One of the Many Ways I’ve Been Humbled

November 1, 2011

In a normal person’s life, there are days when you feel pretty great about yourself and days you feel frustrated that things aren’t going to plan. There are also days when you feel grateful, humbled, and maybe a little undeserving. I’m about to tell a story about one of those kinds of days.

When you’re a relatively new author, you say yes to pretty much everything. You want me to speak at a book club? Sure! You want me to sit behind a table at Barnes and Noble for two hours while passers-by ask me for directions to the bathroom? No problem. Will you risk your life by speaking into a sparking microphone, in a leaking tent, during a torrential downpour at the Baltimore Book festival? Absolutely. Let me touch that live wire!

I always say yes, because these opportunities almost always turn into something good. So, when fellow author and lovely diva Amanda Brice invited me participate at an event at the Rockville Memorial Library the other day, I agreed without knowing any of the details. And because I lost her phone number, I couldn’t get any of those details after the fact. I didn’t know who else would be there; I didn’t know who was running the event. I just knew that I should show up with a bunch of my books. And I did.

The first thing that struck me was the extreme youth of the person who greeted me at the library as the organizer of the event. Why, she couldn’t even be out of high school! A smart young bibliophile who could also organize an author’s panel and make guests feel welcome with refreshments? I shouldn’t have been surprised. But capable young women have always fascinated me, and there one was, in the flesh, helping to escort me to my place at the table, where I immediately ran into Princess Alethea Kontis, who was wearing a pair of kick-butt boots and a tiara.

Now, I’ve been meaning to meet this dazzling New York Times bestselling author ever since she helped publicize my Cleopatra Literary Contest For Young Women. I tried to meet her at the Baltimore Book Festival too, but failed. Sure enough, I stumbled upon her by accident and was mesmerized by her innate understanding of the audience and how to charm them. She even brought a glowing ghost, which captured the attention of the youngest in the audience.

Next to join us was the poised Diana Peterfreund, who was heckled by a young (very young) critic in the audience who insisted that unicorns do not kill people.

Now, I don’t want to diminish my delight at spending time with these ladies, but hands-down, the most staggering moment for me was the arrival of Edmund R. Schubert, the editor of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. This came as a complete surprise to me and I’m afraid I stammered because as it happens, Edmund is the editor responsible for my first professional sale. He is, more than anyone outside my circle of immediate family and friends, responsible for giving me the confidence to persevere.

So, on the panel, I mentioned this and thanked him. To my surprise and delight, he immediately remembered the story he bought from me all those years ago. Limbo! And he said many kind things about it. I was astonished and totally humbled. I think I babbled on about all my current sales and contracts, sounding like an arrogant fool, but really I was simply trying to tell him how much his faith in my writing meant to me, and that I hoped he’d be proud in how far I’ve come since then.

I’m still a little humbled by the whole thing.

Thanks to the Library for a wonderful panel and engaged and enthusiastic young adult readers!

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