Interview with Lisa Vasquez and MF Wahl for Dread Central

Sometimes I come out of the basement…

http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/214013/exclusive-qa-with-stitched-smile-publications-ceo-lisa-vasquez/

Terrible Toys (A Christmas Poem) by Lisa Vasquez

Twas the night before Christmas when under the moon
A feeling of sadness was followed by doom
The children were still in their beds drenched with red
While toys giggled madly and danced on their head
A doll with one eye held a knife in the air
The Robot ate entrails with Ole Mr. Bear
Mother let out a scream high and shrill
While Barbie and Ken went in for the kill
I crawled to the stairs to make my escape
To be met at the top by a man in a cape
“Let’s go to work” he whispered to Jack-in-the-Box
Who sprung on back, followed by Fox
Army men shouted out into the hall
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall!”
I let out a shout and attempted to run
And that’s when the cowboy … he pulled out a gun!
“Howdy Partner” he said with a growl
“Get him!” the wolfman said with a howl
I grabbed my son’s bat and swung it around
I smashed the Robot , I kicked down the clown
Then what to my wondering eyes did I see?
The tree had grown teeth and was coming for me!
The elf on the shelf laughed as he taunted
“There’s nowhere to go! This house is haunted!”
The lights were hung ‘round my neck with great care
Little green men tied me into a chair
I cried and I begged, “Please let me go!”
Behind me I heard, “Ho! Ho! No!”
St. Nick came around me and gave me a grin
“You’ve been naughty,” he said, tapping his chin
He turned to the toys and they all gave a cheer
“It’s time to begin! Santa is here!”

 

 

Author_Lisa_VasquezBy 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.

Her work can be found in several anthologies, and her upcoming, full-length novels will be released in 2016. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)

 

A year in review (2016) – by Lisa Vasquez

This year has been amazing. Stitched Smile Publications has accomplished so many things and the best part about it is it was all accomplished together.

We’re a small, independent house. We knew going in we weren’t going to be rich and that’s a good thing because being rich wasn’t the goal of Stitched Smile Publications. The goal was to “change the face of the industry” and to “unleash the voices” of our authors.

There have been growing pains, but at the end of the day … or year … I can say we have grown into a company I’m proud to call my family.

THE GENESIS
January 6, 2016 – Stitched Smile Publications was born. Through a 12-hour, grueling “launch party” on Facebook, we emerged with a rebel yell. Our first publications were received well. More than well. We were embraced, and people began talking about us.

CREATING AN IMPRINT
SSP did something unique and it turned out to be a goldmine because we’ve acquired a staff that is professional, educated, experienced, and well-rounded. While some have come and gone for their own personal reasons, there’s not one person still in the company who doesn’t have a hand in the daily operations of Stitched Smile Publications. I’ve said from the beginning, if someone stays, it is because they want to be here. If they leave it’s because they have fulfilled whatever journey they came here for. No matter what happens, the imprint of our company will be in them wherever they go. And for those who stay? They give back in so many ways, from becoming mentors and taking on a leadership role with the VIP authors to adding “illustrator” as well as “author” to their resume.

This truly is … The House That Stitch Built. Brick by brick, word by word.

DEFYING OBSTACLES
I feel the most important aspect of our family is how many close friendships have been forged. Despite adversity, jealousy, and negativity, the core members of our publishing house have remained “stitched together”. What that means is we fight for what we believe is the reason we’re here: To tell stories, to make important changes in the industry, to educate, develop, and motivate new writers. We have cultivated an environment where authors feel encouraged, get the support they need, and have fun doing it.

REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND EXCELLENCE
In less than a year, we’ve created a reputation for quality and excellence. We’ve raised the standard for how serious authors are treated and in return given them a voice … not only in their writing but in how their company is run.

We don’t believe we have to put others down or perpetuate unprofessional rivalries to make us look better. In fact, that was one of the reasons Stitched Smile Publications was created. Authors were caught in between publishers who felt it was OK to participate in drama, slander, name-calling, and other unprofessional behavior. We’ve seen the negativity and we’ve rejected it. If you have time to post things on social media, it should be things that uplift our author’s work.

That’s what we believe.

THE CREAM RISES TO THE TOP
Am I painting a Norman Rockwell picture for you? Well, it’s definitely not all a rose colored view. Like all businesses and relationships, there are strains and fallouts. With so many personalities, especially when dealing with individuals adept in expression, it is never happy-go-lucky, shiny-happy-people, day in and day out.

It’s the strife which strengthens the bond. It’s the common vision and passion for what matters keeping our eyes on the future.

Without further ado – I’d love to share with you our year in review.

 

“This Anthology, is dark, twisted, sick, and some what erotically perverse at times, and I LOVED IT. An excellent collection of short horror stories that will have you turning on a light in the night. If you love your stories creepy, and scary, do not miss this!”  – Amazon Review of “The Voices Within”

“An excellent tale of vampirism and the age old lore that we all know well. This story was truly scary and filled with numerous moments where I was constantly thinking how what I knew made sense compared to what I learned while reading this. The story was told mostly in a timeline perspective. A series of events from start to finish that made up each chapter and then told the story vividly and in a most descriptive fashion. A history lesson based on lore and real fact about not just Vlad the Impaler but also as he progressed or matured. This story focused on not just Vlad Tepes but also other historically known possible vampires throughout our history. This reader most enjoyed Wallachia being mentioned as the vampire lineage was focused on the further the story progressed. This is a story filled with horror, tragedy and family bonds and so much more. This story is for vampire lore fans who enjoy fiction laced with credible historic fact.” – Amazon Review of “Strigoi: The First Family”

“I have to admit, I’m getting a little burned out on zombie books … but this one is different. It drew me in right away and then I didn’t want to put it down. I love a story that lets me see into a character’s heart and soul. Dredging Up Memories does this very well. At times, I wondered if the main character, Walker, is crazy—his friendship with Humphrey??—but it didn’t matter. Crazy or not, he is so human…so fallible. AJ Brown’s story has more depth than most zombie apocalypse books; it’s almost philosophical in parts. Everyone the main character comes across has an impact, leaves him with new lessons learned. In this sense, it reminded me of The Little Prince—only much darker and filled with zombies. What impressed me most about Dredging Up Memories is the high level of talent Brown shows in his writing. When I finished this book, I immediately got another story by AJ Brown. I’m still reading it, but it’s proving to be just as compelling and well-written as this one. One final comment: I found it interesting that Brown was able to write a ZA story without using obscene language. I’m not a prude when it comes to language, but this was refreshing.”  – Amazon review for “Dredging Up Memories”

 

What we have in store for next year will blow you away. We hope you will be with us for the ride!

Lisa Vasquez
CEO Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.

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.

Her work can be found in several anthologies, and her upcoming, full-length novels will be released in 2016. For more information and updates on Lisa’s work, you can find her at: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)

Word Association..

From the Desk of the CEO…

Everyone talks about how “nice” people are. In business, there’s a stigma attached to this label.

“Oh, their staff is so nice there!”

And then all your friends shuffle in and blindly follow the “nice” signs to the “nice” building. The problem is nice doesn’t always mean that you’re respected. People can hate one another and still play nice at work because that’s what the rule book says to do. And vice versa, you may respect your co-worker but they aren’t exactly the person you’d want watching over your children or pet.

I’ve lived my life trying to be nice. I lived trying to prove the old adage, “nice guys finish last” wasn’t true. I hate to tell you this, but it is. Only with time, age, and experience did I learn something. I’ll give you this bit of advice for free, but you won’t believe me until you’re old enough to see its truth with eyes of wisdom.

Nice guys do finish last because you cannot treat everyone nicely. You can treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve.

There was a cleaning lady at my former employment that didn’t speak English very well (she understood it, she just couldn’t speak it well in return) but she was a hard worker and she smiled everyday. We’d all shuffle in at 7 a.m. blurry eyed and grumbling after she’d just cleaned the sink and coffee area, then brewed the two pots of coffee. I remember looking down at the sink basin and seeing it sparkle. The girls were making their cups of coffee, muttering good morning’s and gossiping about this or that before continuing on their way back to their desks. I stood there looking at the aftermath with complete embarrassment.

Grain’s of sugar and powdered creamer dusted the counter. Drops of coffee trailed from the carafes, down on the floor and out the door. Napkins were discarded, straws scattered…it looked like a bunch of toddlers came in. I remembered how it felt for me, personally, to come home everyday and having to clean after working all day because no one respected the hard work I put into scrubbing the kitchen the night before.

Without a word, I started to straighten up. She kept telling me, “No, it’s ok. This is my job.”

I said, “It is not your job to teach them to respect themselves, or other human beings.”

The “nice” thing to do would’ve been to clean up after themselves. The “nice” thing to do would’ve been to say “good morning” to the woman they see every day, smiling at them with fresh coffee waiting, and a clean counter area. They didn’t even grace her with that much.

What does this have to do with SSP?

It’s simple. I don’t run my business to be nice. Let me explain why. When people don’t get what they want, you find that “nice” is just a mask. It’s a facade they wear to get what they want. When they don’t get what they want, the mask falls away pretty fast. It’s simple to get past the B.S. when you treat them with the respect they deserve straight away. Everyone here at SSP earns their level of respect from the new author to the veteran author.

The new author works hard, the veteran author takes a new author by the hand and gives them a mentor. We are a collective hive of energy — you thought I’d say collective though didn’t you..this isn’t the Borg, you psycho — that helps feed each other’s passion for our craft.

In order to continue doing what we do, we must have respect for one another’s flaws, strengths, differences and be willing to go through it all together. That means, we are a family and anyone that bullies our family, attacks our family, takes from our family, or harms our family becomes invisible to us.

We don’t lash out at others because that gives them power over us. No, the others should become background noise.  I’m trying to elevate (at current count) 38 lives of people that are counting on me. They’re counting on me.

Which brings me to full circle: You will be treated with the respect you deserve is a floating line. You can start out with high level of respect but you must maintain that respect. You cannot drop your guard, you must always surround yourself with the company of those you aspire to be like, you must always keep your eyes on the goal, and never keep company with the people that have grievously transgressed against those that support you.

Being the CEO of SSP has been the biggest blessing of my career life. When people tell me I’m so “nice” I have started to correct them. I’m not nice. I’m respectful. I’ll only be respectful, because being nice is nothing more than a fake smile.

Until next time..keep your Stitch together.

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.

ONTO SOCIAL MEDIA

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, DonStover.com, facebook.com/donstover, twitter.com/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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUBMISSION OPEN CALL! Anthology: Monsters VS. Zombies

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Anthology
Deadline: July 31, 2016
Publishing date: October 30, 2016
Pay: $25 upon acceptance, plus one contributor copy
Word Count: min| 3500, max| 5,000
Title: The Unleashed: Monsters Vs. Zombies

Are you tired of the same old zombie stories? Have you had your fill of man vs. zombie? Stiched Smile Publications wants you to unleash your imagination and mash it up. We are looking for uncommon stories featuring a monster (Dracula, big foot, Frankenstein, etc.) fighting the undead. Unleash your imagination and take us on a ride that we’ve never been on.

Thank you, Mark Deloy, for the idea. It’s why you’re a part of SSP!

How to submit:

  • Please send your submission to submissions@stitchedsmilepublications.com
  • You must have your full name, pen name if applicable and mailing address included.
  • Entries without all information will be disqualified.

So You Have Been Stitched Now What?

Have you ensured your Amazon book page has a great book description, amazing cover and your book is competitively priced and has plenty of reviews?

Your answer:

Have you looked up similar books to yours on Amazon and noted their Amazon categories and possible keywords? If yes, please input categories & keywords.

Your answer:

Have you placed a back page in all book versions with a request for reviews and a link to the book on Amazon and a mention of other books you have available and a link?

Your answer:

Have you identified prizes to offer readers who sign up for your email list?

Your answer:

Have you imagined a series of blog posts you could write related to the book and started writing them? If yes, please write the subjects you will be covering.

Your answer:

Have you identified people who can share or post your blog posts https://stitchedsmilepublications.wordpress.com/ and asked them will they do so?

Your answer:

Have you identified book advertising sites such as https://twitter.com/ReadersGazette  &  http://www.readersintheknow.com/list-of-book-promotion-sites to advertise your book?

Your answer:

Have you identified controversial, emotional or helpful themes from your book for use in posts, graphics or Tweets https://twitter.com

Your answer:

Have you created animated GIFs for Twitter https://imgflip.com/images-to-gif  and a book trailer http://www.booktrailersforreaders.com/How+to+make+a+book+trailer? (Michael Freeman and Lisa Vasquez can also be a huge help in this department.

Your answer:

Have you sent out review copies far and wide?

Your answer:

Have you reviewed a book at the Stitched Smile Publications Facebook Review group and submitted your book for reviewing?

See: (Work In Progress)

Your answer:

Have you checked your website and blog and Facebook page and Twitter profile and any other sites you are on to ensure they are up to date?

Your answer

Have you added any new social site you might need?

Your answer

Have you created a list building page with an incentive to build your email list?

Your answer

Have you created a Nouncy http://nouncy.com/ or Thunderclap https://www.thunderclap.it/ campaign to get group promotions and have you promoted it?

Your answer:

Have you sought endorsements from anyone prominent?

Your answer:

Have you prepared a press release https://www.standoutbooks.com/book-press-release-template/ and sent it out to media contacts and newswire services?

Your answer:

Have you had a live book party and enjoyed your moment?

Your answer:

Have you put the first few pages of your book on your site and created a Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/upload audio recording?

Your answer:

Have you created #tags http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/creating-twitter-hashtag-7-steps and used them?

Your answer:

Have you a SmartUrl http://authorbookpromotion.blogspot.com/2014/03/using-smarturl-to-promote-your-book.html for tracking hits to your Amazon book page?

Your answer:

Have you posted about your book to Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/sign_up?connect_prompt=true  & LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/ or Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ , as appropriate?

Your answer:

Have you written anything provocative about your book?

Your answer:

Have you set up Google Alerts https://plus.google.com/  about your book’s themes and are you adding comments to posts about them?

Your answer:

Have you personally thanked ALL your supporters?

How to Build an Email List for Authors

What is list building?

You offer something of value for free in exchange for an email address. You can set up auto-responders which are automatic emails that go out directing the person to more useful information.

This is permission marketing. You have given something to the person and in exchange asked permission to send them more useful information.

List building is NOT list-buying. It’s the growth of your own list over time in exchange for something of value.

What is the point of having a list?

If you have people’s email addresses, and you are a trusted provider of useful information,  people will open and read your emails. This means you can use the email list to market your books (if the list has been set up for that purpose).

Imagine how powerful it is to have a list of 10,000 people and to send an email saying “My book is available now. Click here to buy”. This is the basis of all the Amazon bestseller campaigns which generally use other people’s lists. If you build one yourself, you have a much more targeted list, and you are a trusted provider to those people. Remember, if people know, like, and trust you,  they are more likely to buy your book.

How do you build a quality list? 

You need to have something to give away for free that is:

  • Valuable and useful to people
  • Related to your product/book

Once you have that, you set up an email signup box like the one designed by Mail Chimp People enter their email and then get the free product.

It is very important to use a reputable service that:

  • manages this all for you automatically and is scalable (yes, you could have 50,000+ subscribers within a few years!)
  • lets people to unsubscribe easily (mandated by anti-spam laws)
  • enables you to send out broadcasts when you like as well as setting up auto-responders
  • enables you to manage and download your list
  • allows you to set up multiple lists from one account

What free giveaway can you do?

As authors, we are uniquely placed to offer some great free giveaways as we produce quality information relatively easily. It is also very important that you giveaway something that is related to what you are selling. There’s no point in giving away an e-book on finance if you want to sell romantic fiction on your blog.

Here are some ideas for your free giveaway:

  • First 3 chapters of your book, or a short story, or the first novella in a series of 3
  • Top 10 tips for <insert your niche here> e.g. Top 10 tips for creating authentic characters / Top 10 tips for writing horror
  • Audio of you reading your work or talking about the subject you are writing about

The most important thing to remember:

You want to be a valuable resource to people, either for information or entertainment. You do not want to be seen as a spammer. So give away great information, offer quality on a regular basis for free, and people will be happy to buy from you when you have something they are interested in. Don’t send unrelated offers. Don’t abuse the list or they will unsubscribe. It’s all about respect.

If you are interested in housing your creative horror works with a publishing house that puts the author first contact us TODAY! Stitched Smile Publications