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/

WIHM8: Author Vs Editor – Loretta/MF Wahl

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, tree, outdoor and closeup“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!

Every bitter thing is sweet – Talking “Low” with Mike Duke

“To a hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.” – Proverbs 27:7

One of Mike Duke’s favorite quotes from his new novel LOW, soon to be released. Here at SSP we couldn’t wait to share what Duke has in store for you, so we convinced him to share a little bit. A little sneak preview, if you will. A tiny tease, an amuse bouche, something to whet your appetite and make you hungry for what’s sure to be a dark and terrifying ride.

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Officer Mark Adams is fed up with God, his wife and the legal constraints of his job. He longs for a life he can enjoy and to see true justice meted out.

Chad Bigleby is a lawyer thrown into a deadly moral quagmire, forced to decide whether he will abide by man’s laws or make his own.

Each man is being driven to the edge of his limits.

Both men are on a collision course.

All because something wicked has arrived in Pleasant Grove, something ancient and obsessed with vengeance, eager to punish the souls of men for their sins.

How LOW will they go to get what they desire most? And what will it cost them in the end?

Hell only knows…

I sat down with Duke and asked him a few questions about LOW.

MF: Mike, how long did it take you to write LOW?

Mike: I started writing it in 2009 and finished the rough draft in 2012. I submitted it  multiple times and took the feedback from each rejection and did numerous rewrites to refine the story.

MF: Where did the idea come from?

Mike: I got the initial kernel of an idea for LOW out of the blue one day, riding down the road listening to my iPod. Two songs played in a row and the two themes just kind of meshed in my head. Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long” and “Testament’s Low”. I envisioned some kind of entity that torments people in dreams and night terrors, and combined it with the thought of how low will we go to get what we want. There was a lot of work to do after that, but that was the initial spark.

MF: What do you think sets this story apart?

Mike: One, I think the premise, though Dante-esque in some ways, is original as far as the nature of the supernatural entity and his motivations. In dealing with moral issues and weaknesses more common to men, I believe I’m able to present it with a voice of authenticity and authority. I was a cop for almost 12 years so I have first hand experience seeing how low people can sink to get what they want.

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I’m sure by now, dear reader, you’re itching to read LOW, but you’ll have to wait just a bit more. It’s slated to be released this November. Until then, you can placate your appetite with this short excerpt, and if you’re really keen to get more, join us on Halloween night for the LOW per-release party on Facebook.

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Glenda Harris was leaving the Gas N Go, a large colorful coat covering her heavy dark skinned frame, when she saw a creepy old man and his dog lingering beside the building, almost invisible, the shadows wrapping them like a shroud, eating the streetlight’s glow. If her skin hadn’t prickled when she passed them she might never have even glanced over much less paused to stop and stare. The man’s lips parted in a smile and white teeth was suddenly all she could make out clearly, the brightness casting a cloak over what she had seen before. Like some Cheshire cat, his smile hung in the darkness, tilting slowly to the right and then to the left before righting itself at last and revealing his face. She stood frozen, struggling to find words to break the spell of fear gripping her. “Umm…sir…this ain’t no place for an old white man to be all by himself at this time of night. Are you lost?” Her heart was beating out of her chest. She gripped the aluminum foil packet in her pocket that held the blessed roots and herbs and prayed they would do their job of warding off evil.

A voice, smooth like sand sliding over glass, a southern gentleman’s accent, projected from the shadows as the teeth disappeared. “Why, mah lady, how absolutely kind and considerate of you. I appreciate your effort but I assure you, I am quite dandy and in need of no assistance. You may be on your way without the slightest worry for my well-being.” The man tipped his head down and in her direction in parting recognition, then raised his right hand up and waved his fingers up and down to say goodbye, each finger falling and rising in succession.

Find out more about Mike Duke and LOW on Facebook,as well as his blog, Twitter, and on Amazon.

Don’t forget to sign up for the SSP mailing list to stay up to date on this and other horrifying new releases.


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Horror, thriller, sci-fi … all are synonymous with author M. F. Wahl. Dark plots and a keen focus on character development will keep you chained to each frightful word. Wahl is a proud member of the Horror Writer’s Association and her first novel “Disease” is will be released by Stitched Smile sometime next year. Visit http://mfwahl.com/ for more information, or to get on the mailing list. You can also find Wahl on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

The Necessary Evil of Feedback

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.

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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.

Much love!

 

~~Briana Robertson, Author, Stitched Smile Publications~~

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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.

February is coming!

And with it, a few new releases!

But first I’d like to reminisce and reflect on our first month alive as Stitched Smile Publications.

This idea was just that. An idea. We’ve had tremendous support from every corner of the industry. Artists, authors, readers, and more.

We’re about to launch the SSP magazine at the end of this month, and overall I’ve been swept away with the response from the public about the quality of the first book we put out #astitchofmadness). Most of all, I’m swooning at how this idea of putting the author first has come to fruition by way of the testimonials from the authors and those who’ve witnessed it first hand.

My staff is a dream. I mean it. They are so committed and so hard working. They are like machines coming up with ideas, sharing links, talking about the company. They are PROUD to call SSP their home.

If nothing else, I work harder for them. I can fail, and I’d get back up to fight another fight. But because of them, I will not allow that to happen. I see the hope and pride they have in what we’ve accomplished together and I know that this company will be successful.

Having also teamed up with Zombiepalooza Radio with Jackie Chin, as well as Michael Freeman of N3xt 3volution Films we are creating a storm!

So enough about us! Let’s talk about you guys!!

I know you’re anxious for more, right?

So let’s talk about that…we have Lori Fontanez releasing her debut novella, Stalker, based of a short story of the same name. Trailers and promo will be following shortly. David Owain Hughes along with his co-writers Alice J. Black and Sarah Dale will be releasing their stories (Granville, Collision Course) in the following weeks.

Soon to follow is Zachary Smith’s debut novel, Requiem, a dark sci-fi unlike you’ve never seen before. And the YA book that will have everyone talking by Isabel Castruita, Gargoyle Redemption.

I’m rolling into March with those last two but I can’t help it! It’s going to be non stop partying! Every weekend is a cover release on Facebook and every Wednesday is a new book!

All of us at Stitched Smile Publications welcome you to join us. There’s definitely something for everyone’s taste in the darker side of literature here. Don’t be shy, and make sure you bring a friend!