Saturday, January 31, 2015

February 1 - National Freedom Day

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order freeing all slaves in the ten Confederate States. It did not, however, outlaw slavery, so on Aprl 8, 1864, the Senate passed a bill amending the Constitution to abolish slavery in the United States. The House of Representatives passed the bill on January 1, 1865. The next day, February 1—now observed as National Freedom Day—the President signed the joint resolution proposing the amendment, and by December 6 the required number of states had ratified it. It was followed in 1868 by the 14th or “equal protection” Amendment and in 1870 by the 15th Amendment which guaranteed every citizen (except women!) the right to vote.

Though not a national holiday, February 1 is a reminder of the many freedoms enjoyed in the United States—and of those scattered throughout the world who do not enjoy the same.

In A Very Kate Christmas, readers were introduced to the character of Mr. Amos, an ex-slave who found his home in the hearts of the Bancroft family whose house he managed on their Texas Panhandle ranch. When widowed Olivia Bancroft married Dan Forrester, they somewhat impulsively adopted a newborn baby girl found almost frozen in a deserted line shack. Kate’s new family consisted of three much-older siblings whom Mr. Amos had helped raise. Now he had another little one to help shape and guide.

The Kate Chronicles are tentatively scheduled for release this year, but it seems fitting to share “Amo’s Story” on National Freedom Day. 

Please click on the “Typed Tales” tab above to continue reading.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

And the question is...

First book launch

We “met” on Clean Indie Reads, so we’re on the same page. But I’d be interested to know why you write “clean”.

I never really set out to write clean. I never even knew there was a group that advocated clean books! And I was so happy to find them! I live in the Philippines where our society is trying to break free from our very traditional Catholic upbringing and be more cosmopolitan, if you like. But no matter which way the trends are going, I know I cannot write steamy, raunchy, or sexy books. I know they sell, I know they’re popular, but they’re just not my cup of tea. I don’t read them and I can’t write them. And I am so happy that I’m not alone in this! Because I really thought I was.
First book launch

Has anyone ever criticized your writing/given you a bad review because it didn’t contain strong language and graphic sex? How did you respond?

No one has really criticized my writing because it’s too clean, but I’ve gotten suggestions to add steamy scenes because I write romance. I just smile and say, “We’ll see.” But I know I won’t. And they probably know I won’t either. Haha!

I have to say though that I have sparingly used a bad word or two in one of my books (What’s in your Heart) because I felt it was necessary when the main character was trying to anger another character. However, when I find myself warning parents that their tweens can’t read my book because of that, I wish I could take it back and rewrite that part.

Do you think an author can write a “clean” read which is still realistic and relevant?

Yes I do. The emotions in my book are very real and the reviews so far all agree on this point. I don’t think you need graphic scenes to tell a good story.

By the same token, has anyone ever expressed their ‘relief’ at not having to skim through parts of the story he or she would rather no read?

Not really. This is my third book and I believe my readers know what to expect from my stories. My experience has been more with fellow authors who aren’t comfortable writing steamy scenes either. We talk about how we can’t seem to bring ourselves to write sex scenes (since it seems to be what’s popular and trending now) and how relived we are that Clean Indie Reads exists and there are actually readers who look for clean books.
Sola Musica Launch
Do you feel you have a particular mission to write these kinds of stories?

What I do feel I have a mission to write are stories that empower and inspire young women—stories that encourage them to believe in themselves and find what is inside them and pursue that passion, that dream. 

Based on the number of pages, your books, Only a Kiss and One Crazy Summer are novellas rather than full-length novels. Do you feel shorter books have an advantage over longer ones?

One Crazy Summer’s length was a requirement by my publisher. They only wanted to publish 144 pages so I had to follow a certain word count. I believe this was done because it was more economical, plus young readers prefer shorter books. I don’t really think one or the other is better. I guess it depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell. For my market, however, I agree that books can’t be too long. Readers may be turned off or intimidated. My second book, What’s in your Heart, is actually longer than both One Crazy Summher and Only A Kiss, and that can be one reason why it isn’t as popular. Or maybe the story is a bit more complicated than my usual light love story.  

On your Amazon Author Page, you share you’ve been a high school and college English literature teacher. Does this background influence your style of writing?

It may have in the sense that I am very particular about my grammar. However, I believe my style of writing was really influenced by my magazine background. I used to be the editor in chief of a teen magazine called Candy and a children’s magazine called K-Zone. It was then that I learned how to write for teens (and kids) and how to adjust my language to suit them. I also learned how to get into their heads and immerse myself in their issues, concerns, and joys.

Do you anticipate opening a book someday and seeing the name of a former student listed as the author?

That would be wonderful! Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more of my students teaching and that fills me with pride and joy. What’s really cool is that my former student edited Only A Kiss and another one hosted me on her blog during my blog tour last week! She asked me to do a guest post and, as a book blogger, even gave suggestions on how to promote my book! I love my students!  
Sola Musica authors
You have two adorable little girls, so you have to juggle motherhood with writing. Do you feel quantity time or quality time is more important to an author?

It is soooo hard to juggle motherhood with writing, especially now that I have a 15-month-old! And a demanding one at that. But based on the past few years, I believe that motherhood has actually pushed me to write. Since there is absolutely no quantity time to write (or do anything else for that matter!), what I get are small pockets of pressure—which I guess you can consider quality time. When my six-year-old is in school and the 15-month-old is asleep, I rush to my laptop and force myself to write. It is a very stressful situation, but so far, it’s what works for me. I long for the time when I can sit uninterrupted before my computer and just write away, but I don’t know if that will work for me. It might. Who knows? But right now, this quality time—pressure-filled and stressful though it may be—is what I have and I will make it work because if not, I won’t be able to write and that will kill my spirit.  

Do you have another writing project underway? Would you like to share?

Yes! I’m currently writing a prequel of sorts to Only A Kiss. It was meant to be a short story about two characters who appear in the first chapter/story. But now, it’s slowly becoming a novella. I wanted it to be a permafree short story, but if I will give in and turn it into a novella, I’ll have to write another short story to give my readers as a thank you for supporting Only A Kiss or as an invitation to read it. 

Is there anything you would say to a “wanna-be” author when it comes to choosing clean over something less?

I don’t really see clean writing as my advocacy. I have friends who love their steamy historical romances and I’ve tried reading them but just can’t commit to them. I don’t judge them for it either. We all have our different tastes in reading material. What I do wish (and this is probably because of my background as an English teacher) is that readers would be more discerning when it comes to what they read in terms of plot and writing. I have come across bestsellers that I believe are poorly written and this really depresses me. I’m not saying my book is better, I’m merely speaking as a reader. I wish authors would elevate the quality of books and writing in the world by making sure their stories are original, well thought out, and well-written.

All books available at

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spotlight: Ines Baustista Yao, author of Only a Kiss

Guest of the Week

Author Ines Bautista Yao will be visiting The Word Place all week, with an upcoming interview on Thursday, January 29, in connection with the 99-cent promo of her newest YA book Only a Kiss.

When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (No way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother). It was because she could make him do anything she wanted. 
Besides, it didn't really mean anything. After all, it was only a kiss. 
But things started to change. They grew up. They parted ways and went to different high schools. Then other girls and other boys—well, just one particular boy—came into the picture, throwing their lives upside down. 
 Told from the alternating points of view of Katie and Chris, this love story between two best friends will tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking about how the simplest things mean so much. 
What are readers saying about Only a Kiss? Here’s a sampling: 

  • ·        Only a Kiss is a story about love—the joy of first love (and a first kiss!), the pain of heartbreak, the possibility of a new beginning, love for family and friends, and most especially, love for that special someone. I love how the author weaved the stories of her different characters together and how we saw them grow up and grow in love. I enjoyed reading this book because it reminded me that love comes in so many forms and that there is always hope for a happy ending. I highly recommend it! —Angela 
  • ·        I've been excited to read this book ever since I bought it. Not only was it very pretty to look at but I have also been following the author's works, all of which I've I enjoyed reading. I haven't read for a while now and Only A Kiss was just the right book to get me to start reading again. I enjoy reading love stories, especially those that make your heart ache a little, give you a good cry, yet still leave a smile on your face and the feeling of being in love after. You will experience all these with this book. It even made me wish that I had a guy best friend too. Others may say that this is yet another predictable love story, but who doesn't love happy endings? I know I do and I wouldn't mind reading them over and over again. —Wella Javellana 
  • ·        I LOVE THIS. I LOVE THIS. I LOVE THIS. It was cute, then funny, then it got serious, and sad, and painful, and EVERYTHING IS WORTH IT IN THE END.I like it that the story was told in a way that shows the growth of the characters, both physically and emotionally. I so love the lessons about life and love that were shown in the book. There were a lot of quotable quotes, too.What do I love the most about this book? It's sense of reality. The characters do what real people would do in real life. It's like I'm reading a story told to me by a friend. Everything felt natural.I love how the characters saw their lives as children and how their lives changed as they grew older. PLUS: I AM IN LOVE WITH THE COVER!!! —Elline
  •    I finished this book in one sitting! I couldn't put it down. I loved the dialogue between Katie and Chris. I loved "watching" them grow up. Parts of the story made me laugh out loud. Parts of it made me teary eyed and all mushy. Having both the giggles and the sniffles, for me, are signs of a good book! I'm so so soooo glad I bought this book! —KC

Available in print and for Kindle, the novella has a “Look Inside” feature to whet your appetite.
And don’t forget, it’s only 99 cents
through February 14!

Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy Summer, What’s in your Heart, and Only a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival.
She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher.  She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood at She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head.

Connect with Ines on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@inesbyao)and be sure to visit her website where you’ll find more writing surprises! 

Be sure to check back Thursday 
to learn more in
 an in-depth, not-your-standard interview.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"It seems to me I've heard that song before..."

Just the hint of a melody can transport one back in time. Who (assuming you were of a certain age in 1963) can forget the mournful strains of EternalFather Strong to Save, often called The Navy Hymn, which permeated the airwaves for a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy?
Or, God Bless America, actually popularized by singer Kate Smith during World War II, which comforted a nation after September 11?
Remember your high school’s “fight song” played triumphantly by the band after every football score? Or the music you danced to at the prom? The score from a particular movie which impressed you during your growing up years?
Music reflects the times of our lives…the eras of history. This week’s Friday Five reflects on music from three particular time settings, not coincidentally the years important to Alan, Lenore, Annie, and David, the characters of the Shining Star books.
Everyone likes nice clean lists with handy dandy links, so without further ado, here are five songs from the historical eras between 1914 and the early 50’s:

·        “Over There”
·        “Any Bonds Today” 

Book 1: Where Is Papa's Shining Star?
A wealthy businessman, blinded in World War I, falls in love with the woman he hires as his personal assistant during the Depression—and finds her secrets may destroy their chance at happiness.

Book 2:  Finding Papa's Shining Star

A young woman makes a hasty wartime marriage and discovers her husband’s unexpected link to her past may cost her life

 Visit Someday Is Here to watch video trailers and read excerpts.

Get hooked on a good clean read!