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 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 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