How I Learned to Teach Published Authors to Sit Down, Turn Around, & Perform Other Sophisticated Tasks

by Joan Kremer on July 21, 2008 · 9 comments

in Adventures,Opportunities

I’ve recently become the primary moderator for the weekly Second Life meetings of the Athena Isle Writers Group. Thanks to an awesome author/networker/Second Lifer-er Cybergrrl Oh (Aliza Sherman in First Life), viagra visit this site the group attracts writing experts and successful published authors of the caliber of best-selling cookbook authors Elizabeth Yarnell and Janet and Greta Podleski, buy mystery writers Roberta Isleib and Beth Groundwater, and novelists Michelle Richmond and Michelle Gagnon.

Athena Isle Writers meet

When Cybergrrl offered to transfer this task to me, I thought, Hey, no problem. Long ago in First Life, I worked as the book editor of a newspaper and interviewed quite a few well-known authors. So even though I still get star-struck in the presence of acclaimed writers, I’ve learned how to hide it!

Well, you can toss those thoughts into the “famous last words” bin!

I quickly discovered that the hardest part of this job was not:

  • A) coming up with intriguing questions for our guests,
  • B) keeping to the schedule, or even
  • C) ensuring the speaker had a glass of water.

No, the hardest part is . . . well, let me paint the picture for you. It’s just a few minutes before the meeting is to begin, and I’m greeting our guest, Famous Author:

ME: Hi, Famous Author! So glad you could come speak to us.

FAMOUS AUTHOR AS HER/HIS NEW AVATAR: Is someone there? Where are you?

ME: I’m standing behind you—just turn around.

FA: I don’t know how to turn around.

ME: Uh, sorry . . . I forgot you just arrived in Second Life like 5 minutes ago. You gotta use your arrow keys.

FA: Where are the arrow keys? I don’t see anything that looks like arrows on my screen.

ME: Ummm, the, uh, ones on your keyboard—on your computer.

  • Conversation pauses as FA’s avatar begins moving back and forward, bumping into me, the tree, the sign with her photo on it, and finally falling into the canal.

ME: Oops, sorry.

  • FA drags her avatar up out of the water, looking pretty grim.

ME: I wasn’t very clear, was I? The up and down arrow keys move you forward and backward; it’s the right/left keys that turn you around. (If an avatar could blush, mine would be a brilliant red by this time!)

  • By now we’re standing in front of the Story Mountain Lodge, inside of which the Athena Isle Writers are gathering. I explain that we have to go inside, and begin walking. I click open the lodge’s door and waddle in. (Your basic SL walk is fondly known as the “duck waddle.”) FA hesitates, so she gets to the door just in time for it to slam shut.

FA (bumping into the closed door): How do I get in there? The door just shut in my face!

ME (blushing deep burgundy under my calm avatar skin): Just touch the door and it’ll open.

  • Long pause; I consider going back out to fetch her.

FA: And just how do I make my arm move so it’ll touch the door?

ME (thinking this person’s gonna hate me forever for being so stupid): I’m so sorry—in SL “touching” something means you click your mouse on it.

FA (zig-zagging through the now-open door, only running into the walls and door jamb three times): Thanks for sharing. I hope this gets easier . . .

  • And so we continue for the next few minutes. I remember to add key descriptors like “that table to the right of your avatar” instead of saying something dumb like “that table.” I apologize for being such a “newbie” host and explain it’s not my intention to be so rude. We go over a couple of things and then it’s time to sit down at the round-table.

ME: Have a seat now, FA.

FA: At the table?

Guest speaker sits!

ME: Yes—that table to the right of your avatar. (see?? I’m learning!!)

  • FA’s avatar walks toward the table, bumps into it, then is suddenly standing in the middle of it, her avatar body cut in half by the table top. The others around her are “LOL‘ing” (avatar talk for “laughing out loud,” in case you didn’t know). I glance at FA’s avatar’s face, and despite the impossibility of it, I’m certain I see her skin turning red. I apologize profusely once again, and offer further assistance.

Umm, just how does one “take a seat” at the table?

ME: Oh, just click on the empty chair.

  • FA’s avatar proceeds to zig-zag all over the room now, and I realize she’s trying to position herself next to the chair, as you would in First Life. By now my First Life self is sweating and shaking, and giving thanks to the heavens that we’re using text chat so no one can hear my shame-filled, shaky voice.

Uh, FA, I forgot to say that you don’t have to be near the chair—just click on it.

  • FA does as I suggest, but by the time she’s right-clicked on the empty chair and chosen “Sit Here” from the menu that appears, another avatar has entered the room and sat down on the aforementioned chair. Hence, FA is suddenly sitting—rather suggestively, I might note, my heart sinking—on a strange avatar’s lap.
    By the time I’ve assured FA that sort of thing happens all the time in SL (which it does—or at least to me!), other more-together members of the group have taken over and guided FA through the process of taking a seat in Second Life.

    I hurriedly sit down myself and mentally review all my previous communications with her, hoping and praying that I never told her my First Life name, but realizing that I definitely did and feeling quite confident that she’ll remember my name with great disgust for the rest of her life, which means that because of the small-world of publishing, I can now kiss my own barely launched writing career goodbye.

    Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. What’s more, the truly awesome authors who have graciously braved the steep (but fast) initial learning curve in SL to share their insights with us have been exceedingly kind about my own steep (but much slower) learning curve on how to coach a guest on the basics of Second Life. The ones I’ve assisted so far have acclimated themselves quickly and seemed to have a good time. (See what last week’s guest, Elizabeth Yarnell, had to say about her experience on SL.) And the chance to meet and learn from so many experts in the field is unparalleled.

    But I have to admit that this has been one of the oddest things I’ve had to do to in Second Lifeteach acclaimed writers,who I hold in awe and who by rights should be teaching ME, how to do things like sit down, turn around, and avoid walking through a table.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dawn July 26, 2008 at 6:04 am


I would decidedly say, “Not your fault.” All those things are pretty intuitive for anyone who has ever played a single video game in their life!! Sounds like the writer was a bit of a technophobe and for that reason, felt like he (or she?) needed step-by-step directions whereas if they had just fiddled with the keys a bit, they would have gotten it. Please don’t fault yourself. Hmm… and I hope the author isn’t someone I admire and now *I’ve* just added insult to injury. LOL

A five minute training, before the meeting starts, may be a good idea, though. Or type out a hot list of commands and provide it to guests as they enter. (right, left- turn to right or left), up arrow – move forward, etc.

FWIW, I’ve never been in Second Life, but if you said Touch the arrow keys, I know you’d mean on the computer. The mouse click to touch or pick up something would also be pretty obvious, although I may have to think about it for a second.


2 Joan Kremer July 26, 2008 at 8:21 am

Hi Dawn!

Thanks for the comment. I love your idea of the list of commands! I’m going to implement that for the very next event. Then I can go over them in that pre-event training, as you also suggest. Super suggestions! I appreciate them a lot!


3 Joan Kremer July 26, 2008 at 10:02 am

Kippie Friedkin of Grid Life has compiled this superb downloadable Second Life Viewer Cheatsheet listing all the keyboard shortcuts for Second Life. A great resource!


4 Michelle Richmond August 13, 2008 at 11:37 am

Hi Joan. I love this! I was wandering around Second Life last night, trying to figure out how to sit down for my live chat today…and now I know I DON’T have to get to the chair before I can sit in it. I just have to click! That’s very good to know. And I’m going to try not to let the door bump in my face. Glad to have you to guide me through!

5 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) August 17, 2008 at 8:21 am

Hi Michelle!

Thanks for the comment! You were so gracious and fun at the Athena Isle Writers, and you sure picked up some of the quirks of Second Life fast! The one good thing about the door bumping avatars in the face is that at least it doesn’t hurt! LOL.

Thank you for coming into SL — you gave such excellent advice; people have been raving about you ever since.


6 Ben Anderson WT (1 comments.) February 25, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Definitely not your fault, girl.

7 sb (1 comments.) December 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm

You really can have this kind of conversation in virtual game. It’s amazing how the worldan d communication has changed

8 Peter Moss (2 comments.) March 8, 2010 at 7:02 pm

How did you do the snapshot popups on mouse over events?
I love that feature!
Peter Moss´s last blog ..How to configure IIS 7 to redirect requests made to non-www domain to www domain? My ComLuv Profile

9 Office Supplies (1 comments.) June 8, 2010 at 5:09 am

This really is quite incredible. And I would agree that you are not to blame by the way.

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