Three-year-old Lady Jane's Salon is New York's first, and only, monthly romance reading series. Hosted by Hope Tarr, Leanna Renee Hieber and Ron Hogan and held the first Monday of every month at Madame X, it's a must for genre fiction lovers! As a frequent attendee, I've met scores of wonderful people and become energized by the romance reading and writing community. At no point was that more apparent than last night, when I had the honor of reading from Spice and Smoke, alongside YA authors Zoraida Cordova (The Vicious Deep) and Alethea Kontis (Enchanted), steampunk writer Kate (a.k.a. Kady) Cross (Heart of Brass), and historical fiction author Sherry Jones (Four Sisters, All Queens).
Despite having one reading under my belt already, Lady Jane's is a whole different ball game, and I was a basket of nerves. Oh, my God, these are people I know, that I see all the time. What if I choke? I'm not sure if the Madame X, a delicious cocktail named after the establishment in which it is served, helped or hindered my predicament! Luckily, the warm, supportive environment— both emotionally and physically; the Madame X upstairs lounge is sort of womb-like...like a womb crossed with a bordello — was very buoying. I was up second, after Zoraida, whose Coney Island-set mermaid tale is probably the polar opposite of gay Bollywood romance. ;) Before going up, I stopped Leanna, whispering, urgently, "Hey, Leanna...is it okay to say the 'f-word'?" (I'll let you wonder about the answer!) Once up on the elevated "stage" area, I commenced with my excerpt, starting out a little rocky but soon letting myself fall into Avi Kumar's voice and his thoughts. I'm always so worried about putting a story into the universe, but that worry faded pretty quickly, knowing that Lady Jane's is a loving cheering section for the genre. When you're up there, it's all white noise and bright lights, punctuated by —thank God— laughter.
That's what Lady Jane's is to me at the core: brightness and laughter. Joy. And it was a true joy to be there with so many fantastic authors, readers and friends. After my reading, we had three more, from Sherry's epic historical to Kate's steampunk homage to a certain patron saint of romance, Mr. Armitage, to Alethea's tag team with her incredibly audio book reader, Katherine Kellgren — who did SO many fantastic voices. Way to show the rest of us up, gals! And, everyone, way to make it fun!
If you're ever in New York City during the first Monday of any given month (except July — they're on a break!), drop in. The Salon is always open!