Top 10 tips for students attending the NCRA Convention & Expo

  1. Find a reporter who you can pair up with if you are by yourself.
  2. Load the NCRA app before attending to get an overview of the Convention.
  3. If you are in higher speeds, sit in on some of the regular (not student) seminars.
  4. Court reporters love students! So be prepared to mingle with reporters who come up to you.
  5. Attend Convention as a group with other students to maximize your experience.
  6. It can be very overwhelming at times, so make sure you slow down and try to relax.
  7. Be on time to all student seminars, and sit in front.
  8. Make student business cards.
  9. Every single day at the convention has something new. Try to get as much knowledge as possible with everything being offered.
  10. Talk to as many people as you can.

2018 NCRA Convention & Expo student track speaker bios

The following reporters and captioners will be speaking as part of the student track at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo. The event will run Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

Read the session descriptions here.


Ron Cook is a veteran deposition reporter who owns his own agency in Seattle, Wash. He won the 2016 NCRA Realtime Contest Q&A leg and was one error away from being crowned the 2016 NCRA Realtime Champion.


Aimee Edwards-Altadonna

Aimee Edwards-Altadonna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Communications from California State University, Monterey Bay. She has been working as a freelance reporter covering Northern California since the fall of 2014. She has participated in state and national conventions as well as in software user groups for a number of years. She is proud to be involved as part of the volunteer leadership of California Court Reporters Association representing freelance reporters throughout the state.

 Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Marybeth Everhart has been reporting since 1980 and writing realtime since 1992. She has been a freelance reporter in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area; an official reporter in Brisbane, Australia; has provided CART services to such organizations as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People and the Neurofibromatosis Foundation; captioned for Gallaudet University; managed a large, multi-office freelance firm; taught court reporting at all levels; and trained on numerous CAT systems over the years. Everhart is now the national marketing manager for Realtime Coach and works closely with reporting schools, firms, and court systems to increase speed and improve accuracy for students and working reporters. Everhart is as a contributing editor to the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) and the Eclipse Users Group Newscache.

 Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR

Rich Germosen is a Certified Realtime Reporter with more than 24 years of experience covering high-end realtime assignments nationwide, especially in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He holds the NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. Hehas consistently qualified in the NCRA National Speed and Realtime Competitions from 2012 through 2016, and in 2016, he received a 3rd place medal in the Deposition Reporters Association Realtime Contest in the 190 wpm Q&A.

Michael Hensley, RPR

Michael Hensley joined the profession of court reporting in a somewhat unique way. His schooling was done entirely online. Not once did he set foot in a classroom at a brick-and-mortar facility. His education provided him with a unique perspective relating to the court reporting education process that allows him to embrace technology in every aspect of his career. In his experience as a reporter, he has covered various types of proceedings including depositions for cases involving wrongful death, patent law, medical practice, and technical expert testimony. Hensley is a member of NCRA’s New Professionals Advisory Committee, which advocates for involvement in local and national associations as well as certification and professional development. He finds joy in giving back to the profession of court reporting by encouraging other reporters to continually sharpen their skills and by offering guidance and education for various technologies available to professional court reporters and students alike.

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag has lived and breathed reporting since she discovered the profession as a junior in high school. It is the only career she has ever had, and in her more than 35 years of reporting she has worked as an official, freelancer, firm owner, and occasional CART captioner. She has served on many committees and boards, including as president of the Wyoming, Colorado, and National Court Reporter Associations. She is a perennial contestant in state and national speed and realtime contests, having placed as high as 2nd in NCRA’s Speed Contest twice. She has also won the Colorado and Illinois contests numerous times. She has given seminars to students, reporters, vendors, and the public since 1993. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for MacCormac College, in Chicago, Ill., the nation’s oldest reporting program. In 2015, Humphrey-Sonntag transitioned to Planet Depos, an international reporting firm. She is now a full-time realtime reporter in the firm’s Chicagoland branch, where she loves interacting with attorneys in the field and reporting varied and interesting cases.

Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC

Debbie Kriegshauser is currently a federal official reporter with the U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Mo. She has been a reporter since 1980 and has worked in all phases of the reporting profession. She also has served on numerous national and state committees, including her current service on NCRA’s Test Advisory Council.


Susan Moran, RMR

Susan Moran has been a federal official in St. Louis, Mo. for 20 years. Prior to that, she worked as a freelancer for four years. She received her RPR in 1992 and her RMR in 1999. In 2005, Moran received the FCRR (Federal Realtime Reporter) designation.


Celeste Poppe, RPR

Celeste Poppe is a freelance deposition reporter in California. She received her California license in February  2017 and received her RPR shortly after that in April 2017. Before becoming licensed, Poppe was an office manager at a small CSR-owned agency that gave her great insight into what agencies expect out of reporters and also what drives them crazy. She volunteers her time to students and new professionals in guiding them to be successful reporters. She also serves on event committees for the California Deposition Reporters Association and volunteers as a subject matter expert for the written exams with the California Court Reporters Board. She has also been published in the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting).

Isaiah Roberts, RPR

Isaiah Roberts is currently an official reporter in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Illinois. After obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from Illinois State University in 2013, Roberts attended the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting before starting his job as an official in April of 2016. He currently serves as the Legislative Representative for the Illinois Court Reporters Association and is an avid member of NCRA.

Katherine Schilling, RPR

Court reporting is Katherine Schilling’s second career, after having spent seven years as a translator of Japanese comics and video games in Los Angeles, Calif., and the Silicon Valley. After three years at West Valley College’s court reporting program and still with her qualifier to pass, Katherine opted instead to work under a one-year contract across the country in Richmond, Va., where a few months of experience under her belt helped her to pass the RPR, followed shortly thereafter by the California CSR. Schilling loved working in the Washington, D.C., area where she considered every day on the job to be a “waking dream.” At her two-year anniversary as a working reporter, she had the opportunity to marry her love of court reporting and Japanese culture by relocating to Tokyo, Japan – a lifelong dream of hers. There she has been taking realtime depositions in Japan and throughout Asia.

Karla Sommer, RMR, CRR, CRC

Karla Sommer has been a court reporter in the Wausau, Wis. area for the past 32 years. She began her career as a freelance reporter. After five years of freelancing, Sommer was appointed as an official reporter for the state of Wisconsin, a position she has held for 27 years. She has also worked as a part-time captioner, and she continues to provide CART services when needed. Sommer holds the Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, and Certified Realtime Captioner certifications. She is currently the past president of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association and is serving on NCRA’s Nominating Committee as well as the Association’s Skills Writing Committee.

Kathryn Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC

Kathryn A. Thomas is a captioner in the greater St. Louis, Mo., area and is currently president of the Illinois Court Reporters Association. She provides captioning to individuals, stadiums, webcasts, conventions, and wherever it’s needed.

Karen Tyler, RDR, CRR, CRC

Karen Tyler has worked as an official court reporter in state and federal courts in Shreveport, La., and as a freelance reporter. She became a firm owner in 1994 and then transitioned to the Western District of Louisiana. Tyler assisted in setting up the first paperless and realtime-ready courtroom in northern Louisiana in 1998. After bombing the infamous NCRA Speed and Realtime Contests held in Dallas, Texas, she garnered her courage and competed again in 2013, where she qualified in all three legs, and won second in the Q&A, and also qualified in both legs of the realtime contest. In 2014, she qualified in all three legs of the speed contest, won third in the literary, and qualified in both legs of the realtime contest. In 2015, she qualified in all three legs of the speed contest, and in 2016, she won third overall in the speed contest, second place in the Q&A, and qualified in realtime Q&A. Tyler is the owner of Karen Tyler Reporting in Shreveport, La.

Donna Urlaub, RMR, CRR

Donna Urlaub has been working as a court reporter for 49 years and also owns her own agency. She was an Illinois speed and realtime champion in 2013, 2015, and in 2017. She has been a perennial medalist in NCRA’s speed and realtime contests and won third place at Intersteno in 2015. Urlaub has been a presenter at NCRA, the Illinois Court Reporters Association, and STAR.

Doug J. Zweizig, RDR, CRR

Douglas J. Zweizig is a 1989 graduate of Central Pennsylvania Business School (now Central Pennsylvania College). Zweizig earned his Associate’s degree and moved from a small town to Philadelphia, Pa., where he began work as a freelance court reporter. Initially covering car accidents and workers’ compensation matters, he worked his way up to medical malpractice, public hearings, and more. A limited amount of CART work was interspersed in those years, something he found most rewarding. In 2001, Zweizig began as an official court reporter in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. He covered a wide range of work including drug cases, assaults, and especially homicide trials. On the civil side, he covered medical malpractice, mass tort pharmaceutical cases, construction, and discrimination. After many rewarding years there, he accepted a position in the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland, where he’s currently working. There he handles criminal matters, including large drug conspiracies, racketeering, bank fraud, and occasionally a murder trial. On the civil side, he covers patent cases, maritime, discrimination, and more. Zweizig has several medals in speed and realtime contests, winning NCRA’s Realtime Contest in 2006 and 2015.

Queens native takes final exam, begins career next day

In February, “Daniel Joseph took his final stenotype exam, demonstrating his ability to type at a speed of at least 225 words per minute on a stenotype machine,” reported a story sponsored by Plaza College, based in Queens, N.Y. “The next day, Mr. Joseph began his career as a court reporter at American Stenographic.”

The article relates how Joseph learned about the profession, progressed through school, and met the challenges of learning to write at 225 words per minute. The story also related details about his internship with American Stenographic, where he eventually was given a permanent position.

Asked if he would recommend the career to family and friends, Joseph replied: “Absolutely!”

Arlington Career Institute salutes newly certified alumni

Arlington Career Institute instructor Judy Brownlow reported that three graduates of the Grand Prairie, Texas, program recently passed the Oklahoma certification tests. “Congratulations to Amy Cummings, Karen Gonzalez, and Trulia Taylor,” says Brownlow. “Nice job, ladies. We are proud of you. See you in court!”


Court reporting students see their future in tour and remote presentation

Students in the court reporting and captioning club at the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored “The Write Future” Bus Tour on Monday, April 30. The full-day event took 24 students to visit court reporters at work.

The tour began with a visit to the Medina County courthouse where the students observed the morning docket and participated in a Q&A session with the presiding judge and court reporter.

Students then traveled to a freelance court reporting office in the area. After a visit with the firm owner and one of her reporters, students were then invited to ask questions.

Students returned to the Western Campus to have a catered lunch and then completed their day with a remote presentation by a CART/captioning provider. This was held via Web conferencing to allow online students to participate in this event as well.

The success of the event was evident by the enthusiasm of those students who participated. Students expressed that visiting with court reporters and captioners in their workplace was both informative and motivational.


NCRA mentors pay it forward

“I think it is very important to encourage students as much as we can. Court reporting is difficult, and not everyone picks up the skill easily. I am grateful for those who helped me when I was in school and all along the way to where I am now.” Buffy Topper, RPR, CRR

The NCRA Virtual Mentor Program (VMP) is another way for court reporting and captioning students to get the encouragement they may need as they work towards their next speed. Mentors can share their own experiences and offer advice on speedbuilding, overcoming plateaus, and maintaining a practice schedule. “I think students have a ton of questions, insecurities, or just curiosity about the field, the excitement, the pros and cons,” says Amy Rosato, RPR, an official court reporter from Oriskany, N.Y. “I love that the field still exists and that students are still interested. I love to give answers and give a different perspective.”

In the past year, more than 125 students have been matched with a mentor through the Virtual Mentor Program. Some of the VMP mentors are recent graduates, who can easily recall the challenges of managing stress in school.

“I’ve been out of school for five years, but still remember its immediate struggles and concerns,” says Kendra Oechsner, RMR, an official court reporter from Oakfield, Wis. “I love this career and want to promote it in any way I can. I feel the most crucial way to do this is to provide the support that I wasn’t lucky enough to receive during school. I want to help a student know that the grass is greener on the other side and that the stress and anxiety are worth it for this career.”

Other mentors bring decades of experience, like Cathy Wood, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Laguna Niguel, Calif., who has been a court reporter for more than 40 years. “I still love being a court reporter and am very motivated to introduce young students to this amazing career. Court reporting is a challenging educational and training pursuit. I feel my longevity in this profession and positive attitude about my job make me a good mentor to court reporting students.”

Veteran reporters such as Wood can also serve as role models for mentees, someone to give them firsthand insight into the real world of court reporting. Many NCRA mentors also assist their mentees with job shadowing and internships.

Mentors in the VMP are eager to see their profession thrive. Brook Nunn, CRC, a captioner from Boise, Idaho, chose to be a mentor because: “Being a young captioner myself, it’s important to me that the profession continues to be viable for many years. For that to happen, we need to do everything we can to get more writers in the field. I’d like to share my knowledge and experience with new writers.”

By encouraging their newer colleagues to succeed, and offering their years of knowledge and expertise, mentors are continuing a tradition of service to their community. Deanna Dean, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Bedford, N.H., volunteers to mentor for the “opportunity to give back to the profession and pay forward the help I was given when I was a newbie. I was so grateful for that assistance back then and never forgot the person who was generous enough to offer it to me.”

Students who are interested can learn more about the NCRA Virtual Mentor Program and can sign up to be assigned to a mentor. For more information, contact

Mentoring program leads to lifelong friendships and more

NCRA Member Whitney Berndt

By Whitney Berndt

Merriam-Webster defines a mentor as a trusted counselor or guide. At Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) in Cleveland, Wis., students are given many opportunities to get in touch with these selfless reporters.

The Wisconsin Court Reporters Association (WCRA) makes finding a mentor as a student a simple process. With just a quick email, a student can be set up with a local captioner or reporter. It is through this program that many students have been able to find life-long friends and confidantes.

Former LTC student Miranda Seitz was put it touch with WCRA Past President Sheri Piontek, RMR, CRR, CRC, through the association’s Mentorship Program. “Sheri literally got me out of school. I would not have stuck with this program if it weren’t for her,” said Seitz.

“Mentors support you mentally and emotionally and are the only ones who know and understand how strenuous and rigorous this program and job is, and they provide support from that knowledge that can’t be given from anywhere else,” she added.

A position unique to LTC is its Student Success Coach. Betty Vande Boom was hired when the school was awarded a Core Industry Grant through the State of Wisconsin. Boom has been a great asset to students at all speeds in the program. Many students praise the help that comes from her. Having an extra person to keep us accountable, understand the struggles, or teach us a new brief can make all the difference.

“The biggest benefit to me is that I have someone that I have to report my progress to and that has helped me push myself even further,” said current student Chad Hirsch.

I think many, if not all, students at my school can attest to the fact that Wisconsin is full of mentors willing and able to provide words of encouragement, great advice, and even some tough love when necessary. The reporters here want nothing but the best for us students and are an open book when it comes to anything we may ask.

NCRA Member Whitney Berndt is a student at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis.

Students helping students

NCRA Member Callie Sajdera

By Callie Sajdera

We have all ridden the emotional rollercoaster of court reporting school. We all experience highs and lows and share the frustration of trying to explain our unique type of schooling with people outside of the program. I too have fallen victim to these frustrations.

As students, being assigned a mentor comes with many difficulties.  What if there are not enough mentors to go around or the relationships don’t work out the way you expect? Last spring, a fellow classmate of mine, Emily Hutcheson, brought to the attention of our director, Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, that she felt overwhelmed when she got assigned a mentor at 120 wpm. She felt intimidated having a mentor so early in the program, and as a result, she never contacted or reached out to her mentor. Due to her intimidation, Hutcheson came up with the program Students Helping Students. This is a new program that Anoka Tech has started where higher-speed students (160+) mentor theory and lower-speed students.

I was assigned a mentor, Anne Bowline, RMR, CRR, later in the program at 200 wpm, and she has set an amazing example for me as I am a mentor to a lower-speed student. I received my mentee, Dina Kunin, when she was in her second semester of theory. This program has allowed me to share the tips, tricks, and mistakes that I have experienced throughout the program that have gotten me this far. It also allows me to hear and understand the struggles of another student and be there for her when she is excited or when she needs advice. I keep in touch with Dina every two to three weeks, or whenever she needs a listening ear. Not only has a strong friendship developed because of this program, but she is just as much there for me as I am there for her.

There are many reasons why this program is extraordinary. First of all, it helps build friendships and support systems with other students while riding that emotional rollercoaster. Secondly, it is preparing higher-speed students to be mentors when they enter the field, and they know what to expect in a mentor-mentee relationship. Finally, it creates a never-ending chain of mentors for the future of this career, ensuring that there will not be a shortage of them.

Being a mentor to a student has really brought me a sense of satisfaction and gratification as I travel through the program, and I have encouraged and supported other students as they make their way to the magic number: 225. Having schools adopt a mentorship program like Students Helping Students can be a small, powerful step to creating more mentors.

NCRA Member Callie Sajdera is court reporting student at Anoka Technical College, Anoka, Minn.

Q&A with Gabriella Agnello: Getting – and giving – advice

“If I were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, I would tell them that this field has a lot of potential and growth for young people like themselves. You can work as an independent contractor; you can work for any one of the courts; and you can work in captioning. There is so much diversity in court reporting which allows each person to find their own direction that suits them.”

In this issue of Up-to-Speed, we shine the spotlight on Gabriella Agnello, who is a recent graduate of Plaza College in Forest Hills, NY. She now works as a freelancer.

UTS | How did you first get the idea of being a court reporter? 

Agnello | When I was a senior in high school, I had not a clue what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted something fast, something I can excel in, and, of course, what everybody else wants, good pay. At 17 years old, not everyone knows exactly what they want to do. Unfortunately, I was one of those people. All of my friends had these big plans – one wanted to become a teacher, another an accountant — and I was very confused on my future. Two women I had been going to the gym with were freelance court reporters, and they really opened up my mind to considering this field. I did a little research on stenography and wished I had gone in sooner. It really is an amazing field with plenty of opportunity.

UTS | Can you talk a little about your background?  

Agnello | I have always been interested since my senior year of high school in the court reporting profession, but I didn’t pursue it right out of high school. Three of my friends are court reporters, so I’ve always had an interest in the field. They always said such great things about their jobs, always spoke about how much they loved it and the financial perks, of course. Straight out of high school, I decided to go with my second interest, which was math. I graduated Baruch College with a bachelor’s degree, but I was not satisfied or happy with my decision. I then decided to look up court reporting programs, and fortunately stumbled upon this one! The rest is history.

UTS | What skill sets do you think would be helpful for a court reporter to possess? 

Agnello | I definitely think literary skills are very helpful for a court reporter to possess. When I first started this school, I had not taken an English class for quite some time. I forgot the basic rules of punctuation, grammar, etc. As a skilled court reporter, you need to be able to produce an accurate transcript.

UTS | What kinds of challenges have you faced during your court reporting program? 

Agnello | The challenges I have faced during my court reporting program would have to be the struggle with speed. Some weeks I felt that I maintained my new speed and was able to progress very quickly to an even faster speed. Other weeks, I found myself stuck or stagnant at one speed, and it became very frustrating. I also am a very nervous person, so test-taking is not my specialty. I would be able to write cleaner during class, but then when the test came, I did very poorly. Confidence and practice are keys to going through the court reporting program.

UTS | Did a mentor help you out while in school?

Agnello | Truthfully, all of my teachers have been my mentors in school. Starting with my first teacher, Ms. Gorman. She taught me the foundation of the court reporting language, how to use it, how to make briefs, etc. Mr. Garzon and Mr. P. were the middle mentors in my court reporting program. They helped me gain speed, add more briefs in my dictionary, and open my mind up to new material that I may have in work one day. Finally, Ms. Warmuth was my last mentor to close up my chapter. She took what all of the previous mentors had molded me into and perfected it. She taught me that in this field, you have to have drive, confidence, skill, and accuracy. Any little issue or problem that I had left before graduating, she made sure that it was fixed. I never was afraid to ask any of my teachers anything, because I knew they would be there to help me along the way. That is very important and crucial to have during this process. They are a great support system, and that’s exactly what every court reporting student needs.

UTS | What is the best advice you’ve been given so far?

Agnello | The best advice I have been given so far has come from many people in this field I have come across. It is to never be that comfortable. That applies to when you’re in class, you’re taking a test, or at work. There is always room for growth and for improvement.

UTS | If you were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, what would you say to them about a career in court reporting and captioning? 

Agnello | If I were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, I would tell them that this field has a lot of potential and growth for young people like themselves. Unfortunately, no one came to my high school to teach me about this type of profession, so I was completely clueless about what it was. I think students in the program now are perfect examples for new students who want to pursue a career in this field. You can work as an independent contractor, you can work for any one of the courts, and you can work in captioning. There is so much diversity in court reporting which allows each person to find their own direction that suits them.

UTS | Where do you see the profession of court reporting and captioning 10 years from now?

Agnello | In 10 years, I see the profession of court reporting expanding, in terms of technology and employees. There is a shortage of court reporters now, and that is because the word about this profession isn’t spread enough. I feel like more people will be knowledgeable in stenography by that time. Technology will help the profession. Technology does not have the power or capability to replace a human’s skill. Every person speaks differently. Some may have an accent, some may not speak properly, and some may have just a very low voice. These are all reasons why a court reporter needs to be present. We need to make sure that we produce an accurate record, and I do not feel like technology can accurately do that. Technology will help continue to advance the court reporting equipment and programs and help make everything more efficient for the job.

NCRA member writes dream novel

By Becky Doby

“I’d like to sell Mary Kay full-time.” Pause. “I’ve always wanted to be a personal trainer.” Silence.

“Okay, who else?”

It was several years ago, during a break at the annual convention of the Wyoming Professional Court Reporters Association, when one of the members posed the question: What career would you like to pursue if you were no longer going to be a court reporter?

Finally, a quiet voice was heard. “I’d like to write a novel.”

Merissa Racine, RDR

Merissa Racine, RDR, a freelance court reporter from Cheyenne, Wyo., didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a writer. She was born in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island in New York. As a teenager she moved to Miami, Fla., where she spent her teenage years, and it was there she discovered the world of court reporting. Knowing she wanted a career rather than just a job, she set about identifying what that career would be. Seeing an ad in the paper for court reporting school, she had her answer. She laughingly states that she can’t remember the name of the school, as it lost its accreditation shortly after she enrolled. Yet despite that glitch, she has attained the certification of RDR and has since devoted herself to court reporting, first in Florida and then in Wyoming. But while she didn’t always have the desire to become a writer, Racine does acknowledge that “in the back of my mind I’ve always had a story.”

As is true for those in many legal professions – and perhaps especially in the world of court reporting -­ there have been many times when the thought had crossed her mind: I ought to write a book. Unlike the rest of us, Racine followed through with that niggling idea. She set her mind upon it, dreamed of it, honed her skills, and did it.

In December 2017, Silent Gavel became available through Amazon and online at Barnes & Noble. Now, in addition to enjoying a successful and fulfilling career as a court reporter, Racine can add “published author” to her list of achievements.

As court reporters, we both laugh and grimace at portrayals of stenographers in literature and film. We wish the profession were more accurately depicted, wanting others to understand the contributions we make to the field of law. At last, one who knows the profession in and out, with nearly 39 years of experience “in the trenches,” has provided the true representation we long for. Woven into this murder mystery are such things as the basics of machine shorthand and the use of briefs, such as when the protagonist, Lauren Besoner, makes a list of suspects under the heading S-PS. Besoner also faces a quandary when instructed by her judge to delete from the transcript comments he made on the record. These things, and more, lend authenticity to the novel.

The ways that authors go about writing are many and varied. In her case, Racine would write a paragraph, put it away, and then bring it out again, trying to find an idea that would work. She didn’t write first page to last, having come up with an ending long before the rest of the novel was fleshed out. Once she became serious about writing her book, she attended a seminar put on by the local library. From there, she became a member of the Nite Writers of Cheyenne, a group of aspiring writers. She also attended conferences in order to learn more about the craft. It has been a years-long process, and one that is still ongoing, as Racine continues learning the facets of writing and publishing.

“I wanted to write something that other people would like to read.” With Silent Gavel, Racine has accomplished her goal. In doing so, she has given her readers insight into a profession few know anything about. She wanted to write a novel. Done. Well done!

If you would like to contact Merissa Racine, she can be reached at, or visit her website at

Becky Doby, RPR, is a freelance writer from Torrington, Wyo.