romanceclass is a community of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance written by Filipino authors. Whether they’re a reader or an author, all community members have their romanceclass origin story… various stories of how and when they joined the community. romanceclass origins is a blog feature that highlights these origin stories.
Visit the earlier romanceclass origins posts here. Today, prolific author Carla de Guzman is here to talk about how she first started attending romanceclass events with siblings in tow. Please give Carla a warm welcome!
1) How did you discover romanceclass?
In the summer of 2015, I wrote a book. Oh man, I thought I was so amazing. It was a book about different cities and different universes, and I didn’t know it at the time, but it was not romance. After I finished it, I thought I would find someone who might want to publish it. But there’s nothing more painful than being told “why don’t you publish your book on Wattpad first and gain a couple of thousand readers before we publish it?” Ouch.
While desperately Googling and querying, I stumbled upon Alyssa Urbano, who was my batchmate in school. I saw she was self-published and asked her about it. She told me about Bronze Age Media and encouraged me to get in touch. Tania Arpa talked to me first. Looking back I was very, very persistent, haha. After they agreed to help me publish Cities, Tania and I worked together on the cover. Layla Tanjutco finished the first book of mine she would edit. Liana Smith Bautista would later organize the blog tour. Then Mina V. Esguerra and I met in Coffee Bean in Greenhills. She showed me how Amazon worked. I remember she said, “Congratulations, you’re a published author now!” So surreal.
The next thing I knew, I was being added to this group on Facebook called romanceclass, and we were being invited to attend this ‘secret thing’ at The Study in Podium. Me being a very awkward turtle, I brought along my sister (I would bring siblings for at least the next two live readings) and we heard the very first live readings by Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates. I didn’t know anybody, and barely spoke to anyone. Up until April Feels Day 2016, I still had a sibling around! Apparently being in a small space with sweaty people buying each others books makes for great bonding.
Then there was workshop season, where I joined #SparkNA, #StrangeLit, #romanceclass2016 where I wrote If The Dress Fits and #romanceclasss2017 where I wrote Making A Scene. Whirlwind years, my friends.
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2) What does being part of the romanceclass community mean to you?
When I first joined, I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to mean for me. At the time it was just a group of people, recommending books, talking about handsome guys.
But later on, romanceclass became a safe space. I can say “hey, that guy looks really really cute!” and not have anyone look at me oddly, in fact they would even nod and agree! That was so new to me. I could write smut and ask questions I could never ask anyone. I could say “hey, this book has a hot and grumpy British actor and maybe I’ll like it” and people will actually encourage that. I can say that I want to write a book about a plus size girl falling in love with this tall, cute boy and they’ll actually say “why not?” instead of “why?” You say you’re a writer and people look at you funny still.
Suddenly, here are all these people who just know things. Like how fun it is to watch a good musical when you’re with friends, what it feels to drown in feelings and what it feels like to suddenly find a community. Suddenly, I have… people. I never thought I would have people.
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SO THIS IS WHAT ITS LIKE TO HAVE PROM. Or is it? My prom had ~steamy live readings, so many kilig moments that we’re still not totally recovered from, and it only made me want to write more. My book was read, and I had no idea that my words sounded so...okay? And makes people look at me like “YOU! WROTE! THAT!” which is good. It’s good right? Here’s to good friends who push you to pose for things, safe spaces and things that are consensual, responsible and hot! 😉 . . . . Photos from @_jesuiag @pauiiianne and @minavesguerra #feelssoprom #romanceclass #romanceclassbooks
3) What are your recommended romanceclass reads?
WHY YOU ASK THIS? It’s hard to choose books because I love them all and in very different ways.
I think everyone should read Tara Frejas’ Waiting in the Wings and Like Nobody’s Watching because she writes with her heart on the page, and we all need that. I like soft boys and tough girls, which is why I would recommend Jay’s Songs To Get Over You. If you want to read Mina V. Esguerra’s books, start with No Strings Attached and That Kind of Guy.
And then I would hop on over to Bucket List to Love by CP Santi, Cover Story Girl by Chris Mariano and The Kitchen When It Sizzles by Chrissie Peria. And of course Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes for the lightsabers. And then you jump into One Night at the Palace Hotel by Bianca Mori, Submission Moves by Camilla Sisco are SUPER HOT. Ana Tejano’s Keep The Faith is fun and easy to read, and I round it all up with Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera because of the tears and the cookies.
I could recommend more, I could talk about these books all day.
If you ask Carla what she does for a living, she will tell you that she’s not quite sure.
By day, she works a regular day job and writes for a lifestyle website. By night, she’s an author and an artist, spending her midnights at her desk and making these silly love stories. She loves to travel, coming home to her dog Kimchi and spending her weekends having dinner with her crazy family.
She’s currently on a quest to see as many Impressionist paintings as she can, and is always in search of the perfect pain au chocolat.