The Seer

For the grand finale of the scary short story series we have been running on the Fascinating Fiction podcast this month, we have a very special episode!

As a Halloween treat, we have Aficionada reading The Seer, a fantastic Hub by WillStarr. I hope you enjoy it!

Big thanks to WillStarr for the great story (stop by the original Hub for the written version) and Aficionada for her wonderful narration. If you would like to submit a Hub or recording of your own (either of your own short fiction Hub or that of another Hubber), tell us about it by sending an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com. We’d love to hear from you!

Let HubPatron of the Arts Judge sofs Inspire Your Inner Photographer

If you’re aware of our upcoming HubPatron of the Arts contest (which starts this Tuesday!), you already know that the contest has a photo gallery category. While you might be intimidated by the competition, do keep in mind that some of HubPages’ best photographers are only just getting started.

Are you new to photography? In the following interview, you’ll find that sofs, an excellent Hubber and judge on the photos panel of the contest, is a relative newbie to the photo world as well!  I hope our exchange (along with sofs‘ excellent tips) inspires you to submit some photo galleries of your own to the contest- no matter your level.

When did you first start taking photos?

This is such an interesting question.  I started taking pictures some time after I joined HubPages, maybe about six months ago. I needed pictures to make my Hubs more interesting, and most often the pictures on the Internet were not entirely suitable. I started to think..why not take my own photographs. A couple of Hubber-photographers, timorous and D.A.L, inspired me. I was fascinated by their Hubs and followed them closely, because of their love for nature and for the fine photographs they came up with.  This started my love for photography.  I’m a relative newbie, actually.

What do you enjoy photographing most?

I love nature. I love poetry, and sometimes words are inadequate to express what you feel. Photographs eloquently express all that you want to say in a picture. Photography is poetry in pictures, and I love to photograph nature, especially flowers, leaves, birds, butterflies and animals.  Color and natural compositions in nature inspire me.  I sometimes feel I can’t get enough of them.

Your nature photography, especially that of flowers, is exquisite. What process do you go through when taking photos of plants? Are there certain times of day that are better than others?

I walk around the flowers and try to look at them from all angles. I take a range of pictures from different angles, seeing how the light plays upon the flowers, and how it sometimes highlights certain textures.  A light spray of water, or the inclusion of some leaves or twigs to contrast  the color and the delicate beauty of the flowers..these are some of the things I like to do. Living in a relatively tropical region, means that my best pictures can only be taken for [maybe] up to an hour after sunrise or for a couple of hours around sunset. Light is so important in photography but too much light and glare spoils it as well.

What sort of camera do you shoot with?

At this point, I only have a fairly good point and shoot camera.. so I have a great disadvantage, in that I cannot take distant shots of birds or small objects, but I have realized that it is your passion that matters after all, not just your camera. I do plan to upgrade the equipment I use, but.. I can still do much more even with this tiny little Nikon 12 megapixel camera that I have. I kind of enjoy the challenge of working within the limitations of a simple camera.

As a judge on the photo panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest, what will you be looking for in entries?

I will be looking for aesthetic presentation of subjects, properly framing the scene, composition, use of color (or black and white), clarity, and to a certain extent, using clever techniques to get the best effect.  The use of light to accentuate details, or create a certain mood is also something I would look for.  Although I don’t use any special software processing myself, I know that some filters, if applied sparingly, can create a visually stunning presentation.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring photographers, what would it be?

Advice? hmmm………. Well, since I am a self-improvement, self-help, motivational writer, this is what I have to say…that impossible is nothing. Passion and application is everything. Dedication to what you do and the desire to excel can get you places, set your mind to it. Love your subjects, never tire of snapping photos, don’t take criticism negatively…and you are sure to get better and better all the time. Practice, practice and more practice will get you where you aspire to go.There is so much about photography on HubPages…a wealth of information to help you make the best use of your talents. I know I’ve learned so much here.

My best wishes to all those who are participating and may the best shot win!!

[Thanks, sofs!]

For more information on the HubPatron of the Arts contest, visit the official contest page.


Poetry Tips from RebekahELLE

It takes a lot of passion and dedication to craft a truly good poem. rebekahELLE, a judge on the poetry panel of the upcoming, HubPatron of the Arts contest knows this well, and will be reviewing entries carefully, looking for telltale signs of quality.

Are you curious to learn more about rebekahELLE’s poetry background, or to know what she’ll be looking for in poetry entries? Have a look at the interview below for the scoop!

HubPages: What is the first poem you can remember reading or writing?

RebekahELLE: The first poem that I remember writing was a whimsical poem about a horse riding over a rainbow.  I was in elementary school and had an active imagination.  It was for a writing assignment involving different styles of poetry.  We could write our own and include favorite poems we had read. I remember working hard on the assignment and used colored pencils to write my poem. I received an A on the project.  I still have the project in a box of keepsakes my mom saved for me.

The first poem I remember from elementary education was, Hiawatha’s Departure from  The Song of Hiawatha, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  I loved the narrative story telling feel of the poem, the rhyme and meter,  nature as the setting.  We had to read it out loud for practice in how to recite poetry.  The lines are etched into my memory.

The first poem that I remember reading which had a profoundly lyrical effect on me was The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe. I was immensely drawn into the poem by his lyrical use of composition, and his use of symbols.  All great poetry is meant to be read out loud, and this poem is as beautiful to speak as it is to hear.  His use of ancient, poetic sounding words, and almost mathematical exactness in his structure was fascinating to me (and still is).  “And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;” is poetic tension so poetic that we must keep reading.  We can visualize the man as he sits in his melancholy, anticipating what is this ‘rapping at my shutter door.’   There is great beauty in The Raven and he was able to achieve this universal theme with the use of sadness and melancholy.  A poet can see beauty in the purest of manifestations, and what is more profoundly pure than genuine sadness?  We are complex human beings with layers of emotions.  A true poet has the ability to penetrate those layers and make life more transparent and expose our vulnerability.

Did it influence your approach to poetry from that moment on?

It influenced what I wanted to read.  I was first drawn to poetry that told stories. I read a lot. I think anyone serious about writing poetry must read poetry, extensively.  I exposed myself to different time periods and styles and found that I loved many different kinds of poets.  I love the narrative form, and the ability of allowing a poem to have a life of its own.  Whether it’s short or 108 lines, a poem should be able to evoke an emotion or paint a picture.  It should have structure and purpose.

One simply has to start writing (after a lot of reading) and crafting words like a work of art.  A poem is not born without some degree of labor.  Some poems flow easily, others require more time and construction.  I have found that I see my world poetically, which doesn’t so much mean lyrically, but life itself is poetry to me.  When I walk outside and hear a bird chirping, it is poetry.  What is the song of this little red bird?  The willow that weeps and bends gracefully to the earth reminds me to bend gently and show compassion to others.  So I write about a young boy learning wisdom from the willow as he stands amongst the trees.

You share in your bio that you have been a teacher for quite some time. Have you ever taught poetry?

I teach in the field of early childhood, and while we do read poetry, my little ones are not ready to write poetry.  In one sense, there is an element of instruction in reading it to them and allowing them to hear the rhymes and lyrical sounds of poetry.  Young children love rhymes and rhythm and phrases that are fun to hear and say.  It’s important for them to hear and learn children’s poems, nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss type books.  Language is meant to communicate and educate. Even very young babies love hearing songs and rhymes.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the world of poetry today (Lack of structure? Lack of readership? Lack of something else?) and how do you think it can be overcome?

I’m not sure what the biggest issue is, but certainly one big issue is publishing.  Now with digital publishing so easily accessible, poets aren’t receiving the necessary critiques and reviews which help new writers improve their craft.  They want their work out there and think it’s easier to self-publish.  When anyone can self-publish, a lot of good poetry is going to require a lot more work on the poet’s part to get noticed.  How does one overcome this?  I don’t think there is an easy solution.  Serious poets should be submitting their work to poetry magazines and reputable online poetry sites, reading current poetry news, entering contests.  Find poetry workshops or poetry clubs in your community and get involved.  And keep writing, and editing.  Stay inspired.

Do you have any particular process you go through when you write a poem?

Yes and no.  I think any poet would agree that some poems are ready to be written.  All that is needed is something to write with and on, whether it’s a sheet of paper or the side of a box.  I once wrote a short poem in the bathtub. Inspiration struck.  I grabbed whatever I could reach, which was an eyebrow pencil and a pamphlet about how to apply eye makeup!  I was writing it for an artist friend who had shown me one of his b&w photographs of an anhinga bird.  He loved it.  I have collaborated with various visual artists/photographers, which I find to be very exciting work.  I have composed poetry for specific paintings/photographs.

I worked with a fashion photographer from Berlin on a photo shoot theme. He loved using fairy tale and historical themes.  I wrote a fantasy love poem about rose petals from Berlin, which he used as inspiration for his theme.  We communicated through writings, which for him was quite tedious, as he had to translate his writings into English and look up words he didn’t recognize.  He was extremely grateful for the discipline of learning more of the English language.  I now have my reward hanging on my bedroom wall.

What I do need as part of the writing process is quiet.  I can’t tap into my depths without quiet and a degree of solitude.  I need the alone time to quiet my very active, sometimes, over -stimulated brain.  Once I find that place, I start writing.  It may take hours, days or months.  I generally have an idea of what I’m going to write, or I have been inspired by something or someone.  I once wrote a poem titled, Collateral Damage, in response to the war in Croatia.  Sadly, I can’t find the poem.  I feel it was one of my most inspired poems.  I had given it to an ex-Marine friend of mine with whom I have lost touch.  I have learned since then to keep copies of my work.  Another poem took months to write.  I have published a Hub about the process and the poem, A Poem about a Monet Painting ‘Le Jardin’.  It has been one of my most successful Hubs.

As a judge on the poetry panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest, what will you be looking for in entries?

I’m very excited and thrilled to be a part of the panel!  Thank you so much for asking me to be a part of this contest.   I’m very grateful that arts are being highlighted on HubPages, as HP has an awesome community of artists and poets.  I will be looking for the author’s voice first and foremost.  Does the poem have form and substance?  Does it evoke an emotion?  Is it complete or does it leave the reader wondering if it’s finished?  Does it read well and flow?  Are you proud to have your name attached as the author to your entry?  Be authentic, passionate, spell check and edit!  I’m certain it’s not going to be easy to judge such quality work, but I’m ready and excited.  Enjoy the process and best of luck to all who enter!

Do you have any other advice for aspiring poets on HubPages?

Learn to see through poetic eyes.  Write your thoughts in a notebook.  Practice writing about anything.  It doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, it won’t be perfect.  It doesn’t need to be in poetic form, but the more your practice using you poetic sense, your thoughts and expressions will more and more be conveyed poetically.  Then when you feel like composing a poem, sit down and look through this notebook, and choose one of your entries to start writing.  Read a lot of poetry.  Reread favorites. Read them out loud.  Subscribe to a poetry magazine or sign up for newsletters from reputable poetry sites.  Publish only your best if you want to be read.  Remember why you’re writing.  Much success to each of you!  Thank you for reading.  And thank you, HubPages, for the opportunity to publish our poetry here and for giving so many a platform which enables ease of publishing and is open to a global audience.

[Thanks, rebekahELLE!]

For more information about the HubPatron of the Arts contest, visit the official contest page.

The Origins of Halloween

With Halloween approaching, we are morally obligated to do a seasonal podcast. When poking around the fabulous October-related Hubs on HubPages, we found an excellent Hub titled Where Did Halloween Originate? Halloween’s Pagan Origins by kittythedreamer.

Did you know that many of the roots of modern day Halloween lie in Samhain, a Celtic harvest festival? Kittythedreamer’s Hub traces some of our favorite autumnal activities back to this resilient holiday, and we decided to delve more into this interesting tradition in this week’s podcast. Join us as we explore The Origins of Halloween and get in the Halloween spirit!

What is your favorite Halloween tradition? Tell us about it in an email sent to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com. We’d also love to hear any suggestions on future WAEE podcasts. Challenge us!  We love a good excuse to learn about something new through neat Hubs!

A Radio Interview with Stephhicks68


It is very exciting to see a Hubber in the news and even more exciting to hear one speak (after all, we only have writing and avatars to go by). For this reason, we’re particularly pleased about a recent radio program in which Stephanie Hicks (aka stephhicks68) was interviewed.

Last week, stephhicks68 was interviewed by Bill Baker on Inside Public Oregon (a weekly public affairs program) about how HubPages has become an interesting alternative to those who are looking for a creative way to make money in the midst of higher unemployment and a lot of economic uncertainty. It is rather inspiring!

Stephhicks68 also shares how she has used HubPages as a place to develop her writing, get feedback on her work, and earn a supplementary income. If you’re just starting out on the site, this interview might give you some ideas on how to follow in the footsteps of a very successful Hubber.  If you would like to listen in, we’ve included the segment below.

Props to stephhicks68 on the great interview!

Using Your Name vs. Going Anonymous as an Online Writer

The issue of online anonymity has been popping up quite frequently in the media, so we decided to discuss the issue as it applies to online writers.

In this week’s edition of the Online Writing Insider (Using Your Name vs. Using An Alias Online), we review reasons why online authors might want to be anonymous, and also weigh the perks of using your real name. After listening in, you’ll be able to make a practical, educated decision as to whether or not using your real name online is best for you.

Are there other challenges, quandaries, or roadblocks you face as an online writer that you would like us to discuss in a future podcast? Tell us about it by sending an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com!

An Interview with Expert Hubber and Photographer leahlefler

Leahlefler is one of HubPages’ best writers and photographers.  Known for useful, insightful, and unique Hubs, leahlefler has consistently done well in the HubPages contests she enters, which is one reason why we are particularly excited to have her on as a judge in the photos, poetry, and prose-centric HubPatron of the Arts contest.

Here is a short interview with this lovely Hubber. Read on to discover some of the smart methods she employs when creating beautiful photos.  They shall certainly give a leg up to those interested in submitting photo galleries in the HubPatron of the Arts contest!

Your Hubs are consistently gorgeous, but they’re also quite interesting! Do you start with text or photos?

Thank you for the compliment! I always start with text, and add the photos later. Generally, the photos I use are to illustrate a point in the written text. Some of the photos are taken after a Hub has been written, and I find I need a quality photo: for many of my recipe Hubs, the photos of the finished project were taken after the written Hub was completed (in an off-line word processor).

Have you been professionally trained as a photographer?

I have no training as a professional photographer. Most of my images are straight “out-of-camera,” though I do edit the occasional photo with an image editing software. Since I am rather frugal, I use the open-source editing software called GIMP (it is free to download and use). With editing software, it is possible to crop images, change the color scheme, or to create borders and banners that can be placed on hubs.

What sort of camera do you shoot with?

Most of the images used on my hubs come from a Canon 30D digital SLR camera. This camera was originally bought for my husband as a birthday present, but I use it far more than he does!

As a judge in on the photo gallery panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest, what will you be looking for in the entries you review?

I will be looking at the overall quality of the image, the composition, the relevance to the written text, and the overall “feel” of the photo. I know there are a lot of great photographers out there on HubPages, waiting to be discovered!

Do you have any basic photography tips for Hubbers looking to use their own images in their Hubs?

Get close to the subject: a close-up, cropped picture is often better than a distant snapshot. If you are photographing small things (think children and dogs), get down on their level to take the picture. Overcast days are the best for getting portrait shots, as the light doesn’t create shadows on people’s faces. For recipe Hubs, you can take serial images of each step, and create a composite image of the steps in a photo editor. This way, you will only need to use one photo capsule to show several images. Likewise, a photo editor can be used to “fix” images with spots, to create black and white images, or to add an artistic punch with a black and white photo mixed with colorful elements. Most of all, get creative and have fun! Photos always come out better when the mood isn’t stiff and posed!

[Thanks, leahlefler!]

You can learn more about the HubPatron of the Arts contest by visiting the official contest page.

A Holiday Trip

I won’t say much about this week’s short story because it has a fantastic twist in it!

This week, as part of our ongoing scary story series leading up to Halloween, we present A Holiday Trip, a wonderful piece by RNMSN about a boy named Allen with an odd hobby.

I won’t say anything more about the story- you’ll have to listen to it, or give the original Hub a gander. I hope you enjoy it!

If you have any suggestions for future Fascinating Fiction podcasts, send them in an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com. We would also love to hear from you if you are interested in submitting some of your own short fiction recordings to the podcast!

HubPatron of the Arts Judge Nellieanna Expounds the Differences of Poetry and Prose

Are you interested in submitting entries in our HubPatron of the Arts contest, but unsure of whether to submit poetry or prose? Perhaps some clear delineation from Nellieanna, a HubPages poet and judge on the contest’s poetry panel, can help you out.

In the following interview, Nellieanna dishes on the differences between prose and poetry, plus serves up some excellent advice to poets who are just getting started. I hope our exchange inspires you to have a go at writing poetry- no matter how new to the format you may be!

When did you first start writing poetry?

When I was 12, I wrote a lovely poem.  Most of that one has been lost except my memory of it, but it was the first poem I recall writing. I loved to read and recite poetry from a young age, and always had creative outlets for expressing impressions and ideas.  Once they began to formulate into poetry, it never stopped.

Poems come in so many different shapes and sizes- what would you say is the key differentiator between poetry and prose?

To me, poetry must have what I call “music” and must express personal experiences of life in a manner which touches the heart and thrills the senses.  If it fails to delight – or – worse – if it offends the senses, anything else it presents cannot save it from being mere prose or bad poetry.   Poetry may use the simplest things as subjects, but it must express what the poet feels about them rather than just reporting or explaining what happened. Poetry is best expressed in concise, simple words and lines, though it can be more oblique or complicated, so long as its essence is in the feelings it expresses and communicates.  Rhyming may occur within or at the ends of lines, or it may simply be implied by its own music or rhythm.  Poetry’s beauty comes from how well it communicates the personal nature within and of it.

Prose is, – well, simply prosaic, as best defined in:

prosaic |prōˈzāik|


having the style or diction of prose; lacking poetic beauty : prosaic language can’t convey the experience.

commonplace; unromantic : the masses were too preoccupied by prosaic day-to-day concerns.

Prose is used to communicate facts ranging from the mundane to the highly specialized, such as scientific.  It is used to report events, explain processes, give instructions, tell stories.  It may employ forms used in poetry, but its purpose is dealing in objective facts rather than touching upon or stirring writers’ or readers’ subjective life relationships or experiences. Prose’s value comes from how well it communicates factual information.

Prose is like a photograph of something.  Poetry is like an artist’s painting of it.

What inspires your work?

My writing is touched off by a sense of something stirring within me or observed around me which ignites my senses or ideas about it.  It is like an experience of caressing and feeling the words to convey my response to whatever it is.  It’s seldom done deliberately, as in, “I think I’ll write a poem about. . . ”  The “inspiration” almost “does itself” when I simply allow it and follow through by recording it.

A little background: My most prolific poetry writing occurred when I greatly needed to have a way to freely express myself, especially to and for myself, during an extremely difficult time when “I” was in jeopardy of being “lost”.  Writing poetry served to keep ‘me’  intact and literally was my companion and confidante.

As it flowed forth during those difficult times, seldom were gloom or struggle expressed, because that was not my nature and it most needed to express me, rather than describe difficult circumstances surrounding me, which needed no further expression!  The result was that it captured and preserved my sensitivity toward nature and love of ideas, so they remained alive and growing, where I could refer back when needing to find ‘me in there’.   I think this may be a reason my poetry touches and relates to others.   It’s from the heart and ‘close to the bone’, so it resonates at a deep, human level; – a lovely by-product which I didn’t plan or anticipate.

When you sit down to write a poem, do you go through any particular process?

I have to smile.  The times I’ve ever “sat down to write a poem” without just having to rush to grab pen and paper to capture it as it poured forth and before it escaped,  well, I could probably count those instances of my worst poems on one hand!

As a judge on the poetry panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest, what will you be looking for in entries?

I will look for authenticity, originality, that ‘music’ I’ve mentioned, real feelings and ideas as experienced by the poet, as well as lack of what spoils any writing: triteness.  Good vocabulary, proper grammar and spelling should be taken for granted in the “paintbox” of anyone aspiring to write, like brushes and paints for an artist.  But if everything else in a poem ‘rings true’, some ‘poetic license’ up to a point can be forgiven.

What advice would you give to someone who has never written a poem before… but would like to have a go at it?

I would simply advise that person to let it flow from within, to not force it.  Trying too hard tends to produce either stale and prosaic and/or too-flowery and tiresome results.

If one but really listens to one’s quiet- even raging- thoughts and allows the full array of one’s feelings to tune into and express the music lurking in them, and then records it in accurate, appealing words, the results will ‘ring true’ and qualify as poetry.

One sees far too many stiff and tortured results of too much effort and not enough sensitivity.  That’s a shame because I think everyone has sparkling poetry wanting to be expressed in such moments of feeling, just bursting to caress your own truest responses to life within and around you. So stop, listen and capture it before it escapes, even if you must pull over to the side of the road and jot it down on a paper bag or back of an envelope.  Know that you CAN dazzle us with it!  Yes, YOU!

[Thanks, Nellieanna!]

For more information about the HubPatron of the Arts contest, have a look at the official contest page.


Museum Anatomy with Chadwick and Spector

We created the Weekly Advice from Everyday Experts podcast series to better highlight the talented and fascinating writers that can be found in our community.  Laura Spector is one such fascinating expert, and in addition to writing several fascinating Hubs on her work as an artist, she and her collaborator Chadwick Gray were willing to share more about their work in person- that is, they recorded a fascinating interview revealing their artistic process for this week’s podcast!

Listen in to this very special episode to learn about the Museum Anatomy project – a collection of documentary photographs of historical paintings that Chadwick and Spector have re-created on the human form. Spector and Chadwick offer fascinating firsthand accounts of their artistic experiences, explaining what it was like selecting paintings to reproduce, creating individual pieces, and developing their creative process in new ways.

If you do not have time to listen to the interview, check out Laura Spector’s Hubs on the project:

You can also find a complete gallery of work on Chadwick and Spector’s website, if you’re curious to see more of the photographs they refer to in the interview.

It is wonderful to get this sort of behind-the-scenes peek into the lives of these award-winning artists, and we hope this podcast inspires you to re-think the way you approach your own art and that by other people- be it photography, painting, sketching, performance, poetry, or prose.