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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Apr 20, 2018

In this episode, Mark interviews Steena Holmes.

Steena Holmes is an Award winning USA Today and Amazon best-selling author from Calgary, Alberta who writes psychological suspense, family drama, women’s fiction and sweet romance. She publishes under an Amazon-owned imprint as well as her own self-publishing imprint, is a fan of reading, of chocolate and of traveling. Speaking of traveling, Steena, who is a wife and the mother of three daughters, has created an authentic and dynamic relationship with her readers, who she has been a caring and loving tour guide through as she took them on a unique journey with her on her path through writing.  In our conversation, we talk a lot about the importance of this relationship with her readers and in always putting them first.

Before the interview, Mark provides a personal update on the following items:

  • His half-marathon training schedule
  • His recent short fiction writing, including a zombie story to appear in Z IS FOR ZOMBIE
  • Some non-fiction writing he has been doing, both short articles as well as the new book he is working on about writing and publishing (which he has written 14,000 words for so far this week)
  • The status of the #FreeFridayFrights project, including some underwhelming responses and views from his recent Friday the 13th Facebook live and YouTube posted videos – but, (AND THIS IS IMPORTANT), why this isn’t something to be down about

Mark then shares this week’s Terrible Tongue Twister, sponsored by Findaway Voices.

This week’s twister (especially since you won’t be able to understand what the poor boy is trying to say) is:


Three sweet switched Swiss witches

Watch three washed Swiss witch Swatch watch switches.

Which sweet switched Swiss witch watches

Which washed Swish Swatch watch switch?


In their conversation, Mark and Steena talk about:


  • Steena’s hot new release, The Forgotten Ones, a psychological suspense novel that explores the deep dark secrets that are kept hidden from family
  • The inspiration behind the writing of The Forgotten Ones, which came from a really dark time and place in Steena’s life
  • How, despite the darkness of the novel, this was the easiest novel of the more than thirty books that Steena has written
  • Steena’s first novel, Finding Emma, which was a runaway bestseller and the differences between that novel and her latest novel
  • The journal that Steena took her readers on as she slowly migrated across genres
  • The promise that a writer makes to readers with every book that they release and the importance of honoring that promise
  • The emphasis Steena placed in focusing on the readers rather than the sales with each book’s release
  • One of Steena’s pet peeves in a “Don’t Do This” bit of advice for authors
  • How an author can create a genuinely authentic relationship with their readers
  • The tremendous response that Steena receives from readers after she shares a personable and relatable post on her blog
  • Ways that an author can be personable and relatable without revealing personal and private details about their life or their families lives
  • How Steena writes different books in different ways and in different locations to help create a distinction between book projects
  • The way Steena plans on dealing with a recently missed deadline
  • The juggling of writing books for a publisher and her self-publishing imprint
  • Attempts to retain the creative writing into different parts of the day
  • How in the first six months of publishing, Steena made a mere $100; but, in the first month of Finding Emma’s release, she sold 10,000 copies
  • How the readers of Finding Emma kept wanting more and more of the characters and their stories and the various ways Steena fulfilled their needs (without realizing that many of those things were things that a writer supposedly “couldn’t do”)
  • The lesson Steena learned when someone called her out on rushing a book to press by saying “You’re better than this, and your readers deserve better than this.”
  • Steena’s “Branding with Intent” series of emails for writers


After the interview, Mark reflects about Steena's talk about being personable and someone that readers could relate to. He also reflects on authenticity.


Links of Interest: