Friday, July 23, 2010

You're Live in Three, Two, One ...

As I write this, my hands are shaking, my heart is flopping like a flounder, and I can’t catch my breath. I just did something I’ve never done before. I did a Live Radio Interview.


See, I’m one of those “introverts” who panics when I’m in the spotlight. Sitting at the computer and writing comes naturally. Promoting my book online is a challenge. Actually talking to someone on the radio about it … Holy Freakout, Batman!

But I have a book coming out on July 28, and Tom Randell of Radio Kenai, KWHQ 100.1 FM, contacted me and offered the interview, so how could I say no? I agreed, and then fretted for several weeks as the appointed day came closer. I write erotic romance …. His audience ranges from age 2 to 90. Could I keep the content appropriate? How can I talk about my books without shocking anyone? Will Alaskans drive me from the state once the word is out? (Okay, I exaggerate, but hey, I’m a writer.) By the time of the interview, I’d worked myself to the edge of a nervous breakdown.

(Did I mention I’m a writer, with a tendency to exaggerate?)

I watched the minutes tick away, then there was Tom on the phone, telling me a song was playing and I’d be up in one minute and fifty-two seconds. And then there I was, on the air. Juniper Bell being introduced to the audience of one of the top radio hosts in the state. This is him. Not too scary, right?

And that’s when I realized I’d forgotten something. Tom Randell is a professional. He knows how to make the conversation flow, how to move smoothly to a new topic, how to make you sound good (or better, anyway). He’d been to my website, he knew about my books, he knew about my upcoming release. Before I knew it we were chatting about digital books, the rise of e-readers, the popularity of ménage stories, and other fascinating topics. I had to keep telling myself to slow down because I tend to talk too fast when I’m under pressure. The interview went so fast and painlessly. And I learned a lot in that short span of time.

1. Slow down.
2. Smile, even though they can’t see you. It helps you to sound positive and fun.
3. If you don’t feel confident, fake it.
4. Keep the audience in mind. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t said anything bad about the cool weather we’re having here on the Kenai peninsula. The listeners are Alaskans, so don’t knock Alaska.
5. Have my “elevator pitch” ready! As silly as it sounds, I hadn’t rehearsed my one or two line pitch for My Three Lords. This was a very good reminder as I get ready for the RWA conference in Orlando.
6. Relax and enjoy.

So there you have it. I survived my first radio interview, thanks to Tom Randell. He even invited me back for my next book release. Now, back to my regularly scheduled programming.

My Three Lords will be released on July 28 from Ellora's Cave Publishing. You can read the blurb and an excerpt at my website.

Juniper Bell

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Conference

Last year I went to my first conference. The amount of preparation for that trip was astounding and let's face it, a little neurotic. With RWA Nationals only a week and a half away, I've noticed that many preparations I thought important for my last conference, have fallen by the way side. I've yet to cook and freeze a single meal for my family. They won't starve without me here to feed them. They're made from hearty stock and won't go hungry, even if they have to kill dinner with their bare hands. The need to scrub the house from top to bottom is also gone. I've embraced the fact that my husband is a much better housekeeper than me. He's also a lot better at cracking the whip and making the kids tote their load. So housekeeping? Not an issue.

Unfortunately my self-sabotaging ways and overwhelming need to volunteer has landed me with a whole new list of 'To Dos'. The biggest one is my offer to help with decorating for the FFnP Gathering. This was a fairly easy task when the conference was in Nashville. The Gathering was slated to be held on a steamboat. Voila, decorating already done. Now it's to be held in a large rectangular ballroom. How does one person transform a large ballroom into a a steampunk ball? I'll let you know when I figure it out.

The bottom line is that most of what I need, I'll have to tote with me. I'm the kind of person that likes to travel light, so an extra bag or tote is cramping my style. I have promised myself not to bring a single balloon, feather, or piece of confetti back home, but I have a sneaking suspicion my chapter members hope I fill all that empty space with books for my return trip.

I'm sure things will work out for the best, but like my last conference, this trip has already taught me several valuable lessons.

1. Keep my mouth shut
2. Just say no
3. If I feel the need to volunteer give my services to something that doesn't require heavy lifting.

Who knows, after a few more conferences, I may have this routine down to a fine art.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Horses in Alaska?

It always amazes me to hear how surprised people are when they learn how many horses and horse activities we have in Alaska. And these aren't just people from the Lower 48, the people right here in Alaska are also unaware of the horse population. The types and sizes of horses vary in Alaska, from the 32" high miniature horse to the 17 hand (68") Clydesdale, and all kinds and sizes in between.
Some people might question what you would want with a miniature horse only to find out that they make excellent companions, are easy to care for and can pull a full grown adult in a cart with ease. The Clydesdale on the other hand takes much more effort and cost to feed and clean up after, but their calm and willing disposition make them suitable for riding or pulling heavier loads or plow fields.
Quarter horses and Arabians are two of the most popular breeds in Alaska, but they are greatly out-numbered by the grade, or mixed breed horses. Each having their own place in the horse world depending on what their human counterpart would like to do with them.
Trail riding through the rugged Alaska terrain can be the challenge of choice, but horse shows featuring dressage, hunter/jumpers, barrel racing, western and English riding are held throughout the state with the Kenai Peninsula being the hot spot for rodeos. Most events are held between the months of May through September, but riding goes on year round.

There are at least 22 indoor riding arenas is Alaska, but the majority of folks ride outdoors. While the rule of thumb for riding temperatures vary slightly, most will agree that if it is under 10 degrees it's best not to take your horse out. They fare in the cold very well, but with the exertion it takes to carry extra weight their respiration rate would increase and you have to be concerned about their lungs.
Growing up in Anchorage with a horse gave me all kinds of activities to do, keeping me out of trouble. I can assure you that without my horse I would have been a high risk teen. It was more than just keeping busy, it was having the companionship of a non-judgemental, warm creature. You could confide in your horse and know that your secret would be safe. You could experience the joy of traveling at a pace that only riding a four legged creature could provide. The beauty and silence of riding through trails could be exciting or calming depending on where you were and the speed you traveled at.
Having control over an animal that weighs half a ton can give you confidence, and who couldn't use a little more of that. Hugging a miniature horse can take your stress away in a heart beat. Horses and humans came together many years ago. Today they remain as co-workers, friends and companions even here in Alaska.

--Sandy Shacklett