Part of the reason I so love being part of the romance community is how supportive we are of each other, and how generous we are. To that end, I’d like to talk about Lady Jane’s Salon with you all today.
Back in 2008, Beatrice.com creator Ron Hogan and authors Maya Rodale, Hope Tarr, and Leanna Renee Hieber got together and somehow the topic of discussion ran to the lack of a romance reading series in NYC. It then occurred to them, “Hey, we should start one!” And thus was Lady Jane’s Salon born.
LJS NYC debuted in February of 2009. Since then, it has established itself as THE place to go on the first Monday of every month in NYC if you’re a romance reader, writer, enthusiast, and supporter. The venue, Madame X, a bar in SoHo, has the perfect atmosphere. LJS takes place on the second floor of the bar, and decorated bordello style, so there are lots of red velvet couches, red lighting, and the appropriate slightly risqué artwork. I love it. I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to go to LJS on numerous occasions, and it is a fantastic. Anything goes at Lady Jane’s Salon, and authors from all over the romance spectrum and its sub-genres have been invited to read, including historicals, contemporaries, YA, paranormals, etc. It was through Lady Jane’s Salon that I was introduced to many wonderful authors such as Sarah MacLean, Kate Noble, Lauren Willig, and Delilah Marvelle. I must also give a shout-out to Madame X bartender Alex who is awesome and fantastic in all ways. Last night’s Salon featured Miranda Neville, Alma Katsu, Jeri-Smith Ready, and Michael Boccacino.
The number of attendees varies every month, with devoted regulars who show up every month, and others (like me) who make it whenever possible. But I still remember the LJS event on the eve of the Romance Writer of America conference back in 2011. RWA was in NYC that year, and Madame X was packed that night. It was standing room only with people standing shoulder to shoulder and sitting on the floor, with barely any room to breathe. It was so wonderful and exhilarating to see so many romance authors, readers, and industry professionals gathered in one place to celebrate the genre.
What I love about LJS is that not only is it a safe haven for romance lovers to come together, LJS and its founders all believe in giving back to the community. Admission is five dollars or a gently used romance. The money is used to offset costs, and the proceeds and books go to support a local non-profit organization, Women in Need, a charity that assists homeless and disadvantaged women in the NYC area.
The most exciting aspect of LJS is how others have taken the idea and run with it. Satellite Lady Jane Salons have popped up all over the country. As with the original, admissions to all the salons is $5 dollars or a gently used romance. While all of the satellite salons are in diverse locations, they all share the same core mission as the original LJS. They are all committed to celebrating the romance genre, having a place where romance authors, readers, and supporters can come together, and using the LJS gatherings to support local charities.
First up was Lady Jane’s Denver, founded by romance author Elise Rome back in 2010, which debuted on October 12, 2010 and meets the first Tuesday of every month. LJS Denver is now run by Jenn LeBlanc who has helped grow LJS Denver in new and exciting ways. At their October 10, 2012 Salon, they had Hillary Sidl and M.L. Guida reading in person, and Maya Rodale participating via Skype. LSU Denver is currently on a temporary hiatus while they find a new venue, but I’m confident Jenn and the rest of the team will find a fabulous replacement and be back better than ever when they resume January 2013! LJS Denver’s charity of choice is Hope House of Colorado, which supports and assisted at risk teens and teen mothers in particular.
LJS RDU in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina was founded by Deb Marlowe, Claudia Dain, and both havles of the Lydia Dare writing team-Ava Stone and Tammy Falkner. They meet on the last Wednesday of the month at Hibernian Restaurant and Pub, and debuted on September 8, 2011. At their last Salon event on November 28th, they welcomed authors Jennifer Delamere, Sabrina Jeffries, and Michelle Willingham.
LJS RDU supports the Wake County Library System with their book donations, and monetary donations go to Shout Against the Whisper, an organization dedicated to ovarian cancer awareness and research. It is a cause near and dear to their hearts because it was founded by local romance author Heather McCollum, who is currently fighting and winning her battle against ovarian cancer. Best of luck to you, Heather, and may your prognosis continue to be positive!
LJS Naperville (near the Chicago, Illinois area) was founded by authors Adrienne Giordano and Tracey Devlyn. Inspired by the 2011 pre-RWA LJS mega-bash in NYC, they decided to start a local LJS in their area as well. LJS Naperville debuted on February 7, 2012 and they have been going strong ever since! They meet every other month on the first Tuesday. As a matter of fact, they are meeting TONIGHT and the authors on tap are Beth Kery, P.E. Calhoun, and Jennifer Ann Coffeen. Their venue, Le Chocolate du Bouchard sounds amazing and heavenly for a chocoholic like me! LJS Naperville supports Celebrate Differences, which is a non-profit charity devoted to children and individuals with disabilities.
The newest Lady Jane Salon to arrive on the scene is LJS Salon San Diego. Started by Dara Young, LJS San Diego debuted on May 23, 2012 and meets at Mosaic Wine Bar on the 4th Wednesday of every month. I don’t know about you all, but the combination of wine and great romance sounds like a winner to me! Last month’s Salon on Nov. 28 featured Tessa Dare, Helen Kay Dimon, Jillian Stone, and Hope Tarr. LJS San Diego has chosen the San Diego Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as their charity, as well as the San Diego Girl’s Juvenile Hall Library, which receives the book donations.
Not only have these ladies taken up the LJS banner to spread its message and charity all over the country, they have built on the LJS name and made it their own. For example, while LJS NYC still focuses on live readings, Lady Jane’s Salon Denver has had authors join in virtually via Skype, done Twitter and Facebook chats and used technology in new and innovative ways to expand the LJS experience. LJS San Diego incorporates discussions and Q&As after each of the author readings and there is an app that will keep those interested informed as to the date, time, and location of the Salon and the authors reading that month. LJS Naperville does giveaways at every Salon gathering. Each of the Salons has found a way to bring their own unique touch to the LJS brand to make it a unique and one of a kind event for the attendees.
All of the Lady Jane Salons have an active social media presence.
Connect with LJS NYC: Website Twitter Facebook
Connect with LJS Denver: Website Twitter Facebook
Connect with LJS Napersville: Website Twitter Facebook
Connect with LJS RDU: Website Twitter
Connect with LJS San Diego: Website Twitter Facebook
Also, please note that the venues for LJS Naperville and San Diego have limited seating so RSVPs are necessary.
As is obvious by now, I think Lady Jane Salon is a fantastic concept, and I wish there was one closer to me than NYC! I love how welcoming and inclusive it is, how it showcases the diversity of the genre and its readers, as well as the charity aspect of the LJS mission. It’s a great vehicle to meet and network with people in the romance community and helps introduce romance lovers to new-to-them authors, whether it be an established bestselling author of the genre, or a newly published author just starting out on their career. Even better, many of the Salons have the authors’ books for sale on site, so if you like what you hear, you can pick it up and read it right then and there! Very dangerous for one’s wallet, but so worth it, if you ask me! I’m excited to see how Lady Jane Salon continues to grow and expand in the future.
So-have any of you ever been to a Lady Jane Salon? Please share your experiences with us! Would you want to go to a LJS? Which author(s) would you love to see do a reading of one of their works?