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

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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.)

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Happy reading!

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

<3 Steff F. Kneff

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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.

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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.

Author Amelia James Discusses Her Approach to Writing

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“My Writing Process and Plan – Or How I Manage to Put Trashy Words on a Page” – A Post by Author Amelia James

Plan? I’m the mother of an energetic three-year-old. Any plans I make are subject to her whims. However, my writing process is as constant as the northern star (Shakespeare as quoted by General Chang [Christopher Plummer] in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). And it’s just as random as the previous sentence.

My process starts rather simply. I get bored, my mind wanders, and eventually I stumble onto an idea either for a work in progress or something new. I write it down as soon as possible, before I forget it. I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, but usually I drag out my laptop. If for some reason—the above-mentioned three-year-old is most often the culprit—I can’t write it down, I repeat the ideas in my head until I get them on paper. That’s the constant part.

Then I play my favorite writer’s mind game: What if? That’s probably the best part of the process for me. I write down every possibility I can think of, even the bad ideas because sometimes bad ideas lead to good ones. Enter randomness.

Most of this takes place after I’ve met my characters. Romance is character-driven so until I know who they are and understand their conflicts, I can’t write a story. But sometimes I deal with a particularly stubborn character who won’t tell me what’s bugging him until after I finish his book. (Will!) So many times I’ll start writing before I know exactly where I’m going, though I have a general idea where we’ll end up. Romance has a definite formula: boy meets girl, boy sleeps with girl, BIG misunderstanding, makeup sex, and happily ever after. But the journey is much more important than the destination. I believe in making my characters earn their happy.

The journey, much like my process, has many twists and turns I don’t often see coming. I’ll start writing a scene for which I had a pretty clear plan going in, but then someone says or does something I don’t expect. That’s where the fun begins. I’m probably the most unorganized, haphazard writer you’ll ever meet. When other writers ask me for advice, I send them to someone else. What works for me probably won’t work for them. It doesn’t even work for me half the time. I spend too much time self-editing while I write. When it turns into nitpicking, I know it’s time to stop.

But I can’t stop, so I never re-read one of my books after it’s been published. And I never say never (never stick to it, that is). I have plans for two sequels, which will require thorough re-reading. I’m not looking forward to it. (Why did I use that word?) But I’m excited to be writing these two books. It took a while to get in touch with my characters again, but now that I have, we’re gonna have a trashy good time.

Were you looking for an organized, step by step romance writing instruction manual? Sorry to disappoint you. This is all personality. (Yay! I have one.) If I have a point to make it’s this: write what you love and do what works for you. Be true to your characters and listen to them. That’s how my writing process begins and ends.

If you stuck with me through this rambling, jumbled process, I’d like to say thanks to you and all my readers. But I’m more than words. To show my gratitude, I’m offering a few of my titles at special prices this month (details below). Thank you again and enjoy!

Amelia James’ Books:

Tell_Me_You_Want_Me_300dpi_200x300Tell Me You Want Me
Regular Price $4.99
Sales Price at Amazon & Barnes and Nobleicon $2.99 (through Dec. 8)
 
 
Secret_Storm_300dpi_200x300Secret Storm
Regular Price $4.99
Sales Price at Amazon & Barnes and Nobleicon $0.99 (through Dec. 8)
 
 
Her_Twisted_Pleasures_v2_300dpi_200x300Her Twisted Pleasures (The Twisted Mosaic #1)
Regular Price $3.99
 
 
 
Their_Twisted_Love_v2_300dpi_200x300Their Twisted Love (The Twisted Mosaic #2)
Regular Price $3.99
 
 
 
His_Twisted_Choice_300dpi_200x300His Twisted Choice (The Twisted Mosaic #3)
Regular Price $3.99
 
 
 
The_Twisted_Mosaic_Omnibus_300dpi_200x300The Twisted Mosaic – Special Omnibus Edition
Regular Price $8.99
Sales Price Everywhere $6.99 (through Dec. 31) (Click on cover or title for Retail Purchase Links)

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