Thursday, October 18, 2018

Mantis Force: Decimation (Marium Kahnet Book 2) by R.J. Amezcua

Book 1 review HERE!
Book 3 Review - Coming 10-26

Synopsis - 

Led by Victoria and Balese, the rogue sisters of the Marium Kahnet have successfully completed their life-long quest for revenge against the sorcerer’s guild. Now a new mission has begun, one of survival, as their enemies seek their lives with a vengeance. As planned, the sisters who managed to survive the destruction of the testing facilities have joined their adopted family’s nefarious criminal organizations, plotting to escape with detailed plans of the Leviathan project to justify their actions to their home world of Ramah. But they are unaware they are being  hunted by elite mercenaries hired by the sisterhood.

Review -

​Book 2 in this series picks right up where book 1 left off. I appreciate when an author doesn't spend pages and pages of a sequel recapping what happened in the previous book. BUT, if it's been awhile since you read the first book, then you might need to glance through it go get up to speed

In Decimation, we follow what came after the destruction of the testing facilities. Deadly radiation has killed millions and is slowly spreading further and further. Some of the Marium Kahnet rogue sister have lost their lives, others are struggling with the scale of the death toll they have caused. This story follows several of them as they try to deal with the guilt as well as struggle to find a way back home.

The story is flowing and the multitude of names of people, places and technology is close to the same as the first book, so not a lot of new things to understand and absorb.  The author has kept the storyline tight and to the point. And the book is on the shorter side like the first, which works well for a SciFi trilogy set in the far reaches of space.  And as in the first book, he ends in a way that makes you want to reach for the next book.

Definitely written for SciFi fans. 

Buy the book - Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes 
Meet the Author -

Read a fab author interview HERE!

R. J. Amezcua was born and raised in Silicon Valley, and is happily married to Sheryl. As a young boy, one of his favorite TV shows was Lost in Space. Being an entrepreneur and visionary by nature, he has begun his journey as an author and writer. Using his love for science fiction, he created the epic saga “Mantis Force,” which encompasses a vast universe.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Monday, October 8, 2018

Interview with by Lucy Appadoo, author of A Life by Design (The Italian Family Series)

Please share a bit about the journey to writing and publishing your very first book. Was this a dream you had as a child, or one that came later in life?

I enjoyed writing as a child but at that time I didn’t want to be a writer until I was an adult. I attempted publishing stories with traditional publishers a number of years ago, but wasn’t successful until I came across a Canadian Publisher who soon went bankrupt. My dream ended at that point years ago, and I had stopped writing until I got an ipad as a gift for Mother’s Day from my husband and two daughters. I started downloading books and read them on ibooks, Apple, and questioned how I could add a book on the ipad. I decided to research self-publishing, then started self-publishing in 2015 with my very first book, Crystal Light. I started on my self-publishing journey and never looked back.

As as a registered Counsellor and Coach in private practice as well as a Rehabilitation Counsellor for the Australian Government, you must work long hours. How do you find time to also write books? Do you have a set time each day or write when inspiration hits?

Working in various capacities is about balancing my time and creating to-do-lists. I find time to write on the weekends and evenings, and sometimes on my days off as I work in my main role four days a week. I have set times several evenings a week (after dinner), but this might increase if I have a deadline with book edits and need to get the book back to the editor, or when I have started on a new novel.

You have eleven published titles and many are set in different parts of the world, such as Italy and Australia. Have you travelled to these places? What type of research do you do to make sure the places, food and people are an accurate reflection of the location?

I travelled to Italy when I was 23 years old and as a 7-year old child, and live in Melbourne, Australia. I researched the history of Italy by interviewing my parents about their childhoods for two of my novels from The Italian Family Series, as well as reading or borrowing books from an Italian association. I also worked with a virtual assistant from Time Etc to check facts about Milan for A Life By Design, and used the Internet (Google facts. images, and Google landmarks).

Review Here!
Where do you find inspiration for new storylines and characters? Does it get harder or easier with each new book? 

I am inspired with new storylines when I have particular characters in mind, based partly on personal experience and partly on imagination. I also draw ideas or inspiration from my environment, including movies, books, past experiences, and places I visit. At times, I might get an idea pop into my mind so I make sure I jot it down before the idea’s gone. I also get into a meditative space that helps me to immerse myself with a character. The character tends to speak to me. 

I find that when you write a series, it gets harder with each new book as you need to remember the details of previous characters. It can also be easier to write the next book in the series as you’ve established most of the characters in the previous book. I tend to write along the same themes but the plot needs to be somewhat different. With a different book that’s not part of a series, it’s still always a challenge to write a new book as you’re starting from scratch. However, with more experience, it does get easier than when you first start writing.

Are the characters you create ever built from pieces of you, your friends or the people you meet through work?

Yes, my characters are part-imagination and part pieces of me. For example, Elena in A Life By Design is the part of me that is creative, adventurous, likes to try innovative things, and loves Italy. My characters can be a composite of someone I know but never an actual person. However, in Dancing in the Rain and The Beauty of Tears from The Italian Family Series, my characters were inspired by my parents.
What do you find hardest about the writing/publishing process. What part do you find easiest?

The hardest thing about the self-publishing process is the marketing aspect, which takes a long time and requires strategy, persistence, and innovation. The hardest thing about writing is creating the final process to ensure that everything is as perfect as you can make it. The easiest part for me is coming up with a range of ideas and getting caught up in my characters’ journeys.

Between work and writing, you must have a very busy schedule. When you take time for yourself, what do you love to do to relax?

I enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction books, meditation, journaling, going out with friends and family, and watching shows or movies, particularly on Netflix.

Other books in The Italian Family Series

What's the most important piece of advice you can offer to a writer just starting out in this genre?

A writer just starting out in this genre needs to do their research, can complete writing courses, do a lot of reading in the genre to understand the story structure, and use mentors or editors. A new writer needs to persist and follow their writing passion as in the end, holding that book in your hand is definitely worth the hard work and sweat.

A Life by Design (The Italian Family Series) by Lucy Appadoo

Book Four in The Italian Family Series

Synopsis -

When 20-year-old Elena Allegro leaves the Italian village of Laurino to study Fashion Design in Milan, she’s certain her dreams are about to come true. Despite her father’s warnings that risk comes with her newfound freedom, she loves her studies and develops a love interest with Francesco, the handsome young entrepreneur who offers her a part-time job in a Milan clothing store.

It seems like an idyllic situation—until a stalker targets Elena, tormenting her with mind games and threatening her safety. In the face of escalating danger to herself and to Francesco, Elena must fight for her freedom, her love, and her survival.

Review -

Lucy Appadoo is a prolific author with 11 published titles to her name. Many (though not all) are in the genre of are in the genre of romantic suspense and historical fiction. In A Life By Design we follow the journey of 20-year old Elena, who was raised on a farm in a small Italian town with very traditional parents. She wants to flee small town life to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer in Milan. While her father in particular is against this, she manages to convince them to let her give it a try.

The plot moves along at a steady pace - she arrives in Milan, quickly lands a much needed job, meets the handsome Francesco who she is wildly drawn to and the studies at school are all she dreamed of. We also quickly learn all is not idyllic. There is something about Francesco's past that sends up warning flags. Is he a player? Is he an honest business man? Then on her first day at school a male classmate who begins to harasses her and soon after a stalker appears who threatens her safety, trying to force her to move home. The police have no interest in her protection and she ends up in incredible danger - abducted and scared. Can she escape?  All through the story line the romance with Francesco grows with no clear idea if this will end well.

While there were times the writing did not flow as natural as others, overall Overall I enjoyed reading this book. It's a fun escape to dive into after a busy day with a bit of romance, intrigue, mystery and danger.

Buy the Book: 
Meet the Author -

Read a fab author interview HERE!

Lucy is an author of romantic suspense, historical fiction/coming of age, short story thrillers, and non-fiction books. She is also a Registered Counsellor/Wellness Coach, and works as a Rehabilitation Counsellor for the Australian Government.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, exercising, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author:  Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Interview With R. J. Amezcua, Author of the Mantis Force Trilogy

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author? Did you dream of being a writer from an early age, or did that come later?

The seed to be a writer began during High School when my English teacher remarked that I could be a very good writer. Being a teenager, I rebuffed the notion, stating “Writing is not for me, I want to work on computers as a career.” It was during my career in sales that I thought about writing stories. Then on April 4th, 2004 I wrote the first few lines of an adventure story.

Where did the inspiration for the Mantis Force series come from? For the characters that populate these books?

Review HERE!
I love science fiction; Star Wars, Babylon 5, Red Dwarf, Lost In Space, Dune, Doctor Who, and Forbidden Planet are some of my favorites As a Christian, I believe in biblical prophecies, so I set out to create a fictional holy tome called the Kodashah filled with prophecies from which I create fantastic stories. I had to create characters from scratch, meaning I had to know where they were born, what happened to them during their life and meld that to their current circumstances. Hence the Mantis Force is across 5 galaxies and has more than 500 characters. The possible storylines are endless. 

For this series, you had to create all new worlds and species that think are different from ours. As well you had to invent new names for people and places. How did you go about developing these worlds, races and names? How did you keep track of all the elements to avoid inconsistency as you wrote? 

I am a very visual person. I saw a movie in my mind and I wrote what I saw. I also have a detailed map of my stories and have created an encyclopedia to maintain consistency.

Review Coming Oct. 18th
Did you have to do any specific research to develop the science behind your plot?

No not really, it more theoretical science I use the Mantis Force universe. For instance, we know that matter occupies an “x” amount of physical space. Now take for example a cell phone tower somewhere in California and a cell phone tower in Florida. With my theory, they are connected in the transdimensional spectrum and can move from one occupied space to another space through that spectrum. A machine that accomplishes this in the Marium Kahnet series is the Mass Displacement Matrix (MDM). One enters a MDM on a certain planet and arrives in another MDM in a distant planet. 

How does the writing process work for you? Do you schedule a time every day, work madly when inspiration hits or ?

I really don’t have a schedule, I try to jot down at least a sentence, sometimes just a few words daily.

Review Coming Oct. 26th
When you relax with a book, do you find yourself immersed reading sci-fi or do you enjoy reading a wide variety of genres? Do you have a favorite book or author? 

I used to avidly read every genre. Shortly after I started writing, I felt I should limit my reading, so that my inspiration would be mine and not influenced by another writer’s style. My favorite authors are C.S. Lewis and Frank Hebert.

Do you have any new books in the planning or writing stage? 

Yes, I am currently working on the next Mantis Force book trilogy, this story takes place millennia in the future. I am also working on two holiday themed children’s illustrated stories.

Mantis Force: Retribution (Marium Kahnet Book 1) by R.J. Amezcua

Part 1 in a 3 part trilogy.

Synopsis -

In a war-torn galaxy, Jazrene Vallo, the supreme spiritual leader of the Marium Kahnet, is close to fulfilling her divine destiny: refashion the Order as a beacon of light. But her plans for the sisterhood to become the official ambassadors of peace are compromised when she is forced to send mercenaries to capture rogue elements of the sisterhood seeking revenge against those responsible for murdering their families. Failure to capture them will bring an irreversible blemish upon the sisterhood. Unbeknownst to her, it may be too late to stop them.

After fifteen years of methodical planning and burrowing into the highly classified Leviathan project, the cadre of vengeful sisters are ready to execute their mission. Their goal: to destroy the Stadageos, vast military testing and bio-engineering bases where the twisted machinations of fallen creation formed the ungodly fierce races of Leviathans. Their failure will release death and destruction on a scale not experienced since the fall of creation. But even if they succeed, not all of them will survive.

Review - 

Retribution is the first book in a series by author R. J. Amezcua.  It is true science fiction - placed in the far reaches of space with unique races and religions. As a Sci Fi fan who writes non-fiction, I am always in awe of how these authors create the multitude of strange names for the people, the worlds, etc., then keep track of them throughout. It has to take a lot of organization and focus. Then there is the science aspect to deal with in a way the reader can understand without getting tedious. Not easy.

In this first book, we are introduced to the foundation of this series - the history of an attempt to wipe out the Marium Kahnet, the characters important to this story's plot, the races involved in this conflict, rogue elements plotting revenge and the shape of what this revenge will be. As well we learn of a new threat that is being created - the Leviathans - that will threaten all they hold dear.  Can the rogue element's efforts make a difference?

While I should have been overwhelmed by all the information I needed to absorb, it didn't seem to be an issue. The story flowed right through all the details.  I also appreciated him keeping each book short in terms of word count.  When there is a lot of absorb, this really makes a huge difference in pacing.

If you're a true Sci Fi fan, this series will be great to sink your teeth into.

Buy the Book - Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author -

Read a fab author interview HERE!

R. J. Amezcua was born and raised in Silicon Valley, and is happily married to Sheryl. As a young boy, one of his favorite TV shows was Lost in Space. Being an entrepreneur and visionary by nature, he has begun his journey as an author and writer. Using his love for science fiction, he created the epic saga “Mantis Force,” which encompasses a vast universe.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Held Together: A True Story of Love's Victory by Jenny Q

A riveting true story about the power of love and the strength of community.

Synopsis - 

In January of 2014, Joshua Tree’s beloved village herbalist, Jenny Q. suddenly became seriously ill and rapidly descended into a coma with slender chance of survival. The shock of this news initiated an overwhelming outpouring of love, wit, service, practical magic and sharing of spiritual wisdom between those in her intimate desert community. Indeed it seemed that the entire group became one in their desperate effort and race against the clock to save her life.

While the words of others in the community tell the story in this book, it is Jenny’s own insightful writings that provide a fascinating window into a range of rare experiences. She gives us a unique glimpse into the mysterious worlds encountered while in a coma, the absolute alteration of losing one’s legs, the subtle venom of PTSD, the nightmare of withdrawal from prescription opiates, and the maddening frustration of having to re-learn basic skills previously taken for granted such as the ability to walk.

Review - 

This book is in some ways hard to review because it truly unique in terms of how it is written and there are many, many layers of the human experience it explores.

The main story line is both simple and frightening - Jenny Q goes in for a minor surgery and by the next day is fighting for her life. A serious infection has taken hold that only has a 5% survival rate. Her journey through this abyss is told through short personal remembrance notes, songs and poetry written by herself, her friends, her family, her community and her partner. The price to survive? Loss of many pieces of her body including both her legs and the fingers on one hand. In the end she had around 50 surgeries to deal with the ravages of the infection.

Because of the way Jenny Q's story is told, we see the most serious days in the hospital through the eyes of others.  How it affects them, what they see, the fear and how they come together in support.  With limited access, many focus on standing beside her spiritually, holding her close and offering her spirit a tether.  We see the power of coming together as a community.

We are also introduced throughout the narrative to Jenny's journey to this moment - her life as a Dead Head, her marriage, the birth of her child and divorce, opening her Grateful Desert shop, her relationship with her ethnic family (both the strengths and the challenges) and the joy of finding her life partner. After she returns home we walk with her through the struggles to accept the changes to her body - will her partner still find her beautiful with the disfigurements -  and the limits she has to learn to work around.  It was also an eye-opener for her to experience how others reacted to her "disabilities."

A wonderful and inspiring read that explores so much more than just illness and recovery.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble BookBaby Author Website Add to Goodreads

Meet The Author - 

Fab Author Interview HERE!

Jenny Q was born in Southern California to Palestinian immigrants. Her love of herbs began in her teens while on the road following the Grateful Dead. After exploring many heart homes, she set her roots in Joshua Tree, California, where she opened Grateful Desert, the local apothecary. Joyously sharing her life with her tight-knit desert community, Jenny lives with her beloveds~ Yazzy, her daughter and Myshkin, her wife.

Connect with Jenny: Website 

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Interview with Jenny Q, Author of Held Together: A True Story of Love's Victory

This is a very unusual book in terms of how the story is told - in some ways a collaborative book. Please share the journey of how this came together - the idea to tell your story this way, how you decided whose words would be included, did they write their notes during your illness or are these reflections written afterwards from memory, etc.

Indeed, this is a strange way to write a book! The idea was formed as much by necessity as it was a creative/artistic vision.

Many people asked me to write my story soon after I came home from the hospital, but I was still very sick and couldn’t imagine tackling a project so big. Also, there was much about my journey that I didn’t know, because even after I emerged from the coma, I was living in a dream-like state for many months.

I also liked the idea of moving the book like a novel, fast-paced and with tension. So I ripped apart all the submissions and wove them into my own writings. I wanted to keep everyone’s voice intact, so while I edited each piece, I kept the personalities of each writer.

I sent out a call for submission about six months after my original hospital stay, so at the beginning of 2015. Most people wrote from memory, but some were written at the time that I was away.

Your passages are written entirely in lower case without any capitals while others follow a more traditional format. Why did you choose to express your thoughts this way?

The initial reason I did this was that I was in some sort of weird phase when that was how I was writing everything! I grew out of that :) but decided to keep my pieces that way to distinguish my voice from others. Also, many of my pieces are stream of consciousness, so I thought this quirky way was appropriate.

While you were in a coma, you were surrounded by a community reaching out in support in many many ways, both physical and spiritual. Did their presence slip through the layers at any time, or did you become aware of this amazing outpouring only after you awakened? 

I have bits of memory from when I was in the coma. I saw a woman that I knew from around town that I barely knew. Later, I found that that she is a spiritual woman and told me she had been meditating with me. There are a few stories like this. I saw many other people that I know intimately. 

Review HERE!
What was it like as you read through all the loving and positive words written by other expressing how important you were in their life? Was there anything you learned that surprised you? 

That’s a great question that no one has asked me yet! It was very strange to read through everyone’s writings. It filled me with joy and love, but was very hard as well. I cried a lot as I read through each submission. I am very humbled.

It was particularly hard imagining publishing a book with so many positive words about myself. It made me feel so vain! But I kept trying to take some space from the ‘Jenny character’ so that I could convey the journey.

As far as being surprised goes, I think I felt more secure in the fact that when you love your community deeply, it is felt and reciprocated.

But I was surprised in other ways. Each submission that came in told a part of my own life, pieced back together parts of my life that I didn’t know or couldn’t remember. It was incredibly healing in this way.

I believe every step we take, every experience we have, teaches and guides us. How has walking through this experience - the physical, the spiritual and the family/community - touched your life? What have you learned or what has been affected in your outlook/journey?

Oh, in so many ways!

First, I never want to take my body and my health for granted! I used to run five days a week, and though I savored my strength and ability, I would sometimes whine while tying my laces in the early morning light.

Second, I was always one that believed in gratitude- my shop is called Grateful Desert! I thought I had that nailed. No matter how hard life had been at any moment, if I focused on what I was grateful for, things would always seem lighter. But going through this experience gave me such a deeper experience of gratitude. I know how hard life can be and how lucky I am with the amount of ability I have left.

Lastly, I was given a gift as I traveled through the stars while in a coma. Ah, it is so magnificent, the truth and depth of who we are. Nothing is as perfect as when we simply are. The knowledge I hold onto is that nothing needs to be as stressful or dire as what we make it, especially the pressure we put on ourselves to be good or productive. When we go, we are all the same, we are indeed one. I came back with the surety that we can relax, be good and productive because it feels good; that no one is keeping tabs, there are no celestial elevators. I came back more joyous than ever knowing that this life is a gift, and afterwards, it is even more brilliant.

What would you most like readers to take away from reading Held Together?

This book is multi-dimensional. There are many stories.

The most obvious - there is an able-bodied person, an average woman just like most, who becomes disabled and physically transformed. I want people to be able to relate to people that look like Other. We are all alike more than many people think. It would also be wonderful for people to understand how hard it is to move around this life with physical and other disabilities.

Also, it can be quite lonely to be disabled. There is so much shame associated with it! I wanted to reach out to other people who feel different and let them know they are not alone. People tend to stare at my prostheses, and I want to let them, so that the next time they see an amputee, it won’t be as shocking. I tend to wear short dresses for that reason.

This is also a story about community, and how love can save a life.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

No End of Bad by Ginny Fite

A DC conspiracy novel of grand proportions...
Synopsis -

Washington, DC, housewife Margaret Turnbull's world literally blows up after her husband, FBI agent Clay Turnbull, is falsely arrested and killed by agents working for an international drug cartel.
Unbeknownst to Margaret, her enemy's tentacles reach all the way to the White House and control senior personnel. Their powerful enterprise in jeopardy, the assassins will stop at nothing to cover their tracks. With cutting-edge surveillance--CIA, FBI, and NSA technology--there is nowhere to hide, no one to trust. No one is safe--anywhere.
I think this book touches a collective nerve when it comes to the power of secret government agencies.  What happens if some of the agents have become corrupt and one of us stands in their way.  That's just what happens in No End of Bad.

At the start of the book, loyal FBI Agent Clay Turnbull is having a quiet lunch in the park when he is stormed by agents, arrested, accused of treason and then quietly killed in a way that looks like a heart attack before he can talk with anyone.  We discover he has been quietly looking into a strange pattern of activity and following the trail of crumbs.  Is this the reason he is taken out?

His wife and daughter's lives are thrown into turmoil as their idyllic life disappears.  They never are allowed to talk to him before he is killed and are surrounded by those who believe their husband/father is a traitor - he must be guilty if it's in the news.  When they are pulled out of their home minutes before it blows up, the excitement ramps up to a new level.  We follow the wife and daughter's daring escapes as they stay one step ahead of the assassins following them, while those in the government who know something is amiss struggle to not only keep the duo safe, but discover the mystery Turnball was uncovering and bring those responsible for his death to justice.

No End of Bad is a great escape. Well written, with a great story line and exciting pace, it's sure to draw in and keep you reading late into the wee hours. 
Review of No Good Deed Left Undone HERE
Meet the Author - 
Dec. 2016 Behind The Scenes Interview HERE!

Ginny Fite is the author of the dark mystery/thrillers Cromwell's Folly, No Good Deed Left Undone, and Lying, Cheating, and Occasionally Murder, as well as a funny self-help book on aging, I Should Be Dead by Now, a collection of short stories, What Goes Around, and three books of poetry. She resides in Harpers Ferry, WV.  
Connect with Ginny: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Friday, August 31, 2018

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Matilda Janosi of TildArt Eco Luxury

All images by KrisJ Photography
Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career. 

I moved from Transylvania to Budapest, Hungary with the aim of starting my own fashion brand. In, 2012, I arrived in London with a big dream – to establish TildArt as a viable business. I worked at first as a rickshaw driver in Central London. This was hard physical work but I got the chance to meet very interesting people and generate some funds in order to begin to establish my brand. It also provided me with the inspiration to recycle the hundreds of discarded inner tubes at the Rickshaw base to create fashion! 

I was invited to show two of my collections at the Eco Fashion Week 2013 in Vancouver, Canada. This gave me the confidence to move forward with the business! The next year I opened my studio in London where TildArt “Eco Luxury” continues to invent a new way of looking at fashion. 2016 - I went back to the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week and showed my “VeloLux” collection, which is made from a combination of recycled inner tube and natural fabrics such us wool, natural latex - inlaid with Swarovski Crystals. From 2017 to PRESENT, I expanded my brand to include fashion pieces made from recycled old curtains and a combination of plant based organic fabrics, such as bamboo silk, cotton, “pinatex” and cork. The curtains were sourced from “Spencer House” where Lady Diana, Winston Churchill and a few British aristocratic family were based. I’ve created a new Eco Luxurious Fashion Style with a touch of British History! All of my pieces are tailor made in London and made to order from the TildArt website.

I know you trained at UAL, London - Creative Fashion Design Course. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

I found it very easy to improve my designs skills acquired form this course because this is my passion. It was an great experience to learn in one of the world’s best fashion university’s. It was one of my big dreams to do that. The one very difficulty thing was finding the time to do the course while I was working full time.

Images by Kris Pinter
Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

My brand is a sustainable fashion brand and I design a few looks per annum. I like to have a story behind every look. I don’t want to be a competitor with the “fast fashion” labels who produce lots of collections every year. I wanted to make sure if somebody is purchasing an item from our shop, it will be long lasting and a loved classic piece. One would be able to pass from generation to generation.

I call myself an “Eco Luxury” fashion designer. My fashion label is TildArt and my collections are created by using a combination of recycled and high quality. These are carefully sourced organic fabrics where I am trying to bring recycled eco fashion to a luxurious level!

My motto is” I love when the fabric has a history”. It is the materials are inspires me and it gives me a sense of passion to breathe new life into the material over and over again.

All my fashion pieces are tailor made in London, UK and all pieces are Make to Order (MTO).

Lift image by  KrisJ Photography - Right image by Images by Kris Pinter
I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

In the past, my collections were made from recycled bicycle inner tubes, movie strips, vinyl records or even moss.
  • In 2009 I baked my first vinyl record bra
  • In 2013 there was a lot of attention around my filmstrip hat at the Canadian EFW in Vancouver.
  • In 2016 I started to combine bicycle inner tube with natural latex and wool, inlaid with Swarovski crystals.
Recently, I have been concentrating on working with a combination of organic and 100% degradable recycled fabrics, using natural dye technics.
Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

A very exciting look! J

This dress will be made from a combination of recycled men's shirts and a small amount of recycled old curtains. (The curtains are sourced from Spencer House next to Kensington Palace where Lady Diana lived). My inspiration for this dress is coming from the Sydney Opera House shape, which has a very beautiful unique design. 

This TildArt piece name is "Eureka"…what I'll feel when I get the chance to visit Australia.

Images by Kris Pinter
What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

We need to realise that “cheap clothes” come at a huge human, social and environmental price and do a lot of harm to nature and us. I believe we can bring positive changes in the fashion industry if we don’t just talk about the issue but all of us take responsibility and do something about it – making our and our children’s and grandchildren’s future a lot better.

I’m hoping my look made from recycled materials can show the world we can make unique, fun to wear, in demand pieces that people will be happy to acquire and hold for a long time.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

An exhibition at London Fashion Week is next.

My goal is to spread the word about the eco-luxury approach. I would like to be part of eco-warrior campaigns, which can help to bring big changes in the fashion industry. TildArt’s business goal is to represent a new wave of luxurious fashion, taking into consideration sustainability while producing wonderful and interesting pieces that people will love to buy and wear.

Links -

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Denise Anglesey of Denise H and Founder of NZ Eco Fashion Week

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

My journey as a designer began in 2006 after entering and winning my section recycled trash to fashion event.  When the opportunity presented itself for me to salvage denim from going to the local landfill I did so. This started the journey of my label - Denise H.

I know you are self-taught.  Where did you start to learn your sewing skills?

My grandmother taught me how to sew as a young teenager.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

My brand is mostly one of a kind Unique pieces but more recently I have developed a few patterns that I use. These are semi commercial ranges and are stocked in three stores within New Zealand.
I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled usedgarments before? If so, how?

My women’s skirts are made from recycled t-shirts. I also offer a range of beanies in all sizes made from waste collected from a local second hand store.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

My Upcycled business shirt challenge garment for eco fashion week Australia will be made from corporate waste business shirts. The garments will be able to be reproduced for the retail market. It will be comprised of a layered mini wrap skirt and matching top. The top and skirt can be worn together or as separates.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

My brand over the last ten years has led me on a journey I never thought I would undertake. Having a background in sales management has helped me to brand, market and sell my range well. In 2013 I decided that helping others to do the same would cast a bigger light onto how amazing this type of fashion is and I implemented the NZ version of Eco Fashion Week. The show is currently on hold due to events centre construction locally. We hope to resume in the new year.   

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

Currently I am working with a group of local women to form a business enterprise called ReFAB. We use waste fabrics sourced locally to create unique gifts lines for retail. Being part of the enterprise means they get to learn to sew and learn all the aspects necessary to run and operate a small business. Our first product is now available in stores throughout NZ and online - “Mini Organic Wheat Hand Warmers or Cold Press”

My goal with my own range is to grow my wholesale market with the hope of being able to make a difference to employment locally. 

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Facebook - Denise H Eco & Upcycled Fashion

EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Janine McAughren of Ghren

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

My mother taught me to sew when I was 11 years old. Being a middle child, I used design to express my creativity and to be unique. I have always strived to be one of a kind and show it through my clothing. I created Ghren because I wanted to be able to give other women that feeling of being fierce and confident.

I know you trained at The Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

Studying at The Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University was one of the best experiences I have had, I became my best self. It was a high stress environment, but it became manageable once I accepted and embraced the work that I was doing. I was educated on the real issues of the industry, which is another reason why upcycling is so close to my heart.

It all becomes a little easier once you put everything into perspective.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I design the same way I live my life - unique and genuine. My style is generally relaxed, easygoing but always draws inspiration from the past. Ghren is my creative outlet - My Funnel of Love. I design so women can feel unique and beautiful in a one of a kind garment. 

Ghren’s new direction is upcycling, taking old clothing and giving it a new life. Each piece is unique to itself and has a handful of stories sewn into it. Ghren will offer a small selection of garments ready to purchase, as well as made-to-order garments. This will allow the Ghren shopper to be part of the creative process. You will be able have input on the perfect colour spectrum, to see the clothing used to create your garment, and it will be made to your measurements. Ghren will also offer the option of doing custom orders, with old clothing you already own. Ghren can turn your grandfathers old shirts into a sundress, or your grandmothers moo-moo into a cute skirt.  

Every piece of clothing has a story, what does yours say?

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

I have always been a big thrift shopper, searching for treasures within the musty racks. Most pieces I find end up being altered or turned into something completely new. This is however, the first time I have dedicated my self to upcycling and making it a real aspect of my life.

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

The ocean has always been my true creative muse. I have always found inspiration behind it. It has a deep connectivity to the rest of the world, it sings to me. The garment is inspired by a cascading ocean wave. Dark jewel tones emulate the depths of the ocean; the broad and the abstruse. The colours migrate through a spectrum of blues to the crashing whites of the surf.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

It is important for each person to know that they are truly special. You are a one of a kind, you are a gem. You shouldn’t have to change for anyone but yourself. Ghren is here to offer you clothing that is as unique, and special as you are.

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

I want Ghren to finally lift off and become part of people’s every day life. I want women to look into their closets and say “today, I am going to wear my Ghren original” and walk out of their front door with confidence.

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EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview with Carmel Ryan

Carmel - 2nd from left
Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Seems crazy looking back to think I’ve been sewing for over 50 years! I was taught by both mother & grandmother, skilled tailors and seamstresses by trade. I started making my own clothes on a Singer treadle machine, which is still a prized possession, from the age of 8. I was soon dressmaking for friends & other’s as an income supplement in my later teens, so embracing fashion came natural and a way of life to me.

Living in remote Outback Australia in the 70’s, there was little outside influence of fashion, Monthly copies of Woman’s Weekly, Dolly magazine and Countdown on ABC TV were my fashion ‘bibles’ & inspiration. I recall the first pair of wide leg flairs and tie dyed singlet I made & wore to a casual day at high school, - I almost started a revolution! From that day on I knew the power of fashion and how it can define people. I always wanted to be a fashion designer and have my own collection, unfortunately there were no opportunities for formal study in Alice Springs at the time.

I know you trained at TAFE. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

When living in Adelaide for a short period in my early 20’s, I enrolled in a Pattern Design & Construction course at TAFE.  At TAFE I took night school courses and only once a week over 2 years. The technical aspect was learnt with a lot of set homework and most of the sewing done in our own time. So this was a very long drawn out process. However it was integral part to where I am today, I can confidently pattern draft, design direct on a dummy and adapt any commercial pattern as a result of this only formal training.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

As I’m someone who designs & creates for the sheer love of it, not as a profession, there is no pressure apart from the deadlines of being catwalk ready for actual fashion events. I don’t have to look ahead to next season, and can take on commissions & custom orders for clients when it suits me. Sewing for my grand daughter or taking on bridal embellishments for special friends is such a joy & honour. I get to play & use all types of repurposed fabrics & vintage finds because I can!

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

Yes! I’m always upcycling! As my girls were growing up and involved in ballet and drama, I became the resident wardrobe mistress & costume maker for numerous stage productions. I learnt to hone my ‘frugal & recycling’ skills here due to limited budgets! 

I'm also passionate about Wearable Art, picking up many category awards in the Alice Springs Wearable Arts Awards. I’ve also had garments in shows in Darwin, Hobart & the Showcase at Wearable Art Mandurah in the past 3 years. All my work features all recycled, upcycled & repurposed materials... I never buy new !
As part of the Sustainable Couture team for 10 years we are really forging a name in recycled fashion. Friends are always offering their ‘throw-aways’ to us. We’ve kept a lot of clothing out of landfill, that I know!

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

I’m hoping the audience will see the connection I have for country and community. I feel so blessed to have been brought up and live in the Red Centre. I have a 40 acre rural property nestled along the Eastern McDonnell ranges. I’m continually inspired & nurtured by this special landscape.

I’ve chosen to use only white shirts in this challenge, echoing the look of the eucalyptus papuana, the milky white ghost gums ever present in my backyard. It will be a bridal gown - a symbol of love honour & protection. All shirts used have come with a story from each of their owners, from the town mayor, Council CEO, lawyers, surveyors, pastoralists, war veterans, grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers and sons.

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

I once owned a sewing shop in the mid 80’s selling fabric, dressmaking, doing alterations & workshops, so I feel like I have covered the business side of things. I guess I’ll continue on my present path of sewing for enjoyment, family & friends, entering the occasional award show, mentoring, and spreading the word about ‘slow fashion’ through the Sustainable Couture platform.
We are about to move to Darwin for a few years, so I hope to work on more collaborative garments with Aboriginal artists from the Top End. I’ve made gowns with the most gorgeous silk screened fabrics through a project with Injalak Arts - see #getiton2017 #getiton2018 on Instagram. Yes, I’d really like that ! 

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EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview With Gigi Forget of Sal-vij by Gigi

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Since very young, I remember being cast as an oddity due to a severe speech impediment I had. I came to the realization that from my perception moving forwards, I treasured anything or anyone who was odd or out of the ordinary as I could relate to them on an emotional level. Thereby how I dressed became my passion; a way to act out who I was on the inside because speech was not a possible method at the time. 

I am also tactile person and have always been drawn to colors and textures. Anything I could find around me in my home and nature became my medium to create clothes for dolls. From that point, I moved into creating a line art onto glassware and then in my later years, a door opened for me to study fashion design. My love and passion of fabric and color has brought me full circle.

I know you trained at...VCAD (Vancouver College of Arts and Design. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

One of the biggest highs for me was to be in school learning something that I’ve been passionate about most of my life, playing and learning about fabric! Being back in school after 25 plus years was a struggle at the get go but then it became my life. I am certainly not finished with studying. My aim is to continue learning new means of fabric manipulation and learning more about on hand stitching clothes without the use of machines 

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I am very tactile, love color, texture, asymmetry, oddities and irregularities. Basically anything goes with me because that’s just how life happens. We are never really in control of anything and I project that into my art pieces. There is always something quirky in my looks which then projects uniqueness, which we all are no matter what is broadcast to us via the media.

One long term goal I have is to plan for my retirement by designing and creating one of a kind pieces by hand using lots of sewing techniques in each piece. Creating walking art pieces, that are cherished, loved and profitable for everyone concerned. 

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

While in school, my final collection was 75% reclaimed fabric and the rest was dead stock cashmere/wool and organic bamboo. For over 20 years, I’ve been revamping clothes mostly by hand. Hand me downs was a very common thing in my life being the youngest of 6 children. My home in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is mostly made from a reclaimed trailer and salvaged construction material from our local dump. As there are no fabric stores here in our fair city, one has to depend on thrift stores and summer yard sales. 

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

The theme for my look is Till Death Do Us Part series 2.

Its all a part of educating as much as showcasing. That’s my biggest hope is to display another means of looking and seeing discarded waste as wearable art. This line showcases what is important is recognizing what we see is not always what the truth or story is. How long the fabric used in this collection would have taken to breakdown in mother earth’s womb versus prolonging the inevitable and breathing a whole new life into several of those cast away shirts. We as humans may never outlive the bulk of our clothes so why not try to get the most out of them while we are still alive. With this line, I’ve incorporated more texture, asymmetry and did an “I spy with my little eye”...Lets see who gets them. 
Upcycled men’s shirts created into pants.
What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

I feel what’s important to be made aware is to not only look at this as fashion but be open to seeing it in other dimensions. There is so much more like branding one’s own sense of style, the story behind each piece, the romance created by the encounter, art, education, gaining human compassion and on and on. Fashion is but one component, a plateau to showcase the love of the creation but not to lead the audience astray with the bombardment of the media’s fixed interpretation. 

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

Continue the learning curve of fabric manipulation and learning what more can be done to make my business full circle. Fair trade practices in 3rd world countries has been calling to me for some time as well…and of course travelling to seek out new textile adventures. Who knows what the wind will blow my way.

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