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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According to this clip, stories can be agents of change. Do you agree? Have the stories you read, sh…
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  •  · Could you give the title of the novel, Donna?
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The way I write, starts in my head first. I see the setting and the scene as if in a movie (and I am…
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  •  · I also visualise everything (piano music helps a lot! I have playlists for different projects). I th…
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Writing great plot twists is hard. This BBC article explains what works and what doesn't with exampl…
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  •  · Most novels are said to be omniscient, but a plot twist can be as obvious or mysterious as the write…
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After reading Harry's latest post about lemons & coffee, a question came into my mind:How do you…
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  •  · Hi Donna,I only saw now this question.I read only on Kindle. Because I live in Moldova and on Kindle…
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I've just found this free short course on Classic Detective Fiction that may be of interest to anyon…
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  •  · Thanks for the heads up, D.M. I registered for the course and am enjoying it. It's giving me insight…
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One side effect of the long lockdowns is that we have been spending more time in the kitchen than ev…
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  •  · Another thing you could do, based on digital first, is - instead of having all that expense of a hug…

Interesting stuff. I think that in our digital age, there are opportunities like never before to tell stories that may influence social change and be a force for good. Some time ago I read about a novel by an Israeli female author. It was a romance between two young people, one Israeli, the other a Palestinian.

She got a lot of flack for it including threats, etc. But the novel (which in a literary context might go unnoticed) became a must read by the young generation from both sides. There was no obvious message apart from the two lovers. And that was all that was needed. We need more brave writers like her.

Added a forum 

According to this clip, stories can be agents of change. Do you agree? Have the stories you read, shapped your thinking? In what ways?

And how would you like the stories you write, to influence your readers?

This idea first came to me when I started writing a memoir about bowel cancer with the aim of giving an insight into the experiences of people affected by the disease. It's not a niche subject unfortunataly, as the number of people affected is growing annually across all age groups, and most are not aware of it till it's a bit late. It's also a topic people find difficult to talk about.

The aim of my book is to draw attention to bowel cancer through personal stories, to show how anybody can get a diagnose out of the blue, and to show with a bit of humour that life is still worth living. Anxiety usually does as much damage as the disease itself. So, my book is going to be full of humour and positivity.

And as I don't wish to make money out of it, I thought I would offer it to one of the cancer charities that have digital platforms, online shops, fundraising plans, etc. I was thinking about Macmillam Trust as one of them. I could also have it translated and offered to other cancer charities in Europe.

The book is titled "Gutted" but I have yet to finish it. My main project is a novel titled 'Mariza' not finished either... (There's a pattern somewhere here).

Right Ho!... So, I'm not so bonkers after all... or at least I'm not alone. Erin, will you please be my friend and tell me all about it? (And likewise I'll tell you all about my secret plans).

Harry, you've missed one. There's Trad Land, Planet Indie, Micronesia of Publishing, and... Give it Away (for a good cause). I've had this idea because I love writing but will hate the process of dealing with the publishing & marketing. Never done it before, just don't feel excited about it.

If my novel is good enough (as in 'people actually want to read it' and 'it's been edited by profs') it would be a shame to let it grow mould. But someone out there, with platforms, audiences, marketing skills etc. might want it and say Thank you, Donna.  What d'ya say? Bonkers?

Added a comment to Song Lyrics 

Q: What are your favourite song lyrics of all time and why?

A: My all time favourites tend to be portuguese songs because that's my emotional language and because they are deep, with layers of meaning, and simple lyrics, almost like an haiku. If I had to choose just one, I'd choose "Quem me dera" by Mariza. It translates as "How I wish" and the first verses (translated) are:

How I wish

To hug you in autumn, summer, and spring

Perhaps live somewhere in a fantasy

Inherit good luck and win over your heart

Mariza's voice accompanied by portuguese guitar gives me shivers every time I hear her sing it. Try it at full volume if you dare:


(Mariza's name was the inspiration for the name of my MC. I was searching for the 'right name' when I came across an article in a British newspaper about Mariza, the singer)

Brazilian songs are also very powerfull and I like the 'bossa nova' style of Caetano Veloso because it's so informal and evocative. When you listen to his interpretation of "Girl from Rio" you almost feel you are his guest and he's just singing it for you, on a balmy evening after dinner on the terrace at home... Just try it here:


Uhumm.... that may explain why I find it so difficult to find anything worth reading these days? LOL

I've just listened to Sophie Hannah's podcast Building Resilience (link on OP) and I'm not totally convinced. Ok, our thoughts create our feelings, I agree. And we can manipulate our thoughts and feelings into positive ones, I agree. I do that all the time.

But we can't change the reality that many / most writers will never experience success, because the market is flooded & saturated with novels to be read by an ever dwindling number of readers. We live in "the age of mass distraction & busyness". We can't change that. Maybe we should change / adapt our goals instead.

The only thing we can do to keep ourselves happy & sane is acknowledge reality and write for pleasure, for ourselves, for the fun of it. Any other goal is likely to bring deception. If in the end we achieve SUCCESS... that'll be a bonus.

Mike, you are wrong. Because everyone is busy, they might not have the time to invest. Good feedback takes time. I usually spend around 2 hours minimum reading twice and writing feedback on a small piece. Sometimes I read pieces with the aim of giving feedback, but something comes in between (like shopping & cooking dinner) and I don't have the time. True, when something is outstandingly good I always make a note and come back to it later. Also when I see something posted by someone that has given me advice in the past, I always try to reciprocate.

If you engage with others and give feedback on their work, they will  come back to you and offer feedback on yours. Networking on this site works well and everyone is very generous.

Well said, Robert. I wouldn't like to feel my first draft was awful. If I did, I might throw it in the bin and stop writing. But by concentrating on one scene at a time and writing one sentence at a time, and making each sentence a good one, I always feel like writing on. My first drafts are not perfect, but I feel I can use them as the foundation.

And nobody is judging my first draft, not even myself. 

Spread the LOVE 💙 💛 💚 but leave enough for yourself too.

OK, that happens and it sucks. 😕  But don't stress because if you were able to write one good scene, you will be able to write another. The thread of an idea is best left to run undisturbed, relaxed, with no pressures. You have in yourself a lot of those scenes yet to come... just allow yourself to dream them up and they'll come. Never mind the one that got away... and you never know... it might come back when you least expect it.

Keep writing!

My memory is not very good either, but I concentrate on one scene at a time and then choose a detail of that scene, like the setting, or the mood, or the dialogue, and the sentences just sort of emerge from that. Sometimes I do this in the middle of the night, when I cannot sleep, and in the morning (you guessed it...) they are all forgotten. But thinking about that scene again, the same sentences come back to me, because they are connected with the scene. If they don't come back, I can always start new ones, and having done it once, I can do it twice. Even better ones. Try it.

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