Each week I’ll be donating $50 to the charity of a blogger’s choice as part of the “Read, Write, Give” drive. If you’d like to get involved, you can nominate a blogger using the form at the end of the post and also be entered into the competition to win a $200 Amazon gift card. You can also see previous charities and bloggers featured and check out the Pinterest board.
This week, A.B. Shepherd of A.B. Shepherd’s Reinvented Reader is supporting the Royal Flying Doctor Service. You can read more about them after her interview.
I’ve often said that book bloggers are the “Fairy Godmothers and Godfathers” of the literary world – and I really believe it. Therefore, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview some of these wonderful bloggers and shed a little light on why they undertake this epic labors of love!
This week’s interview is with A.B. Shepherd, who runs A.B. Shepherd’s Reinvented Reader. This great book blog offers reviews, guest posts, and giveaways for books across all genres – there’s definitely something for everyone!
Interview with A.B. Shepherd: Reinvented Reader
Thank you so much for joining me! Could you please tell us about yourself?
One thing I have trouble with is telling either VERY little about myself OR telling you my whole life story. I can’t seem to find the in-between on that one. So here is my attempt at a little bit. I am American and I moved to Australia almost three years ago now. I have two grown kids, but no grandkids yet. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a preteen reading Harlequin Romances. I quickly graduated to whatever my mother was reading, which were typically bodice-rippers with an occasional Stephen King or crime novel thrown in.
And I like to do a little bit of handcrafting, but I always feel like whatever I make is very amateurish. And one thing you would know about me if you know me well is that I am about as far from being a domestic goddess as you can get. My husband did NOT marry me for my housekeeping skills!
You left America to start a new life in Australia. That must have been a difficult decision. How did the move come about?
It was a very difficult decision when you consider that you are leaving all you know behind you, especially family and friends, but it was also an exciting decision and I was ready for adventure. I’m one of those people you would now look at and say ‘Wow. I can’t believe she did that.’ Most people would probably think it was too big a risk. But with great risk comes great reward.
You see I was a single mom for a long time. My kids grew up and I was a little bit lonely so I joined an online dating site. One day the Australian man who is now my husband sent me an email through that site asking to be pen pals. I said ‘Sure, why not?’ and the rest is history. After two years of online dating, I flew here to visit him and came back home again engaged to be married. We spent another year doing Visa paperwork, and VOILA! Here I am.
How fantastic! How different is life for you now? Do you miss America at all?
I miss Michigan in the summer because it is so beautiful there. I do NOT miss snow. I miss people like crazy. Especially my daughter.
But it is really beautiful here too. I live near the southern coast and the scenery is gorgeous. The people are friendly. Technology helps me keep in touch with those back home and I’ve got a fabulous family of in-laws here. I also joined a knitting group here and have made friends with some wonderful women through that group.
My life here is very different than my life in Michigan. It is also quite different than what I thought it would be. In Michigan I worked full-time in the legal department of a large corporation in the health care industry. Now I don’t work outside the home. Life doesn’t always turn out like you planned. I planned to have a similar life here, only with my husband waiting at home for me at the end of the workday and some leisure travel thrown in.
Instead, about eight months after we got married, my husband got very sick and had to be in hospital for a month. I lost the part-time job I had only just started because I didn’t know when I could come back. Upon release from hospital he needed a full-time caregiver so I couldn’t go back to work anyway. His health has been an ongoing concern since that time, and required another long hospitalization (this time nearly three months) ending just before this past Christmas, but he’s doing pretty well now.
So in addition to my book blog which I do for fun I am my husband’s caregiver, but my husband is pretty independent at the moment. He even does most of our cooking and washing up. He just does it from a wheelchair now. Gotta love a man who cooks AND washes up! He had me at ‘What would you like for dinner?’ *swoon*
I’m so glad to hear he’s doing well! Moving on to the blog, could you please tell us why you started your blog and how you’ve built your following? What other projects are you working on?
Early in 2011 I found Goodreads. It is an awesome free website for readers. Somehow, and I can’t begin to tell you how – I think it was through one of the book clubs – I met Coral Russell through Goodreads. For those of you who don’t know Coral she is a fantastic author and she also has a blogging website called Alchemy of Scrawl. You really should read her book Amador Lockdown.
Anyway, I’ve always been a bit of a fan girl when it comes to authors. I so admire anyone who has written a novel. I’ve started writing a novel several different times in my life but I never get anywhere with it. So when I met Coral and saw everything she was doing, I also started coming across other book review blogs and I was inspired to try it for myself. I love reading and I love sharing my view of books with the world. And it was a really easy thing to start.
Coral has been a fabulous mentor for me. After I started my blog she invited me to become part of a group which has now morphed into Book Bloggers Collaborative. It is a group of bloggers – several of whom are also self-published authors – who are incredibly supportive of one another and go out of their way to promote each other’s blogs, projects, and to support other self-published authors. I love being a part of this group.
I don’t have a huge following. Mine is quite small in comparison to others in my group, but I’ve only been blogging for about six months. I’ve built my small following by utilizing the help of my friends in the group. I’ve joined several author groups through Facebook, I use Twitter and Triberr and Goodreads, and I’ve joined Blog Hops. It all helps, but the support of the group is the biggest help of all.
As for other projects, I’ve not got anything definitive on the go, but have been ruminating on some ideas for both short stories and for full length novels. I just haven’t really put any of it on paper yet. It’s all still in my head.
When reviewing, do you often find real gems? What, for you, says a book is a gem?
Finding real gems does not happen as often as you might think, but yes, absolutely I’ve found real gems. To me, a gem of a book is one that I can really connect with as a reader. One that either stirs emotion in me, or makes me think about something in a way I hadn’t before. Not trying to suck up here, but In Leah’s Wake was one of these for me. My childhood household was a bit chaotic and I could really relate to much of what Leah’s family was going through and what Leah herself was going through. The character of Leah was just so believable.
Thank you so much! You must get hundreds, if not thousands, of review requests every month. How do you handle all the requests?
I don’t get as many requests as all that. I get some and each and every one that comes in leaves me feeling privileged that someone wants ME to read and review their book. It’s that fan girl thing again.
Some of the requests I get are for books that are just not something I think I would enjoy and in those cases I simply politely decline and wish the author well. For the others, I simply add them to my to-read pile.
I will sheepishly admit, however, that those that haven’t really grabbed me by the hair in their book blurb tend to sit at the bottom of the pile. Anything that yanks my hair and says READ ME NOW gets put to the top. Unless it is to coincide with a book launch or something like that, I typically don’t promise to read them within any given time period. I will get to them all eventually.
You review both self-published and traditionally published books. Do you find a difference in the quality? If so, what are the major differences?
I’ve heard a lot of complaints from readers that self-published authors need to use an editor. I don’t find that lack of an editor is usually the biggest problem. Most of the books are really well put together. It’s the proof reading that is lacking. Some (not all by any means) of the self-published authors need to find a proof reader, because typos are fairly common in SOME of the self-published works. But then again I still find typos in published works too. I guess it is a matter of degree.
But as far as quality of story goes, there are so many fabulous self-published works out there, and maybe even more than there are fabulous published works. If you haven’t tried reading self-published novels give them a chance. You just might find your favorite new author.
You review a wide range of books. Do you think all book bloggers should embrace many genres or is it better to have some with specialist blogs such as romance and sci-fi/fantasy?
I’ve heard a lot of bloggers say they think all book bloggers should specialize in a particular genre. That might work for them, if their fields of interest are narrow. Mine are wide open. So much of what I yearn to read depends greatly on my mood at that moment. Do I want to read a mystery? How about an adventure? My favorite genre is probably a humorous/mystery. But then again I like serious stuff too. And YA stuff. I even love stuff that defies being labeled. I guess maybe I have multiple personality disorder when it comes to reading.
But the biggest thing for me is, even though I’m old *shudder* I still like to learn and experience new things and I don’t want to close myself off from possibilities that might be out there. I love keeping my mind wide open.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Book blogging has been a blast for me. I’ve only been doing it for about six months now and I’ve met so many fabulous bloggers and authors this way. To start my blog is a decision that I think was one of the best I’ve ever made. I’m loving the literary life.
You nominated the Royal Flying Doctor Service for ‘Read, Write, Give.’ Why are you passionate about them?
I chose the Royal Flying Doctor Service for purely selfish reasons. Either I or my loved ones may need them one day. I live in a country town in rural South Australia. We have a hospital but its services are limited and we don’t have a lot of specialized doctors in this area. The nearest hospital which provides full services is five hours from where we live. Both my husband and my father-in-law have had to be flown to the bigger hospital for treatment. I like the security of knowing that if they are needed the RFDS will have the funding they need to be there.
About A.B. Shepherd
A.B. Shepherd says: “I’m just your average reader with no specific qualifications. I like what I like and I’ll share it with you. I’m an American by birth, recently transplanted to Australia. I love where I live. I’m married, with two grown children and as yet have not been blessed with grandbabies.”
A.B. Shepherd’s post is in support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service
Every day in many ways the Royal Flying Doctor Service takes the finest care to Australia’s furthest corners so that anyone who lives, works or travels in remote and rural Australia can enjoy the best of health.
Using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, delivered by a dedicated team of professionals, find out more about how we deliver both 24-hour emergency services and everyday essential health care.
A.B., your post was a joy to read–and I'm so glad your husband is doing well.
Hearing that you love to read across genres is a delight. Like you, I'll read anything that catches my fancy. Why should any of us limit reading enjoyment to only one genre?
I'd also like to thank you on behalf of Indie Writers everywhere for your dedication to read and review. Without you, many of our books would never reach the light of day.
Terri, bravo on another great interview!
Thank you so much Christine – but all credit to A.B. Shepherd for her wonderful answers!
very interesting – as a Brit I spent 5 years in Australia and loved every minute – except maybe the spiders:( I once had the flying called on my behalf when I was working out at Ayers Rock (this was back in the 70s) they are an amazing organisation. I approve of an open mind esp.where books are concerned I am discovering so many new authors and trying genres I never would have guessed about a few years back and I think the event of the internet has opened up this whole new world for us all.
A man who washes up is a treasure:)
Thank you so much for your comment Alberta!