Newsletter 2023-05

For ASJA members in
Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
May 2023

In This Issue

From the Prez, Radical Acts, M. Carolyn Miller, ASJA PNW President
Announcing the Local News Advisory Team, James Carberry
Deepen Your Writing with Historical Research, Bill Lascher
Automate with Mouse Recorders, Bruce Miller
Member News and Announcements

Join Us At Our May Meeting!

M Carolyn Miller is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Time: May 17, 2023 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 815 3315 9297
Passcode: 809320

From the President

by M. Carolyn Miller

ASJA PNW Chapter President

Radical Acts

Personal narrative is having a heyday in the marketplace, and those narratives are, well, often deeply personal. They are appearing in movies and the media, and in both fiction and nonfiction. (See Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things and Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Such narratives are showcasing what was once unmentionable in public spaces, such as Melissa Febos’ decision to have breast reduction surgery, chronicled in a New York Times essay. They are even sometimes showing up on more formal social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

Such market shifts are part of a larger social trend and I, for one, find that encouraging. As old systems break down and once-silenced stories are unleashed, there is in those radical acts a change in what narrative therapists call the “grand narrative” of a culture.

As professional writers, we get to contribute to that social movement. Lucky us.

M. Carolyn Miller, MA, spent her career designing narrative- and game-based learning. Today, she consults and writes about narrative in our lives and world, the inextricable link between the two, and the critical role of self-awareness in transforming both.

Sharon Elaine Thompson, Catherine Kolonko, M Carolyn Miller meet up in Portland in April. Photo courtesy M Carolyn Miller.

Sharon Elaine Thompson, Catherine Kolonko, M Carolyn Miller meet up in Portland in April. Photo courtesy M Carolyn Miller.

by James Carberry

Announcing the Local News Advisory Team

I and five other Wall Street Journal alums are planning the startup of what we call the Local News Advisory Team. LNAT will provide editing, coaching, mentoring and other services to legacy newspapers, digital news startups, and other local news organizations. Many of them are short-staffed and much in need of help. The Nieman Reports, published by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, recently had an article about retired journalists getting back in the game. It includes a section about LNAT. We’re just getting started, and already we’re attracting attention.

In his professional career, Jim Carberry was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, a Singapore-based newsletter correspondent, a corporate editor, a book author and the owner of a small business. He’s now retired and living in Barcelona, Spain, with his family. 

by Bill Lascher

Deepen Your Writing with Historical Research

History offers an easy but productive source for grounding your reporting and enriching your writing. Researching history can deepen your understanding of a client’s industry, unearth unexpected roots of your news coverage, provide insights that flesh out settings and characters in fiction, and lend credibility to your work.

Luckily, you probably have a museum, university or other institution nearby with unique collections of primary source material such as historic documents, photos and audio recordings. I’ve gathered a few resources to help you start digging and some tips about how to make the most of your research in person or online:

Archives West: This website compiles descriptions of primary sources held at institutions in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Alaska. Use the finding aids to plan targeted searches and make the best of visits to the institutions.

Tip: Start broad and narrow down. Don’t check the “digital objects” only box on your first search, because you’ll only see already digitized items (though it’s helpful once you’ve focused your research).

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): NARA preserves records of anything the U.S. Government touches. Only a minuscule fraction of its holdings is available online, but — with some national security and other exceptions — you can request copies of nearly anything else.

Tip: Don’t forget to check your states, counties, and municipal archives for similar resources and don’t skip jurisdictions further afield.

The Library of Congress: Maps, photos, periodicals, audio and transcribed oral histories about life in America and beyond.

Tip: Check out the Library’s helpful and extensive “Free to Use and Reuse” collection of digitized material here:

General Advice:

Virtual Visits: Find out if an institution with material you want to see offers remote access or if it will scan and email copies of its holdings.

Librarians are your friends: Remember your journalism skills of courtesy, curiosity, and creativity. Don’t be afraid to ask librarians or archivists about their collections. They often require lead time to pull items from storage and want their collections to be seen. If you’re nice, they might help you find material you hadn’t considered.

Give yourself time

If you’re like me, when you look at archival collections, you’ll probably find yourself looking at more material than you originally intended. I’ve made some of my most productive discoveries looking for one document and seeing another nearby, whether physically or in a listing I’m scrolling past.

Still lost? Drop me a line with question or two. I also offer contract research services and customized research training for newsrooms and individuals.

Bill Lascher is a Portland-based journalist and narrative history writer. His books include The Golden Fortress: California’s Border War on Dust Bowl Refugees (2022, Chicago Review Press) and Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific (2016, William Morrow), as well as a forthcoming collection of wartime photography, A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War (Blacksmith Books, TBD).

by Bruce Miller

Automate with Mouse Recorders

I needed to delete about four years of voicemail messages in my Google Voice account. Google does not provide a way to bulk delete. This leaves the user with the option to go through several mouse clicks in a browser to delete just one message. Not cool.

So, I began to think about a way to automate the same sequence of mouse movements and clicks. Macros came to mind because of my extensive experience creating complex macros in Word Perfect and now in my text editors.

Macros are little programs within the larger programs that can work through a sequence of steps at computer speed, not finger speed. I needed a macro-type program for mouse movements and clicks in Windows and for Windows 11 in particular.

I searched around and found this nifty program: Axife. After I bought and installed the program, it took me about 10 minutes to record and tweak a series of mouse clicks. I could then tell Axife to repeat the sequence any number of times. I told the program to run the sequence 20 times as one group. I had to run each group about 15-20 times to delete all the messages. This was way better and faster than me doing the same mouse motions and clicks over and over for several hundred messages. For a look at Axife:

Mouse recorders can be used to open programs and go through a series of your usual steps. This YouTube video shows how to use a program called Mouse Recorder and also gives a small demonstration of opening browsers and going to websites.

There are scads of YouTube videos about mouse recorders. Search YouTube with these three words: mouse recording software.

This link lists other mouse recorders:

Pricing ranges from free to about $203:

                    Program  low cost high cost
Bartels Media GmbH Macro Recorderfree203.00
JitBit Macro Recorder38.0069.00
Turnssoft Mini Mouse Macrofree
Remouse Mouse Recorder15.9938.99
Axife Mouse Recorder19.0038.00
Nemex Studios Mouse Recorder Profree
EasyClicks Macrosunk
Macro Toolworks [looks ROBUST!]free99.00
Ghost Mouseunk
AutoHotkeys Mouse Recorderfree

A look at Axife:

Bottom line: Don’t always think you are stuck doing the same thing over and over again manually. There might be an automation solution.

Seattle resident Bruce Miller thinks automation is good for productivity and saving fingers for more custom work.

Male Yellow-rumped “Audubon’s” Warbler, (Dendroica coronata) in Spring
Gold Hill, Oregon, © Maxine Cass

Member News

and Announcements

Bill Lascher recently launched The Scenic Route, a Substack “digest of serendipitous digression” in which he shares favorite detours and tangents he’s taken during his work “exploring how where we’ve been informs who we are and what direction we might head next.” Check out the latest edition or subscribe for free (for now) at

L.M. Archer wrote the April print issue cover story for Wine Business Magazine (subscription/paywall) on “Carbon Emission Reduction Strategies for Wineries and Vineyards.” In April, The Drinks Business published three articles, “VITAL Wines Guest Winemaker Series benefits vineyard workers in Washington state” “US Rhône Rangers Showcase Syrah’s Versatility” and “Champagne releases 2022 shipment figures for the US.” “How Grain de Sail Chocolate is Funding Sustainable Maritime Logistics” appeared in The Chocolate Professor.

Fred Gebhart wrote the April cover story for Drug Topics, “A Biosimilar Wave Looms Large Over US Biologics Market” and an inside story, “The JAK Inhibitor Pipeline Builds in Dermatology

M. Carolyn Miller had two articles in the American Animal Hospital Association’s Trends magazine. In February, she covered how to create infographics and in April, she wrote how to design a simulation.

Darlene West recommends a resource for writers of fiction and creative nonfiction. Craft Talks is a series of webinars on writing topics and tools hosted by Sharla Yates, former director of education at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation.


EDITOR: Maxine Cass
ASJA PNW monthly meeting coverage: Darlene West
PROOFREADER: Catherine Kolonko

*All stories are copyright by their respective writers.
*All photographs and illustrations are copyright by their creative makers.
*All rights are reserved to each of them for their own material.