Saturday, January 24, 2009

What is Lady Jane's Salon and why should I care?

It started, as many great things do, over a drink with good company.

Regency romance author Maya Rodale, romance author Hope Tarr,'s Ron Hogan and I were discussing the state of the New York City reading series scene and the fact that there wasn't a space for romance fiction and areas of women's fiction.

"Let's start one." Maya said.
She may have used slightly more elaborate language but you get the idea.

Maya happens, also, to be co-founder of the charity Share the Love, which donates gently used books to women in transition and need. Hope has a long history of philanthropy, as you can check out from her website. Ron Hogan, in his involvement with MediaBistro, GalleyCat and has championed all kinds of literature for well over a decade. I'm involved with service projects at my church and environmental and animal rights causes. So you've got four people with two things in common: a love of books and philanthropy. Hence, in the span of just a few short months and somewhat of a "Yes We Can" philosophy, Lady Jane's Salon was born.

Why "Lady Jane"? We knew we wanted Salon in the name, because it's just one of those words one wants to use. I dubbed it "Lady Jane's" because Jane makes us think of our beloved Austen, and tea, but it's also an everywoman name. Jane Doe. There's a bit of everywoman in romance, in the way that the genre, no matter the sub-category, seeks to lift up the core value of loving, dynamic, committed and familial relationships.

Lady Jane's launches on February 2nd with award winning and multi-published authors. Andrea Pickens and Hope Tarr will kick off what will be a monthly offering of rich storytelling and great community. Some invaluable friends of romance, such as Barbara Vey and will be there to help us celebrate, and the generous and vital RomanticTimes, who have been incredibly supportive so far. Not to mention our respective current publishers, Berkley, Harlequin and Dorchester, who have been incredibly supportive too!

Mark your calendars! Every first Monday of the month, from 7-9 at the fab Tribeca venue Madame X. Admission is $5.00 or a gently used women's fiction novel - all admissions benefit Share the Love!

Madame X is located at 94 West Houston Street, on the north side between LaGuardia Place and Thompson Street. You must be 21 and have a valid photo I.D. to enter.

We hope you'll join us not only on Feb. 2nd, but every first Monday!

Stop by tomorrow the 25th, we'll be talking all about it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Blogging for the New York Daily News

It was indeed a party in DC!

So the official Daily News link ended up HERE:

That will connect you to the stream of blogs and pictures from myself and many people far more famous than me, like Senators and stuff. I was there. And it was amazing. And I wrote about it. And took pictures. (See link above to connect to pictures)

I've promised some people that I'd pluck out said blogging and re-post here, so here goes.

MONDAY, Jan. 19th, 3am:

It's 3 in the morning. We have to get up at 5 to get to Port Authority to make sure we get on that Greyhound. But I'm not sleeping. It's a mixture of things keeping me up. Partly it's because I procrastinate and didn't pack beforehand. Partly it's nerves. Other than those lovely silver-tinted, embossed pieces of paper from Senator Schumer that say "Silver Ticketing" - I have no idea how this is going to go. I don't know where exactly we're meeting up with my best friend from childhood who now works for the Department of Energy. I'm nervous that Verizon's bandwidth will max out and I won't be able to email you dear Daily News readers from my phone, or for that matter, connect with that childhood friend who will be housing us. I hope to see my pastor, Reverend Heidi Neumark of Trinity Lutheran Church, an incredible woman who has been a passionate servant of justice and Change her whole life, and to rejoice with her during this blessed time. But I've no idea if we'll be able to find one another on either side of the throng, or even if all of us will make it onto the over-sold buses (hence the very early hour)... We're all just desiring the great adventure of this great moment in time, even if we can't forsee the details.

Part of the insomnia is that Marcos, my beloved, is making a "Change You Can Dance To" mix for our trip and I keep hearing these great Obama-inspired songs we heard in the campaign office in Philadelphia where we spent some long days and I keep getting teary-eyed and energized. Barackapella, doing an acappella cover of Will.I.Am's Yes We Can gets me every time: - they look just like my rural Ohio high-school show-choir (of which I was a proud 3 year member) and have an earnestness you can't help but love. I heard a music critic on WNYC say that he culled the best 800 songs written and performed for/about Obama out of about 30,000. Since when has one of our political candidates inspired such creativity? After the 8 year Winter of our discontent, it feels like Spring.

Part of not sleeping is that I know I'm embarking on a journey that will be one of those infamous "tell your grandchildren moments" so these inner voices are saying "Stay Awake!" "Keep Watch!" "Remember EVERYTHING!" Except if I don't get some sleep then I won't have the capacity to remember anything. Well, I hope we've remembered everything. Even toilet paper, for what will surely be the over-taxed and under-cleaned Port-o-lets. But in the end, I don't care about the logistics, how far I'll have to walk, how long I'll have to stand. How cold it will be. Hey, I'm a New Yorker now. I can handle it. It's all moving us forward on that road to Hope, and the chance to feel like we might actually get to be a part of a system that for so many of us, we've either felt disenchanted with or disenfranchised from. Or worse. I love you New York. There wasn't a more exciting place to be on the night of Nov. 4th, and I'll be thinking of you on the bus, all the way down the road, and as the crowd thickens on the Mall. Oh, and I'll be sure and tell you all about it. :)

MONDAY, Jan. 19th, 6:30 a.m.

*bleary eyed*
Wow it's a long line at Port Authority. You know a lot of people are going to DC when workers take one look at you and say "DC, gate 71". Maybe it's the Obama bling.Everyone in line is in a fairly good mood considering none of us know if we'll actually get on this Greyhound bus (despite the fact that we all have reserved tickets). There are more smiles and good spirits than the average early morning line. People are asking where everyone is staying in DC, and postulating about how the day will play out. We're all very curious about this mythical Greyhound 'priority line' we hear about and why the heck didn't we all pay the extra $10... We're talking which Obama music videos were our favorites, the peculiar business of commemorative plates and doing a bit of an ObamaGirl roast. *glancing behind* The line stretches all the way to the back of the Port, and the line is finally moving. Our new friend in line pulls out a New York Times and our jaws fall at the pictures of the crowds yesterday, let alone today, let alone tomorrow... I feel myself getting a little nervous again.

Moving to the back of the bus reminds me of high school band and choir trips, where all the naughty kids would sit. And considering my partner Marcos has everyone joking around, this feels like a cool road trip that we and a bunch of strangers are taking together.We're just leaving the city, plugged into a charging current on this bus full of every age and skin color. We are riding on the jetstream of something more than ourselves, a great bus, rail and flight migration to our nation's capital to reiterate that affirming campaign cry of YES. Yes we can, will, did, and now are.

I am so grateful that my parents, white folks of a Dutch and German lineage in a rural Ohio setting that entirely lacked diversity gave me the tools to know racism was wrong and to appreciate that my world view wasn't the only one. They instilled a progressive spirit that knows it's not just the transcendence of color that we're going to go celebrate. There's no recession on this bus, there's no nuclear proliferation or Gaza occupation. For the moment, simply, We Are On Our Way. (That goes out Horace, my choir director at Trinity)

But this idealism, something lost somewhere in the toilet of the Bush years, is beautifully exhausting. Time for a nap. See you in DC, ETA 11:30

MONDAY, Jan. 19th, 3 p.m.

Navigating DC subway for first time. Emerging to see that the city is full. The restaurants, the sights, the streets have milling people in every corner! (As well as national guard, two to every corner, who smile if you smile and say hello, adding to the feeling that the country is coming together, supporting and protecting together.)

I did find Pastor Heidi as well as the leader of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, who were leading a disaster kit building session for the National Day of Service. Unfortunately we were too late to help build kits but it was exciting to meet up first off with involved people of service and faith, to speak of the day on the political and spiritual scale as I wolfed down grilled cheese, discussing the pros and cons of Pastor Rick Warren and other big Inauguration choices.

Sitting out by an impressive statue of Martin Luther and waiting for our friend to pick up our luggage so we can sightsee and see whats on the jumbotrons at the Mall. (Speaking of Mall, I hope theres street-vendor shopping, we promised a lot of people buttons and other inaugural swag!) I've declared that going to the Lincoln and FDR memorials are a must. I feel paying a little tribute to FDR, (I've always had a deep affinity for FDR) in the current climate is only right and proper. And the sculpture of Lincoln is my favorite sculpture ever. My hands are too cold to text so we are ducking into a hotel - oh wow the lobby is swarming- I'll share what the Mall looks like when we get there.Blessings!

MONDAY, Jan. 19th, 7 p.m.

There are people in long choral skirts and coats on the stairs of churches, tour groups, men and women in uniform, people in nice outfits going to balls we don't have tickets for. Street music, crowds seeing if they can get in towards the White House - answer no - ooh, there's a button table... Wow, the street vendors are lining the outside of the mall in droves, never seen so many commemorative shirts in my life. And oh gosh the buses! Buses as far as the eye can see heading towards the Mall.The National Guard are taking pictures while on patrol :) The line of green port-o-lets is nearly as long as the line to get into the Lincoln memorial. Scratch that going to the memorial, the line is madness so we are just going to take a look at the front (I've been inside before) and see if FDR is as much of a line. On the way a fabulous Haitian band is playing We Shall Overcome on the grass at the feet of the Lincoln memorial and attracting an appreciative crowd.

Here at the FDR memorial, beautiful in twilight, the lights for the Jefferson memorial reflecting across the basin, roving flocks of tourists, school groups (we just ran into a tour guide friend of ours from New York guiding a student group). Big searchlights are casting a star up from the mall. The capitol brilliantly lit, crowds just roving and appreciating the memorials, occasionally a cheer goes up. The entire area is brilliantly alive, despite the cold, the place is on fire. Off to the button vendors.


From our friends' house at American University, it's back to the races.
We rose at 5:30 a.m... Ouch. But considering they opened the subway at 4 a.m. we're actually behind. Did I mention I am not a morning person? The Mall opens at 7 and we'll see about subway logistics. Our bus was more packed than a manhattan train in the height of rush hour.After a series of walking many backtracking blocks (between subway station closures and friendly police officers who were brought in from elsewhere and while exceedingly polite didn't really help) we are on the subway heading to our designated stop on our silver-tinted tickets. The trains are running about every 2 minutes. The conductor saying "We're stopped because of a train ahead of us. And a train ahead of that one."

Just found out the designated stop on our tickets has just been closed. The train is now fire-hazard full. Oh. Thank you Mr. Train conductor, our stop is now reopened to get to the silver ticket area. Things changing minute by minute and it's only 7:30am. Unprecedented would be the word for this.

Check that, federal center now closed again. We'll have to press through the crowds via an earlier stop. We'll see how this goes...


It's tributaries of thousands lining the roads and underpasses, shuffling towards a great unseen ocean of the mall which is somewhere many blocks behind us - walked a mile to get to the end of the line. There are grandmothers with wizened smiles and whining children who have no idea how important this is. (Unfortunately whining child is right in front of me, bless his dear heart). The swarm continues to line up behind us, and its amazing to me that anyone was able to point us in the right direction. No pushing or yelling amid the crowd, its been a surprisingly calm mass. MASS. Never seen aaaaanything like it. Ever. Wonder if I will again.Regarding the fact that its always decent weather for his events, a DC worker says "God likes Barack Obama" - its a bright sunny morning. Cold, but sunny. Okay, really cold. But sunny. I'll take optomism where I can.The line has not moved. Fingers frozen. Time for hand warmer. Half hour later. Line still growing, moved up two yards.Let you know when I get somewhere beyond this train underpass...


When last I left you, our line of silver tickets was moving slow. Continued to crawl, about 4 people wide, until just before the promised land bearing the sign "silver gate"- at which point the crowd thickened to about 20 across and a mile back. Here the pressing forward began, with alternate shouts of "yes we can" and "let us in!" (I should note that our walk to this line was one hour, and time in line approx. 4 hours 45 minutes)I couldn't write from the mall, my hands too frozen to type, as was most of the rest of me. The crush of humanity's body heat helped, but then I didn't have room to lift my arms to type, as we were buffered and pressed towards the basin below the copper war statues, Nancy Pelosi began to speak. At least, I think it was Pelosi.

See, we were pressed into an area (barriers crossed, plastic fencing obliterated) we realized we weren't really meant to be, with no speaker system pointed at us. But we heard the name Bush and the crowd booed heavily. We just got settled as the real deal began.So while I saw a decked out capital building and a speck that I knew to be our next president, we couldn't really hear the proceedings. But I think we cheered in the appropriate spots. The canons were impressive, and a helpful clue that we could start an Obama chant for our new president!

My favorite moment was, after we tried to hear what I am sure was a wonderful speech from Obama, we pressed forward as the benediction closed and got a great view of former Pres. Bush leaving in his fancy copter. Ever seen thousands of people boo, hiss, and flip the bird? Priceless. That was therapeutic.

All told, for thousands upon thousands of people in an area unused to such activity, it went pretty smoothly, and then tons of people went skating on the reflecive pool. I watched, wincing, afraid the ice would crack at any minute, probably while Marcos was trying to pirouette. But it, like us, this campaign, this country, held.While everyone was cold as heck, the mood was pleasant to the end. We took one of countless streams of people exiting up and around the capital building, wanting desperately some hot food and just to sit. After seeing the library of congress and the supreme court, We found ourselves in another Obama swag alley and got some more buttons per our friends' and families' request (and another sweatshirt, because while the sun kept shining, did I mention it was darn cold?!!).

To get back towards our friend's house, the Union Station was utterly overwhelmed. Never seen so many people on a subway, and these were not designed for NYC's type of volume. So we walked to a further station (only slightly less packed) and I'm not sure I've ever loved a padded seat on a heated train more.

But, while exhausted, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. What a blessing, to have been some tiny part in the bigger page of history.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Live from DC it's the Inauguration!

Exciting news:

Marcos won tickets from Senator Schumer for us to attend the Inauguration!

I'll be one of several NYC attendees blogging about it for the New York Daily News!
Be sure to check in from the 19th on, the NYC live-bloggers will be found linked off this page:
Bookmark this page and come and be a part of history with us!