We passed 20k!

We passed 20,000 listens / downloads!
Pasamos 20 mil escuchas / descargas!


Thank you all! – ¡Gracias a todos!

Desde Abril hasta Octubre – Es decir, en solamente seis meses…
From April to October – In other words, in just six months…

Also, thank you #Blubrry #IVOOX #iTunes #WordPress #Stitcher #Spreaker #TuneIn #Twitter #YouTube #Podomatic and all the listeners from #Spain (#España) #California #Delaware #NewYork #Mexico #Colombia #Argentina #Chile #Peru #China #Japan #Germany and #Croatia – you are all in the top 20 charts, and on my mind!

Coridally yours,


Podcaster’s Coach

Podcaster’s Coach

Alexander Laurin interviews me

I was recently interviewed by Alexander Laurin, from Podcaster’s Coach as we were all excited to be working on the International Podcast Day show. Both Alexander and I were speakers at the #InternationalPodcastDay show, which was last September 30th (and every year on September 30th – hint, hint, mark your calendars!) and turned out to be an awesome festival with more than 13 countries and 50 speakers involved.

So, here is the interview Alexander Laurin so cordially invited me to, take a listen.

I want to thank Alexander Laurin, and let you all guys know that I am looking forward to more of this. More interviews, more festival, more fun, and more podcasts!

Thank you all!

Interview at the PodcastersCoach show

Interview at the PodcastersCoach.com Show

I have recently been interviewed by Alexander Laurin (@podcasterscoach on Twitter), in anticipation of the upcoming #InternationalPodcastDay event. Here is the link:


Please join me tomorrow

If you are in China, it’s Saturday 11:00 AM till noon.

If you are in the US, East coast, it’s Friday 11:00 PM till midnight.

If you are in the US, West Coast, and in parts of Mexico, it’s Friday evening, from 8:00 PM till 9:00 PM.

Para los que están en Argentina (y creo que Colombia tambien), mi show es durante la noche entre Viernes y Sábado, a la 1:00 de la mañana.

Para los que están en España y el resto de Europa, mi show es el Sábado, a las 5:00 de la mañana. Ouch! El peor horario… 🙁

Abel A Kay

International Podcast Day

Please, join me for the International Podcast Day event!

I will be one of 30 speakers on Saturday, September 30th, for the International Podcast Day. Please join me on that day!

China: Saturday, September 30, 11:00 – 12:00 AM

USA East Coast: Friday, September 29, 11:00 PM – midnight

USA West Coast: Friday, September 29, 8:00 – 9:00 PM.

Europe: Saturday, September 30, 5:00 in the morning (OUCH!)

Argentina: Friday, September 30, 1:00 – 2:00 AM (that’s Friday after midnight)



Mi Mamá cayó en coma

Queridos amigos!

Tengo noticias tristes. Hace dos días mi mamá, que vive en Croacia, cayó en una coma, debido a un golpe al cerebro.

Ella tiene 78 años, y me dieron noticias del hospital que el resultado es incierto.

Yo vuelo de China a Croacia (vía Frankfurt) mañana, Domingo. My hermano está en camino a Croacia, desde Alemania, mientras escribo estas líneas.

Tengo que posponer la apertura del podcast inglés (The Tale of Rome), hasta que organice todo en Croacia. Y en realidad, no sé qué es lo que tengo que organizar, porque solo Dios sabe cuánto tiempo va a durar todo esto.

Rezo por un milagro, pero me pregunto si milagros aún existen en nuestros tiempos.

Como ya tengo un par de episodios escritos para el podcast “El Cuento de Roma”, estos sí van a salir al aire, mañana y la semana que viene. My mamá no hubiese querido que parara de escribir.

Ella vivió conmigo tres años en los EEUU, un año en China, 16 años en Argentina, más de 25 años en Alemania, y el resto… bueno, en Croacia.

Desde que mi papá falleció, que fue en el año 1990, mi mamá solo comió pan y agua.

Así es, por 27 años, solamente tuvo pan y agua. La razón era que el dia que mi papá murió (en ese entonces vivíamos en Argentina), él había comido un poquito de pan y tomo un poco de agua, y le pidió a mi mamá que le haga algo de comer. Ella le dijo que lo haría tan pronto como vuelva del pueblo, que tenía que hacer algo, brevemente. Cuando mi mamá volvió, mi papá estaba muerto, y mi mamá nunca paró de echarse la culpa por eso.

Le pido a Dios que se unan en ese lugar que creemos que existe allá bien arriba, y que supuestamente es mejor que este lugar donde vivimos ahora, como mortales.

Que Dios los bendiga a todos.


Plague in the Ancient World

Part of my research for this episode.

A Study from Thucydides to Justinian

by Christine A. Smith

Throughout history, humans have been faced with disastrous catastrophes which must be endured in order to survive. One of the most incomprehensible disasters for humanity has been the plague. This term in Greek can refer to any kind of sickness; in Latin, the terms are plaga and pestis. In antiquity, two of the most devastating plagues were the Athenian plague of 430 B.C. and the Justinianic plague of 542 A.D. This paper will discuss these plagues, the manner in which they spread, and their consequences for the survivors. Also, the ways in which ancient writers wrote about these disasters will be discussed, with special reference to the role of the gods. Much of what is conventionally believed about these plagues comes from comparisons with the Black Death, a visitation of bubonic plague during the fourteenth century A.D. Although the sources for the Athenian and Justinianic plagues are insufficient, there is some question as to the validity of this analogy as an historical source.

The Athenian plague occurred in 430-26 B.C. during the Peloponnesian War, which was fought between Athens and Sparta from 431 to 404. Because of overcrowded wartime conditions in the city, the plague spread quickly, killing tens of thousands. <1>  Included among its victims was Pericles, the former leader of Athens. <2>  The only surviving source for the Athenian plague is the first-hand account of Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides, who lived from c. 460 to c. 400, was an Athenian general and political critic.

In his History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides employed a carefully developed structure to investigate the meaning and causes of historical events. His writing, which evolved from Sophistic thought, reflected a constant conscious analysis of grammar and rhetoric. <3>  History, according to Thucydides, was a process of human nature; and as such, it was highly influenced by mass movements. He, therefore, stressed physical reality, and did not allow for the active intervention by the gods. This is most evident in his account of the Athenian plague, since plagues were traditionally attributed to the wrath of the gods, as evidenced in Herodotus, as well as in the Book of Exodus and the Iliad of Homer. <4>  Through this work, Thucydides began an historiographical tradition which would become the model for many future historians.

Having suffered from the plague himself, Thucydides presented a very systematic account of the symptoms. His aim was merely to “describe what it was like, and set down the symptoms, knowledge of which will enable it to be recognized, if it should ever break out again.” <5>  The Athenian plague originated in Ethiopia, and from there spread throughout Egypt and Greece. <6>  Thucydides, however, remarked that the city of Athens suffered the greatest toll from the disease. <7>  Initial symptoms of the plague included headaches, conjunctivitis, a rash which covered the body, and fever. The victims then coughed up blood, and suffered from extremely painful stomach cramping, followed by vomiting and attacks of “ineffectual retching.” <8>  Many people also experienced insomnia and restlessness. Thucydides also related that victims had such an unquenchable thirst that it drove them to throw themselves into the wells. Infected individuals generally died by the seventh or eighth day. If anyone managed to survive this long however, s/he was then stricken by uncontrollable diarrhea, which frequently caused death. Those who survived this stage might suffer from partial paralysis, amnesia, or blindness for the rest of their lives. <9>  Fortunately, infection of the plague provided immunity; that is, few caught the disease twice, and if this occurred, the second attack was never fatal. <10>


Source: http://www.loyno.edu/~history/journal/1996-7/Smith.html

If the History of Ancient Rome was the distance from Los Angeles to New York City

If the History of Ancient Rome

was the distance from Los Angeles to New York City…

Where, in this timeline would you rather be?

Illinois, with Emperor Commodus?
The Nevada desert, when the first Roman kings ruled the land?
Missouri perhaps, to relive the birth of Christ?

Leave a comment!


Episodio 2 en la radio en Mexico, este domingo!

Episodio 2 de “El Cuento de Roma” llega este domingo a las 2 de la tarde (Mexico time!) a La Calavera Podcast.

Concepción Inmaculada

Una virgen Vestal milagrosamente trae a dos muchachos al mundo, en Roma antigua.
Y unos 25 años más tarde, buitres (mágicos?) revolotean alrededor de éstos dos muchachos, y causan la muerte de uno.

La chica con el cuchillo detrás de la espalda

Una historia detrás de la historia

Esta es la breve historia de la TAPA del episodio 17 de El Cuento de Roma.

Originalmente, ésta iba a ser la tapa del episodio 17 (version inglesa, pero no viene al caso).

Un poco después, cambié de idea. Esta es la tapa final:

Qué cambió? Pues, el logo del imperio romano se fue, y en su lugar tenemos una chica con un cuchillo detras de la espalda.

Y aqui va un simple twist: cuando busqué por Google una imagen que me gustara, no encontré nada. Sin pensarlo ni por un minuto, le pedí a mi mujer que se pusiera un dress, y le puse un cuchillo de cocina en la mano.

Click! Click! Click! Tres fotos, por las dudas.

Eran las siete de la mañana, y ella me miraba como que me volví loco.

Con las fotos en mi iPhone, me fuí a Photoshop.

El cuchillo de cocina se convirtió en una daga romana, y hasta tuve que separar la manija de la hoja, para darles diferentes sombras y diferentes GLOW. Borré partes de la manija para que los dedos estuvieran correctos, cuchillo en mano.

Paso dos era el vestido. Estaba demasiado arrugado de estar en el armario por quien sabe cuanto tiempo. Usé el sello y un poco de SMUDGE, hasta que el resultado me gustó.

Luego, color SEPIA a todo eso, y por último tuve que separar el brazo derecho (el que no tiene la daga) del cuerpo, y volver a ponerlo para tenerlos en diferentes LAYERS, y con diferentes sombras.


Oficialmente, mi mujer (y una daga inventada) ahora están el el podcast, como tapa de un episodio.

Enjoy, y gracias por leer!


Un dia de trabajo haciendo podcasts

Un dia de trabajo haciendo podcasts

Aquí va un screenshot de cómo se ve mi laptop en un dia de trabajo cuando me dedico al podcasting. Imagínese un gran café al lado, un montón de papelitos, y un cuaderno bien grueso.
Nuestra pequeña Arwen ya está en el jardín de infantes, así que hay silencio en la sala…


Hoy es hora de limpiar tres audios para The Tale of Rome, y un audio para El Cuento de Roma.

  1. Noise Removal:Get Noise Profile, then Remove Noise
  2. Compression:  Threshold -15 to -20
  3. Equalize: Bass Boost and Treble Boost
  4. Normalize:  -1 Decibel
  5. Hard Limit:  -4 Decibel
  6. Normalize again: -1 Decibel


Podcast Plan 2017

RED color / Color ROJO: Episode number / Número de episodio

Some months have five Sundays. That’s five episodes.
Some months have four. Well… that’s four episodes.
By 2018 we’ll have 41 episodes on the air.

Algunos meses tienen cinco domingos. Cinco episodios.
Algunos meses tienen cuatro domingos. Pues… cuatro episodios.
Para el 2018 ya tendremos 41 episodios al aire.

SOTU = State of the Union episodes / Episodios de El Estado de la Unión
BIO = Biography episodes / Episodios de biografías.

August 22 BIO: Virgil and Livy / Virgilio y Tito Livio.

My podcast is nearing publishing

El cuento de Roma - Podcast

Soon I will be releasing the first few episodes of my podcast, “El Cuento de Roma.”

It is a podcast about the tale of Ancient Rome, and I am very excited to mix the things I know for quite a long time (creative writing, history, internet technology in general, and design) with things I had to learn to make this thing happen, such as podcasting, Audacity, ID3 tags and MP3 files, among others.

Please visit my upcoming podcast, and once you see the subscribe button there (meaning it’s live), please subscribe!

How to Write a Novel

By Akilesh Ayyar posted at 12:00 pm on July 28, 2016

How to Write a Novel


There is a long-standing debate about a critical aspect of the novel-writing process. Currently and colloquially in some annexes of the writing community it’s been playfully termed the “pantsing vs. plotting/outlining/planning” debate. Pantsers fly by the seats of their pants: they write and see where it takes them. Planners, well, plan before they write.

Precedent and vehement feeling may be marshaled in favor of both approaches.

Virginia Woolf took copious notes before she wrote her novels, as did Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov (his notes on index cards). William Faulkner scribbled his outline for A Fable on a wall which his wife tried to paint over. Joseph Heller created an extensive spreadsheet for the correspondences between various plots in Catch-22.

James Joyce, though, thought “a book should not be planned out beforehand, but as one writes it will form itself, subject, as I say, to the constant emotional promptings of one’s personality.” Mark Twain too, insisted that a book “write itself” and that “the minute that the book tried to shift to my head the labor of contriving its situations…I put it away…The reason was very simple — my tank had run dry; it was empty…the story could not go on without materials; it could not be wrought out of nothing.” Ernest Hemingway said much the same, and believed in simply pouring out what was within, stopping each day before he was completely empty, and resuming the next.

And of course there are many other points along the continuum. Italo Calvino started from an image and then expanded it. “If I didn’t know the ending of a story, I wouldn’t begin. I always write my last lines, my last paragraph, my last page first, and then I go back and work towards it,” says Katherine Anne Porter. And writers’ processes may be regarded differently by themselves than by others. George Eliot may have been prompted by the serial format of Middlemarch to unify her novel more than it otherwise would have been, but she nevertheless considered her work more as “experiments in life” than “moralized fables, the last word of a philosophy endeavoring to teach by example,” as Henry James remarked of her work.

The divide exists with equal prominence in more mass market or “genre” schools. There the archetypal planner might be someone like J.K. Rowling, who extensively outlined the Harry Potter series, or John Grisham, who reportedly outlines each of his books prior to writing them. Stephen King, on the other hand, thinks it’s “dishonest” to pre-determine a plot, and William Gibson dislikes planned writing, which he considers to smack of “homework.” Polish novelist Stanislaw Lem likened his writing process to “dipping a thread in a liquid solution of sugar; after a while crystals of sugar begin to settle on the thread, and it grows thicker and thicker, it puts on flesh, so to speak,” and this is reminiscent of what fantasy author Neil Gaiman says of his novels: that they “accrete.” Lem’s description is reminiscent of what Stendhal says in his deliciously acute Love of the idealization involved in passionate love. When a twig is left in the salt mines, Stendhal writes, it eventually emerges utterly sheathed in delicate, interlacing crystals. In the same way, a person in love encloses their beloved in a seamless vestment of imagined perfections (never, however, with less ground in reality than the shape of the crystals have in the topography of the underlying twig). Perhaps writers like Lem need to idealize their work before writing it.

Authors like Raymond Chandler and George R.R. Martin claim that if they planned, they would lose all motivation to write. The latter makes a distinction between “architects” and “gardeners.” Architects plan rigorously and then construct; gardeners plant seeds and water them, and that creates the novel over time.

These divisions are not to deny the facts that writing itself constitutes a kind of planning, if only in retrospect, and that the lines between glimmering visions, developed thoughts, preparatory notes, preliminary sketches, and first drafts blur. Planners certainly do not and cannot plan everything, and even the incorrigibly spontaneous no doubt fall into certain involuntary spasms of planning.


One distinction by which the controversy might be clarified is the mental state involved in the writing process. Many pantsers view the ideal state of writing as akin to a waking dream. Stephen King claims to pass into reverie when he writes, and Ray Bradbury said much the same, cautioning writers to be driven by emotion and not intellect if they wish to experience that state (“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”), which he associates with intense joy.

In Plato’s Phaedrus, love, lunacy and poetry are all related, and so of course Delphic prophecy of old is practically the picture of divine inspiration. The idea of divine madness possessing poets and prophets (and I include novelists under these grand rubrics) is an old one. Kalidasa, the Indian poet, is said to have had the sigil of inspiration painted on his tongue by the goddess, after which the waters of creativity simply poured forth. Madness and divine inspiration here are opposed to calm, clear, intellectual rationality and planning.

There seems to be a separation, then, between the novel whose genesis arises from its creator’s excitement, which, channeled into a dream-like state, throws off what comes to mind in an almost automatic process, and the novel which has its development in a more intentional, cerebral decision, one in which feeling and thought are more nearly equal partners, and which conceives what it wants before it deliberately strives to fulfill that conception.


Planning in a sense takes place in both models. In the case of the planners, it’s a more explicit, thinking kind of planning, whereas in the case of the pantsers it’s an unthinking planning that takes place by way of that first draft.

And that distinction may well mean different parts of the brain or mind function to conceptualize the basic structure of the novel. In everyday social interaction, we understand what another person means by their actions and words by putting ourselves in their place and simulating what we would do in their place. This is not usually a conscious process. There is evidence that when readers read stories, they identify with the characters and do much the same thing.

It may be the case that pantsers engage in this kind of imaginative and empathic recreation when they tell stories, which is precisely why they cannot plan. They have to tell the story in order to know its contours and structure. They have to place themselves in the minds of the characters and then simulate what the characters do. This may be why Hilary Mantel calls writing her fiction an activity akin to acting.

These writers work by faith that their emotions channel into words a latent object which will later prove to possess a structure. The act by which one constructs characters, subjects them to some shock or hinders their desire by some obstacle, and then simply follows them in one’s imagination as they respond, is the empathic creative process.

This empathic process relates, too, to the possibility of characters which somehow take control and even surprise their creator.

That this could even happen is a matter of controversy. Jorge Luis Borges, admittedly not a novelist, is skeptical that such a thing is not merely authorial self-deception. He found preposterous the idea that characters could truly buck their author.

Yet Leo Tolstoy claimed surprise at what his characters did, in particular expressing shock at one of Anna Karenina’s most infamous acts.

Indeed, a reverie-writer like Stephen King considers it dishonest when a writer pre-determines a plot instead of simply giving the characters the situation and following what they do. J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that he had long ago learned not to determine by fiat what characters would do, and to let them determine their own actions instead, and Bradbury says that the plot is simply the footprints of the characters sprinting toward their desires.

And yet here too there are strong crossovers.

The planner William Faulkner said, after all, that this is precisely what he did with As I Lay Dying: “I simply imagined a group of people and subjected them to the simple universal natural catastrophes, which are flood and fire, with a simple natural motive to give direction to their progress.” And it was a book for which he claimed to know practically every word prior to writing anything down. More broadly he claimed of each of his books that “there is always a point…where the characters themselves rise up and take charge and finish the job — say somewhere about page 275.”

And Henry James thought through a situation and then expanded in his mind the ramifications of that situation. It started for him with a little “seed” or “virus” which then he then expanded into its inevitable implications, structured into a novel, and then wrote. He took distinct pleasure in rendering visible the intricate organism into which the situational seed blossomed — an empathic approach, yet filtered through a powerful planning intellect.


Planning is often connected to a desire to use fiction to explicate an idea. That makes sense, since such a desire requires intellectual foresight and control.

Dostoevsky wrote his extensive notes no doubt because his works had to illustrate complex philosophical ideas like the “positive idea of beauty” in The Idiot, or the possibility of acting beyond morality in Crime and Punishment.

Marcel Proust famously wrote that he was overjoyed when one of his readers realized that his work was in fact a “dogmatic work and a construction,” that is — that it had been fashioned according to a plan to demonstrate certain principles. Proust was not, contrary to popular opinion, merely trying to recreate old memories. He was trying to demonstrate certain philosophical, psychological, and literary ideas, and these manifested in his work. He admired the idea of Gothic cathedrals and thought of his work architecturally, or with the unity of painting or a great symphony, and drew his characters and situations from memory accordingly. He claims, indeed, to have possessed no imagination at all, though this remark likely ought to be taken about as seriously as Montaigne’s claims to a poor memory and dull storytelling ability.

And yet even here there are complications. Ray Bradbury mentions that when he writes, a second self arises and does all the writing; his muse does all the work. In strange analogy with that view is Proust’s strongly-held position that the real life of the writer cannot tell us anything important about the authorial self, which be known only in the artistic creation. Yet this in itself does not tell us much about the planning debate, because that second self, that other self, may be precisely the self of reflection rather than the automatic, unconscious self which manifests when the intellect suspends itself in a reverie. On the other hand, Proust himself firmly holds that for an artist, “instinct” is king, and that intellect, by its own lights, bows in acknowledgement of this fact. Unfortunately, he never defines just what instinct is or how it is to be accessed in the writing process, excusing himself with an idea that Faulkner independently and no less staunchly adumbrates: that finally, there are no rules to writing.

Perhaps, as Henry James put it, “the general considerations fail or mislead, and…even the fondest of artists need ask no wider range than the logic of the particular case.”


Literary elements

Just as a painter uses color and line to create a painting, an author uses the elements of fiction to create a story. The elements of fiction are: character, plot, setting, theme and style.

Of these five elements, character is the who, plot is the what, setting is the where and when, theme is the why, and style is the how of a story.

Here, once more: