Claudia Sternbach's path to publication, Chapter 5: The dreaded Kirkus review and missing Dad

Here's the next installment in Claudia Sternbach's continuing adventure from brainstorm to bookshelf with her forthcoming book Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses. Click here to start at Chapter One.

I am sorry my father will never read my book. I had assumed he would live forever. As his health began to fail and there seemed to be fewer and fewer options for him, I still did not grasp the fact that he was mortal. As inconsistent as his presence in my life had always been, I couldn't imagine him not being out there somewhere. Six months have passed and I am still struck by his complete and total absence. I have spent my whole life thinking of him as having left. Of being gone. But this leaving was so profoundly different. A final chapter. Book closed. And time keeps moving forward.

Over this past half year advanced reader copies of Reading Lips have been sent out for review. I have been invited to write guest blogs on websites I had never known about. I have met, via the Internet, the Sweet Potato Queen and learned about her devoted followers and all of their enthusiasm for reading, kicking up their heels and celebrating life in a most colorful way. I have become familiar with the popular website Boxing The Octopus, a great place for all things literary. And one morning I choked on my oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (with cranberries for good health), when I found in my email a note from my publisher, Unbridled Books with "Kirkus Review" in the subject line.


Now I realize that my publisher believes me to be an adult. A grown woman who can handle what life tosses. From cow pies, to gold rings, kitchen knives to beanbags. I'm also sure that they feel they must share all news with me, good or bad. But the thought that:
A. Kirkus had read Reading Lips
B. They decided to tell the literary world what they thought of it, frankly made me want to start my day with a bang out of the cannon.

I debated with myself for a while before reading the missive. A shot of bourbon in my coffee to be enjoyed while still in my flannels seemed like a very writerly way to go. It could even lead to writing a memoir about substance abuse and then getting sober. I could check myself into a rehab. I could write about the people I met there. I could tell in graphic detail about having my teeth pulled without drugs. I could…go on Oprah!

Damn you James Frey. Beating me to the punch.

I ate a second cookie. Then opened the email. And it was good news. Now, other than to celebrate, I have no reason to pour a kick into my coffee. And since it wouldn't lead to another big book deal and a visit with Oprah (thanks so much James), there really is no point in trying to adopt new habits at this time in my life.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with about one month until Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses, hits the store shelves. It leaves me wondering if other reviewers will be as kind.

It leaves me wondering what my dad would have thought about it all.


Colleen said…
My condolences on the loss of your Dad, Claudia.

And many a writer has been driven to drink by Kirkus. Glad to hear you dodged that bullet.
Dawn Chartier said…
My condolences as well, Claudia. I too thought my mom would live longer than she had, and went in the hospital days before my book released. She died two days after it released. I had wanted to give her a copy of it and put it in her hands to read or at least let her download it on her kindle. But instead I stood by her hospital bed and read her the dedication. It was dedicated to her and my father. She smiled, and that was all the blessing I needed. Moral of story, give mom and dad a draft copy as soon as it's done.

Hugs to you, Claudia. Congrats on your new release.

Dawn Chartier
My condolences about your father as well. I'm sure that somewhere he is proud of you.

I can't wait to get your book.

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