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Center Stage - A Fond Farewell

a creators in the limelight series finale

By Heather HublerPublished 11 months ago Updated 10 months ago 8 min read
Top Story - July 2023
Created with CanvaPro

Welcome back to the Center Stage! I hope you'll indulge me for a little while as I take a fond look back at this series that has been such a big part of my time on Vocal. For a number of reasons, I've made the decision to bring it to a close.

From the bottom of my heart (however cliche that sounds) I really would like to thank you all! I have endless gratitude for each one of my guests that agreed to give me a chance, for all of the support these brave souls received from fellow Vocal creators in keeping this series going, and of course for the Vocal platform itself for featuring almost all of them as Top Stories. It's been everything I hoped for and more.

I came up with the idea for this series back in January of 2023, as a way to lift up other great creators I was getting to know through Vocal facebook groups. At the time, I was receiving a fair number of Top Stories, and as a result gained quite a few subscribers. I was so humbled and thankful (and still am), yet many of the talented people I was seeing in the groups were struggling for reads.

I thought why not try to give them more exposure by using what I was being given - an opportunity to use my voice. I knew (and still do) how it felt to put so much of myself into works that were barely being read and getting little to no feedback. I was on Vocal over a year before I got a Top Story, and it took several months longer before I found the facebook groups. What game changers that I will forever be thankful for.

To be honest, I was quite hesitant to ask anyone at first, so I chose to start with a few creators that I'd been interacting with regularly whose work felt honest and authentic to me. All five ended up saying yes (thank goodness): Gina C., Paul Stewart, Dean F. Hardy, Thavien Yliaster and Cathy Holmes. And then I freaked out a little that I had no idea what I was doing. Which means next came a deep dive into all things interview related.

I researched endless questions to not only ask authors, but also just creative-type people. I looked up fun things to ask too. Then I took a stupid amount of time to come up with the series name and how I wanted to get across what I was trying to do. I didn't want these to feel incredibly professional but more conversational and intimate in a way. Putting the first handful together took so much time as I worked through presenting these wonderful people in the best, most interesting light. (I hope I succeeded.)

In the beginning, I had no idea how much joy these interviews would bring but also how much work they would entail. My schedule is usually a hot mess from having a large family and all that comes with it which makes writing time a difficult thing to squeeze in. In fact, I was in a waiting room on Valentine's Day while my son was having surgery, working on formatting the first one, which I published later that day while he was resting. It then took me over two months just to get through the first five.

After the initial group of interviews were published, I wasn't sure I felt like branching out to other creators. My life was crazy busy in April, and I didn't want to have to cancel on anyone. I also worried, what if they didn't like my style or just didn't want to do it at all? Things could get really awkward if we had no connection.

I finally took a chance on asking the lovely Dana Stewart, and she did not disappoint. We had an absolute blast together! The next five guests were no exception despite me being nervous each and every time: Jason Basaraba (JBaz), Aphotic, Veronica Coldiron, Donna Renee and Gerald Holmes. I spent roughly two to four hours with each one of these lovely creators, and it was time well spent. Some truly great people in our midst.

Now if you've been counting, I've only tallied eleven so far as the tenth installment was a special edition. My wonderful friend, Gina C. offered to interview me in return :) I'd had thoughts of doing my own not long after I began the series, but as life goes, things changed and it was put off for a few months. I couldn't have asked for a better person to do the job. I had to edit out so many lol's and hahaha's!

As I bring this series to a close, I want to thank you all for coming on this journey with me. I have zero doubts that each and every one of the creators I had the chance to connect with will continue to do nothing but get better and better at their craft.

Before I get too mushy, I'll end my farewell with a small recap of each amazing conversation we had. And to the creators out there I never had the pleasure of interviewing, I wish I could've done more and regret missing the chance, but know that I value you and think you're fantastic. Keep going!

Without further ado:


1) Gina C. - I was just getting to know Gina better during the time we did the interview and was a big fan of her work. Since then, we've become such good friends. I couldn't imagine life without her! I cherish her opinion and stand in awe of her brilliant talent. She does nothing but shine. Her genuine warmth and thoughtfulness bring so much to every platform she's involved with. I adore her :) And major bonus, she hasn't told me to kiss off yet, lol!


2) Paul Stewart - I was also getting to know Paul during this time as he was active in many facebook groups and putting out some quality material. We have a very similar sense of humor, so it was easy to gain a rapport with him. His talent has only grown since then, especially his knack for honest, thoughtful poetry, and his support on Vocal is simply amazing.


3) Dean F. Hardy - If I remember correctly, one of the first interactions I had with Dean was messaging him to let him know his syllable count was off on a haiku he had posted. (I believe he blamed his Irish accent, haha!) I didn't want to put it as a comment, so I hoped he didn't think I was some weirdo. Well, he may have but at least we developed a lovely friendship from there that has lasted. His works always blow me away. I am probably one of his biggest fans.


4) Thavien Yliaster - I think I kinda knew Thavien the longest, maybe next to Cathy. His interview almost had me in the psych ward, lol. It was the first one where I was going to try to do an audio recording. I spent hours upon hours trying to get the right applications to do the job, and just when I thought I had it set up, something wouldn't work. BUT, we still had an awesome time. He always surprises me with his answers to things and puts so much thought into all that he does. He also cracks me up :)


5) Cathy Holmes - My girl, Cathy is one of the greats on Vocal and in life. She's tremendously talented and so completely genuine. When we first started interacting, she accidentally typed the word 'nitty' after a comment she made to me. From then on, she was Nitty to me, and she affectionately dubbed me, Nerd. We just get each other. It was a no-brainer to ask her to do this interview with me. I love the friendship that we have :)


6) Dana Stewart - I appreciate that with each interview I've done, we tend to stay in touch more personally if we didn't before, and that is no exception with Dana. She's a gifted writer that is so down to earth and a lot of fun. We were both nervous I think, but all of that quickly changed in the first few minutes of our conversation. It was like we'd known each other for ages. I am so excited for Dana's writing projects to take off as she has some mad skills :)


7) Jason Basaraba (JBaz) - Ah, Jason and those carnalized onions, hahaha! I was incredibly curious to do his interview despite the nerves, and it turned out to feel like we were just friends in a coffee shop (or bar, lol) having a chat. It was even better that we got to chat over two days in order to finish it up. I have no doubt we could have easily gone down rabbit hole after side tangent, one after the other, for hours more. He is so kind and a seriously gifted writer.


8) Aphotic - My only real interactions with the lovely and mysterious Aphotic were on Vocal to start. She has always been a wonderful supporter of my work, and I find her pieces so different and well thought out. I reached out on Instagram to see if she'd be interested in working with me, and I was thrilled when she accepted the offer. We also had such a natural, easy conversation that it was difficult to find an end point.


9) Veronica Coldiron - I have long been a fan of Veronica's work, and she is the first (and only) person to ever send me a fan gift. It was one of the most thoughtful things I've received–a heart-shaped locket to go with my story for Vocal's challenge, the first story I published on the platform. She is just a fantastic person, amazing singer, natural storyteller and published author (she also sent me a copy of her book!!). It was my immense pleasure to get to spend more time chatting with her.


10) My interview with Gina C. as host :)


11) Donna Renee - This shy girl was not quite convinced she was interview material, but after a bit of time, she finally said yes. Despite me being caught up in severe storms that evening, we had a wonderfully entertaining time. I had to edit out an lol or haha after just about every line between the two of us! We share a great deal of similarities in thoughts and life. I always enjoy getting a notification that she has published something new.


12) Gerald Holmes - The big brother to my Nitty! This one was a long time coming, and I'm still so thrilled that it ended up being the last in the series. What a way to finish! As you might imagine, Gerald is exactly as he seems online, kind, thoughtful, funny and so very talented. We had such a wonderfully genuine conversation, I was sad for it to end.


I hope you take the time to read and subscribe to all of these fantastic creators! And thank you again for giving this series a chance.

Much love to you all, Heather


About the Creator

Heather Hubler



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OMG creators

Mike Dharr Cathy DanaS Babs Brin

Gina Tiff Grz KJ Thavien CH Kelli

Veronica BrentonF Paul Dean Holly Lamar

Caroline Melissa JS Donna Moe

Gerald DanaC JBaz Kristen Randy

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Comments (37)

  • J. S. Wade10 months ago

    Well done my friend! Sad to see this series end! I hope you kindness and generosity to others is returned to you a hundredfold. 🥰

  • Tiffany Gordon 11 months ago

    Sad to see your series coming to an end. it was fun & well done! Congrats on all that you've accomplished! Your generosity & ingenuity are inspiring! Well done HH, Well done!

  • Novel Allen11 months ago

    You were the inspiration for many. Some of us are nurturers, some of the brave ones are doers. You did what you had to do bravely. You are still here so I guess we will be seeing more of your personal writing again. Kudos on a job well done.

  • Lamar Wiggins11 months ago

    Your series will be remembered as a very successful point in your writing endeavors. I remember them well and will have to double check to make sure I read them all. Thanks again for taking a shot in the dark that resulted in being a great host! 💖

  • JBaz11 months ago

    Heather, I read this then paused, then reread it. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend, and I got a little emotional. Then I remembered the ‘Carnslized onion’ fiasco and I laughed. You truly have no idea how many jabs I have taken because of that…and love it. All of us writers who were featured are truly blessed to be a part of these wonderful interviews. A huge Carnalations….I mean Congratulations.

  • Caroline Craven11 months ago

    Great series! Good on you Heather.

  • While I understand moving on from this endeavor, I would be remise if I didn't voice that it was a pleasure while it lasted. You made me laugh out loud when you wrote, "I had to edit out so many lol's and hahaha's!" I imagine we would be giggle monsters if we eever met in person. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Gina C.11 months ago

    Amazing farewell to an incredible and truly meaningful series, my dear friend! I know I speak for many when I say we are so thankful for all the thought, care, and hard work that you put into helping us have our little moment to shine 🥹❤️ The quality of your interviews has always been top-notch and so very natural and authentic. I will deeply miss learning about our fellow creatives through your guide, but rest assured knowing you have made such a difference in the Vocal community! Congrats on Top Story my very talented friend! 🤗❤️

  • adam black11 months ago


  • Afshan Parveen11 months ago


  • Phil Flannery11 months ago

    I understand the restrictions time puts on writers, especially around family and work. What you have done is great and has connected so many creators who perhaps wouldn't have met (electronically). Thanks for making the effort. I have noticed people putting up their own challenges on vocal, I wonder if a tag team style interview challenge might work, where the last interviewee chooses a favourite to interview and so on. I am probably not the one to start it, but maybe someone more brave than me. Congratulations on top story, I always like reading your stuff.

  • jiya Shah11 months ago

    Congratulations for top story 🥳👏

  • Heather Lunsford11 months ago

    I'm a bit of a newbie here I have really have been enjoying what a supportive platform this is. I can see there are a lot of people to thank for making it the pleasant experience it is. You are surely one of those. Thank you.

  • Mohammed Darasi11 months ago

    What a great series Heather. I read most of them so far and you can easily tell how much work you've done with each one.. the questions were thoughtful, and the editing after the fact must've been exhausting! For me, I didn't really know anyone on here when I started writing again (and I think I'm generally not very social online) so this series helped give some personality and soul to Vocal, which is a nice thing. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

  • D. ALEXANDRA PORTER11 months ago

    💜 Heather, I am deeply touched by your reason for starting Center Stage and featuring Vocal creators time and time again. What a generous heart! Thank you! 💜👏✍️💜

  • Paul Stewart11 months ago

    Well done on the final one getting Top Story. It was a lot of fun to be part of it and to read all the other lovely interviews. Sad to see it coming to an end - but guess all good things need to eventually sometimes!

  • Cathy holmes11 months ago

    Do you want to interview Sad Cathy? Because I'm still sad about this ending. Nah, just kidding (on the interview). Congratulations on fabulous series and on this TS

  • Congratulations on your Top Story💯🎉😉

  • Judey Kalchik 11 months ago

    Congratulations on this being recognized as a Top Story!

  • Congratulations on your Top Story,

  • Woman, you got me so worried at first because I thought you were gonna leave Vocal! Thank God you're not but I'm sad that you're ending your interview series. But I do understand the amount of effort and time you spend on each one. Believe me, just by reading them, I know, because that's how high quality your interviews are. I do understand your need to end this series. Please know that we would support you no matter what. But please just don't leave. I'll cry because I'll miss you too much! 🥺

  • Each one was a great choice & wonderfully enjoyable interview. I'm so sad to see the series come to an end.

  • Dean F. Hardy11 months ago

    A pleasure an honour. Thanks for doing so much to help promote my writing, Heather. I truly appreciate it.

  • Veronica Coldiron11 months ago

    Heather, I hate to see this end, but consider you my writing sister and am glad that you're doing the best thing for you. I'm hoping this means more stories! <rubs hands together greedily>. Seriously. You're an absolute phenom!

Heather HublerWritten by Heather Hubler

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