There’s Still Time to Submit a HubPatron of the Arts Contest Winner with Great Tips from stephhicks68

Because her Hubs are all-around masterpieces, you might not initially realize that stephhicks68‘s Hubs are filled with gorgeous, original photos, but they are! In addition to being an excellent writer and Hubber, stephhicks68 is a brilliant photographer, which is why we are so excited to have her on the poetry panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest.

Whether you’re intent on submitting winning photo galleries for this month’s, or simply interested in adding more original photos to your Hubs, you’ll find the following interview with stephhicks68 to be interesting. She offers some great advice!

HubPages: When did you first start taking photos?

stephhicks68: I remember first experimenting with photography when I was at Girl Scout camp.  I was probably 11 or 12 and I used one of those old fashioned “Brownie” cameras my grandfather had given to me.  He was an excellent photographer who won local contests and often had his work published in tourism guides and on posters in his hometown.  Grandpa was definitely my inspiration.

What sort of camera do you shoot with?

Today, I use three different cameras (not including video cameras), depending on the subject and often logistics!  I have a digital SLR camera, a Nikon D60, that I’ve owned for about 4 years.  I have two lenses, a tripod and various filters.  I love the quality of the images, but its cumbersome to carry about.  For travel photographs, I often use my smaller Nikon Coolpix S6000.  It has a 7x zoom and 14.2 megapixels.  Good quality for a small camera.  Plus, I can mount it on a tripod, and it takes video as well.  With the improvements in cell phone cameras, I’m finding that they can often take decent photographs as well.  Often, my subjects are less intimidated by a cell phone, rather than a camera pointed in their direction.  And you can use some very interesting applications to make cell phone photographs quite artistic.

What do you think is the most common mistake beginning photographers make when taking photos?

Probably the most common mistake beginning photographers make is to wait for the “perfect” shot.  Now that most cameras don’t use film, you should just shoot away, changing your angle, zoom, perspective and experimenting with different lighting.  It’s easy to delete images that don’t work.  Change the settings on your camera from auto and see what happens.  Use of flash often washes out and flattens subjects, so unless you know how to bounce the light and stay the proper distance from your subject, I’d say turn off the flash.  In lower light situations, you’ll need a tripod because the shutter speed will slow down to allow for more light to enter and you don’t want a cool photograph ruined by shaky hands.

You have done a lot of travel photography- what sort of advice would you give to folks who want to take gorgeous photos while traveling abroad?

I love travel photography!  Its not very hard to capture beautiful images with just a few tips in mind.  Snapshots – poses in front of a building or landscape are not my favorite, but if you position people to the side of the viewfinder, or at an interesting angle – looking up from the base of stairs, etc., you might like the results better.  Photographing landscapes, vistas and natural settings should always be done without a flash.  If you have a portable tripod, I’d recommend using it to improve the sharpness of images.  When I’m traveling, I’m always looking for an interesting shot.  Perhaps some colorful awnings in a shopping district, or local people engaged in work.  Think of your photograph telling a story in a single frame.  What will your image convey?  Pull your subject in as close as possible and, if necessary, crop out distracting background.

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

As a judge on the photo panel for the HubPatron of the Arts contest, I will be looking for excellent composition, compelling images that tell a story, creative use of light, and interesting use of digital image editing software.  I am excited to see the entries, and hope that Hubbers will have fun with this contest!

What tips would you give to Hubbers who would like to use more original photos in their Hubs?

For Hubbers that want to use more original images in their Hubs, I would say, just do it!  Often, we are our own toughest critic.  You might be surprised at the positive responses you will get when you publish Hubs with your own images.  Plus, using your own images makes you more of an expert on your subject.  If you are writing about a specific location, for example, using your own photographs will show that you were there and given your readers a reason to trust what you are saying in the Hub.

Cooking and recipe Hubs are a great place to showcase your own culinary skills.  Taking your reader through a step-by-step process of baking an apple pie, or making homemade ice cream with your own images will inspire your readers to follow your instructions, perhaps even more than a “generic” recipe article on the Internet.  The same is true with gardening Hubs, or any how-to Hub!  Once you get started, you may wonder why you ever used someone else’s images for your Hubs!

[Thanks, stephhicks68!]

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

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.


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.

Excellent Photography Tips from Contest Judge SilverGenes

SilverGenes is one of the best photographers on HubPages. In addition to taking and sharing gorgeous pictures, SilverGenes has published several Hubs containing tutorials on editing photos to help Hubbers improve their own photography skills.

We are therefore privileged to have SilverGenes as one of the judges on the photos panel of the HubPatron of the Arts contest.  In the following interview, this fabulous photographer shares some excellent tips and advice.  Have a look!

HubPages: How did your get started with photography?

SilverGenes: My dad put a camera in my hands when I was two years old. He took me on photo treks and taught me how to look through the viewfinder to tell a story. Besides the camera, he took along sketching pads and charcoal. He believed photography and sketching went together so I learned about all the local flora and fauna along the way. One thing led to a better understanding of the other. A good photograph should elicit a feeling, a response in the viewer. The only way to achieve that is to have part of oneself invested in the image; otherwise it does not ring true. That was my start to a lifelong love of photography. In college, I had the opportunity to study with an instructor who had once been a protégé of Joseph Karsh. There is nothing quite like learning classic disciplines.

You create some amazing tutorials on photo editing- how many of the photos that you take do you edit? What are the primary reasons why someone would use special software to edit a photo?

Thank you. My workflow is camera, Lightroom, and Photoshop if I want to take it somewhere more creative. I shoot in RAW, use Lightroom, and edit every one of my photos to some extent. Usually, it’s a quick adjustment in Levels, Curves, and Sharpening. I also use burning and dodging for emphasis. Editing is necessary even if you shoot in Jpeg. Unlike film, digital images lose information when they are taken from the camera. You have probably noticed a difference between the image you see on your camera display and the one on your computer screen. There is no way around it. It is simply what happens as a result of the technology so in order to get a proper representation of the image as shot, you need to edit. Most digital cameras have their own software for editing and that’s just fine. A program like Photoshop or Lightroom is not a requirement but it certainly is nice to have. One quick tip: for better detail in light areas, slightly overexpose rather than underexpose. It goes against what seems logical but it works. Digital images are based on math and there is a lot more information in the light zone (white is 255) than there is on the dark end (black is 0). Just don’t allow blowout. You will be amazed what appears when you process the image.

What sort of camera do you shoot with?

I use a Canon Rebel, have used a Sigma SD-9 in the early days, a Fuji F-10 point and shoot, and covet a Mamiya. I’ve had great results with all of them except the Mamiya. It’s still a dream only.

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

The photo should be technically correct and have good tonal balance with no blowout at either end, except for an extreme highlight like a direct light source. The rest is artistic so hit me with your best shot. (Sorry, I had to say it.)

Good image structure is critical. It’s the backbone of your photo. Balance color, pay attention to composition. If it looks great when you close one eye, it probably works. Take your time with this one. Think of it like a collage and don’t be afraid to change your angle. Keep the eye moving through the image where you want it. Pay attention to lighting. That is what makes the shot – or not. Unless you are a pro, stay as far away from HDR as you can get. There is no better way to completely flatten an image than using HDR. Yes, it looked interesting in the beginning in the same way oils on black velvet looked interesting. Just don’t do it. Above all, be passionate. Be intimate. Touch the image and let it touch us.

What advice would you give to folks on HubPages (and beyond) who would like to take better photos?

Take lots of photos. Experiment. Take your camera off Auto. With film, we had to wait for processing to see the mistakes but with digital we can see problems immediately and reshoot. If you are new to photography, look for an evening course at your local college and learn with others. There is nothing like peer input to speed the learning curve. Read. There are some excellent books available and I highly recommend those by Scott Kelby.

Another word of advice: Once you play with your settings, remember to put them back. There is nothing quite like finding those fast photo-op moments are adjusted for an experimental white balance. Yes, I learned that one the hard way. This is when an advanced software program comes in pretty handy. Unfortunately, this is also when you see the limitations of software when compared with shooting it right in the first place.

And finally: Get up early and stay late for the best light. Most importantly, play and have fun!

[Thanks, SilverGenes!]

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


Start the HubPatron of the Arts Contest Right with Tips from Wayne Brown

Wayne Brown writes amazing fiction on HubPages, which is why we are very excited to have him on the creative writing panel in the HubPatron of the Arts contest which officially launches today.

In the interview below, this impressive Hubber reveals more about his background. In addition to finding out how Wayne Brown got started on HubPages, you may also come away with some interesting insights on what this important judge will be looking for in contest entries that can help you start this contest on the right foot.  Enjoy, and good luck!

When did you first start writing in earnest?

Most of my writing up until two years ago was technical stuff for work.  I had written a couple of things which I had shared with my sister but no one else. She was elated after she read my first one and encouraged me to write more, and to eventually write a book.  I had the desire to write but I was not as confident in my work as I find most folks to be.

Finally (to quiet my sister), I began looking for a place on the Internet to write, and that is when I discovered HubPages.  My first posting was called “The Vacant Lot” and was a retelling of my childhood days of summer and baseball.  I had written it a few months before. It was my sister’s favorite piece.  Pushing the “publish button” took both hands that first time.  Little did I know at the time but there was a good chance no one would even see it! LOL!

I then began to work on short-story fiction and some political commentary.  Charlie Campbell, “Ralwus,” introduced me to my first real intrigue with poetry. Finally, I gave it a try and found that it actually helped me tighten up my writing style in other areas.  I have been on HubPages now for 20 months and have published 472 pieces. In my my first year here I published an average of 30 Hubs every 30 days for the entire year.  I have slowed a bit since.  I think the inspiration to write was always there, I just never really recognized it.

From where do you get inspiration for your work?

Some of it has come from my own life experiences and interests.  I have always loved the old west, so it is very attractive to write about it.  It was a very colorful time in our history so there are plenty of story lines and angles for poetry.  I am inspired by things that touch my emotion and bring them to the surface.  I am also challenged to write about things which are less known to me.  My “Conversation Pieces” series revolves around placing myself into the mind of others and attempting to communicate their perspectives to the reader. Inspiration is everywhere and the broader one stretches themselves, the more opportunity there is to write.  Many times, when I begin to write something, all I have is the opening line, or a hook line or phrase.  I write that down and things begin to perk from there.

What would you say are the key elements of an engrossing story?

A good story revolves around action or emotion or possibly some combination of the two.  I don’t get carried away describing characters but attempt to give the reader just enough to form their own mental picture of the person. Some of the actions of the character tend to speak to their appearance and manner.  As some of the writers I have worked with here on HubPages will tell you, I am a strong believer in good dialogue as an economy of scale in conveying the storyline and painting the backdrop.  Good dialogue allows the reader to become immersed into the story rather than just being read to by the writer.  I am not an “outline freak” either.  I tend to be more of an “unbridled writer” having a general idea of where I am going but not necessarily mapping out every inch of the journey. That may change a bit if I decide to tackle a book at some point.  Some of my best endings to a story have come because I did not know how the story would end when I began to write it.  I try not to overthink a story or a poem…that first impluse is usually in the best.

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

I believe a good writer grabs the reader from the start, especially in the fictional arena. I will be looking for that hook that drags me into the story and keeps me there to the end.  I will be looking for a writer who makes me feel that I am witnessing the event as opposed to being “read to” about it. Don’t tell me what happened, show me with both actions, emotions, and dialogue.  A total work of fiction with no dialogue between the characters is not something that holds my attention very well. Bring all the elements if you are going to enter the contest. I will also be looking for quality, quality, and I’ll say it once more…Quality!  A good believeable story line written in a quality manner which employs the elements I mentioned earlier will be a contender in my book.

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

Desire is not enough in most cases to produce the type of quality you will need in writing good fiction.  Certainly desire is part of it but not the biggest.  You need a good, active imagination and the ability to let it go unbridled at times in order to achieve the story line you are looking to create.  Sometimes that revolves around violence and the struggles of life.  Sometimes it borders on the sci-fi area with things which seem almost beyond the normal human experience.

You also need a strong sense of empathy not only to write of the tender emotions associated with a character but to also deliver the convictions associated with the more evil side of the equation.  A good writer can shift the reader to those perspectives almost seamlessly letting him/her as the reader see the world through that person’s eyes and beliefs.  This is true of the fictional writer and also true of the poet.  If one cannot find those traits, it will be better to stick with other genres in your writing.

Finally, let me emphasize that “quality” is going to make or break you as a long term writer here on the Hub. Establish yourself with quality and then commit to sustaining that in all that you write.  Your fans will appreciate you for it and your run here on HubPages will be a good and rewarding one.

[Thanks, Wayne Brown!]

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.

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.

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.


An Interview with Drax: HubPages’ (Official!) Poet

Right as we were planning our upcoming November contest, we heard from Drax, one of the most well-known poets on HubPages.  He suggested to Paul Edmondson that we have a poetry contest, and a couple of conversations later, we had put together plans for a poetry, prose, and photos contest!

In addition to giving us some ideas for the HubPatron of the Arts contest, Drax has agreed to be an official judge on the competition’s poetry panel and also to share more about his poetry on HubPages in the following interview. Read on to discover more about this impressive Hubber and his involvement with November’s special event!

HubPages: You wrote in to Paul Edmondson about having a poetry contest on HubPages and were the primary inspiration behind the HubPatron of the Arts contest. What encouraged you to write in and suggest the competition?

Drax: I saw the competition for the plumbers and thought f**k, there has to be more to life and creativity than plumbing supplies, I read some fantastic poetry on Hubpages and know / feel all the poets are there carrying their cross silently in the wings, waiting…. waiting…

You’re known as the Unofficial HubPages Poet on HubPages. How did your gain that title? As Unofficial HubPages Poet, what do you see as your responsibilities?

Unofficial? Debatable… as this Hub says: Official Hub Poet

Well, in those early days, this was my very first Hub (written 08/15/06) and in struggling for a name I thought why not, hence Official Hub Poet 🙂

I’ve been waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and give me the official paperwork!!  As unofficial poet my responsibilities are light: turn up occasionally. Ideally I would like to be writing more poetry about Hubpages and things I see there since it is a big canvas just like external life was. 🙂

How would you best describe your poetry?

The good, the bad, and the ugly. I remember reading that Stanley Kunitz used to make up to a 100 edits to get a poem exactly as he wanted it and I would love to have that luxury, to polish and polish, however life always seems to intrude and so they turn into the paper plane variety. I write them and throw them, hoping…

Occasionally I do write a poem I am very happy with. It is either a result letting it boil for a while and coming back and editing and removing words to give the reader room to think… or a poem that just comes from nowhere and all I have to do is write it down.

What inspires your work?

It is hard to explain. I always know when something in my day has a different shape; it could be an event or some words or an image and from that comes the initial words. These few words are often enough to write a full poem from later on, as long as they are recorded as they come into consciousness, otherwise the whole concept is lost. This often happens at 4 in the morning and I know now from experience it is better to just get up and write and worry about the lost sleep later.

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

Something that makes me stop, something that resonates and reverberates in my day. The subject matter is not crucial… it is that central concept… the line or even a few words that makes you stop and think, to feel empathy with what the poet is trying to say or to draw attention to….

Yeah, yeah, I know we should all be locked up 🙂

What advice would you give to aspiring HubPages poets?

It is never too late to become what you might have been. If you have the ability to write it is beholden on you to do that and not waste your time sliding up and down the capitalist ladders or trying to deal compassionately with the snakes.

[Thanks, Drax!]

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


An Interview with Alastar Packer

As the HubPatron of the Arts contest approaches, we want to introduce you to the special Hubbers who will be serving as judges on the poetry, creative writing, and photo gallery panels.

Alastar Packer is one of the contest’s five creative writing judges.  Check out our exchange as we discuss what attracts him to creative writing, the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and what Hubbers should do to improve their chances of winning the HubPatron of the Arts contest.

HubPages: You say in your bio that you mostly write non-fiction, but enjoy reading (and occasionally) writing fiction. What is it about fiction that attracts you?

Alaster Packer: The unlimited subject matter. You can go places with fiction you can’t always go in non-fiction. The writer can use creative license to take the story to heights they may be limited by with non-fiction. One may also incorporate reality and real scenarios into the stories.

Given that so many biographies and reality-based shows are actually quite fictional, and that so many fictional books, shows, and movies are based on real events, what would you say is the primary difference between nonfiction and fiction?

The perception of the reader, led by the writer, and how they present the work.

What drives you to write?

A love and knowledge of certain subjects that brings a feeling of usefulness and satisfaction when shared with others and their responses back to the subject/work.

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

As a judge on fiction quality will be focused on and the basics of writing must be in place. The piece should be free of typos, the rules of grammar followed with sentence structure. Anything in the category called art must be of the highest caliber. That is not to limit the writer from using vernacular if the setting calls for it though. That adds to the reality of a good tale.

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

Aspiring writers should write on subjects that have not already been saturated. Even if its a romance story for example, put in something different.

[Thanks, Alastar Packer!]

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