Reading your writing aloud to pick up inconsistencies and make sure your voice flows smoothly is common practice. I got the rare treat of hearing how my writing voice sounds on film when I wrote and spoke the narration for “Winging My Way Back Home: The Stripling Fiddle Legacy.”

This intro has evolved into the trailer for the film about my dad, Lee Stripling, as Seattle filmmaker Jeri Vaughn works on the final version. It sets the tone but feels long, as if it delays meatier parts of the film. We welcome your suggestions.

Stripling Brothers Documentary from Jeri Vaughn on Vimeo.

“When you put your heart out to him, there’s his heart ready for you, and probably he goes first.” – Sandy Bradley, Northwest musician and the folklorist who found Charlie Stripling’s son in Seattle, helping my dad keep the music alive.


Postcards of books furthering my journey from old media to new:

Book image for Don't Make Me Think

Be clear

“Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,”Second edition, (New Riders, 2006). Steve Krug’s advice on how to design websites that take people where they want to go no side trips to frustration.

The Web Content Strategist’s Bible: Developing Content for Large-Scale Web Sites,” Richard Sheffield, CLUEfox Publishing, 2009). What are the projects, who are the players and how content strategists work their way up the food chain.

Book image of Letting Go of the Words

Skim, scan

“Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works,” Janice (Ginny) Redish, (Morgan Kaufmann, 2007). People come to websites for content but they skim and scan. Good web content:

    • Is like a conversation
    • Answers people’s questions
    • Lets people “grab and go”
Book image of Killer Content

Drive action

“Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand,” Gerry McGovern. (A&C Black, 2007).
Content needs to:

    • Drive action
    • Deliver new knowledge
    • Focus on the customer
    • Make the core task clear
Book image of Web Content Strategy

Ask and listen

“Content Strategy for the Web,” Kristina Halvorson, (New Rider, 2009), $16.49 at Amazon. Brain Traffic’s Kristina practices what she preaches. Dramatically improve content with five principles:

    • Do less, not more
    • Figure out what you have and where it’s coming from
    • Learn how to listen
    • Put someone in charge
    • Start asking, ‘Why?’

These books have taken me from “Really?” to “I said that in a meeting yesterday!” in five, not-so-short years.


Writing Voice part 2: Reading for rhythm and tone

February 10, 2010

Finding the right voice to tell stories in second or third person is difficult. You have to muzzle The Writer, even though it’s you. The Writer is too formal in early drafts. And then she’s too casual. She can’t find her way because she’s not confident enough of the details, and it shows. To speed […]

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Writing Voice 1: Blogging helps define writing voice

February 10, 2010

I’m researching and writing about voice over the next weeks because of two sudden life improvements: • I got hired for a lovely long-term job based on the strength of my writing voice. • I finally get it why I blog. Voice has always taken precedence for me over the loblolly of facts and other […]

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For Alex at 21

February 1, 2010

I thought I heard the whoosh of the school bus door this afternoon. I felt the dogs rise from their eternal rest as I turned from my desk, united in happy anticipation for one half step.

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Adding G-Recorder to my phone interview system

January 31, 2010

So far, so good in experiments with G-Recorder, another system for recording phone interviews via Skype. G-Recorder records both Skype chats and Skype calls automatically into my Gmail account. I get the option of downloading interviews to my computer plus the safety of “cloud” computing, which also means I get access to the interviews from […]

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At last, a phone interview recording system that works

January 24, 2010

I hate to spew a bunch of brand names, but after decades of trying to find a recording system that works for phone interviews, I have succeeded at last. My system has five parts: • Skype “call out” to reach regular phones for pennies. • A double-eared Logitech headset with USB connection. • Pamela for […]

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Content as the new oil; how to keep the value high

December 28, 2009

In co-teaching a writing class for financial advisers recently, I expressed the idea that content is the new oil, a “precious resource” with real cost and real value as Gerry McGovern writes in “Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand.” Merriman, Inc., formerly known as Merriman Capital Management, was an […]

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Too close to home? The paradox of deeper writing

November 28, 2009

Since I began writing about life issues, or, more specifically “quality” of life issues, for a lifestyle insights blog, I’ve bumped into an old writing emotion that has to do with audience. It’s an odd reaction. The deeper, I write, the closer I get to real emotion, and the stronger the piece. My first sense […]

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Remembering the drama in storytelling

October 16, 2009

A newsletter editor I work with recently handed back a first draft of a client profile. He felt I’d lost the story’s pull by trying to write about a husband and wife equally. And he was right. The profile was for a “giving back” feature. Both the husband and wife had dedicated a part of […]

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