Now VS Right Now

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This has been a topic of conversation among a lot of authors. Some say, “You have to get books out to succeed.” Authors take this to mean, “I have to put a lot of books out, right now.”

Ah, if it were that easy!

As a publishing company, Stitched Smile has a responsibility. Not only to the authors, but to the readers. We deliver the highest quality we can because we’re asking our fans and readers to pay for these books. I don’t care what other authors and publishing companies do. What I do care about is what we do.

A lot of time and effort goes into helping new authors develop a skill. Yes, being a good story teller may come naturally for some people, but writing a good story is another skill set. It comes later. It comes with practice and challenges. These challenges come with learning to take critique and mentoring others (forcing you to take another perspective and helping you watch for things in your own work).

We have a lot of interns who donate their time to Stitched Smile. They are the backbone of our company. Without them, we’d have poorly edited books and be no different than the hundreds of publishing houses out there. When we built “the house” of Stitch, we vowed to “change the face of the independent publishing world“, and with the help of these talented individuals (both behind the scenes and at the forefront) we’ve accomplished this goal. With our integrity.

It’s been hard. I’ve made mistakes.

No matter what, though, I will keep doing everything I can to ensure that Stitched Smile stays the course.

We offer our time and mentoring to authors who would never have been given an opportunity without us (don’t believe me? ask the authors!). We’ve made dreams come true for authors who only wished to see their books in print. As result, we’ve given them a polished story with a great cover, and helped find them readers.

We’ve protected their reputations by dedicating time away from our own writing, family, etc., and turned out the best face of their work.

Authors who want “right now” don’t usually last in our company. Not because they can’t make it, but because it isn’t our model of business. It’s a sad moment when an author decides to move on. Even more sad when they discover, perhaps, the decision was a hasty one. At the same time, we have authors who have gained all of what we set out to give them and who confidently go on to bigger and better things. (Trust me when I say, it is a proud moment and I wish them all the success in the world.)

It sucks when, as a “boss”, I have to make the hard decisions. And I will. For the rest of the “family”. We’re birds of a feather and it is what has made us so strong while providing an unforgettable experience.

There is no “right now” in Stitched Smile Publications. It must simply be right. I put my name on it. My officers put their name on it. My interns use their experience for resumes. People are counting on me … and damnit, I’m not letting them down.


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)

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/

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: http://www.unsaintly.com or on Facebook (facebook.com/unsaintlyhalo), Twitter (@unsaintly), Instagram (unsaintly)

 

 

Do You Review? Calling all Bloggers!

typewriter 1Hey 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!

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.