Sunday, April 12, 2015

I've moved!

It's time for a change! This blog has moved to All posts here will remain, and are also archived there. Contact if you need me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Excerpt: My Imaginary Ex

My Imaginary Ex was the first of my books to be published. The idea for it had been in my head for a long time -- through a short story that I had written almost ten years before. That story shows up in the book eventually as this part of Chapter 4.


“Problem? Did Zack talk to you about our ‘problem’?”
Perhaps I had caught Lena at a bad time. She wasn’t as relaxed as she usually was. She didn’t look like she was in a hurry to go somewhere, but she sure looked annoyed at me.
“No,” I said, quickly trying to save myself. “But he’s been moody lately. He thinks something’s wrong with the two of you, but he didn’t say what. He wants to fix it though.”
Lena petulantly hugged her binder, and I didn’t need to be a psych major to know that she had just put up a wall between us. “Whatever the ‘problem’ is, it’s none of your business, Jasmine. I am done with the two of you, honestly. I should lock you two in a room and you can either fight it out or end up together. Either way, I’m done.”
“Wait! Lena, you don’t mean that. It’s not what you think—”
“It doesn’t matter what you say, Jasmine. It’s how it is.”
“No, please, don’t break up with him over this. Please, think about it—maybe you misunderstood? We don’t have feelings for each other. You might be seeing something completely innocent and giving it the wrong interpretation.”
Lena paused at this, and her tight grip on her binder loosened a little. “Why does he tell you everything?”
“He doesn’t.”
“Well, fine, but why does he tell you everything he tells me? Shouldn’t I come first?”
“You do, Lena. I don’t even know where he is half the time. We don’t even hang out.”
Technically that was true. We spent most of our friendship in transit. On his way to the coffee shop? To the Internet cafe? The library? The Math department? Drive me home from choir practice?
He’d wander over to my usual spots, and if I had nothing to do, I went along.
“I’m not friends with any of my exes. It’s not healthy,” she looked at me accusingly.
We share a secret, and that can really bind people together. I did not say that.
“Lena, it’s not what you think. We’re just friends, really.”
“I don’t treat my friends the way he treats you.”
“Lena, you liked how mature he was when he forgave me and decided we should remain friends,” I reminded her desperately.
That seemed to work. If Lena’s defiance were a balloon, it started to deflate.
“Jasmine,” she said. “Thanks for standing up for him, but this still is none of your business.”


She broke up with him right before Christmas, but it looked like she stuck around and gave it a try three weeks after we talked.
I didn’t tell Zack about it, and from the looks of it, neither did Lena. So now that was a secret Lena and I shared. I probably had to write it all down at some point.
The news got to me on the last day of school, before the Christmas break. I was looking for Zack in his usual spot, and only saw Ramon, his block mate. I didn’t know many of Zack’s friends, but the year before, Ramon was my ballroom dancing partner for PE.
“Did he leave already?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “Went home. Lena finally broke up with him.”
“Just now?”
“They were talking by that tree for almost an hour.”
I showed up at Zack’s house with a half gallon of Double Dutch ice cream. The sight of me and my gift made him laugh. “I’m not a girl,” he said.
“Trust me, this will make you feel better.”
I stayed over for dinner, but I wasn’t hungry because I already had a few cups of ice cream in me.
Zack, at first, didn’t want to talk about Lena. I played the supportive friend and didn’t ask, so instead he told me about his economics teacher, the electives he was thinking of taking, and the business idea he wanted to use as his thesis the following year. There was also a movie he wanted to watch that weekend, maybe I wanted to see it with him?
Two hours later, I couldn’t wait anymore.
“Zack, about Lena…”
“I thought you wanted me to feel better.”
“Talking will help resolve your issues.”
“If you want to help, come with me to this movie. Robots at war! I’ll feel better after that, I know it.”
“Are you sure your problems weren’t caused by our fake relationship?” I asked.
“I’m sure,” he said, vehemently. Was he trying to protect me? He knew I’d feel bad if I had a role in their breakup, but he didn’t know that Lena had spilled the beans already, and some of those beans had my name on them.
“Well then. I think that next time, you shouldn’t even bring it up. I think Lena’s…impression of you was tainted by a lie. Next time, just be yourself.”
Zack exhaled dramatically. “I didn’t exactly think that one through, did I?”
“No.” I scooped out another cup of ice cream for myself, finally accepting that we both kind of ruined that relationship together. I needed chocolate.
I reached over and squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry about Lena. You should never again tell anyone I was your girlfriend.”
“That’s a good idea.”

Get My Imaginary Ex on buqo, and Amazon / Smashwords (through the Perfect Boyfriends compilation)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

#SparkNA starts April 6

If you follow me on Twitter, you're going to see me use the hashtag #SparkNA. That's because my new online class, this time sponsored by Anvil's Spark Books imprint, is starting on Monday.

So far there are 70 participants in the class, and they've signed up to write a New Adult Contemporary novella and submit their draft by June 6. What they will get (apart from the satisfaction of finishing a book?) is a possible book deal with Spark.

It's going to be exciting to see what we can do to expand and diversify the portfolio of NA by Filipino authors.

If you're all, "huh New Adult by Filipino authors, what's that?" go here for a  taste:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Giveaway! [Amazon GC + NA ebooks + Paperback, US only]

Join my giveaway! Open to US residents! 

How I write my books with limited writing time

No one really has time to write.

There are other things we could be doing. I won't even list them down because that's just the reality of today -- we all have other places we should be, things we should be doing. If you want to write, but think that the only time you can start is when you are free from your other responsibilities, then it might never happen. Because when really will the responsibilities stop?

And if you never start, then that's too bad.

What I do instead is find out when I will have time to write, and maximize it. When I was writing No Strings Attached I wasn't a mom yet, but I was working, and had thirty minutes at the end of every workday. I wrote most of that book during that time.

When I was a new mom, and was also writing Queen of the Clueless and Icon of the Indecisive, I had an arrangement with an aunt that she would watch my daughter twice a week. That gave me about four to six hours a week, in total, to write those books.

When my daughter started going to school a few months ago, I could rely on having two hours every weekday to write. I wrote Rules We Like Breaking, 2/3 of Someone Else's Fantasy, and short story No Roses for Hannah (all yet to be released) in that time.

Now that she's on her summer vacation...I have to figure out when to write again.

The key is finding time every day, even less than an hour, and keeping at it. I write using a detailed outline, so it's easy for me to pick up where I left off. When not writing, I'm thinking of what to write on my next session. Once you do this more, you'll find yourself doing more with the same amount of time. I think I've gotten myself to a level where I can write a thousand words in a two-hour period, which is great.

So if you've ever wondered about how I "do it" -- now you know. However this is a lot easier to do when I have a solid story in mind. If you want to try to do it this way, plan your concept and outline well, so you don't spend so much time waiting for inspiration, when you should be writing.

Monday, March 23, 2015

#buqoYA: Hello, new YA stories!

I'm psyched to be doing this! Here's a preview of the new YA stories we'll be reading on buqo very soon!

#buqoYA started with over a hundred people signing up. 89 sent in the first activity, which made them officially part of the class. They plotted and wrote a YA romance story in 5 weeks, following some guidelines and challenges I gave them. They were grouped into four trope categories (the challenge was to write a story using a certain trope) and they supported each other on Twitter, email, coffee shop meetings and elsewhere.

The class is also a crash course in self-publishing, so part of what made this so difficult was that the authors had to be in charge of the fate of their story. Not just writing -- they had to set up their feedback/beta reader/critique system, find editors, cover designers, and deal with the retailer who will be selling their story as an ebook (in this case our sponsor buqo). Some authors who joined are already indie publishers so they know this by now; they were very helpful and supportive of those who are going to be doing this for the first time.

It doesn't end with the ebook going live and being sold. We as readers/spectators to this project can continue to help the authors by reading their work, giving them feedback, sharing the story if we love it. Encourage the authors, and see this (if you're an aspiring author) as proof of what you can do in five weeks and with some help.

Next, the authors can relax a bit, because the next step is the actual publishing leg work. I will be reviewing stories and creating bundle combinations. buqo will be converting ebooks.

Thanks, everyone! Here are your buqoYA stories...

The Offside by KZ Riman
All I wanted was to move on to sophomore year. And, of course, to have Soccer God Mattheus Estevez back into my life, despite my brother’s incessant demands that I stopped dating jocks. What I didn’t count on, though, was to go through detention work with Geovanne Estevez, Mattheus’ identical twin brother, just so I’d realize both. And what I found baffling about it all was how Geovanne seemed to be putting a lot more effort into it than we had all bargained for, making this detention the best one yet.

The First Time They Met by Ana Valenzuela
What’s making Mayumi anxious on her best friend’s birthday party?

Is it her long time best friend Marie? Marie is now in college, and Mayumi starts to doubt their friendship as Marie meets new people and gets closer to them.

Or is it this basketball player named Micah? A guy she recently met and who has turned into an overnight confidant.

Something Real by Charm Jacinto
Hailey's principle is heart over mind. It's Rick or nothing at all. Brett's scholarship comes first. His, was mind over matters of the heart. A laboratory experiment in Physics brought them together making their lives entangled with each other. From lab partners to having a crossfire of misread signals to friendship. Will they ever find the perfect formula when it comes to the principle of love?

Match Point Mishap by Madelyn Tuviera
"Shit happens to the best of us," goes a saying, and Lester Torres, a now-starving student-artist, cannot agree more. The family business has reached a steady decline. His parents are distraught. His education is at the risk of being put on hold because tuition's too expensive, impractical. Something they are no longer able to afford. Unwilling to give up, he tries to apply for an athletic scholarship in the hope of keeping the dream alive. He was in the high school badminton varsity team, after all. Might as well put his dormant skill to good use, right? He aces the first few matches, winning them in a breeze, and thinks that he's got this scholarship in the bag already. Easy as pie.

Enter a talented player by the name of Wency David, and Lester lands the first missed service of his game.

Anything You Want Me To by Audrine Pascal
Oh, Via. Such in a hurry to have a boyfriend. Now look who got dumped on social media, just before the epic party happening tonight.

So why is she hanging out with Franco CastaƱer? It’s all good – Via’s always been immune to all that yummy goodness, him being her best friend’s brother and all.

But is Franco actually being flirty? Or is she just reading too much into this? How exactly do you decode the species they call boy?

Vodka shot, anyone?

When a KISS Falls by Kaye Dee
Do you know someone tagged as a KISS?

Nastasha and Stefano are both aware of the uncanny relationship they have as best friends. Nash has always been the KISS or knight-in-shining skirt - always so protective of Stef. In her, Stef found a personal on-call heroine. Stef, on the other hand, is often seen as vain, weak and feminine, making him the perfect bully target. Until one day, Stef realizes it should be the other way around. It is time to switch their roles and be his best friend’s protector and defender. But being the strong-willed girl that she is, Nash just cannot deal away with her tough nature.

Will Stef prove his worth and fulfill the new role in their friendship? Will this be the bridge that can take their friendship into something more?

On the Outside Looking In by Claire Du
Seventeen-year-old Freya Mahilum has always been in love with football hotshot Ezra Montelibano. Ezra, who’s too caught up with family pressures and his so-called girlfriend to pay attention to a geek obsessed with him. Freya knows she'd never stand a chance with him, but then fate conspires to bring them together. Will getting to know each other prove that love knows no boundaries or will they find that they're better off existing in two separate worlds?

Love in the Time of Viral Videos by R. Linea
Like. Retweet. Follow. Fall in Love?

They say that that the things we own tend to own us in the long run. Today, at a time when we’re connected 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, social media has helped shaped who we are, how we want to be seen and how we deal with other people. And if that’s the case, then who knows us better than our own social media accounts? This is the story of Patch and Sebastian who met in real life, as told by their digital selves. This is their story in the time of #hashtags, inspiration boards, and viral videos.

Just the Way You Are by Kat Sales
Rica Valdez has always been one of the guys, so it was hard for her to find a prom date. When her new friend and crush Joshua Fernandez volunteered to take her to the prom, she wondered if he liked her back too, or was he just being nice?

Never Too Late by Jen Suguitan
When Cass goes to a trip to Corregidor, she thinks that it’s the key to finding closure over her sister's death. But things change when she gets mixed up with the wrong tour group where she meets Noah, a budding filmmaker and photographer who wants to relive his grandfather’s war stories through the tour.

As they explore the historic island together, will Cass and Noah find what they are looking for? Or will they find something more, like a chance to fall in love, too?

A Portrait of Jade by Justine Camacho-Tajonera
Jade Alverio is dying to get to summer art camp in Baguio, far away from her demanding parents and her ultra-perfect sister, Ruby. She thinks it will be a haven of likeminded spirits until she gets her first critique from Alexander Santamaria III, who seems to have converted all female camp members into his groupies.

Things get worse when she's paired up with him on a major project. Will she survive dream-turned-nightmare art camp, or will she go running back home, the very place she wanted to escape in the first place?

Fall for Grace by Anne Plaza
Aso’t pusa, away-bati…
Sino sa inyo ang unang aamin?

Meet Grace Almeda—the darling of Luna East Arts Academy—maikukumpara sa isang artista sa hitsura, reputasyon, at katarayan. At heto si Jason Jacinto—the resident school genius—kilala rin sa pagiging go-to person ng mga estudyanteng problemado sa pag-aaral. Nang magkabanggaan ang kanilang maliit at magkaibang mundo, napilitan si Grace na hingin ang tulong ni Jason sa isang mala-life or death na sitwasyon. Mukha ngang pumuti na ang uwak dahil dumating ang araw na kinailangan ni Little Miss Spoiled Brat si Boy Genius. Pero ang hindi alam ni Grace ay may dahilan ang lahat sa likod ng pang-aasar at pambubwisit ni Jason. At sa ‘di inaasahang pangyayari, may isang mahuhulog ang loob para sa isang naghihintay lang ng tamang pagkakataon.

D'01 by Sassy Fova
Kat Arcanghel has just turned 18 and she feels that it is the right time to fall in love. She finds herself falling for Alech Crisologo, but she has always thought of herself as adeviant/rebel and there’s nothing more mainstream than crushing on the guy that everybody loves, thus she fights her feelings and tries to search for the right one—just not him.

Will Kat continue rebelling against her own heart, or will she let her heart conquer the battle and let it lead the way? She’ll find the answer when she meets D’01.

In That Summer by Jayen San Diego
Senior high school student Jane Enriquez is the ‘dream-girl’ of all male students at Southridge Montessori. Well, except the geeky student leader Sean Villamayor. Opposing from the start, Sean never expected Jane would become his partner for this year’s Summer Camp Immersion. Will this be their worst summer? Or will it turn out to be different?

Barely Even Friends by Kristel S. Villar
For pretty and athletic Emily Fonseca, nothing’s better than getting invited to join Luna East Arts Academy’s most popular crowd, the Elites. She only has to fulfill a list of dares to prove that she’s got what it takes. But will it cost Emily her rekindled friendship with language tutor and childhood friend Noah Calderon?

Once Upon A Sticky Note by Kristel Ann Cruz
Nate and Tanya have been “talk all day, every day” best friends for years but on the eve of Nate’s birthday, Tanya realized she has started developing more-than-platonic feelings him. They’re going off to college soon so confessing anything that might make things complicated between them doesn’t sound like a good plan, especially now that Campus Sweetie Armi has entered the picture. What would Tanya do? Could she? Should she? Grab a sticky note and place your bets.

Loving You All My Life by Rafael P. Pascual
Isang ulirang estudyante, kaibigan at anak si Danielle Natasha Lastimosa. Ang kanyang pagsisikap, talino at kabutihan ang nagdala sa kanya sa Philippine Institute of Arts, Entertainment & Culture (PHINAREC), ang pinaka-una at natatanging paaralan para sa mga nagnanais makapasok sa larangan ng sining, kultura at libangan. Maayos na sana ang kanyang buhay-estudyante nang isang Jairus Roman Vera-Perez ang biglang nagpagulo rito. Ang lalaking iyon ang anak ng may-ari ng PHINAREC, pero ito rin ang pinakalider pagdating sa katamaran, kayabangan at kakulangan ng disiplina. Pagtatagpuin sila ng isang kakaibang proyekto para sa kursong kanilang pinag-aaralan. Maging mitsa kaya ito ng lalong paglala ng kanilang bangayan, o ito na kaya ang magsilbing daan para sila ay maging magkaibigan – at magkatuluyan? Masabi kaya nila sa isa’t isa ang katagang “I’LL KEEP ON LOVING YOU ALL MY LIFE”?

Second Sight to Forever by Racquel Sarah A. Castro
Sasha Salazar, a passionate A-Girls dancer, met her ‘crush-at-first-sight’ in the stairway of Escuela de Rojo. She ignored him because she was still into Norman Gil. The second sight at the EDR’s rooftop began the daily rooftop moments (RTMs) of Sasha with the famous basketball varsity player, Joshua Bonifacio. Take a glimpse on how their relationship bloomed as they both found out the spy.

What About Today by Dawn Lanuza
Aiden's stuck working for his family's amusement park, Funtastic World, for the whole summer. Nothing amuses him, until he met this terrified girl.

Gemma's stuck in Funtastic World thinking she could handle the park's rides. She couldn't. Good thing she met someone to guide her.

As the day comes to a close, Aiden and Gemma ask themselves if one day is ever enough to decide if they were better off as friends or strangers.

Someone to Care by Jessica Larsen
After her parents die in an accident, Jennelle is passed around by her relatives. Hindi siya tumatagal ng isang taon sa piling ng mga kamag-anak bago siya itulak ng mga ito patungo sa iba. At fifteen, nalibot na yata niya lahat ng isla sa Pilipinas. Not that she cares, because she has learned from the moment she loses her parents that not getting too involved with anyone will keep her from getting hurt. Subalit nagbago ang lahat ng iyon nang makilala niya si Valentine, ang adopted son ng distant relative niya kung saan siya sunod na titira. Like her, Valentine has been orphaned at a young age, but unlike her, Valentine loves to keep everyone close—except her. And as if sharing a home wasn’t enough of a torture, they would also be attending the same school.

Plain Vanilla by Ines Bautista-Yao
Despite her quirky name and equally quirky family, 16-year-old Tempest Juan knows she's ordinary. After reading a comment on Facebook which likened her to vanilla ice cream, Tempest decides she has to do something about it or be forever branded as plain, lukewarm, and well, vanilla. It doesn't help that the comment was made by Paco Lorenzo, her cousin’s cute friend (no longer cute in her book!). When she happens upon a book of dares, she decides to attempt each one, no matter how hard. This is her personality at stake, after all. But somehow, Paco, the cause of all this, finds a way to be at every dare Tempest attempts, confusing her and forcing her to question what’s really going on inside her heart.

After the Moment by Six de los Reyes
Under the most normal of circumstances, Aria de Luna could never imagine herself kissing the boy she has always considered to be miles and miles out of her league. She’s known as their year’s resident emo-girl and she plays the part flawlessly with her violet hair, scuffed boots, and her alleged angst from living under the shadow of her over-achieving, perfect, older sister. Meanwhile, Kristoffer Li is living the perfect life. He’s popular, next year’s captain of the basketball team, attractive, if maybe a little too frowny for people’s liking, but he looks very pretty on a chocolate-milk drink carton.

So it is only under the most unusual circumstance that Kris shows up at the Arts and Culture Festival Aria has been looking forward to all year. But does a morning of awkward conversations, an afternoon of provoking discussions, and a moment under the moonlight really change three years of oblivious coexistence? Or will everything go back to the way it was after the moment?

The Path of Us by Cassandra Javier
Are our paths already laid out for us, or can we make them ourselves?

Can fairytales actually come true?

Clara has always been fond of fairytales and grand gestures. She always had a plan of how she’d like her life to turn out, and that’s why she worked hard to be on top of the class, and make sure that she has her real life Prince Charming to boot.

And then there’s Andrew.

Andrew’s always been the easy go lucky guy, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not smart and appealing; it’s just that he chooses to go through life in a fuss-free, no nonsense way.

When Andrew and Clara’s paths meet, things don’t exactly go easy. They hated each other with a passion, but then they got to share unexpected moments, and end high school with a memory that they’ll never forget. In college, they lose each other, and Clara has to go through the hardest things on her own--until a trip back home sends them to each other’s paths again.

Will they ever be able to understand their role in each other’s lives?

Or will they just get out of each other’s lives for good?

One Lovely Summer Day by Amae Dechavez
Kwento ng Pag-Ibig, Pangarap, at Pag-asa...  Sa Pila, Laguna, bakasyon at abala ang lahat sa bahay nila Tiya Isidra—“general cleaning” ika ng matanda. Bukod pa roon ay darating si Maylie, ang paboritong pamangkin niyang galing ng Maynila. Gaya ng inaasahan, naroon si Ethan para tumulong sa paglilinis at paghahanda. Bagamat mukhang tahimik ang dalaga, unang sulyap pa lang ay agad na nagandahan at nabaitan si Ethan sa kaniya. Naging matalik na magkaibigan ang dalawa. Sa isang di inaasahang pangyayari at proyektong kailangang lutasin nilang dalawa, lalong napalapit si Ethan at Maylie sa isa-isa. Gayun pa man, alam ni Ethan na isang araw ay aalis din si Maylie at maiiwan siya. Sasabihin ba niya kay Maylie ang nararamdaman niya? 

A Moment Like This by Sue Donymko
Kris Mercado and Noel Abad are trapped in a posh resort hotel in Davao City during a particularly bad flood. After spending almost everyday together, they realize that they are undeniably attracted to each other. But reality bites as usual, and they now have to decide whether to chalk their romance up to forced circumstances or to explore what could be the sweetest love they've been looking for...

Waiting for Whatever by Fay Sebastian
Denise knew pain at an early age. She has been waiting for her true love since she was 11, but she never gave up, knowing she'd meet him someday.

What she didn't know was that she already met the man she's been waiting for, and that he's sitting beside her at the airport. The thought never crossed her mind because she's seated between two guys who broke her heart before.

Until the Race is Over by Lyka Caparos
Rico wishes Lianne back in his life, but because of that viral article that Traecy posted on their school paper's website, it appears to be impossible for them to be together again. Traecy on the other hand, had only one wish for her birthday, to spend it with the one she admires since high school – Rico Avila. How can fate brings the two together in a race that would definitely reveal small discoveries that can lead to two choices: either to tear them apart or hope for a more unexpected relationship?

When Cocoy Became Kikay by C. P. Santi
Cocoy’s not-so-secret dream is to one day become a gun-toting, ass-kicking secret agent. But she has another dream—and this time, even her best friends don’t have a clue—she dreams of being with someone. 

Problem is, she finds out that Jaime Arguelles—a.k.a. the guy she’d been secretly crushing on for years—likes girls who . . . well . . . like pink.

To Cocoy’s logical mind, there’s only one solution: it’s time to go girly. After all, how hard can it be?

With the help of her aunt Lucy, and her friends Paulo, Dags, and Joel, Cocoy embarks on a pink-tinged journey that somehow turns her neat and orderly life upside down. But it’s all good—because in the midst of her blossoming relationship, Cocoy learns a whole lot about life, love, dreams, and friendship . . . and about the healing power of pan de sal, Chippy, and Nutella.

Travel of Two by Irish Fleur
Biyahe mag-isa? Check! Isa na namang item sa bucket list ni Isobel ang matutupad. Sino bang hindi magiging masaya kapag nagawa mo na ang gusto mo? Pero hindi lang pala si Isobel ang nagso-solo travel--si Arty rin. Si Arty na suplado, na-friendzone, makulit, at nakilala ni Isobel sa paglalakbay niya. At kahit ganito si Arty, mas naging exciting ang pagbiyahe ni Isobel.

So, magka-boyfriend... mache-check din nga ba ito ni Isobel sa sa bucket list niya?

Same by Charm Lee
March 2.

Of all places, Atasha never thought that she would end up in a hospital on this specific day. Rush was looking forward to just enjoying the day.

But with the white walls and medical noises around them, two young and very different souls cross paths. Rush and Atasha discover that even if they are as alike as night and day, they aren’t as different as they thought after all.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Playing Autumn: New edition, new cover, out in March

In 2013, I wrote a romance novella that wasn't set in the Philippines, for the first time ever. It's called Playing Autumn and it was published by Jaded Speck Publishing in an ebook bundle called Rock Gods of Romance.

You know what happens when you leave your comfort zone? Like when you're traveling? You overpack, and take so much of home with you. Just in case. Playing Autumn feels that way. (If I really stopped to think about it, this entire US-setting Spotlight series feels that way.) Houston, Texas, where Haley and Oliver are from, is also where three-fourths of my immediate family live now. There are more places, things, obsessions, and in general things that actually happened in this book than any of my Manila-setting ones. 

Maybe in something that's more obviously a fantasy, we can be a little more honest about things? 

This is a new edition, because in the past year I spent time exploring what I could do with a longer form of novel than I used to write. Playing Autumn is now over 50,000 words. Someone helped me with this, and I'm grateful for the push. It's always nice to get a little push.

I love the cover. Designed by Tania Arpa.

Haley Reese is going back home to Houston and she's dreading this trip. She volunteers as a mentor to young musicians at an annual festival, and the longer she's been doing it, the more she feels like a fraud. It's been years since the web videos that made her sort-of famous first came out, and she hasn't done anything else to pursue the career in music she's always wanted. Things start looking up when she shares a plane ride with Oliver Cabrera, music prodigy, rock star, and the reason why she picked up an instrument in the first place.

Oliver Cabrera hasn't called any place "home" since he started touring professionally in his teens, but Houston is as close to it as any. He's also nearly broke, his career just about over. When he gets the invitation to mentor at the Breathe Music Festival again, he decides, what the hell, he should finally show up. He meets Haley, Hot Piano Girl herself, and finds her fear of failure might be easier to fix than his own.

Playing Autumn was first released in 2013 in the Rock Gods of Romance ebook anthology. This is a revised, expanded, and steamier edition.

Out in March. Those who bought the limited paperback run of the first edition will get the ebook free.

Buy links: Amazon  Smashwords  iTunes

Thursday, March 5, 2015

#buqoYA: Another class ends! You are all awesome.

photo from

It's all the same, but different. 

#buqoYA is a class similar to #romanceclass, #buqosteamyreads, and #flirtsteamyreads before it. It was mostly online, and you didn't have to go to the meetups or face-to-face classes. It's got a lot of the same people (raise your hand if you attended all of them!), and the goal of each class was to guide people to finish a story. I don't teach grammar or spelling or do much handholding as people write. Instead I provide guidelines and pacing, and suggest ways to help them set up their own support system. Finishing meant getting published, and many of those who finished stories in my previous classes did get published, one way or another.

Different, because this time the class wrote YA. The characters had to be between 16 to 19 years old. I assigned all the participants to one of four tropes, and they had to stick to it, even if they got a trope they hated. I told them they could not remake Romeo and Juliet, so there should be no stories about young lovers from warring families eloping and ending in fake death and real death. (Call them out on it if they do it!) I had screenwriters Charlene Sawit Esguerra, Anton Santamaria, and Katski Flores share their insights on chemistry, tropes, and how to convincingly create history between characters. I made the participants read Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han. And watch '90s romcoms and Star Cinema movies. 
All the lessons were delivered through email, and the only way to discuss things was through Twitter, using the hashtag #buqoYA. It was a joy to check my Twitter feed every day and see authors sharing resources, photos, songs, anything that would help the others get into a "YA mood." It's almost like boot camp, making people write a story and finish it in five weeks. 

Out of over a hundred who signed up, a little over 30 authors finished their YA story. We're still in the editing stage right now, but by the summer we'll have over 30 new stories for young adults. By Pinoy authors. Some of them have published before, many of them are first-timers. I hope I can count on your support and let some new authors into your reading list, and maybe your hearts!

A few things that worked for the participants (as discussed in the last class) that may help you if you want to try out this style of workshop:

1. Get a critique group/support group as early as possible
If you're the kind of writer who needs a critique partner or beta reader group, find people as soon as the class starts. Send them chapters as soon as you write them, if you need to. (My note: Your mileage may vary when it comes to critique groups. Go with whatever will help you finish. I personally don't consult more than two people when writing the standard book, unless I'm doing research. But it depends on what you need done.)

2. Manage your time.
No one ever has time to write. Deciding to write usually means something has to go, like an extra hour of sleep, or the three episodes of that show you wanted to catch up on. It helped that we had a deadline -- because sacrificing something for the sake of an externally imposed deadline seemed more acceptable, than the abstract concept of "working on your novel."

3. Listen to people. Do research.
For some of the writers the challenge was writing "young." For others it was writing a person who seemed too different from who they were. In every case it helped to step back, and open up to the possibility that we need to learn something new. Listen to people. Look things up. Ask other people how they live. I am a fan now of stepping out of our comfort zones, especially when writing. 

4. Embrace the community
This has happened with every single class, I don't know why, but I'll take it. People are pretty awesome. Is it a romance reader thing? A romance writer thing? I've found the people who join the class to be, in general, a helpful bunch. They'll share what they know. They'll help read and edit. (Even when I tell them not to volunteer for things when they're writing on a deadline too!) But you know what? When someone's that helpful, we should give back. Read their story, buy their book, share racy pics with them. (wait...) 

5. Brush up on grammar because I will not be teaching it.
While this all seems like fun and games, I did say it was like boot camp. It was real work. I also did something that I didn't do in previous classes -- I required all submissions to be grammar-checked before submitting to me. Even just a one-paragraph description. If I can't read a submission well past the first few sentences because of the grammar problems, I was not going to let the participant continue until it was edited. The reason I did this should be obvious: I don't teach grammar. I think it slows down the good students when I slow down to take the time to tell someone that their sentence is not grammatically correct. Anyone intending to join a class at this level -- meaning we are looking a publishing deal in the eye -- should have their basics down. I'm not going to be the person who teaches someone subject-verb agreement, please.

6. Join the class because you like what we're asking you to do. Don't join if it's not what you want to do. 
If the class is sponsored (in this case by retailer buqo) the sponsor gets to influence the kind of stories we produce. I think it's a fair trade, since they're making it so that the participants don't pay for anything. I also mention right away what the sponsor is looking for, and give participants every chance to opt out if they find out along the way that this is not the class for them. 

7. Realize that learning doesn't end with "The End." Or "Publish."
Did your beta readers love your story? All the revisions go through okay? Did the copy editor find every typo? That's not the end of it! I don't believe that a story is ever "finally perfect" and then sent out into the world. A story is what it is, and then readers react to it however they want to. Some will love it, some will hate it, and the best we can do is learn from the reactions and apply lessons learned to future work. 

So even after all the work you put in, all the people who helped you...the work is not done. It never is. :) Because now you know how to do this, author, and you might just keep doing it! It won't end. 

Let's hope it doesn't.

As always, this class was fun, and I'm glad it worked for so many of you. But you have to remember that I didn't really do much more than send emails. You did all the work. A book with your name on it exists now because you did all the work.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Workshop and training update

Print book formatting and affordable printing, with co-facilitator Tania Arpa, February 28, O2 Space Makati. Sign up here:

After February 28, we are conducting training based on requested schedules only. Choose your schedule here, if you'd like us to help you set you up as a digital and print publisher:

I've been accepting many opportunities to speak and give talks on publishing and writing, so there will be those too. But if you're interested in learning to publish, and actually publishing your book, in a classroom type setting, with me as the instructor, this will be the only way we'll be doing it in the near future. Thanks!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

5x5podcast Episode 22: Our Favorite Underrated Things

Mine: Sarina Bowen's Ivy Years book series, Eliza Victoria's Dwellers, Amplify.PH, special mention of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spark Books by Anvil Publishing

They're out! We can talk about this!

I'm thrilled to announce that I've entered a new (non-exclusive, for those who need to know) partnership with Anvil Publishing here in the Philippines. The result of that partnership is a new Anvil imprint called Spark Books (FB / Instagram). They will be publishing in print my New Adult books, and distributing them to local bookstores. (Yay!)

They launched their new imprint with three books from me, Welcome to Envy Park, The Harder We Fall and Never Just Friends. How are they different from previous editions you might already have?

Welcome to Envy Park: Has a bonus story, "We Were So Yesterday" originally posted on Wattpad, but in this edition handwritten (yes, written by hand!) by pen enthusiasts Faith Yeo and Chito Limson. You might also see your name in the new acknowledgements page.

The Harder We Fall: Almost identical to the print edition already on Amazon! But a fraction of the price at P185.

Never Just Friends: Exactly the same as the US print edition. I never did a local printing though so this is the only print copy you'll find in the Philippines.

I'm so psyched for this and I hope you understand that you (readers, and random person on the internet) made this all possible.

The other exciting thing about this is, Spark Books will be releasing more titles. By more authors. People you might know, if you've been following the indie romance writing thing we've been doing. I can't wait to see them!

So, here's a favor, if I may ask for yet another: Please read/buy/share/review/give as gifts? If you see the books in a bookstore, please let me know! Send me a pic. Or a pic of you with the books. Tag @minavesguerra in your reactions. I'm sharing all of them on my Twitter and Facebook. Thank you thank you thank you and I hope you enjoy the books!

(PS. I still own copyright and most rights to books I've written and will write. I am still currently working with other publishers, and will continue to, as an author, consultant, editor, and whatever else. I'm not going to expect everyone to be able to keep track of this so if you need me for anything, just ask!)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Being an author-entrepreneur

Spent my Saturday afternoon at the Creative Entrepreneurship Summit. I'm glad I got there just in time, and managed to see all of the speakers lined up.

I was there to talk about how I earn from writing and publishing romance novels, and I happily shared a few things that you'd already know, if you've been reading my blog. But just to emphasize a few things that I might not have been able to because of the time constraints:

1. Publish in ebook format, please.

It astounds me how not all Filipino authors are into this, and many because of their own preferences as readers. (Oh but I don't understand e-reading...don't own a Kindle...prefer reading paper...don't have a credit card so never buy online anyway...) That's like someone telling me "I made this shirt and I think you should buy it, and wear it, and love it, but it's only in size M, which is exactly my size, because I represent the people who would like to wear this, and I wear M." Decide not to publish an ebook if it is not advantageous to you, or if the format cannot do justice to your book. There are very, very few books that will fall under this exception.

2. There is a lot of money to be made in writing, if you write what people are willing to buy, and you do it well.

I should have said this, arg. Here's a test to know if you are writing what people want and are doing it well: Name your price and see how they react. Someone asks you to contribute an article for their site? Name your price (what you think is FAIR based on your talent, the time you spend working, and the response it gets from readers), without asking them what their budget is. If they say "yes" to what you perceive is your value, then you're on the right track. If they negotiate, or choose to get someone else, then you need to work on a few things. Or you just need to work with the right people.

As someone who writes books, I encounter this and have come to terms with it. There are people who will only read my books if they're free. People who will buy, but only if it's $1. People who will buy, but only if it's paperback, and under P200. I am fortunate enough to have met people who've decided they're willing to pay the price I set for the book, without haggling. It's a struggle to discover what our value is, but every interaction tells us if we're heading in the right direction.

Now, it's not just skill, but product too. Maybe that book we wrote was something we wrote "for ourselves." What makes you think other people will want to buy it? Not a question you should be worrying about as a writer, sure, but as an entrepreneur? Yes.

3. You don't need a lot of money, but you will get what you pay for.

One of the problems that startup author-publishers encounter is either raising funds for a good editor and cover designer, or not knowing someone who would be willing to volunteer to do it for them. I got lucky in this aspect I guess because when I started out, I spent only P489 on my first self-published book, and my friends volunteered their time and services to turn it into a fun little project. (I've since given them money.) 

So yeah - if you don't have the money, it doesn't have to hold you back. You can produce a professional-quality book if you have the right people working with you, even just as volunteers, if they believe in your book enough. (And know that the can be adequately compensated later.) In this case, the question I ask is: why don't you know people who are awesome enough to work with you on this? Why are you in a position where you are probably the most artistic and creative person you know? Get out there and interact with other writers and artists! What have you done lately to help a friend's passion project come to life? Because as with all collaborations, you're supposed to be able to give as well as you take. Maybe the way to eventually meet the people who will work with you is to contribute your skill to help someone else.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Only A Kiss by Ines Bautista-Yao: Excerpt and Giveaway [Blog tour]

I'm so happy for Ines!!!

First, a bit of background: Ines Bautista-Yao was my editor at Summit Books. I consider her my chick lit mentor and partner in crime. If you liked any of my books from Summit at all, know that she was in part responsible for the good stuff. Only A Kiss is the first book she independently published, and I'm glad it's out in the world now! Here's an excerpt:
When Katie entered the living room in her midnight blue gown that showed off her shoulders and clung to all the right places, places he had never noticed before, his breath caught in his throat. Her hair was all wavy and loose down her back but it looked like she had done something to it because it looked shinier. And she was radiant. Her eyes were sparkling, her lips were glossy—it could have just been the illusion brought on by makeup, but still, he felt as if he were standing next to someone else. Someone he had asked to the ball, not because she was his best friend, but because there was something about her that he wanted to get to the bottom of—because there was something about her that was slowly reeling him in. And at that moment, he realized he wasn’t just anticipating the hype, he was already living it.

Title: Only A Kiss
Author: Ines Bautista-Yao
Publisher: Chamber Shell Publishing
Date of Publication: November 29, 2014
Genre: contemporary romance


When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother), it was because she could make him do anything she wanted.

Besides, it didn't really mean anything. It was only a kiss after all.

But then things started to change. They grew up. They parted ways and went to different high schools. And other girls and boys—well, just one particular boy—came into the picture, throwing their lives upside down.

Told from the alternating points of view of Katie and Chris, this love story between two best friends will tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking how the simplest things can mean so much.

Purchase linksAmazon | ($0.99 until February 14!)

Paperback copies are now available in Fully Booked and soon in National Bookstore.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy SummerWhat’s in your Heart, andOnly a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival.

She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher.  She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head:

She posts on Instagram and tweets @inesbyao and her author page

Monday, January 19, 2015

Things you can join, do, and buy

Hello! You might have read the article about my work in the Philippine Daily Inquirer today.

If you're a writer in Metro Manila/Philippines and want to participate in the workshops, here are some signup forms:

Ebook formatting and publishing, Jan 31:
Print book formatting and affordable printing, Feb 28:

These workshops are for authors who've already written their books and are ready to publish. If you're still thinking about writing a book, go here:

#romanceclass textbook and schedule: (PDF of lectures given to my chick lit/contemporary romance writing class)
#steamyreads tool kit and schedule: (PDF of lectures given to my steamy romance writing class)

If you're a reader and you want to try my books (YAY!) go here:

My Chic Manila series features Filipino characters and Philippine settings.
My Spotlight series is new adult romance set in the US.
Some of my books are on Wattpad. Free to read!

If you've read my books and didn't realize that more Pinoy authors are writing English-language romance now, go here:

I send out a monthly newsletter with announcements and freebies. There's a signup form here on the right side of the blog.

I will be speaking at the Creative Entrepeneur Summit organized by Writer's Block Philippines on January 31.

Thank you!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The plan for 2015

Create things.
Help people who want to create things.
Get people excited about creations.
Work with people living in the present and future (not the past).

Let's do this!