Sunday, December 30, 2012

This writer's 2012 by the numbers

2 new books published
1 book re-released for Philippine market
1 manuscript finished
4 indie publishing workshops organized
3 tv appearances
6 speaking engagements 
3500+ indie books sold/given away

I don't have figures from Summit yet, but That Kind of Guy made it to National Bookstore's bestseller list (#9) so I'll just imagine happy numbers for now.

Thank you, readers! And thanks too, writers and artists I've met, going on your own exciting journeys. 

The plan for next year? To keep writing. :) 

P.S. Interim Goddess of Love is having a good year too! It's been mentioned on the following yearend lists!
GMA News' 12 Recommended Reads from 2012
One More Page's 12 Best Books of 2012
The Blair Book Project's Best in Books 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Paolo Chikiamco tagged me, so I'm up next in this Next Big Thing writer blog meme. Writers get to talk about their upcoming books by answering the questions. I've been tagged! I am it.


1) What is the working title of your next book?
Queen of the Clueless (Interim Goddess of Love #2). But it's not just a working title anymore, it's the title by now.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to write something that incorporated mythology, but keep it within my comfort zone of contemporary romance. So this happened.

This book is the second volume of a three-book series I launched early this year, called Interim Goddess of Love. It's set in a college just outside Manila where some Philippine gods and goddesses happen to be studying. I wanted to write QotC as soon as two specific scenes came to my mind -- which were neither appropriate for the first book (where the premise and characters are introduced) or the last (when the protagonist makes that brave final choice). It might have come to me during a cab ride, or while standing in line for something.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult/Older YA/New Adult Fantasy Romance, I think. That exists, right?

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Sorry, I'm wussing out of this question. I have pegs and inspirations for the roles, but some of them are odd and I suspect are attractive only to me. I wouldn't want to ruin anyone else's experience of the book by superimposing that image. By all means, insert the hottest actors today in any role! (Update: Someone just did -- yay, Viel!)


5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
College sophomore Hannah, temporarily the Goddess of Love, tries to help out with her best friend's troubled relationship, and ends up discovering more about her new power.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published first. My traditional publisher (Summit Books) has offered to do a Philippine print run of my self-published titles though, so if this book gets the same treatment, I wouldn't mind at all.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Ten months. It's not significantly longer or more difficult to write than other novels that I've finished in a shorter timespan, but I just didn't have enough time this year to do it. Arg.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Mostly Sweet Dreams, and maybe a hint of Beautiful Creatures and The Vampire Diaries. (But in writing it I was guided so much by TV's The Good Wife, which most people may find odd.)

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I taught a communication course in a college for a year. One day I gave a writing assignment, and told a friend about how two students interacted in a meet-cute way in that class, and she said "YA novel premise!"

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
It's romance, but with Philippine myths! Which is a fit because many Philippine myths are romances!

I'm tagging:
Ines Bautista-Yao
Chinggay Labrador
Marla Miniano
Katrina Ramos-Atienza
Gypsy Esguerra

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to get a discounted or free ebook

My ebooks cost $2.99/P125 each, but if you want to get a dollar off the regular price, you just need to visit:

Chachic's Book Nook
One More Page
Ficsation

Those are book blogs maintained by Chachic, Tina and Chris, and based on the data I've managed to get, are responsible for a good chunk of traffic this blog receives. The discount coupons on their sites are valid for a year, so feel free to share them to all your ebook-buying, romance-reading friends -- and check out their review archive too. (I personally decide what to read next based on books they've covered!)

If you want more than a discount, like maybe free, you can also go to Wattpad, where I've uploaded the prologue and first 9 chapters of Interim Goddess of Love. The sequel's going to be out soon, so now is a good time to catch up!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Liebster blog survey

I should talk more about this obsession. But anyway.

I was tagged by fab author Katrina Ramos Atienza, and now I finally get to post this blog survey thing!

Her questions:

1. It's been a long, tiring, draining, I-just-want-to-cry kind of day. What do you do for comfort?
Steak and chocolate. I try not to have those together, but some days you need both.

2. Name one crush that usually makes your loved ones go "Really? That guy? You like him? You sure?"
Mike (my husband) does not understand why I like John Lloyd Cruz. When we pass a billboard with JLC's face, he'll go, "Really? Why?" and I have no answer.

But that's not really a guilty pleasure, because I had one, and I can't even bear to mention his name. Basta I shared that crush with a friend, and then after a year or so, the friend told me, "Hindi mo na sya crush ano? Hindi ba kadiri na siya ngayon?" And yes, I felt the same way.

3. If you could be dressed by just one designer/brand, who/what would it be and why?
I am so drawing a blank. My fashion sense is still evolving.

4. One movie you will never ever be tired of seeing:
Mean Girls.

5. Last five songs you've listened to:
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift
Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5
Fortress Around Your Heart by Sting
Moon Over Bourbon Street by Sting
All This Time by Sting
(my daughter controls the iPad and she keeps choosing the Sting songs)

6. Trend you will never ever ever in a million years try:
Anything having to do with shoulder pads. Don't bring it back!

7. Complete the sentence: "People will be surprised to learn of my obsessive knowledge about _____"
Joss Whedon show episode titles, although I must admit that I slacked off on Dollhouse season 2.

8. Do you have a life peg -- a successful person who's achieved much through ways you generally approve of? Who is it, and why?
Yes, David Leechiu. Not exactly in the same industry or career as mine but I can't help but reference him when I talk about achieving things.

9. How has blogging changed for you from when you first started?
The giving up of anonymity, at least as far as this blog is concerned. I started this the year my first novel was published, and before this, I never blogged using my actual name and photo. But I consider this my other career now, and have to be professional about it.

10. What's one legacy you hope to be remembered for, 30 years from now?
Wow. Maybe my books? It would be cool if in the future young people were still reading them. Or beaming them straight into their eyes, I dunno.

11. Number one frustration:
Right now, bossy people.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Competition is a good thing

Got a fascinating question lately: Aren't you worried that you're creating more competition for yourself by doing the Author at Once workshops?

It was one of the prep questions for an interview I just did, and though it wasn't asked, I did start thinking about how to answer it.

Short answer: No.

Long answer: I think helping writers get their work out there is good for everyone. More books, more choices for readers.

We've run Author at Once four times, and met about 70 writers -- and they're all into different things. Some want to write fantasy, scifi, humor, textbooks, some aren't even writers and more of illustrators and cover artists.

And even if there are a few who want to go into writing Contemporary New Adult Chick Lit Romance in English (like me), I don't think we're going to run out of characters, settings, plots and ideas.

Readers tend to read more than one author and buy more than one book in their lifetimes. And readers who fancy a genre will try other authors within the genre, which means fans of my "competition" (let's say contemporaries instead?) are more likely to read my books.

It's good for everyone. Go publish already. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

L.I.T.E.R.A.L. #4: What will make you truly feel that you’ve made it as a writer?

L.I.T.E.R.A.L.

L.I.T.E.R.A.L. is a weekly blog meme for authors hosted at Indie Books. We created it to serve as a support group for participants of the Author at Once workshops, but we welcome all writers (from anywhere in the world) who’d like to weigh in on the topics! 
Here’s our L.I.T.E.R.A.L. topic for the week of 19-25 November 2012:
“What will make you truly feel that you’ve made it as a writer? Seeing your byline? Holding the book in your hands? Seeing it climb up the charts? Your first book launch? What will finally get you to tell people that yes, you are a writer?”

There was this moment, in June 2009, when I first saw my book on an actual bookstore shelf.

But soon that wasn't enough, still didn't call myself a writer, or felt like one. I felt that I needed another moment to arrive, maybe that would make it seem more real. So the next "moment" was when I saw the first review for my book. And then it was my first fan email. And then it was the release of my second book. And so on. It was like I was expecting a change, but it was taking a while.

What I learned since then is that I shouldn't wait until that thing happens before calling myself a "writer." Writers write, so yes, I was doing that, and I guess that's what I always was.

(I just retconned my life there! You can do it too.)

Visit bronzeage.ph/indiebooks

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An ebook is still a book (rinse and repeat)

So this is my stand now: If you read it, then it's a book. Maybe it has hard covers and a dust jacket, or it's 6 x 9 with cream colored paper, or it's tiny and fits in my bag, or it's large font on my e-ink reader, or it's reflowable on my iPad... if I read it, then it's a book.

(Arguable: if I listen to it in the car, is it a book? But that's another discussion.)

As a reader, I get to decide which format and edition works best for me. I used to prefer trade paperbacks, but now that I've got an active toddler at home, I never have two hands free to read them. I recently received the hardcover of The Scorpio Races from the people at the Filipino Readercon, but my reading progress was so slow because I can only really read it at home, and when my daughter's asleep.


And then one day I just said, why am I dragging my feet on this? I like the story, I'm really enjoying it, and want to read as much of it as I can. Why wait? So I got the ebook version, and now I'm reading it on my iPad outside, after work, as I grab a bite before heading home, on the cab line, and even at home, when my daughter's fast asleep and the lights are out. No delays.

Last night, while the iPad was charging up, I read twenty-five pages using the hardcover edition.

I understand why some readers feel that there are sides and they have to choose one, because they're being asked to pay twice, and usually the costs are competitively similar. But I hope they eventually realize that there are no sides, and that maybe in the future, purchasing one edition (maybe with a premium) allows a buyer access to all formats.

I was asked my opinion on this topic recently on the Facebook group of the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines, and I said something like: Writers very rarely get a say in how their book looks and feels. So loving the physical book, its pages, its cover, the font, the smell -- that is a bond made with the printer and publisher, rather than the writer.

As a reader, you choose the format that allows you to best enjoy the book.

As a publisher, you make sure that your books are available in all formats the readers want, and at the cost they're willing to pay.

As a writer, you appreciate and reward the people who enjoy your work and follow your career in whatever format your work appears in.

So anyway. I just wanted to say that an ebook is a book is a book. And if you'll excuse me, I'd like to go back to reading The Scorpio Races (on hardcover) while my daughter's still asleep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cover Reveal: Fairy Tale Fail, the Summit Books edition


Soon, at a bookstore near you (if you live in the Philippines):

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra
Ellie thought she knew what she wanted in a guy: someone dependable, and someone she could bring home to her parents. In other words, a good guy to complete her happily-ever-after fairy tale. But when her good guy boyfriend all of a sudden dumps her in the place she least expected -- saying that she is "a failure at relationships" -- Ellie feels she has to fight harder to make her fairy tale come true.

But when Lucas, whom Ellie secretly calls Rock Star, enters her life and starts challenging everything she believes in, she has to face the truth about her goals and dreams. Will Ellie find the fairy tale she's always dreamed of? And more importantly, who will fill the swashbuckling shoes of Prince Charming to give her story the happy ending she so deserves?

(This is a cool rewrite of the book description, by the way. Kudos to you, you know who you are!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fiction recipes

A few days ago I shared some quick thoughts about plotting on Twitter, in case anyone doing NaNoWriMo would find it helpful. I've been following some WriMo posts about plot, and that just happens to be one of the more enjoyable parts of the writing process to me.

So this is how I worked on the plot of some of my books:
My Imaginary Ex is patterned after a heist, using flashbacks as a device to keep the narrative moving along. Knowing it was a heist (and Zack is what they were trying to steal) made this one of the easiest stories to write -- finished it in a month, and everything fell into place when I was writing the outline.
Love Your Frenemies is a take on the "one last job" trope, which of course means that the main character is doomed to fail at something. It worked for the story, which takes place in a short period and also uses flashbacks to explain things.
Fairy Tale Fail is a more deliberate attempt at using the fairy tale template, in this case Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale. Each chapter actually corresponds to one step in that stereotypical hero's journey, and those were supposed to have been my chapter headings, but I removed them at the last minute. Using this template made it easier to finish the story, after two false starts.
Interim Goddess of Love was written with the episode structure of TV show The Good Wife as inspiration. That show does a good job of drawing you in with a standalone case, but keeps you with the serial stories that stretch out over several episodes. When I get stuck on a scene, I think of how it would appear on The Good Wife. Weird but it helps.

I guess this is more of a discussion on how the story is told, rather than what it is. The common thread of all of the stories I've written has so far been romance, but how the story is told can be slightly different, or can grab from other genres. Put it all together and hopefully everyone has fun with it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is how I do print on demand (in the Philippines)

Even though ebooks account for most of my sales, I still get requests for paperback versions. There are people who just prefer it, and who am I to turn away a willing reader just because I didn't have a print copy of my book?

A company called Books On Demand has been printing the Philippine editions of my self-published books (they're the tiny paperbacks I started selling in November 2011, in case you have one in your possession right now). Prior to discovering them I was using CreateSpace, which is great too, except they were printing the books out of the US and I was spending a lot on shipping. Books On Demand is just in Ortigas! So so cool. (Update: I also work with Marikina-based JMD Copy Print! Their phone number is 919-3283 and they also print one copy minimum.)

Anyway, I just had a nice conversation with them today, and I think I should maybe post some of the questions I often get about how we work together. Because we think some people don't yet realize how easy and affordable it all is.

What does one need to do to get their book printed?

Prepare your book the way you want to see it laid out in print. They have some guidelines, which you can request, and they'll accept your PDF file. Send also your front cover, back cover, and spine images.

What I do: My books are simple and usually just text (with some illustrations), so I just send a layout done in Word and saved as PDF. Could it look better? Of course, but I do it this way to keep my costs low. So far my layout costs are zero. My covers are done by more artistic people, so I just get a hi-res JPG of them and email them over.

How many copies do they require an author to order and buy?

One copy.

Of course, it'll be an expensive single copy if you decide to do that, because they have to put some work into making sure your book looks good. As with most things that scale, the price per copy goes down the more copies you order.

What I do: I take pre-orders, and accept payment prior to delivery. This way my first order is always way more than 1 copy, so I can negotiate for a lower per-copy rate. And I don't end up paying for excess copies out of my own savings, nor do I have zillions of copies lying around waiting to be bought. I tried that and don't really have the space to keep that going.

How much does it cost to print a book?

My books are small, an estimated 4.25 x 6.75 in, and rarely go over 150 pages. I'm able to sell them at P300 apiece, which means it costs less than that to produce them.

I must mention that I don't make a lot of money from selling them at P300, so the markup isn't that huge. I've also started giving away the profit by offering cupcakes to the people who buy this edition. But it's not about profit anyway. (Business experts, don't yell at me.)

If the book isn't in the best shape yet, will they help out?

Books On Demand can help with the editing, layout, cover design and even the publishing legwork (getting an ISBN etc) for a fee. I don't use these services myself, but I've seen them do this for other client authors.

Can they ship a book order directly to the buyer?

Yes they can.

What I do: I tend to pick up the books myself, from their office in Ortigas, because I usually offer to sign the paperbacks ordered directly from me. They've offered to do the shipping for me and I'd actually recommend it. Shipping in many cases costs less than setting up a meetup, and more practical when the buyer is in a province or faraway city.

What kinds of books do they print?

A wide range of stuff. The thing to remember is that if it's a conventional enough book, then they can print it. You're in effect hiring them to print your book, instead of submitting a book for their approval. You're in charge.

So yeah, this is how I do it. This means I don't have that many copies of my own books at home anymore. When someone places an order, I just send off an email to Books On Demand and tell them to print my book. Sometimes they print five books at a time for me, sometimes just one. And then I pick it up, ship it to the buyer. And maybe buy cupcakes.

It's not that difficult. Writing the book, that's what's difficult. So go do that, and then get your paperback already.

(PS. Are they paying you to talk about them? They sometimes sponsor our Author at Once workshops, but no I don't personally receive anything to talk about them. Just a happy customer.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trick or treat


What you're looking at right here is the candy bar at my sister's wedding, my major contribution being the hauling of classic Pinoy candies Kendi Mint, Orange Swits, Flat Tops, and Butterball all the way to Texas, from Manila. Despite being maid of honor, I didn't get to do much maid-of-honorly things at all, because I was taking care of a fussy jetlagged baby the whole time.

What is a maid of honor usually expected to do? Definitely throw the bride a party, take over logistics so she can enjoy her day in peace, and assist her as she negotiates stairs and steps on the stilts she chose to wear. Did I do any of that? Nope!

It just occurred to me that Kimmy was a better maid of honor than I was. Eep! At least I brought candy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A year of thinking Hannah

Source: tumblr.com via Mina on Pinterest

It's near the end of October, which means I should just go right out and admit it to myself and everyone -- Queen of the Clueless (Interim Goddess of Love #2) is late. I wanted it out earlier this year, but life intervened, and I haven't been able to keep to the publishing schedule I established pre-motherhood.

Interim Goddess happens to be my first series too, so the character of Hannah has been residing in my thoughts for the longest so far. This is a good thing because she's kind of gestated and matured there in my mind, but not-so-good too only because I already have a book waiting to be written after this. That might have to wait a little longer.

Rest assured that Queen of the Clueless is on its way. This is how it starts: (QotC sneak peek over here...)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More publishing stories at Author at Once, Oct 27


Been getting a lot of questions about publishing lately! It's likely because of the interview that was published in Rappler, yay. I don't mind the questions at all, but let me just announce this anyway:

I will be speaking at Bronze Age Media's AUTHOR AT ONCE Basics of Publishing on October 27, 2-5 PM, at Cafeccino Eastwood, P500. Register here: bronzeage.ph/authoratonce.

The afternoon will be all about what anyone needs to do to publish their work in ebook or paperback, but it'll be mostly me sharing secretssss. (Haha. Kind of.)

Seats are limited, hope you can all register. Discussing these and participants' questions really help us learn and find out what we all need to do to succeed. See you there!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We're number 2000-ish!


Yesterday and earlier today, I was in meetings with soon-to-be author/publishers and telling them that watching your own ebook sales rank is the ultimate in unproductive timesuck. Now Amazon goes and does this -- check out Author Rank, where they list the most popular authors on an hourly basis.

If you have an Amazon Author Central account you can actually see where you are as stacked up against the greats. And when looking at a graph like this, an hourly account of your winning and failing, you can:

1. Be depressed.
2. Be excited.
3. Even more obsessively hit Refresh.

So the screenshot above is my best number. That is, I am currently the #2,919 Contemporary Romance author in all of the Amazon Kindle store. I peaked this week on October 4 at #1,956 (alas, I didn't even know it! I should have basked in the glory). In all of Amazon, when lumped together with nonfiction and paperback-only, I drop to 140,000-ish.

Am I depressed? Not at all. I live in a city with 12 million people. Being #2,919 means something to me.
Am I excited? Yes. I wonder if I can do anything (that I'm not already doing) to make this a more impressive graph.
Am I even more obsessively hitting Refresh? Um, yeah.

Congratulations to the 2,918 contemporary romance authors more popular than me, at this hour! And to the many authors, a lot of them indie publishers, who are doing so well on this list! Any of you willing to share secrets in exchange for a cupcake? :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"New Adult" and why it matters


This is how I've had to classify my books in bookstores (online and off):

Romance - Because there's usually a romantic storyline in every book.
Contemporary - Because they're set in the present, or at least the recent past.
Chick Lit - Because they're advertised in women's magazines, come in candy-colored covers, and were published in response to a trend in this subgenre a few years ago.
Women's Fiction - Because some bookstores don't offer "chick lit" as a category.
Young Adult - Because there's no graphic sex, even for the contemporary romances.
Teen Fiction - Because I heavily use flashbacks that have the characters go back to college, usually when they're teenagers.

I've embraced all of these categories and genres, but eventually started to see how they can be confusing for international readers taking a chance on a book with Philippine characters and setting. American romance readers expect more sex in a contemporary romance, and they won't find that in any of my books. Young adult readers expect many of the coming-of-age tropes in novels to happen in high school, but in my stories they usually happen in college -- because many Filipinos start college at 16 or 17, though that's about to change now that we're transitioning into K-12. And for a great many Filipino young women, at least those I know, those things don't even start until they're in their twenties and working. This is a country that has only begun to acknowledge that sex happens between unmarried people, so I have to tread a fine line in presenting that in a way that doesn't seem too "Western." Should I take pains to explain all of this before a person buys my book? Seems too tedious, and I don't want to appear like I'm talking down to anyone with a "things you need to know about my country before reading this" intro.

Recently I found out about an emerging category called "New Adult"/NA. Think of it as describing the kind of stories that seem too old (mature? risque?) for YA, but too young (naive? innocent?) compared to adult lit. There's still some debate over whether it's "a thing" or "not a thing," because where have you seen a "New Adult" shelf in a bookstore? And why split a subgenre further?

And yet this term perfectly describes the section of universe where my books exist. I also think that it helps readers find the kind of stories they're looking for. What I don't want to do as an author is alienate a romance reader with a "too sweet" story, or a YA reader with one that doesn't feel authentic because the characters are too old.

So even though NA is not yet mainstream (I'll consider it so when local bookstores start using it), I'll add it to my regular categories anyway. I think, as a writer, and publisher, it's the category that describes my work the best. Since reading up on NA, I've begun reading books marketed as NA, and I'm usually happy with them. Turns out I'm a target audience for NA too.

More on NA here: NA Alley. Check out #NALitChat on Twitter too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Control, instead of rejection avoidance

Someone asked me if I self-published Fairy Tale Fail because it was rejected by my traditional publisher.

The simple answer is: No, it wasn't rejected by my publisher.

The more complicated answer is: It wasn't accepted either.

What it was, for a time, was a pitch email with attachment that was floating around without a yes or no. And then I discovered that I could sell it as an ebook on Amazon, so I went and did that.

I guess the context of the original question was, "Should I self-publish instead? Why go through the possibility of being rejected by a publisher?"

You can't avoid rejection, sorry. Maybe for a self-publisher it doesn't come as a letter that begins with "We regret to inform you..." but you can still experience:
1. Negative reviews
2. Lackluster sales
3. People who tell you they won't buy your book because they don't like the format/genre/don't read at all
... and many other reasons.

I happen to think that you should independently publish because you want more control over the publishing process. NOT because you just don't want to experience rejection.

In fact, rejection can help. Not just for the writing part, but the publishing as well. Maybe you can't go back and rewrite an already-published book to make it better, but you can apply those lessons to future work. And as a self-publisher, you can change up your pricing, covers, availability, and other things to make sure that certain people give you a chance.

Oh, and this year, my publisher offered to distribute Fairy Tale Fail in paperback, so it will finally appear in local bookstores soon. So, yay! I consider that the opposite of rejection.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Average Georgia: This is a post-Mean Girls world


I'm in La Union! Farthest I've ever been from home. Also my longest bus ride ever.

So this is technically my second travel writing assignment, but unlike the first one, I actually have time to write in the middle of it because I am holed up in my room. I am avoiding people.

The dynamic on this trip is different, because this resort is quite posh, and there a few more "high profile" people on the guest list. I was surprised when I found out I got this gig, because usually the more senior people get it. Maybe someone higher up the food chain ate bad tahong, and inadvertently changed my fate? I should find out and send a fruit basket.

The good: MY OWN ROOM. Because my designated roommate, the mysterious Miss M, didn't show up. Or hasn't shown up. At least, they seem to think she's still going to, which is why they didn't bunk me with someone else, but it's midnight and she's not here yet. So now I'm enjoying my welcome drink, evening cookies, and rose-petal-adorned bubble bath all to myself.

The bad: I seem to have wandered into a clique war. We're all writers or covering travel in some way, but earlier tonight I saw that there were two distinct groups, and they seemed to hate each other. Group A's leader (I say that because she's never alone, everyone seems to want to be around her) is a face I actually recognize. I think she's a minor celeb.

Group B is a smaller group of very articulate people who seem intent on NOT hanging out with Group A, because of minor celeb. I know one of them from my last assignment, so I kind of started the day hanging out with them, but wow. They really hate her. They keep talking about her.

I learned from my internship mentor that these clique wars at work won't help anyone, and that's why I'm spending the evening in the bubble bath.

The interesting: Another sign that I've leveled up? There's another minor celeb here. (I will call him Andy from this point on, because I think he Googles his name.) He's a sports/travel show host on the same network at my sister's show. He saw my name, and asked if I was related to her. That, by the way, is the opening line of half of all intros I'm part of. "Are you related to Kat?"

When one day someone asks her if SHE'S related to me, I will buy everyone pancit. I swear.

On the agenda for tomorrow is surfing (yeah right, please pray for me). Ken (travel photographer from last time) said he will take video of my inevitable wipeout.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My books - Where to find them, how to get them, as of August 2012

I'm going on a month-long trip, but before I go, an update to the "Where can I find your books?" question. I've been getting some emails, tweets and comments, for which I am excited and grateful, and I guess I can publicly answer this now.

So for the benefit of anyone else who wants to know, let's Choose Your Own Adventure this...

Are you looking for My Imaginary Ex/Fairy Tale Fail/No Strings Attached/Love Your Frenemies/Interim Goddess of Love/That Kind of Guy in ebook format?

Yes, and I have a credit card/Paypal account.
- Yay! All my books are available as ebooks, and can be purchased by anyone with a credit card. Go to this page and click on the links to Amazon, Smashwords, etc to choose which site you would like to buy them from.

Yes, but I prefer to pay cash.
- Go this this page and follow the "Flipreads" links. They accept cash payments. However, not all my books are available there just yet.

Yes, but I was hoping they'd be free.
- I do ebook giveaways all the time, just wait for it. Email me at minavesguerra@gmail.com if you can't wait. No promises though.

Are you looking for my self-published books Fairy Tale Fail/Love Your Frenemies/Interim Goddess of Love in paperback?

Yes, and I want them now now now, even if they cost P300 per book.
- Email me at minavesguerra@gmail.com. :)

Yes, but I'm willing to wait a few months for a new edition with spanking new covers.
- Summit Books is releasing Philippine print editions of Fairy Tale Fail, Love Your Frenemies and Interim Goddess of Love. If you can wait, you'll find them eventually in a bookstore near you!

If your answer is a combination, or none of the above, just comment or email me. :)


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Unattainable Crush, The Best Friend and The Jerk

At the Filipino ReaderCon panel I was part of, I shared my "secret" to writing romances: I happen to believe, based on reading a gazillion Sweet Dreams novels, that there are only three types of love interests in this category. The Unattainable Crush, The Best Friend and The Jerk.

I wasn't able to explain in detail then, so here it is now. These three guys are actually not so much guys, but templates for a relationship dynamic. How does the main character (MC) relate to this love interest?

The Unattainable Crush (Lucas, Dante, Anton, Quin)
Also known as The Jock, The Popular Guy, The Alpha Male, The BMOC. It doesn't matter what he does or who he is, I've learned; what matters is how MC reacts to him.

She thinks he: is out of her league, is crazy for being interested in her, probably has girls lined up to be with him.

He thinks she: is underestimating herself.

He: doesn't believe in his own hype.

The Best Friend (Zack, Robbie)
Must be a guy who is more special than other friends. The other guy friends may be interchangeable, but this guy is not.

She: trusts him.

His main concern is: the fact that he is friendzoned, and for who knows how long.

The Jerk (Manolo, Diego)
This is a difficult relationship to write because there's a line that shouldn't be crossed, ie he can't be a real jerk or else the journey isn't worth it. Usually he has his own reasons for being an ass, but they're never that bad.

She: actually enjoys sparring with him.

He: is challenged by her.

My husband doesn't believe this just yet, and has some objections.

It's impossible that there are only three types! What about The Stranger?
OK, fine. So when I write the scenes with the main character and The Stranger, what is their relationship? Is it awestruck attraction? Is it friendly? Is it adversarial? (See three templates above.)


But Villains are Jerks too!
MC has a relationship with the villains too, and any of those guys could be a villain in an MC's story. I've had fun with making villains out of friends.

The short answer always is, it all depends on how MC reacts to him. That is what turns a guy into a love interest, a spurned suitor, an evil ex.

When I was first published, my first little goal was to write 3 books, one highlighting each love interest type. Of course by now I've written more, so my new challenge (with Interim Goddess of Love) is putting all three in one story and making each one worth choosing. So hard, since I love Quin, Diego and Robbie pretty much equally by now, but it's really going to be about who the MC Hannah will choose. And she will choose somebody. (I'm going to make her!)

There's a risk with building characters this way -- not all readers will want to join a certain guy's team. People who love best-friend romances might not agree with ever hooking up with a player. People who like confident alpha types may think kissing a friend is gross.

Readers are MCs too.

At the Goodreads TFG anniversary, Ariel asked me how it felt to have people come up to me and tell me they liked one of my books. I told him (something to the effect of) that I loved it, because it reveals something to me about the reader. Who's your kind of guy? Did the story help fulfill a wish, reinforce what you know to be true, or sway you into accepting a new type?

So this is my "secret." Yes, I think about these things. I hope this is useful for you too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

L.I.T.E.R.A.L. 2: What gets you in the mood to write?

L.I.T.E.R.A.L.
L.I.T.E.R.A.L. is a weekly blog meme for authors hosted at Indie Books. We created it to serve as a support group for participants of the Author at Once workshops, but we welcome all writers (from anywhere in the world) who’d like to weigh in on the topics!
Here’s our L.I.T.E.R.A.L. topic for the week of 20-27 August 2012:

Now let’s share how we get things done. What gets you in the mood to write? Is it a deadline, a prize, a pushy editor? Can you recall your most productive writing session ever? What triggered it?


I used to want peace, maybe a cup of tea, and soft music to get into a writing mood. Recently though I've been training myself to write on a schedule, and whenever I can. I guess I've become my own pushy editor that way.

This is difficult to do, so I try to maximize my time. When I'm in a cab, I go over plot points in my head, or brainstorm for character names. I quickly type any workable ideas on my smartphone (Evernote is a great app for this), and refer to my notes when I do have time to sit down and write.

My most productive writing session ever though was probably the entire month that I wrote -- and finished -- My Imaginary Ex. Prior to that I had been revising another story, going back and forth with my editor, for months and months and months. That story didn't have IT, whatever it was. After each revision, I was filled with more and more MEH, so much MEH that I didn't want to touch that story anymore. So I put it away and feverishly started writing a new one, something I felt excited about, something that incorporated all the helpful comments from my editor, but without the baggage of revising.

I haven't been able to finish a novel that quickly again. Maybe I just need to push myself some more?

Join L.I.T.E.R.A.L.!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bookish Saturday

I had a very bookish Saturday. Weekends for my family already include a trip to the bookstore and other such activities, but this time I was able to take my husband and daughter out to an event that celebrated readers and books. 

The wonderful people behind the Filipino ReaderCon asked me to be part of a panel that started at 1 PM, but all of the sessions were interesting and I was hoping I could catch some of them as well. Traveling with a toddler though makes things a bit unpredictable, but we at least made it there by 11 AM. Just enough time to catch a bit of the session on publishers, where I was surprised with the news that one of my books, That Kind of Guy, has been selling well in local bookstores this year. (#3 -- behind bestseller Bob Ong, and former teacher/superstar Ricky Lee!) I scrambled to take a picture of that slide but my phone camera couldn't handle it. :(

At the Authors as Readers session, I spoke for a bit about the three books that influenced my writing life. (FYI: Wrong Way Romance by Sheri Cobb South, Witch by Christopher Pike, and Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.) I also showed the crowd a wedding photo, since the panel was taking place right in the room where Mike and I tied the knot.

They gave me this after. Yay! I was seriously thinking of buying this.


My daughter needed to nap after, so I missed most of the book discussions. But she was wide awake in time for the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards, and managed to make it to the front with me as I got this wonderful award, for Fairy Tale Fail.


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Did I say thank you?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2nd Filipino Reader Conference - August 18

So on Saturday, I will be hanging out with cool people (readers), talking about cool things (books), and spending some time in a place that is close to my heart (where I got married*).

Hope you can all make it to the Filipino ReaderCon on Saturday, August 18, at the Filipinas Heritage Library. I'm part of one of the sessions. Go register now so you don't lose your slot. :)


*Yes, I got married in a former air traffic control tower/now library. It's a cool thing to do. Everyone should try it!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

L.I.T.E.R.A.L. 1: Have you ever been published?

So this is one thing we came up with to help the writers from Author at Once (and everyone else, really) stick to their goal of finishing a manuscript and getting their names out as authors. We'll just have to prompt you all to keep writing, and do it together! Feel free to join in at your own blog, or in the comments section below, or over at Indie Books!

L.I.T.E.R.A.L.
L.I.T.E.R.A.L. is a weekly blog meme for authors hosted at Indie Books. Created to serve as a support group for participants of the Author at Once workshops, but we welcome all writers (from anywhere in the world) who’d like to weigh in on the topics!

For our first ever L.I.T.E.R.A.L. topic, let’s start with something simple:
Has your book/story/epic been published? If yes, how was the experience, and where can we buy your book? If no (or not yet), why the delay? Is there anything you know you should be doing to make it happen?
Yes, I've been published, and the experience was nerve-wracking but exciting. My first novel My Imaginary Ex was picked up by Summit Media and a few months later it was in all the major bookstores -- magically almost. I wasn't involved in much of the behind the scenes of publishing it, like the editing or the layouts and marketing, but I did go on a radio show tour to help promote it. (Fun!) This I guess is now called the "traditional publishing" route, and even though I independently publish my own work too I still develop books for a traditional release. It's still the best way to get into Philippine bookstores, as of right now at least!

Though it's a few years old, I still see the book sometimes in National, Powerbooks, or Fully Booked. Half price by now, go get it! :)

Hope you all participate in L.I.T.E.R.A.L.! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thank-you cupcakes


Please allow me to thank you for insisting on getting paperback editions of Fairy Tale Fail, Love Your Frenemies and Interim Goddess of Love. With a cupcake!


Bring your copy of Fairy Tale Fail, Love Your Frenemies and Interim Goddess of Love to Gigi Coffee and Cupcakes on August 11 or 25 and I will buy you a cupcake!

Where: Gigi Coffee and Cupcakes is at the ground floor of the Felina Corporate Plaza, Eastwood City.
When: August 11 and 25, from 1:30 PM 
*1 paperback = 1 cupcake!
Email me at minavesguerra@gmail.com so I know you're coming.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Filipino Friday: Reading habits and book formats

This week's about Reading Habits and Book Formats.
Where and how do you read? Can you read anywhere and everywhere, or do you need a certain place/mood/state of mind to get reading? Do you read more in the morning or at night or any minute that you can? Where and how do you usually read?
I can't read in cars. Trains and planes, sure, but cars and buses trigger the dizzy spells. I used to have a comfy chair and a pillow that I relax into when reading, but now that I'm taking care of a little girl, I get most of my reading while in line for a cab.

Are you exclusively for print, or do you go for ebooks more than print? 
It's been a mix for the past few years, but since we got a Kindle and iPad, I've been reading the digital versions more. I like that I can be reading it on one device at home and another on the road, especially because every sliver of reading time I find is precious! Also, I've maxed out my side of the shelf.

Have you ever tried audiobooks?
Yes, a few. I find audiobooks to be great for road trips actually, or when you're just going around anywhere in a car. Recent ones we listened to: Casino Royale and The Bro Code. Fun!

PS. Fairy Tale Fail is a finalist in the Chick Lit category of the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards! Thank you for the nominations and votes! See you at the ReaderCon!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy author is happy

This weekend I was at the anniversary bash of The Filipino Group on Goodreads. I'm actually a semi lurker there and appreciate how they make me feel welcome when I show up once a year to say hello. There was yummy dinner, a meet-and-greet with Manix Abrera (which I missed -- I was late!) and a discussion on Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (saw the movie, haven't read the book, would have flunked this). I answered a few questions from Ella about latest book That Kind of Guy (secrets were revealed!), after an introduction by Tina M of One More Page.

Then I walked back to my seat and saw that I had books to sign.  


So very cool. Thank you for this memory, Goodreads TFG. :)

Average Georgia: Touched by a tiara


Just came from dinner with Jaye. Apparently I love bamboo rice with fried hito, especially when it's free because my best friend cares about me, starving writer. The price? Had to endure being laughed at for five hours, when I told him where I was last weekend.

I was at my first ever travel writing gig, covering a new water park/resort (somewhere in Luzon). I sincerely thought that travel writing would be all solitary walks on photogenic white sand beaches but no... I was elbow to elbow with people the whole time. In the shuttle bus, registration, press briefings, cultural shows. Even in the tiny restrooms, where I had to stand in line with the other travel writers (synchronized peeing! a nightmare).

So. many. people. Ran out of small talk topics. Made a snarky remark about the crude sculpture in the lobby, only to be told that it was modeled after the resort owner's mother. (Also, no one laughed! Remember: Don't ever make snarky remarks.)

After the luau and fireworks, which I brilliantly spent at the event organizer's table where everyone was too busy to chitchat, I tried to call it a night. My excuse was I wanted to start on my draft, but they pulled me out of my room for a meet and greet with the former beauty queen who was the resort's spokesperson.

Had ten minutes with her. Ran out of questions in half that time. Awkward moment of me checking my time and her smiling earnestly at me.

And then I said this: "I guess it's a little weird to be doing these small appearances, no? When you've been all around the world being treated like royalty. Do you kind of wish you were still reigning Ms. __________?"

I actually did say that. I have my recording's transcript.

Jaye was, OMG, you totally just insulted your host and your host's spokesperson. And I totally did not mean that.

But she didn't even blink, and told me, "I'm here because I've been around the world and this is where I choose to be. My motto is 'Never wake up wishing you were someone else, somewhere else.'"

"She has a MOTTO?" Jaye said.

I told him to shut up. (She was a beauty queen. Of course she had a motto!) Never mind that she was a pop culture has-been now endorsing a cheesy water park. She was living life regret-free. More than I could say about me. And Jaye.

I couldn't help it. I hugged Ms. Beauty Queen, and actually watched the second round of fireworks willingly. One of the photographers in the group took a really cool pic of me. It looks like I'm on a solitary walk, just as the sky lights up with fireworks. Like this travel writing thing is as glam as I thought it was going to be.

I'm using that photo everywhere. As soon as he emails it to me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Filipino Friday: School of Reading


Today's Filipino Friday topic!

School of Reading. We all started reading somewhere, and more often than not, we were influenced by someone. Who got you into reading? Your parents? A friend? A librarian? One teacher who always lends out his/her books? How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit / fueling your book addiction?

Three people who might be responsible (blamed?) for my love of reading:

My mother, who patiently read everything (including cookbooks!) to me when I was a kid. Now that I have a daughter I'm trying to do the same for her.
My neighbor Erika, who had Sweet Valley Twins #2 Teacher's Pet and Nancy Drew The Mysterious Mannequin on her shelf that day when I was eleven, and let me borrow them. This is what started my "bookworm" stage and since then started reading a new book (or three) a week.
My husband Mike, who loves books and reading way way way more than I do, such that my love looks like a casual fling. This helps me get rid of any feelings of superiority I might consider having, just because I consider myself a reader.

When I was younger, I was the kind of person who would thrust a book into someone's hands and force them to read it. I hope at least one picked up the habit because of my pushiness.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ebook retailer sales in 2012 so far

When I first started tracking my ebook sales, Amazon accounted for 97% of my sales. Now, not so much. The other players (Barnes and Noble especially) are really kicking it this year.

Lessons learned/reinforced:
Be everywhere.
A small slice of the pie should not discourage me -- it just means there's room to grow.
Focus more on readers who love to read, and less on people who have the device to read the ebook but don't really read on them. (Because they may contribute a sale, but if they don't read the book then my original goal -- that of being read -- isn't met.)

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who bought, read, shared, recommended my books. Thank you thank you thank you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Average Georgia: 5 things I am not


1. I am not my sister.
I love her, but I've had it up to here with people asking me if I'm related to Kat. Because how many times does she get asked if she's related to me, huh? Not a lot, I think. It's not her fault that she's the semi famous then-girlfriend now-wife of a famous Pinoy actor. Or that she is pretty in that artistic black-wearing kind of way. I'm different. Colors, I like them.

2. I am not the same kind of writer.
Ate Kat writes two kinds of things only -- super corny soap opera cheese (for her job), or super depressing existentialist sort-of poetry (for herself). Believe me, it took a lot of guts for me to decide to be a "writer too" but I'm not the same kind of writer. I want to meet people, go places, tell real stories. She's not going to be able to help me do this, even if she's established and connected by now. I want to find my own way.

3. I'm not on the rebound.
My best friend Jaye broke up with his boyfriend recently too, and has made me get into a weird "no rebounds" pact with him. We have to remind each other not to go too far with anyone for a year. I think a year is too much. It's been four months and I'm so sure I'm over the Monster already. I don't answer Jaye's calls past eleven anymore, it's crazy.

4. I'm not into birthdays.
Or maybe I'm just not into mine. I think this year my goal will be to save enough money so I can spend my birthday alone, away from anyone who wants to throw me a party. 

5. I'm not that special.
Bless the people who have good hearts and think that everyone in special in their own way. We know the truth -- there's always someone smarter, prettier, nicer. I guess that's what I learned from the experience with the Monster and seeing him with a girl who looked exactly like me but taller. I know who I am.

I am Average Georgia.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Filipino Friday: Hello from me!

Oh look, it's the return of Filipino Friday! The 2012 Filipino Readercon is coming up, and I'm delighted to join bloggers devoting time to talk about books by Filipinos and other lit topics near and dear to readers' hearts.

And now to introduce myself. My name is Mina, and I'm totally failing at my reading list this year. It's July and I've finished (only) a dozen books, and it doesn't look like my sked will free up anytime soon so I can read more. When I do have time to read, I usually pick up contemporary romances, fantasy, something that won a Booker, something South Asian, or a classic that I never got to read. What I never really choose? Westerns.

One of my favorite recent reads, though, was True Grit.


Picked this up because I enjoyed the movie, and I could hear my husband laughing as he read it. Not only did I enjoy this, I laughed out loud too. I think the last time that happened to me was when I read ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.

So I guess the lesson is, I shouldn't dismiss an entire genre outright. Or maybe I'm a Western kind of girl after all.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Three Author at Once workshops later...

May 5
June 16
July 14
Met 60 or so writers/editors/artists.
Enjoyed hearing their stories.
Heart is warmed over their willingness to help each other out.
Learned a lot too, and may change the way I do some things. Thank you for the wisdom and ideas.

What will happen next:
Keep writing -- we'll debut a new feature up on bronzeage.ph/indiebooks so we won't forget what we have to do.
Get really technical -- I got requests for a more hands-on how-to-publish workshop. If you want to do this, email me or books@bronzeage.ph and ask for it. :)
Keep reading -- Would it be too much to ask if we supported at least one other indie author this year? Or a few authors a year?

Now that was fun. Will do this again soon, but for now, let's go back to writing!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

See you at the Kwentillion Young Adult Readers Carnival


So this is where I'll be on July 21, Saturday -- at the Kwentillion Young Adult Readers Carnival, Bestsellers Galleria. One of the sessions will be a panel on Philippine Young Adult Creators, and I'm going to be part of it. So excited about that. :)

There's much to look forward to, by the way (in case you need more convincing). Check out this post on Rocket Kapre to find out what's in store.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yes, I'm an author: Reasons why I faced my fear of marketing

When my first novel was published, I didn't go about announcing it to everyone I knew. I wasn't even ready to admit that I was writing again, much less tell people to buy my book. And yet I was hoping they would do it anyway, without my having to ask. 

So what I'm trying to say is, I suck at marketing. It doesn't come naturally to me. When I finish a story my instinct is to let it loose in a crowded area and then hide back in my room, as if by doing that I could say my work was done.

But now I regularly do the thing I thought I would never have to: sell my books to strangers. And here's why I eventually came around to doing the marketing thing:

1. It's polite to say thank you.
For me to be able to do that, readers would have to be able to reach me. So I chose to include my email address in my "about the author" blurb. I began receiving the loveliest emails from readers, and it felt right to reply and say thank you. 

2. Might as well be the best source of info about me.
I set up this blog the year I got published, and it's got basic information about my career as an author so far -- a bio, some thoughts about writing and publishing, and a portfolio of my work. It has made answering questions from readers easier, because it's amazing the kind of conclusions people jump to when they want to know something and have no reliable source.

3. I'm a reader too.
This I figured out eventually: I shouldn't shy away from readers, because they too love what I love. I try to be accessible enough, but not so clingy that they feel they can't share honest opinions. It's a fine line, and I figure it out on a daily basis. I'm now on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and other online communities where I can gush about reading and other things with fellow readers.

4. I have to go beyond family and friends.
The goals I've set for my career as an author? Cannot achieve them by just relying on the support of family and friends. (I don't have that many friends!) So now I go and admit I'm an author when asked, and I've accepted invitations to speak about writing and publishing. I even have business cards featuring my book covers. 

Ah, marketing. I've warmed up to it, because it doesn't have to be about constantly selling to people. Simply being out there, being genuinely interested in your readers, that's worth something already. I still have a lot to learn, but the baby steps I've taken so far have led to great people, fun experiences, and yes, more books sold. 

Way better than just hiding in my room.

Bronze Age Media's Author at Once: Marketing will be on July 14 at Eastwood, Quezon City. The three-hour workshop will cover basics of marketing for published (and to-be-published) authors. Register at bronzeage.ph/authoratonce

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Perk of scribbling without patience


You know the feeling when you think of a great scene, and can't wait for the story you're writing to build up to it? Sometimes impatience works.

I'm glad I gave in that one time. I thought of a scene, and instead of pulling my hair out trying to give it full context, I did the quick and lazy thing and just wrote it as it was. No context, no character building, just the scene as it came to me. It was two people talking. Specifically, one girl confronting someone who knew absolutely nothing about what she was talking about, and was amused by it.

Several years later, with enough time and motivation, that scene became the foundation for my first published novel, My Imaginary Ex. Couldn't have done it otherwise. So glad I wrote it down when I did. It was like I was able to bottle that thought for future use.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Real stories and real people


Real life provides many wonderful prompts for stories. Except reality just happens to be oddly paced, anti-climactic, lacking in closure, and in some cases too crazy to be believed. So if you plan to base a story on real events and people, don't worry about sticking too close to the original (unless you're doing a non-fiction bio, I guess). At some point the story becomes yours. Let it go where you think it should go.

Besides, what's true anyway? One of my books was inspired by a real person's relationship, except I "changed her ending." Only to find out that someone else was in the same situation, and made the exact same choice. Did I know her daw, and did I base my story on her?

I don't know her, and I didn't base it on her, but I guess every story can be true for someone out there in the world. There are billions of people walking around with their own stories, after all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Author at Once, a rerun


On Saturday, I will be at Cafeccino by Dome (Eastwood Mall, Quezon City) to be main speaker for a rerun of Author at Once. I blogged about the first one we did, in May, and we decided to have another one on June 16 for the people who couldn't make it then.

Who is this for? People who write and want to find out just how easy it is to publish their own work, have full control over every aspect of the process, and keep all the royalties. Because it can be that easy, once you have everything in place.

This is also for people who want to help writers publish, to find out where exactly in the process they can come in. Lots of opportunities for editors, cover designers, and other forms of writerly support.

We will also do a quick preview of Author at Once Chapter 2: Marketing, so participants on Saturday will also find out what they need to do to sell those books once they've been published.

See you there! Register here (bronzeage.ph/authoratonce) or email books@bronzeage.ph.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You're a snob. I am too.

Source: tumblr.com via Lyn on Pinterest

The lovely Charlene Sawit recently interviewed me for her blog, Field Trips to the Real World, and this was one of her cool questions: Have you encountered some literary snobbery from other writers regarding the genre you write? What advice do you have for writers who might encounter this kind of snobbery?

I had an answer for it (see link) and I love how it made me come to terms with something: I, too, am a snob. So I cannot hate on anyone for being the same, just because I wound up on the other side of it.

What kind of a snob am I? I'm a Buffy snob.

I have to explain this because I realize that some of you were too young, but in 1997, a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered, and it became my favorite show. It aired its last episode in 2003, but to this day I'd see references to it here and there, friends of friends mentioning that they're fans too, stuff like that. And when I see this, a part of me can't help but think -

Really? You're a fan? Since when? Do you have all the DVDs? Can you name all the episodes in order? Do you know Spike's name pre-vampire? Do you know all the songs in OMWF? Do you know what OMWF means? Did you co-found an online community dedicated to the show and represent the fandom in conventions?

Yeah, what a snob, right? Why do I have to try and undermine your appreciation by asserting that you can't possibly love this more? We're on the same team already.

I'm willing to bet that everyone is a snob about something. So, to answer the last part of that question, advice to writers dealing with snobbery -- well, you'll encounter it from anywhere, at some point. From fellow writers, from readers, from anyone who invested a lot of time and study into something and considers you the wide-eyed newbie. I remind myself how much of a snob I can be, how fun it is to win at this game. And I let them have their moment.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

In a bulalo kind of mood

So many things about my books are fiction, but this (from Fairy Tale Fail) is true: When it's raining like this, bulalo just sounds like the right thing to do.


Cozy up and keep dry!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kwentillion, new YA magazine


Visited Komikon for the first time this weekend, and was able to witness the launch of this cool new thing: Kwentillion, a magazine for YA readers. It's got comics and fiction from Filipino artists, and also articles about what Filipino YA readers are, well, reading. The first issue is like a test run, and with enough support, it might just become a regular thing, and we want this to happen, people.

A pleasant surprise was also waiting in the first issue for me -- Interim Goddess of Love was featured in the YA books preview! (My thanks to Tina Matanguihan and Chachic Fernandez.) That list itself was quite helpful, and now I know what I'll be reading this year.

I haven't read the issue from cover to cover just yet, but am putting this out there for editors Paolo Chikiamco and Budjette Tan -- does YA include romance? Because the YA I grew up on, and the YA that got me into reading and writing (and the formula I admit I still use today) would be Sweet Dreams, Sweet Valley, and others like them. Trying to imagine a sweet, completely human, zero vampire romance story in a high school or college setting seems out of place in the magazine as it is now.

And maybe it's not a good idea to force it in anyway, because readers of YA romance probably already have their favorite magazines, and they would be Candy, Seventeen or Cosmo. But YA romance readers who also want to be future YA writers, like me back in the day?

What would make a younger version of me buy this magazine?

I actually thought of a few things.

- Character features. YA heroines, love interests, villains... putting them all side by side would showcase not just what would make good reading, but also what the tropes are. Younger Me would have appreciated this kind of cheat sheet, so I'd know what characters resonate and work, also what's been done and can be updated.

- Adaptation timelines. I was psyched to find out (from Kwentillion!) that exciting new YA novels were being crafted from classic stories. But this is hardly new, and I would like to know what else out there is adapted from something, and what were the updated elements. Younger Me would have been so inspired by this, and might have actually read more classics. I read Emma because Clueless was based on it, so.

Congratulations, Kwentillion! Hope you can all get a copy, for yourselves or for the young person in your life who might need a little inspiration.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

That Kind of Guy



That Kind of Guy
Published by Summit Books


Good girl Julie never expected her hot former-player boyfriend to propose marriage. But when he did, she turned him down for reasons even she couldn't figure out. Will she settle for a nice, safe guy instead? Or will she let him find his way back into her carefully guarded heart?

Now in local bookstores! And Amazon!

Reviews
Goodreads
Girl Next Cubicle
One More Page
Perfect Nostalgia
Diurnalism
Chachic's Book Nook
Cookiecutter Caricature
Markings of a Dreamer

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May is International Chick Lit Month


It's International Chick Lit Month! Visit this page to find out what chick lit is all about, and how diverse the stories have become over the years. I want to post about this because as an Asian and Filipino writer of "chick lit", writing about women in Asia/the Philippines, I feel like I should provide some context.

How diverse can chick lit be, you ask? Isn't that just about a shallow girl looking for love and buying clothes?

On being shallow
My book covers come in pink and other candy-reminiscent colors, and some of them have cutesy illustrations and photos. I've seen them called "shallow," "superficial" and "mindless." But because they were designed to be "light," "fun" and "unpretentious," I don't mind if some readers just get lost in the semantics. What I hope is that, maybe if they were paying attention, they'd notice that they now know about cognitive dissonance (from My Imaginary Ex), Vladimir Propp's morphology of the folk tale (Fairy Tale Fail), what happens during a despedida de soltera (Love Your Frenemies), new ways to do a class presentation of El Filibusterismo (No Strings Attached), and an alternate origin story for Diyan Masalanta (Interim Goddess of Love). It hasn't been that easy to take these concepts and not beat you over the head with them. Because who wants to be head-beaten really?

The way I see it, a woman in her twenties is shallow only to people who don't pay attention -- and then they miss so much of what makes her great.

On diversity
I've called my books "Asian chick lit." What does that really mean? To me, it means: expect Asians, and not as much sex. Not that everyone is a prude here (no not at all) but some things are just different, for better or worse.

This is the problem I have with choosing the categories for my books on Amazon. "Women's fiction" and "contemporary romance" sound like they should have more sex, which my books don't. "Teen romance" and "YA" don't seem like the right fit for stories about twenty-somethings either. ("New adult" is a term I've seen used to describe this in-between, but the online stores don't offer that just yet.)

As of right now, all my books are set in the Philippines. And yet they're not about politics or poverty or how we were involved in WW2. It is a totally different setting, and probably not what regular chick lit readers expect.

So for now I'm banking on these readers accepting that some of the details may change, but the story can be essentially the same, where it counts.

Yay to celebrating these stories! I hope more are told, from even more places around the world.