Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recent Events: PILF, ReaderCon, Miriam College High School, Uno Morato

I had a busy few weeks. (Inside voice: You think?)

The Philippine International Literary Festival and Book Industry Summit (organized by the National Book Development Board) was on November 12 and 13, and I was there both days to both moderate a discussion and be part of a panel. As always, it's an honor to be asked to share how I've published my books. This time I tried to make it more "newbie friendly" and stepped back to explain everything, from the beginning. You would know it though if you already read this blog, so I just gave them the highlights.

November 14, the third day of PILF-BIS, was also the Filipino ReaderCon. I recently joined the ReaderCon board and was there all day to do a variety of things: moderate a discussion featuring readers who've transitioned to writers, watch the panels on diversity and fan fiction, and co-host the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards. I was fine and chipper all day, until right after this picture was taken and as I made a phone call to my husband to tell him I was on my way to meet him, my feet started aching like crazy. I may have been running on bookish adrenaline all day.

On November 20, I was part of a panel on writing and publishing at Miriam College High School, with authors (and comedians) Dean Francis Alfar, Edgar Samar, and Bebang Siy. It was fun. I can't possibly recap what made it funny, but it was. I do hope we were coherent. And check out the tchotchkes Bebang brought along! She makes herself feel at home everywhere.

On November 22, I was with Bebang again at Uno Morato in Quezon City for a discussion on writing, publishing, and everything else, moderated by Anna Sanchez. I chose this pic because it shows me seriously reading Bebang's erotica novel. (It's steamy!)

My next talk is at UP Diliman on December 1. I've said yes to a few invitations for 2015 already. Thank you so much for being interested in what I do. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

"Volcano" research: The Harder We Fall and its rugby connection

The first book in my Spotlight New Adult series, The Harder We Fall, features a character who's a rugby player. I'm sure anyone who knows me even a little went What? What do you know about sports? And they would be right.

I like putting little challenges for myself in every book I write though, and psyched myself up for this: write about sports. I wrote this book for flirtsteamyreads and we had agreed to all write a sports-centric romance, so I pretty much got an entire group to leave my comfort zone along with me. I think we enjoyed it though? I hope so!

So, why rugby? Basketball is the big deal here, but that was precisely why I decided not to use it. As we were writing, the World Cup was on, and football was on everyone's minds. Also why I steered clear from it. A few months ago, my friends Kat and Kesh guested on the 5x5podcast and talked about rugby. It's a sport that hasn't gotten as much of a following in this country, and anyone who chooses to play it does so knowing that they're taking on a set of struggles and opportunities.

I took off from that and wrote the book. Along the way, I consulted actual rugby players Jon Morales and Evans Atandi, and the inside info has been just awesome.

Thanks also to my friend Chef Sharwin Tee for letting me tag along when his TV show Curiosity Got the Chef filmed at the training camp of the Philippine Volcanoes, the country's national rugby team. I saw the teams train, got to talk to female players and coaches, checked out what they ate, heard all the yelling. Lots of yelling. And got more help from Lady Volcano Cassie Umali, and the captain of the Volcanoes himself, Jake Letts.

A photo posted by Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) on

A photo posted by Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) on

So what did I learn from this? Research is fun. It's worth it to write more about what you don't know, because spending the time knowing it opens up all these possibilities.

It's also a balancing act of sorts, to keep the book focused on what it's supposed to be (a romance) and resist the urge to info dump everything I learned about rugby. Even just the stories they've shared about going on tournaments and training for them, and the lives they have to live in between, those could fill books. I can't write them though. I may have been sworn to secrecy about some things.

But I am writing a second rugby book, because I felt that another character in The Harder We Fall could have his own story. And he will!

The Harder We Fall is out now worldwide, and will be in Philippine bookstores in 2015.

Buy links: Amazon  Smashwords  iTunes  Kobo  buqo

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Release day! The Harder We Fall and Never Just Friends

If you're watching out for these (yay if you are!), they'll be out on November 18! Please read or buy or share the info. Thank you!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Perfect Boyfriends: My Imaginary Ex, No Strings Attached, That Kind of Guy

I clicked "publish" this weekend on something. Don't panic -- I don't suddenly have a new book you've never heard of! But I did compile three of my earlier books, those that might be a bit difficult to find outside of the Philippines, and now they're available in print and ebook editions worldwide, from online stores you like.

I've opted this into CreateSpace Expanded Distribution which means bookstores and libraries that order from CreateSpace can sell and stock this book. (If you represent a library or bookstore, check this out if you want more Filipino authors/Asian setting romance on your shelves! Thanks!)

I will not be making a print on demand edition of this for the Philippines, nor will this be in Philippine bookstores. But it'll be available for purchase from sites that ship to the Philippines.

Three books by bestselling romance author Mina V. Esguerra, together in one edition for the first time. Fall in love three different ways... 

Jasmine once pretended to be Zack's ex girlfriend, to help him score with another girl. They've been good friends since then, so good that his two real exes rope Jasmine into their plan to stop him from marrying someone they think is totally wrong for him. (MY IMAGINARY EX)

Carla's 29 and won't settle down and marry just any guy, no matter what her friends say. She thinks Dante is a safe bet for a non-relationship, because he's 24 and couldn't possibly want something long-term. (NO STRINGS ATTACHED)

Anton has dated a lot of women and is everyone's "delicious distraction." But he seems to have fallen hard for good girl Julie -- if only she believed him. (THAT KIND OF GUY, winner of the 2013 Filipino Readers' Choice Award for Chick Lit.)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Guest post by Sola Musica cover designer Martina Bautista

By Martina Bautista

For someone who loves the feeling of sand in between her toes and the sound of waves crashing on the shore, I’m rarely at the beach. I spend way too much time behind my computer screen pinning my life away, and day dreaming about far off places and possible adventures. Prompted by the occasional burst of “I need to get out of here” thoughts, I spend a good chunk of my mornings on budget airline websites contemplating fictional vacations and itineraries that never come to life.

So when it came to planning out the cover for Sola Musica, there was no shortage of ideas or inspiration, all I needed to do was stop my daydreams long enough to get the design down on paper. I suppose that due to my will to buckle down and get creative, I let myself get carried away because when it came time to submit the cover, I ended up producing 4 completely different variations, each with a different photo of a beach or an adventure long gone.

The process of creating the cover involved going on 4 mini adventures with an overall leap into graphic design, a field I’ve only dabbled in. The process for each cover design was the same, mentally mapping out where it would fit and what the part of the festival it would represent then deciding the colors that would suit the mood. I read through each other the stories while brainstorming, and unknowingly, I let myself get lost in the words and next thing I knew, all 4 covers were done.

Normally, I would have to go through the daunting task of going through every font in my laptop, and eventually land right back where I started: font-less and overwhelmed. Nothing seemed to fit the theme or the feel that I wanted to show, until the authors decided to get Macy to do the calligraphy. I’m happy with how easily it fit with the overall vibe I was looking for.  

I don’t know exactly how the authors processed my email with 4 options, but in the end, the vote was unanimous, resulting in the whimsical handwritten love from Macy and the sunset photo with pastel tones from me.

I can’t wait to get myself to the beach and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, armed with Sola Musica and a really chill beach playlist. 

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). Amazon (Paperback). CreateSpace (Paperback, use code CPWT2BBA to get 10% off).

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.

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

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.)

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

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

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