Read, Write, Give

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.

This week, Amanda Chambers from Living, Learning, and Loving life is supporting the Wounded Warrior Project. 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 Amanda Chambers, who runs Living, Learning, and Loving Life. Amanda is a homeschooling mom to 3 boys, a Mom/book blogger and an avid reader. She is also a great supporter of indie authors.

Interview with Amanda Chambers: Living, Learning, and Loving Life

Could you please tell us about yourself?

Ah, the dreaded question. Why is this one always so hard? I’m a homeschooling mom to two very active boys. I love to read and spend time outside, and I’ve recently rediscovered my love (and dare I say talent?) for writing.

As a home schooling mom to two boys, every day must be busy. Could you please describe a typical day?

There is nothing typical about our days. LOL There are two things that we do every day, though. Every morning begins with 15-30 minutes of snuggling after the little one wakes up. And every night ends with snuggling while reading a bedtime story or three.

Your blog is both a book and mom blog. Could you please tell us why you started the site and how you’ve built your following? What other projects are you working on?

I started the blog in 2006 as both a journal to record our homeschooling adventures and a place to share my rants when the stupidity of the world overwhelmed me. I blogged sporadically for a few years, and at one point went over a year without posting at all. In April 2011, I decided that I would post something once a day for a year, even if it was just a photo. At that point, my audience consisted of a few friends and family members. I started doing book reviews, both as a way to get free books and a way to add content to my blog.

I changed the URL, set up a Facebook fan page, and actually started using Twitter. I participated in several book giveaway hops each month, and eventually joined Triberr. All these things helped slowly build my following. I get jumps in new followers about once a month when I participate in multi-blog giveaways. I no longer post daily, but I try to post 3-4 times a week to give all those readers something to come back for.

As for other projects, how much space do I have here?

My older son has Asperger’s Syndrome and last year, I started a blog, There is No Normal, as a place to share my thoughts and feelings about that, as well as the things I’ve tried in order to help him be able to function better. I also have a health/nutrition blog, Honor Your Health. I’m a big believer in eating right (which means eating real food, rather than following some fad diet), exercise, and avoiding chemicals when possible. The government and corporation-sized non-profits will never be as interested in your health and well-being as you are. Both blogs have been neglected recently, but I do post frequently on the respective Facebook pages. I recently started a second book blog, My Other Book Blog, as a place to post reviews and promos for books that don’t fit on my main blog. My main blog is mostly YA and Christian books. My Other Book Blog won’t be as active as Living, Learning, and Loving Life because MOBB is only for book-related items and LLL&L is also a personal blog.

I’m also writing two non-fiction books and my son wants us to put together a book of the stories he tells little brother. I suppose I’ll be in the market for an illustrator soon because none of us can draw. LOL

I’ve recently decided that rather than just annoy my family and friends with my grammar and spelling corrections, I should actually try to make some money from the skill. So I’m now offering my services as a proofreader/editor. Because I had to do something with all this free time.

According to your blog you have a weird sense of humor. Any favorite comedy shows or films that have inspired this?

No, not really. I blame genetics. I come from two families of smart-alecs. Somehow we all manage to poke fun at each other without being mean. It’s a talent.

When reviewing, do you often find real gems? What, for you, says a book is a gem?

I’m happy to say that when it comes to reviewing, I have only read one book that I disliked so much that I refused to write a review. I’ve read quite a few very good books, and many of them I would never have picked up had they not been pitched as review books. What makes a gem? I’m not sure I can define it. The characters have to believable and relatable. I prefer most of them to be likable. One or two villains per book is enough. Dialogue is another huge issue for me. It needs to be realistic, and not stilted or overly formal, but I don’t enjoy books that try too hard to write dialect. It’s usually either annoying or hard to read, and tends to jar me out of the story. I like to read several different genres, so I’m not really wed to a certain type of story. I do like happy endings, so I read a lot of romances for my personal reading.

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 as I did before I closed my review request form. ;-) Honestly, I just check my email as I have time, look over the information, and if the book looks interesting, I’ll agree to review it. I do have enough books to last at least through the end of this year, so I’m not currently accepting new books, except from authors with whom I’ve already worked.

Do you find a difference in the quality of traditionally and self-published books? If so, what are the major differences?

For the most part, I haven’t seen a difference. I have seen some self-published books that would have been five-star books with just a read-through by an editor. I’ve also read some truly excellent self-pubbed books; books which *did* earn five-star reviews. While most trad books are edited, I have read some that looked like they got lost on someone’s desk and passed along before the process was finished. And I’m talking about major publishers, not small-press. As I mentioned before, I’ve only read one book that I refused to review. That means I’ve read almost 100 self-published books that were excellent. (They weren’t all reviewed on my blog, so don’t go counting.)

For indie authors in particular, getting reviewed is one of the biggest challenges. Do you have any advice? 

1) Read the review policy.

2) Be polite.

3) Be patient.

4) Be polite.

5) Did I mention: be polite?

You’ve nominated the Wounded Warrior Project. Please could you explain why you have chosen them?

I think too many of us take for granted the sacrifices our soldiers make, and this organization is one very small way for us to give back to them.

About Amanda

Living, Learning, and Loving LifeAmanda says:

  • I’m a homeschooling mom of two boys, ages 10 and 3.
  • I’m addicted to reading.
  • I’m a little snarky, with a weird sense of humor, so if you read something and think, ‘Was that supposed to be funny?’ the answer is probably yes. Everything is funnier in my head.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Amanda’s post is in support of the Wounded Warrior Project

Vision: To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.


  • To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.
  • To help injured service members aid and assist each other.
  • To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

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