Readers Write

Everyone has an opinion.

Everyone has an opinion.

Writing is a solitary job. Just you and a blank computer screen that isn’t a lot of company, especially when it stays stubbornly blank for a discouraging amount of time. But when you finally finish and publish your work, you get the chance to connect with readers. Sometimes what they write is warm and kind. Sometimes it’s not. But it’s always interesting to hear the perspectives of people who have spent some time in the fictional world you create.

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that book reviews are a little like getting a performance evaluation from hundreds of people, in front of an audience of thousands. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it gets a little ugly. In the spirit of the Jimmy Kimmel Live segment “Mean Tweets,” here is a sampling of what readers (none of whom I know) write about the Dangerous Mysteries series. (I’m including the good first, because I don’t want to scare any potential readers away by leading with the bad)!

First, the good:
Everything a mystery should be.
I stayed up until three in the morning to finish reading this book.
For a fascinating read you can’t put down, I highly recommend this writer.
Lots of twists and turns and great character descriptions.
Wow, what a read!!! I loved this book.
Next, the bad:
Disappointing: lack of character development ruined this story.
This novel felt like the story arc in a daytime soap opera.
No character development.
Juvenile. Kind of like “Lois Lane,” girl reporter.
Run of the mill. Bought by my wife, so perhaps it is a book aimed at female readership. (And we all know that females enjoy run of the mill stories? Sorry, couldn’t resist a little editorializing. SH)
And then, the ugly:
Ughhhh. Boring, dragged on, poor choice of story line.
The author took a good plot and over complicated it to the point of ridiculous[sic] and boredom.
Good mystery. Terrible writing.
I kept falling asleep because the book couldn’t hold my interest.
After reading this book for hours a day I almost thought I was never going to finish.

Actually, I feel very fortunate that the books I’ve written have engaged readers enough to motivate them to comment, for good or ill, on the story and characters in the series. It would feel quite awful to put something out there, and never get a reaction at all.

It would be nice if every reader enjoyed everything I wrote, but I know that you can’t please all of the people all of the time—and reviews have taught me that you can’t please some of the people any of the time. Still, the good ones lift my spirits and make me smile, the bad ones inspire me to try harder, and the ugly ones make me laugh out loud.

Now, in this season of giving, if you have the time or inclination, please post a review or send an email to let an author know you enjoyed her or his books. And I don’t mean mine. I’m speaking here for all the solitary writers tapping away at their computers, and/or tearing their hair out and wondering if what they are writing is ever going to touch anyone reading it.  It would be a very nice gesture to let them know it has. 🙂








Crafty Words


A Clean Finish


  1. Julie

    I find it interesting, that the writer of the ugly comment, still read your book from cover to cover. There must have been something there that led him or her to continue reading to the end. Keep your chin up keep writing and don’t let the bad or the ugly curtail your creativity. Like you said, it should only increase your tenacity to write more.

  2. Sheila

    I have to think those that are critical of authours ability, not only shows the lack of the ability of the reader. Lets ask them to write us a novel, with a time limit, and also a family to care for. I have read many novels (as I read at least 3 a week) and find some are not as well written as others. Oh! do I wish I had half as much talent to keep folks entertained as well as you do. I happen to be a lover not a hater.

    • Thanks for weighing in, Sheila. You obviously have a very kind heart. But I think there’s a need for negative reviews; it keeps writers from getting too complacent. You can’t write for your critics or change your style to suit someone else; there are always people who won’t like what you write, or say, or wear, or how you style your hair. But sometimes there’s a nugget of wisdom in the critique that actually helps the next round of writing. Still, there’s no doubt that supportive words like yours are always the most fun to read! 🙂

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Julie. People respond to writing from their own experiences and preferences, which can be wildly different from mine, so to each his own. Sometimes the super negative comments make me laugh, they’re so stunningly harsh, but I try to keep all the feedback in perspective: I’m neither as good as my kindest reviewers tell me, nor as bad as my harshest critics inform me. I write because I enjoy it, and I’m happy when readers engage. That said, encouragement like yours is always appreciated. 😉

  4. Dian Frayser

    I would love to know what the people read who wrote the bad and the ugly comments? Hmmmm. Is it possible that some people, instead of offering constructive criticism, just like to cut you down. And…are they authors themselves? I think the only bad you need to read is if it’s truly done as something beneficial, but you know this. It’s just hard not to feel some pain I would think. Tell me I’m funny looking and you’ve hurt my feelings. Tell me how to look better and I might listen.

    Cute picture! And I love the hoodie. So keep writing the GOOD stuff you write. Those of us who matter really appreciate that.

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