Life & Books: The Worst Critique Ever

If you’ve ever had a contest judge be a real jerk…

If you’ve ever had a horrible review…

If you’ve ever had a critique…



Then be sure to watch our video.


This week on Life & Books: The Worst Critique Ever–Me and Brinda Berry discuss critiques. And I chat about the critique that almost made me quit being a writer. Keep reading after you watch the video. There’s more to the story…


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A week after I got this critique the author was supposed to call me and discuss her critique. She never called. A month later I got a random phone call, answered it, and it was this author apologizing for forgetting to call me and wanting to set up a time to talk about my ten pages. I told her that she’d made her opinion abundantly clear and we did not need to have a discussion about it. Her response: “I promise I’ll tell you some good thing about your pages.” No Thank You. Too little. Too late.

*Have you ever had a critique, bad review, or jerky judge that made you question yourself–Share your story in the comments. I’d love to hear it. And other people would too. It’s nice to commiserate and realize we’re not alone.


About Brinda Berry:

Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family. Brinda is obsessed with cairn terriers, Kings of Leon, illustrated cookbooks, new technology and sandy beaches. She dreams of finding the perfect pillow–no small feat. She’s also terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality. 

You can find Brinda Berry here:


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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her first novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available for pre-order now!



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About the author: abbieroads

5 comments to “Life & Books: The Worst Critique Ever”

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  1. Katherine Fleet - April 28, 2016 Reply

    This is a great post! I think part of the lesson is that critiquing is also a skill. It’s something you need to learn to do, so you can be a positive and constructive influence within your writing community. In my other career, I worked as a technical/quality editor for scientific reports. It was very cut and dry. I corrected mistakes, pointed out inconsistencies, suggested edits, etc. My goal was always to get the report to the 100% mark (i.e., ready to submit to the client or government). There was no room for errors.

    Because of this background, when I first started critiquing, I probably gave too much feedback, which can be overwhelming (even if it is constructive). In my mind, it was my job to fix every “mistake” versus just trying to help someone improve their writing. After taking some classes and receiving some feedback from CPs, I now tailor my critics to the audience. If my CP is looking for a line edit before sending to an editor, I’ll be as detailed as possible. If I’m judging a contest or working with a new author, I’ll pick out a couple main things that might need work (maybe showing vs telling and strengthening their character development). Then I pick a couple of examples where they were “telling” and comment on those, instead of picking out every single example. I also point out examples where they did a good job of showing, so they can see the difference.

    Having said all that, it’s only common sense and just plain decency to never make the type of comments that were made on your first 10 pages, Abbey. That’s was just a mean person. Sorry that happened to you and so glad you were able to move past it:)

  2. Michelle Grajkowski - April 27, 2016 Reply

    Thank you for not giving up, Abbie! It would’ve been a huge loss in the literary world. You are the opposite of vomit… you are a hother fudge brownin sundae with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry on top.

    • Michelle Grajkowski - April 27, 2016 Reply

      Oh dear!!! That’ll teach me to post from my phone! Can’t figure out how to edit my comment. 🙂

  3. Jena C. Henry - April 27, 2016 Reply

    Good video! As you both said- constructive criticism is great. And as Shelia Lowe commented- you don’t have to be mean to get the point across. I welcome all comments. Always good to have food for thought- better than silence! Stay strong- happy writing.

  4. Sheila Lowe - April 27, 2016 Reply

    My first mystery won in a big competition, and the judges were editors at two major houses. One of them wrote really complimentary things about my first twenty pages, including this: “I love the characters. They’re slightly over the top in a Jackie Collins way.” She asked me to send her the rest of the ms. Of course, I was thrilled to do so. Three months later I wrote and asked if she’d read it. Her response, paraphrasing–“I don’t like the characters.” Go figure.

    I’ve also had the experience of a critiquer ripping my pages to shreds, and it was tough to realize he was right. That book later sold to a major house and has done well. You don’t have to be mean to get the point across.

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