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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens

Writing often feels like a solitary act, a lonely occupation. Many of us create our best work in moments of quiet solitude, rubbing our tired eyes as we stare at a bright computer screen in a dimly lit room.

But any writer who thinks she can do it all on her own is kidding herself. As author Natalie Goldberg has taught me, writing is a communal act. Sometimes we need someone to help us banish writer’s block or to make us submit that article, short story, poem, or proposal. Sometimes we need someone to tell us to stop talking about being a writer and actually write something for heaven’s sake!

This is why I have a writing partner. For the past month or so I’ve been meeting with my writing partner every Tuesday afternoon at a local coffeehouse. For two hours we just sit together and write. And it is wonderful. It’s hard to explain how much I enjoy our time together, but I know it simultaneously feels like recess and worship. Each pen stroke is an act of prayer and a moment of play.

I recently helped some members of See Jane Write Birmingham find writing partners and blogging mentors within our group. I call this little literary matchmaking program  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens, a name for which I cannot take credit (Thanks, Erin). Last night a few of the women in The Sisterhood got together for dinner at a local pizza parlor. Over slices of warm pie and glasses of cold beer, we chatted about our writing goals and the books we’re reading. We dished about family drama and confessed our Twitter obsessions. And in just two hours we felt like family and were trying to figure out when we’d do this again.

Irene Grubbs, Glenny Brock, Javacia Harris Bowser (me!),
Mimi Latoine, Mindy Santo, Jennifer Dome, and Amber Roberson
Writing partners Mimi and Mindy share a laugh. 
The reaction when Glenny revealed the topic of the book she’s currently writing.

The hilarious Sherri and Irene

Amber and Sherri

Cross-posted (with larger pictures and a bonus photo) at The Writeous Babe Project.


Remembering Nan



The women of See Jane Write were hit with horrible news yesterday when we learned that author, artist, and filmmaker Nancy Stricklin was killed in a car crash Tuesday night.


Stricklin, known as Nan to friends and Nan Lin on social media networks, was an active member of See Jane Write and an inspiration to writers and artists all over the city.


On Tuesday evening, Stricklin died after her car left I-459 near Parkwood Road and hit a tree. News about her death was reported yesterday on al.com. She was 31.


Between 2008 and 2011, Stricklin wrote and filmed two short films, wrote five books, and saw her paintings showcased — twice — at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Stricklin had also received recognition for her work with On the Set Summer Film Camp, which teaches children about filmmaking. Last year for the camp she wrote the script for “The Hop Off,” which starred actor Kadeem Hardison. She was working on another script for the camp this year. 

Stricklin was also busy raising funds and creating a buzz for her first feature film “Beautiful Disaster.” The work she was doing to bring this dream to fruition was truly an inspiration and a prime example of her dedication to her art. 


On the homepage of her website, Stricklin left us with these wise words: “NEVER be afraid to live your dreams. Life is but a moment. Make it an amazing one.”  


To learn more about Stricklin’s life and work: 
Birmingham filmmaker and UAB graduate Nancy Stricklin is remembered for her talentsBirmingham Exam: Nancy Stricklin, author, artist, filmmaker

Let’s Eat at #AlaBlogMeet

Alabama Bloggers


Birmingham resident Rachel Callahan had made connections with writers all over the world, thanks to her popular blog Grasping for Objectivity. But she knew very few bloggers in her hometown. She searched for a website that helped local bloggers connect, but with no luck. 


“So I decided to create one,” Callahan says. 


Callahan launched Alabama Bloggers in May of 2009 and eventually took these online connections to real life with regular meetings now known as #AlaBlogMeet. The next meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Friday at The Silvertron Cafe, 3813 Clairmont Avenue in Birmingham. I’ll be there and I hope those of you in town will join me. 


“When I started the site, I said that I would provide meet-ups, but I didn’t really mean it,” Callahan confesses. “I was scared to death to meet people in real life! But one of the original members called me on it and offered to host the first one. We had 19 people show up, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”


Since then the group has had a meetup at least every other month. 


What can you expect if you’re a first-timer? 


“Lots of laughter, banter, and some really good blogging advice mixed into the cracks,” Callahan says. “You’re sure to walk away with some new friends. And we always have at least one first-timer at every meetup, so don’t be afraid!  You’re always welcome.”


Click here to RSVP if you plan to attend the Alabama Bloggers June #AlaBlogMeet. 

Crossposted at The Writeous Babe Project

See Jane Write founder featured on Magic City Made

In March of 2011 I decided to start a networking group for women writers in Birmingham, Ala. At the time I only knew two women who were interested in such a group, but I felt in my heart that there were many more out there craving a creative writing community. So I gave my idea a name — See Jane Write — and browsed blogs, magazines, newspapers, and websites looking for women to stalk, er, contact about being a part of this new group.

Today the See Jane Write mailing list boasts about 200 names and has a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter as well. Through the organization I’ve hosted six events — three social events and three educational events on the following topics: how and why writers should use Twitter, the keys to successful blogging, and freelance writing.

This week I was honored to be featured on the website Magic City Made to talk about my work with See Jane Write.

In the interview I share the story behind the name tag you see in the picture above and my love for Birmingham. Click here to check out the article.

Let’s Help Our Fellow Writers

I’m sure for many of you your hearts are heavy this week as you learned about the hundreds of Alabama journalists who recently lost their jobs due to cuts made by Advance Publications. 

Birmingham-based advertising agency Luckie & Co. has launched a project called #ALNewsJobs, a grassroots effort to find and share good job openings for all those affected by this week’s layoffs. You can follow the group @ALNewsJobs on Twitter and by liking ALNewsJobs on Facebook. You can read this post to learn more about why they started the group. 

I would like to make a plea that you share information that you have about any job openings that could be a good fit for these talented journalists who are now available for hire. Please send that information to #ALNewsJobs and please also share he information with me (via email or by leaving a comment on this post) so I can announce these opportunities to the members of See Jane Write who may be in search of their next step. 

Please keep our fellow scribes in your thoughts. 

In Search of Birmingham’s Writing Scene

The audience at Witty Women Writers!
Photo by Amy Guth
Image via Creative Commons

At Tuesday night’s panel discussion Freelancing 101, one audience member asked how could she connect with more of Birmingham’s writing groups. Honestly, I didn’t know what to tell her other than what panelist Glenny Brock said for me: “There’s no better group than See Jane Write.”

But, seriously, the very reason I started See Jane Write was because I had a hard time getting connected with Birmingham’s writing community when I moved back here 3 years ago.

After the panel discussion I was chatting with someone else who attended the event about this issue. He (Yes, “he.” See Jane Write events are so awesome even guys want to join us.) said he’s sure Birmingham has a writing scene, but it seems to be a quiet one. And that makes sense. We writers tend to be introverted homebodies who want to stay in our quiet corners and write. Or at least that’s what I hear. I’m actually nothing like that. I love to mix and mingle and the word “networking” makes me giddy. I get some of my best story and essay ideas from talking to other people.

And why should Birmingham’s writing scene be so quiet? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? As writers we need to be the voices of the city, but how can we do that if we’re hiding behind our laptops? Yes, we need that time of solitude to do our work, but we also need to be on the scene if we’re going to write about it.

My hope is that See Jane Write can begin partnering with some other local writing groups to host networking and social events. And speaking of other writing groups, here are a few I have found since I’ve been back in my Sweet Home Alabama. If you know of others, please add them in the comments section.

Alabama Bloggers — A networking group for bloggers based in Alabama. They connect online and through occasional luncheons.

Write Club — A monthly forum for local amateur writers to meet and discuss their week. Meetings are held at the Hoover Public Library.

Alabama Media Professionals — A statewide organization on professional communicators who meet monthly to network, share common problems, exchange ideas and keep abreast of the changes in the media and journalism-related industries. AMP is affiliated with the National Federation of Press Women.

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