Could you please tell us about yourself? You’re a stay-at-home mom with five kids. You’re also a very popular book reviewer with a fantastic blog! How do you do it all?
I don’t always do it all well. At times I spend too much time blogging and reading and then my house looks like a tornado blew through. Other times life gets hectic and blogging gets put aside. It’s a constant juggling act.
Could you please describe a typical day?
My days are far from typical: and rarely is one day anything like the next.
I’m up by 6:45 when I wake my oldest daughter up for school. I have 5 kids in 4 different schools all with different start and end times. It takes me 2 hours from the time I wake my first child up until the last one is finally out the door. I then have 2½ hours to myself until my kindergartner gets home, which I generally spend blogging or cleaning the house: . Then the rest of the day is chaos! Meals, babysitting, cleaning, errands, laundry, dishes, homework, sports: the day doesn’t slow down until the last child is put to bed and I try to squeeze in some reading before going to sleep.
As you state on your blog, you’re a reader, not a writer. You have 5000 Goodreads fans and 7000 blog followers. That’s impressive! Could you please tell us why you started the site and how you’ve built such a wide following?
I started my blog so I could sign up for ARC tours. I was reading a lot and don’t consider myself to be a great writer but I wanted to be able to get my hands on some books I didn’t want to wait to read. I’ve put a lot of time into my blog and tried to network with other bloggers to build my following.
You’re a recognized and respected book reviewer. What do you enjoy most about reviewing books?
I don’t actually enjoy writing reviews – that’s the hardest part for me. I struggle to come up with something other than ‘I really enjoyed this book!’
On your blog, you mention finding gems. Does this happen often? What, for you, is a gem?
A gem for me is a book that I can’t put down and can’t stop thinking about. A book I can without hesitation recommend to anyone.
You must get hundreds, if not thousands, of review requests every month. How do you handle all the requests?
I hate that I now have to turn so many people away. I used to be able to accept everything and post a review quickly. I just had to change my review policy and basically am not accepting anything unsolicited at this time. I try to put up author interviews & giveaways for any author who asks but even those are now taking up a tremendous amount of time.
How do you decide which books to review?
It’s so random. I have a bookshelf by my bed filled with books I want to read or have been sent to review. My Kindle has another couple hundred books I’ve been sent to review. There is no rhyme or reason to why I read, what I read, when I read it.
Do you review self-published books? Why or why not?
I do review them. One of my favorite authors self-publishes.
Do you feel there is a stigma against self-published writers? If so, do you feel it’s deserved?
Yes there is a stigma. Some writers deserve it, many do not.
Do you find a difference in the quality of traditionally and self-published books? If so, what are the major differences?
It totally depends on the individual book and the reason for self-publishing. I’ve read some fabulous self published books and others that were not so great.
I think the biggest problem with some of the self published books that creates the stigma against them is that they have not been edited and revised enough prior to going to print. They are more like a first or second draft and not a finished copy. Too many self-published authors ‘rush’ to get their book printed and don’t take the time to get enough quality feedback first. Authors who do this can give self-publishing a bad name.
Asking your mom, best friend or neighbor to read the book isn’t going to get you the feedback you really need. I highly suggest authors join a writer’s or critique group or seek multiple unbiased readers to review your book prior to publishing it. I’ve been asked to review books for friends – it’s hard to give them honest, unbiased feedback.
For indie authors in particular, getting reviewed is one of the biggest challenges. Do you have any advice?
I read dozens of self-published books when I first started blogging. I was thrilled that someone wanted me to read their book. I’d recommend starting with smaller sites & newer reviewers who would likely feel the same way I did when I was starting out. I still remember the first two Indie authors who approached me asking for a review. I’d gladly review for them again anytime simply because they took a chance with me when I was just starting out.
“I’m a Stay at Home mom who loves to read. I have an elementary education degree from BYU. Children’s Literature was my favorite class.
I read from a variety of genres but favor fairy tales, fantasy and clean romance.
I try to read books that are clean & uplifting.
Books should come with content ratings since I hate having to put a book down due to graphic content or strong language.[My] blog is to share the books I read and enjoy. When someone asks me what have you read lately that was good it will be easy for them to find out!”
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer features “simple and straightforward” reviews. Kathy says: “Included will be a few of my thoughts on the book, whether there is any content parents & conservative readers might find objectionable and a rating based simply on how well I liked the book. Rather than spending forever writing more elaborate reviews you will find me curled up with a good book. At least I hope it is a good book!”
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