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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August.)
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Mina V. Esguerra – The Magic of Books: The Power is, in fact, Visibility
A few weeks after the publication of my first contemporary romance/“chick lit” novel, I received my first ever letter from a reader. It was an email from a twenty-something young woman, much like myself at the time, and after saying she had read my book and liked it, asked if we went to the same university. My book, My Imaginary Ex, published in the Philippines in 2009, was set in Manila and included flashbacks to my main characters’ time in college.
She said the flashback scenes (which included cafeteria visits, lining up at the photocopying machine, hanging out at the auditorium waiting for someone to finish choir practice) reminded her of the map and layout of her school, and she wondered if we had been schoolmates.
We were not. Our schools are actually “rivals” here in Manila going on several decades, and so many of the myths surrounding this curious competition has to do with how different the schools are in everything. And yet, this.
In 2009, it felt odd writing romance in English, with a character like me in places I know. We read a lot of US romance and that gives someone the feeling of knowing what romance looks like, but being disoriented when the settings and characters look different. Even when it’s me, us, people I actually know.
It shouldn’t be right to feel this way, that romance isn’t for me, because the Philippines has a very healthy rom-com movie industry, and local language romance publishing industry. But those stories evolved under different circumstances and have a different history. My romance reading involves a central love story and HEA, formed mainly by romance novels in English. Still, I tried my hand at writing myself into this, never mind the disorientation. And I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten the message, early on, that someone else felt seen. Felt visible.
The magic of these books to me is when we feel visible.
I’m thankful for authors who do the same for me, because sometimes what makes me feel seen is not something I even knew I needed. But another author thought of it, before I asked for it, and that’s just…magic, isn’t it?
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Lydia San Andres – lydiasanandres.com – @Amazon
Lydia has a delightful historical romance series set in the Spanish Carribean, that I love because it connects me to an era that’s familiar but we don’t have historical romance here about.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
It’s not a paranormal kind of magic (or is it), but one regular day, I think in the year I turned 30, I was waiting for my ride home from work and there was a nice breeze and I felt something click inside of me. Acceptance? A sense of peace and love of self? All I know is I felt great, and happy with my imperfect body, my imperfect hair, even my fashion choices, and where I was in my career. I was by myself and didn’t have a friend telling me I was enough.
I just felt it, suddenly. Despite everything. I loved it and wanted to capture that feeling, so I put it in one of my books.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
My favorite Sweet Dreams YA novella is a Sherri Cobb South title called “Wrong-Way Romance.” A friend lent it to me when I was in high school, and I loved it. It was an enemies to lovers YA and it had a lot of banter, and it was the foundation of my loving that trope. When I went to college, and met people from all over my country, my new friends had read it too—and loved it too. It amazed me then and continues to amaze me how one book could travel all the way to all these cities in my country, and I know it’s because of friends recommending it lovingly to their friends.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
I founded and right now am administrator of a community of romance authors so when I think of my career, even though I’m an author, I can’t separate the fact that I am in this community and I organize things for the benefit of the community.
One of the magic moments, like a turning point really, for me was when we tried to organize our first romance event. We had tried selling at other bookish events and fairs, and saw some interest, but maybe wanted to see who would go to an event that was just for romance. So we booked a place that could fit 30 people, on a summer day, and more than double expected number of people showed up. It was hot and crowded but so exciting, because then we got confirmation that we should be focusing on romance readers. They showed up—and continue to show up in all the ways.
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I love competence. I love the feeling of reading about somebody just being good at something. This is what I consider magic in our contemporary world—when someone does something really well and they have passion in their work, in helping people out. I love seeing it and writing it.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
I love being surrounded by interesting things like beautiful art, romantic movies, good books, good music, delicious food, breathtaking nature views. All of that just puts me in a mood where I feel I can and maybe should contribute something to the world.
Drawing – Mina is generously giving away a digital copy of What Kind of Day (epub or mobi) and a digital copy of Kiss and Cry (epub or mobi) (open to anyone who can accept these).
To enter, leave a comment below. Open until August 29, 2019 11:59 PM EST.
However, all comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 4 participating authors. You may enter by commenting on this original blog post and/or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here.
Each first unique comment at each space offers an extra chance to win, so check in with each author. Must comment by 9/05/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Mina V. Esguerra is an author and publisher of contemporary romance novels. She lives and works in the Philippines. She is the founder of the #romanceclass a community of filipino authors of romance in English, and the readers of the books.
Mina also organizes events and activities to encourage writing, reading, and protection of authors’ rights.
Discover all of Mina’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and text links connect to an affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!