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Music Dance and Lyrics Writing Now

Soundtrack to Make You Stay

This playlist for Songs to Make You Stay is a mixture of music I listened to between writing (cos I need silence to write. Please don’t turn Brooklyn Nine-Nine on now, sister, have mercy), music I imagined blaring out of the speakers at Commute Bar between sets, and in Doozy Book Cafe and Bar on that first Gig Night. Bulding this playlist was extra fun because a lot of these songs were new to me, some of which I won’t even normally listen to. And it’s fun finding new music to like. It’s one of the best surprises.

So here, enjoy Shinta and Jill’s feelings in song format. I hope you find a few good surprises too.

Pavement. Summer Babe

Bon Iver. Holocene  Continue Reading

Writing Now

Happy Book Birthday, Shinta! Songs to Make You Stay is Live <3

I agonize over writing a lot (normal), but it took me more than a few months to finally decide and write this book. As far back as last year (soon after releasing Songs of Our Breakup), my friend/fairy godmother Layla and I had been plot-bunnying about this. It was supposed to be Miki and Shinta in one book, in alternating perspectives. But then I thought, ‘no, what a mess that would be.’ Also they deserved more than that <3 So Miki got his own book, Songs to Get Over You. Now Shinta has gotten his, and they share the same timeline.

Although I thought I left him and Jill in a happy space in Songs of Our Breakup, I also knew it wasn’t going to be easy for them. Because long distance relationship. And celebrity problems, on both sides and in different ways.

So yay, here you go. Here’s Shinta’s story. I hope you’ll enjoy spending more time with him like I did. Happy book birthday, Shinta*!

Songs to Make You Stay (Playlist #3)

Love isn’t supposed to be this hard.

Now that he’s finally won Jill, the girl who’s always rocked his world, you’d think life would be heaven on earth for Shinta Mori. In a way, it is. But maybe he’s underestimated the fact that he’s a hunky movie star in Japan while his girl is ruling the indie music scene all the way in Manila.

When he spends a long-awaited vacation with her–through impromptu performances, frenzied flyer distribution, and unhinged radio guestings–he realizes how imperfect his seemingly perfect life is. And he begins to wonder if what they have is strong enough to survive years of being apart.

Can Shinta prove he’s worthy of the spotlight the universe shines on him? And more importantly, deserving of the devotion of a young girl in love?

Cover design by Tania Arpa. Photography by Hazel Caasi, featuring Yuki Sakamoto.

Available on Amazon. Paperback launching on #romanceclass FeelsFest. Also available via this form.

*Happy birthday to you too, John Lennon!



Writing Now

[Repost] #romanceclass: Love and Secret Identities

I see a few of the previous #romanceclass articles featured confessions. So here is mine: I’m using a pen name.

That won’t come off as a shock, I am sure, since I’ve been fairly open about it. When I first decided to venture into self-publishing, the next decision to make wasn’t even if I was going to use a pen name, but what pen name to use.

I told myself I was doing it to separate my identities. I wanted my author self to be in this box, while the rest of me—the corporate girl, the teacher—to be in this box. Separate and distinct. Organized. I wanted Google searches for my real given name—and I know HR people at the very least do this—to pull up results linking to my daily 9-to-5 life, and just that. It was done to prevent confusion. To maintain some semblance of order.

But when I am being honest, I know I did it because I wasn’t ready to be found out as writer, and a writer of romance.


Growing up, my parents surrounded me with books and not Barbies, but much as they didn’t mind the fiction, they did push the Math and Science books toward me with more urgency. For the most part their efforts worked, if my academic and present career would show. But I also had my Sweet Valley Highs, and my Unicorn Clubs, and eventually Sophie Kinsellas and Meg Cabots. And as early as elementary school, reading romance wasn’t enough. My imagination was wider than that. So I wrote romance in notebooks with a ballpoint pen, about girls and boys and kisses.

I hid and protected these notebooks with my life. I figured my parents would be shocked if they knew. I was groomed to work in a cubicle, in a building with an elevator. There was no space for writing about kisses there. But beyond that anxiety was another, more pressing one. One that was best encapsulated by every other writer’s favorite question—is this story about you?

I wrote my first New Adult romance novella Songs of Our Breakup without a thought of publishing it, just because the story was there in my head and it wanted out. And yes, because the process of writing it gave me kilig and feels. It’s about a girl in a band fresh out of the dissolution of a seven-year relationship, and her Japanese celebrity friend who was there for her when she was picking up the pieces of her broken heart. When it was finished, and I’d decided to publish it, I feared that ultimate question.

“Is this story about you?”


Read the rest of the article on Bookbed here <3