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Writing Now

Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 – My Books Are Nominated!

Hey hey my books are nominated for the Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 (FRCA). FRCA is back after seven years and it’s super cool to have my books and more RomanceClass titles among the nominees.

Here are my nominated books! You can vote here until September 23, 11:59PM Manila time.

Romance in English

More about the books and where to read them in the links.

Fiction Anthology

  • 47 – Summer Crush by Jay E. Tria, Six de los Reyes and Tara Frejas (2017)
  • 103 – Tropetastic Kindness Bundle by Ana Tejano, Angel C. Aquino, Angeli E. Dumatol, Ines Bautista-Yao, Mina V. Esguerra, Bianca Mori, Carla de Guzman, Dawn Lanuza, C. P. Santi, Suzette de Borja, Jay E. Tria, Katt Briones, Georgette S. Gonzales, Celestine Trinidad, Chris Mariano, (Mina V. Esguerra, 2021)
    • You can read my story on Wattpad.

You can find the full list of nominees here. Go go vote for your faves and support Filipino authors!

Reminder that voting is only until September 23, 11:59PM Manila time 🙂

Music Dance and Lyrics Tourism Writing Now

Started Pre-Pandemic and Now New Book: Love To Meet You

Hellooo first post of 2022 and first post in a while (wew). Definitely long overdue. Just like this book!

I first started writing Love To Meet You in 2019, finished the first draft quickly by October 2019, and then surprise, a pandemic. It’s been struggs city ever since, and really really slow going, but I’m surrounded by people who love to create and who choose to create despite unprecedented dark, trying times. I’m grateful for the continued push of accountability buddies (always RomanceClass!), and now we have this book.

 

Expectations vs. Reality

At 33, career woman Sol Trinidad wasn’t really looking for anything other than a fun evening when she attended the fan meet of hot Korean celebrity Nam Jihun. She certainly wasn’t expecting to get up close and personal with the actor—like rolling-in-the-sheets-until-dawn personal. It was just one night after all. She will never see him again and he’ll forget about her soon enough. Right?

Manila was supposed to be just one of the many cities in 30-year old Nam Jihun’s work itinerary. Just like in any other city, he was excited to greet his fans. Then he met Sol, someone who had a knack for throwing all his expectations out the window. Romance wasn’t in his schedule, but he wants to keep seeing her again, if only she and his celebrity trappings would let him.

 

This book is fan-meet meet cute, noona romance where noona is a Filipina chocolate sales executive and the younger man is a hot, fast-rising Korean celebrity. There’s travel and city-hopping landian across Metro Manila, Seoul, and Sydney.

I daresay you will like this book if you like Korean dramas, competence porn (women who excel!), travel, oh, and a bit of heat. This book is level 3 according to RomanceClass Heat Levels.

Cover design by Tania Arpa with background art by Miles Tan. Cover photography by Alexandra Urrea featuring Mela Serranilla and Dae Lee. Thanks to Mina V Esguerra for the cover models. Book layout by Carla De Guzman.

Edited by Layla Tanjutco, with beta reading by KB Meniado and Katt Briones.

Love To Meet You ebook is available in the following e-retailers: Amazon | Google Play | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Kobo| Tolino | Vivlio | Scribd

In print soon!

Consider adding the book in your Goodreads list! Love to Meet You

May I suggest a walking tour of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, South Korea, and a relevant HONNE song before you go 🙂

 

 

 

Writing Now

RomanceClass Podcast Episode: Our Kpop/Kdrama Influences

Episode 4 of the RomanceClass Podcast got us talking about K-ent influences in our books and it was just one of those conversations that could go for days. So much fun and just so much to talk about. Super thrilled to have been part of this panel.

If you missed it, it’s up on RomanceClass YouTube and will be in your favorite podcast places soon.

Sharing my notes and some additional thoughts that came after (because 2 hours to talk about Kdramas and Kpop, clearly not enough):

Kdrama

  • Origin story. My first K-ent consumption was the movie My Sassy Girl, got into the angsty Kdramas (Spring Waltz, Endless Love, Winter Sonata), finally landing on early romcom faves (Full House, My Girl).
  • Influence in writing. Competent leads, soft boys, found family! Kdramas are really great at writing squads and squad dynamics, which I enjoy writing as well. Also small moments that, as author Chris Mariano said in the chat, made the grand gestures feel deserved.
  • “Fixing” things seen in Kdrama in your writing. No wrist grabs, no toxic alpha leads, no love corners. Definitely no truck of doom and no inexplicable plot devices, i.e. sudden death/illness/horrific past reveal/horrific turn of events.
  • Favorite actors/actresses influencing characters you’ve written so far? Wrote books pegged on Park Seojun x Park Minyoung, Lee Minho x Kim Goeun (books coming up!), and Jo Jungseok x Jeon Mido (You Belong With Me from the Tropetastic Kindness Bundle).
  • Recommend a KDrama. Let me drop a few faves: Hospital Playlist, The King: Eternal Monarch, Healer. We’re watching Vincenzo now and so far it’s amazing! *lighter emoji*

 

Kpop

  • Origin story. Sister 1 was a fan of Super Junior, Sorry Sorry era and needed a concert buddy which is automatically me. I came in not knowing anyone, experienced ‘why are there so many cute boys’ panic, and came out a stan.
    • Sister 2 was a fan of SHINee and made me watch the Ring Ding Dong MV. I remember asking wtf is ‘rocka rocka fantastic fantastic elastic elastic’ until I saw Taemin drinking milk and my heart went ‘mom, I love him.’ I also loved Onew’s voice (thought he was the maknae) so it was OnTae from the start for me. Kind of slipped away 2013 thereabouts and came back late 2017 which is a painful time to come back 🙁 but am glad to be here.
  • Influence in writing. One of the hooks of idols for me is how they seem to bare their souls to their fans, and it’s refreshing specially coming from mainstream alpha males with communication issues and mangst. Kpop idols openly tell you their dreams, their struggles, how they approach sadness and happiness, and it informs how I write my fictional boys, at the very least how they process and communicate their emotions.
  • Will you ever be too old to be influenced by KPop? Never. I need them even more these days.
    • Case in point: SHINee’s comeback in the midst of this pandemic is a much needed space for joy and grief, literally keeping me sane and alive.
    • Fun observation: Watching Taemin in Nagoya, I met some lovely J Shawols who were in their 40s thereabouts, and they were asking me how many more stops in the tour I was attending. Made me think how wonderful it is to grow old with your idols, and how growing old with them means you have less fucks to give and more money to spend on concerts and merch.

 

Hope you’re enjoying our panels as much as we are! Catch up on YouTube, Spotify and all other places you get your podcasts.

Episode 1. Tropetastic Kindness Bundle Launch

Episode 2. Rockstars!

Episode 3. Fanfic

Episode 4. Our Kpop/Kdrama Influences

Episode 5. Fancasting Our Books

RomanceClass podcast is produced by Mina V. Esguerra and Tania Arpa. This episode was hosted by Tara Frejas, with panel composed by me, Chi Yu Rodriguez, Tara Frejas, Katt Briones, Six de los Reyes, and Danice Mae P. Sison.

Listen to the #RomanceClass​​​ Podcast everywhere fine podcasts are available.

Subscribe:

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https://romancepodcast.com/stitcher​​​

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Subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on upcoming shows: https://romancepodcast.com/kilig​​​

Writing Now

The Tropetastic Kindness Bundle: Happy Ever After for Charity

We wrote happy endings for charity! <3 The Tropetastic Kindness Bundle is available on Gumroad until April 14, for $5 or the price you set.

It started with talk of what if there was one condo (thank you Carla de Guzman), and what if we let the Roleta of Fate choose our tropes (thank you Dawn Lanuza), with visual guidance of a proper floor plan (hail, CP Santi!) and viola, the Tropetastic Kindness Bundle is born.

15 Filipino authors and 15 short stories of romance, set in a fictional condominium building in Ortigas. The roleta gave me enemies to lovers (also known as the Six de los Reyes special), which turned out to be un-write-able at present. I thank the love and friendship of Ines Bautista-Yao for willingly swapping her sibling’s best friend trope, hence I was able to meet the funlines with my story contribution.

You Belong With Me (Heat Level 3) is about 33-year old Mira Banzon, recently home and “retired” after years of working in Dubai. She asked her kuya for a place to stay the night in the city but somehow ended up at the door of Johan Antonio, her kuya’s best friend. The same man she may have had feelings for since way back, feelings she’d decided not to pursue. But what if he felt the same way about her too?

Writing in these pandemic times have been weird such that I am only able to write in response to an overflow of K-drama feelings. The brick wall comes after the first draft though. Energy to revise and finish the work has been non-existent.

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For this story, the trigger was Hospital Playlist, and the muse was the Ikjun-Songhwa ship that is yet to sail. The difference this time is this is a project with friends, for a good cause, and there were funlines to meet. I respond to due dates (no one is surprised), and I am grateful to the RomanceClass community for helping me push a completed work out there.

Super thanks too to my writing accountabili-buddy Katt Briones and our reward-first-sprint-after system. Beta reader friends KB Meniado, Bianca Mori, Katt, and editor Ines.

If you’ve purchased our bundle (thank you!), you’d have gotten an email on our first payout and the charities we were able to support. If you haven’t picked up our stories yet, The Tropetastic Kindness Bundle is available on Gumroad only until April 14, for $5 or the price you set.

***

ICYMI: Season 4 of the RomanceClass podcast premiered with the Tropetastic Kindness Bundle launch. Catch the episode on the RomanceClass YouTube and Spotify.

 

 

Music Dance and Lyrics Writing Now

RomanceClass Podcast Episode: The Rockstar Trope

RomanceClass Podcast is back with Season 4! Kicked off with the launch of The Tropetastic Kindness Bundle (available until April 14, 2021 here, all proceeds to charity!), and now with Episode 2: The Rockstar Trope. Alternate title: Why Are Rockstars??

Super cool to have been part of this panel because 1) I write about rockstars in romance, and 2) turns out it’s good to sit with the questions of why we are fascinated with these musician people and why and how we enjoy them, specially in our romance content.

Chatted with gig/music/writer friends Dawn Lanuza, Six de los Reyes, and Tara Frejas, with hosting by producer Mina V. Esguerra and direction from producer/the voice of god (lol) Tania Arpa.

The episode is up on RomanceClass Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. A few of my things from the discussion here, plus some stuff that came to me after, which is how the brain works sometimes.

  • Origin story. Seeing friends and classmates picking up instruments, forming bands, and performing in high school and college. Seeing how funny and cool and awkward it could be, kids trying to work together to create synchronized output, mess and art. The band dynamics that come out of the exercise. Picking up a guitar myself, to which when asked if I play, I can only answer as Lizzie Bennet said to Lady Catherine: “a little ma’am, and poorly.” Still fun though, always fascinating.
  • Influences. Sandwich, specially the dynamic of having three guitarists and the live performances. They will always be my favorite local band to see live. Alex Turner, for the words and lyrics. And for the album AM, bless him.
  • Characters inspired by real people who formed bands. Short answer is yes, they exist. Longer answer points to origin story. There is always that one cute boy in high school who got good with the guitar, then with the drums too. And maybe in college there was a cute boy who brought his acoustic guitar around and played and sang for anyone with little prodding.
  • Biggest rockstar moment. Parading into the wedding reception hall as part of the entourage, only to see Ebe Dancel performing live. Romanceclass also met Champ Lui Pio of Hale in a rockstar lecture, that was a teenage dream come true. Local gigs in the likes of Saguijo, Conspiracy, and Route 196 were chill spots for casual rockstar encounters, as were music festivals where musicians roam freely.
  • Hype and zone out songs. Submarine OST album, all songs by Alex Turner. Love Me/ Love Me Not by HONNE, on Spotify.
  • Recs for rockstars in media. Sunset Curve and Julie and the Phantoms in Julie and the Phantoms. Mido and Falasol in Hospital Playlist, on Netflix.
  • How do we like our rockstars. Six segued to our Summer Crush tagline, PEACE LOVE AND ROCK AND ROLL, which says it best. We fall for the charisma, the stage presence. Skill on instruments and with words is hot. But we want to see these things on good people having healthy relationships, which is what romance should be about

In summation, rockstars are cool, we like them a lot. Music is awesome. And I really, really, really miss live music. There’s something magical about being in a space with friends and strangers who’ve come together to soak up notes, rhythm, and words together, to receive energy and give it back. It’s a giving circuit. It’s potent joy. And even with the reach of technology, for me live streams don’t quite cut it.

I wish the pandemic is over and we are all safe and healthy and can go to gigs again. Until then, we have our rockstars in romance.

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Newsletter: https://romancepodcast.com/kilig​​​

Writing Now

Hello Ever After: Favorite Alarm (The One Where Kris and Ringo Helped Me Process)

It started with anger and a seemingly inevitable dive into hopelessness. We’re all wading into bleak waters these days, and sparks of joy can be hard to come by and take so much to grasp. Tara Frejas has a more coherent origin story for the Hello Ever After series. For me I learned it from her and Mina V. Esguerra, and then Mina shared her draft of the script. It was Ben and Naya from What Kind of Day, and it spoke of anger and love and pushing back.

It wasn’t difficult to start from there. I was at work then, because even when the world stopped our work did not. I guess like Ben, I was an essential. I opened a blank document and just alt+tabbed my way into finishing the script before lunch break.

I wrote Ringo and Kris (from You Out of Nowhere) in quarantine because of things I needed to process. How it’s scary, stepping out of the house when everyone else was staying in. How I had to, because I was a cog in a wheel and the wheel needed to turn.

Ringo was a corporate finance boy who actually liked his job but I knew despite that he’d feel cracks in his shield too, that innate positivity and drive to thrive that powered him. It’s weird driving out and seeing no other vehicles on the street, apart from the motorcycle of that policeman parked there to enforce the rules. (Whether those rules would keep us safe and alive or if that was even the goal was debatable.) It sucked to live away from the woman he loved, not be able to see her, much less touch her in ways that have been part of him now.

Kris, cookie shop boss, could stay in, because she had no choice, because her business was forced to close. And when the rules allowed her to open again she was left to her own devices, figuring out how to keep her staff and operations safe and their source of income running. And the cookies still needed to taste great.

In the script Ringo talked about how he had an epiphany, of how he had running water to come home to, and electricity, wifi, and security, because people were going outside and staying apart from their families to show up to do the work. He had to do his part too. It was such a Ringopiphany to have, and I thank him for that. Kris didn’t mind either. She just felt a little worried about how much she loved him.

Hello Ever After Episode 7: Favorite Alarm. Shooting with (from upper left) direk Tania Arpa, me (dying inside author), actors Raphael Robes and Gab Pangilinan. Photo by Mina V. Esguerra

Rap Robes and Gab Pangilinan were great as Ringo and Tita. I was virtually useless during recording, which was expected (I expected it, yes, I knew my limitations), and I just stayed there breathing on the mic (lol again SORRY) and watching art happen. I didn’t realize we’d run into trouble with bougainvillea (bogambilya). The ad libs stressed me out a little but they turned out great. I could never have come up with what Ringo ~did to that policeman.

Thank you to the Hello Ever After team, Mina V. Esguerra, Tania Arpa, Tara Frejas, Miles Tan, Layla Tanjutco, Ana Tejano. Thank you Jef Flores for the Jesus music.

If you watched Hello Ever After Episode 7: Favorite Alarm, thank you. If you haven’t yet, please see below. You’re welcome? Lol.

And please check out all the episodes currently up on the Romanceclass YouTube channel kilig.pub/youtube. Hit like and subscribe, please and thank you, and watch out for more to come. Next watch party is on Friday, September 4, 7PM for Bianca Mori‘s Kalad-Quarantine.

We’re angry, and at times devastated, but always there’s love, landi, and hope.

Episode list:

  1. June 26thMake Good Days by Mina V. Esguerra (What Kind of Day)
  2. July 3rdWe Will Be Okay by Celestine Trinidad (Ghost of a Feeling)
  3. July 10thSafe Space by Miles Tan (Finding X)
  4. July 24thHappy Endings, Please, and Thank You by Tara Frejas (Like Nobody’s Watching)
  5. July 31stLab Notes by Six de los Reyes (Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions)
  6. August 7thMidnight Melodies by Carla de Guzman (How She Likes It)
  7. August 21stFavorite Alarm by Jay E. Tria (You Out of Nowhere)
  8. August 28thNo Giving Up by Ana Tejano (Keep the Faith)
  9. September 4thKalad-Quarantine by Bianca Mori (Chasing Waves)

Content warnings: set in the present time with the pandemic, community quarantine, thoughts of isolation, mention of COVID-19 deaths, mentions of parent with chronic illness, and film script with themes of sexual assault and suicide.