Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Talking Prom Di Heart

When Ines Bautista-Yao and I first thought of writing an anthology set outside Metro Manila, we were excited. We're both probinsyanas at heart, and it wasn't long before we gathered other authors who, like us, were more than willing to write a short story set in the province.

My short story "Drummer Boy" is set in Aklan, which I consider my second home. My parents are both from Aklan, and my sisters and I spent every summer (and the occasional holiday) there when we were younger. After working in advertising, I decided that I had enough of the city for a while and moved there. It’s the perfect place to recharge: it’s fairly quiet, there are beaches and rice fields everywhere, and by six-thirty, the streets would already empty. That is, if you go there on any other week except during Ati-Atihan.

I have only missed one Ati-Atihan celebration ever since I graduated from college because it's really one of my favorite times of the year Friends come over for a week of religious devotion and dancing and drinking, although not necessarily in order. We always have such a blast that the unofficial group motto seems to be, “What happens at Ati-Atihan, stays at Ati-Atihan.”

If my enthusiasm for my province is quite evident, then think of five more stories written in that same spirit. Ines and I encouraged the other writers to write from a local's perspective, and I thought we had a great mix of characters: one had a chip on her shoulder about imperial Manila, another felt that she needed to change once she left her province, still another couldn't help but show her love through the letters she wrote to a friend.

But while we have a soft spot for 'promdis', we also have to acknowledge that 'promdi' is a stereotype. It may have come from the fairly innocuous phrase 'from the province,' but in everyday conversation, the term takes on a sometimes-mocking, sometimes-self-deprecating tone, depending on the speaker. Someone talking with a hard, unforgiving accent? Promdi. Someone looking incredibly lost inside the newest high-end mall? Promdi. Someone who can't figure out the latest gadget or dresses unfashionably or remains incredibly naive?

You got it.

We believe that stereotypes shouldn't define the promdi so we wanted to embrace being promdi through this anthology. But don't get us wrong. This really isn't about how the countryside is better than the city. It's not about shaming Belle over wanting more than her provincial life. It's really just about showing that there are just as many unique scenarios set in the provinces as you can imagine, told through romances that we hope will be as familiar to you as they are different.

Writing about this is very important to me, personally. My first novella, Cover (Story) Girl, is set in Boracay, but from the perspective of a local guy who commutes daily to the island. My short story collection, Wired Differently, contains a few stories with the same promdi roots, including a speculative fiction story set entirely in Aklan. I've always felt the need to tell these kinds of stories, not because I'm anti-Manila, but because these are the stories that resonate with me. I want to keep on writing more of these, and to keep on reading more of these in local fiction.

But anyway! Here they are: six sweet probinsyano stories just for you. I hope they take you to where you need to go :)

Friday, February 03, 2017

#romanceclass in February

It's not surprising that February is a busy month for romance writers. What's unusual for me is that #romanceclass seems to be fully booked for the entire month! There are so many interesting events and activities for Filipino romance readers and writers, so I need to post them here so I don't forget myself:

On Feb 11, #romanceclass will be at Ayala Museum in Makati with live readings, a blind book date, a How to Write a Romance Novel lecture, and (of course) books and merch for sale! There's a P225 entrance fee to the museum (P125 for students with valid ID), but aside from the romance, you can also soak up the culture and art in the place. How's that for a Valentines weekend bargain?

On Feb 18-19, National Book Store is holding the #NBSFeelsCafe, a two-day event at NBS Shangri-la Mall, featuring coffee, fora, live readings, and book signings from the Spark NA authors.

Also on Feb 19 is the first Philippine Romance Convention. It'll be held at Alabang Town Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Activity Center. I'm very excited about this because we rarely get romance events in southern Metro Manila, and this looks like a big one.

Finally, on Feb 24, from 2-5 p.m., historical romance author Jennifer Hallock will hold a lecture at Ayala Museum on writing and story development. She wrote Under the Sugar Sun and Hotel Oriente under the Sugar Sun series, a historical romance epic set in turn-of-the-century Philippines. There's a P680 fee for the lecture (P480 for students), so it's great to take advantage of this chance to meet and discuss romance with Ms Hallock.

I've always told people that this is an exciting time to be a Filipino romance reader and writer. With so many events lined up for this month, who knows what else we can expect for the rest of the year? I hope to see you in one of these events.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Book List

Just going to dump it all here. This list does NOT contain rereads:

1. The Mermaid's Sister (Carrie Anne Noble)
2. Ethics and Infinity (Emmanuel Levinas)
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Novelization (Alan Dean Foster)
4. Shadow and Bone (Leigh Bardugo)
5. My Reckless Valentine (Olivia Dade)
6. Tatooine Ghost (Troy Denning)
7. Proposal - The Mediator (Meg Cabot)
8. Remembrance - The Mediator (Meg Cabot)
9. The Bye-Bye Bouquet (Chi Yu Rodriguez)
10. Java Frost (Courtney Hunt)
11. Skating on Thin Ice (Jami Davenport)
12. The Opposite of Wild (Kylie Gilmore)
13. Sweet Reunion (Melanie Shawn)
14. True Pretenses (Rose Lerner)
15. Listen to the Moon (Rose Lerner)
16. In for a Penny (Rose Lerner)
17. Yours Until Dawn (Teresa Medeiros)
18. A New Dawn (John Jackson Miller)
19. Seducing Mr. Knightley (Maya Rodale)
20. The Danger in Tempting an Earl (Sophie Barnes)
21. The Bad Boy Billionaire's Wicked Arrangement (Maya Rodale)
22. The Bad Boy Billionaire's Girl Gone Wild (Maya Rodale)
23. The Rogue Not Taken (Sarah MacLean)
24. It Takes a Scandal (Caroline Linden)
25. Love and Other Scandals (Caroline Linden)
26. Finding Miss MacFarland (Vivienne Lorret)
27. How the Marquess was Won (Julie Anne Long)
28. The Elusive Lord Everheart (Vivienne Lorret)
29. I Married a Duke (Katharine Ashe)
30. I Loved a Rogue (Katharine Ashe)
31. All I Want for Christmas (collection)
32. How to Rescue a Rake (Jayne Fresina)
33. A Good Debutante's Guide to Ruin (Sophie Jordan)
34. Save the Last Dance for Me (Cora Lee)
35. How to Dance with a Duke (Manda Collins)
36. How to Romance a Rake (Manda Collins)
37. How to Entice an Earl (Manda Collins)
38. How to Catch a Wild Viscount (Tessa Dare)
39. Diary of an Accidental Wildflower (Jennifer McQuiston)
40. What Happens in Scotland (Jennifer McQuiston)
41. Her Highland Fling (Jennifer McQuiston)
42. The Dress of the Season (Kate Noble)
43. Love Match (Lily Maxton)
44. The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe (Sabrina Darby)
45. I Kissed a Rogue (Shana Galen)
46. Married to a Perfect Stranger (Jane Ashford)
47. The Game and the Governess (Kate Noble)
48. The Proposition (Judith Ivory)
49. Follow My Lead (Kate Noble)
50. If I Fall (Kate Noble)
51. Let It Be Me (Kate Noble)
52. The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior (Jennifer McQuiston)
53. A Matter of Class (Mary Balogh)
54. Lady with a Black Umbrella (Mary Balogh)
55. Slightly Married (Mary Balogh)
56. Slightly Wicked (Mary Balogh)
57. Full Steam Ahead (Kate Witemeyer)
58. To Win Her Heart (Kate Witemeyer)
59. Head in the Clouds (Kate Witemeyer)
60. A Tailor-Made Bride (Kate Witemeyer)
61. Short Straw Bride (Kate Witemeyer)
62. Stealing the Preacher (Kate Witemeyer)
63. With This Ring (Kate Witemeyer)
64. Fancy Pants (Cathy Marie Hake)
65. Serendipity (Cathy Marie Hake)
66. That Certain Spark (Cathy Marie Hake)
67. Bittersweet (Cathy Marie Hake)
68. Love on the Mend (Kate Witemeyer)
69. Meeting Her Match (Mary Connealy)
70. Slightly Sinful (Mary Balogh)
71. Slightly Scandalous (Mary Balogh)
72. Simply Love (Mary Balogh)
73. A Most Inconvenient Marriage (Regina Jennings)
74. Because of Miss Bridgerton (Julia Quinn)
75. Tempted by a Lady's Smile (Christi Caldwell)
76. Heir to the Duke (Jane Ashford)
77. Kiss Me Annabel (Eloisa James)
78. Happily Bedded Bliss (Tracy Anne Warren)
79. The Ugly Duchess (Eloisa James)
80. The Wrong Bride (Gayle Callen)
81. The Colonel's Lady (Laura Frantz)
82. The Forbidden Lady (Kerrelyn Sparks)
83. Less Than a Gentleman (Kerrelyn Sparks)
84. The Groom Wore Plaid (Gayle Callen)
85. Suddenly You (Lisa Kleypas)
86. Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire)
87. I Adored a Lord (Katherine Ashe)
88. Beyond All Dreams (Elizabeth Camden)
89. With Every Breath (Elizabeth Camden)
90. The Lady Most Likely (Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway)
91. The Earl Next Door (Charis Michaels)
92. The Lady of Bolton Hill (Elizabeth Camden)
93. The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (Julia Quinn)
94. To Wed a Wicked Earl (Olivia Parker)
95. Guarding a Notorious Lady (Olivia Parker)
96. Devil in Winter (Lisa Kleypas)
97. Uprooted (Naomi Novak)
98. Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell)
99. Rebel of the Sands (Alwyn Hamilton)
100. Bama Boy (Sheri Cobb South)
101. It's a Match (Ana Tejano)
102. The Scandalous Miss Sophie Valentine (Jayne Fresina)
103. Quiet Neighbors (Catriona McPherson)
104. The Autumn Bride (Anne Gracie)
105. The Runaway Duke (Julie Ann Long)
106. A Bride in the Bargain (Deanne Gist)
107. P.S. I Like You (Kasie West)
108. Heroes are My Weakness (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)
109. The Secret History (Donna Tartt)
110. The Weaver Takes a Wife (Sheri Cobb South)
111. Brighton Honeymoon (Sheri Cobb South)
112. Miss Darby's Duenna (Sheri Cobb South)
113. The Heiress of Winterwood (Sarah E. Ladd)
114. Clean Sweep (Ilona Andrews)
115. Sweep in Peace (Ilona Andrews)
116. The Reluctant Widow (Georgette Heyer)
117. Miss Wonderful (Loretta Chase)
118. Keep the Faith (Ana Tejano)
119. Nice Dragons Finish Last (Rachel Aaron)
119. One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Rachel Aaron)
120. No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished (Rachel Aaron)
121. Spotless (Camilla Monk)
122. Beating Ruby (Camilla Monk)
123. To Kiss a Thief (Susanna Craig)
124. The Best Man (Kristan Higgins)
125. The Perfect Match (Kristan Higgins)
126. Goddess of the Hunt (Tessa Dare)
127. Surrender of a Siren (Tessa Dare)
128. The Talisman Ring (Georgette Heyer)
129. Friday's Child (Georgette Heyer)
130. False Colours (Georgette Heyer)
131. The Nonesuch (Georgette Heyer)
132. The Tollgate (Georgette Heyer)
133. The Corinthian (Georgette Heyer)
134. The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer)
135. A Madness in Spring (Kate Noble)
136. A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Cecilia Grant)
137. The Devil's Delilah (Loretta Chase)
138. Mr Impossible (Loretta Chase)
139. The Season (Sarah MacLean)
140. The Virgin and the Viscount (Charis Michaels)
141. Revealed (Kate Noble)
142. The Summer of You (Kate Noble)
143. Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night (Kate Noble)
144. Kiss Me, Kill Me (Lauren Henderson)
145. Get in Trouble (Kelly Link)
146. The Public Has the Right to Know (Bienvenido A Tan)
147. The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel (Jennifer McQuiston)
148. Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Tessa Dare)
149. Tarnished Knight (Bec McMaster)
150. The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace (Bec McMaster)
151. Kiss of Steel (Bec McMaster)
152. Heart of Iron (Bec McMaster)
153. Prep and Prejudice (Miren B. Flores)
154. Another Word for Happy (Agay Llanera)
155. If the Dress Fits (Carla de Guzman)
156. Settle the Score/Hustle Play (Tara Frejas)
157. Desperately Seeking Suzanna (Elizabeth Michels)
158. This Modern Love (Will Darbyshire)
159. Shuffle, Repeat (Jen Klein)
160. A Summer for Scandal (Lydia San Andres)
161. Slade House (David Mitchell)
162. Dare to Love (CP Santi)
163. Coma Girl (Stephanie Bond)
164. The Crystal Whisperer (Camilla Monk)
165. The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Fredreich Engels)
166. The Analects of Confucius (Confucius)
167. The Nakano Thrift Store (Hiromi Kawakama)
168. Njal's Saga
169. The Mountain of Kept Memory (Rachel Neumeier)
170. A Scot in the Dark (Sarah Maclean)
171. After Lambana (Eliza Victoria and Merv Malonzo)
172. Changing His Game (Megan Erickson)
173. How to Lose a Lord in Ten Days or Less (Elizabeth Michels)
174. Mai Tai'd Up (Alice Clayton)
175. Screwdrivered (Alice Clayton)

• I read a lot of romances (unsurprising) and of those, a lot of historical romances. I'd like to think this was my year of historical romances, when I really tried to consume as many books from my favorite romance authors (Georgette Heyer, .

• Discovered instant favorites, like Kate Noble (with every book, she teaches me how to write a line that goes beyond how I would write it), Rose Lerner (such well-rounded characters in 'trope' situations, with very human, relatable struggles and fears), and the cheeky, cheeky Camilla Monk.

• Enjoyed the growing #romanceclass titles -- why can't there be more hours in a day to help me read everything?

• I went through an inspirational romance phase, a steampunk phase, and an urban fantasy phase this year. I want more.

• I read more books by female authors.

• I bought a lot of books on sale. The Georgette Heyer e-books, for instance, were purchased during a sale. I'd give myself a ceiling price each time. It now hurts to be without a corporate (foundation) job.

• I also read a lot of fanfiction. I always read fanfiction.

• Work-related stress helped me tackle my reading list. I'd start a book before going to bed, then read it when I woke up, take it with me as I ate breakfast, showered, and got ready, read it on the bus, on the jeep, in between breaks, during lunch, while waiting in line, on the way home. Some books I finish during lunch, others right before I sleep -- it all depends on how good the story is. Then rinse and repeat. When I resigned from my job, my reading pace took a major hit!

• I don't think I can ever read 175 books in a year again. But I shall try!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

PinoyWriMos: JustWritePH For the Feels Excerpts (2/2)

The #JustWritePH workshop, which ran from July 1 to August 8, 2015, challenged participants to write a story and prepare it for publication in a little under 6 weeks. Tips and lessons were delivered online & in person, and now these stories are available in bundles on online e-book shop Buqo.

Title: For the Feels
Authors: Lee Miyaki (Kim Derla), Maria Criselda Santos, iamloid, and Kristine Cuevas

About the Bundle:
The feels come in all shapes and sizes, with a million different unique stories for every kind. Experience bitter feels, forbidden feels, pretend feels and young feels in this four-story bundle that’s sure to tug at your heartstrings. Features "13th Prayer" by Lee Miyaki, "Never the Princess" by Maria Criselda Santos, "My Ampalaya Story" by iamloid, and "A Bump in Athena's Life" by Kristine Cuevas.

Here's an excerpt from iamloid's My Ampalaya Story:

“Ang mga ahas nasa gubat bakit nandito ka? Fieldtrip niyo siguro?” Panimula ko habang tinitignan ko siya mula paa hanggang ulo. Nagulat siya sa sinabi ko at dali-daling nagpunta si Paul upang maging kasangga niya. Nice!

“Hmp! Condolence nga pala para sa EX-Boyfriend mong patay na patay sa akin.” Sabay smirk niya with matching palupot pa ng kamay niya kay Paul!

“Malandi!” Sigaw ko at napatingin siya sa akin, akala niya siguro nagalit ako. Pero…

“Oh, sumigaw lang ako ng malandi, napatingin ka na sa akin? Bakit, malandi ka ba?” Ha! Ano ka ngayon? Nga-nga!

“Oh, baka mag-away na kayo. Tapusin niyo na ang debate.” Sabi ni Sir Values. Okay for the final wave (Plants vs. Zombies lang!?)

“Ito na lamang po ang message ko. Love is dangerous, kaya always take care.” Sabi ko habang palapit kay Zinnia upang kamayan siya. Spell plastic? E-R-I-C-K-A.

“Thanks for being a nice opponent.” Sabi ko habang nagsi-shake hands kami. Niyakap ko siya at bumulong.

“Kung saan ka man nakakuha ng Bachelor’s Degree sa kalandian at pagiging mang-aagaw, i-enroll mo naman ako.”

Enjoy another another excerpt, this time from Kristine Cuevas' A Bump in Athena’s Life:

I’m fidgeting at the hem of my shirt as we get closer and closer to my apartment. I don’t like being judged. If I spot one hint of pity or any kind of judgment on Callum’s voice, I’ll quit that assisting job.

He stops the engine. There are no words. It is quiet that I feel claustrophobic all of a sudden.

“We’re here,” he says afterwards. I hear a click. Through my peripheral vision, I see him unbuckle his seat belt and he turns to face me. “So this is where you live.” It’s a statement and not a question. I’m about to snap at him when: “Can I stay for a while?”

My head cricks so loud I almost break my neck when I turn to look at him. “You want to stay for a while?” I ask incredulously. “Can’t you see? That building is not as posh as the place you probably live in. There might be insects lurking on every corner of the room. I’m sure you don’t want any insects—”

“I don’t mind,” he cuts me off.

I’m in a daze then.


And all I can do is nod at him.

The walk to my unit is slower than I use to. I’m thinking of something to say. Something that will make him go away maybe? It’s not like I don’t want him to be there but what if Jeremy’s already there? Sometimes Jeremy is so feel at home that he likes taking off everything he is wearing. Except for his boxers. Gross, I know. But he is my best friend and we’ve known each other since elementary days. There’s not any part of him I haven’t seen yet. Yes, I’ve seen everything of him because he is too liberal he likes to flaunt all of him. Gross again, I know.

I stop and spin around to face him. “You’re tired. You should take a rest,” I say.

He shakes his head. “I know when I’m tired. Are you trying to shoo me away?”

“Yes, I am,” I admit. There’s no way to deny the truth anyway.

He narrows his eyes at me. “Is there something you’re hiding in your apartment?”

I roll my eyes. “I hid a dead body under my old, dusty couch. I also used his blood as an air freshener. I bet you’re scared now.”

“I don’t mind any of those.” He shoves me slightly to the side and walks past me.

“But you’re Callum Young!” I yelp in alarm.

The sudden turn and surprised look on his face makes me regret what I said.

“I know I’m Callum Young but, can’t I just be a normal Callum Young tonight? When I get home, my mom will ask about the practice. How did it go, blah, blah, blah. Then my dad will ask when I will go back to school to take law. In short, when I’m home, I can’t be the normal Callum Young I want myself to be. I love acting, yes, and I’m thankful I got a big name at such a young age. But to have a normal life even just for a night will be something for me,” he exclaims.

There are four stories in this bundle, which you can purchase here. Or you can join the Rafflecopter promo below to win a FREE copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PinoyWriMos: JustWritePH For the Feels Excerpts (1/2)

The #JustWritePH workshop, which ran from July 1 to August 8, 2015, challenged participants to write a story and prepare it for publication in a little under 6 weeks. Tips and lessons were delivered online & in person, and now these stories are available in bundles on online e-book shop Buqo.

Title: For the Feels
Authors: Lee Miyaki (Kim Derla), Maria Criselda Santos, iamloid, and Kristine Cuevas

About the Bundle:
The feels come in all shapes and sizes, with a million different unique stories for every kind. Experience bitter feels, forbidden feels, pretend feels and young feels in this four-story bundle that’s sure to tug at your heartstrings. Features "13th Prayer" by Lee Miyaki, "Never the Princess" by Maria Criselda Santos, "My Ampalaya Story" by iamloid, and "A Bump in Athena's Life" by Kristine Cuevas.

Here's an excerpt from Lee Miyaki's 13th Prayer:

Hindi ako paladasal. Hindi rin ako palasimba. Hindi rin ako mabait. Sa katunayan nga, binyag, Pasko, at tuwing may okasyon lang ako nakakapasok ng simbahan. Wala eh, hindi naman kasi ako relihiyoso tulad ng iba. Normal lang akong tao.

Eiffel ang tawag nila sa akin kahit pa Irish Faith Lim ang tunay kong pangalan. Relihiyoso ang nanay at tatay ko. Sa katunayan, pareho silang officers sa aming parokya. Samantalang akong nag-iisang anak nila, hindi ganoon karelihiyosa. Sa palagay ko, tama nang magsimba ako isang beses sa isang linggo. Minsan, pilit na pilit pa ako noon. Eh kasi, hindi naman ako katulad nila Nanay at Tatay. Hindi ako mabait.

Lagi akong nagtatago kapag niyayaya nila akong magsimba. Lagi akong nakipaghahabulan kina nanay bago ako sumama sa kanila. Kulang na nga lang ay itali nila ako para maisama nila ako sa simbahan. Sobrang pilit talaga ang pagsisimba ko.

Noong nag-college ako, mas madalang na akong sumama kina Nanay sa simbahan. Minsan, hindi na rin ako nakapagsisimba. Syempre, nagagalit si Nanay. Hindi raw ako marunong mag-manage ng oras ko. Eh bakit naman raw sila, maraming ginagawa, pero nakakapunta pa rin ng simbahan.

Naging matabang ang pakikitungo sa akin ni Nanay. Si Tatay naman, ayos lang. Pero, inaalala ko si Nanay. Ayokong magtampo siya sa akin habambuhay. Kaya naman, pagkatapos kong makauwi galing sa university para sa NSTP, dumiretso ako ng simbahan. Napilitan lang ako dahil ayoko talagang pumupunta nang madalas doon dahil may pumupunta naman nang taga-simbahan sa amin.

Aba, ilang araw na nga ba akong hindi nakapunta rito? Mukhang maraming nagbago. Ibang-iba na nga ang lahat. Pati mukha ng tao, ibang-iba na rin. Halos kaunti na lang ang kakilala ko.

“Miss, excuse me. Kilala mo ba si Father Alex?” Isang binata ang nagtanong sa akin. Nakasuot siya ng puting t-shirt at jeans. Maayos ang kanyang buhok. Maputi siya at pansin kong medyo mapula ang labi niya para sa isang lalaki.

“Hanapin mo,” matabang kong sagot sa kanya. Bukod sa hindi ko siya kilala, hindi rin ako pinalaking nakikipag-usap sa mga lalaki. Medyo boyish kasi ako. Basta, hindi ko ginustong makipag-usap sa kanila.

Here's another excerpt, this time from Maria Criselda R. Santos' Never the Princess:

It was another supposedly another sleepy afternoon in Physics class at San Mateo School for Science and the Arts (SMSAS) had Mr. Royce Cornejo not interrupted Ms. Tejera’s monotonous explanation of speed and acceleration. The English teacher and IV-Mahogany’s adviser cleared his throat and apologized for knocking, while Ms. Tejera abruptly stopped speaking and stepped aside to give room for him.

A slip of paper in hand, the tall and lanky adviser addressed his students and dropped the bomb half of the class had been waiting for:

The JS prom is three weeks away.

Exaggerated groans came mostly from the boys while sighs and protests came from the girls.

“Let’s have a Taylor Swift theme!” cried one girl, the class treasurer.

“Yuck!” cried another.

“Are we really going to wear tux, Sir?” asked another boy. The anxiety is his voice was too obvious not to be noticed.

Mr. Cornejo looked at Ms. Tejera helplessly, but the latter just shrugged at him.

The class has never been this excited. Sure, they jumped for joy when classes were suspended. They also got a little hyper when the seniors won in the cheerleading competition, besting out even the participants from the college department. But for IV-Mahogany, no subject or extracurricular activity is as worth waiting for as the JS prom.

“I can now wear the heels my Mom bought for me!” squealed Trish, who is seated beside a grim-looking bespectacled girl with curly hair. For Meryll, the prom is nothing to be excited about.

“I’d rather stay home and read.”

Trish looked aghast. “Don’t be such a spoilsport, Meryll. Come on, it’ll be fun!”

Meryll just sighed and concentrated on the Physics book on her desk. In her peripheral vision, she could see Justin de Mesa, basketball maverick and campus cutie, giving his seatmate a high five.

Like what you've read so far? You can purchase JustWritePH's For the Feels bundle here or you can join the Rafflecopter promo below to win a FREE copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PinoyWriMos: JustWritePH For the Feels Blog Tour + Giveaway

The #JustWritePH workshop, which ran from July 1 to August 8, 2015, challenged participants to write a story and prepare it for publication in a little under 6 weeks. Tips and lessons were delivered online & in person, and now these stories are available in bundles on online e-book shop Buqo.

Title: For the Feels
Authors: Lee Miyaki (Kim Derla), Maria Criselda Santos, iamloid, and Kristine Cuevas

About the Bundle:
The feels come in all shapes and sizes, with a million different unique stories for every kind. Experience bitter feels, forbidden feels, pretend feels and young feels in this four-story bundle that’s sure to tug at your heartstrings. Features "13th Prayer" by Lee Miyaki, "Never the Princess" by Maria Criselda Santos, "My Ampalaya Story" by iamloid, and "A Bump in Athena's Life" by Kristine Cuevas.

You can purchase JustWritePH's For the Feels bundle here.

13th Prayer by Lee Miyaki (Kim Derla)

Paano nga ba magmahal nang bawal? Hindi kasi alam ni Eiffel kung paano. Sadyang malakas lang talaga mang-trip ang pagkakataon nang ipinakilala sa kanya ang seminaristang si Jem. Isa, dalawa, tatlo... Simula nang magsulat si Eiffel ng labintatlong dasal, tila nagbago na ang kanyang mundo.

Connect with and follow this author via these channels:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lee.miyaki
Twitter: https://twitter.com/imtheweirdapple
Blog: https://itsleemiyaki.wordpress.com/
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/Lee__Miyaki
Instagram: http://instagram.com/theweirdapple

Never the Princess by Maria Criselda Santos

When their adviser announced that the JS prom is fast approaching, the class of IV-Mahogany was in high spirits, except for Meryll Yuson, a 16-year-old bespectacled bookworm, who wishes to dance with the school's badminton star at the prom. Too bad it seems he already has someone in mind -- Little Miss Perfect, who has been gifted with beauty and smarts. Fortunately for Meryll, she has her own mom to play fairy godmother to her, and her friend Trish who gives her all-out support. Will Meryll get the dance she so wants, or will she end up as a wallflower? Will she even attend prom after the news that she learns?

Connect with and follow this author via these channels:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maria-Criselda-R-Santos/1646500162272617
Twitter: https://twitter.com/crissemari
Blog: https://xoxocriseldalovestowrite.wordpress.com/
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/crissemari

My Ampalaya Story by iamloid

Paalala ang kuwentong ito ay ‘di angkop sa mga mambabasang naniniwala sa forever at sa happy ending. Halina’t pasukin ang mundo ng ka-bitter-an kung saan walang ka-sweet-an na masusumpungan. Ito ang My Ampalaya Story. One of the most ‘ampalaya’ work published in an online writing and reading site.

Connect with and follow this author via these channels:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoidOnWattpad
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamLoid
Blog: http://christianloid.webstarts.com
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/iamloid
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/iamloid

A Bump in Athena's Life by Kristine Cuevas

A rejection leads Athena to find a diversion on her plans for the summer. After finding out an assisting job at Star so Bright, particularly to be Callum Young’s assistant, she then becomes a pretend girlfriend, offered for whatever reason. And after all the hassle and bump she gets with Callum, there’s still that question that hangs in Athena’s head… How can an assisting job turns to a pretend girlfriend be of help in getting to Juilliard? It’s going to be a bumpy summer for Athena as she discovers that sometimes what you want is not what you always get but still have the best in the end.

Connect with and follow this author via these channels:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RealKristineC
Twitter: http://www.twitter/kristinecuevas_
Blog: http://thetipofherpen.blogspot.com/
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/_fearlessdreamer
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/ kristinecuevas_

Want to win a free copy of these four kilig stories? Join the Rafflecopter promo below:

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cities Blog Tour + Giveaway

As an SFF reader and writer, I was really excited about the premise of Cities. It reminded me a bit of Margaret Atwood's Happy Endings and Kasie West's Pivot Point series. The novella is brimming with possibilities, and I'd love to see more books like this in the market.

About the Book:
Celia has dreams.

She dreams of going to Seoul for a scholarship she never took, of leaving everything behind and moving to New York.

In all those dreams, she finds herself attached to Benedict, the boy she has always loved, but who doesn’t love her back.

Ben believes in parallel worlds.

Worlds where things you didn’t do come true—worlds in which he goes to London and falls in love with Celia, where he shows up on the day she needs him the most. He believes that dreams are glimpses into that parallel world, and it’s not a coincidence that Celia’s been having them too.

But here, now, they’re in Manila. It’s the day of Ben’s wedding, and a typhoon is raging through the city. How will these dreams and unmade decisions change their lives? Will they bring them closer together or drive them farther apart?

Cities is Carla de Guzman’s first original novella. The story is based on the theory of multiple universes, the idea that somewhere out there are worlds where the choices you make are different from the ones made here. Carla writes about the cities that have inspired her and changed the way she sees the world, in the hope that her readers will want to travel there too.

You can purchase the book through any of the following links:
• Smashwords

Excited yet? Get to know a little bit more about the author and the process that went into writing her novella.

Q: How long have you been writing? Can you share a little about how you got your start as a writer?
A: I've been writing since I was a kid, scribbling on scratch papers until my mom got me a scented diary. I started out writing about my own experiences (pouring milk over my
sister's head, having a pet die) and putting them in the context of my favourite cartoon and
anime characters. Then when we got dial-up, I discovered fanfiction. Oh what a world it
turned out to be. I like to say I really got into writing because of fanfiction (I'm still on Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own!). Reading all those adventures these characters
potentially had made me think of my own. Things kind of spiralled from there. :))

Q: What first sparked the idea for Cities?
A: To be honest, it was an article that I saw from Thought Catalog. It was an essay about someone who wasn't in love with someone else, but desperately wished that they were. The only comfort they could offer themselves was that somewhere else, s/he did love them
back. It was such a heartbreaking thought, and something I'm sure many people have experienced. Then all of the “what ifs” in my head started, and Cities was born.

Q: We see two notable fandoms in Cities, Star Wars and Dr. Who. Are these fandoms you
share with your characters?
A: Yes, definitely! More Doctor Who than Star Wars, really. I grew up watching the Star Wars Saga several times, and I remember it was Queen Amidala that struck me as a strong, steady character to admire, which carried over to Princess Leia in the older movies.

As for Doctor Who, my love is relatively new, and I've only seen the new series (that's 9th
Doctor onwards). But I was just so amazed by the stories! I could wax poetic on my favorite episodes, and how much I love Series 3 and 4. I consider 10 my Doctor and Donna Noble
and Martha Jones my favourite companions. I love the complexities of the characters and
how they react when faced with a new adventure. The show breaks my heart and makes
makes me happy, really. I couldn't write a book without mentioning it.

Q: Are Star Wars and Dr. Who where you got the idea for alternate timelines and
A: Doctor Who definitely helped me get a couple of the details right—the concept of dreams as glimpses definitely has shades of inspiration from Doctor Who. But the book isn't very into the fine details of the multiverses, it's just accepted.

Q: Do you have a personal favorite among the multiverses in this book?
A: Oooh. I would have to say that London is my favorite (which is mainly why we used it for the cover). I enjoyed writing about Ben still kind of stumbling his way through becoming a Londoner, and doing the same with his relationships with Vivian, Celia and Henry. Their story has several parallelisms with my own adventure there, so it's very close to my heart.

About the Author:

Carla de Guzman had horrible handwriting as a kid. That didn't stop her from writing, though. Riddled with sleep apnea and a vivid imagination, she started writing every midnight. She grew up with her toes in the sand and her bags packed and ready to go on adventures. These books are chronicles of her journeys, with a silly love story mixed in.

Contact Info:
• Blog: http://somemidnight.wordpress.com/
• Tumblr: http://www.somemidnights.tumblr.com/
• Archive of Our Own: http://archiveofourown.org/users/ckwhales/pseuds/ckwhales
• Instagram: @ckwhales

Want your own copy? Win an ebook of Cities (open to international entries) by joining the giveaway below:

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

I don't usually blog about my travels in detail but I received a bunch of questions about my recent trip to Universal Studios Japan's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that I decided to just write about it here.

Some quick details: My friends and I stayed at a small hotel along both Osaka's Chuo and Sennichimae lines, which was just a quick ride to Universal City. We headed to the JR Osaka Loop Line's Nishi-Kujo stop, and then crossed to the JR Yumesaki platform heading to Sakurajima. Universal City is two stops away from Nishi-Kujo and the entrance to USJ is a few hundred meters outside the station.

Prior to going there, we had already discussed being at USJ by 8:00 AM. Unfortunately, we were still at Nishi-Kujo station by that time, so we knew we were running a little later than schedule. It turned out that the few minutes weren't a problem. We decided to purchase our tickets at Hotel Kintetsu Universal City, which is the nearest hotel to USJ and was on the way from the station. The ticket counter opened at exactly 8:30, but since we were third in line, we got our tickets right away.

We already had our tickets by the time we passed this arch.

I don't know how early the main ticket booth opened, but by the time we got to there, there were already lines at the counter (but all moving quickly). But no, those were not the long queues you should be wary of. Everyone else was now queued up by the gates, waiting for them to open. There's a special line for guests who can enter earlier; just be sure to find the correct lines. We were there on a Thursday and though the website said that the park opened at 10:00 on that day, we were let in by around 9:15 (9:00 for the special pass holders).

Once the gates opened, there was a mad dash to the Harry Potter area, located near the lakeside (turn right after Main Street or just follow the crowd). From reading a few early blog entries AND USJ's official site, we all knew that there were timed tickets to the Wizarding World attraction. So when everyone started running, we ran for it as well. My friends and I got separated at this point and I belatedly realized that we had not discussed where to meet once this happened. I just kept running to the area and looking for a kiosk or ticket machine with a long line.

There was none I could see.

At this point, I had stopped to catch my breath and was now just walking along Forbidden Forest. I was still in a hurry wondering: (1) where my friends were, and (2) where the ticket machine was.

Past the Whomping Willow, still no queue.

Already inside Hogsmeade, still no queue. (Also, you don't think I took these photos while I was running, right?)

More alarmingly, still no sign of my friends. People were running deeper into Hogsmeade and towards Hogwarts Castle, so I decided to ask one of the attendants around.
Me: (in English) Is there a ticket for this area? (Because hey, everyone said there was!)
Attendant: (looking surprised by the question) No, no ticket. (Maybe she was thinking, What the hell are you doing here if you don't have a ticket?)
Me: (thinking, hmmm maybe she didn't understand me. Time to bring out my laughable Japanese) Uh... koko... kippu... arimasu ka?
Attendant: (in English) This area, no tickets.

Twilight Zone. Okay, no tickets. I'm not going to question the fates. I was already in, right? (But why were people still running?)

Just follow the signs!

I thanked her and jogged to the castle anyway, since I saw people heading there. That's when I foundnd the longest queue I've seen so far. And finally, my friends were there! We lined up and soon realized that the queue was for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and a trip through Hogwarts Castle. I didn't want to go on the ride, so I went through the separate entrance for those who just want to go on the Castle Walk. You get to walk through the same thing that the ride-goers go through before the Forbidden Journey starts, but since there are less of us in our lane, we weren't rushed by the attendants.

Once we were through with the Castle Walk, we decided to explore the rest of Hogsmeade. From butterbeer to robes to owl posts to wand selection, there was a surprise waiting at every corner.

We did not expect the long line at Honeydukes so we decided on lunch at Three Broomsticks first. The meal is more expensive than usual, but I thought the serving size was just right and the interiors made it feel like you were really there.

Details are everything!

Finally, when we got to Honeydukes, we made a beeline for the chocolate frogs and peppermint toads...

only to find out that there are small kiosks outside that sell the more popular items like the frogs and the every-flavored beans.

But then again, who would pass up the chance to enter Honeydukes, right?

So the timed entry tickets? Not yet applicable for early park-goers, it seems. I think it depends on how many people are in the attraction before any sort of timed entry applies. If you're there when the main gates open, I suspect that you could still enter the Wizarding World without running from the main gate. But please note that we were there on a Thursday in the fall, which could have been part of the off-peak season. I don't know how applicable these tips are if you're heading there around the holidays. The golden rule is still the earlier, the better, which is also a good way to avoid the crowds. The timed entry tickets seem to take effect later on, maybe when the attraction is at full capacity or maybe an hour or so in the day. In any case, when we left, we already saw that the area had been closed off and attendants would look for the guests' timed entry tickets before allowing them into the Harry Potter world.

If you plan on going to USJ, make this attraction your first stop. The place is beautiful. Not everyone gets the chance to walk through the pages of a beloved story and this experience just made Harry Potter come alive for me. I didn't regret a single minute.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Kitchen When It Sizzles Blog Tour + Giveaway

Title: The Kitchen When It Sizzles
Author: Chrissie Peria
Date of Publication: August 16, 2014

About the Book:
Olivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who's filling in for Olivia's cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can't help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?

You can purchase the book through any of the following links:
The Book Depsitory

Today, we've asked Chrissie herself to talk more about her latest novella. Little did we know that after she released her indie novella All's Fair in Blog and War last year, she would take on a steamier piece!

What prompted you to write a more mature story?
The Kitchen When It Sizzles started as a short story for Mina Esguerra's #steamyreads writing class. It was outside of my comfort zone, but it sounded like a fun challenge to take on, so I signed up. Then the 5,000 word short story exploded and the next thing I knew, I had a full novella. I find it funny that the short story ended up longer than my first book which was intentionally written as a novella. I lay the blame on Nate and his food.

Do you have pegs for your characters?
Yes! Olivia is a compendium of a lot of the AEs I've worked with during the advertising days. Miss Julia is a bit of Julia Child and a lot of Nora Daza (a woman who mesmerized my generation with her cooking show). And Nate---Nate is Adam Levine in chef's whites. Or rather, out of them. I am a fangirl, hear me roar.

How different was your writing process for The Kitchen When It Sizzles compared to writing your first novella?
The main difference between writing The Kitchen When It Sizzles and All's Fair in Blog and War was not having a deadline, other than my self-imposed ones. I allowed myself a little more leeway with editing Kitchen Sizzles. I had time to do more rewrites. And coming from my first novella, I learned to be less attached and more ruthless when it came to revising, trashing whole chapters without batting an eyelash. Whole characters, even. But I'm happy with how it turned out.

What should readers expect from your third book?
I have a couple of projects simmering in the backburner, so I'm not quite sure what will come out next. I'm heavily leaning towards another sweet contemporary romance, but a YA project and a steamy story are struggling to convince me otherwise. They all have romance angles though, so the one thing sure in the third book will be a whole lot of kilig. I hope everyone looks forward to it!

About the Author:
When not obsessing over fictional people doing fictional things, Chrissie obsesses about food: the eating, the cooking, and the procuring of it.

An advertising copywriter in her past life, she now spends most of her time writing, taking photos, cooking, and babysitting a tiny human and a curly-haired dog. She still plays with dolls and she thinks that bacon is the answer. Her first book, All's Fair in Blog and War, is a finalist in the 2014 Filipino Readers' Choice Awards.

Contact Info:
• Blog: http://www.chrissieperia.com
• Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peria.chrissie
• Twitter: http://twitter.com/chrissieperia
• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/chrissieperia

Now show her some love by joining in this awesome giveaway! You can get a chance to win the following prizes, which I bet are all Nate-approved.

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