Tamara Lowery is a former maid and current auto industry worker. She is a graduate of Soddy-Daisy High School and Chattanooga State, where she majored in Journalism. She is a new author. She currently lives in Tennessee with her husband and the Rottentots, her cats.
To learn more about Tamara and her work please visit the following websites:
What is the current project you are working on?
Several, actually. The foremost is the reformatting of the manuscript for Demon Bayou, the second installment in my Waves of Darkness series, which is slated for release from Gypsy Shadow Publishing this October. (My publisher has adopted the Smashwords submission style guidelines to make for easier ebook distribution.) I also have three ongoing manuscripts I'm working on: Hell's Dodo, the fifth book in the Waves of Darkness series; A Dream of Water, a YA fantasy inspired by a dream I had last Spring; and The Adventures of Pigg and Woolfe, a Steampunk serial.
How do you define success?
How do you handle rejection?
I look for the positive. Why was something rejected, and what can I do to improve it? Also, rejection is sometimes a Godsend. Blood Curse, my debut novel and the first in the Waves of Darkness series, was rejected by several agents and publishers before Gypsy Shadow signed me. Last year I saw a lot of stink being raised about one particular publisher that had rejected the MS over their ill-treatment of several of their authors. I figure I dodged a bullet there.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a ballerina when I was five. I HAVE always had an interest in the written word and have been an avid reader from an early age. In Junior High, I wanted to go into Journalism, and even majored in this in college. But, as far as I'm concerned, real journalism is nearly dead. Given the choice of tabloidism or writing honest fiction, I'll go with the fiction. Also, "Real Life" side-tracked my writing aspirations for a couple of decades, but it gave me a better perspective from which to write.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Put simply: reading. When I read, I tend to get totally submersed in a book to the point of having to put it down for a moment and "walk it off" when I get too emotionally wrapped up. My mind was writing fan fiction years before I'd ever even heard the term.
What is the best thing about being one?
World building. I love when I sit down to write, and what appears on the paper surprises me. Often it's as if I am just a channel to scribe out what my characters are telling me or are seeing or experiencing.
What is the worst thing about being one?
Organizing my thoughts. That, and having inspiration hit when it's not convenient to write. (I work a full time job to pay the bills, and write during work breaks.) It can be very frustrating when my mind starts scrolling through scenes faster than I can write it coherently.
What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?
Around 15 narratives, some of which are only school memories. (The MSs were lost in one of my many moves.) I can't remember how much poetry I wrote back in school. Only one narrative has been published to date. Actually, The Adventures of Pigg and Woolfe is a revamping of an old creative writing exercise from High School. We had to pick a nursery rhyme or fairy tale and put our own twist on it. I had taken The Three Little Pigs and made it into a space opera. Rather than try to repeat that experiment, I decided to take the two main characters, Clyde Pigg and Draeger Woolfe, and adapt them to a Steampunk setting.
Who is your favorite author?
I have to pick ONE? Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Anne McCaffrey, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Janet Evanovich, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jean Auel, Michael Gear & Kathleen O'Neal Gear, Elizabeth Peters, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Michael Romkey...shall I go on?
How has your life changed since you became writer?
Just in the last year I've entered a world I'd never dreamed I would. Just the wonder of feeling accepted into a community I used to only observe from the outside as a fan is WONDERFUL. It also has given me the access to lessons others have learned the hard way.
What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to be a writer?
Write what you like to read. Practice, practice, practice. DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR DREAM...EVER. I went through four years of rejections before finding a publisher. There are others who went through many more years than that. Watch your grammar. If you can find a used grammar textbook at a school or used bookstore, BUY IT. Do NOT rely solely on spellcheck programs. THEN and THAN are NOT INTERCHANGABLE! Make sure your manuscript is as clean and professional looking as possible before submitting it to a publisher. That is one of my biggest pet peeves and is a sure way to mark a writer as an amateur. Your editor will thank you. A sloppy MS is guaranteed rejection. If you aren't sure about a passage, read it aloud, or better, let someone else read it aloud, and see if it makes sense. Do not be afraid to rewrite. NEVER think that what you wrote is perfect; there is always room for improvement. Be prepared for a lot of hard work for very little monetary return. Authors who become multi-millionaires are the exception to the rule, not the norm. If you have a day job, for God's sake, DON'T QUIT! Most of the other authors I know can't afford health insurance, and some of them are big names in their genres. Lastly, build an online presence. Publishers do look at your "platform" of social networks. They are more likely to sign a new author who already has a large potential reader base. Publishing is a business. They don't publish books just out of the kindness of their heart; they expect to make money. They aren't going to invest a lot in something they don't think will give them good returns. Keep in mind, however, that self-publishing has become a very viable options for those who don't fit the current "market" model. If you decide to go this route, however, I would suggest finding a reliable and reasonably priced freelance editor: see comments about sloppy manuscripts.
What do you like to do besides writing?
Draw, sing, read, and once in a while piddle with crafts as the mood hits and time allows.
Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a writer?
Yes. I have worked retail. I was a maid for seven years. I've worked food service. Currently, and probably until I retire, I build Volkswagens, working in the Body Weld shop. Specifically, I'm part of the team that builds the hoods, fenders and trunk lids for the Passat.
How would you describe your education?
Worth it. I probably would have been a professional student, if I could have afforded it. As it was, I only achieved an Associates of Arts in Journalism back in 1988.
What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?
To Kill a Mockingbird. (The movie was great, the book was even better.) A guilty pleasure used to be late 70s-early 80s barbarian flicks, swords and sorcery stuff. They were so cheesy. My favorite foreign film would be Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Besides being fantastic eye candy, it is a very good story with well developed characters. I'm also a Star Wars fan, although Episodes 1-3 were high on effects and low on story, kind of like a huge, beautiful wedding cake that turns out to be all icing with a stale mini bran muffin at the core. As for TV: both seasons of HBO's Rome, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, American Idol (sometimes I think the judges are drinking the blue toilet water in those cups based on some of their comments), and Deadliest Catch. I still miss Capt. Phil Harris.
How would you describe the writing "scene" where you live?
I'm not really sure. I haven't had the time to look into local writing groups or workshops.
How has social media changed the publishing industry?
It has put a lot more of the burden of promotions on the author, but it has also opened the industry wide to independant publishing houses and self-publishing.
You could have any first edition book. Which book would it be and why?
There was an old, ragged Christmas carol songbook that my grandmother had. I wouldn't have to have a first edition, but I'd love to find a copy. It had two variations of the carol The Holly and the Ivy, one with the traditional English tune you always hear and one with a traditional French tune I have NEVER heard anyone record. Personally, I always thought the French tune was prettier.
What's your favorite movie quote and why?
I don't really have a favorite.
What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?
I judge them on an individual basis. Some are good, some should never have been done. Night of the Hunter, for instance, should not have been remade. Seeing the color remake lost a lot of the atmosphere and charm of the original. The original was made in black and white for a reason. Color technology had been available to the studios for decades when it was shot.
What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?
Depends on the screen writer, casting, and director. However, if a movie captures someone's attention enough to make them look for the book, then it is definitely a good thing. Which reminds me, I need to add The Color Purple to my to-buy book list.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, I'm still a bit giddy about my debut novel, Blood Curse, ranking #7 on this years Preditors and Editors Readers' Poll in the horror category. I was surprised to have been nominated, but to finish in the top ten was fantastic!
Blood Curse is the first book in the Waves of Darkness series, which follows the adventures and trials of Viktor Brandewyne, a bloodthirsty pirate in the truest sense. He draws the ire of a very powerful witch after killing one of her favorites in a dispute over a tavern wench. She curses him to become a living vampire: he has all the powers of a traditional vampire, but is unaffected by sunlight or holy items. Given his ruthless nature, one would think this was more a blessing than a curse, but there's a catch. The curse will eventually destroy him, starving him to death regardless of how much he feeds and robbing him of all self-control until there is nothing but his Hunger. To avoid this fate, he has to find the seven Sisters of Power, perform tasks for them in exchange for a portion of their magic, and bring it back to Mother Celie, the old witch (and eighth Sister) who raised him from an orphan, to free him from the curse. He is aided in his quest by Hezekiah Grimm, aka The Grimm Reaper, his first mate, Belladonna, a man-eating siren, and Lazarus, a shape-shifting creature that is sometimes a large black cat and sometimes a raven.
Each book in the series deals with a separate Sister. The Sisters will not be easy to find, nor will they be easy to please.
Blood Curse is available as an ebook from http://gypsyshadow.com/TamaraLowery.html#BloodCurse as well as from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Omnilit/AllRomance, and other ebook outlets. I have posted a book trailer for Blood Curse on Youtube at http://youtu.be/k67QHiYAEA
Book 2 in the series, Demon Bayou, will be available from Gypsy Shadow this October. Viktor's search for the second Sister of Power takes him to the bayou country near New Orleans. He encounters vampires not made by him for the first time. The bayous and swamps hold their own danger, as well. An ancient demon guards the way to the Sister. Worse, Belladonna starts dying in the black waters of the bayous. Viktor must choose: continue on or return the siren to the sea. Without magic from all the Sisters, he cannot break the curse. Without Belladonna, he will never find all the Sisters.
Thanks so much for doing the interview Tamara. I wish you the best with your projects. Also, I didn't know there was another variation of "The Holly and the Ivy".