Developing your Image

jackie stitched

As an author, your online presence brings your readers into your world. The images and verbiage you choose will either create a deeper interest or a divide that will be difficult to mend. This article is for those who have had some works printed and have already started to bring a voice to social media outlets. It will help you to focus on ways to create a stronger bond with your audience.

Great you have created a few books and some online interest in what it is your producing, but what do you do in the meantime to keep them glued into your creative life?  You make sure that they feel like they matter to you. How do you do that? By giving them clues into your author lifestyle.

How do you create? Where do you create? Why do you create? Why should they care?

You’re a writer do what writers do best WRITE! Create a blog about writing… not necessarily. There are many blogs on how to write content, or how to create a full manuscript, and honestly, we don’t really need another one.  What I mean by write is to invite the curious into your life.  Write about what you like, what you feel compelled to care about, what your motivations are, how you like to relax, who you are interested in, & even daily little life events. How can you decide what to write about and when?

Many times writers are persuaded by their passions. They feel strongly about a particular method, a genre, ideology, strength, weakness, a dream, a deep desire to write that will not quit till they complete the task. These are the things you write about on your blog. Things that matter to you. They don’t always have to be about the genre you write, but they do have to have substance to keep your audience engaged.

What is it that you want your audience to know about you? How can you bring your life into your writing career without compromising your personal life?  Once you start building your blog around the suggested ideas, your audience will begin to interact with you, and they will lead you towards what they would like to know about you. You simply need to open the dialogue get people talking about you. It is though important to keep your private life private. Create a blog that is author content only. This way you can still maintain contact with your family and or close friends with whom you have a more intimate relationship with.  Do NOT cross the two ever. Once you start to mix the two groups, you will loose your private identity.

Now here is substance for you:

How often do you come into the mind-space of your audience and/or potential reader?

When you have captured their view what feelings do you invoke in them?

Does that feeling make them want to know more?

The above questions surround one main idea, and that is RELATIONSHIP.

How relatable are you? Do you evoke someone who wants to include others? Or do you push them to the side as you create? If you want them to be 100% invested in you and buy what you create then you need to be invested in them too.

Some of the potential readers you will come across are writers too. You will have a light bond to them already simply because you are both creatives. They will relate to you through writing style, through genre choice, through common postings, through groups, and sometimes simply because of gender.

Does it matter initially how the common bonding happens? No, but will it keep them interested solely on this first reasoning? Probably not. Think about this new found person as you would a potential friend.  Communicate with them ask them what brought them to your page. Recognize them for the fact that they decided to engage in your content.

You will want to write on a regular basis perhaps in the beginning devote 10-15 mins a day with something new. If you find that you have walked into an idea that is just something that fascinates you, then write longer, but make sure that you write with the idea of engaging your potential reader.

Did you recently finish a book written by a favorite author? Hear something on radio that struck a cord? Hear a conversation at the coffee house that made you do a double-take? See something on the drive into work, or on an errand? Had something locally happen in your neighboorhood that you think would make a good story line?  If the idea is touching or poignant in any manner, then write. These are all ideas to help you create your online presence and engage your potential readers.

Also, there are not really simply ways of posting videos online just short few mins to talk about something you find interesting, or just to simply say hello. As you get comfortable with creating the videos, you will also start to find your niche and find lots of ways to engage your audience.  For example, Facebook has Facebook live I will post a link for you to learn now to use this very simple Facebook live  f0rmat.


You want your username to be your name for your author works. If you want something more cutesy or daring you can make another account for that. Remember you are representing YOU. Make sure you keep it that way when your talking about your writer works.  Make sure also for all your author related venues you keep things with your name. (i.e. @DonStover,,, etc.) If your exact name is not available, try something like @DonStoverauth.

Your profile picture is a huge big deal make sure it is YOU. Not something sorta like you, not a filtered funny photo, but YOU. If you do not take yourself serious as a professional author then why should anyone else? This photo should be used across the board so that people who see you in one venue will start to recognize you in others. Make sure this photo also reflects who you are as a creative. It does not have to be a professional picture, but it does have to have a quality look to it. It may not be a selfie. Get someone I don’t care if it is a total stranger to take your photo as long as it conveys a great image on film.

Tell me what you Think, Feel, and Hear! Entertain Me.

~Jackie Chin














5 steps to writing Preparation – Part 3 Mindset By Mark Deloy

To recap our journey into the 5 steps to writing preparation so far, I’ve covered Desire, and perseverance.  Desire is where we started because you have to have that inside of you to ever pick up the pen, or start typing on your MAC.  Perseverance, because there will come a time when you want to stop, quit, say it’s too hard, or delete all your short stories you’ve been writing since you were ten because someone gave you a bad review or a rejection.  So now we come to the last of the super serious top secret (not really) writing preps, Mindset.

Mindset isn’t something you think about.  I know that sounds contradictory, but after the initial decision to write a novel, or a short story, blog or essay, you don’t have to think about it at all.  What you do have to do is adjust it.  Mindset is one of those things that takes hold of you, and all you need to do is give it a little tweak now and then.  Keep carving out that time to write, keep making yourself sit down and work.  It’s all because of the initial mindset that you are going to do it.  There are a lot of times when I get an hour, and I try and talk myself out of working on my novel.  You’ll say things like Oh it’s only an hour; I wouldn’t get that much done anyway.  But you would get something done, and that’s what matters.

There’s another initial mindset that needs to come into play as well, right from the beginning, and that’s the one where you tell yourself you are a writer.  It’s what you were made to do.  Your work will stand out as something original because it comes from your experiences and your heart.  Yes, I know that sounds cheesy, and I don’t mean it like it sounds.  Your heart is where feelings come from in the metaphysical sense, and you’ll need to draw on those feelings as you write.  Draw on the love you’ve experienced, the disappointments, the fears and the pain.  Pull those emotions into your characters and make them real.  The thing about human emotion is we’ve all felt it, and the more of it, you can add to your characters, the more real they become.

Next up – The fun stuff – In the last two Blogs in the series, I’ll cover workspace and fun while writing.



Invest In Your Audience

If you want to create a book and market it in 2016, then you need to educate yourself about marketing methods. These ideas need to be at the forefront of your project before you begin to pen it.
Networking your contacts in the area of your expertise, your baseline of friends and family and your email list of people who are interested in seeing you move forward as an author.
Do you have an idea that will help build community interest in your area? Do you have a particular story that you feel you have a unique angle? Is there something new that you have stumbled on that can make an interest group take notice and rally for you?
Or, is your work purely fiction, fun and just simply enjoyable, but sellable?
Being aware of people who are already invested in your idea, or YOU in general while you are working on your manuscript is a great resource which will only increase in value once you have finished your product.
Blogging is important, tweets, Instagram, google+ pictures that are related to your project, groups who you are already interested and like what you are saying or showing via posts are invaluable. Make sure that you do not just throw crap up. People will tweak to that, and your in will soon be an out. Be genuine have fun, show emotion, be invested in the group itself.
DO NOT expect that since you are part of an FB NICHE Group that you will automatically have people who will purchase your work.
This idea that no matter what you throw out because “It’s just words” or “It’s just work” will also come off fake as hell. You may fool your potential audience once or even twice, but they will eventually figure out that all your doing is trying to write something that is close to what they like. People do not like to be treated as if they are stupid.
Write what you know, write what you enjoy. Learn everything that you can about the subject matter and invest in the time it takes to do it well. Then have it properly edited. Your fan base will appreciate that you took the time to do your research and development and will reward you with sales and bring others to buy your works.
Just my 2cents,
Jackie Chin
Marketing Director for Stitched Smile Publications
Producer, Host of Zombiepalooza Radio Live12052463_10204158658201423_3937086368703109353_o

Why Are We Here?

Look at that existential title! Look at it. Philosophy students, if you googled here in error, I am sorry to disappoint you. This isn’t that kind of blog post, but I will still give you your answer. Research is still yours to do, though.


We’re here for tacos. Yes, vegan philosophy major with the Che Guevara shirt, even vegan tacos count. Now, get that paper done.

I am talking about why we, or rather, why I am here at Stitched Smile Publications.

Before I really get into it, let me say that these thoughts are my own. No one else would want them anyway, but I am neither being coerced nor am I a sock puppet blogger of the publisher. While I am sure that if I went on a long pro-Nazi diatribe, they would step in and take this down (as they freaking should), they are pretty hands off on the blog posts contributed by their authors. I also point to these blogs from my own website taking ownership of my opinions.

So, why am I here? This question has been asked and oh-so-politely not asked several times recently. Usually, the curiosity comes down to dollar signs. Why would I submit my work to a small market that offers less than buckets and buckets of cash? Why would I use an indie publisher instead of self-publishing? These questions are (usually) not asked out of spite, but from genuine interest so that the other party can make an informed decision. Since they asked, there is a good chance others are curious, if not from me, then in general, so here we go.

First up, why would I submit to a market not giving me gold- plated royalty checks every week? There is a very vocal subset of the author community that believes that a publisher offering less than “pro-rates” shouldn’t be publishing. They also view any author submitting to these markets (a place that accepts and publishes your story) the same as a union views a scab. If you can’t sell at the pro-level, they feel you should either go back to school to get your MFA or attend high-level writing conferences to better your craft. Their mantra is “If you stop writing for them, they will pay more.”

What a lovely ideal. Let’s visit my reality.

Like the song says, “I got bills to pay. I got mouths to feed.” Going to college full or even part time isn’t in the cards for me. The money and time off from a day-job to visit some high profile conferences is out as well. So how to develop? There are writing books. These are often contradictory, and in reality tell you how the author developed, which may not work for you. Smaller token, semi-pro, and developmental markets have been my path to growing in this craft. I believe whole-heartedly that you should be compensated for your work, but- and this is where the “pro-rate only” crowd misses the boat- there is compensation besides money. Which segues nicely into the next question…

Why don’t I self-publish? Plenty of people do, and some make a decent living at it. This is not to disparage them. Go get that money if it works for you. Here’s what I get working with Stitched Smile Publications and their ilk:

  • Education – I can’t afford the time or money for big conferences or an MFA program, but by working with a developmental publisher, I have personal access to professional editors and writers to help me hone my craft.
  • Marketing – Many voices make louder noise. I figured that out when my third kid was born. A group of people working together to build something can garner more attention and promotion than me working alone. Plus, I learn tips and tricks that have been tested and work, and I get to see them in action.
  • Networking – Working together with others toward a common goal is not only fulfilling, it is one of the best ways to fill your social circle with supportive peers.
  • Education – Yeah, it’s here again. I can’t stress it enough, not just for writing, but for life. Keep learning. The best way to learn is from those who have something to teach. The greatest impact to date on my writing mechanics was by a college English professor working in her capacity as editor for a developmental publisher. Rather than paying for that one-on-one attention to my manuscript, I got paid to learn from her AND developed a professional and personal relationship that I value immensely.

Now, for my caveat boilerplate! Your mileage may vary. This is me. Every decision made as a writer is a balance of business and art that you alone are responsible for. Not me. Not the names on the spines of that stack of writing books I see sitting on your bookshelf. Just you. The most important rule of these “How to write…” resources is “Take what you need, leave the rest.”

Now, go get some tacos.

R. Judas Brown has appeared in several anthologies. Aside from his work with Stitched Smile Publications, he works with The Ed Greenwood Group and serves on the Board of Directors for the Quincy Writers Guild in Quincy, IL. You can follow him on Twitter @RJudasBrown, at, or visit his website at


Here’s Donelle

Good morning Stitched Smile Nation!

Donelle Blog ImaeWe’re going to do something fun today. We are going to talk about Donelle Pardee Whiting, a.k.a Cookie, a.k.a. other names that shall not be mentioned. Starting today, we here at SSP are going to share Donelle with the world. No, no, no. That’s not like sharing candy or clothing, but more like sharing where you can find her.

No, this is not Where’s Waldo. This is, Here’s Donelle.

Here is what we are doing: Over the next few days, starting today, on the various social media platforms, we are going to point you in the direction of where to find Donelle. This will include links to Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and her web site. Then, on Sunday, June 19th, there will be a brief (15 minutes or so) live interview with Donelle that you won’t want to miss.

Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

Y’all get ready now and we’ll see you soon.

Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.

Editing Tip: Showing and telling By Editing intern Sylvia Stein

As an editing intern with Stitched Smile Publications, I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of editors and authors.   As both an author and editor, I know how important it is to be able to work on the best possible manuscript.   This is why I am sharing a short editing lesson on today’s blog.

This is all taken from Chapter 1 Show and Tell, and this is taken from the book by Self-Editing for Fiction Writers:  How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne and Dave King.

I will begin by showing a sample of this paragraph:

The conversation was barely begun before I discovered that our host was more than simply a stranger to most of his guests.  He was an enigma, a mystery.  And this was a crowd that doted on mysteries.  In the space of no more than five minutes, I heard several different people put forth their theories — all equally probable or preposterous –as to who and what he was. Each theory was argued with the conviction that can only come from a lack of evidence, and it seemed that, for many of the guests, these arguments were the main reason to attend his parties.

In a sense, of course, there’s nothing wrong.  The paragraph is grammatically impeccable, and it describes the mystery surrounding the party’s host clearly, efficiently, and with a sense of style.

Both the authors continue by stating, “Now look at the same passage as it actually appeared in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

“I like to come,” Lucille said.   “I never care what I do, so I always have a good one.  When I

was here last, I tore my gown on a chair, and he asked me my name and address — within a week I got a package from Croireir’s with a new evening gown in it.”

“Did you keep it?”  asked Jordan.

“Sure I did, I was going to wear it tonight, but it was too big in the bust, and I had to be altered. It was gas blue with lavender beads. Two hundred and sixty-five dollars.”

“There’s something funny about a fellow that’ll do a thing lie that,” said the other girl eagerly. “He doesn’t want any trouble with anybody.”

“Who doesn’t? I inquired.

“Gatsby.  Somebody told me—“

The two girls and Jordan leaned together confidentially.

“Somebody told me they thought he killed a man.”

A thrill passed over all of it.  The three Mr. Mumbles bent forward and listened eagerly.

“I don’t think it’s so much that,” argued Lucille skeptically: “it’s more that he was a German spy during the war.”

One of the men nodded in confirmation.

“I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew up with him in Germany,” he assured us positively.

“Oh no,” said the first girl, “It couldn’t be that because he was in the American army during the war.”

As our credulity switched back to her, she leaned forward with enthusiasm.  “You look at him sometimes when he thinks nobody’s looking at him.  I’ll bet he killed a man.”

So now the question Browne and King post here is “What’s the difference between these two examples? To put it simply, it’s a matter of showing and telling.  The first version is a narrative summary, with no specific settings or characters.   We are simply told about the guests’ love of mystery, the weakness of their arguments, the conviction of the arguers.

In the second version, we get to see the breathless partygoers putting forth their theories and can almost taste the eagerness of their audience. The first version is a secondhand report.  The second is an immediate scene.

This was just a short sample lesson on Showing and telling.

So now that you have taken a look at this, I hope you will take a look at this book.  As an editing intern, this has been such a great reference book to have.

If you have time check it out:








A Stitch of Madness

“A Stitch of Madness” by A.J. BrownMadness: extremely foolish behavior.Imprisoned for the murder of his best friend, Johnny Cleary sets out to tell what happened on the day Bobby “Buster” Lennon died, but are the words he writes true or does the deception run deeper?

Madness: the state of being mentally ill, especially severely.There is something wrong with Irene. Momma’s dead, and a ragdoll speaks to her in a voice that is hauntingly familiar. And what about the stitches, the very things that just might hold Irene together?Madness: a state of frenzied or chaotic activity. After an odd stranger pays Robert Wallenger a visit, his world begins to unravel and the past comes rushing back, along with a sickly sweet scent.

There is madness in everyone. For most, the madness never surfaces. For others, all it takes is one thing, big or small, for them to spiral out of control.A.J. Brown is a southern-born writer who tells emotionally charged, character driven stories that often delve into the darker parts of the human psyche. Most of his stories have the southern country feel of his childhood.

A.J. writes in a conversational style that draws the reader in and holds their attention. His characters are average people with average lives who are layered with memories and emotions and are fallible, just like anyone else. More than 150 of his stories have been published in various online and print publications.

His story Mother Weeps was nominated for a Pushcart Award in 2010. Another story, Picket Fences, was the editor’s choice story for Necrotic Tissue in October of 2010. The story, Numbers, won the quarterly contest at in June of 2013.

A list of his publications, along with links to many of his stories can be found at Type AJ Negative (“A Stitch of Madness” is available in paperback and for the Kindle, and has a 5-star rating on Amazon.

Source: A Stitch of Madness

Your opinion counts

As a reader and blogger, I have the amazing opportunity to interact with incredible authors. We talk about many things, such as marketing, books, publishing and reviews, but one of the most important things and that is reviews.

For those of you who don’t understand reviews, let me make it simple. A review is nothing more than your opinion of the book. It is also one of the most important things you can do for an author. It lets other readers know if they want to read the book. It helps put the book into suggestions. It changes the ranking of the book. It lets the author know that they are doing a good job and what the reader is looking for in a book. Every review of a book is important. It matters not if it is a long or a short review. They are all so important.

This is your chance to let your author know that he has done an amazing job in telling a story; that you loved the characters. That you were mad his book ended because you wanted more of the story. Now I will be the first one to say I have read some bad books. That being said, I have always tried hard to find something nice to say but there are times when you just can’t do that so what do you do? I personally do not leave a review because I don’t want to hurt the author. I will contact them and talk to them about the book. I know that is not for everyone but being how I am asked to read a lot and blog my reviews I try to nicely tell them what I had a hard time with about the book. More often than not they want to know these things so they can write better stories. This is a learning and growing thing for them as well.

If you absolutely can not bring yourself to write reviews then at least always give a star rating. Believe me, they will appreciate it more than you know.

Last but not least please tell your friends, family, neighbors and anyone that will hold still long enough about the books you read and love, you just might be the reason they pick up a book and read. That’s something I’m willing to be guilty of are you?

Thank you!