Discovered by a Greeter: Haunty Interviews Ariana Philips

There are all sorts of fascinating people on HubPages- from archaeologists to zoologists! Ariana Philips falls into the former position, though she brings much more to the table than a strong understanding of history and culture. Having discovered her delightful Foodlore series, Haunty (a HubGreeter) invited Ariana Philips to be a part of our Discovered by a Greeter series. With no further ado, we introduce Ariana Philips- a fantastic new Hubber to follow!

You are a recent college graduate holding a BA in History and Anthropology. Which field of anthropology do you belong to and what are your areas of interest?

I’m an archaeologist, though a lot of my interests are in bio archaeology, which looks more specifically at what we can learn about past peoples through studying their bones. My mother was born in Sicily, so I’m drawn to the cultures of the Romans and to some extent the Greeks as well, in fact classics was my minor. I love learning about these great civilizations and even took three years of Latin courses, though I’ve forgotten a lot since then.

What brought you to HubPages and how do you like it here?

I first heard of HubPages from an ad on I thought that it looked intriguing and since I had some spare time on my hands, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did too, since HubPages has an awesome community. I love being able to see what other people are writing about and having a place to share all the random facts that I come across. As of yet I haven’t been able to find a technical job in anthropology or history, but writing these articles has given me a chance to keep good writing and research habits, plus it’s fun to learn new things.

You bring us super interesting and unique food tales to munch on. In this splendid Foodlore series, you share less-known facts, useful tips, and delicious recipes! Whence your interest in the subject?

As an archaeologist and a historian I love to learn about people from different parts of the world throughout time. Since I was a classics minor we were required to take a few folklore classes, and I loved hearing the different myths that people used to explain the world around them. I am part Italian so naturally I have an affinity with the kitchen, and love all kinds of different foods. These were all the ingredients, if you’ll excuse the pun, for the inspiration for the Foodlore series, but I didn’t put mix them together until I was reviewing the story of Adam and Eve one day.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the forbidden fruit. I started wondering why almost every reference to the forbidden fruit I’ve heard, besides the actual account in the Bible, assumed the fruit was an apple. This curiosity led me to do some research on apples and my findings made me think that it would be fun to combine a lot of my different interests to delve into the history of other foods as well and thus Foodlore was born.

Do you have any peculiar habits as a writer?

I wouldn’t say that I have any peculiar habits when it comes to my writing method. Writing has changed the way that I look at things, though. Now when I read a book of fairy tales I take notes about different aspects of the story. I’m continually learning and developing as a writer, which is great.

A few weeks ago, you surprised us with a blissfully light-hearted poem that talks about no less than the significance of our human journey, our being stones waiting to be carved. Do you write poem regularly and what inspires them?

The poem that I shared is about our journey through life and how we are shaped by the hand of the Lord as we go along the way. I don’t write poetry too often but sometimes feelings and thoughts that I have are more easily expressed through poetry or song. Most of the poetry I have written has a religious theme and come from experiences that I have had as I’ve felt the love of my Savior. I actually wrote a lot of my poetry while I was serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

It seems to me that you have a great appreciation of figurative and expressive language. What are your future plans for writing in general and on HubPages?

I’ve dreamed of writing professionally since I was about 12. I want to use my knowledge of mythology, history, anthropology and general folklore to create stories that not only entertain, but also encourage readers to go and check out more about the rich cultural past that is found in so many of the great civilizations through out the world.

As for writing on HubPages, I plan on continuing the Foodlore series, but there are many other subjects that I plan on exploring in future Hubs.

You had a great, confident start on HubPages. Based on your own experience, what advice would you give new Hubbers joining today?

Set a schedule and stick to it! I personally tend to be more of a procrastinator, so setting a schedule has helped me out a lot. When I started writing for HubPages I sat down and decided how many articles I wanted to write a week, and what days I would publish them. So far this has worked really well for me and I feel like it makes it easier for my readers since they know when they can expect my next article. I also would suggest that they take the time to really become part of the HubPages community. I’ve found a lot of support from other Hubbers and they’ve given me some really good feed back on how I could improve my articles. More than that I would say that it’s important to have fun with what you write. If you don’t enjoy writing it, more likely than not people are not going to enjoy reading it.
I feel that each Hubber brings something unique to HubPages and that any subject can be interesting when the person writing about it truly has a passion for it.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Maddie Ruud

In addition to being an invaluable member of the HubPages team, our Community Manager Maddie Ruud is a very successful Hubber, having been a member of our community well before joining the HubPages staff. Didn’t know that? That fun fact is just the tip of the iceberg! Read Maddie’s responses to Hubbers’ questions below to get to know one of HubPages’ coolest team members (and Hubbers in general).

How does HubPages handle negativity written about them on the Internet from outside sources? -AEvans

Our users are the best source of feedback we have! As a representatives of HubPages, I try to set aside whatever personal defensiveness or frustration I feel, and focus on validating people’s concerns. It’s very important to respond to valid complaints and constructive criticism, but there is also some judgement involved.

Sometimes, a Hubber or former Hubber will post a rant against us that doesn’t contain a concrete, actionable issue. In these cases, responding often sparks further anger. It can be hard to tell which way the conversation will go, so I tend to give the author the benefit of the doubt until it’s abundantly clear that there is nothing more to be gained from the interaction.

How do you squeeze your lovelife into such demanding and hectic HubPages? -prettydarkhorse

It can be difficult! I know I really struggled with work-life balance for a long time, working late into the night and often far beyond full-time. A serious health issue that completely took me out of commission completely for several weeks recently forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate. In the end, I’m much more productive for HubPages if I’m healthy and happy in my personal life!

I am blessed to have a wonderful partner who supports me every step of the way. Our favorite ways of spending time together are simple household chores like tending our organic vegetable garden, or cooking up the fruits of our labor in the kitchen. We also enjoy going to baseball games to root on our San Francisco Giants and cheering on our local league at women’s flat track roller derby bouts.

What’s your favorite thing about San Francisco? – wordscribe43

My favorite thing about San Francisco (and the Bay Area in general) is the incredible diversity, in terms of backgrounds, cultures, interests, cuisines, and lifestyles. I’ve moved away several times, but I always come back. We’re spoiled here! On any given weekend, I can take in spectacular opera and scream myself hoarse at a roller derby bout. I can cheer on the SF Gay Pride Parade in the morning and dance at an underground hip-hop show in Oakland that night. I can go up into the Berkeley hills for a scenic trek with great views of the Bay, or enjoy an urban hike through the windy streets of San Francisco. Everybody fits in here, so it’s an incredible place to live, especially for anyone as “out there” as I am.

Have you ever wanted to smack a Hubber on the nose with a rolled up newspaper? -paradigmsearch

Never! About six years ago, I adopted a severely traumatized rescue dog, so I know the damage such abuse can cause. 😉 I wouldn’t usually liken Hubbers to dogs (as much as I love them both), but since you invited the comparison, I believe in positive reinforcement over punishment, as a teaching tool. Of course, there are instances where it’s necessary to point out a mistake, such as when a Hub violates a rule and is moderated to allow for revision, but we’re constantly working to improve our messaging in an attempt to be more encouraging and feel less like a virtual slap on the wrist.

Are there Hubbers that you would like to meet in person? -ripplemaker

Are there any I wouldn’t? Honestly, I would love to meet each and every Hubber in person, if that were possible. It’s great to put a live, moving, speaking face to a username. Even those who make no secret of their personal dislike for me… or perhaps, especially those. I find that on the internet, people feel protected by relative anonymity and by distance, which can cause a lot of angst and conflict. I’m sure that the people who don’t get along with me on the forums would be much more civil and friendly in person… especially once they were satisfied that I’m actually human.

Discovered by a Greeter: Haunty Interviews Vitallani

As Haunty (a member of the HubGreeter team) was saying hello to new community members one day, he stumbled across Vitallani. Seeing her passion for writing (she wants to become a children’s book author, is working on novel, and writes very cool poems), Haunty invited her to participate in the Discovered by a Greeter series on our blog. Below you will learn more of the background behind this up-and-coming Hubber!

You are a creative writing student aspiring to become a children’s author. How long have you had this dream and can you trace its origin? Do you still have everything you have ever written?

I’ve always enjoyed writing; the first story I wrote was when I was five. It was called the Golden Tune Box, and about a secret agent trying to protect the Queen’s music box from something or other. When I was a kid, I went through the usual childhood dream jobs: vet, astronaut, etc, but it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I decided that I wanted to make writing a career. I have almost all of what I have ever written. I kept my creative writing exercise books from primary school, which I find amusing to read now and again, and I have everything I’ve written saved on my computer and backed up a couple of times. Many years ago, the household computer was being replaced, I failed to save my work properly, and lost it all. I still have a hard copy of the stuff, but I can’t edit or change it. Now I make sure all my stuff is backed up.

You began writing at a young age creating your first detective story at 5. In 2005, you self-published your first children’s book, Unwanted Gift: The Trilogy, which is available on What inspired you? What was the reception like? Would you change anything about the book today?

There is so much I would change. I wrote that book when I was fourteen, so my writing skills weren’t all that great. They were good for a fourteen year old, but not for a published novel. As it was self-published, everything we did with it was an additional cost to my parents, so we didn’t pay for any promotion or advertising, so it meant no one really knew about it apart from family and friends. We sold a number to them, but only got two or free sales from strangers. To be honest, I was thrilled with that; it was really exciting. I think one other problem, apart from the promotional aspect, was the cost. Author House, the company I published with priced the book way too high. That’s why I also made the book available on kindle, so it is at a reasonable price.

Would you give us some insight into what you have learned about publishing?

I’ve learnt that the commitment of a self-publishing company is minimal. There is no cost to them, and the longer it takes to get published, the more money you will eventually be paying. There was this one section in my story that was in French, and as proof reading was an additional cost, we did it ourselves. The problem was, every time we sent the changes back that they had to make, on the next time round, they would have done something that made another part of the text wrong. It took ages to sort out, and a lot of postage.

Why is your new book taking so long to be finished? Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your own work?

I am definitely a perfectionist. Sometimes if I am writing something, I’ll just get so angry at myself because I feel it is a load of crap. I know the good stuff only comes on the re-write, but when I feel like I’m doing doing well it puts up a barrier and I just get depressed and can’t write. Another reason is that I started writing it when I was still at school, and my school work always took priority. So far my story, Paradox 101, has taken a back seat to GCSEs, A-Levels, and a BA. I’m now doing my MA in creative writing, and using the story for my dissertation. It meant a complete re-write. Twice. It has gone from an almost complete novel, back to fifteen thousand words, so I’m really at the beginning again. I am feeling a lot happier with it now though. The feedback I get from my tutor is so constructive.

You have shared that you enter writing competitions and have had your poems published in university and independent magazines. What is your poetry about? Would you give us a glimpse into it?

My poetry can be about anything really. I occasionally write poems about my own experiences, but more often, a certain word or feeling might come to mind and I’ll take it from there. I like using visual imagery and some of my poems can be quite abstract and experimental. I like experimenting with different forms of poetry. At the moment I’m doing a ‘poem a month challenge’ set by my university. May’s challenge was to write a ‘Found poem’, which involves writing a poem out of other materials – books, leaflets, instruction manuals, and so on. Here is what I came up with:

Lost: Found Poem

Possible Side Effects:
Low Mood
The insatiable urge to punch your fist through a window

I take my writing tablet and swallow with water.

The power turns on,
Word loads, but no words appear:
Blank Screen Syndrome.

Write it! – a disaster,
But better than nothing.
Characters eventually form.

Do you want to save?
I say yes.
Computer says no.
Fatal Error: Blue Screen of Death.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master[1].
Tomorrow I’ll call Bright Windows Ltd.

[1] Elizabeth Bishop, ‘One Art’

According to your profile, you are an avid collector of anything from teddy bears to autographs. What’s the story behind this? Do you have a specific item that is dearest to your heart?

The story about the teddy bears is quite cute. Last year my Mum and I visited the Museum of Childhood, and Pollock’s Toy Museum. She became nostalgic over all the teddy bears there, remembering her own. The next thing I knew, there was a twenty-one bear on her bed. She then bought me one. We’ve got about forty now!

As for the autographs, I’m an avid Trekkie, and fan of a number of many other sci-fi shows. I love to go to conventions and meet the actors. I’ve been to two conventions in the last couple of months and got autographs from Nichelle Nichols, Jeri Ryan, Gillian Anderson, and many more. Probably my favourite momento is a the photo of me and Kate Mulgrew together (She played Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager).

On HubPages, you have already published several thoughtful analytical essays on film and social issues. Whence your interest and expertise in the subject?

My interest in film actually lies in screen writing. For my BA I took a course in creative writing combined with film studies, so I could learn about screen writing. Of course, there was a lot more to the film studies course than just screen writing. We had to do a lot of essays and research into different aspects of film. The film essays I have published on HubPages, are those essays. I learnt a lot of interesting facts when researching the topics, but I can’t say that I am actually interested in them.

How did you find HubPages and what are your goals and future plans for writing Hubs?

Don’t laugh, but I found HubPages on a google search about eggs. I’m interested in baking, and I was interested in the different types of eggs you can you. It led me to a Hub on the topic. For the future, I plan to post a few book and reviews and some more of my past essays. I also plan to write up a number of recipes that I have made.

As a relatively new Hubber what do you think about HubPages? What advice would you give new Hubbers who are just starting out?

I think HubPages is a great website; I’m so glad I found it. I particularly like the Questions/Answers feature, which I think I will find helpful for research on stories when I can’t find what I’m looking for on google. For new Hubbers, I would recommend that they go to the Learning Center before publishing anything. I found it such a huge help. Also, comment on other people’s Hubs, it will increase your followers.

An Autos Expert Turns Over a New Professional Leaf on HubPages

Three months ago, the Autos Topic on HubPages began to see a surge of fantastic guides and articles. Behind each Hub was the same man: Mkjearn.

Over the next days and weeks, Mkjearn wowed the HubPages community with his swift success (he is both a HubNugget and Hub of the Day winner) and enthusiastic involvement in special programs such as Weekly Topic Inspiration.

Who is this passionate car expert and what brought him here? In the following interview, you will discover that this Hubber discovered HubPages after contending with a series of career setbacks- and turned over an exciting new leaf!

How did you first discover HubPages?

I was made redundant like so many others in recent times and was unable to regain employment, even after 300+ applications and many of these were for overseas positions. I had been self-employed before, with my own garage but had no funds for another start up, so I decided to look online for opportunities.

I should perhaps say that I have spent the last six or so years online buying parts for my cars and motorcycles from all over the world, mainly through Ebay, so I was aware that there were online businesses in my particular field. That said, I certainly didn’t think at that time that I could earn money writing, nor did I think I could write. The jury is still out on this I think, but I am very encouraged by the comments I’ve had already and firmly believe that in time I could become a writer.

I “stumbled upon”, (my apologies, it’s very hard to ignore this phrase when it’s the truth) freelance writing sites and sites that paid for articles and thought, well I have a lot of particular knowledge but can I actually explain what I know in print and in a way that others would understand and enjoy?

After many days and weeks of reading reviews on this topic and so many out bursts of “oh you have got to be joking,” mainly with regard to being paid, I found HubPages, and oh, what a good day that was.

So, as perhaps with many others here, I found HubPages by chance and my overall positive outlook on life has been restored and the pressures of being unemployed and lacking basic finances have all but slipped into the background.

What inspired you to join?

As with everything I contemplate becoming a part of, I do research, more research, and then even more research. I have been doing this all my life and believe it has stood me in very good stead.

In this particular case as I had never written anything before I was looking for a site that would welcome wannabe or complete novice writers. This is an industry that I know precious little about and the terminology was and still is a whole new language. I like to learn the rules and protocols of all new things I try for two main reasons. I want to become good at whatever it is I try and I especially do not wish to disrespect those experienced in whatever field it is through my lack of knowledge or mistakes.

Having read many impressive independent reviews of HubPages in which it is regarded as the best online article writing site and community, along with the fact that “Mr. Google” loves and respects it highly, only a fool would go elsewhere to begin their writing career, in my humble opinion of course.

From early on in your HubPages career, you’ve been involved with the community and special programs like Weekly Topic Inspiration. What tips on getting engaged can you offer to other new Hubbers?

HubPages is not only the best writing site on the internet, it is a world wide happy family or amazingly friendly community. If you genuinely get involved and show that you are trying, other Hubbers will bend over backwards to help you. Be polite, sincere and respectful as you would as a newbie in any situation. Ask good questions, give good answers, leave meaningful comments, follow Hubbers you are genuinely interested in, and always leave Fan Mail.

As a newbie I roamed around, hopped Hubs, read many other Hubs, perused Questions and Answers, popped into the Forums and then, what a find, what a godsend, what an absolutely amazing tool, I found The Learning Center.

The Learning Center, a one stop shop for everything any wannabe writer or serious Hubber wants to or should know. In life I am like a dog with a bone when I get the bit between my teeth to learn something new. In most cases I am relentless and stay with something until I am very good at it. My partner says that I am the most stubborn so-and-so. She uses many different endings and most are probably true. I prefer to think I am determined, driven, resilient, and resolute. That said I’m sure my partner is right; I’m just a stubborn little man.

This bit is true and many might say “You’re mad” but I spent 3 days reading every entry in the Learning Center, making notes and rereading several topics before I published my first Hub. Like any apprentice you have to serve your time and I can’t recommend the Learning Center enough. I get very frustrated when other new Hubbers ask the most basic questions that are comprehensively answered in the Learning Centre, so I can only assume that this must really irk those HubPages staff who spent so much time and effort in producing this essential fabulous feature and I sympathise greatly.

So my inspiration to join HubPages came from many respected independent reviews, HubPages’ easy navigation and features, and most importantly HubPages’ sincere invitation and assistance to become a great online writer. The Learning Center is the most amazing teacher and free invaluable source of all you need to know to become an online writer.

Put simply and sincerely, HubPages rocks.

Most of your Hubs are about cars and car maintenance. How did you become such an expert?

I was born and raised in Belfast Northern Ireland about 5 years before the troubles or war started. From no age I was taking things apart in the home, the kettle, the toaster, the vacuum etc. I was the type of kid who didn’t try to put the square peg in the round hole. Oh no, I was the type of kid who reshaped the square peg to make it fit the round hole, problem solved. I moved on to petrol gardening tools and motorbikes. I worked on anything for anybody just to get knowledge and experience. I then went to training centres and learned machining and welding techniques.

Some time after this I decided I wanted to become a fully qualified mechanic. Employment opportunities for Catholics at that time were difficult to say the least, so I took a work experience position in a Saab Dealership, six days per week for 9.00 pounds per week. Things were tough and there was no money to speak of, but I was happy, as I was were I wanted to be. I didn’t get day release to college for study so I did that at night. I worked at night anywhere I could and anywhere that was relatively safe and on weekends I worked in boat yards. When I felt I was ready I attended and passed the practical mechanical skills tests having previously passed the theory tests.

Having passed both of these I was issued my Official National Craftsman Certificate and was now a fully qualified vehicle mechanic. Within six months I was contacted at work by the Official Motor Industry Department for the United Kingdom and Ireland. During this call I was told that I had obtained the highest results in both countries for the Mechanics Exams and that a special award was on its way. That was incredibly unexpected and naturally I had a very big head for a very long time!

In some respects I was lucky that I got to work on so many different vehicles and this experience and knowledge has stood me in very good stead. I arrived at work one morning to find that the garage had been petrol bombed during the night as suddenly I was out of a job. I sold a car that I had bought cheap and repaired and used the money to rent a small premises. Within a month I had opened my own garage and was earning my own money. I was extremely happy for a while until one morning I was visited by some large unsavoury characters who said that it was in my best interests to contribute to the Prisoners wives, widows and orphans fund. I took some persuading and thumps and so it was settled. Along with this came an unofficial employee or watcher and unpaid, ask no questions, car work.

This went on for several years until one day I closed shop and left Northern Ireland. I have no desire to go back but I am grateful that I became a damn good mechanic and I’m very proud of that.

Which of your Hubs are most popular?

My Hubs that seem most popular are: What is a Beach Buggya Kit Car– and a Trike. These are mainly fun quirky vehicles and not that practical for everyday use, but are something to wish to have or can serve as a hobby to take up when the funds are there. General car care and maintenance also seems to be popular, which is very good as I feel that I am helping people learn and care for their vehicles and maybe reduce unexpected breakdowns.

Do you think they address a common car issue many people have?

These vehicles are for the enthusiasts and home mechanics mainly. Many owners are members of car and bike clubs and love to show their vehicles at various public events. These vehicles capture most people’s imagination as they tend to be very different and not available in any showroom. The truth is a lot are very affordable and not very difficult to build as they come in kit form much like flat pack furniture.

A lot of people seem to be genuinely interested in general car care and maintenance. I feel that in this area alone I can really help people and offer valued information.

What can we learn from that?

A lot of people would like to know how to care for their vehicles better so as to avoid large garage bills and also to get a good price when it comes time to change.

With regard to Kit Cars, I think these vehicles fall into that life bracket of “I want” before our sensible practical heads take over. Perhaps maybe 1 in 100 will actually build or buy one or know someone who has one. At first glance most will want one and enquire about price and on hearing it the cogs will start to whirl and whizz and for hours maybe days it will hold a genuine interest but then the reality of daily life kicks in and the thought will be lost until the next car or bike show. This is so normal for many things in life. Some like art, some antiques, some markets and some of us cause conversations to stop and people to yawn when we say our interests are cars and bikes.

You’re very good at including original images in your work. What tips can you provide to Hubbers looking to improve on that front?

I’m not sure that it’s a case of being very good with images as apposed to luck. From an early age I was taking before and after photos of my work never thinking that I’d one day be publishing them on the internet. When digital cameras came on the scene I was in my element as I bought many car and bike parts from all over the world and it was so easy to send images to ensure like for like parts.

First piece of advice that I can offer to other Hubbers is to search their photo albums and consider scanning them into their pics folders. You never know when an early photo of yourself is exactly what you will want for a particular hub. If they don’t yet have a digital camera then they really must acquire one as it is an essential tool for online writing. One of the other tricks I would suggest is to get into the habit of carrying it with you at all times. After all most are about the same size as a mobile phone. Once the habit of carrying a camera is mastered the next step is to master the habit of taking pics. To start just take pics of anything every time you go out and as time passes you will get better at taking shots you want or think that you will use in future Hubs.

I mentioned at the start that for me it was a case of luck and in the image department this is so true since all of my work is right in front of me and the camera has its own place in the top drawer of the tool box. I can appreciate the difficulties for others when their Hub is on a topic that is not in front of them.

What do you plan on Hubbing about in the future?

Oh I think I’ll start to Hub on my other interests, knitting, washing and ironing. Oh yes I do. Well, I have to, as I live alone, though that’s not entirely true as Coco the black Labrador who adopted me about 3 weeks ago is now a permanent feature. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t iron, though.

No seriously, I’m pretty sure it’ll be cars and bikes for a while and then probably boats after which I think I’ll move onto building. I think by then it will be time to retire or start Hubs on my other jobs some of which were rebuilding jet engines, green keeper, and making micro processors in a very large clean room for a very large American chip manufacturer.

What are your more general HubPages and online writing ambitions?

Lets see, general HubPages ambitions. Being modest, I would like to hit 1 million views in my first year. Achieve every possible accolade. Smash as many HubPages records as possible. Be the go to car and bike guru on HubPages, after which I’ll be the car and bike guru for Mr. Google Become such a valuable HubPages community member that HubPages offers me a real job.

I would also like my own ludicrously successful car and bike website second only to Top Gear, although if Top Gear were to offer me a job, I’d give up on this idea.

As you’ve probably guessed I’m a modest little man with modest little ambitions or I’ve just got a great sense of humour or I’ve forgotten to take my medication again!

Are there any particular messages that you would like to bring across with your work?

On a serious note, I would like to help people with their transport needs. Whether it’s choosing the right vehicle or getting the right advice on maintenance. For too long the Motor Trade has had a bad rep which is self inflicted and I have no sympathy for the dealerships. Most people fear going to a garage and this shouldn’t be the case. There are honest, genuine mechanics in the world who take pride in their work and their trade.

Regular maintenance plays such a huge part and helps to avoid those situations were the transport breaks down and the owner is under pressure to have it fixed and is therefore vulnerable to being ripped off.

An Inspiring Success Story from AEvans

5692051_177We’re always excited to see our Hubbers succeed, so I was pleased as punch to hear from AEvans about some of her HubPages-related accomplishments.  Are you also a fan of inspiring HubPages success stories and learning from the success of your fellow Hubbers? You may very well enjoy reading about AEvans cool projects and successes in the interview below, in which this Hubber (and volunteer Greeter) shares how her Hubs are making their way into plays and the Library of Congress.  AEvans reveals that passion, an open mind, and a willingness to learn can take one very far indeed!

When you first came to HubPages, what were your ambitions? Have these aspirations evolved over time?

Interesting question. I have always been ambitious and when I set my mind to achieve any goal, I accomplish it. When I came to HubPages, I was determined to have my voice heard. I honestly was not concerned if the topics I wrote about created traffic, it was about honing in on my skills. Overtime I have accelerated, taking all that I have learned and every e-mail that critiques my writing to another level. I am never offended when someone finds a grammar error or a misspelled word, I just edit and correct.

One of your poems, which was originally published on HubPages, is going into the Library of Congress. Could you tell us more about the poem and how it is making it into this prestigious place?

The poem “Freedom” was written while we resided in Redondo Beach, California on Memorial Day. It was written in a notebook in 2003, a couple years after 09/11. The inspiration of the poem came from all of the men and women who sacrifice their lives, for our freedom. Many people will never get an opportunity to roll their toes through the sand or even smell an Ocean.

A person had contacted me via e-mail after reading a Hub that I wrote, which also included the poem. He said that I should submit my poem to the World Poetry Movement, he said he was never able to be a finalist; but he said I should try since the poem represented who all of us are or feel in this country. I submitted the poem without any anticipation and received the letter that my poem was 1 of 16 finalists in the contest. Upon reading the letter in its entirety my poem is being published in the prestigious book titled “Stars in Our Hearts” Library of Congress ISBN 978-1-60880-123-7.

Another Hub you wrote has led to you being credited in a play. Could you tell us more about that?

Yes I can. A small production company called Holson Productions first contacted via HubPages through a comment on a Hub and asked if they could use my letter in a play they are creating for mothers. I read the response, deleted and sent them an e-mail. Retaining all of my copyrights for the letter on HubPages, they will be using “A Love Letter to My Mother” in their play, giving credits to me for my work and words. I will keep all of you updated on the project.

Plays and poems aside, could you tell us about your literary projects? We hear you’re writing a book, and that another of your Hubs is already its way to print.

Yes, I am writing a book and I am excited! A family contacted me via e-mail after reading two Hubs about drunk driving. Their granddaughter was killed in 2006 when a drunk driver hit the family van, turning into church. I will share the rest once the book is published. The HubPages community will be the first to know about it.
Josie Varga writes about life-after-death experiences, angels, and all that represents spirituality and divine intervention. She contacted me and asked if my Hub, “Close Encounters of a Heavenly Kind” could be placed in her book. Her book going into print in July is a compilation of stories, where people have encountered Angels. I retained all of my copyrights; but my voice will be heard and that is a blessing.

What is it that brought you from being a novice online writer to someone who has achieved so many accomplishments? What advice can you give to fellow Hubbers with high aspirations?

I believe I am still novice. There is so much more to learn. All of us make grammar error and typos, if a person believes there writing is perfect, honestly it is not. Many of us put our fingers before our brains; low and behold there can be mistakes. Just the other day, I found a grammar error on MSNBC and they run all of their work through editors.
What I can tell every Hubber with high aspirations is, “believe in yourself, never let anyone get you down, listen when someone critiques and ignore when someone bullies.”

When you are ready to give up on HubPages, don’t! Writing on many sites this is the only site where people have contacted me and asked if they could use my Hubs. I also have not one but two contracts to write content for companies. Hang in there and believe. Have questions? Ask and hold on, your time will come and you will achieve all that you have hope for in the writing world.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Robin Edmondson

In addition to being head of education at HubPages, Robin Edmondson is a very successful Hubber. Having been on for over six years (and seen a very impressive amount of readers and earnings over this period), you know this HubPages expert educator knows what she is talking about.

Of course, there is more to Robin than education and a very successful HubPages career (did you know, for example, that Robin is a beekeeper, or that she happens to be married to HubPages CEO Paul Edmondson?). Check out her answers to your interview questions below to become better acquainted with this fantastic member of the HubPages team.

Has HubPages ever held a Hubber conference/convention? -TravelAbout

When I first started officially working for HubPages two years ago, we had HubCamps. We went around the country teaching Hubbers how to write for an online audience. That program has now evolved into the Apprenticeship Program. While I’m incredibly proud of the Apprenticeship Program and its success, I do miss HubCamps because we were able to meet Hubbers face to face. For example, I met JSMathew, PeggyW, LuisEGonzalez, MightyMom, KCCBigCountry, Mutiny92, wavegirl22, TinaatHome, Thranax, ahostagesituation, AmyJane, BrieHoffman, Sophia Angelique, Carolyn2008, ChrisLincoln, DebbieCook, Dohn121, DocSnow, Dorsi, fastfreta, Kristine Manley, HowardS, and Ms Dee – plus many, many more!

For those of you that would like to meet other Hubbers, you can organize your own HubMeets, or HubPages Meetups. GlennStok has organized a few HubMeets in Long Island, NJ. Here’s his Hub on his experience with HubMeets.

If you want to start your own HubPages Meetup, stop by our Meetup Everywhere page.

Does Paul E have barbeques at his house? -wordscribe43

As of right now, Paul E has two barbeques at our house. One is a gas grill and the other is a Kamado oak grill (a ceramic-tiled grill that is egg shaped weighing around 900lbs). He tends to prefer to cook on the Kamado grill and barbecues around 4 nights a week – especially on the weekends. For New Year’s Eve, he rents a large commercial grade rotisserie to cook a whole pig. While this is a highlight for him, I still can’t get myself to try a bite. Seeing a whole pig on a spit is just too much for me!

What sports do each one of you like to watch and play?- prettydarkhorse

Our house has either Sportscenter or a game on every day. We are big Giants, 49ers, and Lakers fans (we’ve never been Golden State Warrior fans, but they are moving to SF soon, so maybe we’ll start going to some of their games and becoming fans). We love to play basketball, tennis, softball, and four square with our girls. We have a four square court painted in our cul de sac and a hoop at the end of the street, which is really convenient. Both Paul and I played a lot of sports growing up, so it’s one of our favorite things to do with our girls.

How do you squeeze your lovelife into such demanding and hectic HubPages?- prettydarkhorse

It helps that Paul and I get to work together! We share a desk (luckily it’s a big desk) and get to have lunch together on the days that I’m in the office.

Do employees’ kids come in for “bring your child to work day?” – wordscribe43

Since it’s summertime, we have had our two older girls in the office quite a few times. They bring their “work” and have sat in on a few meetings. They love coming in, and I think it’s great for them to see what we do and why it’s important. I believe our girls are the only ones in the office that are old enough to stay for an extended period of time. During the holiday party we get to see all of the younger kids though, and it’s a lot of fun.

Describe your ideal Hubber -Marcy Goodfleisch

The great thing about HubPages is there are many different types of Hubbers and our platform allows you to put a bit of yourself into each of your Hubs. I have been so incredibly lucky to get to know the Hubbers in the Apprenticeship Program really well. I’m in awe of their writing abilities and how they have adapted to become better online writers. They are so positive and helpful to one another and are so committed to their writing. Many of them have the qualities of my ideal Hubber.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Camille Harris

Camille Harris plays a pivotal role as part of HubPages’ support team (and has also published some fascinating Hubs).

Don’t you wish you knew her a bit better? Now is your chance! Check out Camille’s answers to your interview questions in this latest installment of our Meet the Staff blog series.

Paradigmsearch: Do you get cable?

Nope. I don’t have a TV.

ngureco: Do you ever feel bad when after a hard job you do not receive the recognition and praise that you deserve from Hubbers?

Good question! Initially I felt like there was an undercurrent of negativity directed toward the Moderation team, so it definitely wasn’t the greatest welcome to HubPages. There was no recognition or praise to speak of. As the months go by, I interact with more and more users and do feel appreciated. I have also gained a greater appreciation for how much work goes into writing Hubs and can understand why people get frustrated when their Hubs are moderated. So long story short, I no longer feel bad and instead try to put myself in the Hubber’s shoes.

ngureco: Do you feel challenged when you suspect a certain Hubber may be more conversant than you in some issues to do with HubPages?

This happens quite often, particularly in the Forums. I don’t feel challenged; I’m usually just impressed and inspired to learn more about HubPages.

AEvans: When does your work day begin and when does it end? Do you work 24/7 or ever go through HP withdrawal when you are away from the computer?

I usually begin my day at 5 or 6 AM and end around 5 PM. I don’t work straight through, and instead take a long break around 10 or 11 AM each day. I try to work a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays as well. And nope, no HP withdrawal when I’m not on, although I do often think of all the Hubs I could write that I never get around to.

wordscribe43 : To all: what’s your favorite thing about San Francisco?

Believe it or not, I’m not San Francisco’s biggest fan. I think it’s dirty and people can be a bit closed off here. However, I really appreciate the city’s diversity. One can see women walking in saris, panhandlers, business people, and tourists snapping photos all in the same block. I love the beautiful rainbow flag flying in the Castro and the many festivals we have throughout the year celebrating our diversity. I’ve not experienced this level of heterogeneity anywhere else I’ve traveled.

Marcy Goodfleisch : Another question – when Paul and any of the rest of you come to Austin for SXSW (or anything else), will you PLEASE let those of us who are Hubbing in Austin get together with you?

I was in Austin the last week of March and LOVED it. I actually considered moving there, but we just put down roots in Marin County. Austin is as wonderful as everyone says – you’re lucky to live there, Marcy!

Discovered by a Greeter: An Interview with Kaili Bisson

Melbel, a member of the Greeter team on HubPages, discovered Kaili Bisson a couple weeks back and was immediately impressed by her beautifully formatted and wonderfully composed Hubs. One thing that sets Kaili Bisson apart from other new Hubbers is the fact that, in addition to quickly getting involved with community programs, she has made an effort to contribute new resources to HubPages- as well as the online community at large- by doing things like sharing her photos on Wikimedia Commons.

I, too, have become a Kaili Bisson fan, so we thought it would be fun to feature this promising new Hubber in our ongoing Discovered by a Greeter interview series! Read on to learn more about this fun, talented, and enthusiastic new Hubber.

Simone: You have shared that writing helps you relax- do you have any particular process you follow when you write a Hub (or something else) that is particularly regenerative?

Kaili Bisson: The wonderful thing about writing as a means to relax is that there isn’t a lot of process. The environment that I work in is very structured, and is full of processes and procedures. So I like to run screaming from that when my day is done. That isn’t to say that good writing doesn’t involve a process, it’s just a far more creative one.

I often find that simply putting my feet up and jotting a few words or ideas down on paper allows my brain to focus on other things…or on nothing. From those few words or ideas come more words, pictures, memories of tastes and smells, then more ideas. It’s pretty relaxing, especially if the process also happens to include a nice glass of wine and some music.

Are your interests in music, cooking, golf, and gardening related to your career?

Only in the sense that they are now potential subjects for my new-found career on HubPages. I consider them to be pleasant diversions and hobbies, is all. Though, if I had listened to my father and had actually worked at my golf game when he was trying to teach me so many years ago, who knows where I could have ended up career-wise? Often in the summer I have to make the difficult choice between playing in the dirt, as I like to call gardening, or going and hitting balls. In either case, you can be sure I’ll have my camera close at hand…I’m such a tourist.

Many Hubbers use images that people have shared on Wikimedia Commons, but you, going by the handle Greenlamplady, have contributed photos to the site! I think that’s the coolest- and a great way to give back online. What inspired your generous donation, and what tips might you offer to other Hubbers who might be willing to share their images on Wikimedia Commons?

I have always had an interest in photography, and I really enjoy the freedom these point-and-shoot digitals provide. These days especially, my camera is never far away as I am always thinking about my next Hub. My husband doesn’t even comment anymore when I’m taking a picture of something odd – food on the kitchen counter, ants on the peonies – as he knows it is for a Hub.

I think original photos really add credibility to Hubs, but it isn’t always possible to have a photo handy that supports what you are writing about. Wikimedia Commons has proven to be a great source of photos for my Hubs, so I thought it was appropriate that I share some of mine with others. It really is easy and takes little time. Hubbers might want to consider what sorts of photos they have in their digital collections that could be the “aha!” shots other Hubbers are searching for.

Your garden Hubs are absolutely beautiful. What has inspired them?

Thank you Simone. I love gardening, and it is something that I know a fair bit about, so it is a relatively easy subject for Hubs. I have a real green thumb outdoors, but I am a complete menace to houseplants. Anything indoors ends up dying from neglect or overwatering.

What first brought you to HubPages? What are your future HubPages plans?

I was just poking around on the internet one day, and there it was. I don’t even recall exactly how I found it, but I did some reading, liked what I read and signed up. HubPages provides the perfect forum for sharing thoughts, ideas, burning questions – and peony photos.

The thing I came to realize very quickly was that HubPages is a real community. Everyone has been very welcoming and encouraging. People really support each other’s work too, by sharing Hubs or tweeting them. I think that’s so cool.

I am really motivated to improve my writing skills generally, and learn more about online writing, since this is my first foray into that realm. I am trying to learn as fast as I can about keywords, keyword density, SEO and all these related terms, most of which I had never even heard of up until a few weeks ago. So I’ll be sticking around.

Is there any particular message that you want to get across through your Hubs? What is your aim in developing an online writing portfolio?

I don’t know that I have one particular message, maybe lots of different ones depending on the Hub. I intend to write about anything and everything, and have tried to create a Hub for the “Weekly Topic Inspiration” ever since I figured out what that was about. The one on appliances had my muse disappear on me though, I’ll admit.

My aim in developing a portfolio is to have fun while sharing ideas and information. If I can help someone who may be looking for tips on a particular topic, or maybe just brighten someone’s day by including pleasant photos in my Hubs, that’s a bonus. Would I love to be able to do this as a full-time career? You bet!

Even though you are relatively new to HubPages, you have published gorgeous Hubs and are involved with the community and special programs, such as Weekly Topic Inspiration. Is there anything in particular that has contributed to this great start on the site? What tips might you offer to other newbies?

Thank you. When I decided to join HubPages, I figured the best way to learn how to write online was to jump in with both feet and devote as much time as I possibly could to writing. Hubbers have responded to my work, and this has really been so gratifying. As I mentioned earlier, it really is a community and I think most people just naturally start helping and encouraging others when people are helping and encouraging them.

As far as tips, I would suggest that newbies focus on what they are knowledgeable about or have a real interest in. This will help them get their first few Hubs done quickly. Before they publish a Hub, they should be sure to proofread and edit it. Get involved in the community. And most of all have fun!

Discovered by a Greeter: Haunty Interviews Dirling

Our Discovered by a Greeter series continues with a look at another promising new Hubber discovered by the ever-dedicated Greeter Haunty.

Dirling, called Lisa Simpson by her friends, describes herself as an activist, historian, and world traveler. Though she has only published a small handfull of Hubs so far, they are exceedingly fascinating. Of course, we can only know so much about this promising Hubber from her short bio and small (but growing) collection of Hubs, so Haunty asked her some fun interview questions to give us a better peek at this history-loving Hubber.

Your profile on HubPages is brief, but that much more intriguing. Could you tell us a little about yourself? Why do they call you Lisa Simpson?

I studied Library and Information Science for my masters degree, with a focus on archives and records management. I am tremendously excited by historical materials – personal papers, photographs, official documents – in an archive, your collections are not only unique, but also often haven’t been seen in years, sometimes decades. It’s endlessly fascinating.

I was born in Hollywood, Florida, and moved to Colorado when I was six years old. I absolutely love living here; the beauty of this state is incredibly inspiring. When I’m feeling weighed down, a drive to the mountains is all I need to feel once again that wonder and awe of nature, of life itself. I’ve traveled all over the world, but there’s no place like home.

As for “Lisa Simpson,” well, it’s better than Cliff Claven. 🙂 “It’s a little known fact…” is definitely one aspect of my personality. I have a gift for obscure trivia, dates and names, and quotations. I worry that I can come across as an insufferable know-it-all, but those who love me seem to enjoy benefiting from my random knowledge.

How did you find HubPages and what is your impression of the site and the community so far? Have you set any goals in regard to publishing on HubPages?

I stumbled on HP while I was looking around at freelance writing options and just thought I’d see what kind of reception I get. Writing is a little scary, as you know; you never know how your work will be received. I haven’t set any goals yet, but I have a lot of ideas I’ve always wanted to explore, such as Women in History. There are so many great stories waiting to be told! It’ll be interesting to see how much of an audience I have for that.

As someone who has joined us recently, how easy do you think it is for a new Hubber to navigate HubPages and find the information he or she needs to get started quickly? Is there room for improvement?

I found it easy to get started. I published my first post within a few hours of joining, and messed around quite a bit with the text and photo capsules to get it formatted just right. I couldn’t figure out how to put photos where I wanted them initially, but was able to get an answer to that easily enough with the FAQ page.

As you know, I’m fairly new here, but I’ve noticed a few Hubs with errors in grammar and spelling that would be easily caught by a proofreader. The overall quality of Hubs might be improved with the addition of a place where contributors can have their work checked before posting – pointing out that sort of thing isn’t the kind of remark I want to leave in comments, who likes a grammar Nazi? (Maybe such a place exists right now, and I just haven’t seen it?)

Your first Hubs are some of the best descriptive essays I’ve read recently. They are carefully planned, packed with information, and extremely well-written. What inspires you to write? Can you teach me the process of writing such amazing pieces?

Thank you! I have loved writing ever since I was, oh, about twelve years old. I think a passion for your subject is probably the most important thing to have, but there’s no denying that the getting a handle on the mechanics of writing requires a great deal of practice. I wrote a ton of papers in college, where I was able to hone my research-writing style. For descriptive and informative essays, I feel it makes for a more exciting and interesting read if you have an opinion about your subject, and try to convey that without wandering too far into editorial or propaganda-type writing.

The Hubs you have published so far are concerned with historical figures. Where does your interest in history come from? When you study the history of different peoples are there any over-arching questions that you are looking to find answers to?

I’ve been fascinated with history ever since I did a report on Ancient Egypt in middle school. At that time, it was more an interest in how differently people lived, the kinds of clothes they wore, isn’t that weird how boys would shave all but one lock of hair from their heads? Yet the more I’ve learned, the more it’s become obvious that people really haven’t changed much since the very beginning. We’re still motivated in large part by our emotions, by fear and love and anger. To see how that plays out in world events, the stories of individual people – it’s fascinating. And the what-ifs, if things had happened differently, are equally intriguing to ponder. I’ve been on a Nazi Germany obsession for a little while now – talk about the characters in THAT story! Hitler always thought of himself as an artist – could it all have been averted if they’d just let him into art school?

What is the best or most curious thing that has happened to you in life and you would tell us about?

I participated in an anthropology/geology field school trip to Tanzania a few years ago. It was an incredible experience – five weeks living in a tent in the Serengeti. It made me realize how much we take for granted, the sheer abundance of what we have. Every day in the field when we stopped for lunch, some Maasai kids would turn up and wait to see if they’d be given anything extra. Seeing a boy of six or seven walking his cattle to the watering hole, using a Prestone jug for a water bottle – it’s a different world. Yet the strange thing is, it isn’t a bad world. It’s so simple. Our camp was next to a tiny village with a small hospital where the medical-anthro students were doing a malaria study, and it actually had a few computers and internet access; but the day to day life, just working from sunrise to sunset, taking dinner, and sitting talking around the fire – that’s a nice life in a lot of ways. I can’t make my life quite that simple, but it’s a good reminder to count my blessings.

Meet the Staff! An Interview with Edward Zhang

Edward Zhang is HubPages’ youngest engineer, and a dang good one at that! When he’s not busy kicking butt (as demonstrated in his HubPages profile image), Ed is busy working on cool HubPages features such as Videos, our iPhone app, slideshows on Hubs, the Great Commenter Accolades, HubTool tips, and many more elements hidden within the site’s underpinnings.

To learn more about this up-and-coming builder-of-things, check out his answers to some of your interview questions!

Do you ever feel bad when after a hard job you do not receive the recognition and praise that you deserve from Hubbers? -ngureco

It’s always nice to receive some recognition and praise for a feature that I’ve spent a lot of time on. Other times, we receive negative feedback on our work, which always stings a bit, but life goes on nonetheless! Many times, if our work is not big enough to be announced on the blog or in the forums, it goes largely unnoticed, but I don’t think there’s any real shame in that. As long as we are helping HubPages as a whole, then I am happy with it.

Why do some staff members write lots of Hubs whilst others don’t? Aren’t staff members not as interested in making more money from HubPages just like the Hubbers are? -ngureco

Keeping up with Hub writing can consume a lot of time and energy. Most of us engineers don’t ever bother with, and don’t have the time to write, Hubs. Not to mention, us engineers are probably more lacking in the English skills department. However, the marketing team tends to write more Hubs (as demonstrated by Paul Edmondson, Robin, and Simone), but that’s just because they slack off all day at work (I’m only joking, they actually do excellent work!).

Do you still watch cartoons? -prettydarkhorse

Yes! Watching anime and cartoons is what keeps me sane! I also love watching Big Bang Theory, a sitcom about a group of nerdy friends. Imagine Friends, but with a bunch of nerds instead. It’s actually really hilarious!

Does Simone really wear big hair bows every day? -GinnyLee

Oh, that’s a good one question. In fact, YES, she does! Sometimes I have the urge to sneakily steal the bows from her head and hide it. It’s a shame that I don’t work on the same floor as her though…

When does your work day begin and when does it end? Do you work 24/7 or ever go through HP withdrawal when you are away from the computer? -AEvans

I usually arrive in the HP office around 9:30AM (I have a horrible habit of staying up late) and leaving at 6PM. There’s a bit of flex to that timeframe, but you get the general idea. It’s actually quite flexible here at HP, which is great. Say I needed to stay home to wait for a repairman… on those days I could work from home for the morning, and come into the office during the afternoon. Or even better, I could choose to work from home the whole day!

I personally don’t “work” past my work hours, but I do log into HubPages to browse around while I’m at home. I also use the HubPages iPhone app to poke around while I’m commuting to work, or when I’m bored.

While I don’t need to work 24/7, we actually do have someone that needs to monitor our servers near 24/7, in case any emergencies happen with our servers.

What sports do you like to watch and play? -prettydarkhose

I love to play badminton. Every weekend, I would go to a local indoor badminton gym to practice for a whole afternoon, from maybe 2PM to 9PM. I played on the school badminton team during high school, and have been interested in it ever since!

Fun fact about Edward: I went to high school with Simone Smith.