The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Kristi Slaughter, Radio Host

This week I interviewed my friend Kristi Slaughter, a radio talk show host (among many other things). Her show airs on Saturday mornings from 9-11 on WFHG Supertalk 92.9 FM. I’ve been in the studio a few times while she has been doing her show. It’s always so fun to watch her do what she does because you can tell that she loves what she is doing. It comes through in every aspect of the show. Part of our goal here at The Novel Turtle is to inspire people to find what they love to do. Kristi is an inspiration to us because she follows her passions, she does what she loves to do, and she encourages others to do the same.

1) What made you want to do a radio show?

 I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, even as a child in school. I’d look for every opportunity to talk! Radio was a natural progression for me to share with others. I have spent time working in the television industry but there’s something extremely special about radio. There are similarities between both arts, but in radio, you’re painting a picture with only your voice and energy. 

2) Was this something that you always wanted to do?

 I got bitten by the “radio bug” when I was 16. A local DJ heard that I was interested in radio. He graciously took his time to give me a tour of the station and let me read the weather report on his show. My love for radio was ignited that day and will remain in my heart forever. Consider being a mentor; you never know what difference you can make in someone’s life. 

3) What is your favorite thing about doing the show?

 My favorite thing about the show is the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their story. Everyone on earth is playing a particular part in what we are creating. I receive much enjoyment in assisting my guests in communicating their passions with the world. 

4) What is your least favorite thing about doing the show?

My least favorite thing about the show is when guests fail to appear. The majority of the time, my guests are very dependable about their appearances. However, when a guest is a no show, it can be very challenging to fill the interview block.

5) How do you choose the subjects that you’re going to talk about and guests you’re going to talk to?

 I enjoy covering a variety of subjects on my show. The topics for my show are chosen based on upcoming events, topics listeners suggest, areas that I’m passionate about, and sometimes are even divinely guided. Since I’ve been working for several years on the program, I often have publishing companies and outside organizations who contact me to be potential guests.

6) What are your favorite subjects to cover?

My favorite subjects to cover are subjects that inspire, educate and motivate the listener. I don’t necessarily have a particular topic that’s my favorite to speak about. For me it’s more about the excitement and energy behind the message. 

7) What is the most interesting thing that you have learned from your guests so far?

Everyone has a past, a present, and a future. I’ve learned that people are so different in many ways and yet most of the underlying themes throughout life are often the same. We all have seasons of ease, joy, and bliss. Yet, we all have times of growth and challenges. The most interesting thing that I’ve learned is how so many of my guest have used the trials and perceived struggles in their life as springboards for something great and many times magnificent. 

8) Are you ever nervous about doing your show, doing the interviews with guests, or doing commercials?

Over time, I’ve become less nervous. However, there’s always an underlying feeling of excitement and anticipation, particularly with live radio and television. I think that’s one of the aspects that makes live media so much fun. This creates somewhat of an adrenaline rush. There’s a level of uncertainty because anything can happen! 

9) You and your producer, Rick, banter back and forth about things sometimes. Do the two of you plan what you’re going to say? Or is it all improv?

I’m the host of the show and Rick is my producer. Rick works the board and does the production and broadcasting aspects. When I developed the platform, I thought it would be interesting to have Rick join me for the show opener and the closing. Depending on my guest and the interview topic, he will occasionally participate. I think my listeners enjoy our banter for the most part. The dialogue between us is not rehearsed, which I think adds an extra dimension of personality to the show. I have certain key points, interview information, and events that I want to make sure are covered, then I decide when to address Rick and have him join the conversation. 

10) What is something that surprised you the most about radio when you were first learning about how to do your show/structure things?

When I first began as a radio host, I worked for a non-profit station for approximately 3 ½ years. Most of these segments were 30-minute pre-recorded programs that I produced myself. I then made the transition to my current radio position at a for-profit station. While there are some similarities, there are many differences working with a 2-hour live program with ads, news breaks etc. It took a while for me to get accustomed to my new platform but it was a positive change. There’s a certain amount of excitement that comes with live programming and also a certain amount of risk. I think that’s what makes the type of programming that I’m doing now so special. 

11) Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get started in radio?

In the age of the internet, it’s very simple to start practicing your skills using an online platform. Finding something you’re passionate about and that you want to share with others is crucial in relaying a genuine and unique message. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 15 years ago. Through a journey of self-discovery and exploration in the field of wellness, I had a desire to share my story with people. My first radio program was about health and wellness. I chose the name “Beyond Wellness” and focused on a personal connection with my listeners. I still have a passion for health and wellness but I have also branched out in many more subjects based on current events. I recommend contacting your local college radio stations. These are not paid positions; however, they are an excellent opportunity to practice your trade, develop a listener base, and contribute to the community. 

12) When you’re on live radio, anything can happen and you have to fix it (sometimes while you’re on the air). When things have gone wrong on the show (a computer freezes up, an ad doesn’t play right, something gets erased), what are some of the creative ways that you have of handling the situation?

My favorite description of my show is “relaxed and organic”. My hosting style is very casual which is extremely helpful when “those situations” arise. During one show, a dog entered the studio and ran right into my lap! Even though it was a sweet and rather large dog, I was surprised and caught off guard. I decided to share the experience with my listeners instead of panicking. There’s been all sorts of interesting mishaps during live shows, including a microphone that fell off the stand and into my lap. Sometimes I’ll share these events if they need to be addressed or if they make the show interesting. If not, I pretend like they never happened and move right along. This was the case one day when my microphone was turned on during the commercial break.

13) Because The Novel Turtle is all about creativity, we ask everyone this question: What is your definition of creativity?

Self-expression is my definition of creativity- existing in this beautiful world as you truly are. Creativity is a picture of your uniqueness and individuality. This can be expressed or un-expressed in any way that’s right for you. God and the universe love variety. I think it’s our weirdness that makes us special! 

14) Do you do other creative type things?

My background is in dance and the arts. I began college as a double major in dance and mass communication. I dropped my mass communication degree and continued pursuing my dance degree. For years after graduating, I regretted not continuing the communications concentration. Fast forward approximately 15 years and I was invited to be a guest on a local radio show. Just a few short weeks later, I found myself pitching a show, preparing a pilot and beginning the career I always hoped for. 

15) How do people find you/get into contact with you if they are interested in listening to the show, scheduling an interview with you, or booking you for an event? (Email, phone number, website, etc.)

If people are interested in learning more, they can visit me at: www.kristislaughter.com

Email me at: kristisupertalk@gmail.com

Or call: 276-591-6552

Listen to Kristi’s show every Saturday on WFHG Supertalk 92.9 FM from 9-11 am.

Thank you Kristi for joining me this week and for sharing one of your many passions with us!

Have you ever wanted to host your own talk show on the radio? Is this something that you have dreamed of doing, but fear keeps getting in the way? Use this as your sign to try something new this week. Even if you just record yourself on your phone.

The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Mark Borella, a.k.a. The Seeds of Happiness Guy

I found this adorable little smiling face on a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. When I read the accompanying card, I was hooked. They are such a simple thing, but the heart behind the project is amazing. This week we talk to Mark Borella, who is known as “The Seeds of Happiness Guy”. If you haven’t heard of these little Seeds, take the time to look at their website, read all about the company, and see their adorable products. If you watch any of Mark’s Instagram or YouTube videos, you see instantly where the smiles get their origin. His smile, his happiness, his excitement, is infectious. He loves to make people smile. He loves to make people happy. He loves what he does and it shines through.

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 “My artwork is not serious, but I take my art very seriously.” Mark Borella, The Seeds of Happiness Guy

1) For those who have never heard of the Seeds of Happiness, tell us how you got started making them.

My wife and I have been together since we were 15 or 16. I taught her how to drive. We’ve known the lady that put us together since we were kids. That lady’s son was diagnosed with neuro blastoma when he was young. As he was going through treatments, I wanted to make a piece of art to represent him, to do something for the family. But I got blocked. I was so close to the family and the situation. Previously, as I was doing other sculptures and projects, I had the little leftover lumps of clay. So I started making a handful of smiles, and I put them in a bowl in the studio. Our friend’s son went through his treatments, but didn’t do well. I got the call one day that he wasn’t going to last much longer. The family told me that I needed to come and say my goodbyes. As I walked out of the studio, to go to their house, I looked over and saw those smiles laying in the bowl. I grabbed them, blew off the dust, and went to the family’s house. When I got there, I told the mother of the little boy, our friend, “There is nothing I can say or do, but here is a handful of smiles. Maybe you can hold onto them until you get your smile back.” A few months later, she called me. She told me that she had kept a smile in her hand every day since I had given them to her. She said that those smiles in her hand were the only thing that she had to hold onto during that time. She said, “You need to do this for other people not just me”. I continued to keep the leftover clumps in my studio. I made them and gave them out to people when they needed a smile. I would give them to people and say, “Here’s a seed of happiness I hope it grows”. As time went on, I started getting more and more calls from people who were wanting the Seeds. So we put together a little website and started selling them.  

2) What is your hope with the Seeds of Happiness?

What we are selling is the story behind the smiles; not just my story, but everyone’s story. These are making a huge difference in people’s lives. If I hear that someone gave someone a Seed, and I ask where it is now, they always know. If I ask them who gave it to them, they always know. We get stories all the time about how these smiles change people’s lives in all kinds of ways. People who have lost loved ones, people going through cancer treatments, people who are contemplating suicide. Someone gave them a smile and it made all the difference in the world. That one little gesture shows that they are cared for, that they matter. The people giving the smiles away are the heroes of the story; and that’s the way it should be. Someone told me one time that I had reinvented the greeting card.

3) What was your biggest obstacle when starting the business?

The business end of it all. One of things I figured out early on, even as a kid, is, if you’re not arrogant and you don’t think you can do everything, if you find someone who is better than you at something and you acknowledge that then you will go farther. I found someone that doesn’t suck at business. I also found someone who is better at detail painting. Learn to recognize your weaknesses, find someone who is better than you at it, and you’ll go much further. 

4) Did you have people that thought you were crazy when you decided to make this a business? How did you deal with them?

I was already making a living on art in college; selling sculptures. I’ve never worked for anyone. The people that understood what I was doing knew it was a mission and they supported it.  There were those that didn’t of course. That’s one thing about going to art school. You learn to deal with criticism. You learn your basics, how to do the actual art, and you also learn social skills. The biggest thing you learn is that you suck as an artist, someone is always better than you. This is not meant to be discouraging, it just is. No matter how good you are at something, there is always someone better than you at it.

5) I see on your “Meet the Team” page that you include a lot of people that most companies wouldn’t include. (I especially love that Munch, your doggie mascot and model is included) I think it is amazing that you are willing to share the spotlight and recognize everyone’s contribution to your products. Do you think this philosophy and practice has helped to fuel your success?  

This is a team effort. Without the team, it wouldn’t be a success. Each year I give everyone that works for me an original piece of art that I create. One year I gave each person a puzzle piece. I told them to put them all together. Everyone laid their piece down, fit them together, and they made a Seed of Happiness. Next, I told one of them to take a piece away. I said, “Take one piece away and the whole picture is not the same.”

With Canterbury Enterprises, we employ 2-20 people a day. When they come to help us, it gets them out of their house, gives them and their caregivers a break, and gives them a sense of independence.  

6) How important do you think it is for people to find what they love to do?

If what you do is something you have a passion for then you’ll do a better job. Believe in the magic of what you’re doing and you’ll do well.

7) How did you come to work with the teacher that “helped shape your love of sculpting” (a quote from the website)?

Growing up I was the dumb kid. I struggled in school. When I got to high school there was an art teacher, it was his first year teaching. This was before ADD and ADHD and all that was recognized as a thing. He said, “You’re not dumb, they just don’t teach the way your brain works”. He offered to help me with my homework. Later, he was going back to college for his master’s degree. He got my mom’s ok and I went to college with him, took classes with him. Along the way he saw the potential in my art and began entering it into contests. Because of him I was able to go to art school. Over the years, he followed what I was doing in art, he kept in touch. When he retired from teaching, I asked him what he was going to do with his time. He didn’t know so I asked him to come work with me at the studio. He’s been here ever since.

8) Because The Novel Turtle is all about creativity, we ask everyone: What is your definition of creativity?

Having your eyes open to other things, other than what is mainstream or normal, in every situation. Even seeing things like rivers: the way they flow, the color.

9) Each of your smiles is handmade in The Smile Factory, in Kirkwood, MO. Do you do factory tours of any kind?

Our studio is always open to the public, Monday-Friday 9-5. Sometimes people walk in and they are enthralled. Sometimes they walk in and are like, “this is it”. It’s a working art studio. The name, The Smile Factory, pays homage to Andy Warhol’s art factory.  

10) Some interesting facts about the Seeds of Happiness: They go through 3200 pounds of clay each month. One seed takes about 3 weeks to make. They make 40,000ish each month. The card that comes with each seed is part of the art work.

“When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them, I change the world one smile at a time.” Mark Borella

To learn more about The Seeds of Happiness, to see what Mark and the team are up to, and/or to purchase any of their products, go to SeedsofHappiness.com.

Be sure to follow Mark and the Seeds of Happiness on Instagram and YouTube to get your daily dose of smiles.

Thank you Mark for joining us this week, and for what you and your team are doing to make the world a better place each and every day!

The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Haley Hensley

This is Haley and her sweet Great Dane, Emme.

Welcome to our Q&A session! This week our guest is Haley Hensley. Haley is a photographer, animal lover, and all around fun person. Her website is www.haleyhensley.photo.

Q: What made you want to start taking photographs?

I am a shy person, even more so when I was younger. I didn’t really have a place to fit in at school. I didn’t play sports or an instrument. When I heard about yearbook staff in middle school though it really sparked an interest in me. When I was old enough to join yearbook staff, I did. I loved taking photos of the different activities going on at school. In a way, I was fitting in by hiding behind a camera. 

Q: At what age did you do this?

At age 9, my father bought me my first camera. He bid on a box full of items at an auction. A 35mm Minolta XG 1 film camera was in the box. I was fascinated by it. We took it to Ritz Camera to be looked over and repaired. I remember standing outside of the store, pointing the camera at something. A gentleman walked past and asked if I was a photographer. From that moment, I may not have been a photographer but I knew that I wanted to be one in the future. So, I started photographing everything: family, pets, nature. 

Q: What are some of your favorite things to photograph?

I’ve always loved photographing nature, from mountains to beaches. I love capturing the beautiful areas that surround me. I also love photographing dogs. Dogs are one of my biggest passions, along with photography. So being able to connect with them through my camera is one of the most rewarding experiences. I am currently trying to learn more about photographing couples and newborns!

Q: Where is the craziest place you’ve ever stood to take a photo?

This one is easy for me. Although I will do just about anything to capture a shot that I have a vision for, this one experience always comes to mind. It was November on the Nolichucky River. The Noli is already extremely cold, but in November it is REALLY cold. I had a 4×5 film project I was working on for school, and I saw the perfect shot about knee high out a little ways in the river. I was thinking, “I have on rain boots, I’ll be fine!” The rain boots didn’t help, I was not fine, and it was COLD. I remember my legs going numb in a matter of seconds! I got the shot, found my way out and called it a day! 

Q: Do you have a favorite photo, or collection of photos?

A project that was one of the most challenging and most rewarding is my Virginia Intermont College series. I photographed my school several times, between a few weeks up to a year after its closing. Those are some of my favorite images and always will be because of the personal connection I have with them, and the challenge it posed for me as a person and photographer. 

Q: You have a book about Virginia Intermont, tell us about that. What gave you the idea to do it? How did you choose the areas that you photographed? 

We were told 2 weeks before school ended for summer break that we would not be able to come back. We had already registered for classes and had out next year planned out. In a matter of seconds that was taken away. I was desperate to hang on to anything I could from Virginia Intermont. I knew that I would never see it again. So, I told myself, I have to photograph everything. I walked in every room of every building. Even places that had been closed off to students previously, areas I didn’t even know existed. I photographed places that I connected with or felt emotional about. 

Q: What did you learn in school that you were surprised to learn about photography?

That even though you have a beautiful, creative idea it needs to be technically correct to actually be a good photograph. I had been photographing for years! When I started college I was amazed by just how much I didn’t know technically. Learning how to shoot a camera in manual so that you can control every aspect to achieve your vision is one of the most important things. If your photograph is overexposed then it’s ruined! You can edit a digital image and correct any mistakes but printing a film negative is a bit more challenging if it is not technically correct. 

Q: What are a few tips, that you could give those of us who are amateurs that love to take photos, to help us?

Learn. Learn. And keep learning. In today’s world with YouTube, Facebook Groups and other endless internet resources it provides a whole learning field for anything and everything. Learn about your camera, composition and ways to manipulate your image and be creative. Watch videos, ask other photographers. You can always study others’ work, but always give credit and be respectful! 

Q: Are there other types of creative projects that you do?

I have to be creative! If I am not creative, I am not happy! Outside of photography, I am also a woodworker. I work for a small business (extremely successful, but family owned) that builds furniture! I also love to make greeting cards. I have been making cards since I was a little girl. I love the personal touch it adds. 

Q: Because this website is all about expanding our ideas of what creativity is, I’m always interested to ask this question: How do you define creativity?

Expressing the ideas that are in your mind, or how you’re feeling, through activities that you love to do and that make you happy. 


Haley, thanks so much for joining us this week!!! It has been a lot of fun getting to know more about you and your business.

If you would like to see more of Haley’s work, purchase her book with the Virginia Intermont collection, or get in touch with her:

Website: www.haleyhensley.photo

Email: info@haleyhensley.photo

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

Instagram: www.instagram.com/haleyhensleyphotography