Women are taking center stage at this year's Baltimore Book Festival, but it wasn't the organizers' original intent.
Festival director Kathleen Hornig said the theme came about organically, but once planners noticed it, they encouraged it.
"We don't strive for a specific theme," Hornig said. "As we looked at the fall catalogs and what had come out and what was successful earlier in the year, it just seemed like an especially strong year for female authors."
Part of what spawned it was the success of last year's Ladies' Night Out event, an evening of hors d'oeuvres and chatting that returns this year.
The 12th annual festival will feature a number of prominent female authors, who will discuss their books on everything from dating to mothering to their high-powered careers.
Hornig said the featured women will discuss "somewhat disparate subjects, but ultimately they all encourage women to get the most out of their lives, whether it's in their careers, relationships, sex, fashion, all of the above."
A few notable authors discussed their work with us before the festival.
Raising a rap star
Ever dreamed of raising a rap star? Pick up tips from Donda West, mother of Kanye, when she participates in Sunday's "Lessons for our Children: Celebrity Parents Speak Out on Fortune, Fame, Education & Parenting" panel at the Literary Salon.
West, who published Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar earlier this year, said the memoir of sorts has a "chapter in there for everybody."
"I wouldn't say that the book is necessarily a blueprint, unless somebody wants to use it as one," she said.
West ranks teaching her famously candid son "to speak the truth as he understands it" as one of the most important things she did in raising him.
She supported and defended her son during controversial points in his career when he did just that, including when, during a live NBC telecast of a fundraiser concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, he blurted out that "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
"There's not a lot of people in the world, I don't think, like Kanye in terms of him keeping it real," she said. "You never know how words can save a person's life, physically or otherwise. People like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi or, in my view, Barack Obama, or Jesus Christ -- people whose job it is to tell the truth -- I see that in Kanye."
A 'late bloomer'
Former Spin City writer and dating columnist Amy Cohen will discuss her memoir, The Late Bloomer's Revolution, when she joins the Ladies' Night Out panel tomorrow at the Literary Salon.
A self-diagnosed "serial dater" who always pictured herself married with children by the time she hit her 30s, Cohen says she was shocked when, in her late 30s, she lost her boyfriend, her job and her mother in the same year. She decided to write the book because "I needed my book when I was going through it myself."
"One of the things that I really struggled with at that time was my identity," she said. "My book is about discovering yourself when all those things you expected don't happen."
It was after one particularly nasty breakup that Cohen taught herself to ride a bike -- at 35. A true late bloomer in every sense, she tells women looking for love to "never stop believing, but realize that it might not fit your time frame."
She's gotten hundreds of letters from women who identified with her book. "What I found out writing my book is there are so many women like me," she said. "It's not easy to be a woman who hasn't made the same choices as everyone else. It's, 'You're attractive -- what's wrong with you?' Because the assumption is, if you're single at a certain point, you must be a psycho, or difficult. Which isn't the case."
So does she agree with Publishers Weekly that she's poised to take over Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell's "legacy as the reigning observer of Manhattan dating life"?
"I think my message is a little different."
Views from Iraq
ABC News' Martha Raddatz, just returned from her 14th visit to Iraq, will speak Sunday at the Literary Salon about her book, The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family. The book presents a detailed account of the pivotal first Iraqi insurgency on April 4, 2004, and its effects on the U.S. soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division and their families.
Raddatz was in Baghdad when she heard about the surprise attack on the platoon that had gone to patrol the Shiite slum of Sadr City for what they thought would be a routine community-outreach "babysitting mission."
The book alternates between the graphic detail of the 48-hour fight that killed eight Americans and wounded 70 more and stateside scenes of grim Army chaplains ringing doorbells as tense mothers and wives paced inside their homes.
Raddatz, a two-time Emmy winner who has worked as both the senior national security correspondent and the chief White House correspondent for ABC, has managed to balance a career with raising a family.
"I never chose between wanting a career and being a mom," she said. "They were both important to me, and I chose both."
5 p.m. -- Unity, reggae
6:30 p.m. -- Junestar, alt/country
8 p.m. -- The Players, ska
Noon -- Sharon Clark, jazz
1:30 p.m. -- The Rogers Girke Band, blues
3 p.m. -- Soul'd Out, funk/dance
4:30 p.m. -- Terence McArdle and Jumpin' Tonight, swingin' blues
6 p.m. -- Junkyard Saints, zydeco
1:30 p.m. -- The Resonators, acoustic blues
3 p.m. -- Can't Hang, reggae/rock
4:30 p.m. -- Marcell and the Truth, R&B;
6 p.m. -- Chopteeth, Afro funk
5:30 p.m. -- Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio, The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch) and The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business
7 p.m. -- Ladies' Night Out. Includes complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres.
8 p.m. -- Karrine Steffans, The Vixen Diaries, interview by Neke, 92Q. In cludes coffee bar and desserts.
11:30 a.m. -- Student ensemble con cert presented by the Peabody Institute
Noon -- Putting "No Child Left Be hind" to the Test, panel discussion moderated by Marc Steiner, WYPR
1 p.m. -- Adding Faith to the Fire: How Religious Belief Fuels American Politics
2 p.m. -- Victoria Rowell, The Women Who Raised Me
3 p.m. -- Rev Run, Words of Wisdom: Daily Affirmations of Faith, and Jus tine Simmons, God Can You Hear Me?
4 p.m. -- Dorothy Hamill, A Skating Life: My Story
5:30 p.m. -- Jabari Asim, The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why
11 a.m. -- Student ensemble concert presented by the Peabody Institute
11:30 a.m. -- Toadlily Press: Building Community Through Poetry Publishing
12:30 p.m. -- Nikki Giovanni, Aco lytes: Poems, takes place in the Wal ters Art Museum auditorium
1 p.m. -- Martha Raddatz, The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family
2 p.m. -- Tim Gunn and Kate Molo ney, Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style
3:30 p.m. -- Stephen Hunter, 47th Samurai
5 p.m. -- Lessons for our Children: Celebrity Parents Speak Out on For tune, Fame, Education and Parent ing, features mother of Kanye West, father of Li'l Romeo and mother of Mos Def
6 p.m. -- Pearl Cleage, Baby Brother's Blues
6 p.m. -- Narrow House Night, poetry and fiction publishers speak. In cludes music and beverages.
11 a.m. -- Future Authors, winners of Young Writers' Contest
12:30 p.m. -- "Love, Lust and Re demption," Debora Ricks hosts panel discussion about relationships
1:30 p.m. -- "What You're Writing" Workshop, Urbanite editors host writ ing workshop and discussion
3 p.m. -- Dana Kollmann, Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand: Curious Adven tures of a CSI
4 p.m. -- One for the Books: Sports Panel, moderated by Michael Olesker
5:30 p.m. -- First Books: New Au thors Panel, moderated by Gregg Wil helm, CityLit Project
11 a.m. -- Works in Progress
12:30 p.m. -- Stephen Dixon, Meyer
1:30 p.m. -- Smile, Hon, You're in Bal timore: Criminally Yours
3 p.m. -- Life in Black and White: A Conversation with David Matthews, Ace of Spades
4:15 p.m. -- Getting into Print: Pub lishers Panel, moderated by Gregg Wilhelm, CityLit Project
5:30 p.m. -- Baltimore Literary Heri tage Project
Children's Bookstore Stage
5:30 p.m. -- Children's Book Illustra tion Discussion
11 a.m. -- Ellen Stoll Walsh, Mouse Count and Mouse Paint
11:30 a.m. -- Carole Boston Weather ford, Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
Noon -- Simms Taback, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
12:30 p.m. -- Jerry Pinkney, Little Red Riding Hood and The Ugly Duckling
1 p.m. -- Leonard Marcus, Pass It Down: Five Picture Book Families Make Their Mark
1:30 p.m. -- Arthur Howard, illustra tor of the Mr. Putter and Tabby series
2 p.m. -- D.B. Johnson, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg
2:30 p.m. -- Laura Vaccaro Seeger, First the Egg
3 p.m. -- Roscoe Orman, (Gordon from Sesame Street) Ricky and Mobo
3:30 p.m. -- Daniel Kirk, Library Mouse
4 p.m. -- New Novelists
5:30 p.m. -- Comics Conversation
11 a.m. -- Bobbie Hinman, The Knot Fairy
11:30 a.m. -- Laura Krauss Melmed, Moishe's Miracle
Noon -- Marthe Jocelyn, Eats
12:30 p.m. -- Dan Gutman, Babe and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure and the My Weird School series
1 p.m. -- Jacqueline Wilson, Britain's Children's Laureate
1:30 p.m. -- Laura Schlitz, Good Mas ters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From a Me dieval Village
2 p.m. -- Pam Munoz Ryan, Esperan za Rising
2:30 p.m. -- Historical Fiction Discussion
3:30 p.m. -- Alan Katz, Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs
4 p.m. -- Kevin O'Malley, Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude
5 p.m. -- Wendie Old, Groundhog Day
Karibu Books Stage
7 p.m. -- Felicia Pearson, Snoop from HBO's The Wire and author of Grace After Midnight
Noon -- Entrepreneurship Through Writing: Turning Your Passion Into a Viable Business
1:30 p.m. -- Carmen Bryan, It's No Secret: From Nas to Jay-Z, From Se duction to Scandal
4 p.m. -- Behind the Pages! Authors talk about what inspires them
5:30 p.m. -- Doug and Jackie Christie, No Ordinary Love: A True Story of Marriage & Basketball
1:30 p.m. -- Say it Loud! Readers and Writers Series Presents: Publishing, Writing and Popular Culture! Writers and publishers discuss the role of books in popular culture
3 p.m. -- Connie Briscoe and Michael Cunningham, Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50, with Nikki Giovanni
5 p.m. -- Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, Supreme Discomfort: The Di vided Soul of Clarence Thomas, ques tion-and-answer session and book signing
Food for Thought Stage
6 p.m. -- Guys Night at the Grill, all-guys night features complimentary Heinekens, samples and grilling tips
11 a.m. -- Baltimore International College
Noon -- Carlyn Berghoff, The Berg hoff Family Cookbook: From Our Ta ble to Yours, Celebrating a Century of Entertaining
1 p.m. -- Isabel Cruz, Isabel's Cantina
2 p.m. -- Holly Clegg, Trim & Terrific Diabetic Cooking
3 p.m. -- Eric Gower, The Breakaway Cook
4 p.m. -- Walter Scheib, White House Chef
5 p.m. -- Warren Brown, cakelove
6 p.m. -- Earl "Bubba" Hiers, Uncle Bubba's Savannah Seafood
Noon -- Shakara Bridgers, Jeniece Isley and Joan Davis, The Get 'Em Girl's Guide to Unlocking the Power of Cuisine
1 p.m. -- Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, The Kids Book Club Book
2 p.m. -- John Shields, Coastal Cooking
3 p.m. -- Delilah Winder, Delilah's Ev eryday Soul
4 p.m. -- Phillips Seafood, features demos and samples
5 p.m. -- Cat Cora, Cooking From the Hip: Fast, Easy, Phenomenal Meals
5 p.m. -- 2007 Maryland State Arts Council Poetry Reading
6 p.m. -- Roya Hakakian, Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran
7 p.m. -- Celebrating Baltimore Poet ry from Avant-Garde to Traditional
8 p.m. -- Poets' Ink Reading
11 a.m. -- Manorborn Publication Reading
12:15 p.m. -- Richard Peabody, A Dif ferent Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation, 10th anniversary celebration
2 p.m. -- Rafael Alvarez, The Wire: Truth Be Told
3 p.m. -- Attic Publication Reading
4 p.m. -- Barbara M. Simon, The Woman from Away, publication par ty with poem readings
11 a.m. -- Passager presents B-more Idol Silver Poets Open Mic Edition
Noon -- Deanna Nikaido, Vibrating With Silence; Sandra Jones, I Only Meant to Wet My Feet; Nicole Brown, Conversations at My Sister's Dinner Table
1:30 p.m. -- Kim Roberts, The Kimna ma and Hiram Larew, More Than Anything
2:30 p.m. -- Linda Joy Burke, Living With Dragons: Understanding Young Artistic Voices
3:30 p.m. -- Tea With Mr. Twain, pre sentation about self-publishing by Mark Twain, includes refreshments
4:30 p.m. -- J.R. Shorter, They Called the Wind Mariah: Memories of the Age of Aquarius
5 p.m. -- Open reading and guitar performance to honor poet Barbara Simon
Baltimore Theatre Alliance
6 p.m. -- Kickoff reception
7 p.m. -- Baltimore Playwrights Festi val, presenting sketches from last season's plays
Noon -- Merely Players
1 p.m. -- Thirst 'N' Howl Productions
2 p.m. -- Selections from Nickel and Dimed and Mistress of Riversdale
3 p.m. -- Playwrights Panel Discussion
4 p.m. -- Musical selections from Trailer Park the Musical
Noon -- Young Actors Academy per forms scenes from Rosentcrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Crucible, Doubt, Jesus Hopped the A-Train, Antigone and Faust.
1 p.m. -- Playwrights Group of Balti more performs readings of new short plays
3 p.m. -- Winters' Lane Productions performs scenes from recent shows
4 p.m. -- Heritage Theatre Artists' Consortium
5 p.m. -- Liberty Showcase Theatre actors present a preview of William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
7 p.m. -- Financial Workshop with Cheryl D. Broussard
3 p.m. -- Melinda Condray, Formula 52: Goals to Go!
5 p.m. -- Donna Fair, Urban Fairytales
11 a.m. -- Just for Kids! Kenneth R. Besser, Arnie Carver and the Plague of Demeverde
1 p.m. -- Nargas Hyman, Grandma's Basement
3 p.m. -- Words of Praise, Words of Faith, BCCC alumnae art and writing
10:30 a.m. -- Storybook Parade
Noon -- Nathan Corbett, The Wire
12:30 p.m. -- Baltimore Ravens
1 p.m. -- Gilligan's Island star Tina Louise from When I Grow Up
2:30 p.m. -- Griot Circle of Maryland
4 p.m. -- Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore City Council president
4:30 p.m. -- Baltimore Sister Cities International Storytelling Hour
5:30 p.m. -- Tracy Baskerville, Balti more Office of Promotion & the Arts
11 a.m. -- Diane Macklin, storyteller
Noon -- Pam the Kindersinger
1 p.m. -- Diane Macklin, storyteller
2 p.m. -- Pam the Kindersinger
3 p.m. -- Diane Macklin, storyteller
4 p.m. -- Janice the Griot
5 p.m. -- Pam the Kindersinger
6 p.m. -- Janice the Griot
For more information, go to baltimorebookfestival.com
If you go
12th annual Baltimore Book Festival
5 p.m.-9 p.m. tomorrow and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Mount Vernon Place, 600 block of N. Charles St.
baltimorebookfestival.com or 877-BALTIMORE