It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a new book must be in want of a reading. Thus, I drove to Costa Mesa, CA one fine sunny Saturday in order to participate in the Books on Broadway’s Celebration of Jane Austen Afternoon Tea and Regency Book Reading.
Books on Broadway is a quaint bookstore that specializes in both new and used books. The narrow aisles of the shop create a cozy feeling. The books are stacked from the floor to the ceiling with every inch filled to the brim with an astonishing good selection of popular novels. As I wandered through the tight labyrinth, I had a hankering to take books from the shelves and take them home. Behind the bookstore is ample parking. During the event, a canopy had been set up to provide shade for the guests in the parking lot. It was where all the goody bags and raffle prizes were kept.
One of the draws of this salon reading was an English High Tea Service. The bookstore owner offered a fine selection of biscuits, jam, and crust-less finger sandwiches along with a brilliant hot black tea served in china teacups. I had two cups of tea with lemon slices and found it set the mood for the afternoon. The silver teapot was fun. It rotated on a gear system that allowed one to tip and pour your tea with a single hand.
I was given a small space in the bookstore to call my own, complete with a cute little table and elegant chair. I set up my swag and books on the table where they could be seen. Throughout the event, I gave away many fliers about my blog, No Wasted Ink, and links to where you could purchase an ebook version of my novelette.
Dozens of ladies came that afternoon. Many were dressed up, but California is known for its casual atmosphere and some wore their typical weekend garb. We authors were asked to dress for the event. Alina K. Field dressed in a blue regency gown that she had sewn herself and Anne Cleeland wore an English Highwayman outfit complete with a costume pistol! I was somewhat dull in comparison in my black tee and leopard print skirt, but we do what we can.
Since the aisles were narrow, the store owner decided to set each author in a corner of the shop and to rotate in the guests to hear our readings. I ended up reading my prepared excerpt of The Curate’s Brother four times. I did not read directly from one of my books, instead I had printed up the words in a larger font that was easier for me to see and allowed me to use my leather portfolio.
After each reading, I answered questions about my novelette from the guests. Questions ranged from the cultural differences of our time and the regency period and how language had a difference cadence in the 19th century. It was an educated crowd and the conversations were pleasant. It was wonderful to meet so many Austen fans in one place.
After the performances, the guests went to the canopied area outside and the raffle began. Several authors connected with Romance Readers Club had donated new books and there were wrapped packages of them on the tables. I had donated one of my regency novelettes and the lady that won it seemed pleased.
Afterward, those that wished to purchase a book from the authors did so. I was kept busy autographing until closing. As I drove home, I reflected that this had been a good time and I’m glad that I was invited to come. I hope to return one day.
Below are the authors and owner of Books on Broadway posing for a photo at the event.