Go Ahead--Judge It By Its Cover

Chrissie Peria's All's Fair in Blog and War was the first piece published under Mina Esguerra's #romanceclass--a good thing 'cause it pretty much set the bar for the succeeding novellas.

 First off, it had a pretty, pretty cover that had everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing, and buying the book on the spot. So if you were one of those who did just that, then you made the right decision because the story is as charming as its cover.

 The book talks about the rivalry between Five and Jesse, travel bloggers who find themselves partners in a press junket to Macau.

I loved how the book had seamlessly woven the travel bit with the characters' own romantic journey. It also gave me an inside look on how professional blogging works, and how romantic Macau could be. It was so successful in packaging Macau as a place of romance that I thought the country should be pegged as "Asia's Paris." And yes, it made me want to go there, and bring the book along with me as an unofficial travel guide.

So if you're looking for a light, quick read, take a chance on this independently published book. It will definitely add color (love the combined sparkly purple and pink), not only to your bookshelf, but also to an otherwise doldrum day.


[Blog Tour]: Guardians of Tradition by Mae Astrid Tobias

Mae Astrid Tobias (1979-2009)
Author, Explorer, and My All-Around "Go go go" Girl

I met Astrid when were both writers for a DepEd-sponsored children's show back in 2002. While thinking of ways how to creatively explain to kiddie viewers the technicalities of Filipino language such as the "parirala," "kataga" and "karaniwan at 'di pangkaraniwang ayos ng pangungusap," we bonded over our love for children's literature, along with writers from the other shows.

Two years later, I joined KUTING, an organization of writers for children, of which Astrid became a president for two years. Under her leadership, there came an influx of promotional projects and publishing opportunities. And it was because of her "powers of negotiation" that I was able to publish my first ever book via the environmental NGO, Haribon

As the years passed, my friendship with Astrid, along with my two other KUTING-mates Dang and Liwliwagrew. This led to a series of pajama parties, wherein we had massages, and basically gabbed about our writerly and travel (both of equal importance) plans. We pegged Astrid as the "go go go girl" because that was her favorite expression.  If you'd say you want to go to Europe, win a Palanca, or go swimming in the ADMU GS pool next week, she'd get all excited for you and say, "Go, go, go!"

Even when it came to planning our group trips, she had this sense of urgency--she wanted to do everything right away. The rest of us would just sit back, marvel at her endless enthusiasm and energy, and would reply (a bit condescendingly): Relax lang, Astrid. Marami pa tayong oras.

Little did we know that Astrid was right to urge us on, to force us to get off our butts to do things with her. She didn't know it herself either, but a year later after our first barkada trip to Bohol, she succumbed to lupus.

It was a shock, yes, but also a wake up call. A year after her demise, Liwliwa, Dang and I hiked up Mount Pulag (included in Astrid's travel wish list) and upon reaching the summit, shouted her name as a glorious sunrise unfurled before us. 

Even after she had left, Astrid still moved us to start achieving things. She had left an unfinished children's book in her wake, and I volunteered to continue writing it. My byline's right there on the cover, but really, I merely continued the work she started.

And so now, I am more than happy to talk about another wonderful work of hers that perfectly melds her two advocacies: empowering children and championing our Filipino-ness.

Who are the indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines? Guardians of Tradition is full of facts about 11 of Philippine master weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths whose talents and skills have earned them the title Manlilikha ng Bayan. Designed to help children recognize native Filipino ingenuity and creativity, the book includes fun activities to promote appreciation for culture and arts. Guardians of Tradition has a fun and colorful design that appeals to young readers.

For the duration of the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour, Guardians of Tradition is available at discounted prize at the Adarna showroom in Quezon City. For international readers and Filipinos abroad, an ebook version is coming soon.

Read up on it on Goodreads, and order it through Adarna Books.

Here's an excerpt from the section, Blanket of Dreams:

"Lang Dulay of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato has been weaving t’nalak since she was twelve years old. T’nalak is what the T’boli call the three-colored cloth made from fine abaca fiber. The three colors of the t’nalak represent the three places where the T’boli believe the soul goes when one dies. Hitem (black) is for people who died because of natural causes. Hulo (red) for those who died violently like by a bullet or a blade. Bukay (white) is for those who take taken their lives and those whose deaths were untimely.

The T’boli weavers, like Lang Dulay, get the designs for their t’nalak from their dreams. They believe that when Fu Dalu, the spirit of the abaca, shows them the design in their dreams, they must immediately weave it into cloth or else they might fall ill and soon forget the pattern. Sometimes, the designs are passed on from generation to generation, from grandmother to grandchild. Lang Dulay knows a hundred designs like the bulinglangit (clouds), the bangkiring (hair bangs), and the kabangi (butterfly).

When Lang Dulay became a Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee, she was able to build a traditional long house where she teaches younger women how to weave."

Interested? Well, go ahead and join the raffle (Astrid would love this part) with the following as giveaways:
One $25 Amazon Gift Card + signed copy of Guardians of Tradition from Adarna + 1 CD of National Living Treasure Bayan Sumaon Sulaiman from NCCA
3 $10 Amazon Gift Card + signed copy of Guardians of Tradition from Adarna + 1 CD of National Living Treasure Bayan Sumaon Sulaiman from NCCA
6 signed copies of Guardians of Tradition from Adarna + 6 CDs of National Living Treasure Bayan Sumaon Sulaiman from NCCA

Just join the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finally, I leave you with Astrid's official bio that screams "Go, go, go!" from start to finish.  

Mae Astrid Tobias (1979-2009) was a Palanca-award winning author of children's books. In addition to Guardians of Tradition, her books include Blue Bananas (Crucible), Bayong ng Kuting (Lampara Books), My Forest Friends (Haribon), Bakawan (Adarna Books) and two books retelling the Ifugao traditional chant, hudhud. These are Halikpon: A Retelling of an Ancient Ifugao Chant and Pumbakhayon: An Origin Myth of the Ifugao Hudhud. Both are finalists for children’s literature and best design in the 2006 National Book Awards of the Manila Critics Circle.

She also spent several years in the field of children’s television. She served as the Manila Bureau Manager of Kabataan News Network, a project of UNICEF and Probe Media Foundation that trains young people nationwide how to produce their own broadcast quality documentaries. She also also wrote episodes for children shows like Sirit!, and ABS-CBN and Eskuwela ng Bayan, as well as worked for Philippine Junior Inquirer and Shell Foundation. She was a member of Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting  (KUTING), an organization of Filipino writers for children.

I'm so proud of you, pinktikbalang. We miss you very much.


#romanceclass invades Aklatan

#romanceclass met last saturday to put our heads together so we could come up with publishing/promotion ideas for our books. Then we all trudged up to the AKLATAN book fair where we had an actual table alongside publishing veterans. Self-publishers unite!

#romanceclass books' first playdate. They were all different, but that didn't stop them from liking each other.

These are only some of the novellas of our mentor Mina V. Esguerra. When I feel lazy about continuing my second novella, I only have to think of her prolific awesomeness.


This Week's Happenings

1. Paperback copies of Vintage Love

And because a lot of people still liked to feel the paper in their hands while reading, I decided to have VL printed in paperback. The books are cute little things, only 9x6 in size, printed on 104 pages of white paper.  I would've loved for the font size to be bigger (currently it's 9.5, Garamond) but doing so would make it more expensive.

They're ready to be shipped to readers within the Philippines, but if you're abroad and would like to purchase a copy, you can do so thru the ever reliable Amazon.

If you want to buy a copy, and you're in the country, kindly  send me a DM thru my Facebook page.

2. Which bring me to the 2nd "this week's happenings" item--finally made myself an FB page!  I didn't want to spam my non-reading friends on my personal account about #romanceclass updates and my writing endeavors, so I decided to keep that part of my life separate.

3. #romance class has a table at AKLATAN, The First All-Filipino Book Festival, happening later. Our guru Mina V. Esguerra and hubby Michael Co (also an indie-published author) arranged the whole thing, and we're psyched--even with all the last-minute preparations. I'm blessed to be part of a writing group that's grounded on generosity and good vibes. Yesterday, my family and I went to the neighborhood printer to have Vintage Love bookmarks ready as giveaways for the event.

Hope to see you at AKLATAN at the Alphaland Mall, near the Magallanes MRT station.


a book review!

Book reviews (especially 'em positive ones) affirm my efforts as a writer. Though some may argue that chick-lit is all feel-good fluff, it doesn't mean that it can be written without effort. And it did take a lot of effort for me to finish and revise the novella, and to finally self-publish it.

So yes, I'm tickled pink with my first Amazon customer review, and with this quick review from one of the blogs I secretly stalk. 



author interview

I was interviewed by contemporary romance guru Mina V. Esguerra in her blog. Do check it out :-)


Contest Time!

I like joining writing contests, especially for this organization because the people there come up with the most beautifully designed and illustrated children's books, as well as the coolest projects that promote local culture.

Their annual writing competition is up and running. Click here to find out the details.

I've joined it a couple of times, and I haven't won top prize.  I did gain honorable mention thrice, I think.  And the first time I did, the organizers decided to publish my story.

You can view it here, and purchase it here.

Light and love, everyone!


It's out!

Finally promoted ze book on FB and Twitter!

Now, to twiddle my thumbs and hope people purchase the book, and write their reviews.

Here's a high-res of the book cover made by the talented Gerry Isaac! Check out his blog to see how he created the cover art. Thanks, Gerry!

Purchase the book on Amazon.
Purchase the book on Smashwords.

Again and Again

And so, I revised the digital copy for the last time--or so I thought. After uploading it on my Kindle, I found two errors.

And so once again, I'm waiting for the book to be published until I can re-upload the final final final version. I swear, I'm not gonna read it anymore lest I find more errors. (don't follow my lead, writers)

In other news, here's what I posted in #romanceclass, the online class on romance novella writing initiated by Mina V. Esguerra about how I finished the whole thing.

my romance novella writing experience:

so yes, i cheated. technically, i already had my novella written even before i joined this class. i wrote it on my last trimester of pregnancy last year. i don't know why, but i just felt the need to do something creative--something that required more effort than the usual before i popped. i started by writing a YA novella. i couldn't progress beyond the 2nd chapter. so i figured, why not try writing a romance novella?

i trawled the net for tips on novel writing. also, pregnancy made my brain feel nice and fuzzy. all it craved were chick-lit books. that was part of research. 

i basically did the following steps:
1) mapped out MC's character. this will determine her voice, decisions and ultimately, her fate.
2) had a general idea of the storyline.
3) but to make sure i had enough material to stretch it into chapters, i wrote a synopsis for each chapter. no judgment, no grammar checking. white-heat writing first so i can make some progress.
4) then everyday, i made sure i put in some work. i allotted two days per chapter.

i started the project 2 months before i gave birth. and i finished it 2 weeks before my due date. so it's doable! i'm glad i wrote it then because now, with an almost one-year-old EBFeeding (plus my regular home-based work), i don't think I'd be able to wing it.

happy writing, everyone!


unofficially published

And so I clicked on Publish on Kindle before I gave my book a final proofreading.  A momentary panic moment there when I thought there was no turning back.  Thankfully, I found out I could still edit my story once it's been published (after 12 hours).

So, no reason to advertise the book yet. Hopefully, it'll be up on payday Monday next week!


Still At It

My self-deadline for publishing the novella online is in less than two weeks. Dearest Universe, please help me make it.

My artist-friend sent the study for the cover last night, and I was pleasantly surprised by his work.  It was his first time to design a book cover (a romance novella at that), and I liked how he made it cartoonish. I felt it matched the story's vibe.  

I just hope I can mold the story in its best version possible. I feel like I'm a horseshoe craftsman, heating up and pounding the story into shape.