Five years in the making…

Five years ago, I tweeted this:

I don’t remember anymore how exactly I came up with the plunny, although it’s possible that it’s mostly because I had Daniel Henney in mind as the love interest. He loves dogs, and so do I…and I’d never really written a story yet where the characters had pets, so I wanted to give it a try.

I’ve kept the idea for the story in my growing list of plunnies to explore, but only got around to writing it until sometime in late 2021, when I decided to put together an anthology of short stories that eventually became What If We Fall In Love? I shelved this story and instead included my NomCom submission, Your Heart, To Go, to complete the lineup. I thought it would take a while before I got to revisit the manuscript, but an opportunity to finish it came when submissions for Pawfect For You (then simply called Tropetastic 3) came along.

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New anthology alert: Pawfect For You!

Friends and lovers, listen up! #RomanceClass is back with another charity anthology, and this year, we are helping cats and dogs in need!

On National Pet Day (April 11), we did a cover reveal+ pre-order link drop for Pawfect For You: Tropetastic Kindness Bundle 3. It’s a collection of six all-new nakakakilig stories where the main characters are pet owners/pet lovers falling in love. Check out the wonderful cover below, illustrated by Liza S. dela Cruz.

We met Liza last year when she worked with #romanceclass authors Carla de Guzman and Celestine Trinidad for their KILIG anthology entries, and it was so lovely getting to work with her for this cover. Don’t you think it’s pretty? ^_^

Included in the anthology are stories by Danice Mae P. Sison, Ines Bautista-Yao, Tara Frejas (that’s me!), Celestine Trinidad, Angel C. Aquino, and Jay E. Tria. You may pre-order a copy of the book at US$7 (or the price you want) at Just like our previous charity anthologies, Pawfect For You is available for a limited time only (until June 29, 2023), so please make sure you grab this opportunity to get the book while it lasts.

Pawfect For You will be released on April 29, 2023. ALL PROCEEDS will go to Pawssion Project, a non-government organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of cats and dogs in distress.

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What If We Fall In Love: A Short Story Collection

In case you missed the announcements on my social media accounts (and newsletter), my latest #romanceclass book What If We Fall In Love? is coming out on Saturday, December 31st—and yes, you may pre-order it now!

What If We Fall In Love? is a collection of three short stories, two of which are new, and one previously published as part of #romanceclass’ NomCom: A Foodie Romance Anthology, published in February of this year.

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Strong female leads? That’s my thing.

Do you know what I like about my favorite #romanceclass books? Apart from the fact that they have the swooniest (is that even a word) love interests, they also celebrate intelligent, beautiful, empowered women. From college students fighting for The Only Grant to musicians trying to find their voice to mothers juggling career, parenthood, and romance—we’ve seen it all, and not just in fiction! For every amazing fictional main character, there’s an amazing real-life woman living their best life, and I salute all of them today (Happy International Women’s Day!) and every day. You are all awesome.

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It’s trucking tropetastic!

When Taal Volcano erupted in January of 2020, Ansela Corsino and Mina V. Esguerra called on us #romanceclass authors to contribute to a book bundle for charity. The result was a 19-book collection we called the #RomanceClass Taal Relief Bundle, from which we earned over $2,000 in sales. We donated all proceeds to RockEd Philippines, a volunteer group which helped bring food, clothing, and other supplies to the Taal victims.

Because the project was a success, we decided to do it again. A bunch of #romanceclass authors met up through Zoom and discussed putting together an anthology of new stories. We decided on a setting (a residential condominium named St. Tropez) and assigned tropes to authors via roulette, and The Tropetastic Kindness Bundle was born. Proceeds from that bundle were donated to three charities: Project Propel, Gantala Press, and RockEd Philippines.

This year, the Tropetastic Kindness Bundle is back with new short stories and a new milieu! Presenting NOMCOM: a fictional food park and the main setting of the 14 delicious short stories in this collection!

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Finished, not perfect.

I’ve been seeing this phrase a lot on social media (Twitter, mostly) and, much as I related to this quote, I didn’t really know who to attribute it to until today. A quick Google search led me to Jake Parker, a Utah-based artist who has worked for big studios like Marvel, Disney Animation, and Warner Brothers Animation and who has apparently created the #inktober challenge. Check out this inspiring Finished, not perfect video below:

Two years ago, I came across a similar mantra when I joined Arianne Serafico’s #DareToShare Instagram Course: Done is better than perfect. I find myself always going back to these words whenever I feel like my manuscript isn’t going anywhere, or I’ve strayed from my outline for the nth time, or worst of all, I feel like deleting my entire manuscript out of frustration.

Finished, not perfect. Done is better than perfect.

Before I could publish a book, I need to write it first. Nothing is going to happen if I stall and drown myself in an ocean of Oh no, this will never be as good as *insert author’s book here*. The best thing I can do as an author is to nurture my story, make the most of it as I possibly can, and keep going until I reach the end. It doesn’t matter that it’s not perfect. I belong to a community that will help me shape whatever I’ve created into its best form, and that process, to me, is more important than getting everything perfect/right the first time.

So why am I really writing this blog post? I’m actually trying to make myself feel good about finishing a manuscript, no matter its flaws. Yeap, you read that right! I finished a manuscript!

About #ProjectDatu AKA The Struggle

For those of you who have already read Like Nobody’s Watching, you might remember one of Pio Alvez’s brothers, Datu Alvez. He’s an indie film director with a temper, but I’d like to think he’s a marshmallow deep inside. #ProjectDatu AKA the manuscript I finished last month, is his book, his journey toward finding his own HEA. I have already written a short story that featured him (Rushes, from Second Wave Summer), fully intending for it to be the jumping off point of his book. It took me almost six months I think to fully flesh out his story in my head, and for the sake of accountability, I announced this on Twitter a little over a year ago:

Of course I still had delusions of grandeur back then. What 2019 release? *CACKLES* I didn’t even start writing until March of this year. Ilusyonada. *cue paluan*

It was a bit of a struggle writing this one, and I was…surprised, I guess at how much energy it took from me. (Check out this whole ass Twitter thread for my journey.) It could be argued that I also was having a super busy year in terms of work, so maybe that was also why I usually felt so exhausted after writing several hundred/thousand words. But one of the best things about my writing journey this year was the #romanceclass sprints, where I got to do four 15-minute sprints with fellow #romanceclass authors and share snippets of what we’ve written afterwards. It’s a bit draining and there’s some level of pressure, but it helped me so much in completing this book. So yeah, thanks, sprinters! <3

(We’ll resume the sprints soon, by the way—let me just get a handle on all my work stuff. *dizzy emoji*)

If everything goes according to plan, you will be meeting Datu and Kalila within the first quarter of 2020. I might be brewing something special for my newsletter subscribers, so if you’re not yet part of my mailing list, please click on this link to subscribe! For now, I leave you with this #ProjectDatu Pinterest board I have been adding stuff to since I began writing the book, and this Spotify playlist / #ProjectDatu Mood Music I put together.

In the meantime…

It’s 15 days till Christmas and I’m looking forward to a long break because I am planning to catch up on sleep and my Kdramas (I just started Chicago Typewriter and I’m planning to watch Bring It On, Ghost as well), and outlining my next book: #ProjectIsagani.

Good luck to me L O L.

Remember: Finished, not perfect. Done is better than perfect.

If you find these mantras work for you, then good. ^_^ Let’s keep creating and finishing many, many things moving forward, yeah? <3

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Stay With Me: A Backstage Pass B-Side

Starting this post with a tweet–

–in which #2 means a spin-off novelette for Backstage Pass’ Gabriel and Fi! <3 Yeap, sometime during the editing process, my editor (Ninang Layla) told me she wanted to see Gabe and Fi in a book of their own. And because I’m an obedient godchild, Stay With Me was born.

Take a look at the lovely cover below.

Illustration by Shai San Jose. Layout/design by Tara Frejas.

Stay With Me
(A Backstage Pass B-Side)

“Come live with me for a while.”

Moving to Seoul for a job at an entertainment company has made a self-reliant woman out of Filipina. But when she gets injured in an accident and her boyfriend, Gabriel, proposes she move in with him until she’s back in shape, Fi reluctantly gives up her independence in favor of some TLC.

What happens when being under one roof ignites the desire she has been firmly keeping underneath the surface? Will she up and leave, or decide to stay?

This is a Backstage Pass B-Side.

Stay With Me is a short story that happens simultaneously with Play It By Ear. Official release date is May 31, 2019.

Stay tuned for more announcements!

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Yep, I did play it by ear this time.

So let me start this blog post with a tweet down memory lane:

You read that right, folks. It’s been (almost!!!) a year since I started writing the second book in the Backstage Pass series, Play It By Ear, and I cannot be more relieved that I’m finally releasing the book soon. We’ve had a couple of false starts, starting with a very early cover reveal (haha, that was just me being a) impatient, and b) unable to keep Shai San Jose‘s awesome art to myself), but this is the real deal, my friends. I mean…there’s a release date and all, and I am prepping the final, final, FINAL version of the manuscript as of this writing.


And yeah, in case you missed it, here’s the official announcement…plus a couple more things you need to know:

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ARC Tour | Like Nobody’s Watching

Cover reveal, check.

ARC kits, check.

Blog tour -- CHECK!

The Like Nobody's Watching Press Preview began last Wednesday, October 18, and people have been so generous with their stars! I am so kilig! Thank you, thank you, thank you so much to those who signed up for the blog tour. You are all such a blessing to authors like me.

To those who are curious about this book, you may read about (and ONE-CLICK!) it here, or get a sneak peek at its first chapter here. If that's not enough to whet your appetite, scroll further to read another excerpt and listen in to my book playlist. And oh--if you reach the bottom of this post, you'll find a giveaway too!

Ready? Set. SCROLL!

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