Feels Fest 2017: a romanceclass event

FeelsFest

Feels Fest 2017 was a romanceclass event held last weekend. More than a week has passed by and I still don’t think I’ve recovered from the feels and fun brought by this event. And I’m not even sure how to articulate what went on but let me try! This was only the second Feels event that I’ve attended since coming home in June, the first was Feels So Hot. Feels So Hot was already different from previous romanceclass events because the excerpts read during the live readings were steamy scenes. But I feel like Feels Fest 2017 has gone up to a whole different level of awesome. It’s like the best kind of bookish party where it’s really a celebration of Filipino romance.

Some highlights and pictures that I posted on my Instagram account, swipe left to see all the pictures:

You know that feeling when you're with people who love the same things you do, who understand you and accept you for who you are and what you're capable of? A warm and welcoming crowd, everyone giving as much of themselves as they can, extreme appreciation of what is offered, conversations that don't quit, hugs all around. The very definition of being part of a community. That's what it means to be in #romanceclass. ALWAYS A BLAST! Kayo talaga yung dahilan kung bakit ako umuwi ng Pinas, cheret. Love you, guys.πŸ’•πŸ™Œ Thanks for being extra. #FeelsFest2017 . . . . PS: "Landian" in Filipino means "flirting" so #romancelandian is romance + flirting, a play on #romancelandia coined by @readbyher. Just add one more letter, totally different meaning.πŸ‘Œ

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I won’t repeat what I said in the caption above, but that captures perfectly how I felt about Feels Fest. Here is a Twitter thread with even more pictures from my phone, click on it and scroll down to see a flew of pictures from the event:

I think it’s pretty obvious that I enjoyed the whole event, but there were new things that have never been done in a previous romanceclass event that I wanted to highlight. One was poetry readings, adapted by Tara Frejas from books by Dawn Lanuza and Layla Tanjutco:

Feels Fest poetry readings

Another one was a real theater production of a scene from Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra. During live readings, the actors usually read out the scenes from sheets of paper that they’re holding. But this time, Gio and Rachel acted out a scene from Mina’s book and A REAL KISS HAPPENED. My heart! And it’s one of my favorite romanceclass books too, my first ever Mina book.

Fairy Tail Fail - Gio and Rachel kiss

The other one is Fred and Vanya singing a song from the musical Dear Evan Hansen, that I absolutely loved. Both of them were amazing, but also the message of the song is filled with so much emotion. Now I want to watch Dear Evan Hansen! But I believe it’s only being shown on Broadway so good luck, not sure that will ever happen.

Last but not the least, fellow romanceclass ninjas April, Jothee, Kat and I had so much fun putting together a video of members of the international romance community sharing greetings and messages of hope and encouragement to the romanceclass community. I thought it was a lovely way of showing how the romanceclass community ties together with the larger international romance community.

Thank you so much, Lucy Parker, Lydia San Andres, Eloisa James, Courtney Milan, Laura Florand, Sarah Wendell, Sarina White Bowen, Jennifer Hallock, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Tif Marcelo and Beverly Jenkins!

As if we didn’t have enough going on during the event (or maybe because we’re clingy?), a huge group had dinner at a Korean restaurant, followed by drinks and a sleepover. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Feels Fest - Korean dinner

Definitely a weekend well spent! If you want to learn more about Feels Fest 2017, feel free to watch the videos in two Youtube channels I shared below. Also, you can go through the other recaps I’ve linked to. We all have different perspectives and pictures of the event.

Videos from the program of the event:
Gela Uy’s Youtube
Veronica’s Youtube

Recap from other event attendees:
Veronica at Brain Tabs
Ben at Idle Hands
Tara at her website
Fay on her blog
Mina at her website

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Introducing romanceclassFlair

romanceclassFlair

I’m super excited to share this news with all of you! If you follow me and the #romanceclass hashtag on social media, you’ll be seeing a lot of this in the coming months. FLAIR (or #romanceclassFlair) is a new, ongoing project to release steamy contemporary romance (in English) by Filipino authors. There are four new titles from four different romanceclass authors about to be released, and these books will be unapologetically sexy.

Flair is not a publisher, but there is a single Flair team that is working with the authors on all the books. The team is composed of romanceclass community authors, readers, editors, designers. We all agreed on what sexy contemporary Filipino romance should be, and the books should show it. What can you expect? Alternating POV. New ways of telling favorite tropes. Filipino characters. Lots of heat.

The first Flair book will be released in November. Follow romanceclass books on these social media accounts to see more details in the coming weeks: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

romanceclass origins: A New Blog Feature

romanceclass origins

I’m thrilled to introduce a new blog feature called romanceclass origins! If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would have heard me mention romanceclass several times. If you’re new here, romanceclass is a community of:
– Authors who attended romanceclass, the steamy reads, YA classes organized by Mina V. Esguerra
– Readers of the books by those authors
– Readers of English-language romance books by Filipino authors

Basically a group of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance written by Filipino authors. The first actual class was held in 2013. Since then, 78 authors have written and published more than 150 books (some have gone on to be traditionally published both locally in the Philippines and internationally). Alongside that growth, the community has also gained a solid readership base that will hopefully keep growing in time.

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. These are what I want to highlight with romanceclass origins. The blog posts would be interesting for community members, and would also serve as an introduction to romanceclass for those who aren’t familiar with it. I would like to thank Mina and Layla for helping me come up with the feature name when we recently met up, and for Miles Tan for creating the logo for this feature. I’m keeping it simple with three questions, and I thought it would be fun to start things off with my own answers. πŸ™‚

1) How did you discover romanceclass?
I met Mina and have read her books before she started romanceclass. Authors Chris Mariano and Ana Tejano were book bloggers like me before their romanceclass books were published, so I feel like we’re sort of batchmates. πŸ˜› I love reading and supporting books written by Filipino authors so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since romanceclass books have been released, and that’s how I started meeting other members of the community.

2) What does being part of the romanceclass community mean to you?
I’m very grateful to be part of the romanceclass community, in various capacities over the years. I borrowed my good friend April’s words and have called myself a romanceclass ninja, because I feel like that best describes and encapsulates my involvement in the community. I’ve talked about having a sense of belonging in the worldwide online book community in a previous post, and that’s how I feel about being a member of the romanceclass community. I feel like I’ve carved out a niche for myself, and I’ve found people who enjoy reading as much as I do, read the same type of books that I like (ROMANCE), and are more than happy to have discussions about these books. More than that, I enjoy actively participating in the various events that the romanceclass community has, or even just the impromptu meet ups with other readers and authors. I love that being involved in the community simply means putting your hand up when something is needed, or randomly volunteering to do something that you think would be beneficial to other people. I feel like the romanceclass community is such a supportive, warm and welcoming group. I have met so many wonderful people through romanceclass, and it will take way too long to list all of them. You know who you guys are, and I want to thank all of you for making me feel like I’ve found my people. ❀

Some pictures to show how much fun we have, swipe left to see everything:

3) What are your recommended romanceclass reads?
Here are some of the titles I’ve enjoyed reading, linked to my reviews if I have them:

Fairy Tale Fail 2017 Learning to Fall Better At Weddings Than You cover Iris After the Incident What You Wanted

Cover-Story-Girl Choco Chip Hips Loveless Childless Clueless One Night at the Palace Hotel Feels Like Summer

Mina is one of the most prolific authors in the group, so I’ve read and enjoyed the most number of books written by her, but there are many other authors in my TBR list. I actually feel bad that my TBR pile is longer than the list of books that I’ve already read. Forgive me for being a slow reader! I feel like romanceclass authors publish books faster than I can read them. All of these books are available as Kindle editions on Amazon, so you can get a copy wherever you are as long as you have an Amazon account.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading this first ever romanceclass origins post! I’m hoping to make this a weekly feature, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ll be asking some of the romanceclass authors and readers I know personally to join this, but please feel free to reach out to me if you want to participate. πŸ™‚ To those joining the FeelsFest 2017 event tomorrow, see you soon!

Ten Hidden Gems in Filipino Romance

Top Ten Tuesday2

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in ages! As always, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a freebie, we get to highlight hidden gems in any genre of our choice. Since August is Buwan Ng Mga Akdang Pinoy can be roughly translated as β€œMonth of Filipino Authors” or even β€œMonth of Filipino Books”. I mostly read romanceclass books (Indie pubbed Filipino romance written in English) so that’s what I choose to focus on for this post. πŸ˜€

romanceclass-logo

There are a few romanceclass titles that have gotten international recognition, such as Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra which was reviewed on Dear Author or Beginner’s Guide by Six de los Reyes which was reviewed on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and was included in NPR’s Book Concierge last year. But most of the titles are more under-the-radar, which is a shame because I think they can have appeal to a wider audience. Here are five romanceclass titles that I consider as hidden gems:

Feels Like Summer Iris After the Incident Cover-Story-Girl One Night at the Palace Hotel

And here are five more that I haven’t read yet, but are high on my TBR pile because of recommendations… these books would be my introduction to these authors:

If the Dress Fits Songs of Our Breakup The Princess Finds Her Match What About Today Waiting in the Wings

All of these are available as Kindle editions on Amazon, so you can buy copies of them wherever you are. I actually created a Twitter thread of Filipino romance titles in English that are currently on sale, in case you want to go through the list which already has links to the Amazon page of each book:

Some of them aren’t 0.99usd anymore but still pretty affordable! Some will be on promo price until the end of the month. I’ve been adding titles to the thread as their prices drop, and I’ve also been one clicking like crazy and stocking up on books that have been on my wishlist. πŸ˜›

Have you read any romances by Filipino authors? Let me know what you thought of them. If you’re familiar with romanceclass and have read books from the community, please feel free to share your own favorites and recommendations in the comments section. πŸ™‚

Cebu: Vacation and #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

Hello, WordPress followers! If you also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Litsy, then you would know that I was on vacation on Cebu for a few days. Cebu is one of the provinces in the Visayas region in the Philippines, and I went to Moalboal and Cebu City. It was my first time in Cebu and I had a great time! Also realized that the last time I traveled on a domestic flight was in 2011 when I went to Bohol. I’m hoping to be able to do more local travel in the near future. While I was in Cebu, I was able to do some #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy posts so I’m including those in this update.

In Moalboal, we stayed at the gorgeous Hale Manna resort, which is owned by Liana’s family. Liana blogs at Will Read for Feels and I met her through the circle of romance readers in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me at how I keep meeting awesome bookish people, both online and in real life. I was able to meet with Liana while in Cebu, first at Moalboal and then we traveled together back to Cebu City. Here are some pictures of Hale Manna in Moalboal, swipe left to see all of them:

In Cebu City, first stop was Liana’s book cafe called Books and Brews. I love book cafes and if I lived in Cebu, I would definitely be a regular in this one. The cafe has an extensive selection of books written by Filipino and foreign authors which you can read while hanging out at the place. It’s also cozy and comfortable and a good place to study or work in, if you would prefer not to read.

When I was researching on what places I’d like to visit in Cebu, I knew I would want to check out ancestral houses if there were any in the area. We got to visit two of them: Casa Gorordo and Yap-Sandiego House. I’m a sucker for historic places and these two were a pleasure to view. They’re both typical “balay na tisa” or “bahay na bato”, built in the 1800’s with a mix of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences.

We also got to see Museo Sugbo, which is Cebu’s provincial museum. It was previously a provincial jail but has been converted to showcase the history of the province.

Last, but certainly not the least was getting to try the food options in Cebu that aren’t available in Manila! I loved both The Chocolate Chamber and AA Barbecue, and I’m sure you’ll be able to tell why based on these pictures:

I hope you guys enjoyed this update post. I had an amazing time in Cebu but it’s always good to be home in Manila. πŸ™‚ If you’ve been to Cebu, please feel free to share your own experience. Also, would be happy to hear suggestions on what ancestral houses in the country should be included in my bucket list. For those who haven’t been to Cebu, I hope I’ve made you more curious about the province, and that you’ll get to visit it eventually.

#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy – Week 1 Round Up

It’s been more than a week since #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy started! Find out more about the event here, and as mentioned earlier, I hope you guys take this chance to read books written by Filipino authors. Since I’m a supporter of romanceclass authors (Indie pubbed Filipino romance written in English), I made a thread on Twitter of books that are currently on sale for just 0.99usd. Go and browse through the list of more than 20 titles. More will be added in the coming days.

Look at that, I finally figured out how to center align an embedded tweet on WordPress, yay! Okay, moving on to the topic on hand… I wanted to do a round up of the posts I’ve made on Instagram so far. I wasn’t able to do posts on a daily basis, I missed a few days but hoping to do more in the coming weeks! Let’s see how it goes.

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#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy: I had lunch with Honey and Tarie earlier today, two out of the three ladies behind the @lovethemidlist account. They pair midlist book recommendations with skincare products they love. So my post today was inspired by what they do. Cover Story Girl by @islandstorygirl is a fun beach romance set in Boracay Island, with a Filipino hero and a Korean heroine. Full disclosure, Chris Mariano is a good friend so I may be biased but I'm a fan of her writing. Skincare-wise, I absolutely love @vanderohe's no. 1 face serum: a blend of rosehip, grapeseed, apricot kernel carrier oils plus 8 essential oils. It's organic, smells amazing, feels awesome on my skin and has helped my face become smoother and clearer. One stop skincare solution in a bottle!

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If you’re interested in featuring or reading Filipino books, there’s still lots of time for you to join #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy. What books written by Filipino authors are in your TBR pile?

#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy 2017 – time to read Filipino books!

It’s that time of the year again! Today marks the start of #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy, a campaign that I participated in last year and the year before that. August is Buwan ng Wika in the Philippines, which is the month dedicated to celebrating the Filipino language. To coincide with this, a campaign is being hosted by Edgar Calabia Samar (Twitter, Facebook), author of the Janus Silang series, to encourage people to read Filipino books. #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy can be roughly translated as β€œMonth of Filipino Authors” or even “Month of Filipino Books”. Anyone can participate by using this hashtag on various social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. So if you’ve been meaning to try reading a Filipino book, this is your chance!

There’s an overview of the campaign, which you can read over here (it’s written in Filipino). Since the title of the campaign is in Filipino, I believe the main goal is to encourage Filipino readers to pick up titles by Filipino authors. But I am also hoping that non-Filipino readers would be interested in picking up Filipino books. There are loads of books by Filipino authors that are written in English. Those are actually the type of books I plan to read. πŸ™‚

I will mostly be posting on Litsy (username: Chachic) and Instagram with links shared on Twitter, but I will try my best to do round up posts here on the blog as well. I would love to see the rest of you join this campaign as well, even if you read just one book written by a Filipino author this month. πŸ˜€

#romanceclass events: #FeelsSoHot and #romanceclasscovers

I have been back in Manila for a little over a week and it’s about time I gave an update! I flew back home just in time to attend two bookish events and both of them were so much fun. You might be wondering why my blog post’s title has so many hashtags, but I just got use to talking about these events on Twitter and Instagram where hashtags are used. I’ve talked about romanceclass before but as an introduction, romanceclass is a community of authors and readers of indie Filipino romance. You can find out more here. It is a pretty active group here in Manila and they’ve had a lot of events. Feels So Hot is the tenth romanceclass event where they host live readings of books, certain scenes from some titles are read out loud by local actors and actresses. It’s a great experience because everyone gets to see the actors breathe life into the story with the nuances and expressions that they act out for the characters. I had fun watching the live readings but for me, the best part was seeing the reactions of all the authors and readers during the event! I could really see how passionate everyone was about these books. Here are some pictures from the event, click the right arrow to see all of them:

#romanceclass is a community of authors and readers of indie pubbed Filipino romance. #FeelsSoHot was the 10th event organized by the group, and the first one I was able to attend because I was in Singapore for all the previous ones. During the event, books were sold and the authors were there to sign them, as well as chat with the readers. Pic of my haul at the end of the album, all of those books will be given as gifts! . . Also, actors and actresses did live readings of certain scenes from the books (theme for the night was steamy romance πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯), and I think this is such an interesting way of bringing the story to life. More than anything, I enjoyed seeing how responsive the audience was to these readings. Fangirling at its finest. There was even a sleepover at a nearby hotel so attendees can process ALL THE FEELS. Always, always incredible to see so much passion in one place. I'm glad I was able to be a part of this community in whatever capacity I'm able to. It's moments like this that make me feel it's SO GOOD to be home.πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

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Feels So Hot was also the first romanceclass event where the live readings were of steamy scenes from the books. For extra feels! I think I arrived in Manila just in time? πŸ˜› I haven’t read all of books that were part of the program but after seeing the live readings, I’m now curious about all of them. Watch this space for future reviews (or maybe not since I haven’t been very good in reviewing books this year. Real life, tsk tsk).

The next romanceclass thing I was lucky enough to be a part of was a photo shoot for book covers! Since their books are indie pubbed, some romanceclass authors have relied on stock photos as the basis of their book covers. Unfortunately, there are slim pickings for Filipinos or Asians in stock photos. They came up with the brilliant idea to contribute and sponsor photo shoots for their books. For each photo session, models or actors are hired to pose for the authors and their cover artists. The authors contributing to the session have a say in what kind of outfits the models will wear and how they will pose for the photos. This was such a fun experience for me, especially when I got to help out with the blocking and staging of some of the poses (a friend mentioned later on that this is what art directors do?) I felt that the models, Cora and AJ, deserved a round of applause for being like chameleons for every photo set. They were able to channel different types of romances and it was amazing. Here are some photos from that day:

Today's super fun activity was a photo shoot for @romanceclasscovers. #romanceclass is a community of authors and readers of indie pubbed Filipino romance. Stock photos have slim pickings when it comes to pictures that could be used as covers for Asian/Filipino books. So romanceclass authors chip in to fund photo shoots!πŸ“·πŸ“š In this session, models AJ and Cora took on various looks for books-to-be-published. These two were like chameleons - they were able to change their look and style for every backstory. Some themes they represented were young adult love story, beach romance, friends to lovers, hate to love. Authors, editors, cover artists were there to provide input. And everyone became even more energized about these upcoming titles because of the shots that came out. Really, really looking forward to seeing these books published! Such a vibrant and passionate community to be in.πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ Check out @instapach's feed for some high res samples.

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I honestly can’t wait to see the covers that will be designed based on these photos! Some of them I’m tempted to one-click without even knowing the synopsis. I wanted to share some romanceclass book covers that have photos from past sessions, to give you guys an idea of what the outcome will be:

No Strings Attached_New Cover Iris After the Incident

You Could Be the One Kate Finally

Ten Books I Loved That Have Under 700 Ratings On Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, we’re supposed to talk about books that we enjoyed that have under 2000 ratings on Goodreads. This is a great topic because we get to highlight under-the-radar books that we’ve read. So it looks like SO MANY of the books that I’ve enjoyed reading are underrated because they haven’t even gotten 1000 ratings on Goodreads. These were the books that I loved (they were my favorites the year I read them) that have less than 700 ratings on Goodreads. Why 700? Because that was the number of ratings I reached when I got to ten titles. I could have kept going but I wanted to focus on these for now:

Loveless Childless Clueless Choco Chip Hips Learning to Fall A Wish Upon Jasmine Girl Before a Mirror

Northlander The Sunbird Medair Touchstone Trilogy Black Dog

Five contemporary, three fantasy, one sci-fi and one historical fiction… that’s a pretty good mix. I thought all of these books were great and would love for more readers to pick them up. If you feel like we like the same type of books then you should definitely check these out. You can click on the image to see my reviews. What about you, what are underrated books you loved?