This month’s guest is Steena Holmes, whose work has been named the “20 Best Books by Women in 2015” by Good Housekeeping and Redbook. She has also won the National Indie Excellence Award in 2012 for her novel Finding Emma as well as the USA Book News Award for The Word Game in 2015. Steena lives in Calgary, Alberta, and is a self-proclaimed “travelholic” who can’t resist a good cup of coffee.
Thank you, Steena Holmes, for joining us, can you give a brief introduction of yourself?
Hey! Well…to start, I’m one of those people who need a good cup of coffee in the mornings to get my day started. Actually, to be honest, I need a lot of cups to get started. I have three daughters that keep me on my toes since they’re gorgeous teenagers (and probably the reason for all the grey hair I have to keep coloring). I’m a small town girl who grew up on the Great Lakes and the sound of the water soothes my soul almost as much as travelling fills my well. I love black sheep and chocolate cake and curling up in front of a fire with a glass of wine. On weekends I smile when I come across a flea market or craft sale and I hate to cook.
Tell us about your latest novel, The Forgotten Ones, which was released April 1, 2018.
The Forgotten Ones is a story about the secrets that can be buried for so long within families that you think they disappear until one day, they come back to haunt you.
How does The Forgotten Ones vary from the other books you have written?
It’s a little darker than my other stories. I gave myself permission to go to that dark side and in the process, realized it was a journey I really enjoyed!
You currently have 25 books listed on your website ranging from Womens Fiction, Psychological & Suspense, Small Town Contemporary to Sweet Romance – wow! Has your process evolved much from book to book?
It has. With each book I find I grow as a writer and as a storyteller. My goal is always to challenge myself, to write a stronger novel than the one before and hopefully I’m doing that. When I started, I was a ‘panster’ – someone who never plotted. Now I find that I need a bit of a plot (which is something my plotter friends have been trying to help me with for years.)
Do you find the writing process has gotten more templated, systematic, or is each one a challenge on their own?
Each book is different. Each one has its own process and no two books are written the same. For instance, the story I’m in the middle of right now is being written in sections that I’ll have to piece together before I submit it to my editor.
You also keep busy blogging about travel and advice for authors for branding with intent, how do you manage your time throughout the week?
I did mention that I need a lot of coffee to get my day started, right? While the caffeine starts to work, I focus on everything else other than writing. I find my sweet spot is late afternoon/evening – I can stare at my computer screen for hours and struggle to get 200 words down, or I can sit down for an hour or so and pound out a scene in no time. I’ve struggled for years to train my brain to write during the day but I’ve decided to throw in the towel.
For aspiring writers, what would be one piece of advice you would give them?
Can I give more than one? Pretty please? You know that passion that you feel whenever you think of your story? Never let that go! Embrace it, use it and give it space to grow as you grow as an author. Focus on that first story and just let the words flow. The most important thing you can do is write the story. Afterward, you can find editors to help correct things but first, you need to write. Which means, carving out time to write without feeling guilty. When I started, I had three small children at home and worked a full time job. I would write during my lunch hours and then for an hour after the kids had gone to bed. If it’s important to you, you’ll make the time. If it’s not, you’ll make up excuses.
My last piece of advice would be to stop comparing yourself to other writers. We are all on a different journey and we all have different strengths when it comes to writing as well. Surround yourself with people who understand your passion and share it but don’t compare yourself.