Red Sage SECRETS !
In August of 1994,
one of my critique partners came back from Romance Writers of America’s
national conference in New York with something just for me. A new
publishing company named Red Sage was starting up, and Judith had picked
up a copy of their submission guidelines.
at the time, I’d already earned a reputation among my friends and colleagues
in the San Francisco Area Chapter of RWA for writing hot. I loved
the structure of the romance novel. I loved the heroism of the characters.
I even loved the sensuality of a lot of the books I read, but in that area
I wanted more. I wanted to write standard romance stories, but I
wanted to use a level of sensuality that was closer to erotica. Red
Sage was the publisher I was looking for.
By the end of the
year, I’d sold my first story to Red Sage – The Spinner’s Dream.
It came out in December of 1995 in Volume One of Secrets. I had no
idea what to expect from there – publishing is an incredibly difficult
business to succeed in. I figured that I had my small advance, and
a story I loved had been published in a quality book with three other great
stories. I was happy with my modest success.
This December – six
years after the release of Volume One of Secrets – Alexandria Kendall is
about to release Volume Seven. I’ve published with her again (Volume
Six) and watched her success in awe. Alexandria is far too modest
to tout her own incredible accomplishments, so when I asked her to write
something about the creation of Red Sage Publishing, she told me about
her own search for romances that suited her taste for sensuality.
If nothing else is clear, it’s safe to say that Alexandria found a real
need and filled it.
From Alexandria Kendall
“One holiday season
in the late 80’s I decided to read a romance. Life had been difficult
recently, and I decided to read something light. My best friend had
always read them, but I wouldn’t. I’d been a Literature major in
college and just did not have the time or the mind for reading such light
“Well, I saw this
delightful half-naked Indian on a Johanna Lindsay cover (I didn’t even
know who she was, I just liked the Indian.), so I took the book home and
didn’t put it down until it was finished. Called my friend and told
her how great it was and how I loved this author. She asked me who
it was, and she said I had picked up one of her favorites. She had
more of her books did I want to read them. I said yes! I read all of Lindsay'’
and then started to go to the bookstore where I met Maryann, who was the
manager. She said if I liked Johanna Lindsay, I would love Bertrice
Small. I read The Kadin and then read everything else Small wrote."
I loved all the authors she did, the hot ones, and over the next couple
of years she went on to sell me about 2000 to 3000, three hundred page
novels. I read all the old romances from the 70’s and 80’s and the
new ones as well. I just read and read until I needed glasses! Went
out and got the glasses and kept reading."
“Then I decided I
wanted to be a writer. I joined RWA and started going to the conventions.
I knew I loved all the top writers, and they seemed to write the hotter
books. I would hear authors saying how they wanted to write really
hot love scenes and how the publisher wouldn’t let them. The publishers
were actively censoring authors’ sexual content at the time. I had
noticed the earlier books were hotter than the newer ones. Now I
“It seemed to me
that the publishers felt that American women did not like to read stories
which depicted the sensuality of the couple. I knew I did.
I knew my friends did. I thought that if the established publishers
weren’t going to let romance authors write what they wanted sexually, I
would. I did not want women to have someone else determine what they
could and could not read about sensuality and romance."
“Red Sage means Passionate
Wisdom. Well, I now had a name for the company, and I have always
wanted Red Sage to be the elite publishing house in the industry – not
to publish books just to publish something, but to publish the absolute
best in women’s sensual or erotic romance. These are not easy stories
to write. They are probably the most difficult kind of romance to
write. The authors who sell to Red Sage are the best in the romance
business. I have always felt this way, and the readers tell me they
feel this way as well. They know the author’s story will be of the
highest quality and they are one of the elite authors in the publishing
“Volume 7 of the
Secrets Collection is coming out this December. The authors are the
stars of the Collection. That’s why the books are titled in Volumes
and don’t have individual names. The authors’ stories and their talent
should shine, not the new title of the Red Sage book.”
As I was growing up and going through college, I shared Alexandria’s feelings
that I wasn’t supposed to like “those” books. (I was allowed to love
Jane Eyre and The Taming of the Shrew, of course.) Unfortunately,
I didn’t have a best friend who read romance. But one day when I
was feeling lonely, I decided I didn’t care what anyone thought about those
books – there were stories out there about love and sex, and I was going
to get myself one. I believe this was in about 1971.
With my luck, I stumbled
into the wrong bookstore. It didn’t have what I was looking for,
and I ended up with a book that had sex in it – sort of. But it wasn’t
the least romantic, and I gave up my quest. It wasn’t until 1990
that I finally started reading romances, after I started writing them.
The moral of this
story is that if you want to read sensual love stories but think you’re
not allowed to like “those” books, get a romance and read it, anyway.
If you have a friend who’s lonely and under stress but she insists that
Comp. Lit. majors don’t read that trash, give her a romance, anyway.
Probably she’ll sneak a peak after you’ve gone home, and she’ll be glad
Sage stories may be demanding to write, but they’re also more fun than
anything else. Don’t tell Alexandria I said so, okay?