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Author Megan Morrison says, “Embrace your history.”

Or perhaps that should be, “Embrace your (Hi)Story.”

“What part of our history’s reinvented under rugs swept? What part of your memory is selective and tends to forget?” – Alanis Morissette, “Hands Clean”

“You know, it wasn’t always like this.” The 20-something guy decked from head to toe in red and black gear had to shout over the roaring crowd, and continued clapping as he talked. “I graduated in ’07… even back then, the games were nothing like this.”

“I know,” I said, surveying the jam-packed stadium. “I’ve been following this basketball team for a few years. They didn’t even get their first tournament win until 2011, right?”

MM_StadiumPhotoIndeed, San Diego State, the team I claim as my second favorite, did not always conjure such a following. As I looked around that stadium last Saturday night, I realized that acknowledging that past, and how far the team had come, brought up an important lesson that I’ve been struggling with the past few months.

It had been almost seven years since I set foot on the campus, my initial visit sparking a number of thoughts. The first sight of those red roofs and white stucco buildings left me in a sort of awe, overwhelmed with inspiration to keep writing my book. In fact, I’d come home with more clarity than ever that helping kids get to a college campus like that one (or like my own dream school) was the entire purpose for telling my story. The past was done—my book’s purpose was all about the future.

MM_CampusPictureYet over the next few months, as I’d continued to focus on using my story to inspire people to follow their dreams (college being a big one), I’d been forced to confront some demons in telling it. For the most part, I’d never told anyone how the fallout with a former friend and idol had inspired me to go to my dream school; that silence, along with several chance encounters with “characters” I hadn’t seen in quite a while, left me doubting whether I could or should. Would people think I was crazy? Could I get hurt even worse than when that person I’d trusted so much thought I was crazy too?

In September of 2008, I sent drafts out to my “first round of readers,” selectively chosen for knowing me across different segments of my life, but for not knowing much about the main story—I wanted them to read it as a “reader.” Their lack of familiarity with the more negative events, and their closeness to me, kept me from worrying too much about what they’d think of my actions. This was not the case with the person I had dinner with a month later.

Sitting across the table from my cousin that October night, a cousin who’d been friends with me and Maya, I’d literally never shaken so hard. I couldn’t even lift the fork all the way to my mouth to get food in, so instead, I let him eat his dinner while I described the background behind my brief statement to him ten years earlier. “How’s Maya?” he’d asked one night right after her and my fallout. “We’re not friends anymore,” I’d simply told him, and he’d let it go with a curious look.

On this night, I told him why we weren’t friends at that point, about how I’d written a crazy letter to try and help her that instead pushed her away, likely without her ever seeing my intentions were good. In fact, she’d made me feel crazy for even trying to help her in the first place, which was one of the reasons I struggled so much with the whole experience.

He nodded throughout my monologue, interjecting with a few supporting thoughts of his own, and at the end shook his head with a sympathetic smile. “Writing the book must have been so cathartic for you.”

Yes, but perhaps not as cathartic as the fact that people didn’t think I was crazy for doing so.

That weekend in Atlanta gave me the final confidence I needed to go forward. After a couple years working with an editor, I published the book with pride. Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. While I received a multitude of positive feedback and encouragement from college enthusiasts, family, friends, and many other readers, one mutual friend of Maya and mine suddenly changed her stance on the book. She’d supported it from the get-go, understanding from reading it that the story of how I’d been hurt was only a small (and truthful) piece of a much bigger message. Yet having it out there proved too much for our friendship, and though it was only one person’s discomfort, I once again found myself questioning whether to keep going with it.

Then, there were the events of 2013—a few separate occurrences, but primarily my father’s unexpected passing. We couldn’t have been closer at the time—the last three years the best of our entire relationship—but the years before had been an emotional roller coaster with his alcoholism, much of which had played out in the book. None of it was any less true, and of course, my purpose in telling it all once again was about how I had learned and grown and been inspired by the good and the bad. My dad himself had supported that notion, but suddenly, taking positive from the negative felt wrong. Perhaps the time to tell the story had come and gone.

In February of this year, NBC aired a special about another former idol of mine, Nancy Kerrigan. The 1.5 hours brought up several childhood memories, particularly the journal entries my fourth-grade self had written about the figure-skating saga: how mad I was at Tonya for hurting Nancy, how excited I was that Nancy was still going to the Olympics, how disappointed I was when she won silver instead of gold. Picturing these entries brought laughter, but then a scowl—I didn’t have that journal any more.

On the night of my fallout with my next idol, I’d thrown it out, appalled that I could have ever written anything about my admiration for her. A huge packrat, it is perhaps the most impulsive thing I’ve ever done, and, had the trash not come that very next morning, I’d probably have reconsidered and dug it out. Instead, because of a few negative events, I’d thrown out a huge piece of my childhood. Good or bad, I realized, looking back on all of it, each and every one of those entries revealed a part of who I was.

And_Then_It_Rained_300dpi_200x300And Then it Rained: Lessons for Life is a memoir. Unlike the other offerings from Evolved Publishing, the characters are not made up, yet they are just as vulnerable as the fictional characters in the other books, the main character being no exception. That’s why those fifteen years of my life aren’t always easy to share, but perhaps that’s what makes it so powerful. It is a history—my history. It’s the story a multitude of positive experiences and how each one of them helped shape the person I am today.

At the end of the game last Saturday night, San Diego State students rushed the court. They were ranked exactly 11 spots ahead of their opponent—expected to win—and thus I’ll bet lot of basketball fans watching shook their heads. Not me. I remembered how just four years ago barely anyone had even heard of San Diego State basketball, and why the students deserved to celebrate a little. A simple idea… but a big lesson.

The last time I set foot on that campus, I walked away with the determination that my book was about the college experience. This time, I walked away with the understanding that it’s about so much more. While the proceeds still and always will go to help kids get to college, I hope the story will help readers get somewhere else: a place where they embrace their own stories, appreciate and learn from their past, and use it all as a catalyst for a great future.


What readers are saying about And Then it Rained: Lessons for Life:

“I’m long past my college days, but I could relate to Megan’s poignant story, from her search to find the right mentor, to dealing with her dad’s alcoholism and her parents’ divorce, ending in her courageous decision to strike out on her own and pursue her dreams.

“All of the life lessons here are revealed in a simple and straightforward manner, without heavy-handed moralizing. We get these challenges and revelations through Megan’s eyes and it’s an honest account of her journey and growth. I look forward to reading more from the author.” – Tmully58 (Amazon)

“This is a very good, quick read, and Morrison provides just the right amount of inspiration without sounding preachy. A wonderful book for young adults, teens, pre-teens, and anyone struggling to come to grips with the sometimes harsh, sometimes beautiful, and very often mysterious curves life throws at us.” – Matthew (Amazon)

“Megan wears her heart on her sleeve and describes her journey from a small town in Wisconsin to the college of her dreams. The path there isn’t easy, and the challenges don’t stop once she’s enrolled, but all students can be comforted by this story in knowing they aren’t alone in facing challenges to and through college. Megan’s story is an inspiration to us all. Give it a read!” – Jennie (Amazon)

“Through meaningful quotes added to her own words, Megan poignantly describes the heartache of a parent disappointing his daughter, the adoration of a role model, and the difficult, but triumphant decision of leaving home to achieve her dreams. Students will relate to the difficult decisions that Megan made in high school. Do you follow the crowd? How hard are you willing to work to attain your dreams? Can you let go of someone you admired, but who let you down? Will the homesickness that comes with starting college ever end? Megan shows students that you can go your own way: make the best choices for yourself and live life to the fullest.” – Jennifer (Amazon)

Author Robb Grindstaff Discusses his Foray into Southern Literature

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


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.

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