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.

An Interview with JKenny: A Hubber with a Flair for Fiction, History, Nature, & More

JKenny may have joined HubPages a mere two months ago, but don’t let his newcomer status fool you! This inquisitive Hubber, whose real name is James, has already published 45 Hubs on a wide range of fascinating subjects- and shows no sign of slowing down!

In an attempt to discover more about the man behind some of HubPages most interesting new Hubs, we asked JKenny for an interview. The following exchange reveals a Hubber well worth following.

How did you find HubPages? What inspired you to join?

I’ve harbored a passion for writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember, and was desperate to try and turn my passion into a career. I was on the internet one evening and decided to conduct a search for ghostwriting jobs on Google; after a little browsing, I came across this site called HubPages and clicked on it out of curiosity. After taking the time to investigate what the site was all about, I thought ‘Wow, what a great idea.’ So I signed up and started writing straight away.

You share in the bio on your profile that your main passions in life revolve around natural history, flora, fauna, and environmentalism.

Yes, like writing and storytelling my passion for the natural world harks back to my early childhood. Whenever I study, write or simply immerse myself in the natural world, it helps lift my spirits, especially when feeling low. I love how you can go to the same places loads of times, and yet see or witness something you’ve never seen before. The biggest thing I love about nature is that you never quite know what to expect, it makes you want to go back more and more.

You also express an interest in history- particularly the Classical, Medieval, and Napoleonic eras. What about these particular time periods attracts you?

My fascination with the Napoleonic era derives from reading about the adventures of Horatio Hornblower and Richard Sharpe. I loved the stories, the locations, the weapons, and the way people spoke and dressed back then.

Living in England means that I’m never too far from a medieval castle, and as a child my imagination used to run wild whenever taken on a day out to one. I’m fortunate enough to live within ten miles of three famous English castles, Warwick, Dudley and Kenilworth Castle. I used to enjoy watching reenactments of jousts and sword fights, and then holding my own pretend sword fights with my brother; I’d always have to let him win though.

My interest in Classical history centers mostly on the Romans. I studied certain elements of it at school, but it wasn’t until I watched the film ‘Gladiator’ and taken a trip to Rome to see things like the Coliseum for myself, that my interest really fired up. I loved learning about legendary characters such as Caesar, Mark Antony, Claudius and Nero and reading stories originally written down 2000 years ago.

In addition to writing, you’re an avid reader. Do your reading and writing lives overlap?

Yes, definitely; I read almost as much as I write, if not more. One of the things I love about being on HubPages is reading books and articles for research that I normally wouldn’t have given a second look at. Every time I learn something new, it’s as though I’ve uncovered my own personal mystery, and the sense of enlightenment it gives you is awesome.

You have been publishing some creative writing on HubPages- namely your Temple of Cabal series, which you’re releasing in chapters. Could you tell us more about this?

The Temple of Cabal is a novel that I began working on before I joined HubPages. It’s a fantasy novel about how an ordinary student and his eccentric professor end up journeying into a fantasy world, full of weird and wonderful creatures that exists within a mirror in the professor’s basement. They have to rescue a family being held captive in the Temple of Cabal by an evil dark spirit. My inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but is mostly drawn from stories that captivated me as a child like ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia,’ and ‘The Lost World’ by Arthur Conan Doyle.

What are your goals for the next six months on HubPages? What sorts of Hubs might we expect to see from you in the future?

At the moment, I’m simply enjoying the experience of writing about things that I’m truly passionate about, and having people appreciate and take pleasure in reading my work. I’ll admit that money was one of the reasons I joined HubPages, and I hope to be earning a fairly decent amount in six months. Other than that, I intend to simply continue writing quality Hubs about subjects that interest me and enjoying the feedback that I get from them. When I’ve gained enough confidence, I may give myself a real challenge and trying writing about a topic that doesn’t naturally draw me in.

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.

But What About the Mouse?

The Night Before Christmas, one of the world’s most popular Santa Claus stories, prominently mentions a mouse in its opening sentence… but leaves it at that. Not satisfied with that ever-so-brief reference, cherylone decided to add some backstory to this holiday classic, and A Christmas Mice Story was born.

We hope you enjoy this special holiday edition of the Fascinating Fiction podcast (A Christmas Mice Story), and encourage you to stop by cherylone’s original Hub as well. It’s very sweet and a fun spinoff of a classic tale.

If you would like to read a story for our podcast, or have a short fiction Hub that you would like to see featured in the series, send us an email! Our address is podcast-at-hubpages-dot-com.

The Boy, the Butterfly, and the Broken Wing

This week’s Fascinating Fiction podcast comes in poem form, but is definitely a short story, and a profound one at that! The Boy, the Butterfly, and the Broken Wing by Mrs. Menagerie is a sweet story inspired by a real life experience she shared with her son.

Have a look at the original Hub to read the poem/story. It is very touching!

If you have a suggestion for a future Fascinating Fiction podcast or would be interested in volunteering your voice for one of the recordings, drop us a line at podcast-at-HubPages-dot-com.  We would love to hear from you!

 

Evil Thoughts

Some of my favorite stories are very short- one needn’t create a novel to prompt a reader to think, escape, or react!

Evil Thoughts (alternately titled Could It Be?), by SpanStar, consists of a dialogue between a human and the Ultimate Evil. SpanStar submitted his own recording of the story, so we have the extra benefit of listening to a story read by its very author. Though the recording is short, I particularly love its ending.

Thanks for the story and the reading, SpanStar!

If you are interested in submitting work of your own (a Hub, a recording, or a suggestion) to the Fascinating Fiction series, drop us an email at podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

The Snow Princess

Fascinating FictionOne of the fun things about writing fiction on HubPages is that the process can become deliciously interactive. In addition to getting feedback on your work, you may also get new ideas, suggestions, tips, and even challenges!

The latter was the case when it came to the creation of The Snow Princess: A Short Story by Website Examiner.  The Hub (or rather Hubs, since the first Hub evolved into a series) was inspired by Acaetnna who challenged him to write a short romantic story that had to include the words diamond, passionate, jealous, tantalising, and fragrance.

Listen in to this week’s Fascinating Fiction podcast to hear The Snow Princess read by Website Examiner (Morten Rand) himself!

Is there an awesome short story on HubPages that you think deserves more coverage, or are you interested in submitting some of your own narration (either of your work or that of another Hubber) to this series? Send us an email!

 

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.

 

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!

Nothing on the Other Side

There is something utterly fascinating about doors, be they serving as entrances to spaceships or covers of old, dusty wardrobes.  Paradigmsearch explores the fun plot device offered by the humble door- along with much, much more- in this excellent Hub!

For those who like listening to stories as much as they like reading them, here’s the recorded version:  Sometimes when I open the door there is nothing on the other side. Enjoy!

If you are interested in contributing to the Fascinating Fiction podcast series- either by submitting some of your own stories, or suggesting a short fictional Hub that you wrote or enjoyed, we would love to hear from you! Send us an email at podcastg (at) HubPages (dot) com.