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!

Girl Next Cubicle
One More Page
Perfect Nostalgia
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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Author at Once, and again and again!

(Most of) The first batch of Author At Once participants, ever. Yay!
I did something really fun last Saturday.

For over two years now, I've been talking to people about how I've gone "indie" and published some of my books, making them available in ebook and paperback, in the Philippines and around the world. I've done it through this blog, and coffee shops, and classrooms. But all of that's been informal, casual "Hey, how did you do that?" "Well like this..." conversations, nothing really structured.

On May 5, we gave it some structure -- and opened it up for everyone. Author At Once, an indie publishing workshop by Bronze Age Media, featured me as the main speaker, and it was an afternoon of spilling "secrets" about publishing independently. From how to sell ebooks to getting an affordable print version out. And a bunch of other stuff in between.

A TV appearance on ANC's Future Perfect seemed to have been well-received, and we were nearly overwhelmed by the emails and calls from people who wanted to be part of AAO. And on the day itself? It was, as we in Bronze Age Media have been saying, our best workshop ever. (We've organized a bunch, none of them like AAO though.)

99% of why it was the best ever was because of you, the people who chose to show up. I personally loved your questions, your energy, your interest in everything, the fact that you took notes! and mingled among yourselves, made friends, and laughed at some of my jokes. (Maybe you shouldn't encourage me!)

We (at Bronze Age Media) are still regrouping and doing some post-workshop documentation and stuff, but we're already planning the next one. There will be an Author At Once repeat in June, for the people who weren't able to make it. And a Chapter 2 for those who have attended soon after. Because we talked about what's next, and it's a lot of work -- but all fun and exciting.

We will be in touch about the future plans, but don't hesitate to poke us if you haven't heard from us yet. Thank you and yay everyone!