Author Beware – Red Sage Publishing

This blog has been inactive for a few years. That’s mostly due to a family emergency that has been ongoing since March of 2016, but also due to my publisher, Red Sage Publishing.

As a new novelist, I didn’t know what to look for as red flags in a publishing contract and I made the mistake of signing with Red Sage Publishing in December of 2014.

Before signing, I had a fully edited and printed book that I submitted to a Writer’s Digest writing contest and I received praise for the plot, my characters, and my work. I did not need to sign with a publisher, but I wanted a marketing partner and I foolishly thought that Red Sage Publishing would fill that void.

They published my book in November of 2016, so my book sat around and collected dust for almost two years. When Red Sage Publishing finally released my book, they only released it in an ebook format. I requested print copies several times and offered to pay to have my book printed. Red Sage Publishing refused.

In emails I requested several times to either buy back the rights to my book, or at least buy the rights to be able to print my book. Red Sage Publishing ignored my requests.

Just after the release of my book, their website was down for weeks and they did not announce my book or market it in any way, though I spent almost two years begging their marketing department to start announcing it.

Since its release, according to Red Sage Publishing’s accounting department, my book has sold three copies. Myself and a friend purchased copies on Amazon, and I believe the third copy was purchased by another friend.

It was my understanding that Red Sage Publishing already had a built-in audience and that they would announce my book on their blog, which never happened, and that the sales would get a jump through their announcement. Nope!

Now I’m four and a half years into my contract with three book sales and I spent thousands of dollars on editing and cover design to get my book ready to print before I signed, but I’m willing to pay more money to Red Sage Publishing just to get the rights of my book returned to me. I emailed them twice in the last month with no response until they received my certified letter in the mail.

Their response?

“Red Sage does not return rights. This is final.”

Red Sage Publishing stole my book and they are holding it hostage. For what reason? It’s not selling! They are not giving print copies to me so I can market the book. They refuse to return my rights and since there is no clause in their contract that gives terms for reversion of rights, I have no recourse.

So, if you’re looking for a publisher and are considering signing with Red Sage Publishing, don’t do it! You are better off self-publishing and retaining your rights.

I’ve communicated with several authors who have signed with Red Sage Publishing and since they receive their royalties through Paypal and we have to pay the fees, they get nothing since most royalties that are paid are less than $1 for six months worth of sales. I believe my royalties on the three books was less than $3 and with the Paypal fees, it wasn’t worth collecting.

I’m writing this post to warn other novelists. Beware!

My Knotty Jolene – an excerpt

I am thrilled to announce that the official release date for “My Knotty Jolene” is set for May of 2016 with Red Sage Publishing.

The fantastic news is that book 2, “Amy’s Maiden Voyage,” is well underway. I will announce its release date soon. Red Sage has picked up the publishing rights to all 4 books in the series.

Look for more announcements to come soon.

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to “My Knotty Jolene” with this excerpt.

Jessica blows a kiss before disappearing down the dock and I collapse onto one of the cushioned seats that form a semi-circle around the helm. Minutes pass before I grab a messenger bag and throw in my keys, phone, wallet, a bottle of water, and an apple and I hop back on my bike and head toward my store.

I enjoy the sounds, smells, and scenery during the one-mile bike ride from the marina to the studio. It gives me time to clear my head and make the transition to artisan. It also helps me to keep in shape.

Clouds sway across the backdrop of the powder blue sky. A cool Gulf breeze carries a trace of leftover pink evening primrose in the late morning air. Locals call them “pink buttercups.” I just call them heaven.

I inhale deeply, savoring the sweet scent.

Once, it electrified me.

Now, it grounds me.

Seagulls cry in the distance, begging anglers for a bite from their bait buckets. Waves spill onto the shore and then roll back into the hazy, blue depths. It’s January. Tourist season has not yet begun, so the sand-lined streets are clean and quiet.

In the small coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas, businesses depend on their profit from the tourist season that begins in March and winds down in late August to carry them through the slow winter months. This winter has been especially hard on my business.

I lean to the right as I round the last corner and the studio comes into view. The large sign above the door reads, “Jolene’s Treasures.” Wesley painted the sign. I’ll never forget how proud he was on the day he gave me the keys and the lease to the store.

The bell over the door chimes as I roll my bike over the threshold and into the studio. Metal sculptures inspired by the sea are displayed on the wall to the left. Waves. Fish. Seashells. My inspiration from days past is clear. In the corners are display cases with metal jewelry – earrings, rings, belts, bracelets, cuffs. Each piece is uniquely designed and forged in my metal shop in the back. To the right are my newest pieces that have inspired many controversial debates in the small town, though I’m not sure why. When making them, I let the metal speak to me and molded them into abstract shapes. To me, they’re modern, enigmatic. I guess with every other store in town offering starfish and sharks, my conceptual art is too odd for the locals.

During the off-season, my time is spent mostly in creating and crafting. I work long hours to fill the shelves and display cases so that I can focus on customers when tourist season begins. Since I can’t afford to pay an assistant, I take clients by appointment only during the winter months. This allows me the focused time necessary to design and create new pieces, as well as the privacy to dive into my work without being interrupted.

I roll my bike into the back room and lean it against the wall. My workbench is just as I left it with a partially hammered bracelet secured in a small vice. I crank up Pink and sing along as I hammer the bracelet into submission. “They knew better, still you said forever…and ever…who knew!” I belt out the words and pound the bracelet with every syllable. Tears mix with sweat and slide down my cheeks and fall onto the table. “I miss you, my darling….”

A movement in the corner catches my eye, causing me to pause mid-lyric. The most beautiful and exotic woman I ever saw strolls toward me with a well-dressed man following closely behind her. I turn off the stereo and use the back of my sleeve to wipe my eyes. She extends a graceful hand in my direction and asks, “Open?” in a thick, Spanish accent.

“Sorry, yes. I am.” Dummy, you forgot to lock the door, I chastise inwardly.

She’s holding something in her other hand that appears to be the end of a dog’s leash. A tinkling sound echoes in the concrete workroom and I discover its source. The man is wearing a black, leather spiked dog collar and a delicate silver chain is attached to the front on one end and to this mystery woman’s hand on the other end. What the hell…..

Romanced with Etouffee

In chapter 8 of “My Knotty Jolene,” the love interest surprises Jolene with a box filled with crab cakes and shrimp etouffee.  Yum!

Since the novel is written in first person, present tense, she describes it as, “A burst of flavor hits my tongue and my palate sings. I moan.”

If you’ve never tried etouffee, it’s flavored with spicy sauces such as Worcestershire, Cajun, and Louisiana hot sauce. I first ate etouffee while visiting the small town of Dulac, Louisiana during Mardi Gras in the mid nineties. Dulac is a small, coastal town just south of Houma, where most homes are built on stilts and the Cajuns are proud of their heritage. It was in one of these homes that I was given a brief tutorial of the difference between how etouffee is pronounced , depending on if you’re getting ready to eat it, or if you’ve eaten it. Of course, this could have been a case of Louisiana boys messing with me. But I was told that it’s called “eat-too-fay” at one point and “eh-too-fay” at another. A quick Internet search didn’t clear up the mystery, but after going to Mardi Gras celebrations in this small town over a course of a couple of years, this is the dish I remember, and the name I’ll never forget. If you know the answer, I would love to hear it. Post a comment, please.

If you want to try it for yourself, Emeril Lagasse shares his version on Food Network’s site at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/shrimp-etouffee-recipe.html.

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Another favorite recipe from Louisiana is Cajun Red Beans and Rice. I’m a foodie, so most of my time while there was spent learning the dishes and how to cook them.

One of the locals was kind enough to gift to me a Cajun cookbook entitled “Down the Bayou Cajun Recipes” by Mary Ellen. As you can see from the cover, the book has traveled a lot over the past few years and has been heavily used. I’m not sure if it’s still available for purchase, but here is a link to the book information:

http://books.google.com/books/about/Down_the_Bayou_Cajun_Recipes.html?id=Z683QwAACAAJ.

My favorite recipe from the book, and one that Jolene would most likely enjoy, is as follows:

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. dried red beans, soaked overnight

1/4 lb ham, cut in chunks

1 lb. sausage (smoked)

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

3 T. onion tops (shallots)

2 T. parsley

2 T. Hot Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste using Creole seasoning

(Creole Seasoning is a mixture of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, garlic salt, chili powder, and Accent)

Combine all ingredients with enough water to cover well. Cook beans until tender. Add water from time to time to make a thick rich gravy. Serve over cooked rice. Add Louisiana Hot sauce for more spice. Serves six.

Note: Ham hocks or pickled pork may be used in place of smoked sausage.

The recipe seems a bit confusing, I would say it means to cook all of the ingredients until the beans are tender. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! I know that Jolene would!

Meet Jolene Davis – The Protagonist

As I developed the character for Jolene, the main character and the protagonist in the story, I thought of the misunderstood, creative type who married a much older man…for love. This is where the “misunderstood” part of her profile comes into play because everyone assumes she’s a gold digger.

She is the typical girl next door who can put most men to shame with her knowledge of tools, but she can also be naughty when she wants to be.

The actress, Katherine Heigl came to mind when developing the physical characteristics of Jolene Davis. Below is her personality profile and description.

Katherine Heigl

Meet Jolene:

Jolene Davis, 33, is a Blacksmith from Port Aransas, Texas. She is widowed with no children and has had a lot of education. She’s been known to say “”Carpe Diem!”” She wants to start her life over and support herself.

Jolene is the introverted artistic type. She looks inside the heart for the answers, creating outer expressions of that self and deciding on who she is by what comes out. This subtype is introverted and really considers what she thinks as the real qualifier. She is in this to discover herself and not to make money or find fame. Jolene can be reclusive and painfully shy. However, she has successfully found within herself a universal thing, something that comes out through the artwork, that is, her expression of self. This universality draws people to her. She reacts with warmth and humor, enjoying the feeling of being unique. Creative, passionate, empathetic.

Jolene never identified with either parent. Her parents seemed to be from another planet, so she was left alone to discover her own personality. This self-discovery became her life mission and her only option was to look inside to see what she could find. As a child, she tried to fit in by compromising her authentic self because she didn’t feel safe. She always regretted this. As an adult, she is introspective, even to the point of losing herself in thought, becoming reclusive at times, staying away from distracting people, noise and activity.

Jolene can be very shy and discovering her feelings and opinions about things can be next to impossible. Eventually, once a safe place has been established, amazing insights and perceptions come out of this person. She can be self-revealing and emotionally honest. She has visited a pretty incredible place, the soul of a person. She has an understanding like no one else and can be very perceptive about others. Sometimes seeming psychic.

Jolene can be sensitive and emotionally honest in a relationship. Other characters may be drawn to her depth of feeling, but later feel that she subtly rejects them when they get too close.

Jolene’s psychological change is to move away from this painful self-consciousness to a more stable place. Someone or something gives Jolene a concrete sense of who she is, a place to finally rest from this constant search. Finding someone who knows her true self and likes that person does wonders, giving her stability. She becomes “whole” by appreciating what is here and accepting herself as is, which makes self-expression more of a desire and less of a need.

Meet Orlando Castillo – The love interest

eduardo_verastegui-picWhen developing the impact character, which in this story is the love interest, I thought of my saucy Hispanic husband and started looking for well-known men that brought that same fire and passion to the character. In my search, I found a picture of Eduardo Verastegui and he fulfilled most of the character’s physical attributes I had envisioned.

Now that you’ve seen the muse, take a look at the personality profile for Orlando.

EduardoMeet Orlando: Orlando Castillo, 37, is unmarried with no children and has had a lot of education.
Orlando is a perfectionist in every way. Self-disciplined and principled in everything he does, Orlando is very emotionally controlled and believes there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way. He wants to do it the right way. He holds himself up to the highest standards. The social sub-type is more of a people person, however, so Orlando is relationship oriented. He wants to get involved with a cause that will help people, possibly a cause directly related to someone he knows or has known. He knows what is right and will stubbornly fight for it. He would make a great lawyer – self-reliant, organized and always punctual. Still this subtype can’t shake the basic premise of the personality type: to want to always be right and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the world a place he feels is “perfect.”
Orlando ‘s childhood was very unstable caused by an undependable protective figure. He found stability in others, perhaps a surrogate protective figure who he was then separated from, thereby reestablishing the instability. The reaction to that instability was to look internally, by deciding what’s right and wrong, making up his own mind and deciding to act on those ideals to make the world stable, aligning with the rules to contain his anxiety. The social connection, however established, showed Orlando hope that personal relationships may be the way out of this trap. As an adult, he has failed to find a perfect relationship that will save him. He also has a history of severing ties with friends and family who fail to live up to his standards.
Orlando knows what’s right but may want the other characters to learn it on their own. This subtype makes great teachers. Even if your character is not a teacher, he tends to try to teach by example. As a perfectionist, Orlando speaks correct English. He won’t confront someone who’s wrong but takes a more passive stance. He speaks some Spanish in the bedroom.
Orlando can be very principled and mature in a relationship. Other characters are attracted to his ethical nature and dependability, but eventually may feel that he’s a bit judgmental at times.
The psychological movement of Orlando is from a self-controlled, perfectionist attitude to a release of control. He finds that being perfect doesn’t lead to happiness or personal fulfillment and decides to accept the world as is. He eventually admits there is a gray area and is willing to give it a shot in there, maybe with someone who lives in the gray area. This freeing of control and acceptance that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to be good, can save his soul from a lifetime of confinement.

“My Knotty Jolene” – Erotic Romance Coming Soon

My Knotty Jolene is an erotic romance novel about Jolene Davis, a thirty-something artist whose naughty nature is aroused when she finds herself a widow. Though she has become complacent in the role of a trophy wife, or what the nosy neighbor terms a “boat whore,” her dominating, older husband dies under questionable circumstances leaving her destitute.

Once liberated, Jolene encounters a mysterious woman who initiates her into an esoteric lifestyle in which she controls the whip. She transcends as she rises out of the chaos and takes control for the first time in her life.

Her sense of power tips when Orlando sails in and seduces her. His charisma and rugged good looks ignite a flame deep within her. She is powerless in his presence and she wants to be. He is everything she desires in a man, but her sexual desires and business interests become tangled.

Will she surrender to him even though he could potentially destroy her?