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I can make you a celebrity overnight: SPJ, See Jane Tweet, and Ignite Birmingham

Somehow, over the past month or so, I’ve become in demand. A hot commodity. Coveted for my great knowledge, humor, charisma and panache.

Well, not really. But I have started dipping my toe into public speaking, and educating others on my two big passions: 1) social media and online community engagement, and 2) Walt Disney World!

SPJ Region 3 Conference

First up, I spoke at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 conference here in Birmingham on April 1st. They wrote a great recap of my talk on social media and online user interaction in a newsroom setting.

I had no idea I was being videotaped, but alas! I was. It’s a little dark, but you can view my talk, split up into 5 videos, here. I really enjoyed speaking to a “class” of mostly college students. I had conversations afterwards with student journalists from the University of Alabama, Florida A&M, and University of Central Florida. Great group!

See Jane Tweet

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Next up, my Alabama Social Media Association cohort and new gold-shoed pal Erin Shaw Street are presenting together for a new organization here in Birmingham called See Jane Write, a networking group for female writers, bloggers and journalists. We’re presenting a program on Thursday, April 28 called See Jane Tweet, where we will present an overview on social media and using Twitter as a way to connect with other writers.

I recently did an interview with Javacia Harris Bowser, the founder of See Jane Write, about my work with al.com and the Alabama Social Media Association ahead of See Jane Tweet. We’ve also gotten coverage from RSS Birmingham and Magic City Manifesto leading up to the event, and Erin recently put out a call for questions ahead of our presentation.So if you plan on attending, tell us what it is you want to learn!

Ignite Birmingham 5

Thursday, May 5 is Ignite Birmingham 5, and for the first time, I’m presenting! My 5-minute talk is titled “Magic City: Magic Kingdom — Birmingham’s ties to the wide world of Disney World fandom, and why you should visit WDW as an adult.” See the full list of speakers here. (It’s a fabulous lineup!)

I’m very excited to introduce attendees to some local “Disney celebs,” and convince folks that they need to start planning a Disney World vacation, with or without the kids. At the end of my speech, I’m going to tease to a special event here in Birmingham for Disney fans — and for those curious to learn more about Disney World –on Saturday, May, 21. Arrr, ye mateys! Mark ye calendars! It will be a magical good time!

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To say I’m thrilled to be taking part in these events, along with serving as executive director of the Alabama Social Media Association, is an understatement. I’ve already met some amazing people here in the past few months, and have turned social media connections into real-life connections. I’m excited for more to come.

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Disney World writing round-up, 4/4-4/10

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I haven’t blogged about this much over here at Southern Web Girl, but since summer 2010, I’ve been writing about Disney World at several Disney World fan sites in my spare time. It’s a lot of fun, and a big reason why I haven’t blogged as much over here in the past several months.

The sites I write for are:

WDW For Grownups – It’s a site geared toward adults who love Disney World, with or without the kids. It also has a very active message board and a lot of nice people – check it out!

Disney World Basics – A great site for Disney World beginners.

I also maintain the blogs for 5 Disney resort fan sites. I’ve been lucky enough to stay at 3 of these on our recent trips:

PopCenturySite – Pop Century is a popular Value resort with really fun themeing spanning the 1950s to 1990s. Oftentimes you can score a room there for less than $100 a night. We stayed here in April 2010 and will return here this fall!

DisneyCaribbeanBeach – Caribbean Beach Resort is a Moderate resort with a tropical vibe and a great theme pool. We stayed here on our latest trip in October 2010.

AKLResort – What can I say about the Deluxe resort Animal Kingdom Lodge? We stayed here for our honeymoon in April 2009, and it has some of the best themeing and dining you’ll find on Disney World property. I’d stay here again in a heartbeat.

WildernessLodgeSite – Haven’t yet had the pleasure of staying at this Deluxe resort, but I’ve eaten there and marveled at its themeing. Plus, it’s close to the Magic Kingdom!

DisneyContemporary – I have to admit, writing about the Deluxe Contemporary Resort can be intimidating, seeing as it’s one of the original resorts at Disney World — you know, the one that you drive through on the Monorail! It also has my very favorite Disney World restaurant, California Grill, which I’ve eaten at twice so far.

For those of you who are interested in Disney World, I thought I’d start to do a weekly round-up of my writing so you can see what I’ve been up to.

At PopCenturySite.com, I cover Pop Century Resort Discounts. A lot of Disney World die-hards make it a game to find the best discounts possible for their vacations – as they should!

Over at Disney World Basics, I discuss Best Disney World Rides for Teens. Hint: lots and lots of thrill rides.

Over at AKLResort.com, I’ve covered What’s Your Animal Kingdom Lodge Top Tip? with tips from AKLResort’s Facebook fans.

And over at Walt Disney World for Grownups, here’s a round-up of my posts there for the last two weeks:

When to go to Disney World – What time of year is best to travel to Disney World? It’s a personal decision, but I have some tips to share on times of year with lower crowd levels, and some special events you should look at, too.

Wishes dessert party Um yeah, so… take the Magic Kingdom Wishes fireworks spectacular, add a dessert buffet, and BANG! – you’ve got a fantabulous experience.

History of Horizons at EPCOT Center Do you remember this classic attraction? Housed where Mission: SPACE stands today, Horizons closed for good in 1999.

Most romantic times of year at Disney World Anniversaries and honeymoons can take place any time of the year. But consider other times of the year, too, for a special couples-only vacation.

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My Blogger shame

For the past few months, I’ve been a little … ashamed of my blog.

Granted, the design is super cute. It’s exactly what I wanted when I worked with Krizzy Designs on it. I still adore my header. The image of the gal at her laptop, with the chocolate Lab by her side — well, let’s just say that I’m typing on a laptop, and I have a big chocolate Lab sprawled out on the floor next to me.

But lately, I’ve started to grow ashamed of Blogger, and of my blog name. Southern Web Girl.

In my head, it goes something like this: “Gosh darn it, I’m 28 years old, I’m not a girl anymore! I’m a woman, a professional, DO YOU HEAR ME?” Sidenote: Why would I say, “DO YOU HEAR ME” to myself in my own head? Um yeah. I digress.

Some other things: I don’t have a URL of my own. I don’t have sexy plug-ins and a custom blog design. It makes me feel … amateur. When the fact is, I’m a real live web journalist and social media professional. Promise. Pinky swear. Really!

Back in January, I got involved with the Alabama Social Media Association. So involved, in fact, that they appointed me their executive director. And I quit blogging. I saw my colleagues on the ALsocme board shout from the rooftops how excited they were about ALsocme, and I stayed silent. Because I’m ashamed of Blogger.

Blogger shame. Many bloggers blogging on Blogger get a case of the Blogger shame. Just Google “Blogger to WordPress” and you’ll find a slew of websites and services out there to help you make the transition.

But I’m just not sure yet.

Blogger is easy. Blogger is where I’ve been since 2008, when I started blogging about planning my wedding.

So what’s a girl (sorry, woman) to do? What would YOU do? I’m contemplating: 1) Staying here on Blogger as is, no changes, 2) Staying on Blogger but purchasing a URL and new design, or 3) Making the transition to wordpress.org, complete with a hosting service, new URL and new design.

Bloggers, I would love to hear your thoughts below!

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Why I love my Nook Color

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Back in January, my husband surprised me with an early birthday present: A Nook Color.

I had been researching e-readers for a few months, and had come to the conclusion that the Nook Color was the best solution for me. Here’s a few reasons why I chose the Nook Color, and why I’m still enjoying it today:

1) It’s in color. The regular Nook and the Kindle are not. Why is this important? I’m addicted to magazines. I vowed to my husband that I would clear some of my magazine clutter, and the Nook Color has allowed me to do this. I’ve switched my Glamour and Marie Claire subscriptions to digital, and added on subscriptions to Spin, Oxford American and National Geographic Traveler. I’m still waiting on a couple other favorites — Allure and Real Simple — to make their way to the Nook Store, and I’d love to see all of the Birmingham-based Southern Progress titles there too, like Southern Living and Coastal Living.

2) It has a Web browser. It’s simply great for viewing the Internet on the fly. It wouldn’t be the best for data entry, blogging, or anything very typing-intensive, but most would say that about iPad, too.

3) The Nook Store is growing. As a fan of Disney and Disney World, sometimes I get discouraged when all the obscure book titles I’d like to read aren’t in the Nook Store, but are available via Kindle. But over the last two months of owning the Nook Color, I’ve seen more and more titles added. There are a lot of free books (there’s a free book offered every Friday!) and lots of books under $5. On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, there’s lots of books that are $9.99+, which can be a little steep.

4) Building a wishlist. Granted, this is something you can do at Amazon, on a Kindle or iPad, anywhere else on the Internet. But there’s something so satisfying about deliberating on a title, then hitting that BUY button when you know it’s time. I have a wishlist full of books on social media, business and online community management, as well as novels and non-fiction books about pets and Disney World. I’ve just finished reading a great Disney World memoir called Mousetrapped, and connected with the author via Twitter — and I’m not sure I ever would have found the book without the Nook Store.

5) It’s getting the Android store this month, AND Flash support. As a certified Apple addict (iPhone and MacBook Pro), I’m glad to get the chance to learn more about the Android platform — because I love me some Google, too. And Flash support, too? Well, that’s more than Apple can say. Essentially, once we get this critical update, the Nook Color becomes one of the cheapest, most useful tablets on the market.

6) It can hold all types of documents. Hook the Nook Color up to your laptop, and transfer over PDF e-books, Word documents, photos, Powerpoint presentations, and more. Can you do this on a Kindle? No. You can’t even do it on an iPad without the help of apps or iTunes. You can even add up to 32G of memory with a microSD card. That’s a lot of books!

7) The price point. At $249, it’s half the cost of a base iPad model. And while I’d still love to own an iPad, both my husband and I are able to have our own Nook Colors for the cost of one iPad. My husband is reading more as a result — hooray!

So, what type of e-reader do you have, or are thinking about buying? I think there’s great pluses to all the e-readers and tablets on the market today, so what are your thoughts?
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Baby, you’re a firework

To say that I’ve been going through a spurt of personal growth these days would be an understatement.

Let me ask you this: When did you first get that feeling that you were a full-fledged adult?

Me? I’ve only gotten that feeling in the past few months.

All of a sudden, a lot has come my way. Good things. Great things. Things that I’ll be ready to talk about soon.

But for now, I will say that 2011 has shown itself to be a year of growth for me, for my career, for my marriage. That’s not to say that there’s not some growth pains along the way. But mostly, it’s transforming and inspiring.

I’m making it a goal to shed a lot of things this year, like insecurity, weight and worry… and replace those things with positive, proactive things, like goal-setting, mentoring, and good health.

Wish me luck as I shine.

You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow