I’m continuing my advice series today with Maria Grazia, a blogger I’ve met while growing the Vicariously Jane Austen blog. We first talked on Twitter, and I asked if she’d be willing to answer a few questions about how she got started!
I hope this will help people who are getting their blogs off the ground and promote a great blog to those who want to read about Jane Austen.
Carolyn Crist: What sparked you to start your website, and what keeps you going?
Maria Grazia: A sparkle actually lit my passion for blogging. I started blogging to pass materials, notes or power point presentations, video or audio files, to my students. As a teacher of English as a foreign language and of English literature , I wanted a place on line to share with them. This is how I started. My first, old blog is still there and I regularly update it. LEARNONLINE, it is called. I have fun adding my materials there and my students find working online more stimulating, really motivating.
But then, I wanted a more personal space. Hence, FLY HIGH! There the fire began to burn bright! I started writing it some months after LEARNONLINE. There I like writing about books, period drama, series and movies, school, journeys and trips, theatre and my favourite actors. Well, actually, without final S: my favourite actor. “My one weakness”, as I like to call him. He is one of the reasons why FLY HIGH! has gone
on and grown. Many of my readers are, in fact, Richard Armitage’s fan, like me. They drop by to see if there’s a new post about RA (as we call him). But these lovely readers happen to share many of my other interests: books, period drama and theatre, for instance. So they stay and read and comment even the other stuff they find.
I started my newest blog in January 2010. My Jane Austen Book Club was linked to a Jane Austen club I was actually moderating for the public library in my town. We read the six Austen major novels, one a month from January to June and we met on the last Saturday of each month to discuss what we had read. The experience was obviously inspired to the lovely film “The Jane Austen Book Club” but there was no
handsome Gigg with us! Well, no man at all. So, my third blog started as a “container” for my notes, quizzes, ideas, videos for the club and it has become what it is now, “A friendly meeting place to discuss everything Austen.”
Carolyn: What interests you about Jane Austen – and Jane Eyre?
Maria: Well, Austen and the Bronte sisters are among my favourite authors. I love their talent at dealing with human feelings and passions, at creating strong emotions or witty dialogue. Their sensitivity and their intelligence made them women beyond their time. But there are many other women writers I highly appreciate: Elizabeth Gaskell, Elsa Morante, Isabel Allende, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Paola Mastrocola. OK. I’ll stop here. But I’ve got a very long list, in fact.
Carolyn: How do you continue to find intriguing books and content to post on each day?
Maria: Actually they find me! Since I’ve started blogging I’ve virtually met authors, publishers, publicists, bloggers, teachers, women, men from all over the world. I receive lots of books to review or as a gift, I easily find guests to interview or to host with their blogposts. Then, I write about what I watch, period or modern drama, movies or series, theatre or about my journeys. Actually, I have to renounce writing about everything I’d like to. Blogging is quite a time consuming activity, you know.
Carolyn: What types of characters do you like the most?
Maria: As for heroines, they must be intelligent, sensitive, strong-willed, ambitious, independent and, possibly, flawed. A little defect , please! A mistake, from time to time! You can learn much from your own mistakes. I hate the Fanny Price type. I prefer Anne Elliot, Emma and even Marianne Dashwood!
My heroes…ehm…my heroes must be… just like the heroines above: intelligent, sensitive, strong-willed,ambitious, independent and possibly flawed. Proud? Impetuous? Stubborn? Better.vI must confess I have a crush for complex baddies, libertines and rogues. Although my favourite men in literature are loyal and faithful, hard working and ready to sacrifices: Captain Wentworth and John Thornton. Last but not least, my heroes must be dark haired and, possibly, with blue/grey/green eyes. Since they just exist in our fantasy, we can be demanding, can’t we?
Carolyn: How do you support yourself financially while blogging?
Maria: I have my job, I teach full time in a state school here in my town. I teach English as I said above to teenage students and I’m paid for that . Blogging is one of my hobbies. My main hobby. But I earn no money for that.
Carolyn: Tell us a bit about marketing and promotion of your sites.
Maria: I’ve started using Twitter and Facebook only recently but I wouldn’t say that it has changed much my blogging style nor increased the number of my followers or commenters enormously . I just post links there since I have very little time to spend chatting. Though, I must confess I do it from time to time. I’ve got so many new acquaintances from all over the world now, that… how could I resist to share and chat with them? Blogging has brought to me so many new friends, virtual and real, distant and near! And that is what I am most grateful for. Indeed.
If you were looking for a marketing expert, you haven’t found one, I’m afraid. Maybe we can look for one together among our readers. And ask: ”Any suggestions for us”?
Thanks for having me!
Thanks, Maria! I really appreciate your responses and would love to host you again soon.