17 October 2015

Featured Author: Tara Frejas

Hi everyone! I'm making up for skipping a ton of posts by featuring two authors every month until December (#ambitious). But really, it's fun getting to know more about all these Filipino authors!

So this week, we're featuring author Tara Frejas, author of Paper Planes Back Home and The Forget You Brew (#StrangeLit).

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CPS: Tell us about the first story you ever wrote.

TF: I wish you could hear me laugh as I read this first question, but not because the first story I ever wrote was hilarious. If memory serves me right, I was nine when I wrote it, and it wasn’t even straight-up prose or anything badass like that. We had a school requirement wherein we had to turn in comic strips, and because the only thing I could draw rather decently back then was Snoopy, I created comic strips of a dog that looked just like him. And the story was about a dog that baked . . . pies, I think. I don’t remember the premise now, just that he was a baker dog.

CPS: What’s your writing process like?

TF: Not sure I have an actual writing process because I usually start really, really small, like with a sentence or paragraph, or lines of dialogue. Sometimes I start with a chapter and see how that flows before I move on to the next, and the next. Before signing up for #SparkNA, I have never seriously outlined any of the previous fics I wrote, except for when I’m in the middle of writing it and I realize I need to sort out character or event timelines. So yeah, the process usually varies for me.
With Paper Planes Back Home, for example, I started by writing a chapter and then sending it off to a friend who took a look at it and said it was promising. I took her cue and continued writing it until I challenged myself to finish it in time for a Wattys thing last year. It took me around 6 months to finish the entire thing. #SparkNA was outlined, but I did veer away from that when I got to the middle, and my outline for #StrangeLit was completely scrapped when I started writing it.
The thing which is constant, however, would be me looking at photos or watching videos of my character pegs. Research, I say, haha. It helps me figure out how they would react to certain things, how they would move or how their voices would sound like when speaking. Some of those details don’t appear in the stories, but they help motivate me anyhow. Also, listening to music is an absolute must.

CPS: When and where do you write? Do you have a set schedule for writing?

TF: I can write almost everywhere when inspiration strikes, or when a deadline is looming, but I do most of my writing at home. As for schedules, no. I’m very bad at schedules, which was why I signed up for Mina’s workshops. I wanted to discipline myself enough to be able to sit down at a fixed time and just write something, because I am a serial procrastinator who usually juggles way too many things. So far, I’ve successfully finished two workshops, but at the moment I’m resting from fic writing to support other authors (blog tours, etc.) and market my finished work (yay, #StrangeLit!).

CPS: Tell us a little about the books you’ve published so far.

TF: Paper Planes Back Home is a novel where two people—Skylar and Gianna—meet in some sort of limbo while their physical bodies are lying in hospital beds. In the beginning, we meet Gianna, who’s just being “initiated” into this entire realm where paper planes are currency for how much you are being thought of by the people who love you. As the story goes on, we learn from Skylar that you could actually craft a ride out of the paper planes so you could get out of that limbo and go back home. Meanwhile, we are also introduced to two other characters, Aaron and Anna, who become instrumental in getting those paper planes up there for Skylar and Gianna to use in their journey.
For #StrangeLit, I wrote The “Forget You” Brew, which tells the story of Kyle and Allison who stumble upon Nowheretown—essentially a “town of requirement” in that it finds you when you’re in desperate need of something. The thing is, Kyle and Allison are in love with each other but they’re idiots, haha. They’ve been good friends for years, so there’s that thing about getting scared of rejection and having the Friendship Over flag getting waved and all. Eventually, Allison walks into this cafe where you’re supposedly going to get served what you need, and she gets an afforgeto, which will basically wipe out all memories and feelings she has for Kyle. But of course, Kyle doesn’t want that, and of course he finds out after Allison drinks it . . . so he goes on a quest to retrieve her memories of him.

CPS: What are the last five books you’ve read? How did you like them?

TF: I have an all-Filipino lineup! The last five I’ve read are Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera, Songs of Our Breakup by Jay Tria, The Year We Became Invincible by Mae Coyiuto, Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano, and another one of Agay’s, Once Upon a Player. I’ve already blogged my reviews (more of spazz accounts, actually) about the first four, but in general, I really could say that I loved them for All The Feels they made me feel. I am so looking forward to reading more Filipino-authored books because I apparently missed out on a lot these past several years.

CPS: What do you eat/drink/listen to while you write?

TF: Copious amounts of coffee are a must. I already have caffeine immunity, I think, because I can sleep fine even after having it. But that doesn’t stop me from consuming it while I write; I just need coffee to function. As for food, I don’t have a go-to food item . . . I just usually grab what I can from the fridge or the cupboard, or sometimes when I feel like it, I buy certain things like Jalapeno Cheetos (fave!) or hopia or ramen. Depends on what I’m craving, if I am, but coffee usually does the trick.
Sometimes I listen to just one song when I write. You know, that one song that sums up what your characters are feeling, like you can imagine that song playing in the background while the scene you’re writing plays in your head? Yep, I do that. I loop one song and listen to it over and over again until I’m done with a scene (or chapter). I remember looping Marianas Trench’s Beside You and F.T. Island’s Severely a lot while I was writing my #SparkNA novel, haha.

CPS: Of all the characters you’ve written so far, who’s your favorite and why?

TF: Oh why must you make my life difficult? ☹
If I really must choose, I’d go with Filipina Legaspi. She’s my #SparkNA heroine who works as a roadie for a Korean pop-rock band called East Genesis Project. Fi is my favorite because she’s dedicated to her work, but she’s not all about the money—she really does care about her band as though they were her family, and she loves her job not because of its perks but because she feels like she helps inspire people. She has a good heart, and I like that about her, even if it gets her into trouble sometimes.
A runner up would be Anna from Paper Planes Back Home because she’s just a precious, precious soul. ☺

CPS: What story are you working on right now?

TF: Oh god, plenty. I haven’t really started writing them, but I am outlining several things bit by bit. There’s a #SparkNA sequel in the works, and there’s a #StrangeLit spinoff I’d like to finish before our three-month bundle contract with Buqo is finished. Apart from that, my #TalesFromTheMetro stories are begging to be continued, and at the same time I’m doing research for another possible novel that involves theatre people.
I know I should be working on them the soonest, but I’m dallying and I hate myself for it. I will get there soon enough, I promise! ^_^

CPS: Tell us about your latest release.

TF: My latest work is, as I’ve mentioned, The “Forget You” Brew which is part of the #StrangeLit Killer Seasons bundle. It’s available only via Buqo for now, at least up until the end of December, I think.
Little trivia about The “Forget You” Brew: I started formulating the story around bunnies, because in early March, my sister bought a bunny from the street market near us and we fell in love with him. And while the direction of the story didn’t focus much on bunnies, I might do that with the spinoff I’m planning, which should be out by January. Wish me luck!

CPS: Any writing goals you’d like to achieve in the next few years?

TF: There are several, actually, but having my books on shelves at local bookstores would be on top of the list and I’m trying to get there eventually . . . hopefully by next year? I’m crossing my fingers, haha. And I would definitely be working hard to get more stories written, finished and published, maybe have one produced as a stage production—that’s a nakakakilig dream of mine. I also want to work with an artist who could translate my work into art because I would love to have a story book version of some of my stories, like Paper Planes Back Home.
But yeah, basically my goal is to write a lot more stories so I could experiment with them in terms of style, so I could also determine the aspects I’m good at and the ones I need improvement in. Finally, this is not a writing goal, but I would love to be of service to the writing community in any way possible. Getting to know Mina and the other Filipino writers through the workshops opened a lot of opportunities and prospects for me, and as excited as I am for my own growth as an author, I am also very excited to be able to eventually pay it forward.

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Thanks very much for your time, Tara! Hoping to read more from you soon!

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Check out these books by Tara Frejas!

Paper Planes Back Home - Amazon, Smashwords, Buqo
#StrangeLit: Killer Seasons - Buqo

Connect with Tara Frejas!

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P.S. I'm reviewing Tara's The Forget You Brew next week, so be sure to check that out ;-)

P. P. S. If you want to read #romanceclassbooks in print, check out our box at UniqubePH (3F University Mall in front of DLSU Taft)!!! Lots of freebies (including a free ebook!) with every purchase!!!

Photo from Mina V. Esguerra

14 October 2015

JustWritePH: For Redemption (Jesse David, Yeyet Soriano, Angie Sanchez, and Racquel Sarah A. Castro)

Hi everyone! Still doing the #JustWritePH Blog Tour :-) This week, I'm featuring the For Redemption bundle :-)

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Redemption doesn’t come easy. It involves hardship, righting wrongs, and making tough choices. This four-story bundle showcases characters who made wrong turns in life, and want nothing more than to make things right. Features “Era” by Jesse David, “Turning Points” by Yeyet Soriano, “A Fateful Encounter” by Cali (Angie Sanchez), and Encyclopedia Mystique by Racquel Sarah A. Castro.

by Jesse David

What do we need to live this life to the fullest? For Era, it is money. He realizes that it is hard to live this life to the fullest without money. We need money to travel the world, to eat every food, and to live to in the most beautiful city. But what if, money is not the answer? What if you live your life the wrong way, and it is too late to turn back? What if you had a second chance?


This story is about Era.

The story is about his lifetime, and also the meaning of his name is a lifetime. This person really follows a strict time when it comes to business. He wakes up on time. Go to his work on time, but never going home on time because going home is not part of the business.

A lot of people are like him. They love to follow a schedule. It is much easier to follow life on a schedule. It is easier to live if you know what you will do next.

Are you like him, always doing things on schedule? Exact time to eat, exact time to take a shower, and exact time to sleep.

The time now is 5:28 a.m., by exactly 5:30, his clock will alarm. He will wake up, go to the bathroom to take a shower, and brush his teeth. He will then have his coffee. After that, he will now proceed on leaving his unit at exactly 5:58 a.m.

He will now walk to the train station and arrived at 6:05 a.m. The train should arrive at 6:10 a.m. but we are not living in the perfect world or rather a perfect country that follows a strict time. It is acceptable to be for an hour late in this country.

The train arrives at the station at 6:23 a.m. which is totally occupied. To get inside of the train, you need to transform as Spartan soldier, this is one of the ways to get in the office on time with this volume of people. And since Era is a person that loves a schedule, he will ride this train even if only a single person is the only one that will fit in, but eventually 5 persons will try to get in. But don't worry, with the magical push from the people outside, the 5 people will actually fit in.

After the train, he will then need to fall in line for the gate ticket. But with the volume of people in the line, Era estimated that it will take 2 minutes for him to pass the ticket gate and another 5 minutes to get in the building.

 He could have a longer time to wait if the line for the elevator is long. Using the stairs could be an alternative but the time and effort will double or even triple.

Era works as an executive in an international company. He always makes it on time to go to the office but never going home. His dream is to live life to the fullest. Having this dream, he thought that he needs to be rich first before he can enjoy life to the fullest.

Connect with Jesse David!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessedavidwriter

Turning Points
by Yeyet Soriano

Imagine you were about to die, and you were given a chance to change something in your past and live for a few hours in the alternate world created with that change. Would you do it? What have you got to lose, right? What if you got stuck in that world, and although you have achieved all of the dreams you never pursued before, you lost everything that you’ve ever held dear? Sandy Garcia, a forty-something working mother of three, did just that. She wished she never met and married her husband, and she got to live in the world where she became a popular theater star instead. The trouble was, since she never met her husband, then she never had her children. Her entire life was different, and she started to realize that maybe she already had it good in her reality. Alex Marquez was a multi-hyphenated star—theater actress-singer-dancer-published author- professional photographer. On the road to success, she made a lot of wrong choices which left her single, with one child, in her forties, remembering the relationships she screwed up and the children she should have had in the past. Suddenly, she got the chance to live the family life since she got stuck in Sandy’s world. As both women navigate the intricate web of the lives they never initially chose to live, they question whether they still have a chance of getting back their own lives. What does it take to reclaim their real lives? Are both willing to do so? Will they succeed?


“Hi, Sandy.”

I heard the voice. I knew the voice. Was I dead?

“No, you’re not dead,” the voice said.

I opened my eyes and saw him, my dear friend from very long ago.

I slapped him. I had no time to think; my hand had a life of its own.

Luca reeled from the slap. Served him right.

“Sandy . . .”


We stayed that way for a while just looking at each other. I had so much anger and pain, emotions I thought I had forgotten about. How dare he show his face right now?

Oh, shit . . . this had to be a dream. I remembered I was on a plane, and it was crashing.

 “Where am I?” I asked. I looked around and there was just nothing. Everything was white. “You said I was not dead, so where the hell am I?” I demanded an answer.

Luca still looked at me with a sad expression.

 “You are in a pause state,” he said.

 “A what state?” What the hell was he talking about? Why was I talking to Luca at this moment? And why would I believe him if he told me I wasn’t dead?

 “Pause.” Luca enunciated the word. I heard it right the first time, I just didn’t understand it. I still didn’t understand now. I kept quiet and waited for him to explain.

 “A pause state is when we get a chance to step away from time moving forward and just . . . take a breather.”

“A time-out of sorts?” I asked. Now I’m sure I am dreaming. This is ridiculous.

“You can say that,” Luca said.

 “So . . . after this . . . the plane will still crash?”

 “Ummm, yes, time will move forward.”

 “Can’t we make it move backward so that the plane doesn’t crash?”

 “It doesn’t work that way,” he said patiently.

 “Then why the hell am I here?”

Luca breathed deeply as he stared at me. I was obviously still mad, but I couldn’t meet his stare. Memories were coming back, and I didn’t think I was ready to confront them . . . again. After all these years.

Connect with Yeyet Soriano!

Email: yeyetms@gmail.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ysrealm
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Yeyetsorianowrites
Website: http://www.ysrealm.com

A Fateful Encounter 
by Angie Sanchez

A Fateful Encounter is a story about a college computer science student, Samantha, who just got back from an eight-month holiday. Not a single soul knows why she left in the first place – not her professors, her best friend Aimee and her closest group of friends. She logs in an online chat site and meets Michael, an engineering student from the same university.


I continued to argue with myself quietly. I want ice cream. Do I really need ice cream? No. But do you want ice cream. Yes. Is it right to put yourself in danger for the sake of ice cream? No. But you want one, right? Yes. There you go. And there goes my logic. But in order to dig into my cravings, I must find someone to go out with me at this time of night. Now who’s going to be my knight?  It would be wrong to ask for my friends after what happened earlier. My only available choice was Requiem. He offered to go out with me. Nothing’s wrong with accepting someone’s offer, right? I thought about it again. And again. It was unacceptable and irresponsible. Who goes out with a stranger, at night, for ice cream? I sat thinking of all the possible solutions for my dilemma. It wouldn’t be bad to trust someone, just this once?

 [10:30 pm] Requiem: San kita pupuntahan?

 [10:35 pm] Me: Nakatira ako sa may apartment sa dulo ng Emerald.

 [10:36 pm] Requiem: Sige. Puntahan na kita.

 [10:37 pm] Me: Ingat ka. Text mo na lang ako.

I suddenly became nervous. My heart started beating so fast that I could feel it could jump off my chest. Just because of a stupid craving, I invited a guy I didn’t even know over for ice cream. It was ridiculous. And idiotic. Aimee had already warned me before that nothing good comes out from meeting strangers. I could already picture out Aimee scolding me. I groaned. She is a very protective friend.

My legs are shaking from panic. I could feel my hands getting cold and sweaty. I couldn’t think right. What if this guy were a poser who might think of kidnapping me and holding me for ransom? Or worse, rape me and throw my body somewhere? I promised my parents to stay out of trouble, but I’m directly putting myself into a mess. No one except for myself knows that I would be meeting him tonight – not my friends, my family – absolutely, not a single soul. If something bad happens, no one would even know. I walked to the living room, then back again to the kitchen. I suddenly had the idea to send him a message that I have a bad stomachache and couldn’t get up. I was about to text him through WeChat, but a message appeared.

 [10:46 pm] Requiem: Andito na ako.

 I frantically rushed to the kitchen drawer to get my Swiss knife and pepper spray. I’ve always kept these in case of emergency. I placed both of them inside my purse along with my phone, my wallet and sneaked a peek frim my apartment window. There, I saw a person standing right outside the gate. For a while, I remained seated on the couch debating whether to go through with it or not. I gathered all my courage and closed the gates behind me.

 “Hello,” a guy wearing a jacket and cap said.

 “Hi,” I replied nervously.

 “Tara na?” he asked.  

Connect with Angie Sanchez!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorangie
Email: theangiesanchez@gmail.com

Encyclopedia Mystique 
by Racquel Sarah A. Castro

Amelia Agustin is a digital converter in the National Library of the Philippines by day and a digital artist by night. At 24, she supports Filipino Authors by buying and reading their works. She rates the books honestly but she didn’t have the courage to write a review. She has this habit of doing digital art inspired by her favorite scenes. She loves to go to Korea to visit Incheon, the newly proclaimed book capital of the world. She admires Jay Diaz, a popular newscaster/bachelor in town. Serendipity pulls them together in an embarrassing incident. Take a glimpse on where their relationship would go.


“Techie geek . . . at the national library? Interesting!” He curiously stares at me. Well, I like geek reporters with glasses. That’s why I have a little admiration, okay, a lot of admiration for him. I have glasses too by the way. That’s a match.

“See you around!” I leave him with a quick glance and a friendly wave.

Toni sees me smiling and asks, “The smile is for . . .”

“I am going to the restaurant now. Bye.”

Toni grabs a bit of my hair and asks again;”Don’t you want to meet your crush?”

“I met him just a few minutes ago. Bye Toni! I am late.”

“Call me!” Toni shouts and to my surprise, I hear another familiar voice.

“Wait! Ms. Jiu Jitsu!” Jay Diaz runs towards my way. And he calls me Ms. Jiu Jitsu?

I display a what-do-you-need stare. Jay catches his breath while saying, “Can I get your name?”

“Her name is Amelia. Do you need her number?” Toni smiles at me. I stop walking. A thought bubble seems to come out of my head: Is he interested to get my name? Or maybe he will get my name to report me to my boss?

I notice that he is an inch too close to me. I turn back to hide my smile. He immediately pronounces, “Amelia! Wait.”

“Yes.” When I turn, he is closer than half an inch and our eyes meet.

“Can you wait for me?”

I curiously glance at him with narrowed eyebrows. He clarifies, “I mean, can I do what I have to do and go with you. This won’t take too long, I promise.”

I want to ask why but my inner self appears and verbalizes aloud, “Sure.” What are you thinking Lia? Are you sure about this?

I wait for him at the lobby. Mr. Villar sees me and asks, “Are you not going to the restaurant today?”

“I am waiting for Mr. Jay Diaz. He might feature our restaurant.”

“Hidden motives huh.”

“Yes sir.” I laugh.

 “I’ll go ahead. See you on Monday!” Mr. Villar salutes me first before going upstairs.

At last, I spot Jay Diaz with his crew after 30 minutes of roaming the whole place. It is exactly 12:30 in the afternoon when we leave the national library. His crew, however, will take their lunch before going back to the place for another set of interviews.

I am about to get a cab when he shouted, “Hoy! Di ba sa akin ka sasabay.”

“Maka-hoy naman to. Sundan mo na lang yung taxi.” I get in the cab and wave farewell. While I can see him get in the car and follow the cab, I instruct the driver to take me to our restaurant.

When I arrive, I run as fast as I can. A staff greets me, “Good afternoon ma’am!” He probably observes my nervous-me-what-will-I-do glances and asks,”Ma’am Lia, sinu po tinataguan nyo?”

“Yung crush ko, kakain dito.”

“Si Jay Diaz, Ma’am?” He curiously says.

“Oo.” I intensely say with so much excitement on my voice. I ask, “Okay ba yung itsura ko?” I don’t have the time to wonder why one of my staff knows who my crush is.

“Yes. You look gorgeous.”  My dad says while he and his business partner come and I pay respect to them by pagmamano.

 Jay comes to me and says, “Huli ka!” He laughs and my dad clears his throat.

Connect with Racquel Sarah A. Castro!

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rsacastro017
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/racquelsarahcastro
Blog: http://www.racquelsarah.wordpress.com/
Email: racquelcastro2884@gmail.com
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/rsacie
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11574447.Racquel_Sarah_A_Castro
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RTBGT62

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/RacquelSarahCastro

Note: The #JustWritePH workshop, which ran from July 1 to August 8, 2015, challenged participants to write a story and prepare it for publication in a little under 6 weeks. Tips and lessons were delivered online & in person. The reward? Guaranteed distribution on Buqo, plus marketing opportunities like a bundle launch (held at Bo’s Coffee Megamall on August 22), a Facebook party, and a blog tour.

06 October 2015

#JustWritePH—For Love: Beth G., Carla de Guzman, Giselle Bacalla, and Amae Dechavez

Hey there! This is a (super) delayed post featuring the awesome work of Beth G., Carla de Guzman, Giselle Bacalla, and Amae Dechavez, whose works are all part of the #JustWritePH—For Love bundle :-)

Love is never easy, but the journey to that happily ever after is what makes it worth it.

Witness the struggles of these characters as they work their way through both new romances and second chances at love in this four-story bundle. Features “I Still…” by Beth G., “Sigh No More” by Carla de Guzman, “Velvet Valentine” by Giselle Bacalla, and “One Sweet November Day” by Amae Dechavez.

Read on for the sweet and exciting story blurbs!

I Still. . . 
by Beth G.

Jamee is head over heels with Denmark. And after several years of not seeing each other, they meet again, and Jamee cannot deny the fact that after all those years, she is still in love with him. As their renewed friendship seems to progress, all while their common college friends hold a reunion for all of them, Jamee discovers the truth behind her heartache with Denmark years ago. Will she still surrender on how she feels for Denmark and give herself a chance on love? Or will it be too late?

Connect with Beth G.!
WordPress: http://bethgstories.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bethgonline

Sigh No More 
by Carla de Guzman

Beatrice and Claudia never thought they would see Benedick and Hiro ever again, not that they wanted to. But when the business opportunity of a lifetime hinges on Ben and Hiro's work, they find themselves head over heels and crashing into the boys again. But why did they ever have to be apart in the first place? Can Hiro win Claudia's heart back? Can Beatrice and Benedick ever stop fighting? This book is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Connect with Carla de Guzman!
Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/somemidnights
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/somemidnights
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/somemidnights
Website: http://www.somemidnight.wordpress.com

Velvet Valentine 
by Giselle Bacalla

Elizabeth Mariana Hernandez Cruz, a freshmen in St. Agnes Integrated School has only one agenda; to live the life she always dreamed about in school. She grew up from a small town and studied in a small sectional school until now. As soon as stepping into high school, she vowed that things will finally change. As young, careless and naïve Elizabeth struggles her way through her freshmen year and that changed until the day she meets Isaac D. Rodriguez, a third year senior who always dropped by in her classroom. Little did she know that this boy would be the catalyst of change. After long years of house arrest, watch her adventure to discover life in a different light as she experience friendship, love and reality. “Excuse me, are you by any chance, Sakura?” “How did you know about me?” Velvet Valentine’s Elizabeth will bring you places and memories you thought you’ve long forgotten.

Connect with Giselle Bacalla!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GiselleMarisBacalla
Wordpress: http://gpicks.wordpress.com/
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/Gpicks

One Sweet November Day 
by Amae Dechavez

Nagtagpong muli si Ethan at Maylie. Sinong magaakala na pagkatapos nilang magkakilala at maging matalik na magkaibigan noong bakasyon sa Pila, Laguna ay magkikita silang muli? Sa saglit na pagkakalayo nilang dalawa ay lalong nilang napagtanto na mahal na nga nila ang isa’t isa. Kaya sa muli nilang pagkikita sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas, Los Baños ay hindi na pinalagpas pa ni Ethan ang pagkakataon niya. Sinabi niya kay Maylie ang mga katagang “Mahal kita.” “Mahal din kita” ang naging tugon ng dalaga. Girlfriend na Ethan si Maylie—first girlfriend. Ngunit magtatagal ba ang pag-iibigan nila?

Connect with Amae de Chavez!
Website:  http://amaedechavez.blogspot.com/
Email:  amaeauthor@gmail.com
Facebook:  https://facebook.com/amaeauthor
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/amaeauthor
Goodreads:  https://goodreads.com/amaeauthor
Wattpad:  https://www.wattpad.com/user/amaeauthor
Instagram:  https://instagram.com/amaeauthor/
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/amaeauthor/
Ask.fm:  http://ask.fm/amaeauthor

Congrats to all the authors of #JustWritePH!!!

Note: The #JustWritePH workshop, which ran from July 1 to August 8, 2015, challenged participants to write a story and prepare it for publication in a little under 6 weeks. Tips and lessons were delivered online & in person. The reward? Guaranteed distribution on Buqo, plus marketing opportunities like a bundle launch (held at Bo’s Coffee Megamall on August 22), a Facebook party, and a blog tour.

02 October 2015

Featured Author (October): Agay Llanera

Okay, so I know I planned to feature a different Filipino author every month, but as they say, life happened. I got so caught up with writing stories (and kindergarten---but that deserves a separate post), that I neglected the blog for a bit. But I hope to change that soon :-) So stay tuned for more featured authors, reviews, and general ramblings :-)

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Our featured author for October is Agay Llanera, author of Vintage Love, Once Upon a Player, and Choco Chip Hips :-)

Agay and I met through a common friend, and we were able to hang out a couple of times in college and after we'd graduated. Late last year, we 'found' each other on Wattpad and have since reconnected on social media.

I actually read her first #romanceclass book, Vintage Love before I realised I knew her. It was such a fun read! The narrative was beautifully textured and the descriptions were really vivid. And the sweet ending was just right :-) And I loooved Choco Chip Hips, which was released just a few months ago (read my review here).

I'm especially happy to hear that print copies of Vintage Love (Visprint) and Once Upon a Player (Spark Books) were released during the recent Manila International Book Fair *hoots, claps, and whistles*

Here's my interview with Agay:

CPS: What's the very first story you wrote? As in ever?

AL: I think I was 5 or 6 years old when I wrote “Bobby Elephant” on a sheet of pad paper. It was around three sentences short, basically describing where Bobby lived and what he liked to do. I remember even illustrating an elephant below the title.

CPS: Seriously, how much chocolate did you eat while writing Choco Chip Hips?

AL: Even when I don’t write, I consume copious amounts of chocolate. They don’t have to be the fancy-shmancy kind (for me, Twix and Mars are fancy enough); in fact, I’m content with just eating bowlfuls of powdered Milo.

CPS: How did you come up with the idea for Choco Chip Hips?

AL: I was taking zumba classes so I wanted to write something with a dancing theme. Also, if you’ve ever been to a gym, you know what the atmosphere is like: people lifting weights, treadmilling, and dancing as if their lives depended on it. I guess all that unspoken mantra of “burn, burn, burn those calories” I was exposed to on a regular basis prodded me to write about body issues as well. Before writing the story, I also consulted some writer-friends, who helped me build the foundation for the story.

CPS: Tell us a little about Jess; who's your peg for her?

AL: I have a zumba-classmate, who seems to be of high-school age. She likes dancing at the very back, and she’s the youngest in our class, composed of mostly mommies. In my head, I’m cheering her on, to not be shy of swaying her hips or twerking.

CPS: What's your writing process like? When and where do you write? Do you adhere to a schedule?

AL: I write in the afternoons when my son takes a nap. I usually aim to write 2 chapters a week. I write the first draft by hand. And then I type it on my laptop. Then I give it another run-through before uploading it on Wattpad. I upload all my works-in-progress on Wattpad because even if at least one reader reads or comments on my story, that’s enough to keep me going. Then when I’m done, I take the whole thing out of Wattpad. save for the first few chapters, and I self-publish it (after it goes through beta-reading and professional editing, of course). I write at the foot of my son’s bed, on the floor.

CPS: In the books you've published, who's your favourite character and why?

AL: (sighs) Must I choose? I fell in love with all of them. But someone puts a gun to my head and demands an answer, I’d choose Jessie from Choco Chip Hips because I love her transformation from wishy-washy to girl on fire.

CPS: You've written NA and YA romances, is there any genre you'd like to experiment with in the future?

AL: I’d like to write more YA stuff, but I’d also like to come up with mommy lit—basically stuff that Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Berg come up with. Novellas that are more adult in tone, dealing with adult issues, and exposing the complexity and vulnerability of the late 30s to 40s age group.

Vintage Love's new cover (Visprint ed.)

CPS: What are you currently working on?

AL: A New Adult something called This Side of Sunny. You can check out its progress on Wattpad.

CPS: Any advice for aspiring writers?

AL: Write, write, write. Learn to be critical of your own work. Listen to feedback. Don’t over edit, and publish as soon as you can. Then move on to the next, making sure you’ve learned from the last.

New releases from Spark Books! Can't wait to get my hands on them :-)

CPS: Where can we get copies of your books?

AL: E-books are on Amazon, Buqo and Smashwords. Physical copies of Vintage Love and Once upon a Player are available in local bookstores.

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Thanks very much Agay!

And hope to see Mela and Paolo's story on Amazon soon :-)