Javacia Harris Bowser, the mastermind behind the Birmingham, Ala. blogging group “See Jane Write,” has selected me as “Member of the Month” for June 2015. I’m so honored.
I’m still blushing but that won’t stop me from doing this shameless plug right here. Check out my profile story and Q&A and with her on seejanewritebham.com.
Aside from my husband, no one has been more supportive of See Jane Write than Chanda Temple. Chanda was one of the 14 women at the very first See Jane Write event and she’s been a part of the group ever since. There’s also hardly anyone I know who works harder than Chanda. So it was a no-brainer that Chanda Temple should be the See Jane Write Member of the Month for June.
Chanda worked as a journalist for nearly 20 years before switching gears to public relations in 2012. For the past three years Temple has crafted numerous public relations campaigns that the public and media noticed.
Her latest success was coauthoring the Birmingham’s Best Bites cookbook. The self-published paperback book sold out three times in late 2014 and earned an international gold medal award in 2015. Also in 2015, her public relations campaign for the book, and the Birmingham food festival it was connected to, won a first place state award in public relations.
This summer you’ll have two opportunities to learn from this PR pro. On June 16 Chanda will speak at our DIY Marketing for Authors event with Books-a-Million sharing tips on how she successfully marketed Birmingham’s Best Bites. (Click here for more details on this event.) And on August 1, Chanda will be our morning keynote speaker at the Bloganista Mini-Con, discussing personal branding and how to get your work covered by the media. Mark your calendar!
Read on to learn more about Chanda.
How did Birmingham’s Best Bites come to be and tell us a little about the success you’ve had with the book?
In January 2014, I was director of public relations for the Birmingham Public Library. I had started thinking of how I could take the library’s Eat Drink Read Write festival to the next level. This would be the third year for the October festival and my first time getting in on the ground floor for promoting and helping mold some of the events.
I immediately thought about Martie Duncan, a Birmingham native and finalist from Food Network Star. I first asked if she would host our finale event. She agreed. We met again in February and started talking about what her involvement would look like. By the end of the conversation, we had come up with an idea for a cookbook.
We put the cookbook together in a matter of weeks. It featured gorgeous photography from Arden Ward Upton and more than 80 recipes from 60 restaurants in and around Birmingham. The food is so tempting, you want to dive right into the pages and take a bite.
We started out with it being self-published and available at the library book store and a handful of restaurants in December. EBSCO did the first two printings in October and November 2014 and Books-A-Million used its print-on-demand machine in December 2014 for a third printing. In January 2015, a publisher loved the book and agreed to print it in hard back. Today, the book is available in nine book stores and is available on Amazon.com.
Tell us about your blog and what you enjoy most about blogging.
I worked as a journalist for nearly 20 years before going into public relations in 2012. But soon, I missed writing on a daily basis. I knew that blogging would fill that void. But I kept putting it off until 2014 when I finally launched chandatemplewrites.com. I have Javacia Harris Bowser to thank for challenging me and staying after me to “just do it.”
I write about different things that I hope will motivate and inspire people in their daily lives and careers.
What I love most about blogging is how it allows me to take someone’s inspirational story and share it with others. If that story only encourages one person that day, I’ve done my job.
How has your career as a journalist helped you in blogging, in PR and with Birmingham’s Best Bites?
As a journalist, I had to know how cut to the chase to get to the heart of what mattered in telling a story. All too often, people like to go around the world twice to explain how they do something. They like to use big words and talk in their industry lingo. What they don’t realize is that’s boring and it loses readers quickly.
When I interview people for blog posts and they start going too deep into an explanation, I stop them and tell them to just talk to me like I’m their grandmother or a person they just met on the street. What’s the most important thing they want to tell me so that I’ll remember them? Keep it simple and drop all the fancy talk, I tell them. With a little coaching, they get it. And when they give it to me in simple terms, it helps me better sell their event or product.
People don’t have time to read, which is why I stress how important it is to get to the main point and pair it with images people will remember.
Tell us a little about what you do now and what projects or goals you’re currently working on.
I left the library in February 2015 to take a job as executive assistant to the superintendent and school board for Birmingham City Schools. On almost a daily basis, I’m telling the wonderful stories of our students, teachers and supporters. There are so many amazing things happening within the district. Like us on Facebook at Birmingham City School System to keep up with what our students are doing.
What’s next for you?
Good question. I’m looking at writing another book. It won’t be a cookbook, though.
You’ve been a part of See Jane Write since the very first event. What do you like most about SJW and what keeps you so loyal to this organization?
From the start, I’ve loved the energy of this group. I’ve learned so much and met some wonderful people. I can surely say that had it not been for this group, I would have never met some of the people I admire to this day.
Also, Javacia Harris Bowser is such an inspiration. You can call, text or email her about anything, and she has an answer.
Send your nominations for the next See Jane Write Member of the Month to firstname.lastname@example.org.