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.

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.

A Hat Tip to Some Amazing Poets

It has been nearly a week since the HubPatron of the Arts Contest came to a close, and Hubbers are still talking about the amazing Hubs that were published as entries. Of the 1,710 entries submitted, the majority were poems, and alas, only three could be selected as finalists for that category.

That said, the contest Judges and I agree that some Hubs deserve honorable mention- and a good read! If you did not review entries as they were published, you might enjoy this ‘best of’ listing of some of the judges’ favorite Hubbers and Hubs that were not selected as winners.

SimeyC – Though many know SimeyC for his didactic, article-like work, he submitted quite a few poems in the contest to which judges and readers alike responded most favorably:

Kathryn Vercillo – Another Hubber known mostly for her informative prose, Kathryn Vercillo also submitted a couple of excellent, much-enjoyed poems:

Tom Rubenoff – Yes, yes, Tom Rubenoff did go on to win first place in the poetry section of the contest, but the win was for only one of his amazing entries. Here are more of his beautiful, moving submissions:

RedElf, another finalist, also wrote a beautiful (non-winning) Hub titled When Love Dies… that deserves recognition.

Some additional poems that come highly recommended are Talking to yourself – Your  inner child (a poem) by sofs, For My Ragnar by QudsiaP1, In This Castle of a Sleeping Beauty by The Lost Dutchman, and Anonymous: A Poem by habee.

Are you interested in getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the approaches different judges took in the contest? Check out RebekahELLE’s Hub! She shares her experience as a HubPatron of the Arts poetry judge most eloquently.

 

[image by Anonymous Account via flickr]

Introducing the HubPatron of the Arts Contest

HubPages is a vast site, full of many, many different subcommunities of writers and enthusiasts.  Some of the strongest communities on our site are comprised of the artistically-inclined: poets, fiction writers, and photographers.  To celebrate these amazing artists, we decided to make our next contest all about prose, poetry and photos!

Enter the HubPatron of the Arts Contest– HubPages’ first ever contest dedicated entirely to the Poems and Poetry, Creative Writing, and Photo Galleries categories.  Where in previous contests, judges looked for utility, how-to guides, and oodles of didactic information, judges in this contest will focus exclusively on artistry, quality, and the emotions that entries evoke.

Another novel aspect of this contest involves the way in which judging will take place. Instead of having staff do all the judging, or outsourcing judging to outside experts, we assembled three panels to the top poetry, prose, and photos experts on HubPages.com.

We will be giving away over $3,000 in prizes, including a special Smashwords-sponsored prize given to one of the First Place winners in the contest. The Smashwords winner will have the opportunity to have a collection of his or her work formatted, published, and distributed as an ebook, which is pretty exciting!

The full details are below. Also, be sure visit our official contest page, where you can review submission requirements and rules in their entirety.  We look forward to reading your entries!

 

Prizes ($3,000 total): 

  • $1050 in $50 Daily Drawing Prizes (One Daily Drawing winner is selected at random from each day’s entries)
  • $500 Grand Prize for First Place Poem
    • $100 for Second Place Poem
    • $50 for Third Place Poem
  • $500 Grand Prize for First Place Fictional Creative Writing
    • $100 for Second Place Creative Writing
    • $50 for Third Place Creative Writing
  • $500 Grand Prize for First Place Image Gallery
    • $100 for Second Place Photo Gallery
    • $50 for Third Place Photo Gallery
  • Smashwords Prize
    • The opportunity to have a collection of the author’s work published as an ebook
    • Awarded to one of the three Grand Prize winners (chosen by HubPages staff judges)
    • Includes free formatting, a free ebook cover, free publishing, and free distribution as an ebook to major ebook retailers including Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store.

How to enter:

  1. Join HubPages
  2. Create an entry (keeping in mind the qualifying requirements and judging criteria) within the Poems and Poetry, Creative Writing, or Photo Galleries category.
  3. Add the tag: contest
  4. Publish your Hub!

Qualifying Requirements:

  • Contain a minimum of 500 words (if the entry is a photo gallery or poem, an explanation of the poem or description of the photos is required)
  • Be properly categorized within the fictional story, poem, or image gallery category on HubPages
  • Have at least one image, and all images must be legally used (see our Learning Center guide on legal image use)
  • Be published for the first time on that given contest day
  • Be entirely original to HubPages

Judging Criteria:
Each panel of judges will be evaluating the entries in its section based on…

  • The quality of writing or photos
  • The originality of writing or photos
  • The emotional/aesthetic impact of writing or photos
  • Good, attractive formatting

HubPages Judges:

Timing:

  • Entries may first be submitted Tuesday, November 1st at 12:00pm (PT)
  • The final deadline for entries is Tuesday, November 22nd at 12:00pm (PT)
  • Daily Drawing prize winners will be announced every weekday around 4:00pm (PT)
  • Smashwords, First, Second, and Third Place prizes will be announced Friday, December 2nd at 4:00pm (PT)