Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 9, 2018

Mariner Books: A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis by Vanessa Nakate

Scholastic Press: Room to Dream (a Front Desk Novel) by Kelly Yang

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Tale as Tall as Jacob: Misadventures with My Brother by Samantha Edwards

David Zwirner Books: Making a Great Exhibition by Doro Globus, illustrated by Rose Blake

Tor Books: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Disney-Hyperion: The Fowl Twins Get What They Deserve (a Fowl Twins Novel, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer

Sourcebooks Landmark: In Every Mirror She's Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Dragons Are the Worst! by Alex Willan

Quotation of the Day

John Sargent: 'Americans Want Bookshops in Their Towns'

"It's important that we have flourishing bricks-and-mortar stores, and multiple store types. In the past 10 years, it's become clear that Americans want bookshops in their towns. The question is how best to accomplish it."

--Macmillan CEO John Sargent in an interview with the Bookseller

Rebel Girls: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, 4 edited by Lilly Workneh


Ownership Change at Brockport's Lift Bridge Book Shop

Cody Steffen, co-owner of Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, N.Y., plans to sell his share of the business to his partners John and Sarah Bonczyk. Steffen and the Bonczyks bought Lift Bridge from founders Archie and Pat Kutz in 2014.

In a post on the store's Facebook page, Steffen wrote: "I have some news. The book store is not in the greatest shape financially and can no longer support two families. John and Sarah Bonczyk have offered to buy my share of the store, and I've accepted. There's no set date for my departure yet, but it'll be sooner rather than later.

"I'm sad to go--I love Lift Bridge. I worked here for four years and have co-owned the store with John for the last 3. I'll miss being a part of it all. I met my wife here right after I first got hired. Our daughter used to come to work with us when she was an infant, strapped to her mama's chest while she received books and worked the cash register. I'll miss my kids hanging out here after school and running around like they own the place (which they kinda do). I'll miss my colleagues and customers, too.

"John and I knew this wouldn't be easy and would be a bit of an uphill battle in the world of Amazon. I'm grateful for the experience and wish we could've made it work together, but know this is necessary and that the store is in good hands going forward."

Unbound: This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals by Erica Buist

At ABA, Grogan Adds ABFE Responsibitilies

Dave Grogan

As part of the further integration of the operations of the American Booksellers for Free Expression into the American Booksellers Association, David Grogan has been promoted to director of ABFE, advocacy and public policy, Bookselling This Week reported. While continuing to head public policy matters at the ABA, he will now also lead the association's free expression, readers' rights and First Amendment efforts. The move follows the departure last year of former ABFE director Chris Finan to become executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher commented: "As we make this transition, I want to reiterate that ABA's core commitment to the First Amendment remains unchanged. David has worked with skill and dedication on behalf of bookstores, and we look forward to his clear focus and commitment in continuing Chris Finan's stalwart efforts in the defense of readers' First Amendment rights. We believe David's longstanding, unbiased commitment to the importance of free speech in a healthy democracy is the perfect match for this new role, and, rest assured, the support for the freedom to read will remain a core tenet of our association's mission."

Grogan added: "I am very excited with this mission to lead ABFE's work in support of free expression. Given the current political and social climate, it is more important than ever to ensure we protect all rights to read and to free expression."

Book*hug Press: Letters to Amelia by Lindsay Zier-Vogel

Sidelines Snapshot: Bath and Beauty Products, Bookmarks and Board Games

At Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Wash., sidelines buyer Erin Ball has had success recently with an expanding array of aromatherapy products, bath items and beauty products. Ball, who works at the Lake Forest Park location but also advises the other two locations on sidelines buying, said that Whiskey River Soap Co.'s bath bombs, which feature funny names like "Zero F***s: Smells Like You Have None Left to Give" and "What Kids? Smells Like a Locked Door," have been popular. She's also carried shower bursts, essentially bath bombs made for the shower, by a company called hyrdaAromatherapy, and she's been increasingly exploring locally made bath products, such as soaps from Moon Valley Organics. In terms of beauty supplies, Ball said that a line of Korean spa products from NPW, including things like disposable face masks, lip gloss sets and more, have been doing really well.

Ball noted that within the last year or so, there's been a "marked uptick" in political and social justice items. Popular items include buttons, magnets, mugs, postcards, "anything with the word 'feminist' on it," and even action figures. Design company FCTRY puts out action figures of everyone from Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama, even "Evil Trump." Unemployed Philosophers Guild also provides politically themed items, including finger puppets, soaps, mints and much more. Said Ball: "While not entirely surprising for an already progressive area, it's been interesting to watch the increase."

Rebecca George, co-owner of Volumes Bookcafe in Chicago, Ill., said that her store "flies through" Out of Print and Blue Q socks, as well as anything from Unemployed Philosophers Guild, especially the mugs. Posters and apparel made by Litographs, meanwhile, can barely be kept in store. George said that with her store's client base, things that are "funny or weird," or have a progressive bend to them, do very well. Other popular products include Denik journals, magnets and more from The Mincing Mockingbird & The Frantic Meerkat, and literary-themed candles from Frostbeard Studio and Hearth & Hammer.

George has had success with a number of locally made items. Volumes is up the street from a store called Transit Tees, which makes Chicago-themed gifts, and Volumes Bookcafe carries some of their magnets and shot glasses. The store sells leather journals made by a local woman who sources the leather herself from Peru. And while the company Pomegranate is not local, George makes sure to stock pretty much anything it makes that features the art of Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, including greeting cards and jigsaw puzzles. After a local game shop moved away, George has been expanding Volumes' game offerings, and two of the shop's bestselling games are made in Chicago: Fisticuffs! and Utter Nonsense. George also makes some of her store's sidelines herself, including bookends.

In Montpelier, Vt., Bear Pond Books' bestselling lines of nonbook items come from Blue Q. Co-owner Claire Benedict stocks its dish towels, oven mitts, coin purses, bags and, of course, socks, and they "all just sell and sell." Bear Pond Books sells a lot of cards and stationery; popular lines include Pomegranate, Apartment 2, Crane Creek Graphics, and Sun Day Greetings, which Benedict said the store has carried "since the beginning of time." For journals, Benedict said that Moleskine journals and journals made by Earthbound Trading Co. sell well. Benedict also pointed to some children's sidelines that are consistent sellers, with eeBoo puzzles and toys, along with Crocodile Creek puzzles, being some of her children's standbys. Politically themed items, such as Mincing Mockingbird magnets, have taken off for her store as well.

Benedict has dabbled in locally or regionally made items, especially around the holidays. Some of those include hand-carved wooden bookmarks made by the New Hampshire company Cogworks, and passport holders that say "Sorry About Our President" in 13 different languages. Benedict found the latter on Etsy, and around Christmas asked the maker to do a wholesale order just for her store. She reported that they "sold like crazy." Benedict also mentioned the store's mugs, which say "Bear Pond Books" on one side and "Go Away I'm Reading" on the other. --Alex Mutter

Hyperion Avenue: A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm by Ginger Zee

Books on the Square Sets Grand Opening for Second Location

Books on the Square, Virden, Ill., will host a grand opening of its new branch store in Springfield with numerous events this weekend. The State Journal-Register reported that the second location, "which specializes in new, used and rare books plus book searches, had a 'soft opening' October 1 at its branch at 427 E. Washington St."

The Virden shop, owned by John and Jeannie Alexander, has been in business for 25 years. Their son Mike, a lobbyist based in Chicago who spends a lot of time in Springfield, purchased the building there six years ago and offered them a deal they couldn't refuse.

"Half of his storefront was empty, and he just asked me if I would bring some books up here, and I couldn't say no, so here I am," John Alexander said.

Books on the Square's Springfield location "includes a storeroom that will be converted into a rare book/collectibles room. The bookstore has use of adjoining space for things such as the author events that will take place Saturday and Sunday," the State Journal-Register wrote.

"That's what we're really focusing now in Springfield, on things like that," Alexander added. "If there's anything I sense about what we can do downtown, I think it might be more along the line of events and possibly new books. There's not a new bookstore in downtown Springfield, and we're not going to be one, but I mean we might carry more new books because we'll be doing author things, and with the lack of a new bookstore downtown, we might try to fill a little niche there, too.

"We're kind of feeling our way along. I learned long ago, I think, in the book business you have to kind of find out what people want. What I would like to sell them, and what they want are two different things."

Obituary Note: Ted Heinecken

Ted Heinecken

Ted Heinecken, the much-loved Midwest rep, died last Saturday from complications of cancer of the duodenum. He was 84.

Heinecken retired from Fujii Associates in 2015 after more than five decades in the book business. He began his bookselling career in the Midwest in 1963 selling Oxford University Press and then, from 1969 to 1977, as a partner in Heinecken-Ide Associates. He then managed Heinecken and Associates from 1978 until its acquisition by Fujii Associates in 2008. One striking sign of his longevity: he attended 52 consecutive ABA/BookExpo America shows.

At his retirement, Heinecken said, "I have always held the conviction that being a part of the book trade community is a special calling, requiring a love of the book and a belief in the printed (whether or not on paper) word as a keystone of our culture."

A memorial service will be held in April in Chicago.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Ballad for Sophie
by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia
trans. by Gabriela Soares

GLOW: Top Shelf Productions: Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia, trans. by Gabriela SoaresA reclusive French piano star recounts his epic rise and fall, from WWII France through the tumultuous disco era, to a young journalist who's hiding her own past, in this passionate, sophisticated graphic novel from writer and pianist/composer Filipe Melo and illustrator/filmmaker Juan Cavia. Publicist and marketing director Leigh Walton shares that Top Shelf selected this work for translation from the Portuguese for its stunning blend of "the grandeur of classical music, the outrageous drama of rock and roll, the grim history of 20th-century Europe... and the bittersweet unearthing of family secrets." Cavia's palette evokes the lush light of a late evening sun, and his accomplished illustrations breathe life into Melo's complex saga of fame, regret and redemption. --Jaclyn Fulwood

(Top Shelf Productions, $24.99 paperback, 9781603094986,
September 28, 2021)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: Stopping by for How to Stop Time

{pages} a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, Calif., hosted a standing-room-only event this week for Matt Haig and his new novel, How to Stop Time (Viking). Pictured: {pages} staffers Casey Poma, Laurie Caine, Linda McLoughlin Figel, Matt Haig, Patty Gibson and Lisa Feury.

Personnel Changes at the ABA

At the American Booksellers Association:

Geetha Nathan has been promoted to IndieCommerce senior manager. She was formerly manager of IndieCommerce.

Maria Rodriguez has been promoted to meetings and office coordinator. She formerly office administrative assistant.

Cool Idea of the Day: Whirlikids BookFest

A panel moderated by Johanna Albrecht featured John Claude Bemis, Karina Yan Glaser, Angela Dominquez and Stuart Gibbs.

Last Saturday, McIntyre's Books, Pittsboro, N.C. hosted the inaugural Whirlikids BookFest in the Fearrington Barn. The festival focused on early to middle grade readers and featured several authors, including Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Angela Dominguez, Stuart Gibbs, Emily Jenkins, Ursula Vernon and Alan Gratz.

Describing the event as an unqualified success with hundreds of attendees, festival coordinator Sarah Carr said, "Whirlikids gave kids a chance to meet their favorite authors and to discover new ones. It was such a joy to see so many young readers clutching stacks of books in their hands just chomping at the bit to open them to new adventures."

Mlynowski agreed: "What a magical book festival--I was wowed by their cows, crowds, and gorgeous barn! McIntyre's Books took amazing care of their local and guest authors and created an unforgettable, fairy-tale day for kids, parents, readers and writers."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joseph A. Califano, Jr. on Face the Nation

Face the Nation: Joseph A. Califano, Jr., author of Our Damaged Democracy: We the People Must Act (Touchstone, $27, 978101144615).

TV: Suspicion; The Name of the Rose

NBC has given a pilot order to Suspicion, based on the novel by Joseph Finder, Deadline reported, adding that the project is being created and written by Jessica Goldberg (The Path), Universal TV and Keshet Studios. Goldberg executive produces with Keshet's Rachel Kaplan, Peter Traugott, Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman and Finder. Universal TV, where Goldberg is under an overall deal, is the studio.


Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest) will play the Abbot in the Italian TV adaptation of Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose, Deadline reported. He joins a cast that includes Rupert Everett and John Turturro.

The €26 million (about $32 million) eight-part drama series is produced by Germany's Tele München Group, Italian production company Palomar and 11 Marzo. It is written by Andrea Porporati (La Piovra), Nigel Williams (The Sea Wolf) and Giacomo Battiato (Karol: A Man Who Becomes Pope), with Battiato directing and John Conroy (Luther, Penny Dreadful) as director of photography. Principal photography started last month in Rome and on location around Lazio and Abruzzo. The Name of the Rose is expected to air in the first quarter of 2019.

Books & Authors

Awards: RoNA Finalists; Wellcome Book Longlist

Finalists have been unveiled for the 2018 Romantic Novelists' Association Awards, "featuring the best in romantic fiction from big publishers, small presses and self-published authors." The seven category winners will be announced March 5 in London, and go on to compete for the overall £5,000 (about $6,950) Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year Award. See the complete RoNA shortlist here.


A longlist has been announced for the £30,000 (about $41,685) Wellcome Book Prize, which honors a new work of fiction or nonfiction published in the U.K. with "a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness." A shortlist will be revealed on March 20, with the winner named April 30. The complete longlist can be found here.

Reading with... Carrie La Seur

photo: Connie Dillon

Carrie La Seur has published short stories in two 2017 anthologies, Montana Noir and Sandstone. Her second novel, The Weight of an Infinite Sky (Morrow, January 16, 2018), is a family drama set in Montana and loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Her debut novel, The Home Place, won a High Plains Book Award and was shortlisted for the Strand Critics' Award for Best First Novel. La Seur is a seventh-generation Montanan, a Rhodes Scholar and an environmental lawyer who successfully opposed proposed new coal plants and helped launch the Keystone XL campaign.

On your nightstand now:

Joan Didion, South and West: From a Notebook. I read Didion a page or two at a time, hanging on her words, the rounded resonance. It hardly matters what she's writing about, yet this book sounds deep in my knowledge of my rural self. Under that are Harvard Classics volumes 1 and 2: Lectures; Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny, partly an autodidact project of foundational literature and partly to write a character who's a classics scholar named after Cicero. Then my Nook, midway through Deepak Chopra's Perfect Health. My family has had a lot of health challenges--my grandma had a crippling stroke in her 40s. I want this body to keep working. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was a kid in a series of small plains towns, I lived at the public library and read to learn what was out there. I had so little information. I could hardly believe A Wrinkle in Time was real when I first read it. The brilliant scientist mother. The house full of books and experiments. The otherworldly travels and the sequels rich with ideas like alternative wrong timelines, like the one we've gotten into now. It was like a periscope out of my little vessel onto the open sea.

Your top five authors:

Neal Stephenson (see below). HLM Margaret Atwood (Her Literary Majesty), one of my earliest writerly inspirations. Gabriel García Márquez, Gabito, for motivating me to read Spanish to let his words hit my brain unaltered. Umberto Eco for his scholarship and for Foucault's Pendulum, the unabridged and infinitely better book from which The Da Vinci Code derived. Pablo Neruda for the revolutionary poetry and the defiance: Let the Railsplitter Awake and Other Poems.

Book you've faked reading:

Everyone loves to love David Sedaris, and when I find myself in one of those conversations, I just smile and nod. Maybe he strikes too close to home. There are also a few books I've seen as a judge for literary prizes that I pretended to have read, but actually cast aside when I couldn't take the submissive, stereotyped women any longer.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I was already a fan of Neal Stephenson when I read his essay about attending a literary conference where his status as a "popular author" was something akin to advanced leprosy. It made me all the more eager to declare the genius of books like Snow Crash (seminal cyberpunk), Anathem (about cloistered monks in what may be an alien civilization at the end of the world) and Diamond Age (about an urchin who lays hands on an interactive book that will transform her life). He's f**king brilliant. Can I say that?

Book you've bought for the cover:

Amy Tan, Where the Past Begins. Irresistibly shiny, in both the physical and Firefly sense. I have magpie DNA.

Book you hid from your parents:

Judy Blume, Wifey--the first time I realized that books could be about sexy time, or that sexy time existed. I think my mom brought it home and wondered for a long time where she'd put it.

Book that changed your life:

Adrienne Rich, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. Years after reading it in college, I come back to this book to find something new every time. Rich's words about how poetry matters, the way it informs our beliefs and actions, and how it can be a catalyst for change, are xylum vessels for my writing, pulling nourishment up from the depths.

Favorite line from a book:

"The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance." --Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It goes on: "The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds." Holy cow.

Five books you'll never part with:

Wendell Berry, The Way of Ignorance, for making me feel I'm not alone. Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking, for letting me see that when one day I am alone, eventually I'll be okay. Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, because part of me is still the little girl who loved these characters with all her heart. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, for the essential Americana, a finer vision than we've realized. And Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, for the detail, the mastery and the angst.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Italian Days. I found this book on a library shelf in the countdown to a long-awaited trip to Florence. Its wonderfulness was such that by the end I rationed it and only read a page or two a day. I wish I could have that feeling again of pure delight and anticipation in the physical form of a book I discovered on my own.

Book I was named after:

Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie. My mother never could explain exactly why she loved the name or the book, but the girl who comes to the big city from and with nothing and must make her way is one of the archetypal stories of our family. It ends on a distinctly melancholy note: "In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel." This aspirational dread creeps into my writing frequently, my unconscious class identity.

Book Review

Review: The Silent Companions

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (Penguin Books, $16 paperback, 320p., 9780143131632, March 6, 2018)

British novelist Laura Purcell (Mistress of the Court) weaves a classic tale of gothic horror in this claustrophobic journey through one woman's nightmare.

The daughter of a match factory owner in 1865 England, Elsie never expected to marry as well as Rupert Bainbridge, heir to a country estate called the Bridge. Weeks after the wedding, Rupert dies mysteriously while readying the Bridge for Elsie and the heir she already carries. Amid rumors that she had something to do with his death, Elsie finds herself bundled off to the estate by her younger brother Jolyon to weather pregnancy and the growing scandal.

The villagers treat her with suspicion and hostility, and the servants look down on her despite their own rough manners. Left with only Rupert's silly spinster cousin, Sarah, for companionship, Elsie explores her new home, where a locked garret holds a life-sized wooden cutout of a girl painted in trompe l'oeil style and two diaries written by a Bainbridge ancestor. Once the ladies move the painting--their "silent companion"--into the house, strange occurrences begin, including the mysterious appearance of more companions, culminating in suspicious deaths.

In alternating chapters from the diaries, written in 1635, Purcell slowly reveals the history of the silent companions through the eyes of Anne Bainbridge, whose desire for a daughter led her to dabble in witchcraft and set in motion a terrible chain of events leading to danger for Elsie and Sarah. As the companions' mischief turns violent, though, Elsie finds all but Sarah hesitant to believe a woman followed by unexplained tragedies.

Opening on Elsie now in a psychiatric hospital, this atmospheric ghost story lets readers know immediately that the heroine will not escape in triumph. Purcell has all the finest ingredients of the gothic tradition: a vulnerable woman trapped in an isolated mansion, untrustworthy servants, potentially haunted objects, dark family secrets and a hinted erotic obsession. Elsie's plight makes clear the perilous situation of the Victorian widow, forced into extended mourning far from the eyes of society, and, in this case, expected to weather both grief and pregnancy in loneliness.

Despite clear links between the strange events and the estate's bloody past, Elsie faces suspicion that she committed the crimes, and her desperation to protect those in her care from harm is both futile and heartbreaking. The silent companions themselves are hair-raising, moving independently when unobserved in a manner similar to that of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. Reminiscent of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and even du Maurier's Rebecca, The Silent Companions will chill readers who fall under its spell. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: In a classic gothic setup, a Victorian English widow finds herself bedeviled by painted wooden people left by her home's long-ago owners.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'A Total Immersion in a World of Fun & Reading'

Kathy L. Murphy

If there is anyone in the book world who better represents the concept of "the show must go on" than Kathy L. Murphy, I haven't met them yet. Former owner of Beauty and the Book, "the only hair salon/book store in the world," she is also the founder of the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club, with more than 700 chapters internationally; and author of The Pulpwood Queen's Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life.

But the crown jewel in her bookish tiara is the annual Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend, which celebrated its 18th anniversary last month in Nacogdoches, Tex. This year's theme was "Bohemian Rhapsody." Although I've had a longstanding invitation to attend for many years, I just haven't been able to make my way down to East Texas, though I hope to someday. Call it a bucket list item.

Authors at Girlfriend Weekend

What is the Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend? On her blog, author Clea Simon attempted to answer the question: "Imagine 40-plus authors and 100-plus readers/book group members in one room. Now visualize them in hot pink, leopard print, and tiaras--all talking about books, reading, their favorite characters, their latest discoveries, and how those all those stories got writ, and you've got a rough idea. The genius brainchild of the incredible Kathy L. Murphy, the Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend is an annual celebration of readers, a total immersion in a world of fun and reading."

I first began corresponding with Kathy about a decade ago and met her in person, along with her daughters Madeleine and Helaina, at BookExpo 2012 in New York City. She told me then she believed she had "created 'a book world,' a world where we are building lifelong friendships, relationships and community that is truly making our lives for the better." And so she has.

Earlier this week, I asked Kathy how she would describe herself. "I believe that my calling in life is, as the founder of the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Club, to lead the crusade in promoting authors, books, literacy, reading, all the arts and to encourage others to be lifelong learners," she replied. "I prefer not to be labeled as labeling just places limits. I am many things, including, author, artist, book club moderator, mentor, mother, but my sole mission is to be an advocate for all the arts in all my endeavors. Do they have a name for that? How about being a decent human being and doing the right thing." Now that's a job description.

Randy Susan Meyers, Alyson Richman, M.J. Rose and Alice Hoffman

This year's Girlfriend Weekend featured author Jamie Ford as co-host; keynotes by Alice Hoffman, Lisa Wingate, M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers; an array of panels, events and celebrations, including the legendary Author Dinner, with visiting authors waiting tables; and the Great Big Ball of Hair Ball. All of this took place in a new facility, the Fredonia Hotel & Convention Center in Nacogdoches.

"We had been waiting for the restoration of the retro hotel and was it worth the wait," Kathy noted. "Staff and service were superb in a very unique and historic setting. Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend has never been so easy for me and my trusty sidekick, Tiajuana Anderson Neel. We were able to truly relax and truly enjoy the event as all our anticipated needs were met and more!"

Murder by the Book, Houston, Tex., was the book vendor for Girlfriend Weekend, making "it relatively seamless from panels to book signings, so the overall view is I finally have found a real home where everybody has truly come together to help celebrate our authors, their books, literacy and reading," Kathy said. "Though the flu hit us hard in East Texas and many had to back out at last minute, we still were able to raise $2,500 in our Author Silent Auction for the Pat Conroy Literary Center. I still believe this was my most successful event ever. It was a win, win, win for all. We already have more signed up for next year than ever before with our theme 'How the West Was Won' "

This year's Pulpwood Queen book award winners were One Good Mama Bone by Brenda McClain (Book of the Year), Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (Bonus Book of the Year) and The Low Country Coloring Book by Melissa Conroy (Crossover Book of the Year.)

What do Kathy's efforts mean to writers? M.J. Rose told me: "Kathy Murphy has been authors' best girlfriend for years and years, singlehandedly selling our books out of her love of reading. From the minute I got to Texas to the minute I left I was aware of how deep and abiding her love goes and how much her readers count on her to give them advice and suggestions. Everyone always talks about the costumes and the parties, the makeup and tiaras and crazy hairdos--but it's the patronage and the dedication and all out passion that Kathy has that made the weekend matter so much to me and made me so very appreciative of her."

"This is my passion and I have never been more excited for our 19th year coming up," Kathy said. "Go where the heart is, and we will continue to make history in East Texas."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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