Friday, May 12, 2006

Books by Friends Month

Did you know that National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15? I've always wondered what we Latinos did to get such a crazy, half-assed month. I mean, all of the other heritage months get a full month, from beginning to end--none of this dividing up two months and confusing everyone business. What makes it worse is that since National Hispanic Heritage Month doesn't start at the beginning of September or October, I generally find myself going into some sort of work-stress time warp and not realizing that I'm having a month until the end of November. I KNOW I can't be the only one with this problem....

Well, maybe it's the result of a shared cultural psychosis, but I've decided to declare May 15-June 15 Books by Friends Month. However, there is a reason I am starting mid-May, and after doing a Google search, I've also discovered that there's a reason National Hispanic Heritage Month starts in medias res.

A bit of trivia for you: National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 because that is Independence Day for five Latin American countries--Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. (My mother would probably be horrified that I didn't remember Honduras's Independence Day, so don't tell her, mmmkay?)

I'm starting my Books by Friends month mid-May because while I have a dizzying number of books by friends on my TBR pile, I want to include a couple that are coming out in June.

So, what is Books by Friends month exactly? Pretty much what it sounds like--I'm going to read books from my TBR pile written by my friends and will report on them. My friend and Bombshell writer Sharron McClellan and I were talking the other day about how when we read romances, we tend to gravitate toward those by friends--because A) we're starting to accumulate a lot of writer friends, and B) we tend to make friends with smart, articulate, imaginative women who write good books that suit our tastes.

So, here's the lineup for my personal Books by Friends month, which includes in-person friends, online friends, and a couple of people that I just met:

Courtesan's Courtship, by Gail Ranstrom: I don't tend to gravitate toward historicals, but I discovered just how wonderfully rich Gail's writing is when I joined a critique group to which she also belonged. Her stories are fast-paced, emotionally gripping, and she always incorporates a suspense element (yay!). I've been looking forward to this one for a while now.

Off the Map, by Dorien Kelly: I've been on an AOL writers' message board (recently turned into a listserv) since the beginning of time, and this is where I met Dorien. Her writing is just as sharp and funny as she is in person. She writes single-title Irish contemporaries, as well as comedies for a variety of Harlequin/Silhouette lines, and Off the Map is her debut with the NEXT line.

Cinderella Lopez, by Berta Platas: Berta's an old Encanto buddy of mine, and this one is her first single title. As you can tell by the clever title, it's a modern-day Cinderella story with a Latina heroine. How cool is that?

Becoming Latina in Ten Easy Steps, by Lara Rios: Another old Encanto friend with her first single title out. We Encantadoras have had a lot of discussions about not being "Latina enough," whether for publishers, editors, or the general public ("Gee, you don't LOOK Latina."), and Lara points out in the intro to this book that it was, in part, born out of those conversations. I love the concept and am sure Lara carries it off beautifully.

Serial Bride by Ann Voss Peterson: Ann is the reason I started writing Intrigues--I didn't realize you could be dark and gritty in category romance until I picked up one of her books. This June release is the start of a trilogy that spins off from one of my favorites from her backlist, Accessory to Marriage.

Forbidden Territory by Paula Graves: I JUST "met" Paula online--she stops by here now and again and has a fun blog that I like to visit. She's a debut author with Intrigue, and I'm looking forward to reading her first book (out in June!).

Protective Measures by Dana Marton: Dana and I have a mutual admiration society going on where we're constantly emailing to tell the other what a great writer she is, and how we're not fit to be gum on the bottom of her shoe. Anyway, I highly recommend Dana's Intrigues. She's constantly challenging herself with exotic settings; interesting, multicultural characters; and intricate action-adventure plots. We recently started critiquing each other's work, and she has a miniseries coming up that is just going to blow everyone away.

Big Hair and Flying Cows, by Dolores Wilson: Dolores took an online class I gave in January and subsequently invited me to speak to her RWA chapter, which I promptly joined, so now it's also my second RWA chapter. She was kind enough to give me a copy of this book as a gift, which I wanted to read anyway. I love southern humor, Dolores's book has gotten rave reviews, and she's an absolute doll in person, so I know I'm in for a fun time.

Fractured Souls, by TL Ridgell: Terri (TL) is the president of my other RWA chapter and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. I can't imagine her writing dark and scary suspense, but the reviews say this is just that--and one not to miss.

Confessions of a Party Crasher, by Holly Jacobs: If you've ever met Holly, it wouldn't surprise you in the slightest to know she writes energetic, fun romantic comedies. She's so prolific (and still manages to make every book wonderful), I've missed a couple of her last few books, but I wouldn't miss her debut single title.

Digging Up Trouble, by Heather Webber: Heather is the acclaimed author of the Nina Quinn mystery series, which focus on an amateur sleuth who does surprise garden makeovers. I have a black thumb that makes plants shrink away in terror, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy Heather's books anyway. This is the third Nina Quinn book, and fortunately, she'll be back for more.

Fireworks, by Elizabeth White: Beth writes Christian romantic suspense that manages to be surprising, edgy, emotional, and even funny at times. I find the faith element adds a dimension to her books that is refreshing to someone who doesn't always read Christian-based fiction, and she never sacrifices the story to long stretches of narrative trying to convert the masses, which I appreciate. (To be fair, I've only read a couple of Christian romances that did that--the subgenre has some excellent writers in it!) I know Beth through AOL, and I've really enjoyed her Steeple Hill suspense, so I'm looking forward to this longer book from Zondervan.

You know, writing this entry has led me to discover that I have too many friends with books out this month.... Well, I may not finish them all, but at least I should make a dent, right? The worst part is, I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. Or two. But what else is new in the land of post-partum dementia?


Paula said...

Aww, Tracy, thanks for including me in your TBR pile! I hope you enjoy FORBIDDEN TERRITORY!

I've just popped a full in the mail to my editor, so I'm going to try to sneak in another of your books. I need to pick up Dana's latest, too. And Ann's. And...well, you get the picture.

Tracy Montoya said...

I'm sure I will, Paula, if eHarlequin would ever SEND MY FREAKING BOX.

Not that I'm impatient or anything.

Congratulations on finishing your latest! If you see this, I'd love to know when it comes out.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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