If you follow me on social media, you probably already know that that block of lines was the first thing Ash has ever said to me. I heard the pain in his voice and the saw the tears in his eyes when he said that to Meredith. So I knew I was dealing with a complex hero with deep emotions, a touch of insecurity, and a backstory that I was intrigued by. I wasn’t actually expecting to meet Ash Montesines the way he is. I was actually expecting… Lex. Pero nginitian ako ni Ash eh, kinindatan, then he told me his and Meredith’s story, and then, wala na. I couldn’t write him any other way after that hospital scene in the prologue.
I fell in love with Ash then and there but I knew he was one of those characters a reader would either love or hate. Yabang kasi eh. But I thought the most important thing is that *I* love him and that Meredith loves him. Sabi nga niya “‘yun lang ang mahalaga”. So I started writing his story. When I have free time or when I feel like it or when he wakes me up at 3 AM to tell me about his day. And I’m telling you, makulit siya. So I wrote and wrote and wrote some more.
Before I started writing Falling for the Billionairess, my editor talked to me about Pink & Purple, a Bookware imprint that they were going to reformat. The books would be longer and the stories could be anything, YA, new adult, paranormal, and it could be written in first person POV. At that moment, I knew I had an imprint for Ash. That was also the time when publishers were going crazy buying up Wattpad stories so I jokingly told my editor that I was going to post my story on Wattpad and if it reaches a million reads, she’d have to publish it, no questions asked. She immediately said “oo naman!”
Joke lang ‘yun, siyempre. Kailangan ko pa ring ipa-evaluate. Mamaya di pala pasado sa Bookware. To be honest, the number of reads a Wattpad story has isn’t really that huge a deal with Bookware. So long as a story fits their standards, they’d publish it. So a story could have 10 million reads or 10,000 or 100, basta pasado sa panlasa ng mga evaluators, tatanggapin nila ‘yun.
So when I first started writing Ash, I was planning on submitting him as soon as I finish the book. If he only had 1,000 reads by the time I was done, I’d still submit FFTB. I was not expecting the story to actually reach a million reads. I was not expecting this level of love from you guys for my baby boy kulit. Every time I read a new comment (yes, even the UD pleases), a new message thanking me for writing it, see new fan art (which lots of people are taking the time and making a lot of effort to create, so THANK YOU), meet a new reader, I still feel overwhelmed and touched. I love Ash and, of course, I want you to love him too, but for a character I was sure people would find arrogant and annoying, a whole LOT of you fell in love with him on Day 4. And it just… feels… like… a HUGE hug to me.
When I first started writing on Wattpad, I liked the idea that if and when Bookware publishes the story (because most, if not all, of my Wattpad stories will be submitted to Bookware), I would have to delete it from Wattpad. I don’t want my book to stay up there for a long time. That way only people who already know me (I was thinking 1,000 followers at most, seriously) could read the book then I’d delete it and those who’d want a copy could get one when Bookware finally releases it.
Then I wrote Ash, and suddenly, I felt bad about having to delete FFTB from Wattpad. Gusto kong forever na lang sila d’un. People have messaged me that FFTB helped them through tough times, and I cry because I know exactly what that was like. I think about others that the story could still help if I leave it on Wattpad.
I really wish I could give copies to everyone who’d ask but I can’t. I really can’t. Mahal ‘yun eh. And I’m not Mere. Saka na kapag mayaman na ako. Mamumudmod ako kahit di kayo manghingi.
Some suggested na sana self-pub na lang daw so I can do whatever I want. I could have the book printed in its entirety and I don’t have to take it down from Wattpad.
But the thing is I *promised* FFTB to Bookware. I can’t take it back (and I don’t want to for professional reasons, i.e. my own sense of right and wrong) just because I became more attached to it than I expected.
I *do* want to try self-publishing in the future, but I have to do a lot of planning and research. It’s just not something I’m ready for at the moment.
I posted on Twitter that Ash and Mere saved me. That is true.
I mentioned once (on Twitter) that I might be clinically depressed, as in I-need-medication-for-this kind of depressed. I haven’t been to a doctor so I haven’t been diagnosed with anything. And because I haven’t been diagnosed, I don’t take medication. I used to have bad panic attacks pero dinadaan ko lang sa dasal, music, journal-writing, and Ash. Last year had been pretty bad for me because the state of my mental health was just… I have no words to describe it. I was just bad. Really bad. I haven’t really talked about it in depth before because, as I said, I haven’t been to a doctor, so it might be like saying I broke my arm when I actually only strained a muscle. Being sad is different from being clinically depressed, and having mood swings doesn’t automatically make you bipolar. I didn’t want to say I was clinically depressed because I don’t know for sure.
Writing Ash and Mere saved me in ways I still can’t express. They’re not just characters to me. Sila ang therapy ko, ang outlet ko, puso ko, mga pangarap ko… sila ‘yun. And although I love all my characters, special sila Ash sa ‘kin dahil dito. And I love them for that. I love them not only because they’re fun to write, but because they are the first characters that I wrote without being worried about word count or limits, but because they became my lifeline and my source of laughter and light.
Ash and Mere. saved. me.
I went to the publisher’s office last Tuesday and asked when FFTB will be released. Ang sagot ay sa MIBF sa September. I don’t have other details yet like the price or how thick it will be, but I’ll post that as soon as I have them.
But please be reminded that a September release will mean that FFTB will have to be deleted from Wattpad as soon as, or maybe a little after, the ebook version becomes available. If you want to read/re-read it, please do so before September.
The Wattpad story is about 170K words long. The printed version is only about 110K words long. I’m sorry po. Masyado akong natuwa sa pagsulat sa kanila. All of the scenes that didn’t make it in the book will remain on Wattpad.
I recently announced that I was putting ALLT and THIF on hold until July. I know I don’t have to explain anything but I’m grateful enough that you dedicate time and effort to follow me and wait for my updates, I feel like the decent thing is that I should at least tell you why.
1. I’m waaaay behind my manuscript quota with MSV. And since that’s my actual day job, my manuscripts are my priority.
2. I need an adjustment period because my home life has changed drastically. (This one I won’t explain anymore. Basta may malaking pagbabago at kailangan kong masanay d’un kaya ibig sabihin ay oras, oras, oras.)
3. I also had to dedicate time to taking care of my sick puppy. And then, when he passed, I needed the time to grieve because I loved the little guy. Okay naman na ako but I decided to go on and have a Wattpad break anyway. Para no pressure na rin sa ‘kin while I catch up on other things.
I’m going to go back to Wattpad in July. That’s only a little more than a week away anyway so hopefully you can still be patient with me.
And last but not the least, thank YOU for being a part of my, Ash and Mere’s journey. Thank you for reading FFTB, for still reading ALLT kahit lintik sa talaga ang UDs, and thank you for keeping everyone in those books in your heart. I will forever be grateful for the crazy, amazing adventure and for everything with which these stories have blessed me. Sabi nga ni Ash “punung-puno ang puso ko”.
Thank you for falling for Ash Montesines.