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.

Creative Hubbing: What to Expect

This week’s Online Writing Insider is inspired by Anish Patel, who sent in the following question:

What does HubPages think about fictional Hubs or other creative Hubs? (spoofs, funny hubs, short stories, poetry, comic strips etc.) Is it a good idea?

Of course publishing creative writing and art on HubPages is a great idea! We hosted the HubPatron of the Arts Contest last November just to highlight these types of Hubs, and we absolutely love the fiction, photos, art, and poetry people regularly share in our community.

That said, publishing creative content on HubPages is a very different experience from publishing informative Hubs. We cover these differences in this week’s podcast (The Gist of Creative Writing Online), though the gist is this:

  • HubPages is a great place to develop your skills and get feedback on your work
  • HubPages is a wonderful place to showcase your work and host an online portfolio
  • HubPages is a splendid place to build a following

BUT…

  • Creative Hubs don’t typically earn significant ad revenue
  • Creative Hubs won’t be found on their own- you have to share them and promote them if you want them to be read

With reasonable expectations, we think any creative type could have a blast on HubPages- plus make a bunch of meaningful connections! Thanks for the great question, Anish. 😀

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.

On Writing Well: On NOT Losing the Plot

Much of the time, when writing prose, we get so carried away by character development and writing style that we forget all about the central structure of our work – the plot. Plot (or story, it really is the same thing) plays a critical role within creative prose. In fact as a judge of the recent creative writing contest, I had to unwillingly set aside very well written pieces just because they had no discernible plot. Sticking to a story – however complex or simple, is critical to your writing.

Happily, the plot is the easiest of all the creative writing elements. It consists of:

  • Exposition: This is where the narrative universe is set up and made accessible. It is common to start with a gripping hook, or offer the back-story, and present the action and inner life of the main character.
  • Rising Action: This is where the drama begins to unfold. It mainly describes a conflict or complication, where the main character meets an obstacle, either internal or external where he or she is unable to get what they desire.
  • Climax: This is often the middle of the piece where the drama comes to a head – usually this consists of a confrontation between the main character and the obstacle, where it becomes obvious that the status quo, that we became aware of in the exposition, is no longer possible.
  • Falling action: This is where the dramatic narrative eases, where tensions begin to loosen, and the new, post-climatic world becomes available to the reader.
  • Resolution: This is where the writer knits up all loose threads into a beautiful pattern, offering the reader a sense of both closure and satisfaction.

The next time you sit down for some creative writing, consider these elements and how they manifest themselves in your work.

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.