A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I've Been Gone for Great Reason--I had a Hot Fling!

Please: keep my report card. I know that I deserve an F for my attendance here this week.

I'll live with the 'F' till 3/31...at which time you may wish to send a Valentine instead. You see, its' true, I fell in love. And love transforms the best of us into dull slackers and fools.

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I fell in love with a project I'd expected to be easier, one I'd considered for months: a round table discussion, on a controversial topic, featuring 6 outstanding authors. Now, as a writer, my skill set is said to be sound. And I have enjoyed some success as an interviewer. But as a project organizer? Life handed me a big sign reading:

The challenges I faced were these:
1) Assembling the perfect group, one that would appeal to the widest range of readers: mystery, suspense, literary, fantasy...
2) Length: the original plan was ten questions, with each writer allowed 200 words for each. But, as you imagine, a 12,000 word forum would have been too much for almost any reader.
3) Staying on top of the production time line.
4) Creating the right format: one that would give writers room to really go wild with the questions...and readers an at-a-glance way to keep track of the authors and the questions.
5) Learning how to copy/paste six pages of responses into a handsome and unified blog.
6) How to stay happily in love while facing these hurdles.

The first turned out to be easier than I'd anticipated. Through contacts I've made in a couple of years on Twitter and Authors Electric, I assembled the following lineup in a very short order of time:

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Russell Blake
Claude Bouchard
Bill Kirton
John A. A. Logan
Richard Monaco
Brad Strickland

Holding the number of knights down to 6 was a key step in controlling blog length. Still, what were we to do with those 12,000 words? The necessary goal remained: fullness, but with brevity.

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Solution: We'd still stick to ten questions--but divided into two parts. And, to give the knights ample room, I gave them the freedom to budget their replies. In other words, if one question really rang their bells and they needed 300 words, they could scale back on any other question--responding, e.g., in just 50-100 words. Their word count for all 5 questions could not exceed 1,000.

Okay, then: challenge 3.

Surprisingly, there was no problem at all. I'd expected the knights to need anywhere from a week to a month. Instead, they charged into battle! I received the first completed set of answers in one day--and the answers were thoughtful and deep. All the others beat the deadline too, leaving me plenty of room for two battles I needed to face on my own.

Battle the first:

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Battle the second:

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Between these two battles, I found myself strapped to remember my sweet giddy love for this project while I rolled in the gore and grue of my mistakes. Luckily, I'd learned to Save--even going so far as to create a backup version--for one day I deleted everything I'd done. Formatting: I toyed with different fonts, type sizes, colors, even spacing between replies and questions. Copy/paste worked simply fine with five of the six knights' replies. For the sixth, no matter I did, the screen showed great blocks of white space. Cheerfully, more or less, I retyped his answers--naturally ending up with typos that I had created. Proofing and more proofing.

But this isn't a sorrowful story. It's still a story of falling in love, and staying in love, when the going gets a little rough--and you can't write your weekly blog.

I loved every minute of the adventure I've had with these six remarkable writers. And I'm looking forward to doing the second part, if they're still game. I like these words and live by them:

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Mark the following date on your calendars, please.

When: March 31
Where: You'd better believe it'll be right here!

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