Introducing Your Cookbook Contest Judges!

The HubPages Cookbook Contest is set to launch in just a couple of days, and we’re thrilled to introduce our amazing panel of recipe-savvy judges! We chose foodies with a variety of experiences and expertise to provide a well-rounded judging committee for all the mouth-watering original recipes you have in store for us!

And now, in no particular order and without any ado, I present your HubPages Cookbook Contest judges:

 

 

Hillary Mickell

Hillary Mickell

Hillary Mickell is the Chief Tastemaker and CMO for Foodily. Formerly, she held numerous senior level positions at Yahoo!, Netscape and Microsoft. Hillary brings her passion for food and recipes to thousands of people every day. Amongst many roles she plays at Foodily, Hillary manages the Tastemaker program, a group of celebrities, author and bloggers, who people can follow for great recipe recommendations every day.

She is a board member at HOPE for Haiti Foundation.

 

 

Joey Lee

Joey Lee

Joey Lee is the manager of The Kids Cook Monday initiative, a project of The Monday Campaigns. Joey is a featured cook on the kid’s nutrition gaming website Zis Boom Bah. In her home kitchen, Joey enjoys experimenting with all types of cuisines, which serves her well while she perfects all the recipes featured on MeatlessMonday.com and TheKidsCookMonday.org each week. Joey’s recipes and posts have also been featured on the blogs of other publications, such as Real Simple Magazine, Grandparents.com and Parade Magazine.

 

 

 

Jess Kapadia

Jess Kapadia

Jess Kapadia studied print and online journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Journalism, where she co-created and hosted two seasons of cooking show “Dorm Gourmet” on the Trojan Vision Network. She interned at Edible Los Angeles, Saveur Magazine, ABC and the Huffington Post, and has written for publications and websites like Zester Daily, The Daily Meal and Edible Ojai. Jess is currently Assistant Editor, Recipes Editor and test kitchen chef at Manhattan-based men’s food, drink and lifestyle website Food Republic and lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley is the owner, recipe developer and food photographer of Savory Simple. She graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD where she trained in classic French technique. Jennifer currently works as a cooking instructor, social media marketer and free-lance writer for sites such as Williams-Sonoma and Washington Eats. She resides in the Washington DC metropolitan area and can often be found exploring the local culinary scene in search of new inspiration.

 

 

I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know our judges as much as I have. Keep an eye out for more in-depth interviews with each of them here on the HubPages blog!

An Interview with chef-de-jour

It’s a poet! No- it’s a father! No- a drama teacher… a freelance writer.. a sports enthusiast… NO! It’s… CHEF-DE-JOOOUR!!!

One of our newer Hubbers, chef-de-jour has a broad range of interests and publishes great Hubs on all of them. To get to know the man behind the travel guides, sports commentary, poems, and drama tutorials, we invited chef-de-jour to join us in a good ol’ fashioned blog interview. Check out our exchange below!

Your Hubs reflect a variety of interests- sports, travel, poetry, drama… have you always been interested in these things? Are some passions older than others?

I’ve been involved in sports since I was knee high to a grasshopper as they say. Football and cricket I played for years – cricket is the strange national game the English play – rugby union – that’s played with an oval ball and inspired the Americans to develop their ‘American football’, and athletics. Is that all clear? I play table tennis now, very good for hand/eye coordination.

Poetry is not quite an obsession. I’ve been reading and writing it since a boy and have always loved the way different poets manipulate the language. The first poet I read seriously was Dylan Thomas, then Ted Hughes, DH Lawrence, Sylvia Plath….and I’m rediscovering and discovering old and new. HubPages is a great outlet for poets of all shapes and sizes. I really like that idea.

I’ve travelled a fair amount, mostly to mountainous areas, and lived in Spain, the Netherlands, Australia and now Yorkshire! I should be settling down but there’s no telling where I’ll end up next.

Your Hubs on teaching drama and drama therapy are both useful and inspiring. What drove you to become a drama teacher? What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Drama, yes. It’s in the genes, the blood, the whole package. Being an impractical sort of person I thought I’d better teach something that didn’t involve too much science or use of handtools. I’ve worked with all types of students and still get a great buzz from watching them practice, perform, achieve. My drama group works so hard! Months of rehearsals and warm ups all building up to performance night when the nerves are like frazzled whatnots and the buzz is that of trapped mosquitos!? What? That feeling of completion, of a job well done, is enough reward.

Your travel Hubs are packed with beautiful photos and great tips. What advice can you give to Hubbers who are about to go on a holiday and are interested in Hubbing about it?

Hubbers off on holiday eh? Well I’d say enjoy yourself first and foremost because that will fuel your will to write and record. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Then try and balance your time between complete leisure and recording for a future travel Hub. Take photographs, take notes, keep things that’ll help remind you of specific details, like the price of a sandwich, the personal anecdote of the local shepherd, the route you took and why. If you keep a diary then you may well automatically record useful material for a Hub, or two.

In addition to writing about and enjoying sports, especially football (soccer), do you play any?

As previously mentioned I’ve always been quite athletic/sporty and still enjoy all kinds of ball sports. I have slowed down a wee bit recently but can manage a spot of football (soccer) table tennis, volleyball (strictly amateur level). I love walking and can walk miles if nobody stops me or reminds me that I have deadlines to meet.

You have poems published in several places, as well as articles published in the Guardian- how do you get your work out there? Are their any particular approaches you’ve taken?

The poems I had published online were new ones revamped from much older material. I have lots like that. The two blogs are good quality so I was happy to have them accepted. There are many blogs that accept all kinds of poems so I’d recommend getting stuff out there if you want to share your work. I tend to focus on nature and the relationship we have with it.

The articles I wrote for the Guardian were again nature based – full of observations and descriptive prose, very short. That was down to persistence! I’ve always written things down after, say, a walk in the woods and I noticed the Guardian had a slot for all things countryside so I sent some off to the editor. Sent more to the editor. The response was positive but ‘we are not in a position to accept your material at the moment’ …so,
I tried again. I had two pieces accepted which was great. I’d advise would be writers to perservere if you know you’re good enough. Like with hubbing, if you focus on the things you know well, the niche, and really work at it, learning all the time, things might fall into place – and you’ve probably deserved it. If not, you know you gave it your very best.

How is your process for writing poetry different from your approach to writing Hubs or freelance articles?

This is a good question. Poetry for me is driven by feeling/emotion so I might get my initial word or sentence or jumble of words direct from observation/experience/involvement. That’s the lucky/mysterious part – even then these words can fade, just like a dream fades as the morning passes by. You may have them for an hour or tbut then they’re gone, like Wallace Stevens’s pheasant wo disapearing into a bush or Lavinia Greenlaw’s flipping tof a grediving belowailat whale the waves. So it’s important to write these precious snippets down as soon as you can. These will not necessarily form a coherent sentence but may be words that help you develop and expand and build upon – so the poem takes shape bit by bit, like a plant growing, or an electrical circuit forming, or a pattern on water spreading. Some poems form quickly, others hardly at all. Most are hard work, or a mixture of work and fascination. I find I want to capture the moment or event in a poem so it stays with me.

Prose on the other hand is relatively straightforward and is more like factory output! Oh dear, hope I’ve not upset anyone. You still need skill of course but for me the work is on the surface whereas poetry demands a deeper sort of energy and can be much harder to bring up into fresh air. Prose poetry is an attempt to bridge the gap but I’m not so certain that bridge is safe.

How do you balance your different roles as a father, teacher, and freelance writer (not to mention poet and Hubber)?

This word balance is so important! Juggling also comes into mind! OK, my teenage sons are now semi independent which brings with it joys and sorrows – they’re not my little playmates anymore so I don’t spend much time with them now (they’re off to uni and going on crazy Kerouac like travels) …BUT… I’ve lots more energy for creative things like Hubs and poems and arty things. Work is a bonus and helps me keep my feet on the ground, or at least one! This is the beauty of maturing, you find yourself in a different space and opportunities come along. We are here to take upon us the mystery of things said the bard, or something like that.

What made you initially join HubPages? What are your future plans on the site?

As for the Hubs – I’m really enjoying the process of putting them together and learning as I go along. There’s so much to take in! What a labyrinth we’ve all entered! At the moment I just want to create as many good quality Hubs as I can, to share what I know in a decent written form. The tools available on Hub pages make this an interesting creative and fun challenge.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Jason Menayan

Our Director of Marketing Jason Menayan, also known on HubPages under his personal username livelonger, has been with HubPages for years and is is the go-to guy for sound strategy, healthy perspective, and killer Hubbing tips!

If you’re curious to know more about this impressive Hubber and HubPages staff member, check out Jason’s answers to the questions below. They’re all asked by Hubbers, so you know they’re good ones.

Why do some staff members write lots of Hubs whilst others don’t? Aren’t staff members not as interested in making more money from HubPages just like the Hubbers are? -ngureco

I can’t answer for others, but I’ve published over 200 Hubs and have 161 published now (I unpublished a lot of unsalvageably old Hubs). I just love writing, and sharing information and interests with other people. I also like bragging to my friends how much money I make; their jaws usually drop.

When does your work day begin and when does it end? Do you work 24/7 or ever go through HP withdrawal when you are away from the computer? -AEvans

I’ve never been good at drawing a clean line between work and home, so I tend to read HubPages-related stuff when I’m at home when it strikes my fancy. I usually do so not in an official capacity, but as a Hubber (livelonger). I can’t help it – much like others, I’m addicted! (I even wrote a Hub while I was on vacation in Mexico last year…)

What are your secret thoughts about Google? -paradigmsearch

Secret thoughts? I’m not sure I have any about them!

Do you ever sleep and when you sleep are you still dreaming of H-u-b-P-a-g-e-s? -prettydarkhorse

Yes, sometimes. I usually wake up screaming and drenched with sweat. (Kidding!)

What are the biggest risks that you have identified for continued success at online publishing? -GinnyLee

There always have been risks and always will be risks with publishing online, and pretty much any other venture that you could possibly be involved in. I really love HubPages, so I take the challenges in stride.

Are you concerned with some of the high-profile Hubbers leaving the site? Do you think it is part of the natural churn on writing? -GinnyLee

You’d be surprised, maybe even stunned, if you knew how many of those writers come back, most often surreptitiously under a new account. I struggle to think of a single exception. Churn is natural, as is, I guess, a quiet return. 🙂

What motivates you to do the things you do for HubPages? -ripplemaker

I’ve been here for over 5 1/2 years and have loved that the site, community, features, and challenges have continued to evolve. I love reading great stuff, I love writing, I love working with some amazing colleagues on new features and programs, and I’ve enjoyed interacting with some truly fantastic Hubbers here over the years. It never gets boring!

Host a Hubbing Retreat!

They say that some of our most productive work happens when we’re relaxed and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many people have “ah-hah” moments on their front porch, in the shower, at the kitchen table, and in many other seemingly un-productive places.

With this in mind, why should we always sit down to write Hubs in the same place? Would it not be fun to work on one’s Hubs in a different sort of environment every now and then?

I first got the idea of holding a Hubbing retreat from an awesome Hub by Brainy Bunny. She and her sister theclevercat took two days to focus on writing and improving Hubs. On the first day, they focused exclusively on generating new ideas and writing Hubs. On the second day, they worked on polishing and promoting their work. For this retreat, they set up a comfortable space at Brainy Bunny’s home, spent some time working from a coffee shop, and took lots of breaks. In addition to focusing on their own work, the sisters traded ideas and helped each other out.

Brainy Bunny’s Hubbing retreat sounds absolutely lovely to me! I love how collaborative it was, that they regularly changed locations, and that they worked in relaxed, comfortable, stress-free environments. I strongly believe that we could all benefit from a Hubbing retreat every now and then, and in addition to sharing Brainy Bunny’s ideas with you, I would like to add some additional ideas to the mix.

More Hubbing Retreat Ideas

  • Make use of your vacations: Traveling and camping is fun, but sometimes it can get boring- on long train rides or in remote, sparsely-populated and internet-free wilderness areas, for example. One can turn these opportunities into Hubbing retreats by bringing along a small notebook and jotting down ideas and outlines. Being on vacation can help you slip into a more creative, relaxed mindset, plus being in a new place can help you approach problems and writing ideas with a fresh perspective.
  • Take advantage of sick days: Sometimes we get sick because our bodies are exhausted and our minds are begging for something new to focus on. If you’re stressed out at work and find yourself home sick and constantly churning over the same problems at work, consider giving yourself that much needed break by holding a short one-person Hubbing retreat and focusing on creative, outside-of-everyday-life things for a bit. You can completey revitalize your HubPages portfolio, plus physically recover and return to work ready to take on those looming challenges with fresh energy and a bit of grounded perspective to back you up.
  • Join your kids: Kids regularly retreat to various places to work on schoolwork- why not join them? When I was a kid and busy studying, my parents would occasionally join me in what we all called “parallel play.” Essentially, they’d just sit down next to me and work on their own projects as I worked on mine. This can be a great way to regularly work on your Hubs, and additionally helps you connect with your kids (or other young friends and family members). What’s more, younger generations might contribute some fresh ideas to your Hubs!
  • Book Hubbing retreat flights: Many airlines offer wireless internet on certain flights. If you can manage to snag those on your next cross-country journey, you can turn each flight into a distraction-free, outside-the-normal-environment Hubbing retreat. Even if you can’t get a flight that has wireless internet, you can still bring along a laptop, phone, notebook, or tablet, and work on Hubs offline.
  • Create designated, reoccurring Hub retreat time slots: Many of the world’s must successful and famous writers say they’re successful in part because they’ve set up a regular schedule for writing- one which they will not let anyone else compromise. Even if it is just fifteen minutes each morning, or two hours every Sunday evening, consider setting aside a designated Hubbing retreat time that you never miss. This time might also be a great way to forget about everything else that’s going on in your life and unwind!
  • Mix pamper time with Hubbing time: While I frequently encounter Hubbers working like professionals- that is, Hubbing from home offices, sitting at desks, and treating the entire process very seriously, I rarely hear about Hubbers Hubbing while they are totally relaxed and in a stress-free state. Why not tap into the extra creativity and focus one enjoys when feeling blissed out by combining pleasant things like sitting in your backyard, passively watching a Nascar race, painting your toenails, or doing whatever else it is that helps you relax, with Hubbing? You don’t have to be super engaged in the Hubbing process at these times, but by working on outlines and new ideas while doing something very relaxing, you might think up some marvelous new things.
  • Turn workouts into Hubbing retreats: Once you get warmed up and are in a nice state of flow, great ideas emerge from their hiding places! If you work out on a treadmill, recumbent bike, or elliptical, consider bringing a laptop with you and jotting down ideas while working out.  You might even lose track of time and end up working out longer.
  • Host a Hubbing retreat with your friends: Whether or not your friends already have HubPages accounts, consider hosting a Hubbing retreat with them. It doesn’t have to be HubPages-specific; it can be about writing and being more creative in general. Everyone can bring a project they’re working on, and in a common, comfortable, and fun environment, everyone can share ideas and offer group support. One benefit of bringing together a bunch of friends that are working on a variety of creative projects (e.g. poetry, Hubbing, painting, and novel writing) is that each individual offers a fresh perspective that might give you some useful ideas.

These are only a couple of ideas for Hubbing retreats. Have you ever held a Hubbing retreat before, or are you planning one for the future? What does your ideal Hubbing retreat entail? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below!

 

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Mark Painter

Our Meet the Staff series continues with an interview with software engineer Mark Painter. Mark’s work is often hidden in the depths of the site’s underpinnings, but if you write Hubs, they have most certainly been affected by his influence.

To give you a better understanding of the mysterious man behind the code, we’ve given Mark some of the questions provided by HubPages community members. Enjoy!

Do you ever feel bad when after a hard job you do not receive the recognition and praise that you deserve from Hubbers? -ngureco

Recognition is always nice, but a lot of the things I do aren’t very visible to Hubbers, or when they are visible unlikely to elicit praise. For example, praise is an unlikely response to having a Hub flagged for moderation. I enjoy my work at HubPages, though. Maybe, if I felt the need to bask in the constant admiration of others, I would have taken up a different career, like acting, or something.

What would you do if you had spokes and a rim? -janderson99

I’d like to see some really famous writers publish via Hubpages, or better yet, some writers become really famous for writing Hubs. I think that would count as “having spokes and a rim”.

What was your favorite cartoon / cartoon character when you were a kid? -prettydarkhorse

I liked the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, fractured fairytales, the way back machine, all of that. It seems I enjoy slightly warped reality.

How Many Hubbers will it take to fit into a Submarine without it sinking? – celebrite

I thought submarines were supposed to sink.

From SimeyC:

Who is the office geek?

That is a very hard question. I think you would have to specify a dimension of geekyness. Most staff have their geeky quirks, but along different lines. So, it is hard to compare.

Who is the office joker?

Simone, maybe.

Who is the most eligible bachelor / bachelorette?

I’m married. I haven’t payed attention to that.

Who likes the Telletubbies?
I neither like, nor dislike Telletubbies. I stopped watching TV before the Telletubbies came out. So, I know very little about them.

What motivates you to do the things you do for Hubpages? -ripplemaker

I like the idea of a platform for people to self-publish and earn from it.

How to Regularly Publish When You’re Crazy Busy

Chances are you’re incredibly busy. So are we! That said, just because we have a lot of responsibilities does not mean that we have to sideline our writing careers. There are plenty of ways in which one can regularly publish online articles while still managing a rigorous work and home life. In this week’s podcast (Creating Hubs while Crazy Busy), we outline three ways in which this can be easily done:

  1. Make use of your old work by converting essays and research papers into rich online articles: We outlined this process in last week’s podcast. It’s quite easy, and is a great way to make the most of great work you’ve already done!
  2. As you explain something to a friend, colleague, or family member, record your explanation for use in a Hub: You can do this by copying the text that you wrote in a letter or email, or turning on a dictation app when you’re explaining something to a friend verbally. Doing so kills two birds with one stone, and also makes it easier for your friend to find your advice should they forget it! Besides, if your tips are useful for one person, they’re more than likely useful to many people, which means that Hubs you create in this manner may get a decent amount of search traffic.
  3. Write your articles while you wait: Make the most of your commute, time spent queueing, and hours wiled away in waiting rooms and airport lounges by pulling out a notebook, laptop, tablet, or smartphone and writing drafts for Hubs. You’ll be staving off boredom AND getting in some much-anticipated writing.

 

Here’s one more bonus tip in regard to getting great videos and images for your Hubs: ask friends and family members to do the photography and videography for you! If you’re making dinner for your family, ask one of your kids to film you in the kitchen. If you’re teaching your child how to ride a bike, ask a neighbor to snap a photo for you. Usually, people appreciate being involved in your writing process, and as an added bonus, they may be more likely to share your article once it’s published because they have a stake in its success.

On a somewhat unrelated note, we have decided to put the Online Writing Insider podcast on hiatus. We have had a blast creating these podcasts, but we’re running out of online writing issues to cover. What would you like us to focus on in future blog posts? Let us know in the comments below!

A New Profile Design

We have been keeping you updated on various tests with new Hub designs, but Hubs aren’t the only parts of HubPages that are getting new looks. In addition to refining Hub designs, Micki Seibel has been working for several weeks on creating a new and improved Profile Page.

The product of her work is something significantly more professional, functional, polished, and refined! Check it out:

Curious about the changes? We’ll walk you through the Profile Page’s updates and new features.

More Author Prominence
One of our primary objectives with the new design is to give Hubbers and their personal brands more prominence. This is why we moved Hubbers’ names and profile images to the top left of the page in a bold header that extends across the entire width of the Profile.

Additional Identity
You’ll notice that below Maddie Ruud’s real name is listed below HubPages username (and special status). We know that not all of you are able to choose your real name as your username on HubPages, so we’re giving you the option to share your real name on your profile page, just as you can on Twitter.
If you prefer to write under a pen name or just use your witty online handle, you are free to leave this section of your profile blank. That said, showing your real name can add professional polish to your online profile and demonstrates that there is a real, passionate writer behind your wonderful Hubs.

Social Media Connections
To transform Profile Pages into functional online portfolios, we are adding the ability to list links to a personal website and external social media accounts at the top of the page. This will make it easier for your readers and followers to find you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, as well as your own personal website.
Maintaining an active presence across multiple platforms plays an important role in online success, so we encourage Hubbers to connect your HubPages profile with as many sites as they please!

A Streamlined Bio
The bio is one of the most important aspects of one’s Profile, so we’re leaving it front and center. That said, we also want these pages to adequately showcase Hubbers’ wonderful work, so to save real estate we are truncating Hubber bios after a certain number of words. These bios will not be cut off; visitors can continue to read them in an overlay should they please.

Are you concerned about the lack of bio space? Don’t be! When Hubbers have long bios, they typically fill them with two things:

  1. Links to external sites: These are now featured in their own dedicated section at the top of the page, so they need not be reiterated here.
  2. Links to Hubs one wants to feature: Under the My Content section of your Profile, which will display by default in what is now the blank section of the image we’ve shared, you will be able to select several Hubs to feature in a carousel.

Because we now offer these more attractive linking alternatives and encourage Hubbers to keep the bio strictly bio-focused, we are additionally disabling links in this section of the page.

Similar Hubbers
To help you both discover and be discovered on HubPages, we are showcasing similar Hubbers on each Hubber’s Profile. This feature will help fans of your work find more Hubbers like you and this will also promote your own Profile on others’ pages.

More Functional Use of Space
There is so much interesting information about Hubbers that it would be impossible to display it all at once on one page. We’re addressing this problem by offering a dynamic center of the page that displays your content by default, but can also display Hubtivity, Hubbers you follow and who follow you, Fan Mail, and recent images you have posted.

My Content
This is the section of your Profile where your Hubs and Videos will be featured. At the top, you have the option to display a specially curated collection of your best work.

Hubtivity
Currently, Hubtivity (which displays status updates, comments, Hubs published, Questions asked and answered, etc.) is displayed on your Profile below your Hubs. Almost nobody gets that far along in your profile to actually view it (there are too many interesting Hubs to look at along the way!), so we’re giving this stream of activity its own section.

Following
Hubbers do much more on HubPages than simply publish Hubs. We’re a supportive community of writers who enjoy, comment on, and discover each other’s work. The Hubbers we follow do much to reveal our involvement with the HubPages community, and can also help our own followers discover new writers, so we’re making the Hubbers you follow easier to see.

Followers
On HubPages, followers are earned, and you should be proud of the Hubbers who have decided to get regular updates on your work! With this section of your profile, you can display them proudly.

Fan Mail
On LinkedIn, professionals display endorsements from present and past colleagues. Kind words from earnest Hubbers are well worth displaying, so we’re giving Fan Mail a dedicated section (instead of a truncated summary that leads to a separate page listing followers and Fan Mail). It is also to this section that we are moving the “Contact [Username]” option through which Hubbers can email you directly.

Recent Images
Good images are a big deal on HubPages, and play a huge role in a Hub’s success. We’ll be featuring images that you have recently published in Hubs in this new section of your Profile to give your cool photos, illustrations, charts, and graphs the attention they deserve. These images will include a link to their location on HubPages, as well as your source, URL, and caption, so you don’t have to worry about copyright issues if you use Creative Commons images.

All in all, we have done our best to make your profile page work for you as a Hubber, writer, and creative individual. We hope you like it!

 

 

Following Up with the HubPatron of the Arts Grand Prize Winner

Last December, Marlin55 won the Smashwords and Creative Writing First Place prizes in our HubPatron of the Arts contest for his Hub The Agency.

At the time Marlin55 won those prizes, he was in the midst of working on a novel which he intended to publish on Smashwords.

He has now finished this novel, which is now published on Smashwords- along with his prize-winning short story! To get an update on this impressive creative writing Hubber’s endeavors, we asked Marlin55 for an interview. Read on to see what this HubPatron of the Arts contest winner has been up to over the past five months!

Which books have you just published?

I’ve recently published two ebooks to Smashwords and Amazon Kindle. The first title is a novel, The Attic Piranhas. The second title is the short story, The Agency.

Could you tell us a bit more about those stories?

The novel, The Attic Piranhas, is based on the some short stories that I wrote here on HubPages about a guy named Max Fagan. After getting fired from his job and threatened with eviction from his apartment, he has to change his life. He stumbles across a secret weapon that promises a quick fix and his actions and reactions are off the wall and take him and his friend Ramir on some hilarious misadventures.

The Agency is a short story about old Hollywood and what one person would do to get fame and fortune. The Agency guarantees success, but there is always a price to pay. And on a dark and stormy night, a man named Murdoch comes to collect.

Were you working on both books when you won the HubPatron of the Arts contest?

The Attic Piranhas has been a works in progress for a year. It is a compilation of short stories that I expanded into a novel. The Agency was an idea for a story, kept on my to-do list, that I fleshed out for the contest.

What was the hardest part of wrapping these works up?

The Attic Piranhas was the toughest. I had to basically take multiple short stories and weave them into a novel-length book. That took an enormous amount of work to make all of those stories work together. I kept the reader in mind the entire time that I was writing. I wanted the book to be written on the highest level of professional writing that I could achieve. I want the person reading my work to feel like they have been taken on a worthwhile journey and feel completely satisfied when they reach the end. And wanting more.

Are you going to write another book?

Yes, I’ve already began working on my second novel.

What are your future writing plans?

More novels and more short stories! I have a lot of ideas for future writings, the list is endless. I want to see everyone of them in print.

What has been the most satisfying aspect of this experience?

The growth. I had to push myself during the times when I didn’t have anything left to give. I’ve learned to make that stretch and go beyond my own limitation and boundaries, just like Max Fagan in The Attic Piranhas. I have to give my wife credit there. If I wrote a bare-boned description, she would hand it back to me and say, “This is not good enough. You can do better.” I’m lucky to have her. She is one great editor. I went to bed every night and told myself that I would get up the next morning and write. When I got up in the morning, I told myself that I would write the best that I possibly could and then write it better.

From what you have learned throughout this process, what single piece of advice would you give to other Hubbers who are interested in publishing novels?

First, declare yourself a professional writer that delivers the best writing to your readers and fans and take the actions that support your declarations. Use all criticism you receive, even though it’s hard to hear (I know), it will benefit you in the end.

In closing, HubPages has been a wonderful place for me to stretch my wings and fly. I look back at my past work and I can see how much I have grown as a writer. I am so grateful for that. I’ve received some wonderful feedback from other Hubbers that was important to me as a writer. Without a doubt, there is mountains of talent right here on HubPages. I have read a lot of wonderful works. So, keep writing. Keep writing even when the odds seem to be against you. Keep believing in yourself and love what you’re doing and the people that you’re writing for. I have a friend that wrote for twenty years and the writing industry would not give her the time of day. Today, she is on The New York Times best seller list. She didn’t give up and she didn’t go away. That’s what it takes. So knowing that, I’ll see you there.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Norah Casey

As Chief Moderator, Norah Casey doesn’t have it easy, but she manages the HubPages support team and hundreds upon hundreds of Hubs and emails with superior grace and pose. To give you a better look at this superhuman HubPages employee, we’ve given Norah a bunch of questions asked by HubPages community members as part of our Meet the Staff series.

We hope you enjoy her answers!

If you had to choose super hero titles for three of your coworkers at HubPages, what would they be? -Inspired by mts1098

Matt Wells = The Watcher
Paul Deeds = DeadPan
Ari = The Dog Whisperer

I see you are working towards finishing your BA in Science and History. Can you share with us more about your interest in Physical Anthropology? -rebekahELLE

I just completed my BA just a couple of weeks ago, so now I will have the opportunity to prepare for graduate school. Not quite yet, but soon! 🙂

My interest in physical anthropology evolved from an early interest in dinosaur paleontology and human anatomy. My mother wanted me to be doctor, but… I can’t imagine dealing with insurance companies. I participated in a fossil dig in Arizona, and couldn’t bear the thought of digging up dinosaurs in such a hot environment.

At about that time, I saw a documentary on television about neanderthals. It was terrible. Their version of neanderthals could only communicate through grunting, they wandered through the snow naked, and lumbered over rocky terrain by waddling side to side. I was only a kid, but I knew the depiction didn’t make sense. Their skeletal structure, their hunting techniques, and what was known of them in the fossil record didn’t match up with how they were presented. It isn’t possible to eliminate our own innate sense of superiority when studying our hominin ancestors, but I would like to try to learn more about them while keeping my own bias in check.

If you could give Hubbers one piece of advice, what would it be? – wordscribe43

If you have a Hub moderated and don’t understand why, respond to the violation email and ask for clarification! You’ll want to check the Learning Center or FAQ for an answer to your question first, of course, but it is always better to understand the rules of the game if you are going to play.

When does your work day begin and when does it end? Do you work 24/7 or ever go through HP withdrawal when you are away from the computer? -AEvans

My work day usually starts around 9:30 A.M, and ends at about 8:30 or 9 P.M, with several long breaks in between. I usually work seven days a week, but only for a few hours a day on the weekend. I don’t spend enough time away from HubPages to go through withdrawal, so… I guess I’m an addict!

What do you love about your job? What do you hate (or love a whole lot less)? – Marcy Goodfleisch

I love coming across great content. Though it usually means our filters have gone haywire or a troll has generated hundreds of intentionally inaccurate, spiteful flags, I enjoy reading or watching new and wonderful content as part of my job.

This is not going to be as juicy as some might have wanted, but I don’t like that 90% of my work is done sitting in front of a computer screen. My vision is bad enough, and this can’t be helping!

Describe your ideal Hubber -Marcy Goodfleisch

My ideal Hubber is someone who is curious, hard working, and honest. She wants to create new and interesting pieces of content to share with her audience, and doesn’t just want to spam them. He has the confidence to admit when he is stuck and is comfortable reaching out to veteran Hubbers or staff for help. She is not going to feed trolls, and won’t get dragged into an ideological debate that brings out the worst in herself and those around her. In addition, he’ll be flagging plenty of bad content for us to unpublish with funny little remarks to keep our spirits up.

Do you ever sleep and when you sleep are you still dreaming of H-u-b-p-a-g-e-s? – prettydarkhorse

Of course! In my nightmares, I’m responding to four hours worth of support emails escalated to me by the moderators. Then I realize I’m awake, and it is actually just another Monday.

Any stories you want to share about moderating forum posts? -rebekahELLE

A forum thread responding to a moderation cited the decision as evidence that the anonymous moderator was a zealot who held several different and mutually exclusive viewpoints. That the moderation was the result of our bot detecting a malware link wasn’t common knowledge. When people don’t know much about you, they fill in details with their own imagination. It can be quite amusing what they come up with.

What was the kindest thing a Hubber did for you? -ripplemaker

I think many of us here at HubPages worked harder than we thought possible when Panda hit. We had to find a way to eliminate spam without destroying the community, and we had to do it faster than we thought possible. In the midst of all of this, a Hubber wrote in just to say thanks for the hard work and that they were going to stick with us. It felt great.

Giving a New Life to Old Papers, Articles, and Reports

While most of the Hubs people publish are shiny and new, we still encourage you to draw on older bodies of work when creating online articles. Many of us are sitting on a sizable body of old newsletters, guides, articles, essays, and college research papers that are filled with useful information. Why not give these dinosaurs a new lease on life by updating them and publishing them in Hub form? In this week’s podcast (Converting Papers to Hubs), we offer tips on doing just that.

Here is the basic process we recommend:

  1. Go through your computer’s archive and find old research, newsletters, letters, and college papers that you think contain information that people might find to be interesting and useful.
  2. Edit your papers to make sure that the information they share is up to date.
  3. Create search-friendly titles for these compositions (something that reflects what people would type into Google when conducting searches on the subject).
  4. Break the papers into multiple sub-sections with descriptive, search-friendly subheaders (to make it easy for readers to skip around and find exactly what they’re looking for)
  5. Add images, videos, tables, maps, polls, quizzes, and more to convert what was once a simple paper into a rich, multimedia online resource

By doing these things, you are:

  • Sharing useful information
  • Making the most of work that you’ve already done
  • Giving yourself an excuse to review your old work
  • Making it easier to find, share, and reference your old work
  • Giving yourself the opportunity to get more credit from your old wrok
  • Giving yourself the opportunity to earn money from your old work

As you can see, the process of converting your old work into great online articles is quite simple, and there are quite a few benefits! We hope we’ve inspired you to dig through your own personal archives and pull out a few jewels.