Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scoop! Tracy Montoya Joins RBTB Team!

Over the coming months, you'll be seeing some bright, cheery new faces 'round here as you meet RBTB's new contributing editorial and associate staff -- and get ready for the next cool phase of RBTB, now in the works. Today's cheery face is a published author joining us not to critique her fellow scribes, but to strengthen RBTB's ties and comittment to multicultural romance and authors. And, no, I can't promise she'll write daily instead of me, even though she's very funny. :) You'll definitely want to check out her remarkable in-depth report, "Romance in Color: Is It Time to Move Away from 'Multicultural' Book Marketing?" from Romance Writers Report. In the meantime, won't you please give a warm Bella buongiorno to...

Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor, Multicultural Romance

Tracy Montoya used to crack herself up by referring to herself as an “award-losing Harlequin Intrigue author,” but then she had to go and win a few, including the Daphne du Maurier award for category romantic suspense. She’s a nonprofit magazine editor for her day job, although she frequently has to forcibly keep herself from chucking it all to switch over to whatever career she’s currently researching for her Intrigue manuscript du jour. It was a dark day in her household when she turned 37 and could no longer apply for the CIA unless she suddenly acquired the ability to speak in flawlessly accented Farsi or Northern Mesopotamian Spoken Arabic.

Honduran on her mother’s side, Tracy writes a lot of Latinas into her books. She’s passionate about bringing more visibility to the great books available written by romance writers of color—and she’s not above pelting people with copies until they agree to read them.

Visit Tracy online at TracyMontoya.com, or under the name TracyMontoya on Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook.

Please join us for Tracy's inaugural post tomorrow, as she shares w/us a twist on the RBTB Feature Review...

What multicultural titles and authors would you like Tracy to know about? What issues concerning multicultural romance would you like her to explore and tell us more about?

40 comments:

ev said...

Welcome Tracy!! It's kinda crazy, in a nice way, here.

Multicultural? I love Julie Leto. Too bad that the publisher's never let her finish her series, which I adored.

Please feel free to pelt me with books you want to.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Michelle, this is great news! Looking foward to reading Tracy's posts at RBTB.

Tracy Montoya said...

Thanks, Ev! You don't know what you got yourself into with that invitation. You know how you can't get rid of a vampire when you invite him in...? : )

Tracy Montoya said...

Hey, it's my girl Vanessa! Nice to see you here!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Ev! I didn't realize Julie wasn't finishing that series! What's wrong w/me? OK, you've been around here too long, and easily can answer that, can't you. And you've been a Plotmonkeys girl forevah. But now that Tracy's here, things like that won't get past me anymore. We'll have to have Julie visit soon, cause she hasn't been here since Plotmonkeys week ages ago... And watch out, tracy's got a good pelting arm; I hear it runs inthe family (you need to read her top ten reasons to buy a tm book on her site).

Hey, 'nessa! You'll definitely enjoy them. The cool think about our team is everyone has her 'voice,' so it's fun to see what each has to say.

amy kennedy said...

Helloooo Tracy! I'm so excited to have you here with us. I loved the top 10 reasons you should read a TM book...actual snorting ensued while reading it.

I work in a library and everything is interfiled -- well, we have 5 cat. of fiction, reg. fiction, romance, mystery, fant/scifi, and western -- within those categories all the other subgenres are interfiled, so an inspirational author might be right next to an urban lit author who's right next to a guys guy author...get the picture?

I guess my point is -- yes, I have one -- I think looking for authors this way leads us to other authors or subgenres we might not have tried. What do you think?

Tracy Montoya said...

Ev, I forgot to mention that I LOVE Julie Leto's Marisela books. (Yes, Michelle, she's not doing more for the foreseeable future--sigh.) I'm sad, too, although she and I are both optimistic that the Latina romance market may pick up again someday....

Tracy Montoya said...

Thanks for the welcome, Amy, and glad you enjoyed the list! Shelving is such a complicated question, but I'm personally a fan of interfiling. IMHO, when romance is shelved by ethnicity, people who don't share that ethnicity likely don't feel invited to browse there. And yes, I've been lured in by a great cover that has gotten me to try a book I might otherwise not have picked up.

debbie haupt said...

Good morning everyone and Happy Thursday,

Welcome Tracy, I look forward to the new and improved RBTB and to your contributions. Not that there is anything wrong with the old version. I'm sorry that I've never read you so that will have to be rectified. And about the CIA thing, well just lie about your age, have you ever met a CIA agent that told the truth?
;-)

Becke Davis said...

Hi Tracy! I was so excited when I heard you were joining the RBTB team, because you are a terrific author! I had the pleasure of meeting you at National, but you were signing books and I'm not sure you'll remember me.

As to multicultural authors I like, one who instantly comes to mind is Mary Castillo. I've read Switchcraft and Names I Call My Sister, which are both really good!

Ann Christopher said...

Hey, Michelle, Tracy and Bellas! I'm really excited about this new feature!

Shelia Goss said...

Thanks Michelle & Tracy. I'm excited about it as well. I would love to have the opportunity to share with your readers information about my latest book--His Invisible Wife.

Caridad Pineiro said...

Welcome, amiga! Can't wait to read your posts.

Farrah Rochon said...

I'm so looking forward to your posts, Tracy! Good luck!

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Sounds wonderful! Can't wait to read your posts, Tracy! Hi, Michelle! Hi, Bellas!

Gwyneth

Tracy Montoya said...

Debbie, good point about the CIA. Hmmmm. … Of course I remember you, Becke! And I agree—Mary’s great. … Thanks for stopping by, Ann! … Sheila, I’d love to hear more about your book. Please email me at tmontoya@rbthebook.com … Thanks so much, Cari! … And thanks to you, also, Farrah! … And nice to see you here, Gwyneth. Please feel free to get in touch with me about your books! (Whew—okay, I think I got everyone.)

Becke Davis said...

Tracy, the top ten list on your website is inspired! I wish I'd thought of it. Your whole website is very cool:

http://www.tracymontoya.com/

Tracy Montoya said...

Thanks, Becke! I took a bit of a hiatus from writing, but I hope to have new news up there soon!

Becke Davis said...

Are you working on something now? Can you tell us about it, or is it too soon?

Wayne said...

Tracy

It great to see you here assisting in giving the multicultural authors a voice. As you know I'm one of Harlequin Kimani's male authors. However, long before I was published in 2005, I made it my goal to be an advocate for the multicultural romance; with more focus on the African-American romance. In 1999, I started an online review site, www.romanceincolor.com which focuses on promoting the African-American romance and its authors. Of course, I no longer review, but the goal of RIC is still the same. I look forward to your contribution here and will be a frequent guest.

Wayne

David B. said...

Tracy:

Congrats on the new gig with RBTB and QB. I happen to be a big fan, so I look forward to your contributions.

Male Perspective Guy

Tracy Montoya said...

Becke--long story short, I sent a new romantic suspense proposal in to Intrigue and am waiting to hear. ... Wayne, nice to see you. I love Romance in Color! I had no idea that was your brainchild. ... Thanks so much, David! Hope to see more of the male perspective here--a rare thing in the romance world. : )

LisaK said...

Wow, we're growing and growing here on RBTB, it's amazing. You betcha, in a few years Michelle Buonfiglio will be President of the World (how do you like that?). No, only jokin', it's so cool to have so many new CEs (Contributing Editors) and their specialities here.

Now, welcome Tracy, I have to admit I've never read you before but that's why I'm here - to get to know new authors!

I've got a question concerning the "multicultural"-thing. What exactly is meant by that? I mean, of course I know the meaning of the word (I'm not that dumb, ahem-ahem), but I'm not so sure as to whom it refers in this case - because America is all multicultural, isn't it? In Germany, that would be the Turks, so I always associate "Turkish" with "multicultural" and only after thinking twice I come to the conclusion that there might be others, as well (but as we don't have many African or Chinese people here, you just don't think about them).

Long story short, would somebody give me a little definiton so that I'm in the know? :)

Becke Davis said...

I could totally see Michelle as President of the World. I don't think the woman ever sleeps.

Good luck with the book, Tracy -- fingers crossed!

Kimberly Fisk said...

Tracy;
So THRILLED you are here!! Can't wait for your inaugural post tomorrow.

Tracy Montoya said...

LOL on Michelle as president of the world--I can see that! Lisa, in the romance writing world, "multicultural romance" generally refers to romance written by and about people of color--black, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern, and First Nations people. I think, readers don't always feel invited to crack open a given multicultural book when they don't share the characters' cultural background--especially in the case of African-American authors who find their books sometimes shelved in special African-American sections. (Kind of like you might not feel invited to read "Latina" magazine if you're not Latina.) So my goal is to give all of these books a little more visibility and invite EVERYONE to enjoy them. Of course, we may feature a great book with multicultural characters written by an Anglo author, but I think the emphasis will likely be books by writers of color. Thanks for the question!

Tracy Montoya said...

Thanks, Becke and Kim!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas! so cool to see everyone checking in to welcome Tracy.

Debbie, I lol'd at your cia comment. And I knew what you meant! I'm already psyched over the new life each of the CEs (perfect, LisaK, it's what we use in correspondence!) have brought here. And behind the scenes, there are so many great convos that go on.

For instance, like LisaK's question -- thanks for asking it lisa!. Your question comes from your living in Germany and also not spkng Eng as your first lang, regardless of the fact that you prob express yourself better than me!

However, do you know that Tracy and I have had the same discussion?! Because so many folks have the same questions about "multicultural" romance. It's kind of a new term. Folks want to know, Is it different from African American romance? Or is that differenct from Black romance? Is every culture in multicultural, like, are romances like, "The Italian CEO's Virgin Bookeeper's Marriage Bargain" included in multicult because they include an Italian character, but aren't written by a person of color?

See what I'm sayin?

But my strong feeling is this: In discussions about ethnicity and race as they relate to romance books -- ones we've had here in the past -- folks really want to know the information, often just knowing the language and terminology is helpful, as well as where to find the books when we don't live in a 'diverse' community. Frankly, I believe more romance fans'd read romances about folks not of their ethicity if they were put in within their reach. That's part of what Tracy's here to help us do.

So the discussion between Tracy and I is how can she serve as a conduit between the community of writers whose books feature characters of diverse ethnicities, and an audience looking to read the best new romances. How can she help readers know new authors, figure out how and where to ask for those books.

The love story's going to be the same no matter the novel. Tracy's simply consistently going to add some fresh voices to the RBTB mix of novels.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Wayne! It's awesome to see you here. Bellas, in addition to writing for Harlequin -- yes, we've got to add you to our Foxes in the Henhouse list (FITHs)! -- Wayne hosts the very popular Kimani boards at eharlequin.com. I recommend heading there, registering and hanging to learn bout loads of good books, and hang with really nice readers and authors.

And do check out RomanceInColor.com, for hot news in romance news, book clubs, reviews and the annual RIC awards. Congrats on 10 Years of RIC, Wayne!

We've seen Wayne around RBTB joint, too, since he was intro'd to us by the lovely and talented Kelli Martin, editor of Kimani line.

If you head back this way, Wayne, I'd love to hear from you what you think are some of the most exciting things on the horizon in AA romance from your perspective.

Tracy Montoya said...

One thing Michelle and I talked about in the conversation she notes above is the question of whether a book featuring Italian or Greek characters would be considered "multicultural." Of course it would in a broad sense, but what about when I'm personally considering it and pitching it to Michelle for a multicultural RBTB feature?

The key for me is that the culture plays a significant role in the book, like the Greek culture did in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Even if the book doesn't hit you over the head with it, the reader should probably get a sense that the cultural background really does make these characters who they are. In some romances like "The Greek Tycoon's Pregnant Italian Mistress" (I'm totally making that title up, though I'm guessing Harlequin Presents has used it! : D), sometimes the Greek part doesn't matter as much as the "tycoon" part and a general sense of an "exotic" locale. So while I love to read this kind of book, I might not hone in on it when choosing multicultural books for RBTB.

To rephrase something I wrote above, I'm really focusing on books where people who don't share the culture may not feel invited to read them. I think Greek and Italian tycoons are hooks for a lot of readers across cultural and racial lines, but they may have a sense, for example, that a romance with Chinese characters isn't written with them in mind. (And I'm not crying racism--again, I think of "Latina" magazine as an example--if you're not Latina, you're not that likely to subscribe!)

I hope that helps. This can be very confusing, and I confess I have a tendency to impose a narrower definition on "multicultural romance." Part of this endeavor may include freeing my own mind....

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

hi, Caridad! Looking forward to your GuestBlogging w/us here on November 6! Thanks for stopping by in support of Tracy. In one of our first discussions, she was telling me about this great author of ChicaLit, and I'm like, 'do you mean Caridad? Oh, cool, cause we've got her booked! Now will you come work w/us Tracy?' I'm thinking my dropping your name may have helped lure her our way. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah, Tracy, that's exactly the convo I was thinking of.

I find our discussions very exciting because we're both working really hard from kind of hyper-sensitive places to figure out how to serve readers and authors. And, now this may come as a shocker to many of you Bellas, I also find playing Devil's Advocate an excellent way to figure out even my own position on a topic, and create discussion amongst a team.

So Tracy and I keep working at the idea of how to talk about multicultural romance until it's simply shelved under 'romance.' Ah, but the rub there is, must we lose the cultural i.d. that gives a book its flavor?

Along the way, I think Tracy and I both have experiences of being pulled away from our initial definitions. Like me, we both seem to want not to offend anyone by being presumptuous or insensitive.

We're working here to categorize books as a way to help readers find what they like, not to marginalize anyone. And that's kind of the tricky part about selling multicult romance, too, one Tracy explores in her RWR article (the link's in the post above; do check it out).

I think stumbling in this discussion of multicult's not such a bad thing. If folks feel like they can come to rbtb as a general forum to ask questions about multicult, talk about their books and express opinions about how their books are published -- and what they mean to them, if anthing, as testaments to their ethnicities -- I'm be very pleased to offer this forum in which to do so openly w/Tracy helping us find information and directing us to more, while she introduces us to new books and authors.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Farah! I was so glad we finally got to meet at RWA after having known you from your books and here at RBTB. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Gwyneth! Looking forward to that Sept firefighter book of yours!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Amy! They really do have a progressive library system in that area. And the romance section is marvelous! Didn't the romance director win an RWA award or something? And I hear the library staff there is really friendly, too... :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Kimberly! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

Wayne said...

Tracy/Michelle

Yes, RIC is my Baby. You know its 2009 and I didn't realise it's 10 years. We definitely have to plan something big for later this year. I remember when there were only two reviewers. Melanie Schuster and I and two or three books to review each month. Ironically, bot Melanie and I now write for Harlequin Kimani. Today, we review 10 - 20 books each month and have about 10 reviewers.

And yes, I'm the hosty for the Kimani area on the eharlequin.com community...and yes, I also host part of the Simply Series area. I'm responsible for Desire, Nocture, Intrique, Blaze, Presents, Romantic Suspense, Nascar. My reading taste are quite diverse, as all romance reading should be. I love a good romance no matter the color of the hero and heroine's skin color. Like most of us here, I grew up on Harlequin (in Barbados Mills and Boon), but I always feel proud when I see how successful multicultural romance authors are becoming. We've been the "Ugly Step-sister of romance" for too long.

ev said...

Back from work- I will have to go check out the list you speak of. LOL

I do hope at some point Julie can do more Marisela books. I really enjoyed them.

I have found myself reading more and more ethnic story lines- I fined as I get older, I like learning about other cultures from authors who know what they are talking about. As opposed to so many books who just used what ever they thought was cultural.

Maybe that is the change for me- more and more authors are from a different culture as opposed to ones who aren't. And having spent the first few years of my life in an area of Phoenix which was very diverse (albiet, poor), maybe I need the reality as opposed to the fantasy so many write with. Thank god for research, no?

Which is why I love Julie's books- they drew me in with the color and reality of the story.

Bonnie S. Mata said...

Just followed the link from the Nunca Sola post! Wow, what a website! If I hadn’t joined Nunca Sola I would never had found this site and all the others plus the new friends that I’ve met and still meeting!
Can’t tell you how excited I am! Everyday is a wonderful one!
Just read the review and enjoyed it! Looking forward to ALL of the reviews!!

Way to go Tracy!
Bonnie Mata

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Bonnie! So glad you're here now, too! You're welcome anytime. We're awfully glad Tracy's joined us, and that Nunca Sola's let everyone know. Everyone around here shares the excitement you seem to be feeling since you've found Nunca Sola (and how well "never alone" sums it up), cause we all have made so many great connections when we finally found friends online we felt comfortable with. Thank you for stopping in; see you here again soon!