How To Handle Negative Criticism by Loulou Harrington – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $50 Etsy GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How To Handle Negative Criticism
Hi there, everybody, I’m Loulou Harrington, and I want to thank Long and Short Reviews so much for hosting me today to celebrate the release of Happy Homicides 5: The Purrr-fect Crime. This is the first anthology I’ve been a part of, and the experience has been completely amazing.

I don’t normally write short fiction, but when I was invited to be part of an anthology of short mysteries that featured cats and was being released for Mother’s Day, I waved my hand in the air and yelled “Yes!” figuratively, of course. Then I had to figure out how to squash a book-length mystery idea down to fit and add a cat I don’t have in my current series. But that part turned out to be a breeze—a breeze and a challenge that I have enjoyed tremendously. And I now have the beginning of a new, second series that has two cats and is a spin-off of my first cozy mystery series.

Then just as I was taking a deep breath of relief and patting myself on the back, I realized we were doing a blog tour! My panic was short lived, however, because I almost immediately saw “How to Handle Negative Criticism” as a suggested topic for this post, and my hand went up again as I yelled “Yes!”

After years of writer’s critique groups (for whom I am eternally grateful) and dealing with a multitude of editors and proofreaders, I have learned to take criticism, good or bad, and make it my own. Learning from criticism is essential to a writer.

Sure, everyone wants to hear, “I loved your book, and I couldn’t put it down.” Personally, that’s my favorite response. And, as a writer, I need to know what I’m doing right. I need to know which characters you love, what relationships you want to know more about, what made you laugh, and what made you hungry (there’s a tearoom in my Myrtle Grove Garden Club series where murders are frequently discussed while brunch is being served.) I started adding recipes to the back of my books when readers kept saying how they could smell the food while they were reading.

But let’s be honest—it’s not the things we do right that we learn from the most. It’s the mistakes we make, the corners we shouldn’t have cut, and the “oops” we didn’t catch. And no matter how hard we try, there will always be the very nice lady who gave me a low rating because she really enjoyed my book but was disappointed because my heroine Jesse didn’t get together with the local sheriff by the end of the book. I know you can’t please everybody, but it’s a mystery, not a romance! And she said she liked it!

Then other people (critique group, brother-in-law of all people—go figure) admitted they were also getting impatient. So now I’m picking up the pace on Jesse and the sheriff. I’m also trying to work in more background on my characters even though I’m several books into the series and didn’t I already mention this in another book? I’m remembering to include the tearoom atmosphere and aromas because apparently people like feeling hungry. I’m striving to keep a balance between the people and the mystery (for me the mystery comes first, but for some of my readers, they want it all.)

And the negative criticism? I try not to think of it as negative. I listen to it. I analyze it. I try to find the kernel of truth in it, and I make tweaks to future books to give that one reader just a little more of what they felt was missing. I know you can’t please everyone all the time. But I write for my readers, and I care what they say. And when a reader leaves a review, whether it’s praise or criticism, I am grateful for it.

But the real payoff is that reader who shares her heart. The most wonderful critique I ever got was from a woman who said that it was the friendship between my characters that she liked the most. She explained that she was getting older and most of her friends were gone now. When she was feeling lonely, she thought of the laughter they had shared, but what she missed most were the hugs. When she read my book, she said she felt like she was with her friends again.

I can’t tell you what a review like that means to a writer except to say that it’s why we write. So, if I get the occasional reader who wants less about the people and more just plain mystery, I’m really sorry, but it’s not going to happen. My cozies will stay cozy, because there are people who need the hugs as well as the mystery, and I listen to my readers. All of them.

The purr-fect way to meet your new favorite author! This collection of traditional mysteries will be like catnip for feline-friendly readers. It’s paw-sitively the best Mother’s Day gift ever. Plus, you can email us to get a FREE Bonus File with recipes and holiday craft ideas. You’ll enjoy stories by these bestselling and award-winning authors: Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, David Bishop, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell. For more information, go to

Enjoy an Excerpt from THE NAMING OF CATS: A Rosalie Hart Mystery by Wendy Sand Eckel

Editor’s Note: The quaint little town of Cardigan on Maryland’s Eastern Shore seemed like the perfect spot for Rosalie Hart to open the Day Lily Café. A flat stretch of land between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern Shore is home to crusty watermen, dug-in farmers, and people who are fiercely proud to call it home. Rosalie has enough on her plate running the restaurant. But when her Maine Coon uncovers a mystery, the cat has been let out of the bag.

“Your cat is up to something,” Tyler said as he walked into my kitchen. I set a steaming cup of coffee next to him and watched as he scrubbed his hands under the faucet.

“I think Sweeney Todd is happy to be outside.” I lifted my coffee mug and blew over the surface to cool it. “This is the first day it hasn’t rained in over a week.”

He dried his hands and turned to face me. “Thanks for the joe.”

Tyler Wells leased the farmland of my new home, Barclay Meadow. It wasn’t really my choice to move here. Three years ago, when my dear Aunt Charlotte bequeathed me this two-hundred-year-old house and the vast land surrounding it, I was happily immersed in my married life in Chevy Chase. But all that changed when my husband of over twenty years pronounced his love for a much younger and blonder version of me.

The sun streamed through the windows, warming the honey wood floors. Tyler and I had fallen into the habit of sharing a cup of coffee every morning before we started our days. I checked the clock. I would be leaving soon to go to the restaurant I recently opened, the Day Lily Café, currently serving breakfast and lunch five days a week in the sleepy little town of Cardigan.

Tyler brushed his sandy blond hair off his forehead. “Sweeney is digging pretty close to the vegetable gardens. You might want to stop him.”

“I’m on it.” I set my coffee down and headed outside.

My shoes squeaked on the grass as I rounded the house. A dense mist rose from the Cardigan River at the end of the sloping lawn. It was a beautiful spring morning on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

I spotted Sweeney by an old Sycamore tree. Its trunk was gnarled and twisted looking like something out of Sleepy Hollow. He was digging furiously at the ground with his front paws.

My adopted Maine Coon cat was originally named Sweetie Pie. But on the first day I brought him home, he slaughtered four goldfinches in under an hour. That’s when Tyler suggested the name change. At the precise moment I started to disagree, Sweeney dropped a fifth lifeless bird on my peep-toe pump.

I knelt down next to him. He had dug so deep almost all nineteen pounds of him were immersed in the hole.

“Hey, what are you . . .” He swiped one paw with a particularly vigorous motion and a clump of dirt launched onto my black skirt. “Sweeney, for goodness sake.” He stopped digging and let out a long, guttural mmrrrow. He pushed back out of the hole and eyed me intently. My stomach tightened with dread. “What have you found, baby?”

About the Authors: Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime authors include Joanna Campbell Slan, Linda Gordon Hengerer, LouLou Harrington, Neil Plakcy, Teresa Trent, Terry Ambrose, Amy Vansant, Randy Rawls, Christina Freeburn, Wendy Sand Eckel, and Karen Cantwell. For more information, go to or visit us at Facebook. To read a free sample, get your copy of Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart here

Joanna Campbell Slan: RT Reviews has called Joanna Campbell Slan “one of mystery’s rising stars,” and it’s easy to see why. She’s the award-winning and national bestselling author of three mystery series. Her first series, the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery series, was an Agatha Award Finalist, and features ace scrapbooker Kiki Lowenstein. Previous to writing fiction, Joanna penned seven scrapbooking technique books and wrote for Creating Keepsakes, Memory Makers, and PaperKuts. She has taught scrapbooking online, on cruises, and in Europe, as well as here in the US.

Twitter | Website | Facebook
Linda Gordon Hengerer: Linda was a football widow during her first marriage, and she wrote American Football Basics (original title Football Basics) because she thought more women would enjoy football if they understood it. She is also interested in food and wine, and has written an easy guide to food and wine pairings.

New Jersey native turned Florida resident, Linda moved to Vero Beach in 1996. She writes the Beach Tea Shop Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in an area suspiciously like Vero Beach.

Amazon Author Page
LouLou Harrington: Writer, traveler, and nature enthusiast Loulou Harrington is the author of the Myrtle Grove Garden Club mystery series. Originally a native of northwest Arkansas, Loulou now resides in the Tulsa area and spends frequent weekends wandering among the lakes and foothills of northeastern Oklahoma, the setting of her cozy series and an area she hopes her readers will enjoy as much as she does.

Beginning her career as a romance novelist, she published nine contemporary romances with Harlequin, writing as Ada Steward, before succumbing to the lure of her first love: the mystery novel.

First discovering Nancy Drew as a child and continuing with Miss Marple and Travis McGee as an adult, Loulou learned to appreciate the puzzle and suspense of the mystery combined with the familiar characters and settings of the recurring series. So while she still believes that into each life a little romance should fall, she has come to the opinion that it should trip over at least one dead body along the way.

Facebook | Twitter | Website
Neil Plakcy: Neil Plakcy is the author of the Mahu Investigations, mysteries which take place in Hawaii. They are: Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, Mahu Vice, Mahu Blood, Mahu Men, Zero Break, Natural Predators and Children of Noah.

His M/M romance novels are, Mi Amor, Love on Site, Love on the Web, Love on Stage, Love on the Pitch, and the Have Body, Will Guard series: Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, Dancing with the Tide, Teach Me Tonight, Olives for the Stranger, The Noblest Vengeance and Finding Freddie Venus.

He has also written the golden retriever mysteries In Dog We Trust, The Kingdom of Dog, Dog Helps Those, Dog Bless You, Whom Dog Hath Joined and Dog Have Mercy.

He is co-editor of Paws & Reflect: A Special Bond Between Man and Dog (Alyson Books, 2006) and editor of many gay erotica anthologies. A journalist, book reviewer and college professor, he is also a frequent contributor to gay anthologies.

Mahu Books
Teresa Trent: Teresa Trent writes cozy mysteries that take place in small towns in Texas. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee but with her father in the military, didn’t stay for long. She’s lived all over, but likes to call three states her favorite homes. Colorado, Illinois and of course, Texas. Being a fan of the Andy Griffith Show and Murder She Wrote she loves creating quirky small towns and colorful characters. She decided to feature a character with Down syndrome in the Pecan Bayou series because after giving birth to her own son with DS, she discovered there were very few people like him in the world of cozy mysteries. If you’re wondering which book to start with in the Pecan Bayou Series, start with #1 A Dash of Murder. Many of Teresa’s mysteries occur before or during a holiday and A Dash of Murder is her Halloween book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter
Terry Ambrose: Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark when “negotiations” failed.

A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons including—always keep your car in the garage.

Website | Facebook | Twitter
Amy Vansant: Amy specializes in fun, comedic reads about accident prone, easily distracted women with questionable taste in men. So, autobiographies, mostly.

Amy is the former East Coast Editor of SURFER Magazine but the urge to drive up and down the coast interviewing surfers has long since left her. Currently, she is a nerd and Labradoodle mommy who works at home with her goofy husband.

She loves interacting with fans when the dog isn’t laying on top of her, so stop by her blog or Twitter and say hi!

Website | Twitter | Facebook
Randy Rawls: I’m Randy Rawls, author of mysteries and thrillers. I grew up in northeastern North Carolina, then did a career in the Army. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and have tried to incorporate what I learned from the best into my writing. While I live in South Florida, my heart resides in Texas. I’d love to hear from you at

Website | Facebook
Christina Freeburn: Reading has been a part of Christina’s life since she can remember and soon developed into a love of writing.

Read about her writing process, her hobbies, and the heroines she believes are a self-rescue princess at her blog The Self-Rescue Princess.

Website | Facebook, Twitter, or Blog
Wendy Sand Eckel: Degrees in criminology and social work, followed by years of clinical practice, helped WENDY SAND ECKEL explore her fascination with how relationships impact motivation, desire, and inhibition. Combined with her passion for words and meaning, writing mystery is a dream realized. She lives in Maryland where she enjoys family and friends, two cats, and living near the Chesapeake Bay.

Website | Facebook | Twitter
Karen Cantwell: Karen’s novel, Take the Monkeys and Run was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (under the original title of Monkeys in My Trees)and has gone on to be a Kindle bestseller on Amazon. She has written three more books in the Barbara Marr Murder Mystery Series: Citizen Insane, Silenced by the Yams, and Saturday Night Cleaver.

When she’s not writing, Karen loves gardening and spending time with her family. She is currently working on the release of Keep Me Ghosted, the first book in the new Sophie Rhodes Ghostly Romance Series, as well as beginning the draft of Kiss Me, Tate, part of the upcoming Barbara Marr spin-off, Love in Rustic Woods Series.

Website | Facebook | Twitter”

The authors are supplying a bonus gift for readers. They can receive it by sending an email to

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Audrey Stewart says:

    Nothing I love more than a cat…I shelter elderly rescues. I have 12 at the moment. I love a book of different stories.

  3. Astilbe says:

    What a balanced view. Not all constructive criticism will necessarily be the be advice for a particular story, but I’m glad you’re willing to listen to what others have to say about your work. That isn’t an easy thing to do at times, but it does make for a better story in the end. 🙂

    • Astilbe says:

      Oops, that should have read: “Not all constructive criticism will necessarily be the best…”

  4. Hi, there, everybody! I want to thank you so much, Long and Short Reviews, for hosting me this morning. I really did love the topic you suggested, and I am so glad to see comments already this morning. This anthology was a joy to work on, and I hope everyone grabs a copy while it only 99 cents and enjoys reading it as much as I did writing a part of it.

  5. Rachael Clemons says:

    thanks for the contest!

  6. Good post. Loved the bit about there being a kernel of truth in a negative review. I’ve used those kernels of truth to try to make my writing better. And I do think each book is better than the previous.

    BTW – I’m a sucker for a book with an animal in it!

  7. Bea LaRocca says:

    Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on handling negative criticism. I myself took too many bad reviews and ratings of my published works to heart. I didn’t respond to any of them though, as was suggested to me by more experienced authors.

  8. Victoria says:

    Great post – thanks for sharing & have a great weekend 🙂

  9. bernie wallace says:

    What is the best book that you have read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  10. Lisa Brown says:

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

  11. Thanks for the giveaway.

  12. bernie wallace says:

    What’s your favorite film based on a book. Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(At)hotmail(d0t)com

  13. bernie wallace says:

    What is the best book that you have read this year? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W

  14. Looks like a great array of writers!


  1. […] 12: A Writer’s Life…Caroline Clemmons and Long and Short ReviewsLong and Short […]

Speak Your Mind