Interview with Teen/YA Romance Author Ines Bautista-Yao

Calling all warm-fuzzy romance lovers, have I got a treat for you! 🙂

I’m excited to introduce you to teen/young adult romance author Ines Bautista-Yao. I met Ines through a Facebook writers group, and I’ll admit I was thrilled to meet another Asian author (’cause there aren’t many of us out there – I wonder why, haha). 😉 I got hooked on her sweet and upbeat writing style after winning a copy of her book Only A Kiss (which I loved), and wanted to help her spread the word about her new release Just A Little Bit Of Love (which I also loved!).


Here’s the blurb:

Three short stories about three young girls: Anita, Ina, and Carla. Each one finding their lives disrupted by a boy. Maybe it’s because he wanders into the coffee shop where she works after school every Tuesday. Maybe it’s because he won’t leave her alone even if she has made it clear that she is crushing on his football teammate. Or maybe it’s because she’s spent one unforgettable afternoon with him—despite being oh-so-forgetful. Three small doses of love that serve up a whole lot of feels.

Don’t you just love the cover? It’s definitely a “what you see is what you get” image that perfectly encapsulates the sweetness and innocence of the stories inside. Even though the three stories are short, they are each complete in their own way, and more importantly, super big on feelings. Ines does a superb job of writing teenage characters. She has a knack for giving the characters realistic and relatable dialogue, thoughts and behaviors that reflect the wonderful awkwardness and earnestness of youth. This book will certainly satisfy any teen reader, as well as the teen inside all of us. 😉

Now that you’ve gotten a preview of this sweet collection of stories, let’s go behind the scenes and get to know its author. So, pull up a bean bag chair, grab some chocolate, and say hello to Ines Bautista-Yao.


Me: Please introduce yourself and tell us about your background and daily life.

Ines: Hi, Liwen! First of all, thank you for having me on your blog. This is so awesome!

My name is Ines Bautista-Yao. I live in the Philippines and I am a wife and mom of two girls, a shy seven-year-old and a tornado of a two-year-old—polar opposites. I used to teach English but was lured into publishing, so I edited a teen magazine called Candy and a kids’ magazine called K-Zone. It was a really fun stint. I met wonderful friends, I learned a lot, and I got loads of freebies haha! But I wanted to go back to teaching. The problem was, I got pregnant so I stopped teaching (although I did go back for a few months till pregnancy complications made me stop) and I decided to edit and write freelance so I could take care of my family.

It was while my eldest daughter (then an only child) was napping for three hours that I wrote my first book. Now, it’s harder to write because I have two girls, but I try to squeeze it in every chance I get. In fact, the second story I wrote in Just A Little Bit Of Love, I wrote on my smart phone because my toddler pushes the screen of my laptop closed when she sees me writing!

Me: How did you get started as a writer? What genre(s) do you enjoy writing and/or reading?

Ines: I’ve been writing ever since I was small. I had notebooks filled with stories and I would read them out loud to my classmates underneath a huge, leafy tree. I guess it started with a love for reading then a need to come up with my own tales as well. I think it’s that way for almost all writers. I’ve yet to meet a writer who doesn’t love to read.

The genre I love is romance. Sweet, young, with lots of feels. I love writing it and reading it. I also love reading fantasy and mystery but I have yet to write stories like that. I hope to one day.

Me: What was your inspiration for Just A Little Bit Of Love and the characters in the stories?

Ines: Because I wanted the stories to happen simultaneously with events in Only A Kiss, I entered the world I created and thought of scenes or characters I wanted to revisit. These were the stories that came about. I asked myself, who else could have been there when they were in the coffee shop talking about Chris’s love life? Or who else could have been obsessed with Ethan besides Katie? And then there was Carla. I thought she was so adorable, she just had to have a love story of her own.

(Side note: You do not have to have read Only A Kiss to appreciate the stories from Just A Little Bit Of Love, but do yourself a favor and read it, too!)

Me: Is there one character in the book that you relate to the most?

Ines: I think I can relate to all of them a little bit. But the one I can relate to the most at this point in my life is Carla. Ever since I became a mom, all of a sudden, I can’t seem to remember anything! My life is such a mess – I have to write down reminders all over the place: in notebooks, on my phone, on my computer. I don’t have sticky notes tacked everywhere but that’s something I used to do when I was in school and when I was employed. I wish I had a Jacob who had perfect memory—but my husband is just as forgetful as I am! Haha!

Me: What was the most difficult part of writing this book? The easiest?

Ines: It was really easy to write all three stories but I think what was hard for me was writing On the Sidelines in the present tense. I usually write using the past tense, so I wanted to try something new. Using the present tense intrigued and challenged me. I hope I was able to pull it off! The easiest part was writing about when boy meets girl. Maybe because I enjoy it so much.

Me: What theme(s) do you like to include in your love stories? (ie. opposites attract, love at first sight)

Ines: I’ve realized that I like using the best friends/good-friends-to-something-more trope. I’ve used it twice already in two different books. But when I look at all the stories I’ve written, I’ve noticed that my guy characters are usually so smitten with the girls and the girls need to wake up and realize how wonderful these boys are. Maybe my next story should be the other way around. I like to try different things but sometimes, what comes out isn’t what I planned!

Me: What are you working on next?

Ines: Right now, I’m writing a prequel of sorts to Only A Kiss. It’s the love story of Ben and Regina. I’ve been working on it since last year and I need to finish it already! I’m also writing three short stories for three different anthologies (the reason Ben and Regina’s story still isn’t finished!). I seem to have too many ideas but not enough time to write them all down! I just pray the inspiration doesn’t go away!

Me: Thank you Ines for taking the time to visit with us! I can’t wait to read the prequel!

You can connect with Ines and her books at the following links:





In light of the teenage vibes coming off of this post (haha), I’ll sign off with One Direction’s teeny-bopper tune, “One Thing”. 🙂

What fun, emotional or regrettable memories do you have from your teenage years?

Booster Seats

It’s the same question every time.  As soon as we sit down at a restaurant, the server will notice we have young kids and automatically ask, “Would you like a booster seat?” to which we automatically reply, “No, thanks.”

Why do our kids not need a booster seat, you may wonder.  Well, we are their booster seats.  And if it’s just me and the kids, I become two booster seats in one.  Pretty cool, huh?  Let’s just say, I’m glad I have two legs.
Ever since E was born, he’s been attached to us, including during meal times.  There was a time when he would sit in his high chair, but since he outgrew it, he upgraded to sitting on our laps.  When C came along, she went through the same process as well.  Hubby likes LOVES holding the kids when we eat and says they will only be small enough to do this for a little while.  I hope he means they won’t be sitting on us when they are able to drive.
We get varied reactions when people see us acting as booster seats, ranging from amusement (ie. “You really like kids, huh?”) to frustration (this is usually from the grandparents) to awe (especially when I try to spoon food into my mouth while dodging two bobbleheads in front of my face).  I think though that people are truly just surprised because, to be honest, most (if not all) of the other kids in the restaurant are sitting by themselves.
Recently, however we got a completely different reaction.  The server had come to fill our water glasses and was smiling approvingly at us (imagine that!) and said something about it being nice that we were holding our kids because not many people do that these days.
Hm…were we on candid camera or something?  🙂
Her remark got me thinking.  Our kids like to sit with us (or to be more exact, on us) because it makes them feel secure and happy.  Even hubby feels happy being close to them.  (Me, well, that’s another story for another day, haha.)
I was reminded of the story of the 8 cow wife.  If you’ve never heard this, it’s basically a story of a man who pays a dowry of 8 cows for a woman that everyone (even her dad) considers to be worth – at most – only one cow.  The man and woman marry and move away from the village, then return a year later.  To everyone’s shock and amazement, the woman has been transformed and is no longer the same woman; she is totally beautiful and confident and worth every one of those 8 cows.
Image courtesy of xedos4/

That woman was changed when she started believing she was valuable and worthy to be loved.  The villagers started believing she was worth 8 cows because both she and her husband believed it and lived it.

Sigh, sounds like a great chick flick, right?  Sure it is, but even more so, it’s a great example of how we influence each others’ views and how people are shaped by their own beliefs and the beliefs of those who matter to them.
So how does this relate to booster seats, or the lack thereof? 
Simply put, I hope I treat my kids like they are 8 cow kids.  (Sometimes they can have 8 cows in a day(!), but that’s beside the point.)  I want E and C to know they are loved and to feel secure in my love for them.  This may mean acting like a booster seat for a meal (or two or ten), but essentially it means going the extra mile to make them feel secure.
Hubby and I joke sometimes that it feels like we have become servants and the kids are the prince and princess of our castle.  There might be some truth underlying this joke though.  If we want our kids to have a healthy and confident sense of themselves, we almost need to treat them like royalty.  (Note: I don’t mean in any way to lead kids on to be arrogant, selfish or to think they are better than others.  Every child is precious and deserves to be treated as the precious gifts that they are.)  A lot of the royal treatment is innate to parents, such as buying the safest carseat or booster seat (if they use them!), feeding them healthy food, and choosing the best schools possible.  But other times, especially for me, it’s easy to overlook our kids’ emotional needs, especially since this part of their royal treatment requires a lot of patience and understanding.  
I’ve also come to realize that how I treat my kids and, subsequently, how they view themselves (as an 8 cow person vs. a 1 cow person) will affect how other people see and treat them.  I once witnessed a scenario that convinced me of this: a child had done something wrong (by accident) and was quickly and harshly reprimanded by her parent’s friend.  I was really surprised to see this happen, but I’m thinking the parent’s nonchalant attitude toward the child may have had something to do with how the friend reacted.  It’s just like this – if a person bought their favorite car and took a lot of time and effort in maintaining it (ie. using the best gas, keeping it polished and waxed, etc), other people would in turn respect the car and be careful with it.  However if a person treated his car in the opposite way (ie. kept it dirty, worn down and without care), other people would as well.   
This brings us back to the beauty of the 8 cow wife story – that one woman was completely changed for the better because of one man’s love and belief in her.  Hopefully in the same way I, as a parent, can mold and shape my kids for the better through my belief that they are worthy and valuable (and benefit from sitting on my lap for the time being).  And as they become 8 cow kids, my hope is that they will influence other people for the better, too.
This song is more related to the chick flick part of this post.  🙂  It also shows I’m trying to keep up with young people music (for a while I had no idea who these guys were)!  Check out “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction.
What do you do to help your kids know they are worth 8 cows to you?