One of the things I love about HubPages is that people find all sorts of personal rewards by Hubbing. Naturally, the most obvious and well-known reward is the money that you make via ads. But there are some Hubbers who have used HubPages to get writing work and to even publish a book!
Cindy Vine (cindyvine), interviewed in a newsletter earlier this year, shared her good news that her third book had been recently published, and she thanked the HubPages community for helping to bring the book to fruition. Cindy generously answered a few questions I had about the authoring process and how Hubbers’ collaboration helped.
1. Your story of publishing your book, The Case of Billy B, is a really inspiring one, and really underscores HubPages as a community of writers. Tell us a little about the basis of your third book and its title character, Billy B.
I had just published Stop the World, I Need to Pee! and was looking at ways to market my book online. This led me to HubPages, and I thought if I became a part of the community there, then I could start to build an author platform. At that time, there were some Hubbers who were full of fun and into hubjacking hubs. Some of those Hubbers have become my dear friends.
Anyway, one of the hubjackers, a hubber called Pest, sent me an email telling me a little of his amazing life story. We chatted a bit on Skype, he told me a little more, and I suggested that he write a book. Although I thought he was a good writer, he told me that he was too lazy, didn’t believe in himself and I should do it. I realized that I had the basis for a really good story. However, I needed more details, and Pest slipped off the planet and I struggled to get hold of him, remembering that at that time I was in China and Pest was in the US. Anyway, I posted some questions on the HubPages forums and other Hubbers gave me answers I needed.
One hubber, Ralwus, offered to edit the book and help me to make it more American. Billy B is a little boy who was abandoned by his mom at six months. His father, Chris, is forced into single parenthood, which he finds quite difficult. He goes from job to job, ends up in Michigan and finds a woman to care for Billy at night while he is doing nightshift. Chris gets romantically involved with the caregiver, and she starts abusing Billy. Things go from bad to worse for Chris and Billy, there are some twists and turns, and little unexpected bits. It’s a really good story, and told from different perspectives.
2. How did you do research via HubPages about the setting and language of your novel?
Dash, think I answered that above. I posted questions on the forums and received many replies from helpful hubbers. Ralwus helped me a lot, gave me information, told me when my language was not American, etc.
3. Tell us a little about the collaborative editing. How did that work?
I have a friend who edited my first two books. He lives in London. He’s an English literature teacher and gives creative writing courses. As I finish a chapter, I send it to my friend Rob in London. He edits, makes suggestions and sends it back. With The Case of Billy B, as I finished each chapter, I also sent it to Charlie (Ralwus). He also edited it, made suggestions and sent it back. When I finished my first draft, I looked at both their suggestions and revised my novel. Then they both edited it again, I did further revisions, and then one of the parents of a child in my class, Diane Bowe–she’s a journalist from Seattle who is also an editor–then did the final edit. Found un-American phrases that Charlie had missed, gave a few more suggestions, and I revised it again. Quite an intensive process!
4. You posted your first few chapters of your book on HubPages and solicited feedback from fellow writers. What sorts of insights did you glean from fellow Hubbers’ comments?
I posted the first three chapters on HubPages, calling them teaser part one, two and three. I received positive comments and constructive criticism: advice on how to rewrite certain parts so that it sounded better, and pointing out parts that didn’t correllate, etc. The feedback was all positive and very useful. I also found it quite inspirational as they sounded just as excited about The Case of Billy B as I was.
5. How did the novel writing experience for The Case of Billy B compare to the process in writing your first two novels?
My first book, Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet, was a self-help one about breaking the cycles of bad relationships in your life. A lot of it came from my own experience and research, talking to many different people to get their stories. Stop the World, I Need to Pee! is almost autobiographical and was set in Southern Africa which I know well. So, that was quite different. The Case of Billy B was different in that it wasn’t my story, although I was able to give Billy some of the experiences I went through as a child. I think whatever novel you write, you always give your characters some of you.
Billy B was actually easier to write even though it was set in a country I’ve never visited, because of the help I got from the HubPages community. Hey, my books are available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
6. What advice would you offer to a novelist looking to a writer’s community such as HubPages for assistance during the writing process?
I would say that within the HubPages community you have so many experts in a variety of areas. A community like HubPages helps with your research. Pose questions on the forums, read Hubs, and you’ll find out far more than using Google search. HubPages is not only an encyclopedia, but you can find out how people feel about different issues and you can use that in your writing.
7. Do you have any ideas about your next book? Any teasers you’d like to leave with us?
I am already busy on my next book provisionally called Not Telling. It’s about two sisters who don’t get along. The younger one is always bullied by the older one and gets abused and raped. Years later, the older sister returns to her hometown bringing her fiance. She wants to make-up with her younger sister. However, the man she brings home is the one who raped the younger sister many years before. So now there’s a dilemma. Does she tell her older sister about the rape?
For this novel, I asked in a HubPages forum if anybody had interesting stories. I received a lot of replies and could use parts of some of them to give me a basic plot line, which I have developed further adding in all kinds of extra twists that come from the dark areas of my mind. I also posed the question in the HubPages forum: if you and your sister hated each other and she bullied you as a child, and years later she brought home her fiance and it turned out to be the man who had raped you, would you tell her? I received an overwhelming response to this question, and surprisingly enough, most people said they would tell. This of course has now influenced me to move my plot in a whole different direction.
Thank you, Cindy! If you want to read more of Cindy’s upcoming Hubs, become her fan!