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)

Under Pressure…

I have 1484 ‘friends’ on my Facebook page. Whether I know all 1484 of them personally doesn’t matter. At some point, we made a mutual agreement to become acquainted. One of us sought out the other one and said ‘hello.’ The other one responded by accepting that ‘hello’ and becoming friends.

Isn’t that how life happens, how friendships are born?

I find it interesting that we view total strangers as friends. I have never actually met, face to face, with probably 1300 or more of these friends. Still, those perfect strangers are my friends. But what I—and more than likely, you—fail to realize is on the other side of the device (where you are reading this right now) is a person. For me there are 1484 people looking back. Of those 1484 people, probably less than 200 of them actually interact with me. I’m okay with that.

Why?

Well, because they are all people, and they have lives and cares and worries. They have dreams and ambitions. Some are sick and in need of prayer or comforting words. Others are fine and life is being very good to them right now. But all of them are people.

A little perspective if you will. On my friends list:

There are rich folks and there are poor folks, and there are those in between.

There are folks from every state in the United States.

There are folks from England, Australia, Canada, Germany, Russia and, yes, the Middle East.

There are folks who work as lawyers and nurses and teachers.

There are folks who work as bartenders and taxi drivers and in retail stores.

There are folks who work in factories and restaurants.

There are folks who work in the business of religion and others who work in the business of politics.

There are cops and firemen.

There are single moms and single dads raising their children the best they can.

There are married couples raising their children the best they can.

There are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

There are straight folks, too.

There are musicians and voice instructors.

There are successful writers, as well as fledgling ones with dreams of writing for a living.

There are readers who love books.

There are Baptists, Catholics, Mormons, Non-Denominationals, Methodists, Nazarenes, Atheists, Agnostics and maybe even a Satanists or two. And yes, there are Muslims, as well.

There are liberals, and there are conservatives.

There are folks who like heavy metal music. Others who like rap. Still, others who like classical, and some who like country and some who like bubblegum pop. There are those who like it all.

There are sports fans and there are folks who can’t stand sports.

There are those who love movies and television.

There are those who don’t care much for either.

There are those who love The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, and those who have never seen the first episode of one or both shows.

There are those who will only drive a Chevy or a Ford.

There are high school friends on here, too.

There are whites, blacks, Asians, and Native Americans.

Why does any of this matter? Simple: all of them are people. People with hopes and dreams, and people who just want to make it home to their loved ones at the end of the day. They, like you and I, have feelings. They, like you and I, have ambitions. They, like most of us, are saddened by events where people are killed recklessly and needlessly because of hate and fear.

During this week where America celebrated its independence, at least seven people died who should still be alive today. The key word isn’t black or cop. The key word here is ‘people.’ Seven people are dead and millions more are angry and some are even enraged to the point of…hate.

Today I sit at my kitchen table having not only celebrated my nation’s independence, but also my birthday. Seven people will never see another birthday. Their families are forever changed, and many of them are mad, not just at those who killed them, but at other people as well—people who have nothing to do with the events that unfolded this week.

There are those who want revenge and those who want to take away someone else’s freedoms and those who want justice now. There are those who will lump everyone into a category because of a few people’s actions. There are those who will scream and demand change, demand our government do something about this.

Here’s the problem with that: change will never come about until we, the people, change our way of thinking and change our hearts. We, the people, are the only ones that can bring positive change. Not our governments and not our laws. The people. The same folks I have mentioned up above can make a change, but in order to do so, we have to change our hearts, we have to learn how to be compassionate again. We have to learn to love our neighbor. If we can have total strangers on a social media site that we call friends, and some of which we come to cherish and possibly even love, then why can’t we do the same to the people we come in contact with every single day of our lives?

I’m reminded of the song Under Pressure, by Queen and David Bowie. At the end they come to the conclusion that it is love that can make a difference in every person’s life. But love is so old fashioned…

And love dares you to care for

The people on the edge of the night

And love dares you to change our way of

Caring about ourselves

The way I see it is, love dares you to look in the mirror, but we don’t want to do that. We want to lay blame somewhere else. We, as a people—not as a nation, as a people—need to step back and look at ourselves, and make a change, starting with ourselves. If we don’t, I fear for myself, my children, my friends, my fellow people. Because, the way I see it is if we don’t make a change in our hearts and our mindset soon, then we will never have true freedom again. We will all be prisoners to fear and rage and hate, and no one will be safe.

This, well, this is how I see it. Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another.