D. M. Costa

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I'm Donna, portuguese, 58. I live between London, Lisbon, Paris and a rural village near Tomar, which was the old headquarters of the Templar Knights in Portugal. I'm writing my first novel MARIZA and enjoying every page... A second project in life writing and a dabble in micro-fiction and poetry.

Glad to be here!

My email: Donna.Costa.92@gmail.com


D. M. Costa Discussions
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Hi Folks! I've been away from these shores for a while (didn't the summer months go fast?...) but si…
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  •  · Hi Donna! Thanks for sharing this, I'll take a look.
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There's a saying: you can't teach talent but you can learn it. And we do need talent to write.The di…
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FREE Cover Design Masterclass & more... from the Edinburgh International Book Festival.The Edinb…
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  •  · Yes, thank you!
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To commemorate their 50th anniversary, the Watson Little literary agency has just announced the Wats…
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  •  · I think of upmarket fiction as being similar to the categorisation of 'mezzo-soprano' in singing. So…
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Calling all Children's Writers. Penguin Books has opened a new competition. Check details below.  co…
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According to this clip, stories can be agents of change. Do you agree? Have the stories you read, sh…
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Hi Folks! I've been away from these shores for a while (didn't the summer months go fast?...) but since the weather is keeping me indoors I'm turning my attention to reading & writing again. Who knows? I may eventually finish one of my WIPs. No rush!

But as (good) luck would have it, I've just come across an interesting place to escape the dark winter blues. It's a (sort of) blog about how to Read and Write like the best pros by George Saunders author and professor. Still FREE to susbcribe but soon will be behind paywall. Do hurry up!

Enjoy while it lasts: https://georgesaunders.substack.com/ 

and come back here to comment if you think it is helping your writing.

Hi Glyn,

I've just read your story and I loved it. No, it's not racist at all, on the contrary... it depicts very well a certain homophobia in the character who says:

“I’m sure they keep some back for people like you.” 

You are allowed to depict homophobic behaviour in characters to show their character and flaws. What you should never do is depict homophobic behaviour as correct or acceptable. And you make that clear in the next lines, by showing the true feelings of the first person narrator in the next sentence and next paragraphs: 

"Ah yes, people like you. That cut me, even though it was aimed at the mother."

It's clear the homophobia is not supported anywhere in the story. The sympathy of the narrator (and the readers') goes to the victim.

I've just read an article about readers who confuse flawed fictional characters with the writer who created them.  Says something about the reading level of some people...

Guardian article: 


As to the other question: is the story cultural appropriation?

I don't think it is, because you live in a country where (unfortunately) this kind of story happens every day, and every hour of every day... and you've heard of it yourself. The only "appropriation" is in choosing to tell this story through a first person narrative, when you (as writer) are a different person from the muslim narrator. But I don't think there are any rules about not writing fiction in first person narrative unless the writer is the same person as the narrator. Or are there?...

Congratulations! It looks fab. Goods things happen to those who work hard... 

Will there be an ebook as well?

Added a comment to Six Poles 

I find current politics offers a rich and never ending source of themes: ruthless pursuit of power & ambition, corruption, disregard for integrity & honesty, brainwashing, subversion, lying, racism, misogyny, etc. From any of these themes, we can spin many a story in different genres, from romance & adultery, to crime, to historical, to drama, to dystopian...

There's a quote from one of our politicians that I intend to use in a story: "A man should not be limited to just one woman". (Guess which one...) And the answer to that is "It takes a real man to realize that one woman is enough".

There was a discussion in another forum about the possession of guns in the US and a couple of people commented that the solution to gun crime is to allow more people to have guns and teach them how to use them. This lead me to think of a good theme for a novel: a dystopian future in the US where nobody relies on the justice system and social structures and each individual takes the law into their own hands, according to their own interpretaion of it, while different social forces grow on online networks, each vying to influence & control the others. Could be the next "Handmaid's Tale"...?

A great story, wonderfully written. The "big reveal" just cut my breath. Congratulations!

Thanks for sharing with us!

Added a comment to Six Poles 

Don't they add butter to tea somewhere in the world? I think Mongolia? Or Nepal?

Added a comment to Six Poles 

There's another approach that will make or break the whole novel: it's the underlying theme. Without one, a novel may as well fall into oblivion.

Yes, we all know what a romance is, what a thriller is, what a mistery is, but without an underlying theme, a novel risks being forgotten. The underlying theme gives it a purpose, a "raison d'être", makes the novel transcend the story and embed itself in our memory.

Example: Pride and Prejudice. Everyone knows it's a romance, proud Lizzy gets to meet prejudiced Mr Darcy and when it seems all is lost they finally get together and fall in love... Obviously a romance, and a very well written one, right? But how many similar romances are there? Zillions, most of them long lost in oblivion. But why are readers still reading and enjoying this one, 200 years after it was first published?

Because of the underlying theme: Pride and Prejudice is about personal freedom, about the freedom to make your own choices and have your own opinions and ideas, choose your own life. And this underlying theme -- personal freedom -- is still relevant today and resonates with most readers. It does not age.

I usually start by choosing a theme that I'm passionate about. The story (and genre) comes from that theme. All the other "ingredients" can be added on, one by one. The underlying theme gives me a purpose to write the story and keeps everything glued together.

What is your underlying theme? 

I have two mantras:

1st - Write with Purpose

2nd - Always write with Clarity, Simplicity, Brevity and Humanity

Hi again Janet. I've just had another idea that may (or not...) be usefull. If you reduce the silhouettes on the sepia cover a little, you'll have a bit of space at the very top, and that space could be used for putting a good quote from the story, one that resonates & ties with the whole story. If you don't have one, you can create or adapt one. Quotes from the classic greek philosophers are always very adaptable: Everything changes. Nothing ever stays the same.

If you you do a google search for "What are beta-readers?" you'll find all sorts of related links. Here's a good one: Working With Beta Readers 

Hi Kathleen, welcome to the writing world!

A beta-reader is someone (anyone) that reads your work with the aim of giving you feedback. It can be a relative, a friend, a fellow writer, or a professional. The idea is for the writer to find out how their writing comes across to readers, and what they think of it, possible problems and to receive advice on how to improve the writing.

Anyone can be a beta-reader and say "I really liked it" or "not my cup-a-tea" but only those in the know will be able to identify the problems and give constructive & actionable feedback.

Some writers pay beta-readers to get feedback but more often they get feedback from other writers in places such as this forum by networking & exchanging work. You can start by posting small excerpts of your work on the Peer-to-Peer forum and ask what others think of it. By getting as much feedback as possible you'll see different reactions and opinions and that may help you improve your writing. It's a bit like having several brains thinking in different ways. It's up to you to choose what feedback is usefull to you.

The best way to find good beta-readers is by networking with the ones that have offered you the most useful advice and understand your genre and what you are trying to write. A good place to get free feedback is scribophile.com a platform for writers exchanging critiques.

Hope this answers your question.

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There's a saying: you can't teach talent but you can learn it. And we do need talent to write.

The digital world is creating automated solutions for writing. Can tech ever replace writing talent? Will we soon be reading novels entirely written by an app?

This BBC article shows some of the possibilities. 

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