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“Never, never, never give up.”

Winston Churchill


2012 was the year I transitioned from writing as a hobby to writing as an occupation. I cut back on my psychotherapy practice and my corporate crisis/grief counseling in order to write more—mostly fiction.


At the start of 2012, I was quite happy with the success of my self-published novels. I was looking forward to what might happen when I had more books published. I’d planned out my year, figuring what books, novellas, and short stories I’d write in 2013. I thought I’d start with Harvest of Dreams, the last book in The Gods’ Dream Trilogy.


Mid-way through January, everything changed when I received an email from Lindsay Guzzardo, an editor from Montlake, Amazon’s new traditional romance imprint. Lindsay had read Wild Montana Sky and wanted to acquire the series for Montlake.


After twelve years of writing, I’d finally received that long awaited call (or in this case, email) from an editor, wanting my series—at that time, Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky. But instead of feeling ecstatic, I felt…ambivalent. I was honored and excited to be chosen, but wasn’t sure I wanted to give up control of my books.





I called and emailed everyone I knew (or knew of) who’d already signed with an Amazon imprint, asking for feedback about their experiences. I also read some authors’ blog posts about their decision to publish with an Amazon imprint. Everyone was positive and excited to be working with Amazon. So I decided to talk to Lindsay. I came up with questions for her and figured out what I wanted to say to her.




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I wanted to make sure my self-published books would stay available (and I’d receive the royalties) between the time I signed the contract and when the Montlake versions went live (around six months later). I needed to know that Lindsay would respect my version of the series, including my ideas for the next books. I wanted to keep my titles and my covers. I wanted to be able to self-publish novellas and short stories in my series.


Approaching an editor as a successful self-published author felt much different than having a discussion as an unknown, unpublished author. I knew I could happily walk away from the negotiation table and was quite prepared to do so.


The discussion went very well, and I ended up agreeing to allow Montlake to acquire the first two books. I self-published Stormy Montana Sky two days later. To date, Stormy Montana Sky is still mine, although it’s my option book for Montlake, meaning they may acquire it next. 


I signed the final version of the contract at the end of February. That same day, an editor from one of the “big six” publishers approached me wanting the series, but the terms weren’t as good as Montlake’s, and I turned them down.



My nonfiction grief book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, which came out in November of 2011, started getting excellent reviews, and I also received positive word-of-month feedback, I felt relieved that the book was accomplishing the healing that I’d intended, and I’m so glad that book will be helping people for years to come.



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"Just want to let you know what a great comfort your book is. It's such a help.


I have some other books on grief and yours is by far the most helpful, and readable.It would be a great gift for people who need a little support too, because I found even picking and ordering a book was a struggle. I'm rather in awe that you can write something like this and then switch to such a different genre and do them so well.


There are parts I read over and over. Love how everything is highlighted in Essential Takeways. It's works for foggy brains.


Thank you for writing it. You're very kind and wise and the scope of your experience shows in your writing."





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In April, while still a self-published book, Wild Montana Sky, made the USA Today Bestseller list. (A huge positive shock!) I never even dreamed of making that list!


The end of April marked my first anniversary as a self-published author, with about 97,000 sales of my novels. Not bad for an unknown, previously unpublished author!


A move, a break-up, some family drama, and a death in the family pretty much sidelined my writing for several months, although when I had a chance, I worked on short stories for Montana Sky Christmas.


My beloved Sheltie, Oreo, fell or jumped (we didn’t see it) off the dock in Newport Harbor, and gave me the biggest scare of my life. Luckily I found her swimming in the water in time, but she was pretty worn out. (From now on—doggie life vest!) I knew I had to do something with the intense emotions I’d experienced. Montana doesn’t have an ocean, but it does have rivers. In my novella, Painted Montana Sky, the heroine’s emotions on seeing her dog swept away downstream, fearing she would drown—are mine. Don’t worry. The hero and heroine meet when he rescues her dog.







Montlake launched their versions of Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky at the end of August. By mid-November, Wild Montana Sky had sold 50,000 copies, mostly due to a push by Amazon in October. On the Amazon top 100 Kindle list, the book moved as low as #21.


Amazon debuted an author ranking system in October, and I landed in the top 100, debuting at #39. Little ole me was in the midst of big name authors. A shock and an honor. I’m not on that top 100 list now, but hope to be there again.


As happy as I am to be an Amazon Montlake author, one thing that’s difficult is Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky are not on Nook. They did very well on Nook as self-published books, but because Barnes & Noble refuses to carry Amazon imprint ebooks, my Barnes & Noble readers don’t have access to the books, at least on their Nooks, although they can buy the print versions. I’m told there’s a way to “sideload” the Kindle books onto a Nook, but couldn’t tell you how to do that. Apple also doesn’t carry the Amazon imprint books, although with the ipad and most any computer, notebook, or mobile device, you can download a Kindle app, buy the books from Amazon, and read them that way.


So I must apologize to my Nook readers. When I signed with Montlake, I misunderstood Barnes & Noble’s position. I thought they’d carry the ebooks, but not the print versions. It’s the other way around. Also, at the time, I didn’t have many Nook readers. That changed in April 2012, with a huge wave of Nook sales, which helped propel Wild Montana Sky to the USA Today list. Hopefully, in the future, Barnes & Noble will relent and sell Montlake ebooks. It might help if you wrote Barnes & Noble requesting my ebooks. Maybe if the company receives enough customer feedback, they’ll change their stance.


I know the writing plans I have for 2013. Hopefully the year won’t be as tumultuous as 2012. But (in chronological order) it looks like this:


• Harvest of Dreams, book three in The Gods’ Dream Trilogy

• Montana Sky Series tie-in novellas written with Caroline Fyffe

• Healing Montana Sky, book four in the Montana Sky Series

• Rules of Engagement, my nonfiction book on dealing with difficult people

 A Montana Sky Series novella or two.


As you can see, I’m hoping for a busy, productive year! What I hope for you in 2013 is the courage and tenacity to keep following your dreams. There are often times I wanted to give up writing. I had years of discouraging rejections. I know now that the time wasn’t right for me. I believe God had something bigger in store for me than I even dreamed for myself. I’m so grateful I didn’t give up!


Believe in yourself. Follow your dream, even if it means only taking one tiny step at a time. You never know where life’s journey will take you.





Take a few quiet minutes during the holiday to sit
and savor all your blessings.


Many years ago, I conducted a therapy group on the night before Thanksgiving. One by one, each person told a story about the pain of his or her past and/or current holidays. Some people talked about their regrets for not appreciating what they had when they had it.


Listening to them, I thought, I’ve never had a bad holiday in my life! I had tremendous a surge of gratitude for my wonderful family and the beautiful holidays we’ve created.


The next day I began a new tradition. In the midst of the chaos of Thanksgiving, after dinner, I took a few minutes to sit on the couch and feel. During that time, I realized that someday, I’d be the old lady looking back on the holidays of my younger years. I didn’t want to feel regret for my lack of appreciation for my family and all my other blessings.


So as the men snoozed in front of the football game, and the children ran around and played noisy games, and some of the women made soup from the leftovers, while others sat and chatted, I took deep breaths and touched on the presence of each person. I held him or her in my heart, loving and appreciating each one, and feeling the connection with this special group of people I call family.


I even became a little sad, realizing future holidays wouldn’t always be like the one I was experiencing. Someday the older generation would have passed away. There would be new mates and new babies. The children would be grown, married, and perhaps be at their spouses’ holiday celebrations. The family as I knew it I would continue to change.


Every holiday since that Thanksgiving, I take a few minutes to spend in stillness and appreciation. As I expected, the older generation, starting with my grandmother, and then my father, have passed on. New babies have come into the family. Now some of those babies are teenagers.


Sad moments during your quiet time aren’t bad. Those feelings of sadness or grief just mean you have loved and been loved. Although the person or people may not be present, their love and the memory of them live on in you.


Back then, I didn’t expect that one of our little children would be missing from that picture of the future. Tanya, my cousin’s daughter, was hit by a car and killed in June. She was twenty years old. Our holidays will be different this year as we mourn her loss. Tanya’s family is choosing to spend Christmas in a different way. Another aunt and uncle have moved out of state. Their grown-up children are spending the holiday with them.


I have no doubt my Christmas this year will still be wonderful—I do have three beautiful nieces whom I’ll spoil. But I will also have moments of sadness, missing those who’ve passed on, missing those who aren’t there. I will still take a few minutes to stop, reflect, feel my love for each family member, present or not, and count my blessings.


Something else has changed since I first initiated my tradition of Christmas reflection. I’m an USA Today bestselling author now. At the time I started this tradition, I barely thought of writing. Now I have successful novels and a whole new way of life. I have readers who love my books. Some have emailed me fan letters and left beautiful reviews. I have readers who tell me I’ve touched their lives through my stories.


So this Christmas as I take my moments of reflection and gratitude for my family and my blessings, I’ll also appreciate my readers. I’ll give thanks for them and pray that they, too, are having a blessed holiday. I wish for you some peaceful moments during the holidays—however you spend them. I wish moments of gratitude, love, and many, many blessings!


All the best in 2013!


Debra Holland





I have four friends with new books out this holiday season. They write totally different kinds of stories than I do. But I hope you check them out.



When Maggie meets Tom. When attraction meets logic…when lust trumps sanity…all bets are off.


Stella MacLean's THE ART OF KISSING DANGEROUSLY may sound naughty, but it's really the story of a woman who has decided to stand up for herself and what she wants. Now, it's true, she does want Tom Rawlins, but on her terms only. Along the way, she discovers that life isn't always about money, and that love can be found in some of the strangest places. Please enjoy this Holiday Season.






Liliana Hart

After one night of frenzied passion, Brant Scott left the only woman he's ever loved because of a secret he couldn't bear for anyone to know. Especially not Darcy MacKenzie. But four years later, Brant and Darcy are thrown into a deadly game of lies, deceit and betrayal, and Darcy isn't one to forgive and forget. Not after her heart has been broken. But how long can she push him away when they're mission is to live as man and wife?



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All Romance Ebooks





High Heels Mysteries book #7

Maddie Springer is all about fashion. So when her best friend Dana's movie star boyfriend, Ricky Montgomery, becomes a contestant on the ballroom dance reality hit, Dancing with Celebrities, she is over the moon at the thought of visiting the sparkly, spandexy costumes on the set. That is until Ricky's dance partner is found dead in his dressing room... in the nude! Suddenly the police suspect him of murder, Dana suspects him of cheating on her, and the reporters at the L.A. Informer, Hollywood's most notorious tabloid, have dubbed him "Dancing Death". Now it's up to Maddie to clear his name as she wades through a misfit cast of reality show dancers to find out just who has a grudge against the show's star... and who is in danger of taking their final bow next!



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Paperback print



Countdown to a Kiss: A New Year's Eve Anthology

Four stories by four authors ... one fateful New Year's Eve


Four kisses at midnight...

Three different sisters...

Two old flames...

One bet that drives it all!


The Devine sisters return to their hometown for New Year's Eve each year to attend the annual ball. Part of the tradition is their decade-old bet: whoever has no date at midnight has to kiss their nerdy neighbor Lewis Kampmueller.


Who will lose the bet but win out in love? Four charming stories written by four different authors about one fateful New Year's Eve.


The champagne is poured. The clock is ticking. Join the countdown!



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