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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadesbreath Has Published a Novel!

While Shadesbreath may be one of HubPages’ most popular and beloved writers, there is more behind this Hubber, whose real name is John Daulton, than meets the eye!

On his profile, John shares that Shadesbreath is but the sarcastic alter ego of his fantasy and science fiction writing self. This sci-fi-fantasy writer has been quite busy as of late, and has just released his first novel, The Galactic Mage, a magical space epic.

To get a more thorough update on the project, as well as some tips for those on HubPages interested in executing a similar feat, we asked Shadesbreath for an interview to which he obligingly agreed. I hope the following exchange inspires you to develop additional writing ambitions of your own!

So, your novel is officially out! How do you feel at this point? Euphoric? Tired?

Yes. Euphoric and tired sums it up pretty nicely. It’s been a lot more work than I expected, especially this last week, tying up the loose ends, but the experience and learning is great. As far as the euphoria goes, it really is exciting. These characters have been in my head for so many years, like little people locked up in the pickled cells of my brain, but finally they are free. They get to go meet the rest of the world, make friends in a way, and take on an existence of their own. I hope people will love them as much as I do. It’s a little scary, honestly. But very cool.

For how long have you been working on The Galactic Mage?

I wrote it… the first time… eight or so years ago. I sent out queries to publishers until finally one publisher asked to see more. They even asked for the synopsis of the whole trilogy (which I had in great detail). Months later, they wrote back and told me “we love the story, but the writing isn’t what we’re looking for.” I heard that as, “You write like a two-year-old.” I’d already started back to school to get a degree in English and that letter cemented the deal. Rather than feel bad, I realized I had a good story, but I just didn’t know how to tell it well. When I finished my BA, I threw out the old manuscript and started over from scratch. I’ve been polishing it since.

Is this your first novel?

In print, yes.

The Galactic Mage will be published as a trade paperback and Kindle e-book on, and as a Nook e-book on How did you choose your publishing formats, and was it much work to offer the book in so many forms?

I picked them based mainly on marketing factors. Amazon is the big dog in the universe, and success with Amazon comes with monster benefits. Cracking 1000 sales on Amazon is a threshold goal for me. From there, I believe the recommendations feature they have—you know, the thing that says, “people who bought this book also bought these others”— can really start generating unit sales. But, you have to get that first 1000 to really have statistical relevance for their system. I realize 1000 is a big number, but I’m aiming high and, well, we’ll see how it works long term. Uhh, by the way, how many copies can I put you and your family down for?

How have you been getting the word out about your work?

HubPages and Facebook are my main platforms. Facebook is fantastic for spikes of traffic and viral buzz. I’ve got a page set up just for the book, you can check it out (you’ll love the video. I’m very proud of the video trailer). Plus, Facebook ads are amazing, almost evil, in how narrow you can target niches. I’ll be working that pretty hard.

As far as HubPages goes, HP is just a rockin’ platform for me. I get about 40,000 page views a month, and while I know some of the hardcore folks like Patty Inglish or Habee would probably cut themselves if that’s all they got, I’m stoked to have access to that many pairs of eyes. My website and blog get consistent traffic from readers who find me through HubPages, and I’m counting on HP to keep delivering readers going forward. The three years I have spent here—even though I mostly write satire and pedantic sounding flatulence jokes—continue to be time extremely well spent for my writing career. And that’s not even counting the network of people I’ve met who help me constantly or any of the friends I’ve made.

Do you have any other books in the works?

I’m in final revisions of a novel titled A Fish Story, and I have a novelette called “Auction Yard” for which cover art is being finished as we speak. Probably out in February on that. Also come February, I’ll be writing book two in The Galactic Mage series, called Rift in the Races. With luck, I can have it out in time to sell for Christmas, but I at least want it out by this time next year.

Amongst all this novel writing you have been doing, what role does HubPages play?

Hubpages is my release valve. I know I’m supposed to write useful articles about stuff that is, uh, useful, but I don’t know anything useful. HubPages gives me an outlet for my writerly spasms, typically of the sort that look like grammatical outrage, social commentary, the aforementioned pedantic flatulence pieces, and whatever satirical something or other I can’t help but write. Amazingly, I get a check every month from you guys for that. I’m still not sure how that works, but I ain’t complainin’.

What advice would you give to other Hubbers who would like to publish books of their own?

Stop dreaming. So many people out there “dream” about being “a novelist someday.” Writing isn’t a dream. It’s a discipline. Make a plan and then do it.

The Snow Princess

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

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

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

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


Using Your Name vs. Going Anonymous as an Online Writer

The issue of online anonymity has been popping up quite frequently in the media, so we decided to discuss the issue as it applies to online writers.

In this week’s edition of the Online Writing Insider (Using Your Name vs. Using An Alias Online), we review reasons why online authors might want to be anonymous, and also weigh the perks of using your real name. After listening in, you’ll be able to make a practical, educated decision as to whether or not using your real name online is best for you.

Are there other challenges, quandaries, or roadblocks you face as an online writer that you would like us to discuss in a future podcast? Tell us about it by sending an email to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com!

Theodore Shade

Though known primarily for his Emerland Wells Cafe series on HubPages (which has already been featured in the Fascinating Fiction podcast series), mckbirdbks also writes the occasional stand-alone short story.  One of these is Theodore Shade- a somewhat dark vignette that builds up an impressive amount of tension.  Have a listen!

If you don’t have time to download or stream the podcast (or even if you do!) be sure to check out the original Hub. It’s a good one.

If you have any suggestions for future Fascinating Fiction podcasts, or if you would be interested in contributing some recordings of your own, send us an email! You can reach us by emailing podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

How to Stay Sharp as an Online Writer

The best online writers are constantly improving their work.  Are you?

Continuously upping one’s ante is helpful in many respects.  It helps your articles continue to rank well in search engine results, it helps you garner more loyal readers, and it also helps you become a better, stronger author.  Listen in to this week’s Online Writing Insider podcast (How to Stay Sharp as an Online Writer) for some advice on how to become (and remain) the best writer possible.

Part of the process involves careful research and analysis, the other part involves adopting the right mindset.  The process takes energy, but is well worth the effort!

If there is an online writing issue that perplexes, interests, or intrigues you, tell us about it! We’re always looking for new Online Writing Insider topics and would love to hear from you. Send feedback and suggestions to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

The Legend of Oomak

Early in September, we had a special two week long Halloween-themed Weekly Topic Inspiration session to prepare for the coming holiday. One of the Hubs shared during those weeks was Scary Halloween Campfire Tales: The Legend of Oomak by RedElf.  It offers a really fun scary story alternative to those fatigued by the typical cliches so common amongst scary stories.

We hope you enjoy this recorded version of The Legend of Oomak.  It’s certainly something fun to get you into the Halloween spirit!

If you have a favorite short fictional story on HubPages that you think would be good for the Fascinating Fiction podcast, or if you’re interested in contributing some recordings of your own, send us an email at podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.  We would love to hear from you!



How to Write SEO-Friendly (but AUTHENTIC!) Online Titles

The line between search-engine friendliness and authenticity is fraught with peril.

Many writers write witty, fun, humorous, and interesting titles that have no shot at being found by searchers. Others write titles that are so SEO-optimized that they look as though they have been written by over caffeinated robots (or, at the very least, spammers).  Is it possible to balance SEO-friendliness with authenticity?  Yes, actually!

Listen in to this week’s episode of the Online Writing Insider (How to Write SEO-Friendly (but AUTHENTIC!) Titles) to hear about our very simple approach to creating optimized, but human-sounding, titles.  You’ll be glad you did.

Do you have an idea for a future Online Writing Insider podcast? We would love to hear about it! Send your questions, comments, suggestions, and feedback to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

Revenge of the Glowing Green Cats

What happens when electron-genetic-construct experiments go terribly, terribly wrong? Paradigmsearch explored this very potentiality in Revenge of the Glowing Green Cats, a short but highly amusing Hub.

It was pretty fun to record the podcast version of this short story.  Listen in if you’re on the go!

Big props to paradigmsearch for turning a somewhat newsy topic into a fun fictional vignette.

If there’s a short fictional story on HubPages that you think would do well in the Fascinating Fiction podcast, tell us about it! We’re always looking for new authors and stories to feature in this series.  Send your suggestions and feedback to podcast (at) HubPages (dot) com.

On Writing Well: An Interview with Melanie Gideon

Melanie Gideon, Author of The Slippery Year

Melanie Gideon’s A Slippery Year is one of my personal favorite memoirs. It also stayed on the New York Times’ top ten best-seller list for many weeks, and received rave reviews from NPR, NY Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker’s Book Bench, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Magazine, Elle, Kirkus, Booklist, BookPage and others.

I asked Melanie what advice she’d give aspiring writers on HubPages, and here are her answers. Thanks Melanie!

1. Expect rejection. A good rule of thumb is 33% of people will love your work, 33% will hate it (unfortunately these people tend to be the most vocal and always on the internet) and 34% won’t care.

2. Don’t give up. If an idea doesn’t work, toss it and dream up a new one.

3. Get feedback and get it early on. I like to work with an editor as I’m writing.

4. Ask yourself if you’re an outliner or a find-the-story-as-you-go-along kind of writer. I outline quite extensively. Many writers don’t, but outlining works for me, for both my non-fiction and fiction. The point is you either have to do the heavy structural lifting on the front end or the back. I like the security of having a roadmap.

5. When your book is published you must separate from it. It will have its own fate out there in the world, and most of that fate is out of your control: how people respond to it; what kinds of reviews you get, if you are reviewed at all, etc. The best advice I was given was imagine your book is a boat. Carry it to the shoreline, launch it, then wave goodbye. The worst thing you can is jump in the water and dog paddle after it. As tempting as it may be to do just that (because who knows if it will sink or swim, find a stiff wind, or founder in dead calm) you must. Your sanity depends on it.

6. One more. Stop Googling yourself. It can only lead to heartbreak.