Monday, January 31, 2011

Birmingham Is Hopping

I got this off a newsletter I receive from the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. Whoever claims nothing happens in Birmingham is crazy.

The $70 Million Groundbreaking
Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr. led groundbreaking festivities in late January for a $70 million hotel and entertainment district. The ceremonies marked beginning of construction on a 300-room Westin Hotel to be built adjacent to the 757-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel and the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Also included in the project is an entertainment district which will house 16 to 20 shops, nightclubs and restaurants. Construction is expected to be complete in about 22 months.

"This is a great step for Birmingham's hospitality industry," said James H. Smither, president of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The addition of first class guest rooms and a high-end entertainment district significantly increases the appeal of the city for meetings and conventions in the downtown area."

With 220,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex is the state's largest meeting facility. The complex also houses an 18,000-seat Arena, a 2,800-seat Concert Hall and a 1,000-seat Theatre. The facility has 74 meeting rooms in 100,000 square feet. The adjoining Medical Forum is outfitted with a wet lab, telecommunications facilities and a full service production studio.

New $46 Million Track and Aquatic Facility Well Underway
The hits just keep on coming. By the end of summer, construction is expected to be complete on an indoor track and an Olympic-size pool at Fair Park on the western side of Birmingham. The $46 million undertaking is the first phase of a project that will include a retail center and commercial development on 30 acres adjacent to the athletic facilities. The Alabama High School Athletic Association recently announced it will reinstate indoor track as a championship sport with competition being held at the Fair Park track. The facility could also host AHSAA events such as swimming and volleyball.

Films to Celebrate Black History Month
Films set to screen at the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute look at Apartheid, music, conflict and forgiveness. The wide-ranging topics are part of the award-winning documentary series Have You Heard from Johannesburg? Screenings at the Civil Rights Institute chronicle the history of the global anti-Apartheid movement. They are:
• Hell of a Job and the New Generation - February 4
• Fair Play and the Bottom Line - February 25
• Free at Last - March 11
At the Birmingham Museum of Art:
• From Selma to Soweto - February 10
• Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony - February 24
• Long Night's Journey Into Day - March 10 and

Abalabip to Bring 'Boundless Fun' to Alabama Theatre
Rolling Stone magazine calls Alabama's Secret Sisters "boundless fun." And fun is what they will bring to the stage as one of the featured groups performing at the "Abalabip" concert February 5 at Birmingham's historic Alabama Theatre. "Abalabip" is the first in a series of concerts being planned by the Alabama Tourism Department and Oxford American magazine in celebration of the Year of Alabama Music. Special guests are Alabama soul icon Mary Gresham and jazz saxophonist/cult hero Arthur Doyle. Also on the ticket are The Sex Clark Five, a brainy alt act from Huntsville. Tickets include an after party at Birmingham's popular Bottletree.

Vulcan Park and Museum to Reveal Stories
There's something about the word revealing that's just...well...enticing. And that well describes the schedule for Vulcan Park and Museum's "Birmingham Revealed! 2011 Winter Series." This series of programs offers revealing insight into the people, places and events that helped shape Birmingham. Here's what's coming up:
• February 3 - Too Many Questions: An Evening with Virginia Durr - Starring Ginny Loggins, this compelling script is based on the life and times of Birmingham native Virginia Durr. Born in 1903, Durr's childhood was immersed in the conventions of the segregated South. She broke with accepted tradition and went on to become one of the country's most passionate voices for civil rights. Sure to be a great performance....
• March 3 - The Golden Age of Birmingham Broadcasting - Radio and TV programming in Birmingham in the 1960s and '70s abounded with homegrown talent for local tastes. Sgt. Jack and Cousin Cliff delighted audiences of children, while adults enjoyed the on-air antics of Fannie Flagg and Country Boy Eddie. This'll be fun....
• April 7 - Bobby Horton: The Stories of Alabama Folk Art - Among his many other accomplishments, historian, composer and multi-instrumentalist Bobby Horton provided music for Ken Burns' acclaimed PBS documentaries on the Civil War. In this session, Horton will explore connections between the region's music and its visual art. A treat for locals and visitors alike....


New York Times Features Lakeview District Plans
Birmingham native Catherine Sloss Crenshaw is a major community mover and shaker, as The New York Times notes in a recent feature article. Crenshaw, a descendent of one of Birmingham's founding fathers, has ambitious plans to invigorate a section of the city known as Lakeview by creating a design-centered destination. To read the entire article, go to

EWTN Acquires National Catholic Register
The international Catholic media empire, EWTN, based in Birmingham, announced recently that it has reached an agreement to take control of the National Catholic Register newspaper. EWTN was founded in 1981 by nun and former TV superstar Mother Angelica.

A New Record at the Civil Rights Institute
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute welcomed more than 4,000 visitors to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day last month. The attendance figure broke all previous records. The Civil Rights Institute is located in the heart of Birmingham's historic Civil Rights District.

Will Birmingham Bill See His Shadow?
We'll know February 2 whether we'll have six more weeks of winter or an early spring when the Birmingham Zoo's groundhog makes his appearance. Punxsutawney Phil's got nothing on Birmingham Bill when it comes to an accurate prediction. Stay tuned...or better yet, go to the zoo and see for yourself.

Alabama Adventure Buzzing About New Ride
Buzzsaw Falls is under construction at Alabama Adventure theme park and is expected to be operational when the park opens for the spring season. The water thrill ride is a boat that plunges down a 50-foot drop, leaving passengers and spectators soaked and delighted.

Sometimes one word is all that's necessary to impart a vision. So it is with the passionate ballet Giselle, which the Alabama Ballet will perform February 18-20. The tale of jilted lovers, remorse and forgiveness, this work was the birth of a genre of classical ballet.

Why We Come to Work: Activities at the Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Convention Sales Department has two top tradeshows on the travel schedule for February. First up is the Society of Government Meeting Planners in Huntsville. SGMP is the professional association of planners of governmental meetings and conventions, a lucrative market for the Birmingham area. With nearly 4,000 members, SGMP is the only national organization in the country dedicated exclusively to government meetings. On the heels of that show comes Destination Showcase in Washington, DC. This event is sponsored by Destination Marketing Associations International, the professional association for convention and visitor bureaus. Destination Showcase is the industry's largest forum, bringing corporate, government, association and independent meeting professionals together with exhibiting destinations from around the world.

In the Sports Sales & Marketing Department, plans are being put in place for the Mercedes Marathon and the Birmingham Volleyball Club's Valentine's Day Bash Tournament. Now in its 10th year, Mercedes Marathon events are set for February 11-13. The volleyball tournament takes place February 12-13. Also on the sports event roster for February 11-13 is the All-Alabama Softball Classic. Nine Alabama Division I softball teams will vie for the championship in this new tournament, which is expected to become an annual event.

Top news from the Tourism Department is that Cynthia McHeard has been promoted to Tourism Sales Manager. And the news comes at a good time with so much territory to cover in February. Early in the month, representatives will attend the North Carolina Motorcoach Association in Wilmington, NC. Then it's on to the Bank Travel tradeshow in Baton Rouge. Bank Travel gives Birmingham tourism staff an opportunity to meet with dozens of tour planners who schedule group travel for banking institutions around the country. In Atlanta this month is Travel South Showcase, where the Alabama Tourism Department will host the "Alabama Munch & Mingle Breakfast" with entertainment by Birmingham musician and composer Eric Essix.

The Tourism Department also is working with the Birmingham-based Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame on their "Legends Panel" which will promote the Year of Alabama Music. Panel participants include Cleve Eaton, Dr. Frank Adams, Ray Reach and other giants of Alabama jazz who will discuss the roots of jazz in Alabama on February 4 at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. The department is further promoting the Year of Alabama Music by assisting Oxford American magazine and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame on the Abalabip series of concerts mentioned above. Kudos to the department's Sharon Brown, who just completed her Certified Travel Industry Specialist certification through the American Bus Association.

Everything old is new again in the Marketing & Communications Department. That is to say the department is working closely with the CVB ad agency to develop the evolution of the highly successful "IN Birmingham" ad campaign. The new series of ads is direct, playful and frankly some nice eye candy. Ads include QR codes with accompanying videos that can be viewed by using an app on smart phones. In conjunction with the new advertising, the department is also redesigning the CVB Website to compliment the campaign. The new site will be more active and interactive with a fresh look and feel, as well as additions to direct visitors more easily around the site. In the world of travel writing, Vickie Ashford, director of travel media, recently hosted a journalist with The American Statesman (Austin, TX), who was in town to write about Civil Rights history. The Tutwiler provided complimentary lodging. Vickie also hosted a writer for the UK publication The Guardian, who was researching a feature article on dining, golf and hotel amenities. Renaissance Ross Bridge provided complimentary lodging for this journalist. Vickie also worked closely with the Alabama Tourism Department to arrange the successful Year of Alabama Music news conference and kickoff at the Jazz Hall of Fame. She presently is developing itineraries for a Year of Alabama Music media tour and an Indy media tour.

Company's Coming: Conventions, Meetings and Events in Birmingham in February

Staff Development for Educators, Inc. February 2-4
Home Care Association of Alabama February 3-4
National Forensic League February 4-6
Cheer Tech February 5
Deep South Center for Occupational Health & Safety February 7-8
Episcopal Diocese of Alabama February 11-12
Birmingham Volleyball Club February 11-13
All-Alabama Softball Classic February 11-13
Mercedes Marathon February 11-13
Personnel Board of Jefferson County February 13-18
Government Finance Officers Association February 16-18
Alabama Society of Physician's Assistants February 17-20
University of Alabama Medical Alumni Assn. February 18-19
Lakeshore Shootout Soccer Tournament February 18-20
UAB Department of Pediatrics February 20-23
Re/MAX Dixie Region February 22-24
North American Wholesales Lumber Association February 23-25
ESP Ultrasound February 23-27
UAB Continuing Medical Education February 24-25
UAB Softball February 25-27
Alabama Baptist Convention February 28 - March 1
Destinations February 28 - March 1

What's News in Birmingham is the monthly newsletter of the
Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Dilcy Windham Hilley, Editor

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Call Me a Bee

Busy, busy, busy. I've got two contest entries to revise and get back to the coordinators. So if you don't see me the rest of the week, you'll know why.

Happy writing!

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Are You Wired?

I celebrate people’s differences. Just because someone doesn’t think like I do, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dumb or wrong. They’re only wired differently. That’s okay with me. Makes the world a more interesting place. People are interesting, especially when you watch them from a bench in WalMart.

Whoa! Are those actually her pajamas? Strange but interesting.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blow That Horn

Back in 1998, I was laid off from a company I had worked at for twenty years. I pretty much knew it would happen as they gave me a little over two months to find another job. Plus they gave me roughly five months in severance pay. Thankfully the times weren't as bad as they are now and I had a job lined up before I left that one. In fact, in less than four months from starting the new job, I was hired at another company I preferred.

One of the hard parts of starting a new job (and sometimes a new position) is working with people who don’t know you or the type of worker you are. So you have to prove you have common sense, you’re reliable and honest. When you first working somewhere and you become sick and have to call in, you just know they’re thinking you’re lying and you’re one of THOSE people. I never forget I was still in my probation period and I had a hundred and three temp. I still came into work. And yes I probably infected everyone in a ten mile radius, but I wasn’t taking a chance that someone thought I was faking it. Did they send me home? No. I worked all day and all of those afterwards.

You know, for that matter, you can be in the same place and same position, but change bosses and you find yourself in the same spot, proving yourself. Sure, you have info in your file talking about what a wonderful worker you are, but it only takes one boss who doesn’t like you to ruin that.

I’m one of those people (it appears) that doesn’t really impress people at first, but as time goes along and a boss has to work with me on a project or two, they realize “yes, she knows her stuff” and “yes, she’s damn good.” While I feel I’m average and mainly I’m a hard worker is all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a meeting with management and see surprise looks on their faces when I give them an observation they hadn't thought about or pinpoint a solution they missed or they finally realized how much I do know. I’ve put it down to that I don’t go around tooting my own horn (only here on this blog) or go complaining about everything.

What made me think about all of this is the problem I’ve been having getting published. Doesn’t everything come around to writing? I figured the last few years, I’ve been working up to a momentum and my time is coming. With the requests and finals rolling in faster and faster, maybe I’ll impress the right person soon and I’ll get the call. Finally.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home Sweet Home

So far, I’m still reading the same book. Still not too enthused but it does have its moments. It’s like going to a brand new house. Everything is clean and unsullied but there’s a coldness to it. No homey feel. Let’s see if I pass the halfway mark.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I found out today my manuscript OUT OF THE SHADOWS is a finalist in the GOTCHA! contest. Happy day! It feels so good.

[Update] AND my manuscript THE CAGED HEART is a finalist too! This is my first historical ever to final.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Male Author

I’m reading a book recommended by a friend. In fact, she liked it so well, she gave it to me. So I’m reading a book written by a man and I’m rather leery about it. Why? Mainly, from past experience, I’ll probably be disappointed. Because rarely do they provide the emotional rollercoaster I love in a book. So far, this author in particular has talked about the tax on the protagonist’s house, mentioned numerous times "the dynamics of the city," and described the weather. The rest of the story has been interesting, but the going from present to past tense and back again along with first person to second to third get the idea, is very jarring. I’m giving the book a couple more chapters then we’ll see if it is worth my time reading the rest. I don’t have much hope.

Yes. I bias.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You Know What?

You know some days it just doesn’t pay to be nice. I’m just saying…

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pretty or Plain and Clear

We all love seeing beautiful handwriting. My husband has a really nice one. But I can't stand to get a whole email written in Script. I swear it hurts my eyes, especially when it's in a small font.

I get an email from someone like that about once a month. How do I tell her without hurting her feelings or sounding like an old nag?

What? Nah. She doesn't read my blog. ::sigh::

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shame On Me

I've had a sneaking suspicion that I've done this and probably more times than I would like to imagine. I bought a book and never read it because I forgot I bought it. I know. That's awful. How did I do this? And how did I realize it?

Well, it was like this. As you know, I have a new study. With the move from one room to another, I had boxed up my books (and there so many, no matter how many I've given away before), placing some in boxes to keep and some to give away. The ones I gave away were authors I've read and didn't care for their style/stories or they've been given to me at conferences and luncheons and even dirty Santa parties and were not my cup of tea.

As I was throwing books into the box to give away (two boxes actually), I noticed one I didn't recognized. Yes. I may not remember every book I've read, but if it is still in my house, I remember something about it. So I read the back and thought how much I love the premise. Much older man and younger woman. I also like the other way around too. Anyway, I read the first couple paragraphs and still didn't remember the story. Hmmm. Could it been given to me recently and I forgot? I looked at the published date. 2001. No. That's too old to be given away. Maybe someone loaned it to me and I forgot. I hate doing that.

Since the story interested me and the first couple paragraphs were good and I didn't remember it, I decided to give it a try. Maybe as I got further into the book, possibly a chapter or two, I would finally remember it.

I was in chapter three and decided that I've never read it before and I thought what a shame. The guy was alpha and so yummy. The girl was spunky without being a bitch. So someone must've given it to me. About that time, a piece of paper fell out. It was a receipt to a grocery store. Could've someone left it in there by mistake? unfolded it. Heck! It was from Winn Dixie in the small town I live and the items were the type of products I normally purchased and it was dated April 2001.

I had bought it and probably sat it on my book shelf with other TBR books. During maybe influx of books (conference), it was moved around and forgotten.

It was good and now I want to read the next book about the brother. It's an Intimate Moments (Harlequin changed them to Romantic Suspense imprint). You know what that means, I'll have to go to an used book store or worse, go to Amazon. The way I feel about Wal-Mart (avoid it like the plague) is what I feel for Amazon.

Shame on me for missing out on a good author in 2001. Now I need to make up for lost time.

The author and book? A YOUNGER WOMAN by Wendy Rosnau

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quote for the Day

Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward.
Victor Kiam, businessman and entrepreneur

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Reader

I remember being a little girl of maybe five reading SCAT CAT SCAT to my mom in her beauty salon. My mom, brother and sister read some, but I was the one always with a book. It wasn't until years later I found out that dad was a reader. He wasn't around a lot when I was growing up, so I don't remember seeing him with anything but the newspaper.

What made me think of that was I eldest daughter is a reader (we hope the youngest will be one day - college is taking up most of her time now) and she kept up with her list of books she read last year. Seventy-four, I believe. She was proud of that number and she had a right to be, but then she read on someone's blog that they had read over hundred. I wonder if they have a day job and children? I know that Stephen King usually reads over two hundred in a year. Amazing.

That got me to wondering how many books do I read in a year? I know there are several I only read half way. A few years ago I decided I wouldn't force myself to read a book I no longer enjoy. The reasons I'm not getting into the book can vary. Maybe because the heroine did something stupid, the hero is caveman-like (all sex, no brain), plot is going nowhere, author promises and doesn't deliver over and over again (e.g., almost have sex three times or more in a row but something always stops them) or I just lose interest in finding out what happens next.

So I decided to keep a list on this blog (to the right) of the books I read and finished. Only those I would recommend will I place a star next to them. The ones without stars may not really have anything really wrong with them, otherwise I wouldn't finish them, it's just I had to struggle to finish, I was disappointed with how the author handled the romance or didn't like the ending. They all end happy, just sometimes they appear rushed or dragged out.

I thought about making a list of those I don't finish, but that wouldn't be a positive thing. And I want this blog to be positive. So I might keep that list somewhere else private and let you know how many (number only) that I didn't finish.

It's going to be interesting to see how many I do read.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow? Again?

Don't have pictures to share as it's rather dark outside, but it's snowing again. Cool!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Every Little Girl's Dream

When I was twelve my dad bought my sister and I a horse, a Tennesse Walker. We called the mare Lady. I don't remember if that was her real name or if she was called something else. You know how it was when you're a kid. You're just happy to have a dream come true.

Anyway, she was roan color with a white blaze and four white socks with white mane and tail. She looked something like the picture on the left.

I always wanted to own another horse, but never had the funds or lands. Sure would be nice to own an appaloosa, like the one on the right.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another Huh? Moment

This morning I was driving along, taking an exit onto another interstate when a little car ahead of me in one lane over took the same two lane exit. It sped up and I wondered if it would try to pass the big truck in front of me or move out of the "disappearing lane." I knew the car couldn't make it, so I slowed down to let it move over in front of me. The driver shot me a bird. Several times. Angrily. Huh?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Excuse My Expression

Have you ever hung out with someone that had a funny laugh or a cute quirk? Then before you know it, you sound like or use the same expression?

I do that sometimes. So frustrating. Not all of the expressions are really that cute but it's like I'm a sponge. I try to correct myself whenever I catch myself doing it. :-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So Not Surprised

Back one day at work and already my nerves are bothering me. Wound up tight and nowhere to go. Hmmm, where are my little pink pills?

Asking Favors

I hate asking people for favors. That's part of why I've gone through so many critique partners. Not many write as often as I do and I usually end up having more for them to look at than they have written. That makes me feel guilty as when they're critiquing my work, they could be writing.

The only critique partner that kept up with me got published. I hate bothering her. She has a monster of a writing schedule the last two years and this year looks to be more of the same. Good for her.

Thank goodness for my beta readers. At least I don't interfere with their writing schedule.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Shades of Gray

It's so frustrating when you know someone has misunderstood a situation (usually they don't know all the details) and you can't explain without making it worse. So you lose their friendship. That's sad.

That's one of the things I've learned in life. Nothing is black and white. All of life is a shade of gray.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Beginnings are so more interesting when you don't how they'll end as long as they end happy. Thus why I love romance books.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What I've Learned

The last two weeks off work has taught me something. When I finally retire, I'll need to put myself on a schedule that includes exercise and no writing. Yep. My body has been protesting the long length of time I've been sitting and writing or just plain messing around on the computer.

Of course, that's still a few years away. Maybe by then I can be a full time writer [paid]. That would be nice.

Happy New Year!