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Personal Humiliation and Shout-Outs

One of the things Patrick and I figured out several years ago is that we're both really, really bad at talking about our own work in any promotional - or even halfway positive - way. My own most humiliating attempt came several years ago, at the Glasgow WorldCon. A wonderful writer who'd critiqued my adult historical fantasy novel Masks and Shadows (which had, at that point, just gone out on submission to publishers through my then-agent) introduced me to the artist Alan Lee.

Alan Lee. Oh. My. God. Of course, if you're not a Lord of the Rings fan or a fantasy fan in general, you may not know what I'm talking about...but if you are - and oh, I am! - then you will know exactly how awe-stricken I felt. I had seen him on the DVD extras for every LotR film. I had adored his artwork forever. I was being introduced to Alan Lee, in person, and by a writer I loved, who told Alan Lee that she expected my novel would be selling soon and that he should look forward to it.

He smiled kindly and gave me his hand. "So, what's it about?" he asked.

I looked at Alan Lee, one of the artists I admire most in the world. I opened my mouth. And my mind went completely blank.

"It..uh...it..." Desperate to say something, anything, as the expectant silence grew pained, I took a deep breath. "It's, um, set in an eighteenth-century palace and it-has-a-smoke-monster-that-eats-people!" I blurted.

It has a smoke monster that eats people? That was my one-line description of my beloved novel, which was all about opera and romance and magic in Haydn's Eszterháza Palace?!

"A smoke monster that eats people, huh?" Alan Lee's eyes crinkled with amusement that he was clearly trying very hard, and very kindly, to suppress. "Well," he said, "I'll look forward to it."

Then he turned back to the writer who'd introduced us, and I tried very hard to believe that this was all just a bad dream. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

That really is how bad I am at talking up my own work.

But! I love talking about the work I love that's being done by people I care about. So, right here and now, I want to give three quick shout-outs to some wonderful non-writing-work that's being done fabulously by people I know.

1. Websites: First and foremost to me, of course, is Patrick's new web design business, 50 Seconds North. Patrick spent seven years working on websites for the University of Leeds, and now he's finally gone freelance. Of course he did my website, as well as Lia Habel's lovely author website. If anyone out there is looking for a website - whether it's writing-related or not - I would genuinely recommend his work wholeheartedly even if we weren't married. (But since we are married, I recommend it EVEN MORE enthusiastically, of course! ;) )

2. Covers: Jenn Reese is a wonderful writer and an amazingly supportive friend and critique partner - in fact, the third (as-yet-untitled) Kat book is jointly dedicated to her and Justina Robson, as Kat's joint godmothers! But today's shout-out isn't about her writing, for once. She's just begun her own freelance business, Tiger Bright Studios, designing print and ebook covers for authors and publishers. And oh, her covers are BEAUTIFUL! If I ever decide to put up an ebook on Amazon or elsewhere, I'll be hiring Tiger Bright Studios in a heartbeat, and I recommend her work hugely to anyone who wants a beautiful, affordable cover for any purpose. Just check out the portfolio on her website for many, many good reasons why!

3. Jewelry: Emily Mah was one of my fellow classmates at the Clarion West SF/F writing workshop back in 2001. Now she's publishing short stories in great markets, but what I want to talk about here is her beautiful jewelry. She's become a professional jeweler, and I loved her jewelry from the first moment I saw it. What I didn't realize, though, until she approached me earlier this year, is that she's also brilliant at making bespoke jewelry that links into authors' books.

Of course I did a giveaway earlier this year of the beautiful Magick pendant she did for Kat. In another few weeks, I'll be holding another giveaway of an amazing charm bracelet she's also designed for the first Kat book, based on a list I gave her of the most important elements in the book. Later this year, she'll also be offering up a pair of earrings she's working on for Kat Book 2. I'd recommend her jewelry shop to anyone who enjoys beautiful jewelry, and if you're an author or other creator looking for tie-in jewelry, I'd also very much recommend her work.

There. Whew. Why is it so much easier to talk enthusiastically about other people's work than it is to talk about our own? I don't know. But it really is such a pleasure to recommend good work that other people have done.

What about you guys? Whose work would you like to talk up? I'd love to hear about it in comments. (Either that or: do you have an embarrassing moment of trying to talk up your own work? Please do share it to equal my moment of humiliation!)


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
I have a motto: "Modesty is for suckers." I live by it the best I can. ;)
Jul. 6th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)
It's a very smart motto to have!
Jul. 6th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the shout-out, Steph -- I really appreciate it! And I love being sandwiched between Patrick and Emily, two people whose work I so deeply admire.

What a great thing to wake up to this morning!
Jul. 6th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
We are enjoying sandwiching you too.

Er... that kind of came out wrong. ;p
Jul. 6th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
LOL. I was wondering if I would regret the sandwich metaphor...

Turns out, I don't. :-P
Jul. 6th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
I love your work! It's fun talking about it. :)
Jul. 6th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I'm so bad at talking up my own work that I generally don't talk about it at all. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only one. Thank you for having the guts to share your story, Steph!

(Note to self: must practice my pitch...)
Jul. 6th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, yes. There's nothing that reduces me to paralysis faster than trying to think up a pitch for any of my work...but it's SO important for protection against hideously embarrassing moments like mine!
Jul. 6th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
Ag, the elevator pitch. Have you prepped one now? When I first sold my book, I didn't, and it was... bad. The second time, I had one prepared for when folks asked, and I haven't faltered since.
Jul. 6th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
I've got a kind of half-baked one for the first Kat book...but oh, it isn't good. Honestly, I need to woman up and come up with a better one - and one for the second book, too! Eek. But at least the half-baked current version is still better than the smoke monster pitch!
Jul. 6th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
Hey, I was at Glasgow Worldcon too! First and only proper con, and was there with both daughters. I didn't have a reason like yours to get tongue-tied, though I would NOT be pushed over to accost Connnie Willis at a HarperCollins-sponsored party. I gushed all over her at a book-signing later, and over Martha Wells after a panel, and over Kelly Link a time or two and...

All of your shout-outs are lovely!
Jul. 6th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
It was a great con, wasn't it? Despite my moment of total humiliation, I had a wonderful time. I can't wait till it comes back to the UK again!

And it's so much fun to do shout-outs for work (by other people) that I love. :)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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