Birmingham Shines

A show about the makers, creators, and innovators of the Magic City: Birmingham, Alabama.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Birmingham Shines



All Episodes
Now displaying: Category: writing
Jul 23, 2015

This week we have another writer on the show, my friend Carla Jean Whitley.

Carla Jean is one of the first people I approached about being on Birmingham Shines because I know how much she loves Birmingham. We decided to time her appearance on the show to coincide with the release of her new book, Birmingham Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Magic City, which will be available for purchase starting July 27, 2015. The official book launch event is set for July 27 from 4-6 p.m. at The Alabama Booksmith in Homewood.

Carla Jean has several other appearances around town for book signings and readings. You can visit for details and I’ll also include the upcoming events that I know about in the show notes for episode 15, which you can find at

In addition to books and writing, Carla Jean and I talk about some of the places she loves to share with Birmingham visitors, and what it means to seek peace.

One thing we share in common is that To Kill a Mockingbird is our favorite book.


In the final segment of this week’s show we talk about what this book means to us.


By happenstance, we recorded the conversation the week before Go Set a Watchman was released and before either of us had read it. At this point, I still have read it and won't get to read Go Set a Watchman for another week or so, but I know that Carla Jean has been an active participant in discussions about both books in recent week, through her writings for The Birmingham News / and her #RedClayReaders podcast.



Jul 16, 2015

Some stories are meant to be told.

The Caldwell Family’s story of survival is one example. Albert and Sylvia Caldwell met at Park College in Missouri and embarked (on their wedding day) in 1909 on their journey to Siam to become missionaries.  By February 1912, before the terms of the missionary appointment had been met, the couple and infant son were making their way back home to the United States. By happenstance—or fate—the Caldwells ended up on the Titanic in April 2012 and were one of the few families to survive the disaster.

One of the goals of Birmingham Shines is to shine the light on stories that aren’t necessarily being told, at least not on a widespread basis.

Dr. Julie Hedgepeth Williams, a media historian, scholar, educator and the guest for episode 14 of Birmingham Shines is one of those individuals who doesn’t always get the recognition she deserves. Julie also has a story that is meant to be told.

In this episode, Julie and I talk about researching and writing narrative-style historical nonfiction and we also delve into traditional publishing in 2014.

Julie’s most recent book is the award-winning A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival. This book recounts the story of the Caldwell family, from the time Al and Sylvia met at Park College through the years after they were among the passengers who survived and sailed to safety in NYC aboard the Carpathian.

We also talk about Julie’s first book, Wings of Opportunity, about the Wright brothers’ commercial aviation school in Montgomery, Alabama and her upcoming book that looks at three key figures in the emergence of Southern literature as a specific literary genre.

If you’re interested in historical nonfiction—this is the episode for you!

As always, you can find more detailed show notes at

Check out the Shinecast Facebook page to stay up-to-date on all things Shinecast®.

May 14, 2015

Javacia Harris Bowser talks about founding SeeJaneWrite-Birmingham when she couldn't find the writing group she was looking for.

 Javacia Harris Bowser, my guest for
Week 3 of the Birmingham Shines
podcast, is a writer, teacher and
entrepreneur. She’s also a successful
blogger and founder of See Jane Write
Birmingham—networking group for
women writers that has turned into a

As we learned in episode 3 of
Birmingham Shines, Javacia moved to
Birmingham several years ago from
Louisville, Kentucky to teach English at
the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Before
embarking on her teaching career,
Javacia worked professionally as a
journalist and she continues to do
freelance writing work today.

Do one thing every
day that scares you.
Eleanor Roosevelt
That’s the inspirational quote that
Javacia shared with me when I asked
her for something to inspire others to
Discover. Grow. Shine.™

If you want to grow, you must be willing
to get out of your comfort zone, even
just a little bit. When you do, you usually
find that it wasn’t so bad after all—
especially if you’re taking little steps. No
need to take up hang-gliding. Just send
an email to someone you admire and
don’t know and invite them to coffee.
Take a different route home from work.
Or maybe do your grocery shopping in
reverse order from your usual routine.
It’s pretty clear that Javacia is willing to
take her own advice.

When Javacia couldn’t find the type of
writing group she was looking for, she
decided to start one. The first “official”
meeting of See Jane Write Birmingham
was a simple dinner meet-up on March
24, 2011 at a Mexican restaurant in
That meet-up led to a “next event,”
which was all about using Twitter to
network, connect with others and build a
blogging audience. The successful
Twitter event led to a blogging workshop
and into one-on-one consulting and
even bigger events.
See Jane Write Birmingham has grown
immensely in the four years since that
first informal meet-up and today Javacia
offers consulting and online courses for
women who aspiring writers and
entrepreneurs. Find out more about the
See Jane Write Birmingham story by
listening to episode 3 of Birmingham
Shines—if you haven’t already!
Javacia Recommends
What to read…..

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will
to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
Where to eat in Birmingham….
Where to caffeinate in Birmingham….
Urban Standard
Church Street Coffee & Books
Goddess by Banks
Anything by Beyoncé
Where to get fit….
Lakeshore Trail
Birmingham Blogger…..

Jennifer Dome King: Stellar Fashion
and Fitness
I love Jennifer
Dome King’s blog
Stellar Fashion and
Fitness. It has such
a great message
about body

Life Hack
Get up early.
I’ll echo this one—I got up before 5 a.m.
to start writing this blog post. I’m a big
believer in “early to bed, early to rise.” If
you know me at all, you probably know
how I go on all the time about Ben

What makes Birmingham Shine……
The Creative Class

I hope you are inspired by Javacia as I