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How We Pick Secrets Stories

by Red Sage Publishing

We get a lot of questions about what kind of story types we need for upcoming Secrets anthologies. The answer is always the same — good ones — but I know that probably doesn’t shed a lot of light on the selection process, so I thought today we’d take the opportunity to talk about how we pick our story assortment.

There’s a rumor floating around that we have a quota for various subgenre story types in each volume, so many each of contemporaries, historicals, paranormals, and so on.

This simply isn’t how we do things. Probably the best evidence of that lies with Secrets: Dark Passions (Volume 18), which contains all “FFP” stories. (FFP = fantasy, futuristic and paranormal.) This volume is sort of a special case because it was planned to be all-FFP, and the mix of stories was deliberate. It has proved to be a big hit with readers, and even won the CAPA last year for best erotic romance anthology. We’re very proud of that.

Usually, though, what we do is a little less carefully staged. Usually, we fill the slots one by one for each volume as great stories come into the office. Each slot is filled with an eye on what’s already been purchased. So if we start with, say, a wickedly funny contemporary with a daredevil hero at an exclusive resort, we probably won’t be looking for any more vacation stories, contemporary comedies, or stories involving parachuting, parasailing, and mountain climbing. We might also shy away from your jungle-set thriller. It’s just luck of the draw, and of course, it’s not something anyone can really plan for or control.

My goal for each Secrets anthology is to give every reader a story of her favorite type, plus a story that she might not have tried if it hadn’t been in the anthology. We want a blend of the comfortable/beloved with the new/exotic. We want to deliver what the reader expects, but still manage to surprise them.

With that said, I will tell you that it’s probably easier to break into Secrets if you have a story that’s not like anything we’ve seen before. Most of our “comfortable and beloved” story needs are already being met by existing authors who used those story types to break in with Secrets back when those story types were new and exotic.

Lately, most of the new and exotic stories seem to be futuristic or mythological stories. To give a few examples:

  • “The Sex Slave” by Roxi Romano will appear in Secrets Volume 23 this summer. This is a heartbreakingly emotional story about an enslaved healer trying to escape his mining colony. He’s a member of an enslaved race whose bodies contain almost magical properties of healing and sexuality. Advance readers have had very strong reactions to this story!
  • “Enter the Hero” by Sedonia Guillone will appear in Secrets Volume 25 later this year. I call this one our interracial kung fu dystopian futuristic erotic romance. Try saying that three times fast, and then take a moment to ponder all the ways romance has been cross-pollinated with other story types.
  • “Chimera” by Nathalie Gray is on deck for next year, but it will be worth the wait. This one is more akin to hard scifi, complete with spaceships, space stations, cool weapons — all the gadgets we’ve come to expect from Nathalie, plus a few explosions just so we really know she wrote it. 🙂 What sets this story apart is the deep emotional content and the inventive way she handles sexual desire between the characters.
  • “War God” by Alexa Aames will also be out this summer in Secrets 24. This is a modern-day story about Ares, the Greek god of war. They don’t get any more alpha than Ares! When he sees a woman he wants, what does he do? He takes her. Literally.
  • “Heart Storm” by Liane Gentry Skye, will be out next summer in Secrets 27. It features a very fertile mermaid, a very confused human, and a very wicked merman. This story has the feel of a grown-up fairy tale that alternates between sparkly, magical fun and dark broodiness.

With the exception of Alexa Aames, all of these stories are from authors who are new to Secrets. Nathalie Gray had sold us some e-books already (including “Compromised” which will be available May 1), but this was her first Secrets sale. She used e-books to break into Secrets, which is also a good route for new authors looking to publish in Secrets.

Theresa Stevens
Managing Editor

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