News & Information:News – Featured – Blog – From the Editor’s Desk – New Releases – Promotions

 

Author Robb Grindstaff Discusses his Foray into Southern Literature

Bio_Pic-Robb_Grindstaff_300dpi_760x869
 
Robb Grindstaff, author of two of our most acclaimed books, Hannah’s Voice and Carry Me Away, talks about how he came to be the writer he is.

At the heart of it, most of my writing would definitely fall into the traditional category, but perhaps with a touch of the modern thrown in to enhance conflict. I’m a southern writer, even though I now live in Wisconsin. I grew up in small towns in the south, and lived most of my adult life in places like Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. My favorite writers from my youth include Mark Twain and Harper Lee. As an adult, I’ve been most drawn to writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Pat Conroy and Cormac McCarthy, among many others. Add in a few years living in Asia (and reading Haruki Murakami), and perhaps my traditional southern stories have added a bit of modernity and globalization – just like today’s modern south.

My stories tend to be set in the small towns of the rural south, but in the modern world, highlighting the juxtaposition between old and new, the clash of changing culture, and the misunderstandings and tensions between different American subcultures. My characters are modern, 21st century folks who still live in a world with a strong focus on family, faith and community, who have a strong sense of place and roots, display an independence and a bit of pioneer spirit, and a strong ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ libertarian streak.

I’ve never given it a lot of intentional thought, but my characters and stories tend to follow these southern literary themes, although set in today’s more globalized world.

Hannah’s Voice is set in a small, blue-collar North Carolina town. The conflicts in the story pit the genuinely faithful against religious extremists against televangelist charlatans, family against government institutions, small community values against metropolitan and pop culture, the power of the federal government against one teenage girl who just wants to reunite with her mother.

Carry Me Away is set in a variety of locations around the world, but from the perspective of a biracial, bisexual girl growing up in a traditional, conservative military family with a father from the deep south, moving from one military assignment to the next. Carrie travels the world, connecting with her Japanese roots and going to university in Europe. But she always comes home to her Cajun grandmother in rural east Texas, whose deep faith keeps Carrie grounded in the midst of her crisis of mortality.

My short stories often, but not always, carry these same themes in one way or another. Sometimes, such as in “Magnolia Nights,” the setting is in the rural south, but sometimes not. In “Uncle Keith’s Farm,” the character is an international corporate executive who has to travel back to the poor family farm for the funeral of a beloved aunt. “The Missionary’s Position” has a young man spending his life savings to travel back to the Philippines, where he had lived as the child of a military chaplain, and where his heart’s only desire is to save the young girls from their lives of prostitution. In “Evolution of Love,” a young woman and man meet at a speed-dating event. She is a devout Christian who works as a pediatric nurse in a children’s cancer center, and he is an adamant non-believer, a scientist who works tirelessly to find a cure. They, of course, fall in love.

My writing – the prose – is probably even more traditionally grounded than my stories and characters. My influences (and I’m not by any stretch comparing myself to these writers) include Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Twain, John Irving, Cormac McCarthy. These are the writers I try to emulate, not imitate, in the sense that the writing counts as much as the story and the characters. The writing IS the story and the characters. Every sentence, every single word, every punctuation mark is crucial. It is through the writing that the imagery, the voice and tone, the emotions, thoughts and internal conflicts of the characters are transmitted from the writer’s imagination to the reader’s mind.

While the settings and characters may be southern, I hope the characters and the stories transcend regions. People are people, and while we may talk differently, we’re not that different on the inside.

I hope y’all enjoyed reading, bless your hearts.

Steff F. Kneff (aka Stevie Mikayne) Is Coming Out… as a Children’s Book Author!

Steff F Kneff's Avatar
 
 
 
 
 
This guest post brought to you by author Steff F. Kneff.
 
 
What? Aren’t you a literary fiction author?

Yes! Mostly.

But after my daughter Emlyn was born, my aunt handed me a copy of The Jillian Jiggs Treasury….

I had no idea how impactful this bright, funny, slick-rhyming series of books would be on my pint-sized bundle. When we started reading, she practically took flight. She wiggled. She squirmed. Her arms rotated like propellers on a helicopter. I couldn’t even get a still photograph—her hands were nothing but a blur.

And that’s when I knew that I wanted to write something to make her smile like that.

Celebrating the Diversity!

— In the little blue house with the weathervane loose,
— Emlyn lived with her Mummy, her Mama, and Moose.
— That big old Blue Dane was a chicken at night.
— He hid in his fort when they turned out the light!

Emlyn has two mums (yep, that’s how her family is packaged), and while this is an important part of the story—especially for alternative families looking to see themselves reflected honestly in literature—it’s not the main point.

The story—captivating and original—is the main point.

I think diversity in literature is incredibly important, not only for children growing up in alternative families, but for all members of society. Why? Because diversity is not a politically correct catch-phrase, it’s our reality. Families come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Let’s have that represented on our library shelves.

The most important thing for me, though, was to write a fabulous children’s story—one that spotlighted the focus on the main kid character—her adventures, her quirks, her interests. A classic in the making….

Who’s Going to Love this Book?

Kids! And parents!

Emlyn and the Gremlin is a series with mass audience appeal.

Does your child enjoy fun rhythmic writing? A cast of quirky characters? A giant scaredy-cat dog? A sarcastic little Gremlin who tosses a grappling hook over the window ledge to sneak in and play with forbidden toys?

Then Emlyn and the Gremlin is for your family too.

Children’s picture books aren’t just about the kids— they must appeal to the adults reading aloud every night, too. Parents will enjoy reading Emlyn and the Gremlin as much as the kids. (They might even sneak in a quiet preview on their way home from the bookstore.)

EATG_Page_5 EATG_Page_11 EATG_Page_39 EATG_Page_47

Happy reading!

I hope to see you all at book signings in July.

<3 Steff F. Kneff

Emlyn_and_the_Gremlin_300dpi_200x300

Great Literary Fiction from Evolved Publishing

Strong writing is one of our greatest assets.

We at EP believe in the power of words, and that great writing, whatever the genre, is always a good thing. Indeed, we often lean toward the “literary,” as a matter of style, and many of our books can be classified as literary fiction, even if they cross over into other genres.

The following are just such books. Whatever other genres they occupy, we often think of them simply as literary fiction. You’ll find here great writing, exquisitely-drawn characters, deep inter-personal relationships – all the things great books have long offered to avid readers. We think you deserve the best, and while we think each and every one of our books stand up to any others within their genre, with quality always our first priority, the following books tend to fall more into a classical style of writing. We hope you enjoy them.

Just click on the cover or the title to go to the book’s main page, where you’ll find full descriptions, book details, retail links, and more.

Hannahs_Voice_300dpi_200x300Hannah’s Voice by Robb Grindstaff
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

When six-year-old Hannah’s brutal honesty is mistaken for lying, she stops speaking. Her family, her community, and eventually, the entire nation struggle to find meaning in her silence. Hannah stands at the intersection of anarchists and fundamentalists, between power politics and an FBI investigation. All she wants is to find her momma, a little peace and quiet, and maybe some pancakes.

Carry_Me_Away_300dpi_200x300Carry Me Away by Robb Grindstaff
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

Carrie Destin, a biracial military brat, learns the injuries she sustained in a car accident will prove fatal before she reaches adulthood. Facing an abbreviated life with a brash attitude and a biting, sometimes morbid sense of humor, Carrie races to experience life before it ends, but spirals out of control, leading to a physical and emotional collapse.

Desert_Rice_300dpi_200x300Desert Rice by Angela Scott
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

When Sam meets “Jesus”—who smells an awful lot like a horse—in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. But Sam doesn’t remember, and Jacob isn’t talking.
 
Desert_Flower_300dpi_200x300Desert Flower by Angela Scott
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.8 Stars

Sam’s now a young woman of nineteen, trying to put the pieces of her life together, but the naked man in the desert spirals her world out of control, resurrecting past hurts and revealing old secrets. [Sequel to Desert Rice]
 
 
FMA_v3_300_DPI_200x300Forgive Me, Alex by Lane Diamond
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.6 Stars

…Now mortality, as it did seventeen years ago, lingers above me like the hangman’s noose. Yet it looms more ominous than ever, as if it will drop down around my neck at any moment. After all, I know the true Mitchell Norton. And whom shall I fear if not the devil, the grim torturer who conquered my aspirations and left me without a recognizable world of my own?….

Jellicle_Girl_300dpi_200x300Jellicle Girl by Stevie Mikayne
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.5 Stars

A young foster child with a wicked sense of humour and a devastating past reminds Beth that secrets seem powerful, but can destroy the person who holds them too close. Jellicle Girl is a powerful coming-of-age story about redemption, identity, and learning to let go of secrets that scar.
 
 
Weight_of_Earth_300dpi_200x300Weight of Earth by Stevie Mikayne
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

Ella’s mother refuses to talk about what happened—a secret Lydia also keeps tightly guarded, for reasons Ella doesn’t understand. A compelling story of how family loyalty entwines with personal secrecy, and what it means to be exceptional.
 
 
Torn_Together_v2_300dpi_200x300Torn Together by Emlyn Chand
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.3 Stars

Emlyn Chand’s first sojourn into Literary/New Adult fiction weaves a tale of friendship, dreams, and a lingering loss, while illustrating how our similarities often drive us apart.
 
 
 
White_Chalk_300dpi_200x300White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.7 Stars

When Troy Christiansen walks into Chelle’s life, she’s desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.

The_Lone_Wolf_300dpi_200x298The Lone Wolf by E.D. Martin
Average Rating at Amazon = 4.6 Stars

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

~~~~~

Each of these books is bound to leave you with lasting images, and with characters you may not soon forget.

To stay up-to-date on Evolved Publishing news, including new releases, new authors, raffles and contests, etc, please subscribe to our newsletter.

The New Publishing Paradigm Requires Great Diligence by Writers

Once upon a time, a few select companies had a stranglehold on the publishing business. Not so anymore. In the past few years, in particular, it seems new hybrid and small press publishers are popping up all over the place. We know, because we’re one of those.

One of the things we must do constantly, of course, is keep our finger on the pulse of the industry. What are the new industry expectations? Have new opportunities for distribution and sales come into the fore? What is our competition doing, and is our list of competitors growing?

Naturally, this leads us to examine other publishers out there, not just make sure that we’re in stride with the rest of the industry, but to make sure we’re offering a great alternative to talented authors, editors, artists, and the entire support team.

What have we discovered? Quite simply, authors are presented with a whole new array of options, and that’s a good thing. However, those authors must now wade through the morass, and it’s not always pretty. For example, I recently visited a publisher’s website and was shocked, and more than a little dismayed, by much of what I saw.

First, their website was simply horrendous. No other way to say it. Second, their simple “About” page, which consisted of a single paragraph, was laden with grammar and spelling errors, and poor construction. (Talk about a red flag!) Third, it was extremely difficult to find all their titles. Fourth, I finally figured out (I think) that they have 12 titles, 11 of which are by a single author. I could easily list a fifth, sixth, and seventh, but suffice to say that what I saw was less than inspiring.

It occurred to me that the publishing business is becoming much like the author business, and the editor business, and then the cover artist business, and so on. Hey, it’s the internet age, so just hang up a shingle and claim to be whatever you want… like a publisher. Now, before you say it, I know: we too had to start somewhere. Everyone does.

NightVisionGoggles

But really, dear author, you must exercise more caution and diligence in your search for a publisher than ever before. The gatekeepers (never mind that they were self-anointed) are gone, and the new environment is a free-wheeling, anything goes, often concerning puddle of confusion. Self-publishing is always an option, of course, but if you’re looking for a new publisher, a company that gives you a better chance of actual acceptance and exposure, you can do a few simple things to ensure that you’re making a good choice.

      1. First of all, what kind of public face do they offer? Is their website clean, professional, attractive, functional and informative? Are they engaged on social media? Do their online activities instill in you confidence and excitement?
      2. What sort of catalog have they published? Does it appear to be focused on just one or two authors, or do they truly offer a broad spectrum of authors and products? Everyone has to start somewhere, of course, but if they have reached the point where they have multiple books out over a couple years or more, and they STILL have only one or two or three authors, this should be a red flag – probably just self-publishing by another name, when you get right down to it.
      3. Speaking of their catalog, how strong is it? Do they offer books across multiple genres, or are they a genre-specific publisher? (This may be a plus or a minus, depending on your genre and needs.) How good are those books they’ve published? Do they have professional covers that don’t all look the same? Are the stories (always sample their work before submitting) strong and edited to at least “near” perfection (no such thing as perfect)?
      4. Are they willing to offer referrals from their existing pool of authors? (Take this with a grain of sand, since existing authors may not be willing to say bad things about their publisher, even if warranted. However, if they’re clearly enthusiastic, that will tell you something.) If so, will they let you talk to the author of YOUR choosing, versus someone they hand select?
      5. Do they have a strong team of support for services such as cover art, illustrations, editing, beta reading, translations, and more?
      6. Do they produce and distribute books in multiple formats and across multiple channels?

When co-founder D.T. Conklin and I first started looking into publishers, we found no one that we truly liked, based on what we felt were the new opportunities for authors in this evolving industry. We thus set about, point by point, to lay out what we wanted – as authors – in a publisher. Because we couldn’t find THAT publisher, we formed Evolved Publishing to be THAT publisher.

Are we perfect, providing the absolute best of everything? Nah. Some offerings necessarily require other limits, so some compromise is required, some prioritizing. Are we going to make you, dear author, an overnight success? Probably not. Can we even guarantee that you will be a success? Ever? Nope. No publisher can do that.

However, we think we’ve struck on a pretty good business model, one which gives authors some advantages they won’t get on their own as a self-publisher, and some they won’t even get from the Big 5. Of course, the Big 5 also have some things to offer that we don’t, such as immediate and broad print distribution. That doesn’t mean you’ll sell any books, but it’s there. And of course, getting your foot in the door, and your book to the public, is a daunting process that can take many years.

So every author must weigh the options carefully, perhaps with a good old-fashioned Ben Franklin list – you know, with the positives in one column and the negatives in another? Just be sure to compare apples to apples, and make sure none of those apples are laden with worms.

Join Our Newsletter

Get author updates and info about new releases and promotions! Sign up -here-.