Our April 15th Speaker: Liah Penn

Win–Win: How Entering Contests Can Improve Your Writing
and Increase Your Marketability

Award-winning author Liah Penn will talk about how entering contests can improve your writing and increase your marketability. Using real examples from contests she entered, Liah will show how some critiques are worth their weight in gold and how judging criteria is important to genre fiction writing.
Liah Penn is an award winning author of two romantic suspense novels in the Ina Stone and Sam Fujimoto mystery series. She is a 2015 recipient of the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for her debut novel Pure Death, published by Etopia Press, as well as a first and second place winner in the romantic suspense categories for her manuscripts Bare Bones and The Sweet Death in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and recently penned an article for RT Digital about her journey to publication. Her legal career is as varied as her personal interests: she has worked as a prosecutor on an Indian reservation, on the Mexican border and in a major metropolis, and her sometimes gritty imagery is based on her personal experience on the streets and morgues of Arizona. Apart from writing, she is also a visual artist and enjoys painting and pottery. She resides outside of New Orleans with her husband and two sons, both of whom show great promise as a writer and an artist.
Her Work:
Pure Death (Etopia Press 2014)
Pure Justice  (Etopia Press 2015)
Short Story: “A Cabin in the Woods,” Never Fear – Christmas Terrors (13 Thirty Publishers)

March 18th Speaker: Erica Spindler

25 Years, 35 Books: A Writer’s Tale

Erica Spindler will discuss her twenty-five years in publishing: her highs and lows, steps forward and back, how to remain creative (and sane), and share her thoughts on what it take to have longevity in a fickle and ever-changing industry.


Erica Spindler is the New York Times and International Chart bestselling author of thirty-two novels and three eNovellas. Spindler’s skill for crafting engrossing plots and compelling characters has earned both critical praise and legions of fans. Published across the globe, she’s been called “The Master of Addictive Suspense” and “The Queen of the Romantic Thriller.”

Her most recent novels are The Final Seven and Triple Six, books one and two in her The Lightkeepers series.

Spindler splits her writing time between her New Orleans area home and a lakeside writing retreat. She’s married to her college sweetheart, has two sons and the constant companionship of Roxie, the wonder retriever.

She is busy writing her next thrillers, The Other Girl and Fallen Five, book three in The Lightkeepers.

February 18th Speaker: Cherie Claire


An New Frontier:
Electronic Publishing for the Digital Age

Sales of ebooks have slowed in the past year, but they still make up a quarter of the book-buying market. Romance novels dominate ebooks sales and only continue to grow. Are ebooks in your future? What is the process to enter the digital age? Author Cheré Coen (aka Cherie Claire) will discuss steps to crating and publishing digital copies of novels.


Cherie Claire is the award-winning author of several Louisiana romances and a paranormal mystery series.

Originally published with Kensington, The Cajun Series of historical romance follows a family of Acadians (Cajuns) who travel to South Louisiana and start anew after being exiled from their Nova Scotia home. The first three books (EmilieRose, and Gabrielle,) follow the Gallant sisters as they attempt to reunite with their father (and find love) in the wilds of Louisiana, and Delphine (Book Four) takes place during Louisiana’s role in the American Revolution. The Dugas family saga continues into the 19th century with A Cajun Dream (Book Five) and The Letter (Book Six).

Cherie is also the author of The Cajun Embassy series of contemporary romances– Ticket to Paradise, Damn Yankees, and Gone Pecan. What happens when several Columbia journalism coeds homesick for Louisiana find comfort in a bowl of Cajun gumbo? They become lifelong friends. Because love — and a good gumbo — changes everything.

Cherie’s spring 2017 novel, A Ghost of a Chance, begins a paranormal mystery series featuring New Orleans travel writer and ghost sleuth Viola Valentine.

Cherie lives in South Louisiana where she works as a travel and food writer when not indulging in Cajun culture. Visit her website at http://www.cherieclaire.net and write to her at CajunRomances@Yahoo.com.

November 19th Speaker: Bridget Hodder


Going All the Way:
From Page, to Pitch, to Publication

Pitch clinic at the end of the talk, so bring the pitch of your WIP!

Are you really ready to be published? Debut Author and two-time Golden Heart Finalist Bridget Hodder helps you answer that question and many more. In a friendly, practical exploration of the various paths we can take to publication, she will talk about her own unusual journey to a contract with a “Big Five” publisher and the power of working smart on your dreams.

Published Work

the_rat_prince_cover the_rat_prince_back_cover

2017 Meeting Dates

Sat. January 21 
Sat. February 18
Sat. March 18
Sat. April 15
Sat. May 20
Sat. June 24 (The fourth Saturday!)
Sat. July 15
Sat. Aug. 19
Sat. Sept. 16
Sat. Oct. 21
Sat. Nov. 18

October 15th Speaker: Tara Settembre


Social Media Hacks & Best Practices

Forget life hacks, let’s talk about social media hacks to engage and grow your social media channels and reach readers. Do you have over 2,000 Facebook page likes, but only 63 people are reading your posts? Did you know by adding a photo to your tweet you can increase clickthroughs by 18% and retweets by 150%? Social media maven, Tara Settembre, will share simple tips and tricks for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest that every author and brand should harness, and what they should be thinking about the next time they update their feeds.


Tara Settembre (@tarametblog) is a PR and social media strategist with a Master’s degree in journalism & communications from NYU. She was previously the Corporate Communications Manager at WWE and PR Manager for The Walt Disney Company. During her decade of PR experience Tara also launched and managed Pepsi, Chevrolet and DisneyBaby’s twitter accounts; oversaw a YouTube campaign for Obama’s first inauguration; and handled social media for Stand up to Cancer’s first national star-studded telethon. In addition, for the past 11 years Tara has been a successful lifestyle blogger at TaraMetBlog.com and writer for The Huffington Post and TravelingMom.com. An avid romance reader, she is currently penning her first manuscript.

Meeting begins at 10am at the east bank branch of the Jefferson Parish Library. 

August 20th Speaker – BJ Bourg



Research and Resources for Police Procedures
“Research and Resources for Police Procedures” caters to all writers—regardless of genre—who might someday need a cop, a gun, or a crime for one of their stories. After explaining what led him to write mysteries, BJ will detail some of the realities of police work, provide some basic information on firearms, and explain some misconceptions about various crimes. He will then discuss some research opportunities and provide a list of free resources for writers who want to “right” the police procedural aspects of their fiction.
During a law enforcement career spanning more than twenty-five years, BJ Bourg has worked as a patrol cop, SWAT operator, detective sergeant, sniper leader, police academy instructor, and chief investigator for a district attorney’s office. In addition to being a firearms instructor, TASER instructor, and defensive tactics instructor, he’s a former professional boxer and a lifelong martial artist.
A lifelong resident of Louisiana, BJ is the author of four traditionally published novels, one of which garnered a 2016 EPIC eBook Awards Finalist in the Mystery category, and he has had nearly 200 stories and articles published in many places, including national magazines such as Woman’s World, Boys’ Life, and Writer’s Digest. He is a regular contributor to two of the country’s leading law enforcement magazines, Tactical Response and Law and Order, and he has presented many police procedural lessons at law enforcement and writing conferences. Additionally, he runs Flash Bang Mysteries, a quarterly online magazine that aims to publish some of the best flash fiction in the business.
Above all else, BJ is a father and husband, and the highlight of his life is spending time with his family. When not working, exercising, cutting grass, or writing, he stares longingly toward the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where he hopes to someday retire to a life of writing. In the meantime, he lives in Lafourche Parish with his son, Brandon (when he’s in from law school), daughter, Grace, step-daughter, Kate, and beautiful wife, Amanda.

RWA RITA and Golden Heart Awards Night

Join us on July 16 as we live stream the RWA Rita and Golden Heart awards ceremony and cheer on one of our own, Pamela Kopfler.

We have the St. Charles meeting room at the New Orleans Marriott Metairie at Lakeway, 3838 N. Causeway Boulevard Metairie, Louisiana, 70002.

The St. Charles room will be ours from 5pm until 12:30am so if anyone wants to come early and do some writing sprints or talk plots, it’s available.

For those wishing to stay the night at the hotel, we have a few rooms reserved at a special rate of $109, double occupancy.

Email your name to Devon (devonalexander@cox.net) if you wish to reserve a room so the hotel can put it in the system at the discounted price. You will have to present your credit card upon arrival to pay for it.

Valet parking is discounted to $5.00 for us so be sure to mention you are with the RWA Awards ceremony event to receive this price.

Hope to see you there!

June Meeting Date Change

SOLA June Meeting Date Rescheduled to
Saturday, June 25th.


SOLA will NOT be meeting this Saturday due to another event that has been scheduled at the library. The meeting will take place the following weekend on Saturday, June 25that 10:00 a.m. in the library’s meeting room.

Save your 1st page critique/brainstorming ideas until then! Apologies for any confusion.

May Speaker: Laura Lane McNeal

Please join SOLA on May 21st to hear author Laura Lane McNeal speak about “The Story Behind DOLLBABY,” her inspiration after Hurricane Katrina and why she wanted to write about New Orleans in a way she felt no had before.

Laura Lane McNeal was born and raised in New Orleans. After receiving two undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University, she went on to earn an MBA from Tulane. She spent most of her career in advertising, working for agencies in New York and Dallas, before returning to New Orleans where she became a free-lance writer, magazine editor and decorative artist. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina led her to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. Laura presently resides in New Orleans and is married with two sons.

DOLLBABY is a 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards Top Ten Finalist in Historical Fiction, a 2015 SIBA Awards Finalist, A New York Post Must Read, an Indie Next Pick, A SIBA Okra Pick, and a Library Reads Pick, among others. DOLLBABY is her first novel. She has recently completed a second novel that begins on River Road in 1926 that weaves together the lives of two young women whose lives collide during the Great Flood of 1927.