Romantic Reading

Author Nico Rosso at Gypsy Den Alt Cafe in Anaheim. Photo by M.C.
Author Nico Rosso at Gypsy Den Alt Cafe in Anaheim. Photo by M.C.

There is something exciting about meeting other artists in a coffee shop, especially a Bohemian style coffee shop. Atmosphere is an important ingredient for a writer and a good book. Four authors read a chapter from one of their latest books.

Author Zoë Archer reads from her unconventional Victorian romance Sweet Revenge with descriptions of her heroine Ava, “She wasn’t a small woman.” You can hear as she reads that she likes strong female characters. And Dalton her hero, who just broke out of prison, had hands “… thick and tough of coiled rope.”

Author Shauna Roberts reads from her historical romance Claimed by the Enemy set in Mesopotamia. The chapter involves the heroine giving birth with a man aiding, which is unusual for those times. He may be the man who killed her husband, who may turn out to be her hero. Roberts’ husband reads the voice adding life to the character. The male and female point of views are vivid.

Author Nico Rosso reads from his paranormal romance Slam Dance with the Devil. The scene is set in a bar in San Diego as the main character Kent, a musician in a band and a demon, is approached by the heroine, a private investigator investigating Kent. Rosso’s words fly off the page. He’s descriptive and lyrical in his writing. There are song lyrics in his book, but he didn’t read that part. (Find his poetic song lyrics on his website.) This is definitely a romance from a guy’s perspective, making it stand out from some of the feminine prose.

Author and photographer Jenn LeBlanc has a sparkly personality. She reads from her illustrated, sensual Victorian romance The Rake and the Recluse. In school, her teachers didn’t like her writing. She said she would change the font and color of her stories and the teachers would get so hung up on the format that they didn’t give her a chance.

Apparently, the Gypsy Den Alt Café is in renovated downtown Anaheim. It’s super close to Disneyland and has a completely different feeling just a few blocks away from the resort. West Center is a stylish street and the café has great food and service. Who knew? This is a spacious hangout decorated with brown painted walls, dark wallpaper, framed oil paintings and cool colored glass lanterns hanging from the ceiling and of course books.

Lady Jane Salon started in NYC and grew to other cities. Author Beth Yarnall started a Lady Jane Salon OC at Gypsy Den Alt Café, who will be reading in November. Readings are every second Monday of the month at 7pm at the cafe. Or look for a Lady Jane Salon near you.

Gypsy Den Alt Cafe, 211 W. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim, CA 92000. Phone (714) 956-4400.

Humorous Hamlet

Cylan Brown as Hamlet and Olivia Delgado as Ophelia in Hamlet by Shakespeare by the Sea
Cylan Brown as Hamlet and Olivia Delgado as Ophelia in Hamlet at Shakespeare by the Sea. Photo by Nenad Bozin.

Every summer Shakespeare by the Sea tours Los Angeles and Orange Counties with two plays. I have been to the Newport Beach performances numerous times to a crowded park. This year I thought I’d try a different town called Rossmoor.

Rossmoor is a tree-filled town with many older homes remodeled from the studs up. Rush Park is surrounded by beautiful houses. The crowd isn’t as large and it feels a little more relaxed than Newport Beach. Rossmoor is a stop more toward the beginning of the tour. Sometimes a play can go through some changes in the beginning if need be which doesn’t take away from the quality of the performance.

Hamlet is the performance I saw with the advantage of being on a night with a full moon. Honestly, the outdoors provides the best lighting. Watching the night sky change colors makes for a beautiful backdrop. Particularly, when Kristina Teves (Gertrude) stood off to the side waiting for her entrance. Teves stood in a silver dress gazing at the ground as the moon glowed above her.

I can remember reading Hamlet in high school and college not really getting it or not being able to relate to it. The Shakespeare by the Sea cast made it enjoyable and entertaining. I don’t recall the lighter parts when reading the play. Polonius (Charles M. Howell) is funny as a comic relief. He has tons of amusing rhyming lines. Hamlet (Cylan Brown) is also witty as he feigns madness. Hamlet summons Rosencrantz (Garret Replogle) and Guildenstern (Robert McHalffey). Upon meeting they breakout into a mock fight. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern higher a group of actors to cheer up their friend Hamlet. In the play within a play the Player Queen (Tyler Gray) speaks in a silly feminine voice kissing the hands of the Player King (Nick Fawwaz). There is also the sweet romance between Ophelia (Olivia Delgado) and Hamlet that is short lived prior to the madness.

This is a period piece that director Stephanie Coltrin says they have shortened to two hours by focusing on the internal politics of the play.

Though the play is free make sure to buy snacks or donate at the end when the actors line up with donation boxes. It’s a great opportunity to take a photo with the actors. Bring your dinner and blankets and at Rush Park dogs too.

Runs from June 12 – August 15, 2014.

Shakespeare by the Sea (310) 217-7596.

Go to then click on calendar. Update-Midsummer will be presented in Torrance on Sun., July 27 and Seal Beach on Sun., Aug. 3, 2014.