Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Excerpt: Never Just Friends


Jacob Berkeley, famous for his critically-acclaimed television show Rage Eternal, last year’s Hottest Male Ever, this year’s 30 Sexiest on TV Under 30, was not hers.
Jake Berkeley, on the other hand, was a guy she met in college. Eater of her sister’s cookies. Playmate of her nephew and niece. The person she sat beside for three out of the last four Christmas dinners. Semi-annual “All-Clear Happy Hour” drinking buddy. Potential future Amazing Race partner. And, if that didn't pan out, her zombie apocalypse buddy.
But he wasn't her best friend, no. That would be crazy. Calling him that would let them fall into that awful cliché, and list them among the dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of platonic male-female “best friends” out there who were really just waiting for the other to wake up and smell the love already.
No they were not that. She was not that.
Lindsay paused and shook her hair out of the ponytail, catching her reflection on the window of an idling cab. It was July, and she rarely saw him in July, come to think of it. Since they both moved away from Fremont in California, they didn't see each other in the summer, when her hair was a bit more blond than brown, even when she did nothing new to it. She got the short end of this stick because she got to see him all year round. Got to see him buzzed and sweaty in photos of him working out to get in shape for his show. Got to see him be hot and handsome in the different time periods that his show’s seasons had been set in. (She didn't watch the show, though, but the promotional photos were used as billboards, and she usually had to walk by one when it was that time of the year.) Got to see him and his perfect black hair, perfectly sculpted stubble, perfect blue eyes taunting her from magazine covers.
She remembered that the dress she was wearing was a sexy crimson halter if she shrugged out of her brown knit sweater. So she did that. She caught her reflection yet again on a car window, and almost smacked the self-satisfied look on her face with her hand.
What for? Why are you doing this?
You have Victor. Maybe.
And he is not your Jake.
They (she and Jake) might not even be as friendly now as she thought they were. The last time she saw him was April, over a year ago, and it wasn't the best time for either of them. He skipped that year’s August happy hour, and missed Christmas, and she didn't hear from him the following April.
Or any other time in between.
Sometimes she wondered if she should be more worried about him, but the news didn't report anything serious enough to get her attention. She’d find out along with everyone else if anything happened to the fifth sexiest guy on TV “under 30” yes? So she assumed the distance was deliberate on his part.
And then this, having her walk five blocks to see him, on an assistant’s errand. A contract for him to sign. She'd find out that he was in New York this way? Because he probably flew in this morning. He liked doing that, flying into places early. Being up early. Doing things at dawn. She wouldn't have met him, in fact, if on that day her sister Cordelia didn't take the first flight out, and Lindsay woke up at five a.m. to help her with something.
And saw him jogging past the house she shared with her sister, her sister’s husband, and their two kids.
He ran by twice, probably circling the neighborhood, and then that was it.
Lindsay woke up early every day to check if he would pass by again. For two days there was no Hot Guy sighting, and then on the third day…
But no. She should be angry. Annoyed. Incensed. She should have put her foot down right there on the carpet and made Marnie do the welcoming herself.

It didn't matter if he was successful Jacob Berkeley now who got to act on TV, be on magazine covers, and take all-expense paid trips to be an environment poster boy. She was important too, damn it. Not in ways that he’d know unless he read the copyright page of policy papers (and who did really), but damn it.

Never Just Friends will be out on November 18. Buy here: iBooks  Kobo  Smashwords (soon on Amazon and buqo). Print editions available online and in Philippine bookstores soon!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Title page appreciation: My Summit Books designed by Studio Dialogo

So this is what I learned over the years: When people say they love a book, but refuse to get the ebook, it means what they really love isn't just the author's words. They also love how the book was made.

They love the decisions your publisher made. Which paper to print on. The font used. Glossy or matte lamination on the cover. Cover paper stock. The skill of the artist/designer who put the pages together.

That has almost nothing to do with me, the author! 

This is a post in appreciation of the designers of my Summit Books, a firm called Studio Dialogo. I love the little details they pick up from the stories, that show up within the book pages and the covers.

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Title page appreciation #MyImaginaryEx Book design by Studio Dialogo Cover by @abigoy Summit Books


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Title page appreciation #NoStringsAttached Book design by Studio Dialogo Cover by @abigoy Summit Books (Dante's cellphone move! Don't try it unless you can live without it.)


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Title page appreciation #ThatKindofGuy Book design by Studio Dialogo Cover by @abigoy Summit Books


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Title page appreciation #FairyTaleFail Book design by Studio Dialogo Cover by @rommeljoson Summit Books


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Title page appreciation #LoveYourFrenemies Book design by Studio Dialogo Cover by @abigoy and Frances Alvarez Summit Books

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sola Musica book launch on Oct 25!


Ines, Marla, Chinggay, and I are launching Sola Musica's paperback edition on Saturday, October 25! And you're invited. 

We will be at O2 Space Solutions in Milelong Bldg, Makati (near Makati Cinema Square) from 10 AM to noon. Those who ordered their paperback at bit.ly/solamusicaprint will be able to pick up their copies there and also have them signed. We'll sign any of our other books that you bring along too!

If you happen to join this giveaway below and win, you'll be able to pick up your prize pack at the launch too! (Or we can ship it to any Philippine address, no problem.)

See you on October 25!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Spotlight series: We're growing up a bit


It's time to say a little something about the next few books I'm releasing. I have seven (seven!) book projects all laid out, one after another, and they can all be classified under NA contemporary romance.

What it means: They're going to be hotter. Way hotter. There's always been mention of sex in my chick lit and NA books, but for reasons that would require a long discussion about bigger things, I kept it all "closed-door" and "fade to black."

For reasons that will still require a long discussion about bigger things (and possibly fancy drinks?), I've decided that my next few books will keep the door open, a bit, so to speak.

Also, while I'm still focusing on romance (so you'll find the style and writing familiar), I'm adding more variety to my usual sandbox. We'll be going to California, New York, Texas. We'll play rugby, defend reforestation projects, date actors starring in hit cable shows.  

If this is not your thing, and you still want to read my books, don't worry -- I have at least ten titles that can be considered "sweet," or "non-steamy," with characters and stories set entirely in the Philippines, and you can find them here.

This Spotlight experiment begins with The Harder We Fall, out this month. Thank you for the support you've given me so far! Now let's see if we can have more fun with this thing. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Kitchen When It Sizzles: Interview with author Chrissie Peria [Blog Tour + Giveaway!]


Welcome to my stop on the #KitchenSizzles blog tour! This is author Chrissie Peria's second solo novella and she's on a roll this year, also being nominated for a 2014 Filipino Readers' Choice Award (no big deal...)! Here's my interview with Chrissie:

1. Let's get this out of the way -- how awkward was it to write the "steamy" scenes? (And I don't mean cooking.) 
Writing steamy is not as awkward as I thought it would be. I had a clear idea of how I wanted to handle the steamy scenes, so it was just a matter of tapping into the characters' emotions and getting the words down.

Truth be told, it's owning up to writing the actual prawn-y bits that I found more awkward than the actual writing. How do I tell people I wrote this? I even considered using a pen name, but in the end, I decided to stand by what I wrote and take credit for it. I slaved over this book, damnit, I want my name on the cover.

2. How did you decide to write and publish something a bit more adult as your next book?
Following All's Fair with a more mature book wasn't a conscious decision. Kitchen Sizzles was supposed to be a short story for #steamyreads. In fact, my first draft stopped somewhere halfway the current story. But it didn't feel right, so I kept writing.

In the end, I fell in love with the characters and I wanted everyone else to get to know them, too, even if it wasn't part of the plan. Kitchen Sizzles takes me out of my comfort zone, but it also feels so rewarding to broaden my horizons, so no regrets.

3. Would you have featured more food in the book, if you could? Were there dishes that didn't make it through the edit? 
Yes! There was supposed to be an elaborate dessert (with bacon) that was going to be a plot device but as I was writing it, I realized that I didn't need it. I had Sticky Chinese Ribs from the start! So bye-bye dessert. I'm more of a savory dish person anyway, so I don't feel bad. 

4. Did you encounter any resistance from yourself or readers to casting a chef as your love interest? 
None from me since I've been wanting to feature a chef LI for the longest time. I haven't gotten any complaints from those who've read it either. (Except maybe from a certain fictional art director / photographer named Jesse, but we know he's biased.) I think we can all agree that a hot guy who can dish out a mean creme brulee is a keeper.

5. What's next for you?
A little of everything! I'm juggling stories right now, letting a bunch of story ideas gestate before choosing one to be fleshed out fully. There's a contemporary YA retelling of a Filipino classic, a YA fantasy, a new #LunaEast story, and a few NA romances, some sweet, some steamy. I'm leaning towards this sweet NA romance featuring characters from a kiddie show, but I'll have to see what the universe throws at me.


About the book

Olivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who's filling in for Olivia's cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can't help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?

Purchase links: Amazon | B&NSmashwords | The Book Depository | iTunes

About Chrissie Peria

When not obsessing over fictional people doing fictional things, Chrissie obsesses about food: the eating, the cooking, and the procuring of it.

An advertising copywriter in her past life, she now spends most of her time writing, taking photos, cooking, and babysitting a tiny human and a curly-haired dog. She still plays with dolls and she thinks that bacon is the answer. Her first book, All's Fair in Blog and War, is a finalist in the 2014 Filipino Readers' Choice Awards.

Follow Chrissie: Blog  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

And oooooh join this giveaway!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

What's next for #romanceclass: Ayala Museum workshops!

We had the free online version, the textbook, and the monthly talks...and then we tried this:


I worked with Ayala Museum this year to come up with a three-session version of #romanceclass. We had our final class on September 23 (not the 19th because we got typhooned out). Here's my quick evaluation of it:

As the facilitator, this format works for me. It doesn't take up too much of my time. I had participants read their work aloud, and I think it was good for the authors to hear their fellow authors react to their work. (A giggle here, a kilig squee there.) I also feel that the direction and advice for one usually applied to more than one author in the room, and at least everyone got to learn from each other, even if they weren't necessarily writing the same story.

The museum charged a fee (P3,800) for the workshop, so the group was smaller (free online #romanceclass had 100 participants!) and I really got to know them and their work. I didn't even realize this until I felt a bit sad at the end of the last class, haha.

One new addition to #romanceclass that I thought worked well was an idea borrowed from Steamy Reads: the "alpha male" guest speaker. Kelvin Yu, bass player for the band Itchyworms (and also a friend from college), was a good sport and talked to our author participants about love, relationships, dating, and what it's like to be in a band these days. I invited him in particular because more than one author had a "part-time rock star" character. :) I loved the authors' questions!

We're doing this again next year. Looking forward to it already!