire of anticipation over a three-day book festival aimed at mingling authors and readers.  Every second it took to get from Malibu to Atlanta to Shreveport then make the forty-nine- minute drive into Jefferson, Texas was worth it, and I knew it for what it was when I checked into the Excelsior House Hotel.

I’d be hard-pressed to envision a better backdrop for a book festival than Jefferson, Texas. Everything in the historic town was within walking distance to the convention center, where the party was held. Ambling down the spacious sidewalk on my way to the opening ceremony, I passed restaurants, a coffee shop, and the fully-realized General Store, which had a sign out front reading, “Welcome to the Pulpwood Queens.” It seemed the entire town was behind Girlfriends Weekend. So much so, that even Jefferson’s mayor showed up. Local shops contributed discount codes to the weekend’s attendees, and area restaurants remained open long past their closing schedule because word of the weekend’s festivities was all over the streets.

One foot inside the convention center, and the party was in full-swing. People milled about in cowboy hats and tiaras, smiling ear-to-ear, wearing boots. It was like being in a bee-hive holding the reins of a live wire, until the introduction of each featured author ensued, and the eight Southern Writers on Writing panelists took the stage, then the entire room suddenly felt like being in church. The audience was riveted as each of the panelists shared their thoughts on what it means to be a writer—a Southern writer, certainly, yet the breadth and scope of the discussion was also far-reaching, setting the tone for the following two days.

To bare witness to authors, nationally known and otherwise, talking about the premise of their books was a study in the passionate fires that lead a writer to pick up a pen in the first place. Throughout the weekend, there were key-note speakers that brought down the house: Revis Wortham, Paula McClain, Ann Weisgarber, Ann Wertz Garvin, Lisa Wingate, River Jordan, and we were all thrilled by the repeated participation of author Patti Callahan Henry, who appeared wearing a black, bouffant wig as the singer, June Carter Cash. One after another, Kathy Murphy moderated panels, giving a forum to authors who introduced themselves and their books in what seemed an intimate setting. Primarily, the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend is geared toward readers; it was to them that each author gave their all, before taking a position at a table to shake hands and sign their book.

A highlight of Girlfriends Weekend was the group that came from Beaufort, South Carolina to share the stories about beloved author, Pat Conroy, who was written about in a series of essays assembled in the engaging book, Our Prince of Scribes. Pat Conroy, many knew, was a proponent of and participant in Girlfriends weekend. On the last day of the weekend, the pillars of The Pat Conroy Literary Center gave a talk about Conroy, with an attendant video that touched the hearts of everyone in the room.

Girlfriends Weekend concluded with a party unlike any other. Billed as The Big Hair Ball, it was all that and more. I’ve never seen such thought go into a bevy of costumes aimed at a western theme: cows, Indians, a pioneer woman, Annie Oakley, outrageous wigs, studded cowboy hats, and a mustache to rival actor Sam Elliot’s swirled on the dance floor in a celebratory vortex to the beats ranging from country to disco to pop.

The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend was simultaneously an education and a blast. I’m thinking I made life-long friends there, in a jury of my peers. Three days in a weekend that felt too short by half, the first thing I did when I got home was mark my calendar for next year’s Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend.

Reavis Wortham, Kathy Murphy, Betty Hunt Koval, Lisa Wingate, Julie Cantrell, Bren McClain

A 2021 Featured Book Club Selection!

The Official 2021 International Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club Selections

January Book of the Month:
Spellbound Under the Spanish Moss: A Southern Tale of Magic by Connor Judson Garrett and Kevin N. Garrett

January International Book of the Month:
King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema by Anupama Chopra

January Bonus Book Club Selections:

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The Book of Longings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

The Exiles: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

February Book of the Month:

My Pursuit of Beauty: A Cosmetic Chemist Reveals The Glitz, The Glam, and The Batsh*t Crazy by Vince Spinnato and Mickey Goodman

February International Book of the Month:

Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Single Day by Jay Shetty

February Bonus Books of the Month:

The Paris Library: A Novel by Janet Skeslien Charles

Her. Vol. 1 and Her. Vol.2 by Pierre Alex Jeanty

What? And Give Up Show Business? by James Hampton

Knock! Knock!: Lessons Learned and Stories Shared— 

 A Ride-Along with Sales Superstar Doug Thompson by Douglas Thompson and Echo Montgomery Garrett

March Book Club Selection:

The Chanel Sisters: A Novel by Judithe Little

March International Book Club Selection:

Paradise Road: A Memoir by Marilyn Kriete

March Bonus Book Club Selections:

The Mermaid Mahjong Circle: A Fairy Tale for Women by Claudia Grossman

The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

The Book of Lost Friends: A Novel by Lisa Wingate

April Book Club Selection:

The Flying Cutterbucks: A Novel by Kathleen M. Rogers

April International Book Club Selection:

The Takeaway Men: A Novel by Meryl Ain

April Bonus Book Club Selections:

The Fallen Girls: Book 1 and Her Final Prayer: Book 2 Detective Clara Jefferies by Kathryn Casey

A Child Lost by Michelle Cox

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger

Cold Reading Murder by R. J. Lee

May Book of the Month:
A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me…And You by Leslie Lehr

May International Book Club Selection:

Dreaming in a Time of Dragons by G. Claire

May Bonus Book Club Selection:

Temple of Eternity (Bobby Ether Series) by R. Scott Boyer

Greenwood: A Novel of a Family Tree in a Dying Forest by Michael Christie

Crazy Brave: A Memoir by Joy Harjo and An American Sunrise: Poems by Poet Laureate of The United States Joy Harjo

When Stars Go Dark: A Novel by Paula McLain

June Book of the Month:

Pearl River Mansion by Richard Schwartz with Wendy Carter

June International Book of the Month:

Among the Maasai: A Memoir by Juliet Cutler

June Bonus Books of the Month:

The Madwoman of Preacher’s Cove by Joy Ross Davis

The Small Crimes of Tiffany Templeton by Richard Fifield

Sharp as a Serpent’s Tooth: Eva and Other Stories by Mandy Haynes

Outbound Train: A Novel by Renea Winchester

July Book of the Month:

The Gumbeaux Sistahs: A Novel by Jax Frey

July International Book of the Month

Come Sunday: A Novel by Isla Morley

July Bonus Book Club Selections:

A Million Little Lies: A Novel by Bette Lee Crosby

Copper, Iron, and Clay: A Smith’s Journey by Sara Dahmen

What Lies Ahead (Fireside, Texas Book II) by Marci Henna

Crescent City Sin by Nola Nash

August Book Club Selection:

The Last Blue: A Novel by Isla Morley

August International Book Club Selection:

Suspension: A Novel by Andrea Faye Christians

August Bonus Book Club Selections:

The Last of the Moon Girls: A Novel by Barbara Davis

Boop and Eve’s Road Trip: A Novel by Mary Helen Sheriff

A Season in Lights: A Novel in Three Acts by Gregory Erich Phillips

What’s Not Said by Valerie Taylor

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

September Book of the Month:

Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves Into History by Lauren Marino

September International Book of the Month

The Ancient Way: Discoveries on the Path of Celtic Christianity by River Jordan

September Bonus Book Club Selections:

Hippie Chick: Coming of Age in the 60’s by Ilene English

Always A Song: Singers, Songwriters, Sinners, and Saints/My Story of the Folk Music Revival by Ellen Harper with Sam Barry

From the Summer of Love to the Valley of the Moon: A Memoir by Nancy J. Martin

Luz: A Novel by Debra Thomas

October Book of the Month:

With or Without You: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt

October International Book of the Month:

All the Way to the Tigers: A Memoir by Mary Morris

October Bonus Books of the Month:

The Illusion of Leaving: A Novel by Jeannette Brown

A Visitation of Angels: A Pluto’s Snitch Mystery #4 by Carolyn Haines

Switchback: A Patrick Flint Novel by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Champagne Widows: Veuve Clicquot and Napoleon by Rebecca Rosenberg

November Book of the Month:

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop: A Novel by Fannie Flagg

November International Book of the Month:

The Cowboy and The Indian: A Novel by Joseph M. Marshall III

November Bonus Books of the Month:

Drawing Lessons: A Novel by Patricia Sands

An Unfinished Story: A Novel by Boo Walker

Scattered Lights by Steve Wiegenstein

The Girl in the Tree by Sebnem Isiguzel

December Book of the Month:

The Menu by Steven Manchester

December International Book of the Month:

The Quisling Factor by J. L. Oakley

December Bonus Books of the Month:

Solo in Salento: A Memoir by Donna Keel Armer

The Art of Storykeeping: Saving History—One Family at a Time by Tamra McAnally Bolton

Evening in the Yellow Wood by Laura Kemp

Some of these books have garnered awards and some have already been optioned for film or TV series, but all have won 5 diamonds in the Pulpwood Queen’s tiara and my new official seal of approval.

Once again, here’s where to look into the Pulpwood Queens 2021, online Girlfriend Weekend!

Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend Packages and Tickets! (thepulpwoodqueens.com)

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