Tag Archive for Blogging

How Does a Blogger Discover Other Voices?

Over the next few days, my voice on this blog will be quieted as others step to the forefront and share their stories.

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On Saturday, my wife, Wendi Warren, has a special message, and gift, to readers of The Z Section. We hope you like it. If you cannot wait until Saturday, you can get a head start and see what else Wendi has written on this special page about her book, “Princess Grace: A Tale of Faith, Hope & Love,” when you click here. My favorite post on The Z Section was written by Wendi. You will find it here.

On Monday, Beverly Hootman will be writing for The Z Section for the first time, and it will be her first blog post. Beverly has been on a quest to improve the financial standing of her family, and she will be sharing some of her thoughts. Early word is she has a lot to say and it might have to be published in more than one post. We shall see.

So, how does a blogger discover other voices? By listening.

As always, thank you for spending part of your day with The Z Section; I realize there are other things you can do.

How Does a Blogger Discover One’s Voice?

When I knew I wanted to be a writer back in the ’80s, I read a Writer’s Digest article that offered a simple path: Get an apartment in New York City, place a typewriter on your kitchen table, sit down and start writing. When you get up in 10 years, you will be a writer.

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Well, I did not get an apartment in New York and opted for a dedicated word processor (I believe it was an Amstrad sold by Sears) in 1986 and a few years later an IBM-clone. Wouldn’t you know, in about 10 years I finally got the sense that maybe I could write.

Another way of looking at this is that it took 10 years for me to find my voice in writing.

Since December 2012, I have been blogging regularly, and it is mildly discouraging that I have found neither a voice for my blogging nor my blog.

The Z Section is supposed to be about anything. I fought the urge to “specialize” and focus on a niche to give me the freedom to write about whatever caught my attention. What I have discovered is anything can be anything and sometimes anything can be too daunting so anything becomes nothing.

Will I specialize? Will I focus on a niche? Truthfully, I am not sure.

But, here is what I know:

  • I have varied interests.
  • These interests include my Christian faith,
  • Reading the Bible,
  • Family,
  • Technology,
  • Smartphones,
  • Tablets,
  • Computers,
  • Social media,
  • Leadership principles,
  • Journalism,
  • Blogging,
  • Writing,
  • Pets, and
  • so much more.

The thing is, down the road I want to write books, and I want them to focus on potential material for Sunday school classes. However, as I look over this blog, admittedly about anything, I find very little that point toward that direction.

So, you can expect more regarding faith and how it intersects with all of those things above. Perhaps there I will find my voice.

I hope it doesn’t take 10 years.

The Z Section’s First Milestone: 100th Blog Post

This blog began in Dec. 19, 2012, and today, it is celebrating the century mark: This is The Z Section’s 100th blog post.

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I would have hit the mark a few days sooner, but a recent trip to Boston for a health journalism conference slowed me down a little bit. (The Association of Health Care Journalists conference was a great opportunity.)

To mark the milestone, I thought of where in the Bible could I find the number 100? Well, the Book of Psalms contains 150 psalms, so I figured I would go to Psalm 100. Come to find out, it is a psalm “for giving grateful praise.” Here it is (from the New International Version):

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2  Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to have this blog and share my thoughts with people like you. Thank you for joining me here each week. I truly appreciate it. Let’s take a walk down memory lane together …

Here are the top posts:

1. The First Amendment, Right On

2. Learning Some Lessons About Persistence From Josh Krajcik

3. A Tribute to the King of Pop, Rock and Agility

4. This Discover Card Commercial Is Funny, But Is it Effective?

5. Memories of Madison, A Loving Dog and Companion

6. Once Upon a Time: The Story Behind the Story

7. Spend a Day in These Kids’ Shoes, If You Can

8. ‘Bungee’ Jumping to 3.0 Soon

9. #002 Interview With Wendi Warren on her New Book [Podcast]

10. Five Things Madison Taught Me, I Thought You Should Know

 

How Many Words is This Photo Worth? What Does it Convey to You?

I have looked at the photo below often, thinking there is a story in there, some kind of lesson I can share with readers of this blog.

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The photo was taken a few years ago, after my wife, Wendi, brought Mr. Thomas (then a little kitten) home after she attended a Wadsworth Community Band concert (her father plays with the band).

Here, Buddy seems to be indicating to the little man just how the pecking order goes, but Mr. Thomas will have none of that.

So, I thought I could write about resiliency, never giving up, David and Goliath, stand up for what is right.

Truth is, I love the photo, but I just don’t know what to say about it.

Will you help? If a picture is worth a thousand words, then is this at least worth 20, 30, 40 or 50 from you?

What story is this photograph conveying to you?

Have Kindle Fire HD Will Travel, er, Work

In my role as a journalist, there are times when I have to adapt and improvise. Such an occasion arose recently when I was working on a couple of stories for a special section.

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The special section focuses on arts and music in the schools. I had conducted my interviews a few days earlier, but had not yet started to write my stories.

I started to write one of them while in a Burger King getting breakfast. I was between interviews in a city about 20 miles away from the office. Whenever I head out to this city, I like to have a number of interviews and stories to work on so I can maximize my efficiency and cut down on the amount of mileage the newspaper has to pay.

Because I had some time, I decided to go to the Burger King because it has free Wi-Fi. I proceeded to order a large caramel iced coffee and order of tater tots, sat down and whipped out the reliable Amazon Kindle Fire HD.

With my notes on the table and the tablet in my hands, I started writing my story in GoogleDocs on my Kindle Fire HD. I have written before about how this tablet has improved my productivity, and this is just the latest example. Though I had some down time in terms of interviews, I did not have to stop working because the free time was converted to writing time.

I could have brought my laptop with me and accomplished the same thing. The writing process would have been quicker because it is much easier to type on a physical keyboard than a virtual keyboard. But, it was a very cold day, and the laptop would have been outside most of the time in my Jeep.

Instead, the Kindle Fire HD stayed in my pocket instead of the Jeep, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.

Also, as I have written about before, I use the text-to-speech functionality of the Kindle to make my books audio books, and I listened to one of them on my drive out to do the interviews and on my way back to the office. (Check out all of my blog posts about this tablet here.)

My Kindle Fire HD cannot do everything, but it does a lot, enough to keep me busy, anyway. What about you?

Are You Sacrificing Your Core for the Elusive Cutting Edge?

As I boarded a flight at the Akron-Canton Airport for Boston to attend the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference, I brought with me my trusty Kindle Fire HD.

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‘I sat there for a long time unable to read anything. Then I pulled out a small notebook and a pen and started to write this blog post!’

I have so many books on it, ranging from The Story Template, Simply Jesus, Click Millionaires, Necessary Endings, EntreLeadership, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Princess Grace, How to Deliver a TED Talk, APE: Author, Publisher, Editor and others, it was tough deciding which would I would read on the two-hour flight.

I finally settled on Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright.

I sat down and started reading the book. I highlighted a passage I found to be particularly profound about how the teachings and sayings of Jesus made sense to some people who considered him the messiah, while those same words led others to want to assassinate him.

As I was typing in my note, the flight attendant repeated herself several times informing me and everyone else on the airplane to turn off all electronic devices and stow them away.

It seemed like it took me forever to write a very short note (I was in such a hurry I didn’t even capitalize Jesus and feel bad about it now), but I managed to get it recorded. I shut off the Kindle and settled in for the flight.

Before we could take off, the plane needed to be de-iced. It turned out to be about a 15-minute process. I sat there with my amazing and incredible Kindle (I really do love the device, you can see what I mean here, here, here and here, and if you are really ambitious, here) tucked under my left arm, and I waited and waited and waited for the plane to be de-iced so we could taxi down the runway, take off from the airport and reach a high-enough altitude so I could turn on my amazing and incredible Kindle.

I happened to notice a guy sitting across the aisle one row up who was reading The Wall Street Journal. I immediately thought he never has to fold up his newspaper and lay it down. Altitude means nothing to a newspaper reader on an airplane.

The lady next to me was involved in completing word searches printed in one of those magazines you would find in a dollar store.

The man to immediate right across the aisle was utilizing some old-school technology: He was reading a traditional paperback book.

Their encounters with the written word proceeded uninterrupted during the de-icing process. I, however, was not so fortunate.

I sat there, Kindle still clutched under my arm, and thought about how sometimes we are too quick to discard yesterday’s technologies, yesterday’s devices and yesterday’s ideas for new things that might relatively unknown, unproven and untested.

However, those old things served our parents and grandparents well. They were able to accomplish great things without computers, GPS units, smartphones, smart TVs, the Internet, Wi-Fi, Mi-Fi, Eye-Fi or Re-Fi (OK, maybe they needed Re-Fi).

As I sat on the airplane thinking about all of this, I pondered this question: Are we sacrificing our core for the elusive cutting edge?

I sat there for a long time unable to read anything. Then I pulled out a small notebook and a pen and started to write this blog post!

 

How to Navigate the Twists and Turns of Blogging

You might recall, The Z Section was set up to be a sort of catch all kind of blog in that it could be about anything. However, a lot of it lately has been turning on remembering pets who have died.

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Because The Z Section emerges from my experiences, I have not shied away from writing such personal posts, like the death of my sister-in-law’s dog, Riley (see also here), or our own dog, Madison (see also here). Within a month, our extended family said goodbye to two dogs.

I have written about my wife Wendi’s books, one a fairy tale for all ages and the other about budgeting. In fact, readers of The Z Section over the past week have made the posts about Madison and budgeting the top three posts for the week.

I have found inspiration for my posts from Dean Hammond’s leadership class, talks with co-workers, Bible passages, books I am reading and other blogs I am checking out. Other posts came from restaurants where I ate, business endeavors in which I was engaged and just about anything else.

So, how do I navigate through all of these twists and turns while blogging? I have a simple solution: I just keep moving forward. Let the twists and turns take care of themselves.

I guess I try not to over-think things.

 

How to Build a Podcast on the Road (Without Your Stuff)

 Technology continues to close the gap between “the professionals” and “the amateurs,” giving regular people the ability to compete at some level with those who get paid to do it, whether “it” is a radio broadcast, journalism, video broadcast or a podcast.

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It’s no secret, this blog was highly influenced by Michael Hyatt’s blog (see here and here). I starting doing a podcast because of Michael, as a way of adding another dimension to The Z Section. I recorded my first podcast about ideas (click here), and it was OK.

My next attempt at a podcast was when I interviewed my wife, Wendi Warren, after she published her book, “Princess Grace: A Tale of Faith, Hope & Love.” I really liked it. It sounded good, and it sounded professional.

Right now, my podcasts are done in a simple fashion. My wife, who had been studying voice acting, has a Yeti USB microphone. So, when I got the idea to add podcasts to the mix, I retrieved the microphone, connected it to my Dell All-in-One computer and fired up Audactiy, a free, open-source application for recording and editing audio.

Well, I wanted to do my third podcast with my sister-in-law, Randi Breese (you can read about why, here). Due to logistics, and when I wanted to record the podcast, it was not feasible to her to come to my home, where my desktop computer is located. Wendi and I were going to see Randi and her husband, Shaun Vahl, so we decided to take the microphone and nothing else.

Before we went to see Randi and Shaun, we stopped at Wendi’s parents. My mother-in-law, Dolores Breese, asked me to help her with some computer stuff, including getting music on her computer onto her mp3 player. As I searched the music on the computer (which was one we gave her), I noticed it had a “song” I created years ago, called “Little Like Zep.”

I created the song a few years ago using Aviary’s sound editor, Myna, which is now defunct. The music sounded a little like Led Zeppelin, thus the title. When I decided to record podcasts, I wanted to use music for the intro and outro, and somehow I came across the file on my Dell. I was surprised to see I had left it on my old computer, which my mother-in-law now uses.

We had a good meal, played some Scrabble (I lost, ask my mother-in-law who won) and eventually made it to Randi and Shaun’s house. They were at a fundraiser, so we had some time to spare. I checked Shaun’s laptop, and he did not have Audacity. So, I downloaded and installed it. I also downloaded the LAME MP3 Encoder so I would be able to export the audio to the MP3 format.

I thought for a minute that I would forego the musical elements of the podcast, but then I called my mother-in-law and asked her to email the song to me, and she did. Thus, I was able to record, edit and add music to the podcast, just as I would have done in my own home.

Technology and the Internet are breaking down a lot of barriers. In the old days, there would be no way I was installing a program without having the disks (or CDs or DVDs). But, thanks to technology and the Internet, everything went as planned.

If you want to listen to the entire song I created, check it out below.

Just Enjoy the Scenery Today

Enjoy these photos processed and uploaded via Instagram. I do not use it as much, but it is still a good app. I guess the thing for me is other apps, like Pixlr-O-matic and Pixlr Express do so much more.

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Spend a Day in My Shoes, Sort Of

Lately, when people have asked how I have been doing, instead of falling into a familiar rut and answering mindlessly, “OK” or “fine,” I have been finding myself pausing, reflecting for a moment and telling them, “I am doing great. I have a blessed life.”

Bobby Warren Wendi Warren Mary Taylor Josh Krajcik

Some of the components that make up Bobby Warren’s life, from the top, left: Being a member of Parkview Christian Church; getting to interview people like Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor as a reporter at The Daily Record; shooting video for newspaper website; being the husband of Wendi Warren; enjoying wonderful pets like Madison; playing in Parkview’s praise band with people like Steve Hanna; and hanging out with Josh Krajcik before a concert with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring.

And, I do have a wonderful life. If you look at the collage above, you will see just a small sample of the things that make up my life, like church, getting to interview people like Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor or shoot video for a Josh Krajcik interview; spend my life with my wonderful wife, Wendi Warren; enjoy our pets like Madison; and play in Parkview’s praise band with the likes of Steve Hanna.

Here is a typical day for me:

  1. Wake up and ease into my day. I might check to see who’s beating me on Words with Friends; log into Google+, Facebook, Twitter; check out my previous day’s stats on this blog; look to see if me or my wife, Wendi, sold any more books (see here and here); and see if there have been any sales through my Amazon affiliate links.
  2. Once awake, talk with Wendi before she leaves for work. This, of course, happens if I actually get out of bed before she heads to work.
  3. Read the Bible and pray. I have been reading Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai and Zechariah because I teach a Sunday School class, and we have been focusing on this period in Israel’s history.
  4. Get ready and head to work. My full-time job is working as a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio. I get to meet a lot of interesting people, and I really enjoy what I do.
  5. Come home and eat. Self-explanatory.
  6. Engage in various activities. Depending upon the day of the week or month, I might be covering a night event or meeting for the newspaper; I might be in a men’s ministry meeting; I might be watching TV, performing magic somewhere or practicing with the praise team (I play bass); I might be writing, editing or laying out a book; checking and rechecking my social networks and Words with Friends; hanging out with Wendi; reading a book; working on a Sunday School lesson; or writing a blog.

My life is hectic, but not really stressful. I hope you have enjoyed a day in my shoes, sort of. I have a great wife who makes me better and supports my endeavors. I am truly blessed. What about you?