Pieces of Artyx

Artyx cover

First time author Jennifer Early shares the scoop on her debut novel Pieces of Artyx, one of a five book fantasy series that follows a set of siblings whose main agenda is stopping their powerful sister’s takeover of their own world. Unique creatures and a creative atmosphere will draw readers in to explore the journey of Artyx and Aylus.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Tell us about your new book release Pieces of Artyx: The Forged Journey. Sounds exciting!

It’s quite exciting since it’s my first published work. I started writing it, finally, about three years ago when my son was born. However the story itself has been simmering inside my head since I was a teenager.

Pieces of Artyx is the first in a series of five books. I’m actually in the middle of writing the fourth one. It’s the beginning of a journey of my main characters Artyx and Aylus who set forth to stop their older sister from dominating their world. Dubbing herself Empiralin Emzala, she endeavors to conquer all in order to accomplish another purpose. Along the way you get to experience the world of different creatures and landscapes that I’ve crafted. I’ve written this story to be casual for the reader and to be able to relate to the characters easily.

The premise is interesting. What inspired you to write for the fantasy genre?

Magic, mythical creatures, epic wars, and mythology make everything more interesting. Creating a different world filled with wondrous places is fun. A lot of fantasy stories have your run of the mill dragons and other creatures that are easily recognizable. But I love making new creatures, often with a twist of horror. You can pretty much make anything when you have magic and a great imagination.

I also enjoy the challenge of making the unreal real. That’s the heart of fantasy; to fabricate a whole world immersed in magic that can be seen clearly by the reader. When you can add humans and their real life problems to the mix and make it believable, that’s a part of why I love writing for the fantasy genre.

As writers, our dream is to see our work out there for all the literary world to see. How did your vision of being an author become a reality?

For me, as a writer, I think my dream of becoming an author will only have been fulfilled when a lot of people have read my work. To share my stories is the primary reason for writing. So far, I don’t think I’ve been successful enough to truly say that my vision of becoming an author has come true despite having been published.

What were your first thoughts when you finished that final page–i.e. mission accomplished?

Is it really done?” I think I was in shock when I finished. I never really thought I would finish because the story had been in my head for so long. I first conceived of it years before but one thing or another came along to keep me from doing it.

I think a lot of first time authors feel that way too. When you have been planning a novel and writing it off and on for so long, it seems unreal that it’s actually done. Of course, next I felt relieved. That weight had been lifted off of me and put into text.

Based on your own writing experience, what do you think is the most difficult part of creating a story?

Creating the world itself. As with most fantasy you have to start from scratch and plot out where the cities are, who the people are, the economics, trade, government structures, etc. You don’t realize what’s involved until you’re actually going through to make the world. There is so much detail involved to make it seem realistic.

My hard drive is filled with files that I’ve called “indexes”. Indexes and files for magic, flora, fauna, gods and goddesses, creatures, immortals, and races of people. Not to mention the notes for the plot, cities and time lines. It’s all very extraneous to keep everything in order and making sure it’s consistent.

In contrast, what was the easiest?

The characters I put in the story were the easiest to create for the most part. I’m an artist too so when I need to make a character I start by drawing him/her. I usually make notes on the side for their name and traits. It’s honestly my favorite part of the process. I’m a pretty visual person so I like to be able to see the character, place or thing before I write about it. I have a three ring binder full of characters, maps and the like.

Who are your biggest supporters when it comes to fulfilling such a fantastic goal?

My husband. He’s very supportive in all my endeavors. Without his support I don’t think I would have been able to write in the first place. He makes me feel like I can do anything. There’s also my best friend. I call her the spirit and foundation of my imagination. One of the things we’d do when we were starting to think of stories was plan out plot for books and stories. She’s the one who inspired my want to write in the first place.

Is there anything in your educational background that contributed to writing and publishing your first novel?

I have a Bachelors degree in Computer Animation which is a very creative degree and requires a lot of imagination. In a lot of ways it helped me to think differently and outside the box. If I did have an idea my next thought would be to ask myself if it can be done another way. It also required a lot of research so it gave me the skills I needed to find any information for my story.

Are there any favorite authors who influenced you to explore the world of fiction writing?

J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle. These authors mean so much to me in that I feel like they are the heart of the fantasy genre. Their stories are so vividly real in their characters and settings in different ways whether it be a casual or formal way of storytelling.

Tell us what you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t parked in front of that trusty computer.

Primarily I’m a stay at home mother, so my main job is looking after my three year old son. He is full of monstrous amounts of energy so he keeps me busy. Lately I’ve been reading The Hobbit to him. I hope to instill a love for reading and writing in him. He started to read simple words a couple months ago so I think I’m doing something right! And as a mother I love to bake.

Other than that as I’ve mentioned earlier I draw. I’ll sketch my ideas with a mechanical pencil then pull it onto my iPad to create the finished work. Reading is also one of my favorite things to do.

Where can readers learn more about Jennifer Early and Pieces of Artyx?

My author’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/JAEarlyAuthor?ref=hl

I set up a blog recently about my book and my writing: https://jaearlyauthor.wordpress.com/

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Love Alters

Love-Alters-Book-Cover-v1

Talk about living a life outside the box, Michelle Tupy, author of Love Alters, certainly accomplishes that on many fronts. What a pleasure it’s been to connect with Michelle and learn about her work and her unique lifestyle. A content writer, ghostwriter, and self-confessed lover of words, Michelle, her husband and two young children are currently travelling throughout South America on an adventure and learning experience of a lifetime.

Interviewer: Debbie McClure

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Q In your latest book, Love Alters, you write about the many ways people connect and fall in love. What inspired you to produce this book?

A In truth, it was my own love story which got the ball rolling. It was a story I had been meaning to write for quite a while but I didn’t have enough substance to pen a whole book. While browsing a second-hand bookstore in Canada I stumbled across a small anthology of stories based on friendship and had an aha moment. The rest is history.

Q Where did your love story take place?

A My love story took place in China over 11 years ago. I had travelled to China to teach English with my good friend, Sharon, and on our second teaching assignment we were headed to Jilin from our home base of Changchun to work in a school for the winter holidays. Standing at the train station, also heading to Jilin, was a Canadian man named Matt. We struck up a conversation immediately and over the course of the next few months we started our courtship amongst the snowy backdrop of the wintry city. Two kids and many continents later we are still travelling and still very much in love.

Q Were you amazed at the range of the stories you received?

A At the beginning of the process I must admit I felt a little nervous. What if no one wanted to contribute to my anthology? However not long after I had put the call out, the stories came in little by little, bit by bit until I had enough to fill an anthology. I was blown away. The stories were all so different and varied and the only thing connecting them in actual fact was the theme of love. I received stories of young love, reconnected love, love that connected couples until the day they died. I must admit I shed a tear or two when I was reading them – all moving and totally inspirational in their own way.

Q How did you choose who to feature as contributors for Love Alters?

A I didn’t want the book to have different versions of the same story – I wanted to represent the young, the middle aged, the elderly – different people from all walks of life. I wanted to show that love could come to us at any time, at any age and quite often presents us with a second chance at happiness or family that a previous relationship may not have provided. So I purposefully chose a mix to fulfill my general requirements.

Q Was there one story which stood out in particular? If so, why?

A Early on in the process, Maree Crosbie sent me a beautiful story about this woman she met in hospital many years ago. Over time she learned their amazing story.

Prior to the war, Nancy had been engaged to Dennis. George was Dennis’ best friend and during the course of the relationship, a strong friendship developed between the three of them. When the war broke out, Dennis and George were sent away to fight. Then the war ended and Nancy waited for her husband-to-be to return. But his friend George returned home alone. Dennis, she was told, was believed to be a prisoner of war and the official statement received was ‘whereabouts unknown’. Finally after several years, Dennis was formally declared missing in action and believed to be dead.

Over the years Nancy and George maintained their friendship, supporting one another through life and as time passed, this genuine affection blossomed into love. After a number of years, they eventually wed, grateful that they had one another to share their life with.

Then the unexpected happened. Dennis came home. All three parties found themselves in an unavoidable situation. Nancy and Dennis were still very much in love despite Nancy’s marriage to George, however, to honour their friendship and the marriage vow made between George and Nancy, they made a pact not to act on their love. Over the years all three remained great friends helping each other through good times and bad. Dennis never married and despite her undying love for him, Nancy remained faithful to her husband George, right up until the day she died.

In this age of break-ups and divorces, you just don’t hear many stories like that these days and as I told Maree, I had to feature their story. Great fiction cannot rival stories like this.

Q How long did the book take you to produce?

A For the first year I had it slowly simmering away while my family and I were working on a travel project of our own, but I had always had the date of February 2015 at the back of my mind. As that date approached, I started to firm up the stories and contributors and arrange for a designer to help with the cover. All told, it took me two years from start to finish.

Q You and your husband made the momentous decision to gather your two young children and head out on an incredible cross-country adventure; touring South and North America. What has been the greatest personal lesson you’ve learned so far, and why?

I am not the most patient person in the world, which my husband will happily attest to. Travelling, especially to foreign countries means you have to develop or at least get used to the fact that not everything (or hardly anything) will go your way. Time is indeed relative – half an hour in Peruvian time is a whole lot longer than in the time zone I usually operate in. I am getting better but I still find much of the situations I have to deal with extremely frustrating.

Q Can you share with our readers one of your funniest stories, or more difficult trials, about your cross-cultural and/or travel quest?

A My daughter has a huge desire to be famous – whether through her singing, dancing, modelling or otherwise she doesn’t mind – so bearing this in mind, I signed her up to participate in a beauty pageant in Arequipa to gain some modelling experience. As we don’t generally travel with a formal dress or two in hand, we were told that the organisers of the pageant would take care of our “Australian” cultural dress. On the day of the pageant when we went to collect the dress, our dress was far from the traditional “Australian” outfit we were expecting and instead turned out to be more Austrian than anything representing the Australasian continents. So we had to run around – just hours before the pageant in a city we didn’t know, trying to find something suitable. While we didn’t rival the creative costumes of the Brazilians with their huge feathers and boas, we did learn that not everyone has as good a knowledge of other cultures as we do. And I would like to add, my daughter totally rocked the pageant – and I just hope we never have to do it again!

Q How do your children feel about this massively altered life-style, and what would you say are their biggest challenges to date?

A This has always been their life – they know no different. My husband and I have always travelled and since we have had children, we continue to travel. Our lifestyle is a little different to many others but we make it work for the most part. Our daughter, who is turning 10 this year, has lived in China, Australia, Canada and Peru – that’s pretty great in my book. One of the biggest challenges we face is arranging play dates for the kids, although in reality I think we struggled with it more in Canada when we had a permanent base. We are very keen to meet with other travelling families on the roads and are always looking for opportunities for the kids to make real connections with others, however briefly.

Q What would you say are your children’s greatest take-aways?

A I think for the most part we are trying to encourage our kids to have a broad awareness of the world and the people in it. We want them to understand that people, regardless of where they are from, think the same, feel the same, and love the same, despite their cultural upbringings. We want our children to be citizens of the world rather than one nation and to know that they can go, do and see whatever they want. They are a little too young to understand it all right now, but I think it will hold them in good stead when they are older.

Q Who came up with this idea, you or your husband, and how did that conversation play out?

A It was a conversation which was carried out over many years. Before coming to Peru we joked about driving from Canada, although without having lived there we didn’t really know whether it was viable. But upon seeing and hearing other travel stories, especially those stories featuring kids, we thought we may be able to just pull it off. We talked about buying a vehicle and my husband managed to find us a 1982 Volkswagen Kombi in Cusco, Peru, which we painted in bright colours in preparation for the trip. Of course the conversation is still occurring as we work out our next destination and which country we will head to next. Tomorrow we leave for Puerto Maldonado in the Amazonian jungle in Peru to start the next leg of our world schooling adventure.

Q You and your husband ran a hostel, Casa Emilia, in Cusco, Peru for twelve months and lived among the locals. What was your greatest take-away from that experience, and why?

A Yes we did – it was a lot of work and the kids really enjoyed having their own “hostel” to call home for the year. We definitely learned that the process of setting a business up in another country is not as easy as one may think. We had a lot of people promise things which just did not materialise in terms of support and assistance and in reality, we quickly learned, it was just us and was always going to be us and we just had to find a way to make things work. And that patience thing I talked about earlier, well it was needed tenfold in these circumstances.

Q The next leg of your journey has the four of you packing up your old kit bag and heading out in a van to traverse across South and North America, back up to Niagara Falls, Canada. To help you accomplish this, you managed to gather some wonderful supporters. How were you able to do this, and how can our readers contribute if interested?

A We have had an amazing amount of support for our trip from all levels – we set up a fundraiser to help us out initially selling my writing services and we have received offers of free accommodation from great sponsors like The Meeting Place in Cusco (http://www.themeetingplacecusco.com/) , Percy’s Family Home in Pisac (www.percysfamilyhome) and Anaconda Lodge in Puerto Maldonado (www.anacondalodge.com). We don’t have a huge kitty to dip into in terms of our travel fund and are actually earning and volunteering on the road as we go to help make ends meet. So any form of help or assistance we get whether on or off the road is very welcome. We are open to support in terms of financial assistance, particularly as a little can go a long way in many countries in South and Central America, and we would love to receive more accommodation offers as we travel. My husband, Matt, is a hotel manager, so is happy to work with hotels en route in exchange for help or a review or two while I am happy to assist hotels and hostels with their social media side.

Q Do you plan to write a book about your travel adventures with your family? If so, when can we expect to see it?

A Most definitely. The love story anthology whet my appetite in terms of book publication and I am planning to write a book covering our travels entitled “And Off We Went” showing that it is possible to travel with young kids and still provide them with an amazing (yet slightly alternative) education on the road. We are going to show our trials and tribulations while featuring other families who are travelling and educating on the road as well. As we don’t know how long the trip is going to take us, I am aiming for a 2017 publication date. Although for those interested and who want to see more than the snippets, we post on our Facebook page and blog, we are pre-selling the book for $40 on our website, and this presale will also include special behind the scenes access to our trip.

Q Do you intend to do a follow up anthology?

A Absolutely. I am following up the love anthology with a kindness of strangers anthology – this will have a 2016 publication date so slightly earlier than our travel adventure book. If your readers, would like to contribute a story, they can contact me direct through the Love Alters website. I am looking for true to life stories approximately 1,500-2,500 in length.

Find Michelle here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Alters-All-Seasons-ebook/dp/B00SIEFHF8/

Website: www.lovealters.com

Website: www.andoffwewent.com

Website: http://www.andoffwewent.com/pre-order.html

Website: www.michelletupy.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Love-Alters-An-Anthology/363489527107413

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andoffwewent

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MKileyTupy