Reviews, good and bad

More nice reviews for FlashWired, and one so scathing and painful it’s still making me wince two days later. FlashWired appears to be provoking extremes of reaction with nothing in between.

Odd how it’s the harsh, unforgiving review that’s staying with me. I get that the reviewer really did not like FlashWired and she has every right to say so but it stings like fury to be told that my writing is ‘atrocious’.  Atrocious and painful.  My writing is so bad, in her opinion, that it can only be likened to the worst evils that humans can visit on each other.  My mind keeps wiping the word out, and I woke up at 2am this morning with my thoughts a repetitive “what did she say?  how badly did she say I wrote?” but being totally unable to remember the word.  I could remember nothing about it, other than it began with an ‘a’ and was not good.  I ended up having to get out of bed to look at the review again. Atrocious. Right. That’s the word. And only then, when I’d sat and thought about it all again, the jab as painful as the first time, could I eventually still the thoughts and get back to sleep.

Not everyone is going to like what I write and that’s fine.  I don’t like every book or story I’ve read either.  And now I’ve discovered that sometimes people will be deliberately hurtful about saying how much they don’t like it.  

I think I’m just taken aback by the extremity of the review.  I don’t mind at all someone saying it wasn’t their cup of tea, and they didn’t like the writing style or couldn’t get into the characters – the reader’s in Cal’s head after all, and he can be pretty shallow and self centred. I get that for some people, that’s off-putting. But to use the word ‘atrocious’ is so vicious,  so demeaning, I have no words.  I have, however, lost 1lb since I read the review.  There may be some side benefits.

Memo to self: grow a thicker skin. 



  1. Thicker skin is an admirable resolve, though I don’t expect any skin to be thick enough to withstand an opinion expressed so scathingly. I’m really sorry that happened to you. For what it’s worth, you’re definitely not alone in having the negative words stay with you and affect you more strongly than the positive ones. I hope by going back and re-reading all the positive reviews they’ll be drowned out.

    This sort of experience is why I’ve made the decision not to read any reviews of my work. It’s hard at the moment, because ‘The Unforgiving Minute’ has just been released and it’s like firing it off into a void, but I know myself well enough to realise that if I go looking and find negative reactions (and I will, even if I also find positive ones) I am likely to lose confidence and stop writing. So instead I’m hugging to me the quite delightful review that the Dreamspinner reviews person linked me to and quietly carrying on with my next piece. But that’s me; not everyone is as thin-skinned as I am.

    Here’s to a new day, and the forthcoming blockbuster,’ Shield’!


    • Every kind word is like balm right now, and I do appreciate it. I don’t, I think, have the willpower to not look at all at reviews – at least until now, I haven’t! I may try and develop it to avoid being sideswiped like this again. I’m delighted that Unforgiving Minute is doing well. It’s currently sitting on my computer waiting to be read.

      I must press on with the final tidying up edit of SHield before I take it to Manchester in July.

      Thank you, so much, for the support!


      • I can see that complete avoidance is not for everyone – and quite honestly, it does feel like writing in a vacuum. But upwards and onwards sounds like the best remedy possible; I will be sending all sorts of positive vibes your way for Manchester and a successful outcome.

        Re Unforgiving Minute – that’s very kind. Thank you!


  2. I’ve resolved to stop reading reviews because the bad ones hurt my ability to write whereas I seemed to forget the good ones within a day or two. I haven’t quite succeeded yet, but I’m working at it. I’m sorry to hear about your experience, but I’m certainly not surprised. I hope things are improving in this area for you! (I know it’s a late comment, just ran across your blog today!)


    • I’m trying to find the strength of mind to follow your example, but as you’ll know, it’s hard to put something of yourself out there and not want to know how it’s faring! I’m getting better at shrugging off the less good reviews though, I think. Having such a baptism of fire in that regard means that everything else rather pales beside it and can be dealt with more easily.

      Thank you for the kind words!


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