Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Local Authors Expo set for Feb. 2



Birmingham writers, mark your calendars for Sat., Feb. 2. Next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the annual Local Authors Expo will be held at the Central branch of the Birmingham Public Library. Up to 100 authors, many from the Birmingham area, will be on site to not only sell and autograph their books, but to discuss their writing process as well.

"One of the main missions of the library is to connect authors and readers and this event does exactly that,” said Jared Millet, the Authors Expo organizer and library department head of acquisitions. “It gives authors an opportunity to promote themselves to the public. If you are a self-published author, it's hard to get into brick and mortar stores. You have to use events like this to get your name out there.'' 

Whether you’re interested in cooking, sports, or fishing, or you’re looking for an inspirational book or just a great novel, the 2013 Authors Expo will have something for you.

As the city commemorates the 50th anniversary of Birmingham's civil rights movement this year, there will also be a special section of civil rights authors. At 1 p.m. Carolyn Maull McKinstry, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing survivor and author of the book While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement, will talk about Birmingham's civil rights movement, the bombing and her life.
This event isn’t just for people who like to read a good book, but also for those looking to write one.

"If you are thinking of writing a book, you need to be at the Birmingham Public Library on Feb. 2,'' said Chanda Temple, director of public relations for the Birmingham Public Library.

At 10:30 a.m. Millet, who is also a published author, will hold a workshop on how to breathe life into your writing. Furthermore, writers will have the opportunity to network with other authors and potential fans.

"A lot of times, writers or beginner writers wonder how an author got his or her book published or how they make their story flow in a certain manner. This expo will give writers a chance to talk to authors, many of them self-published, to find out how they did it,” Temple said. “It's all about making connections, gaining inspiration and building support. We hope this expo will spark networking opportunities for everyone and continue to build the literary community.”

For more information about this event visit http://www.bplonline.org/programs/LocalAuthors/.


Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tweets & Sweets: A See Jane Write Tweet-Up



Next month See Jane Write will host its second big event of the year -- Tweets & Sweets: A See Jane Write Tweet-Up. This event will be held Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at The Wine Loft, 2200 1st Ave. North. The evening will feature drink specials and sweet treats from Birmingham-area shops and bakeries.

There is no cover, but cash donations to See Jane Write will be much appreciated.

Please click here to RSVP or if you're not on Facebook just let me know in the comments section of this post that you'll be there.

And here are three reason you should be there:

  1. You love networking. Well, maybe you don't love networking, but you're smart enough to know it's an important thing to do. Tweets & Sweets will give you the chance to meet and mingle with other writers in Birmingham, some of whom you may have only previously chatted with on Twitter. Maybe you'll meet your future writing partner -- someone you can meet occasionally for writing sessions, someone to hold you accountable for writing regularly, and someone to critique your work. Because this tweet-up is also a birthday party for yours truly, there will also be folks at this event who aren't writers. Bloggers, these people could become your newest followers and fans. So don't forget to bring your business cards!
  2. You love cake. It's the beginning of the year, so you're probably on a diet. You're trying to lose weight and get in shape. I am too. But it's my party, I'll eat cake if I want to. And I give you permission to do the same. We can go running together the next day to burn off those calories. 
  3. You love me! Okay, there's a chance you have no idea who I am and this is your first time ever visiting this site, but hear me out. As I mentioned before, this event is also my birthday party. I'd love to celebrate my special day with fellow writers and bloggers. 

Hope to see you on Feb. 8!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism Recap

Photo by Sherri Davidson Ross

On Thursday, Jan. 10, See Jane Write hosted Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism. This panel discussion featured: 

  • Staci Brown Brooks, Community News Director for the Birmingham Hub of  Alabama Media Group
  • Emily Lowrey, founder of Magic City Post, a web publication that offers a daily posts on the Birmingham metro area and shows off the best the region has to offer.
  • Andre Natta, founder of The Terminal, a critically acclaimed web publication about Birmingham.
  • Erin Shaw Street, travel editor for Southern Living magazine and editorial content manager for the magazine's social media including its blog, The Daily South 

The panel discussion was moderated by Edward T. Bowser, community engagement specialist for the Birmingham Hub of Alabama Media Group, author of the blog Soul In Stereo, and husband to yours truly. 

On a rainy weeknight we packed out the conference room of Innovation Depot with about 40 people in attendance. And that night our hashtag, #sjwbhm, was the number 2 Twitter trending topic for Birmingham.

From left: Emily Lowrey, Staci Brown Brooks, Erin Shaw Street,
Andre Natta and Edward T. Bowser
The night began with a discussion about what bloggers must do to be respected as journalists. 

Build up your source list and quote experts in your posts to help establish credibility,  Lowrey said. And this goes for all bloggers, even those not covering hard news. If you’re a fashion blogger in Birmingham, she said, you need to know the people behind Birmingham Fashion Week.

If you are a blogger hoping to be taken seriously as a journalist there are three words you should live by, Brooks said: accuracy, ethics, and truth. Natta said he would also add to that list transparency. 

Don't feel you need a journalism degree to be a serious blogger. Natta does not have a journalism degree and neither did his hero – the late, great Ed Bradley. Journalism is less about a degree and more about doing the right thing for your community, Natta said. 

Can bloggers and journalists work together? Absolutely.

Erin Shaw Street and Andre Natta
“There’s room for everyone,” Brooks said. Street offered this great tip: in this digital age many “old school” journalists want to learn from bloggers. Find a reporter that can show you how to be a good journalist while you teach him or her how to be a good blogger. 

When it comes to how best to promote your blog, the advice given really boiled down to this – talk to people! That could mean networking face-to-face at events or on Twitter. Participating in Twitter chats, for example, can be quite beneficial. 


Natta says people looking promote their blogs also need to get involved in groups like See Jane Write (two points for Andre!). 

Natta got the word out about The Terminal in part through MySpace (remember that site?) where he wished followers happy birthday and sent out links to posts that hadn't previously received much attention. He also promoted the website with events and with merchandise such as T-shirts. 

And speaking of social media, for those of you still holding out on Twitter, you need to get with it. Lowrey said that if you’re interested in working for Magic City Post they won’t even consider you if you don’t have a Twitter account. Publications want to know that you’re bringing an audience with you, she said.

That said, be sure your tweets and your Facebook account properly represent you as a professional, Brooks added.

For those of you still struggling to find your niche, just be sure to blog about your passions. You must be excited about your topics to have a successful blog. "Blogging should be fun!" Street reminded us. 

If you’re covering a topic or a community that you feel isn't getting adequate attention from mainstream media take advantage of this opportunity. Look for those gaps. Figure out what’s missing and fill the holes. “Learn as much as you can,” Natta said. “You may become a source for the mainstream media on this topic.”

 
And don’t worry about blogging in a niche that feels a bit crowded.

“A little competition can be healthy,” Brooks said. And remember, Street added, your voice and your perspective will set you apart from the rest. 

One audience member wanted to know how often one should blog.

As often as you can, our panelists said. Readers want fresh content. But be realistic about how often you can post. Set a realistic schedule and stick with it.  

Whether you're a blogger, a journalist, or both, it's all about "strategic agility," Street said, as several people in the room quickly jotted down and tweeted out this term. She summed it up this way -- be prolific, be able to hustle, be able to adapt.  

For more photos from this event visit us on Facebook

Resources for Bloggers and Journalists: 



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Meet the Moderator: Edward T. Bowser

Edward T. Bowser will serve as moderator for tomorrow's panel
Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism

The moderator for our upcoming event Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism holds a special place in my heart. He has been See Jane Write's biggest supporter since the moment I had the idea to start this group. He is also my husband!


Edward T. Bowser is a Community Engagement Specialist with the Birmingham hub of Alabama Media Group. 




His love of social media and community service has brought him full-circle back to the world of journalism. A native of Portsmouth, Va, Edward started his newspaper career at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he eventually served as assistant copy desk chief. After moving to Birmingham in 2009, Edward joined advertising agency Luckie & Company, where he immersed himself in all things digital. But now he's returned to his first love -- journalism. At AL.com Edward strives to strengthens the company's  digital voice by managing their social media accounts while also serving as a community ambassador. His column, Agents of Change, showcases young professionals who are reshaping Birmingham in new and exciting ways.

Outside of the office, you can find Edward ranting about urban music, relationships and pop culture on his blog SoulInStereo.com.

There are two questions I asked all our panelists after they agreed to be part of this discussion and Edward was eager to chime in as well. Check out his responses below: 


What must bloggers who want to be considered journalists do to be taken seriously?

A blogger who wants to be taken seriously as a journalist must first treat the profession of journalism seriously. The mediums may have evolved but the core ideals of journalism remain. That means sourcing your material, not taking anything at face value and forming your own opinions instead of mimicking someone else's. A strong and trustworthy voice will rise above idle chatter.

What main piece of advice would you give to folks who want to use their blogs to tell important stories in their communities?
  
Listen to your community. What do they want to hear? What do they need to hear? In the race to be first to break stories or meet revenue goals the reader often suffers. The best way to serve the community is to immerse yourself in it. Meet the residents, listen to their needs and let your blog become their voice. 


This panel discussion is a free event but registration is required. Click here to reserve your spot. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Panelist Spotlight: Staci Brown Brooks


Staci Brown Brooks
If you want a career in journalism in Birmingham Staci Brown Brooks is a woman you need to know. 

Brooks is the director of community news in Birmingham for the Alabama Media Group, the state's largest news gathering organization. Prior to that she worked at The Birmingham News for several years in a variety of writing and editing positions. She has previously worked at The Tuscaloosa News and the Detroit Free Press, and as an instructor at The University of Alabama. 

On Thursday, she'll step into that teaching role again briefly as she shares media and web wisdom at our upcoming panel discussion Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism

Brooks received a bachelor's degree in journalism from UA, and is currently studying there for her master's in business administration. Brooks also is a graduate of the Alabama Leadership Initiative and the Maynard Media Academy at Harvard University. 

If you want to know more about how you can use blogging and journalism to be a leader in your community, you can do just that on Thursday, Jan. 10 at our next event. Click here to register. 

There are two questions I asked all our panelists after they agreed to be part of this discussion. Check out Brooks' responses below: 

What must bloggers who want to be considered journalists do to be taken seriously?

Put accuracy and ethics above all else. Know your current audience and the audience you are trying to develop --- be able to articulate what you do and who you try to reach if asked. If you are committed to growing your blog's audience, you must be committed to assuring your vision for it is responsive to their needs, wishes and patterns.What main piece of advice would you give to folks who want to use their blogs to tell important stories in their communities?

Be passionate about the niche you've chosen --- or the niche that has chosen you. That's the one thing no one can teach you; everything else you can learn, if you are willing. Passion can't be taught and it can't be faked. Always put accuracy and ethics above all else. And write your hearts out.

If you have more questions for Staci Brown Brooks leave them in the comments section and we will add them to our list of questions for our upcoming event. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Panelist Spotlight: Erin Shaw Street

Erin Shaw Street

This past summer Southern Living magazine launched The Daily South, a blog that the magazine's editors hope will become the go-to destination for Southern culture, food, home, travel and style. It made sense that the woman at the helm of this new online project would be Erin Shaw Street. 

Street is travel editor at Southern Living and thus it's her job to canvas the South to discover the latest destinations, tastemakers and trends. Erin has also been blogging for years and is a social media guru in her own right. In fact, Street led the first See Jane Write workshop, which was a seminar on Twitter. We're excited she'll be partnering with us again and serving as a panelist for our upcoming event Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism


In addition to her role as travel editor at Southern Living and the work she does for The Daily South, Street also manages editorial content for the brand’s social media. She is the recipient of more than 20 writing awards, including the 2012 Gold Lowell Thomas Award for “What Stands In A Storm,” Southern Living’s coverage of the 2011 tornadoes, and a 2012 Folio Award for "Heroes of the New South."  

If you want to know more about blogging and/or journalism, Street is clearly a great person from whom to learn. And you can do just that on Thursday, Jan. 10 at our next event. Click here to register. 

There are two questions I asked all our panelists after they agreed to be part of this discussion. Check out Street's responses below: 


What must bloggers who want to be considered journalists do to be taken seriously?

Woo, it's difficult to become a journalist overnight! It takes a while. Journalists spend  years learning about the practice, which includes ethics, reporting, interview skills, writing, and editing. If a blogger is serious about learning these skills, commit to gaining this knowledge from the best. Read quality journalism. Seek out a journalist from whom you can learn -- he or she might need to learn about blogging and/or social; strike up that conversation. Follow reputable journalism sources and watchdogs, like the Poynter Institute (poynter.org).

What main piece of advice would you give to folks who want to use their blogs to tell important stories in their communities?

You don't need a Pulitzer to tell compelling stories. Tell them from your vantage point -- from the carpool line, from the downtown you see growing into something more, from the conversations in which you and your friends dream. Get out and live in your community, then do the reporting. Talk to other people. Share what they and you experience.

If you have more questions for Erin Shaw Street leave them in the comments section and we will add them to our list of questions for our upcoming event. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Panelist Spotlight: André Natta


Andre Natta will be one of the panelists featured in our
discussion on blogging and community journalism
set for Thursday, Jan. 10. 
Long before I returned to my hometown of Birmimgham, Ala., in 2009 I was hearing talk about The TerminalAndré Natta started this critically acclaimed web publication about Birmingham in 2007 and the site has since garnered him plenty of attention and respect in the Magic City and beyond. 

Natta will be one of the panelists featured in next week's event Blogging and the Future of Community Journalism. The Terminal is just one of the reasons I'm excited to have Natta as part of this discussion. 

In addition to his work with The Terminal, Natta has two blogs -- a personal one (Dre's Ramblings) and another looking at modern communication methods and urbanism (Urban Conversations). He also contributes a monthly column on technology and how it’s affecting the future of Birmingham (The Digital City) for B-Metro Magazine. 


This week over on his blog Urban Conversations, Natta started a series he calls The Four Agreements of Blogging. Inspired by The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, this series will examine principles we should all keep in mind when it comes to writing and digital strategy. You can begin reading the series here

And you can learn even more from Natta about blogging and community journalism on Thursday, Jan. 10 at our next event. Click here to register. 

There are two questions I asked all our panelists after they agreed to be part of this discussion. Check out Natta's responses below: 

What must bloggers who want to be considered journalists do to be taken seriously?

I'd say they'd want to approach writing their posts with passion. They got to be willing to tell the truth and have the ability to connect dots most folks wouldn't at first glance. Always be willing to question and to learn as much as possible.

What main piece of advice would you give to folks who want to use their blogs to tell important stories in their communities?

Be willing to do the research necessary to make sure no stone is left unturned. This includes reaching out to all sides of the story; there are normally more than two. Even if folks don't reciprocate, you know you've done all you can to present as complete a piece as possible. Being thorough and transparent matters much more than being balanced and objective.


If you have more questions for Natta leave them in the comments section and we will add them to our list of questions for next week's event.