Happy Birthday, Lady Jane!

Lady Jane’s Salon, New York City’s first and so far only monthly romance reading series, turns one-year-old this February 1st and oh, my how our Girl has grown!

LADY-jane-logoHelping us blow out the birthday candle are three fabulous guests: bestseller, Lauren Willig (The Betrayal of the Blood Lily), debut author, Sara Lindsey (Promise Me Tonight), and guest emcee, historical nonfiction author Leslie Carroll (Notorious Royal Marriages). Three very lovely ladies reading from three very different books, all of which will be available for purchase on Salon night. I’m just saying…

Now that we’ve come up on the one year mark, it seems a fitting time to both reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year ahead. When Maya, Leanna, Ron and I came up with the concept for Lady Jane’s, we anticipated having ten or so attendees each month. In a very short time, we found ourselves filling up the house to the point where many Salon nights are now standing room only. Feature articles in TIME OUT NEW YORK and THE NEW YORK POST swiftly followed along with tremendous support from the romance fiction community. RT BOOK Reviews, Barbara Vey at Publishers Weekly, Romance Novel TV, the chapter members of Romance Writers of America/NYC, and “Smart Bitch” Sarah Wendell are just a few of our wonderful friends who’ve given us both early and consistent loyalty and support. To them and all the individuals too numerous to name in a mere blog post, thank you!

A big sloppy birthday buss to Amy McCloskey, owner of our wonderful host venue, Madame X, and also to her manager, Karen and bartender, Alex. Without your support, the Salon couldn’t happen. It just couldn’t.

We started the series to provide a home for the books we love to both read and write. The four of us also felt strongly that in addition to the fun and frolic, it was important to broaden our mission to include a service component. Share the Love, Maya’s charitable organization co-founded with Ann Bleakley, has been the recipient of Salon proceeds for the past year, and we look forward to continuing our outreach to groups serving women in need in 2010.

As a Co-Founder, the time and energy I’ve expended have been returned to me tenfold–in the friendships both old and new, the collegiality with publishing professionals representing all aspects of the industry, and the opportunity to build, sustain and now grow something needed and yes, beautiful with three other amazing and creative individuals. Leanna, Maya and Ron, I heart you.

It’s both heartening and humbling to hear how the love we feel for our Brain Child/Baby is reciprocated by the romance community. Salon regular and February guest, Lauren Willig will teach a class on romance fiction this spring at Yale–yes, Y-A-L-E–along with fellow bestseller and Salon regular, Andrea Pickens also W/A Cara Elliott. A recent New Hampshire Register article covering the upcoming class had this to say:

Part of the impetus for the course also came from Willig’s membership in Lady Jane’s Salon, a Manhattan group of writers and readers which meets monthly for readings “and to hang out and drink. It’s become in a very short time an institution and a way for various people from various parts of the industry to share their love of romance novels,” says Willig.

Thank you, Lauren, and thanks to all of you whose unswerving commitment and enthusiasm, loyalty and yes, love have made Lady Jane’s Salon a rousing success.


Happy Birthday, Lady Jane

Monday, February 1st, 7-9 PM

Madame X (94 W Houston St)

Admission: $5 or one ppb romance novel

Proudly Presenting…Lady Jane

Once upon a time three romance authors and one blogger went out in Manhattan after attending one of the city’s many literary reading series. Amidst the pungent aroma of cigars and single-malt scotch the conversation turned to the sad fact that there exists no reading forum for romance fiction in Manhattan, the seat of the publishing kingdom. And that struck us–oops, them–as really rather sad.

Then one of the romance writers, we’ll call her Princess Maya, got this gleam in her eye. All, well, gleamy-eyed, she looked ’round the Round Table (okay, it was a booth, but…), drew a deep breath, and announced, “Jeepers, let’s start a romance reading series of our very own!”

Okay, she didn’t actually say “jeepers.” I’m totally making that part up but the rest, for sure, is right on the money. And within that 30 seconds or so of yes, sheer brilliance, Lady Jane was born.

Co-sponsored by Share the Love and Beatrice.com and co-founded by Maya Rodale, Ron Hogan, Leanna Renee Hieber, and yes, Moi, Lady Jane’s Salon is Manhattan’s first (and so far only) reading series devoted to romance fiction. The Salon will meet on the first Monday of every month starting February 2nd, 7-9 PM at the uber swank Madame X lounge in Tribeca.

The program format will be two author readers per evening with a short break between and a Q&A gab fest finale. Andrea Pickens and Yours Truly will be getting the party started in February; future authors TBA.

Admission is one gently-used romance novel or $5, your pick. All proceeds will benefit Share The Love, a non-profit organization that distributes gently-used romance novels to groups assisting women-in-transition. That we get to read our books and share the possibility of Happily Ever After beginnings with women working to build hopeful, independent lives is more than the best of both worlds. It’s the stuff of which real life fairytales are made.

For directions and other delicious details, please check out my Media and Events page. And for more juicy behind-the-scenes scoopage, please plan to stop by our live chat this Sunday, January 25th at Romance Novel TV.

Wishing you sweet dreams and candy-heart kisses…


Head Over Heels

Okay, I have officially become one of those people. You know, Those People. The People who a mere week ago I felt completely justified, even compelled, to make fun of. The People so besotted with their Blackberry AKA Crackberry devices they can’t take their eyes or hands off them for a minute. No matter how public the place or how scintillating the social scene, their gazes are fixed on that tiny backlit screen, their nimble fingers tap, tap tapping away at the miniscule keyboard. These are the people who suddenly draw to dead stops on busy sidewalks–and hey, it’s Manhattan, so it’s not like there are lots of un-busy sidewalks–Subway stairs, and yes, sometimes even crosswalks.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t done the zombie stuck in crosswalk thing, but it’s only been a week.

I got my Blackberry–The Curve, she’s called–exactly one week ago, last Friday. Chalk it up to the whole Mercury about to go into retrograde thing or just damned bad luck, but getting her programmed and primed to come home with me wasn’t exactly a cyberspace cakewalk.

Stepping into the Verizon store I realized I’d left my glasses at home. That’s bad. For those of you who are shrugging like that’s no big deal, I’ll just say this: Girlfriend isn’t a kid anymore. As we get ahem…older, size matters in ways you’d never really thought about size mattering before. Reference the words “tiny” and “miniscule” above. Ditto for “glare” and “light.”

After the glasses panic, the episode turned into one big downward spiral. I didn’t get the woman retailer I like, the one who speaks in soft, lilting Indian-accented English, the one who explains technology “stuff” so calmly and so well that I always leave the store humming “I am woman, hear me roar.” Instead I got one of her relatives, the smug, unpleasant man with the bad comb-over and the brusque manner. For all his posturing, he didn’t really understand how the device worked. Unfortunately for me, he didn’t much care if I understood how it worked, either. We had to call Verizon technical support–a lot.

The store is in Manhattan’s East Village, on the ambulance route to Beth-Israel. Fridays are busy ambulance days. I’m not sure why. They just are. Being on the Verizon hot line with sirens blaring and the store’s disco music going at full throttle was…well, a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I like Donna Summer as much as the next child of the 80’s, but when your head is splitting, you’ve left your glasses at home, and your not-yet-purchased Crackberry is down to two bars and the seller is refusing to spot you a charger, five back-to-back choruses of “Hot Stuff” is quite enough.

Another thing that tends to happen more on Fridays than any other day of the week is people freak out. It’s as though whatever’s been bugging them all week builds and builds so that by the time Friday rolls around, instead of hi-fiving each other and doing a TGIF version of Snoopy’s happy dance they detonate.

Case in point: a young man whose cellphone had stopped working came into the store. It turned out he just needed a charger. Unfortunately he only had $10. To get rid of him, the retailer (the reasonable woman, not the bad comb-over dude) agreed he could just pay the $10. The “reduced price” charger with tax came to $10.60. But remember, he only had $10–period. She told him he could pay just the $10 but bad comb-over guy wasn’t having that. The kid, who’d begun to sweat and speak at a high volume (AKA scream), went outside and panhandled the 60 cents in record time. Looking on with my one ear plastered to the store phone funneling precious tech support instruction and the rest of me prepping to hit the ground if need be, I was impressed. He returned with the change, only by now bad comb over guy suddenly decided he could keep it. An even ten dollars would do.

Only this young man had gone to some effort to get that 60 cents. He didn’t feel like he was being treated respectfully. He wanted to be appreciated.

“People are rude sometimes,” he howled into my free ear, part fury and part lament. “People really should be nicer.”

Yes, they should. Fortunately there is a Happy Ending to report. The kid slammed the 60 cents down on the desk and left without brandishing a weapon (bonus!). The technical support guy and I struck up sufficient sympatico to get the basic set-up on my Blackberry programmed. (Did I mention he had a very sexy voice)? The bad comb-over guy shoved my “free gift,” some crap carrying case, at me along with my receipt and rebate instructions and wished me a nice weekend in the tone usually associated with “Go to hell.” I got back to my apartment, my Blackberry fully functioning (albeit down to one bar) and my body fully intact, and poured myself a glass of wine.

Curvy and I’ve had quite a week together. I’ve taken her all over the city, checking and sending email in places I never would have dreamt of checking and sending email before. Last night we went to The Modern, the sleek, white-marble topped bar/lounge at the Modern Museum of Art or MOMA. While I waited for my buddy Liz to join me, I sipped my glass of chardonnay and yes, tapped away at Curvy’s cute little raised button keys, sifting through emails, panning through photo attachments, sending reports on my “status” to Facebook. Ah, the techno-life! I’m not sure whether I’m taking Her out tonight or if we’ll be spending a quiet evening at home instead. Aside from cats on Fancy Feast patrol, there’s no traffic to speak of in my apartment, so staying home is probably safer. Either way, my Blackberry won’t be out of my sight.