Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The (new) Filipinas Heritage Library

This week I got to attend a special preview of the Filipinas Heritage Library, re-opening as a new section of the Ayala Museum.

FHL holds a special place in my heart, as some of you know. I was married in its old location, which itself used to be an air traffic control tower, and the idea of a wedding in a place with a history of travel and books just felt right.

But this week, FHL opened its doors as part of the Ayala Museum, and its rare books, art, music, and history will be part of something new -- and a bit more contemporary.

It's open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and do call and reserve a spot if you want to linger and check out the collections. I'm particularly interested in seeing some of their old maps, archival footage, and photos -- am stumbling into so much inspiration just from the preview alone. More info at

Monday, March 18, 2013

Contemporary Romance Class: What's romantic?

Update: 99 have signed up, over 50 submitted a novella pitch, and about 30 sent in their outlines.

We had another meetup for Contemporary Romance Class yesterday, and we talked about romantic scenes.  I asked everyone to share what they liked about romantic scenes/novels/movies, and here was the gist of their answers:

- LOVE bickering, bantering couples
- HATE bickering, bantering couples
- LOVE Alpha guys
- HATE dominant guys
- LOVE public grand gestures
- HATE public grand gestures
- LOVE dancing
- LOVE quiet moments
- HATE bimbo characters
- HATE pushovers with low self esteem
- HATE villains whose motivations aren't explained
- LOVE vacation scenes
- HATE resort hookups

What I learned from this? You really can't please everyone. And also, that maybe the thing you think is romantic (as a writer) may just be the thing a reader will love.

I also shared a few things that I've learned over the years about writing romantic scenes (and being known as a writer who writes romance). These are more of behind-the-scenes planning things that readers might not even notice, but I think the writer should be aware of. Like:
- Age appropriateness of romantic scene (what happens in my NA Chick Lit is not what happens in Interim Goddess of Love, must say)
- Language ("make love" is cute sometimes but who actually says it?!)
- Birth control/responsibility/disease
- Parental/societal/cultural/religious views/approval

We should really have more time for random questions though, and I'll make sure to work that into the agenda. They probably will have more of it as they write more chapters. I love though that everyone's pulling from their romance-reading experience in the discussions. It was research all along!

Next month: They will submitting their first 10,000 words, and at the meetup we'll discuss conflict.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interviewed by Lottie Eve, and a few questions for her

Book blogger Lottie Eve recently interviewed me, and it's now up on her blog. Go check it out!

One of the things I enjoy about reading reviews of my books is seeing which parts the reviewer chooses to mention. I can't predict what a reader will single out as memorable. And I actually want to know how a reader discovered my books. So I actually asked Lottie Eve! Thank you so much for answering! Here's what she said:
If I'm not mistaken, you discovered my books because of a friend book blogger from the Philippines. How did she get you interested in reading a book set in another country? 
Well, I first got interested in reading your books when Monica mentioned that Fairy Tale Fail perfectly described her life in the Philippines. That got me interested rather quickly. We had a quick conversation about the book and then I bought it. Then I read it and fell insanely in love with the book. Now I am a fan of your's :) 
I find it really cool that you say you can relate to Ellie, when you live on the other side of the world! Is there anything about the books that surprised you, like in terms of how similar and different things are here and there? 
What surprised me the most was how social people were in the workplace (the books I have read of your's took place in a workplace fairly often). Everyone on the same floor knew each other. It made me feel like I was reading about a group of people living in a small apartment building! There is also the use of the word barkada- a word that I learned the meaning of very quickly. Now I find myself using it (which kind of confuses my friends but they started catching on too)!

Something about these answers makes me so giddy. :) There are a lot of things that we take for granted, even as writers who are aware that we're writing for the world now. Lottie Eve is the second person (who isn't in the Philippines) to point out that our workplaces seem so social, and I didn't even intend to make that a thing. It's just how it is here.

But barkada I deliberately didn't translate. I'm glad it's being understood in context! I wonder if we can make it a thing?  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maybe you have the answers: Book marketing and promotion in the Philippines

A few months ago I met Miriam College Communication Arts students Julhean Divinagracia, Moira Estrada, and Meredith Marcelo (and their friend Bea). We talked for a bit about books and publishing and writing, and yesterday they sent me a copy of the school project that came about from it. It's called "Books in Action: A Production Thesis on the Effectiveness of Book Trailers in Promoting Local Works of Mina Esguerra and Karen Francisco."

Some interesting bits from their paper:

" can be inferred that their reading preference is the books that are known and famous. For a book to be known and famous, aside from its good plot, it has to be marketed and promoted well to the public..."

"The main purpose of the study with the use of book trailers is to motivate and encourage the Filipino youth to read and acknowledge the country’s own literature through the experience of reading Filipino literary works that were written by young contemporary Filipino fiction writers just as much as they read other foreign literature."

"Romance emerged as the most preferred genre of the second year students from both sections 6 and 7. Other genres like Inspirational, Comdey, Adventure, and Mystery also got huge numbers in the result, the researchers can say that the respondents also likes variety in their reading choices."

"...the top five things the respondents do before buying a book are first, looking if the book interest them and second, reading the summary presented on the back part of the book cover. There is also a big number of respondents who see if it’s affordable or ask for their friends’ opinions before buying a book or any reading material."

" shows that the second year college students of Miriam College think that it is very important to get information about a book and the plot is the most important information they must know when they buy a book. So far, the students are not particular with the author and are more interested in the story."

"Based on the results presented in the table, the students who do not buy books online outnumber those who buy books online."

"...students who read E-books outnumber those who don't read E-books. The result can not classify which of these students are the ones who buy in bookstores and those who buy online but it can mean that some students, whether they buy their books online or not also reads E-books that are downloaded from the internet."

"In the result, beside the other chic lits made by Filipino authors, books by Bob Ong are the only local books the students have read."

I love that they did this, and will continue to read their paper with nerdy fascination. I think it's wonderful that they chose to do this, and I am convinced that young Filipinos will read more once we write what they want to read (if we aren't doing that already) and let them know that these books are available.

Oh, and the book trailer they produced for No Strings Attached? Martin Escudero (of Zombadings) was Dante. My heart fainted. My heart needs smelling salts. Or white flower. Wake up my heart.

Any other Comm majors want to take on this book marketing challenge? I'll help in any way I can.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Another take on the Interim Goddess

FEU Fine Arts student Richard Cy created and designed an illustrated edition of Interim Goddess of Love for his thesis. Here's a sneak peek.

It's beautiful. :) Not for sale, but beautiful. His Twitter is @richardjaracy if you want to contact him about his art.