April’s Contest Called; It Needs to Postpone

Due to unforeseen circumstances we unfortunately have had to postpone the Stellar Hub Showdown (April’s contest). I apologize for the inconvenience! We are just as excited about this contest as you are, so you can rest assured that we have every intention of  running the contest in the near future.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to get involved with our Weekly Topic Inspiration program, in which a newly created leaf-level Topic Page is featured each week. Hubs published within newly-created Topic Pages have much higher odds of being prominently Featured (and therefore getting more attention).

I also want to remind you that we run a contest each and every week through our Rising Star Program. You can vote for nominated Hubs (written by new Hubbers) that are showcased on three different top level Topic Pages each week. The winners are awarded with special Accolades and showcased in the weekly newsletter.

Thank you for your patience!

Product Review Tips from a Pro

When I think of great product reviews, I think of Outbound Dan. He is one of the best reviewers I know of- not just on HubPages, but on the Internet at large. His review Hubs, mostly covering outdoor gear, are succinct, useful, honest, well-written, and very well-illustrated. His great insights and clear photos demonstrate that he really puts the products he reviews to the test, which makes his work not only helpful, but trustworthy.

We can all therefore learn something from this fantastic noteworthy Hubber that can boost our chances of writing online reviews that see long-term, sustained success (and of winning a Rigorous Review Contest prize or two). Read on to learn Outbound Dan’s essential elements of a good online review, tips on research, and more.

What inspired you to review your outdoor gear online?

I worked at an outdoor retailer for a number of years, where I helped people make informed decisions on everything from hiking boots to kayaks. Though some patrons came armed with the latest gear guides and years of knowledge, others were newbies to this world. You see, often the success of a trip is based on the right gear for the climate, the terrain, and the individual.

To keep up on every product that we sold, I scoured the net for reviews and then realized how poor most of them were. Most articles listed as reviews weren’t reviews at all, and merely a rephrasing of the marketing material. It was then, that I decided that I should start reviewing the heap of outdoor equipment that had served me well (and sometimes not so well) in my thousands of miles of adventures.

Before you joined HubPages, did you create online reviews elsewhere?

Though I have written a few reviews for my personal blog, I have submitted dozens of reviews to manufacturers on their web pages. Though these reviews are concise, it is impossible to convey all of your impressions in 200 words or less. The HubPages format is extremely “review friendly.” I love the ability to incorporate multiple pictures, video, polls and quizzes within the mass of text blocks. Because my reviews go beyond a few lines of text, many of them have gone viral thanks to social media and the good graces of outdoor industry advocates.

Your reviews are incredibly detailed. In addition to analyzing how a product stands up to rigorous use, you include lots of great photos and careful listings of the product’s pros and cons. What would you say are the essential elements of a good online review?

There are a few essential elements of a good online review: credibility, methodology, readability, and honesty.

With so many reviewers out there employing dubious methods, you must prove your authenticity as an individual. Though people can always visit your profile page for more information, briefly include in each review why you are qualified to write this product evaluation.

You can further assert your expertise by including pictures of yourself actually using the product. Though stock pictures may look pretty, seeing someone wallowing in the mud with a weather beaten widget goes a long way in providing that street-cred that you need as a reviewer.

Explain your methodology and procedure for testing. Sure, you can always say that this whatchamacallit is “good” or works “well,” but you need to go further. Your readers want to know that their hard-earned cash is going toward a product that withstands abuse while accomplishing its intended task.

Another component is readability: break up those Text Capsules and make the information you are providing easy to find, devour, and worthwhile to share.

The fourth component to a great review is honesty. I can tell within the first paragraph if the person has actually used the product and if other agendas are afoot. If I suspect that the author is misleading me, I immediately retreat to the safety of the search results in my browser.

The online review space is pretty competitive- in addition to competing with other articles, you have to contend with online shopping sites, such as Amazon, which feature lots of customer reviews on product pages. What do you do to give your Hubs a competitive advantage? Do you research search results ahead of time? Do you title your review Hubs in any special way? Or do you focus more on creating a resource with more information than any normal review could provide?

Though I don’t do a lot of keyword research, my ear is continuously to the ground listing for hot trends in the outdoor market. For instance, new technologies like polymer-coated down and new waterproof / breathable garments are setting the outdoor industry ablaze with anticipation. Writing a product review that highlights these new advances is a sure way to garner web traffic.

For most of my product reviews, I have a fairly specialized target audience that needs durable and lightweight equipment for backcountry adventures. I always keep my readers in mind while writing, and tailor my style and voice to meet the expectations of that audience.

One of the most difficult things about writing evergreen product reviews is that the models often vary by year. Therefore, I suggest writing titles that include a brand, a model, and a purpose. Though the model may change, the brand and the purpose probably will not.

Don’t think of your review as a few words extolling the virtues or flaws of a product. You are developing a resource for people to use. As you weave your piece together, stay informed, be thorough and write clearly.

Does it take a certain kind of person to write good online reviews, or is this something anyone can do with the right format and know-how?

Though anyone can write a review, it is best that people stick to what they know. Surely, I could write a review on my DSL router, but it wouldn’t have the same credibility as my outdoor reviews have. Of course, I doubt that I could summon enough words to adequately critique it or find enough interest to stay awake. No, I’ll leave those reviews to the techies amongst us.

Everyone has a voice and an expertise over certain topics. Well-written rigorous reviews are a traffic-driving and reliable way to cement your online presence as an authority in your niche.

 

 

For more product review inspiration, see Outbound Dan’s Hubs for yourself!

Review Photo Inspiration from ktrapp

Earlier this month, we encouraged you to use original images in your Hubs and share them with us to give the community some ideas on how to best incorporate original images into excellent reviews.

Ktrapp stepped up to the plate with an excellent set of images used in her review of the Bissell Deep Cleaner, along with some reasoning as to why she chose to take some particular shots:

My goal with all 17 photos from my Bissell deep cleaner Hub was to show that I really purchased, assembled, and used the product so as to give my review credibility. Not to mention, a picture visually illustrates what might otherwise take sentences to convey in words, and may catch the attention of someone just skimming the Hub.

I decided to open the Hub with a photo of the Bissell box and my dog taken in my family room in order to (a) capture the reader’s attention, (b) quickly convey a problem/solution, and (c) show that this review was written by a real homeowner who used the product.

When I opened my Bissell carton and was surprised to see that it only took four screws to assemble the cleaner I decided to photograph it so I could show that not only did I really purchase the product and put it together, but it was incredibly easy to do.

Another photo that I feel lends credibility to my product review is the dirty water being poured down the drain. Not only does it once again demonstrate that I actually used the product, but it shows that it works.

The photos ktrapp included in the review absolutely add credibility to the Hub- it is very clear that she bought, assembled, and used the product she reviewed. Her images make it clear what the product looks like in action and give readers a fantastic idea of what they might expect from it.

The words she added to the first image add additional personality to the Hub and make it more fun to read (we’ll admit that not all reviews are very engaging or make us feel like we are reading something written by a ‘real person’ who has pet hair problems like the rest of us).

I am so glad that that ktrapp included assembly and maintenance images as well as photos of what the product looks like in use. It is very good to know about all the aspects of using a product if one is considering buying it, many reviews leave out important details about putting products together and cleaning them out.

All in all, ktrapp offers some great inspiration for image use in reviews. I hope her excellent deep cleaner Hub inspires you to have another go yourself! If this will be your first time submitting a contest entry, be sure to stop by our official contest page to read the reviews and submission requirements before you get started.

Good luck, everyone, and thanks for sharing your tips with us, ktrapp!

 

The HubPages Rigorous Review Contest

This November, we will launch the HubPages Rigorous Review Contest, an autumnal competition centered around the use of our Ratings Capsule, which adds a star rating to Hubs reviewing products, places, and services (you can choose whether the star rating is that of your own or the collective rating of your readers).

The contest boasts over 60 prizes, including:

  • $700 in $25 Daily Drawing Prizes awarded to one randomly selected review entry every day of the contest
  • $700 in $25 Weekly Prizes awarded to the seven best review Hubs each week
  • $50 Best Product Review Prize for the best product review
  • $50 Best Service Review Prize for the best service review
  • $50 Best Restaurant Review Prize for the best restaurant review
  • $50 Best Place Review Prize for the best place review
  • $200 Grand Prize for the best overall review

And comes right in time for holiday shopping season, so as you research various products and gifts for your friends, colleagues, and family, consider writing reviews of them using the Ratings Capsule!

Should you like to plan for the contest and start drafting Hubs ahead of time, here are the important starting, ending, and awarding dates to keep in mind:

  • Hub entries may first be submitted Wednesday, October 31st at 12:00pm (PT)
  • The deadline for Day 1 of the contest is Thursday, November 1st at 12:00pm (PT) Subsequent deadlines are always at noon (PT)
  • The final deadline for entries is Wednesday, November 28th at 12:00pm (PT)
  • Daily Drawing prize winners will be announced every weekday around 4:00pm (PT) (and on the Monday following Thanksgiving for entries submitted for November 22nd and 23rd)
  • Weekly Prize winners will be announced on Mondays (starting on the 12th of November and continuing through December 3rd)
  • Finalists and Grand Prize winners will be announced on Friday, December 7th around 4:00pm (PT)

Please also note that all HubPages contests are run on Pacific Time (there are plenty of handy reference sites for checking the current time at HubPages Headquarters should you not know the exact time difference between our home and yours).

To ensure that your November review Hubs have the best possible shot at success, keep our entry requirements in mind as you craft them:

  • Hub entries must contain at least the Ratings Capsule (see our Learning Center guide on the Ratings Capsule)
  • Hub entries must have at least one image
  • All images must be legally used (see our Learning Center guide on proper image use)
  • All images (unless original) must come with attribution and link to their source
  • Entries must be published for the first time on that given contest day
  • Hub entries must be a minimum of 500 words
  • Hub entries must be entirely original to HubPages

Throughout the month of October we’ll present you with tips and advice on creating review Hubs that have good odds of winning and have a better shot of seeing sustained success over time.

To read through the full contest details, review our judging criteria, as well as review the all important official rules, visit the dedicated contest page. We can’t wait to review your entries!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! – The Cookbook Contest Concludes

The HubPages Cookbook Contest has drawn to a close, but the amazing recipes published throughout will live on! We read so many fantastic entries — from frosty drinks to decadent desserts, from culinary classics to untried originals. With a whopping 1828 entries and 792 participants, the judging panel sure had their work cut out for them. It was tough to choose our winners, but we finally did! While these recipes represent some of the best HubPages has to offer, visitors will be enjoying all the recipes submitted during this contest for years to come!

So without any ado whatsoever, your HubPages Cookbook Contest winners!

  • Grand Prize Winner: Curry Corn Chowder With Pancetta by pennylu: This top-of-the-line Hub includes a fantastic step-by-step photo guide with detailed, full-width, original photos, plus ends with a short quiz filled with fun facts!
  • Best Dessert Recipe: Horchata Ice Cream With Bananas & Butter Caramel Sauce by vespawoolf: This recipe has an extremely unique topic that has not already been exhaustively covered online, and includes helpful ice cream making tips.
  • Best Drink Recipe: How to Make Drinks that Glow in the Dark by cocopreme: cocopreme’s Hub features multiple, very unique and playful recipes with cool explanations of the science behind glowing drinks as well as three original videos (added in Video Capsules via YouTube)
  • Best Family Recipe: Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag by ktrapp: Featuring an original video, fun stats on favorite ice cram flavors, this Hub also offers an explanation of what chemically happens during the freezing process!
  • Best Healthy Recipe: Nut Burgers with Shiitake Mushrooms: a Gluten Free Recipe by Melovy: Melovy offers very helpful nutritional information, tips on substitutions, alterations for people with additional dietary restrictions, and a complementary dish recipe.
  • Best Budget-Friendly Recipe: Roast Turkey Thigh and Salad Wraps: A Budget Family Sharing Platter by Gordon Hamilton: This Hub provides readers with a detailed cost evaluation (in two currencies) and helpful explanations of specific ingredients and tools!

Congratulations to all our winners, including all of our Daily Drawing and Weekly Winners (complete list available in the forums). We hope you enjoyed writing these recipes as much as we enjoyed reading them!

Stay tuned for our next contest, coming this fall!

Cast Your Votes in the Second Annual Hubbies!

It is once again time for the annual Hubbie Awards. We invite you to cast your votes for the best Hubs and Hubbers of the year. Those who win will be awarded with the most rare and coveted Accolades on HubPages (not to mention the admiration of the entire community).

Before visiting the official voting form, peruse the awards below and make a list of the Hubs (and their URLs, which you’ll need for the form) and Hubbers you think should win each one. You can only cast your vote once, so be sure to have all your selections ready.

Voting will be open from now until Wednesday, July 25th (votes cast after the 24th at midnight PT will not be counted). Be sure to let your voice be heard!

Hubbie Awards

 

Top:

  • Best All-Around Hub
  • Best All-Around Hubber

Hubber-Based:

  • Most Likely to be Banned in the Forums
  • Most Likely to Become a HubPages Employee
  • HubPages Class Clown
  • Best Avatar
  • Best Community Activist
  • Most Helpful Hubber
  • Most Supportive Hubber
  • Most Cheerful Hubber
  • Best Teacher
  • Most Likely to Go Viral
  • Best Fiction Writer
  • Best Poet
  • Funniest Hubber
  • Most Political Hubber
  • Most Religious Hubber
  • Most Likely to Become a Millionaire
  • Forum King
  • Forum Queen

Hub-based:

  • Most Interesting Hub
  • Most Useful Hub
  • Most Beautiful Hub
  • Most Informative Hub
  • Most Awesome Hub
  • Funniest Hub

Finished deliberating? Cast your votes now by visiting the official Hubbie Award voting form.

Introducing Your Cookbook Contest Judges!

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

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

 

 

Hillary Mickell

Hillary Mickell

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

She is a board member at HOPE for Haiti Foundation.

 

 

Joey Lee

Joey Lee

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

 

 

 

Jess Kapadia

Jess Kapadia

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

 

 

 

Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley

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

 

 

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

Following Up with the HubPatron of the Arts Grand Prize Winner

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

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

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

Which books have you just published?

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

Could you tell us a bit more about those stories?

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

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

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

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

What was the hardest part of wrapping these works up?

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

Are you going to write another book?

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

What are your future writing plans?

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

What has been the most satisfying aspect of this experience?

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

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

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

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

A New Contest & The Benefits of Q&A

The HubPages Know it All ContestGreat news, Hubbers! We’ve got another contest in the works. The HubPages Know It All Contest will take place throughout the month of March, and revolves around the Answers section of the site. You will be able to win prizes not only for Hubs you publish as Answers to Questions, but also for Questions you ask that inspire winning Hubs.

In honor of our upcoming contest, we’ve made this week’s Online Writing Insider all about the benefits of using Q&A as an online writer. In the podcast (The Benefits Asking and Answering Questions Online), we discuss various ways in which both asking and answering questions online can help you conduct research, build a brand, and engage in some valuable networking.

Now, you’re probably interested in knowing more about the contest, so here are the major details.

Most importantly, we’ll be giving away over $3,600 in prize money:

  • $1400 in $50 Daily Drawing Prizes awarded to a randomly selected Hub Answer from the entries submitted each day of the contest
    • $280 in $10 Daily Drawing Prizes awarded to each Question that the Daily Drawing Hubs Answer
  • $600 in $50 Weekly Prizes awarded to the best Hub Answers of each week
    • $300 in $25 Weekly Prizes awarded to the Questions that each winning Weekly Hub Answer
  • $500 First Place Hub Answer Prize
    • $100 First Place Question Prize for the Question that inspires the First Place winner
  • $250 Second Place Hub Answer Prize
    • $50 Second Place Question Prize for the Question that inspires the Second Place winner
  • $100 Third Place Hub Answer Prize
    • $25 Third Place Question Prize for the Question that inspires the Third Place winner

Now, to win these prizes:

  • Hub entries must answer a Question on HubPages (the Hub must be created by first visiting the Question, then clicking “answer this question” and then choosing the “make a Hub about it” option. Short-form responses are not entered in the contest.)
  • Hub entries must have at least one image, and all images are legally used (see our Learning Center guide on legal image use)
  • Entries must be published for the first time on that given contest day
  • Hub entries must be a minimum of 500 words
  • Question and Hub entries must be entirely original to HubPages
  • Hub entries must not be in response to your own Question

And non-random winners will be judged based on:

  • The extent to which the entry accurately answers the Question asked
  • The presence and quality of original photos and video
  • Whether the entry is on a long-tail, niche topic that has not been extensively covered online
  • Whether the entry has a search-friendly title (mirrors common search terms)
  • Excellent writing (proper use of grammar, capitalization)
  • The entry’s uniqueness (not copied or paraphrased from elsewhere online, full of details, examples, names, and figures)
  • Attractive formatting (avoidance of excessive link, eBay, or Amazon capsule clutter, excessive bolding or italics, and all-caps)
  • Judicious use of relevant capsules (original photos [especially your own], video, maps, tables, links, etc.)

Finally, while the contest does not start until March 1st, you can start asking Questions that qualify and drafting Hub Answers (NOT published) now! Here are the logistical details:

  • Hub Answers may first be submitted Thursday, March 1st at 12:00pm (PT) (though Questions may be asked at any time, and Hub Answers may be started as drafts, but not published, ahead of time)
  • The final deadline for entries is Friday, March 30th at 12:00pm (PT)
  • Daily Drawing prize winners will be announced every weekday around 4:00pm (PT)
  • Weekly Prize winners will be announced on Mondays (starting on the 12th)
  • First, Second, and Third Place winners will be announced on Friday, April 6th around 4:00pm (PT)

We hope you’re as excited about this contest as we are- and that you have fun with the Answers feature on our site!

Interview with a Winning HubPages Creative Writer

In November of this year, Marlin55 won the Creative Writing Grand Prize in the HubPatron of the Arts contest for The Agency, a short story with a splendid, cinematic feel. Marlin66 also won the HubPatron of the Arts Smashwords prize, and will have his work published as an ebook soon.

Read on for a peek at the Hubber behind the evocative stories!

First, congratulations on winning first place in the Creative Writing category in the HubPatron of the Arts contest! What inspired The Agency?

Thank you, Simone. There are so many talented writers here on HubPages and I feel honored to have taken part in the contest with them. I have to say that The Agency was influenced by a number of things. When I was a kid, I watched a lot of Alfred Hitchcock and read lots of detective magazines, so I combined those with my love for old Hollywood, and threw in a little skill.

You include quite a few twists and turns in the story, and it is definitely more complex than most of the short stories submitted as entries in the contest- how did you construct the plot? Did you start with an outline and build around it, or just write?

I’m what I call a “fat writer.” I write everything that comes to my mind. I’ve never used an outline or note cards to write a book because I find it too constrictive. So, I am one of those writers that just writes. My plot is always derived from a central question to be explored. I actually got that technique from writing scripts and found that it works very well when writing books and short stories. The central question in The Agency is when Murdoch asked Frank Spencer if he’d won an Oscar for his role in the movie, Midnight to Nowhere. Every scene that followed was built around that question.

You mention that you work in film, which helps to explain the cinematic elements in The Agency. How much would you say your career influences your writing?

A lot. There are so many details to pay attention to so that you get your idea across on film. Film is not a piece of linear work. There are many hooks involved using sound, music and facial expressions and those hooks are staggered to bring you effortlessly from one scene to the next. Editing film has taught me to visualize a scene in my head and to know where to place the hooks. I use the same technique for writing hooks into the scenes of a story.

When you write a new story, do you have any particular process you go through? How long does it typically take you to finish something?

Yes, I write “fat” and then go back and do a lot of editing. The time it takes depends on the length of the manuscript and how involved it is. I wrote the rough draft for The Agency in two days, but then spent a week editing it.

What advice would you have for other fiction writers on HubPages?

Stretch. After you finish a story, start another one and write that story even better. There is always room for improvement for all of us. Don’t be afraid to experiment because there is no such thing as failure.

I would like to add one more thing. And that is a great big thank you to my wife. I would not have made it this far without her love, support, and her help.