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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.


Writing Now

First Sunrise by the Beach

Written for #RCReadathon2020 Prompt and Pairing, Please! Challenge. Kris and Ringo are characters from You Out of Nowhere, a book from Romanceclass Flair.

Prompt (that I asked for):  Kris and Ringo at the beach, may or may not be during Summer Crush



“Kris, wake up.”

“No. Kris, don’t wake up”

“We’re catching the sunrise. You promised”

“Doesn’t sound like me.”

“It’s the first sunrise I get to see where I’m not headed for the office.”

One cheek peeling off the pillow. Lashes unsticking. A bleary eye opening, staring at him through a mess of soft curls.

“That’s too sad and precious,” her voice rasped.

It was sexy, her forcibly woken voice. Her voice was always sexy. But to Ringo this one was special, because it meant she was awake enough to fulfill a sunrise promise with him.

He was crouched in front of their hostel bed so he could level her face. He had been stroking her back the way one would touch a sleeping tiger. Gentle, fleeting touches, fingertips trailing a dance on her nightshirt. Enough to be persistent but not annoying. He wanted a date at dawn, not a kick aimed at his eager face.

Kris shifted and he saw her mouth, pressed together but in this angle looked close to that soft curve it shaped when she was amused at him.

He took it to mean he could approach his tiger, his tita.

Ringo leaned his weight on the bed, dropping his head so his nose carved a line along her neck.

“I know.” He inhaled deeply. “Mmm essential oils.”

A whack on his face. He chuckled.

“Ok I’m up.”


Ringo stood back as Kris crawled out of bed, bare feet padding on the wooden slats on the floor. She stripped off her nightshirt on her way to the small bathroom, and Ringo had to swallow an instinctive grunt of desire and pin his hands to his sides to keep himself from grabbing her naked waist and throwing her back to bed.

They could have that meal later, after sunrise and breakfast.

Kris emerged, face damp and shirt thrown over a black bikini. His shirt, the blue one he wore to work, with the crisp collar and long sleeves that went past her wrists.

He walked towards her, sipping her lower lip for the day’s first kiss as he helped her do the buttons. A change in usual procedure but they were chasing a sunrise. He must focus.

Kris was melting against him, hands winding around his nape as she returned his kisses. A soft moan and she drew back from him, heading for the door.

“Sunblock, your sunglasses, keys, water bottle, money for breakfast.” Ringo lifted his hand that was carrying their wet bag, enumerating the contents before she asked. “Did I forget anything?”

“You have spreadsheets for brains. We’re good.”

Kris breezed through the door, Ringo right behind her.

Outside, he took her hand, plodding down the stairs in their flip-flops in the pre-dawn darkness. Their hostel was not beach-side but it was only a street across from the sea. They passed a sari-sari store, yet to open, and the small roadside restaurant Ringo had been eyeing for bagnet over rice. He knew what he would recommend for breakfast later.

“I know the sun isn’t out and that is the point but I did not expect it to be this dark.” Ringo gripped Kris’s hand tighter, tucking her to his side as he looked left and right twice over before they crossed the empty road.

“Probinsya streetlights going for ambient, barely there lighting.”

Kris yawned as they trod on, past a line of hostels and through a side street, and then they were wrapped by the sound of rushing waves, urging them onward.

The beach was even darker, the walk on the sand a challenge with flip-flops so they removed them, feeling the cold grains slide between their toes.

Kris chose a spot in the sand and they sat there, facing the dark horizon, the rumbling sea.

“Cold?” he asked.

“Did you bring a jacket too?”

“Right here.” Ringo edged closer and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her back against his thrumming chest.

Kris sounded a snort-sigh hybrid. “Why are you cute?”

He smiled against her hair. “I have successfully recalibrated you to love me.”

“That you did.”

They settled in silence, only the sea was loud, the waves against waves against shore making scary sounds. Ringo looked up and spotted dots of stars but thought the sky was lightening somehow, slowly, by gradients. He returned his gaze to the rolling sea, waiting for the first spark of sun at the horizon. Kris’s hand squeezed his arm around her. He held her closer.

“Are we supposed to do anything?” he whispered. It seemed like a moment where he should whisper.

He heard her smirk.

“Am I boring you?”

“You can sing out of tune to liven things up.”

She turned her head to glare at him. He kissed the tip of her nose, then the pucker on her lips.

“You’re not supposed to do anything,” she said. “You’re just…here.”

“The way you are here.”


Kris looked back out at the sky and sea. It was really looking lighter now, like budding morning. Unburdened by anything. A fresh start.

“I like it,” he decided.

“Thought you would.”

He buried his nose in her hair, their hands clasped where she held them. They must have been quiet a while, and there it was. Ringo didn’t spot the first ray of sun, though he had been paying attention. The sunrise just happened. Lazily, at its own time. Drawing streaks of lights and colors as he and Kris watched, the dawn’s avid viewers.

The sky was pink shot with oranges and grays now. Ringo nudged Kris’s ear with the tip of his nose.

“If we stay quiet like this for a bit longer we’ll hear your stomach rumbling. It’s a very specific krokrrrrkk sound, it’s almost musical.”

Her head whipped back to face him, his intended response.

“You, kid—”

“Yes, tita.”

He kissed her, and they kissed, because this was his first sunrise by the beach and because he loved her always.





#RCReadathon2020 Prompt and Pairing, Please! Challenge thread this way and here too for more ficlets of your Romanceclass faves.

Jill-Rhys fic that no one asked for here. Shinta preparing for Jill’s 30th birthday party here.

Life and Lemons Writing Now

2017 Gratitude: In Books

As of end-of-year 2017, I have written and published the following books (in chronological order, so no book gets hurt because of course books have feelings):

Blossom Among Flowers (YA romance) – July 18, 2015. Japanese high school kids. Popular, seemingly cold boy genius grudgingly tutors headstrong yet head-in-the-clouds manga fangirl. Jdorama feels. I wrote it because I loveloveloved Hana Yori Dango and couldn’t get over how Rui didn’t get Makino when they’re obviously soulmates.



Songs of Our Breakup (New Adult romance/Playlist #1) – August 22, 2015. First book set in the Philippines, with Filipino characters. Band boy breaks up with band girl. Band girl’s Japanese celebrity friend flies in, sets himself up as her perfect distraction, and for so much more. I wrote it because I’m a Pinoy music scene fan and Oguri Shun fan and why can’t I have it all in one universe? Oguri Shun is my Shinta, but the easy rule is you choose your own.


Majesty (Urban Fantasy/ Young Adult/#StrangeLit) – October 2015 on Buqo/ March 17, 2016 on Amazon. Welcome haunting of a beautiful ghost, friendship you find in hopeless places, and friendship and love that endure even death. I wrote it for Bronze Age Media and Buqo‘s StrangeLit workshop. And also because it’s a story that’s been living with me for years and although painful it needed to be written.



Songs to Get Over You (New Adult romance/ Playlist #2) – February 29, 2016. Band boy pines for band girl but does nothing. Accountant girl pushes him to move, and towards a new direction. I wrote it because Miki needed to learn things. I love him that way. You’ll understand once you’ve met him.


Songs to Make You Stay (New Adult romance/ Playlist #3) – October 9, 2016. Japanese celebrity boy gets band girl, but the struggle doesn’t end there, does it? Living the life you know versus living the life you choose, and finding out where exactly love fits in. I wrote it because Shinta is extra and won’t quiet down and leave me alone.



Make My Wish Come True (#romanceclass Christmas anthology) – December 2016 on Gumroad/November 15, 2017 on Amazon. My short story is Christmas Chicken Dance. Japanese celebrity boy flies to Manila to surprise his mother for Christmas + an ulterior motive to get the girl. I wrote it because again, Shinta. Extra.



Promdi Heart (anthology of love stories set in Philippine provinces) – March 29, 2017. My short story is One Certain Day, set in Hagonoy, Bulacan. Artsy girl and band boy end up being cemetery neighbors one All Saint’s Day. It becomes a yearly tradition and grows into friendship, and to girl, maybe something more.



Summer Crush (anthology set in a music festival in surftown La Union) – April 7, 2017. My short story is You Only Need Reminding. Accountant girl drops all the balls she’s been juggling for a summer getaway with band boy boyfriend. But what if there really is no such thing as escape? I wrote it because Tara Frejas, Six delos Reyes and I wanted to merge universes. It wasn’t easy but it was awesome and why yes, I’d totally do it again.


You Out of Nowhere (steamy romance/ Flair #1) – November 4, 2017. Train meet cute. Accidental Seoulmates. Older, cookie bar boss lady is so over dating and looking for the One. Younger corporate boy thinks she might just be it. I wrote it for #romanceclass2017 (alternating POV! Filipino characters! Heat level 3++!). It’s the first book from #romanceclassFlair and it makes me feel honored and grateful and pressured all at once.



Nine books in three years. NINE. Six novellas and three anthologies. All love and work. All thanks to the village it took to make the books and to people who read, reviewed and rated and told me they’ve read and enjoyed the books. All thanks, always, to the #romanceclass community.

Like most things worth doing, I’m realizing that the more I write, the more I need to learn, and the more I should improve and it’s a cycle that will never really stop. It’s hard most days (lots of days), and some days I truly believe I suck and should be banned from ever lifting a finger over a keyboard. Days like today and the past few days, for example, when even the thought of starting a sentence and plotting outline makes me shrivel up and die a little inside. But it’s all part of the process. I shall get through this. There are more stories to be written. Until then I am proud and grateful for the stories already out there, and if you find them, I hope they bring you the feels you need too.

Happy New Year! Here have an adorable Joe Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel song!

Writing Now

New Book! You Out of Nowhere from #romanceclassFlair

This book is the output of awesome team work and lots of feelings. #romanceclassFlair is a new imprint, an ongoing project, backed by a team of super talented people. I’m so happy/thrilled/grateful they took a chance on me and my babies. We’ve been working on this book for months and finally, finally it’s here omg yay! Here’s what it’s all about:

At 31, Kris’s dating life is starting to resemble a reality show. So when she strikes up a conversation with a nerdy but gorgeous stranger on the train, getting serious is the last thing on her mind. Been there, done that, and she has the emotional baggage to prove it.

At 24, Ringo knows what he wants—and when a train flirtation turns into a night he can’t forget, he knows he wants Kris. But it’s clear she has other plans, and they don’t include him. So when they find themselves on the same flight to Seoul, it’s Ringo’s chance to turn up the heat, and convince Kris to take a risk.

In a new city, with someone new—the right someone—what could change? Maybe nothing. But also, maybe everything.

It’s older girl, younger guy steamy romance. Train meet-cute, accidental travel buddies. Manila to Seoul and back. A trip (and a person) that might just change everything.

I hope I got all your trigger words 😀

Join the blog tour if you want to help spread the word? You can sign up here. Form closes today, October 31.

Pre-order link is up too! One-click here please and thank you. Ebook is only $1.99 until November 17 << coincidentally my birthday hehe happy birthday to me~ 🙂


FLAIR (or #romanceclassFlair) is a new, ongoing project and it’ll bring you steamy contemporary romance (in English) by Filipino authors. There are four new titles from four different #romanceclass authors about to be released, and these books will be unapologetically sexy. What can you expect from Flair? HEAs, Filipino characters, fresh telling of familiar tropes, lots of heat.

Flair is not a publisher, but there is a single Flair team that is working with the authors on all the books. The team is composed of #romanceclass community authors, readers, editors, designers. Follow Romanceclass Books on FBromanceclassbooks on IG, and #romanceclass on Twitter to get the updates!

Credits to Tara Frejas for the graphics 🙂