#romanceclass2019 was organized to raise funds for our new app project. All purchases of the romanceclass textbook in 2019 (even if they don’t join the class) will go to related project expenses. Link here: https://t.co/2pZVLd5wfF. Thank you!— Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) August 31, 2019
We started a new class on September 1, as a way to help fund artwork and related expenses for a new romanceclass app. 27 author participants joined! The challenge was to write a contemporary romance novel in English, of at least 30,000 words, featuring Filipino characters, and a career that is not commonly seen in romance (or at least, associated with Filipinos in the genre). 6 authors were able to complete their drafts by November 30! More on those manuscripts in a bit.
But first, a note about how I run and manage the class:
If you’ve attended a #romanceclass before, then you know how this class went. All online, with a writing schedule and required submissions. When a submission (for example, an outline) is required and the participant doesn’t submit on time, they don’t receive the succeeding lessons. The submissions are also done through Google Form that I “turn off” at the deadline. By the way, this has been wonderful in terms of managing submissions for me, and I recommend it when I talk to people running similar online submissions, in case they can’t subscribe to professional tools to do it.
I’d like to talk about the “management” I needed to do. This has happened in other classes already, but I want to say something about it on my site, so people know that this happens and I have a process for it. And maybe, they try not to do it (sigh).
I require that people read romance and my books and romanceclass books before they join. Romance as a genre and Filipinos as authors are routinely undermined in this industry, even if romance is year after year one of the most successful genres. It is unfortunately common for participants to skip this requirement of reading the books and join classes I open, anyway.
So yeah, it’s not fun having to deal with people who have it all figured out, don’t care to read the books, but for some reason want to join a class. #romanceclass is not a class for non-romance readers who want to suddenly earn from romance. (I want people to think about why they feel entitled to our time and money in this way but disrespect the genre itself and what we’ve made.) It is a waste of time for all involved, and though the people and situations vary, I do have a process for it, and I will ask a participant to leave the class.
Again, something like this, if not exactly this, does happen every class, but I’m now mentioning it here.
OK, got that out of the way.
At the end of #romanceclass2019, we had 6 finishers! Here are the authors, working titles, and draft blurbs:
*Beki with the Good Hair (working title) by H. Bentham
Regie Cirilos is a small town parlorista known for two things: flawless makeovers and foolproof fixes for matters of the heart. Anyone who comes in at RegenCi Beauté Salon with split-ends and bad splits, manicures and marriages in peril, or just plain old singleness, and looking to be beautified will walk out transformed and ready for romance. Anyone except Regie himself, that is.
Not that he’s looking for a man to sweep him off his feet right now, though. He’s got bills to pay, cats to feed and gaggle of gays to keep employed. But the nights do get lonely sometimes, and Regie starts to think that maybe love isn’t really for parloristas like him.
Until Regie gets a customer complaint: Donn Piala’s date was a disaster after getting his hair cut by Regie. He doesn’t blame him though, as his hair never looked so good. And so he asks for something else to be done to his hair, or face, or nails for subsequent first dates, that all end up badly. Regie is baffled, why isn’t anyone falling in love with him? Why isn’t anyone getting mesmerized by his beautiful brown eyes and stunning smile?
Or is Regie just too distracted to notice that maybe the makeovers are actually working? And it’s working too well on the beautician Donn hasn’t asked on a date. Yet
The Half of You and Me by Clare Elisabeth Marquez
Yago and Selene are best friends. But senior year of college is taking their friendship to the hardest test since junior high.
Selene Ocampo is a strong, intelligent, no-nonsense woman. She volunteers as a teaching assistant for special needs kids at a small inclusive school for her SpEd degree, she bakes pie as a part-time job at Kape’t Aklat, and she babysits Yago – her fully grown, six-feet spinning dare-devil of a best friend.
Her life is what she makes of it and her friendship with Yago is one of the most important aspects of it.
Santiago “Yago” dela Costa is a man who pushes himself to the limits to the brink of snap. A mountaineer, a water polo varsity, and consistent dean’s lister, he sets his eyes to excellence, proving to the world he can be something despite being outside looking in. He’s been angry after finding out his parents left him to have families of their own. But he didn’t care, he believes doesn’t need anything or anyone.
Except Selene. In everything he does, his best friend Selene is always there to ground him.
Everything was fine for Yago and Selene until the lines went blurry and touches burn, until emotions that were in the deepest began to get out of control.
Until a kiss in the closet changes the rules.
Will you risk falling in love with your best friend?
The Love Complex by Mary Zambales
Techie-librarian Babs Galang lives in the apartment affectionately nicknamed the “Love Complex,” where tenants have a propensity for blasting ’90s R&B love songs throughout the building. Yet, she’s too focused working on her newest app to care about the noise level, much less hookups and romance. In fact, when the attractive Richie Sato moves in, who she vaguely remembers from a past conference, she couldn’t care less. Worse, due to some awkward miscommunication, their reunion is anything but sweet.
Babs has something better though — Aural Pleasure, the audio sex podcast that satisfies her more than any relationship could. Little does she know the voice behind it is none other than her new unwelcome neighbor. As the truth is revealed, Richie and Babs fumble their way through her meddling cousin and their own insecurities. Hate may turn to lust, but it’ll take more than hookups and ’90s nostalgia to turn their relationship into love.
*Never Not Like You (working title) by Meesh Salazar
All Valerie wanted to do that night was just to go home. But it seems like the universe conspired to give her all the bad luck it can give so she’d end up in a bus stop, shielding herself from the angry rain, where a friend that she hadn’t seen in five years coincidentally sees her and offers her the only rescue that she can have at that moment.
Joaquin is the nicest guy that a girl can ever meet—so nice that you might think that it’s a trap. Valerie believes that she had never fallen for this so-called trap yet, but she carried the heavy weight of his two broken promises from five years ago around like a punishment to herself. She eluded anything that can connect her to that man—including their small circle of friends, just so she can live a peaceful life and avoid the issue about his never-been fulfilled promises.
And now he’s here, offering her the help that she so desperately needed. Is she ready to be in close proximity with this deceptively alluring man once more?
And is he finally ready to deliver his promises to her?
The Choices We Make by Miel Salva
Dion James Lorenzo is the best HR Consultant in his team. To reward his hard work, he is allowed to use up his accumulated leaves before they get forfeited. Wanting to just stay at home and play video games, he packs his bags when a close friend asks him to house-sit. Only to realize it was a set-up so he could meet his friend’s neighbor— an old-flame who, unbeknownst to him, happens to be bearing his baby.
Project Manager Jaeyanna Ignacio is used to doing things on her own. But raising a newborn alone while keeping a job to ensure she can pay the bills is a different story. With her parents half-way across the globe, she will need all the help she can get when she delivers her baby. Even if that means reconnecting with her ex who doesn’t know about her pregnancy.
Faced with the daunting task of caring for a newborn, Yanna and DJ work together and in the process, rekindles old feelings. But when the demands of parenthood and the lack of trustworthy househelp requires one of them to give up working, they are thrown in the same situation that drove them apart the first time — who is willing to give up a good career?
Like We Used To by Nyx Santos
Airwoman Second Class Lovely Peralta knows that being granted a ten-day leave is a huge privilege for a soldier and she intended to use it to go home to her sick father, their three-year gap would have to be at the backseat.
This time, Lovely could try to be the daughter he wanted her to be—or could she, if it meant she needs to play nice with her ex-fiancé, also her father’s caretaker, Barangay Captain Allen Ruiz?
Suddenly, Lovely’s brand of tough seemed weak against the bittersweet memories of the life she left behind.
What’s next? Cake! Haha. Or your mini celebration of choice. Some people join #romanceclass just to write and finish something, and doing just that is totally fine.
For those who aim to publish or be published, whether they made the November 30 deadline or not, my recommended next step is to let go of your draft for a bit! Let it breathe, and let yourself enjoy things without thinking of it 24/7. Return to it with a fresh outlook, maybe after reading some good books or watching fun movies…and then go through your draft and think of what could make it better. This part is a lot of fun too.