We are going to take a look at her book, Only a Kiss and chat a bit. Maybe we can have some tropical fruit smoothies instead of hot cocoa!
Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
Hi, Debbie! My name is Ines Bautista Yao, I live in the Philippines, and I’m a wife and mother of two little girls—a six-year-old and a 15-month-old. I used to be the editor of a teen magazine called Candy and a children’s magazine called K-Zone. I also used to be a high school and college English and Literature teacher. Wow, that is quite impressive! So basically you have been collecting all sorts of information to use in your writing. ;o)
I’ve always been writing—ever since I can remember. An aunt gave me a diary when I was a child and I remember asking my mom what to write in it. She told me to write about my day. So I began doing that, in my huge, curly handwriting. Then I got tired of it and started writing stories. Stories inspired by what I was reading, by what I saw on TV, by the nature around me. And since then, I’ve been finding different opportunities to write. I knew it!
When I got older, my writing focused more on feature articles for magazines, but I always wanted to write fiction. When my eldest daughter began napping for three hours straight and I was feeling like there was nothing else going on in my life besides being Mommy, I opened an old file I had written and stashed away three years before. I read all 13 pages of it and realized I wanted to know what happened next. So I continued the story and wrote every time my daughter napped. That became my first book, One Crazy Summer, which was traditionally published in the Philippines. Three hour naps! I want your secret. I am lucky if my daughter naps a whole hour per day…though it is getting better.
Sorry, back to your book! I love that you kept your writing and built upon it. I have taken high-school papers and short stories that I have kept and found book ideas there too. I know many authors who don’t keep their stories and ideas. I think they just assume the ideas will always be there.
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
I am a full time mother. When I gave birth to my first daughter, I decided to stay home and raise her. I take on several freelance writing jobs at the same time. Now I combine that with writing my books. It’s a lot harder now because I have a 15-month-old too, but I don’t want to stop writing. The sad part is I only write when I get the chance: when the baby is asleep and when my eldest is in school. It’s frustrating but I know that I should cherish these early years because they will be over before I know it! It does indeed go by fast…my eldest is 26, my youngest 18 months. And it seems like only yesterday I was taking Devan home from the hospital…now, you can hear him sing on the radio!
Could you tell us a little about your novel?
Only A Kiss is my third book. It’s actually a novella – not quite a novel. It’s about two best friends: Katie and Chris. The book is made up of five short stories that follow the main characters throughout their lives. It begins when they’re nine then moves along till they’re in their early twenties. It’s also told from their alternating points of view. It’s a simple story about best friends falling in love. I wanted to write a book that had loads of feels and I think I was able to pull it off. I can’t wait to read it. I love the different ways authors convey emotions and I am always looking for new takes on our basic human emotions.
Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?
It’s funny how I began writing this book because I was pregnant with my second daughter and my goal was to finish the book before I gave birth. I was deathly afraid that after giving birth, I wouldn’t have time to write anything and I wanted to come out with a third book before then!
My main character and the overall feel of the book resulted from the feedback I got from my last book, What’s in your Heart. Its focus was mainly family and my readers were telling me that they wanted more romance, more feels, or more (as we say in Filipino) kilig. So I created a main character who was totally different from the main character in my second book. Katie is strong, opinionated, bossy—much like my eldest daughter. And instead of finding a bunch of old letters her grandma had written in the past (the plot of What’s in your Heart), Katie’s life focuses on the relationships around her—in the present. And when I finished the story, my early readers said it was indeed more romantic, more kilig than the last book. Mission accomplished! Good for you!
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
My entire story developed as my characters came to life. I know a lot of authors say that their characters dictate how the story will go, and I’ve noticed that is also what happens to my stories. I start out not sure what’s going to happen and the story and the characters take on lives of their own! Of course, I think about the story the whole day (I even dream of plotlines!), but somehow, when I sit down to write, something else comes up or if I follow an idea, it doesn’t go exactly as planned. In my opinion, that`s the best thing that happens to us as a writer…having one of our characters take us by the hand and lead us on an adventure without the slightest hint of what lies ahead.
But of course, I always want the message to be inspiring and uplifting. Readers have told me that this book has reassured them that there is love in the world and that they will find it someday. I never set out to impart a particular message, but I’m happy they were able to find that in this story.
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
I go with the flow. With this book, I was inspired by a line from The Killers’ song, “Mr. Brightside”: “It was only a kiss.” I typed the title on my laptop and let the story flow from there. It’s so much fun (though nerve-wracking!) to write this way. It feels as if I’m reading a totally new book! Haha…but it’s the best way to write, don’t you think?
Could you tell us how you go about your research, how you ‘catalogue’ information to make it all work?
I didn’t really have to do research for this book, but I did for my last one. I interviewed my grandma about life when she was a teenager and I also read up on Manila in the 1940s. I wrote this all down in a notebook and I made outlines and outlines with my ideas scribbled in the margins. It was confusing because I had to align everything with what I had written so far. I even made diagrams and story maps just to be sure I had everything in place. I can’t imagine how detective writers do it! But I would want to write a whodunit one day and I know I will need to do outlines again.
Consider it “whodunit” training.
How have the changes in present day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer?
How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time?
Since this is my first time to indie pub, I’m still learning the ropes. I’m tweeting a lot, I have my Facebook pages up, and I have recently launched an author blog where I want to post mostly short stories, character posts and interviews, and so on. You can find it here: http://theeverydayprojectblog.com/inesbyao-author-project/
I’m learning a lot from the Clean Indie Reads facebook group (thank you, Lia London!) and I’m hoping that one day, I too, can advertise on those reader sites and see my numbers rise. So far, it’s all one big experiment. And if (or when!) it starts to work, I will definitely share what I have learned so other indie authors (especially those in the Philippines—we have so many talented writers who want to get their books into the world) will know what to do and not have to go through all this stress and uncertainty haha! I think that this is how indie authors stand out, in the sense that they are part of a chain, taking a hand up to reach someone of experience while reaching back down to uplift the next in line. The CIR group is a wonderful place for authors to grow, learn and share with one another.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes! Just write. Write what’s in your heart, write what you want to read, write what is burning inside you. Then after you’ve gotten that out, edit like mad. Make sure your work is properly crafted. It’s’t have the resources to hire expensive editors, artists, and marketing teams, but there are ways to do this. There are people who are good who won’t charge an arm and a leg. But publishing your work without taking care of your overall presentation is not the way to go. It will just give you and other indie authors a bad name. But if you aren’t there yet, start from the beginning. And that is just to write, write, write.
Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’m writing a short story about the two characters who get married in the first story of Only A Kiss. I was intending it to be a permafree short story that I will send to my readers as a thank you for reading or an invitation to get Only A Kiss if they haven’t yet. But as I’m writing it, it’s slowly turning into a novella. I haven’t had time to add to the story because of the holidays, but I want to get back to it as soon as I can! Then I want to write my 50,000-word book that I will submit to BookBub again and again and again and again. Haha! You go girl!
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 theeverydayprojectblog.com. She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head: http://theeverydayprojectblog.com/inesbyao-author-project/
She posts on Instagram and tweets @inesbyao and her author page is facebook.com/inesbautistayao.
Only A Kiss blurb
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.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Twitter and instagram: inesbyao
At 99 cents: January 10 – February 14
From ONLY A KISS
Katie couldn’t get over what she had just witnessed. The kiss Kuya Ben gave her cousin wasn’t like the ones she’d seen in movies or on TV. It was quick and it was through a car window, but it was the most powerful one she had ever seen. It was as if he wanted to gift all the emotions coursing through him to his future bride, and the only way he knew how was through a kiss.
From NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW
But a few weeks later, while he was doing some groceries for his mom after school, something he actually enjoyed because he found it relaxing when there weren’t too many people, someone tapped him on the shoulder. “Haven’t been seeing you around.” He turned to see Iris, looking absolutely adorable in a blue tank top, skinny jeans, and orange Chucks. She had a faded yellow headband on and somehow, it made her entire face light up. He didn’t know how or why, he just noticed that it did. And right then, he knew he was powerless against her. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were avoiding me.” She tilted her head to the side and looked up at him prettily. She knew she was cute, he realized. She knew he liked her. And he didn’t care. She was talking to him, wasn’t she? Did that mean she liked him too?
From JUST ALWAYS REMEMBER
Running into the waves, Katie shrieked as the cold water hit her skin. “Maybe this was a bad idea!” She was about to head back to the sand when Andrew started splashing her with water. “Hey, cut it out!” She splashed him back, laughing. She felt like they were in a romantic comedy, all she needed was a killer soundtrack and they were all set. When Andrew held his hands up and called for a truce, Katie swam up next to him, thinking she was most possibly living the best night of her life—with or without the alcohol dizzying up her brain.
From MAKING MY WAY
When Katie entered the living room in her midnight blue gown that showed off her shoulders and clung to all the right places, places he had never noticed before, his breath caught in his throat. Her hair was all wavy and loose down her back but it looked like she had done something to it because it looked shinier. And she was radiant. Her eyes were sparkling, her lips were glossy—it could have just been the illusion brought on by makeup, but still, he felt as if he were standing next to someone else. Someone he had asked to the ball, not because she was his best friend, but because there was something about her that he wanted to get to the bottom of—because there was something about her that was slowly reeling him in. And at that moment, he realized he wasn’t just anticipating the hype, he was already living it.
From LIKE NOBODY ELSE
Katie took a deep breath, touched up her makeup, and stepped out of the stall. She had to see Chris sooner or later. Even if she had no idea how she felt about him anymore. But then again, what did she expect? It wasn’t as if he was still her best friend. Feeling like she had lost something (her mind, maybe?), she swiped on some lipstick and decided it was time to face the music. No matter what song was playing.
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 bestfriend too :p 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 Faye Sebastian
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