Time to Get Gishy

I am Deanna, one of the editors here at Stitched Smile. A couple of weeks ago, I told the big bosses here that I would have to take last week off for a vacation, and I was told that would be fine, as long as I blogged about it.

So strap in, because this blog post is going places.

Before I delve into this year’s epic adventure, I should probably explain a little about how I got involved with this event in the first place.

In June of 2013, I lost one of my very close friends. He was 27 years old. It’s really hard to explain how hard it is to rebuild after something as tragic as this was; to feel like life it worth it without that person there to laugh with. Not long after his passing, I discovered that the sign ups for a super weird scavenger hunt were open. I had seen a little bit about it the year before, so I figured, why the hell not, and signed up on a whim. After signing up, a did a little googling to see what it was that I had just gotten myself into; and let’s just say that I was not fully prepared.

The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World has Ever Seen (or Gishwhes) is an epic event created by one of the actors from the CW show Supernatural, Misha Collins, who plays the Angel Castiel. The first hunt took place in 2011. The following year, the year before I got involved, it became the GishWhes as we know it. The basics are as follows: there are teams of 15 international players. Some teams are formed beforehand; others are created at random by the GishBot the week before the hunt begins. During the hunt, players have to create or find the items on the list. It’s a mixture of classic scavenger hunt and the most absurd arts and crafts you’ve ever done. There is a countdown clock on the website; when the clock strikes zero, the list is released, the website promptly crashes for a half hour. This happens every year. Once the website is back up, you have 7 to 8 days to complete as many items on the list of between 150 to 200 items as you and your team can. Sounds easy right? That’s enough time and enough people to do all those things? Yeah no.

Items on the list have included things such as: Get an astronaut in the international space station to @reply you on twitter. Get a mountain on Mars named after your team. Make a dress entirely out of cheese, wear it, and pose next to an antique car or motorcycle. Make large animals out of feminine hygiene products (animals have included a dinosaur, a safari animal, and angel, a dog, and a panda),  Create a portrait of Supernatural actor Jensen Ackles out of skittles. Must be at least 4 feet by 4 feet. (Funny story, Mr. Ackles entered an electronics store after a day of filming and discovered one of these masterpieces in progress. This is him talking about it). There were also kindness items, like donating blood with a friend, donating hair, joining the bone marrow registry and becoming and organ donor.

Needless to say, when I first actually looked into what I was going to be doing that week in August 2013, I was terrified about what I had actually gotten myself into.

However, the week came, I was paired with 14 other first timers, about 6 of us actively participated, and I met some amazing people and did things I never thought I would ever do. Partly because who builds a lion out of maxi pads? And partly because they push my comfort zone.

For the first time in the months since I lost my friend, I felt like everything would be okay. I could hear his laughter as I lay on my deck in a bathing suit covered in chocolate. I felt whole again like I could laugh again. Gishwhes did that.

I’ve never been one to be “normal.” I enjoy being weird and doing weird things. I’ve always felt like I was a little bit on the outside looking in, but that week, and the weeks after once I became part of the GishWhes network on Facebook, I felt like I found my people. I had never felt more at home than when I discovered the Harry Potter fandom on the internet when I was in middle school.

In 2014, I joined a team with someone I had been mutuals with on Tumblr. I had another amazing year. That year William Shatner, yeah, Captian Kirk, joined. Durning the 2013 hunt there was an item that involved him, and then Misha got a cease and desist letter from NASA for bombarding the astronauts, and Mr. Shatner was curious, to say the least, so he created a team to try to win. (He did not win). I have a fantastic year that year as well. We were a laid back team, a fun team. We created dressed in kale and items only found in bathrooms; we cosplayed as famous landmarks. It was wonderful. Time of my life.

Last year, I decided to get serious. I applied to a “competitive” GishWhes team a team in it to win it: Team Banana Ninjas. Last year was a blast. We complete about 95 (I think) items. We killed it. We made the coffee table book, which is a huge feat considering the competition.

I made a raft out of water bottles last year which of all the weird stuff I’ve done is my favorite thing. I’ve linked the video above. However, the video is set to I’m on a Boat by The Lonely Island, which has a lot of curse words in it, so I would suggest headphones if you are in a public area or at work.

Which brings me to the meat of this post the 2016 GishWhes. When I told Donelle that I would be taking a week after I finished Grad School (I completed my degree on July 31st) to be part of a scavenger hunt. She said cool, what is it? So I tried to explain it quickly: the Skittles portraits, the cheese dresses, the cease and desist letters, William Shatner. I was met with a little bit of confusion and a lot of “Please post pictures.”

I was once again I was part Team Banana Ninjas. We are a team that has members in England, Romania, France, Canada, and across the USA. A lot of the items are US-centric, so it’s great to have people spread out all over. There is usually some place specific events. Last year there were a bunch in NYC, there was one in Iceland once, this year there was on in Austraila. We are a great group of people. I love my team I love hunting with them. It’s been two days, and I can’t wait to start hunting with them again text year.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s delve into this year.

GishWhes started on July 30th, that same day I ran in a mudderella, which luckily fit into one of the items. I had to tweet myself accomplishing something that I was afraid to do. That tweet was liked by Kim Rhodes, who besides being an actor on Supernatural with Misha Collins was also the mom of the Suite life of Zack and Cody, and that was kind of a big moment for me. I may or may not have cried when I got the notification (I totally cried a little I’m blaming it on post mud run exhaustion).


Sunday, since I was incredibly sore and had a horrible sunburn because I’m an idiot, I tried to keep it easy. I created a rather large panda out of maxi pads.


Monday was a big day; I started out by handing out coffee at a bus stop.


Then I went to the cemetery that my aunt, uncle, and cousin are buried to tweet Governor Pence about the dangers of smoking

And then I went to a 5-mile walk to hatch a 10km Pokemon egg. We stopped for lunch in the middle of it, and during lunch, it started to rain, so we walked 3 miles in the rain to hatch Pokemon eggs for a weirdo scavenger hunt because I wasn’t going to not do that item because it was raining.

Tuesday was my day to make someone happy. So on my way to my friend’s house to have the help me make shoes out of pineapples, I stopped to get her two-year-old daughter a donut, and to say she was happy about it, well, I’ve never seen anyone more excited about a donut than that little girl.

Then we made shoes out of pineapple, and I ran down the street.

This isn’t directly hunt related, but I also met a stormtrooper in the street on my way to an improv show Tuesday night.

strom troopers

One of the items every year to get someone dressed as a stormtrooper to do something. If only I had my butter churn with me at the time.

Wednesday I helped my team get retweets on a post about saving smelly penguins and how to help someone having a stroke. I became a citizen of a small country.

I watched my teammates create such amazing things, like Trumppunzel. A teammate mailed their baby. One member created an amazing image showing what their reflection really shows. One dressed as pirates with her son and visited nursing homes, save bees, build sandcastle trailer parks and try to bully William Shatner, who decided to sit this year out because he had “work” or something, into giving us his address so we could mail him a crap ton of postcards. One of our teammates repurposed artichokes in creative ways. Another drew a Picasso style painting of Castiel.


Thursday I drove to a Haunted Lake and poured wine off a roof onto my friend.

Friday was a video and photo editing day.

Saturday, I met up with other Gishers in New Hampshire to spread positive messages at a bus stop: like “Be the unicorn you want to see in the world” and “every Magikarp evolves in a Gyarados”. And then I dressed up like a thunderstorm.


That was the end of my hunt this year. I helped my teammates edit their photos and videos before the gishwhes website, youtube, and Imgur crashed again and waited nervously for Misha to post some last minute item.

We complete 100 of the 178  items this year. The most that we’ve done as a team, the most that a team I’ve been on has complete. (I got to use that 100 emoji unironically, which was another big moment for me. As my French Teammate Amelia said after I expressed my excited about using it It’s the little things that bring us the most happiness).  I completed 11 individual items personal best.

Every year when I compete in Gishwhes, I’m asked what I win. Well, this is a hard question to answer. The grand prize is a week-long vacation with Misha Collins and our team. This year the trip is to Iceland, last year it was Costa Rica. But Gishwhes is so much more than that. Without being a runner up or a “winner,” we won. We did more items as a team and individually than we have before. We could make the coffee table book again this year, we could end up the Gishwhes hall of fame, we could end up being runners-up, but no matter where we end up, we are winners. We made amazing things last week. We forged friendships, pushed ourselves to our complete mental and physical limits.

Gishwhes is about pushing limits, about doing things you never thought you could do. It’s about being #waywardAF. It’s about killing normalcy and learning about yourself. It’s an exhausting week, mentally and physically, but I could never see myself spending the first week of August any other way. It makes coming back to the regular 9-5 life boring. As I sit at my desk at work and try to catch up on the weeks worth stamping invoices, and start to work on editing a new manuscript, I remember what I was doing a week ago, a year ago today. Running around in the rain hatching Pokemon eggs it the rain, covering a friend in butter, building a raft out of water bottles. Normal life feels boring, stressful in a different way.

gish team

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 WilyWriters.com in June of 2013.

A list of his publications, along with links to many of his stories can be found at Type AJ Negative (https://typeajnegative.wordpress.com).“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

Are you reaching into those deep emotional recess’ of your mind to bring out the potential of your unique perspective? 

Are you reaching into those deep emotional recess’ of your mind to bring out the potential of your unique perspective? 

Are you writing for a particular genre or simply because it’s popular?

If you are only doing it because you believe there is money to be gained; then writing might not be for you. However, if you are writing in a genre you love that completely fascinates you then this is an excellent way to learn more about who you are and the people who are fans of the genre.

Do you stick to a writing schedule?

Setting down and committing to write a certain amount of words-per-day, per-week or per-month will help you adjust to keeping your goal clear and concise.

Are you afraid of being criticized? 

Do you worry that no one will like your work, or that you will look silly for daring to write publicly?  You are far from being alone. Many authors fear having their works laughed at and misunderstood. James Patterson, Stephen King, William Faulkner, Richard Bach and even Ernest Hemingway all worried they would never find someone who would enjoy their creations. And before you decide that you are no King or Hemingway — that’s fine you are not supposed to be. You are an original creative force who has your own voice and perspective. Get out and WRITE!

Do you edit as you write? 

Many writers often edit as they produce. Though some see it as a  form of procrastination; editing while still in primary stages of creation can stifle the process entirely. Having the confidence to simply keep writing until the manuscript is finished then going through the editing process is not always easy, but it can help to motivate you to completion.

Do you use a professional editor?

There is no doubt that the editing process is a daunting one for some. Allowing your manuscript to be approached by someone with whom you have had no prior relationship with has been described as filled with anticipation or downright terrifying.

Here is some perspective for you: typo’s, verbosity, syntax errors, character deviations, and inconsistencies just to name a few can be avoided by employing the best editor you can afford.

Do you have the idea that you can simply write and then pass it off to the publishing house to do all the rest?

Perhaps 30+ years ago this was the expected route of many authors. In 2016, the leading publishing houses will not push your book unless you already have an extensive fan base, and even then it may not be what you feel you need to represent your work.

Today you must be a willing participant in your own creative venture. You are an entrepreneur, a brand, a unique perspective into the voice of your chosen genre. The most important decision you will make while you are creating your work is to define who you are, what you are creating and why we are the public should give a damn and buy it.


Seeking a place to call home with your latest dark horror creations? Stitched Smile Publications is the place for you.




A brand new experience

As I am approaching the date of graduation for my Master’s degree this July, it was recommended to me by my career adviser to start to look into internships in my desired field. With my busy schedule it was very hard to find something that fits into my life with a full time job and finishing my degree in creative writing, so my main focus was looking for publishing companies that offer a virtual element, so I can work around my schedule.

After several trial and errors with different companies, I stumbled onto the “intern wanted” ad for Stitched Smile. I did a little bit of background to see what I would be getting myself into, and discovered who they work with and what they do here. All of it is very new territory for me.

I wouldn’t say that I am the most experienced when it comes to horror. I do enjoy a good vampire or zombie story and love monster movies, but when it comes to the scare the pants off you kind of stuff, I’ve always a bit stand offish. However, there was something about this company that made me press the “submit” button. The fact that they are just starting out, much like I am. That they are small and looking to grow. That’s the experience I want to be a part of; I want to have a hand, albeit a small one, in helping a company grow. The best place to do that is in a small company where you can see how your work actually effects the people around you. That’s what I found most important when deciding where to apply. I know that with more exposure I can open myself up to new experiences and genres that I’ve never fully experienced before.

In a very fast week and a half, I was accepted into the Stitched Smile community. I’ve met the family of people that works for this company and been welcomed with opened arms, which has been so wonderful. I know I have made the right choice in deciding to accept this internship. Now, I am an editor for a publishing company. It’s been a very crazy week for me, but it’s been a great experience thus far.

I feel as if this is a perfect opportunity to introduce myself more fully to the Stitched Smile Staff as well as the other associated with the company. I have been writing as long as I can remember. I had my first story “published” in first grade. I don’t remember all the details, but I know that we were studying how books were made. So we got to write and make our own books. Mine was a fairy tale about a Princess, her imaginary friend and the adventures they went on. It has a pink laminated cover, and it famed and sitting in my hope chest with the other relics of my childhood.

I caught the writing bug for keeps in middle school when I discovered Harry Potter shortly after the second book had been released. It was that series: how it changed the way I felt about reading, what a story can do to change person, how a story can end up shaping a life; that made me certain that I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Since 6th grade I have amassed a great collection of stories in notebooks and binders. This love for writing lead me to take as many writing and literature course as I could in high school. That got me into a Mass Media and Communications class my senior year. Through that class I learned the some of other side. I got a peak into publishing companies, as well as a bit of a behind the scenes in television, radio and newspapers. That class helped from my decision to major in communications, with a concentration in English in college. There I was able to find my own writing style and learn from my peers how to critically and thoughtfully edit others works. I received my bachelors in Communication, English concentration from Thomas College in Waterville, Maine in 2009.

In 2013, I decided that I wanted to take my education in writing and literature a little bit farther and enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University’s creative writing– fiction program. I have two classes to go before all the hard work there pays off and I get to hold that degree in my hand.

What I am hoping to gain from working at Stitched Smile Publications is that hands on knowledge that can’t be found in a book. This is a side of the industry that I’ve been very interested in for a long time. I am very excited to get started and begin my journey here.