Sunday, February 27, 2011

Author Interview: Tami Jayne Jackson


Tami Jackson, the author of Ravena and the Resurrected is here for an interview.
Here's what I found out about her from the SunTigerMojo website:

Tami Jackson works so hard while typing, her fingers occasionally drip with as much blood as the pages in her book, Ravena & The Resurrected. "Readers give me their valuable time. I attempt to honor that by writing fun content to make their experience incredibly worthwhile." Said Tami.
Tami earned her bachelor's degree in communications/English from Washington State University, which is about the same time she received an Emmy Award. Tami has sold many magazine and trade journal articles, written as a news correspondent for Seattle area newspapers, and worked as public relations writer and editor in business and marketing.
Born in Seattle, the fifth among seven children, with two school teachers for parents, Tami is the mother of three adult children and two grown step-sons. She is happily married to Doug, and the couple live with a Pug, a Dachshund and two rescued house cats, as well as with back yard chickens and a rabbit named Oscar.
As always, she loves writing and remains an avid fan of all things vampire, werewolf and sleuth! In addition to writing, Tami loves nature and reading action/adventure and dark fiction. Tami is a member of: Pacific Northwest Writer's Association
She often volunteers in the community for:
* Emergency Response efforts
* Environmental projects (e.g., habitat restoration)


Here's the interview:

VARSHA:  So let's talk about you first. Is there any aspect of you that you'd love to share with us?

TAMI:  Well, hmm. First of all, I'm really grateful to be here Varsha. (Thank you for hosting this interview when I know you have much to do, studying electronics and communication engineering at Kerala University!)

Secondly? I really like to change my hair, the color, style, everything. Sometimes I simply wrap my head in colorful scarves because that's how I'm feeling on a given day. I grew up in an ultraconservative home where make-up and jewelry (colorful forms of self expression) were not allowed. So maybe I'm overcompensating when I often wear rings on every finger and more than one necklace at a time. Fortunately, there are plenty of people in Seattle who express themselves similarly, so I feel like I definitely fit in with folks from the city.

VARSHA:  The vampires in R&R are extremely different from the normal ones we keep seeing in post-Twilight books. The main character is a mile from the usual heroines. What inspired you to write R&R in such unique fashion?

TAMI: I'm glad you said "post Twilight" and not "post True Blood" or "post Dracula." See how much the vampires inRavena & The Resurrected actually have in common with Bram Stoker's, Anne Rice's, and Charlaine Harris' vampires. Example 1: Socially (1000+ Books To Read Blog). Example 2: Physically. (Nyx Book Review Blog)

Beyond that, the vampires in R&R have different personalities and characteristics from each other, depending on what time-period they were resurrected from. Some of R&R's vampires have lived centuries. Ravena's roommate, Eva, for instance, exudes both Dracula's gothic sensuality and terror. Ravena also suffers occasional bouts of self chastisement  but she's not the sort to do that for long.  None of the vampires in R&R sleep in caskets, although they do sleep during daylight hours and away from sunlight.

In some ways, the vampires in R&R have similarities to vampires in The True Blood series with their retractable fangs, the ability to swim, the potential for a human to be in danger when around them. Like vampires of old, the night stalkers in R&R remain physically preserved from the day they were resurrected. That means, a vampire with gray hair had to have been older-looking on the day he or she was made. Like mythology, R&R vampires are much more powerful now than when they were human.

Regarding Ravena being "a mile from the usual heroines" I think you might be comparing her to vampire slayers? (As in Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Anita Blake Series?) Ravena's not a slayer. She loves and adores vampires and wants to become one. So in that way, you're absolutely right. She's very different. Not only that, but she has a very strong sense of humor and not many vampire books have been written where vampires like to laugh.

Another distinction might be how Ravena's normal-looking, instead of appearing like a run-way model. In the beginning, she's a bit overweight and hates her diabetes. By the end of the book, she's also just recently turned vampire, so she's still learning how to thrive in her new lifestyle and she is not nearly as seasoned as some of her resurrected associates. Judging by feedback from my readers, Ravena is adored for her quirky personality. Reviewers say she is easy to relate to.

VARSHA:  Is Ravena anything like you? If yes, in what way?

TAMI: Ravena's young, just one year out of college. I'm a woman of a "certain age" (an empty nester). She has her whole life ahead of her so her current take on life is obviously very different from mine. When I was her age, I was never so quick with the witty comebacks but I was much more effective at making friends than she is. I think I always wished I had been as quick-witted as Ravena (that's something I'm developing with age). The biggest thing Ravena and I have in common now is the fact that we're both female, we both do personal analysis and attempt to live authentically by pursuing whatever version of life will bring us the most happiness.

VARSHA:  Since this is an art blog too, let's talk cartoons! Tell us a little about your cartoon works (and any other art-related promotion)

TAMI: I consider myself a real amateur as an artist. I draw for fun. I've always considered myself a writer and studied journalism/English in college while I have also worked as a news correspondent and wrote as a public relations writer and editor.

As a writer, I've learned that it often helps me get to know a fictional character more intimately if I attempt to draw him or her. So I draw a lot of my characters and the places they go as I write about them. I post many of my drawings (writing vicariously as Ravena on her character blog: Vamchoir.blogspot.com). Sometimes humorous ideas come to me while I draw and then my "art" turns into a few comic panels (see image).

VARSHA:  Is it difficult to write laugh-out-loud funny books when the rest of the book world is focused on angst? 

TAMI:  By this question, I'm assuming you're one of my readers who's admitting she laughed out loud? (I've been told, repeatedly, that happens.) I don't think a writer can receive a bigger compliment than having successfully solicited some sort of emotional response from a reader. While R&R is not exactly a "comedy," getting someone to chuckle is the most difficult sort of writing because humor must be very intelligent and personal to work. Not everyone will laugh at the same thing and some versions of humor can even offend some people. Because the reader must relate to what's being said to laugh, I do think it's most difficult to write laugh-out-loud funny books.

Meanwhile, I really like to laugh myself and I see my job as a writer as being that of an entertainer. That's why I worked extra hard at making my book as enjoyable as possible. What better form of reading is there (besides the sort of book that brings out different emotions in the reader)?

VARSHA:  Last question. Any tips for writers from your side? (especially those going for self/indie publishing promoting)

Never give up. Keep writing what you know. If you have written a book that you believe in - move forward with getting it edited and published. For goodness sakes don't ever give up on your dreams. Study authors who have been successful with their marketing and try to emulate whatever they're doing to succeed (giving your marketing messages your own flair, of course). Something I keep reminding myself is that "Rome wasn't built in a day." I also look at writers like J. R. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and remember his books became famous and were made into movies long after he had died. (It was his son who actually had his writings published.) You don't want to wait that long. Publish your work now, while you still have oxygen in your lungs.

Thank you again, Varsha, for taking time from your studies to conduct this wonderful interview. If any of your viewers want to get a hold of me they can just search "Vamchoir" on-line.  I'm on FacebookTwitter, and blogger under that name. Anyone who is interested in blog hopping to visit other blogs that participated in this author tour may see my calendar: http://suntigermojo.com/book-tour-author-tami-jackson-blogs.html

I reviewed the book here
Thank you, Tami, for stopping by and awarding me with a comic image of your creation. It's proudly displayed in the awards page.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ravena and The Resurrected Review




****TOMORROW, I will be interviewing Tami Jackson on R&R, writing, art and more! *****


Title: Ravena & the Ressurected
Author:Tami Jayne Jackson
Pages: 332
Publisher:SunTiger MOJO
Published in:October 2010
Category: Urban fantasy



Life has never been smooth for Ravena Doomlah. Yet when she admits her fascination with Seattle's vampires to her coworkers, she feels all the more dejected. Not only do her coworkers shuffle away quickly anytime she approaches the company water cooler, but Ravena hears colleagues talking about her behind her back.

Once bitten, she tries to hide her new "condition" and wants to keep her job but quickly learns lessons in self reliance when she discovers highly motivated Assassins are actively pursuing her trail.


I've been on a self-published, Indie-run and am actually quite liking some of the books I've read. Now, I know that following Twilight, a lot of vampire books have come into fray, and if you're tired of glittery pretty vampires and their strangely syrupy romances with mortals (aw,come on!) and if you truly want to read one vampire book that's not pretentious (I exempt True Blood, Anne Rice's series and the Anita Blake series from this, as they were pre-Twilight and much more dark.) to the point that they make you want to scream and holler 'Take these eternal beautiful things and their eternal inner conflicts and their eternal gooey romances with mortals away!!!!', then read Ravena and the Resurrected by Tami Jackson.


First thing about this book: It was amazingly well-written with none of the usual unsparkly fare we get from independant publishing. Editing is a really important part for me. This book was edited well, the writing was fun and fresh, and not pretentious. The fact that this book didn't need over-the-top "awesome" vampires (picture those noble-hearted and always-gorgeous types that make me sick these days) and a super-pretty heroine to make it work. Actually, Ravena's character was enough to make it work.
She's a truly amazing character. I felt myself laughing at some of her eccentricities and getting this warm fuzzy feeling towards her because of her various little quirks and sense of humor. Come on: how many books have you read about vampires where the heroine actually wants to become one? Where her very surname comes from her passion for vampires, the dark side and music? Where she is not some runway model but a (lol) "pastrarian"? (read the book to find what that's about).
Ravena is a normal (if slightly eccentric) character with a huge love for sweet food (although she is diabetic), vampires and her virtual life. (wouldn't you be, if your real life pretty much sucked?) Her life takes a turn for the better or the worse (honestly, I think for the better) when she's actually turned by a vampire and starts living life as a Resurrected person. Things are not going to be smooth for her like she might have once believed though. There are some things to adjust to: there are some super bad guys after all vampires, there are 'the Elders', there are egotistic vampires and ones with no manners at all...then there's the coven, a werewolf who could seriously take over her (undead?) heart and a musician to share with...
I thought this was a rollicking fun read, and liked the fun parts as well as the slightly darker parts. Some of the ideas Tami uses for her vampires and werewolves were new to me (maybe they aren't to you, I grew sick of vampires too fast after Twilight, House of Night, the My Blood Approves series and Vampire Academy) but R&R is definitely more True Blood than Twilight (a good thing according to me, always been a Sookie-fan) and will tickle your funny bone. 
The only things I can really wish away in this book was the little lag in the middle where things just went into a slump and seemed to drag a little. Some parts I felt could have been sped up a little. Then there were some bits of the book where the humor seemed forced (most of the humor is really funny though), some characters too strange for me to take them seriously at all. Also, I usually dislike references to other characters or books as I find it to be dating the work somehow.(a lot of people like this though, so it could just be a personal bias) Another thing I felt was a lack in direction of plot somewhere to the middle. Thankfully, that picks up a little later and gathers momentum too.
I really read this book because I loved the character (despite her strangeness) and the fact that I needed something fun after all the angst filled stuff I've read recently.
You can buy the book here
Check out the author's site (she's a cartoonist too) here


Cover Talk:
As this is an author-made cover, I'm not going to be hard on it. It's really saying something when a writer can both write and make art, and although some reviewers would call this cover and the girl a little off I don't think so. I think the cover rather suits the book and keeps up the unpretentious nature of it well. Although of course I have a deeply ingrained hatred of drippy fonts.
I'd give the book 3.5 on 5 stars.
The cover I'd give 3 on 5.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Award

I received the One Lovely Blog award from two people: Ottilie Weber, who is an author and owns a lovely blog herself, and Brittany who has a fantastic site too. Thanks to both of you for thinking about me and passing on this award...
I will be passing it on to 15 other people (difficult, but let's manage somehow) and the list is below. If anyone is wondering why I'm writing this way (unlike my usual gushing style) it's because I'm still down. Really down. Guess I need one of Jeeves' magic pick-me-ups or something, because I've just about been moping around for days and am feeling pathetic about myself. Ah, well. Things should work out sometime. Till then, I'll write poetry.
(If you want to check out one of my down-in-the-dumps-please-pick-me-up poem, it's over here)
Anyway, this award HAS perked me up a little and I thank the two great bloggers who thought of me. I love you guys.
RULES
You have to thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
You have to pass this to 15 other people. Don't think bad of me because I'm not passing to 15 people. I found 8 so far, and I will find the other 7 very soon. I'm just getting a really awful headache. Sorry.
The  people I'm passing this to:


1) Twilight and Other Dreams
2)Beyond Twilight
3)Universe in Words
4)Paperback Treasures
5)Beyond the Bookshelf
6)Ezine of A Random Girl
7)From the Trees
8. The Story of my life

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm in A Foul Mood.

Yes I am.
Stuff happened this week that I'd rather not disclose, and left me feeling frustrated. What do I do when I'm frustrated? I write, and I paint (and I mean on Photoshop, I suck at real art). And so I ended up with one artwork and one poem. I really only write poetry when I'm so messed up that I want to go banging against walls and tearing up things. So, well, this is one of those times.
And I always end up posting these on the blog too. Today I'm only putting up the poem.
Yes, I think I'm sort of weird some times. This poem is not even a real poem. It lacks the lyrical quality of poetry, it lacks rhythm or rhyme, it lacks the characteristic beauty of good poetry. But before you judge....It's really not a poem at all.
 It's just...an outpouring. 
Sort of like siphoning my emotions right into the paper, holding that paper carefully so it doesn't splash all over.
Honestly. An outpouring.


THE POEM- 


OUTSIDE.



You may say I'm sensitive, that I'm over-reacting
You may say I'm an emotional fool
You may mock me, and tease me, and malice me
This fact remains in shades of black and white: You've done wrong.


I don't know what it is I've done-
Whose mind I have maliced, whose heart blackened.
I don't know why it is that I'm here,
On the outside while you stand in this ring inside,
This ring made of farces and secrets that you so deny,
That you so hide from my eyes, and covertly cherish.


For what?


What purpose serves this infinite game of hide and seek?
What lies beneath this well-tied mask of secrecy?
I look at your faces, and is it mockery I see?
Or the glow of being in on your secret while I'm not?
Or perhaps it is worse- the darkest of them all...


I look in your faces....and is it NOTHING I see?
Is it apathy I see?


You don't even seem to know that I feel alien inside.
Cast-off into a corner, forgotten, not spoken to,
Left to write my feelings so they don't show themselves
Relentlessly left always, always outside.


There's one more poem I wrote, called LINE CROSSING, but I won't be posting that because it has serious language problems. As in, beep beep beep oh man this is not for gentle eyes.
This one though is harmless by comparison.




Waiting on Wednesday





Waiting on Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where you talk about that one book you're just dying to read.
This week (first week, really) the book I just can't wait to read is:

'Chasers' by James Phelan (Alone #1) (Atom, 2nd June 2011)
Jesse is on a school trip in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. When he and three friends crawl out of the wreckage they discover a city in chaos. Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. And the only other survivors seem infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators...


THE WHY:
Love that cover. Love the words on the cover. Love the blurb.
I think anything where everything changes suddenly and inexplicably appeals to me enormously.
lol.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Reading and the Read

Namaste, readers!


So this is just going to be a completely random post about what I'm reading, what I read and what I'm, well, planning to read. Because we're book-bloggers....and this is what we do.
So this week I got two new books- both dystopian- both I know I'm just going to love reading. 
WITHER by Lauren Destefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1
(Received from Simon and Schuster's e-galley grab)


What if you knew exactly when you would die? 

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.



Now, that's a new kind of concept. Right now I'm just in the first few pages....





POSSESSION by ELANA JOHNSON

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Now this one sort of reminds me of Ally Condie's Matched, which was of course a great book...but I'm midway through this one, and well, it's not that similar. I sort of already like Vi.


These are the two I received for review.


.Art Talk:


I loved the covers for both these books. While Wither manages to look like a deadly addictive photomanipulation with just the right colors, lovely posturing and some added sci-fi kind of detail (just LOOK at the way the title has been written), Possession's cover hints at something that's fragile and beautiful....yet not. It's obvious the book is dystopian- and that butterfly image is just wonderful in it's concept.


To talk about the books I have finished and are now writing a review on:







Maia Peters hunts ghosts. Or at least she used to. The daughter of world famous paranormal investigators, Maia grew up traveling from haunt to haunt on their hit TV show.  Now she is in college and longing to leave that life behind, and the unwanted celebrity status that comes with it.
Heiress Jordin Cole wants to see a ghost and is willing to do anything and spend any amount to make it happen. After tracking Maia down, Jordin convinces her to lead the investigation and take them to the most haunted places in the U.S. As they travel to historic locales and dance with the dead, Maia begins to sense that something is very wrong with Jordin.  It’s not until Jordin disappears a year later that Maia begins to put the pieces together and uncovers a frightening reality. The nightmare is coming and Maia doesn’t know how to stop it.
I LOVED this book. Totally kept me turning the pages....but enough said, there will be a review soon!

When Alexis's little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.
Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey's shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

About this book....I have a lot to say. Some good stuff, some bad stuff. Review coming soon.

I'm also re-reading Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL for the third time, I can't seem to stop!
Ciao for now!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Layout!


So I went all clean and light colors- with a tinge of bright red and yellow at parts to create a different look to the blog!
Some of you liked the old one I know, but I had to change the layout because
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1) It was too dark and had a visibility issue (pointed out by a few followers- thanks guys!)
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2) The whole dark background thing's just not me...I'm a sunshiney gal.
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3) I LOVE playing with new looks and new designs
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4) TwiggX stock's Headphones pack was just SO amazing I had to use that model, and then got inspired to go in for a classy, black and white look with spots of color thrown in
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5) I have decided to go GREEEEN and not BLUEEEE like every other time (the college is having a fest now- Cultaway- and its theme is Go Green. Check out the site here! It's a site worth checking out)
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(Am I gushing?)
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6) I wanted those cartoony looking fonts but couldn't use them on a dark background because that just looked tacky!
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There you go!
That's a lot of reasons actually. Hope you guys like the new layout too, it's kind of different from what I usually do! 
Credits go to TwiggX stock and NebelDarkened on DeviantArt. I don't know what I would have done without these marvellous stock producers. 
Cheers and hope you guys like the new layout,
Varsha.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Being Artistic in Dystopia


So I’m sick.
And haven’t been to college. 
It’s sorta good and bad because: 
1) I feel horrible but am happy that I didnt have to submit that horrible assignment.
 2) I made a new picture 
3) I wrote a little more
 4) I’m getting time to comment on my followers’ pages.

So check this picture out. This is also story-inspired but I will NOT be posting anything at all about this story because this is my IT project, the one book I will be taking no chances on, the one book I will be going the traditional print route with. It’s my big-dreams book. It’s dystopia, but it has a beautiful romantic background and a very nice bunch of characters.
Let me thank TwiggXstock on DA for the beautiful model, and NebelDarkened for the partial background. I’ve played with the model’s hair and given her eyes a different color, and am so pleased that I got someone who looks almost the way I want my heroine to look…
Thrilled!
Please leave comments! They make my day!

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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.