This year marked the 19th anniversary of Romance Slam Jam. Emma Rodgers, Ashira Tosihwe, and the late Francis Ray founded Romance Slam Jam in 1995 in Dallas, Texas. Their goal was to bring writers and readers together to celebrate Black love—and that’s what happened!
This year’s Slam was held in New Orleans, LA, from May 7 – 11. All conference activities were held at the Hilton New Orleans Airport, located in the suburb of Kenner, LA. With clean, comfortable rooms, a quaint courtyard, several onsite eateries, and ample meeting facilities, the hotel was the perfect venue.
The theme of this year’s Slam was Romancing the Big Easy. Since this was my first Slam, I decided to attend the “First Timers to RSJ” workshop, facilitated by Toni Bonita Robinson. Ms. Robinson described the event as a family reunion of sorts where the focus was love. I immediately felt at home.
Romance Slam Jam offered a series of intimate workshops for both writers and readers. There was something for everyone. Since my focus was continuing education to help hone my craft, I migrated towards the writer workshops facilitated by literary greats like Deatri King-Bey (Point of View), Patricia Sargeant (Plotting), Norwood Holland (Crowdfunding), Seressia Glass (The Art of Writing Novellas), Sheila Goss, and CEO of Smashwords, Mark Coker (Ebook publishing, etc.). If that were not enough, I also had the pleasure of meeting two of the premier storytellers of our time—Beverly Jenkins and Evelyn Palfrey. As were the other facilitators, they were gracious and asked that I reach out to them if I had any questions.
While there was a lot of work (if you want to call learning work), there was also a lot of time allotted for fun. Lunch breaks were leisurely and allowed you to bond with new and old friends. The author panels afforded you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pick the brains of some of your favorite authors. The keynote luncheon speaker, Author Angie Daniels, was funny and inspirational. Lastly, the night out in the Big Easy, was a wet one, but traversing the flooded streets with new friends made it all worthwhile.
The Slam came to a close with the Emma Awards banquet. The Emma Awards is one of the preeminent awards event for readers and authors of Black romance. I was happy for all of the winners, but I cheered the most when my friend and mentor, Deatri King-Bey took home the award for Heroine of the Year (Isis Michaels in The Only Option). The organizers took us out in true New Orleans style. The second line consisted of readers and writers alike. They danced, cheered and twirled their handkerchiefs in the air.
If you are a lover of romance, or just looking to network with people who enjoy a good read, Romance Slam Jam is the event for you. Organized and professional, this event surpassed my expectations. Authors, if you’re seriously interested in honing your craft and truly connecting with readers, please consider attending Romance Slam Jam 2015 in Irving, TX (March 26 – 29). “This isn’t a conference to sell books,” says Deatri King-Bey. This event was about building a lasting network of friends and supporters— this event was truly about love!
J’son M. Lee (Editor)
See you at www.sweetgeorgiapress.com
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