I’ve spent the last two months (im)patiently waiting for Kirkus Reviews to do a fly-by on Bloodlines. For those unfamiliar with the periodical, Kirkus is an American book review magazine founded by Virginia Kirkus. As their tag-line reads: “Get Reviewed. Get Discovered. The most trusted voice in book reviews since 1933.”
It was an obvious choice to send my indie pubbed novel to them. If I wanted any chance of pushing Bloodlines toward mainstream readers other than friends, family and colleagues, this was one way to do it.
Unlike querying literary agents, which is akin to watching grass grow while simultaneously lighting your hair on fire, one strand at a time, I was given a definite end-date to when I would receive their review. So I knew I wasn’t going to wait forever.
The review arrived today while I was at work.
Needless to say, I broke several laws barreling home to read it.
Once home, I didn’t open the review right away.
Because I couldn’t.
There were certain parental demands that required my immediate attention.
Failure to comply meant, well…
Anyway, my youngest son wanted to show me some cool stuff in his Gravity Falls book.
And you know what? It was cool.
My eldest son wanted me to discuss his potential spending of $10 to buy something in Fortnite, a video game that has (regrettably) captured both his mind and soul.
(I still haven’t discussed the $10 with his mother, but I will at some point tonight.)
Both puppies (13 and 3) clamored for ear scratches and tushy rubs.
You can’t refuse unconditional love.
(Well, unless somebody is selling you something.)
And my wife, ever understanding of my peculiarities, merely wanted a hug and a kiss.
These precious moments are the ones you must cherish forever. It reminded me once again that family will never overshadow personal gain or goals. They are what I live for, and I’m thankful for each day, regardless of the many challenges every parent faces when having children. My family is my world, even the four-legged fuzzy ones.
After a brief pit-stop in my “office”, I was ready.
Now this is where it gets ugly.
I’ve mentioned in this space many times before that all my life, I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author. This dream is rooted in my adolescence, when my mother and father would each buy me books at the local bookstore so I could dive head-first into colorful and amazing adventures. As I read those novels, I’d create my own in my mind, play pretend with my brother in our basement, and eventually reveal them all as part of my role-playing games with my friends.
I had a way with words.
And I believed it.
Always believed it.
But until I opened the Kirkus Review today, I never really, truly believed in myself.
Authors live in a world of self-doubt of our own devising. It’s a devilish sort of prison. You pour your heart and soul out and onto the virtual (or actual) page, step back to edit the bejeezus out of it, then, after much hand-wringing, whining, booze and several prompts from beta readers and loved ones, you get it published in some way, shape or form.
And, in my case, I self-published.
Which multiplies that self-doubt a thousand fold.
So you can imagine my trepidation. Would this faceless person, some professional reviewer who I will probably never meet, crush me to powder with their objective appraisal of my blood, sweat and tears? And how could I recover from that? And if I couldn’t handle this review, how the hell was I going to be able to stomach future reviews? From anyone? Sure, 15 (and counting!) glowing reviews on Amazon have been wonderful…but they aren’t nearly enough.
I needed the affirmation.
I needed the knowledge that what I wrote was good.
And you know what?
I finally got it.
I may never get an agent to represent me.
I may never get my work traditionally published.
But I did get my first professional review.
And it kicked ASS.
Because I can write, dammit.
I can write.
You can find the Kirkus review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/peter-hartog/bloodlinesj