Advice from a Published Children’s Author: Sue Fliess

I’m very excited to introduce Hubber Sue Fliess, also known as AroundTownSue on HubPages.  Sue is a very successful published children’s author having published over 120 articles, with 6 published children’s books and another 8 under contract to come out in the next two years!  Her Tons of Trucks book has sold roughly 40,000 copies since its release in 2012 and her Robots, Robots Everywhere! book, released in August 2013, had a run of 50,000 copies and has already gone back to press!  She does school visits and speaking engagements at conferences as well as book signings at book stores.  Check out her Amazon page or your local book store for her available books! Without further ado, let’s dive into the treasure trove of information that Sue has to offer!

Briefly tell us about yourself.  

I’m a children’s book author of over a dozen books, Senior Copywriter for eBay and whenever I can be, a freelance writer. I live in the Bay Area of Northern California with my husband and two boys and our rescued English Lab, Teddy. My background is in public relations, marketing, and art. Oh, and I love to travel!

Becoming a published author is a goal for many of our Hubbers.  How did you get your start?

First, I’d like to emphasize that getting published should be among many goals, but not the only goal. I just read an excellent book on writing that, if you read only one book on writing this year, let it be this one: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Writing should give you joy whether you get published or not. I was fortunate enough to get published, but I will say that once I sold a book, an author friend pulled me aside and said, “Congratulations! Now remember, you’re only as good as your last book.” So hitting that publishing goal delivers new pressures. Be happy to create work you’re proud of, keep writing and improving your craft, and then if publication happens, you’ll likely be more satisfied with your accomplishment.

When I started out in 2005, I realized my only credential relevant to children’s book editors was that my first job as a publicist for a big publishing house. In an effort to gain more writing credentials for my manuscript submissions, I ventured into other types of writing. So I got a gig writing articles (my first published pieces) for an educational website while working on my children’s stories. I talked with librarians, joined SCBWI, started attending conferences, and formed a writing critique group. And as soon as I submitted one manuscript to publishing houses, I started working on the next one. I had roughly 6 stories out on submission at any given time. Then I finally got an offer from an editor for my first book, Shoes for Me!, illustrated by Mike Laughead. That story had been rejected 24 times. It only takes 1 yes.

Can you briefly describe your process when writing a book? What were your greatest challenges when you first started?  Are they the same today?

I usually get an idea for a book and think about it for a few days before writing anything down. Then if I’m still excited about it, sometimes I will look on Amazon to see if something very similar is already out there. If not, or my idea is different enough from what exists, I’ll start writing the story. Since I mostly write picture books, I just jump right in, no outline or anything. I try to give it a title, but not always. I work in spurts, so I may work on something madly for 3-4 days, then let it simmer, come back to it to polish it enough for my critique group to see, then work on it with their feedback in mind until it’s ready to show my agent. She may have editorial feedback too, and once I’m finished, she starts submitting it to editors.

It’s a challenge to manage all submissions, rejections, follow-ups on my own. I did it for a few years, and then was able to land an agent. I think agents are more open to taking on picture book authors than when I was starting out, so that’s good news. But many more houses are closed to un-agented, or unsolicited manuscripts, so if you can invest the time trying get an agent, I recommend it. Now that I have an agent, my biggest challenge is carving out time to write! But meeting with my crit group once a month is a big motivator. I don’t want to be the one who isn’t bringing anything to the group!

Publishing Information:  How did you find and attract your publisher? Do you recommend authors getting started with ebooks?  Did you go that route at first?  I know you have written a Hub on this; is there anything you would like to add/update?

I am still a firm believer in trying to get your work recognized by traditional publishers before self-publishing. All of my books, with the exception of my touch-and-move novelty trucks book, has an electronic version and the publisher takes care of making that happen. There is less of a stigma associated with self-publishing today, but it’s harder to stand out in that market, as anyone—quality writer or not—can self-publish. You have to fight more for credibility than you do if a publisher pays you to make a book. I am traditionally published and of course, now there is no reason for me to publish my stories on my own.

In re-reading my Hub on my publishing tips, the only thing I would change is that many more editors are accepting email submissions now – likely if you’ve met them at a conference. So the waiting time to hear back is often shorter, and you may not have to wait 3 months to ping them. Still respect their time, but following up is getting easier. Also, the editor I mention in my “Bonus tip” just bought a fairy manuscript from me last year – so I’m finally getting to work with her!

If you could give three pieces of advice for our authors that want to publish a book, what would they be?

  • Do your homework. Starting out in publishing is like starting out in any industry. Learn who the players are (editors, agents, other authors), attend conferences, take workshops, hone your craft. Don’t expect to meet an author and get an introduction to their editor or agent. It’s tacky.

  • Read as many books in the genre you are trying to break into as possible. Use your library! Check out a hundred books to see what they do right, why they got published.

  • Be patient. It took me about 3 years to get an offer, and that was actually surprisingly fast for this industry, so I feel very fortunate. Timing is everything, so don’t rush it. If you are meant to be published, it will happen at the exact time it’s meant to happen. If you are not meant to be published, there is a world of good that can still come from your writing – share it with others. Talk to kids about writing. Teach. Keep writing.

Thanks Sue, for giving us your time and expertise.  I hope our Hubbers have learned from it; I know that I have!

For more information on Sue:

Official Webpage

Facebook Author Page

twitter: @suefliess

And if that’s not enough, Sue also sings.  She has written and performed two writing parodies for buzz marketing! Check them out:

Mysterious & Miraculous: A Collaborative eBook Project by Hubbers

The most amazing Hubber-created collaborative project has recently come to my attention, and it is my great pleasure to share the details. So, what is the project, exactly? It’s called the Legacy Archives Foundation, and its members are dedicated to protecting and preserving accounts of real-life supernatural and unexplainable experiences. The main way the Foundation conserves such personal accounts of miraculous occurrences is by compiling and publishing a series of ebooks, the Mysterious & Miraculous series. The members of the Legacy Archives Foundation have kindly agreed to answer a few questions about their publishing experience and collaborative publishing process:

How did the project get started? Was it one person’s idea to start with, or did many people come up with it together?

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Hubber Angelia Phillips (femmeflashpoint) had a dream that she turned into a reality by gathering a handful of wordsmiths (mostly Hubbers) to write stories, including their own and those of others. This group is dedicated to the preservation and archiving of non-fiction stories related to personal experiences of phenomenal proportions. The goal is to preserve these stories so they would not be lost for the generations to come. In Autumn, 2013, the first collection was gathered and compiled by Angelia and Alastar Packer. Angelia soon discovered that a web full of editors would make the task more manageable, and those editors included Gail Sobotkin (Happyboomernurse), Vicki Warner (Vickiw), Maria Jordan (marcoujor) and Mike Friedman (mckbirdbks).

The group established the headline banner of Legacy Archives Foundation and those associated with the project became known as Legacy Scribes. A Legacy Seal was designed and a web site sprang to life to showcase the contributors and to offer a place to promote the book series. There is a strong affiliation of writers, both past and present, that wandered the halls of HubPages for many years. The core worker bees of the Legacy Archives Foundation currently contribute to HubPages, and Angelia Phillips spearheaded the entire project as founder of Legacy Archives Foundation.

Can you tell us a bit about your ebook publishing process?

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These stories were gathered far and wide. In some instances an interview was conducted and the story was pieced together from that collaboration. The stories were drawn from both experienced writers and from oral history. The process of an editing baton-passing procedure formed, and each story was ultimately reviewed by four editors. Both Mysterious & Miraculous Book I and Book II are formatted for Amazon Kindle. The Kindle format appears to be the front runner in the race to convert the written word to digital.

Angelia set the deadlines for story submission. We met our goal for minimum page length on both publications, encouraging writers to contribute to our next book, if timing was difficult this time around.  After much collaboration, patience and good humor, both publications were available in time for holiday gift giving.

Is it true that some of the proceeds of the book sales were donated to help homeless veterans?

Yes. It was voted to contribute 70% of the proceeds of Mysterious & Miraculous Book I to the K9s for Wounded Warriors Program/Rescue. This organization rescues dogs and partners them with Veterans suffering from PTSD.  In essence, the program aids both soldier and animal. We are all proud of supporting this group.  The remaining 30% of the proceeds go toward book printing and out-of-pocket costs to the Legacy Archives Foundation.

Proceeds from Mysterious & Miraculous Book II, are designated to go to the Support Homeless Veterans Organization.

I understand that Book III in the series is soon to be published. Will more be written after that?

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There are many more stories still to be gathered and prepared for Book III. Producing two books back to back has taken much time and energy, thus a rest is in order for all involved. That said, all will agree that there are numerous good causes to support. There is no limit to the number of upcoming books in the Mysterious & Miraculous series. Our only limitation is the enthusiastic willingness of many authors to contribute their stories, as balanced with the available hours in a day!

Core Members of the Legacy Archives Project:

Leader: Angelia Phillips (femmeflashpoint)

Producer: Mike Friedman (mckbirdbks)

Compiler: Alastar Packer

Editor: Gail Sobotkin (Happyboomernurse)

Editor: Maria Jordan (marcoujor)

Editor: Vicki Warner (Vickiw)

HubPages Contributing Authors to Book I:

  1. Gail Sobotkin (Happyboomernurse)
  2. Angelia Phillips (femmeflashpoint)
  3. Maria Jordan (marcoujor)
  4. Theresa Davis (Faith Reaper)
  5. Vicki Warner (Vickiw)
  6. Vincent Moore
  7. Alastar Packer
  8. Pamela Oglesby (Pamela99)

 

HubPages Contributing Authors to Book II:

  1. Martie Coetser (MartieCoetser)
  2. Pamela Oglesby (Pamela99)
  3. Genna East
  4. Mike Friedman (mckbirdbks)
  5. Shauna L. Bowling (bravewarrior)
  6. Linda Rogers (Minnetonka Twin)
  7. Laura Rogers (Healing Touch)
  8. Angelia Phillips (femmeflashpoint)
  9. Alastar Packer
  10. Denise Handlon
  11. Bill Holland (billybuc)

 

Mysterious & Miraculous Book I and Book II are both currently available for purchase.

Have you had an experience of your own? The Legacy Archives Foundation is currently soliciting non-fictional work about mysterious/inexplicable or inspirational/incomprehensible personal or family incidents. Please visit the Legacy Archives website if you would like to submit a story for consideration.

All photos courtesy of the Legacy Archives Foundation, used here with permission.

Here’s How howlermunkey Turned Diet Coke into a Jameis Winston Jersey

…With his earnings from a viral Hub on Diet Coke at McDonald’s!

I’m very excited to congratulate Hubber Jeffrey Boettner (howlermunkey) for creating the first viral Facebook hit of 2014! Starting on January 2nd, his Hub, Why does fountain Diet Coke taste better at McDonald’s?, has received over 800,000 views (and still climbing) from Facebook, as well as several thousand search views. So far, he’s earned over $2,000 and counting from just this Hub! Here are a few words from Jeff, who is still in shock after discovering his Hub’s explosion in popularity:

Where did you get the idea to write about Diet Coke at McDonald’s, and why do you think this particular Hub has become so popular?

I’ve always noticed a huge difference between the sodas at McDonalds and elsewhere, and apparently, so have my readers, which is the reason I believe this hub went viral. I touched upon a question that has been asked for years but not answered…. people suspected sodas at McDonalds were superior (and trust me if you drink soda like I do you notice the difference), but most people have no idea why. Many people think there is a secret contract between McDonalds and the Coca-Cola company.

What do you plan to do with your viral earnings?

First I’m buying a Jameis Winston jersey on eBay (!!Go Noles!!). Second, I plan to give a percentage of my earnings to my favorite cause, Coach Luma Mufleh and The Fugees Family. Most importantly I just want to give a very sincere thanks to HubPages for everything you do. You Rock in so many ways, and I’m very proud to say that I write for HubPages. Thank you so much.

For more on viral content, check out our previous Blog post.

You Won’t Believe how Brownie83 Is Paying for the Birth of Her First Child

…She earned $5,000 from one Hub in just 7 days!

Kelly’s Story:

Just a few days ago, Hubber Kelly Brown (Brownie83) took Facebook by storm with her viral Hub, 10 Things Nurses Don’t Want You to Know, breaking the HubPages record for the most viral Facebook Hub ever! Starting on December 12th, her Hub began to pick up steam, ultimately receiving  over 2 million views in the last 7 days. Though her Hub achieved most of its success through Facebook shares, she additionally received over 2,000 Pinterest views this week. From her week-long whirlwind of popularity, Kelly has earned over $5,000 and counting from just this one Hub! Here are her thoughts:

How does it feel to have one of your Hubs go viral?

I’m still in a state of shock in finding out that one of my hubs went viral. I started my amateur Hub writing last fall after completing graduate school, when I found myself with extensive free time due to my unwanted unemployment. I simply started Hub writing as an emotional outlet and a way to productively spend my time while searching for career opportunities. I never shared my Hubs on social media or even with my husband as I really didn’t think of it as a “big deal.” However, I have to say I’m kind of impressed at how much of a stir I’ve made so far with my viral Hub. I may have to consider refocusing my interests back to paper (HubPages) once again!

Were you aiming to go viral when you wrote this Hub, or did it take you by surprise?

Absolutely surprised! I wrote this Hub over a year ago and didn’t think much of it until I got your email that mentioned my Hub has become “quite a success.” Shortly after starting HubPages last year, I began my career as a Nurse Practitioner and have been so busy I haven’t had the free time to write further Hubs or even take notice when they’ve become popular.

What aspects of your Hub do you think had the most influence on its popularity?

I think everyone has been affected by the Healthcare industry in one way or another and that in itself stirs a lot of emotions. Life, death and life-changing events happen on a daily basis in the hospital and each person can tell you a different story, a different experience and a different opinion based on their point-of-view. I myself have been the patient, a nurse’s aid, a floor nurse, and now a Nurse Practitioner over the years. I understand the hierarchy that works within the hospital and I’ve seen when “the system” fails the patient. I feel strongly about patient advocacy and it was a large reason why I wrote the article in the first place; to give a quick look into nursing behind the white walls and piles of papers (or now electronic medical records).

I feel that my topic about pain control was also a big stir as I feel many people believe nursing care is black and white with defined rules and universal care from one nurse to the next. When in fact, it’s quite personalized and varies from one nurse to another and is a part of what makes nursing unique and even controversial at times.

Reading back on my Hub from last year, I notice things that I could add or maybe a different way of wording my thoughts to make it a better article. But overall, it’s the context that stirs the emotions, opinions, praises and criticism. It’s almost as if the reader’s comments alone have made their own Hub below mine, which I find the most interesting.

What do you plan to do with your viral earnings? Do you have anything special in mind?

I am currently 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first child, so my husband and I will be saving that money for our future hospital bill. Hopefully, we have some left over to put towards a trust fund for our daughter.

A Bit About Viral Content:

Creating a viral hit is incredibly challenging, and there’s a huge amount of luck involved, but Kelly’s story shows us that it’s possible. There’s no set formula that will guarantee a Hub to go viral. However, there are a few characteristics shared by most viral content, including Kelly’s. Here are a few reasons we think her Hub was such a huge success:

  • Kelly’s title intrigues you. It piques your curiosity. Admit it. You want to know what nurses are hiding from you. I sure did, so I read her Hub!

  • Kelly’s image is clickable. Her Hub’s first image (the one that shows up on Facebook Shares) is interesting and attention-grabbing. It makes you look twice and entices you to learn about the context.

  • Kelly’s Hub offers exclusive, insider knowledge. Most of us have depended on a nurse for care during some point in our lives, but Kelly offers us an insider’s look at the world of being a nurse, from her own experience. She gives us information most people would not have access to without reading her Hub.

  • Kelly’s Hub is positive and empowering. While giving us an insider look at nursing, Kelly stays positive. She doesn’t vilify or put down either patients or nurses. She makes it clear that quality of care is very important to most nurses while providing useful information to help patients get the most out of their health care experience.

  • Kelly’s Hub is sharable. Kelly does more than just make you curious enough to read her Hub with a clever title and interesting photo. She delivers with her content too. Her Hub provides new and interesting information that people want to be the first to share with their friends.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Controversial HubPages Issues but Were Afraid to Ask

When I was in Austin attending SXSW Interactive, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Marcy Goodfleisch for some coffee at Whole Foods flagship store, which I find to be one of the world’s closest equivalents to heaven.

Over some tasty tea and coffee Marcy asked a lot of really good questions on behalf of herself and Hubbers with whom she is acquainted. After we both acknowledged that it would be best if someone beyond just Marcy got our open, honest answers, we decided it would be best to compose a Q&A blog post featuring all the burning questions y’all have that we have yet to answer in a prominent manner.

We’re hoping this will be the first in a series and can help clear up your major questions and concerns. Enjoy!

Does Google penalize us for Hubs that aren’t Featured?

No. Hubs that are not Featured, though perhaps still known to Google, do not count against your online reputation with regard to Panda. It is as though they do not exist (though your friends and followers can still access them).

Many Hubs that are not Featured would be a liability to their owners should they continue to be Featured, simply because they may not be particularly high quality or because (even if they are of high quality) Google’s search algorithms, for some reason, decided they were not particularly important or useful and did not give them high rankings in search results (hence these Hubs saw very little traffic).

Do un-Featured Hubs lower our rankings within HubPages?

Featured status does not affect rankings, but both rankings and Featured status are a product of the quality of one’s Hubs.

‘Rankings’ on HubPages (whether or not your Hub is featured prominently on a Topic page or on others’ Hubs) are influenced by Hubber Score and HubScore.

Your Hubber Score is a product of:

  • The collective quality of your Hubs (as shown through HubScore, which factors in human and algorithmic ratings received through the Quality Assessment Process)
  • Your activity within the HubPages community (i.e. whether you regularly publish, provide high quality Questions and Answers, leave insightful comments on Hubs, and help other Hubbers in the Forums)

Should you have many Hubs that are not Featured because they get particularly low quality ratings, your Hubber Score and HubScores might be lower, and in this case, it does mean that your rankings will be a bit lackluster.

That said, if you write high quality Hubs that get high quality scores, and many of them happen to not be Featured, your rankings on HubPages should not be negatively affected.

What does it take to get Hubs automatically approved without going through QAP? Why are some Hubbers given this benefit?

All Hubs by all Hubbers go through the QAP. Sometimes the process is faster than other times. It depends on the time of day and our present load of Hubs to process.

How important is the HubScore (the number related to each Hub), and what, if anything, is it used for?

HubScore is a general reflection of a Hub’s success and quality (this includes human quality ratings as collected during the Quality Assessment Process). We do not recommend paying that much attention to it. Think of HubScore and Hubber Score as a rough reference point and a means of gauging the experience of other Hubbers.

How significant is Hubber Score? Can you share the factors that go into it?

Hubber Score is basically an average of your collective HubScore with a few additional behaviors (like your activity on the site) factored in.

Things factored into a Hub’s HubScore include:

  • Human ratings collected as part of the Quality Assessment Process
  • The amount of traffic your Hub receives, including traffic from HubPages as well as other outside sources
  • The length of your Hub
  • The uniqueness of the content within your Hub (copied content typically scores lower than more unique content)
  • The number of comments
  • Your overall Hubber Score

Things factored into Hubber Score include:

  • Your collective HubScores
  • Whether or not you have signed in recently
  • Whether or not you are active in the community (by regularly publishing Hubs, commenting on others’ Hubs, asking and answering good Questions, and posting to the Forums)

Does Google care about HubScores or Hubber Scores?

Google does not care about Hubber Scores or HubScores, but it does care about quality, and HubScores and Hubber Scores are a reflection of that.

What’s more, HubScores and Hubber Scores affect a Hub’s placement within our internal link structure in ways that Google is liable to notice, so while these scores are not something Google explicitly ‘reads’, they are tied to factors that matter to Google’s search algorithms.

What is the best recommendation for dealing with Hubs that have are no longer Featured?

It depends.

Seasonal Hubs that have not had traffic in the off season often just need to be updated (though if you have a particularly high Hubber Score, your seasonal Hubs may remain Featured for up to a year, meaning that even if they get very little traffic during the off season, they may still not lose their Featured status- more about that in another blog post).

Poor quality Hubs that otherwise offer great resources need to be fixed up (improve grammar, formatting, substance, organization, and media).

Hubs that are of high quality that do not get any traffic may need a different title or spin so that they address an aspect of their particular subject that is not already flooded with competition. With proper competitive research and adjustment, these Hubs can definitely be redeemed.

Hubs made ‘just for fun’ that were never really meant to act as useful or particularly detailed and informative online resources might just be left alone. If you want them to enjoy more prominence, they might find a more appropriate home on a personal blog or a platform more oriented toward that type of content.

If keywords are no longer reliable, what do you recommend we do to make a Hub competitive in search engines?

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool no longer shows accurate figures, so what we recommend is using it only to get a rough idea of the terminology people use when conducting queries on specific subjects.

We created a Learning Center entry detailing the new title creation process we recommend, which involves:

  1. Creating short, descriptive titles that mirror a likely search term
  2. Running competitive research on that likely search term to make sure you can beat the competition (check to make sure there are not a bunch of product or place results and that the top results are not flooded with results from popular, trusted brands or already-very-good pages and articles)
  3. Making sure you are genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about the subject at hand. If you are just creating a Hub because you think it will drive traffic, but do not know much about the subject or have much interest in it, stop.

What has HubPages learned from the Panda and Penguin experiences?

Quality matters. Passion matters. Thin articles designed to drive traffic and clicks don’t cut it anymore.

To make it now, you have to be even more patient, passionate, and knowledgeable than before. Ultimately, this is a good thing. True experts and enthusiasts win!

What does HubPages have in mind for the future?

Our journey to provide the best platform for creating content online continues. Our plans and projects revolve around making it easier for Hubbers to earn more, get larger audiences, build a stronger online brand, and become even more savvy as online content creators.

What is being done to rid the site of very old, very bad content?

The first thing we did with the Quality Assessment Process was address new Hubs that are being published, to ensure that, going forward, we are on the right track. All we did with already-published Hubs was remove Hubs from Google’s index that got next to no traffic, as it was quite clear that Google did not see them as worthy of getting much traffic (hence it was a quick way for us to hide Hubs that might be acting as a liability to their authors).

We are presently working through our backlog of older content with the Quality Assessment Process. This takes time and money, so the going is slow. We are being careful to ensure that what we see as high quality reflects what Google apparently sees as high quality. We are also making an effort to target and remove from Google’s index our lowest quality, old content first.

Why would HubPages or Hubbers want high-quality Hubs that aren’t getting much traffic to not be Featured?

We actually do want very high quality Hubs to be featured more or less indefinitely, even if they have low traffic. In fact, Hubs that get top ratings are permanently Featured (it is just very rare for a Hub to get a perfect ten on our rating scale).

The problem is that it is difficult for us to be confident that a Hub is superb, because for cost reasons we stop collecting rating on Hubs as soon as we’ve decided that they are “good enough”. To mitigate this problem, we are looking into ways in which we can permanently feature more high quality Hubs.

Nevertheless, even though we clearly see those Hubs as being of high quality, Google’s search algorithms, for some reason or another, have decided they do not deserve much prominence in search results (therefore they get little search traffic). Perhaps it is because they cover a topic that has already been exhausted online (e.g. getting rid of belly fat, making apple pie, etc.), or perhaps there is something else about the Hub that Google determines to be of low quality that we currently do not factor into our Quality Assessment Process.

If a Hub is not particularly exceptional, and if it is not getting a lot of search traffic, we therefore figure it would be safer to not have it count towards a Hubber’s reputation as determined by Google’s search algorithms.

The current topics on HubPages seem a bit out-of-date; is there any plan to update them?

Christy Kirwan is updating and expanding the HubPages Topic Pages right now (and has been for several weeks). We welcome new suggestions!

Does it help drive traffic in any way to have Topics associated with Hubs? What use are they?

Organizing a Hub within a leaf-level Topic Page increases its odds of being Featured on that Topic Page’s front page, so we recommend publishing Hubs within very specific leaf-level pages and on new Topic Pages (many of which are featured in the Weekly Topic Inspiration Program).

How can I be a better Hubber? How can I help the site?

Keep publishing high-quality Hubs on subjects about which you are particularly passionate and knowledgeable.
Focus on quality, not quantity
Hop and rate Hubs through the Hub Hopper
Point people toward official HubPages resources (the FAQ and Learning Center) when they have questions

This Isn’t Over!

We hope to publish more posts like this in which we set the record straight about anything you might be wondering about as we further refine and develop the new-and-improved HubPages. Should you have any particular questions that ought to be answered in a blog post like this, please send me an email.

Big thanks to Marcy Goodfleisch for sharing these questions with me and inspiring this post!

Wayseeker’s Words of Wisdom on Images

While most Hubbers who create custom images for their Hubs find one style and format and stick with it, one can find an incredible variety of imagery in Hubs by wayseeker. From specially-edited photos and hand-drawn illustrations to purely digital graphics, a very wide assortment of carefully created eye candy appears on this Hubber’s work.

Because wayseeker puts to much thought into the images he creates and uses, we asked him to share some of his reasoning and advice with the community at large. Read on, and be inspired.

For how long have you been sketching and creating art? Is this a regular activity of yours?

I have always loved to make thoughtful visual creations through drawing, painting, sculpting, and all manner of crafts since I was very young. I have some minor training (art classes in high school), but it’s mostly just a history of dabbling in creative crafts. While I do a little of it here and there every year, I simply don’t have time to do it on a regular basis.

When did you first create an image for a Hub (or include an existing sketch in a new Hub you made), and why did you do it?

While I have been including personal photos since the beginning, my first real “art” work would have been the images I included in the first Hub of the Day I wrote, “The Art of Constructive Criticism.” While still technically digital photographs, these images were heavily edited and digitally manipulated with a specific focus on the content of the Hub.

Mostly I added them because the content was too abstract for traditional pictures to add any real value to the piece. As I thought through what I was writing, I decided it would be fun to “play” with some of the ideas and create silly images–images that resembled, to some extent, the way I carry myself when I actually teach these concepts to my students. It took some time, but it was great fun and they were well received.

My first actual art piece came with the cross I drew to include with my piece on Christianity, which also involved a lot of digital manipulation though it did start with a basic pencil drawing. From there, I’ve done a large number of different things.

What tools do you use to create and then convert your art into digital images?

While I use all kinds of things to create art, for the most part the work I have done on HubPages has been done with either a simple ink pen or water color pencils (colored pencils that move and blend like water color paints when water is applied to them). The ink pen drawings are primarily simple cartoons with stick people. The colored pencil drawings are often taken from real life by first taking a photograph, then transferring the figures in the photograph by placing the picture up on a window and hand tracing the images onto a fresh piece of paper, and finally using those figures as a base for the drawing and painting process.

Once it’s finished, I simply take a digital picture of it in high light, use iPhoto to touch them up a bit, and then load them up. It takes more time (sometimes a lot more time) to develop original images that way, but the result is much more personal.

In addition to putting physically drawn sketches into Hubs, I’ve seen you use images that have been digitally created. What do you use to create those images?

The primary tool I use in creating digital images is a fancy, though free, paint program for Mac called “GIMP,” available at gimp.org. This, combined with a simple digital camera, iPhoto, and the occasional use of the effects found on Mac’s Photo Booth, is where my digital image creation takes place. Once you start to let your imagination wander through the possibilities, it’s amazing how easy—though sometimes time consuming—it can be to realize what you see in your head with the flexibility of modern digital image tools.

As an afterthought, I forgot that I also make pretty heavy use of Microsoft Word 2011. They have some very fun shape tools that allow you to create a wide variety of shapes and then manipulate their shadows, coloration, and 3D effects. I use this mostly for what I call “banner” artwork to create artistic titles to introduce various segments of of my Hubs. These can be cut and pasted into Gimp and used to great effect.

How do you decide between including photos, sketches, or digitally created images in Hubs?

This question is a bit tricky simply because it depends so heavily on the topic of the Hub itself. Generally, I come ups with the images for my Hubs after they have been written. I’m thinking about it all along, but the final ideas don’t solidify until the writing is locked in. I then have to think about what kind of images would be of value to the reader.

Now that you have me thinking about it, I could say that they fall into three categories: informational, thought provoking, and entertaining. In many cases, the images I use cross over from one category to another, but they generally flow out of one of these uses.

Informational images are those like the ones found in most recipe Hubs, mine included, where the image demonstrates how something is done. Another example might be from my Hub on Theme in Literature where I used a pic to show the reader the a basic plot map.

Thought provoking images are like those I often use in my more creative works like my Hub “Five Love Poems About Family,” though I also use them in more informational work like my Hub on parenting by building relationship. In each case, the image is designed to somehow reflect something that is discussed or mentioned in the writing, either making it more visually concrete and experiential for the reader or somehow extending it into another area the reader may not have initially thought about. I like the challenge of making this kind of image.

Entertaining images are like those I have used on my piano Hub about Robert Schumann’s “Carnavale” or the relatively “silly” drawings I’ve used in my essay Hubs and Socratic Seminar Hubs. These are used in places where pictures are not really necessary to what the words are trying to communicate, but they add a fun edge to the experience, hopefully helping the reader to stay engaged by giving them a few more things to do than simply reading text.

Do you think that the images that you create by hand have an edge over photos in any cases?

I don’t think this is necessarily always the case, depending on the topic of the Hub, but I don’t think it’s at all unusual for original photos and artwork to be an advantage. The core of modern writing is still the written word, but effective images are absolutely essential in the world of the internet. By creating your own images, you are able to customize them to reflect specific elements of your writing in ways that stock images simply can’t manage.

I think they also create a sense of warmth and unique personality that is hard to capture in an online experience through writing alone. It has been an honor for me to have four of my Hubs selected as Hub of the Day Hubs over the past year and a half, and I am absolutely certain that part of the reason for that in each of those cases was the original images—some drawn and some digital—that were a part of each of them. I think the artwork contributed to a unique experience within each Hub, so that certainly counts as an advantage.

I have seen many Hubbers do this through great “traditional” artwork as well as really effective original photography. Either way, I think it creates a more welcoming place for readers to spend time, which is what everyone is looking for as a writer.

What advice would you give to those who have yet tried creating their own images for Hubs?

First, I would encourage them to be adventurous in they way they think about images in their Hubs. Instead of just tacking on a pic related to what you happen to be talking about, think about how something could be added visually that extends, deepens, or somehow entertains the reader. Just like we have to move into the reader’s frame of mind as writers when we are composing words, it is equally important to think about the reader’s overall experience of the page including all of the visuals.

As for artistic skill, even if you are not an artist or great photographer, there’s a great deal you can do with today’s computers and manipulating images. On top of that, with digital cameras, you can easily take 100s of photos to get just 1 that’s good at no real cost—this has been a life saver for me.

Many of my original drawings are, literally, stick people. You can look up cartoon expressions online and get a host of easy to draw “smiley face” expressions that are simple to re-create. These simple drawings have received more positive feedback from readers than anything else I’ve created. People appreciate the thought that goes into them as much as the artistic “quality” itself.

Just try it, and soon you’ll find your own unique way of creating, which is exactly the point.

Mark Ewbie & The Surprising Effectiveness of Stick Figures

If I were to ask a random Hubber to name another Hubber who is known for original illustrations, chances are Mark Ewbie‘s name would pop up. This prolific Hubber is famous for his signature stick figure style (and entertaining humor), hence it is only a matter of course that we would ask for his advice on the creating custom graphics for Hubs.

Amidst his insights and advice, you might be surprised to find that this award-winning Hubber didn’t actually start doodling until he joined HubPages two years ago. Once again, we are reminded that you can embark on new artistic endeavors at any time.

Have you always doodled and sketched things?

I certainly drew stuff as a child but never had that ability of real artists to make something come alive on a page. So I gave up, thinking that if I couldn’t draw a realistic human face or a cat there was no point.

I started doodling again when I joined HubPages. Now I feel that I have missed out if a day goes by without drawing something. It is something I enjoy which I had never previously felt a need to do.

Am I an artist with years of experience? Absolutely not. Ask me again in twenty years.

Have you always created illustrations for your work?

If by ‘work’ you mean the variable quality nonsense I have produced for HubPages then the answer is yes. I realised early on that everyone said “You must have pictures” and so it began.

At first I did simple pictures to occupy some space between the text and give my pages a less wordy feel. They were a very minor element because I thought my writing was far more important and hey, I can’t draw!

Now my ‘illustrations’ are a key aspect of what I do and often the main purpose for the article. Frequently the words are breaking up the pictures – rather than the other way around.

How did your practice of creating custom images for articles come about?

When I first joined HubPages, I realised with horror that I needed a profile pic. No way! I’m not saying I am not attractive, in some lights and wearing a floppy hat I’m quite passable. The occasional lady has… well anyway.

So I drew a rough face with stick legs and used that.

What surprised me was that not a single soul on HP said how rubbish it was. In fact, one or two, two actually… or maybe one now I think about it… said they liked it. “Cute” was the compliment.

This came as some surprise.

I tentatively tried a few more and the feedback was favourable. Now, there is no stopping me!

How did you develop your signature style?

Having decided on the name Mark Ewbie I regularly practiced a signature to go with it. Oh I see. I love this question because it makes me sound proper arty.

This artistic ability stretches as far as stick figures which I pass off as minimalist representations. The truth is they are my limit – although as I practice and learn they get slightly better.

My aim is to represent an idea well enough for others to see it. It is surprising how a few lines, especially with a helpful caption such as “this is a cat”, can illustrate just about anything.

As for ‘style’. If you asked ten people to draw a stickman you would probably get ten different results. I’m fairly content with the way mine look, black lines, and yeah, maybe they have some style.

Why is it that you have decided to create images for your work rather than use photos? Do you think it gives it an edge?

My original reasoning was that it was easier than looking for a picture that fitted and then making sure it was correctly used in copyright terms.

Now I am happy with what I do and reasonably confident I can create whatever I want – within my limits of course. I find it relaxing, enjoyable and fun – and I am building a collection of pictures for every occasion!

As for edge. I believe that a unique hand drawn stick figure stands out among the hundreds of perfect photograph pictures when a potential visitor scrolling through pages on the net.

What do you use to create your images and convert them into a digital format?

I use felt tip pens on good quality A4 printer paper and scan them into my computer. Open the file with Paint, add captions and my name, tidy up any obvious smudges. More technical people might use an iPad or some tablet drawing device but I like the immediacy and ‘realness’ of pen on paper. In my opinion any imperfections say this is a personal drawing, not just a generic computer graphic.

One thing I notice sometimes with other people’s rather good doodles is that they don’t bother much with the ink or the paper quality. They do a neat picture, but it is in biro on lined paper or similar. I take this seriously. Although my art isn’t wonderful, I put care and attention into the ink and paper I use.

These images appear in Google images alongside thousands of others. A casual viewer might just click through to the source. It’s worth putting a little effort in.
I also sign everything. If a picture ends up somewhere else on the net – my name gives a possible search route to my work.

Many Hubbers don’t create their own images for Hubs (or other online articles, books, cards… you name it) simply because they don’t know where to start. What first step would you recommend to get people off to a good start?

A stiff drink. It takes nerve to publish your writing or self-created images. I’m not sure which one – writing or drawing – is a more daunting step. To put yourself out there and say “Hey world – what do you think of this?”

More seriously, I think anyone should try it. As adults, we forget so many things that used to give us pleasure. The first step is to get a pen, paper and see if you enjoy the process. Without enjoyment, and not everyone wants to draw, there is no point.

If the act of creating the drawing gives you satisfaction then that, in my opinion, is reason enough to carry on.

Oh, and good luck to you!

There’s a little more I have to say. Early praise and encouragement from fellow Hubbers gave me the belief to continue with my scribbles. I really am grateful.

THANK YOU!

I want to mention one person.

Shadesbreath showed me the way with his beautiful illustrations and writing. When I first read his pages I realised the possibilities. He has since moved on to book writing, and I’m still drawing stickmen – but I’m on his tail….

A Hubber on TV: Julie DeNeen’s Anderson LIVE Experience

Julie DeNeen and Anderson CooperYesterday was an exciting day a HubPages Headquarters- the office was abuzz with talk about Julie DeNeen, an Apprentice who was the featured blogger on Monday’s Anderson LIVE. The live talk show features a new blogger in each episode who tweets and blogs the episode’s events, and with her great Hubs, a carefully cared for personal blog, and social media savvy, Julie DeNeen made for a perfect candidate.

We asked Julie DeNeen to share more about her live television experience (and other media encounters) in the interview below. Read on for an insider’s view of an interesting combination of news, television, celebrity, blogging, Hubbing, and social media.

Prior to this experience with Anderson LIVE, had you worked at all with the media (be it in the form of newspapers, local news, magazines, or some other more formal establishment)?

Well, this is a bit of a longwinded complicated answer (laughing), but yes I have dealt with the media before. Not necessarily as a freelancer directly (since I am pretty new to this career), but back in 2011, I was involved in a very complex and traumatic adoptive reunion. This resulted in the launching of an online organization (with my dear friend and fellow Hubber Carly Sullens) designed to help those in complicated reunions. Because of our blog and online presence on the issue, we have attracted international attention. We’ve been featured on CNN’s Dr. Drew, and we also had a web article written up by ABC, along with other various global magazines and news. This November we’ll be in Madrid, Spain to speak at the national Spanish Adoption conference over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Were you informed of the opportunity on short notice? That seems to be common with situations like these, and if that was indeed the case, how did you deal with the rush?

Yes I was. The email came in on Saturday afternoon and I was on a train to New York City around 5am on Monday morning. The same happened with my other media interviews. The news circuit seems especially prone to “fast and furious” stories. I’ve quickly learned that if you want to get on television because of your work, you must be prepared for these on the fly interviews.

What advice would you give to other Hubbers who get last minute inquiries from the media?

There are simple things you can do to be prepared. Have a standard professional outfit available. Freelancers don’t often leave the house, so you may think, “I don’t need a fancy outfit.” Have one just for situations like these! Other than that, just make sure you are easy to reach by phone, email, etc. Producers want to be able to get in touch with you quickly, and they will move on to another candidate if you don’t respond. If you are a mom with young children, have babysitters you can call on short notice.

As always, keep your content fresh. As a writer for an online education commentary, I sometimes have to go looking on 50+ education blogs a day. If I see that a blog hasn’t been updated in a week, I move on. Others might do the same; so once you commit to an online platform (be it Hubpages or a personal blog), keep it organized and up to date!

Your role on the show was to blog and tweet about what happened live as events were unfolding. Each Anderson LIVE show features a blogger who does this, which we think is pretty neat! Why do you think a live television show has decided to engage with the online content world in this way? Do you think is the best way to do it?

You know, I haven’t thought about it much before this experience, but my first reaction is that they are ahead of the curve for television and I hope it keeps them on air for a while. Honestly, I think it is brilliant. How fun is it for audience members and viewers at home to be able to interact with each other? I think it draws the viewer in. For the audience members that get to tweet live, it is just another way to keep people involved.

As for the blogger idea, it is pure genius. The show gets free advertising from well-known (and little known) bloggers, as well as lots of backlinks to their site. The blogger gets promoted on the Anderson LIVE website. I hope other shows start doing this as well, since it is essentially a win-win situation. That is, unless some blogger writes a negative commentary. But come on, who can say anything negative about Anderson Cooper?

What was your favorite thing about the experience?

Is it lame to say my favorite part was the 60 seconds I got with Anderson? I have always admired and respected him as a news reporter and journalist, and had to pinch myself when I was in a photo booth getting my picture taken. I’ll never forget it.

Finally, what would you recommend to other Hubbers who might like to become more engaged with television, radio, news, or print?

There is a fine line between aggressively going after what you want, and becoming an obnoxious “toot your own horn” spammer. Know the line! While it may be difficult to decipher, online writers are in a seriously competitive market. You need some way to stand out from the crowd and that involves some risk taking. However, it is important to have an awareness of the writing community by supporting and promoting other’s work, and learning from those who are a few steps ahead. This will pay off later.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Maddie Ruud

In addition to being an invaluable member of the HubPages team, our Community Manager Maddie Ruud is a very successful Hubber, having been a member of our community well before joining the HubPages staff. Didn’t know that? That fun fact is just the tip of the iceberg! Read Maddie’s responses to Hubbers’ questions below to get to know one of HubPages’ coolest team members (and Hubbers in general).

How does HubPages handle negativity written about them on the Internet from outside sources? -AEvans

Our users are the best source of feedback we have! As a representatives of HubPages, I try to set aside whatever personal defensiveness or frustration I feel, and focus on validating people’s concerns. It’s very important to respond to valid complaints and constructive criticism, but there is also some judgement involved.

Sometimes, a Hubber or former Hubber will post a rant against us that doesn’t contain a concrete, actionable issue. In these cases, responding often sparks further anger. It can be hard to tell which way the conversation will go, so I tend to give the author the benefit of the doubt until it’s abundantly clear that there is nothing more to be gained from the interaction.

How do you squeeze your lovelife into such demanding and hectic HubPages? -prettydarkhorse

It can be difficult! I know I really struggled with work-life balance for a long time, working late into the night and often far beyond full-time. A serious health issue that completely took me out of commission completely for several weeks recently forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate. In the end, I’m much more productive for HubPages if I’m healthy and happy in my personal life!

I am blessed to have a wonderful partner who supports me every step of the way. Our favorite ways of spending time together are simple household chores like tending our organic vegetable garden, or cooking up the fruits of our labor in the kitchen. We also enjoy going to baseball games to root on our San Francisco Giants and cheering on our local league at women’s flat track roller derby bouts.

What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? – wordscribe43

My favorite thing about San Francisco (and the Bay Area in general) is the incredible diversity, in terms of backgrounds, cultures, interests, cuisines, and lifestyles. I’ve moved away several times, but I always come back. We’re spoiled here! On any given weekend, I can take in spectacular opera and scream myself hoarse at a roller derby bout. I can cheer on the SF Gay Pride Parade in the morning and dance at an underground hip-hop show in Oakland that night. I can go up into the Berkeley hills for a scenic trek with great views of the Bay, or enjoy an urban hike through the windy streets of San Francisco. Everybody fits in here, so it’s an incredible place to live, especially for anyone as “out there” as I am.

Have you ever wanted to smack a Hubber on the nose with a rolled up newspaper? -paradigmsearch

Never! About six years ago, I adopted a severely traumatized rescue dog, so I know the damage such abuse can cause. 😉 I wouldn’t usually liken Hubbers to dogs (as much as I love them both), but since you invited the comparison, I believe in positive reinforcement over punishment, as a teaching tool. Of course, there are instances where it’s necessary to point out a mistake, such as when a Hub violates a rule and is moderated to allow for revision, but we’re constantly working to improve our messaging in an attempt to be more encouraging and feel less like a virtual slap on the wrist.

Are there Hubbers that you would like to meet in person? -ripplemaker

Are there any I wouldn’t? Honestly, I would love to meet each and every Hubber in person, if that were possible. It’s great to put a live, moving, speaking face to a username. Even those who make no secret of their personal dislike for me… or perhaps, especially those. I find that on the internet, people feel protected by relative anonymity and by distance, which can cause a lot of angst and conflict. I’m sure that the people who don’t get along with me on the forums would be much more civil and friendly in person… especially once they were satisfied that I’m actually human.

An Autos Expert Turns Over a New Professional Leaf on HubPages

Three months ago, the Autos Topic on HubPages began to see a surge of fantastic guides and articles. Behind each Hub was the same man: Mkjearn.

Over the next days and weeks, Mkjearn wowed the HubPages community with his swift success (he is both a HubNugget and Hub of the Day winner) and enthusiastic involvement in special programs such as Weekly Topic Inspiration.

Who is this passionate car expert and what brought him here? In the following interview, you will discover that this Hubber discovered HubPages after contending with a series of career setbacks- and turned over an exciting new leaf!

How did you first discover HubPages?

I was made redundant like so many others in recent times and was unable to regain employment, even after 300+ applications and many of these were for overseas positions. I had been self-employed before, with my own garage but had no funds for another start up, so I decided to look online for opportunities.

I should perhaps say that I have spent the last six or so years online buying parts for my cars and motorcycles from all over the world, mainly through Ebay, so I was aware that there were online businesses in my particular field. That said, I certainly didn’t think at that time that I could earn money writing, nor did I think I could write. The jury is still out on this I think, but I am very encouraged by the comments I’ve had already and firmly believe that in time I could become a writer.

I “stumbled upon”, (my apologies, it’s very hard to ignore this phrase when it’s the truth) freelance writing sites and sites that paid for articles and thought, well I have a lot of particular knowledge but can I actually explain what I know in print and in a way that others would understand and enjoy?

After many days and weeks of reading reviews on this topic and so many out bursts of “oh you have got to be joking,” mainly with regard to being paid, I found HubPages, and oh, what a good day that was.

So, as perhaps with many others here, I found HubPages by chance and my overall positive outlook on life has been restored and the pressures of being unemployed and lacking basic finances have all but slipped into the background.

What inspired you to join?

As with everything I contemplate becoming a part of, I do research, more research, and then even more research. I have been doing this all my life and believe it has stood me in very good stead.

In this particular case as I had never written anything before I was looking for a site that would welcome wannabe or complete novice writers. This is an industry that I know precious little about and the terminology was and still is a whole new language. I like to learn the rules and protocols of all new things I try for two main reasons. I want to become good at whatever it is I try and I especially do not wish to disrespect those experienced in whatever field it is through my lack of knowledge or mistakes.

Having read many impressive independent reviews of HubPages in which it is regarded as the best online article writing site and community, along with the fact that “Mr. Google” loves and respects it highly, only a fool would go elsewhere to begin their writing career, in my humble opinion of course.

From early on in your HubPages career, you’ve been involved with the community and special programs like Weekly Topic Inspiration. What tips on getting engaged can you offer to other new Hubbers?

HubPages is not only the best writing site on the internet, it is a world wide happy family or amazingly friendly community. If you genuinely get involved and show that you are trying, other Hubbers will bend over backwards to help you. Be polite, sincere and respectful as you would as a newbie in any situation. Ask good questions, give good answers, leave meaningful comments, follow Hubbers you are genuinely interested in, and always leave Fan Mail.

As a newbie I roamed around, hopped Hubs, read many other Hubs, perused Questions and Answers, popped into the Forums and then, what a find, what a godsend, what an absolutely amazing tool, I found The Learning Center.

The Learning Center, a one stop shop for everything any wannabe writer or serious Hubber wants to or should know. In life I am like a dog with a bone when I get the bit between my teeth to learn something new. In most cases I am relentless and stay with something until I am very good at it. My partner says that I am the most stubborn so-and-so. She uses many different endings and most are probably true. I prefer to think I am determined, driven, resilient, and resolute. That said I’m sure my partner is right; I’m just a stubborn little man.

This bit is true and many might say “You’re mad” but I spent 3 days reading every entry in the Learning Center, making notes and rereading several topics before I published my first Hub. Like any apprentice you have to serve your time and I can’t recommend the Learning Center enough. I get very frustrated when other new Hubbers ask the most basic questions that are comprehensively answered in the Learning Centre, so I can only assume that this must really irk those HubPages staff who spent so much time and effort in producing this essential fabulous feature and I sympathise greatly.

So my inspiration to join HubPages came from many respected independent reviews, HubPages’ easy navigation and features, and most importantly HubPages’ sincere invitation and assistance to become a great online writer. The Learning Center is the most amazing teacher and free invaluable source of all you need to know to become an online writer.

Put simply and sincerely, HubPages rocks.

Most of your Hubs are about cars and car maintenance. How did you become such an expert?

I was born and raised in Belfast Northern Ireland about 5 years before the troubles or war started. From no age I was taking things apart in the home, the kettle, the toaster, the vacuum etc. I was the type of kid who didn’t try to put the square peg in the round hole. Oh no, I was the type of kid who reshaped the square peg to make it fit the round hole, problem solved. I moved on to petrol gardening tools and motorbikes. I worked on anything for anybody just to get knowledge and experience. I then went to training centres and learned machining and welding techniques.

Some time after this I decided I wanted to become a fully qualified mechanic. Employment opportunities for Catholics at that time were difficult to say the least, so I took a work experience position in a Saab Dealership, six days per week for 9.00 pounds per week. Things were tough and there was no money to speak of, but I was happy, as I was were I wanted to be. I didn’t get day release to college for study so I did that at night. I worked at night anywhere I could and anywhere that was relatively safe and on weekends I worked in boat yards. When I felt I was ready I attended and passed the practical mechanical skills tests having previously passed the theory tests.

Having passed both of these I was issued my Official National Craftsman Certificate and was now a fully qualified vehicle mechanic. Within six months I was contacted at work by the Official Motor Industry Department for the United Kingdom and Ireland. During this call I was told that I had obtained the highest results in both countries for the Mechanics Exams and that a special award was on its way. That was incredibly unexpected and naturally I had a very big head for a very long time!

In some respects I was lucky that I got to work on so many different vehicles and this experience and knowledge has stood me in very good stead. I arrived at work one morning to find that the garage had been petrol bombed during the night as suddenly I was out of a job. I sold a car that I had bought cheap and repaired and used the money to rent a small premises. Within a month I had opened my own garage and was earning my own money. I was extremely happy for a while until one morning I was visited by some large unsavoury characters who said that it was in my best interests to contribute to the Prisoners wives, widows and orphans fund. I took some persuading and thumps and so it was settled. Along with this came an unofficial employee or watcher and unpaid, ask no questions, car work.

This went on for several years until one day I closed shop and left Northern Ireland. I have no desire to go back but I am grateful that I became a damn good mechanic and I’m very proud of that.

Which of your Hubs are most popular?

My Hubs that seem most popular are: What is a Beach Buggya Kit Car– and a Trike. These are mainly fun quirky vehicles and not that practical for everyday use, but are something to wish to have or can serve as a hobby to take up when the funds are there. General car care and maintenance also seems to be popular, which is very good as I feel that I am helping people learn and care for their vehicles and maybe reduce unexpected breakdowns.

Do you think they address a common car issue many people have?

These vehicles are for the enthusiasts and home mechanics mainly. Many owners are members of car and bike clubs and love to show their vehicles at various public events. These vehicles capture most people’s imagination as they tend to be very different and not available in any showroom. The truth is a lot are very affordable and not very difficult to build as they come in kit form much like flat pack furniture.

A lot of people seem to be genuinely interested in general car care and maintenance. I feel that in this area alone I can really help people and offer valued information.

What can we learn from that?

A lot of people would like to know how to care for their vehicles better so as to avoid large garage bills and also to get a good price when it comes time to change.

With regard to Kit Cars, I think these vehicles fall into that life bracket of “I want” before our sensible practical heads take over. Perhaps maybe 1 in 100 will actually build or buy one or know someone who has one. At first glance most will want one and enquire about price and on hearing it the cogs will start to whirl and whizz and for hours maybe days it will hold a genuine interest but then the reality of daily life kicks in and the thought will be lost until the next car or bike show. This is so normal for many things in life. Some like art, some antiques, some markets and some of us cause conversations to stop and people to yawn when we say our interests are cars and bikes.

You’re very good at including original images in your work. What tips can you provide to Hubbers looking to improve on that front?

I’m not sure that it’s a case of being very good with images as apposed to luck. From an early age I was taking before and after photos of my work never thinking that I’d one day be publishing them on the internet. When digital cameras came on the scene I was in my element as I bought many car and bike parts from all over the world and it was so easy to send images to ensure like for like parts.

First piece of advice that I can offer to other Hubbers is to search their photo albums and consider scanning them into their pics folders. You never know when an early photo of yourself is exactly what you will want for a particular hub. If they don’t yet have a digital camera then they really must acquire one as it is an essential tool for online writing. One of the other tricks I would suggest is to get into the habit of carrying it with you at all times. After all most are about the same size as a mobile phone. Once the habit of carrying a camera is mastered the next step is to master the habit of taking pics. To start just take pics of anything every time you go out and as time passes you will get better at taking shots you want or think that you will use in future Hubs.

I mentioned at the start that for me it was a case of luck and in the image department this is so true since all of my work is right in front of me and the camera has its own place in the top drawer of the tool box. I can appreciate the difficulties for others when their Hub is on a topic that is not in front of them.

What do you plan on Hubbing about in the future?

Oh I think I’ll start to Hub on my other interests, knitting, washing and ironing. Oh yes I do. Well, I have to, as I live alone, though that’s not entirely true as Coco the black Labrador who adopted me about 3 weeks ago is now a permanent feature. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t iron, though.

No seriously, I’m pretty sure it’ll be cars and bikes for a while and then probably boats after which I think I’ll move onto building. I think by then it will be time to retire or start Hubs on my other jobs some of which were rebuilding jet engines, green keeper, and making micro processors in a very large clean room for a very large American chip manufacturer.

What are your more general HubPages and online writing ambitions?

Lets see, general HubPages ambitions. Being modest, I would like to hit 1 million views in my first year. Achieve every possible accolade. Smash as many HubPages records as possible. Be the go to car and bike guru on HubPages, after which I’ll be the car and bike guru for Mr. Google Become such a valuable HubPages community member that HubPages offers me a real job.

I would also like my own ludicrously successful car and bike website second only to Top Gear, although if Top Gear were to offer me a job, I’d give up on this idea.

As you’ve probably guessed I’m a modest little man with modest little ambitions or I’ve just got a great sense of humour or I’ve forgotten to take my medication again!

Are there any particular messages that you would like to bring across with your work?

On a serious note, I would like to help people with their transport needs. Whether it’s choosing the right vehicle or getting the right advice on maintenance. For too long the Motor Trade has had a bad rep which is self inflicted and I have no sympathy for the dealerships. Most people fear going to a garage and this shouldn’t be the case. There are honest, genuine mechanics in the world who take pride in their work and their trade.

Regular maintenance plays such a huge part and helps to avoid those situations were the transport breaks down and the owner is under pressure to have it fixed and is therefore vulnerable to being ripped off.