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The Extra Mile Gets Olympic Gold
by Phoenix Roberts
found this ad in my local paper: "Writer wanted - Olympic licensee
FLAG. I don't like audition pieces at all, but a book is a good
Okay, I had pages of info, I just needed to condense it down to a couple hundred clever words. Easy.
RED FLAG. That's what the other candidates are probably saying. How do I win this gig? As I looked over their info, it was obviously downloaded from a news site. Nothing about Salt Lake City - - no introduction explaining why these characters are talking to kids about the games. Maybe there's an idea there.
So, I wrote three sample pages, instead of two. My first would be pure, but clever exposition in which Copper and Powder go into Coal's cave to wake him up for the games. Then they would explain the games to kids by explaining them to Coal. Hey, I thought, bears hibernate, why would he know anything about winter sports?
I also worried that this project could turn out rather dry, so, I threw in an obvious bad joke:
"What time is it?" Coal asked, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
half passed January," Powder replied, her ears twitching with
"What! I told you to wake me at a quarter to April!" the sleepy bear bellowed.
A little over the heads of the kids, maybe, but it was written to the art director, to show her I had a sense of humor.
I hesitated before dropping the package in the mail. This was kind of risky. The art director might look at my extra work and say, "This is garbage." Or, she might decide I was too dumb to follow simple instructions - I was told two samples. Either way, the contract would be lost, but, since I didn't have anything yet, so, I figured I could be bold, and sent them all.
passed, no word came. I called, and was told there'd been a small
GREEN FLAG. She faxed a contract, I signed it, and we met to discuss specifics. First up, my introduction was interesting, but wouldn't work. Coal, Copper & Powder had been drawn to portray reporters in the book, so the hibernating bear story was out. I'd have to replace it.
of the delay in selecting me, the deadline was looming, and time was
I'd also been given several pages of info about the mascots. In addition to the very animated characters you'll meet next year, the Olympic Committee created drawings for the mascots that resembled the famous rock carvings from southern Utah, and stories telling why they so perfectly represented Olympic virtues. That reminded me of a brochure idea I pitched to a pioneer history group - I recommended three cover photos: pioneer life, a modern family at a historic site and between them, a "grandad" telling stories at a campfire. The campfire! The storyteller!! I had my hook!!!
the end of two weeks, I submitted my first draft, with the following
bid for this project was higher than any other applicant, but going
From: Young Peoples Guide to the Games by Phoenix Roberts.
Roberts is a Utah-based freelance writer specializing in corporate
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