Book Review

Reviews: Friend or Foe?

Writers are a fascinating blend of contradictions. Many are introverts who have to do extroverted things—speaking, booksignings, author appearances–and do them well. They are creative, expressive people who, most of the time, live in their heads. And when they are around people, they can seem withdrawn, even remote (mostly because they’re STILL in their heads). They come across as confident and authoritative, and yet many struggle with sometimes overpowering insecurities. And they love honest appraisals of their work…

Almost as much as they hate them.

I saw a post on Facebook a few weeks ago from an author who was taking a review to task for saying what he didn’t like about the writer’s book. Almost immediately people jumped into the fray, putting down the reader/reviewer, calling the person names, saying that person was stupid and should just shut up.


Listen, I’ve been there. Had books I’ve written torn apart by those who clearly felt they could have done better. Or that I should have done better. I remember one review in particular that was so hurtful it derailed me for months. Every time I sat down to write, all I could think of was that person’s hurtful words. Anger. Frustration. Hurt. Discouragement. A sense of betrayal. It all simmered inside. I worked so hard, and this was the thanks I got??? The more I thought about that reviewer, the more angry and depressed I got. I wrote response after response, each one more blistering than the last. (All of which, thank God, I deleted.)

Because the hard truth is that being criticized is part of this crazy task we’ve taken on. We write. We pour our hearts into what we’re writing. And we pray for our work to be put in the hands of readers. We know, deep down, that not everyone will like or “get” it. And we tell ourselves that’s okay.

Until someone says they don’t like or get it. Or says something mean or bad about us (e.g., the old standby “How can this writer call himself a Christian?”) And when that happens? Boy howdy, look out! We’re not crafters of words for nothin’! Those bits of English suddenly become weapons, knives thrown with keen precision to cut our detractors down to size. Fools! How dare they say such things about my work! Who do they think they are???

Well…readers. That’s who. People with likes and dislikes and opinions to share. And if the Internet and Social Media have done nothing else, they’ve given everyone a platform from which to share said opinions. And you know what? They have a right to do so. Just as we have a right to disagree with them.

Friends, ours is a world overflowing with opinions. And with platforms to express them with impunity. Of course there are times we’ll be offended, or even hurt, by those comments. But I encourage you to not react. Don’t take people to task. Don’t run them down or mock or denigrate them. Instead, let it go. Seriously.

Let it go.

It’s one person’s opinion. Nothing more. Nothing less. And if you really want to rise above the crowd, focus on praying for those who “persecute,” rather than railing at them. It may make no difference at all to those folks, but it will make a huge difference for you. Because your focus will be on what matters most:

Pleasing the One who called you to the task of writing in the first place.



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Are You Being Trashed?

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My Most Frequently Used Reference Book

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Do You Like to Cry While Reading?

I’ll have to admit, I don’t like to cry. I don’t even like depressing songs. Instead I prefer things that are upbeat. For example, here are some of the lyrics to a song that helped me get through my teen years:


Red Light.

Neon Light.


Most of all you can funk. Help me find the funk….


I think I found the funk!

[“Flashlight” was written by Ronald R. Brooks, Gregory E. Jacobs, David R. Elliot, Bernard Worrell, William Earl Collins, and George Clinton Jr..]

Not that I can’t get serious. But I still like that fun song even today.

So now it’s your turn, if you like to cry while reading. What have been your favorite tearjerker books? I’ll give you a clue. Steve Laube told me that the marketing people at Bethany Publishing House wanted to mail a box of tissues with every copy of Deborah Raney’s A Vow to Cherish when it was first published.

So, what is your favorite tearjerker novel? 

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Why Did I Keep Reading?

As I believe I’ve mentioned on this blog, along with Christian books, I try to keep abreast of general market books. But I admit, I don’t always finish reading the books I begin reading. So what makes me stick with a book from cover to cover? Here’s just one example for nonfiction:

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune  by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. 

Why did I stay with this book while abandoning other books that may have been just as worthwhile or perhaps even better? Here’s why:

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