Recent Reads Review

Reading slumps suck. So far, since the year has started, I’ve only read three books—one of those I even half-assed and just practically skimmed through.

If you’re looking for more books to read, don’t look here. I’m actually just here to share what I think of these books and, hopefully, stumble upon someone who can recommend me books like the ones I’ve read. These reviews are very short and lazily written (I just copied them from my Goodreads account, actually). Really, they are just begging for more books to be with them. Oh, and tiny spoiler alert!

Eliza and Her Monsters

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

The writing, the story, and the story within the story (Monstrous Sea) were all captivating. It hooked me at once. I could relate with Eliza, with what she’s going through, though my social anxiety ain’t that bad (‘cuz I at least know how to fake knowing how to socialize and don’t let anyone else notice) but I know how it can be draining and overwhelming at times. Yes, the book opens up about social anxiety and what it’s like to have it. The writing is what really got me mesmerized because it flowed and transitioned so well. But the story of Eliza is what made me love the book so much.

What I just didn’t like was Wallace. He was so good in the first half of the book. The second half didn’t justify enough (or apologize enough) how Wallace could be so selfish as to force Eliza to finish the web comic while she’s having a mental breakdown. Like dude. Your life isn’t her responsibility so give the girl a break, please. Anyway, other than that I loved everything about the book. I wish there’s really a Monstrous Sea web comic. Is there? The on-page sketches look cool!

Geekerella

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Rating: 2/5 Stars

In between 2 and 3 stars. Maybe because I have read a book with a similar premise before this and did it much better? Reading this book felt like a chore; I had to skim through most of the characters’ thought process, and the dialogues were too sloppy and cheesy for my liking. Darien and Elle’s chemistry also felt forced, and they are being too dramatic. I also found some inconsistencies with Elle’s personality. Even the side characters seemed so stereotypical and that made them even more unrealistic. This actually reads more like a fanfic than an original YA stand-alone novel.

I usually enjoy feel-good stories with fairy tale-like themes like this one, you know, just for mindless fluffy reading. But Geekerella was just too plain. Kelly Oram’s Cinder and Ella is still the most enjoyable and believable modern Cinderella-meets-Hollywood YA novel I’ve read so far. I should probably read that again to make up for the disappointment that this book gave me. Anyway, nice try for taking on the kind of story concept that has been done over and over again. I am also aware that it’s hard to give this kind of recycled plot an original feel. Still, good try.

Burn Before Reading

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

I probably should’ve burned this book before reading because I fell a little bit in love with it! It’s the kind of book that you would want to read when you’re in need to swoon mindlessly and feel giddy all over. It was so much fun! But it also took on some serious issues, which is very commendable and genuinely well-executed. I admit though at first, I didn’t want to read it because the synopsis screams BOYS OVER FLOWERS. After having seen that a-group-of-rich-and-privileged-bad-boys-against-one-poor-but-stubborn-girl story in three live-action adaptations, I thought I’ve had enough. But Sara Wolf is an instant read to me. I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because, boy, it gave a new spin and depth to that classic plot! What an enjoyable read!

By the way, Bee reminds me so much of Isis (another character from the same author). They have the same wit, and I wonder if that reflects the author’s personality in real life, too. That’s the one thing consistent through-out her books, some more subtle than others. That’s not a bad thing; just a random observation. Hey, her female characters are funny and #relatable!

YA Stock Characters (The ones you always read and write about)

I probably have more story ideas than I could write. But as I was writing the outline of the story that I’m currently working on, I noticed a pattern to my characters. Every time I create a story (usually young-adult contemporary romance set in small town high schools), I just use certain character archetypes and play matchmaker with them in the story. I blame the YA novels I read.

I do it unconsciously, but knowing it now makes me realize how cliche my characters can be. This challenges me to break their mold and give them more depth and development. But for now, let’s just get to know each of them and…make fun of them.

So, I wrote their basic character profiles.

Meet my YA stock characters:

The Bad Boy

A.K.A The Rebel; Female Counterpart: The Bad Girl (duh!)

Brooding, mysterious, damaged, rebellious. Hides a dark, tragic past. Often wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. Needs the right girl to change his rebel ways. Has a tattoo and hides a scar, literally and figuratively. Most likely orphaned to make him even more tragic. Obviously brings trouble but there has to be some redeeming qualities, right?

The Popular Jock

A.K.A The Popular Jock (there’s no other way to do it); Female Counterpart: The Popular Cheerleader

The guy every girl wants. Also a known playboy. Supposedly the epitome of a cool guy. Acts like an airhead on the outside, but keeps a sensible and thoughtful personality. Has honey-chocolate abs to die for. Most likely the town’s golden boy quarterback. Redeeming qualities: HOT. But also his secret philosophical depth hidden behind his good looks and jackass-jerk facade.

The Boy-Next-Door

A.K.A The Nice Guy; Female Counterpart: The Girl-Next-Door

Best friend-to-boyfriend material. Literally the guy that lives next door. Also known as Mr. McPerfectson. Likes basketball and music, plays the guitar, can also sing and cook, loves dogs, love babies, loves you. Gentleman with a killer smile and dimples on both cheeks. Redeeming qualities: EVERYTHING.

The Cute Nerd

A.K.A Totally-Not-A-Nerd-Just-A-Cute-Guy-Wearing-Glasses; Female Counterpart: The Cute Nerd (girl version)

Shy, quiet, awkward. Not necessarily studious but naturally smart (or not). Loves his video games, superhero comic books, and sci-fi/fantasy movies. Often wears glasses. Secretly hot and wild and everything you want him to be. Is working on a sci-fi graphic novel of his own (so he most definitely knows how to draw).

The Good Girl

A.K.A The Mary Sue; Male Counterpart: Definitely NOT The Bad Boy

Innocent, humble, simple (or plain), timid. Doesn’t know she’s pretty until the right guy tells her. Loves reading books, and probably has a book and movie review blog. Has hidden wit and sarcasm (how is she gonna write those killer reviews if she’s not witty like me). Can stand up for herself only when she’s up against her love interest and the love interest’s evil ex-girlfriend.

The Ice Princess

A.K.A Elsa, Concealed, Doesn’t Feel; Male Counterpart: The Ice Prince

Complete straight A’s, no non-sense girl. Perfect in every way except for her cold, uptight, and a little bit (by that, I mean very) naive personality. Trained in some fancy talent like piano, ballet, or painting. Uses only at least three-syllabic SAT words in a casual conversation. Facial expressions are limited to a resting bitch face. Actually has feelings.

The Tomboy

A.K.A The-Girl-You-Didn’t-Realize-Was-Beautiful-Until-A-Makeover; Male Counterpart: (I actually have no idea)

Quirky, sporty, one-of-the-boys. Hates make-up and wearing high heels or skirts. Tough as nails but still a lady at heart. Can play basketball, knows how to skateboard, and beat the boys at it. Secretly a huge fangirl of boy bands. Fashion sense is limited to over-sized T shirts, baggy jeans, sneakers, and other hand-me-downs.

The Queen Bee

A.K.A The Girl You Envy; Male Counterpart: Your Dream Guy

The girl every guy wants. Pretty, sassy, and fierce. Often mistaken as the mean girl. Always the homecoming and prom queen. Also known as the popular girl that rules high school, and your teacher’s favorite student. Probably in a relationship with The Popular Jock. Rival includes The Popular Cheerleader. Struggles to keep her royal image.

This list doesn’t represent all of the stock characters that we have in YA contemporary fiction. These are just the archetypes that I use in my own stories. So, if you think I missed someone, no worries, you can write about them. But don’t forget to try and destroy their tropes. That makes a story more interesting.

Building Worlds (Pt. 5): Cloud

Type: Advanced Alternate Timeline

I see a lot of virtual reality-inspired fiction nowadays (all thanks to The Matrix which made it so popular, it practically became a cult fever) but this world is not quite like that—although I did get the idea from that concept. The fictional world of “Cloud” is not about virtual realities or online simulations but the similarity is that all people living in this world are also “connected” to a worldwide network known as The Cloud. They still live in the physical world, unlike in The Matrix where the bodies are plugged in and lifeless somewhere, and all the parties are in the virtual world. “There is no spoon,” as one quote from the movie goes.

Maybe it isn’t right to compare this world to The Matrix. After all, there’s really no virtual reality involved. But they have the same theme: Everyone is connected to a system that can be hacked (Neo being that “hacker” in the loosest sense) with enough resources, knowledge, and skills. This system contains all sensitive data about an individual such identity codes, bank accounts, health records, educational history, home address, real-time location, and other personal information. But these are the “external” information. There’s another vital data that The Cloud stores. Memories.

In this world, people undergo an implant surgery when they turn a year old. This implant is what connects them to this system. It’s like a chip the size of a mini-SIM card that releases these super thin fiber wires which connects to the brain and spine once implanted in the head.  It cannot be turned off or disconnected and removing it can be too dangerous the longer it has been since it was implanted, as doing so can cause brain damage or paralysis and put a person into a coma. This implant is not a choice, it’s as important as getting a birth certificate.

Think of the human brain like a very complex USB flash drive that can store up to 2,500 terabytes of memory (that’s an estimate according to this 2010 article which I hope is credible enough). Regardless, human memories are the files that can be stored in The Cloud. These “files” include sensory information, surface thoughts, dreams, experiences, as well as consciousness—and all of these are translated into binaries and codes that The Cloud processes for storage. So imagine, now your memories come in a digital format and can be accessed virtually. Their whole life and reality are practically recorded in a virtual system.

As the name suggests, The Cloud is literally a cloud storage for these information and everyone should be connected to this “system” and the space in this cloud is infinite. It’s a way to monitor, protect, and control societies. It is virtually managed and organized by an AI administrator but it is monitored and controlled by either a distinct government department (perhaps something like a bureau of information security) or a private organization contracted by the government. Through The Cloud, authorities can check the entire history of a person to determine criminal history or tendencies and other “anomalies” using their memories. They can also check the person’s mental health and “fix” it the way we fix computer viruses. Any person can also scan through their memories if they have access to The Cloud. If they have amnesia, memories can easily be recovered since everything is backed-up in The Cloud. Basically, The Cloud has complete access to everyone’s brain and these are just some of what the system can do. But privacy must be respected at all times. The only thing it cannot do is to control people’s brain activities and the person itself—The Cloud can only store, read, analyze, and organize data, but not command actions—although those paranoid people who believe in conspiracy theories won’t agree.

Of course, such powerful system can be abused and no matter how powerful it may be, there can still be errors in the system. It might be hard but it can also be tricked and hacked. It’s all about knowing how The Cloud works. Really, I’m telling you that the brain is just like a flash drive and the the system is like the internet.

Memories can be removed from a person but it can never be completely deleted from The Cloud. It’s just that the system loses access to it forever but it’s not impossible to retrieve it. If they want to delete something, they have to reformat the entire cloud and that’s something you don’t want to do because that means deleting everything. If they want to do that, they have to make a back up or transfer every single memory to a different cloud but that will take years and years to complete. Just not worth it. But imagine the potential. Since it’s possible to removed a memory and transfer them, that means it’s also possible to transfer one’s memory into another person. It’s like putting one’s consciousness into another and taking over their body and life. To make it extreme, you can put the memory and consciousness of a dead person into someone living (of course, with the original memory removed)—and the effect would be like living immortally if they do that continuously every time they die. Tampering with one’s memory, corrupting  it, is also possible. It can destroy people’s lives. But that’s why there are very strict protocols and security when it comes to The Cloud. So all of these won’t be too easy.

But what happens if there is actually a person that can do this? What if he or she uses this to commit crimes? With a laptop and mad hacking skills, this person is able to access The Cloud and use all information stored in it for selfish reasons. What if the government is on to something as well? What if all the rich and powerful use it to become virtually immortal and the government is so corrupt, they give in to them? Better yet, what if there’s a secret society that is unplugged and these people start committing crimes? Since they are not connected, it would be hard to trace them. A cat-and-mouse chase begins between an officer who only has the memories of witnesses to track the criminal activities. These plot ideas might sound geeky or too far-fetched but I think it would be exciting to write a story about this world.

(If you have any comments and suggestions for this idea, or if you wanna make use of this world for your story, just tell so in the comments. Or you can email me. I’d really appreciate it. Here’s the full list of Building Worlds, if you’re interested.)

 

Romance Cliches That I Absolutely Love

People hate cliche. But what they don’t realize is that cliches are cliches because they always work! Here are my top 5 favorite cliches in romance that you might hate to death but I absolutely enjoy reading or watching when done right.

1) Love Triangles. It gets tiring when all the mopey main characters  always have a hard time choosing between two equally sexy, equally good, love interests. “Boohoo, I don’t know who to choose. Both of them are hot.” But I love it when Miss MC clearly knows who she likes. No more playing games. It gives me a hard case of second lead syndrome which I enjoy. A lot. It’s a torturous kind of fun when I’m rooting for the other guy but the girl is so damn loyal to the first one so she rejects the other one. Korean dramas are full of that cliche, but I love it! Come to Mama Sophie, you broken-hearted second male lead hottie! Lemme comfort ya in ma lovin’ arms!

2) The Bad Boy. No, not the douche-y kind of bad boy but the bad boy with a soft, big heart. Girls love bad boys and although I often criticize them for going after that type (because when a boy is bad in real life, he is actually bad, not good, not cool—never accept any kind of douche-y-ness even though he’s your one true love) I love the way fiction easily breaks the archetype. The guy might be wearing the stereotypical leather jacket, the stereotypical dark tattoos, and riding the stereotypical big black bike, but this guy ain’t bad. He’s a nice gentleman with just an awful fashion sense.

3) Special First Meetings. It’s a magical, wonderful thing when two people meet for the first time in a happenstance as strangers. They still don’t know yet what comes to them after but as a reader, you already know. Something deep and special will blossom between them. It doesn’t have to be an insta-love, love-at-first-sight kind of thing. I just want to see the two main characters bump into each other one day like it’s fate or destiny that brought them together.

4) A Shared Past. Plot twist, they were actually childhood sweethearts that got separated from each other long before they even realize what love and puberty are. I’m a sucker for that! As a hopeless romantic, I live off stories of true love and soulmates and meant-to-be’s where people still end up together no matter what happened to them and no matter how long they’ve been away from each other to the point that they’ve forgotten one another. Yet, like fate, they meet again years later. Ah, the unrealistic depiction of love and relationships is so much fun.

5) Star-Crossed Lovers. You know, the usual Romeo-and-Juliet forbidden romance plot or the interspecies, vampire-human, love story—they just never get old. Why do you think are we going to have a Beauty and the Beast live action remake next year? (By the way, I’m so excited for that one!) It’s practically bestiality! Don’t tell me it’s not because Belle fell in love when the Beast is still a beast. That’s kind of the requirement to break the spell. Anyway, there’s something fascinating about forbidden love. There’s a reason why Romeo and Juliet is such a popular classic love story. I want to see love conquering all (although Romeo and Juliet were both too stupid so let’s not count them as an example for the “conquering all” part).

Now, can someone recommend me a good cliche YA romance novel? I want to read something with all of these elements present. Should be fun!

Building Worlds (Pt. 1)

Something I really enjoy about travelling 2 hours just to get to and from work—even though it’s very tiring as hell and it takes away most of my time to relax, blog, do other things I love, but blogging most especially—is that I get to daydream a lot. While most people use the idle time to sleep, play with their phones, reflect, or fantasize about stuff, I use the time to build fictional worlds.

I love writing and that’s not just with blogs. I love writing fiction. It’s my dream to write a book and get it published. I haven’t had the chance yet to sit down and simply write but hopefully soon. I am more into romance–hopeless romantic here–and YA contemporaries as a reader and writer-wannabe. But, actually, the genre that fascinates me the most is science fiction-fantasy, although I know I can never pull off writing a full length story on that spectrum.

The thing that makes me so awed about SFF is the world building. I admire writers who can make a fictional world so elaborate and bizarre yet believable. Reading stuff like that is like going on a wild adventure to a different universe. I want to build my own world where the rules are all mine. I can do whatever I want, create a system myself, build an entirely different reality, and explore the impossible. Of course, my world building skills aren’t great writing-wise (I tried a couple of times and being the worst critic of me, I just scrapped all of it because they suck—they are much better in my imagination than on paper) but I still want to share my fictional worlds with you.

A lot of people are scared of giving away their story ideas because others might take it before they could even write about it. I can understand them because story ideas are like babies that they conceived and took care of on their own until they’re ready for the real world—but not me. I actually want someone to create a story out of these ideas when I can’t.

I don’t know if they’ve been done before (as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t seen these worlds yet in books or films that’s why I made them myself, or I take bits of what I’ve seen and created my own version of it for me). Let me know if they already “exist” since I really want to see them come to life because I can’t do it myself. Or if you got inspired and want to create a story out of it yourselves, do so! I’d really appreciate it, just tell me.

I will pin this post up my blog and give you links to these fictional worlds as I write them. I can only do once a week (for now) though. Here’s the list, fifth link coming up next week:

1) Biodegrade
Type: Futuristic Dystopian/Cloning

2) Parallels
Type: Contemporary Multiverse

3) Eden
Type: Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian/Angels and Demons

4) Cloud
Type: Futuristic Dystopian/Cyberpunk

5) Sanctuary
Type: Neo-Victorian Alien World

6) Children of God
Type: Urban Fantasy World/Superheroes

7) Aftersoul
Type: Urban Fantasy World/Ghosts

8) Dreamcaster
Type: Urban Fantasy World/Premonitions

9) Lightless
Type: Contemporary Science-fiction

10) Entertainers
Dystopian Gladiator

I hope you’ll enjoy reading them. I’ll probably add more ideas later–if I get more ideas. Inspiration strikes at random to me, always. Anyway, these are not exactly written as stories. Just a long description-slash-explanation of what the worlds are supposed to be like, so don’t get too disappointed if they seem too technical, boring, or full of BS blabber for you. I’m just simply detailing the ideas. If you’re feeling geeky today or you just need a good (or ridiculously bad) idea for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy world, you can check these out.

Building Worlds (Pt. 4): Eden

Type: Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian

I’ve always been fascinated by the Book of Revelation. If you’re Christian then you should know the gist of it. Basically, it just “reveals” how the world is going to end (the apocalypse as more commonly known) and how everyone in this world is going to be judged (the rapture which is tied up with the Second Coming). That’s more or less the inspiration for this world but I went far off from the Bible so don’t expect it be accurate to the scriptures. I did get my reference from it though.

Hundreds of years into the future, the world fell apart as prophesied. The earth broke open and released demonic creatures known as ghouls that feed on humans. The sky soon did the same and angels came out to save the believers from these creatures. This would eventually lead to the war and the final battle between the devil and the savior. However, things didn’t go as written in the scriptures. The Heaven and Hell suddenly closed and trapped everyone on Earth—including humans, angels, demons, and ghouls—and God was nowhere to be found. No devil, no savior, no final battle. There was only chaos. Not exactly the kind of world you would want to read about this Christmas.

But that is not what this world is about. The world of “Eden” is what came to be thousands of years after this so-called apocalypse. In this time, societies exist in walled cities ruled by emotionless angels. These walled cities are called “Eden,” hence the title, a reference to the Garden of Eden in Genesis (I know, not very original). These cities are only connected by bridges so no one has to go in or out of them. It’s practically a paradise; humans live safe, free, and equal. There’s no poverty, no severe illnesses, no discrimination—simply put, it’s a perfect society. All they have to do is to follow the law the angels have put up. Otherwise, they can choose between the angel’s sword or the outside. Neither one is good. Anyone—may it be a human, an angel, a demon, or a ghoul—pierced by the angel’s sword will cease to exist. The outside isn’t any better. Ghouls and demons roam outside the walled cities so there’s no escape either. If they want to survive outside, they have to continuously fight for their lives.

In this world, angels are not like the guardian angels we always thought to be kind and empathetic to the feelings and needs of humans. These are lower rank angels. They are emotionless, more like an army driven only by what is commanded to them. Based on the Bible, they don’t exactly have free will–only humans have free will—and they are not omnipotent either. But they are powerful and immortal that’s why it’s easy to fear on them although it’s  not impossible to kill them. Since they lost contact from Heaven, they also lost their true purpose to protect humans, hence they turned more into “aristocrats” in some sense. Demons are simply those angels who turned against God and their purpose. They kind of operate on their own. Even though angels don’t exactly have free will, they still have a mind of their own. Some angels turned because they envy humans and wanted to destroy them, others lusted after them. Either way, this cause their fall so they lost their grace and turned into “demons.” They are still like angels with the immortality and powers and such but they aren’t considered anymore as “one of them.” Ghouls, on the other hand, used to be the souls of humans that take form and shape from the sorrows and sufferings in Hell. They feed on humans because their bodies long for their “untainted” souls. Basically, both Heaven and Hell just dumped all these creatures on Earth.

There are two kinds of people or “souls” in the world of Eden: the ones saved and the ones left. The saved ones are the descendants of the believers who were supposed to go up to Heaven after the rapture. The ones left are the descendants of those who will be left behind either because they sinned or they didn’t believe in God. The walled cities are built by the angels so the saved ones can have a place to stay until Heaven opens up again to take them. Meanwhile, the ones left must survive in the waste lands outside the walled cities where ghouls are waiting to feed on them. But so many years have passed and things have changed. People lost grasp of the real meaning of the story and the prophecy. Instead of protectors, the angels have become dictators of these walled cities, the saved ones are starting to question God’s existence, and the ones left are beginning to fight for their right to be saved.

I know I wasn’t really able to explain this world well. I’ll probably redo this whole post and describe the world better. I’ve been so distracted this whole day. Sorry ’bout that. Anyway, here’s a possible story: The only way the Heaven will open up again is to kill the Devil. But what if the Devil takes the form of a human instead of a Beast or a Dragon…and what if he doesn’t know that he is the Devil? Worse, he is kind and lives among the saved ones. Or so they thought. Another chaos starts when people begin suspecting that one of them might be the Devil. A killing rampage might happen out of desperation to be saved. Through this world, I want to explore what makes one worthy of saving, what it means to have faith or to be a person of faith, and what it really takes to be a good person. That is if I will ever have the time.

(If you have any comments and suggestions for this idea, or if you wanna make use of this world for your story, just tell so in the comments. Or you can email me. I’d really appreciate it. Here’s the full list of Building Worlds, if you’re interested.)

Pick a Love Story! (Part Two)

Help me choose! Here’s the next four romance plot ideas. If you want to read the first four, just click this link. Don’t forget to leave a comment of your best pick below and, also, help me come up with a title. I’d really appreciate it. If ever I get to finish the book (which I pray I will), I’ll dedicate it to you, guys. It’s the least I can do for you for helping me out. If you have any comments, suggestions, writing tips, or any form of feedback, don’t hesitate to tell me.

It’s really my dream to get published. Of course, I also want my stories to come out with the best quality. I don’t really care about having readers, I just want to see my stories come to life on bookstore shelves and tell myself, “I wrote that. This book is mine. The name on it is mine. I did that.” But even finishing a draft seems so hard for me. So please feel free to leave comments and criticize my ideas if you want.

5) I’m going to start off with a story of unrequited love. Most love stories are in the perspective of two people who are obviously going to end up together, that’s why this time I want to try telling the story of the guy who doesn’t get the girl.

Caleb is a troubled teen. He’s been in a lot of school fights and into some suspicious stuff. You can say that he’s the typical bad boy you read in romance novels minus the obligatory coolness that often comes with it. He’s just plain problematic. That’s why his grandmother forced him to work in a flower shop. This flower shop is owned by the wife of a police officer that helped them out with one of his cases. His grandmother thought that they will teach how to be responsible, respectful, etc. Turns out, the couple has a daughter his age, Sarah, who is the complete opposite of him. Thoughtful, responsible, and sweet—basically the “good daughter” but she’s also frail—and you guessed it right. He’s totally going to fall in love with her.

The problem is, Sarah has a boyfriend and, worse, he is the star swimmer of the school who is also known for his abrasive personality. Obviously, that’s the reason why this is an unrequited love story.

More than the romance though, I want to focus on the character development and break their archetype. Yes, we’ve got the typical bad boy, the typical good girl, and the typical popular jock. But I want the characters to learn that there’s so much more in a person than the reputation they have. They don’t necessarily need to step out of their personalities and be a changed person but, if I can pull it off, I want them to realized that they are their own person and they don’t need to box themselves into the image others have formed for them.

Caleb, despite him causing trouble for everyone, cares about his grandmother so much that he agreed to work in the flower shop, of all places. If he was the jerk everyone thought he was, he wouldn’t agree to work there despite his hesitance. He worries about his life too.

Sarah, even though she has a weak body, is not afraid to set people straight. Most “good girls” in the romance genre are often the submissive type and they still have to work on their confidence to speak out. On the other hand, most of the “strong heroines” in fiction always fight back, always trying to match the wit of the other person, but not Sarah. She doesn’t bite back but she knows how to put people, Caleb most especially, in their places when needed.

Sarah’s boyfriend, Mikel, is the popular guy but he doesn’t want to be the center of attention. He only cares about two things: Swimming and Sarah. If you’re not one of them, you better expect the cold shoulder from him. Caleb often scoffs at him because he’s supposedly the jock who is confident and oh-so-perfect but he’ll discover a lot of things about him too which will surprise him and he’ll realize how sincere and serious Mikel is about Sarah. Maybe they’ll form a friendship eventually—I want them to—but I’m still not sure how I should do that.

6) This one is about two best friends who, after years of being inseparable, will go their separate ways to different universities miles away from each other. They decided to keep in touch through a series of letters and emails, and I want to tell their story through their messages for one another.

They each have a love story so, unlike the first ideas where I focus on either one pair or a tangle of couples, it’s like I’m telling two stories in one. The main characters just happened to be best friends but they’ll experience romance separately and they’ll also learn to be independent and confident without the other physically on their side.

Mickaela stays in an apartment outside the university because of the cheaper cost, although it takes a longer walk to get there. Next to her lives a mysterious guy named Adam who works multiple part-time jobs. They never really talk—partly because Mickaela is too shy—but they always pass by each other when they go to work or school. One encounter will push them to interact. This will lead to them getting to know each other, becoming friends, and falling in love. But Adam has secrets that he doesn’t want Mickaela to find out. (Of course, we have to make the love story interesting. It can’t be that easy.)

Noah, on the other hand, stays in the university dorm. He has a roommate, Ethan, who he found annoying at first. Since Noah is quiet and a bit of an introvert, he hated how loud and outgoing Ethan is. But through Ethan’s persistence to make him his friend and help him out of his comfort zone, Noah starts to admire his personality and unexpectedly falls in love with him. But Ethan has an on-again-off-again girlfriend so he’s obviously not gay. Or is he? Don’t worry, we’re not turning Ethan gay. You can’t make people go gay or straight like turning an on-and-off switch. But Ethan has been struggling to “be straight” because of his family’s expectations of him. Here’s where Noah comes in and helps him out to come clean and be himself.

It’s going to be fun writing their stories in the form of letters and emails. I also want to see the dynamic of their friendship and just them growing on their own.

7) The next story is about two close families whose surnames I still haven’t come up with. If you have any suggestions, just share it in the comments. That would be real lovely. For now, I’ll just call them Fam A and Fam B. These two families have always lived next to each other and they share everything, from cooking recipes to general life problems. Makes sense because the parents have been friends since college.

Now, there are four “kids” directly involved in the story. From Fam A: Trisha, 16 years old, and Jacob, 20 years old. From Fam B: Marco, 19 years old, and Joshua, 16 years old. While Jacob and Marco are best friends, Trisha and Joshua can’t get away enough from each other. They always fight and it’s almost certain that hate each other. But each of them is keeping a secret and the families aren’t always happy.

In reality, Joshua has a crush on Trisha (which he hides by being a jerk to her, but it’s so obvious that everyone knows except Trisha herself), Jacob is suffering from panic disorder (which he’s keeping a secret specifically from his parents), and both Trisha and Marco are trying to hide their feelings for each other—Marco most especially because he doesn’t want to ruin his friendship with Jacob nor hurt his younger brother. One couple is also going through some relationship difficulties that might lead to divorce (annulment in my country because we don’t have divorce).

Besides the romance, I also want to show how strong the bond these two families have. They’re like the extended family of each other. I want to see how their problems and secrets will affect their relationship, and how they’ll overcome it. I also want to focus on Marco’s relationship with Jacob and Joshua. Jacob is over-protective when it comes to Trisha despite him being the annoying, goofy brother to her. Even if it was his best friend, no brother would feel easily reassured with the fact that their sister is dating some guy. Not especially his best friend whom he’s done some stupid sh*t with. At least, that’s what I know based on what my male friends tell me. So it’s going to be hard for Marco to confess.

There’s also his younger brother, Joshua, who likes Trisha as well. Of course, he doesn’t want to hurt him by dating the girl he likes. Usually, the eldest is the one who gives way for the younger siblings—and Marco is that kind of brother.

8) For the last story idea (finally, this is taking forever), it’s about a girl who everyone thinks is perfect. Emily comes from a wealthy family and it is also believed that she going to inherit her father’s company. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, and she’s also a piano prodigy. Guys want her and girls want to be her. But she’s has a dark, cunning personality that she often hides with a sweet smile. However, she meets a guy that can see beyond her perfect image.

Chris also comes from a well-off family but despite his background, he’s simple and very down-to-earth. He works part-time in his mother’s restaurant as a waiter to learn responsibility and the basics of service (an idea of his mother which he easily agreed to). In return, he gets extra allowance. In his senior year, he moves to a private school where he meets Emily. He discovers her despicable side which causes him to dislike her immediately.

There’s another important element in this story. Emily has a cousin, Tara, whose family owns the school. Because of her privileges, Tara was allowed to put up her very own club in the school and she forces both Emily and Chris to join. Despite being known for her quirks and crazy ideas, she is very observant and level-headed. She knows what Emily has gone through and understands why she is the way she is now. Through the club meetings, Tara will help Chris to be more understanding of Emily and Emily to become a better version of herself. They’ll get to know each other and, long story short, fall in love.

I think this is going to be the hardest to write because I have to justify Emily’s actions. Of course, there’s a reason why she acts a certain way, why she can be so mean. Most of the “mean girls” in fiction are two-dimensional and I hate it because it’s so unrealistic. That’s why I want to try getting into the mind of a “mean girl.” But I just don’t want to teach her a lesson, I also want to give her hope that there will be people who won’t give up on her and believe that she can be a better person. Chris, with the intervention of Tara, will be one of those people but before he’s able to do that, he also needs to learn to be more sympathetic and to have faith in the good in others. So both of them will become better people in the way. He may be the good guy but he’s not perfect either.

It also seems interesting to write in the perspective of rich people. I’m not rich (I could only wish) but I went to a high school that mostly people with money can afford to go to. I only went there because I got a full scholarship, lucky me. The gap between the lifestyles of the rich people and the less privilege ones is a curious thing for me.

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If you want to read the first part, I’ll put again the link here. Just click it. Also, please don’t forget to comment the number of your best pick because I really, really need your opinion on this one. It’s so hard to decide for myself! Ugh.

You might have noticed that my characters are either in high school or college. I’m more in touch with my young-adult self—I am one—that’s why my stories are all about them. So, if you’re looking for a more mature type of romance, sorry I don’t have one. Maybe in the future, I’ll try my hand at adult romance. But I have to finish one of these stories first before I can think of a plot for that. Anyway, thank you so much for keeping up with these longs posts, everyone! Stay awesome!