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

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!

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: 

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. 

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.