Steena Holmes's Blog, page 3

March 6, 2015

It’s 2015 and yet it feels like we’ve stepped back a few years when it comes to authors insecurities.


In 2005 when my first book was published, I remember the condescension from other authors when they realized my book was published by winning a contest with a small publisher. In 2010 I remember the disdain from other writers seeking publication when I decided to try my hand at self publishing. In 2011 I remember both the flack and admiration from authors – some felt I’d just burned the bridges on my career by self publishing Finding Emma and others congratulated me.


I also remember being on of those authors who couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t self publishing, why writers were still trying to get that publishing contract. I’ll admit it. I was narrow minded back then.


But that was back then. Only 4 years ago and yet, it seems like a lifetime ago in regards to the publishing world, doesn’t it? We now have indie authors who are firmly entrenched in their career. We have traditional authors still believing there is benefit in their chosen path. We have hybrid authors who see the advantages and disadvantages of both ways and are willing to walk the tightrope and make it work for them.


So why can’t we all just get along? It seems redundant that I’m even writing this, doesn’t it? I mean, we are in 2015 after all.


Except, I still see the infighting amongst authors in various loops I’m involved in (whether its via email or FB). I believe the reason we are still seeing this is due to insecurity. No matter where we are in our publishing journey, no matter the changes we see or the strides we take…insecurity is always going to be there.


Whether it’s from a traditionally published author watching their sales dwindle, from indie authors not seeing the success the outliers are, or from midlist hybrid author who believes they should be the one seeing the books hit the lists and their bank accounts grow…either way, it’s there and it’s showing its ugly head once again.


Here’s the thing: my journey is not yours. Your journey is not mine. It’s that simple. We all write differently. We all have different voices. Different styles. Does it really matter if someone decides that being an indie author is the way to go if you are a hybrid author? Does it really matter if someone who used to be a traditional author is now considering dipping their toes into the indie world with their backlist titles?


NO.


So let’s stop, shall we? Any well known conference today will have both indie and traditional focus. But we’re now into the era where it doesn’t matter … we all have the same goal, the same problems and are looking for the same answers. Discoverability. Increasing sales. Finding new readers. Growing our social media. New markets.


I’m tired of authors picking sides. I’m tired of being told about a fence between the sides or even an invisible barrier that people are afraid to cross. Get over yourselves please.


THERE IS NO FENCE. And if you want to argue that there is indeed a fence – then the fence is one of your own making. You’re the one who has picked a side. Who cares if one author prefers a certain path … a path different then your own? Who cares if they disagree with your journey? It’s YOUR journey, not theirs! If they want to argue with you, then just walk away. If you feel insulted because of a certain tone that you’ve read into an email or post or something else…then the issue is with you (as much as I hate to say it…sorry, but it’s true).


I have a author friend I’ve known for years who just signed 2 contracts for 6 books. I’m absolutely thrilled for her – because this is her path and it’s been her goal, her dream. We may have different views when it comes to self-publishing, but who cares. I have another friend who is seeing a lot of success in her indie journey and I’m thrilled for her as well…because it’s her path! Two different writers, two different paths than my own…why can’t we all just be happy for one another? Listen to each other when we are faced with issues. Celebrate when we see success, commiserate when something fails…


Why can’t we just stop the fighting amongst ourselves? How about, instead of focusing on ourselves and our own journey, we celebrate someone else? Do you know of an author who is walking a different path than you? Tell us about them!


 


The post Why Are We Still Arguing About Publishing Paths? appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on March 06, 2015 11:01 • 11 views

March 5, 2015

Chocolate Mousse Cake   Print Author: adapted from Martha Stewart and Epicurious Ingredients For the Cake: ½ cup unbleached, all purpose flour ½ cup corn starch pinch cinnamon 4 eggs, separated ¾ cup sugar 1½ tsp vanilla 1 tsp salt For the Mousse: 1¼ cups whipping cream, chilled ¾ cups whipping cream, room temperature 4 egg yolks 3 tbsp sugar 7oz chocolate (between 50 and 60% cocoa solids) For the Ganache: 1½ cups semi sweet (55%) chocolate chips 1 cup whipping cream 1 tbsp salted butter Directions For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F Butter and flour a round cake tin. Set aside. Combine the flour, cornstarch and a pinch of cinnamon. Set aside. Beat together the egg whites and ¼ cup of sugar until they are stiff and fluffy. In another bowl combine the egg yolks, vanilla. Begin to beat together and slowly add ½ cup of sugar. Beat together for about 5 minutes until thick. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until incorporated. Add the flour in 3 stages, thoroughly combining each time. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out of the middle clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan. For the Mousse: Heat ¾ cups whipping cream over medium heat. Remove just before it begins to boil. Cool for 2 minutes. Combine egg yolks, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Pour the hot cream in a slow, thin, steady stream into the egg yolk mixture. Stir constantly until all the hot cream has been added. Melt chocolate over a double boiler. Add to the cream mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool until at least room temperature. Whip the chilled cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold little by little into the chocolate mixture until all of the whipped cream has been added. Pour over completely cooled cake. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. For the Ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering. Pour hot cream over the chocolate. Stir until the chips are beginning to melt. Add the butter while the chocolate is still warm. Stir until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool for a few minutes and pour over cake. 3.2.2708
 

The post Chocolate Mousse Cake appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on March 05, 2015 12:49 • 17 views

February 27, 2015

Slow Simmered Beef Bourguignon   Print Author: adapted from Taste of Home Serves: 6 Ingredients 3 pounds stewing beef ¾ tsp salt ¾ tsp pepper 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour 1-1/2 cups beef broth 1-1/2 cups dry red wine or additional beef broth, divided ¾ pound med fresh mushrooms, quartered 1 large sweet onion, chopped 2 medium carrots, sliced 1 thick-sliced bacon strip, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp Italian tomato paste Cooked egg noodles (optional) Directions Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. In a large non-stick skillet, coated with cooking spray, brown the beef in small batches. Remove meat with a slotted spoon to a 4- or 5-qt slow cooker. Add flour, and toss to coat. Add the broth and 1 cup of wine. In the same skillet, add in the mushrooms, onion, carrots and bacon. Cook and stir over medium heat until the carrots are tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add in remaining wine. Stir to loosen browned bits from pan. While stirring, add in tomato paste. Transfer all to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the beef is tender. Serve with noodles, or side of your choice. Yield: 6 servings. 3.2.2708
 

The post Slow Simmered Beef Bourguignon appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on February 27, 2015 12:47 • 3 views

February 22, 2015

Back in 2011 I blogged about  and I find I’m still getting responses to it (some I don’t publish because, well…I don’t need arguments or derogatory comments to be listed here).


At lot has changed since 2011 in the realm of publishing. So much that if you’re still reading blog posts dating back to 2011, you should realize that they are old and outdated. The publishing world has changed so much that it’s almost hard to keep up.


There are a few constants in the publishing world however that remain the same.



Write a good book.
Ensure that book is edited and has a quality cover.
Social media is a necessity in today’s world – you no longer can hide under that rock and assume others are going to market for you.
Brand is important. Essential even.
Your readers want the same thing they have always wanted. Your next quality book.

There are things that have changed. How we can market ourselves. Amazon’s algorithms, where to sell your books, where to promote, where not to promote and do we need a pen name still.


Honestly – whether you have a pen name or not is up to you. Some people need them – they write a genre that wouldn’t be acceptable in their line of work (teachers writing erotic anyone…). Some people have also found that creating a pen name and starting over has given them a fresh breath of life with their books and you’ll find names skyrocketing the markets today that you never heard of before.


It’s up to you. There’s really no right or wrong answer to this question. I used to have a pen name. I don’t anymore. Everything I write is under my name, my brand and everything I write is part of my brand. Yes, our brands change, they should…it means your writing is growing. It means you’re understanding yourself, your writing, your readers a little bit more than before, and that’s a good thing.


Can we all just agree to stop arguing about this. If YOU feel that a pen name is necessary for YOU and YOUR brand…then go for it. If you don’t, then don’t do it. Regardless, you will still need to brand yourself, you will still need to find your readers, you will still need to write your books.


You can do searches and find blog posts and website articles dedicated to this one subject. If you are a writer in a writer’s group, you can ask this same question “do I need a pen name” and you’ll get a multitude of responses. Everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion is different and their own.


Think about this: why do you need a pen name? What is the reason for it? Is it because you’re writing in different genres that you don’t think will mesh together? Are you worried about your fan base, if your readers will follow you from one genre to the other?


Remember this…no matter what book you write, you will still need to promote you and your brand. Everything you do, everything you write should be under that brand you’ve created. It’s up to you to decide if your readers can handle you writing YA and Horror at the same time (I’m sure they can), or even sweet romance and erotic romance.


Maybe the real question isn’t whether you need a pen name but whether you know how to brand yourself.


Just my thoughts…from someone who has been there, done that and had to wear multiple tshirts because she couldn’t decide what she was going to do or how to do it. 


The post appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on February 22, 2015 16:51 • 7 views

February 19, 2015

100 Calorie Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cups   Print Author: adapted from Cooking Light Ingredients ⅔ cup dark chocolate chips 4 tbsp. creamy peanut butter 2 tsp. coconut oil, warmed 1 mini muffin tin Directions Step 1: Melt chocolate in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Watch closely and stir occasionally to ensure it melts smoothly and doesn’t burn. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Evenly distribute the chocolate into each of the cups, spooning it mostly to one side. Step 2: In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter and the melted coconut oil until combined. This will help thin the peanut butter out, making it easier to mix with the chocolate. (This recipe can also work great with sunbutter, but almond butter proved to be a bit too thin). Spoon the peanut butter mixture into the opposite side of the cups. Step 3: Using a toothpick, swirl the chocolate and peanut butter together. There’s no right or wrong way to do this—have fun with it! Step 4: Place the muffin tin in the freezer and allow to set for at least 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cups to pop them out of the tin easily. Serve immediately—the peanut butter will begin to soften quickly (but in my opinion, that makes for an even more scrumptious result). 3.2.2708
 

The post Easy 100 Calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on February 19, 2015 09:51 • 10 views

February 14, 2015

There’s a soft side to me that loves sweet romances and because of that – and that is why I’ve decided to create the Love So Sweet series. There’s something about lost loves, true love, sweet surrender and soul mates that touches our hearts…and when you add in chocolate, well…can it really get any better?


SweetReturn-FINAL


Sweet Return (link to come) is the story of soul mates and lost love and was originally published under the Invitation to Eden series under the title Return to Sender. What makes this one so different? It has a bonus chapters included that you might not have read before, but one I hope you’ll enjoy called Sweet Retreat.


I also need your help! 


Melanie and Lauren Summers have their own love stories to tell but one sister has gone missing and it’s up to the other to go find her.  Help me decide the next story to write!


Do you want to read about Lauren Summers who met the love of her life (or so she believes) in Europe and now refuses to come home or tell anyone where she is or Melanie Summers who hops on a plane to find her and ends up finding love herself? Vote now!


#yop-poll-container-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
width: 200px;
background:#fff;
padding:0px;
color:#555;
overflow:hidden;
font-size:12px;
}
#yop-poll-container-1_yp54e0f57341359 input[type='text'] {
margin:0px 0px 5px 0px;
padding:2%;
width:96%;
text-indent:2%;
font-size:12px;
}

.yop-poll-name-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
font-weight:bold;
background:#B70004;
color:#fff;
padding:5px;
text-align:center;
font-size:12px;
}

#yop-poll-questions-container-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
font-size:14px;
margin:5px 0px;
}
.yop-poll-question-container-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
padding: 2px;
}
.yop-poll-question-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
margin-bottom: 21px;
background:#B70004;
color:#fff;
margin-top: -10px;
font-style: italic;
text-align: center;
width: 100%;
padding:5px;
}
.yop-poll-answers-1_yp54e0f57341359 { }
.yop-poll-answers-1_yp54e0f57341359 ul {
list-style: none outside none;
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
}
.yop-poll-li-answer-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
font-style:normal;
margin:0px 0px 10px 0px;
padding:0px;
font-size:12px;
margin-bottom:20px;
}
.yop-poll-li-answer-1_yp54e0f57341359 input {
margin:0px;
float:none;
}
.yop-poll-li-answer-1_yp54e0f57341359 label {
margin:0px;
font-style:normal;
font-weight:normal;
font-size:12px;
float:none;
}
.yop-poll-results-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
font-size: 12px;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: normal;
margin-left: 15px;
}

.yop-poll-customs-1_yp54e0f57341359 { }
.yop-poll-customs-1_yp54e0f57341359 ul {
list-style: none outside none;
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
}
.yop-poll-li-custom-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
padding:0px;
margin:0px;
font-size:14px;
}

/* Start CAPTCHA div style*/
#yop-poll-captcha-input-div-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
margin-top:5px;
}
#yop-poll-captcha-helpers-div-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
width:30px;
float:left;
margin-left:5px;
height:0px;
}
#yop-poll-captcha-helpers-div-1_yp54e0f57341359 img {
margin-bottom:2px;
}
#yop-poll-captcha-image-div-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
margin-bottom:5px;
}
#yop_poll_captcha_image_1_yp54e0f57341359 {
float:left;
}
/* End CAPTCHA div style*/

.yop-poll-clear-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
clear:both;
}

#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 {}

/* Start Result bar*/
.yop-poll-results-bar-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
background:#f5f5f5;
height:10px;
}
.yop-poll-results-bar-1_yp54e0f57341359 div {
background:#555;
}
/* End Result bar*/

/* Start Vote Button*/
#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 div#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 button {
float:left;
}
#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 div#yop-poll-results-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
float: right;
margin-bottom: 20px;
margin-top: -20px;
width: auto;
}
#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 div#yop-poll-results-1_yp54e0f57341359 a {
color:#B70004;
text-decoration:underline;
font-size:12px;
}
#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 div#yop-poll-back-1_yp54e0f57341359 a {
color:#B70004;
text-decoration:underline;
font-size:12px;
}
#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 div#yop-poll-archive-1_yp54e0f57341359 a {
color:#B70004;
text-decoration:underline;
font-size:12px;
}
#yop-poll-vote-1_yp54e0f57341359 div {
float:left;
width:100%;
}
/* End Vote Button*/

/* Start Messages*/
#yop-poll-container-error-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
font-size:12px;
font-style:italic;
color:red;
text-transform: capitalize;
margin-bottom:20px;
text-align:center;
}
#yop-poll-container-success-1_yp54e0f57341359 {
font-size:12px;
font-style:italic;
color:green;
margin-bottom:20px;
text-align:center;
}
/* End Messages*/#yop-poll-container-1_yp54e0f57341359 img {
max-width: 200px;
}


The Next Love So Sweet Story Should Be About...




Melanie Summers






Jessica Summers



















vote



The post It’s Never Too Late For A Sweet Return appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on February 14, 2015 14:00 • 13 views

February 5, 2015

Are you a #travelholic like me who is constantly dreaming of vacations to Europe, of taking chocolate tours, of walking the streets of history, of drinking authentic coffee and pastries and seeing the amazing sights?


I’m in the middle of planning another trip to Europe this year where I’ll be traveling from London to Rome and I’m constantly searching various websites, taking notes, buying trip guides…and then I came across this site. Route Perfect.


Screenshot 2015-02-05 11.59.17


I must warn you in advance…you will spend a lot of time on this site. Not only do they have suggested itineraries based on the days you have to tour, but they offer suggestions on sites to see, hotels to stay, even transportation ideas. It’s a little addicting if I’m being honest.


Where do you want to go? Italy? Germany? UK? France? The site is quite easy to use. Just put in where you’d like to go, how many days you have to travel and voila…you can start to play with your itinerary or even pick from one of their many suggested itineraries depending on where you want to go. If you’d like, you can even book your hotel through them, but this part I like to do on my own. Did I mention I have a note book full of notes for my trip? I have about 25 pages full right now of places to visit, hotels to check out and possibly book, different train schedules…


I won’t use Route Perfect to plan my trip – but then, they say ‘explore Europe YOUR way!’ and that’s what I’ll use them for…to explore and help me decide what I want to do!


Check it out! Even if you’re not planning a trip this year or even next year…you can always dream!


The post I found the PERFECT Trip Planner to Europe! #travelholic appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on February 05, 2015 11:12 • 14 views

February 1, 2015

Every once in a while it’s important as a writer to run away. To escape. To go somewhere by themselves without any distractions.


Why?


To finish a novel that is due any day.


I know of several author friends who have done this and I used to be envious. I used to think it would be wonderful and amazing to just get away, to escape from all of the demands on our time – until I recently did it.


I was stressing out about a deadline that was mere days away and my novel wasn’t quite finished. No, this wasn’t one of those “I’ll take my time writing it until the very end when I realize that I really need to stay off of social media or else.” Rather, I’d written, deleted, re-written, deleted and then had my light-bulb moment of how to fix it…then realize I had only a few weeks left, then days, then hours.


This has probably been the hardest story I’ve ever had to write. Why? I’m not sure. The subject matter maybe – it hit pretty close to home in many ways, the pressure I placed on myself to write a better story than my last…the timing – right after the holidays…it could be any of these reasons, all of them or none of the above even. Regardless – this story destroyed me inside.


With my deadline just days away, I headed to one of my favorite hotel chains and booked two nights there with the sole intention of sitting in my room and writing until I could write no more. And I did that. I left my room a few times for the hotel gold lounge where there was coffee, water and smarties, even went to see my chiropractor (his office was a 15 minute walk away) but other than that – it was room service, cold showers to keep me awake, endless coffee with extra shots of espresso and smarties. Lots of smarties.


The Palliser in Calgary, Alberta is a lovely place to escape and lose oneself in their story. The room was comfortable, the bed amazing, the bathroom a bit small but the desk was exactly what I needed.


The scene that was the hardest to write was written in that hotel room and I will always remember sitting on the bed, tears streaming down my face as I blindly typed. I left my home stressed but came back relaxed. My book was done, I was exhausted, but I met my deadline.


I think that deserves a chocolate cupcake, don’t you?


The post When Do Writers Need To Escape? appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
1 like · Like  • 
Published on February 01, 2015 17:45 • 15 views

January 29, 2015

Polynesian Meatballs   Print Author: Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens cookbook Ingredients 1 beaten egg ¼ cup find dry bread crumbs 1 Tbsp snipped fresh parsley or cilantro 2 cloves of garlic, minced ¼ tsp salt ⅛ tsp ground red pepper 1 Lb lean ground beef ¼ finely chopped peanuts 1 fresh pineapple, peeled then cut into bite-size chunks, or 20oz can pineapple chunks (juice pack), drained 1¼ Cups Sweet and Sour Sauce of your choice Directions In mixing bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs, cilantro/parsley, garlic, salt, and the red pepper. Add this mixture to the beef and mix in the peanuts. Be sure to combine well. Shape into 36 meatballs. Place in a 15x10x1-inch shallow baking dish/pan. Bake in the oven at 350F for approximately 20 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the oven and drain off any grease. Thread a pineapple chunk and a meatball onto a wooden toothpick, for all meatballs. Place all meatball and pineapple back into the shallow baking dish. Brush with the Sweet and Sour sauce (leave some for the end). Return dish to the oven and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes, or until heated through again. In a saucepan on the stove, heat the remaining sauce until bubbly. Brush the meatballs and fruit with this warmed sauce before serving. NOTE: You can make these ahead of time! Once you remove the meatballs from the oven, before the fruit is added, simply cool the meatballs completely, then cover and chill them for up to 2 days. When ready, assembly the skewers as direct and bake for 10 minutes or until hot. 3.2.2708
 

The post Polynesian Meatballs appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
1 comment
1 like · Like  • 
Published on January 29, 2015 08:03 • 13 views

January 15, 2015

To start off the new year, I wanted to say THANK YOU to you, my amazing readers and what better way than to give you deals on some of my favorite books and give you the opportunity to win some sweet treats!


return to halfway

I’m excited to announce that the latest in the Halfway Series is now available! Rediscover Halfway and be ready to fall in love all over again with the town and characters. And then come join Elena and I in our Halfway Hangout on Saturday, Jan 17th where we’ve got 2 hrs of fun planned just for you!


Now LIVE on Amazon, book 2 in the Halfway Series, Halfway In Between!!  I’m excited to share this collaborative effort with the lovely Author Elena Aitken.  Be sure to grab book 1, Halfway to Nowhere, while it’s on SALE for $0.99!!!


Halfway In Between



Buy Now
halfway hangout

Halfway ReleaseTo celebrate our release, Elena and I are hosting the “Halfway Hangout” this Saturday, January 17th in the morning.

Grab your coffee, and get to your computer; we’ll be chatting, having fun and offering some lovely little treats.  RSVP as soon as you can.

We’re offering a great GIVEAWAY if we reach 100 guests TODAY (January 15th).  Can’t wait to see you there!!!


on sale

 


Before the StormHave you read Before the Storm yet? If not…now is a fabulous time as it’s on sale for only $0.99 for a limited time!


On Sale

Finding Emma


If you’re in the United Kingdom, Finding Emma is now only £2.99!


  on sale
thank you

As a THANK YOU to all of you wonderful readers, I am joining forces with a number of great authors to show our appreciation.  January Reader Appreciation is a FB event just for you.  Be sure to join and participate in the chat, and be part of the great prizes that will be available!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


The post A Thank You Gift from Me to You appeared first on Steena Holmes | NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author.

 •  flag
0 comments
Like  • 
Published on January 15, 2015 10:46 • 21 views