How to Handle Negative Criticism by Ginger Black – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ginger Black will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour and check out our review here.

How to handle negative criticism

Gaynor Pengelly: My co-writer, Julia Thum and I make a point of not taking negative criticism personally. In the same way, she enjoys completely different types of books to me, it’s only natural that our novel is not going to appeal to everyone on the planet.

Rather than focus on the negative, we take pride in the fact Riverside Lane is a well-written, intelligent book – if the genre or story is not some readers ‘cup of tea’, then so be it. There’s nothing we can do, so there’s no point in getting upset.
That said, we feel it’s important to listen to constructive criticism. Occasionally an observation resonates and we’ve taken it onboard when writing our second novel.

It doesn’t matter what you do, for a living, there will always be criticism. You only have to pick up a newspaper, to understand criticism is part of the modern-day culture, whether you’re a banker or real estate worker, doctor or journalist, everyone gets criticised at some stage in their career, so why not a writer?

At the end of the day, Julia and I have had the focus and commitment to sit down and write an 85000 word novel, we’ve found the energy and drive to market and promote it. We’ve had the resilience to face being turned down by agents, and the strength to cope with rejection from publishers. We are just one of a tiny percentage of the world population that has actually completed a novel, and then an even tinier percentage who has got our book published. If that is not a reason to hold your head up high, then what is?

Joyfully, a lot of people have praised our efforts and given Riverside Lane rave reviews, a few haven’t, but that’s life. In the words of the late, great Bing Crosby:

‘You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between’

After arranging a house swap with a debonair antiques dealer, a darkly handsome American named Luca Tempesta arrives in a quaint English village. Tempesta, who claims to run a detective agency in Los Angeles, is supposedly on holiday – but the inhabitants of the village are unconvinced.

Yet, as they attempt to solve the mystery of the stranger in their midst, it gradually transpires that there are more than enough secrets to go around in the village itself, harboured by the local MP and his uptight, ambitious wife; the has-been former game show host; the respectable couple with the jailbird son; the hometown journalist, striving for a scoop that will rescue her from debt; and so on. The place is revealed as a labyrinth of deception masquerading as a picture-postcard hamlet; tension begins to mount in between the dinner parties and evenings at the pub, and soon culminates in an unexpected death.

Behind perfect privets and brightly painted front doors, the lives of Riverside Lane’s residents slowly unravel. Tempesta, guarding his secrets with a vengeance, is suddenly threatened with exposure by the elderly religious zealot Ivy Midwinter, whose own past involved keeping professional confidences. When she challenges him in church, she learns that Tempesta will stop at nothing to protect his privacy …

Set against the exquisite backdrop of a gastronomic village by the Thames, Riverside Lane is a tautly paced page-turner that also gently satirises middle- class English manners: the upstanding denizens of the village watch and whisper behind a mask of English hauteur, whilst their own fragile lives come undone.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A dusky gauze veil lifted to reveal the soft pink light of dawn. The sun recast the Earth in a glorious patchwork of fields, and a cacophony of birdsong stirred the residents of Riverside Lane from their slumber. Cherry and magnolia trees formed a guard of honour over the lane, which lay tranquil, deserted and calm.

High above, skimming the rose-coloured clouds, a British Airways jet descended over the River Thames. Luca Tempesta checked his seatbelt and reached for his cigarettes, curling his fingers around them with the zeal of a junkie. He flipped the packet, prompting disapproving looks from a couple playing chess beside him, and thought about his meeting with the Russian academic. He had felt bound by reckless honour to visit his wife’s friend and mentor in Moscow, despite the risk. The man had deserved to know what happened to Natasha, but it gave Luca even more to hide.

The scent of freshly ground coffee permeated the cabin, reminding the American of his caffeine-addicted wife; he missed her clear, analytical mind and ability to rationalise situations. He thought of her final moments, and her terror as the net had closed in. She had paid the ultimate price for her loyalty. He stretched his legs into the aisle, seeking a comfortable position for his tall frame, and quashed a familiar feeling of dread that he knew served no purpose. It was imperative that he maintain a cool head; he could not afford the luxury of surrender. He turned his attention to a photo of Kingfisher House. Luca’s agency partner, Maria, had found the place through a movie-industry fixer who knew an Englishman in need of a roof over his head in California.

About the Author: Ginger Black is a writing partnership between Gaynor Pengelly and Julia Thum.


Julia left Somerset for London at 16. She founded & ran her own consumer P R agency representing a range of international brands including Braun, Molton Brown, Clairol & Kleenex. After selling the business she trained as a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders & hosted a phone-in show on Radio Luxembourg.

Julia writes bespoke literature & articles for private clients and visits secondary schools & prisons representing two national charities in providing emotional support to pupils & inmates. A keen kayaker and a passionate cook, she lives in Bray-on-Thames with her husband Nicolas and their four children.


Gaynor has worked as a national newspaper correspondent for more than twenty years, interviewing everyone from the great and the good to extraordinary people in ordinary lives. The rich variety of her subject matter and their circumstances has given her a rare insight into human nature and the challenges many people face.

Gaynor’s great loves include sitting in pavement cafes watching the world go by, National Trust and English Heritage and hiking across the windswept Yorkshire moors. She lives in Bray-on-Thames with her husband Jonathan and their son, Freddie James.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Astilbe says:

    That’s a smart way of approaching criticism.

    Congratulations on your new book!

  3. Lisa Brown says:

    Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win 🙂

  4. Rita Wray says:

    I liked the excerpt, thank you.

  5. Gwendolyn Jordan says:


  6. Victoria says:

    Thanks for sharing and for the great giveaway 🙂

  7. Linda Romer says:

    Riverside Lane sounds like a good read. Thank you

  8. bernie wallace says:

    Who is your favorite book character? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win.

    • Hi Bernie, In Riverside Lane, I have a bit of a crush on Luca Tempesta, the US detective who makes the big mistake of thinking he can hide out in an English village (Julia and I had George Clooney in mind when we developed this character!). I like the evil house keeper, Kathy McConnell, who always gets what she wants and comes up smelling of roses! I also admire Cecilia Honeychurch’s philosophy on life, she says: ‘You can choose to be sad, or you can choose to be happy. It really is that simple’. Thank you for your kind comments, best wishes Gaynor

  9. bernie wallace says:

    What is your favorite book villain of all time? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  10. Thanks for the giveaway!

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