Tag Archives: Kelly Corrigan

Kelly Corrigan and Non-traditional Book Marketing

Interesting article in The Washington Post today about how Kelly Corrigan used nontraditional book marketing techniques, largely on her own, to sell her book, cancer memoir The Middle Place. (The Middle Place was the pick for the first EDIWTB book club, in December 2007).

I liked this article, but couldn't help but wonder – where is the mention of the book blogs?!

Report from BEA

I am on the train back home to DC after spending the day at Book Expo America, the book industry's annual gathering in NY. It was a long day, but very interesting and a lot of fun.

I've read reports that BEA was significantly smaller this year, with fewer exhibitors, attendees, and freebies than usual due to the economy. Since it was my first time going, I don't have anything to compare it to, and it seemed crowded and busy to me. I am so used to being at the Javits Center for auto shows, so it was a nice change of pace to see books and librarians instead of cars and auto journalists!

I spent a lot of time just walking the floor, checking out the publishers and various other exhibitors. I was pretty selective about the books I picked up, in no small part because my bag started digging into my shoulder with the weight of the books and catalogs before I'd even been there an hour. The book I am most excited about getting is the latest Jonathan Tropper, called This Is Where I Leave You, which has gotten a lot of advance praise. I was able to score a scarce copy of it thanks to a kind man at Penguin.

I also got to meet several of the publicists I have corresponded with at the major publishing houses, which was a treat. They were so friendly and welcoming, and sought me out, which was really nice.

Another treat: meeting Kelly Corrigan in person, who was signing copies of her book, The Middle Place, with her dad. Here's a photo of them:


I spent a fair amount of time on the children's floor and picked up some signed books for my daughters.

Finally, I greatly enjoyed the book blogger panel organized by Jennifer Hart of Book Club Girl, featuring Natasha of Maw Books, Dawn of She Is Too Fond of Books, Stephanie of Stephanie's Written Word, Amy of My Friend Amy's Blog, Candace of Beth Fish Reads, and Jenn of Booking Mama. The panel was extremely well-attended, and they answered a lot of questions about book bloggers, how we like to be pitched, how blog book tours work, etc. I was so encouraged by the level of interest in book bloggers. We are taking over!

I was fortunate to sign cards at the Blogger Book Signings sponsored by Firebrand Technologies with Stephanie of Stephanie's Wrtten Word and Jay Franco of Bookrastination. I was hoping to meet fellow BEA attendees Kathy of Bermuda Onion's Blog and Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelf, but I missed them. I did meet Trish of Hey Lady, Whatcha Reading.

Here is a picture of Jay, Stephanie and me:


Definitely worth the trip!

Happy Mother’s Day from Kelly Corrigan and Borders

The first book we read for the EDIWTB book club was The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan, back in December 2007. It's Corrigan's memoir of having breast cancer at the same time that her father had prostate cancer, and about being in that "middle place" when you are both a mother and a child. It was a great read, and I was honored to have been an early reader of the book.

Kelly sent me this video today, which is about her own mother and the lengths that she goes to for her daughter. Maybe it's the acoustic guitar, maybe it's the poignant titles throughout, but it made me tear up several times and I thought I'd share it here. Happy early Mother's Day to moms and daughters and readers everywhere.

(And kudos to Borders for a successful viral video! Like I always say at work, knowing your audience is key.)

Video from Kelly Corrigan, author of THE MIDDLE PLACE

A year ago yesterday, the first EDIWTB book club read The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, a memoir of the author’s bout with breast cancer. The “middle place” refers to those middle years when you’re both a parent and a child. I enjoyed the book a lot and often wonder how Corrigan (and her very memorable father) are doing. Here is a link to the book club discussion.

Kelly Corrigan emailed me the following video this week, which her publisher put together on the occasion of the book’s paperback release. It’s an ode to friendship, to the ways in which our friends get us through the difficult periods of life. I enjoyed it and thought it was worth sharing here.

Q&A with Kelly Corrigan, author of THE MIDDLE PLACE

Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place (which was the book we read for the first EDIWTB online book club) has answered some questions submitted by EDIWTB readers about her book and her writing process.

Here is Kelly’s response:

Thanks, everyone, for making time for my book.  I am thrilled by your reaction and am happy to answer your questions. If you’re so inclined and have a moment, I would be so grateful if you could email your friends a link to the trailer.  I hope I’m not overstepping here.

Thanks again for reading The Middle Place.

Q: You share a lot of personal information about your family and specifically, about your relationship with your parents.  Did you talk to them before you wrote the book about how much you were going to disclose and if they were comfortable with that?  Did they have any input about what you said about them? Did your family remember things the same way? What types of conversations took place upon everyone reading the book?

I had always wanted to write a book, since I was in high school. Maybe even middle school.  It was To Kill A Mockingbird that got me going.  My dad was a big fan of this idea (as he was of any idea, or ambition, or invention…)  Then, in the Spring of 2005, I was sure my dad was dying.  So I wrote for him.  As fast as I could.  I wasn’t writing for publication.

Then, once I got an agent, I started talking to my mom a lot. I wanted to make sure she was OK with the stories I was telling, and that she understood what I was saying about our relationship and how it has matured.  My mother is a deeply confident person who knows, because she has been told and also because she just knows, how much we value her.

I did misremember several things and they were cut.

Q. Did you have an intention of the book becoming an anthem for cancer survivors and their families or were you was simply looking to relay your personal experiences?

No, I was not writing as breast cancer survivor.  I was writing as a woman who had a major crisis.  It could have easily been unemployment or infertility or divorce.  The crisis made me a child again.  And then I found I had trouble standing back up as an adult once I was finished with treatment.

Q. From a writing standpoint I’m curious as to how you selected the vignette memories that occur between present experiences. Was the process easy? Were you able to just glance back in memory and come up with circumstances or experiences that reminded you of what you were going through in the present? I’m interested in that process – the looking back to better expand upon the present and the future. The cyclical nature of that style of writing. What was easy about it, what was difficult?

These vignettes are the stories I have been telling all my life, at parties, in dorm rooms, to new friends.  So they did come easily.  I had honed them over the years.  I knew what was funny to people about The Guess Jeans fight, for example.  Sequencing the book, on the other hand, was tricky.  I spent a lot of time reshuffling the chapters and seeing what themes were served by different orders.

Q. I’m curious, given the recent troubles that some memoirists have run into, how much of the book is true (in the sense that it actually happened as "reported" in the book), and how much of it is covered with the patina of hindsight, rose-colored or otherwise? On a related note, when did you decide to write the book–around the time of diagnosis, or on some other timeline?

I started writing in the Spring of 2005 so the cancer stuff was very fresh, and in my dad’s case, was still unfolding.  In the flashbacks, much of the dialogue is imagined.  In some cases, I remember specifically how the conversations went but for the most part, I am recreating scenes as I believe they unfolded.  I also used the internet to jog my memory about specific things, like Wacky Pack stickers and Jesse’s girl and the characters on "General Hospital".

Q. I’m curious about your writing process from a schedule perspective– do you set aside a certain amount of time every day, every week, etc., or does it just happen when it happens?

I just had to sneak it in during the nooks and crannies of my day.  I had 12 hours a week when both my kids were in school, so those were my primary writing sessions.  I went to local cafes and got a pot of tea and cranked until I had to turn around for pick up.  I continue this way today.  I am working on pieces for magazines and my columns and a novel and another memoir about my family and faith.

Q. I am sure you had feelings of anger when you were diagnosed – how did you deal with this in front of your children?

I didn’t feel angry until much much later.  I mostly felt scared.  I am not stoic, as you saw in the book, so I spent a lot of time worrying about how I would weather chemo.

Q. I have heard that for some women the most emotionally trying time is after intensive treatment has ended – they may feel as though they are not doing anything proactive to prevent recurrence – have you found this is the case?

Yes, recurrence anxiety is a particular beast – it’s vague and amorphous and sneaky — you never know when it’s going to rise up in you.  I actually feel incredibly resigned sometimes, like I am going to live a short life and that’s just the way it is and I better make the most of it.  Then, other days, I think it was a blip, something random that will never happen again.

Q. Was writing the memoir cathartic/therapeutic or did it start to seem like a chore after a while?

It never felt like a chore.  The book sold in three days based on the first 100 pages.  I felt so lucky – still do – and it was just never ever lost on me that I was so insanely lucky to be able to do this.

Q. The book focuses much more on your relationship with your father post-diagnosis and less on your kids. Was that intentional – did you want to protect your daughters’ privacy?

No, it is really more a reflection of the fact that I am still trying to lean into motherhood.  Also, I am still getting to know my girls. They’re so different today than they were the day I handed in the final manuscript.  There’s so much more to say about them now.  But then, they can read now too.  So I feel much less comfortable using them in stories and columns and such.  That’s one reason I am spending much of my writing time on a novel.  Give the family a break for a while.

Online Book Club: THE MIDDLE PLACE by Kelly Corrigan

Welcome to the first “meeting” of the Everyday I Write The Book Blog book club!

This is an experiment with an online book club, which I first learned about from the DC Metro Moms blog, to which I contribute a few times a month. Here’s how it works: a group of people read the same book, one person writes a kickoff review on a blog, and everyone else participates in the discussion through the blog’s comments field.  Hyperion was kind enough to provide review copies of The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan, to any EDIWTB reader who wanted to participate.  Depending on how this goes today, I might like to try this regularly, either with books that we get from publishers or with other books that we’d all have to get on our own.

So… on to the review.

Hyperion sent me my first copy of The Middle Place a couple of months ago, and I took a cursory look at it and decided it wasn’t for me. I ended up giving it away on my blog. Then they approached me about doing an online book club around it, and sent me a second copy, which of course I read. Boy am I glad I did.

The Middle Place is named for that fragile time of life when you’re still someone’s child, but you’re also someone’s parent. The time when you’re mostly an adult, making adult decisions and learning what it’s like to be responsible for someone other than yourself, but also still craving the comfort and approval of your parents. Kelly Corrigan, the author of The Middle Place, felt the fragility of this time even more acutely than many of us might when both she and her father were diagnosed with cancer at the same time.  The book is the account of her battle with breast cancer and her father’s parallel bout with bladder cancer, and all of the ripples the disease caused in their relationship with each other and the rest of the people in their lives.

When I gave the book away at first, I think it’s because I feared it would be a support guide, a “you can do it!” cheerleader for people with cancer. I saw an Oprah book… maybe ultimately a Lifetime movie. I was wrong. The Middle Place is honest, readable and incredibly moving, without being maudlin, saccharine or heavy-handed. Corrigan’s writing is pitch-perfect. Her eye for detail is remarkable – she re-creates scenes in such a way that you feel like you were in the room watching them play out. She includes a lot of memories about her early, pre-married, pre-cancer life, but these are not extraneous. Each of these stories adds a dimension to her depiction of her very special relationship with her father.

If — god forbid — a close friend were diagnosed with cancer – The Middle Place is like the transcript of the phone calls or emails you might exchange. Corrigan is so likeable – and so human – you feel like you really know her by the end of the book. Here’s a passage I really liked:

This is exactly what being an adult is – leaving a voice mail for the national expert in urology while scrubbing out the grime that builds up inside the lid of a sippy cup. Keeping your toddler from opening the bathroom door while you inject a thousand dollars’ worth of Neupogen into your thigh so you can keep up your white blood cell count.  Untangling a pink princess boa while wondering if you are a month away from losing both breasts, both ovaries, and your father.

In many ways, The Middle Place is a straightforward book. It’s ultimately about fear and acceptance and keeping perspective. Maybe it doesn’t lend itself that well to a book club format, where readers often analyze themes and tone and language and character development.  This is non-fiction, about a very challenging time in the author’s life. But don’t get me wrong – it’s an excellent book. It’s a quick but very satisfying and compelling read. I’d recommend it to anyone – whether or not they’ve been touched by cancer (and who hasn’t, these days?).  The book is due out in January and I hope it’s a great success for Corrigan, whom I believe deserves accolades for so bravely and honestly opening up her life to others.

I have deliberately not discussed the outcome of the book so as not to give too much away.

OK, readers – your turn. Please weigh in – what did you think of the book?   Also, remember that Kelly Corrigan has agreed to answer reader questions in an upcoming Q&A on this blog, so as you’re commenting, please also include any questions you’d like her to answer.

Online Book Club, THE MIDDLE PLACE by Kelly Corrigan

So, I got an email yestserday from someone at Hyperion, the publisher of The Middle Place, which is one of the books I gave away this week. She was intrigued by the idea of an online book club (which I referenced in this blog post), and asked if I might be interested in hosting one for that book.

Here’s how it would work:

1. Either she or I would send interested readers a free review copy of The Middle Place.

2. We’d all take a month or so to read the book.

3. On a pre-announced date, I would post a review of the book on this blog, and anyone who had read it and felt like responding or writing his/her own post would use the comments section to do so.

4. We end up with a long dialogue among several readers about The Middle Place, which anyone reading the blog could also read, then or later.

Simple as that.

Is anyone out there interested in participating? If so, send your address to me at gweiswasser@gmail.com and I will pass it along to Hyperion.

Here’s what I wrote about the book again (I haven’t read it):

The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan. If you like Grey’s Anatomy, you might enjoy this memoir by a 30-something woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time that her father is fighting the the disease.  One book blurb says, "Kelly Corrigan’s utterly absorbing memoir is wry, smart, and often heart-wrenching. Corrigan takes us down memory lane and then, at the same time, down some other, darker road most of us hope never to travel. Yet we follow her all the way, quite willingly, thanks to her sharp eye and her great sense of humor."

The book is due out in early 2008.