Posts Tagged With: Vermont

“Look at me!” and other self-publicity

As publishing becomes more and more digital and decentralised from the big (and not so big) publishing companies, many more authors will have to become more serious about self-publicity. Unfortunately, this kind of jumping up and down, shouting “Look at me! I’m fantastic! Buy my book!” just isn’t in the lexicon of British behaviour for most Brits. For those of us who grew up before the advent of ‘reality TV’ and the proliferation of ghastly TV talent shows, drawing attention to yourself as a kid could have unpleasant consequences.

I remember in primary school, I was ‘asked’ to play violin in a music class one day. I had been learning about six months I think, but, when quizzed about whether anyone in class played a musical instrument, everyone else had the good sense to keep quiet. So, I turned up with instrument in hand and, feeling the nerves that would be a part of any of my future public performances, I played a piece I had been set by the violin teacher to practice. The piece was called “Staccato” and was supposed to teach you the technique of the same name. This was not a technique I had mastered, unless “Staccato” is Italian for “make a noise like a wounded animal doing an impersonation of a violin being played very badly”.

Mercifully, for all concerned, the piece lasted about forty five seconds. I finished playing and could barely look at my classmates, partly through the shame of having played so badly and partly through the fear that I may have caused their eardrums to bleed. I waited for salvation and, after what seemed to be an eternity, it arrived.

A kid, I think his name was Eric, said “I could do better than that.” There was silence then the teacher said “OK, give him your violin. Off you go Eric.”

I didn’t want to give my violin to anyone and held onto it tightly. Eric blushed so deeply that the temperature in the room went up noticeably. “See, not so easy, is it Eric?” said the teacher.

I sat down and the lesson for myself and Eric was learned. There is a reason why there is a parapet and why your head should stay firmly below it. If you publicize your skills, or supposed skills, you will be called to account. Simple.

The problem is, we live in a world now where publicity is the name of the game and actual skills are not so high on the agenda. If you can’t do it yourself, someone else will do it for you, either for a price (Max Clifford, for example) or for free (if they think they will make money anyway, so almost every newspaper there is then). It’s probably best to control it yourself, or at least try to. You know you’ve made it when someone has a fake Twitter account in your name.

So, I have started my own, very British self-publicity campaign. I asked very nicely if the local cafe would allow me to put a poster up (A4, quite discreet) advertising BATDIG. They said ‘yes’ even before I had offered to use my own blu-tack.

And I asked Lord David Prosser if he would interview me – and he graciously agreed. You can read the interview on his site here.

And after all this self-publicity, I need a glass of chilled Sauvignon and an episode of Cowboy Bebop* to calm the nerves. Whatever next – a book signing perhaps? Well, maybe, just don’t ask me to play a violin…


* An anime series from a while ago that a guy in a bookshop in Montpelier, Vermont pointed me in the direction of. I’m not a massive anime fan but do like the surreal stuff like CB.

Categories: BATDIG, General silliness, NaNoWriMo, New England, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Furred Man

I thought I would write about my gravatar today. In case you haven’t seen it, here he is:

Auguste Banque’oliday

He is a very well-travelled bear. Born in Vermont, he stowed away in the wheelie-bag of a young couple while they had adventures in New England. He returned, first to Old England, then Wales (which is timeless), then back to Old England where he was a birthday present for my Dad. Well, what do you give the 70-year-old that brought you into the world and taught you some really good stuff before you became all adult and wrapped up in your own life? Exactly – something to delight the inner child.

Dad had just taken up watercolour painting and was already cooking for fun (he participated in a ‘dinner club’ with a few friends) so when the young couple encountered the Vermont Teddy Bear company in deepest Vermont, and discovered that you could buy chef’s and painter’s outfits for the bears, the deal was done. One of Dad’s other passions was linguistics in general and the English language in particular, but you just couldn’t buy an adjectival-compound-modifier outfit or a first-recorded-use-of-the-word-splurge outfit. For the life of me, I can’t think why not.

Back in Old England and with his new owner, he was named ‘Auguste’ pronounced ‘Augooste’ (say it in a French accent). Here they both are, meeting for the first time:

Auguste was still a bit jet-lagged, I think.

They had nearly ten years together before Dad sat down in his chair after a shopping trip and switched off. No painful subjunctive clauses, no long drawn-out decline into split infinitives, just a full stop. Linguistically elegant, he would have thought.

So, Auguste has returned to me, to seek fame as a gravatar and do some light cooking and painting – possibly separately, possibly together. Impressionist Landscape with chips*, anyone?

* Fries for my American readers. You would never eat a landscape with chips**.

** Crisps for my British readers.

Categories: Artist, Auguste, Gravatar, New England, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Create a free website or blog at