Monday, May 26, 2014

Accidentally semi-popular on Wattpad: What I learned

My Publishing Advice column on Wattpad went over 100,000 reads last week, and I vaguely remember telling myself to throw out some analysis if that ever happened. But then I missed the moment when it did hit the number! Because what I'm learning is that Wattpad popularity is a bit like rolling some point external forces take over and you're rolling fast without even trying.

This is what my Publishing Advice stats look like, at 105K or so reads. (Just edited this number because it gained a thousand just in the time it took me to write this post.)

I have over a dozen stories on Wattpad, and "Publishing and Self-Publishing Advice for Writers" is by far the most popular one. It is also NOT part of my portfolio as an author. It's actually more like my writing classes. I also take questions from the Wattpad users, so there are some topics that have never been discussed in any of my workshops.

The most popular Wattpad stories by Filipino authors have over 20 million reads though, so don't be at all impressed by my numbers. (It's also why I qualify in the title and say "semi-popular.") There is popularity, and there is POPULARITY.

For comparison, I posted my actual work of fiction, in its entirety, on Wattpad also. This is what the stats look like, at just under 12K reads:

The first page contains the table of contents, and it's the jumping off point for anyone who might have stumbled upon the story for the first time.

What I've learned about Wattpad popularity:

- Write in the language of the community you wish to reach. You'd think this was obvious, but as an author I've chosen to write in English, and that excludes some groups even as it includes others. By writing in Filipino, I reached an entirely new (and larger) audience in my own country. However, they're reading the advice column, and not necessarily converting to the fiction. It helps me personally though, because I'm also an educator and trainer, along with being an author.

- Write something people want to read. Again, you'd think this was obvious, but writers usually go for what they want to write, instead of supplying what the reader community demands. Did they want yet another chick lit novel about a 20-something girl finding love and living life? Not necessarily. But they wanted help with writing and publishing.

Business and self-help book publishers know this though. People want help, all the time, for everything. But on some things, more than others. My most popular posts from the advice column were about topics that readers cared about, not necessarily what I wanted them to care about. Sometimes things would sweetly converge, but even with 41 posts up there are probably just a handful of those where I got the tone and timeliness just right.

- Be read by key people. I don't want to say "popular" or "important" people -- just the right people for the purpose you have in mind. I actually didn't care about the numbers; I did this hoping that certain people would read it, and I think I reached them, so purpose fulfilled, I guess.

- Eventually your readers will find you. Patience is good too. Fairy Tale Fail is continuing to get reads, and is being added to reading lists, despite being complete (and the last 3 chapters are private, so only Wattpad users who follow me can see them). I like its performance though, so far. The dropoff from chapter to chapter is minimal. The last chapters are getting good votes, which tell me that I wrote that ending well. I'm proud enough of the book that I think if it stays there long enough, it will be read and enjoyed by more people.

- I don't think every new Fairy Tale Fail (Wattpad edition) reader is a lost sale. Fairy Tale Fail has been available as an ebook since 2010, and over 10,000 copies of it have been downloaded so far. It's been free, and as cheap as $0,99, and P175 in Philippine bookstores for a long time. If someone hasn't chosen to get it that way, then it doesn't hurt me if they find it and read it in this manner. Also I have like 10 other books that they can choose from, if they want to help me earn from this writing thing.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Wedding Night Stand #buqosteamyreads blog tour!

It's the final week of the #buqosteamyreads blog tour, and it's my own bundle that's going around the book blogs!

I ran a romance-writing class earlier this year and its goal was to produce steamy romances for Filipino readers. buqo sponsored the class, and for one year, my story Wedding Night Stand will only be available on their ebook store.

Wedding Night Stand is one of the shortest stories (under 10,000 words) in the #buqosteamyreads bunch, which surprised me! I thought with the mere five weeks that we had, the other writers would only be able to produce short stories. BUT NO. So I decided to pair up Wedding Night Stand with a previously published story, Young and Scambitious. You can buy them both as a bundle for P90, or individually for P45.

Here are the posts from the tour!
My Book Musings: Excerpt and Giveaway
Cinderella Stories: Excerpt and Giveaway
A Little Bit of Everything: Cover Reveal and Giveaway
Book Junkie Joint: Excerpt and Giveaway

Monday, May 19, 2014

Beautiful collaborations: Fashion bloggers and my books

If you've seen the international covers of some of my books, and you follow Philippine fashion bloggers, you might see some familiar faces:


I know what you're thinking: "YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THIS A LONG TIME AGO, DUH. When your main character is a Filipino and you want to show a fabulous representation of that character on your cover, who else do you talk to but the fabulous, creative people who actually like styling and clothes and all the things that'll make your cover great?"

And yes, it didn't occur to me to do this. At all. (I'm sorry!) How we happened upon it at all was a happy accident, a suggestion and a study that turned into the actual cover, and now we haven't looked back. 

How do I collaborate with them? It starts with finding a person who feels like the character. Not necessarily looks like the character -- I don't like associating a real person or face so much with my characters, because I want readers to do their own casting. But a cover is an advertisement for the book, so it can't be helped to do a little bit of casting anyway. I check out their blog, and their photos, to see if they have the same feel. 

And then I send a message. Hi. I'd like to work with you on a cover for my book and give you a small token for your trouble. This ok with you? Something like that. I emphasize that this should not be stressful. I'm willing to use a photo already taken before, if it fits the cover we want, just so no extra time or effort is spent unless she really wants to do it that way. So far, I've been so ridiculously happy with my collaborations. Each of them has a different style, and way about them. 

Rhea Bue ( as Hannah, the Interim Goddess of Love.  

Rhea is on the three Interim Goddess of Love international covers. The first two photos we used were shots she had already done for her blog, so I just purchased the rights to use them as covers. For the third and last IGoL book though, she wanted to do something new for it. The resulting cover was shot in Zamboanga, which I think is an awesome detail, even though it's not obvious at all. (Some of the frustrating things about working with great photos for book covers? Having to crop so much detail out. And choosing only one!)

Alex Lapa ( as Jane in the Young and Scambitious Series.

Young and Scambitious is not my usual chick lit stuff. It's about a con artist, who's pretending to be a socialite in Metro Manila. I'm glad that I actually knew of Alex already and was checking out her blog before we worked on this cover, because I knew right away that it had to be her. I had a feeling she'd be game to sort of lovingly mock this lifestyle, and yes she totally got it. And that photo of her above? I just saw it today, but it's a look that matches one of the scenes in Scambitious. I love it when this happens!

Since Scambitious is a short-story series, Alex recently did another cover for me. 

Dominique Tiu (, as Moira from Welcome to Envy Park.

I found Dominique through a common friend, Ron. To me, Moira the character had to look like someone who'd seen some of the world and wants to see more of it. There's a lightness to Dominique that I love, and when I look at her I do see someone who works with what she has, and where she has it, and can create a happy spot for herself wherever she happens to be. Which is kind of the point of the book. And also, Dom's clothes are awesome, haha. She wanted to shoot a new photo for the cover but time and skeds got crazy for both of us, so instead we worked with her existing portfolio and I chose the one that eventually made it to the cover. We had a lot to choose from, by the way. In the end it came down to outfit, the mood of the photo, and actually, the background too, because this one happened to match the wall I described in one of the chapters. Again -- awesome when that happens!

Thank you, Rhea, Alex, and Dominique! For being fabulous and creative, and for making my covers so pretty. :)

If you're into this and have photos or shoots in mind based on my characters or scenes, let me know? Show me what you've done? Definitely want to keep doing this, and more of it.

All covers above designed by Tania Arpa.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Read my books on Oyster

Oyster is a book subscription app. Pay a monthly fee ($9.95) and get to read any and all of the books they've got in their library so far. There are hundreds of thousands of titles, and I'm glad to say that some of my books are already there too. (And have been read -- thank you!)

If Oyster is available where you are, do a search for "Mina V. Esguerra"! And thank you for checking out my contemporary romance/YA/NA books!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Interview with #LunaEast author Chris Mariano

1. Describe your Luna East story in a few short sentences.
In "The Day of the Fish," shy and insecure Gela Basco wants to join the Arts & Crafts Fair to prove her place in her family of artists. When things don't go exactly as planned, she's surprised to find that her new nosy and stubborn classmate Sophie 'Mac' Macalintal is ready to help.

2. Did a real event from high school inspire your story?
Yes and no. The inspiration came from Japanese high school-themed movies like Swing Girls, Linda Linda Linda, and Fure Fure Girl, which revolve around friendship and defying the odds. But the AC Fest is based on my high school experience of securing and manning a booth for our school fair/Foundation Week.

3. What did you like to read when you were in high school?
A lot of Sweet Dreams! High school was also when I devoured fantasy series written by David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey, and Robert Jordan, among others.

4. Who do you think should be reading Luna East, and how do we get the books to them?
High school and college kids, primarily, but I think the stories are accessible enough for an older audience. I think high school libraries wouldn't mind getting a copy or two for their shelves this June!

5. What other stories are you planning for Luna East?

I want to write about students defying a school regulation that they find unreasonable. We had a number of incidents like this back when we were in high school and I'd like to revisit some. I am also thinking of writing more about artists Mac Macalintal, Aaron Basco, and Hiraya Chan-Cruz, who all have different styles and aim for very different kinds of success. It's nice to not be defined by just one thing and it's something I wish I had known when I was in high school. But these are vague plans at the moment :)

Chris scribbled romance stories during high school but has never published a single romance until her novella Cover (Story) Girl. Her other works have appeared in Philippines Free Press, Fully Booked's Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards Prose Anthology, and Ideomancer, among others. She divides her time between Manila and Aklan.

Write your #LunaEast story! Read the rules. Post your story on your blog, Wattpad, Figment, or And then answer these interview questions and send to :) Order the Volume 1 paperbackor get the ebook on Amazon.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Giveaway: Forget Me Not by Addie Lynn Co

Rianne has lost her memory of the past two years due to an accident, but letters from a mysterious "Sparks" -- found in a pile of unread mail at home -- have been helping her cope. The letters tell her of a couple's love story, making her hope to find the same unconditional love someday. 

Rebuilding her life has been a mess though: her guy best friend is claiming to have been her boyfriend that time, but she seems more at ease with a mysterious stranger. Does she trust the past she can't remember, or take a chance with a more uncertain future?

Check out Forget Me Not by Addie Lynn Co!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 9, 2014

#flirtsteamyreads in June

I will be running a new romance-writing class in June! It will be sponsored by Flirt Publishing (the people behind the Rock Gods of Romance boxed set I was part of last year) and we will be writing sports-centric adult/steamy romance novellas until the end of July.

Participants who are able to finish a novella that follows the class guidelines will get:

The satisfaction of having finished a book (yay!)
A possible international distribution deal with Flirt Publishing

The class will be primarily email-based, and you can join by signing up for my Steamy Reads mailing list. Books written for this class must be in English, and feature international characters and settings.

Even if you aren't seriously participating in the class, we appreciate any help and inspiration you might provide. Follow the #flirtsteamyreads hashtag on Twitter! We will be sharing our pics and posts there, usually anything to help motivate the other writers. 

Writing starts on June 1. Let's do this!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Interview with #LunaEast author Joy Villar

1. Describe your Luna East story in a few short sentences
A Study in Form: Junior Saree Termulo couldn't say no to Senior Eli Antonio's request--to model for his biggest art project. But she may be helping more than just Eli along.

2. Did a real event from high school inspire your story?
I wasn't inspired by a real event from high school. The idea just popped up in my head one day. I don't even recall the triger for it. Haha. Saree was loosely based from my my best friend in high school, who also did ballet.

3. What did you like to read when you were in high school?
When I was in high school I mostly read what was at home, which was what my sister read (mainly fantasy, YA, and romance). But during freshman year, I also delved into Japanese novels. I think I borrowed all the Japanese novels in the library in that school year alone. I also remember spending the whole summer between Sophomore and Junior year cooped up in the bedroom reading and rereading the Belgariad and the Malloreon series by David Eddings.

4. Who do you think should be reading Luna East, and how do we get the books to them? 
I think everyone who has a soft spot for YA and romance should read #LunaEast, because it's right up their alley. And also anyone who is not afraid to try and read new things should also read it. The best way I can think of to bring these stories out to everyone is by word of mouth. Most of the things I read came from the recommendations of those I knew loved to read good books, and are excited to share what they read to others. I rarely buy/read a book just because the blurb was well written or it was on the best-seller list.

5. What other stories are you planning for Luna East?
I already have a rough draft of a one-shot. It's the other side of my current story, which will be from Eli's perspective. I am also nursing a plot bunny about a student who is addicted to crosswords, and a possible love interest who thinks she should become addicted to something else. But I haven't fully explored that idea yet. I might also do stories including orchestra students, but I'm shelving that idea for later. Right now, I want to focus on finishing this story, my #romanceclass novella, and the other novellas I have planned. I hope I get to finish a lot withing the year. *crosses fingers*

Joy has always been fascinated with stories, and with telling them. When she's not busy daydreaming or firming flights, she tries to sneak in a little bit of writing. She fuels herself (and her writing) with caffeine loaded drinks (milk tea being top preference). She hopes to finish her #romanceclass novella within this year. *crosses fingers*

Write your #LunaEast story! Read the rules. Post your story on your blog, Wattpad, Figment, or And then answer these interview questions and send to :) Order the Volume 1 paperbackor get the ebook on Amazon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Keep Writing

Via pinterest
I was asked to give advice for "aspiring writers" today and even though one of the worst things I can say is "write like it's a job" I'm going to say it.

If you want to do this writing thing, and more of it, eventually you'll have to stop thinking that it's something you do "when you have time" or "when you're inspired." Some people like to think that it's who they are, but I like to think of it as what I do. 

Because trust me, there are so many reasons to stop doing this. No time, no ideas, no readers, no publisher, no bottom line. People have stopped writing, and stopped being writers, because of this and more. And that's fine, but when you think of this as the thing you do, then you never really stop. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Icon of the Indecisive student edition (P200) available now

When is Interim Goddess of Love #3 coming out?
I'm not sure when the Summit edition is coming out in local bookstores, I'm sorry! Icon of the Indecisive (IGoL 3) has already been written, and available in its indie-published edition for almost a year now. However it was a bit expensive (P350) so now I've come up with this:

The Icon of the Indecisive (student edition)! It's the same book, but with a new acknowledgements page, and without the bonus short story that comes with the other edition. You can order it from me for P200, here at  

Student Edition in the middle!
Icon of the Indecisive
Book 3 of the Interim Goddess of Love trilogy (older YA/new adult/sweet romance): College student Hannah Maquiling, also temporarily working as the Goddess of Love, has had enough of everyone asking for her help when it comes to relationships. It's her turn to find romance! She deserves it, after serving as matchmaker and confidant to everyone else in Ford River College for the past year. She's had a crush on handsome senior (and God of the Sun) Quin forever, but he's destined to fall in love with an extraordinary mortal woman, so she's figured her chances with him have pretty much dropped to zero.

It's not like she doesn't have any options for a classic college romance though. There's Diego, God of the Sea and Quin's best friend/enemy. And regular guy Robbie is stepping up, making sure she knows how he feels about her. How hard can it be for a goddess to find someone to love, and be loved in return?

And when you're done, maybe you want to listen to the audio commentary we recorded about the series? Yay!

Friday, May 2, 2014


There's a call to post and write about why #WeNeedDiverseBooks from May 1 to 3. I watched this hashtag for a long number of hours, just figuring out how to respond and join, based on how I write and who I write for. And then this tweet made it all fall into place:

So that actually captures right there what my writing journey and mission has been. #WeNeedDiverseBooks because:

- Sometimes I still see a comment about my books not being "Filipino" or "exotic" enough, because they happen to be set in a city, with modern urban conveniences, that could be set in any other city, because cities tend to have that quality.
- Some people still find it "inauthentic" that my Filipino characters speak English in dialogue, never mind that English is an official language, is used in signs and in daily commerce, and many Filipinos speak it every day, without difficulty, without baggage, and without having studied in another country.
- Some people can suspend disbelief about supernatural/paranormal/mythological elements in a regular school setting, provided it is not in their own country, because if it were happening in their country then it can only happen in this way or this way and I should know 'cause I'm from here.
- "Shallow" is still used casually to describe books that follow a woman's life and her decisions.
- There's a lot of denial over what Filipino women know and should know about sex and being responsible for their sexuality.

This is heavy stuff. It's hard for any writer to have all of this hanging over her head, so even though this is all there, I just write. I just write anyway, the stories I want to, and they're usually fun and light reads. But I hope that they've contributed to the diversity of books out there, because all I'm trying to do is show how things are different, and the same.

I'm so thankful to the readers who get this. If you started out skeptical and then eventually got it, yay. If I didn't get to convince you at all, maybe I can refer you to other people who might?