The Write Voice -

Copywriter. Web Content. Social Media.


April 6, 2011

What In the Detritus Are You Talking About? Used by permission.

I received an e-mail from a friend a few days ago. The beginning went something like this:

“I cleaned up some of the detritus around the house this morning, so I feel like I’m in control of things more than I really am.”


Just what I was thinking you’d be doing.

Uh … run that one by me again?

Because of my impressive Bachelor of Science in Communications degree, I was familiar with 24 of those high-falutin’ words like, you know, “Cleaned,” “House,” “Control” and “Really.” But just when I thought I really was smarter than a 5th grader, my friend comes along and tosses in the “D-Bomb” …


Di-TRY-tus: “Loose material … A product of disintegration or wearing away … Loose remnants.” (Thank you Merriam-Webster. Appreciate the iPhone app).

Now what you just read perhaps was not news to you. It was certainly familiar territory to my friend. She’s well-educated, well-spoken and well-written. What she wrote, she meant to write, because she knows what it MEANS.

I didn’t. That must have been the class that I took Ferris Bueller’s day off.

The point is (and believe me, I DO have one), is that as a writer, it’s OK to toss in a $25 word on occasion. Her use of the word in the sentence already gave me a huge clue as to what it meant, but I wanted to make sure and searched for the definition. In a very simple email describing life’s daily routine, she utilized an age-old axiom that every good writer should follow when attempting to connect with his/her audience:

Made you look. And made you think.

A caveat to this point. A word not commonly used is a good tool to use every once in a while, because it keeps your readers interested … and awake. I’ve seen and read writers who overdo this principle. The end result is, as in the classic flick Cool Hand Luke, “…a failure to communicate.” The writer comes off not as someone interested in telling a story, but rather as one who gives the distinct impression that he/she is an erudite snot.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s why one gets a Kindle.

Keep writing. Keep communicating. And when the mood strikes you, don’t be afraid to throw in the “D-Bomb.” I’ll figure it out. My dictionary apps will make sure of that …


December 2, 2010

OK, Top 10 Events in Your Life aaaannnd … GO!

My 35th high school reunion .. reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in eons and dancing with the astoundingly beautiful girls that I could have never imagined dancing with 35 years earlier …

The birth of my gorgeous daughter; bringing home my adopted all-boy son at the ripe old age of 31 days on the planet …

Going to see my childhood musical heroes, The Monkees, at a reunion concert with my date and a select few of my closest friends in the universe …

In my 53 years and counting, these made the “Mike Fernandez Top 10 Life Events of All Time.” Taking a wistful-yet hopeful look toward next year – and at the same time contemplating the present days and reflecting on what was (and could have been) in 2010 – my thoughts turned to those memorable milestones that have not only shaped me, but MOVED me on this often perilous and fragile journey.

While the task may seem daunting, the criteria for tonight’s Top 10 (apologies, Mr. Letterman) was simple: What are those events/circumstances that I vividly remember, in minute detail, that still put a smile on my face and a stirring in my heart days, months and years removed?

Yes, question from the back: “Hey thanks for sharing Mike. So what’s taking a stroll down your personal memory lane have to do with writing?”

So glad you asked. Pretty much everything.

Writing is about passion … description … detail … emotion. It’s about a personal connection with you and the one who reads. When you come to a place where you discover that what you’ve just written is nothing but rote, try the “Personal Top 10 Life Events” exercise. Go ahead. Give it a try. Awaken a few personal memories and stir the soul.

For you .. and, ultimately, your audience …


September 8, 2010

What I Learned From the Preacher and the Ambulance Chaser

“The goal of life is not to stay unbroken. The goal of life is to stay committed.”

“Got hit? Call Neil Flitt.”

Advice brought to you on Sunday, August 29th, by an Alpharetta, Georgia pastor … and an Atlanta personal injury attorney.

What strikes me about both of these phrases/sentences, is that I heard one (sitting in the pew) and saw the other (an ad on the back of an extremely rickety vehicle that apparently was trying to pass itself off as a bus).

And I still remember them … ten days later.

And when it comes to writing, that’s the goal. Be remembered.

Millions, billions and zillions of dollars are poured into Super Bowl ads every year. Funny. Clever. Artsy. And I’m a big proponent of all of them. But at the end of the day, if you can’t tie your product back to you (which most Super Bowl ads have a mega-difficult time doing), “funny” has lost you lots of money. (Yes, I know it rhymes .. poet and didn’t know it .. yadda yadda yadda).

Bottom line: Two gentlemen from two entirely different worlds utilize two entirely different methods to effectively communicate to the masses. And how did Dr. Bill Self and attorney Neil Flitt do it? By simply utilizing a pulpit .. a bus .. and words that connect.

What are you writing today? What are you saying … who are you saying it to … and how are you saying it?

Will what you write be remembered? …


August 9, 2010

Oh Yeah? Well … Tweet This

My friend Maurilio Amorim is owner of the Brentwood, TN commmunciations, marketing and branding firm, The A Group. He is a top-notch communicator and looks way, way better than me (granted, not terribly difficult to do on either count). What IS challenging to do is effectively communicate in 140 words/spaces or less. It CAN be done. He does it every day. Read on …


July 15, 2010

Turning an “A+” into an “F”

I was riding down Peachtree Street last week and saw the makings of a GREAT (and by GREAT, I mean CREATIVE and EFFECTIVE) billboard.

About half the billboard was taken up by the word FUN, followed by an asterisk.

The next line, not quite as large, again displayed the asterisk, followed by the words, “ACTUAL SIZE.”

The bottom line, I think, said “Carnival Cruise Lines.” I say “think,” because there was some other gobble-de-gook about “‘Book Your Cruises Today” or “Alaskan Cruises Available.”

Some jarhead ad exec and/or client just couldn’t stand billboard “white space” and not being able to tell me EVERYTHING about the cruise line. Hence, they turned an “A+” billboard into an “F” by adding unnecessary words. End result: I’m not going to spend money on that cruise line, because I can’t remember THE NAME of the cruise line. All it needed were three simple lines: FUN* … *ACTUAL SIZE … CRUISE LINE NAME … Period. Most of us learned the “KISS” principle – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID – years ago. Apparently that concept is still lost on corporate higher-ups.

So a suggestion to the ad agency and/or said cruise line: Next time, use fewer words to get larger results (You know, results like, “That cruise sounds FUN! I think I’ll call ____ or visit their website”). If you decide you want to make another billboard like the one described above, give me the money you budgeted to produce it and I’ll use the cash to take my own cruise. At least I’ll be be putting that money to good use …


July 6, 2010


Picnics, parades and fireworks are done. Before the spirit of 1776 fades from view, take one more glance at America’s historic pre-word-document parchment.

The foundation of freedom was written down on that parchment … yes, let me repeat that … WRITTEN DOWN in the Declaration of Independence. Take a look at that last word closely. At the very heart of independence is a PEN. A pen which inked 1320 words of freedom. Carefully crafted by its designated author (Thomas Jefferson). Revised by its editors (Benjamin Franklin and John Adams). Meticulously scrutinized – and ultimately approved – by the Continental Congress.

Never underestimate the importance of choosing the right writer. Whether it’s from a founding father’s quill pen, a copywriter’s keyboard or a blogger’s post, the power of the written word can hearten hearts … motivate minds … and, every so often, it can flat out change the world …


June 23, 2010

Content. Content?

Thousands of messages each day competing for attention.

Whether you’re tweeting, e-mailing, Facebooking or any business activity that involves writing, take a minute to self-edit. One extra moment of judicious thought can help your feelings and ideas cut through a mass of mindless clutter.

Never, ever be content with your content …


June 11, 2010

Your Lips Are Moving, But You’re Not Saying Anything

Seth Godin: Author, speaker, idea-guy extraordinaire.

And that doesn’t begin to explain how good he is.

For your reading pleasure, click the following link. It’s a short read about supposedly important people who write, but don’t really say anything. Wish I had written it, but that’s OK. I’m more than glad he did …


May 31, 2010

What’s At the Core

When it comes to church, I’m used to a lot of “bells and whistles:” Multi-talented band and vocalists whose chops rival the rich and famous of the music industry; cool staging effects and multimedia that are on a par with – and often surpass – what any TV network could manage; my pastor in Nashville is from the south, but looks like he just washed up on a California beach (with hipper, drier clothes).

The church I visited in Atlanta Sunday (my old home church) had none of that. Traditional Baptist Church. And by traditional, I mean organ, choir, sermon … much more subdued. The executive pastor who delivered the Sunday sermon is what you might expect: Older, suit & tie … looks like, well, a Baptist preacher.

But for all the differences, the ultra-hip contemporary cutting-edge Cross Point Community Church and its antithesis, John’s Creek Baptist, had one important thing in common.

The message.

At the heart of Cross Point is great teaching. So I found at John’s Creek. The message was simple but powerful: Use your uniqueness to draw people to God.

The important point here – as so aptly illustrated by these two contrasting churches – is that to succeed at whatever you do in business, the core message you communicate to your customers – via Websites, social media, etc. – is a VITAL key to that success. Because, I can tell you, from personal experience, that your business can have all the peripheral bells and marketing whistles money can buy, but if you don’t have a core message that resonates with your customers, then brothers and sisters, you ain’t got nothin’ …


May 19, 2010

What You Pay For … What You Get

My friend Ian Black recently forwarded this familiar story, one worth repeating:

A woman approached Picasso and asked him to draw a portrait of her. Picasso quickly sketches her. She is pleased and asks, “How much?” Picasso replies: “$5,000.” The woman screamed, “But it only took you five minutes!” Replied Picasso: “No, madam, it took me all my life.”

If you ever have need of a writer – for websites, fundraising letters, blogs, social media, etc. – one thing to keep in mind: If that writer’s main attraction is “cheaper than the others,” there’s probably a reason. As in anything in life, cheap investment can often mean mediocre results.

Really good writers bring to the table their lifetime of experience and expertise to solve your issues and make the best presentation possible. As my good friend, photographer Steven Long, once told me, “You (the customer) are not just paying for the words used. You’re also paying for the words not used.” That’s the kind of discernment – and ultimately success for your venture – that a great writer brings to the table …