Sometimes I come out of the basement…
“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!
As 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.
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.
ABOUT 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: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)
Left Under The Tree.
Bethany crashed to the icy pavement in the pitch-black alley, and immediately wished she had chosen not to wear the shoes with the kick-ass heels. During the office Christmas Eve party, where, incidentally, she had looked every inch the Partner-to-be, they had been the bomb, powerfully provocative yet subtle, blending into her carefully thought out designer outfit. But now in the dark and on freshly fallen snow they gave her the gait of a new born deer.
She sat up and took stock. She’d lost the heel on one shoe and torn one of her specially bought Christmas stockings but more importantly she had hurt her knee. It had taken the full force of her fall and she suspected she had cut it but it was impossible to tell how badly in the darkness of the alley.
In the distance a brass band was playing Christmas carols, and listening to the faint music as she gingerly climbed to her feet, testing whether her knee would take her weight, Bethany remembered why she hated Christmas. “You had it right first time, Mr. Scrooge. Bah humbug indeed!” She muttered as she hobbled along the alley, conscious of a burning pain in her knee every time her foot struck the ground.
With each faltering step she felt the high brick walls closing in, towering above her like the walls of an impenetrable Gothic castle. She cast a nervous glance towards the sky, half expecting to see a vampire-like figure standing on the ramparts, cloak billowing in the wind, large stone gargoyles at his feet, staring down impassively, awaiting their master’s command.
She felt like a little girl again, scared of the dark and frightened a monster might be lurking there ready to gobble her up. As a rational, level-headed woman of thirty she knew monsters didn’t exist, that they were the figment of her childhood imagination. But serial killers, now they definitely existed, and were far worse than any childhood monster. Monsters looked scary to make you scream, whereas serial killers looked normal, only revealing their inner monster when it was too late to scream.
Bethany reached a bend and saw the relative security of the well-lit car park tantalisingly close. She quickened her pace and almost fell out of the alley, slipping on the wet slush of well-trodden snow. Stood in the light she inspected her knee and was relieved to see only a superficial abrasion. Apart from a few snow-dusted cars scattered around the large Christmas tree in the centre, the car park looked deserted. At the foot of the tree, nestled under the lower branches was Santa’s Grotto; a tiny cabin where during the day children could have visit Santa and, for a small fee, met his reindeer. Beyond that was Bethany’s car.
She removed her shoes to relieve pressure on her knee caused by her lopsided walk and started to half walk, half hobble across the car park. At first the snow had a soothing effect on her tired feet but that quickly changed to a dull, numb pain and she was glad her trainers were waiting for her in the car.
As she hobbled passed the small hut that served as Santa’s Grotto the door opened and a figure dressed as Santa stepped out. He placed a large plastic sack next to the hut before pulling the door shut. Bethany took a quick look around but couldn’t see anyone else, she was still fifty feet from her car; her feet so numb she was barely to walk.
Santa looked up and stepped around the barrier before walking towards her. She tried to walk faster, but the pain seared through her knee with each step. She only had thirty feet to go now.
She gave the bearded figure a friendly smile. She hated those white bushy beards. They scared her the way they obscured the features of the person beneath, concealing their intentions.
Bethany was barely ten feet from her car but Santa was only ten feet from her, and his thick black boots were eating up the ground far quicker than her frozen, bare feet were. She willed her legs to keep moving and felt like every college-girl victim in every slasher movie ever made. She was helpless and injured; the perfect defenceless victim.
Santa was within a few feet now his large red suit threatening to engulf her. She tried to alter course desperate to evade his grasp but her knee burned with pain and she lost her footing. The compacted snow beneath her offering no traction for the manoeuver and once again Bethany sprawled across the snow.
Exhausted, Bethany lay still, face down in the snow and awaited the inevitable. Santa’s boots appeared next to her head and a large red knee touched down in the snow a foot or so from her face.
“Are you alright, Miss?” Santa’s voice was deep and old. She didn’t reply, the cold snow had numbed her face. Strong hands gripped her and with one swift movement he had spun her onto her back.
As he peered down at her Santa had a look of concern in his eyes. Bethany hated the deceit; the mock joviality. Santa hadn’t visited her since she was six. Not since she saw him doing those things to Mummy in her parents’ bedroom. Her father had left before the next Christmas and she blamed Santa for that.
Bethany lunged at him and forced the long spiked heel of her shoe into his face, it pierced one of his twinkly blue eyes. Santa barely cried out before falling forward; dead.
Bethany loved her kick-ass heels. She pushed Santa away and retrieved her shoe then dragged his limp body to the tree where she left him propped against its thick trunk. She took a bright red Christmas stocking from her car and pulled it over his head, obscuring his features. She didn’t know why but she always did that and this was her seventeenth year of killing Santa. One a year since she was thirteen and realised her dad wasn’t coming back.
Oh yes. Bethany believed in serial killers alright, but monsters? No way.
Have a merry and safe Christmas one and all.
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!”
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)
Hey guys! We’re starting to get things in order for the new year and we’re looking for fresh, new reviewers! Do you have a blog? Do you love to read horror or dark fiction?
We’re selecting only the most interesting and active people for this opportunity. If you’re interested, please comment and let us know.
We are also looking for bloggers who are looking for authors to do interviews or guest blogs. Are you looking to increase traffic to your site? Give us a shout in comments and we’ll hook you up with one of our fantastic authors!
Here’s the thing. Feedback–real, honest feedback–is hard. Whether you’re giving it or receiving it, it can be a rough thing to do. But if you want to be a good author, and more, if you want to be a reader who experiences good authors, you can’t pull your punches when it comes to giving an honest opinion of someone’s work.
Quality doesn’t come easy–an idea that’s seemed to disappear in today’s day and age where everything is PC and God forbid you say anything that might offend someone. But it’s true. If you want to write quality work, and better yet, if you want to read quality work, you have to be brutally honest.
And here’s the thing about honesty: sometimes–often times–it hurts.
Let’s face it. None of us likes hearing that something we’ve put our heart and soul, time and effort into isn’t 100% amazing and fantabulous. (And yes, I’m aware that’s not a real word. But it rocks and is fun to say.) But that’s what’s wrong with the publishing world these days, specifically indie and self-publishing. John Doe writes a novel, sends it to his mother, his lover’s brother, and his best friend’s other friend and says, “Hey, what do you think of my book?” And because these people either a) love John Doe, b) may or may not have experience in reading a book with the intent of quality control, and/or c) don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, they tell John Doe it’s the best, most original thing they’ve ever read. So John Doe slaps a cover on it, professional or not, and sets it up on Amazon to sell. And it joins the never-ending quagmire of self-published “novels” that, frankly, suck, and does nothing more than add to the trepidation and hesitation that comes along with purchasing a self-published work. Making it that much harder for the rest of us.
There’s this idea that has permeated the human mindset that anybody can write a book. Technically, that’s true. Anybody who has the will and determination can type out 50,000+ words in this or that order and call it a story. They can then format it, upload it, and call it a book. But the hard truth is that not just anybody can write a good book. A successful book. Writing a good, successful book is a process that requires a recipe with multiple necessary ingredients. One of those is honest feedback. Constructive criticism. Just like when you don’t put the baking soda in your cookies, if you don’t utilize the honest opinions of others, even when they’re hard to take, your work is going to come out flat and lifeless.
Two scenarios for you, both personal:
Number 1: A peer of mine asked me to send him one of my stories. Didn’t matter which one, any story would do. He just wanted to get a sense of my writing. So I sent him a copy of “Phobia,” a short story I’d written based on two of my own personal fears. I was extremely proud of the piece (still am) and felt that it was probably one of, if not the, best representations of my work. I waited anxiously for his opinion on it, sure that it would get a grand review. But when he came back to me, his response was fairly lackluster. It wasn’t enough, he said. It was a solid piece of work, but it needed more. He didn’t connect with the main character. He didn’t feel her fear, didn’t feel her pain. He felt she was more of a caricature, rather than a true character. She didn’t come off real, and that was enough to not make the story.
I was more than a little deflated immediately afterwards. Disappointed. What I thought I had done so good of a job portraying, obviously hadn’t translated to the page. While it was tough to swallow, I also respected this peer’s opinion. I trust him. I’ve read some of his work and it’s damn good. So if he’s telling me my piece needs work, then it needs work. He didn’t say that to hurt my feelings. He told me that to make me better. To give me a better chance of succeeding in this dog-eat-dog world where we’re all trying to get ahead. Was the initial reaction painful? Sure. But if I’m serious about making it in this business, that’s what it’s going to take.
Number 2: Another peer asked me to read a short bit of a piece she’s working on. I read it, and my initial reaction was not a good one. I didn’t care for it. So I read it again to try and figure out why. And once I did that, I had to figure out how I was going to tell my peer. I won’t lie, I didn’t want to tell her I didn’t care for it. That it didn’t hook me. That it wasn’t drawing any real sense of emotion from me, though I knew exactly what emotions I was supposed to be feeling. But I did tell her. Because that’s my job as a reader. Because that’s what she asked me to do.
Did she feel some sense of disappointment at what I told her? I don’t know. But I would assume so. I would assume most of us do when we don’t get the reaction we were hoping for. Was she mad about it? She didn’t seem so. I asked her for more, so I could expand my context, and maybe give her a different opinion when I had a better idea of where she was going. She sent it. It’s currently in my inbox, and I’ll be reading it once I finish writing this blog.
Giving and receiving constructive criticism is a skill. A necessary one. And you’ve got to have both if you’re going to write in this world. Now, let’s not mistake constructive criticism with destructive. You can tell someone you don’t like something without being a jerk. You can offer suggestions on how to make something better, rather than simply saying “This sucks.” Like I said, it’s a skill.
That being said, if you can’t take an honest critique, knowing that some (or all) of it might be more negative than positive, you shouldn’t be in this business. And if you’re unable or unwilling to tell someone the things you don’t like about their work, then don’t offer yourself as a source of feedback. And if they ask you to, don’t hesitate to respectfully decline. No response is actually more helpful than a false positive, crazy as that sounds.
So, do you have the skills to be in the business? The good news is, even if you don’t now, just like any other skill, this too can be developed. Work at it. Get better. Go forth and conquer. Succeed. You can do it, if you’re willing to embrace all its necessary evils.
~~Briana Robertson, Author, Stitched Smile Publications~~
Briana Robertson is an emerging speculative fiction author, working primarily within the genres of horror and fantasy. Her love of authors such as Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Patrick Rothfuss, and J.K. Rowling has developed her own need to put pen to paper. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies, and broadcast on online podcasts. Her debut novel is in the works, set to release in 2017. She currently lives in the Midwest, with her husband, three daughters, and their Maine Coon, Bagheera. Be sure to visit her website, as well as follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,WordPress, and Pinterest.
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.