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bookshelf

Being Paid to Read a Book and Write a Review

I’ve been reading books since grade school but I’ve started doing book reviews in 2012.

I remember when I revived my old Webs.com account and started a blog category I named “My Bookshelf”. The original plan was to write a review on each book that I have on my bookshelf literally.

However, technology has introduced us to e-books. Scrolling on a tablet or cellphone made reading much easier for me. And I enjoyed reading both printed and electronic book formats since then.

2012 was also a time of social media frenzy.  Out came the social media platforms for book lovers.

BookLikes and Goodreads

I’m not sure which I got first: BookLikes or Goodreads. But I’m sure, it was during around this time I created an account on each platform. The good thing is, they both work in sync. So whatever book I rated on the one platform, it will appear on the other. And if I posted a book review on my blog, I would just provide a link on these platforms that will lead the readers to my website.

However, there are web visitors who prefer staying on one site rather than being led to another with a click on a link. I tried to provide a written review but the fear of doing a duplicate content prevented me from doing so.

Being Paid to Read

Recently, I got the opportunity to be paid or rewarded to read a book and write a review on a website. The pay could be the book itself (which is also available on Amazon for a price) or it could be a minimal amount (in US dollars) depending on one’s reviewer score. I just started out and have posted a few reviews already. Those reviews I’ve submitted will stay on their website and if ever I’ll share it here, it would be just a link to that page or I’ll tell about it.

I’m Open to Any Book Suggestions

Also, as I’ve mentioned in one of my pages, I accept requests for book reviews. And last month, I received an email from a publishing company to review one of their publications. I’m so honored.

If you would like to send me books for me to read, send it to: Marissa N. Uycoco-Bacsa Professional Services, McArthur Highway, Poblacion 1, Moncada, Tarlac 2803 Philippines or if e-books, send it to: info@issabacsa.com (for PDF and e-pub formats) or creativemixedmediafreelancing@gmail.com  (for Kindle format).

Just so you know, I read both fiction and non-fiction. For fiction, I prefer mystery, crime, suspense thrillers. Although I also read romance, historical fiction, comedy, fantasy, and sci-fi.

For non-fiction, I prefer biographies, autobiographies, self-help, psychology, health, true crime. Although I also read about food and travel. It seems that I can read almost anything except fan fiction.

quote on reading

Read and Discover 6 Benefits

If I ask you when was the last time you read a book, chances are you’ll answer last weekend, at the least, or a month or a year ago, at the most. But if I ask you when was the last time you read something online (a tweet or a Facebook update), you’ll probably answer just a few minutes ago. Correct?

In this era of on-screen and mobile technology, we have changed the way we consume information. Teenagers and young adults have glued their eyes to their smartphones. They often read snippets, excerpts, articles (or parts of it),  messages, pieces of information from everywhere. Most of them even prefer videos over text-based content.

It’s sad that even one of the well-known social media influencers admit on her own platform that she doesn’t read much or hates reading. And to think that most of the young people today follow her on that particular social media platform adds to the “problem” of lesser reading.

These days, reading is not much as it used to years ago. But, with new technologies around us, reading a book has become a struggle for some people because:

  • They don’t have much time or they’re too busy
  • They prefer watching TV or films rather than read the novel
  • They find it hard to read or can’t even read

Digital culture has enveloped us more quickly than we ever imagined. We, as adults, are also overwhelmed by this change. And we shrug off the problem. After all, reading trends have changed in the past; television altered our consciousness and social patterns years before we were born. We and our kids survived and became adults. Literature (and reading) will survive, too, somehow.

Too many books, too little time

An article I’ve read a year ago stated that 67% of 2000 British adults said they would like to read more but 48% admitted they’re too busy to read. Work and everyday chores are factors that contribute to less reading.

Even I myself admit that I have still have books gathering dust on my bookshelf waiting to be read. Yet, I try my very best to read before going to sleep. Another trick I found much better is reading on my cellphone. An e-book reading app has a text reader and even animates the turning of the page. I was able to read a few novels on my cellphone which if I would read it using a hard copy would take me much more time to finish.

Then, There’s the TV or Movie Versions

Most films get their materials from books. The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, etc. have become films. Until today, films and TV shows came from bestselling novels. Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, are just some of them.

I admit, there are films and TV shows that I didn’t realize were books at first. But as much as possible, I prefer reading the book first before watching the movie.

Also, psychologists have justified that there are certain types of people who prefer watching than reading. These are the so-called “visuals”. Most of the young people today are “visuals” who would like to see things move before their eyes in order for them to absorb the information fast.

Stop illiteracy

But the much serious problem is that some people find it hard to read because of their inability to read. Until now, issues on illiteracy continues especially among the poor. With the increasing prices on education, the poor can’t afford to send their children to school.

The key to literacy is reading. One has to progress his skills from the ability to recognize letters, to understand spoken words and decode written words, and to the understanding of the text.

Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educated themselves. No, read to live.Gustave Flaubert

Benefits of Reading

If you’re one of the countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out these benefits:

  • Mind stimulation – Recent studies suggest that reading slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Like eating right and exercising to maintain physical health, reading strengthens the muscles in your brain and can help you improve skills like memory retention and focus. It also helps sharpen the mind to be more of a critical thinker.
  • Knowledge – Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. Reading broadens our knowledge of the world.
  • Vocabulary expansion – The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary.
  • Better writing skills – This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary: Exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on ones’ own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work.
  • Reduce stress – No matter how much stress you are going through at work, in your personal life, or anywhere else, reading a good story can help you take your mind off these difficult situations.
  • Entertainment – Reading is also a form of entertainment. We find stories inspiring and sometimes help escape reality and begin to explore other realities.

What can we do?

  • Start them young. Parents should encourage their kids to read starting with age appropriate books. We are a family of book readers. My husband and I grew up reading books. So when my daughter was still a toddler, I started showing her books for her to read and play with.
  • Also, encourage kids to visit libraries and bookstores. With the Internet, it’s easy to get get e-books online. This trend has affected libraries and bookstores. My husband and I still visit bookstores and we tag along our daughter. Now, my daughter tries her hand in writing.
  • Read while waiting. Falling in line and doing nothing? Take this opportunity to read. I bring along my cellphone and read e-books while waiting in the bank, while commuting, or whatever that will put me on hold. That takes away the boredom of waiting.
  • Give away books to read. The idea of sharing books to someone is another way to encourage people to read. Let me take this opportunity to share with you my works for you to read. Not only they’re entertaining, they’re also FREE.
  • Start a reading habit. Try a few suggested tricks on how to develop a writing habit now and up to 21 days. They say that a habit can easily formed within 21 days if done regularly. I read a book before sleeping. I try to read one book a week but I haven’t achieved reading 52 books a year. I have a list of the 100 books and I tick off those that I’ve read so far.

Do you have any other suggestions? What book are you reading today?

the first trilogy

The First Trilogy (in Original Filipino Text)

Looking back from where I started, I couldn’t help but smile. It brought back memories and at the same time it showed me a pattern — either a pattern of growth or a pattern of style. In 2015, I decided to release in e-book format my first trilogy which I wrote in December 2001 to April 2002.

Publishing an e-book online gave me a big challenge: translation. I tried several times to translate the trilogy into English but I realized that it would be better for me to stick with the original Filipino text.

The first novel, Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,), was full of text messaging jargons and misspellings and translating these into English might diminish or worse, taken out of context the meaning and nuances of the “language” prevalent at that time.

By now, you can no longer see available copies of Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,) and Can I Use My Love Line? Also, the third novel, I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious, was never published because of its homosexual story. At that time, the romance genre and the Philippine pocketbook publishing industry were not comfortable in releasing romance stories about gays.

18 years have passed and many things have changed. I guess it’s about time to let my readers know about my first trilogy. You’ll read I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious for the first time.

This trilogy is also important to me in three ways: (1) it opened the door to the world of freelance writing, (2) it paved way for me to explore other writing formats, and (3) it only affirmed my resolve that everything comes in threes.

The first book was published in April and the second one in June 2002. Actually, I had no idea that I’ll be writing a trilogy.

Right after submitting Kȕng äng Txt i My CȕPdö (“,) that was the only time I thought of a “what if” situation which turned out to be the story for Can I Use My Love Line? And while writing the second novel, I thought of another “what if” situation and decided to unify them all. Thus I wrote I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious.

Reading this will bring back memories of Nokia 5110 and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? It also brought out a part of my character. Laugh and cry as you read along. So go ahead and download your FREE copy now.

guilty

Guilty

I wrote Guilty back in August 2002, right after submitting the manuscript of Living In a Lie. The idea came from an article I’ve read from an old copy of the Reader’s Digest. If I’m not mistaken, the article was entitled, “Why Do I Defend Criminals?” something like that.

While writing the story, I used the casting call method in developing the characters. I had in my mind the pictures of a well-known actress and a well-known teenage actor to play Rita and Paolo respectively. Whenever I write a scene, I would imagine how would the actress portray Rita — the way she moves, talks, and reasons out. Same with the teenage actor portraying Paolo.

I remember writing down the draft on an intermediate pad, on longhand, just to get the story out of my mind. After one chapter, I typed it on a short bond paper, double-spaced. Yes, I was using Voltaire’s typewriter then which he lent me since I don’t have a computer at that time yet. It was during that time that I’ve observed that one page of a handwritten story was equal to one page of a typewritten manuscript.

At that time, I wrote the story with Paolo’s transformation in mind. The original ending was a heart-tugging, emotional, unsent letter from Kaye addressed to Paolo. I remembered having the Mayor, Kaye’s dad, handed that piece of letter to Paolo a few days after the trial ended. My purpose was to show that the Mayor had accepted the court’s decision in acquitting Paolo.

The letter was Kaye’s reaction to what Paolo and his friends usually say that it was Kaye who reformed Paolo from a drug addict to a boy with a sense of direction. In that letter, it was revealed that Kaye was thankful to Paolo because it was Paolo who prevented her to commit suicide on the day that they first met. It was revealed that she had been depressed with her family’s situation, too. It was really a tearjerker.

After submitting the manuscript, my editor told me to change the ending. “Make it something hopeful,” he said. So I was instructed to type the new ending at the office, directly on the office computer, because the story was about to be printed. I guess, it took me a few hours to change two chapters at the end.

After submitting my revision, I moved on to the next projects. So I almost forgot this novel’s production.

Four stories after, sometime in November 2002, we (me and the other writers) had a falling out with the editors. I wasn’t paid for my last story that I’ve written. That was also the time I decided to venture to another medium: komiks. A few months after, karma had taken over so I don’t have to do anything.

Anyway, I’m presenting to you the e-book version of this novella. It’s much shorter than the others that I’ve written. And I do hope that you’ll enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Number One Fan deleted prologue

Deleted Prologue: An Exclusive Peek

Here’s the deleted prologue from my novel Number One Fan which you can only read exclusively here on this site.

During NaNoWriMo last November 2012, I wrote a prologue to start my story. I thought it would be a good idea to explain a certain backstory of the main character. There are some novels that used this technique and it worked for them in the past.

At that time, my working title was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which I had taken from the nursery rhyme clue in the story. Since I decided to use the first person point of view, I wanted to establish Regine’s character as a journalist and how she came to present the story.

However, times have changed. Authors and editors don’t recommend the use of prologues anymore. So sometime in April 2013, during the revision process, I decided to delete the prologue, went straight to chapter 2, and started the story from there.

The Deleted Prologue

A WORD FROM REGINE STA. MARIA

BEFORE WE TOOK our Christmas break during Grade 4, our English teacher instructed us to keep a diary and start writing on it by New Year.

I excitedly told my mother about our assignment when I got home. I asked her to buy me a diary.

A few days later, my mother was stabbed to death. I didn’t witness the actual crime, but I saw the killer went out of her room carrying a bloody knife that fateful day. I don’t know why the scene was still vivid in my memory except for the killer’s face. I was ten years old then and that memory haunted me only until recently when I came to terms with it.

Christmas morning, my aunt handed me my mother’s last gift. It was a Hello Kitty diary with a small lock and key on the side and a matching ballpoint pen. I couldn’t wait to start writing on it, referring to the diary as “Kitty” just like how Anne Frank called hers.

Writing on it for the first time felt like talking to a friendly cat that silently licked my wounds to heal. I felt Kitty reciprocated my writing with filial devotion and affection every time I poured out my feelings with words. I’m not a pet person, but Kitty the diary became my virtual pet, my form of catharsis, my form of therapy, and my intimate friend.

Mae West once said, “Keep a diary and it’ll keep you.” Right now I have lots of journals stacked in my drawer.

My journal writing has evolved into different forms — unsent letters, dialogues, lists, idea maps, doodles, sketches, or a combination of two or more forms. It kept on evolving.

The story you’re about to read was taken mainly from my diary. In fact, it helped me decide what college course and career to take. I took up A.B. Journalism because I wanted to be a newscaster just like my idol, Alma Perez. I wished to be famous like her. But no one warned me to be careful on what I wished for.

Although this story could possibly happen to anyone, I never thought that it would actually happen to me. I took the poetic license to write the story like fiction to include Number One Fan’s side. I could vouch for the authenticity of his story based on the audio file he sent me and some accounts from reliable sources.

To distinguish the difference, I would tell my story in the first person point of view and his in the third person (and written in italics, too).

Let me know what you think. If you haven’t read Number One Fan, please download a copy now.

the vixens

The Vixens

The original plan on The Vixens was a 6-part erotica series in the tradition of Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives. It was originally a ghostwriting project for an erotica website in the UK and the instruction was to “make it titillating to women readers (the market).” However, my client and I parted ways in the later part of 2012 and since they’re not going to use my stories, I can keep them.

The series is about six women who call themselves Vixens (female foxes, female bitches); each has a story to tell about love and being a woman (a single mom, a divorcee, a mistress, a widow, a wife, and an old maid). The grand alumnae homecoming becomes the common scene on all six stories.

After writing a few chapters (and a few sex scenes, too), I asked myself, “Where’s the fine line between sexy romance and erotica?” or “How far could you get to write erotic scenes without being tagged as pornographic?”

Related link: On The Edge: The Power of Titillation

However, during the course of writing, the timelines have changed after the client edited the first story. I had to straighten out the timelines while revising the second story and started writing the third. And shortly after that, I said goodbye to my client.

In the 2013 NaNoWriMo, I decided to start from zero, use the idea from these stories to come up with a trilogy.  This erotic novel made me reach the 50,000 word goal for the first time in my second year in NaNoWriMo.

I still don’t have an outline for the last three women although the Vixens should be complete and deserves a sequel. The big question is when.

Grab your FREE copy here or from Free-eBooks.net of my first erotica, The Vixens, and let me know what you think. Feel free to give me suggestions for the last three stories. I’ll be looking forward to it.

number one fan

Number One Fan

In 2002, I planned to write a trilogy about three newscasters, each having a story to tell. Inspired by The Bestseller by Lila Ramsey and The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie, I challenged myself to write a mystery-thriller using the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as a clue.

It is about a newscaster who receives a bouquet of flowers and a phone call from someone who calls himself her Number One Fan. His message was to make him number one or else, someone will die. She dismissed it as a mere prank.

After a week, the police found her journalism professor dead. She then realized that it was not just a joke. With only the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star as her clue, she has to guess who Number One Fan is and who will be the next victim as journalists around her start to die one by one.

I wrote the first part of the Filipino trilogy, The Ratings Game in April 2002. However, while writing the second part, News Scam, writer’s block set in. I was stuck. I felt there was something missing but I could not figure it out. Therefore, I put it aside, hoping to find an answer in the future.

I never thought that “future” would take years. However, the idea still holds in my mind, wanting release. By the way, the third part was supposed to be entitled, Breaking News.

In 2011, while sorting out old files, I found the original manuscript, typewritten from a manual typewriter. Nine years have passed, and typewriters no longer exist. I re-typed the manuscript in my computer hoping to find a new stimulus while retyping and revising just to finish the Filipino novel. However, I felt something was still missing.

In 2012, I decided to join the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. I used the original concept and wrote everything from scratch this time in English. The characters and plot have changed since then. Although short of 50,000 words by the end of November, I continued revising the story after NaNoWriMo. I finished the manuscript with 51,907 words, 40 chapters, and 208 pages on 27 May 2013.

On 6 June 2013, Foboko released Number One Fan, the novel I conceptualized in 2002. I felt relieved that the concept has finally found its way in publishing. Talk about being patient for eleven years. It was a long wait worth it. A few days after that, Free-eBooks.net released Number One Fan on its website. It is available online in .pdf, .txt, ePub, Mobipocket and a variety of formats compatible with Kindle, Sony, iPad, and other readers.

Since then, every November, I join NaNoWriMo to write a novel. Not necessarily the sequel, although I have plans of writing one.

That same year, I entered the novel in a contest. One of the judges in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Award said that,

This has a really unusual and interesting setting for a mystery novel. This reader does not recall ever reading a book set in newscasting, or in the Philippines, which lends a really original cast to the whole story. Regine is clearly is a strong and capable woman, and her sense of family and responsibility as well as ambition keep the reader on her side. Overall it is a strong idea for a story and a setting that could support sequels.

This comment inspired me to go on writing. Until now, I am still not giving up on my trilogy.

To celebrate the success of my first NaNoWriMo novel, Number One Fan, you can download it here for FREE.