Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Conversation 5: Lisa Fernow

(Please note there will be no interview this Thursday, but interviews will resume as scheduled on Tuesday, September 2nd.) 

Greetings, all! Welcome back to Clockwork Conversations.

I'm your host, February Grace, and today's guest is author Lisa Fernow!

Let's start by learning a bit about her...


Lisa Fernow grew up on the classic mysteries of Ngaio Marsh and Elizabeth Peters. Dead on Her Feet is the first book in a planned series set in the tango world. Her short story, Death of a Tango Dancer, was featured in King County Library System’s Take Time to Read program in 2010.

Lisa has danced Argentine tango since 1996, studying with such legendary masters as Cacho Dante, Susana Miller, and Brigitta Winkler, and other inspiring instructors in Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland.

Lisa holds a BA in English and Theatre from Cornell University and a certificate in commercial fiction writing from the University of Washington. As a former Time Warner and PepsiCo global marketing executive, Lisa bowled with Michael Jordan, got sweat on by Cindy Crawford, taught capitalism to Hungarians and helped launch Scooby Doo merchandise into 150 countries.

Now living in Seattle, she runs a consulting practice focused on innovation, and loves toggling between business and fiction writing, as both require creativity and strong storytelling.

Q1: When you travel, do you like to plan every detail in advance, or are you more spontaneous and go where the days take you?

LF: I love to travel to out of the way places - and I am very lucky to have friends who adore planning treks to the Thai hill country, photo safaris at Kruger National Park, dancing tango in Buenos Aires - you get the idea - so I go wherever I am invited and am happy to fold into their plans.  But on my own I am likely to plan my hotel and transportation then leave the rest to whim. The only thing I absolutely insist on is getting great food, and I have been known to research restaurants well in advance and build entire itineraries around them.  Once on the ground, I am what the French would call a flaneur, someone who is happy to bum around the streets without any particular goal, and I love to discover what the locals are up to.  One of my favorite experiences was in Salvador, Brazil - a friend and I were wandering around the neighborhood and came across a bar where the locals were watching soccer.  They invited us in and made us feel right at home.
Q2: Do you enjoy any sports? (Watching or playing.)

LF: I love going to live baseball games for all the wrong reasons:  the hot dogs, the beer, the warm breezes, watching all those cute baseball players in their old fashioned uniforms. I have no idea what's going on and I don't care.
Q3: What is your favorite space/room in your home? 

LF: Right this minute I am in my armchair looking out over Lake Washington.  On a clear day I can see Mount Rainier.  I am supposed to be working when I sit here but a lot of the time I just gaze out the window and think about how lucky I am to live where I do. 

Q4: What three items are always in your kitchen/refrigerator?

LF: Champagne, milk for my morning coffee, and artesian cheeses which are often moldier than they should be.  My refrigerator is very full right now with things I never eat and things I am afraid to open.
Q5: *bonus question for everyone* Do you collect anything? If so, why?

LF: I used to collect early editions of golden age mystery writers like Ngaio Marsh.  I love their old fashioned language and world views.  A great example from the 1930's is E. Phillips Oppenheim, author of The Dumb Gods Speak.  Here is the first sentence from Chapter 1:  “At 10:43 on a morning when the deep blue sea of the Mediterranean was flecked with whitecaps and the clear outline of the Esterels suggested a mistral, Mr. Jonson stepped from his compartment in the Train Bleu and, with a suitcase in either hand, alighted upon the platform at Nice.”  My early edition includes a letter from the author to Lady Gosford, on Cunard stationary, inviting him to dine on board the Brittanic. Apparently he was too ill to accept her invitation.  Books like this connect me to another time. 

What a fantastic interview! Thank you again for joining me today, Lisa! 
You can learn more about author Lisa Fernow by visiting her website, at: http://lisafernow.com/
See you all next week! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Conversation 4: Arleen Williams

Welcome back to Clockwork Conversations, everyone! 

I'm your host, February Grace, and today my guest is author Arleen Williams.

Let's start with a bit about her...


Arleen Williams is the author of three books. Running Secrets, the first novel in the Alki Trilogy, is about the power of friendship in helping overcome the dysfunction of family and life. Biking Uphill, book two of the Alki Trilogy, invites the reader into a world of undocumented immigration, where parents are deported, and a young girl is abandoned to face life on her own. The Thirty-Ninth Victim is a memoir of her family’s journey before and after her sister's murder.

Arleen teaches English as a Second Language at South Seattle College and has worked with immigrants and refugees for close to three decades. Arleen lives and writes in West Seattle.


Welcome, Arleen!

Q1: Where did you grow up: city, country, or suburbs?

AW: I grew up on ten acres of underdeveloped land in the Issaquah Valley southeast of Seattle, WA. It was not a working farm. My father was a steamfitter, my mother a nurse, and neither knew the first thing about farming. But at different times throughout my childhood, we had a few horses and cows, some pigs and chickens and a failure of a vegetable garden.

Q2: Was it much different from where you live now?

AW: Now I live in Seattle, a place I rarely visited as a child though only twenty-five miles away. My life is totally different from that of my parents. I live within walking distance of everything I could possibly need or want in the way of shopping or entertainment, including two huge parks and Alki Beach. And I have a ten-minute commute to the college where I teach. Only now and then I wonder what it would be like to ride a horse again.

Q3: Do you have any hobbies unrelated to writing/reading?

AW: I bike and hike in the summer, cross-country ski in the winter. I love movies and theater, a good meal with friends and family, snorkel-related travel when winter gray gets overwhelming, and spring flowers and summer green in the small yard I tend with my husband. I suppose I could help him more with the gardening, but there just aren't sufficient hours in a day what with all the hammock-based sky gazing.

Q4: If you could spend just one day in any city in the world, what city would it be? Why?

AW: Tough question. Do I return to one of the cities I've visited and loved: Paris or Venice, New York or London? Do I visit one of the cities where I once lived: Caracas, Mexico City, Honolulu? Or do I go someplace I do not know: Amsterdam or Barcelona, Havana or San Jose de Costa Rica? For JUST ONE DAY? Does that include travel time?! If so, I'd stay closer to home and head to Santa Fe or Taos, New Mexico. I've heard wonderful things about New Mexico and somehow have not made it there. Yet.

Q5: *Bonus question for everyone* Do you collect anything? If so, why?

AW: Refrigerator magnets. They remind me of all the places I've traveled. I may have to limit the collection. The refrigerator groans under the extra weight.


I can picture that, mine is the same way!

Thank you again, Arleen, for visiting today.

You can learn more about the author and her books by visiting her website at: www.arleenwilliams.com

See you all next time, when my guest will be author Lisa Fernow.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Conversation 3: Rev. Judith Laxer

Hello, everyone!

Today my guest is author Judith Laxer.

Greetings, Judith, and welcome.

Let's dive right in by taking a look at your bio!


Rev. Judith Laxer is a modern-day mystic who believes that humor, beauty and the wonders of nature make life worth living. She is the founding Priestess of Gaia’s Temple, an inclusive, Earth-based Ministry where she has written and delivered monthly worship services since 2000. She provides psychic readings, spiritual counseling, hypnotherapy and Shamanic Healing in her private practice in Seattle, Wa.

Her book Along the Wheel of Time: Sacred Stories for Nature Lovers was published by Booktrope in June 2014.

Other published writing includes Women of Wisdom: Empowering the Dreams and Spirit of Women, the Medulla Review, and SpindleWeed, Witches and Pagans, and Living in Season magazines. A keynote speaker and teacher of the Mysteries, Judith has presented classes and workshops on the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine at conferences nationally. 

Q1: Do you prefer waking up early, or staying up late?

JL: I am a night owl, not an early bird. I’ve always been this way. As a child, I never wanted to go to bed and in the morning I never wanted to get up. Later in life, in my former profession as a performing artist, the curtain goes up and you must hit your energetic peak at 8 p.m., so being oriented to the evening hours was easy for me. Now, as a Priestess and writer, I still spend more time with the moon and stars than I do with the sun.

Q2: Do you have an animal companions in your life?

JL: Both my cats are gone now. They are buried in my garden, their graves covered with primrose and forget-me-nots and Self Heal. These days the animal companions I engage with are my Power Animals when I do Shamanic healings in my private practice. They are Lion, Snake, Owl and Black Wolf. Although these relationships occur ‘between the worlds’ they are no less real to me than when Wanda and Nicola hunkered down on my lap or in bed with me at the end of the day. 

Q3: What is (to date) the most beautiful sight you've ever seen?

JL: That’s a hard one because life is amazing and nature is magnificent and my eyes have beheld such beauty in this lifetime. I could say it was that sunset in Greece watching the ball of fire sink into the Mediterranean, I could say it’s the purple string bean hanging from her vine in my garden right now, I could say it was the last full moon in the inky black sky. But perhaps the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen was Lake Louise in Banff, Canada. Her waters are turquoise from the minerals and she is tucked in and surrounded by majestic mountains that continue back as far as your eye can see. I instantly wept at the sight and will remember it until I die. And probably even after that!

Q4: If you could go back and relive one happy day of your life, what day would that be?

JL: I feel blessed to have had much happiness in my life and there are many days that stand out as stellar. Most recently, the one in which I walked the Labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France.  But I wouldn’t go back to any of them. I feel better about myself the older I get and I wouldn’t go back in time. I like to remember those fantastic times and in doing so they still bring me great happiness. But these days I am trying to stay as present in each moment as I can. And I find this practice is creating more blissful days.

Q5: *bonus question for everyone* Do you collect anything? If so, why?

JL: I am a nature lover. Since I was a kid I have always collected rocks. I have rocks from all over the planet, in every size, shape and color. Baskets of them at my office, in my home, and many strategically placed in my garden.
Nature is always changing. The life cycle is beautiful and reminds us how temporal life truly is. I think I collect rocks because they seem more permanent. I know the rocks I have collected will be here long after I am gone. For some reason this soothes my soul. Not to mention they are so pretty!


What fascinating answers! Thank you for visiting with us today, Judith.

You can learn more about Rev. Judith Laxer by visiting her at her website: www.judithlaxer.com

See you all on Thursday, when my guest will be...we'll find out LOL!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Conversation 2: Jennifer Gracen

Happy Thursday everyone! Welcome back to Clockwork Conversations.

I was blessed to initially cross paths with today's guest Jennifer Gracen on Twitter a few years ago, when someone mentioned in a tweet that if you needed a proofreader, she was your gal to go to.

I followed her immediately, adored her personality, interacted with her a bit, and knew pretty much right away that I wanted to ask her if she would proofread GODSPEED for me before I indie published it.

She graciously agreed to do so, we became fast friends, and the rest is history. She is a very dear friend and I am so thankful to have her in my world!

Her own writing career has taken off at rocket speed this year, and her star is bright and rising!

So get to know a bit about the author behind the amazingly popular SEASONS OF LOVE book series, the first two books of which are out NOW! (Find out more by clicking through to her website at the end of this interview.)

Welcome, Jennifer!

In a few paragraphs, please describe who you are and what you do.

JG: Who I am and what I do are intrinsically linked. I'm a mom of 2 young boys, I'm a romance writer, I'm a copy editor/proofreader, I'm a friend to many, and I'm a social media addict.

Q1: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome in pursuing your dreams?

JG: Not listening to the naysayers. Following my passion despite their negativity and lack of support. Not giving up, even when things seemed bleak.

Q2: Would you choose a seashore or mountain retreat? Why?

JG: Mountain retreat, no question. I like the ocean, but I LOVE greenery. I need trees -- foliage, flora, all of that. Being secluded in a cabin in the mountains sounds like heaven on earth to me.

Q3: If you had a Fairy Godmother, what would you wish for?

JG: Oh wow. Soooo many things. Um... Of paramount importance: happiness and good health for my family, my friends, and myself. Then, the dreamy things for
myself: a writing career successful enough to have it be my only source of income, to have the opportunity to travel, to possibly find true love one day, and to be able to help others pursue their dreams as well.

Q4: What advice do you have for anyone dealing with difficult life situations?

JG: To do whatever it takes to get through. Be kind to yourself when things are difficult. Cry and curl up in a ball if need be, but not forever. Just until the initial hurt of the hit passes. Then, lean on those who love you and let them help you. Keep moving forward. Never give up. And practice gratitude; there's always something to be thankful for, even on the darkest days.

Q5: *bonus question for everyone* Do you collect anything? If so, why?

JG: I don't, actually. And this question made me ponder that. I guess because material things, though lovely, aren't as important to me as people. If I collect anything, I suppose it'd be people. Friends. They make my world go 'round.


...and how lucky those of us are who can count ourselves among your 'collection'! Thank you so much for visiting with us today!

You can learn more about Jennifer and her books by visiting her website at: www.jennifergracen.com

See you all next time!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Conversation 1: Ally Bishop

Hello everyone!

Today I am thrilled to introduce my very first guest here at Clockwork Conversations: the amazing Ally Bishop!

In case you don't know, among other cool things she does, Ally hosts the incredible Upgrade Your Story Podcast, which I LOVE, and was fortunate enough to be a guest on once. You can find out more by visiting her website, which will be linked to the end of this interview.

Welcome, Ally! In a few paragraphs, please describe who you are and what you do.

AB: I am a freelance editor and writer. I write both fiction and nonfiction, and my first novel, Chasing Mercy, a mystery, will come out later this year. I love creating stories, and helping those that create stories. It’s my greatest passion in life, and I’m so excited that I get to follow it and work with amazing people. 

Q1:  What has been, so far, the most satisfying thing artistically you've ever done?

AB: The most satisfying thing for me artistically is being a freelancer. I’ve worked at it part-time for years, but by the end of the year, I should be full-time, and it’s thrilling to be able to do something that you love, that you do well, and create a career out of it.

Q2: Most important life lesson learned?

People, as a rule, do not change. The ones that do are exceptional humans, and they are worth being on the lookout for! But most of us are who we are, deep down.

Q3: You have 30 seconds to send a Tweet-length piece of advice back into the past. What would you say to your 18 year old self?

AB: Stay in school! And you can write. Don’t let your high school English teacher tell you otherwise. :)

Q4: What provides the greatest chance for you to unwind: time to relax at home, or a quick getaway out of town?

AB: Both — it really depends on my mood. I love to explore new places, but I’m also an introvert and a gamer. So sometimes relaxing at home and playing a game is the best answer.

5. *Bonus question for everyone* Do you collect anything? If so, why?

AB: I collect technology. :) I have three computers, an iPad, the latest iPhone, the newest color laser printer, etc. It’s just the way I am. 


Well, I think the way you are = awesome

I hope everyone reading this will jump at the chance to learn more about Ally, her editing services, writing, and her amazing podcast by visiting here: http://www.upgradeyourstory.com

It is my plan to post interviews on Tuesdays and Thursdays as regularly as possible once this blog is up and running in full...please stay tuned!

Be sure to come back this Thursday to visit with my next guest...incredibly talented author Jennifer Gracen! See you then.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Introduction to Clockwork Conversations...


This is my own little quiet corner of the internet, in which I hope to host brief chats with some of the most interesting people I have ever met, and through them I hope to meet some new ones, too!

"Clockwork Flowers" a 3D art piece I created a few years back. Here because it reminds me that beautiful minds hum and tick along like the gears in a clockwork...

Writers, editors, publishers, artists, musicians...you never know who might turn up here for a visit. The key is, though, that I won't be talking to them about their work in progress, or their newest work out, or even, specifically, what kind of work they do.

Other than mentioning their artistic path at the outset in their description, my aim is to find out what makes them tick; what makes them interesting and unique. Because I have found that the more interesting and unique a person is, the more fascinating their work turns out to be as well.

So grab a seat and your favorite beverage (I'll be drinking coffee, thank you...) and I hope you will enjoy your visit here.

Warm Regards,