Month: November 2014

What should a writer do on her day off?

day off

Last week, I wrote about the importance of taking a day off even if you’re juggling a day job with building a blog or business or writing a book. I believe in the importance of rest even if I don’t get very much of it myself.

And I believe days off are especially important for writers because they are part of the creative process. A writer friend of mine named TJ Beitelman, author of the book John the Revelator, once told me that he believes most of the creative writing process happens away from the keyboard. What I think he meant by this is that the things that inspire great work happen when you’re out living life, not simply staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen.

So on my day off I’m not only doing things that revitalize me, but things that can re-energize my writing and blogging too.

Here’s what I like to do on my day off:

Go for a long walk or run. Most of my best ideas come to me when I’m out on my favorite trail.

Have coffee or brunch with my girlfriends. My passion for empowering women drives nearly everything I do, so for me nothing is as inspiring as spending time around other women.

Paint my nails. As my mani dries I usually browse my favorite websites and blogs.

Catch up on my favorite TV shows. How can one not find Olivia Pope inspiring?

How do you spend your day off?


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


How can I improve my blog?

javacia with jennifer
chatting with Jennifer King of at the #bloglikecrazy workshop

On Nov. 1 I led a 4-hour blogging workshop at Church Street Coffee and Books to kick off #bloglikecrazy.

Here are 10 blogging tips I shared with the ladies who attended:

  1. Write a mission statement for your blog. Never lose sight of why you’re blogging. Know the people you’re trying to help and the message you’re trying to convey.
  1. Create a strong “About” page. If people like what they see when they visit your blog, they will check out your “About” page to learn more. Be sure your “About” page clearly explains what kinds of posts people can expect from your blog and offers some background on you as well. Include pictures and links to some of your favorite posts, too.
  1. Write for your ideal reader. Identify your ideal reader and get to know her. What are her passions, problems, hobbies, and dreams? After you determine your ideal reader and what she wants, only blog for her. This sounds scary. This sounds as if you’ll alienate other readers, but you won’t. An ideal reader is someone who not only reads your posts but also shares them with others. Writing for this reader will simply attract more like her.
  1. Be sure your blog is answering questions and solving problems. Find out what questions or problems your ideal reader has and write posts that address those concerns.
  1. Tell a story in your blog posts. Whether you write a fashion blog or a business blog, you need to tell stories in your posts. Use a narrative to convey your information. Be sure to add images, too.
  1. Develop a blogging schedule and stick to it. You don’t have to blog every day, but decide how often you can blog and be consistent.
  1. Create three features for your blog. When developing features don’t simply follow trends. Choose features that are right for your blog and that you can maintain.
  1. Start an email newsletter. This is a great way to remind people to read your blog and an excellent way to build a tribe.
  1. Network. Promote your blog on social media. Interact in Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Participate in Twitter chats. Comment on other blogs.
  2. Guest blog for sites your ideal reader frequents. This is a great way to increase your readership and build partnerships with other bloggers.

Want to make sure you don’t miss announcements about events like the #bloglikecrazy workshop?  Sign up for the See Jane Write newsletter. Click here to join the list!

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

What Should I Do This Weekend?


Marie Sutton

This weekend head out to Books-A-Million in Brookwood Village to support Birmingham-based writer Marie Sutton.

From 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sutton will be signing copies of her new book The A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham: A Civil Rights Landmark.

The book chronicles the story of how Birmingham black entrepreneur and eventual millionaire A.G. Gaston created a first-class motel and lounge for African Americans. The Gaston Motel was a revolving door for famous entertainers, activists, politicians and other pillars of the national black community, and served as the headquarters for Birmingham’s civil rights movement.

Sutton will also be signing books on Saturday, Nov. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at the Summit.

A.G. Gaston Motel Book Signing with Marie Sutton
Saturday, Nov. 15
2-4 p.m.
Books-A-Million, Brookwood Village
757 Brookwood Village, Birmingham, AL 35209
SaturdayNov. 22
5-7 p.m.
Barnes & Noble at the Summit
201 Summit Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35243


DISCO Supply Store

Also this weekend, The Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO) and The Southern Letterpress will host the grand opening of the Desert Island Supply Store.

Swing by Saturday anytime between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and stock up on message-in-a-bottle bottles, urchin decoys, water finders and other desert island essentials.

The Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO) is a creative writing center for students in Birmingham, Alabama. Based in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood, DISCO’s mission is simple: to give kids in the Birmingham area more opportunities to write.

Desert Island Supply Store Grand Opening
11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 15
Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO),
5500 First Avenue North in Woodlawn


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UPDATED: Why do you call yourself a feminist?

Beyonce Femininst VMAs

I am a feminist.

But apparently TIME magazine has a problem with that, or at least a problem with the fact that Beyonce and other celebrities are boldly claiming this title, too.

Earlier today TIME announced its picks for the magazine’s annual worst words poll, which gives readers the chance to vote on what overused word should be banned in the coming year. Previous picks include “OMG,” “YOLO,” and “twerk.”

This year’s candidates include words like “bae,” “basic,” “sorry not sorry,” “I can’t even,” and “yaaasss.”

Also on the list is the word “feminist.”

Wait. What?

Why exactly would you want to ban a word that’s about promoting equality of the sexes?

Well, here’s why, according to TIME:

You have nothing against feminism itself, but when did it become a thing that every celebrity had to state their position on whether this word applies to them, like some politician declaring a party? Let’s stick to the issues and quit throwing this label around like ticker tape at a Susan B. Anthony parade.

Look, I get it. Plenty of folks are worried that feminism is becoming trendy and that celebrities, and as a result their fans, are taking on the title of “feminist” simply because they think it’s the fashionable thing to do right now and not because they’re actually concerned about gender inequality. But to write off the word as tired slang? Girl, bye! (Sorry. Has that been banned yet?)

I am a feminist and I called myself one long before Beyonce had the word emblazoned on a huge screen at her shows, but I can’t deny that seeing the word in lights on stage gave me chills.

I am a feminist because I believe in gender equality. I am a feminist because I believe in the power of sisterhood. And I think it’s important that I boast that label because it can spark conversations about important issues and because I can help dispel ridiculous stereotypes about feminists being man-hating monsters.

I think feminist writer Jill Filipovic best described why including “feminist” in this list is so problematic. First of all, “feminist” is hardly a label that everybody is “throwing around like ticker tape.” As Filipovic writes:

According to one recent poll, only 1 in 5 Americans identifies as a feminist. Perhaps if more women and men heard their favorite male and female celebrities owning the word “feminist,” they’d find the term less threatening and, by extension, think through some of the tougher social, cultural, political, and economic changes necessary to achieve gender equality. Because while TIME is suggesting we ban the word, American women still make just 78 cents to a man’s dollar, only 1 in 5 U.S. senators is female, 1 in 4 women experiences intimate partner violence in her life, and women still see their most basic rights to make their own decisions about their own bodies used as political wedge issues and litigated in court.

But never mind all that, because TIME finds it very annoying when celebrities are asked about feminism.

So if you’re wondering why I call myself a feminist, all that is exactly why. And if you’re tired of hearing me talk about it — sorry (not sorry).

UPDATE: Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs has added the following editor’s note to the poll: “TIME apologizes for the execution of this poll; the word ‘feminist’ should not have been included in a list of words to ban. While we meant to invite debate about some ways the word was used this year, that nuance was lost, and we regret that its inclusion has become a distraction from the important debate over equality and justice.”

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

Why did you start See Jane Write?

SJW Founder copy

Thanks to my work with See Jane Write I’m often asked to speak at local conferences and professional development events. During these speaking engagements one of the things people often ask me is why I started See Jane Write in the first place.

I wish my answer were a noble one — that I wanted to launch an organization to close the byline gender gap. But in all honesty the answer is a bit selfish — I wanted more femal writer friends. I kept looking for an organization for creative and ambitious women who write or blog but I couldn’t find it. So I started one of my own.

My reason for continuing See Jane Write for the past three and a half years is a bit more saintly — I want to empower women to tell their stories. I want to empower women to write and to live a life worth writing about.

Since I started See Jane Write on March 24, 2011 the group has grown and changed quite a bit. What was intended to be a simple writing group and what started with 14 women gathered for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant has become a thriving city-wide network. Now my goal is to make it a thriving business, too — not because I want to get rich (although that would be nice) but simply because I want to make See Jane Write sustainable. I believe See Jane Write can really help women create their best work and live their best lives, but only if I have the time and resources necessary to make See Jane Write the best network that it can be.

This means that over the next year or so things will be changing. I know change is scary, but I hope you will come on this journey with me. I promise it will be a blast!


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