Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association names new president

The Central Penn Business Journal reported on May 20 that NCRA member Linda C. Larson, RPR, CRI, a court reporter and owner of Premier Reporting in Harrisburg and Carlisle, Pa., has been named president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association.

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NCRA member recognized for mask-making efforts

NCRA member Early Langley, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Danville, Calif., was recently recognized in a story posted by Forward Motion Sports.

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In NCRA member’s sixth mystery novel, legal secretary Jamie Winters is at it again

Jamie Winters, a legal secretary and amateur sleuth, is at it again in Death by Diamonds, the recent installment of a mystery series authored by NCRA member Kelly Nasuti, RMR, CRR, CRC. The latest installment, released Feb. 25, marks the sixth mystery by Nasuti, a full-time captioner who writes under the pen name Kelly Rey. The novel is published by Gemma Halliday Publishing.

In this latest crime novel, Winters realizes that diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend when a dead body shows up on her boyfriend Curt’s patio … with a pocket full of diamonds! The dead woman was an old college friend of Curt’s, and the deeper Winter digs, the more it appears someone was out to get her. With the help of her teenage sidekick, Maizy, Winters tries to determine if Amber, the dead woman, was an innocent victim or a jewel thief. And as the case leads them to a shady pawnshop and its shadier staff, Winters realizes no one is whom they appear to be, and everyone is a suspect. Was it the wannabe-mobster owner, his long-suffering wife, his spoiled daughter, the gold-obsessed clerk, or the inscrutable security guard? Or possibly it was the owner’s hired muscle nicknamed the Disposer … who just may dispose of Winters and Maizy. One thing is for sure: The killer will stop at nothing to reclaim those diamonds, and if she isn’t careful, Winters could just be the next target in the way!

Nasuti said she has written stories ever since she could write. What keeps her motived is that writing has always been a constant for her and “a source of both absolute joy and teeth-gnashing frustration at various times. At this point, writing about Jamie and Maizy and company is like revisiting old eccentric friends. And while I have other projects lined up, I’m really fortunate to be able to keep dipping into their lives and relating their latest adventure.”

Motion for Murder, Nasuti’s first mystery novel released in 2014, introduced readers to Winters in a story laced with humor, wit, a dose of romance, and a murder. In Nasuti’s second novel, Motion for Malice, Winters solves the murder of Dorcas Beeber, a psychic medium who was found dead from an apparent blow to the head by her own crystal ball.

Winters tracks down clues to solve the murder of Kay Culverson, a low-budget cable talk show host who is found dead in her office in Motion for Madness, the third novel in the series. In Motion for Mischief, Nasuti’s fourth novel, Winters solves the murder of Oxnard Thorpe, the Adult Diaper King of New Jersey and one of her firm’s most important clients, after he is found dead in the swimming pool of his sprawling mansion on his wedding night.

In A Playboy in Peril,  Winters has never heard of Virtual Waste, a local New Jersey Pinelands area band, until their drummer is murdered backstage at a show and Winters’ teenaged sidekick, Maizy, sees the killer. While Winters’ landlord, Curt, fills in with the band, Winters and Maizy must deal with the victim’s disgruntled bandmates, discarded groupies, an ex-Marine bouncer, an unhinged Einstein look-alike, an emotionally overwrought agent, an ill-tempered giant, and even the Jersey Devil, as they track down the killer before Maizy becomes the next victim.

Nasuti, who is an official USA Today bestselling author, said she has no set number of books she plans to write in the series but plans to keep on writing as long as people are reading them.

Along with the Jamie Winters series, she’s also been co-authoring the Marty Hudson mysteries with New York Times bestselling author Gemma Halliday. The second Marty Hudson mystery, Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diva, was released in late 2018.

Nasuti, who has been a court reporter since 1983, operated as Regional Reporting Inc. until 2005 when she joined VITAC. Nasuti is also a member of Sisters in Crime, a group that promotes the ongoing advancement, recognition, and professional development of women crime writers.

All of Nasuti’s books are available in e-book format for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. They are also available in paperback at Amazon.comCreateSpace.com, and other online retailers.

NCRA member’s legal tech startup earns Fountain Innovation Fund’s second investment

Startland News posted an article on Jan. 8 about NCRA member Lauren Lawrence, RPR, Kansas City, Mo., founder of Stenovate, being selected as the second startup to earn support from the Fountain Innovation Fund.

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NCRA member shares wellness tips

NCRA member Donna Linton, RMR, a freelance court reporter from Ashburn, Va., shared her self-care tips in a wellness piece posted by The Washington Post on Dec. 30.

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NCRA member recognized in local newspaper

The Griswold American posted a press release on Dec. 4 issued by NCRA on behalf of Stephanie Cousins, RPR, from Griswold, Iowa, announcing that she recently earned the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR) certification.

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NCRA Member wins Pengad gift certificate when renewing membership

Robin Winters

NCRA member Robin L. Winters of Loves Park, Ill., won a $100 Pengad gift certificate for renewing her membership in October.

JCR | Why are you a member of NCRA?

RW | I have remained a long-time member of NCRA for one reason, and that was to complete my last leg of my RPR so I can finally become a licensed reporter. I have had different situations that kept me from meeting this goal with a family, kids, and just life in general. But always in the back of my head, I said one day I would finish and get to be fully licensed. I have been blessed with being able to work as an official court reporter in Winnebago County with a restricted license. I am in the process of trying to pass that last leg of the RPR, the Literary. I love NCRA for their continued support and the court reporting field in general. 

JCR | Why did you decide to be a court reporter?

RW | The law and the process of the law has always interested me. What better way to get the diversity of all of the legal field than being a court reporter? I love my job, and I love the people I work with, and I will be an RPR soon … mark my words.

Retiring Peabody clerk recommends NCRA member for job

The Salem News, Salem, Mass., reported on Nov. 12 that NCRA member Allyson Danforth, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Wenham, Mass., has been recommended for nomination by the city council to become city clerk.

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Nebraska Supreme Court recognizes NCRA member

News Channel Nebraska reported on Nov. 1 about official Court Reporter Kris Riekenberg, RPR, being recognized by the Nebraska Supreme Court for 30 years of service.

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Catching up with Realtime Champion Doug Zweizig

NCRA 2019 Realtime Contest Champion Doug Zweizig
NCRA 2019 Realtime Contest Champion Doug Zweizig

Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, of Baltimore, Md., was crowned the 2019 Realtime Contest champion at the NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo. He wrote the two legs of the Realtime Contest, a literary at 200 wpm and testimony at 225 wpm, with an overall 98.4 percent accuracy. The JCR Weekly reached out to Zweizig to learn more about this, his third win in the Realtime Contest.

JCR | Can you tell us a little about your career?
DZ | My first job was as a freelancer in Philadelphia. A great place to learn. I had a lot of variety in the types of work I did. Lots of medical. I next worked in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court (the First Judicial District of PA). Talk about a variety of work. Lots of homicide trials, medical malpractice, mass tort. It was a great place to work and a job I truly loved, but I felt I needed a move. In 2014, I accepted a position with the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Md. My coworkers here are great. They’re extremely supportive of me. But at the end of the day, I’m just another one of the reporters, and I’d have it no other way.

JCR | How long have you been working in the profession?
DZ | Since 1989, so 30 years!
 
JCR | How did you learn about the profession?
DZ | I saw an ad in my hometown newspaper for Central Pennsylvania Business School (now Central Penn College). They had many different programs. I had a travel brochure and court reporting brochure in front of me. I thought that court reporting sounded interesting. My grades in high school, however, were not the best. My mom and I ended up having to go for an interview with the dean and the head of the court reporting program. I think I pretty much talked my way in, and they decided to give me a chance, and I’m so glad they did. It was an extremely difficult program, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I definitely need structure.

JCR | This is your third win. Does it feel like it gets easier? 
DZ | I can only speak for myself when I say, no, it does not get any easier. It’s not easy at all, actually. My first win was kind of a huge surprise to me and a lot of others. For years, I thought perhaps it was a fluke. So that was 2006 and I didn’t compete again until 2009, and I did not do well at all. When you’re a past champion, the pressures are high (both self-imposed and from others). But I’m ultimately human, so state of mind and focus at the time I’m competing plays a big role for me.

JCR | You compete in both the Realtime and Speed Contest. As a participant, what are some of the differences between the two?
DZ | Up until 2012, I’d only ever competed in the Realtime Contest. I never thought I could compete in the Speed Contest. I waited to register for it until literally the last minute. The convention in 2012 was in Philadelphia, where I lived, so I was playing host to many people. I wasn’t getting a lot of rest. And, wow, I placed third in my very first speed contest! Now, that was a shock! I also placed third in the Realtime Contest that year. That was fun and very memorable.

JCR | Do you have a preference on which one you would prefer to win? 
DZ | Well, I’m not complaining about winning the Realtime Contest three times now, but the Speed Contest, yes, I’d love to win it just once. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to give myself a shot at that.

JCR | Do you plan to continue to compete at the national level?
DZ | Sure. Why not? I make myself sick over the contests and overthink constantly. Ultimately, though, I wouldn’t do it unless I enjoyed it on some level.

JCR | What motivates you to compete?
DZ | I guess I want to see if I can outdo myself, really. People assume I’ve got all this confidence. I mean, I know that I’m good, but I’ve always been my own worst critic. And I assure you that is not false modesty. It’s the real deal for me.

JCR | What advice would you have for a person who has never been in a contest before? How can they get started?
DZ | Well, I never thought I could compete in national contests. In 2005, I just kind of went and did my thing and got third place. A lot of it is just being in the room and getting a feel for it all. Talking to regular contestants wouldn’t be a bad thing, but until you’ve experienced it yourself, you won’t know for sure. If you’re planning to compete in the Speed Contest, by all means practice speed and not perfection. In my opinion, transcription is a huge part of the Speed Contest; e.g., figuring out misstrokes: “slop,” stacks, split strokes. I have all of the above when I’m writing for pure speed.

If you’re planning to compete in the Realtime Contest, my suggestion is to practice RPR and RMR speeds. Since it’s got to translate correctly, having control of your writing at higher speeds (not as high as for the Speed Contest) is a good thing. The Realtime Contest is rarely ever easy, at least to me. A 225 Q&A is probably nothing for most people with their RMR, but when it has to translate and you won’t be able to edit after, therein lies the pressure! And if you’re planning to compete in both, alternate your practice. I will frequently do a quick switch from a horrendously fast speed take to a realtime take. Being able to switch gears without blinking is a help. That’s something I’ve actually gotten much, much better at, but I’m still a work in progress.

JCR | How far in advance do you begin to practice for the national contests?
DZ | Well, for past contests, maybe a month before, I’d start to do some practice a few times a week. Maybe 10-12 hours total. No, not enough for me now. I have done very well in the past with little to no practice. But practicing every day has been a huge benefit to me. For this year, I actually decided I was going to start to practice in February. I even bought a student writer on eBay to keep at home. Most of the inspiration for beginning my practice regimen on Feb. 25, 2019, was positive; namely, the one and only maestro himself, Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, North Brunswick, N.J. The man lives and breathes steno practice and inspires so many to do just that, including me! He’s just amazing.

Anyway, I decided I was going to practice every single day, and it didn’t matter how busy I was at work. I started off by purchasing a bunch of practice material from the NCRA Store and added it to my library. Keeping a detailed practice log was an absolute necessity for me. This means that I pause between each take so I can note exactly what I’m attempting to write. And I give myself feedback on many of the takes, whether I wrote a perfect paper or a not-so-perfect paper.

I switch from speed to realtime and back again and again and again. They are two very different mind-sets to me. When I’m in “realtime” mode, my focus is usually razor sharp. Sometimes I honestly don’t know how I focus to the degree that I do when writing realtime, but I do (not always successfully).

For speed — and this is where I’m still a work in progress  — I try my best to just get it down because I know I’ll have time to transcribe it. I don’t punctuate as much. Writing for pure speed requires a lot of focus too, but it’s different to me. Sometimes I’ll look down at my hands on purpose just so I can realize how truly fast they are moving. I also started to sometimes listen to high-speed takes in the car. Some of the speed takes are so fast to me that I have trouble processing them in my brain so that I’m hitting the correct keystrokes.

JCR | Has your win affected you in any way? 
DZ | It’s been pretty crazy since it happened. I was going through a lot emotionally immediately before the contests. My cat of 20 years  — yes, 20 years  — Jasper started to go downhill shortly before Denver. I had to make the extremely difficult decision, the day before I left for Denver, to take away his pain, and I did just that. It was the least I could do for him. I was a mess, to say the very least. And it was no one’s fault except my own, of course, but the very first leg of the Speed Contest was about cats. I think that was in the first or second sentence. And that was it for me on the Speed Contest. But, ironically enough, the literary is the leg I qualified on. Go figure.

So I knew I had to pull it together for the Realtime Contest the following day. I’m pretty sure many people were chatting about what I was going through at the time (I know it made the rounds). I mean, we all go through things, but this was particularly difficult for me. I’m still getting e-mails from people asking advice. I only wish I had a “formula,” but it’s a combination of things for me.

JCR | Anything else you would like to share? 
DZ | Don’t underestimate yourself. I never thought I’d ever compete, much less win. I underestimated myself for years, but events were set in motion that caused me to start to compete, and was I ever surprised! I don’t always win and I don’t always do well, but that won’t stop me from trying.