Last Sunday, I went to the book launch and signing of the latest romance novels from Spark Books, an imprint by Anvil Publishing with Sab of Sab The Book Eater. And we had so much fun! And YOU GUYS, I FINALLY GOT TO MEET DAWN LANUZA. Here's a recap of what went down in the signing, yo. And I'm giving away a signed book!
Sab and I got to the event before it started so we first bought our copies. Precious wasn't able to go so I got some books for her too so all in all, I had 12 books and apparently I beat the record of six. MWAHAHAHA I am the overlord of Spark Books shopping AKA broke right now.
Look at this fancy arrangement of books!
And this less-fancy one...
Then we went to our seats and prepared our books!
Mina V. Esguerra hosted the event and the publisher opened the event with a speech about maybe it's finally time for romance here in the Philippines. IT IS DEFINITELY THE TIME.
Mina then introduced our authors. Only four out of six were present as Camilla Sisco and Bianca Mori had prior commitments. Too bad! Each author read an excerpt from their novel after being introduced. Good for you because I took videos!
Chrissie Peria is the author of the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards 2014 Winner in Romance ALL IS FAIR IN BLOG AND WAR and she's obsessed about food. Here is Chrissie reading the morning-after scene from her novel THE KITCHEN WHEN IT SIZZLES.
Agay Llanera has written children's books before and loves watching volleyball games. Watch Agay read from her novel, ONCE UPON A PLAYER.
Kate Evangelista entered med school but ended up in the literary department for her degree. Here is Kate reading from her novel, SAVOR.
Dawn Lanuza works in the music industry by day and writes snappy comebacks at night. An excerpt from the first chapter of THE BOYFRIEND BACKTRACK as read by Dawn Lanuza below!
Mina then interviewed our authors and even let the audience ask some questions! I'm not providing exact transcripts of their answers because I'm lazy (as you know) so woo, long live gists!
Q: Your books have been published first online such as on Amazon before Anvil picked it up. What's the most memorable reaction you got from a reader ever since it was released by Spark Books?
Dawn said it was the first time she saw her book displayed during the Manila International Book Fair, where their books had their debut release. She saw someone pick it up and just the mere fact that her novel is a physical book people can and do pick up on book stores gave her such a high.
As for Kate, it's the gratification of readers wanting the sequel to her standalone novel Taste, where Savor was born from. And that's the goal of writers, to reel readers in so they follow you book after book.
Agay uploaded Once Upon A Player on Wattpad first and she was shocked by how many Brazil fans she had as volleyball is a big thing there. It was her first time to experience that and it pushed her to finish her novel. Then encouragements from beta readers such as Chrissie Peria and other fellow authors were all very memorable.
Chrissie can't pinpoint a particular moment because she was just too happy that SOMEBODY READ MY BOOK! Just being read is memorable enough.
Q: When you're writing a romantic or steamy scene, do you find yourself doing a montage and going back in time (like Regina in The Boyfriend Backtrack) or do you write a fantasy?
Chrissie thinks it's a mix of both. Sometimes you have to draw from your life experiences. She's sure we all have meet-cutes in our lives even though he's not the cute you ended up with. You can note these meet-cutes and you can file it for use or be inspired by it.
Beware the writer friend, says Kate. She doesn't usually take from personal experiences. She lets the characters take her where they want. When it's a steamy scene, you know where everything goes, so it's more of putting it in the context of the characters. It's not just about the sex, it's more about the intimacy. Books that click are because of the connection of the characters.
For Dawn, it's a mixture of both. Add more to what happened in real life if such a thing happened. You heighten something to make it more romantic. Sometimes she notes of how something felt for her and just go back to that moment.
Q: What part of you is in these books? Or part of the character's personality that rings true to you?
Dawn's sudden jokes and random quoting and her ill-timed jokes. She's the same with Regina in that way.
Not with Savor for Kate as Dakota came fully formed in her head. She thinks it would be Dakota's drive for her career.
For Agay, her main character is a bitch so she doesn't want to be like her. But how her character value her family and friends rings true to her and in fact, all her books incorporate family and friends in it.
Chrissie sets a disclaimer that her book is fiction and nothing like it happened to her. But a lot of herself is in the book. She worked in advertising, which is the same for Olivia. Nate likes to cook and he's a chef. While she doesn't work in a restaurant, she really loves food. Her reading choices are imbued in the book too and they influence her.
Q: What's your most favorite part to research? Or what's the most interesting thing you had to research?
Chrissie never took a cooking class so she had to look up syllabus for those.
Agay followed volleyball stars on Twitter to get a feel for what they do during their free time and what they post about. She also researched technical volleyball terms.
Kate had to research about photography. She doesn't want to plod the book with photography information. She wanted to show how the character knows photography not how she knows it.
Dawn had to research things to do abroad (Paris!) and imagining what would actually happen to her character and if they're actually feasible. For her next book, she found real people pegs for her characters and stalked them online on Twitter.
Q: Since you've published your books online first, you already have comments and reviews. Did you modify or change your books before you submitted it for the paperback versions?
Dawn didn't really change anything story-wise. When she published it, it was already complete. Online feedback were encouraging so if anything, she only checked grammar and typographical errors. When she publish a book, she's done with it.
Kate doesn't read reviews, good or bad. Once she publishes a book, it's no longer hers. The reader owns it now. The feedback they give is not for you anymore, it's their reaction for the book. It's for readers. She didn't change anything.
Agay was surprised that Anvil didn't touch the story at all and gave her the freedom to do anything. She always checks reviews and she's thinking of taking Kate's advice. There were not-so-okay comments but it's still okay with her because they still read it. As for the novel, she only tightened some sentences.
Chrissie only made some cosmetic changes. She didn't want to change anything as it was a complete story. She was happy to put her name on it.
Q: What do you think is the most important way you portrayed love in your novels?
Chrissie thinks that love should be freely given and there should always be consent.
Agay jokes about love is like a rosary. She thinks that the main character must change first before she accepts love. The self-discovery and self-awareness before she accepts that love.
Kate is about the change in the character from the beginning to the end.
For Dawn, it's also about the change in the character, for the ending to make sense.
After the interview, the authors had a raffle for special prizes and I DIDN'T WIN SO SAD. After that, it was signing time!
I failed to take photos of the dedications the authors wrote on my books so whatever. Just photos with the authors!
I first approached Kate and when she rose to give me a hug, I FELL FLAT ON MY FACE IN HER TABLE. Apparently, there was another step and I bulldozed over that, hence, the falling. APPARENTLY, I AM NOT ONLY AWKWARD, I AM CLUMSY AS WELL.
Agay and Chrissie were signing together and gave me swag too! Agay was stressing over not being able to think of dedications to write on bookmarks and I just told her to write "mwah mwah" and she actually did. Haha! Chrissie gave me bacon coloring postcards weeeeeee!
Saved my fangirling for the last. Sooooooooo, Dawn and I pretty much talk on Twitter ALL THE TIME and we both have a crush on Brooklyn Beckham even though JAILBAIT ALERT JAILBAIT. Anyway, I was pretty normal and kinda witty so SUCCESS!!!
I got what I came for! I got my Harry fan! HAHAHA Dawn gave it to me and weeeeeeeeeeeee thank you so much, Dawn!
Dawn photo outtakes: (I don't know if I sound like a fangirl or more like a pap.)
And that was it! Sab and I had fun meeting these authors. And for those of you who want to win a signed book, I'm giving one away!
I'm giving a signed copy of ONCE UPON A PLAYER by Agay Llanera to one lucky Philippine resident!
P.S. I will be giving away THE KITCHEN WHEN IT SIZZLES and THE BOYFRIEND BACKTRACK on my birthday giveaway soon! So more chances of winning!