Romance author and Lady Jane's Salon co-founder Hope Tarr recently embarked on a tour the country to meet authors and booklovers from other Lady Jane's chapters around the nation and celebrate the release of her new book "Operation Cinderella". Hope's first stop was just outside of Chicago. Next, she visited sunny San Diego, CA, where Hope read excerpts of her latest release with fellow authors, met romance readers and did some sightseeing. Today the author shares her experiences from the road:
The winter holidays are in high gear but my Lady Jane’s Salon Book Tour de Force sallies forth nonetheless. Whistle stop #2: Lady Jane’s Salon—San Diego.
Romance fans enjoying wine at Mosaic bar
The newest of our four Salon satellites, Lady Jane’s Salon San Diego launched last summer 2012 at the initiative of its founder and organizer, Danielle Yockman, who writes sizzling historical and paranormal romance as Dara Young. The Salon, which meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM, is held in a side room of Mosaic, a cool wine bar in the city’s hip North Park neighborhood. Like the original New York City Salon, there are four readers per session with time set aside for attendees to chat up authors and buy their books—as well as order more wine!
I had the honor of sharing the stage with three fabulous and diverse guest authors: Jillian Stone, HelenKay Dimon, and Tessa Dare. As the author who’d traveled farthest, I was given the honor of starting off the readings with my Suddenly Cinderella Series novella, "A Cinderella Christmas Carol." It was the first time I’d read aloud from the winter holiday novella, a mash up of the Cinderella fairytale and Dickens’ classic Christmas ghost story, which had just released earlier that day. I can’t think of a better community with which to celebrate the book’s debut!
Next up, Jillian read the latest in her historical adventure series, The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard. HelenKay, reading from her fast-paced Harlequin Intrigue contemporary, Switched, had us in stitches with her humorous asides. Tessa concluded the program, reading from her Avon single-title historical, A Week to be Wicked—and what a wicked week it was!
Sharing the hope of a real life Happily Ever After with those in our communities who are less fortunate is core to the Lady Jane’s Salon™ mission. All Lady Jane’s Satellite Salons follow our national model of donating the collected books and net admission monies to a 501c(3) charity. For the San Diego Salon, that charitable recipient is the San Diego Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (or JDRF). I’m enormously proud to report that all four guest authors donated the monies from our book sales that night to the charity.
This was my first trip to San Diego. Warm in temperature and hospitality, the Southern California city did not disappoint. Along with making other tour stops, including the author holiday party at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, I was determined to carve out some time for seeing the sights.
A zebra grinning at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo more than lives up to its reputation as one of the premier conservation zoos in the world. Seeing so many amazing exotic and domestic animals, including those species at risk of extinction, in their realistically simulated natural habitats was a true joy. After embarking on a forty-minute guided bus tour of the park, I set out on foot to visit some of my Animal Kingdom favorites up close and personal, notably the lions and tigers, flamingoes, and these frolicking zebras.
Beautiful buildings in Balboa Park
Leaving behind these quadruped cuties called for some stiff self-discipline, but I had just a few daylight hours left and lots still to see, notably the rest of Balboa Park. The 1,200-acre urban cultural park houses sixteen museums including the San Diego History Center, a theater, restaurants and eateries, public gardens including the Japanese Friendship Garden, and an artisan village. Most of the park beautiful buildings were constructed as exhibition halls for the 1915–1916 Panama–California Exposition and 1935–1936 California Pacific International Exposition and all reside on the National Register of Historic Places. The Botanical Building, also known as the Lath Palace, is one of the most photographed structures in San Diego. Stunning!
The next afternoon, I headed to Coronado Beach. About a twenty minute drive from downtown San Diego, Coronado comes up consistently on many national “best of” beach lists, including being named as America’s #1 Beach of 2012 by coastal expert, Dr. Stephen Leatherman aka “Dr. Beach.”
The Hotel Del Coronado, known in locals’ speak as The Hotel Del or simply The Del, is a former railway hotel that’s managed to hold onto its grandeur and thrive economically despite the transition from trains to cars as American’s primary mode of domestic vacation travel. Over the decades, The Del has hosted numerous presidents, princes, and celebrities including Edward VIII while Prince of Wales, Ronald Reagan (both as California Governor and President), aviator Charles Lindbergh, and Frank Sinatra. The hotel and its private beach have been the backdrop for many famous films including the 1958 classic comedy, Some Like it Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.
The Del decked out for Christmas
The original 1888 Victorian main structure remains intact with a lovely vaulted timbered ceiling and a wrap-around gallery overlooking the main lobby. The Del would be a treat to visit at any time, but seeing “her” decked out for Christmas was beyond breathtaking. Bonus: I even got in a walk on beach before it rained!
Next whistle stop: Lady Jane’s Salon Denver. See the tour schedule here.