Cherie Claire, Louisiana romance writer, speaks to SOLA!
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Our February Speaker: 


                Cherie Claire

A 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 ebook 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 creating 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 ParadiseDamn 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.

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

Just got back from Covington and can report that the SOLA 2017 Writer's Retreat was a resounding success. Event coordinator, Liah Penn, did an outstanding job and reports on our success below. We’re already planning for an expanded event next year at the same locale.
SOLA attendees included Vicky McHenry, Liah Penn, Ann Cantrell, Jaimie Bergeron, Pamela Kopfler, Karen Kersting, Devon Alexander, Dawn Chartier, Cheryl Rogers, Patricia Warner, and Louanna McFadyen (did I miss anyone?).  Non-SOLA members included ladies from Mississippi Writers Anonymous, as well as the president of the Bayou Writers Group. We look forward to seeing more of you at next year’s event.
At the retreat, Karen Kersting gave me a file of old SOLA newsletters that Susan Larson found in her office. Charter member Rexanne Becnel had given them to her in preparation for an interview years ago. The newsletters span 18 years from August 1987 (two years after SOLA was founded) to June 2005 (immediately prior to Katrina). What a treasure trove! I’m working on a way to archive these documents and make them available to all of us. In the meantime, I’ll share a few snippets.
(1) From the January 2004 Edition:
“Romance Writers Find Romance:
Two SOLA members surprised all their friends and acquaintances recently by eloping. Steve Harris and Candice Proctor got married in Natchez the day before Thanksgiving. The couple met through SOLA and got to know each other as members of a weekly writers group, Wordsmith. Steve and Candice give credit for their getting together to Elora Fink, the Wordsmith member who invited each of them to join the group. After their wedding, they sent Elora flowers with a note saying, ‘We are going to blame you whichever way it goes.’”
Elora, I’d say it went pretty well!
(2) Deborah Gonzales, a.k.a. Sabrina Jeffries, was the editor of the newsletter during the period it was named La Plume D’Amour  (around 1994). It also looks like SOLA had a matching logo at that time:

(3) Back in the 2005 time period, member Roz Green used to moderate the W2W (Writer to Writer) group, which met from 9:00 a.m.-9:45 a.m. before the SOLA meetings.  The W2W provided mentoring and peer feedback to members, who met to informally discuss questions and problems with individual works in progress. What a fantastic idea! This is something we need to resurrect!
There’s plenty more, but I’ll save it for future newsletters.  See y’all 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

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

March 18 –
Erica Spindler- 25 Years, 35 Books, A Writer's Tale 
Pay Your Dues!
Member dues should be paid no later than this Saturday, February 18th, at the meeting. Dues are $40 per person and are considered late after the February meeting, raising the price to $45. They can be paid in three different ways:

1) PayPal using a credit or debit card. The link is provided 

2) Check brought to either the February meeting.

3) Check mailed to Treasurer Ann Cantrell at 9012 Camille Court, River Ridge, LA 70123
SOLA Writer's Retreat A Success!
SOLA’s February 4, 2017 Writer’s Retreat at the Southern Hotel brought together 22 writers from as far as Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana for a day of brainstorming, camaraderie and writing. Hosted by SOLA at Covington’s boutique Southern Hotel, attendees were greeted with goodie bags, hot coffee and tea in a beautiful, quiet setting to get some writing done. After morning break-out sessions for writing, attendees returned to their main room for a hot catered buffet luncheon and treated afterwards to an inspiring talk by best-selling authors Erica Spindler and Hailey North, pictured below.

The afternoon consisted of more writing sessions and a sweet treat break where the attendees discussed their writing, their day, and what they wanted to see in a future retreat. A book signing by local authors Liah Penn, Dawn Chartier, Lisa Herrington, Ann Benoit and Ann Cantrell was well attended in the lobby of the hotel. Based on this year’s success, SOLA plans on expanding the retreat next year.

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 1st 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

Pamela Kopfler to present a workshop titled Sold to Gold at the 2017 Orlando RWA National Convention.
Pamela will present the workshop with three other Golden Heart finalists who will debut with Kensington Books. 

Southern Comfort, the anthology Charlotte Parker is contributing to, will be published on March 11th.
Desert Breeze Publishing will release the anthology at this year's RT Readers and Writers Conference in Atlanta. Charlotte's story will be titled "Shadow Chasing."
Congratulations to Liah Penn, whose third book Bare Bones was released in December by Etopia Press.
This is the first book in her new series Love and Suspense–Southern Style. The second book, Sweet Death, will be released later this year. 

Further congratulations to Liah for placing in the following contests:
1) Winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for Pure Justice (published novel).

2) Second place for the Joyce Henderson Award–Southwest Florida RWA for The Bone House, Romantic Suspense category (unpublished novel).

3) Second place in The Lone Star Writing Contest (RWA Houston chapter) for A Quiet Grave, Romantic Suspense category (unpublished novel).

January Program Report

Chris Smith

The Library – A Writer's Natural Ally
(But Few Authors Know How to Use Libraries as a Marketing Tool)

Chris Smith, manager of adult programming at the East Bank Jefferson Parish Library, gave a much-appreciated talk at SOLA’s January meeting entitled “The Library: A Writer’s Natural Ally.”  Chris schedules more than 100 authors a year for book signings and other writer events. His talk focused on the many resources available to authors through connections with public libraries.
In today’s publishing world, whether you are traditionally published or self-published, it is the author’s responsibility to act as his or her own publicity agent. In creating your marketing plan, don’t forget the library as a logical place to promote your work. And make sure you’ve scoped out the local literary lay of the land by following (1) The Reading Life with Susan Larson, a radio show aired several times a week; (2) the Louisiana Book Festival with James Davis; (3) Chere Dastague Coen, another literary guru (and featured speaker at SOLA’s February meeting); and (4) book columns in the Times Picayune and The Advocate.
Literary Festivals: Louisiana literary festivals are a great place to promote your books, and most festivals are happy to work with you. Festivals you won’t want to miss are the Louisiana Book Festival, the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Lit Festival, the Pirate’s Alley Words and Music Faulkner Fest, the Saints and Sinners Literacy Festival, the Jambalaya Literary Festival in Houma, and the Mississippi Literary Festival. Smaller literary festivals include a Celebration of the Written Word—Hammond (March of each year); Berries, Books and Bridges Conference – Hammond (July of each year); Tangipahoa Parish Library Free Book Fest—Hammond (October of each year); Livingston Book Festival—Livingston (November); Delta Mouth Literacy Festival – Baton Rouge (April); New Orleans New Writers Literacy Festival – New Orleans (March); New Orleans Book Festival – New Orleans (November); and the New Orleans Anarchist Bookfair – New Orleans (usual in autumn).

Book Stores: Some Louisiana bookstores will work with authors on book signing events. Good ones to consider if you can get them are Octavia Books, 513 Octavia; Maple Street Books, 7523 Maple St.; Garden District Books, 2727 Prytania Street; Faulkner Books, 624 Pirate’s Alley; and FAB Bookstore, 600 Frenchman St. Used bookstores abound in the Quarter but rarely have book signings. Occasionally, shops, bars and places such as Sam’s, Costco, and Barnes & Noble will allow a signing.
Public Libraries: These are great venues for publicity events such as book signings. Each year the Jefferson Public Library hosts more than 100 authors.  Libraries promote these events in multiple ways, including news releases, email blasts to cardholders, website, and Facebook and Twitter. Chris also mentions these events in his column in The Advocate. Not all libraries allow book signings.

  • The St. Bernard Library does not do book signings.
  • The St. Tammany Parish library has hosted a few authors, working with Barnes and Nobles, but does not handle many due to transaction restrictions.
  • The Orleans Parish Library hosts the New Orleans Book Festival. Most book signings occur at the Cita Dennis Hubbell Library at Algiers Point.
  • The Terrebonne Parish Library hosts the renowned Jambalaya Literacy Festival and brings in people to sell books by speakers and workshop presenters. They are still working on ways to handle book signings for the rest of the year.
Most libraries have strict rules regarding the purchase of books on premises. They usually must go through an approved vendor, such as a company called Forest, or Baker & Taylor. Consider giving a presentation at a local library without actually selling copies of the book just to garner the publicity. Or do you have a Square or a Cube so that you can conduct sales off of the property after giving a talk? You may also want to consider donating copies of your books to libraries. Local libraries want local authors in their libraries and will work with you.
A Couple of Ideas for SOLA: Take a carload or two to a local festival and fill your trunk with books to donate to the festival. Secure permission to make a short presentation about SOLA and its purpose as a way to promote local authors. Also consider approaching a bookstore, such as the one in Houma, and setting up a group signing of 3 or 4 authors who have new books. While you’re there, donate some books to the Terrebonne Parish Library System.
A Couple of Pointers on Book Signings: You’d be amazed at what Chris has seen. Know where you’re going and get there on time. Don’t dress like a slob and don’t forget your books. If you have a presentation that requires a computer, plan in advance. Bring a nice pen for signing. Make a good effort to help promote your own even via your own social media channels. It’s OK to read from your book, but not too much. If asked to participate on a panel, do it.

Pressbooks and Self-e: Consider using these tools to publish and promote your books. The Jefferson Parish Library has both programs. Self-e allows an author to submit a file which is then uploaded to a site which appears on the JPL site as “Indie Louisiana.” Library patrons can then download the books to their readers. So far, 13 Louisiana authors are listed. Editors from Library Journal select from the state collections. Thus far, two selections from Louisiana have been picked up from the JPL submissions.

Market News


Jambalaya Writers' Conference: The 14th annual conference will be held on March 4, 2017 at the Terrebonne Parish Public Library in Houma. Speakers will include Lisa Unger, M.O. Walsh, Nick Maineri, Ashley Elston, and SOLA's very own Farrah Rochon. For more information, see this PDF.

On January 26, The New York Times announced that it had eliminated several of its particular bestseller lists, including the mass market paperback list and certain e-book lists. The RWA issued an Open Letter to the Times protesting this action:

"Romance authors, most of them women, have dominated the best-seller lists in mass market and e-books for years. To dismiss these authors and the millions of readers who buy their books is to ignore what 'bestseller' truly means. Each year, consumers buy more than $1.3 billion worth of romance fiction. If the New York Times eliminates the mass market and e-book lists, they are proving that they are out of touch with what consumers actually buy. Further, the dismissal of two formats dominated by women can’t help but feel sexist. RWA strongly urges the Times to reconsider its decision.”

Additionally, author groups representing over 20,000 writers, including RWA (10,000), the Mystery Writers of America (3,000), Sisters in Crime (3,800), Novelists, Inc. (900), Horror Writers of America (1,500), and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (1,900) has issued a Joint Statement chastising the Times’ action.

About Me: June Shaw

1. Where were you born and where do you live now?
I live in Thibodaux and have always lived along Bayou Lafourche.

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?
I retired from teaching English, but started writing as the widowed mother of five young children. Since I was a little busy, I wrote small pieces and managed to sell a few things to periodicals. How exciting—to see somebody wanted to read words I wrote—and give me much-needed money for doing it!

3. What sub-genre is your current Work in Progress? How far along are you?
I’ve reached 35,000 words in Saving Mom, which will be the third cozy mystery in my new Twin Sisters Remodeling and Repair series that Penguin Random House’s Lyrical imprint bought. The first book, A Fatal Romance, just came out, and Dead On the Bayou can be pre-ordered. I sold my first mystery series to Five Star, which now only publishes western and non-fiction books. Go figure the publishing world. 

4. How many books have you (1) written (2) published?
I have ten or so published books. The first one or two that hide under the bed were for practice. I am a hybrid author who’s written in a number of genres. For years I’ve represented Louisiana on the board of Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter. Mystery appears to be my genre of choice.  

5. Name your 3 favorite books or authors.
I love so many authors, especially our SOLA members, but some others have stood out. When I read Thorn Birds, I fell in love with writing. Janet Evanovitch’s first books made me decide on the style I wanted to write at that time. Sandra Brown’s Exclusive was exceptional.

6. What would be your dream come true? 
My dream come true would be happiness for my large family.

7. What is your favorite thing to do (aside from reading and writing!)
When I was a lifeguard, we girls would perform water ballets. I belonged to a waterskiing group that put on shows, and I loved to fish and snorkel, so other than being with family and friends, I enjoy being in water. I could float on my back all day.

8. What do you like best about SOLA?
I LOVE the support, encouragement, and friendship of SOLA members. For a long time before I tried penning my own novel, I looked up to its published authors who gave me hope that one day I could become one. Thanks to all of you! I still admire what you do.

9. What specific programs or speakers would you like to see SOLA sponsor?
I would like for us to sometimes break up into groups and help each other with plot ideas and also form critique groups that could meet in person or online. Kudos to those who have been coming up with the terrific balance of programs!

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  - 

May 20 - 

June 24 - 


July 15 - 

Aug 19 - 

Sept 16 - 
Oct 21 - 

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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