I've certainly done my share of carping over authors' failings, both live and online. I am impatient with characters who act in ways real people never would, with plots that don't make complete sense at the end, and especially with killers who come out of nowhere in the last chapter. However, I don't pretend to be a critic. Like so many other people, I only know--and only want to talk about--what I like.

I've heard writers and readers say that critics don't matter. "I never choose a book based on what the

critics say", or, "If people buy my book, who cares if the critics pan it?"

That all might be true, but when a critic says a book is wonderful, any author HAS to be thrilled. I'm a terrible chicken about my own reviews, but my publisher sent me one on Friday with the note, "Tell everyone."

Okay, that sounded pretty good. Still, I'd only read one sentence of the review she used as a teaser on the website, and I was reluctant to read more. I'm the type that finds that one even slightly critical part of the whole review and focuses on it. I'd promised myself I wasn't going to read any reviews, simply to protect myself from shifting my writing to what someone else said I should do rather than what I do.

A friend read the whole thing and said, "Go read it, Peg", so I did. It was wonderful. It was enough to convince me for all of five minutes that I really can write.

And then I started thinking about Book #2: How am I ever going to live up to that critic's expectations a second time?

It's a great feeling, getting a good review. But then you have to remind yourself, what matters in the next book is what you write, not what someone might say about it.

Read the review of THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY at http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/dead-detective-agency

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