When I first read my Kirkus starred review, I thought it was a mistake. I read it on the computer, printed it out, and read it aloud. I even gave it to my wife to read. Was this really happening? As an aspiring writer, I had little confidence in my abilities as a storyteller. I grew up with a father who loved me but was always pointing out my flaws. To him, I’d never be good enough, yet here was a review saying my writing was of professional caliber. That praise took a while to sink in.

Kirkus has a reputation in the industry as being tough but fair, treating a first-time novelist and best-selling author the same. That was both appealing and frightening to me. What if I wasn’t worthy? What if my father was right? Truthfully, all I was hoping for from Kirkus was a few kind words, that the book didn’t totally disappoint, and that I might even become proficient with a few more years of practice.

Instead, I received that amazing Kirkus Star, along with being selected as a Book of the Month, and later as one of the Best Indie Books of 2014. Lightning struck twice when my second novel also received a starred review, Book of the Month, and Best Indie Books of 2015.

My third novel comes out next year, and I’ll certainly request a review from Kirkus. It may not become another Best Books or even receive a Star, but I no longer care. I didn’t go with Kirkus for the obvious marketing and sales opportunities a positive review from a respected source can generate. I did it for myself—to prove something to myself.  In the end, I believe if my father was here to read my Kirkus reviews he’d be proud of his son.

R. R. Reynolds was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but grew up on the beaches of Santa Monica, California. Eventually the polders of the Netherlands beckoned him to live below sea level. After stints working in Denmark, India, and Nepal, he ended up living a snowball’s throw from the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. Upon returning to the United States, he enjoyed 10 years defrosting under the south Florida sunshine. Lilapsophobia drove him to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he found his new home and life as a certified Green Bay Packers-loving, Badger-rooting, brat-eating Wisconsin cheesehead.