Category Archives: Blogging

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2016 – The Write Life

The internet is chock-full of writing resources, advice, guides and more.

I always found the website Write to Done quite informative, but there are many others on this list that may be suited to you and your writing path.

Very nicely, The Write Life has put together a list of 100 useful websites.

“Kick your writing career into high gear with this year’s list of the best writing websites.”

Source: The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2016 – The Write Life

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Invisible illnesses: what is their narrative?

healthy-life-freeway-exit-sign-highway-street-18212486I was having a conversation with a dear friend (Valentine Oggan) and we asked the question:

Invisible Illnesses, why do people have problems with them?

There are ongoing debates about the stigma of mental illnesses, from Depression to Chronic Fatigue to Dementia and all in between, and how these illnesses and those suffering from them shouldn’t be ostracized or mocked or punished for them, and how can society integrate the sufferers with the non-sufferers and build a more accepting and tolerant, encompassing environment for everyone.

The biggest obstacle is people (non-sufferers)’s lack of understanding of these illnesses. They can’t see it, how can it be true? Is it not all in someone’s head? How can sufferers suffer and still go on vacations and such? Don’t they suffer all the time? If they don’t, then is their illness real?

If you think of illness as a narrative, then these questions become stunningly relevant and significant.

In a narrative, you have a beginning, a climax, a conclusion. Something happens, develops, ends.

In a visible illness, you have the first symptoms, the diagnosis, the cure.

For example, one has an accident and breaks a leg, the doctor/hospital confirms the broken bones with an x-ray, a cast is made and after 40 days, if there are no complications, the leg needs some physiotherapy and it’s good to go. Or, you start sneezing, you may have the flu or an allergy, you get tested, diagnosed, given a cure, and then you recover or control the symptoms.

In visible illnesses there is a clear narrative: a beginning (symptoms), climax (discovery of cause and diagnosis), happy ending ( a cure). Most successful narrative have happy endings, obviously not all, and that’s also where invisible illnesses come into play.

Invisible illness: what is their narrative?

The narrative of invisible illnesses is not a happy ending one. In fact, in most cases, it’s a non-ending one. Or one where the ending is not clear and easily communicated. Non sufferers can’t follow the story along because the story doesn’t end in the ways that are commonly accepted: it’s not a happy ending, or an ending.

The lack of visible/tangible narrative solutions to invisible illnesses makes people uncomfortable and deprives them of indicators of behaviour (complimenting one on surviving the illness/accident, sharing their own narrative and happy ending, etc).

Non sufferers hear a story/watch a film and there is no ending filmed: each narrative provides in itself the means to understanding it, but when those set pieces are invisible (no cast, fever, hospital discharge papers to show), non sufferers don’t see/accept that particular story.

This is in no way a finite thought, just an intuition I’d love to discuss more, and I know there are many out there discussing the narrative of doctors/patients relationships, and supporting a better understanding of invisible illnesses, and I wonder whether these ideas may help in any way 🙂

Do let me know what you think, in comments or by email 🙂



Filed under Article, Blogging, invisible illness, narrative, Non Fiction

How to use colours in your writing

I’m linking here to a useful table of colours and their meaning. Whether you use it to identify a character with a specific colour, or to envision her environment, or clothing, knowing the meaning of colours will give your writing (or drawing) a little extra.


You can find the full table HERE

In other news, I’ve been working a lot, fell into Tumblr, and working more, hence lack of regular posting. My apologies!

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Back with a vengeance (I wish :) An interesting article on new creative interests in older age

Apologies for the long silence (again). The best plans and all that, and some deeply involving events in life.

However, I bring you a very interesting reblog:

Creativity in the Aging Brain, a guest post hosted on the Artist Road blog (a very good blog to follow, if I may advice)

I believe curiosity, as in learning a new language, how to play an instrument, how to work with clay and so on –  curiosity keeps us alive, makes our bran work in new ways. puts us in contact with new people. I see it happen in older relations, that moment when they think they have done all they had to do in life, and there’s nothing else but waiting for death. I believe in raging against it, and yes, learn new things with passion for the sake of it.

Me, I have a violin looking at me, and a Learn Chinese for Beginners waiting patiently for my older years 🙂

How about you, have you made plans?



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Is blogging really that powerful?

I was reading through a number of blogs – I’ll post a bunch of links next week so you too can procrastinate develop a feel for the writing blogs out there, those by writers and those for writers and the ones in between (I am master of procrastination, one day I’ll collect all my tips and share them for the greater good of procrastinators all around the world!).

Blogging, whatever the social network (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, etc), always seems to be the one essential platform building tool. Making yourself known, creating an audience, etc etc. Some people are incredibly good at it, and they have in fact built a reputation and a profession on their use of social networks, and they happily share most of it for free and some of it through books and workshops and seminars. Which is brilliant, and a great help for those of us just starting out with the platform building.


I can’t help thinking that it all sounds really very involving. The best way I know to build/enter into/be part of/help grow a community is by interacting. 

Interacting requires reading other people’s posts, commenting, establishing a rapport, asking questions and offering answers. In a global world, where some of the blogs you read could be in the opposite part of the world to yours, it means a potential 24/7 influx of conversations. And it’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant. But again, really quite time consuming.

Is blogging really that powerful, then? So necessary and impossible-to-do-without?

I don’t think so. And yes, I am blogging as I write this, but bear with me.

What most of the blogs out there don’t say is this: once you have written your books, short stories, essays…then yes, becoming part of a community and sharing what you’re writing and hopefully making it interesting enough so that people will want to buy your work (whether traditionally or independently published) is absolutely worth the effort and time needed. Also good for keeping up with those social skills you’ve been neglecting while writing.

But until you have that material available to you (not all that you’ll write in your writing career, but an initial portfolio), you should focus on writing and getting better at it with every new thing you write. Blogging is fun, and it’s good to be able to share your thoughts and experiences, but, if you’re a writer, writing  should always come first.

It’s about discipline, of course, and discipline doesn’t come easy (to me, anyway, I hope it’s easier for you). Which is why I’m going to switch the internet off right now and go write, because I have a novel to finish (and a second one to plot, and short stories to polish, and ideas to consider) and all the platform building in the world will not write it for me.

Are you disciplined? Do you think blogging is essential? Let me know.


Filed under Blogging, Social Media, Writing

2013 plans (in brief)

I’ll be away for a few days (a funeral, to say goodbye to a dear friend, and a visit, to say how-are-you to an old friend), give myself some time to grieve and regroup, but just so you know, plans for 2013 are as follows:

  • One weekly post (on any of the topics discussed until now and anything else may be interesting, with the usual collection of links to useful bits and bobs from the web)
  • An update on the services I offer as writers’ coach and content editor (two new static pages with all the info)
  • Random updates on my writing activity (because, if I can, you also can 🙂 academic and creative
  • A monthly post with answers to your questions on writing (leave your questions in comments and I’ll collect and reply to them to the best of my ability)

My priority for next year, 2013, will be to finish the nth draft of my novel and send it away to agents.

Do you have priorities for next year? Feel free to share 🙂

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08/01/2013 · 10:02 pm

Short Story advice

Short story writing advice by Bolano: irony and wisdom in 12 simple steps, and many stories and writers to add to your To Read list.


Originally published in World Literature Today. Images via Defining Myself Secondhand.

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Forms of narrative: comics and medieval studies

A topic very dear to me: the mystical union of words and pictures, and the apparently completely divergent comics and medieval studies. Or are they? A brilliant article, mentioning several resources if you want to know more 🙂

ImageI was hired at UT Austin as a specialist of medieval literature and am up for tenure this year. Tenure and promotion committees like to see a coherent narrative when they scrutinize a researcher’s career, so in my case the unavoidable question has been raised I can’t tell you how many times, what is the connection between your research in medieval culture and your research in comics? My colleagues have tried to help by pointing out similarities between stained glass narrative and comics, the bayeux tapestry, manuscript illuminations, etc. A very astute colleague of mine suggested (rightly) that I am interested in questions of cultural legitimacy that cut across both fields. Friends and comics scholars have pointed out that comics have drawn on medieval story cycles and used medieval settings and themes since at least the 1930s. Some long-standing examples of comics medievalism include daily and Sunday strips like

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Note of absence

A few days of silence, my apologies. I have tons of links and things to discuss (steampunk, writerly and possibly also a rant on male fashion), but I’m dealing with a family situation, so I’ll be absent for a few days. Posting will resume on Monday.

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How not to let Life interfere with your Plans…or not!

Long overdue update.

First of all, welcome to the new followers, and thank you for being here. It’s been months since I updated, and I’m now going to list all the reasons for it:

1) BLOGGING. Yes, I haven’t been blogging per se, but I have been reading (and thinking) about how to blog, how to entice readers, how to keep them, how to make them come back, etc etc. There are many inspirational How To blogs out there (I’ll post my list of useful blogs-links next week), mostly based on the guide concepts of copy writing, starting with the Hook and ending with the Call to Action.


Don’t these blogs all look somewhat the same? I know that ‘audience’ is a fundamental part of the writing system (am I writing for myself? in a vacuum? for specialized readers? for a niche?). But how many ‘How to do X in 5/7/10/25 points/ways/etc’ lists can I read, without losing interest? And on the other hand, I myself at times read these lists with keen interest.

Yes, a photo will raise the probability that Google may list your post. But any random photo visualizing some of the blog post doesn’t really mean much to me. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is somewhat important, but if that means uniforming one’s posts to everyone else’s…is that still useful?

And finally, the most important point of all: you may want to Blog Your Book/Book Your Blog. Especially in the American non-fiction writing market, it seems the thing to do. It makes you noticed, helps if not supports your publishing aims (whether indie or with traditional publishing).

But it takes not just skills, but TIME.

And this is where I read the most important advice of all: social networks, yes, fun, useful (many end up being writers talking to writers, though, which is great for community development, but not much for writers-readers connections development) but what counts at the end is your writing.

So, I will blog at least once a week. Something useful, something interesting, something personal, something blue. I do have an editorial plan for this blog, so I’ll finalize it and follow it. There’ll be film talk, TV talk, society pressures on us, issues of gender and sexuality, fiction, short story, novel writing, coaching for writers, reading performances. And more. 🙂

2) Back pain issues. Health is a major issues for all of us. The lucky ones (usually the younger, but not only) are fine, can eat crisps and munchies, sit for hours every day and be all springy and fresh. Among other things, I have Degenerative Discs Disease, which means I can’t really sit or walk for hours at end. Instead, I need to carefully discipline my activities, learn specific yoga exercises, pay attention to what my body says, lose a considerable amount of weight, and generally have other precautions. It takes time, and considerable energy. However, prevention is much better than the alternative: an acute back pain episode can put me in such pain I need a month recovery before I can even consider leaving the house.

So, is there a way to not let Life interfere with your Plans?

Not really 🙂

But we can adjust those plans, and be flexible about it, and make sure we check our priorities often and keep the important ones at the top of the list.

For me, right now, it’s Writing. And Yoga.
And that’s how we roll in the Shire;)

I’d love to hear from you, and exchange priorities lists, and advice on all of the above 🙂

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