I have been to some parties in my time. I was at the Sweet Potato Queen St. Patrick’s Day extravaganza in Jackson, Miss. one time. I’ve done St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, Pirate Fest on Tybee Island, Ga., and my own Savannah Breeze weekends. Twice. But boy, howdy, Kathy Patrick sure knows how to put on a throw-down of her own. This past weekend I joined some thirty-some other authors at Kathy’s Pulpwood Queens Girlfriends Weekend in Jefferson, Texas for their 10th Anniversary clambake. Kathy owns what is probably the world’s only bookstore/beauty shop combination, Beauty and The Book, in Jefferson, and she is a world-class promoter of book clubs and all things bookish. And what a time we all had. Jefferson is an adorable small east Texas town–with 35 inns and B&Bs. My new friend, author Jenny Gardiner
and I stayed at The Hale House
Inn, where our hosts Timm and Karen Jackson treated us like royalty and fattened us up with lavish breakfasts. We started off Thursday night with a dinner party at Jefferson’s Excelsior Hotel, where author Janis Owens, of The Cracker Kitchen
cookbook, along with some other great cooks, prepared a true Southern dinner of baked ham, gumbo, corn casserole, rolls and yummy desserts.
Hangin’ with my peeps Pat Conroy, Melissa Conroy & Judy Christie at opening party
To show our appreciation for all those book-loving Pulpwood queens, the authors donned aprons and served dinner and bussed dishes. Since I never worked as a waitress, it was a first for me, and I nearly had a gumbo-catastrophe while clowning around with a tray of dirty dishes. On Friday, the parade of author panels began. I was on a panel with Janis Owens and Lauretta Hannon
, who has written the funny/tragic MEMOIRS OF A CRACKER QUEEN.
Cracker-jack authors Janis Owens, Lauretta Hannon & MKA
Friday night we were all asked to come up with a fitting costume for The Barbie Ball. For once, my imagination nearly failed me, but at the last minute before leaving for the Atlanta airport, I grabbed a vintage leopard-print coat, a feather boa, and a leopard-print, befeathered pocketbook from my costume closet. Voila! Bitter First Wife Barbie was born, accessorized with a vicious divorce attorney, hefty alimony check and estrogen patch.
My author buddies Patti Callahan Henry, left, and Kerry Madden, right
The Barbie ball-goers were much more imaginative than me, however, coming up with such novel identities as Cougar Barbie, Three-Way Barbie (triplets!), Hippie Barbie, aka my BFF author Patti Callahan Henry, and Original Barbie–who turned out to be a young (very svelte) hairdresser who arrived in Barbie’s original 1959-era black and white striped knit bathing suit, before changing into a floor-length black strapless sheath just like the one my original Barbie owned.
Here I am with the Three-Way BarbiesOn Saturday, there were more panels, a ticketed luncheon with Pat Conroy, and that night, the party of all parties, The Hair Ball. This year’s theme was The Wizard of Oz, and Kathy and company outdid themselves. Book clubs competed for the prize of best themed table decorations and best girl
Good Witches Complete with Mojito Fountain and Light-up shot-glassesThe Good Witches came swathed in white tulle, with Glinda the Good Witch crowns made from glitzed-up trash baskets and decked out their table as a heavenly cloud–complete with a working Mojito Fountain and LED-light-up shot glasses. Another group dosed themselves and their table with a pink theme. They floated a helium balloon above their pink-draped table which even had a working crystal ball with Dorothy’s picture in the middle. Each one of the group was in a different Wizard of Oz costume–but in pink. Still another group made themselves into The Emerald City. I tell ya, it was inspired. The authors did themselves proud too. Our buddy Ad Hudler, author of MAN OF THE HOUSE, dressed himself in black, painted his face and bald head green, and donned a headpiece made to look like a stage with drawn-back green curtains–transforming himself into The Great And Powerful Oz. Pulpwood Queen Kathy Patrick as Texas Tornado and author Ad Hudler as Great and Powerful Oz
Jenny Gardiner, who has a sick streak like me, came as Judy Garland–the last years, complete with cigarette holder and necklace of prescription pill bottles. Since I didn’t have a real costume, I just treated myself to a makeover from one of Kathy’s artists–complete with Texas-tornado styled big hair, glitter hairspray and thick, spidery fake eyelashes. There were so many more clever, gorgeous costumes I couldn’t quite take it all in.
Mother-daughter team of Lollipop Kids took home Best Costume awardThere was a band, and lots of dancing, and laughing and general merriment. And when the weekend was over, we’d all met lots of new friends–women who came to party and celebrate a shared love of books, and authors, people like Kerry Madden, who has a great new children’s biography of Harper Lee, and Jamie Ford, whose New York Times bestselling debut novel, HOTEL AT THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET garnered rave reviews last year, and children’s book author Melissa Conroy, who’s written an adorable picture book called POPPY’S PANTS, and who was accompanied by her famous daddy, Pat Conroy, who wrote a little thing called SOUTH OF BROAD. When I got home Sunday night, I discovered that my sparkle, literally, had worn slap off. The fake eyelashes were MIA, and my feather boa looked like it had been through the wringer what with all that dancing and shimmying. I’m back to plain ol’ unglitzy me again. But next year? Watch out Jefferson!