Help HubPages by Fighting Internet Blacklist Legislation

If you have been hanging out online lately, you have probably noticed a considerable amount of buzz about Protect IP and SOPA, two bills currently in the Senate and House respectively that pose a considerable threat to HubPages and online publishing platforms in general, not to mention online security and free speech.

Here is a great video summarizing the Protect IP Act:

SOPA is quite similar, and many argue that it is even worse:

  • The original purpose of the Internet regulatory proposal was to find a way to target offshore sites selling illegal goods to US consumers by operating outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. It has gone a touch beyond that.
  • The danger posed to us by this act is that it exposes HubPages and other lawful US firms to liability without due process (by encouraging firms to shut down, block access to, and stop servicing websites that copyright and trademark owners allege are illegal without due process or the ability of a wrongfully targeted website to seek restitution)
  • SOPA also chills free speech, threatens US infrastructure (by proposing technological solutions that will create security risks), and creates a private right of action against US companies that have violated no existing law.
  • SOPA is a direct reversal of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (among other laws and policies), and imposes regulations directly on companies like HubPages that are only serving as conduits for others’ content. It does this by holding sites that host or link to illegal content liable. If even a small portion of our site “enables or facilitates” someone else’s copyright infringement (for example, by “promoting” or linking to a pirated movie site), we would be considered liable.
  • Were someone to take action against HubPages under SOPA, this person could order an advertising partner, payment service, or even network provider to stop servicing our site within five days.

SOPA and Protect IP could be the end of HubPages, as they could hold our site liable for any bit of content that encourages copyright infringement. This means that if any of our over 200,000 published authors publishes a Hub promoting, offering, or linking to copyright-infringed content, our entire site could be shut down.

HubPages does not stand alone in its opposition to this legislation. Other businesses, such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay, and AOL, as well as human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, Wikimedia, Human Rights Watch, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are against SOPA and Protect-IP.

You can easily send a letter (already drafted) to congress by visiting the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If you would prefer to give your congressman a phone call or send a physical letter, you can find your local senator and representatives’ phone numbers and addresses by visiting Congress Merge.

We hope you’ll support us!

How to Ace an Interview with a Journalist

HubPages is the perfect platform for everyday experts to share their expertise with a larger audience, so it should come as no surprise that many journalists turn to Hubbers for more information on subjects they’re researching.  We often get emails from Hubbers asking for advice on how to handle journalist inquiries, so we thought it might be helpful to share some pointers in an Online Writing Insider podcast (How to Ace an Interview with a Journalist).

Listen in as our go-to PR expert Pia Chatterjee shares her insights on journalist interviews. Pia outlines instances in which one might want to turn down journalist interviews, walks us through basic media training, and offers interview etiquette tips. The advice in this podcast is super useful, and we hope that you may have the opportunity to take Pia’s advice for a spin very soon!

If you have any fun reporter interview stories to share- or any suggestions for future podcasts- send them our way. We can be reached via email at podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

An Interview with Marye Audet: HubPages’ Photo Pro

Playing a pivotal role on the photography judging panel of this month’s HubPatron of the Arts contest is Marye Audet, an amazing photographer, phenomenal Hubber, and busy parent to boot!

Marye took a moment from her busy shooting and writing schedule to share more about her photography background and offer helpful tips on submitting winning entries o the contest. Have a read!

HubPages: What originally sparked your interest in photography?

Marye Audet: I am an artist and used to do oil paintings, some of which were actually sold through Dallas area galleries. When the kids came along I didn’t have as much time to paint and was able to soothe my inner Rembrandt with my camera. As a food writer it is vitally important that the images I take of my recipes are beautiful — after all that is a big part of why people visit food blogs!

In addition to freelance writing, you do freelance photography.  How did you get started with freelance photography?

A Canadian magazine happened across one of my images on my blog and wrote and asked me if they could use it in an article. I don’t get the opportunity to do a lot of freelance photography for others — usually it is in the context of writing an article for a client and needing some appropriate images. I have a few images that I am thinking of adding to istock photo just to see how they do, but I haven’t done that yet.

Your blog, RestlessChipotle, is stuffed with gorgeous photos. Did you take them all, and what sorts of food photo tips can you offer to other aspiring food photographers?

I do take my own images for my food blog. Although I am far from being in the top ten (or even 100) food photographers I have gotten some awesome shots as well as some really embarrassingly bad ones. For every image you see on my blog I have taken 50 to 100 images and spent a couple of hours with photoshop — trimming, enhancing, and perfecting. If you are photographing food natural light is best. Don’t stand too far back, with food you want to get that lick the computer screen effect and you can only get that with close shots.

What camera do you shoot with? Do you have a favorite lens?

This is pathetic but I haven’t been able to afford a really good camera. I use a digital Nikon Coolpix L100, which has a nice close-up setting. It is in the $300.00 to $400.00 range. My other camera is an old Canon 35mm which my son is using  for his college photography classes at the moment.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see amateur photographers make?

Composition is important, and most photographers will tell you it is the most important, but I like for an image to tell me a story, whether it is a food shot or a cityscape. Think about what you want your audience to think and feel when they look at your image and then create those feelings with your camera shot.

What will you be looking for in the HubPatron of the Arts photo contest entries?

I will be looking for images that draw me in, that tell me a story as well as telling me something about the photographer. What makes your images unique from anyone elses?

Do you have any other advice that you’d give to photographers, professional and amateur alike?

Take lots and lots and lots and lots of pictures! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t play it safe or copy someone else’s style.

[Thanks, Marye Audet!]

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

 

Sharon’s Gift

Today’s featured Fascinating Fiction story (Sharon’s Gift) is another piece by Hyphenbird. While earlier Hyphenbird stories we’ve shared (Pirate’s Gold and The Corpulent Vampire) have been humorous, this one is of a different nature. I hope you enjoy it!

You can find the written version of Saron’s Gift, along with many more fun Hubs, on Hyphenbird’s profile.

If you would like to submit a short fiction story (be it funny, serious, scary, or something else entirely) to our podcast series, send us an email at podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com. Some of our best short story podcasts feature narration from other Hubbers or even the authors themselves. If you would like to submit a recording as well as a story, we would love to hear it!

How saddlerider1 Found His Muse: An Interview with a HubPatron of the Arts Contest Judge

When we began our search for poetry panel judges for this month’s HubPatron of the Arts contest, saddlerider1 was an obvious choice.  He is one of HubPages’ most popular poets, and both discovered his passion for poetry and honed his craft while on the site.  Since getting started, saddlerider1 has even published a collection of his poetry.

If you ever find yourself wondering if you will find your muse on HubPages, or perhaps try a new form of writing, you will find the following interview with this official HubPatron of the Arts poetry panel judge to be most inspiring. You might even come away with some insider tips that can give you a leg up in the contest!

When and how did you discover poetry?

To tell you the truth, I did not discover poetry.  It discovered me 19 months ago, when my Muse stepped out of the shadows and encouraged me to write. This took place after joining HubPages many months ago, after I stumbled upon a couple of poets: Rawlus and Wayne Brown. Wayne had decided to give poetry a go after he read Rawlus, and it was then that I opened my mind to Poetry as well, and my Muse stepped in. The rest is history here at HubPages, where I have accumulated many great followers and fellow writers. They have been my inspiration, my passion, and I am truly humbled by their encouragement to me to write, they saw something in my scribes that moved them, thus I picked up my quill and have not set it down.

You mention in your bio that you studied the arts and loved to draw and paint. Do you think these forms of expression are closely related to poetry or very different?

I truly believe that the Arts do contribute as a form of expression and can be very closely related in any form that we as the vessel care to show or express ourselves. I was given the opportunity to learn from a very artistic mentor, he introduced me to the fine arts and acting. I spent many hours in my bedroom as a teen drawing, painting and reciting plays that I was studying to take back to class with me and play that particular character at the playhouse. I suppose what I learned way back then remained in my heart and soul and helped with the way I express myself today in my poetry.

You also share in your bio that you recently published your very first book of poetry, called In Absinthia.  Could you tell us a little more about it

Well, the idea came from my editor. She is a very creative artist herself and she knows my style of prose and felt it was fitting to lend itself to what she created as my book title “In Absinthia.” My stuff reminding her of being written from the late nineteenth century; it has the echo to another time and place when artists frequented Paris, in absence of where they started out.

As someone who uses Twitter, do you think that the short format of a tweet is particularly conducive to poetry?

I can’t really answer that question, I used Twitter as a poet only to reach out to other Poets and writers and to link them back to my own site and it works, I don’t short tweet any of my poetry, I use it simply to attract new friends and I love to retweet their tweets and they appreciate that to.

When you create a poem, is there any particular editorial process that you go through?

Yes there is. Many a scribe has found my waste paper back in the corner of my library. I am my own worst critic, yet there have been pieces I have salvaged from the trash, re-worked, and found a place for at a later time. I hate to throw my thoughts away. As far as actual editing goes, thank goodness I have a very fine editor whose command of the English language I applaud.

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

Creativeness, breath, heart and soul. I am not so much stuck on rhyme as opposed to flowing prose. Words that reach out and touch my soul and make me feel what they are trying to convey to their reader is very important to me. I want to feel their passion, see and feel the tears if it’s a heart wrenching scribe. I want my heart to beat a little faster as I devour each word they pen. I want to feel the artistry and see it on the page. Am I asking too much? I don’t think so. A poem has to stir something in the reader.  If the reader feels nothing, then the poem is meaningless. So I will be looking for a combination of all these artistic expressions. Joy, Love, Sadness, excitement, passion, soul, tears, earnestness, beauty, ugliness, colors, shadows, death, life… and more.

What advice do you have for aspiring poets on HubPages- and beyond?

I would encourage them all to not lose sight of their passion or goals. Keep writing, keep writing, follow your dreams. Never give up and never listen to a negative thought from a person who may say “you have no talent” don’t listen to Nay sayers. Follow your heart and listen to your soul and write from the pit of your gut. Take a deep breath before you begin to write, choose a peaceful, quiet setting, close your eyes and let your Muse speak to your soul. Then, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE….

[Thanks, saddlerider1!]

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

Marshmallows – The Stuff Behind the Fluff

Marshmallows have grown to become a huge part of people’s childhoods, thanks to their prevalence in all-American snacks such as s’mores, Rice Krispie Treats, and Peeps, but there is more to these fluffy sweets than meets the eye!

In a fascinating Hub titled Marshmallows – Sweet Treats, Recipes and Herbal Origins, AliciaC shared a lot of the cool history behind marshmallows along with some fun facts and tasty recipes. We enjoyed the Hub so much we decided to do a podcast on it, so listen in as we discuss Marshmallows – The Stuff Behind the Fluff. We’ll cover the common marshmallow forms, their history, and lots of other interesting marshmallow trivia!

Props to AliciaC for writing yet another fantastic Hub (her articles on HubPages are consistently fantastic). If you have stumbled upon an amazing Hub that you think we should discuss in a podcast, tell us about it! Send suggestions and feedback in an email to podcast-at-hubpages.com.

Two of our Amazing Hubbers Speak at a Conference about HubPages!

A few weeks ago two of our esteemed teacher Hubbers, Lela Bryan and Chuck, were asked to speak about HubPages at a Social Media and Internet Marketing conference in sunny Arizona.  A week before the conference, Lela spoke with Chuck and pulled him on-board to teach the seminar with her.  I couldn’t think of a better duo to represent HubPages!  The conference, put on by Don Crowther, dealt with strategies around social profit and will be available on video for those that missed it!  I spoke with Lela before and after the conference and was so excited to hear how well the seminar went and how HubPages was the only writing platform discussed at the conference.  Their 20-minute seminar gathered 150 people all excited to learn about HubPages and the rewards that can be had on our site. 

Chuck began the presentation relaying how he had first come to HubPages to earn an extra income, but, to his surprise, an extra income was not the only perk.  The networking that he has experienced on HubPages has been amazing.  Even at the conference, Chuck was networking, meeting a fellow author writing a book about pilots that wants to collaborate; Chuck’s Hub on How to Become a Fighter Pilot is hugely successful.  Chuck also talked about his love of writing; how he’d like to retire and use his HubPages earnings toward his retirement; and how amazing the community of writers are at HubPages.

Lela used her time to talk about how to create a hit Hub, like her smoking cessation and the side effects Hub that attracts viewers from all over the world.  Her advice was to create a Hub that is better than other content out on the web – great advice, Lela!  Lela also offered to help new Hubbers and they discussed some long-term teaching opportunities.

You make a great teaching team, Lela and Chuck!  Congratulations on a great conference, and thanks for representing HubPages with such intelligence, style, and grace!

Tips on Self-Optimization

Do you know what self-optimization is? It involves analyzing your current body of work, evaluating the most successful pieces, and working on more pieces that are similar to those successful hits.

Listen in to this week’s Online Writing Insider podcast (Self-Optimization for Writers) to get some self-optimization tips from the pros.  We’ve got advice on how to start, what to look for, and how best to proceed!

If you have any questions about self-optimization, any feedback on this podcast, or any suggestions for future Online Writing Insider podcasts, send them our way! Our email is podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

An Interview with Lynda Martin – Prose Judge in the HubPatron of the Arts Contest

When the time came to select a panel of judges for the fiction panel of this month’s HubPatron of the Arts contest, lmmartin was an obvious choice.  Having been the primary Hubber behind last year’s Dark and Stormy Night contest, she is already well-versed in prose-oriented competitions.  Additionally, lmmartin is one of the top experts on HubPages in the field of publishing, as she herself has recently published a novel (titled This Bird Flew Away) along with many useful Hubs guiding readers through the process of becoming a published author and finding success in the writing world.

Lmmartin genersouly agreed to answer some interview questions to give us a better understanding of her background, as well as to offer fiction writers interested in entering the HubPatron of the Arts contest some tips that will give them a leg up in the competition!

HubPages: What drives you to write?

lmmartin: I have always written. Writing seems to be an integral part of my being, something I was born with. Even as a young child, I “published” my own books, writing stories, illustrating them, preparing covers and sewing them up one side with yarn. While writing may have taken a back seat at points in my life, the need remained.

So the honest, full answer to your question would be this: I don’t know what drives me to write. I only know I must.

On Hubpages, you’ve written quite a few very helpful Hubs giving advice to commercial and creative writers. What inspired you to create them?

I coach a number of new writers in my “spare” time, something I find to be very rewarding. There seems to be a myth out there that an understanding of the basics of writing: construction, plotting, character development, the mechanics of dialogue, even basic grammar are not necessary so long as one has something of interest to say.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. What makes for good writing is not the premise, the subject matter, the ideas – no matter how brilliant – but the treatment given in presentation. The best of subjects fails if written unintelligibly or comes off flat and boring. I’ve recently reviewed work by someone who has great talent with words, but whose plot is so complex, folding back on itself, full of flash-backs and littered with any number of unnecessary and undeveloped characters, it was impossible to read. So much for the beautiful words!

All new writers need to get a handle on the fundaments of the writing craft. As I ran into the same problems time and again in the work submitted, I decided it would be better to write several articles explaining some of these basic skills to which I could refer writers, rather than continually repeat the same things on an individual basis.

So the Good Writing Is… series was born, along with a couple of others – What makes a writer? and The Absolute Necessity of Checking Your Facts.

I hope they’ve been useful.

You recently published a novel titled This Bird Flew Away. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

For quite some time I’ve been disturbed by portrayals in the popular media of survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. I understand that sensationalism sells but the overall depiction is so far removed from reality as I’ve seen it, so twisted, dark and perverted. If such was the general truth, considering the true number of such incidents we’d live in a very sick society indeed. And we, the viewers and readers seem to have accepted this, throwing about such hopeless terms for survivors as “ruined lives.” How unfair to the millions who have gone on to live fulfilling lives despite their unhappy histories.

I wanted to write something closer to real life, to honor the strength and resilience of children, to portray the path of healing as I’ve come to know it and offer a more authentic portrayal of survivors complete with those scars they will carry but full of optimism – for such is life, real life.

Of course, it was necessary to write all this in an interesting, fast-paced story peopled with complex characters and their relationships. It was the most difficult story I’ve ever written, but I like to think I succeeded. Although sales are slow (whose aren’t these days?) reviews have been favorable and This Bird Flew Away was recently honored as a finalist for literary fiction in the National Indies Excellence Book Awards.

Readers who want to know more can go to the novel’s website.

Your novel is currently on a virtual book tour. Could you tell us more about that? How do virtual book tours work and how can they benefit authors?

Interesting you should ask this, as I recently wrote a Hub on this subject, part of my Penurious Promoter series which tackles the difficult task of promoting a book on a small (or non-existent) budget, a task that makes writing the book look easy.

So instead of reiterating all that information here, allow me to point interested readers to my hub. (After all, isn’t that what hubs are for?) Look for #5, All About Book Tours.

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

Two things must come together to make good fiction. The first is an interesting premise, the story, itself and the second is its treatment, the use of all the mechanics of the writing craft most of which I’ve mentioned above.

I will be looking for both in equal measure.

The best of stories won’t work without the skills of good writing and even a master of writing techniques cannot make a dull story come to life.

What advice would you give to aspiring fiction writers on Hubpages?

Forget about markets, fame and financial rewards. They are unlikely to come your way – very unlikely.
Write because you want to, because the story must come to life. Write and rewrite (and rewrite again) until it is the best it can be.

Finishing the book is success. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.

Do not share your work until it is ready. But if you must, be prepared to accept criticism with an open mind and your emotions turned off. (Tough, I know.)

If you are serious about developing as a writer, try and find a mentor – a good editor or a discerning reader, someone who knows the craft. I learned more from my editor, Kathryn Lynn Davis, than I did from all the courses and workshops I’ve taken put together.

Never give up. By this, I don’t mean keep flogging that old manuscript that isn’t working no matter what. Know when to put it away and start something new. Always be working on (which includes thinking about) your next project. With each effort you will improve.

Make writing a part of your daily life. Learn all you can. Read voraciously and learn from other writers.

Most importantly, write from the heart. Forget genres, formulas, happily-every-after’s, market trends and go where your writer’s spirit takes you.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts here. Good luck to everyone.

[Thanks, lmmartin!]

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

Smurf Smuggling

Carolus may be one of HubPages’ newest fiction authors, but he has already written several awesome fiction Hubs. Among them is Smurf Smuggling, a hilarious piece on the illicit and illegal transport and use of Smurfs.

As an added bonus, Carolus created this recording of Smurf Smuggling– complete with awesome voices! I love what he’s done with the format and hope you enjoy this week’s special Fascinating Fiction episode as well.

Big thanks to Carolus for the Hub and the recording. If you, too, would like to submit a Hub and/or recording to the Fascinating Fiction podcast, drop us a line at podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.