#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!

A post shared by Chachic (@chachickenpie) on

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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?

Snippets of an Interview with Mina V. Esguerra

My friend interviewed my favorite Filipino chick lit author, Mina V. Esguerra, for one of his classes. Mina talked about it a bit in this post. My friend sent me a copy of the entire interview and I got permission to post some of the questions and answers here on my blog. I thought it would be a good idea to share snippets of the interview with the rest of Mina’s fans. If you haven’t read any of her books and would like to check out my reviews, here are the links: Fairy Tale Fail, My Imaginary Ex, Love Your Frenemies, No Strings Attached, Interim Goddess of Love.

When did you start to write?
I started experimenting with writing when I was in Grade 5. We didn’t have school newspaper for our elementary school and that’s when I started trying to set one up although we only have one issue for it in a year. In Grade 6, that’s when I started to write more in fiction, trying to write short stories and in High School, that’s when I seriously write, plotting things and finishing stories.

How has social media helped you as an author? Has blogging community help you find your audience and vice versa?
I started the blog because I felt that I should as everyone else was doing it. My benchmark were international authors who have their own blogs, talking about what they did, talking about their process. Then I started to see reviews of my books in social media, in blogs, in Facebook, in Friendster. I saw that when I had published a book, people were mentioning it in their social media accounts. Before, I was just hiding, just looking at them without commenting back or replying. After a while, I realized I should say something as it has been so nice of them to have bought the book, read it and shared it with their friends. And I should acknowledge it somehow so I started all the social media accounts in case they want to reach out to me and I can actually reply.

It also did help me find my audience as that’s where I discovered book bloggers. I didn’t realize how active they were and that they actually would pay attention to the book I had just released. Through people’s blog, I also discovered what kind of people who read my books, their age range, where they live, if they are Filipinos or they aren’t. And vice versa, it helped certain people to find me by just being there.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in relation to your work as a writer?
There is little victory in each book especially Fairy Tale Fail. I put it up on Amazon and it exceeded my expectations in terms of sales. I’m very proud of that because it sort of proves in my mind that international market for Filipino written work is there. At that time, I really set it as an experiment if people would buy it and people bought it. That is an achievement I am proud of.

Of all the books you have written, do you have any personal favorite?
I feel proud of each one in different ways. For example, “My Imaginary Ex”, which Im proud of because it is the first one I sold and the first one to have been published. I am very proud of how it turned out story wise. “Fairy Tale Fail”, on the hand, is because of what it achieved overseas. “No String Attached”, the third one, which was also published by Summit, has a premise of a 29 year old girl dating a 24 year old guy. Certain people are affected by it. I am proud of it because the kind of responses and feedback I got for that book is different. The fourth one, “Love your Frenemies”, I am proud of that because it was difficult to write. It was a personal writing challenge and the fact that there are positive reviews, I was able to validate that I took on the challenge and survived it. Then the latest book, “Interim Goddess of Love”, because it too was an experiment for younger crowd and so far the response is very nice.

Are we expecting more books soon?
I have a Summit book coming out in a few months. Then I plan of releasing two more in Amazon. The one in Summit is already done. The other two, I still have to write but the outline is already there and it’s just a matter of filling out the books.

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Thank you, Mina and Mister O, for letting me post this! Looking forward to Mina’s next book. 🙂

Interview with Mina V. Esguerra and Giveaway

Today, I’m delighted to have one of my favorite authors, Mina V. Esguerra, here on the blog to answer some questions. Mina V. Esguerra’s novels are light romances/chick lit set in the Philippines and written in English, usually with a twenty-something woman based in Manila as a main character. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love reading her work. Her latest novella, Love Your Frenemies (Amazon, Smashwords) was released early this week.

Your latest novella, Love Your Frenemies, has a main character who was an antagonist in one of your other books, My Imaginary Ex. Did you have the former in mind while you were writing the latter?
The simple answer is that I didn’t have Love Your Frenemies in mind when I wrote My Imaginary Ex. I was happy just to have finished MIE and gotten it published, and didn’t have any grand plans for doing more.

The possibly more interesting answer is that after MIE got published I did think that I could do more. I wasn’t sure yet what I would write about, but I did know that it shouldn’t be about falling for the Best Friend (been there done that). So I challenged myself to write two more: about falling for the Unattainable Crush, and the Jerk. These three guys always show up in the YA romances I read growing up.

Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies came out from this. And then when I was planning to write the one about falling for the Jerk, I felt like I had to make the protagonist stronger so she could survive the way he treated her. Kimmy the former villain sort of got cast into that, which was easier than having me create another character who’d be just like her.

You write books that fall under chick lit or contemporary romance, what made you decide to write books in that genre?
I suspect now that this is the only genre I can write with any confidence or authenticity. I’ve tried branching out and always end up quitting. My first novel pitch ever was YA, but that was surprisingly difficult to write, and didn’t even get picked up. Or maybe I just need to work harder on the other genres.

What are some of your favorite chick lot or contemporary romance novels?
I wish I could say more, but only one comes to mind – Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation. I haven’t read enough books in this genre, but I’m starting to.

No longer “contemporary”, but I read a lot of Sweet Dreams novels. I especially like the ones that feature banter, like The Right Combination and Kiss Me, Creep. But my favorite – and is still my favorite romance TO THIS DAY – is Wrong-Way Romance by Sheri Cobb South. Years ago I emailed her and told her how much I loved her book, and she sent me a signed copy. It’s the jewel of my book collection!

I love how you have such a strong online presence unlike other Filipino authors. You connect with your readers through your blog, Facebook page, Twitter and email. This makes me curious as to how you feel about reading reviews of your work. Can you please share your thoughts?
Love reading them, have to say. I used to pretend I didn’t see them, then I caved and started thanking people for the review. Because that took some effort, and I want to thank them for their time, no matter what they end up saying.

At the same time I don’t want to go into that review and really discuss things point by point, because by then a person’s read and judged the work and that judgment belongs to them. I don’t want to be so involved and visible that a reviewer will feel awkward knowing that I’m just there hovering.

You decided to go the e-publishing route with some of your work while others were published the traditional way. In your experience, what are the pros and cons of both experiences?
Hmm, it’s kind of a toss-up.

The two books published locally (My Imaginary Ex and No Strings Attached) are more popular to Filipinos, because my publisher markets and distributes these very well. Cons for traditional publishing in general – printing costs, availability of copies, and if an international reader wants a copy, shipping is always a problem. Summit has dropped hints that they’ll have digital publishing soon, so maybe this will change.

The audience for the two ebooks (Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies) is more international. Amazon is a great distributor because it made the book available to the world. Every day the sales figures are a pleasant surprise, and so is the feedback from international readers. The “con” here is that Filipinos aren’t more aware that these are available. And if they know and want to buy, there’s always some hurdle – no credit card, or they think they need to own a Kindle to read it (not necessary), or they prefer paperback period.

So until the game changes again, the formula is this: If I want the work to be read by the world, I go with e-publishing. If I want the work to be read by my family, community and kababayans, I pursue traditional publishing.

On your blog, it’s mentioned that you have a day job. How do you balance that with your writing career?
It probably seems like I’m writing all the time, because the last three books came out within months of each other! But the very first drafts ever of Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies were done in 2009. So it wasn’t difficult finishing these and having a day job, because once I got the drafts done, the only work I did was to revise.

No Strings Attached was different, because I imposed a regular schedule. I wrote for it for about half an hour every day, while waiting for my husband to pick me up from work. After a few weeks I got used to it, and if I got inspired at any other time I’d just note it down but only seriously write it at the appointed time.

Your previous work involved novellas and I was wondering if you’re planning to write something longer in the future like a full-length novel?
I’m trying! Got used to plotting and designing a story that builds up and peaks in under 40K words. The instinct there is to trim things, rather than add. I’ll need to work on it.

I’m sure your readers want to know what you’re writing now so can you please give us a hint and maybe an idea of when it’ll be released?

If I’m able to go back to my writing schedule and stick to it, I could release another novella this year. Likely one featuring Tonio of No Strings Attached, because I’ve been wanting to explore what it’s like to date someone as slutty as him. 🙂
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Thank you so much for your answers, Mina! I was really curious about these things that I asked and I enjoyed reading your answers. I need to find a copy of Wrong-Way Romance so I can read it and let you know what I think. As always, I’m excited to read your work so I’ll be waiting for Tonio’s story. Now that Amazon allows people to give Kindle ebooks as gifts, I’m more than happy to give away a copy of Fairy Tale Fail. I believe I can send the ebook to anyone who has an email address so it’s an international giveaway. To join, just leave a comment about anything related to Mina’s answers or why you’re interested in reading Fairy Tale Fail. Giveaway ends March 11, winner will be chosen through random.org.

Read my reviews of Mina’s books by clicking these links:
My Imaginary Ex
Fairy Tale Fail
No Strings Attached
Love Your Frenemies

Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra

Wow, Mina writes fast! I knew she was planning to set Love Your Frenemies out in the wild soon but I didn’t expect it to come out this week. The main character in this book is the antagonist in one of her other books, My Imaginary Ex. I admire Mina for writing something like this because it must have been challenging to write about a character who was very easy to hate.

Here’s the summary from Mina’s blog:

Kimmy Domingo was the kind of girl everyone hated and envied – until her fiancé dumped her a week before their wedding. Soon after, she quit her job, hopped on a plane, and just hid from everyone who knew her. A year later and she’s back in Manila to be maid of honor at a wedding she can’t miss.

Kimmy’s home because she’s ready to start over, but she also knows that some people at that wedding were responsible for the mess her life turned out to be. The first step to recovery? Cutting off the ones who caused her troubles to begin with: her best friend and her first love.

First off, I want to say that I love how simple yet appropriate the cover for this and Mina’s other ebook, Fairy Tale Fail, are. I like them much better than the covers of My Imaginary Ex and No Strings Attached. I also find it convenient that Mina decided to go with an ebook for this one because it’s much easier (and cheaper) to obtain a copy. You can buy it from either Amazon or Smashwords. I know it’s a sequel of sorts to one of her other books but I believe it stands well on its own and there’s no need to read that one first. It would be a good idea though because you’d get a picture of how other people see Kimmy instead of just being inside her head. Love Your Frenemies is told from alternating past and present situations so you get an idea of what Kimmy was going through during the events of My Imaginary Ex. Kimmy got dumped by her fiancé days before their supposed wedding. He suddenly realized that he’s still in love with someone else and that he couldn’t go through with the wedding. Harsh, right? But a lot of people believe that Kimmy deserved what she got because she’s such a bitch.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book more than My Imaginary Ex. You know the saying that goes, “there’s always two sides to every story”? This is Kimmy’s side. I can understand why other people find her rude, manipulative and heartless. Kimmy is smart, beautiful and she knows it. She admits that she tends to be overconfident. She doesn’t go out of her way to hurt and manipulate other people, it’s just that she can’t be bothered to be nice. Kimmy has a turbulent relationship with her best gal pal, Chesca, because they’re the epitome of mean girls. Kimmy and Chesca ruled their high school – they got to decide who would become members of their clique based on how useful their classmates were. Both girls understand how the other person thinks and that’s why they’re such good friends and why they also have the worst fights. They know what to say to get the other person riled up. Another person who is one of the major reasons why Kimmy’s so messed up is her first love, Manolo. Handsome, charming and witty Manolo. Can I just say that I can’t get over his name because it’s such an old school Filipino name? I feel like if I knew someone named Manolo, he’d be nicknamed something shorter and more modern like Manny or Nollie. Ever since they were teenagers, Manolo has been blowing hot and cold and Kimmy knows it’s stupid to hope for a steady relationship but she can’t help it. Kimmy’s story isn’t centered on the romance but instead focuses on her relationships with the Country Club set of people that she grew up with. It’s not surprising that she’s not a nice person because of all the drama in her life – it’s like a constant soap opera.

What I love about Mina’s books is how believable they all are. I may not love all of her books but I can believe that her stories actually happen to other people. It’s everything about her work – the familiar places, the situations that you can relate to, the characters that feel like they could be your friends. Maybe it’s also because I feel like I’m the target audience of her books – a twenty-something Filipina. This is another enjoyable read from Mina V. Esguerra and as always, I look forward to reading her next one.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
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My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra

I read and loved Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra a couple of days ago and after reading it, I knew I was going to pick up her other book, My Imaginary Ex. I’m glad I found a copy yesterday in one of the local bookstores so I bought it, started and finished it in one sitting. Boy, I’m really enjoying this unexpected chick lit week.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

When Zack asks Jasmine to pretend to be his ex-girlfriend, she gamely agrees, thinking it would be fun. A few years later, she still has to keep convincing people that they were never together! Then one day, she finds out he’s getting married — to someone she’d just met once! All of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore. Can Jasmine sort out her feelings (sometimes, she can’t even tell real from pretend when it comes to her and Zack) before it’s too late?

Zack and Jasmine went to the same high school but they were never that close. They reconnect when they bump into each other in college and they become good friends. Zack then asks Jasmine to pretend to be his ex because he’s never had a girlfriend before and the girl that he likes doesn’t want to be with someone who’s never been in a relationship. Jasmine agrees, not knowing the consequences of that little lie. Fast forward to the present day, Zack is about to get married to a girl that none of his friends and family really know. It’s up to Jasmine to confront Zack but before she can do that, she has to sort through her own feelings first. My Imaginary Ex was pretty easy to read even though the story is interspersed with flashbacks to fully flesh out Jasmine and Zack’s friendship. The story sort of reminded me of My Best Friend’s Wedding because it has a similar theme with the movie.

I’m not a fan of best friend love stories probably because my high school boyfriend was my best friend and we didn’t really get our Happily Ever After together. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still good friends but now I feel like I have a certain fondness for love-hate relationships more than best friend love stories. In any case, I’m sure there are more people who will appreciate the friendship that is the foundation of Jasmine and Zack’s relationship. While I didn’t get to connect with the characters in this one as much as I did with the characters of Fairy Tale Fail, it’s still quite an enjoyable, light read. The characters are believable and the author does a good job of describing the life of a young professional in her mid-twenties, living in Manila. Mina mentioned over Twitter that Summit is going to release another book of hers any day soon. I’m looking forward to that!

To international readers out there, sorry but My Imaginary Ex is only available locally. I just have to say that I’m enjoying reading local chick lit. I just have a minor complaint – they’re all so thin! Small paperbacks less than 150 pages long. I’d be glad to read something meatier if the authors come up with something like that.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
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