Erica Spindler, New Orleans romantic suspense writer, speaks to SOLA!
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Our March 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 takes 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.

This Month's Stories

  • Speaker Bio

  • President's Message

  • Meeting Dates

  • Member News

  • Program Report 

  • Market News

  • About Me

  • See links at the bottom to check out our social media pages.
  • Have news for the newsletter? Email the editor at
  • You can contact any of our board members by clicking on their name in the list below.

President's Message

By Vicky McHenry

Another Mardi Gras come and gone. This year we stayed in town and paraded with my daughter and her new husband. I’d forgotten how much fun it can be, if you don’t let yourself get frustrated with the traffic and crowds. Also, I find it’s much easier to handle Mardi Gras without teenagers in the house. Won’t forget those years anytime soon!
I also got in some serious writing time and finished a first draft of my short story for the SOLA Mardi Gras Anthology. It’s a hot mess, but I’ve finally accepted that first drafts are supposed to be ugly. I can’t wait to start the revision process. As soon as I’ve got a scene in decent shape, I’ll put it on the SOLA Critique loop for comment and input.
I’m psyched about this anthology. It’s a first for SOLA and a fabulous opportunity to get our work in print. Liah Penn has created a cute flyer, and I’m hoping to spread the word to Bayou Writers and other writers groups. Let me know if you have any suggestions about how to contact writers that may be interested.
In the meantime, I’m asking you to support this effort by submitting your own short story. It can be as little as 2,500 words and as many as 7,500. The contest opens on April 1st and closes June 17th.  Have a little fun with this!  
See you on Saturday!

Board Members

We're all volunteers, and there is always room for more help. Consider joining the Programs Committee or helping out with Fundraising. 


Other Important Positions

Click on a name to email that member.
2017 Programs
March 18 – Erica Spindler- 25 Years, 35 Books, A Writer's Tale

April 15 – Liah Penn- Win-Win: How Entering Contests Can Improve Your Writing and Increase Your Marketability

May 20 – Deborah Burst- Using Photography to Drive Inspiration, Character and Sense of Place

June 24 – Third Annual Mystery Writers Conference (sponsored by SOLA and SinC)

August 19 – Angela Quarles- Deep POV

September 16 – Kishan Paul- Character Development

October 21 – Sheryl Hames Torres- Putting on Your Big Girl Panties and Writing Even Through Adversity
SOLA Anthology Contest
The SOLA Mardi Gras Anthology writing contest will open for submissions starting April 1, 2017. We will update the contest information page in soon. Feel free to get a jump start on your submission with the details we have below.

All short stories submitted must have a Mardi Gras/New Orleans theme and must have a romantic element in the story. The contest is open to both published and unpublished writers.

Submission Length: Between 2,500 and 7,500 words.

Subgenre Categories: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal/Futuristic, Inspirational, Romantic Suspense, and Young Adult

Contest Timeline: Open for submissions on April 1st  2017. Entries limited to the first 100 submissions.

Deadline: Contest closes June 17th 2017 (Midnight Standard Central time).
Winners will be included in the anthology, notified via email, and posted on SOLA’s website.

Entry Fee/Submissions: $20.00 through PayPal. All entries must be submitted electronically. (Do not submit funds or manuscripts until the contest officially opens.)

Member News

SOLA member C. S. Harris will host a book signing for Where the Dead Lie on April 4th from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Garden District Book Shop.
Check out her Facebook event page.


SOLA Members learned and participated at the Jambalaya Writers' Conference, held on Saturday, March 4th by the Terrebone Parish Library. 

SOLA member Farrah Rochon (right) participated in a panel titled "Before the First Kiss: Learn to develop chemistry too hot even for the science lab with this lesson in romantic writing." Other panelists included Alexandrea Weiss and Eden Butler.

Member Devon Alexander poses with Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter series.

Members Bonnie Rehage, Dawn Chartier, Pamela Kopfler, and Devon Alexander enjoy their time at the conference.

February Program Report

Cherie Claire
A New Frontier: Electronic Publishing for the Digital Age


Cherie Claire admits to having been a literary snob who didn’t read romances because she thought they were silly. Until she had a baby. Then she was so busy, she picked up a Harlequin romance for a quick, relaxing read. She couldn’t put it down and decided she might like to try writing one herself—a western. Her idea for chapter four seemed like fun to write, so that’s where she started. Finally, someone read her manuscript and said, “Join SOLA.” She did. And that’s where she learned about writing romances, including such as POV and the difference between the male and female voice. Her first book took five years to write! Her 11th book, A Ghost of a Chance, just came out, but it took her a long time to get there.
The first books she wrote had not been selling well. Her sister, also a writer, called from Chicago with the same complaint and suggested they go to L.A. for the RWA Conference. There, they learned about self-publishing. By that time, Cherie had the rights back for the books she had already written, so when she heard how much others were making from e-publishing, she decided to give it a try.
According to Cherie, in 2016 one-half of all books sold were digital, and the majority of digital books sold were romances. The number increased from 2010 to 2015, and only slowed last year because publishing houses began increasing the prices of their ebooks. A Nora Roberts ebook can cost as much as $10.99.
Suggestions about publishing and promoting ebooks:
  • Above all, write the best book you can.
  • Once you have a series written, make the first book free. If the readers like it, they’ll buy the rest of the series. “The rest” of Cherie’s books sell for $4.99. She’s now trying Kindle Unlimited for her new mystery series to see how it works.
  • Don’t price your books too low.
  • Put your book every place you can. Amazon is great, but Barnes & Noble and Apple are also good. Keep in mind that many people now read books on their cell phones.
  • A first-class cover is essential. Spend money on a good one and do a lot of research before you make a choice. (Cherie said she uses Kim Killien and spends about $100 per cover.) Covers for books in a series should be visually similar.
  • Get a professional edit and proofread.
  • One good thing about e-books is that you can include links to your website: Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, and Pinterest pages.
  • Learn how to format your books; it’s not difficult. Or buy the software to do it for you.
  • Once you have a book out, the best way to let readers know about your new book is through newsletters. Grow your subscriber list.
  • You can publish print books through Amazon with CreateSpace. You don’t need an ISBN number for an e-book, but you do for print. It’s best to get your own ISBN number.
  • The biggest growth last year was in audio books. If you decide to do it, be sure to retain all rights. Do not give away any rights to the reader.
  • Once you have written several books, you can put a few together to make a boxed set. Perhaps a series or books with a similar theme.
  • Take out ads in newsletters. Bookbub is the queen for increasing readers. (Cherie made her first book from each series free, which increased sales for the rest of the books in each series.)
  • Use Booktrakker ($4.99/mo) to get daily updates on the sales of your books according to bookstore, country, amount made, etc.
  • Draft2Digital will format your books and distribute it for you.
  • Try to format books. (Cherie said she doesn’t know much about it because she hasn’t used it yet, but they will upload your book and format it for the different bookstores.)
  • Make sure you have an author’s page on Amazon and include a headshot, bio, and web address.
  • For social media, a Facebook author page is best.
  • Pinterest is fun. (Cherie has one page for her contemporary series and one page for her historical series.) You can post photos of things your characters might wear, etc.
  • Banding together with other authors also works well. For example, you could do a website or Facebook page with authors who all write about New Orleans.

Market News


The Contemporary Romance Writers Chapter of RWA is seeking first-round judges for the 2017 Stiletto Contest. All current RWA members are welcome to volunteer and may select the number of entries they'd like to review. Judges will receive their entries in April 2017. For more details on the contest, visit this link.

On March 23rd and 24th, the RWA National Board of Directors is holding its board meeting at the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette on Common Street. RWA members are welcome to come and sit in on the meeting. 

About Me: Tina DeSalvo

1. Where were you born and where do you live now?
Hello my fellow SOLA members and thank you for inviting me here.
I am a Westbanker...I was born and raised in Marrero and now live in Houma. In between I lived in Thibodaux and Golden Meadow. I always joke that I have never left the Westbank (of the Mississippi River LOL).

2. Do you have a day job or other responsibilities that compete for your writing time? If so, how do you carve out time for writing?
Carving time to write is a constant challenge – it was the same from when I had a full-time job and two active boys to raise, to now that I do not. I had expected that without the demands of work, I’d have a lot of free time to write. The truth is my days are filled with the routine and the unexpected – you know, the things we must and want to do. It’s all about finding a balance. Right? I want to be happy, and writing brings me joy. So, I try to make sure that I don’t get too stressed if I’m not writing. I write whenever and as often as I can... sitting with my husband with my computer on my lap as we watch TV (him more than me) or alone in the middle of the night at the dining room table. Oh, an­d sleep is optional when I’m on deadline...and I LOVE it all!

3. What sub-genre is your current Work in Progress? How far along are you?
I have two contemporary romance WIP that are in the final stages before publication. Both are being released in April – one is a novella and one is a full-length novel. Out-lanta, a Second Chance Novella is part of the Magnolias and Moonshine Series that will be featured at the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta. I’m so honored to have been invited to join 20 authors for this project. Out-lanta is available for pre-order now. The other book I’m releasing is Abby, a Second Chance Novel. I’m in my final edits with Abby.

4. How many books have you (1) written (2) published?
I wrote five full books before I published (most before I even thought about trying to get published). I just wanted to write! Published? I have two novels and two novellas, all part of my Second Chance Novel series. As I mentioned, two more books are to be released soon, and another is planned for Christmas.

5. Name your 3 favorite books or authors.
I love all authors and all books. 

6. What would be your dream come true? 
Since I’m dreaming big...a dream come true would be to write such incredible books that readers are transported into the story in such a satisfying way that when they get to "The End," they want to read them over and over again. 
Oh, and they want to send me chocolate afterwards, too (lol-just kidding).

7. What is your favorite thing to do (aside from reading and writing!)
Labeling one thing “favorite” is tough. I sincerely feel my favorite thing to do is to enjoy whatever I am doing at the moment – the simple and the grand.  

8. What do you like best about SOLA?
SOLA is amazing! From the very first day I walked into a meeting over ten years ago, I loved being with lovely people of like-minds. Who the heck knew that there were others with their heads full of make-believe characters demanding stories be written about them?

9. What specific programs or speakers would you like to see SOLA sponsor?
Programs on the craft of writing. Character development, pacing, opening page...yes, all of that and more. I think it is a life-long quest for an author to work on improving their craft.

Want to be featured? Answer these questions and send them to me at
  1. Where were you born and where do you live now?
  2. Do you have a day job or other responsibilities that compete for your writing time? If so, how do you carve out time for writing?
  3. What sub-genre is your current Work in Progress? How far along are you?
  4. How many books have you (1) written (2) published?
  5. Name your 3 favorite books or authors.
  6. What would be your dream come true?
  7. What is your favorite thing to do (aside from reading and writing!)
  8. What do you like best about SOLA?
  9.  What specific programs or speakers would you like to see SOLA sponsor?
2017 Meeting Dates

Jan 21 - Chris Smith: The Library – A Writer's Natural Ally

Feb 18 - Cherie Claire - A New Frontier: Electronic Publishing for the Digital Age

Mar 18 - Erica Spindler - 25 Years, 35 Books, A Writer's Tale

Apr  - Liah Penn- Win-Win: How Entering Contests Can Improve Your Writing and Increase Your Marketability

May 20 - Deborah Burst- Using Photography to Drive Inspiration, Character and Sense of Place

June 24 - Third Annual Mystery Writers Conference (sponsored by SOLA and SinC)


July 15 - 

Aug 19 - Angela Quarles- Deep POV

Sept 16 - Kishan Paul- Character Development
Oct 21 - Sheryl Hames Torres- Putting on Your Big Girl Panties and Writing Even Through Adversity

Nov 18 - 
Dec: no meeting

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“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.” —George Singleton
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