College presents annual book fair

Author Jill Connor Browne to attend fund-raiser for Carroll Community College

Carroll County

November 07, 2003|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Calling all Sweet Potato Queens wannabe's.

The original "Boss Queen," Jill Conner Browne - author of The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love and two sequels that followed its success and spawned a movement of other "queen" groups, including the Maryland Crab Queens - will make an appearance at the Random House Book Fair tomorrow at Carroll Community College.

The author from Jackson, Miss., has inspired women with a message that they are never too old to be playful. Her latest book, The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook (and Financial Planner), was published in January and is on the New York Times Best-seller List.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Friday's Carroll edition misspelled the name of Jill Conner Browne, author of the Sweet Potato Queens books, in a headline.
The Sun regrets the error.

"Playing - that's my favorite topic, and what I know most about," Browne said.

Children's author J.C. Greenburg, writer of the Andrew Lost series, also is scheduled to appear at the seventh annual book fair.

Since its beginning, the book fair has served two purposes, said Steven Wantz, executive director of the Carroll Community College Foundation.

"It promotes literacy," he said. "And it's our major fund-raising activity that supports students and the college."

Last year, the book fair raised more than $16,000 from book sales, a silent auction and corporate and business sponsorships, Wantz said.

For the first time, the book fair will hold a kick-off event, at 8 p.m. tonight with Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher, author and editorial cartoonist for The Sun and The Economist magazine of London.

The event will also feature expanded programs, including a larger silent auction of not only first- and limited-edition books but also jewelry, art, sports tickets and a one-night stay at Antrim 1844, a bed and breakfast in Taneytown.

Maryland first lady Kendel S. Ehrlich and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, honorary co-chairpersons, are to greet visitors.

Ehrlich also is scheduled to read a story at the college's Great Hall.

About 30 local and regional authors will be on hand to talk to visitors and to sell and autograph their books throughout the day.

One of them will be Allison Alexander, 41, of Mt. Airy, whose third coming-of-age novel, The Snakeman Cometh, was published in June by Frederick-based Publish America. The book, loosely based on Alexander's experiences in a religious cult, tells of 19-year-old Jolene Mosley and her struggles as she questions a cult started by a snake handler in Kentucky in 1940.

Alexander, who will be attending the book fair for a second year, said the event is a great opportunity "to get new readers."

"You want people to see you every year at events," she said. "You want to develop a reader base. ... It's nice to meet aspiring writers, too."

Browne will be making her presentation at the Scott Center for the Fine and Performing Arts. Admission for her talk is $3. But she won't be reading excerpts from her paperbacks.

"Most people can read," she said. "I talk."

She'll be talking about the importance of having fun and finding your inner queen, a credo that runs through her guide books on life and love.

The Sweet Potato Queens can be traced to the 1980s in Mississippi when Browne and a group of friends joined a St. Patrick's Day parade, decked out in green ball gowns and tiaras, and tossed sweet potatoes to onlookers.

Since the publication of her three books, more than 3,000 chapters have formed all over the country - including the Maryland Crab Queens of Westminster and the Sweet Tea Queens of Mt. Airy - and in a dozen countries around the world, according to Browne's Web site.

"It's important for your health - mental, physical and spiritual - that we don't get too old to play," Browne said.

Along with Browne, Kacey Jones, the songstress for the Sweet Potato Queens, is to perform music based on the books during the presentation.

The book fair, which is free, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations on the community college campus at 1601 Washington Road, Westminster.

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