Friday, December 31, 2010

The God Equation and Other Stories by Michael A.R. Co

The God Equation and Other Stories (Kindle Edition)
by Michael A.R. Co

Mathematics and religion duel in an award-winning tale about the true nature of faith and free will. ("The God Equation")

Two soldiers share the unsavory task of killing someone worse than Hilter... over 500 years ago. ("Waiting for Victory")

A popular childhood belief can have sinister results, when a rapist gets the short end of a bargain. ("The Off Season")

A mysterious website allows users to see the whole world in an uncomfortably honest way. ("In the Eyes of Many")

A beautiful faerie finds herself trapped in a tropical paradise, and there's only one way out: a young man and his shovel. ("The Sweet Stranger")

These thought-provoking stories, collected together for the first time, offer a taste of Filipino-style science fiction and fantasy that transcend cultural boundaries and expectations.

My husband writes science fiction and fantasy stories. Not often, but in the past few years he's managed to come up with amazing stuff. "The God Equation," which shared first prize at the first Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, was actually his first published short story.

I've been encouraging him to put a compilation up on the Kindle for a while, and now it's here! You can get the entire thing for just $0.99 ($2.99 if you're using a Philippine credit card/billing address on Amazon). Whether you're into sci-fi or just want to support Pinoy authors, this'll be a great read.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Year-end Ebook Store Report Card

Apparently not all ebook stores are equal. At least as far as my ebook experiment is concerned.

When I decided to publish Fairy Tale Fail digitally via the Amazon Kindle Store in April 2010, it wasn't because I did my research and found it to be the best platform. I didn't care, and just wanted the book to be available to as many people as possible, and Amazon made it relatively easy for me to set everything up.

I was told that through Smashwords I could sell the book in more formats and gain entry into ebook stores that were competing with Amazon. So a few weeks later I put up FTF on Smashwords, also easy, and reformatted my manuscript so it would qualify for Premium Status and be accepted into the digital stores of Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, and the just-announced Apple iBookstore.

Now it's nearing the end of the year, and looking over the sales reports, I see an obvious leader: Amazon. Then again I never did doubt its reach, but looking at the comparison now I see that for me as an indie author Amazon has done the best job of getting my book, and name, out to their public.

Sony's second-place finish is surprising -- I don't know anyone who owns a Sony Reader or buys books from its store, so when I started out I pretty much ignored them in my marketing plan (sorry about that). I'm glad and thankful that Reader owners would take a chance on a title and author they barely know.

On the other hand, Barnes & Noble and Apple iBookstore -- what's up? I thought they would be Amazon's closest competitors, not just in e-readers but book sales as well. Maybe Nook owners aren't into chick lit written by a Filipino indie author, or the ones who might be bought their epub from Smashwords instead. Maybe iPad owners would rather download apps. Or they're reading their ebooks on the Kindle app, like some of my friends, which means Amazon needn't worry about having the best device, as long as they can evolve and be compatible with whatever device their buyers want to use.

What have I learned from this?
#1 - Releasing Fairy Tale Fail digitally was a great decision, and I really should release another one in the next few months.
#2 - Amazon rocks as a distribution channel.
#3 - Since it's not that much effort anyway, I should continue to release my next ebooks on other stores too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First round of thanks for No Strings Attached readers

No Strings Attached has been out for a week, and here's my first round of shoutouts to the people who've been so generous with their time (and money).

Thank you, Chachic, Tina, Lee, Layla, Hazel N, Tin, M and popandcrackle!

And to address a few things that I read/heard in the first week:

From Chachic's review: "The focus isn’t the build up of the love story but rather the complications involved in their relationship."

Very true, although not what I intended. Let me just share -- when I got back into a romance groove, I decided to write three love stories based on the three different love interests I felt I could write about. (My Imaginary Ex, Fairy Tale Fail, and Love Your Frenemies represent all that.) No Strings Attached was a fun thing I tried based on a friend's suggested concept, but it happened to get noticed first.

From Tina's review: "I liked how Carla seemed like a very real person, and her friends offer enough contrast to her for the readers to see the different sides of the story without telling it to them in a long monologue of sorts from the heroine."

Thank you. I did base her on a real person, who would likely never do what Carla did. Oh well, fiction. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No Strings Attached

From the back cover:

Carla is a whiz at her job: she’s efficient, reliable, and a total genius when it comes to putting something together at the last minute. The snag is she’s single and turning the big three-oh in a few months. Her girl best friend (yes, she’s married just like the other girls in Carla’s barkada) keeps trying to set her up with stable banker-types, while her guy best friend (single – the other single one) encourages her to play the field – no strings attached.

Then, through no set up or extraordinary circumstance, Carla meets Dante. Hot, smug, sexy Dante. Definitely not a banker-type and seemingly too good to be true. So there’s got to be a catch. There is. He’s five years younger. Is the universe telling Carla to finally let loose and enjoy a fling with a younger man? Or is there a lot more to this awkward situation that she bargained for?

My second novel with Summit Books is out now. Hope you're all in a book-buying mood. :)

This was the work that I had originally talked about in this blog, but under a different working title. I'm happy with the title change, though, and appreciate that there's a lot of feedback and care behind getting these books out.

Some shoutouts:

Editor Ines and Publisher Aueeie: It's hard work, what you do. But I'm so glad you make the effort. I hope it's fun rather than frustrating on most days. :)
Abi Goy at Studio Dialogo: Excellent cover!
Husband Michael A.R. Co for the help with the not-girly stuff.
Certain friends (they should know who they are) for suggesting the concept.
Chris for answering my odd questions.

Thank you for the support and encouragement. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I will never get tired of these posts I guess

November has beaten October as Fairy Tale Fail's best month ever. Amazon also launched (finally) a way to give Kindle books as gifts, even to people who have never opened a Kindle account, so this might even get better. (I hope!) If anything it's taught me that momentum is a big part of the ebook success thing -- a big promo push in the beginning helps, but also constant buildup.

That said, Amazon is a mostly American audience, and I'm never really sure how they'll react to a very obviously Pinoy story (though it's in English). This review by Holly of Book Harbinger came out recently and gave me an idea.

I also found out that FTF's older sibling My Imaginary Ex is still selling, more than a year after its release. Recent reviews by online communities and book bloggers have been significantly helpful.

Speaking of helpful online communities, a Goodreads page has been created for No Strings Attached. (Thanks, Chachic!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Paper again, and word counts

FTF paperback update: Batch 1 is all out, but I'm expecting batch 2 to arrive in a few weeks. Sorry about the delay -- apparently I'm bad at figuring out supply and demand. (Good thing I'm not an economist!) Please be OK with being batch 2. :)

The books got some exposure on the interwebs this week by being featured on Chachic's Book Nook. It's always exciting, especially now that I've come out and started interacting with people who post stuff about the book. The reviews also give me something to think about, so here are a few thoughts to toss back out:

From Chachic's review of Fairy Tale Fail: "If only the paperback was as cheap as the e-book edition, I’d buy lots of copies and give them as Christmas gifts to my girlfriends. Unfortunately, the paperback is more expensive at P350."

I appreciate the thought, and I do wish the printing was cheaper. :( I got a great deal from CreateSpace, but it still can't beat the cost of distributing an ebook.

From her review of My Imaginary Ex: "I just have to say that I’m enjoying reading local chick lit. I just have a minor complaint – they’re all so thin! Small paperbacks less than 150 pages long. I’d be glad to read something meatier if the authors come up with something like that."

I had to learn to write with a word limit that would still make good business sense to my publisher. But to their credit, my next title's manuscript was 8,000 words over -- but they're still taking a chance on it. (Love them!)

BTW I just found out that that book now shares a title with an upcoming Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman movie. (Story's different, as far as I can tell. Unless they too meet on a beach in Batangas.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

FTF Kindle report card

This graph represents Fairy Tale Fail's sales figures on the Amazon Kindle Store in its first six months. It's not at all at the level of quitting my day job, but for an indie publishing experiment you can probably see why I'm excited. I don't know what accounts for the spike, but my theories:

- Changing the price from $1.89 to $0.99
- Tina at One More Page's review
- Joining Goodreads and the Goodreads Filipino group
- Amazon reviews from Laura and Vicki Tyley
- Amazon UK's Kindle Store opening in August (but based on figures, this isn't significantly the cause)
- Releasing a more expensive paperback ($7.99) drove people to purchase the ebook
- Amazon's recommendations algorithm

Maybe it's a combination of all of the above, only Amazon really knows, but this makes me want to release that next book project now. There just might be a market for it after all!

BTW - for FTF's early adopters who purchased at $1.89, you will be getting the next ebook project free from me. Working on it now. :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fairy Tale Fail paperback live in Manila - another experiment

A small batch of Fairy Tale Fail paperbacks are now here in Manila, and for sale.

Price: P350.00
Pickup point: Salcedo St, Makati City.
Email minavesguerra[at]gmail[dot]com for details and other possible pickup points. :)

The batch is small because, frankly, as a reader I am a cheapskate and I rarely pay P350.00 for books nowadays. I'm not sure how many people would buy it at this price when it's already on Smashwords and the Amazon Kindle Store for less than P100 or P200 (depending on your format preference).

But I was told that people love paper, let's see...

If you purchase the paperback, you will also get:
1. A free copy of the ebook version
2. A free copy of my next ebook (when it comes out)

If you've already ordered the paperback from Amazon, email me at minavesguerra[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me -- so you can still get the free future ebook. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Getting Pinoys back on more reading lists

There's some interesting talk going on at different Filipino book blogs about local publishing, genres, marketing books via social media, and then some. Jump in via Tina's post at One More Page and follow the links like breadcrumbs.

Their topics are things that have been floating around in my head for a while, especially in the past year or so, since I was first published, and since I started deliberately reading more work by Filipino authors. Others are finding it difficult to start the reading bit, because of a lack of variety in genres that interest them.

That's true in my case too -- I've read one generational epic (about oppressive landowners and oppressed workers and Martial Law and People Power), one drama about the immigrant experience and family, two classics about all our social ills, and the very modern-meta take on it all which won the Man Asian... so now I feel I've come full circle, and any books I find that are about any of those topics I wouldn't read unless highly recommended.

I do like contemporary lit though, and the way it's emerging in local publishing is via chick lit. I've voted with my wallet, and they seem to be coming out with more of it, so it's not just me telling people to read this stuff. (I also LOVE ZsaZsa Zaturnnah and Trese to bits -- buy them!)

In terms of new material, I do hope publishers explore this more. Like YA, which is the "gateway drug" for so many young readers (me included), and I've read a number of short stories that could have been their own cool Pinoy YA novel if someone just pushed and demanded more from the author.

For writers who encounter some resistance, please consider publishing for the Kindle. It's work (on top of the work of actually writing the thing, I know), but getting it out there is such a wonderful learning experience. If you believe in your story that much, then give me the chance to "sample" it! And by all means, find a way to promote it online, via book blogs and online groups. Summit Books did such a great job marketing My Imaginary Ex when it came out, but it's been a year, and if I get any new sales at all I believe it's because of the community of readers who talk about it online. They're a force!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fairy Tale Fail on good old paper

Fairy Tale Fail [Paperback]
Mina V. Esguerra

Price: $7.99 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details

It's here! It wasn't easy getting a paperback version out, but now it's here and it's pretty. Much as I love the ebook adventure, I did enjoy getting a paperback of FTF and placing it on my shelf.

The title's been up on the Kindle Store for almost five months now and the experience has continued to be a pleasant surprise for me. I don't know the effect that putting the story on paper (and consequently becoming more expensive by 7 dollars + shipping) is going to have on anything... but I guess I'm gonna learn this as I go along.

What's different in this edition:

There's a back cover! Which is actually the book description from Amazon but set to the same color background.

There's an excerpt on the first page. Not new material, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to pick a page to feature.

Notes on the Filipino words and general cultural stuff. Two pages attempting to place the Pinoy things in some kind of context. (Thanks for the idea, Laura Ellen and the people of Kindleboards.)

So far the paperback's being distributed only via Amazon and CreateSpace's estore. Kristeen and Sheela over on Facebook (and Cienne on Goodreads I think) have asked if it'll be out on local bookstores, and I don't have an answer for that yet! In any case there will be copies coming over in a few weeks, and I'll be posting here how much they'll be going for and how to get them. (Spoiler - the 99-cent ebook is so much cheaper!)

If you happen to buy the paperback, though, I hope you tell me about it. Email, post a comment here, or on Facebook, or wherever else, so I can properly send you my giddy thanks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Heads up: "Mockingjay" (The Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 3) Book Launch

Found out about this via my Goodreads group. I haven't read any of the Hunger Games books (unless you count the few pages I browsed at a Fully Booked branch recently), but I support the idea of this launch.

I love that these books have enough of a fan base for a party. And that they're really excited about it. I wish them a great fandomy time. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Filipinos on my reading list

This year is shaping up to be the year of the Filipino author, at least as far as my reading list is concerned.

So far I've read...
Marla Miniano: Every Girl's Guide to Flings and Table for Two
Melissa Dela Cruz: Blue Bloods and Masquerade
Vince O. Teves: Getting Over Andrea and The Wedding
Miguel Syjuco: Ilustrado
Andrea Pasion: Have Baby, Will Date
Maya O. Calica: Undercover Tai Tai
Claire Betita: No Boyfriend Since Birth

The cool thing is that not all of them are locally published, and not all are necessarily "Pinoy" in subject matter either.

Monday, July 26, 2010


So this was in the mail for me today! It's the proof of Fairy Tale Fail from CreateSpace, the company that's helping me work out the print publishing side of this experiment.

The cover (photographed by Bianca Pascual and designed by Michael Co) came out as pretty as I imagined it to be. There's a slight color mismatch but that's my fault, and it's a consequence of using a gradient for the background but kebs, the gradient is cute.

The other quibble I have is that the book doesn't have printing on the spine (too thin according to the app -- but it's not really!). I can change it by adding pages to make the book thicker, but that just makes it more expensive.

That said, this edition also has two pages of notes, about the Filipino words and cultural context. (Because Laura suggested it.) Nothing else has changed, except for formatting.

Off to read and edit. :) And I hope this shows up on Amazon in paperback soon!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A hundred hugs

Recently, I mentioned on a Goodreads discussion thread what I discovered once I had something published: Pinoys read, but they don't talk or write about it as much.

I post nearly every review of my books I can find, and to this day there aren't a lot. There are a few new ones, like the reviews from Laura, Janine and Cienne of My Imaginary Ex on Goodreads. But it's always been a quiet thing, and I used to think that it meant no one bought or read the book. Then I got a royalty check (!) that told me how wrong I was.

I appreciate each and every review I find (no matter what they think of the book), but I have to admit -- even I'm not as quick with the feedback after I read someone else's work. Even if I loved it. I don't really go around emailing writers or producing full-length critiques of their novel. The best I can do is post about loving it, or share a link to it with a short recommendation.

So now, just a mention makes me happy. Like this tweet from xingkit. This message from janajana1210. This FB post by Janine. (Wish I could comment to thank you but it's not allowing me.) And, the thing which made my morning: the 100 people who "like" My Imaginary Ex on Facebook.

Someone once told me I should write about "important things" -- instead I write romances. :P Thanks for making me feel absolutely fine about the choice.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And that makes four

I just put the draft of Love Your Frenemies to bed. It's the one about Kimmy (from My Imaginary Ex) and the act of finalizing it gave me a bit of deja vu.

Eleven months ago, LYF was a complete draft ready for review -- until I asked my editor not to work on it. It's been a difficult story from the start (because Kimmy is hateful and I needed to keep her that way) but even when I finished it, something about the plot bothered me. I also gave myself the extra challenge of making certain things fit with the earlier story (like puzzle pieces).

A few months ago I found a way to make it work. Whether or not it works for other people is entirely up to them, but I tend to want to satisfy myself first. And now I'm satisfied. :)

So now that I'm done with LYF, I have no more "projects" in development. That makes four novellas completed in two years.

Going to take a break as I work on getting these published. In the meantime I'm on listening mode, because friends are telling me all sorts of story ideas. (It happens when they know you write romance. Drama!) I'm also considering a genre shift. (Zombie werewolf robots!?)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Works in progress

So now I'm learning that if I want to reach out to new audiences for my work, I have to really put myself out there as a writer. I mean, really out there. This led to the creation of the Facebook page, the Multiply site, the Twitter account, the Goodreads page (the latest one, by the way -- add me!), and the Amazon author page.

Because of all this online real estate, I have to now talk about stuff. And writing. It's expected, isn't it? And I appreciate it when authors I admire write about the process. It's like a support group. Also, looking back at my entries, there's an appearance of actual work being done. I get to talk -- for the first time -- about works in progress.

I posted a few entries back that I finished a draft called Fling Flop. That's the first one I completed this year, because Fairy Tale Fail was actually written last year. The idea for Fling Flop came from a comment thread with some friends, and the female protagonist is somewhat based on an actual person I know, a person I think is truly the Best Assistant Ever.

It's possible that if I continue to write love stories, I will write them based on friends, and give them the romances they deserve. We'll see.

So now that FF is done and being read by other eyes, I'm starting work on a project I'm calling LYF. LYF was something I had finished last year, but I wasn't comfortable with it. Too many false starts, and I couldn't get the tone right (this is still in first-person POV). But I recently thought of how to fix it, and I'm doing that now.

LYF is Kimmy's story, by the way. Those who've read My Imaginary Ex may remember that character.

I hope I finish it soon. I have the last scene in my head, and usually that's when I feel good about a story. When I know how it ends.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A good year

My Imaginary Ex was reviewed at Sumthinblue's blog, including other Summit chick lit books. Feedback from readers feels great every time, but it's a tiny bit cooler when they hit on something I totally intended, or point out something that I didn't even realize. Her review has a bit of both.

Also, a shoutout to Chessie, who sent a lovely text message this week after reading the book.

Will consider these words of celebration. It's been a year since I first saw My Imaginary Ex on a bookstore's shelf (the Bestseller branch in Galleria). Happy bookstore birthday, MIE!

Here it was, a year ago! Beside my friend Katrina Ramos Atienza's book.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Indie Spotlight

Fairy Tale Fail is being featured on The Indie Spotlight, like right now. My thanks to them for all they're doing to get the word out for indie authors and publishers.

A snippet:
What inspired you to write the book?
The book’s plot and characters were inspired by stories my friends and I would share about dating. I think the tendency for some women is to hold on too tightly to someone they think is perfect, because they don’t know how to start the process with someone new. It’s daunting! It’s also about being a certain kind of young woman in the Philippines, because not all of us live like the heroines of American or UK chick lit do.
So many of those stories were told over what used to be an annual Valentine's Day dinner with "the girls." There should be more Pinoy chick lit out there, just based on the material gathered from those conversations alone. :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Now in editing

Finally finished the draft for what I've been calling the "FF Project." It's called Fling Flop, and it's about a 29-year-old girl who goes out with a 24-year-old guy.

The idea for it came from a friend. I wish her the best. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fairy Tale Fail's Google Books page

Oh look! A way to browse pages of Fairy Tale Fail in case Amazon and Smashwords aren't enough for you. Google Books has made the book entirely searchable (handy if you want to know if I used your name in a good/bad way), but not all pages can be read online.

The "Buy this book" link is a bit wonky, though. The only link that really works is the one with Mina V. Esguerra on it, which leads to Smashwords.

Consider me persuaded

I have to admit, I was going through the motions while reading Jane Austen's Persuasion. I've read Pride and Prejudice and Emma recently, and because I tend to see them occurring in the same universe, I became lazy when I read the latest one.

So I was ho-humming through maybe 80% of this novel... and then I got to THAT SCENE. (You know, when Anne and Harville were talking about men and women and Wentworth is writing a letter on the other side of the room.)

Man! It was kilig city from that point on. I'm sorry I doubted you, Jane. You brought so much more out of two people walking (and not even really talking) than I ever thought possible.

Get Persuasion free on Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One More Page's review

So I feel a little weird because I started composing a post about one of the coolest things to happen to me this week, which is Tina M's review of Fairy Tale Fail and My Imaginary Ex at her book blog, One More Page.

And then I remembered that I also, I don't know, participated in the first automated elections in my country's history. I still have indelible ink on my finger! The results were so fast, and each little bit of news was discussed by so many people, it feels like so days ago. Or maybe I'm just all electioned out and my brain is recovering by moving on to other things.

I've decided that this will not be the place for discussing politics though. Instead, this post is a shoutout to Tina, who pointed out a few things that'll surely be helpful for other stuff I plan to write (because at this point I can't really go back and change the published work unless... well I can't). I'm thankful for her review and subscribing to her blog has inspired me to read more already. (How long have I been in the middle of Persuasion? Grrr.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Updates - Social media, pages, and reviews

Facebook Page for Mina V. Esguerra. Visit and keep in touch, in case blogging or Twitter isn't your thing. :)

That page came about because I discovered what looks like the beginnings of a community page for My Imaginary Ex on FB. I can't keep up with everything that's happening on social media, it seems, and by the time I stumbled upon this it had been "liked" by 60 people. There are also some similarly-named pages ("Imaginary Ex" and "My Imaginary Ex-Boyfriend").

My Imaginary Ex also received more props this week on LivingSocial courtesy of a new review. Also found a blog that said something really nice, but will find a way to ask permission to repost first. (A comments module isn't chic anymore, apparently!)

More FTF: In theory, Fairy Tale Fail should be listed now in Barnes and Noble and the Apple iBook Store but I can't find it. Am I doing it wrong?

I actually should learn how to work the Barnes and Noble site because we apparently are giving my mom a Nook for Mother's day, and I want to be able to send her books as gifts without adding to the boxes of stuff she tends to keep around. (I hope my sister already gave it -- spoiler!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Imaginary Ex 1.0

From @leemejia08
@minavesguerra hi! it'll be lovely if u cud post a story in ur blog abt how u planned 2 start writing 'Ex' til it was published! :D ♥

First of all, I apologize for getting back to you more than a month late. I didn't see your tweet until today. I fail at Twitter! But here I am with a post to make it up to you.

What is now My Imaginary Ex started as a short story I wrote in college. It was about a girl being confronted by another girl who was just so threatened by her, for no real reason. Back then I was experimenting with writing in a very restrained way, so I didn't explain why Girl B was threatened, and I don't think my friends who read it understood what the backstory was until I told them.

So yeah, I didn't do that so well. It's always been on the back of my mind though, wondering how I could tell that story better and when. I got the chance to when Summit Books started publishing chick lit again. I wrote an outline for the plot points, filled in the gaps, and had a draft ready in about a month. And then I was told that they wanted to publish it. And then I signed a contract, and within a few months it was on the bookstore shelves.

OK, so it's not that exciting. But I hope it answered your question. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Now that was a fun week

It's been eight days since the electronic publication of Fairy Tale Fail on the Amazon Kindle Store. Did I mention how much fun this past week has been? Oh right.

A few days later, the ebook was published on Smashwords, which makes things easier for the non-Kindle public.

I got some encouraging words from the lovely people at Kindleboards. And with that, some interest in my previous work, which makes me feel good that there was previous work, and that there will be future work. Putting myself out there was strange and a little scary, but I'll do it to show that I'm serious about my decision to write more.

So this: My Amazon Author Page. If all goes well, with proper blog syndication too.

Fairy Tale Fail got its first non-friend, non-editor, non-editor/friend review: "I really enjoyed Ellie's voice, and Lucas was adorable." (Link is spoilery. But Lucas is adorable, that's no spoiler.)

I appreciate any bit of feedback, but what tickles me right now is that the early readers didn't mind the occasional Tagalog words. I made a call to not write in Taglish, but use Tagalog if a translation would change the effect. Glad to see that so far, it wasn't too much of a distraction. (The comment about adding a glossary or some cultural endnotes is something I'll take into consideration though!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fairy Tale Fail is out!

Of all the twenty-something women who are hopeless romantics, Ellie Manuel is more “hopeless” than “romantic.”

Even after her Prince Charming broke up with her, she just won’t give up … because fairy tale heroines don’t live “happily ever after” right away, silly, they’re tested first!

Determined to pass the test, she spends the next year restoring herself to the girl Prince Charming had fallen in love with in the first place.

Until she discovers that life without him might not be so bad after all: her career is taking off, her confidence is back, and the cute guy at work is no longer a stranger.

So when is it okay to quit on a fairy tale?

My second novel, Fairy Tale Fail, is now available as an ebook on! It's another light romance for women in their twenties (or whatever, I won't judge!).

An account at Amazon is all you need to purchase it and start reading, yay. :)

Other fun stuff:

- You don't need a Kindle! Ebooks from Amazon can be downloaded and read via a special app for the PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry etc etc. Just install the app, purchase the ebook from Amazon, sync it up, and start reading.

- You can get a sample (equivalent to a chapter and a half) sent to you for free before buying.

- If your Amazon account is US-based, the list price of $1.89 will apply to you. Isn't that reasonable! :)

- Readers from Asia-Pacific will have to pay $3.89 (Amazon seems to be adding $2 as a rule for sales to this side of the world), but I hope you won't mind and try it anyway because you love me.

Update: Readers who use Stanza, Sony Reader, B&N Nook, Palm, and web browsers can now purchase Fairy Tale Fail for $1.89 via!

All of this was made possible with the help of:
- Amazon and SmashWords (I love the Internet!)
- Bianca Pascual (for the cutest cover photo among other things)
- Louie Pilapil
- Michael Co (awesome husband, but I already said that)
- superfriends Chris Eugenio and Hazel Bernardo
- Ursula

And a shoutout to Vanessa in Trinidad, for making me consider other ways to publish. Hugs!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


There are a few things that I plan to do in the next few months, and I thought that being on Twitter would make it more interesting and fun.

So here I am:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Winners all

So my husband Mike didn't win this year, but one story that I really liked ("A Kind of Flotsam" by Christelle Rhodamae Mariano) did. (Winners here.) As for the rest of the placings, I wouldn't have predicted how it turned out, but good for them anyway.

Was pleasantly surprised to find out that My Imaginary Ex has a page on Livingsocial. And reviews! Thank you to people who bother to go on the Internet and write about the book. I know it's an effort, and whether it's praised, or panned, or mentioned nonchalantly as that thing you bought today, I appreciate it.

And, from the Fully Booked eZine:
Book Launch: Illustrado by Miguel Syjuco

Date: April 11, Sunday
Venue: Atrium, G/F, Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street
Time: 5:30 PM

Man Asian Literary Prize Winner Miguel Syjuco Launches his book on Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street. For more information contact Maria Riccia Angeles-Knust at

Airline schedules and Sunday traffic permitting, I'll be there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One less prize

Not that I was planning to join the Man Asian Literary Prize this year, but this "restructuring" (via Philippine Genre Stories blog) has given me something to think about.

The prize, prior to the rule change, was given to authors of previously unpublished novels (or translations of novels). To me, that meant that one day if I finally get around to writing something serious there would be a waiting international platform for its recognition if it turned out to be any good.

(That's a lot of "ifs.")

Now that the prize will be more like its older sibling/cousin the Man Booker, it'll be awarded to published work. Which means that I don't just have to finish something, and have it be good -- a publisher should actually publish it, and depending on the new rules, possibly consider it worth submitting along with whatever brilliant thing was published the same year.

Hurdles. Not necessarily relevant to me at this point, but I feel for the writers inspired by Miguel Syjuco and were probably a year away from the Man Asian themselves. If the rules weren't changed.

3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards

Heading on over to Rockwell Tent today to support my husband Michael A.R. Co ("The Sweet Stranger"), who is a prose finalist this year. Our friend Dek Samson's a finalist as well, for her short film "Anak ng Tikbalang."

Fun time for people who make up stories! Fun fun!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New things

Female Network is giving Summit Books are prizes to lucky commenters this month. I'd join, but I already have all the books but two. :) Go get em!

Also, it's confirmed that My Imaginary Ex has reached the shores of Trinidad, on the other side of the world. Vanessa, it was cool of you to seek me out like that! You are in possession of the only copy of the book in the country. Hee!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here, have some pep

I keep forgetting to post this, arg.

A few months ago, Tina of the Pinoywrimos asked me to write a pep talk for NaNoWriMo time. I hadn't gone through it myself, but I've followed it through the years and been witness to the joys and pains of participants. Their word-count requirement is more of a challenge than what my editor has asked of me, and yay for people who try and get it done.

I don't know how encouraging my "pep" can be (I've only really been published that one time), but I relate to the struggle of having a story in your head and needing to finish it.

Here's the pep talk:

Hello, PinoyWrimos!

I wish I had taken NaNoWriMo seriously when I first heard about it. I would have learned how to solve my novel-writing problems earlier, and been surrounded by a vibrant and like-minded community while at it. Ah well. You should all give me a pep talk sometime.

Instead, I learned my lessons the long way around, but it required some discipline so I could actually finish the thing. I chose chick lit as a genre because it sounded fun, but surprise, surprise – it wasn’t that easy.

For years I wrote by “winging it.” That was fine as a technique when I was writing Sweet Valley Twins fanfic at age eleven, but yeah, eventually I realized that my process was flawed. My biggest problem was that I didn’t know how to finish a story – I would either stall and then quit, or go on and on until I got bored (then quit). I still believed I had potential though, despite the false starts.

A few months ago, I changed it up. I managed to come up with a plot, write a novel, finish it properly, and get it published. The story of how it all happened is riddled with chick lit clichés, which I totally did not intend.

1. I made a list of things to do before I turned 30.
Along with "learn to drive" and "travel around Europe," "publish a novel" was on that list. Those goals weren't all that attainable (Europe ain't gonna happen soon) but committing to them was the first step I needed to take. Then I did my research -- found out which publishers I could approach, what their requirements were, and how I could start the process.

2. I gave myself (or my writerly self, at least) a makeover.
I knew I couldn't go on with my old writing habits. I tried, though. I started a novel, spent two years on it, submitted a manuscript to a book editor, and spent several more months on revisions. It was in Revision Hell, and it's still there.

Winging it probably works for some people, but obviously not for me. I eventually bored myself trying to finish the thing. Why would anyone else want to read it?

I wanted to change the way I did this, and I didn't have to look far to find out how. My fiancé writes fiction too, but he does not “wing it.” While interested in art, he is very much influenced by science and history, and each short story he writes is built on pages upon pages of research. From him I learned that sitting down to research and outline my plot wasn't going to kill the inspiration. He won a prize for that first short story, by the way. Obsessive planning pays off sometimes.

3. I spent many nights curled up with cheesy novels and movies.
I hadn't read much chick lit recently, but once upon a time (high school) I did read a lot of romances. Romances required drama, and my own life isn't very dramatic -- nor do I want it to be. I felt so out of touch! I didn't know what caused kilig anymore, and every time I tried to write a scene, it felt untrue.

So I dove into a pool of schmaltz. I started buying and reading romance novels again, the cheesier the better. I watched movies that appealed to that side of me (thanks, John Lloyd!). Not exactly the classics, but it did put me back in that frame of mind.

It was during this phase, while occasionally working on my other novel in Revision Hell, that an idea came to me. It was a Big Dramatic Scene for a totally different story, and I was so excited to write it that I dropped everything and focused on how to make that scene happen.

4. I invested in a laptop and wrote from my bed every night.
My intention wasn't to channel Carrie Bradshaw (I'm not even much of a Sex and the City fan), but to find a way to write regularly. Waiting for my desktop PC to boot, making myself comfortable on my un-ergonomic plastic chair... mood killer.

I committed to a schedule -- as NaNoWriMo vets you know this well -- and told myself to write every day. And I did, pretty much, even when I didn't feel like it, even when I couldn't get it right. At the very least I ended up with text I could go back and edit later.

And that's how I managed to properly finish a novel: I committed, I outlined, I immersed, and I scheduled. Because I committed, I knew that finishing it was the only option. Because I had an outline, I knew which characters I needed, what they had to do, and what would push my heroine forward. Because I kept myself in a "romantic mood," I came up with a Big Dramatic Scene that I was excited about -- and was impatiently writing toward, chapter by chapter. And because I kept a schedule, I didn't need to take forever. I finished it in a month (a month!), and handed it off to a book editor immediately.

The result? The novel managed to avoid Revision Hell. It's not perfect, but I enjoyed writing it, and don't mind reading it. That it got published is a happy footnote, but that wasn't going to change my satisfaction over completing it.

Come to think of it, going through all of that and realizing that it's the journey that matters -- that’s a cliché too. Enjoy your NaNoWriMo journey, and when it’s over let’s celebrate with cosmos (insert your non-cliché drink here) or something!

Mina V. Esguerra


Mina V. Esguerra is the author of My Imaginary Ex, published by Summit Books. When she is not trying to write, she is reading novels, managing websites, and "consulting," whatever that means. She can be found blogging at

Friday, February 26, 2010

Shutting up seems to work

I came up with scenes for a story I'm trying to write during an hour-long boat ride. That's also happened to me on a treadmill and in the MRT. Something about staying quiet while moving.

Character creation

Was just asked last night how I came up with the characters for My Imaginary Ex, and had a somewhat clunky response. ("I thought of it in college and just expanded on it.") Not really an answer to the question.

So here, via Rocket Kapre: Carlo Vergara (he of the fabulous Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah) on Character Creation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More news

So apparently I spoke too soon -- my husband Michael A.R. Co is a finalist again at the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. His story "The Sweet Stranger" is up for viewing, and you can help it win People's Choice by voting for it. (No pressure though, heehee.)

The household was a happy, geeky one last night when we found out. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Neil's back

Several things are happening all at once here. Neil Gaiman's visiting Manila again. They're announcing the winners of the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. There will be some sort of raffle to attend a book-signing. They're launching an anthology featuring past winners and finalists.

This time of year (when it actually happens in a year) is fun because it gets the lovers of books and writing all giddy. It's a special time for us personally too: My husband Mike shared first place honors the first time the contest was held, and was a finalist on the second year. His story ("In the Eyes of Many," which I consider my favorite of the stuff he's done) is in the anthology they're launching.

I don't know if I'm getting involved in the meet-and-greet festivities again, but I'm going to be there to watch and enjoy the geekiness that'll ensue. And I mean that in the best way.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bagong Idol

Just finished my second Melissa Dela Cruz book, this time the first novel from her Blue Bloods series. (The first one I read was from Au Pairs.)

I'm going to read as much as I can of her work, if only because I like that she's becoming her own brand, and gets to cross genres while writing for the same audience. It's something I'd like to learn how to do, if I end up giving more time to writing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weddings and traveling books

Summit Books has a new title out: Vince's Life - The Wedding. I'm considering starting with this volume (even though I haven't yet read the previous Vince stories) because I just got married (yay!) and maybe it's a good time to read about it.

That's one thing about going through wedding prep -- suddenly I relate to those stories of people going through it. It wasn't as stressful as romantic comedies make it seem, but there's a bit of truth in everything.

Also, I got to meet (thanks Internet) Vanessa, who will soon be the only person in Trinidad & Tobago to have a copy of My Imaginary Ex. I'll post an update on that when she actually gets the book, it sure is traveling a long way to reach her!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let's start 2010 with thanks

I caved and started commenting on some blogs reviewing the book. Mostly to thank the blog authors for first of all reading (and in many cases buying) the thing, which is a thrill every time. This led to my starting a Multiply blog to properly comment and say hello.

Thank you, Multiply people: totallylokaret, raejel, miamanalo, eiyeen, valry14, jamieo5, nearsightedme, lablab, syratot, dementedchris, and prophecygrrl!

Also, a special shoutout to Chris, who sent me the Best Email of 2010 (So Far).

Note: I'm reading Pride & Prejudice & Zombies right now. It's a trip!