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Archive of ‘Birmingham’ category

Win free admission to 2015 See Jane Write events!

nametags I’m always brainstorming different ways to help the women of See Jane Write.

Last week, for example, I hosted a goal-setting workshop to help See Jane Write members kick off the year motivated and inspired. (Check out this recap from Heather of My Life Well Loved and this one from Katherine of Rodney’s Saga.)

And next week’s event with Carrie Rollwagen is designed to help women looking to transform their blog idea into a book idea, women looking to self-publish, and women who just want to get better at self-promotion. (Get your tickets here! Only a few tickets are left!)

But I know the best way to figure out what the women of See Jane Write need and want is to simply ask. So this month I’m doing just that. I’ve composed a two-question survey to help me determine what changes I should make to See Jane Write this year.

And I’m offering an incentive for completing the survey: You could win free admission to all ticketed See Jane Write events held between Feb. 1 to Dec. 31. This includes our annual Bloganista conference!

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Click here to complete the two-question survey.

2. After you have completed the survey, comment on this blog post. In your comment, let me know that you’ve completed the survey and tell me one event or program you’d like See Jane Write to offer this year.

3. Enter the contest using the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
  The winner will be announced January 30, 2015.

5 Mistakes You’re Making When Setting Goals

goal digger

Most  people love setting goals and resolutions in January and I’m certainly in that number. At the start of a new year I always commit to pursuing lofty aspirations. But for years these goals would often be abandoned by April! Finally, I figured out what I was doing wrong. Chances are, you’re making many of the same mistakes.

On Wednesday, January 6, I hosted a goal-setting workshop for members of See Jane Write. I walked the women in attendance through my own goal-setting process and shared anecdotes about some of the mistakes I’ve made when goal-setting in the past.

goal digger 3


Here are five mistakes you may be making when setting goals:

1. You’re setting too many goals. When I was a teenager every December I would make a list of 99 things I wanted to do the following year — 99 things! Obviously, I never accomplished all of these. In fact, by spring I’d completely forgotten about most of the things on my list! I recommend setting about 3 to 5 major goals for the year. If you need help culling your list, remember that your goals should always be a reflection of your values. Don’t take on a goal just because someone told you it would be a good idea. Do what’s best for you and the life you want to create.

2. Your goals aren’t big and bold enough. Yes, your goals should be realistic. If your aspirations are too outlandish you might feel defeated from the start. But this doesn’t mean your goals should be small. They should ruffle feathers and raise eyebrows. Challenge yourself! Otherwise, you won’t be very motivated.

3. Your goals aren’t measurable and specific. Don’t simply say you want to be a more successful blogger or get in shape. What do these things look like? Do you want to earn a certain amount of money from your blog? Do you want to run a half marathon? Specificity will give you the direction you need.

4. You’re only setting long-term goals. One reason I didn’t accomplish many of goals of the past was simply because I got bored with them. If you know me well, you know I get bored with things VERY easily. But I realized that by breaking my 3 to 5 one-year goals into several 90-day goals I stayed excited about my pursuits. At the end of each quarter I could set new 90-day goals so I felt like I was taking on a shiny new project, but I was actually still working on the same one-year goals I set on January 1. These 90-day goals will also keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

5.  You’re not sweating the small stuff. While 90-day goals are great, you need to break down things even further. You need what I like to call momentum moves. These are things you do on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis to help you accomplish the 90-day goals. So if you want to earn more money from your blog you’ll probably need to blog more. Your momentum move could be to take devote four hours each Sunday  to writing three blog posts for the week.

goal digger 2 goal digger 4 goal digger 6


goal digger 7


goal digger 5


If you need more help with goal-setting this year, consider enrolling in my new time management e-course How to Write and Have a Life. In this course, I will walk you through my goal-setting process and show you how setting goals in such a way will save you time and make you more productive.


*Cross-posted at


Start the New Year Off “Write”

Princess Jai

It’s finally here — my favorite day of the year: New Year’s Eve.

If you caught me on WBHM 90.3 FM last week then you know that I’m not much of a fan of Christmas. But New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are my favorites! On these days I am full of excitement about the future.

I hope you’re feeling that way today, too.

Last week a lovely local lady emailed me after ordering her ticket to next month’s event with Carrie Rollwagen and said she was eager to attend the event because she wanted to “start the year off write.”

I love that!

If you want to start the year off “write” too, here are a few things you can do to help you do just that:

1) Buy your tickets for From Blog to Book. At this event, set for January 20, Carrie Rollwagen, author of the book The Localist, will give tips on how to transform your blog idea into a book idea, how to rock your Kickstarter campaign, and how to self-publish the right way. Carrie will also give tips on how to better support local businesses. Order your tickets here.

2) Twenty lucky official See Jane Write members will have the chance to attend a free goal-setting workshop with me in early January.

3) If you don’t want to miss out on events like this in the future become an official member today. Basic membership will increase to $50 starting tomorrow and premium membership will no longer be available. Learn more here.

4) If you have a host of dreams for 2015 but you think you don’t have the time to go after them, think again! My new e-course How to Write and Have a Life will help you find the time to pursue your passion. The course opens tomorrow! More details coming soon!

Jane About Town: Black Nativity & Birmingham’s Best Bites

Here are two events a Jane about town shouldn’t miss this weekend:

Birmingham’s Best Bites

bham best bites
Food Network Star Martie Duncan and several popular Birmingham area chefs will be at the Birmingham Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 13 to sign copies of the new book, “Birmingham’s Best Bites: Favorite Recipes from Restaurants, Bars, & Food Trucks Around the Magic City’’ from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The book, which features more than 80 recipes from more than 60 area restaurants, is $25. Proceeds will benefit the library. Some of people’s favorite recipes are in the book like Hot and Hot’s Tomato Salad, Ashley Mac’s Mac and Cheese, Dreamcakes Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Bourbon Caramel Glaze and many others. Chefs such as The Fish Market’s George Sarris, Little Savannah’s Maureen Holt, The Gardens Café by Kathy G, Primeaux Cheese & Vino’s Ric Trent and Chris Vizinna will sign books on Saturday. Refreshments will be served.


Black Nativity


The Aldridge Repertory Theatre will present a dinner theater production of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity at 6:30 p.m. on December 13 and 2:30 p.m. on December 14. Black Nativity is a retelling of the classic Nativity story with an entirely black cast and gospel music. The show was first performed Off-Broadway in 1961. Dinner at this weekend’s performances will include grilled chicken, caesar salad, grilled mixed vegetables, rice pilaf, rolls, tea, and dessert. Tickets are $35. For more information and to reserve your seat call 205-538-1828 or visit


5 Tips for Taking Instagram Food Photos


Even though I LOVE food, I am not a food blogger and never well be. You see, when I say I love food I mean I love to eat it, I love to socialize and celebrate over it, and I even like to use it as a reward for making it through a hard day. But I HATE cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I do cook. After all, hubster and I have to eat something and neither my wallet nor my waistline could handle us eating out every night. But every moment in the kitchen I’m thinking of all the other places I’d rather be.

Nonetheless, I admire food bloggers. I admire their creativity and passion and, of course, I admire their gorgeous photography.

bham bloggers brunch


Today, I attended the Birmingham Bloggers Instagram Workshop Brunch. The event featured a 4-course brunch and food photography tips from Rachel Johnson, who is currently serving as a fellow at Cooking Light magazine.

While some bloggers at the workshop, which was held at The Nest, had fancy DSLR cameras hanging around their necks, Rachel assured us that with the right light and styling you can take beautiful pictures even on an iPhone 4.

babe at brunch

1. Let your light shine. Obviously, good lighting it key, so be sure that nothing’s blocking the natural light that you could be using to illuminate your subject. If you find that the light is creating a a harsh shadow on one side of your subject, use a white book or sheet of paper to reflect the light.

2. The bird’s the word. A bird’s eye view or overhead shot is best for food, Rachel said. Get right over your food when shooting it.

3. Pile it on. If you’re shooting a bowl of granola, really pile on that granola. When photographing food in a bowl, fill up the bowl for a more interesting shot.

4. Keep it simple. Don’t photograph your food against a busy surface. Also, don’t get carried away with filters. If you do use filters adjust their intensity remembering that sometimes less is more.

5.  Hash it out. To help your food photos get more exposure on Instagram, Rachel recommended using popular hashtags like #f52grams and #eeeeeeats. A good time to post photos to Instagram is early in the morning or around 7 p.m.

Many of these tips, Rachel said, apply not just to photographing food, but can be used when photographing fashion, too.

After the tips session, Rachel had us style and photograph the first course of our brunch — yogurt parfait. It was quite entertaining and I appreciated the hands-on activity. Rachel was very sweet and said my photos looked great, but I thought they were pitiful compared to the pictures produced by most food bloggers. And obviously, I had the most fun eating the food — which was delicious!

For bad food photography and more, follow me on Instagram @writeousbabe.


What blogging & writing conferences should I attend in 2015?


Image by Dave Winer via Flickr/Creative Commons

Believe it or not, 2015 is just around the corner. Now is a good time to figure out which conferences you will attend next year. Here are ten writing or blogging conferences to consider.

Food Media South: The popular food blogging conference FoodBlogSouth (originally organized by Shaun Chavis and Jason Horn) is now being hosted by the Southern Foodways Alliance and has been renamed Food Media South. Set for February 27-28 in Birmingham, Alabama, FMS will explore storytelling in the digital era. Speakers include Dorothy Kalins, founding editor of Saveur magazine, chair of the James Beard Journalism Awards committee, and producer of beautiful books; Chuck Reece, editor-in-chief of Bitter Southerner; Erika Council, proprietor of the blog Southern Souffle; Roscoe Hall II, proprietor of the site Punk as Food; and Bill Addison, restaurant editor of Eater National.

The Southern C Summit: Connect, collaborate and create in a niche environment with like-minded creatives at the Southern C Summit, an annual conference organized by The Southern Coterie. The spring 2015 summit is set for April 30 – May 1 and will be held in Charleston, South Carolina. The conference promises engaging educational sessions and panel discussions with branding, marketing and social media leaders. Evening events and gatherings offer the opportunity to continue networking all while engaging in meaningful conversations in a fun intimate setting.

Y’all Connect: Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power is an annual blogging/social media conference in Birmingham, Ala. The event offers practical takeaways in corporate storytelling from the nation’s digital marketing experts. Next year’s conference will be held in June.

The Bloganista Mini-Con: Back in July See Jane Write hosted its first conference and it was a huge success! In 2015 we hope to make the Bloganista Mini-Con bigger and better offering inspiration and information for fashion, fitness, lifestyle and business bloggers. More details coming soon!

BlogHer ’15: In 2015 the BlogHer Annual Conference will be held July 16-18 in New York City. BlogHer is one of the biggest blogging conferences on the planet. Last year’s speakers included Jenny Lawson a.k.a. The Bloggess, media mogul Arianna Huffington and actor/activist Kerry Washington.

WordCamp Birmingham: WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other. WordCamp Birmingham typically takes place in late summer.

Blogalicious: Be Blogalicious is a network with three major goals: 1) to be THE go-to destination and resource for influential multicultural women social media enthusiasts from all over the world to collaborate, connect and uplift one another; 2) to showcase the value of the demographic in today’s marketplace to marketers; and 3) to serve as a think tank and mouthpiece for causes, policies and issues affecting the multicultural digital space. The annual Blogalicious Weekend conference is usually held in the fall and is one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended!

Alabama Writer’s Conclave: The Alabama Writers’ Conclave was organized in 1923 and has been in continuing existence since. The Conclave is responsible for nominating, for the governor’s appointment, Alabama’s Poet Laureate. Members include fiction and non-fiction writers, novelists and short story writers, poets, writers of business and scientific works, freelance journalists, romance writers, publishers, patrons, and teachers.Through the years, the Conclave has moved its conferences around the state to provide writers everywhere better access to its resources.

Blogging While Brown: Blogging While Brown is a conference and a community for emerging leaders in digital media and social change. Since its launch in 2008, Blogging While Brown has grown to become the premier blogging conference dedicated to education, collaboration, and innovation among bloggers of color. The conference brings Black social media experts, speakers, and independent content creators together to expand their influence in social media and technology. The conference offers an opportunity to learn tools and strategies to build engaging and dynamic online platforms, leverage online engagement for offline results, and create sustainable business and activism models. The 2015 is set for June 19 and 20 and will be held in Austin, Texas.

Romance Writers of America: If you are a career-focused romance writer, then this conference is for you. This annual event gives you the chance to get down to the business of being an author. Expect education and information, networking with fellow writers, and interaction with editors, agents, publishers, booksellers, and other romance publishing industry professionals.

What conferences do you plan to attend next year? 


How can I “shop small” this holiday season?

shop small

This year I skipped Black Friday shopping and it certainly felt good to sleep in this morning.

This year instead of standing in long lines in 30-degree weather I’m going to do more to support small businesses this holiday season.

Tomorrow I’m going to head to Fleet Feet Sports Birmingham, to get some new running gear for 2015. Discounts include 10 percent off shoes, 25 percent off winter apparel, and 40 percent off shorts. Located at 3120 Heights Village Road in Vestavia, Fleet Feet Birmingham will be open today 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

But first I’ll be paying a visit to Church Street Coffee & Books at 10 a.m. for The Localist book launch. The Localist by Carrie Rollwagen is all about Rollwagen’s year of only buying local —  why she did it, what she learned, and what she hopes others can glean from her experience.

Next month Rollwagen, co-owner of Church Street Coffee and Books, is going to make it even easier for you to shop small this season by hosting The Localist Wish List: Holiday Fair and Book Party  December 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Nest in Avondale.  At this event you can not only celebrate The Localist book with free beer from Avondale Brewery but you’ll also have a chance to stock up on gifts from these local vendors: Piper & Leaf tea, We Three Beeks honey, Magic City Macarons, Great Bear Wax candles, Spindle Photography lettering, Stalcup Stitchery stuffed animals, Hide + True leather goods and Sara Cannon Art.

Another great place to get gifts for the art lovers in your life is Naked Art Gallery’s Kitschmas sale, which features gift-sized artwork and ornaments made with recycled materials by over 60 artists. Kitschmas is going on now through Visit for more information.

Feel free to share holiday deals from your favorite small business in the comments.


What are you thankful for today?

Be Thankful

Image by Cindi Albright via Flckr/Creative Commons

I am thankful for so many things today. I am thankful for husband’s funny jokes and kind heart. I am thankful that I really do have the best brother ever! I am thankful that I have the opportunity to teach some of the most talented young people in the country and work with some of the most intelligent and compassionate teachers on the planet. I am thankful for family members who are also best friends and for best friends who are like family.

But today I am also thankful for the women of See Jane Write. When I started this organization in March of 2011 I only intended it to be a little writing group. I just wanted a small community of women to meet with occasionally and wax poetic about the beauty of the written word. But after nearly four years of offering workshops, seminars, social events, and conferences, See Jane Write has become a powerful network, a force to be reckoned with, and now is also becoming a business.

None of this would have happened without the support of the women who believed in my vision, who showed up to my events and helped spread the word.

And so today I thank you.

I would like to express my gratitude by offering two Black Friday deals to my Janes.

1) Get a premium membership for only $75 (regularly $100) now through Monday by clicking here. With premium membership you get all the perks of basic membership plus four one-on-one meetings with me (one per quarter) about blogging, freelance writing, or social media. Only 8 premium membership spots are available and I will not offer this program in 2015.

2) Get discounted tickets to the first big See Jane Write event of 2015. On Tuesday, Jan. 20 at The Nest, Carrie Rollwagen (blogger, writer, business owner and author of the book The Localist) will speak about how to transition from writing a blog to writing a book, how to successfully self-publish, and how to rock a Kickstarter campaign. There is a charge for this event to help cover the cost of the venue rental and food. Tickets go on sale for $25 on Dec. 2, but I am offering an early bird price of $20 now through Monday. Click here to purchase your tickets today.

Happy Thanksgiving!


How can I give back this holiday season?


If you’re looking for a way to have some fun but still made a difference this holiday season then you don’t want to miss the Safari Soiree, set for Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Olivia’ Bar & Lounge.

The Safari Soiree is a book drive and fundraiser hosted by Harper Organics in support of the African Community Exchange in Tanzania. This events seeks to raise money and collect books for children in Tanzania this holiday season.

Books are needed for children ages 5 to 18 and your support will help to supply libraries for schools in the impoverished Himo, Tanzania community.

Admission to the Safari Soiree is a new or gently used book or a donation of $10.

You’ll receive a complimentary swag bag and chance to win a raffle prize. At this event you’ll also have the chance to try a mini acupuncture spa service for relaxation on site for free and enjoy music, gourmet appetizers and a cash bar.

If you can’t attend but would still like to help, you can make a donation here.

Safari Soiree Holiday Fundraiser

Stacey Scott of Harper Organics, Global Ambassador for African Community Exchange

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 from 6-9 PM

Olivia’s Bar & Lounge, 2013 Second Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203


Free admission with new children’s book or $10 minimum monetary donation

For more ideas on how to make a difference, check out Seven ways you can give back to Birmingham this holiday season by Edward Bowser.

Did I hear you on NPR yesterday?


For about a year and a half now I’ve had the honor of writing a monthly column for WBHM 90.3 FM, Birmingham’s NPR station. And for the past year, in addition to writing for I also discuss my post for the month on air.

This month’s essay is about learning to love my name and learning to be proud of where I’m from.

Having a name like Javacia isn’t easy. When I introduce myself to people they typically look at me as if I’m a green girl from Mars. And there was a time when I worried that my unique name could be a liability. One look at my name and you know I’m black and I’ve been told that some potential employers might not hire me because of that. In my WBHM post I discuss how becoming a writer changed how I viewed my name.

Being from Birmingham isn’t easy either. People who’ve never stepped foot in the state of Alabama think they know what Birmingham is all about and criticize my Magic City. And to make matters worse, some Birmingham residents are ashamed of their home. But just as I had to respect my name before I could expect other people to do so, we must be proud of our city if we ever want perceptions of Birmingham to improve.

Visit to read my post and listen to my radio segment.


Each day in November for #bloglikecrazy I’ll be publishing a blog post that answers your questions about blogging, social media, writing, wellness or women’s empowerment. Send your questions to


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