Romance Slam Jam 2014

Romance Slam JamI know it’s early, but it’s about that time!  Romance Slam Jam (RSJ) 2014 will be held in The Big Easy!

Yup, you read that right!  RSJ 2014, the preeminent event for readers and writers of African American romance and fiction, will be taking place in THE melting pot of good music, flavorful food, and diverse culture.  I’m telling you about it now you so can put it on your radar. I’m definitely in for a trip to New Orleans and the opportunity to meet some of my fav AA authors.

Head on over to the conference website for registration details and an early program overview.  Oh, and there are discounts for early registration and for groups of 5 or more!

Hope to see you there next year!


RSJ Flyer 2014


Here is the early event flyer, but it is sure to get updated as new authors sign on and plans cement, so be sure to check with RSJ often for updates.

Book Reviews, What Do You Say?

ReviewI’ve had a multi-faceted  association with book reviews over the years.  First, as a reader with a limited book budget, I would seek out reviews on new authors or genres I’d not read before. True, everyone is different and not every story will resonate with every reader, but it helped me feel a bit better about spending my few little bucks on a new title.  Did it always work? No.  But I’m an analytical person, so I always feel better about a decision when I can do a little research and gather a few data points. 🙂

Out of my love for reading, I became a professional reviewer for  Romance In Color  in 2005, and moved up to the Senior Review Editor shortly after that.  I did this for roughly 6 or 7 years.  It was through this experience I got to see another side of the review process.  I worked closely with publishers, and authors in some cases, to get professional, objective, and unbiased reviews done  in a timely fashion on the newest releases.  From this experience, I learned the importance from a marketing and PR standpoint reviews held for the authors and publishers.  Not only did I, as reader, look to reviews to help decide which new titles to try, but authors and publishers look to them as a sort of “word of mouth” advertising and exposure option.  Favorable reviews could be used to encourage additional readers, as positive soundbites on marketing materials, or mentioned during author events to make a point (either about theme, story, character, or a wealth of other things).

And now, as a published author, I look at reviews in yet another new way.  My first release, a short story in the Seven Dress Sizes collection, is out and I’ve received mostly good feedback on it, both in person and in the form of published reviews.  As an author, I am always interested (good or bad) in what someone thinks about my writing, how it’s received, and whether or not they picked up on themes, motifs, or point I was trying to get across.  But me personally, I like to look at them from  that standpoint.

I’ve presented 3 different angles from which I view reviews.  Today’s What do you say? topic is:
What are your thoughts on leaving book reviews?  If you do reviews, do you tend to leave a review on an official review site (such as GoodReads or Amazon)?  Do you prefer to use your personal website or Facebook page?  Or do steer clear of written reviews, prefering to actually speak to others about your opinions on books? (such as through a book club, when asked, or when speaking to others about books)

Image courtesy of DreamsTime


Submission Call: Meet Lisa Sullivan of L.A.S. Books

Hi all, I’m honored to have Lisa Sullivan stop by today and chat with us about L.A.S. Books.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Lisa about  5 or 6 years now.  She’s a great writer and a wonderful editor, I call upon her services often to whip my WIPS into shape.

Lisa SullivanHi, La-Tessa. Thank you so much for giving me a moment to share some information about L.A.S. Books with your readers.

I’ll begin with a little info about me. In addition to being the owner of L.A.S. Books (more on that in a bit), I am the author of Ghosts of the Mid-Atlantic, an historical collection of light paranormal tales centered on haunted people and places in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. My fiction work has finaled in the Western Pennsylvania Romance Writers 2009 Paranormal Flash Fiction (“Soul for Sale,” Paranormal); Wisconsin RWA 2009 Fab Five (Pyramus Lost, Historical Romance); Chicago-North RWA 2012 Fire & Ice (Pulse, Paranormal Romance); and Yellow Rose RWA 2012 Winter Rose (Pulse, Paranormal Romance).

While I continue to write fiction and non-fiction, my forte seems to be helping new and published writers achieve their writing goals. This is why I am expanding the publishing arm of L.A.S. Books.

L.A.S Books is a growing publishing company based in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia (about an hour northwest of Washington, D.C.). Among our services, we provide coaching for writers, editorial assistance, and publication of print books and ebooks over 25,000 words.

In addition to bringing in new clients for our coaching and editorial assistance services, we are currently seeking new authors for publication. Any genre of fiction and non-fiction will be considered except erotica, violent fiction, and works with intense themes. Our review process is straightforward:  submissions are primarily evaluated on the quality of the work, the author’s professionalism, how well we think the book would sell, and whether we enjoyed reading the work ourselves.

We are open to considering a variety of works, yet we are highly selective about the quality of the work and the potential of our authors, publishing perhaps only four new books each year at this time. Only the cream of the crop manuscripts pass through to our readership. This principle is how we build our customers’ trust and create a win-win-win for our loyal readers, our first-rate authors, and our company. You will find more information on our Submissions page.

Thank you again, La-Tessa, for letting me share this news with your readers. To learn more about L.A.S. Books, please visit:



2012 RWA National Conference

I’m fresh off my trip from Anaheim, CA for RWA’s 32nd Annual Conference.

This was my 3rd national conference, and each one has been better than the last for me.  And I’m not taking about locations (because all the locations have been awesome–DC, NY, CA… Come one, what’s not to love there); I’m not talking about workshops (because all have had some wonderful key note speakers, workshop topics, and special guests);  nor am I talking about the pitch opportunities (though TRUST me, getting in front of agents and editors is a necessary step in this business and meeting them at a conference allows for one  on one interaction you can’t get from a blind query.)

No, I’m talking about the fact that each and every year, I meet and connect with an amazing group of writers.  Some I know, most I don’t; some published, others striving for publication.  But it’s those connections that make, what can be a very solitary journey, a less scary trip.  I will be doing an additional posts highlighting some gems I picked up in my workshops later this month.   But for now, I’d like to share a few pics of some of those amazing people I was just talking about.


Here I am with one of my good writing buddies, Jeffe Kennedy. The pic is slightly blurry, but it’s the best one we took together 🙂  Jeffe is one of my friends I met totally and 100% online a few years ago via FFnP.  And since then, she has always there for me when I have a question, need some advice or support about something, or need I quick pick me up.  Jeffe is one of those people that make my journey easier.  And if you happen to like hot an steamy reads, I’d definitely recommend you check her out.


I met author Jodi Thomas for the first time this year.  She’s a lovely, genuine lady and it was a pleasure spending some time with her.  She also led a wonderful workshop on creating characters that I will share highlights from in a later post.


Here I am with Nora Roberts! (small fan girl moment 🙂 ) I sorta met Nora from afar at the DC conference a few years back.  I maintained my distance because I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself.   But luckily, this year I got another chance to meet her, so I took it.  And YES, I know my hair is doing it’s own thing in this picture.  I blame my CP Jodi LOL.


While sitting in the hotel lobby one morning, I got to chatting with the nice lady sitting besides me.  After much chatter, I glance at her name badge and go “Wait…. which Kate Douglas are you?”

She goes, “I’m THAT Kate Douglas.”

I go “~insert squee here~ You write the FREAKIEST stuff!”

Then proceeded to tell her what happened when I read her first book- LOL  Luckily, she LOVED my response and we went on to talk a little more about her books and my reaction to them.

I will say, the Kate Douglas writes some STEAMY/HAWT erotic paranormal romance.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…


Ran into Christina Dodd in the hall one morning.  She’s very nice and didn’t mind talking a pic with me before getting in line to get her coffee.  I don’t know if I could have made that same choice.  I need my coffee, LOL




 And the highlight of the trip for me was Brenda Jackson  (my ALL TIME favorite romance writer) winning the 2012 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award !!!


So in short, I had a great time at Nationals this year.  I did two pitches, one impromptu and one planned, and got requests for BOTH!!

And while I have a TON of pics and stories to tell, I’m going to end this post here 🙂  Stay tuned for more posts and pics from the conference.

RWA Conference Recap

I attended the RWA Conference in D.C. last week.  This was my first time at Nationals and I had an excellent time.  I met some new authors (both aspiring and published), caught up with some friends I hadn’t see in a while (or ever as the case with my online critique group),  picked up a few pearls of wisdom, & attended some very informative workshops.

The best part of the conference for me was meeting some of my critique partners for the first time.  We all meet in an online workshop and hit it off, so we  formed a critique group.

   Chris, me & Ali (a bit blurry, but my camara was acting possessed this day)   Lisa  Allison & me


Book Signings:
I missed the Avon book signing (because I didn’t know about it) but I made sure to attend the Harlequin, Pocket Book, Berkley, Grand Central, NAL, Ballantine/Bantam, St.  Martin’s, and Sourcebooks book signings.  With this being my first RWA book signing event, I went into the Harlequin signing with my money ready to purchase a few books and get them signed.  Imagine my happy shock and surprise when I was promptly told to put my money away because all the books were free.  Wait a second, free books???  And from some of my favorite authors???


Here are a few, just a few, of the authors I got a chance to meet and chat with:

 Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb   Francis Ray Jim Butcher


  Brenda Jackson  Gena Showalter  J.R. Ward 


  Jacqueline Thomas signing my book  Kresley Cole 


 Social Events

I attended both The Gathering (sponsored by the FF&P chapter) and the Samhain Publishing wine meet & greet.   The Gathering was a lot of fun, mostly because I met Allison, one of my critique partners, (see photo at top) for the first time and we got to hang out for a tiny bit.  One of the best parts about The Gathering was getting the chance to put a face with the names of several people that I communicate with online via the message boards.  Oh and let me not forget, Ms. Jade Lee is a trip!  LOL.

Me & author Jade Lee @ The Gathering

After dinner and the PRISM awards, they hosted a panel consisting of many of the PRISM award winners.  It was quite interesting and I learned of a new author (well, new to me at least), Leanna Renee Hieber.   She spoke of the need for perseverance and determination in all aspiring authors.  But the most important thing I got from her was to not write to the trends of the market, but to write the story of your heart. 

She’d been writing and trying to get her upcoming novel, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, published for 10 before she got her big break.  Talk about perseverance.  The Strangely Beautiful Tale… is a combination Victorian Paranormal/Gothic-y story.  I read the preview she included with our gift bags and let me tell you, I did not want to like this story.  But after reading the first 3 chapters, I am eagerly awaiting its release on August 25.


Thanks for reading my conference recap.  I know I haven’t touched on any of the workshops I took, but I may do another post about those later.  In the meantime, head over to the RWA site and browse through the list of workshops that were conducted.  I believe they are selling both DVDs and audio recordings of many of the workshops.  Also, I believe the handouts may also be available for download on the site.

If you are interested in reading about my sightseeing adventures in D.C., head over to my personal blog .