Monday, September 1, 2014

How I format my ebooks

The tools I use for writing have changed, depending really on what's practical at the time. As of right now, I'm using Google Docs for web and mobile, and finalizing everything on Microsoft Word. (I even caved and pay P250 a month for fully functional Word.) 

Whatever I use though, I make it a point to write in such a way that my manuscript itself is already ebook-friendly. Not that difficult to do, since I write straightforward text with no fancy extras. Here are a few of my settings from the draft stage on:

- Single column text (absolutely no text boxes anywhere)
- Justified
- Indented paragraphs, one carriage return/"Enter" to start next paragraph
- Single spaced, no space between paragraphs
- One font throughout, if I can help it. Usually Georgia or Palatino Linotype.
- Chapter headings to the left, and styled as Heading 1 (anything I want to appear on a table of contents page is Heading 1)
- No footnotes, strikethroughs, subscript, superscript, special characters, inserted objects. (If I can help it.)

Formatting rules of course vary per book, but I try to stick to these even as I write, so it's less of a headache later on when I'm actually publishing it.

Love is the Answer (#romanceclass bundle 3)


FREE from September 1 to 3
$0.99 until end September
$2.49 regular price until end February 2015
FREE to read for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited

Sweet, contemporary romance by Filipino authors. Enjoy three new adult/chick lit novellas in one bundle! 

FINDING X by Miles Tan 

Is there a science to falling in love? 

Carlisle Santiago is through with men. After the devastating end of a seven-year relationship, she's trying to put her life back together. What she doesn't know is that she is the subject of the patient and methodical observations of blue-haired scientist Matteo Villegas, who just wants to find love himself. She must decide whether she's ready to give love another shot or if this is doomed to be one failed experiment. 

THE REAL SCORE by Kesh Tanglao 

Caitlin's friendship with Marcus, the de facto frontman of the world's biggest boy band Gezellig, has long been an object of scrutiny by almost everyone--their friends and families, the media, and his fans--ever since they "went public" a couple of years back. Who wouldn't be interested? She was a nobody, catapulted into the limelight of his fame when he struck an unusual friendship with her. 

To both Caitlin and Marcus, what they have is a "perfect little thing." But then something comes along and threatens it. 

In a no-holds-barred interview, will they finally be forced to settle the score? 

FORGET ME NOT by Addie Lynn Co 

Rianne has lost her memory of the past two years due to an accident, but letters from a mysterious "Sparks" -- found in a pile of unread mail at home -- have been helping her cope. The letters tell her of a couple's love story, making her hope to find the same unconditional love someday. 

Rebuilding her life has been a mess though: her guy best friend is claiming to have been her boyfriend that time, but she seems more at ease with a mysterious stranger. Does she trust the past she can't remember, or take a chance with a more uncertain future? 

Cover designed by Tania Arpa, featuring Rhea Bue.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Free Right Now (August 2014 edition)

I always have a freebie out there somewhere. What's free right now?


For the Wattpad books, the last few chapters of each book are set to private. You'll be able to read them if you have a Wattpad account, and follow my account there: wattpad.com/MinaVE

Hope you enjoy the books!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nominated yay! Filipino Readers' Choice Awards 2014

Happy news!


Welcome to Envy Park is a nominee in the Romance in English category in the 2014 Filipino Readers' Choice Awards.


Queen of the Clueless and Icon of the Indecisive were nominated in the Young Adult category too!

FRCA is chosen by Filipino readers. Nominees are now part of the voting phase, and the top 3 books in each category move on to be judged by a panel -- also composed of Filipino readers. Vote for your favorite Filipino books here

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Georgia Lost and Found (Excerpt and Sola Musica pre-order)

So here's the thing: all stories featured in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival happen on pretty much the same weekend, on a beach in Batangas. Authors Ines, Marla, Chinggay and I decided on the location, the event details, a bit of the program...and then we all went off to write our stories.

The resulting book is a snapshot of how a small group of people experience the same day. And how four writers take the same event and put their own spin on it. I decided to go back to my chick lit roots on this one and put together something sweeter than my recent work. Here's an excerpt!

====

Ken and I have to talk.
He knows this, but he’s being typical Ken, and he’s not saying anything. Because he’s like that. He’s thinking though, incredibly snarky, complex, and detailed thoughts, I’m sure. It shows in his face, in that glint in those dark brown eyes, the personality in his brow, that hint of a dimple in his right cheek.
“Spit it out,” I’d say, and sometimes he would. Rarely. Most times he’d flatly deny it. (“What? My mind is currently blank.”)
Blank, my ass. He has a million and one thoughts on littering, and monolingual people, and Game of Thrones. Of course he will have at least one thought on the topic of him and me. Me and him. He just isn’t keen on sharing.
It’s probably because of that one time, when he actually almost said something, and it didn’t turn out so well.
But whatever. I won’t let him mope forever. He’s going to be in an isolated place with me for a weekend. For work, so he can’t just run out on this—and me—even if he desperately wants to. The next time that cheek twitches and the half-dimple appears, I’m going to be right there, pulling words out.


We are both not really what we are, on this trip. Ken and I are freelancers, moonlighters. Usually Ken and I cover travel stories, sent together or separately to some hotel, some island, some mountain retreat. He takes photos, and I think of new ways to say “cozy” and “luxurious.” But this trip is not exactly a travel assignment. It’s an entertainment job, covering a music festival that just happens to be located on a beach cove in Batangas.
It’s almost a joke, because Ken and I are not “entertainment people.” In fact, this friendship (if that’s what we’re calling it) started because on our first trip together, we were riding a van with an Entertainment Person who was loudly making everyone aware that he was talking to some celebrity on his phone, and we kind of locked eyes, him near the front and me at the back row, and laughed silently.
“You’re reading again,” Ken says, and it’s actually the first thing he’s said to me all morning. He could have said something when he picked me up at the ungodly hour of seven AM, but it was all a series of grunts and head motions. A nod, when he first saw me. A thumbs-up sign, when I tried the passenger door to find it locked, and he unlocked it to let me in. A nod again, when I said good morning, what the hell am I doing up at this hour.
He is very much against reading in vehicles. It’s his own weakness, something that gives him instant headaches and motion sickness, and he is mistakenly trying to save everyone from it. I happen to be checking my phone because of a work-related thing, it’s always a work-related thing, so I keep going.
“Looking at the band list,” I explain. “I don’t know all of them. Do you know anyone? I’m so wrong for this.”
“I know a few of the acts,” he says. “Friends with some of the musicians.”
“Are they any good?”
“Yeah.”
And then, silence, again, for the rest of a long stretch of highway.
“So we should probably do this like La Union then,” I say, right after he pays the toll, and can’t use the highway driving or counting money as an excuse to ignore me anymore. “Because I don’t think I can cover everything, and I don’t know them that much anyway.”
We are on pause, idling right at the exit, and he still doesn’t look at me.
“Sure,” he finally says.


“Like La Union” means if he could kindly share his thoughts on the subject matter, because it’s probably something I don’t know much about. Which was precisely the case on our first trip to La Union together, because he had actually surfed before and I had never. I was a newbie on that trip, a bit naive, and while my more seasoned colleagues listened to briefings and enjoyed the sun, I actually insisted on going out there to surf.
Because I felt I couldn’t write about it if I hadn’t done it.
Ken was skeptical, not just of my wanting to surf, but my point of view in general. He was himself a “seasoned colleague” and he was on the water because he wanted to do it, while I seemed totally unprepared. He agreed to tell me what he knew about surfing, where he liked to do it, why this beach and this resort was great for it, but me trying it for myself?
“You’re not wearing a rash guard,” he said.
I couldn’t breathe in those things. I was wearing a black exercise tank top over a red bikini. “I don’t need it. You’re not wearing a rash guard.”
And then I wished I hadn’t said that, because I just looked at and pointed to his chest, all muscular and wet from having gone in the water. There was a necklace of beads around his neck that wasn’t there earlier, and I tried to look at that instead.
“If you fall wrong, you’ll lose your top.”
“I’m not going to lose my top.”
He laughed. “I didn’t say that to scare you. It’s going to happen.”
“I’m not going to lose my top.”
“Okay, but just wait here while I go get my camera…”
After a quick tutorial from Kuya Gerry, who spoke about the resort and the surf spots in the province, I went out into the water.
And promptly fell wrong, and lost my top.
Falling “wrong” is not new to me, by the way. I spoke so defiantly to Ken because I’m used to the not-so-graceful exit, and wasn’t expecting the water to hit me like a wall. A wall with arms, hands, and fingers, that not just pushed me up and down, but also got into my tank top, pulled it off my torso, and then loosened my bikini knot and liberated it from my body, all in a matter of seconds.
“I’m on it, don’t worry,” I heard him say as soon as I surfaced, arm covering certain parts of me.
He had retrieved the tank top, and I slipped the soaked item of clothing back on. The red bikini was sadly lost to the sea.
“Did you get a good photo at least?” I told him, as I tried to catch my breath.

Ken shook his head, but then tapped his temple. “It’s in here. Where it counts.”

Pre-order Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival (Kindle edition): bit.ly/solamusica

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Answers to questions from Hannah of DLSU

Sometimes I get requests from students to answer questions or give comments, usually for a paper or a report they're doing. This is a recent Q&A I did with Hannah of DLSU, for her thesis. Sharing my answers here!

-How is the demand for the genre (chick lit and modern fiction) here in the Philippines at present?

There is a great demand for contemporary romance (teen romance, new adult, adult) and probably in unprecedented numbers. The chick lit category however, if you're to define it as the books about twenty-something women living in the city, is not the top genre right now, and is probably taking a backseat to broader romance stories.

-What is it about modern fiction that makes it really popular nowadays?

For lack of a better term, "the feels." The most popular stories right now are the ones that people readily gush about, emotionally. (From The Fault in Our Stars to She's Dating the Gangster.)

-Do you think modern fiction/popular fiction has other value aside from being an escapist read or for entertainment? What is the value of modern fiction?

It's probably something that won't be appreciated until much later, but I see popular or modern fiction as snapshots of our time. If a story is at all authentic, and it becomes well-loved, it's probably going to be a good indicator of how we felt that year, how mature our thoughts were, what we liked and loved. As an author I try to sneak in more than the usual in my books, even though they're meant to be light reads. I've introduced psych concepts, myths, career advice even. But it's all in context and it should all still be fun.

-How different is the modern fiction from the West to its local counterpart?

When the characters are teens, "Western" stories are a bit out of reach. They usually involve driving, going to prom, having sex, various situations that seem very adult to teens here. However as the characters get older, there are more similarities. College, first-job, "new adult" stories tend to be more relatable now.

-How many imprints/genres do you currently have in your line-up?

I've written young adult (teen audience) and new adult (18 and older). However I've decided to focus on the older readers, and tell more stories that feature them.

-Would you entertain the idea of having a “Bro Lit” (“Dick Lit”- guy centered texts) counterpart for Chick Lit? What kinds of stories do you think this hybrid-genre will contain?

I guess the authors and publishers behind this would have to know who they're writing for. Is it "guy lit" for girls to read? So girls can get a peek into their thoughts? Is it guy lit written for guys, with the intention of getting them in touch with their feelings? What makes it different from guys just writing in general? This hybrid could work if it knows what its goals are.

-What is your view on the influx of modern fiction now and the evolution of Wattpad where everyone and anyone can be an author?

There are criticisms of it that I've heard before, but they've also been said about self-publishing, commercial romance, chick lit... It's essentially people looking down at the new kid on the block. I think people should be encouraged by it. Encouraged to read, and write, and publish. What this proves is that the population of readers wasn't as small as we thought.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gifted Little Creatures (Illustrated!)

Something new! And old! But also new!

I met artist Raine Sarmiento a few months ago, after we both attended the launch of Studio Salimbal Comics. She emailed me and asked if we could work together on anything.

And I said yeah! Here! (I'm always up for this!)

There's a companion short story for my Interim Goddess of Love trilogy called Gifted Little Creatures. It features Maya, goddess of the moon, and it's free to read on Wattpad. 



Raine has provided illustrations and a new cover. Now it looks like this!


This will be a 10-page (ish) booklet and I will be giving it away FREE once I figure out how to print it.

Raine, this looks so awesome. I love love love it.