January 20th Program: Mastering the Pitch

How many times are you asked “What’s your story about?” If you’re a writer, you get asked this all the time. Do you have a well-honed, snappy reply on hand, or do you flounder in dread, stumble, and change the subject? Or bore your audience to death with a 10 minute ramble of well, so and so does this, then this, then this… <yawn>. Maybe you think you have a good pitch, but want to make it the best it can be.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, every author needs a zippy one or two-line pitch that captures and sells the essence of his or her story.

Join SOLA on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. for some great tips and pointers on how to pitch your story to agents, editors and pretty much anyone who asks about it! We’ll start with a viewing of the RWA webinar “Pitching Tips from Best-selling Authors Damon Suede and Kristin Higgins.” Members Liah Penn and Vicky McHenry will talk with the group about other tips they’ve put together in an informative hand-out. (Note: Liah is a master pitch artist. Vicky has never pitched but is a fiend researcher.) We’ll ask a few of SOLA’s other published authors to show us their pitches.

Bring your notebooks and/or laptops, and we’ll try to squeeze in time to work on our own pitch perfect zingers!

Added Bonus:
In addition to the pitch program, photographer Lauren (Ren) Adkins will be available to members during the break to talk with members one-on-one for appointments. She has been invited as part of the Chapter’s focus to provide a variety of resources to the members.

Bio: Ren Adkins is a fine art and portrait photographer born in Memphis, Tennessee and based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated with a BFA in Photography from the Memphis College of Art in 2010 and an MFA in Photography from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2013. Lauren’s work focuses in thoughtful portraiture and versatile use of color, from vibrant and intense to muted and moody. Lauren is a visual crusader, fiction junkie, and media literacy advocate who loves the art of storytelling and hates talking about herself in the third person.

SOLA Writers Retreat and Workshop

When: February 23 – 25, 2018

Where: Covington, Louisiana

Join published and aspiring authors on February 23-25, 2018 for our 2nd annual writer’s retreat and workshop. Held at the historic Southern Hotel in Covington, LA (about 30 miles from New Orleans), this intimate retreat will inspire writers of all genres. The retreat begins Friday evening with a no-host bar and appetizers, and begins in earnest on Saturday morning. Guest speakers, writing exercises and lots of writing time are built into the schedule. Registration is $95.00 and includes coffee, refreshments, a catered lunch on Saturday, and Sunday brunch. Special room rates are available. Contact the Southern Hotel directly at (844) 866-1907 for room reservation. For more information, please contact the coordinator at liah.penn@gmail.com.

Fill out the form below to sign up!

Click below to pay via PayPal.

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November 18th Program: Hands On Workshop

SOLA will sponsor a critique/brainstorming session.

**Please note that the meeting will take place in the upstairs conference room at the East Bank Regional Library, not the usual downstairs room.

SOLA members are asked to bring the first page of their WIP, a story idea, or both. We will break into groups for a critique and/or brainstorming session. Word sprint exercises will also be an option. Every member will benefit from the feedback from peers and the chance to help fellow writers.

***Please also note that we will be voting on 2018 board members.

October 21st Speaker: Sheryl Hames Torres

Put Your Big Girl… or Boy… Pants On and Get Your Priorities Right

When you chose writing as an occupation, suddenly everyone has advice. Everyone tells you what you should be doing, how you should be doing it, and that if you don’t go by what they tell you, you can’t do it at all!

I’m here to tell you that’s not so and hopefully put your mind at ease a little. You can have it all–just sometimes, not all at once. When and how is strictly up to you.


Sheryl Hames Torres started making up stories as a girl to keep her five younger siblings entertained. She says she started writing them down to keep the voices in her head from having her committed. Vibrant settings and dashing heroes soon turned into real life when her family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where she met and married her very own Prince Charming. He taught her that sometimes reality is the fairy tale. Now, after more than thirty years together, she and Mark have reared one daughter–an artist and writer–and a son–a musician, mechanic, and automotive “restorer.” With a house filled with love and laughter, music and beautiful creations, lots of shedding fur from a ferociously friendly dog and a temperamental cat who thinks he rules the roost, Sher lives out her fairy tale every day. The Torres’ make their home in Northeast Georgia within three-quarters of an hour of her parents and three of those five siblings where she divides her time between her family, friends, writing and needlework.

And, of course, a lot of daydreaming…

Location Change for September 16th Meeting

Location: Southport Hall

Address: 200 Monticello Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70121

Directions: Find Ochsner Hospital on Jefferson Highway. Pass up Ochsner Hospital heading toward New Orleans until you come to Dakin Street at a traffic light. Take a right on Dakin and go all the way down to River Road. Southport is on the left. The parking lot is huge, and there’s a sign for the hall. Soft drinks will be complimentary.

*See below post for program speaker.

September 16th Speaker: Kishan Paul

Character Development

From daring escapes by tough women to chivalrous men swooping in to save the day, Kishan Paul’s creativity switch is always in the ‘on’ position. If daydreaming stories were a college course, Kish would graduate with honors. Mother of two beautiful children, she has been married to her best friend for over 16 years. With the help of supportive family and friends, she balances her family, a thriving counseling practice, and writing without sinking into insanity.

Her award winning contemporary romance, Blind Love, was released with Samhain Publishing in June 2016 and her suspense/thriller, The Second Wife, was self published in November 2016. The Second Wife is a Maggie Award for Excellence Finalist and an Amazon 2016 Kindle Book Awards Semi-Finalist. If you want a taste of her work, check out her free contemporary romance novella, Taking the Plunge.

Program Outline

1. Importance of layering your character
  • What is their purpose in the story?
  • Depth (three-dimensional)
  • Not boring or predictable but also not extremely inconsistent
2. Physical features of your character

3. What makes him/her a good hero?

4. Emotional parts of your character

  • Human. Flaws make them lovable and they grow.
  • What makes them flawed?
  • Their past impacts their present (family etc.)
  • What’s their emotional struggle in your story?
  • Obstacles they must overcome in the story and how it changes them
 5. How are they in public? How do others see him/her?

August 19th Speaker: Angela Quarles

Delving into Deep Point of View


Angela Quarles is a RWA RITA® award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary, time travel, and steampunk romance. Library Journal named her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, Best Self-Published Romance of 2015 and Must Love Chainmail won the 2016 RITA® Award in the paranormal category, the first indie to win in that category. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history and combines it with her active imagination to write stories of romance and adventure.


Angela will give an overview of the different points of view available to authors, and then delve into the style known as Deep POV. Are you getting feedback that your story isn’t grabbing readers? Have you had critique partners say they had a hard time connecting with your characters? Have you had one of them say they didn’t feel emotionally engaged? Then this style might help you– it gives a reader a more immersive reading experience and can take your ho-hum prose to a sparkling level. Get reviews that say they stayed up late to finish, or they couldn’t put it down! She will give tips and tricks, as well as examples.

July 15th Program: Hands on Workshop

SOLA will sponsor a critique/brainstorming session.

SOLA members are asked to bring the first page of their WIP, a story idea, or both. We will break into groups for a critique and/or brainstorming session. Word sprint exercises will also be an option. Every member will benefit from the feedback from peers and the chance to help fellow writers. Plus, coffee and pastries will be served!

June 24th Program: Third Annual JPL Mystery Readers / Writers Literary Festival

Sponsored by the Sisters In Crime New Orleans Chapter and SOLA.

***Please note that this will be the fourth Saturday of the month.

Five local authors or criminal activity experts will make presentations at the third annual JPL Mystery Readers / Writers Literary Festival at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 24, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie.

The festival is intended not just for mystery writers but for readers as well. This event is free of charge and open to the public. There is no registration.


9:30 to 10:15 a.m. – Keynote – New York Times Bestseller Erica Spindler
Raised in Rockford, Illinois, Spindler had planned on being an artist, earning a BFA from Delta State University and an MFA from the University of New Orleans in the visual arts. In June of 1982, in bed with a cold, she picked up a romance novel for relief from daytime television. She was immediately hooked and decided to write one herself. She leaped from romance to suspense in 1996 with her novel Forbidden Fruit, and found her true calling. Her novel Bone Cold won the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels Forbidden Fruit and Dead Run and was a three-time RITA Award finalist. Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.

10:30 to 11:45 a.m. – The Wheels of Justice with Author/Prosecutor Sal Perricone
S.R. Perricone served in most aspects of law enforcement for nearly 40 years. He was a deputy sheriff, police detective, FBI agent and, for 21 years, a federal prosecutor. He was the Chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force. Before his retirement in 2012, Perricone served as the Senior Litigation Counsel for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. He was an attorney for 35 years. During his career he specialized in public corruption and organized crime investigations and prosecutions. His first novel in the Crescent Criminality series, Blue Steel Crucifix was published in 2014. Perricone’s second book in the series, The Shadows of Nazareth, was published in 2016.

12:00 to 1:15 p.m. – High Speed Car Chases with Jeff Blue
Jeff Blue, a former police officer and now an attorney, will discuss the reality of police pursuits based on his personal experiences, including discussion on his training; proper protocol when engaged in a chase (and why it’s not followed); changes in pursuit policies during his career; and the different types of officer responses when involved in a chase. He will cover some of the common misconceptions and mistakes that writers and directors make when describing a chase for their readers and viewers. Blue spent 18 years as a police officer in Louisiana. He began his law enforcement career as a small-town cop in the northeast Louisiana town of Tallulah. He then moved to New Orleans, where he accepted a position with Probation and Parole, working some of the most dangerous areas of the city while supervising some of the convicted felons responsible for making New Orleans one of the deadliest cities in the nation. During this period, Blue was a member of the warrant squad and spent several days per week working with the NOPD 7th District Task Force to provide enhanced supervision of sexual and violent offenders. Many of the dozens of pursuits that Blue engaged in were in response to “hot calls” that came out while working with the Task Force.

1:30 p.m. – Break for Lunch

2:00 to 3:15 p.m. Hard Roll, A Paramedic’s Perspective of Life and Death in New Orleans with Jon McCarty
Known as one of America’s most dangerous cities, New Orleans plays host to incidents ranging from the tragic and disturbing to the completely bizarre-and during his career as an emergency medic, Jon McCarthy saw it all. He chronicles some of the most formative calls of his career in this autobiography that reads like crime fiction. McCarthy demonstrates with detail and clarity that the difficult choice is often the right choice. While not for the faint of heart, each entry in this collection provides poignant insight into the bonds between medics and the people and city they serve. A veteran of the United States Coast Guard, Jon McCarthy has worked professionally in EMS since 1996. He is one of the co-creators of the New Orleans EMS Field Training Officer program and served as the lead field training officer for nearly five years.

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Master Class for Authors – Pacing for the Thriller or Mystery
Bill Loehfelm is the author of the critically acclaimed Devil series about New Orleans Police Department rookie Maureen Coughlin, featuring the novels Let the Devil Out, Doing the Devil’s Work, The Devil in Her Way, and The Devil She Knows. The fifth Maureen Coughlin novel, The Devil’s Muse, will be published in July 2017. He is also the author of the stand-alone novels, Fresh Kills and Bloodroot, set in his hometown of Staten Island. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in several anthologies. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, AC Lambeth, a writer and yoga instructor.

For more information regarding this presentation, contact Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the library, at 504-889-8143 or wcsmith@jefferson.lib.la.us.

May 20th Speaker: Deborah Burst

Using Photography to Drive Inspiration, Character and Sense of Place

With affection for her home state, award-winning writer and photographer, Deborah Burst travels the jagged coast of Louisiana in search of historic treasures. In her fourth book and second in the Louisiana’s Sacred Places series, Spirits of the Bayou captures the poetic beauty and artistic landscapes of hidden graveyards, sacred temples and shrouded bayous. Packed with more than one hundred photos, it’s a must read for locals and a rare treat for those beyond the state’s borders.

Deborah Burst is a New Orleans native who enjoys writing outdoors at her home in Mandeville. An award winning writer and photographer, she left a corporate career with IBM and returned to Tulane University graduating cum laude in 2003 with a BFA in Media Arts.

In her 12-year career as a freelance writer she has published more than 1,000 articles and twice as many photographs on a local, regional and national level. She has written four books in four years and the last three were self-published. Her next book due out in 2017 will be the third book in the continuing Louisiana’s Sacred Places series.

Press Release

“Literature that creates an authentic sense of place can be difficult to find. A writer who can capture the real spirit of a place is even more rare. Deborah Burst is such a writer, and her Spirits of the Bayou does justice to one of America’s most historic and hauntingly beautiful settings, South Louisiana.” C. E. Richard, author of the book Louisiana, An Illustrated History and the companion documentary Louisiana: A History, produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

Deborah Burst adds another book in her continuing series of Louisiana’s Sacred Places. Her fourth book, Spirits of the Bayou: Sanctuaries, Cemeteries and Hauntings brings to life both the historic and artistic landscapes of New Orleans and coastal towns of South Louisiana.

One by one, each chapter unlocks the doors into ancient houses of worship, probes the eerie shadows of cemeteries and delves deep inside the bayou’s haunted legends. It’s a compelling gallery, a rarity in the literary world with both the magic of her words and the emotional flavor of her photographs.

Fans have called it Burst’s most compelling piece of work with more than 256 pages and 125 photos. The trail begins in New Orleans, then north across Lake Pontchartrain to the hidden gems of St. Tammany Parish. Readers then travel along the back roads and bayous of Houma, Raceland, Franklin and Morgan City.

The last chapters visit the wicked beauty of Louisiana’s swamps and bayous. Meet Rougarou, the Cajun werewolf, Jean Lafitte, a nineteenth century pirate turned patriot, and the illusive swamp monster in the Honey Island Swamp. Closing the book, discover the spiritual world of trees, butterflies and dragonflies.

For the connoisseur, the book deserves a place on the coffee table; for the adventurer, it belongs neatly tucked in a backpack. It’s a must-read for locals and a rare treat for those beyond the state’s borders.

Deborah is well known for her speaking presentations accompanied by an online display of photographs from her book. You may contact Ms. Burst via email to book a signing or speaking engagement.