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.

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