Sunday, August 30, 2015

Save the Cake Updates!

Save the Cake won't be in stores for a while, but Mina V. Esguerra got a hold of some copies from Visprint, Inc. to give away at a recent meet-up in Makati.

And here's more news from Visprint on the possible release date for the book:

Keep your eyes peeled, friends! More news forthcoming. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Writing Life, So Far

The bad news: Life has gotten in the way of my writing lately, which is why the follow-up stories to Save the Cake have been slow going. I can't guarantee a new book while I'm working on my dissertation (the preliminaries for which have started this semester) but I am making sure that I'll have something out once it's cleared all of the hurdles.

The good news: While Save the Cake is going to press and the second book is going through another round of revisions, I can share with you the other book that I'd been working on over the summer. It's called LDR and...well, it's about a long-distance relationship. The inspirations for this story are on Pinterest right now, so check it out!

Follow Stella's board LDR on Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cover Reveal (Sort Of): Save The Cake, Visprint Edition

Spotted in the latest issue of Bookwatch magazine. Thanks, Mina!
Cover designed by Jamie Bauza (Twitter: @silkscreened). Release date: Soon, and very soon!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The First Blog Post After a Long Holiday



So.

First of all, I'm sorry for not updating this blog sooner; there had been so many things going on that time just flew past me in a daze. I had been doing school stuff and working on another book at the same time, and by the time the school year was over I felt as if my head wasn't in the right space to deal with anything writing-related.

Then I went to Bali.

Granted, the plan was simple - hang out with my old classmates for the weekend, then take off on my own for three days - but what I didn't count on was the clarity of mind that I'd experienced while I was there. You see, when I first flew in, I didn't realize that I had carried over with me a few things that I thought I'd left behind at good ol' Hacienda de Meimei - there were feelings of sadness and inadequacy that I didn't know how to figure out, not to mention the butterflies in my stomach whenever I mentioned that my book was coming out in print. (Up until now I'm still pinching myself over getting my book.) In a way, I was worried that my life had only gone as far as it could, and it scared me to think that I might never be able to share a lot about myself. Instead of letting go, I'd pushed my problems to the side and just concentrated on being the fun person that I used to be again.

What I didn't count on was the clarity.

Granted, the realization didn't come as a blissed-out Moment of Zen where I felt like my heart had opened up and become one with nature. What did happen were little quiet moments when I realized that I didn't have to try too hard to prove myself. I was happy and serious and fun and sane and every contrary adjective that could pop up inside my head. Yes, I was there to have fun with my friends, but I also realized that my presence was also a blessing to them, too, and the best way I could share that love was to spend time with them catching up on the people we've become.

It was even better when I took off on my own and went to Ubud by myself. I got jumped on by monkeys, tasted kopi luwak and (on a last-ditch side trip to Denpasar) got my tongue scorched off by a wayward smidge of chili paste while eating roast pork - but those were the best hours that I'd spent on my own in such a long time. There wasn't a dull moment at all - it was just me immersing myself fully into the moment and opening up to the possibilities of more adventure.

But it all came back to the same question that I had when I first got off the plane: Who am I? 

When I came back to the Hacienda, the first thing I did was look through old yearbook pictures for pictures of that cute guy more memories of the old days. I really thought that the world hated me for what a dork I'd been in middle and high school, but looking at the comments I'd written inside my own yearbooks, I feel like I'd violated my own memories by making imaginary enemies out of people who only wanted to be friends - no, people who are my friends, who I still see on Facebook and like enough to hang out with in real life, given the chance. And I realized that there was no way on earth that I would want to be the person that I used to be back then, because - for what it's worth - I actually like the person that I am now.

And I don't want to bring myself that low again. Ever.

So where does this bring us, then? Well, for starters, I'm going to change a few things about the way I deal with people - especially the way I blog and write. That doesn't mean I will be writing more personal things on this blog, but I want to be able to share things that are more than just about my works in progress and the struggle I have to balance them with my academic career. I want to spend more time with my readers by sharing more of the things that I'm passionate about - books, issues, matters of the heart. And I want to do this as openly and welcoming as I can, because why have a space like this if I'm going to alienate people with my angst?

It's going to be a long ride, but I promise you, it's going to be worth it. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#amwriting

In case you were curious: Yes, I'm still working on the new book, but I've already given myself a deadline for it and it should be ready for editing in a matter of months. 

But wait, there's more! 

Not only will I have Save the Cake out in print and the second book following before the end of the year, but I will also be working on my third book this year. 

Yes, you read that right: There will be a third book. New characters. New dynamics. Everything new. (That should give you a hint on what I'll be working with for this one.) 

Let's hope that we can get a good third book out by then :) 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fade to Grey

So: I went and saw Fifty Shades of Grey at the theater.

Before you get your hackles up, I would like to say that I tried reading the books, but I gave up after one chapter because I couldn't stomach Ana's immaturity. This movie didn't give me the desire to pick up the books, either, so please don't try to persuade me otherwise.

I watched the movie with three friends who have read the book, and for a while I thought that I was going to be the only person with complaints -- but after the movie was finished, we all agreed that the whole thing was just awkward to watch. Everything felt so staged, and all of the actors were going around like they were reading lines from the script. And there was no chemistry at all between the leads, which was even more painful to watch because we could see that they were trying so, so hard.

What really annoyed me was that everything came out so overwrought and emo that it was hard to take seriously. Sure, I thought there were a few scenes that were well-done (I actually liked their "first time") but I felt like the characters were all in pain, and not in an erotic way. We're told that Ana and Christian have Strong Feelings for each other, and yet we never feel it because it doesn't look like the actors derive any pleasure from their roles. There are so many times that I looked up at the screen and swore that I could read the actors' minds in every scene: "I have to whip her? She's supposed to like it? If you say so, then."

Which leads us to the point that annoyed me the most about this movie. Okay, apart from the use of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love," because that schiz ain't sexy.

See, I don't really know much about BDSM outside of the books that I've actually finished (Cherise Sinclair's Club Shadowlands and Delphine Dryden's The Science of Temptation series in particular) but even I could tell that what I was seeing wasn't true to the "lifestyle." Even if the whipping and flogging scenes were well-staged (which they weren't) I would still take issue with the way the D/s relationship was presented here. Christian Grey isn't so much a Dom as he is a control freak; he wants what he wants, and he just lucked out that he found someone so weak and virginal to play with in his Red Room of Gadgets. It also doesn't help that my friends told me that he's more of a bully in the books, which further killed my desire to read them. (I mean, what kind of guy gets mad when he finds out that he's with a virgin? Dude, I don't care if her V-card is beyond your control. MAN UP.) The point is, if you're a Dom, it is your responsibility to make sure to take care of your sub. When things get too much between the two of you, it's your responsibility to hold her and talk to her and respect her limits. You don't ask her to sign a non-disclosure agreement that gives you control over everything she does, especially when you know that she has the power to stop everything with a safeword. You don't have to fall in love, but you do have to act out of love.

That's what I didn't see on screen. There was no love.

"But Stella," you might say, "isn't that the point? Christian Grey is incapable of love!" Yeah, but again: control freak. If he was a real Dom, he should own it. Same with Ana; if she finds herself getting off on being whipped, she should own it. None of this high-falutin' "love-of-a-good-woman" nonsense (sorry, but I'm not a fan of that trope), because love doesn't have to hurt unless you want it to -- and if you're unsure, or if you're all, "I'm not the man for you/please don't leave me" about it, then you're just making an ass of yourself and you probably don't deserve to live Happily Ever After.

Nothing romantic about that.

And now that I've gotten all of that out of the way, I think I'm going to go back and work on the edits for my next book...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy New Jump

I know that I haven't been good about celebrating my blog's birthday (especially since the guy who started it all turned out to be a bit of a turd) but I thought that now would be a good time as any to discuss the new year. 2014 has been full of surprises for me -- for every ounce of heartache that I suffered on the academic side (which cost me my sanity) there have been flashes of brilliance and happiness that have kept me afloat even during the most critical moments. Now, at the start of the new year, I'm seeing more blessings coming my way.

The biggest news of all, of course, is the soon-to-be-published Philippine print edition of Save the Cake, which will be (re-)launched this year by a major Philippine publishing company. This is a doozy for me, because this means that the book will be distributed nationwide in bookstores everywhere. We're working on the details right now -- there's new cover art and revised front and back matter -- but it's a big deal, and it is happening.

Another big deal on the horizon is the release of Fair Play, which is currently in the post-beta revision stage. Production on this may be stalled depending on how things go with my academic schedule, but I'm hoping to get this out at around the same time as the StC launch, if not earlier. Fingers crossed.

On the personal, non-academic front, I'll be coming back to Indonesia for a trip to Bali with my former classmates, and we'll also have visitors in the house for the mid-year break. I'll also start cleaning out my closet and workspace to get myself more organized (one of many New Year's Resolutions that I'll be working on in the future). Hopefully I can get all of these straightened out in the near future.

As for the rest...well, we'll just have to wait and see.

Here's to a blessed year ahead!