My feels from the Feels for Sale

I went to the MIBF on the first day, my only free day to go the event, for a few hours in the morning. I had to leave right away after lunch because Quezon City felt like a separate province from Pasay, and I didn't want to contend with the late afternoon traffic.

In the few hours I spent there, I was again reminded why I write, and why I have chosen to continue to write.

photo by Mina

We care about each other.

The first stall that greeted me when I entered the venue was the huge NBS setup, and right beside it was (surprise, surprise) . . . the #romanceclass booth manned by Six (A Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions) and Pach (The Bye-Bye Bouquet). Six welcomed me with a hug and Pach immediately offered me her seat, and I just thought how nice it was to be part of writing community made up of nice people. These two writers have landed book deals with one of the country's biggest publishing companies, and I'm so very proud of them for doing what they do.

Later on, I saw Tara (Paper Planes Back Home), ever smiling and supportive of other authors. I watched her in action as she patiently explained the plot of another author's book (Jay's Songs of Our Breakup) to a customer, who eventually bought said book. Tara's own book was sold out on the first day, and I think that this has a lot to do, not only with her writing skills, but also her positive aura. It makes people want to read her stories because if they're as likeable as the author, then they're must-buys!

photo by Gette's friend

Gette (Classified) was also there from Dumaguete to make chika to customers and write out the receipts. Later on, she was interviewed by a news program, and I think she put it best when she said that what makes romance sell is the desire for a "happy ever after." April (binibini.net), book blogger extraordinaire and #romanceclass' all-around PR person was also there to cheer everyone on. I bumped into Chrissie (The Kitchen When It Sizzles), one of my first ever friends in #romanceclass, who was with her family.

All these people created an atmosphere of fun, passion and positivity that made people want to linger in the booth.

People actually read our books!
I do wonder sometimes if people actually read my work since my books' Amazon pages aren't exactly overflowing with ratings. But there is a silent force out there, moving stealthily among bookstore aisles, tweets, blogs, and FB posts, looking for the next kilig read. And they care that you're working on your next book. They care about the characters you've created. They care about supporting indie writers. These people matter, even if we don't know them, even if they don't make themselves known.

photo by Mina

For every book you create, there's a market out there that's just waiting to be tapped. When someone from the UP Diliman faculty approached us, wanting to buy ALL the titles (one of each) in the #romanceclass catalogue, our jaws dropped. Someone wanted our books in the UP Library! And that person was pleasantly surprised to find out that #romanceclass didn't just sell romance--we also offered fantasy, mystery, crime, and YA fare that will be read soon by college students of our country's premier university!

We're all in this together.
Personally, I write to escape. If I just went through the routines of being a mother, employee, wife, daughter, sister, and other roles that I play, life would still be pretty much okay. But there's always that elusive something we long for--that extra spice, that extra kick to keep us going day after day. And I'm blessed to discover that my poison of choice is writing.

The readers who pick up our books, I'm sure, are also doing so to make their lives richer, more exciting. We all need our own private sanctuaries to retreat into. A happy, sacred place that no one else can touch. It's almost a spiritual thing, to give yourself wholly (in moments) to something outside yourself. To immerse in something that feeds your soul and makes it easier to go through life's not-so-smooth patches.

In all corners of the MIBF, I felt that sense of magic of being with kindred spirits. We were all paying tribute to the wonders of the written word, unabashedly waxing poetic over hoarded books that speak of love, life, death and everything in between. It's a world we can't fully understand, but are all very grateful for.

So to everyone who's with us on this journey, and to Mina, who sparked the whole thing and continues to spark other things, THANK YOU. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Thank you for teaching us to make room for joy in our lives.

photo by Mina


Giving Love a Second Chance

One the most generous writers I know, C.P. Santi, has a new romance book out!

Maybe This Time: Stories of Love and Second Chances  contains three heart-warming stories of love and second chances. 

Check out the story blurbs:

In Sweeter by the Second, when paintings conservator Rina David arrives for the Arts Festival in the heritage town of Jimenez, she’s reunited with Tony, the guy she once loved and lost. Now vice-mayor of Jimenez, Tony wants Rina back in his life and will do everything he can to convince her that they belong together.

Pamela Quiroz hatches a plot to get her parents back together in Exorcising my Ex. But will a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner succeed in reconciling Geno and Viv? After all, it’s been more than fifteen years since they first got together and they aren’t the hormone-driven teenagers they once were. Will wine and cheese balls still do the trick?

Torch, meet hand. Arne Weichmann has been waiting twenty-one years for Bea. Is it finally the right time to make his move and convince her that they are Meant to Be? He hopes so. Because he doesn't think he’ll survive losing the one person who brought warmth and sunshine to his life. 

To know more about the book and the author herself, C.P. answered a few of my questions:

What made you decide to write an anthology this time?
It all started when I wrote Sweeter by the Second, a short story for #TalesFromTheMetro. The 5k word restriction was both a challenge and a blessing. I didn't think I'd be able to do it---I'm often overly verbose---so to have finished a story within a couple of weeks gave me a real rush. The story got good reviews and that inspired me to write more. When Ines Bautista-Yao published a collection of shorts, I thought it was a great idea, and so I emulated (read: copied) her example :-) Plus, it seemed a great idea to (finally) do something about some of the plot bunnies hopping in my head.

Among the three stories, which one did you find the most challenging to write? Why?
That would be Exorcising my Ex, because it featured an unconventional (albeit very real) situation. In the story, Viv and Geno---both on the cusp of adulthood---have a baby together. I examine their choices----how they cope with the responsibility of caring for their daughter and how they go about achieving their dreams. From the onset, I didn't want to assign right/wrong or good/bad roles. The gray area in between was a bit hard to figure out, but it was fun. I explored how a young couple could drift apart, and how, as adults, they try to recover what they lost. And in the end, I think that was what made Viv and Geno(and sPammy)'s ending really satisfying for me.  :-)

How do you find the time to write?
I usually sneak in a couple of paragraphs when my kids are napping / watching Frozen or Lion King or while I'm cooking in the kitchen. I perch my laptop on my breadmaker so it's easily accessible (and unreachable by my kids). Sometimes I write or dictate conversations or ideas on my phone. At least, that was how I wrote the first two stories. The last story was written---almost entirely in longhand---in less than a week, while I was waiting for my son at summer school. That was my most productive period ever. Can't wait for school to start again. Hahaha!

If your writing style is a color, what would it be? Why?
Wooow! I love this question! I think it'd be yellow, which incidentally is also my favorite color :-) Yellow (at least to me) is bright, sunshiny, and happy. It can be loud and quirky, but it can also have mellow undertones. Basically, I love reading fluffy, funny, happy romances with a dash of weird thrown in, and so I try to write more of the same.

Any other books in the pipeline?
I just finished the first draft of Dare To Love Dangerously, a contemporary novella about a single mom who finds love again :-) Gia, the main character, is an architect involved in the conservation and restoration of cultural properties (a topic very close to my heart). It also features a hot, inked anthropology professor, a couple of cool priests, a lot of travel (Laguna, Ilocos, and Bohol), and a wacky, drunken, open-yourself-to-love crystal healing session. I hope to release it in October, just in time for the anniversary of the Bohol earthquake (which sort of features in the story). 

To give you a taste of her book, here's an excerpt from the story she found most challenging to write:

Exorcising my Ex
I glanced at my watch just to make sure—my efficient, punctual daughter was officially ten minutes late. Smirking, I thought of all the mileage I’d get from teasing her about it. Pam got riled almost as easily as her mother did.
Just as if I had conjured her from thin air, a tall brunette appeared in the doorway. Her long hair was perfectly styled, and her sleeveless shift fit lovingly over her trim curves. Large eyes, framed by the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen, slowly scanned the room. The moment they met mine, they flared in surprise before narrowing.
I rose to greet her. “Viv. This is a surprise.” I bussed her cheek, lingering a moment longer than necessary.
She drew back, but not before I heard her sharp intake of breath. Glancing around, she asked, “Where’s Pam?”
“On her way, I suppose.” I helped her into a seat. “Didn't know you’d be here today, Viv.”
“I didn't know you’d be here either.”
“Hmm. I wonder if—” I broke off as both our phones vibrated.
Sure enough, it was a lengthy message from Pam:

Pam: Hi, Mom and Dad!
Yes, I’m with Tita Joy and I’ll be sleeping over at their place with her and Kesha tonight.
Yes, this is a setup. Happy anniversary! :-) Yeah, I know you never married, but when you were together, this was your anniversary (it was in mom’s scrapbook). This was also probably the day I was conceived fourteen years ago, so Happy Conception Day to me, too *\(ˆoˆ)⁄*
Anyway, I just thought that now Mom is back in town again it would be nice if you could catch up with each other.
I already paid for dinner. This took quite a chunk out of my med school nest egg, so you guys better sit and enjoy it.
I love you both!
P.S. I really, really don’t want to be grounded forever. I love you!

I shook my head. My girl was devious. Just like her Dad.

Pre-order this book on Amazon and rate in on Goodreads.

About C.P. Santi
C. P. Santi is a Filipina author based in Tokyo, Japan. She is a wife to an engineer / indie songwriter and a full-time mom to two energetic boys. She loves cooking and baking, and enjoys feeding people, gorging on chocolate, watching J-doramas, belting it out in the karaoke box, and running around the house playing tickle tag. She also loves dreaming up stories about the people she meets.

In another life, she is also an architect and academic.

Social Media links:
Blog: http://thejapayukichronicles.blogspot.jp
Twitter: https://twitter.com/arkiCpsanti
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CPsantiauthor?ref=hl
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/cpsanti
Instagram: https://instagram.com/arkicpsanti/