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Mina V. Esguerra

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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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Listen and subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcast | RSS | YouTube


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 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.


Life and Lemons Writing Now

My #romanceclass Origins Story

#romanceclass head of PR and Marketing Chachic (lol but true) is doing this really fun thing on her blog she calls romanceclass Originswhere people from the community get to share how they found this safe and encouraging creative space. She was so kind to think of me and feature my story. See how I came out of nowhere apparently 😀


1. How did you discover #romanceclass?

I had a book and no idea what to do with it. I’ve tried querying international agents and had a couple of polite rejections and a lot of ignored emails. The more I read and the deeper I went into figuring out how to get published, the more I felt that maybe this would be a hard path for a Filipino author to take. I felt like I had to look for someone–an agent, a publishing house–who was looking for an author who lived where I lived and who wrote the things I did, and it felt like such a specific task. A good-as-impossible scenario. So while in that state, researching on how Filipino authors get published, I came across several magic, life-changing words: self-publishing, Mina V. Esguerra, and #romanceclass. I found Mina’s blog Publishing in Pajamas, read almost all of her posts and bookmarked this one post about how she did it–wrote and published her book. I read it so many times like an adobo recipe I was determined not to fail. I clung onto that for strength to continue wanting and working to be published. I learned about her company Bronze Age Media and sent her an email asking if they accept manuscripts for publication. (Mina, if you’re reading this, please don’t go back and reread that email because all the cringing my goodness. I am so sorry /cries) Two years later (yes, it took me this long), I gathered up all I had and called her while on lunch break at the office to ask about getting an editor. She was very nice and very patient. I had a lot of questions. A lot. I remember the call getting cut and my anxiety at having to call again. But I did. I called again and asked more questions. I was instructed to send my manuscript and wait. I sent and waited. This was Blossom Among Flowers. While that’s happening, I went through old drafts and found one I’ve been working on and off for a few years. I finished it. By the time Layla Tanjutco emailed me, the first draft was done so I sent it to her. This was Songs of Our Breakup. While that’s happening I also joined #StrangeLit and yay, yes finished an urban fantasy. This was Majesty. I released Blossom Among Flowers first, and then Songs of Our Breakup before that workshop was done, with about a month in between. I remember Mina retweeting my SOOB tweet and saying I was a #StrangeLit participant. I remember her using the #romanceclass tag when she finished reading the book and said she liked it. ‘Lovely book,’ she said. The memory still gives me unicorn wings. I joined the Facebook group and made a warm nest of the community, its people. This was late 2015. I remember crying a little inside and thinking hey, look at that, I got to publish my book. Books. It’s not impossible after all.


Read the rest of my answers here! Thank you Chachic <3

Writing Now

#FeelsRushIn recap: Things You Missed If You Weren’t There

I felt like captioning and posting pictures of #FeelsRushIn on Instagram this way, in list form as a way of organizing my feelings. I do not know if I was able to accomplish that feat; to do any sort of rationalization of emotions (huh is this even possible?). But in any case, the list is here.

If you weren’t there, beware. You missed the following:

#romanceclass books. A lot of the #romanceclass titles are indie, which is only a cool way of saying that these are rare Pokemon that you won’t find in your neighborhood bookstores. These are available as ebooks though and in print direct from the author (see full list in here). But last Saturday these books were there, spread out in one table. All our feelings side by side, waiting and raring for you to grab them and take them home. Additional perk: most of the authors were there too, so you could have met them and grilled them a bit about their books (this doesn’t happen to just me, right? 😀 ).


Shirts, totes, stickers and magnets. Our feelings come in other forms too, such as t-shirts and tote bags created by WearDPT, stickers and tumblers care of Vinyliism, and magnets, thanks to Quote Hanger. Last Saturday, the awesome humans behind these merch spread out the goods and took some orders too.


Free #romanceclass ebook for every donation to Ayala Malls Little Free Library. The Little Free Library is a recent Ayala Malls project. Basically they install reading corners in select malls, i.e. Trinoma, Glorietta, UP Town Center, with the goal of encouraging mall goers to borrow and read books. To help these cute libraries load up their shelves, we invited people to donate books in exchange for a #romanceclass ebook of their choice. A read for a read.


Live readings. It’s not a #romanceclass Feels Day without the live readings, a.k.a. the culmination of all the feelings. We had Herv Alvarez and Salve Villarosa back. You would remember them from their YA reads last #AprilFeelsDay. This time they were joined by Migs Almendras (also known as book cover Dante, exhibit A below).


They read excerpts from When Cocoy Became Kikay by CP Santi, Only a Kiss by Ines Bautista-Yao, What About Today by Dawn Lanuza, The Bye Bye Bouquet by Chi Yu Rodriguez, and No Strings Attached by Mina V. Esguerra.


Sounds like a lot of fun things happened, yes? Check out the video recap below done by author Chi Yu Rodriguez, if you need more proof.

If you were there, you know all of this. You felt them all. Thank you, thank you so much for being there and feeling with us. If you weren’t, again I ask, why weren’t you? And I ask that in the sweetest way possible, because we’d really love to see you there next time. So please calendar October 22, okay? We’re doing this again. See you then? Awesome.


Special thanks to Ayala Malls Trinoma and Filipino Readercon 🙂

Writing Now

Freebie Alert! Blossom Among Flowers Turns One

It is exactly one year to the day since I released my first ever book baby into the wild. ONE YEAR! I can’t believe it’s been that long since this series of rambling posts (1 2 3 4). Heh. I can’t help feeling sentimental and nostalgic.

I was very afraid to even think of self-publishing then. A few years earlier I’d tried the traditional route (at the time, the only route I knew) of sending query letters to international agents. I received polite rejection emails if I was lucky, but for the most part I was ignored. Can’t say I didn’t expect that. I was peddling a 180k-word YA manga-Jdorama novel thing that I didn’t even know how to explain.

So I shared the book with the one person who knew I had written it, and asked if she would like to read it. You know, exclusively for feels. She knew why I’d written it in the first place. We shipped the same sunk ship, so she was super sweet and supportive. She got back to me with the book printed in short bond paper and ring-bound (maybe done in UP SC?) in two copies–one for her to keep, and one for me with little sticky notes of her thoughts and feelings.


We laughed, we giggled, we bonded over it, then the untitled book slept in my hard drive. (Aside: before the first draft was completed I lost my first hard drive and all the words so I had to write the whole thing over! But that’s a story for another time)

I kept coming back to it every once in a while. But I was already working on what would become Songs of Our Breakup then, and another thing based on another ship/crush. I started reading about self-publishing, and found Mina V. Esguerra and Marian Tee‘s blogs. I even sucked up the courage to email Mina and message Marian. Both were very sweet people (ILY guys). But it took me Easter 2015 before I got the just-do-it epiphany. Mostly because other people were doing it already, and were succeeding at it, and also because I was turning 30 then and I was terrified (I eventually got over this).

So I got to work. I pared down that monster of a manuscript to 65k from 180k (what was I thinking? I wasn’t writing a Westerosi epic!). I found people willing to help, cold-called some people (Mina, hello haha), and eventually, on a random day in July, hit publish. I made a lot of mistakes, but I was honestly happy to make them. Because the mistakes meant I’ve done it. I’ve written and I’ve published, and I can learn from these mistakes and be better. I also met lovely readers (they exist! Hurray!) and of course the wonderful #romanceclass people who make this writing thing all the more fun and crazy. ThankyouthankyouthankYOU everyone <3

Anyway. I said I wouldn’t ramble. Told you I’m feeling sentimental. The point of all this, really, is that I’m stoked and I thought to share my gratitude and happiness with a giveaway, YAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join to win a paperback copy of Blossom Among Flowers or a WearDPT shirt or any #romanceclass eBook.

Otanjoubi omedetou Takeshi and Hikaru! お誕生日おめでとうございます。<3

Writing Now

#romanceclass Podcast Extra: Interview with Mina V. Esguerra, Author of Never Just Friends

The #romanceclass podcast comes with a few extras! Listen to an interview below with Mina V. Esguerra, the Queen of Feels and author of Never Just Friends.  Listen to her talk about her thoughts and feelings (there were many) about the podcast season that started as a dream and an experiment. Get the latest scoop too about her upcoming books 🙂 Continue Reading