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!
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.
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.
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.
Last Saturday, the Gandang Ganda sa Sariling Gawa art / zine / book fair was held in the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This event was organized by Gantala Press and featured Filipino female authors and creators.
Here are photos that I uploaded on the day itself, showing some of the products available there. Swipe to see everything:
As mentioned in one of the captions above, this kind of event is a great for readers like me who are interested in supporting local female authors and artists and komikeras. I hope there will be more like it in the future!
The book cover for The Secrets That We Keep has been revealed! I’m actually a day late in posting this but better late than never, right? 😛 The Secrets That We Keep is a Filipino crime fiction anthology edited by Georgette Gonzales and Yeyet Soriano. Check out the cover spread for this upcoming title, with details about the book launch shared below:
The Secrets That We Keep has five stories from new crime fiction authors. Four short stories from current authors. Nine bonus excerpts from upcoming releases. Cover design and layout by Porcupine Strongwill.
Join the book launch on March 24, 2018, 3-6pm at the Tweedle Book Cafe, Sct. Gandia, Quezon City, Philippines. More information can be found on the Facebook event page http://bit.ly/TSTWK_Launch.
romanceclass is a community of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance in English written by Filipino authors.
romanceclass hosts regular Feels events (examples: Feels So Prom and Feels Fest) but aside from these, the group has also hosted several young adult-themed events. Last year I was able to join two romanceclass school events. The first one was held in November at St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City. Author Carla de Guzman graduated from this school and she kicked off the event by talking about her own experience as a writer. Mina V. Esguerra then shared some information about romanceclass as a community. She talked about the kind of books that authors write, and gave some examples of reviews and reactions from readers and bloggers. Then actors Migs Almendras and Salve Villarosa did what has become a signature romanceclass event staple: live readings. They read excerpts from the following romanceclass titles:
Freshman Girl and Junior Guy by Mina V. Esgurra Settle the Score by Tara Frejas The Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman Holiday Crush by Suzette de Borja.
It was so much fun seeing the students reacting to the live readings! There was a Q and A portion but I think most of them were too shy to ask questions.
The next school event I was able to join was held in December at Mandaluyong Science High School. This was a fun event for me because I graduated from a science high school (ages ago, no need to share what year haha). Mina gave an introduction about romanceclass and then there were live readings by Migs Almendras and Sam Aquino. This time, all romanceclass titles featured were written by authors from science high schools namely:
Monito, Monita by Celestine Trinidad Songs to Make You Stay by Jay E. Tria Sounds Like Summer by Six de los Reyes Before I Lose My Nerve by Layla Tanjutco
The students loved that the program included authors from science high schools! They asked questions about the writing process, bought books, and asked the authors and live readers (and even me) to sign stuff. We also discovered that poetry books are a big hit with them, all the copies that Layla brought with her were sold out.
Aside from these school events, romanceclass was also able to host a writing workshop last month. This event was sponsored by patrons of the group from Patreon. More details in these Instagram write-up posts (swipe to see all the photos):
Some of the photos from this post are from Carla, Jay, and Ines. I hope these YA-themed events have encouraged teen readers to pick up and read romanceclass titles. Hopefully reading romanceclass books will encourage some of them to write and maybe publish their own stories later on. Watch out for more school events and YA titles from romanceclass in the near future!
This week is Start Here’s blog tour! Late last year, I shared the cover reveal for this Filipino romance anthology featuring male/male, female/female and female/non-binary short stories. Today, I’m here to share blurbs and quotes from each story and I hope these will encourage you to give this anthology a try. Both print and ebook editions are available internationally and links on where to order them are shared below. I already have a copy on my Kindle and I’m looking forward to reading it. 🙂
Edited by Ronald S. Lim and Brigitte Bautista. Featuring short stories by Agay Llanera, H. Bentham, Ella Banta, Danice Sison, Yeyet Soriano, Barbie Barbieto, Katt Briones, Bobbi Moran, Motzie Dapul, and Brigitte Bautista. This anthology contains M/M, F/F, F/NB romance stories with happy endings. Some stories have a high heat level.
Release Date: January 27, 2018 Book Cover Design: Dani Hernandez
There’s a first time for everything. Gatecrashing a KPop concert with an oppa in a business suit. Taking shelter from the storm with the girl you’ve been meaning to shake off. That kiss that blurs the line between friendship and something more. A one-night stand (or, is it?) with your best friend from across the hallway.
Dive into these 10 stories of first encounters – unapologetically queer, happy endings required, with a smattering of that signature #romanceclass kilig. Whether you’re recalling your own firsts or out there looking for one, there’s a story in here for you.
Seventeen-year-old Caleb has been burned by a previous relationship. While on vacation, he meets Ezra of the sculpted calves and disarming smile, who surprises him with a moonlight kiss. Caleb retreats – and regrets his decision. Thanks to the internet, he knows where to find his summer crush, but the more pressing question is, will Caleb have the courage to bare his heart again?
Two home-grown Filipinos fall in love after a chance meeting on a train to Little Manila in Queens, NY. They learn, over time spent enjoying the colorful culture of New York City’s streets, that they are, by all accounts, perfect for each other — before some unexpected baggage and a surprising history threatens to tear them apart.
Some things just don’t heal with time alone, but sometimes it’s only when it hurts that you know it’s worth trying for.
Two cute guys sneak into a K-pop concert. Neither one could be called a fan of the music, but by the end of the night, they might just find themselves with a new favorite song and a few romantic possibilities.
Pebbles has a strict four-month rule when it comes to relationships. But she’s about to find out what happens when you meet a woman who defies all your ideas of how long the space between endings and beginnings should be.
Asher Lee knew from the beginning that he was going to win the teen model search, but didn’t expect to share the title with his biggest competitor, Chan Valiente. Previously threatened by his former adversary’s talent and looks, Asher kept his walls up, only to find them crumbling down with Chan’s charms.
Would Asher be brave enough to take the leap and actually find his chance at love? Or will he and Chan remain to be a fan-made bromance?
Tala has been secretly in love with her best friend Liv for years. Living right across the hallway, she has seen through Liv’s revolving door of Friday one-night stands. The rule: they always say goodbye in the morning. But, what happens when a rainy Friday night leads Tala to Liv’s apartment in what looks like another one-night stand?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature previously hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish and have now been moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is a love-themed freebie. Since I’m always happy to spread the word about romance written by Filipino authors, I’m choosing to focus on my recommended romanceclass titles this week. For those who don’t know, romanceclass is a community of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance written by Filipino authors. If you’re new to romanceclass, here are ten titles that you can start with:
Ghost of a Feeling by Celestine Trinidad Submission Moves by Camilla Sisco Beginner’s Guide by Six de los Reyes Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes You Out of Nowhere by Jay E. Tria Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra One Night at the Palace Hotel by Bianca Mori Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores
Special mention to these romanceclass YA titles that I don’t really consider romance but more of coming-of-age stories:
Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera
This month, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to read a few more romanceclass titles from my TBR pile, these ones are high on my list:
Waiting in the Wings by Tara Frejas If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman Keeping the Distance by Clarisse David Tame the Kitten by Bianca Mori Swept Off My Feet by Ines Bautista Yao The Princess Finds Her Match by Suzette de Borja
All of these books are available in Amazon, I believe most are available for free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited. Some are on sale and I’m linking to a Twitter thread I created which lists titles currently available for just 0.99usd:
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:
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 slew 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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. 😛 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:
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. 🙂 To those joining the FeelsFest 2017 event tomorrow, see you soon!
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 “Month of Filipino Authors” or even “Month 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. 😀
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:
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:
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. 😛
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. 🙂