An Interview with Debra Holland

Please help me welcome Debra Holland to my blog today. Debra is giving one lucky commentor a Smashwords coupon for her book Sower of Dreams.

sowerofdreams_750_2If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?

I’d live in Great Britain in a big old manor house. I feel an affinity for the country, as if I’ve lived many lifetimes there. Since I’d also want a sunny climate, I’d have a house in Hawaii as well. I love the ocean and being able to swim every day.

I live in Southern California and could swim in the ocean every day, but much of the year it’s too cold. And our beaches aren’t as pretty as Hawaii.

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I have other careers WHILE I’m a writer.  I’m a psychotherapist and a corporate crisis/grief counselor. I also teach martial arts. However, due to the success of my books, I’ve cut back on my psychotherapy practice and the crisis counseling so I have more time to write.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write in several different genres because I like reading romance, fantasy, and science fiction. So I write sweet Western historical romance, fantasy romance, and science fiction romance.

I also write nonfiction. I have a book on grief—The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving—and am working on a book on boundary setting with difficult people.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

I have six fiction books, one novella, and one collection of short Christmas stories. I also have one nonfiction book.

Tell us about your current series/WIP.

I’m finishing up Harvest of Dreams, which is the third book in The Gods’ Dream Trilogy. It has a lot of characters, including the heroes and heroines from the first books, and Gods and Goddesses. It’s proving to be a long and complicated (and thus frustrating) book to write. Sometimes I want to throw it out the window (which would probably destroy my laptop.) But I have fans who are eagerly waiting for the book, so I can’t give up on them. The thought of them keeps me going.

What inspired your latest book?

The Gods’ Dream Trilogy started out as a short story that I wrote to submit to Andre Norton’s Witch World anthologies. But she wasn’t doing them any more. So I changed the details of the story to make it my own world. Then I made the story into a novella, expanded it to a short book, then into a longer book, then to a trilogy. It’s the story that never stopped growing! (Still hasn’t. Harvest of Dreams is getting longer and longer…) The first book is Sower of Dreams, and Andre read it and gave me a critique. Then she endorsed the book. It was probably one of the last endorsements she gave before she died.

What is your next project and when will it be released?

I’m writing some Montana Sky novellas with Caroline Fyffe. We’re doing a mail order bride series, and my brides go to my Western town of Sweetwater Springs, and her brides go to the towns from her books. We hope to have them out by the end of April.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

I will read, hear, or see something that will spark an idea. Then I keep playing with it until I have characters and a story. For example, while writing Montana Sky Christmas, my collection of Christmas stories, I was on a trail run through the hills with some friends. We jogged by an elderly man, and one woman said, “That man is known for always wearing red socks.”

We ran on, and I kept thinking, red socks, red socks…perfect for a Christmas story. By the halfway point, I figured out my hero was a cowboy who always wore red socks and why. On the way back, I figured out the heroine and the plot. Sure made that four-mile run much easier when I had my mind on the story! That idea became, Red Stockings for Christmas.

Something wonderful and unexpected about self-publishing is how it has opened up my creativity. I had a long stretch where my agent couldn’t sell my novels (they weren’t sexy enough.) Discouraged, I switched to writing nonfiction. I’d get ideas for stories and think, “It takes too long to write a book that doesn’t sell.” So I’d squash the idea. Now I have so many ideas, I’ll be writing for years.

What is your typical day like?

I don’t have a typical day, although I have typical weeks. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I take a women’s fitness bootcamp in the mornings. Tuesday and Thursday, I teach karate in the mornings. I write with a friend at her house on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for two and a half hours. I see counseling clients in my office on Tuesdays until late at night. I take a nap every day because I have hypothyroidism and my brain shuts off until I rest. I’ll usually work on the books in the evening.

Of course the schedule explodes when a crisis job occurs. I drop everything to drive to the company that has had a death, accident, robbery, or anything that upsets the employees.

How does your family feel about your writing career?

I’m not married and don’t have children. The rest of my family is thrilled. My mom is my best sales person. She carries around postcards of my books and tells everyone about them.

Of course, my family is benefiting from my extra income. I have three lovely nieces, and I love taking them shopping or out for a special event like going to the theatre. I’ll be able to help with my oldest niece’s college tuition when she goes to school next year. We’ll know in a few weeks if she gets into USC, my alma mater. I can also help other family members when there is a need. What a blessing!

How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?

I do very little promotion. Sometime I’ll write a blog or guest blog. But I’ve found if I’m doing promotion, I’m not writing. I’ve also found that the very best promotion I can do is publish another book.

In the last four months, I’ve become more active on Facebook, but mostly because it’s sort of fun. 

Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?

Don’t give up!!! Keep learning your craft. Keep writing. Enter contests for feedback, so you can see what you still need to work on.

Rejection is very discouraging. Believe me, I have a stack of rejection letters. However, it’s a whole new world of publishing, and writers have some amazing opportunities.

My one mistake was to let discouragement stop me from writing fiction for about four years. I would have had more books to self-publish if I’d kept writing stories as well as work on the nonfiction.

I NEVER dreamed I’d have the success I do today, that I’d make a USA Today list, have a book designated by Amazon as a Top 50 Greatest Love Story, that I’d make three times as much as a writer than I do as a psychotherapist. Wow!


Dream threads wrapped around Daria, tugging her away from Seagem to an unfamiliar place.

She stood on a hilly desert, gritty beige sand under her bare feet. Overhead, a yellow sun blazed in an arching azure sky. The starkness of the color dried the air from her lungs, making her lightheaded.

Daria fought the dizziness. Where is this place? What am I doing here?

She’d curbed herself of dream walking without the presence of Yadarius, ever since Indaran’s death. Somehow, her blocks must have slipped.

Trepidation, like cold fingers, clutched her stomach, chilling her in spite of the blistering heat.

She shaded her eyes with one hand, staring at the vast blueness. She wasn’t in Seagem anymore; she doubted a sky of such a hue existed anywhere on her world. Was this Yadarius’ doing? Had He sent her somewhere? For what purpose?

Turning in a small circle, she scanned her surroundings, searching for signs of the SeaGod’s presence.

Nothing. Not even a hint of brine in the parched air.

She took deep breaths, striving for calm. To break her paralysis, she forced herself to take a step. The hot sand slithered under her feet. At least being in a dream protected the soles of her feet from burning.

The act of moving freed her from the bonds of her childhood fears. I’m a woman grown. A warrior. This is an entirely different dream walk than my last meeting with Indaran. She tried to believe her words.

Trudging to the top of the hill, Daria looked around. Sand dunes ringed this barren, rocky outcropping, scarce of vegetation. A sense of purpose unfurled tendrils of knowingness. There must be a reason for her being here, and she needed to find out what.
Her ears caught a rhythmic sound, and then the scrape of a shod hoof on a stone.
More curious than apprehensive, she waited.

A rider on an ebony stallion, leading a pack mare, appeared between two ridges, The man wore a loose, light-colored garment over trews, and a head-covering that looked like a cap with a long cloth shielding the back of his neck. She noted the bow hooked close to his hand on the saddle and the fletches of what must be a quiver of arrows on his back. No sword, though.

He turned his head. A strong face, unlike any she’d ever seen. Hawk-like features. Dark skin. Penetrating brown eyes.

His gaze shot to hers, like an arrow through her heart.

Daria felt the impact and stumbled back, her hand flying to cover her chest. Beneath her palm, her heartbeat stuttered, then quickened, like a horse kicked into a canter. Warmth spread under her fingers, racing throughout her body. Her knees weakened.

The man reined in his stallion, watching her, his eyes narrowed. Slowly, he extended his hand to her, palm up, a clear invitation to come to him.

She reached out her hand.

A chain of connection forged across the distance between them.

Then she saw darkness stain the horizon behind him. A clear warning of danger swept through her othersense. She lowered her hand and backed away.

Then the dream threads unraveled. Daria slept on, dreamless.

Sower Amazon buylink:


Dr._Debra_Holland_2USA Today Bestselling author Debra Holland is a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one time winner. She’s the author of The Montana Sky Series, sweet historical Western romance, which she self-published as ebooks. In her first year, she had 97,000 sales, made the USA Today list with Wild Montana Sky, and sold Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky to Amazon Montlake. In February of 2013, Amazon selected Starry Montana Sky as one of the Top 50 Greatest Love Stories.

Debra is also the author of The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance.) She has a nonfiction book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving from Alpha Books (a subsidiary of Penguin).

She has a free ebooklet available on her website, 58 Tips for Getting What You Want From a Difficult Conversation.

Painted Montana Sky is her latest novella.

11 thoughts on “An Interview with Debra Holland

  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Debra. Your WIP sounds very intriguing. It’s always nice to leave the real world for a fantasy world where gods and goddesses rule. I hear you about the fans who keep you going. I feel the same way, and did actually quit my teaching career just two months ago to finish the second book in my series. I felt obligated to my fans who’ve been waiting for far too long. I felt confident enough to resign from my teaching post, because I made more money on the first book in the series than I do teaching. God bless us Indie Publishers.

    Good luck with your continued success.


  2. Hi Debra and Cindy,

    Speaking of past lives, have you ever tried past life regressions with your patients, Debra? Anything you can share? (Once I did this with an experienced psychiatrist and another time with a psychic. Each experience was different, yet interesting).

  3. Thanks, Linda!
    No. You have to be careful about “spiritual” topics in counseling, unless you are supposed to be some kind of spiritual counselor. It used to be that psychologists were told not to bring them up at all. But, thankfully, that’s changed. I’ll mention a personal belief, or try to make suggestions that fall in line with the client’s beliefs. I encourage them to explore spiritual issues.

  4. That is simply amazing to come up with the ‘red sock’ story like. It’s so easy and the story just jumps into your being. Congratulations on all your wonderful success. I know it was a lot of hard work too. Keep writing so I can keep reading.

  5. Very interesting to see how you massage your muse. Do you feel you are more creative during your workouts or are you naturally inquisitive?

  6. Mary,
    I wish all stories were as fast and easy to write as Red Stockings was.

    Jess, Lovely to see you here. I hope all is going well for you.

    Angela, I’ll pass your compliment on to my mom. She’ll be thrilled.

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