Monday, March 31, 2014

Guest post by #buqosteamyreads author Halina Cabrera: On the steamy side of things

Taking over the blog for today is #buqosteamyreads author Halina Cabrera!


I would never have finished writing a steamy story if it weren’t for Mina Esguerra’s workshop. I think the discipline of having to write using a specific trope, a literary device (for more info, join Mina’s writing workshops), learning all the background on romance heat levels and alpha males, and having to finish on a specific deadline really helped. So there, a big  thank you to Mina and all my classmates. For all writers who are looking for a push (to finish writing a story): attend a writing workshop now!

Inner Bitch

I liked writing strong female characters. I was challenged when Mina said the main character should NOT be simple/ ordinary. The female character should have an X-Factor that will make the alpha male fall for her.  It was challenging but it was also fun. It was like finally getting permission to let my inner bitch come out. Haha! It was actually quite liberating. But according to one of my beta readers…my bitchy character wasn’t bitchy enough! More practice is in order.

The Steamy Parts

Writing the steamy scenes took a bit of work. Not because I don’t get any practice! That’s a different story. It was challenging because I was writing so fast, my initial readers (beta readers and editor) felt like I wanted to get it over with. (Side note: beta reader and editor feedback are invaluable). The point of writing steamy reads is to get the reader to enjoy the steamy scenes: linger a bit and really make the reader feel (smell, taste, and see!) the action. Maybe that was my way of dealing with the discomfort of stepping out of my comfort zone: by doing it fast. But that’s no way to enjoy anything. The editing process was really a good way to address this.

What helped? It helped to have a picture of my love interest in front of me when I was writing. It’s easy to describe my main characters. But looking at actual pictures helped me be more graphic with the descriptions of my love interests.  I needed to put myself in the reader’s shoes. Who is this guy? Why is he so hot? Why should the reader pay attention to him? Details make a character very interesting. And there’s nothing like having a picture to add more details to the page.

Another thing that made a difference when writing the steamy scenes was having a romantic perspective. What makes a love scene romantic? It’s the…romance. That sounds easy to follow, right? But it’s not. Getting dirty is not the same as getting romantic. This distinction takes some balance. Mina was very emphatic during the workshop that there should be no mistake about what was going: consensual romance. No rape (subtle or otherwise) and no intoxicated sex. I’m glad Mina made this clear to all the writers in the workshop.


Lastly, I liked being part of a community of writers. I felt like I was in this with a lot of other people and it was okay to be in certain spaces: unsure, embarrassed, awkward, not getting enough word count, etc. I got to meet a lot of great people while working on this project. I am eternally grateful to them for the help they gave me.

Shameless Plug

On this note, I’d like to introduce my short stories: Boyfriend-Stealing Bitch and Crashing Into Him, both going up on buqo ( as part of the #buqosteamyreads bundles by April 1, 2014.

Boyfriend-Stealing Bitch: Jess Rodriguez always gets what she wants. That's why no one in her office has difficulty believing she tried to steal the gorgeous Martin de Guzman from his perfect girlfriend, Eliza. Now, the label "boyfriend-stealing bitch" has been slapped on her. Plus, Martin has to leave for the U.S. and Jess is left all alone to pick up the pieces.

Two years later, Martin shows up in the most unlikely of places: at Jess’s weekend getaway with her boyfriend, Joey. Will it be his turn to steal her away on a hot summer night? Is she finally going to claim the title she was so unfairly given back then?

Crashing Into Him: Hazel Fernandez, certified workaholic and finance manager, and Luis Cortez, fitness buff and gym owner, meet when he crashes his truck into her car. In the first five minutes, she notices that he is one hot guy. But he immediately starts acting like a jerk. She decides she can’t stand him. And she guesses he can’t stand her either. Except that she catches him checking her out.

Then Luis wants to meet about car insurance issues. Will all discussions end with what will be done with their cars or will there be more crashing into each other? Hazel is about to find out one rainy night.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Interview with #LunaEast author Cassandra Javier

1. Describe your Luna East story in a few short sentences
"Something New" is the story of how one girl (Margot) tries to see life in a brand new way by means of opening up her mind and opening up her heart. After being in the company of books and music, she begins to understand that life is more than that--with the help of tall, Blue-Eyed, bookworm Ronan.

2. Did a real event from high school inspire your story?
Nothing in particular haha, although I think it's a symbol of who I was during the early days of High School--leaning towards books and music more than leaning on people, and about how, deep down, there'll always be that giddy Highschooler in you.

3. What did you like to read when you were in high school?
Aside from Goosebumps, Nancy Drew and Harry Potter, I was very much into Nicholas Sparks.  I do remember it was during the early 2000's when I first got hold of Nicholas Sparks books and I really fell in love with them. Also started reading Paulo Coelho in High School. Oh, and Bob Ong.

4. Who do you think should be reading Luna East, and how do we get the books to them? 
It's targeted for Highschoolers, but I think almost everyone, at least 14 and up can read and enjoy it. Everyone needs something light and good and kilig at times.

5. What other stories are you planning for Luna East?
I'm thinking of something with cheerleaders... :)

Cass graduated with a degree in Broadcasting and has worked as a copywriter, a researcher in an IT company, a call center agent and was even a trainee for a time in a television network. She writes articles for a living. When not writing articles, she blogs, writes stories and whatever she may think of. She loves TV series, movies, music and is a very big bookworm. She's also addicted to Nail Art, butterflies, faeries, and ice cream. She is also a certified fangirl. 

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, March 25, 2014

Interview with #LunaEast author Kristel S. Villar

1. Describe your Luna East story in a few short sentences. (And include a link to it!)
The Rumor About Me - A story about Carly Gonzaga, who suddenly became the most talked senior at Luna East Arts Academy after campus heartthrob Tristan Lobregat picked her on a Truth or Dare game at a party.
Carly's Dare - A follow-up story on Carly Gonzaga, who gets a dare from her best friend, Marge Altamirano, to ask campus heartthrob Tristan Lobregat to the prom. Will she take the risk and can she handle the consequences that goes with it?
One-on-One - A round of one-on-one basketball turns out more than a game for senior students Marge Altamirano and Jake Madrigal.  It follows the story after Carly's Dare.

2. Did a real event from high school inspire your story?
Surprisingly, no. All ideas just came out of nowhere. But I had inspirations from the young adult books I've read and teenybopper movies I've watched.

3. What did you like to read when you were in high school?
I was addicted to Sweet Valley and Love Stories. Most of my savings from my allowance went to buying those books. I also loved Encyclopedia Brown. I remembered getting really excited solving those "crime" problems and then finding out if I solved it right by reading the solutions at the end of the book. I was also into Goosebumps and Christopher Pike, although I was always too afraid to read it late in the night.

4. Who do you think should be reading Luna East, and how do we get the books to them?
High school students and up, like PG-13. I think even readers who were already out in high school can still relate to the stories about Luna East. There's a sense of nostalgia whenever I write and read stories about this school.

Promoting the stories online is one of the best tools in reaching out to readers. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs... But a lot of books and stories are already out there, so going old school is also a big plus: sharing it to friends, friends of friends, and... book tours!

5. What other stories are you planning for Luna East?
I still haven't decided yet, but it will definitely not only about romance. I'd like to write more about the social challenges of high school students these days. I wrote The Rumor About Me to tackle about bullying, and how someone can fight it. Carly's Dare is about facing your fears of rejection and being true to yourself. One-on-One probably has the most serious subject. What happened with Marge was something that some students (high school or not) have experienced, and I wanted to show how she dealt with it. Also, I also showed the vulnerable side of two strong people.

Kristel S. Villar is a sportswriter by day and a newbie fiction writer by night. She lives in Manila with her husband and adorable son.

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 paperback, or get the ebook on Amazon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

#romanceclass talks, starting March 22

I know how it is. Life totally gets in the way of writing novels. Like everything's conspiring against you so you never finish it, even though you want to.

You probably know that I've made it a mission of sorts to get people to finish that first book. Last year's #romanceclass was all about that, and I learned that when a class is free, a mix of online and face-to-face, paced, and somewhat focused in terms of content, about 16% of the participants would actually finish something. (That percentage went up considerably in my new class, Steamy Reads, but that's another story entirely.)

Since then the #romanceclass textbook has been available. It has all of the assignments, lectures, and a recommended schedule to finish writing a book in 3 months. A number of people have it -- but none of them have finished their books yet! That I know of. I expected that though, because not all of us learn the same way. Which goes back to the problem of life and its distractions preventing us from finishing our books.

So I'm starting this:
I will hold a 3-hour talk, once a month if I can sustain it, and in person go through the entire #romanceclass program, help participants through some of the exercises, and answer questions about anything else. If you want to do this, you will only need to attend one session. If you want to attend again the following month, because you need to consult on something, you're free to do so (but you'll be doing different exercises, based on where you are in your novella).

It'll cost P600, and that includes the #romanceclass textbook. If you already have the book, then it'll just be P100 per session.

The first talk will be on March 22, at Toast Box Greenhills Promenade, from 2 PM to 5 PM. It will likely be in this venue every month, unless I announce otherwise. Register at so I know you're coming, and can prepare enough books!

If you're coming, I suggest you start thinking about the kind of story you want to write. But know also that #romanceclass has guidelines (there are things I may ask you to change) so have two or three story ideas ready, just in case.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Adult Quick Reads 1: Say That Things Change (giveaway for buqo and Google Play!)

New Adult is an emerging literature category that focuses on themes of discovery and independence for characters in college to their mid-twenties. Say That Things Change is a new adult romance anthology featuring stories by Filipino authors Jhing Bautista, Jonnalyn Cabigting, Katherine C. Eustaquio-Derla, Leng de Chavez, Rachelle Belaro, Rayne Mariano, and Mina V. Esguerra.

This is the first in a series! More info here at

Say That Things Change is available from buqo, Google Play, and Flipreads right now, but if you'd like to try for a free copy...

Leave a comment below and mention:

1. Your first name/nickname
2. Of the 7 authors in NAQR: Say That Things Things Change, whose stories have you read before?
3. Do you want your copy from buqo (requires buqo app) or Google Play (requires Android/Google Books app)?

I will pick two winners on Friday, March 14. Please visit this page again to see if you won!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Set your readers to steamy

Do we have enough English-language adult romance by Filipino authors? I thought we didn't, and that it's such a shame. Some people agreed with me.

So for five weeks in 2014, we did something about it. I offered a class in adult-romance writing. 60 people signed up. Buqo agreed to sponsor it, and offer ebook distribution to anyone who finished their "steamy read" in time. 23 stories were in draft form at the end of the class.

On Friday, the final final manuscripts of the #buqosteamyreads stories are due, and there may be some last-minute panicking. I hope everyone who reads this sends happy vibes and good cheer to these authors, who shared their energy, ideas, pics of shirtless guys... everyone was such a good sport, and I want to see them all published. (YOU CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT!)

Fortunately I was able to finish a story too (almost didn't!). It's called "Wedding Night Stand" (it's not about furniture) and it'll be sold exclusively on buqo for a year. For mature readers only though.

Authors, buqo, and casual observers of the #buqosteamyreads hashtag, thank you and YOU CAN DO IT!