Freelance Tech Content Marketing Writer in the Snow

I’m just back from what we dubbed the Extreme Winter Tour 2019. I live and work (as a freelance tech content marketing writer) in Hawaii, and my daughter had never been in the snow, so we decided to take a two-part, snowy winter vacation. “Full effect!”

First, we spent what turned out to be one of our best Christmases ever, bonding with favorite cousins at Lake Tahoe. There was sledding and igloo-building right outside the back door.

sledding tahoe

And some of the cousins did handstands in the snow.

freelance tech content marketing writer and handstands in snow

Then we spent New Year’s bundled up in Iceland, the “land of fire and ice,” a country that astounded me with its beauty and other appeals, and where—among other adventures—we walked through an ice cave that was inside a glacier.

freelance tech content marketing writer at Langjokull glacier Iceland

On our way home, we stopped off in San Francisco for a couple of days, where we visited friends, ice-skated on Union Square, and took a tour of the city in a ’60s hippie van.

B2B tech content writer in San Francisco

A highlight of that tour was careening down crooked, twisty-turny Lombard Street with “If you’re going to San Francisco” blaring on the radio and our tour driver hanging out the window flashing peace signs. A lot of other tourists took pictures and video of us, and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Let me tell you, it was all very different from a winter in tropical Hawaii. And totally worth doing.

Back at my desk

Now I’m plunging forth into 2020, this new year that still sounds to me like the future (or an eye chart). I’m getting back to work. Here’s a quick description of what type of B2B/B2C tech content marketing writer I am, in case I can help you and your company.

Primarily, I write about these subjects. (Click on the links to see some sample articles.)

I’ve written for clients including Adobe, Ancestry dot com, Barclays Investment Bank, the Guardian, Google, and NPR, among many others. My work includes white papers, case studies, articles, sales sheets, slide shows, and other written materials. I also edit manuscripts for publication.

My business plan continues to be working with people I like (so my days are pleasant) and doing my best work every time (so I make their job easy and they call me again).

If you need a freelance B2B technology content marketing writer, please be in touch. I’m happy to chat so we can determine if we might be a good fit. You can reach me at leslie@leslielang.com.

freelance tech content marketing writer Reykjavik
Reykjavik last week, from the tower of the town’s iconic Hallgrimskirkja church

Happy New Year!

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Book Review: ‘Reunion, A Search for Ancestors,’ by Ryan Littrell

reunion coverOn Facebook a couple weeks ago, I saw an ad for the book Reunion by Ryan Littrell. Its subtitle is “A Search for Ancestors,” and it definitely caught my eye. (Isn’t Facebook good at targeting its ads!)

I read about the book and then impulse-ordered it.

Turns out it’s a good book. I’m glad I did.

I was hooked early on by this passage about looking at a photograph of two nineteenth-century ancestors; this passage almost could have been pulled out of my own head. I think about things like this. Do you?

You can’t see in their eyes what you see in a friend who trades a knowing glance with you, because these ancestors never had the chance to know you, and so they never spoke of you, they never cared about you. What would they have thought of you if they were around today? Would they invite you in, like you were some long lost grandchild of theirs, or would they be polite and distant, the way they might treat a strange new acquaintance?

Each of us could ask these questions, but we know that there can be no response. We were never given the chance to know all the ways he would look after us, or how she would smile at us, or how they might have spoken of us, even when it was just the two of them. Our ancestors are never going to return our calls.

But spookily, they’re here. Their DNA is our DNA, in us right now, influencing everything our bodies and minds do….

I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about – or is currently researching, or ever has or will research – his or her family’s genealogy. Littrell brings the reader along as he researches, travels, meets distant cousins and uncovers the history of his family. It’s a great look at, and example of, how to do good genealogical research, and it tells an interesting story, as well.

He includes some Scottish Highlands and clan history. This book will be of special interest to anyone who traces their roots to the Scottish Highlands, and to people descended from McDonalds/MacDonalds or McDaniels/MacDaniels. Though neither of those categories apply to me, and I totally enjoyed it, too.

The synopsis:

Where do I come from? That question sets Ryan Littrell on a journey that crosses centuries and many miles. An anonymous letter, found at the bottom of a box of black-and-white pictures, reveals the first clues about his grandmother’s family story, and soon those clues lead him to a country graveyard and a long-lost cousin. Then faded names in old books, along with a DNA surprise, unearth one more generation, and yet another. And as one hint leads to the next, from the 19th century back into the 18th, he discovers his family’s place in a people’s tragic struggle-a tale of heartbreak, betrayal, and unfailing strength. A real-life account, Reunion shows how our ancestors just might still be a part of us, and how our story began long before we were even born.Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 12.06.26 PM

Click for an interview Ryan Littrell did with the family history blog Moultrie Creek Books.

In that interview he discusses one part of his story that I find especially interesting: How he used DNA testing, our newest tool in the genealogy arsenal:

Q. What was your most surprising discovery related to this project?

A. That’s a tough question, because there were so many discoveries along the way. But if I had to pick one, it would be that email revealing my uncle’s DNA results: Each person who matched my uncle’s DNA was descended from a single family that lived for many generations in one particular spot in the Scottish Highlands. My whole life, I’d had no clue where this part of my family had come from. But suddenly, with one cheek swab from Uncle Chuck, we knew the truth.

Reunion is an interesting and well-written book; recommended. If you’re interested, buy the paperback here or download the Kindle version here.

If you’d like to know more, here’s a short Ancestry.com article by Ryan Littrell about his family history search.

You can follow Ryan Littrell and learn more about him and his book at Facebook.

As always, I hope you’ll come back here and let me know if you read the book, so we can talk about it some more!

 

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Personal Historian

Before It’s Too Late!

personal history, personal historian, Leslie Lang, writer, Hawaii writer

Have you dreamed about recording a parent’s story? Or writing about the history of your family, and the path it took over the decades – now, while your grandparents can still tell you what they know? How about documenting the history of a company you built up from nothing, or recording the life of a long-beloved family home?

Lots of people consider such a project, but often don’t actually get around to doing it — either because they lack the time, and/or, very often, because they don’t have the know how or specific skills to pull it all together. And once someone is gone and it’s too late, there is often such a feeling of regret.

This is where a personal historian comes in.

Personal historians are storytellers, often (but not always) hired by a younger generation to capture, organize and preserve the stories of an older one. They are experts who know how to carry such a project to completion.

The Association of Personal Historians defines a personal history as:

…the story of a life, or stories from a life. It may be a memoir, a tribute, a life story, an autobiography, a biography, a video biography, or an oral history. It may also be a legacy letter or ethical will, expressing one’s values, wishes, regrets, observations about life, lessons learned, and so on. Many personal histories are books, a growing number are captured on video, and some are still simply audio.

Personal historians are creative professionals who help both celebrities and “ordinary people” tell their life stories. A personal historian may be engaged to help individuals, families, communities, or organizations preserve memories, images, voices, stories, and histories – often (but not always) in narrative form.

personal historian, personal history, Hawaii writerAs a personal historian, I use my many, many years of personal interviewing skills to sit down with someone and glean the story they have within them and want to preserve. They review everything, and then I put it all together in a professional, finished format.

Your stories and photos can end up as a high-quality, professionally designed book for your family or organization.

Another option is to put together a video project, using whatever combination of recorded audio, video clips, photos, musics, effects and narration work. The result is a polished multimedia project you can share by computer or disk, show at a celebration, memorial or other special get-together, and keep forever.

Why hire me, specifically? I have decades of experience working as an interviewer, writer, journalist, author, editor, cultural anthropologist and historian. I am a digital “junkie” who enjoys putting professional projects together on the computer. My friends say I am a Storyteller.

Please let me know if you have a project in mind and would like to discuss it.

And if you’re not ready to do your personal history yet, I’d like to encourage you to sign up for my quarterly newsletter. You’ll also get email notifications when I post here to the blog. It’s a way to get more comfortable with who I am, and the work I do, before jumping into a project of your own. (Do not be afraid! Girl Scout Promise: I will never abuse your email address, and I work hard to make my monthly newsletter interesting and worth reading.) 

Thanks for checking out my website, and I’d love to talk to you about a personal history project when you’re ready.

top photo © Mikle15 | Dreamstime.com  / middle photo © Karin Hildebrand
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How Freelance Writing Has Changed, & Why Editors Get What They Pay For

If you’re not in the freelance writing business, you might not know how much it’s changed. But oh, how it has changed.Check out this American Society of Business Publication Editors blog post, in which “ASBPE award winning freelance writer Tam Harbert explains why even in the age of content farms and $15 fees for articles, trade publications get exactly what they pay for when it comes to hiring editorial talent.”

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Remembering & Being Remembered

sandStefani Twyford is a video biographer in Houston, and she is also a wonderful writer and thinker. I just rediscovered her blog post about an African proverb, and it haunts me a little bit:

…The proverb recognizes two spirits. “Sasha are spirits known by someone still alive, while Zamani are spirits not known by someone currently alive.” According to James Loewen in his book Lies My Teacher Told Me: “The recently departed whose time overlapped with people still here are the Sasha, the living dead. They are not wholly dead, for they live on in the memories of the living … when the last person knowing an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the Sasha for the Zamani, the dead.”

Walsh’s use of the proverb was in illustrating the power of oral and personal history. As a Personal Historian, I spend a lot of time educating people on the power and value of leaving your story for future generations. As long as people are alive and can pass your stories on to future generations, you will retain some degree of immortality. But like the game Telephone, each iteration of the story becomes less and less reliable and more anecdotal until what is left after a few generations is, if you are lucky, merely a name on a genealogical chart and some mention of characteristics… Read the rest

“When the last person knowing an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the Sasha for the Zamani, the dead.” Wow. It’s a powerful way of thinking. And it does make you think about keeping track of your family stories. Ask about them, and then write them down!

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A Punctuation Primer: How Do You Use The Demicolon Again?

You’ll be happy to know that there is some new punctuation available for you to use. Which is good, because I was getting a little tired of some of the old, run-of-the-mill stuff.

The demicolon is one of my favorites.
collegehumor69f2716b0d54b94cef748e71f0765dee1

And there’s more. It’s here at collegehumor.com and it was a lot of fun to read. We’re all getting older, but — who knew? — College Humor is still funny!

Thanks to The Copywriter Underground for spotting this.

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Our Chickens Came First. And Then The Eggs.

chickensWe got chickens a week or two ago, and I am just loving the whole thing. I am a first-time chicken owner, and I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying them.

We bought six hens, and transported them home in two travel dog kennels. There we set up a coop for them, with feed and water and nest boxes, and a couple branches up high where they roost at night.

We kept them in there for a few days, so they’d know that was their laying place and night home, but now they are ranging free during the day. They are fun to watch. I can’t explain why — they are, after all, just chickens — but it is satisfying to watch them roam around and explore our place, and strut and peck and make their occasional noises and take short, noisy flights over the flume.

We save our food scraps in an old margarine tub — the bread crusts my daughter sometimes peels off her sandwiches, and all the leftovers, as well as any food the cats and dog didn’t eat the day before — and I take them out in the morning and they eat it all. (Well, there are still peels from red- and white-striped beets on the ground, but they have eaten everything else.) And we give them poultry feed twice a day, and a bit of scratch here and there, too.

They also like liliko‘i, ulu and avocados, which we have growing in abundance. They are fat and happy, I think.

eggsOur six girls had been giving us anywhere from two to five eggs a day, most often three to four. But, suddenly, we are only getting two eggs a day. And both yesterday and today, we found one egg in an unexpected place. I sent my daughter on an Easter egg hunt in case the girls have “gone rogue” and are laying in the wild, but if that’s the case we have not yet found their spots.

The guy we bought the chickens from, who has been great about letting me email him with questions — he has been conducting our instruction in Chickens 101 — said this might mean we need more nest boxes. They will wait for awhile, he said, but if they really need to lay the egg, they’ll lay it anywhere.

I will get another box tomorrow and see how that goes.

For Christmas, we gave my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and also the teacher’s assistant pretty lauhala baskets tied up with fancy red bows — and filled with our fresh, organic, free-range eggs. Is that weird? I know it is.

I told them, “This will be the quirkiest gift you get this year, but we hope you’ll like it.”

presents

I liked giving them eggs because not only is it neat to have fresh eggs, these are consumable — no clutter — and then they can either use the basket, or wrap a gift in it and send it along. They seemed to like them.

We are having so much fun getting eggs from our own hens, and watching them strut around and live their lives.

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