Wednesday, July 30, 2014

(un)breakable blog tour: Interview with author Kesh Tanglao + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for (un)breakable by Kesh Tanglao! 

I first met Kesh when she joined #romanceclass last year -- and went on to write and publish The Real Score, a fangirl-fantasy (that's a thing right?) with a lot of heart. I saw how readers responded to it on social media, and love that despite her busy schedule Kesh has managed to released her next book. Because we want more Gezellig, yes?

For the blog tour, Dianne was able to arrange for a quick interview with Kesh. Here are her answers!

Congratulations on the release your sequel/spin-off to The Real Score! Can you describe what the reader reaction to the first book was like? 
Thanks! I honestly wouldn't have launched anything--even a sequel--had it not been because of the #romanceclass. So thanks, too, Ms. Mina! :) The reaction to The Real Score was overwhelming and amusing. I appreciated it that some people felt strongly about the story and about the characters. I also got tweets that the book made them cry! I'm sorry for that, but I got some weird authorly satisfaction that I made people cry.  

The Real Score took us places that Pinoy chick lit normally doesn't. Is there more traveling in this one? 
There are a few more mentions of different places, but the general setting is still in London. 

How soon after did you start writing again? 
A few months after The Real Score was released. To be honest, this one wasn't the one lined up! The sequel was supposed to be about Marcus and Caitlin, too, some sort of continuation of their story, but I think writing Lorin appealed to me. I was already 10,000 words in with the Marcus-Caitlin sequel when I dropped it for this one. 

There's a fandom aspect to your work that I love. How much of a fan are you of the things that you feature in your stories? 
I'd say very much? :) Fangirl enough to fall in line for 17 hours for concert tickets (and not even the actual concert!). Fangirl enough to actually go to games even if they're far away, and attend meet and greets. (Eep, I don't know why I'm doing it, either!) 

What's next for you? 
We meet another band in the next story (but the same universe as Gezellig), and then the last Gezellig book (it's just three, and I'm sorry if there are no stories yet for the other members!). 

Lorin Perez’s life is finally back on track after almost losing it six years ago. She knows meeting and dating sizzling hot professional rugby player Spence Clarke is a huge part of her healing process. But with her father starting a new family, she decides to follow her best friend Caitlin to UK–Spence’s home country–and start a new life.

However, moving to UK brings certain complications in the form of Gezellig band member Nigel Whitmore, a.k.a. the one who didn’t follow through three years ago. And even though Lorin is very clear about her no commitment rule, Nigel ignores this and pursues Lorin like never before.

Caught between the man who made her feel safe and the one who makes her feel alive, will she finally be able to set her heart free and make the right choice?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Kesh Tanglao

Kesh Tanglao is a full-time market researcher. When she’s not crunching numbers, she spends most of her free time watching TV shows, listening to music, and reading. Also a self-proclaimed fangirl, she likes cheering for her favorite sports teams and supporting her favorite artists.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Sola Musica: Poster preview

The special project I'm working on with fellow chick lit authors Ines Bautista Yao, Marla Miniano, and Chinggay Labrador is coming along nicely. We've all written a story each, set in a music festival that doesn't really exist, and here's the poster (for the music festival that doesn't exist):

Designed by Martina Bautista.

The book will be out worldwide in August, in ebook and print editions! A preview of my story contribution Georgia Lost and Found is up on Wattpad, if you want to see what you're in for.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Excerpt: Love Your Frenemies

Taking off was harder than I thought it would be. Not the concept of it, but the execution.
   When I was younger I heard stories of teenagers who would run away. In my high school, I think a girl tried to do it. While it sounded easy in theory, I wasn't sure what she was trying to accomplish. How exactly was she going to get money? How many bags of clothes could she bring? Where was she going to stay, and how long could she stay there before someone tipped off her parents and sent her back? And, what bothered me most -- what if her parents didn't want her back?
   On this topic Mom was the surprisingly reliable source of information. She didn't blink when I told her that I managed to get an MNL-LAX-MNL out of what would have been two honeymoon tickets to Seoul. When I complained about not being able to pack light, she peered at my luggage critically. It was large enough to fit a human being.
   "How long will you be away?" she asked.
   I shrugged. "My return trip's in six months."
   "You won't be spending Christmas here?"
   I didn't think of that. "I guess not."
   Christmas wasn't that big of a deal for my mother, I quickly told myself. I could remember a few Christmases in my teens when she wasn't around, either because she was on a cruise with my dad (in happier times) or with friends.
   She didn't make a big deal out of it. Instead, she started picking things out of my bag. It formed a small pile on the corner of my bed. No heavy winter clothes. Just a few pairs of pants, a simple skirt, a nice dress, tops in various earth colors, a sweater, some night shirts and underwear.
   "That's all you need," she said when she was done. "Anything else, you buy when you need it, or borrow. Do you have enough money?"
   "I think I have enough." Despite losing money on the wedding, I had enough saved up to live on, very simply, for a while.
   "It's never going to be enough. Call these people and stay with them if you're going to be around." She wrote names and numbers on a piece of paper -- her trusted cousin in San Francisco, a close friend in Illinois, a former business partner in Florida. "You know what to do when you run out."
   What went unsaid there was "Ask your dad" who was still our silent benefactor for when things went to shit. I never asked him for anything, but I suspected that he bailed us out a few times over the years.
   At LAX they decided to indeed give me six months in the US, and indeed the money was never enough. But at least there was novelty, and being in unfamiliar places, encountering strange and different things every day, was a healthy distraction for the most part.
   On this "sabbatical" I learned something too. I learned why my mom liked to take off. It cleared the mind, so it focused only on what mattered. I discovered what just might keep me sane when I made my way back to Manila, and the first step was to move out of my mother's house.

Buy Love Your Frenemies Amazon  Smashwords  Barnes & Noble  Kobo  Google Play  buqo

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reader Agreement 2014

Hi, Reader. Thanks for dropping by the blog.

I just updated my Publishing Strategy (posted yesterday). Maybe you're curious about what it means for you? This might help:

1. I don't expect you to read my books.
If you do, thank you. If you read more than one, thank you multiple times. I feel I have to say this though because I meet people at events, and they seem like they're not into romance novels, but they still compulsively tell me that they'll read my books.

How about this: Thank you, but you don't have to. If it's really not your thing. Authors want to be read, but deep down they probably don't want to be the assigned novel that everyone is dreading.

2. You are not required to do anything for me.
I will write and publish books as long as I have stories to write and publish. Even if no one buys them. I'm serious. (That sounds like a threat haha!)

Yes I may ask you to read, buy, recommend, or whatever, but you don't have to. No pressure. You don't owe me anything, and I think the best way for this relationship (between author and reader) to work is when we're both in it because you like reading my stuff, and I like writing it.

3. I will try my best to give you the reading experience you want, but I'm also a busy gal.
I'm a reader too and I understand that you like paper/will not read an ebook/don't have iOS/don't want to download a new app/don't have a credit card/prefer to buy from a bookstore/[add preference here]. I'm doing my best to make my books available in digital and print, on various platforms if digital, accepting all the payment systems available to you, or free even. But I can't be everywhere doing everything at once.

If you want to read my book, but can't, because it's not available where and how you want it -- email me? Let me know? I can probably put together a quick solution for you. Or bump it up my to-do list.

Are we good? You OK with all of this? Thank you. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

State of the Publishing Strategy 2014

When I decided to publish my own books, that was a "hey let's try this" that became, whether I planned it or not, the thing that would define me as an author. There are people who are aware of me as a self-publisher who've never picked up my books. So that's how it's going to be.

Here's a summary of the past four years of self/indie publishing:

1. I explored ebook retailers apart from Amazon.
I had one fantastic year on Amazon, and one great year on B&N, and then...boring. My sales plateaued, a sign that I was selling books to mostly the same group and it wasn't expanding. I tried Amazon exclusivity and felt that it wasn't worth it, but the difficulty with being everywhere? It's a lot of work to be everywhere. Submitting to ebook retailers with different submission requirements. Making edits and corrections. When the same book looks different on a different site. Arg. It's tempting, so tempting, to just stick to the bigger stores, because why do this work for the 2 people who buy from that store because they refuse to buy from the biggest ones? But I did it anyway, because I should be everywhere. It's taking a bit of time though for me to get everything done.

2. I pushed print on demand and cheaper print editions.
Because of the requests for paperback I kept getting, I worked a lot with printers the past four years, to release all my books in print within the same month as they were out in ebook. I also found alternatives so that a book could be sold for P200 -- very close to my traditionally published print books, which are P175 each. This is also exhausting work, and should only be done for love, and not profit. Even though I've got the process down and know how I can get it done, I've decided that it's not worth the time spent. 

People who love print books? They have a standard of printing quality, I believe, that must be maintained. If I were to give them what they deserve as book lovers (a beautiful cover, well-designed book pages, good quality printing) and produce it as an indie publisher, it would be super expensive. There will be some people who will want it, but the ones who just want a cheap read they find in a bookstore? I can't provide that for them.

3. I wrote for the audience.
After writing, selling, and promoting contemporary romance in English with Filipino characters for three and a half years, I tried something new: I wrote a contemporary romance in English. Were the characters Filipino? No...or are they? I didn't say anything either way. I wrote a romance novel exactly how I write them, set it in a place I was familiar with because my family lives there (but it's not in the Philippines), and it was promoted the way that international contemporary romances are usually promoted. was a success. A modest success compared to other books, but definitely the biggest success of any book of mine, given the same time period.

So what's happening now?

1. My focus is back to digital. With a vengeance.
Any time I have I think should be spent writing, instead of publishing. Print on demand will still be available of course, but I've dropped from my brain space all plans to try to come up with print distribution model that will work for me. I will work with anyone who has figured this out, but I won't try to come up with it myself.

I will focus on writing more, and getting my work out to the growing number of readers who want to read ebooks. Print lovers will still have print on demand, and I'll probably still sell at book fairs if I can. But it's digital first for me, and those who are into digital too will get loads of perks. In fact, my mailing list and various book groups already don't pay more than $1 for any of my books. Stick with me and a book will always be cheap or free. :) I can't offer that deal with print.

2. For everything else, I will work with other people.
Right now I teach writing and publishing classes. But I don't do or know everything, so I also work with bookstores, book bloggers, and printers when I can. Moving forward, I'll continue this practice, and just let people do what they do best.

3. I'm writing romance, period.
That romance-writing experiment? I'm doing more of it. I've started writing a new series called Spotlight, and the first two of the books will come out this year. International settings, international characters, but romance the way I write it. 

I will still write my Philippine-setting stories (under the series Chic Manila) but expect more Spotlight stuff in the future as I work on filling up that line.

This is how it is now. Who knows how it'll be next year? See you all then. :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Excerpt: Welcome to Envy Park

When I first met her, during registration day on our first year at college, I thought we'd be at each other's throats. We were both only children, academic achievers from our respective high schools, vying for recognition in the same business management program. Sometimes she got the lucky break, and sometimes I did, but when we met to compare notes I was always happy for her.
But I would just never do some things the way Roxie would. We were just wired differently.
"Your parents haven't been here?" she asked. "I thought they'd be over every weekend, knowing your mom."
"They've been here. Just not a lot. They discovered a social life now that they're sort of in retirement. It doesn't involve me."
"Are you okay with that?"
It was an adjustment, but one I welcomed. "Yeah, for now. I guess I got used to the once-a-year face-to-face thing. It's great when I know I'm here for Christmas, because it's all good stuff. But the rest…"
Roxie nodded. "It's a stage. Your parents want to continue treating you like a kid, but you're not a kid. They'll get it eventually. Or your mom will. But you have to be around to make it happen."
"No, it doesn't work that way with them. I have to prove myself somewhere else."
"I'm not like you," Roxie said. "I stay put. I have roots. I work it out where I am."
"Living in another country is going to open your mind to everything, Roxie. I think everyone should try it."
She was sitting on my living room floor, barefoot, scarf off, drinking her passion fruit margarita from a jam jar, my attempt at being shabby chic. "You don't realize what would happen to my career if I just suddenly took off now. I get out, and I won't be able to just pick up where I left off. I can't afford to Eat Pray Love myself out of this funk."
I was lying flat on the sofa just behind her, and I could see that the pitcher on the coffee table needed refilling. But I didn't move an inch. "Well maybe you don't want to go back to the same career."
"I have a huge payment on the condo coming up. Can't think about that."
"When do you get to move into that by the way?"
"Next month, I think, if I'm lucky."
Roxie and I were an interesting study in parallel lives, if anyone bothered to look. I packed up and left Manila, as so many others did, and at the time it seemed like the only smart thing to do, if you wanted to get ahead. My hometown (if you could call a city of 12 million people "hometown") felt too cramped and crazy. Roxie stayed, because it was her nature to thrive in cramped and crazy.
Five years later, and what did we have?
"Well you have this," Roxie said, waving an arm toward my ceiling.
"And you're getting your own place soon."
"And you helped your parents with expenses and stuff."
"You did too."
"We had that New York trip."
Yes, that was excellent, I agreed.
"We don't have cars," Roxie added.
"We don't drive. But we can afford it if we wanted to."
"We don't have kids."
"Yeah, we don't have that."
"I'd settle for a date on Saturday."
"Well, I've cursed you, so no."
"So let me recap. You left. I stayed. Now, we both have some money, helped out our families, went on a cool trip, bought ourselves apartments. But our social lives are still limited to you and me and a margarita pitcher."
"Huh. It kind of sounds like we're even," I said.
Were we? Maybe it was the tequila buzz, but I really did think that I had come out ahead. Surely the lessons in independence that leaving home provided a person counted for something. Counted for more, at least, in terms of emotional growth, and maturity, because those years were the most difficult and humbling of my life so far.
"No we're not even," Roxie said, giggling. "I have a job. You don't."
She had to refill the margarita pitcher all by herself then, I told her.

Buy Welcome to Envy Park: Amazon  Smashwords  Barnes & Noble  Kobo  Google Play  buqo

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New story: We Were So Yesterday

Two things that came together last weekend:
1. I usually have stories planned out for supporting characters in my books.
2. I had to sit and wait for over an hour for something.

Roxie, Moira's best friend in Welcome to Envy Park, has her own story. I hint at what it is in one of the chapters. I don't have time yet to create a whole book about her, but last weekend I had just the right amount of time to start an epistolary-style short story. It's up on Wattpad right now, and ongoing as of right now. (There are probably three chapters to go.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Bound Came About (Guest Post by Chinggay Labrador)

How Bound Came About 
Chinggay Labrador

I'd been suffering from a too-long bout with writer's block—the last work of fiction I did was in 2012 and has remained unpublished and unreleased. When I came across Mina's post on #buqosteamyreads, I decided to take the challenge and try my hand at fiction again. My previous works have all been PG-13, so I knew I would have to take a leap of faith to work in a genre that is unsettling for me! (I don't even read romance books!)

I tried to come up with a list of ideas, but it proved really difficult for me, even when Mina assigned us specific tropes to work with. The deadline neared and all I had with me were about three half-started stories that I was nowhere near happy with. I told a good friend of mine about how much of a fail my steamy writing challenge ended up, and she told me she'd find a way to help kick me out of my writer's block for good.

My friend, who works as an artist, decided to pull me and another friend for a rope-tying session. She joked that if anyone needed steamy-inspiration, there would be no better way than to jump into some risqué Japanese art. The tutorial turned out to be fun, interesting (to say the least) and we weren't even halfway through learning how to tie ropes on each other before the idea for Bound finally came to me. (Success!)

Funnily enough, my short story wasn't exactly conventionally steamy—but it at least was "adult" enough to get into the NAQR2 anthology. After being so used to writing long books, the short story format piqued my interest because it forced me to stay concise and stick to only the details that really mattered to the whole.

NAQR2 cover by Martina Bautista
I've been on a writing roll since Bound and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be part of All This Wanting—not only because I know I'm in good company, but because it stoked my creative process again. I can't wait for our next collaboration to come out (soon!) and for the new stories that'll come up (and who knows—maybe more surprising, art adventures too! Haha!).

Read "Bound" by getting All This Wanting on buqo (

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stephanie Perkins in Cebu

Can I just fangirl? Completely?

I already had my super fun super awesome moment meeting author Stephanie Perkins and having her sign my copies of her books. (Previously: Stephanie Perkins in the Philippines) It just so happened that I was going to be in Cebu in time for her signing there, so I...dropped by again.

Made the last-minute decision to get more copies of the same books too.

Got there a few minutes before it started, and spent the waiting time taking photos.

And then I got to have my fangirl fulfillment moment of the month -- I got to hand her a copy of my book That Kind of Guy. (Why that one? Because it has a chapter set in Cebu, coincidentally in the hotel that Stephanie was staying in.)

Happiness! Thanks, National Book Store. :)

Love Your Frenemies: New paperback edition! (International)

Hi, everyone! If you don't have a copy of Love Your Frenemies in paperback yet, it's now available internationally, with a new cover:

Yes, Universe, Kimmy Domingo knows that you hate her. But she's a nice person, she really is -- as long as you ignore the stories of people she's bullied, manipulated, and annoyed in the past. She totally gets that you've gotten back at her by having her fiance' dump her a week before their wedding. Soon after, she quit her job, hopped on a plane, and just hid from everyone who knew her.

A year later and she's back in Manila to be maid of honor at a wedding she can't miss. She's home because she's ready to start over, but she also knows that some people at that wedding were responsible for the mess her life turned out to be. The first step to recovery? Cutting off the ones who caused her troubles to begin with: her best friend and her first love.

Love Your Frenemies is part of my Chic Manila series, standalone contemporary romance/chick lit/new adult books set in the Philippines. 

Get the paperback from CreateSpace. (Use code UFPAHLTE to get 20% off.) Links for The Book Depository and Amazon coming soon! Ebook editions here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stephanie Perkins in the Philippines!

Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and the upcoming Isla and the Happily Ever After, is in the Philippines right now on a National Book Store signing tour.

I picked up Anna and the French Kiss because several book bloggers I follow read it and loved it. It is indeed a lovely, lovely book about first love that isn't as simple as it should be, in a place that is as romantic as we all hope it is.

I recommended it too in Smile, the Cebu Pacific inflight magazine, posting here so I don't repeat myself.

Thanks to National Book Store, I got the chance to see (and speak to!) Stephanie Perkins at the press conference for her events. I think I had a silly smile on my face the whole time. I got to ask her a question, about which secondary characters surprised her by being reader favorites. Her answer: Lola's two dads.

I brought books for her to sign, and she signed them, while telling me a cool story about how Isla could have been named Mina instead. This led to her being a little distracted and officially naming me Anna, which means I now get Etienne. The author said so.

Thank you, National Book Store. I adore Stephanie's books. I'm glad I got the chance to tell her! Hope everyone else gets to go to the signings on Saturday in Cebu and Sunday in Manila!