Month: September 2014

Let’s Eat Drink Read Write with the Birmingham Public Library


It’s time for the Birmingham Public Library’s most popular event — the Eat Drink Read Write Festival! This year’s festival will be held October 3-10 and will feature the city’s best food and beverage offerings served with a literary twist.

On Friday, October 3, enjoy poetry paired with craft beer and soul food at a special Bards & Brews Poetry Slam featuring beer from Back Forty Beer Co. and J. Clyde and food from Full Moon Barbecue.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8 enjoy a literary cocktail competition with a Jazz Age theme at the Collins Bar.

On Thursday, Oct. 9, listen to food-inspired tales by the city’s best storytellers and enjoy latte art showcased by local baristas.

This year’s festival will conclude Friday, Oct. 10 with Birmingham’s Best Bites and the Instagrammys. This event will feature great food, an appearance by  Food Star Network Star finalist Martie Duncan, and the unveiling of the new Birmingham’s Best Bites cookbook, which is full of recipes and history of some of your favorite local restaurants and bars. Also, some of the best photos taken during the festival and posted to Instagram with the #EDRW and #InstagramBham hashtags will receive an Instagrammy award.

These events are just a small sampling of all the Eat Drink Read Write Festival has to offer.

For a complete schedule and more details on these and other events visit

A Conversation with Carla Jean Whitley

CJ Whitley

When The History Press, a small publishing company located in South Carolina, contacted Carla Jean Whitley and asked her if she’d like to write a book, she gave the answer most of us would — “Uh, YES!”

And with that Whitley set off on an adventure of combining her love for music and the South to write the book Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music. Whitley wrote this book while juggling her job as managing editor of Birmingham magazine and teaching college-level journalism classes.

At a recent See Jane Write members-only event, Whitley shared how she managed her time during this process and how she’s managed to successfully promote her book. Muscle Shoals Studio was released in July and is already in its second printing.

While writing her book, Whitley said she wrote before and after work every day. She set small daily goals for herself to make the task of writing a book less daunting and more manageable. But she said she also gave herself grace on those days when she don’t accomplish those small goals.

She also was careful not to forget about self-care. She made time to decompress by spending time with friends or doing things she enjoys like yoga.

Javacia and Carla Jean
Here I am with Carla Jean at her first book signing this summer!

Though the History Press is a small publishing company, Whitley has had the privilege of working with a publicist. Whitley raved about her publicist and recommended that all authors have one. For non-fiction writers, Whitley said it is especially helpful to have a publicist with connections in a field related to the topic of your book.

Whitley stressed, however, that you are your own best advocate, even if you have a publicist. You must promote yourself with book signings. Look for local businesses with which you can partner to host different types of events that will help promote your book.

Blogging is a great way to promote yourself and your book as well. Not only can you use your own blog to show off your writing and help potential fans get to know you, you can also guest blog for other people’s sites to expand your reach.

Leading up to the release of her book, Whitley wrote a series of guest posts for Church Street Coffee and Books’ blog.  Church Street now carries Whitley’s book and, thanks to those blog posts, many of their customers were eager to buy the book once it hit the shelves.

Whitley recommends having an email newsletter too.

Today Whitley is working on her second book which will be about the history of beer in Birmingham.

We can’t wait to read it!

Jane About Town: 3 Things You Should Do This Week

Image by Andreanna Maya Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons
Image by Andreanna Maya Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons


Women writers of Birmingham, break out your planners. Here are three events coming up this week you don’t want to miss.

How to Make Money From Your Website

On Thursday, Sept. 18, digital strategist and start-up marketing expert Andrea Walker will lead a free workshop on how to make money from your website. The session will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. It’s free but registration is required. Reserve your spot via Eventbrite. For more information check out this interview with Walker by See Jane Write member Chanda Temple.

Cupcakes and Conversation

This night of empowerment is hosted by motivational speakers Marla and Marcia Pruitte, better known as The Pruitte Twins. The last Cupcakes and Conversation event was held in June and I was fortunate enough to attend. As I mentioned in my blog post about the event, I left Cupcakes and Conversation feeling inspired to be bold and to dream bigger dreams. The next Cupcakes and Conversation event is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 at the Gracie Grove Venue, 1286 Oak Grove Road. You can order tickets here.

Toland Travels Live

Toland Travel Live is a night of storytelling organized by Brad Toland of the blog Toland Travels. Hear Birmingham storytellers share tales of their travels starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Urban Standard, 2320 2nd Avenue North. I know this is the same night that Beyonce and Jay-Z’s On the Run Paris show will premiere on HBO, but just set your DVR and go hear some great stories. Admission is free. Learn more here.


If you have an event you’d like to be considered for Jane About Town, email information to

You Need to Get “LinkedIn”


A couple of years ago I was contacted by the editor of a local news website about being a contributing features writer for her publications.

I was honored, obviously, but also curious. I wanted to know how she’d learned about me and my work. Her answer surprised me: she found me through LinkedIn.

My initial thought was, “Wait. I have a LinkedIn account?” I have to admit that while I’m very active on Facebook and Twitter, I go weeks, even months, without giving LinkedIn a thought.

After this happened, I quickly polished my profile and cringed at the thought that I probably could have landed many other freelance writing gigs had profile been up to par. And, in fact, I did receive messages from other editors shortly after.

Then I abandoned my poor LinkedIn account once again.

After redesigning the See Jane Write website, I got inspired to embark on a series of makeovers. And I’m beginning with a social media makeover, starting with LinkedIn.

For help, I turned to Shella Sylla, founder of SisterGolf, has been actively using LinkedIn to grow her business, which teaches women how to play golf and how to use the game to enhance professional relationships.

“First and foremost, make sure your profile is complete,” Sylla says.  “An incomplete profile screams unprofessionalism.”

For a profile to be considered complete it should include the following:

  • A professional headshot
  • Your current position
  • Your last 2 past positions
  • A profile summary
  • Your Education
  • At least 2 recommendations
  • A list of your areas of expertise

You should also have a strong, compelling headline, Sylla says.

In her article “Apply These Proven Techniques To Improve on LinkedIn Today”, Peg Fitzpatrick, who is the head of social strategy at Canva, recommends using keywords in your headline, profile summary, and current and past work experience.

Get recommendations from past clients and/or colleagues, Sylla says. And Fitzpatrick states that you should write a recommendation for a colleague as well.

Both Sylla and Fitzpatrick suggest adding video to your profile. This is now on my LinkedIn to-do list. I plan to produce a video of myself talking about why I started See Jane Write and my hopes for the future of the network.


Fitzpatrick also recommends adding a SlideShare presentation to your profile. “You can create a SlideShare of your latest blog post or a presentation that you’ve given recently,” she writes. This is on my LinkedIn to-do list, too.

As a writer, I felt it was imperative that I add work samples to profile. So using the LinkedIn publications feature I added a few of my favorite pieces that I’ve written.

I also plan to write original content for LinkedIn, a feature now being released to all users.

“You may have a personal blog as I do but using LinkedIn to publish content opens up a new network of people to your ideas and writing,” Fitzpatrick writes.

Once Sylla was able to publish articles on the LinkedIn network she jumped at the chance.

“I was ecstatic for the opportunity, so I published an article immediately,” Sylla says. “In one day, my article had over 3,500 views, and more than 100 people shared it with others.”

So now I’m off to revamp my LinkedIn profile. You can track my progress at If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn, leave a link to your profile in the comments.

Does Your Website Need a Makeover?

Extreme Makeover
Extreme Makeover Blog Edition (Image by Patrishe via Flickr/Creative Commons)

Did you notice?

Jane got a makeover!

That’s right, has a new look! I hope you like it. Take a look around and let me know what you think.

Have you been wondering if it’s time for you to give your website or blog a makeover? Here’s how I knew it was time to revamp this website:

Are you bored? If you feel unmotivated and stuck in a blogging rut, revamping your site could give you the push you need to get back in the groove of posting regularly. Now that Jane has a new look, I’ll be updated the See Jane Write blog twice a week — every Tuesday and Thursday.

Does your website reflect your brand? People often refer to See Jane Write as a blog, but it is meant to be so much more. See Jane Write is a network and it’s a business. Our website needs to reflect that. Thus I moved from Blogger to WordPress so it would have a more professional look. Also, now has a static homepage and the blog is just a component of the site. And since a business’ list of contacts is one of its most important assets, the e-mail list signup form is one of the site’s most prominent features. I’m currently working on revamping as well so that it will look more like a magazine than a blog and I’m hoping the new look will give me new inspiration.

Has the mission of your blog or business changed? This year I decided that See Jane Write will not only seek to serve women writers, but female entrepreneurs, too. A new look is a great way to signify this new focus.

Redesigning a website can be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. While I did spend a pretty penny on on getting help with the move from Blogger to WordPress, I only spent $79 on the design. I simply purchased a theme from Blu Chic , which specializes in WordPress themes for female entrepreneurs, and then I customized it.

Next, I plan to embark on a social media makeover. And then, I’m giving myself a makeover, too! Stay tuned!