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 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 :)

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. 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.


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. 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 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!