Posted by Mardi Jo Link in about Mardi, books, events, Grand Central Publishing, The Drummond Girls, writers, writers groups, writing on May 22, 2015
Most big things actually start out small. (Except for Shaquille O’Neal, who reportedly weighed 300 lbs as a 19-year-old rookie. Still, I’m guessing he’s never worn a tiara.)
The Pulpwood Queens started out small, too, they do wear tiaras, and today Kathy Murphy, the Queen Bee of the Pulpwood Queens, is proud to head the biggest book club in the world. A Kansas native and graduate of the state’s Crum’s Beauty College, Kathy put the Dippity Do and the teasing combs aside in the 1980s when she landed a job as a traveling book publisher’s representative.
Then chain bookstores began dominating the market, many of her independent bookstore accounts went out of business, and she was downsized in 1999.
Even though she didn’t know it yet, Kathy was a queen in the making. And queens do not whine, they do not quit, and they do not give up. Well, maybe they whine a little bit, but then they get over it.
“I thought my world had come to an end, but I couldn’t feel sorry for myself for too long,” Kathy told IN Magazine. “I knew I had to do something with my time. I have too much energy to just sit around and do nothing.”
She went back to doing hair, but with a literary flair. (Hey, that rhymes!)
Kathy opened a beauty salon in Jefferson Texas, which, after an unexpected divorce, she later moved to the nearby town of Hawkins. She added a bookstore to the beauty salon, started a book club, and The Pulpwood Queens were born.
At the beginning, there were only a handful of members. Today the group has more than 1,000, as well as dozens of satellite groups throughout the U.S. It used to be that Kathy was calling on bookstores, trying to sell them all the new titles from all the biggest publishers. Now though, publishers court her, and try to get her to select their books for her club. Each year she chooses a dozen titles, one per month, for her Queens to read and discuss.
Her story is an inspiring one and you can be part of it. If Texas is not on your personal grooming itinerary, you can still pay a virtual visit to Beauty and the Book. And for $25, you can be a Pulpwood Queen yourself. I’ve just joined, and plan to wear my tiara (K-mart’s toy aisle has a good selection) whenever I’m feeling particularly royal.
And, guess what? The Pulpwood Queens just selected The Drummond Girls for their 2015 reading list and, as you can see, I’m wearing the appropriate headgear to be making that announcement. I might not take it off for a good long while, either.