Oh wow, writers everywhere!

I had the pleasure of spending my Saturday afternoon with a room full of Filipino authors last April 11th at the National Bookstore Super Branch in Cubao. It was our first #F2F, or Face to Face class for#SparkNA with Mina and a few representatives from Anvil Publishing’s Spark Books. My friends and I came a bit late, so naturally, we ended up being more anxious than we were supposed to. I think that by the time I stepped into the room, I had to take a deep breath because “Oh my god there are so many of them, I feel like throwing up a little.”

No, but seriously, a handful of the participants already know each other from Mina’s previous classes, but we (my friends and I) were all n00bs, so you understand the initial apprehension. I didn’t realize how quickly we’d warm up to the entire group, even if I only got to speak to about 20% of the class.

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We were asked to introduce ourselves, and the MCs (Main Characters) in the novella we wish to write. I kind of felt disappointed that I wasn’t in the same table as the author whose work I wanted to read as soon as I saw their concept, but it was okay. As the discussion went along, I felt excited about the stories my small group was planning to churn out. And the bigger surprise was that, upon adding some of them on Twitter, I realized that we weren’t the only KPop fans.

There were a LOT of us. Like, hot damn.

After the first activity, Mina then asked us to share with the rest of the group what it is that makes us pick up a book and buy it. It was an interesting exercise, because not only was it very amusing to hear my classmates’ answers, it was also really helpful to know what your readership might be like. It helps you determine if you’re going to hit the right market, and make you mull over possibly changing things up in your story to make it more salable. That is, of course, if making profit is your priority. But let’s not get into that discussion today because… well… it probably deserves a post all on its own.

Activity 1: Introduce yourself, and the main character of the story you’re writing. Wish I could’ve taken a picture of the rest of my group’s papers. They’re all very interesting, and very different.
Our mentor and facilitator, Mina Esguerra, author of several best-selling YA and NA books including the Interim Goddess of Love series.

Activity 2 had everyone in the room laughing and cheering each time someone mentioned something that could well be described as superficial when they shared their personal standards in purchasing a book. I really loved how the authors were so candid about liking abs on book covers, or the promise of a hot and steamy romance from the synopsis. Of course the responses varied in many ways, and it made way for a light and healthy discussion about how writers should also take their readers into consideration while writing the story they want.

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The class ended at a little past five in the afternoon, and we were kind of surprised that time flew by so quickly. I guess when you’re throwing topics about abs and sex and polyamorous relationships, or writing angst versus NOT writing angst, you forget all sense of time. It had been a short encounter for sure, but the best thing was that everyone seemed to continue all the discussions on Twitter not even hours later! (I tell you, the #SparkNA tag is the best thing in the world for me right now. It’s equal parts amusing, heartwarming, and inspiring.)

Wish I could be part of the next class again! (We were told it might be about heat levels, and my heat level is 0, but what if I wanted to write a level 10 in the future–I’d better be prepared, right? Is there even a level 10?) And to all my classmates~ hello, it was nice to meet you all, albeit briefly. Let’s do this Act One thing right, okay? Good luck to all of us! <3

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