Inhaling ink and machinery (…is this illegal?)

These past two weeks have been so surreal.

Four years ago in June, I graduated from high school not knowing what the hell I was going to do next with my life — and little did I know that four years later til this day I was going to be sitting at my own desk in a newsroom.

(As an intern, at least).

Just days before starting at the Reno Gazette-Journal, I was going a little batty over the littlest things because I was just so anxious to start — my lazy roommates were getting to me as well as the crazies who walked in the planetarium. I had friendships that were suddenly changing, and, ohmygosh, there was the fact that I’m graduating in six more months. But I walked into the RGJ with pride, confidence and no fear. I’d like to thank the Nevada Media Alliance for that — reporting on the legislature on a weekly basis helped me break out of my turtle shell.

I got comfortable in the newsroom the second day. The people who work there are friendly and dedicated to getting their job done. And, I absolutely adore my mentors — I already look up to them, and I know I’m going to learn so many amazing things from them. It’s nice to be finally working in a real environment, instead of one involving an overkill of bias and favoritism.

And I’m working on one of the best topics ever. Digging deeper into Reno’s recovering economy has me enthralled before I’ve even started. I’m already covering great mini topics and calendar events on local fashion shows, business openings, contests, remodeled home tours, and even about a VANS-lovin monster named Shoezilla. But my big debut comes out in Sunday’s paper on June 23, about how local vibrant charities bring a quality of life to the city — as well as a motivation to get others out there to help. This story will be posted on Reno Rebirth as well, followed by a special follow-up.

My classmate from NVMA, Natasha, is also interning at RGJ but reporting on the final and post-days of the Nevada Legislature. She’s a great reporter, too, and has made it to the front page like four times already. She sits right behind me which is pretty cool.

In the meantime, I’ve also moved into my new apartment with my best friend. It’s so perfect because I live right across the street from Wal Mart and other conveniences, and my bedroom is huge with a walk-in closet and bathroom. And I’m gladly to say that I am quite aways from the college (you know when it’s time to move away from that crowd).

The next two stories I’m working on is about the Santa Pub Crawl here in Reno, and if the increased presence of cops hurts or helps the tourist and visitors — and then, as a later story, how Burning Man influences the hip art of Reno.

I hope to live a happier and healthier life from here. I think I’m off to a good start aside the sore back from carrying desks up a flight of stairs.

 

A Novel in the Works

COVER LOL

This is what I’ve been doing instead of blogging. Haha.

I submitted this story into the Fictional class I really wanted to take, but I’ve submitted it too late (not past the due date, though). It was kind of a first come, first serve deal, and I took too much luxury of the time to make it perfect as possible. However, I did get into the class — I just have to wait for some bastard to drop it.

Anyways, if you’d like to read it, I posted it on Figment.com. It’s a little short because I could only limit myself to 15 pages for the application (this was very hard to obey, believe it or not!). I haven’t got too many views or reviews, and I’m starting to think that this website isn’t the best place to have my fiction read (I think the site might be a little too young for me). But feel free to email me suggestions and edits, it’s much appreciated – mmolly@charter.net.

So I hope to finish this book up in a year or two, I have it all down in my head. After going through edits of draft after draft, I might just sell it online as an ebook through Lulu. But I’m thinking too far ahead of things, so don’t take my word on that.

Here’s my summary thus far. The title of the novel is going to make much more sense when I complete the novel (the only people who know how it’s going to end is the fictional writing professor, my best friend and my mother):

Maxine Martin isn’t your average 17-year-old — she’s actually a mortician at her family’s funeral home in a small town of Susanville, California. She enjoys primping corpses for funerals and pulling off their skin, and she’s easily entertained by how much it frightens people. However, Maxine is frustrated that there aren’t any guys that respect her for who she is, until she meets handsome and mysterious 22-year-old Jeremiah Haley.

Maxine falls deep for Jeremiah because he’s the first guy that doesn’t mind having her morgue hands all over him. But she’s too gullible to know that he’s hiding multiple secrets from her; he’s holding hostage of a 7-year-old girl, and could be a clue to his missing family. Maxine knows there’s something suspicious about Jeremiah, but decides to keep it to herself. But little does she know that danger is near, and it’s too late; in following week, Jeremiah and the child are missing.

It’s up to Maxine to find Jeremiah by herself. Throughout her journey, Maxine will realize that Jeremiah’s disappearance put her through many threatening impacts to her life, but she doesn’t give up. Maxine needs to make up for her foolishness of falling in love with a dangerous man, and she might have to commit a serious crime just to do so — with not a soul knowing.

Read a sample/preview here: http://figment.com/books/623962-Casket-Full-of-Lies-novel-preview-

The Next Chapter

It’s about time I experienced a semi-decent semester at the University of Nevada, Reno – I got to do some REAL journalism work, and I expanded my mind to classes that I hate and will never have to take again.

I got two perfect A’s in Nevada Media Alliance and Data journalism. My KNPB package I worked on with Stephanie turned out wonderfully – I even got an official copy of the episode on a special DVD. You can watch it online at the NVMA siteStephanie, the audio/video maven, narrated the episode as I interviewed our sources about all-day kindergarten in Nevada. I think we both kicked ass on writing the script as well.

Here’s a photo I took of when my team and I toured the KNPB station. On screen, you’ll see our episode getting ready to air! This was on April 19th:

NVMA is a permanent and new addition to the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism. I’m debating whether I want to do it again or not, and I’m thinking I’m should. I’m graduating in December and I would be taking about 18 credits if I joined again, and only 2 or 3 original members who reported on the legislature would return. The topic to report next semester is the reinventing or the rebirth of Reno’s economy. I discovered that covering this topic would benefit me in many ways:

I recently got hired as an intern at the Reno Gazette-Journal to report on their new blog called Reno Rebirth, which covers the recovery of the city’s economy and community. I’m incredibly excited because I’ve been wanting this internship for so long, and this blog allows VOICE in the reporting. I also get to expand my knowledge on Reno’s economy. I officially begin June 4th and I already have some decent story ideas down. Oh, and Brent Boynton, the news director of KNPB said that he would like me and the RGJ to contribute our Reno Rebirth work with KNPB! I’m kicking my feet up in the air as if I were a child who just found out that they’re going to Disneyland for the weekend; I’m so damn excited to be a part of this.

Rejoining NVMA for my next (and last) semester would be definitely beneficial for me because I would I know the subject by then, and I could continue reporting on it. Also, I would get my name out even more by the time I graduate. Gosh, I’m so spoiled!

So don’t worry, I will be linking my articles from Reno Rebirth on JOURNALISchick as well as sharing my experiences working at one of Reno’s greatest news desks. I have to write experiences anyway in order to receive three credits — but I don’t mind doing that regardless.

What else has happend? On May 7th, I received the Charles H. Stout Foundation scholarship. I forgot the amount (most scholarship recipients do), but what’s so special about this scholarship is that this foundation helped supported the NVMA to purchase the amazing media tools to make the team who we are today (and obviously, you’ve seen that we’re pretty damn amazing). Although this scholarship lasts for about a year and I have one semester left, I think I might use up the remaining scholarship to take some courses to get back into my old hobbies, if it gets difficult finding a job (drawing, choir, guitar, writing…).

My project about BLMNV and the mustangs for Data journalism came out okay, but not as good as I wanted. It’s a huge topic I’d like to investigate when the topic is hot again — you can click here to check out what I’ve gathered: http://mustangsofunrnv.wordpress.com/

Other than that, my remaining grades are okay – B+ in Women & Lit, B+ in Core Humanities, and I got very lucky with a C+ in Mircoeconomics (eff that class). But it definitely brought my GPA up higher. I’m also moving out of my apartment and moving into a secluded area away from crazy party animals (I’m such an old lady about this).

Before I go, check out the Reinventing Reno website UNR students put together with business journalist, Micki Maynard! I believe this is what the next group of NVMA would be reporting on. One of the writers even earned the Steven Martarano Best Published Article Award!

Up next: 2 book reviews and another update.

Benjamin Franklin’s inspiring 13 virtues

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da MAN

I’m currently reading The Autobiography of Ben Franklin for a core humanities class. I came across studying these thirteen virtues for my own self-help, which is magic that Franklin wanted to intentionally put on the reader. All I can say is that these are great virtues and need to be followed more often to calm nerves about life — well, for mine, anyway.

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations

Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time

Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve

Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing

Industry: Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions

Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly

Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty

Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think you deserve

Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation

Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable

Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation

Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

Investigative Reporting Tips from Vanity Fair’s Suzanna Andrews

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My data and narrative journalism professor, Alan Deutschman, introduces some really amazing and inspiring journalists to the university. I mean, these people work for big time papers and magazines.

The guest he brought to us this week grabbed my full attention and is probably my favorite guest he’s brought so far. It was Suzanna Andrews, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, who writes features and investigative articles on business, politics, culture and crime — in her definition, her theme of writing is “abuse of power”.

She’s also written for other numerous publications such as The New York Times, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Reader’s Digest. She was also a story consultant to ABC’s “20/20”. She’s won a couple of Front Page awards for her features on Vanity Fair.

As a class assignment and in order to prepare to ask her questions, we were required to read two of her most impacting articles, Murder Most Yale and Arthur Miller’s Missing Act (I suggest you read both of them — they’re really good).

Both feature stories required so much investigation, stalking, credible information, and main sources. How did she do it all? Andrews shares her helpful investigative tips to the class and especially her experiences while writing these stories.

Murder Most Yale is a feature investigative article by Andrews based on the murder of Yale student, Suzanne Jovin, in 1998. It’s a case that is still under investigation today; they say it’s the “college version” of the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Andrews focuses the timeline of the night of the murder in her story, but mainly focuses on the people that surrounded Jovin’s life to find more information on the case.

Jovin’s story was first published in the New York Times — and Andrews said that this story “needed a lot of play”

Finding Personal Recommendations

As you may have noticed in the article, the police weren’t as involved. Andrews said with most crime stories, there will be slim chances that a reporter will get information from the police. Instead of constant calls and emails to set up interviews, Andrews recommends following them instead.

As a semi-experienced reporter, I find it difficult how to contact the main sources I need to talk to for my stories. Some connections may not always lead you to that significant source, but apparently the ones you’d never think who would have any contact with them might actually do! Andrews said during her investigation to find Jovin’s closest friends to interview them, she gotten from a word-of-mouth that a restaurant owner nearby Yale was pretty popular among the students — they loved him. When Andrews approached him, he was able to connect her with Jovin’s friends.

Andrews said each story has source circles; you have to work your way into the hub. You start interviewing those on the outside of the circle: Aquaintinces –> Close friends –> Parents –> Suzanne.

“It gives me time to think about the story and what to collect,” Andrews said. “When I get to the center of the story, I feel like I know the story as much as they do, or better.”

If you get enough attention, your sources might come to you

Andrews said she had a difficult time getting a hold of Jovin’s parents for an interview. After attempts with a few phone calls with them, she had to end up emailing them the interview instead. During the phone calls, the mother could not stop sobbing and the father refused to talk.

“I was horrified calling the parents,” Andrews said. “It was clear to me that they were grief stricken and angry.”

Andrews said you can’t always fire questions; sometimes its best to play it off as a conversation.

“There’s that element of authenticity, too,” Andrews said. “You want to get people to talk.”

However, Jovin’s younger sister approached Andrews with a phone called and accepted an interview. Somehow, she found Andrews.

Andrews said getting in contact with James Van de Velde was one of the most difficult parts writing the story. Van de Velde was Jovin’s professor and thesis adviser, and is a suspect of her murder. Andrews said she could only get a hold of Van de Velde’s emissaries or friends. One emissary of Van de Velde’s that Andrews got to interview was a woman. Like the rest of Van de Velde’s friends, it was expected that this woman would say nothing but good words about the professor. However, Andrews said the woman had different thoughts about Van de Velde and saw him the night of the killing.

“(The story) consumed my life,” Andrews said. “It’s a psychological rage.”

Andrews said during the time of writing this feature, she played out possible scenarios in her head and timed the driving and distances within the area of where Jovin’s body was found.

Does Andrews think Van de Velde killed Jovin? She said yes, but she doesn’t have an exact reason why she was so drawn to write this story.

“I kind of wondered that myself,” Andrews said. “I felt like I was lead to it. I didn’t feel like I was going to nail the professor, but the story latches on to you.”

Andrews’ Arthur Miller’s Missing Act is based on playwright, Arthur Miller (Death Of A Salesman, The Crucible, A View From the Bridge and ex-husband of Marilyn Monroe) and the abandonment of his son, Daniel Miller, who was diagnosed with down-syndrome as an infant.    Miller cut Daniel out of his life immediately and never mentioned him when he brought up his children in books, interviews and even at his wife’s funeral. For 40 years, Daniel was kept as a secret. When Miller died in 2005, it was known to the public that he did not leave a will, but he actually did, and left Daniel a good portion of his money to last him for the rest of his lifetime.

Andrews said it was almost a possibility that Vanity Fair didn’t run article due to the intense emotion of the story and that it could offend those who have a child of down-syndrome of their own. But everyone knew it was a story that deserved attention.

Rebecca Miller, Daniel’s sister and a daughter of Miller’s, is now a close member of her family. Rebecca didn’t allow Andrews to speak to Daniel. In fact, Rebecca and her husband, Daniel Day-Lewis, were disgusted by Andrews’ story. Andrews said she thinks Rebecca was afraid for the safety of her brother.

“This story was fought very hard by Arthur Miller’s family,” Andrews said.

Andrews had the chance to speak to one of Daniel’s caregivers, however. Andrews said she was on the web for days just to find connections between Miller and Daniel. She ended up on a Vietnam Veteran chatroom and spoke to a member who saw Daniel at a party. The member she spoke to in the chat room ended up being the husband of Daniel’s caregiver.

Andrews said when she called up the caregiver for an interview, the caregiver said, “It’s about time.”

After Andrews’ lecture, I feel that I can be more confident in expanding my choices when writing a hard or feature story. So I think I have until tomorrow to meet one-on-one with Andrews in Professor Deutschman’s office until she has to go back to her home in New York City. I would love to see if I have time  to have coffee with her for a more personal talk, but even just a handshake and a short conversation might do well — whatever the outcome is, it’s worth it, right?

Follow Suzanna Andrews on Twitter!: https://twitter.com/AndrewsSuzanna

Starting off the new year cocky.

I think I received the most cockiest yet super awesome gifts for journalism. I’d like to say that I am set for upcoming New Year with reporting and school in general! I got an awesome bag from my girlfriend and it has secret pockets and large ones that I could reorganize in any way that I want (sadly, no picture included)!

But I am set with a smartpen, cocky-confident shirts, and other supplies to help me out with my writing in general. I even have a keychain dangling down my lanyard that says, “Headlines & Deadlines are my life”. Look what else Santa got me HERE!

Ah...little hints of the inspirations of this blog. Best coffee mug as well!

Ah…little hints of the inspirations of this blog. Best coffee mug as well!

“Once upon a time…there was a beautiful and extremely gifted writer…”

This set includes: Livescribe's Echo Smartpen, a blank-paged notebook, a writer's workbook, and two journalistic shirts - "Don't make me use my journalistic voice!"

This set includes: Livescribe’s Echo Smartpen, a blank-paged notebook, a writer’s workbook, and two journalistic shirts – “Don’t make me use my journalistic voice!”

A water bottle that scares --- I mean, says, "If you were in my novel, I'd have killed you off by now."

A water bottle that scares — I mean, says, “If you were in my novel, I’d have killed you off by now.”

...the cockiest yet truest of all!

…the cockiest yet truest of all!

Like some of the things I got? Find them here:

First Saturday, First Post.

Imagine if a human had 900 years to live without the aging and health problems. Like, what if a 65-year-old looked like they were still in their 20s with good health?

Anyway, let’s just pretend all of those kind of goodies are available in your 900 years of lifetime. Now, without getting killed (or killing yourself), what else would you do during your 900 years of life?

The answer is simple: everything that you’ve always wanted to do. What if you had all the time in the world to achieve and fulfill 200+ of your dreams?

Obviously, it’s possible (but difficult) to do that within 70 to 100 years of your life. But remember when you were a kid, you went back and forth of what you wanted to be when you grew up? I believe those kind of career interests will stick with you for the rest of your life. It’s what fascinated you the most and it will always be a piece of you. You may not be as interested in some of them after a couple of years pass because you have already made a choice (or more) of what you want. However, and usually, there’s a piece of you that still wants to try that something else, but it seems like there’s a limited amount of time (and money) to do so during your life.

That’s how I feel, anyway. When I was little, I wanted to be a doctor. I went through the fantasies of becoming a teacher to an oceanographer, to a performer, an animator and then a writer. During my teenage years, my goal was to become a funeral director, but I was an online news editor for my high school newspaper. Today, I am a senior in college majoring in journalism, experiencing competitive adventures in and out of newsrooms. I just wish I had enough time to explore my other interests as well. But isn’t that the beauty of writing and journalism? I can research and write about whatever the hell I want!

I love doing journalism because reporting gives me the opportunity to learn and write about things to share with the world. I enjoy showing things people don’t know or need to know about. Pretty much, that’s what I’m here for. This is going to sound conceited but every Saturday, I will post something that somewhat revolves around my interests and you will learn something from it. Let me define the following in my tagline:

Literature – I’m a book-worm and I want to practice writing reviews. Ah, I know: book reviews! I have many books from good to bad to share that I have read. If you’re thinking I’m going to review books such as Hunger Games, Twilight or Harry Potter, this section is probably not for you. I’m going to review books you might never heard of and convince you to read them. 🙂

Writing – I’m going to post some of my articles from newspapers I have written for, as well as narrative and fictional pieces. And yes, my “typical blogger” side will lash out with rants, randomness and other personal-conversational pieces here and there.

Life & Death – My book reviews and writing will revolve around these two subjects the most. How-Tos, Did-you-knows, titles, old and new news stories, my experiences (especially at the funeral home), personal thoughts and stories that have significant relevance.

And including…

Universe – I passed astronomy with an A. I’m also an employee at the local planetarium at my university. Studying and thinking about what’s out there passes through my mind consistently. I think I would say that it’s almost a hobby. So I want to share experiences I’ve had at the planetarium or cool news to know about the intergalactic world (it’ll be interesting, I promise).

I feel as if these descriptions are vague but I know it’ll get interesting as it goes. I can’t point out specific subjects that will be posted, but you’ll get what I mean (eventually).

It’s the Christmas season, and my mother is rolling small portions of cookie dough to make Reese cupcakes. I think we’re ordering pizza tonight and the flavor of marinara sauce sounds tasty. It’s time for me to exit, but I’ll will fix up this site as I go.

See you next week,

Molly