A collection of some of my favorite stories this year

Every time I update my online portfolio, I remember how many cool stories I’ve written over the past three years at The Indiana Gazette.

While it’s true that I’ve been writing significantly less — because my efforts have been focused on the digital aspect of the company — some of this year’s story have been a lot of fun to write.

Here are some of my favorites from the past few months:

Couple gets married over Niagara in helicopter adventure

We all know I’m a sucker for writing a good love story — and this was certainly one. Plus, it helps that I went to journalism school with the bride!

For Brice, emotions guide songwriting

Biscuit, a 14-year-old, deaf beagle mix shown here before her adoption, is now the first full-time resident canine at Bethany Place Residential Care Center in White Township. (Submitted photo)

Biscuit, a 14-year-old, deaf beagle mix shown here before her adoption, is now the first full-time resident canine at Bethany Place Residential Care Center in White Township. (Submitted photo)

I’ve interviewed a few celebrities and artists over the years, but country singer Lee Brice was certainly the best interview I’ve had with one. He really opened up to me about his music. 

Region home to kayaking, canoeing opportunities

It’s always great to be able to combine my passions. In this case, I combined my love of the outdoors and the area’s recreational opportunities with my passion for writing. 

Pokemon Go craze sweeps Indiana

Remember when you couldn’t walk down the street without almost accidentally hitting a Pokemon Go player? I do. And I wrote about it. 

Shelter dog finds home at care facility

A collaboration with videographer James Nestor, this cute story about an elderly shelter pup adopted by a local care facility went viral. 

If you’re cruising around my site today, you’ll see that I’ve updated my homepage as well as my web projects section. Enjoy!

 

 

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Web-based apps that make life so much easier

Everybody’s busy. Juggling different projects can be difficult — especially in a field that you can’t focus on the task at hand.

Here are some ways I use web-based applications (that have been around a long time) to help save time and sanity.

Chrome

I’m convinced at this point that people that don’t use Chrome as their default Web-browser just don’t know what they’re doing with their lives. Chrome makes it easy to access the last things you were working on, your most-visited sites and lets you organize the things you need conveniently.

Drive

20140630-quickoffice-1Cloud-based anything still blows my mind. I know it’s not anything special or new, but as a writer, it’s awesome that I can just use Google Drive in place of products like Word and Excel and access them from anywhere. As a journalist, that means I can start a story on my computer, take notes on my tablet and add to it on the go on my phone if needed. It doesn’t get much better than that.

And, I never have to worry about losing any documents because of a computer malfunction.

Keep

Have you figured out that I’m Google’s bitch, yet? Keep is just the best way to keep lists — to-do lists, shopping lists, dream lists — all. of. the. lists.

LogMeIn

See, I use products that Google didn’t develop, sometimes. Accessing your work computer on the go is LIFE CHANGING. LogMeIn’s web client works great on smartphones and on my Chromebook, too, so if I forgot to do something at work I don’t have to go all the way back in. OK, work is less than a mile away … but.

Stay productive, friends.

Be an inspiration

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”quote-about-motivational_16785-2

While I’ll never know if I have, I started working as the adviser of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s student-run newspaper, The Penn, earlier this year to inspire people. To inspire the students that are so much like the student I was when I worked there as an IUP undergrad.

The Penn has evolved so much in such a short amount of time. Not only is it a place where a new staff comes in yearly, but the newspaper itself changes with the times — with a growing online presence, evolving readership and in many other ways.

The staff finished off the last of the fall 2015 semester’s newspapers today – the annual holiday edition – and I’m feeling pretty great about the work that these students have done. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch to have spent my first full semester with.

I can’t wait to see what they’ll dream up next.

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Writing: It’s emotional

Perhaps a feeling that only fellow writers can share, writing can have its emotional moments. 

kennedy

Often readers find that they feel different emotions,sadness, happiness, whatever the case may be, when reading a writers’ work — that’s when it’s said that the writer has properly done their job. 

When a writer feels that emotion when putting their words on paper (or on computer), though, that’s when (hopefully) that emotion will definitely translate in print, invoking the same emotion to those who read it. 

I had one of those “emotional writing” moments this week — a few times. 

It began when I was given the assignment to track down memories. Memories of those who recalled the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 

As a typical millennial, my first thought was to ask for people to share their memories on the Gazette’s Facebook page. My editor, of course, considered that those who are old enough to have been alive during the tragedy may not use social media, and put a call out in the print edition of our paper, too. 

Before I knew it, I had more than 100 emails, Facebook comments and letters, from those who remembered the day like it was yesterday, piled on my desk. IMG_20131123_223439

I couldn’t believe how many people were so willing to share their stories — some that had met the president when he visited Indiana, Pa., campaigning in 1960, some that had considered him the greatest president to have ever been in office and some that attended his funeral later that week with thousands of other Americans in Washington, D.C.

It was moving to read these submissions, and be able to relate to some of them even though I was born close to 30 years after the incident; to imagine these Gazette readers as young adults, teenagers and children hearing the news on their school loudspeakers, watching the funeral on television with their parents and to imagine the students at the school I attended, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, silently and solemnly walking through campus after hearing the news of the president’s death. 

A woman, who became a major part of the story I wrote, came in to the Gazette with photos, as well as a poppy that JFK had given her from his lapel when he was campaigning. Though it seems insignificant, on the 50th anniversary of his death, it was moving to be able to hold the small, red flower that had once been so close to the president’s heart. 

IMG_20131123_225735After days of waiting and reading as submissions continued to come in, I began to write. I remember being overwhelmed by all of the submissions, and wondering which I would use in my story, but when I started to type, the words just flowed. And flowed. Until next I knew it, I had 45 inches of text — which if you work in the newspaper business you’ll understand is quite a bit. 

When all was written, and I told the stories that could be told, I had a piece of work that I was actually proud of. Something that I will remember and save in my portfolio forever. It was exciting to see this article published in the paper that day.

Best yet, those that I quoted and interviewed expressed their praise for the story after it was published — something that rarely seems to happen. Something that lets me know that the story moved them as much as it moved me to write it. 

You can read the story here. 

 

Thoughts, Vol. II

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Something about typing things all day long makes me not want to go home and type more. But, just for the sake of posting, here’s an update on what’s been on my mind:

  • I need to make more excuses to get out of my apartment. Today I headed to the Commonplace Coffeehouse to work on a story and, even though I was working, it was the most relaxing thing I’ve done in a while. Between that, work and the gym, I was only home a few hours. That’s less time I have to plot ways to kill my neighbors. (just kidding.)
  • I did a phone interview for my first official story at the paper today. It failed on two counts: one, I hate the phone. Two, it was with a seven year old who ended every sentence with “and stuff.” New York Times reporter coming your way? Maybe not.
  • I’m running a 5K in June with my friend, Megan. I haven’t gone for a “real” run since I was in Cross Country in 9th grade. I’m looking forward to preparing for it. And looking forward to the outcome.
  • Back to my job, it’s the coolest. My coworkers are hilarious, and writing about dead people all day is not quite as depressing as I thought it would be. That probably makes me a terrible human being. I’m okay with that.
  • I miss Between the Trees. I’ll post an old favorite song of mine at the bottom of this post. Speaking of music, I need new bands to listen to. I haven’t even opened Spotify in a few weeks, which is super sad.
  • Why haven’t I won the lottery yet?

 

Why Newsrooms Are Awesome

I started my new position at the local newspaper today. It’s been about two months since I finished working at my school’s newspaper, and I can’t believe the (awesome) differences between that setting and a daily-newspaper newsroom.

Here are some reasons why newsrooms are the coolest:

  • Day one and my desk is already cluttered. Just wait until next week.

    Day one and my desk is already cluttered. Just wait until next week.

    Everyone around you shares your addiction for coffee. If they could, they’d just start injecting it to get through being there before the sun comes up.

  • Editors understand the concept of an organized mess. Sure, there are piles of absolute crap everywhere, but the owner of the desk knows exactly what’s in those piles and how to find what they need.
  • Editors feed off of stress. It’s 10 minutes until deadline and people are still calling in obituaries, but you’re going to feel like the champ of the century when you get your pages to the press on time.
  • Inappropriate jokes are completely acceptable.
  • Eating on top of your keyboard is also acceptable…because really, who has time to eat?
  • The people around you are just as weird as you.
  • Yell an AP Style question out loud, 10 people will yell back an answer.
  • Saying “that comma is in the wrong place” or “that’s the wrong form of your” doesn’t make you an egotistical asshole, it makes you a hero.

It’s safe to say that I’m going to love this job.

 

Productive Things to Do On Your Day Off

Start the day off right. CLEAN!

Even though cleaning can be one of the most dreaded activities possible, once you start you can put yourself if a productive groove that might last for a while. When the things around you are clean and organized, you’re more likely to get other things done.

Move Your Furniture

It may sound silly, but somethings completely changing things up can be just the boost of motivation you need. Put your bed under a window, so you can wake up to the sunshine every morning. Put your desk and your bookshelf near eachother so that finding the things you need is easier.

Finish Projects You Started A Long Time Ago

Let’s face it, I’m sure you’re sick of them laying around. Just get them done!

Read A Book

After all, it is your day off. Why not do so do something you can enjoy? Pick up a short novel at the library, or continuereading something that you haven’t had the time to recently. You’ll be completely relaxed.

Go to the Gym

Working out = happier you. At first, no one really wants to go to the gym, but after they do they always feel 10x better. Just do it and get it over with, you owe it to yourself.