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!