Interview with Lisa Vasquez and MF Wahl for Dread Central

Sometimes I come out of the basement…

WIHM8: Author Vs Editor – Loretta/MF Wahl

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, tree, outdoor and closeup“I enjoyed working with Loretta on my novel “Disease”. She’s respectful of the author’s vision for their work while at the same time being a stickler for the rules of writing. What was really fantastic about the way she works is that she would explain the thought process behind many of her edits, as well as educate when issues were purely technical and could have been avoided.”

“I enjoy the editing process when the editor and I click. It’s like have an extreme beta-reader in my corner, and Loretta was a fantastic extreme beta-reader.”

Loretta is currently working with M.F. Wahl on her novel, “DISEASE” currently featured on WATTPAD! Show some love. Go read and vote!

Loretta is a retired paralegal secretary and loves crafty projects (StampinUp), reading and cooking!

Let’s Talk: Uncensored

Author_Lisa_VasquezAs the CEO of an independent publishing company, things are hard. Let’s be honest, I’m not making six figures or living the life of luxury. You know what, though? That’s not why I do what I do.

Sometimes, people do things because the passion is there. That’s why we have “starving artists”. It’s about the art, the craft, or the calling that comes from someplace else. It doesn’t let you eat or sleep unless you’re pursuing it. Stitched Smile Publications is that calling for me.

I don’t do this for the fame. I don’t care if my name is mentioned alongside the logo. I do this because I want to elevate the independent authors and the independent companies who share the vision.

What I’ve seen lately has broken my heart.

Dishonest business practices standing at the pulpit in front of its flock. People are inherently good and want to help others. They give when they have little to assist those they perceive as suffering. In the end, what happens is bitterness and distrust because they eventually find out the wool was pulled over their eyes.

This … is why the Indie World has such a bad reputation.

Be honest. You put more into the business than you could afford. You screwed up. People appreciate honesty. I don’t want a sob story. I want deep down, gut wrenching honesty.

I guess it stems from my own origins. (And NO this isn’t a sob story, these are facts) My parents never had much. My father was a multi-recipient kidney transplant patient. I watched my parents struggle my entire life. Ever shared a can of asparagus among 5 people? Ever search the couches for change so your kids could eat that night? That’s where I come from.

You want to know what my dad did? He worked.

He went to dialysis in the morning. He came home, took an hour nap. He got up and went to school and made the Dean’s list. He came home and took a nap. He got up at 7 P.M., ate dinner and worked until 4 am at a band gig. He picked up milk and cereal on the way home and woke us kids up for school.

This man killed himself to make sure the bills were paid. The best thing about him was that he could turn an idea into a real business. He was honest, and hard working and watching him create something from nothing with his wife by his side was nothing less than inspirational.

He went from working menial jobs to owning his own successful business. He didn’t do it with hand outs. He saved and worked extra hours (yes, even as a terminally sick man with 3 hours of sleep a night), and he went without. We all did, because we had faith in him.

And my mother? My mother worked a shit job because insurance companies wouldn’t take my dad with his condition. He was dying and they were killing themselves to keep him alive. See the irony here? She would work from 5 A.M. until 2 P.M. on her feet in heels (the owner insisted) as a hostess for a restaurant down the block so she could be close to home in case my father ended up in the emergency room -which happened quite often.

I don’t know how many times we’d come home to an empty house and wonder if our dad was going to come through the door that night.

We were the only kids in grammar school (back in Stone Age) with written consent from the principal to carry pagers. We had to know if we were being picked up by family friends or just going home to …wait.

I watched the tears well in my parent’s eyes when they couldn’t give us a new pair of shoes or afford to buy the name brand cereal we loved. (Though mom got creative and put the generic cereal in the name brand boxes…took us yeeeaaars to catch on. Good one, mom.)

Because I had them as role models, I’ve been sitting here every month putting all the money I have into this company. There were times I wondered how to make the bills and not once did I think to ask for money for the light bill. Not once did I set up a GoFund to help myself. If I set up campaigns or GoFund it’s to help my authors because I know if I help my business, I help myself.

I have no business running a business if I don’t know how to! My authors count on me…Do I make mistakes? Hell, yes. And I am open about it. I’m honest and say, “I fucked up. I’m sorry.”

I don’t lie about it. Once you shake the congregation’s faith, you’re done. I’d rather give you something for the money you donate or offer to me, or do some work for you in return than to be handed charity or help for a dishonest reason.

So What Are My Other Options?

Patreon [link] – (from their page) 

Patreon is the best way for creators to earn ongoing revenue directly from their fans.

For creators, Patreon is a way to get paid for creating the things you’re already creating (webcomics, videos, songs, whatevs). Fans pay a few bucks per month OR per post you release, and then you get paid every month, or every time you release something new. Learn more about becoming a creator on Patreon HERE.

For patrons, Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator’s community and pay them for making the stuff you love. Instead of literally throwing money at your screen (trust us, that doesn’t work), you can now pay a few bucks per month or per post that a creator makes.  For example, if you pay $2 per video, and the creator releases 3 videos in February, then your card gets charged a total of $6 that month.  This means the creator gets paid regularly (every time she releases something new), and you become a bonafide, real-life patron of the arts.  That’s right–Imagine you, in a long frilly white wig, painted on a 10-foot canvas on the wall of a Victorian mansion.  And imagine your favorite creators making a living doing what they do best… because of you.

Tee-Spring [link]

Teespring is a platform for custom apparel. The company was founded by Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton in 2011 in Providence, RI as a way to simplify the process of selling custom T-shirts.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re offended? This may apply to you. It stands to reason that if this rubs you wrong, you might have less than honorable intentions.

Let me make it clear, if you genuinely have no other recourse than to ask for help and you’ve exhausted all other options, this post is not aimed at you. People sometimes need help. People want to help.

People also want to lie.

Be careful. Ask questions (you have a right to ask them). Ask for transparency (receipts for charitable donations, records, etc.). The last thing I want is to have good people lose money. That goes for those needing it, and those giving it.



logoABOUT THE AUTHOR: By design, Lisa Vasquez creates horror with vivid, dark, and twisted words and images that not only drags the reader in between the pages, but onto the covers that house them, as well. When she releases her grasp, readers are left alone to sort through the aftermath those images leave behind; each one becoming a seed that roots itself within the soft confines of their psyche. She takes this passion for writing horror and uses it to mentor other authors and volunteers as the Publisher’s Liaison for the Horror Writers Association. In January 2016, Lisa took her commitment to the next level and opened an independent publishing house, Stitched Smile Publications.

You can read Lisa’s work in several anthologies, or by purchasing her newly released novel, “The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride”. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: or on Facebook (, Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)



Hide and Seek


As I recover from the flu, I’m finding my creative juices are flowing. Here’s a little Tuesday Terror for you!

The terror that she felt inside her heart
Succumbed to numbness as she hid her fear.
Behind her, something ripped her child apart.
A sofa kept its image from the clear.
The panic sinking deeper in each crunch
Reminded her of failure and remorse.
The beast consumed its tiny infant lunch.
A sickened woman plotted her next course.
Surreal, the nature of the moment’s thread.
Convinced she had a chance, she stood to run.
The monster pounced; the mother soon was dead.
Another meal before the rising sun.
The blood upon its mouth dripped to the floor
As hiding, someone opened up the door …

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is out now from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC in both Kindle and special edition paperback. James designed and illustrated the cover and interior art for his debut novel at SSP, where he works as an in house illustrator. He also has a short story featured in their latest release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies. James has recently won three Prose Challenges at His poems, “More Gravy,” “The Raven Redux,” and “Nativity Nuance” all took first place. His poem, “The Dinner Fly,” will be published in “Weirdbook Magazine” #35. He continues to write prolifically, supporting anyone who wishes to place their hammering fingers to the keyboard anvil, becoming a polished wordsmith in the process.

Find James Matthew Byers at:


The Villain Inside


A lot of times, authors get asked why they write, or what inspires them to write. It’s a fairly cliche question, and I know many authors who are often frustrated by it, because sometimes, it can be a difficult question to answer.

Answers are usually similar, and often can be vague: I just have to. I can’t not write. I enjoy it. It’s fun. It’s my outlet. It’s how I express myself. It’s how I survive.

For me, it’s all of these things and none of these things. At different times, it’s a different combination of a handful. There are times I do have to write; other times, it’s just as easy not to. Sometimes, writing is fun. But more often than not, it’s an extremely hard and emotionally taxing thing, and it is definitely not fun. One thing I can say for certain is that writing is how I survive.

I suffer from clinical depression and anxiety, and for anyone who hasn’t experienced those conditions, they can be almost impossible to accurately explain or describe. Mental illness in this country, especially depression, is so stigmatized and misunderstood–for the longest time I, like so many others, was hesitant to make my condition public because of it. We’re told to just get over it. Do something that makes us happy. Eat better. Get some exercise. Get some sunshine. Think positively.

If only it were that easy. If only doing all those things was enough.

It’s not. Not nearly.

Sometimes meds work. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes being with people is a balm; other times, it’s exhausting. Sometimes the endorphins from a good workout just aren’t enough to drive away the barrage of feelings depressions brings with it.

Depression isn’t simple. Mental illness isn’t simple. And there isn’t an easy remedy to cure it.

But for me, writing is part–a small, singular part–of the “cure.” Because writing–and often drawing from personal experience–is how I get to exorcise my demons and get through the negative thoughts and emotions that I absolutely cannot allow to take over my life.

For example: I have three girls. They’re six, four, and 9 months. They are the joy of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. But there are days when I resent their presence. There are days when I wish they were old enough to not need me to cater to their every need. There are days when I want them to leave me the hell alone.

I don’t get those days. Because they’re six and four and 9 months, and I’m their mother. I’m responsible for them.

I used to say–before I had kids–and I’ve heard multitudes of other people say, “I don’t understand how someone could ever shake a child,” or “I could never get to that point where I would harm my child.”

Now, it’s true, I absolutely believe I will never get to the point where I would hurt one of my girls. I never have. I never will. But I can definitely understand how other parents get to that point. I cannot count the times I have had to set one of my girls down and walk out of the room while they cried and screamed, because if I didn’t, I might cross a line.

I have thought about it. And I could pretty much guarantee you that every other parent probably has at some point, too–anyone who tells you differently is probably lying. And the fact that we think about it doesn’t make us bad parents. But I digress.

What I’m getting at here is that yes, I’ve thought about it. No, I’ve never done it. And writing is how I guarantee that I never will.

How? Because in my writing, my characters do all the things that I’ve thought about but never would. And when I’ve finished their stories, I’m so horrified by what I’ve put them through. At times I’m thoroughly disgusted. And that’s how I know I can keep from crossing that line. My characters follow through on the suicidal thoughts. My characters succumb to the depression. My characters give up the fight.

I make them go through my greatest fears. I make them suffer past the point that I’m willing to let myself go. I put them through the worst of the worst, in order to remind myself that I’m not there, and I can keep myself from going there.

My characters shake their babies. They take a loaded gun into a school full of kids. They look away when the child starts drinking the mop water laced with bleach. They ignore the cries. They lock the doors. They shut everyone out. They quit looking for help.

They are surrounded by the horror that is real; the horror that occurs in everyday life. They create it. They are it.

The fact is, humans can be the most loving, caring, sympathetic, and giving people. They can also be the cruelest, meanest, vindictive, and selfish people. They are both good and bad.

We are both good and bad.

I am both good and bad.

The good’s easy enough to handle. But the bad? It can be hard to look in the mirror sometimes.

It’s not easy to own one’s demons, whether those demons are the product of nature or nurture, personality or illness. We don’t like to show people our ugly sides. But the truth is, I have an ugly side. It holds a grudge. It judges people. It suffers from thoughts of self-harm. It tells the pretty side it’s not good enough, that it’s a failure, that it will never succeed in this dog-eat-dog world. It tries to convince me I’m worthless.

The ugly side is why I write, and specifically why I write dark fiction.

Because to find a good villain, all I have to do is look inside myself. She’s there. I just make sure the only place she wins is on paper.

WIHM8 – Writer Vs Editor – Briana/Kate

reaper“Katelyn Murphy is everything one could ask for in an editor; not only does she catch all of the grammatical and/or punctuation errors that inevitably accompany any first (and subsequent) draft(s), she is also an extremely insightful and in-depth reader, with the ability to offer helpful suggestions that will take any story to the next level and beyond. 
With clean highlighting and detailed notes, Kate manages to point out inaccuracies, inconsistencies, areas of repetition, etc., while always maintaining a positive tone and encouraging attitude. From the beginning of our working relationship, Kate has been open, friendly, and available. She is always ready and willing to engage in discussion regarding my work, and she never insists that changes be made based strictly on her own thoughts and opinions; rather, she makes inquiries about the intention behind the work, and how that intention might be maintained while still elevating the work itself. 
How does she keep the tears … uh, I mean the doubt away? Well, she’s honest. She lets me know what works and what doesn’t. She points out things that make my stories both weaker and stronger, and helps me find the best way to tell the strongest story possible while remaining true to myself as an author. It’s as simple–and as complicated–as that. 
Long story short? Katelyn Murphy is a kickass editor, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.”
Briana Robertson

WIHM8 SSP STYLE! Larissa Bennett


Larissa is probably one of the coolest cats you’ll ever meet. Like my previous WIHM featured editor Kate Murphy, Larissa makes the SSP authors look good. She is also delightfully nerdy and fun. We acquired her from SNHU as well (seriously, don’t know what’s in the water there but they need to patent it).

Let’s get to know Larissa Bennett!


No automatic alt text available.I graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Master’s Degree in English and Creative Writing. I also hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Creative Writing with an emphasis on British Literature and Mythology.

I am an amateur Tolkien Scholar, having been a fan and studied his works for the past 15 years. In February of 2015, I presented a paper at Ohio State University focusing on an analysis of the linguistics Tolkien used in his writings. This paper was presented during a weekend event titled “Popular Culture and the Deep Past: Tolkien Days.”

I have a great love of poetry and write in all styles and genres.

I enjoy reading Fantasy, Horror, Thrillers, and Mysteries. A few of my favorite authors are Patrick Rothfuss, J. R. R. Tolkien, Stephen King, Terry Brooks, Justin Cronin, Neil Gaiman, J. K. Rowling, and many others.

I edit under my name and publish my own writing under the name Daron Shea Casey (dscasey).

WIHM8 SSP Style! Kate Murphy

Our second lady of WIHM8 is Kate Murphy. Kate came to us as an intern with SNHU and fit into our little family like a long lost little sister. Her skill as an editor is exemplary and she also does book cover work!

Kate is an easy going, down to earth gal. Let’s get to know her!


Short Bio

Kate Murphy is a Michigander-turned-New Yorker-turned-Michigander-again who has a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design and a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing. She loves thrillers, and what really scares her (aside from heights and insects) are books and films that make her think, “This could totally happen.”—i.e. serial killers, exes who have gone off the deep end, etc.

When she’s not editing for SSP, Kate, unsurprisingly, spends her days writing. She is currently working on a steampunk fantasy titled “Cantilever,” which explores the ins and outs and ups and downs of life atop a giant bridge.


Books Edited

  • “Reaper: A Collection of Stories by Briana Robertson”
  • Select stories in “Unleashed – Monsters vs. Zombies” volumes 1 and 2
    • Prometheus Lives
    • Dead Spell
    • The Unchosen
    • Red Ashes – Return of the Sweeping Death
    • Science Voodoo

Favorite Quotes by Author Briana Robertson

  • “We’ve got better things to do than dwell on the dead.” – Briana Robertson (“Prey”)
  • “This creature has intelligence that its brethren do not. I feel a vicious, vindictive smile creeping onto my face. Intelligence means a challenge.” – Sam Fraser (“Prometheus Lives”)
  • “Tragedy has struck more than the heart of our clan on this cloudless night.” – Michael Musclow (“Red Ashes”)
  • “I can be pretty badass when I need to be. I’m Death.” – Roger Jackson (“Science Voodoo”)
  • “I forced myself to examine the city down below again and witnessed the town I grew up in devour itself and turn to ash.” Otis Carlisle (“The Unchosen”)
  • “It was like an entire continent of the damned had been lifted off of the planet and hurtled slowly at Charon’s little pier on the beach.” – Peter Demmon (pen name “DEMMON”) (“KERBEROS MF1”)
  • “The end, m’boy,” the witch said. “This is how humanity dies.” – Mark Deloy (“Dead Spell”)


A stray thought knocks,
then nags,
playing freeze tag among
Begging please.
Not this.
Not now.
But as the walls close in,
breath grows thin
and becomes a limited commodity.
Lungs lock and capsize,
the key trapped inside,
swallowed by an irrational fear
that can’t be denied.
Heart races, then trips,
unable to keep pace
with the need to survive.
Get a grip–stay alive–
except there’s nothing
to hold on to.
No hope to get you through.
Nothing but a
dark, bleak chasm
that stretches and yawns
into infinity–
a mental maze of madness
with no way out.
And as you scream
and shake
and pray for release,
you face the unrelenting truth:
This never ends.
Not until the moment
your life really does cease.

Flash Fiction Saturday: Sweet Revenge


Unfortunately, Beowulf: The Midgard Horrors will have to wait one more week. We all have the flu in the Byers household. Here’s a little revenge piece to end your Saturday with …

Soumya painted on the bed.
The thousandth time her canvas, red,
Exploded in the splotchy scene-
A dying man bereft a spleen.
Eternity, her lot it seemed,
Ascended past the life she dreamed
And when a knife drew drops of blood,
The echoes washed her as a flood-
Soumya, now a hell spawned leech
Embracing powers in her reach,
Decided prisons of the mind
Elicited her only bind.
A succubus now summed the length
Of who she was; her inner strength
For tasty vengeance had a price-
A serial in murder’s vice,
And when the Lord of Hell took note,
It’s wasn’t long before the tote
And totem of her fancied style
Became his glowing, wicked smile.
“Soumya,” Lucifer would say,
“Now run along! Those boys you slay
Are quite delightful in my fold.
Your methods, well, are bloody gold!”
And who was she to turn this down?
Revenge, avenge, it was her crown!
“The devil’s due,” she often said
And bottled blood; she loved to shred
The entrails of some hapless fool,
And sometimes she would even drool.
Enamored with a life of lust
At times could be a bumming bust,
A demon hidden underneath
The outward flesh; her garland wreath
For luring mortals in the trap
Until fatigued, they took a nap.
Unmitigated horror’s cape
Surrounded as she bore the shape
Of who she was inside the skin.
She knew the devil wore a grin
For Lucifer, above them all,
Expected death to be a ball.
The wanton wreckage she would leave
Suppressed the notion some would grieve.
Or maybe not; most been were gags-
Cremated ash; assorted bags
Atop her head, a sweet disguise.
No graves to mourn their hollow eyes.
The lipstick shades around her mouth
Bespoke of somewhere deeper south.
This time, however, feeling guilt,
She wore it like her mother’s quilt-
The one she used to use at night
Before her rape and loss of sight-
The way a mortal values life.
The only thing she loved- her knife-
Invited freedom from the pain.
Unfortunate, for Hell’s domain
Explicitly endured the plot-
A torture field; a lake so hot
The demons even felt it’s heat.
No, there was nothing safe or sweet
And as Soumya entered through
The gates, she longed for life’s renew.
Surprised, she found a rose of black.
Accepting it, she saw a stack
Of petals urging her to move.
The sadness losing in a groove
Rekindled something she forgot-
The pang of joy; the tummy knot.
And as she went into a flame,
Her parting lips released a name:
“So, Lucifer, what have you done?”
The devil smirked, “Let’s have some fun!”
Soumya, startled, took a chance-
Enveloped in his horned romance.
However, what he didn’t know-
The succubus had seeds to grow
And as she used a special blade,
She stole his life; his body flayed.
“Now who’s the Lord of Hell, you pig!
It’s just another grave to dig.
No biggie; nah, I’ll toss you in
And gorge myself on every sin.
You see, those men who took my youth
Devised their plans from you; my proof
A simple visit to the lake-
A soul in torment, no mistake,
Becomes an open book, you see.
So all of Hell belongs to me.”
And as she sucked him, munching bone,
She sat atop his gleaming throne.

James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is out now from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC in both Kindle and special edition paperback. James designed and illustrated the cover and interior art for his debut novel at SSP, where he works as an in house illustrator. He also has a short story featured in their latest release, Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies. James has recently won three Prose Challenges at His poems, “More Gravy,” “The Raven Redux,” and “Nativity Nuance” all took first place. His poem, “The Dinner Fly,” will be published in “Weirdbook Magazine” #35. He continues to write prolifically, supporting anyone who wishes to place their hammering fingers to the keyboard anvil, becoming a polished wordsmith in the process.

Find James Matthew Byers at: