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As a first-time author publishing his first book, Bong Serrano has encountered various questions from readers, potential readers, fellow writers, and individuals interested in his work. Here are some of their frequently asked questions (FAQs).

What is your book about?

Batangas: My Sky and Earth is a heartfelt memoir that takes readers on a nostalgic journey through my childhood in the southern province of Batangas, located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Within the pages of this book, I share vivid recollections and reflections, painting a vivid portrait of the people, culture, and traditions that shaped my formative years.

As you delve into the pages, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, exploring the landscapes and experiences of my sky and earth—a child’s life unfolding in a little-known subdivision atop a hill. Through a visceral narrative, I invite you to witness the joys, challenges, and growth that accompanied me throughout this transformative period.

But this memoir is not just my story alone. It is a celebration of the collective efforts of a community that played an integral role in my upbringing. It is through the love, guidance, and forgiveness of my elders and contemporaries that I find solace and enlightenment. Together, we embark on a journey of rediscovery, navigating the complexities of a global pandemic and the pressing realities of a deepening climate crisis.

Batangas: My Sky and Earth encapsulates the resilience of a people and their enduring spirit in the face of adversity. It is a tale of connection, remembrance, and the power of storytelling to illuminate the rich tapestry of our shared human experience.

What inspired you to write this book?

This book holds a deeply personal and heartfelt tribute to my late brother, Kuya Boying, whose presence in my life left an indelible mark. It is through his memory and the profound impact he had on me that I found the inspiration to embark on this writing journey.

In the dedication page, I penned these words: “To my dearest brother, Kuya Boying, who once gifted me a remarkable pair of shoes. It is with these shoes that I found the courage to venture beyond the boundaries of my known sky and earth, pursuing wonders and possibilities I might not have otherwise discovered.”

Kuya Boying’s act of kindness, symbolized by those shoes, served as a metaphor for the profound influence he had on shaping my aspirations and instilling in me the bravery to explore uncharted territories. This book is my way of honouring his life, cherishing the memories we shared as a family, and expressing the gratitude I hold for the transformative impact he had on my own personal journey.

Through the pages of this book, I hope to capture the essence of our shared experiences, celebrating the bond we had as siblings and the enduring love that continues to guide me as I navigate life’s intricate tapestry.

How long did it take you to write your book?

My journey of writing this book has been a winding path, filled with both personal triumphs and moments of sorrow. It all began in the early 2000s when I started documenting my childhood memories on the now-defunct Facebook Notes platform. My older brother and sisters provided steady encouragement, urging me to continue writing and capturing our shared experiences.

However, the course of my writing was abruptly interrupted when my beloved brother passed away from cancer on November 21, 2014. The loss of my one and only brother plunged me into a period of deep grief, causing my desire to write to come to a halt. It took several years for me to find the strength to pick up where I left off, eventually resuming my writing journey in 2017.

Yet, life’s complexities intervened once again, and in 2018, I became distracted and found it difficult to maintain focus on my manuscript. However, amid the challenges and uncertainties brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, I rediscovered my resilience and determination. It was during this time that I wholeheartedly redirected my energy and attention towards my writing, dedicating myself to the completion of the manuscript.

Through the trials and triumphs, the stops and starts, the pandemic provided an unexpected catalyst for me to reclaim my passion for writing and brought me to where I am today—standing before the culmination of years of memories, reflections, and heartfelt storytelling.

In total, it has taken me more than 20 years to write and publish this book.

What challenges did you face during the writing process?

Throughout the writing process, I encountered various challenges that tested my determination and pushed me to grow as an author. These hurdles included writer’s block, bouts of self-doubt, time management constraints, maintaining consistency in the narrative, finding the right voice and style, as well as navigating plot and character development. The demands of my career also posed a significant challenge, as I had to prioritize earning a living, which often delayed my ability to write freely.

One specific challenge I faced with writing my memoir was organizing and interweaving the plot of the book. Recalling memories proved to be a complex task, as my thoughts jumped from one timeline to another. I instinctively turned to my siblings, cousins, elders, and contemporaries for clarity, trusting in their wisdom and insights to piece together the elusive fragments of my childhood and shared traditions, much like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. As a result, the stories in my book took on a fluid timeline.

At times, I found myself delving into overly descriptive writing as I reenacted events from my younger self, unintentionally burdening sentences with excessive detail. This can lead to confusion, repetitiveness, and a slow pacing that distracts from the storytelling. Thankfully, my editor and publishing specialist provided invaluable guidance in refining and correcting these aspects of my writing.

Additionally, I initially incorporated popular Filipino recipes into the narrative but had to make the difficult decision to remove them due to copyright concerns. This was unfortunate, as food holds significant cultural importance in bringing families together and preserving shared traditions in the Philippines.

Moreover, my book serves as both a medium for storytelling and a photo gallery. I embarked on a journey to collect black & white pictures, combing through my mother’s old trunk in my sister Evelyn’s attic room in Cavite. My sister Josie also contributed several photos from her albums in Batangas City. Auntie Fe lent me extremely rare photographs from her precious collection in Lobo, including those she rescued from the great fire that consumed the old ancestral house in 1968. While some photos required restoration, others were intentionally left in their creased and frayed state, as they serve as cherished memories, embracing the passage of time.

Despite these challenges, I persevered, allowing the obstacles to shape my writing process and ultimately enhance the authenticity and depth of the story. The journey was not without its hurdles, but I am proud to have overcome them and emerged with a book that captures the essence of my experiences in a genuine and heartfelt manner.

Who are your target readers?

The primary target audience for my book encompasses my family, close relations, and friends, particularly those who share the experience of growing up with me in the province of Batangas. This book serves as a cherished legacy for future generations of my own family and the wider community of Batangueños.

However, the reach of this book extends beyond these immediate circles. It also appeals to individuals who have a genuine interest in exploring the rich culture and traditions of the province of Batangas. With meticulous research and cultural references woven throughout its pages, the book becomes a personal artifact that not only speaks to the story of my own family but also serves as a cultural artifact for all Batangueños and Filipinos.

Ultimately, the greater and long-term audience encompasses anyone who seeks to delve into the captivating world of Batangas, discovering the beauty, depth, and unique nuances of its culture. This book invites readers from all walks of life to join in the journey of rediscovery, offering them an opportunity to connect with the heritage and stories that have shaped the people of Batangas for generations to come.

How did you find a publisher or decide to self-publish?

I made the decision to self-publish my book, driven by a strong desire for creative control and the freedom to maintain ownership over every aspect of my work. I wanted to ensure that the content, book cover, and even the title remained true to my vision, without having to navigate numerous gatekeepers and their opinions.

To navigate the self-publishing process, I extensively researched various options available to authors. After careful consideration, I chose to collaborate with FriesenPress, a self-publishing platform that aligned perfectly with my goals and aspirations. Their comprehensive range of services and support made them an ideal partner for bringing my book to life.

Throughout this journey, I have been fortunate to have the guidance and expertise of my friend, Lisa Fukushima, who generously offered her skills as an editor. Lisa took the time to preview my work and provided assurance that she would be there to support me from start to finish, ensuring that my book would be polished and ready for publication.

By choosing self-publishing and aligning myself with the right platform and editor, I have been able to retain control over my creative vision and produce a book that reflects my truest intentions. I am grateful for the support and guidance that has propelled me forward in this exciting publishing endeavor.

How do you feel about your book being published?

As my book is being published, I am filled with a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from sheer excitement to a profound sense of fulfillment. The process of recalling and reflecting upon my cherished childhood memories has been a labor of love, and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that I have done them justice within these pages. I wanted to ensure that there would be enough here to remember us by, as one of my greatest fears was the possibility of losing those precious memories. I vividly recall writing, “What if one day I lose my memories? Who will remember us?” Now, I can confidently say that this book serves as a testament to the most memorable times of my life.

This journey is nothing short of extraordinary—a milestone I have dreamt of for as long as I can remember. The realization that my story will be shared with readers fills me with immense gratitude. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to connect with others through my words, to touch their lives, and to leave a lasting impact.

With each page turned and each reader immersed in my narrative, I hope to evoke a sense of nostalgia, spark conversations, and inspire reflection. The fact that my story has found its way into the hands of readers is a dream come true, and I am humbled by the profound significance of this achievement.

I am brimming with excitement as I embark on this new chapter of my life as a published author, ready to witness how my words resonate with others, and eager to forge connections with readers who share in the tapestry of memories and experiences that I have woven within this book.

How can readers support you and your book?

I am deeply grateful for the support of readers like you, whose encouragement and enthusiasm truly make a difference. There are several meaningful ways in which you can support me and my book:

  • Eagerly anticipate the release: Keep an eye out for updates on the release date and be excited alongside me as the publication draws near. Your anticipation means the world to me. Get preorder notification!
  • Join my mailing list: By joining my mailing list, you will receive exclusive updates, behind-the-scenes insights, and special offers. It’s a fantastic way to stay connected and be among the first to know about any book-related news. Subscribe now!
  • Purchase my book: When my book becomes available for purchase, buying a copy is a significant way to show support. Your purchase not only allows you to immerse yourself in the world I’ve created but also contributes to the success of my writing journey.
  • Leave reviews: After reading my book, leaving a review on platforms like Amazon, Goodreads, or other relevant sites is immensely valuable. Reviews help potential readers discover my work and provide valuable feedback that helps me grow as an author. Read the book reviews!
  • Recommend the book: Word-of-mouth recommendations are incredibly powerful. If you enjoy my book, I would be grateful if you could share your experience with friends, family, book clubs, or online communities. Your personal recommendation can make a meaningful impact.
  • Follow me on social media: Connect with me on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. By following me, you can stay engaged with my writing journey, interact with fellow readers, and participate in discussions related to the book.
  • Attend events: When opportunities arise for book signings, author readings, or virtual events, your presence and support are invaluable. Attending these events allows us to connect on a deeper level and share our love for literature.

Your support truly means the world to me. By taking any of these actions, you help spread the word about my book, extend its reach to new readers, and make a lasting impact on my writing journey. Thank you for being a part of this exciting chapter in my life.

When will the book be released?

Update on September 27, 2023: Batangas: My Sky and Earth is now officially up for sale on the FriesenPress Bookstore. I’ve just published a book!

As well as being available on the FriesenPress Bookstore, the title is also widely available through Ingram Content Group’s global distribution network of over 50,000 booksellers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, and ebook retail channels.

Thank you so much for waiting patiently for the release of my new book!

Where can I buy the book?

Through the partnership with FriesenPress, the distribution of my book reaches an extensive network of online booksellers across the globe. With over 50,000 online booksellers worldwide, readers can easily access my book in paperback and hardcover editions through reputable platforms, such as:

Online BookstorePurchase HardcoverPurchase Paperback
FriesenPress BookstoreBuy NowBuy Now (Canada)Buy NowBuy Now (United States)Buy NowBuy Now
Barnes & NobleBuy NowBuy Now
IndigoBuy NowBuy Now

For those who prefer digital editions, the ebook version of my book is available through various channels. This includes:

Online BookstorePurchase Ebook
FriesenPress BookstoreBuy Now (epub, pdf)
Apple BooksBuy Now
Google PlayBuy Now
Rakuten kobo (🇨🇦 Canada)Buy Now
Rakuten kobo (🇺🇸 United States)Buy Now
Rakuten kobo (🇵🇭 Philippines)Buy Now
NOOK by Barnes & NobleBuy Now
IndigoBuy Now

Or, you can buy the Kindle edition from one of the Amazon stores below and get your ebook delivered to your Kindle library.

Country or RegionPurchase Ebook
🇦🇺 AustraliaBuy Now
🇦🇹 AustriaBuy Now
🇧🇷 BrazilBuy Now
🇨🇦 CanadaBuy Now
🇫🇷 FranceBuy Now
🇩🇪 GermanyBuy Now
🌏 GlobalBuy Now
🇮🇹 ItalyBuy Now
🇯🇵 JapanBuy Now
🇲🇽 MexicoBuy Now
🇳🇱 NetherlandsBuy Now
🇪🇸 SpainBuy Now
🇬🇧 United KingdomBuy Now
🇺🇸 United StatesBuy Now

These platforms ensure that readers can enjoy the convenience of accessing my book in their preferred digital format.

The widespread availability of my book through these established channels ensures that readers from different regions and with various reading preferences can easily discover and purchase a copy. Whether they prefer the feel of a physical book or the convenience of an ebook, there are options to suit everyone’s reading preferences.

I am grateful for the support of FriesenPress in making my book widely accessible, and I look forward to connecting with readers from around the world through these distribution channels.

How much does the book cost?

The book is available in three formats, each offering a unique reading experience. The list price for the paperback edition is $33.99, while the hardcover edition is priced at $50.99. For those who prefer the convenience of digital reading, the ebook edition is priced at $9.99.

Please note that these prices are listed in U.S. dollars and do not include shipping and taxes, which may vary based on your location. Additionally, keep an eye out for any promotional offers or discounts that may be available during the release period.

I hope these pricing options cater to different preferences and budgets, allowing readers to choose the format that best suits their needs. Your support and interest in my book are immensely appreciated, and I hope it becomes a cherished addition to your literary collection.

What are the physical attributes of the book?

The book encompasses a captivating journey with its 93,476 words thoughtfully crafted across 450 pages, which includes front matter and blank pages. The interior pages will be printed in black & white, allowing the text to come to life on 60 lb. offset natural paper, chosen for its quality and readability.

In terms of its physical dimensions, the book will have a trim size of 5.5 x 8.5, providing a comfortable and portable reading experience. The paperback edition will measure approximately 1 inch or 25.28 mm in thickness, while the hardcover edition will be slightly thicker at around 1.16 inches or 29.41 mm.

Regarding weight, the paperback edition will weigh approximately 1 lbs. 7 oz. or 652 grams, while the hardcover edition will have a weight of around 1 lbs. 10 oz. or 737 grams. These dimensions and weights are carefully considered to strike a balance between durability and ease of handling, allowing readers to comfortably immerse themselves in the narrative.

As a visually striking addition, the hardcover edition features a glossy finishing for its dust jacket. This choice perfectly complements the original photograph of the sunset adorning the cover, adding an additional touch of elegance and allure.

With meticulous attention given to both the written content and the physical attributes, the book aims to provide an engaging and visually pleasing reading experience. I hope that the combination of words, design, and overall quality of the book enhances your journey through the pages, further enriching your connection to the story.

What are your plans for future writing projects?

In the realm of future writing projects, I am brimming with a plethora of ideas, one of which involves delving into the enchanting world of children’s fiction centered around “The Ages.” I am particularly eager to craft tales capturing the age of climbing trees, drawing inspiration from the cherished memories of my childhood adventures up the mango tree, the santol tree, and the guava tree that adorned my sky and earth.

Moreover, the stories that unfold from the veranda beckon to be told, with the whale, the pelican, and the seal regaling tall tales. These tales were born from the vantage point of my world, gazing out from the balcony in Vancouver, where the view encompasses a realm of inspiration and wonder.

As I continue to evolve and grow as a writer, my imagination dances with countless untold stories waiting to be explored. Each new project will allow me to venture further into uncharted literary landscapes, inviting readers to embark on captivating journeys of discovery alongside me.

With fervor and anticipation, I eagerly await the opportunity to breathe life into these new narratives, infusing them with imagination, emotion, and a touch of magic. It is my hope that these forthcoming tales will captivate hearts, ignite imaginations, and leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

To all aspiring authors, I offer the following advice: seek inspiration, embrace your authentic voice, actively seek feedback, and establish a trusting relationship with an editor. Above all, remember never to give up.

Each writer’s journey is distinct, and it’s crucial to find what works best for you. Explore various sources of inspiration, whether it be through reading, personal experiences, or moments of introspection. Embrace your unique perspective and let your authentic voice shine through in your writing.

Feedback is invaluable for growth and improvement. Seek out trusted individuals, such as fellow writers, beta readers, or writing groups, who can provide constructive criticism and different perspectives on your work. Embrace this feedback as an opportunity to refine your craft and develop your writing skills.

I soft published the first version of my book on Wattpad in February of 2022 to gather valuable feedback and generate interest among their target audience. This approach has been an incredibly meaningful and rewarding experience for me, and I highly recommend it.

Furthermore, finding an editor you can trust is essential. An editor will help you polish your work, offering guidance on structure, clarity, and consistency. Collaborating with a skilled and supportive editor can elevate your writing to new heights.

Throughout your writing journey, remember to persevere and remain dedicated. Writing can be a challenging endeavor, but the passion and determination to tell your story will carry you forward. Embrace the ups and downs, celebrate your accomplishments, and find joy in the creative process.

Above all, cherish and enjoy the process of writing. It is a remarkable opportunity to express yourself, connect with others, and make a lasting impact. Stay true to your vision, stay committed to honing your craft, and never lose sight of the incredible power that lies within your words.