Love Alters


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


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 ( , Percy’s Family Home in Pisac (www.percysfamilyhome) and Anaconda Lodge in Puerto Maldonado ( 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:












Chance Encounters

Chance Encounters

So many of us dream of travelling, writing, and sharing our amazing experiences, but Colorado-based journalist, editor, and producer Janna Graber has done more than just dream. In addition to writing for publications such as Redbook, Reader’s Digest, The Chicago Tribune, etc., in the interests of travel and gaining invaluable life experiences, she’s gone dog-sledding, saddled up for excitement and riding at some of Colorado’s dude ranches, and even toured my ownOntario Wine Country to sample our finest wines in the Niagara Valley! But for Janna, it’s more than just the travel that drives her; it’s the personal connections she makes with people all over the globe that resonate most deeply with her. Now, she’s written a book, Chance Encounters: Travel Tales From Around the World (World Traveler Press, 2014) that focuses on experiences and personal connections she and other globe trotters have enjoyed. To learn a little more about this fascinating woman, her newest book, and what inspires her, read on.


Interviewed by Debbie A. McClure

Q: Tell us, Janna, how did you get the idea for the book?

A: In my travels, I often crossed paths with extraordinary people — people who lived in situations different from my own, but who touched me in some way. Some of those encounters enriched my journey, inspired me or even changed my way of thinking. I knew other travelers experienced this as well, so I decided to create a book that would celebrate these unique and incredible travel encounters.

Q: How many authors were featured in the book?

ANineteen top international travel writers were featured in the book.

Q: How were pieces selected?

A: We received hundreds of submissions from writers around the globe and selected 23 final stories. I looked for well-written pieces that followed the writer’s internal journey, as well as his/her external experience. Each story in the book provides a you-are-there feeling, allowing the armchair traveler to experience a unique part of the world from the writer’s perspective. The stories are all very different from each other, which makes reading the book so enjoyable. 

Q: What are some of your own stories that were included?

A: “My Friend, the Enemy” was actually the story that inspired the idea for the book. In 1987 while on a short student trip to East Germany, I met a young East German student who reached out in friendship, even though it was dangerous for him to do so. After I left, we had to write in secret through this grandma. It’s been 25 years now since the Berlin Wall fell, and we have been close friends ever since — simply because we crossed paths long ago.

Another story of mine, “The Parisian Angel” tells how a young French woman helped me after I had been robbed in Paris. She reached out to me when I needed it most, and helped to restore my faith in Paris.

Q: Tell us about some of the other tales in the book.

A: Christina Hamlett writes of a treasured encounter in Hawaii that she has never forgotten. Kimberley Lovato’s tale of an elevator ride with a courageous woman in Paris packs deep emotions into a matter of minutes, from recollections of childhood memories to profound realizations of life.

Nithin Coca’s conversation with a taxi driver in Dubai leaves an impression that he won’t forget, and during a hike with a young monk in Bhutan, Shilpa Gupta learns a lesson not about Buddhism, but about herself.

Cece Romanyshyn is moved by the strength of three young Kenyan sisters who are faced with a heart-wrenching local custom, and Rob Woodburn marvels at the resourcefulness of two young men from Malawi in their quest for a decent pair of shoes.

These are just a few examples. The book is packed with incredible tales of chance travel encounters that touched or changed someone’s life.

Q: Travel writing isn’t something most people just jump into. What is your background?

A: I began my journalism career covering women’s news for Chicago Tribune, Redbook, McCall’s and other publications. When the Columbine tragedy happened in my own backyard, it was very difficult for me to write about. These were my neighbors, and I couldn’t help but feel their sorrow. After that, I decided to turn my energies to covering positive stories of travel and the strength of the human spirit.

After 9/11, travel writing changed. I was told that Americans weren’t interested in international travel. But I knew that wasn’t true. In 2003, I started, an online magazine devoted entirely to world travel. We work with travel writers around the world covering stories in more than 90 countries. I’ve been covering travel ever since.

Q: When you travel, you do much more than visit resorts and tourist attractions; you learn about the native cultures and people of the places you visit. What is the most interesting fact you discovered about a place, people, or thing on your travels?

A: What I’ve learned is that people are more alike than they are different. Yes, I may have a different home or lifestyle than a mom living in Shanghai, but deep down we are still mothers who hope for the best in our children. I always find so much in common with those I meet on my travels – and that provides a genuine connection that cultural differences can’t erase.

Q: Most of us choose to travel the paved roads, but you go off-road all the time. Can you share with us your most funny, or difficult, travel situation?

A: I love small towns and rural and rugged landscape. Some of my favorite travel experiences have been snorkeling with belugas near the Arctic Circle in the 800-person town of Churchill, Minnesota, and going on safari in the Outback on an Aboriginal Reserve at the northern tip of Australia. The people who live in these kinds of rugged environments fascinate me, and I enjoy being around them.

Q: What inspires you to write and travel, Janna?

A: I’m always curious and eager to learn about new places, people, and cultures. Travel allows me to step out of my comfort zone, broaden my view, and experience new things.

Q: Although travel writing looks exciting and glamorous, I’m sure many, many times it isn’t. What advice would you give to writers who would like to learn more about or get involved in travel writing?

A: Ten years ago, it was possible to make a passable living with travel writing, but the media world has changed. Fewer print publications cover travel, and online writing just doesn’t pay as much. Nowadays, travel writing is a good second career. You have to pursue it for the passion, not the money. It helps to have another source of income while you do that.

Q: How do you choose the places to visit and write about?

A: Since I went to university in Vienna, I feel at home in Europe. European destinations continuously draw me. I’m also in love with Australia, so travel there whenever I can. Generally though, I simply look for opportunities to travel and experience new things. I’m open to almost any place where travel is safe.

Q: Is there someplace you haven’t been to yet that you are determined to go to? If so, why?

A: I’d like to go on safari in Tanzania and Botswana; Mongolia is also on my wish list. I’ve never been to any of these places, but have read other writers who have inspired me to put them on my Bucket List. 

Q: What book projects are you working on next?

A: My next book in the series, called “Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales from Around the World”, is also now available. Like the name says, the book includes 24 incredible travel stories from some 20 top travel writers.

My own story in the book is called “Filling in the Holes”. It’s about searching for family roots in Latvia that were tragically lost during war. It was an incredible adventure. Latvia is an undiscovered treasure.

In mid-2015 I’ll start work on an anthology devoted solely to women’s travel stories. I’m really looking forward to that one.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, Janna. I, and I’m sure many of our readers, are looking forward to reading Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the World, and your future works as well.


Amazon link to Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the World

Amazon link to Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales from Around the World

World Traveler Press:

Go World Travel Magazine:









Dark Light

Hollywood routinely delivers no shortage of scary imagery – malevolent aliens, mutant monsters, brain chomping zombies. Of all the worst nightmares that can be unleashed in the imagination of a parent, however, is the heart-stopping fear that s/he might one day be unable to do anything for a beloved child with a life-threatening illness. For families such as these, there is perhaps no better godsend on the planet than a place like Ronald McDonald House.

From its Philadelphia origins in 1974, the collaborative efforts of RMH’s medical staff, social workers and volunteers have enabled this iconic charity to evolve into a multifaceted international platform that serves the needs of over 2,000 families per year. Passionate collaboration is also at the heart of Dark Light, a new anthology that not only made its debut this summer but will also be donating proceeds to ensure that the work of this organization can continue to deliver miracles.

Author/editor Carl Hose took time from his busy schedule to share some background on how this particular story collection came about and why RMH is a cause that’s close to his heart.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett


Let’s start out with some background about you, your career path, and what your inspiration was to pursue the writing life.

I started writing when I was about thirteen. When I reached high school, I’d actually skip out of school not to run around, but to sit at home with my typewriter and create stories. A lot of what I wrote back then were my own stories based on a cop show character called Baretta. When I tired of that, I started writing original stuff, none of which was very good. I started submitting to magazines and basement press publications way before my work was ready for print, so there were plenty of rejections. I hung on to those rejections for inspiration. I figured rejection slips were a sign I was at least trying! The more I submitted, the more acceptances I got, and the more acceptances I got, the more my work was purchased and published. Eventually, the rejections became less than the acceptances. Writing is something that needs to be pursued with vigor if you want to succeed, and believe me, I have been vigorous!

Do you recall some of the books and authors that influenced your perspectives about the world and your place in it?

Some of my early writing was shaped by the Execution paperbacks by Don Pendleton and all the pulp Doc Savage books that Bantam published way back when I was a kid. I was also inspired by the TV police dramas like Baretta, Starsky and Hutch, Kojak—that sort of thing. Earlier, though, my dad and stepmom took me to see movies like The Exorcist, Last House on the Left, and the classic Don’t Look in the Basement. Seeing those on a big screen at the drive-in really had a huge impact on my writing. Mark Twain is always an inspiration, and as I got older, I discovered Stephen King, Graham Masterton, and Robert McCammon. Nowadays, with the explosion in indie publishing, I am discovering many writers who inspire me.

Tell us a little about your anthology and what inspired you to make it your priority project.

It all began when my wife and I had a baby girl named Ireland on January 27th. She was premature and had to spend time in NICU. The hospital was quite far from our house and we wanted to spend every minute with her. We were going to sleep in her room, but the hospital set us up with the Ronald McDonald House.

At the time I was marginally familiar with what they do, but had never really paid a lot of attention to the organization. It’s amazing! They gave us a place to stay that basically amounted to a pretty nice hotel room. They cooked three meals a day and we had access to the kitchen at all hours of the night. The organization is run primarily on volunteers. We were in there on Valentine’s Day and they even provided cards so none of the guests had to worry about it. It was all about making it convenient, leaving nothing for guests to do except concentrate on their children in the hospital. They do this around the clock, twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year.

All my wife and I did was walk back and forth between the Ronald McDonald House and the hospital for three weeks, feeding our baby, holding her, giving her the love and attention we were sure she needed to develop and survive. One night as we were taking a breather in our room, I told my wife I wanted to find a way to repay RMH. I came up with the idea for the anthology. The title came pretty quickly. Dark Light signifies horror writers writing for a good cause. My wife Marcee loved the idea, so I literally contacted writers through Facebook and asked if they would participate. Almost none of the writers I contacted said no. Dark Markets jumped in and listed the call for submissions and I got a couple of stories that way, too. In total, there are 42 writers and 44 stories in the book. A couple of the writers contributed double. Nearly 600 pages and 168,130 words. That’s a lot of heart!

Not to mention a lot of work!

I wanted to keep it simple. I basically asked writers to submit a horror story, any length, any theme, new or reprinted. On my walks to and from the hospital, I would check my Facebook and feel so excited and touched each time one of these amazing authors responded that he or she would participate. I can literally remember where I was and what I was doing when I received messages from these authors saying they’d be happy to participate. I actually pitched this idea to the staff at RMH before I even left. I was afraid they might not like the idea of taking money from a book by a bunch of horror writers, but they thought the idea was a good one and were excited about the project.

I started contacting writers in early February. For a June release date, that’s an extremely fast time span to have pulled together this many authors, edit the stories, get contracts signed, bios gathered—they didn’t play around. They all responded quickly and did what they could do to help me move the project along. My wife did the cover, three of us read and edited the book, and the final touches are being put on right now.

Where will readers be able to get a copy?

The book will be available digitally at Amazon for Kindle, Barnes and Noble for the Nook, the Apple store for iPad, and also for the Sony Reader. It will be available in print at Amazon and in as many brick and mortar stores and online bookstores as I can get it in. I’ve got a pretty wide distribution set up in place. I’m publishing it through my MARLvision Publishing imprint.

Here’s what some of the writers had to say about contributing to the anthology:

“When Carl asked me to contribute a story for Dark Light, I felt that ‘When Shadows Come Back’ was a perfect fit for both the title and the idea.  It’s an honor to have my story reprinted in an anthology that is for a good cause, and also one that is close to the heart of the editor”—Nancy Kilpatrick (When Shadows Come Back)

* * *

“When someone you love has a serious medical condition, it can literally feel like the world is crumbling around you. It’s like this personal apocalypse where fear and uncertainty hold sway. But the Ronald McDonald House provides in the real world what the characters in my stories need so badly: a ray of hope in the face of adversity and safe harbor in trying times”—William Todd Rose (Hunters)

* * *

“I decided to get involved with Dark Light for two reasons. On a general level, I wanted to help the Ronald McDonald House. Growing up, my family was poor, the kind of poor where you’re wearing coats that don’t quite fit in the winter and each new school term comes with a new place to live, sometimes yours, sometimes a friend’s or a relative’s, and sometimes neither. Any organization that helps people who need it and especially one that helps families stay together is, I think, necessary and deserving of whatever any of us can give or do. On a more specific level, I wanted to help because one of my best friends stayed at a Ronald McDonald House as a young teen. Without them, she would have been separated from her family when she needed them most. This is my way of thanking her for all she’s done for me. Dark Light is a great anthology, and I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to such a deserving cause”—Chris Shearer (The Long Wait)

* * *

Ronald McDonald House provides much needed services to families of critically ill children, allowing them to be close in times of need. This organization has helped families all over the world and giving a story to help benefit them is the least I can do to help give back to this wonderful charity—Joseph Mulak (Cognitive)

* * *

“I was touched by Carl’s personal experience at the Ronald McDonald House, and I didn’t want to pass up the chance of having my work appear in the company of some of the best and brightest in the horror biz. And the darkest”—Randy Chandler (3:33 and Death Comes Calling)

* * *

“As a parent of a child with special needs, I understand the necessity of a support system such as the national network of Ronald McDonald houses. As a writer, submitting to Dark Light was a way for me to provide not only an entertaining story for an awesome anthology, but a heartfelt contribution to a charity that gives so much to families when they feel as if they have so little. In Dark Light, MARLvision Publishing pulls from the crème de la crème of the horror industry, joining together to shine light into the darkness of childhood illnesses through the donation of the anthology proceeds”—Angeline Hawkes (Shattered Mirrors and Smokeless Flames)

* * *

How do you think this book will resonate with readers?

Well, I certainly want readers to be entertained, and I believe they will. There are so many fans of each of these writers, and to have all of these fans mingling together and discovering other writers they might enjoy as well, that’s a really cool thing. What I’d like readers to take away from the reading experience, besides having been entertained, is that while the world may be a dark place, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. That sort of goes along with the title. I’d also like them to keep in mind the project was accomplished by the sheer generosity of people who didn’t need to get involved but did so because they cared to pause a moment and help me give back. And these are horror writers. We don’t always have the best reputations.

What’s next on your plate?

I’m working on my novel Evil Resurrection, a novel with William Todd Rose called Black Rain, and an as-yet-untitled novella with Walt Hicks. William Todd Rose and Walt Hicks have stories in the Dark Light anthology as well.

Anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about the book?

I’m just a writer who adores my family and appreciates what life brings me. Anyone who is interested can find me on Facebook, along with more info on Dark Light, or at