Christina Haakenson of JUVE Creative and Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, Executive Director of Mission San Juan Capistrano at recent Saturday night summer concert under the stars at Mission San Juan Capistrano. (Hand in, Daily Pilot / July 28, 2010)

It is known as "The Jewel of the Missions." And it is surely one of Orange County's most significant cultural and religious landmarks. Mission San Juan Capistrano, the seventh in a chain of 21 California missions under the leadership of Padre Junípero Serra, welcomes some 50,000 area students every year and countless more tourists exploring the mission's history.

It dates back to Nov. 1, 1776, which happens to be All Saints Day in the Catholic Church. It's remarkable that, at the same time, 13 former British colonies some 3,000 miles to the east were only months into having declared their independence from Great Britain. On the Pacific coast, which was under Spain's control, a Catholic priest and his staff, which included countless Native Americans, were spreading the faith in uncharted territory.

This summer the Mission Preservation Foundation is again throwing a series of summer concerts under the stars, welcoming Orange County patrons to a unique summer experience. The foundation, the mission's fundraising arm, recently announced that the mission's membership, known as the Preservation Society, has reached an all-time high mark of 10,000 active members supporting the goals to protect the Orange County landmark's religious and historic significance. The support comes from all sectors of society in Orange County, including Newport-Mesa. This past Saturday evening the third in the series of six concerts and picnic dinners unfolded in the mission's rose garden courtyard.

Each of the six Saturday night concerts themed around a particular genre of music. The first summer concert was dedicated to the music of Billy Joel and Elton John. The second took a turn into rock 'n' roll and featured the music of U2. And, this past Saturday night, it was all about the Motown sound. The evening attracts an astounding gathering of some 1,500 people, some sitting at reserved designated tables and others picnicking on the grass. The crowd is requested to bring their own dinner and people end up sharing their food in true community spirit. Organizers set up four different dance floors throughout the courtyard.

The events bring in about $15,000 each in donations benefiting the Mission Preservation Foundation. Mission staff hopes to raise close to $100,000 from these evenings by the end of the summer. The remaining concerts take place on Aug. 7, which will be a tribute to Neil Diamond, on Aug. 21, featuring the music of Santana, and on Sept. 4 with a tribute to the Beatles. Reserved table tickets for parties of six to 10 guests require either a $30 or $40 donation and general admission on the lawn is $20 for Mission San Juan Capistrano Preservation Society members and $25 for non-members.

One final note on the mission this summer. There will be a special lecture at 11 a.m. this Saturday in the Soldier's Barracks Gallery about the relationship of the fictional character Zorro and Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission opened a special presentation of "The Legend of Zorro: Myth or History" in June that will run through Aug. 31.

For more information on events, please call (949) 234-1315 or visit http://www.missionsjc.com.

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There are a lot of talented writers in the Newport-Mesa community. Over the years many of you readers, as well as myself, have attended authors' lectures at The Newport Beach Public Library and many smaller "roundtables" offering fascinating insight into the literary world. Getting a book published today, especially a work of fiction is a major accomplishment. They always say (whoever "they" are) that good writing will find an avenue to publication. I would like to believe this to be true. But then again, I too have heard the story about the author who couldn't get his book published and ended up drinking himself to death only to have his widow eventually find a publisher leading to a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

In any event, let me cut to the chase and take advantage of your generous attention to self-promote a Hollywood novel, which I have recently published on all of the electronic book sites. The book is titled "Fame Farm." It is the story of three young men who meet at the USC Film School, all with the burning ambition to make it in the world of entertainment. This is a coming of age novel about the intersection of ambition and reality telling the story of who succeeds and who fails in the world of Tinsel Town. Move over Harold Robbins.

For years I have resisted self-publishing online, telling myself it was not legitimate unless a book reached the public via a proper agent and recognized publishing house. Recently my son-in-law, Jeff, listened to me lamenting over the state of the publishing business and my bemoaning the fact that my book was sitting on a shelf and collecting dust, while I was waiting for yet another agent's rejection letter.

Jeff said: "Why don't you put the book on Amazon and the other sites?"

"I have been told over and over again that if you self publish you are 'dead' to a major publishing house in the future," I replied.

To which Jeff responded: "And which major publishing house is calling you to take your book?"

Anyway, "Fame Farm" is available for $4.99 (I made it cheap, not that it is) on Amazon Kindle, and all the other sites, including Barnes and Noble, iPad, etc. So far I have sold zero books and I have had five inquires (all from relatives), so I am shamelessly requesting all readers looking for a little summer entertainment on the beach to check out "Fame Farm," if you are into a little Hollywood gossip about what it is really like behind the scenes in the television business.