A few years back I dipped my toe into indie publishing by publishing a few books that had done well in contests, including winning RWA’s Golden Heart, and that had gotten good feedback from publishers. They just didn’t happen to find the right spot at the right publishing house at the right time. I also got the rights back to my first two young adult romances and repackaged and republished those. But the name of the game in indie publishing is series, and none of these books were related to each other. But now I am planning a series (the super secret project I’ve mentioned before) to indie publish, so I’m in full-on learning the latest about the indie marketplace mode. I read articles, posts on private author groups, and I listen to a lot of podcasts.

Each morning I’ve been starting out my day by walking for an hour while listening to podcasts. This combination of activities serves many purposes:

1. I get in my exercise first thing so I don’t put it off and risk just not doing it at all. And exercise is very important for writers since we have such a sedentary career and sitting too much can lead to a whole host of health issues. Speaking as someone who lost both of her parents to heart disease, I’d like to avoid that if possible.

2. It puts my brain in business/writing mode first thing so that it’s there before I ever sit down at the computer.

3. Listening to the podcasts make the walk go faster. It’s like when you go on a road trip and it goes faster if you have someone to talk to or an audiobook to listen occupy your mind.

4. Listening while exercising increases the amount of valuable information I’m learning and can put to use as I prepare to launch a new series later next year.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite writing podcasts here and invite you to share some of yours. I’m always looking for new ones.

The Creative Penn — Joanna Penn is just so peppy and optimistic that she puts me in a good mood while also having great guests. Listening to her updates about her own career are inspirational.

The Self-Publishing Podcast — Hosted by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright. Be warned, they don’t filter their language, but they’re funny while sharing interesting info and useful takes on the business.

The Book Marketing Show — This is a newer podcast, hosted by Dave Chesson, the founder of Kindlepreneur. I discovered this show while taking Chesson’s free online course on Amazon’s AMS ads.

The Well — This isn’t a writing podcast but rather one that is more generally about creative inspiration. It’s co-hosted by filmmaker Branan Edgens and actor Anson Mount from Hell on Wheels and Inhumans.

The Pivot Podcast — I started listening to this podcast by author Jenny Blake after I took a webinar with her on her Pivot Method. It seemed like a good fit because I’m pivoting my career right now.

I’ve bookmarked a number of other podcasts I want to check out, such as the Sell More Books Show, Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula, the Kobo Writing Life podcast, and Smart Passive Income. Are there any other writing podcasts out there I shouldn’t miss?

This week’s #UpbeatAuthors topic is “When one door closes, another one opens.” It’s one of those sayings that can be annoying when you’ve just had a door slam in your face. That’s understandable because the opportunity lost is still fresh in your mind, still stings or full-fledged hurts. It often takes time to get over that door closing before you can see a nearby door that’s open or before you can start your search for an open door. Sometimes you stumble upon the door quite by accident. And sometimes an opportunity comes knocking.

A number of years ago, I worked at a magazine. The editor at the time went on maternity leave, and I did a lot of extra work. Eventually, she turned in her notice because she was moving to another state. I applied for the job, but I didn’t get it. At the time I was quite upset, but it worked out okay in the end. The co-worker who got the job is really good at it and is still in that position. By contrast, I left my position there almost 13 years ago to pursue writing fiction full time. If I had been in the editor’s position, it would have been much harder for me to leave the job, at least not before we did a search for a new editor and got someone into the position and trained. I was burned out and ready for a change, and because I had not gotten the editor’s position, I was able to make that transition more quickly.

Earlier this year, I received the news that Harlequin was ending my line next summer, and I wasn’t the only one. With five lines closing, that was a lot of authors out of spots, and there just weren’t enough other available spots in other lines for everyone. I decided not to pursue one and pivot in another direction. At the RWA conference, I met with an editor from Tule Publishing, and now I’m under contract for three books with them. I have some other projects in the percolating phase, but I’ll be keeping those under wraps for now. If you’d like to know when I spill the beans on those and other writing/book-related news, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.

I’m excited to be going in some new directions after a decade writing for Harlequin. I will miss working with my editors there, but change is just a part of life. And often that change is exactly what you need, even when you can’t see it at the time.

Image copyright, Marvel Studios.

If you’ve read my earlier blog posts this week — #UpbeatAuthors Monday and Writer Wednesday — thank you! And now it’s time to just have some fun with my first Fangirl Friday. During these weekly posts, I’ll be sharing something I really love. To anyone who knows me, it should come as no surprise that I’m going to kick things off with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I am, after all, a big Marvel fangirl.

Since Iron Man appeared on movie screens in 2008, I’ve eagerly awaited all the new movies in the MCU. Each of the superheroes has a unique personality and thus brings something unique to the MCU. Tony Stark is cocky but brilliant. Captain America is good, honest and the perfect boy next door. Thor is literally a god. Doctor Strange brings magic into the picture. The Guardians of the Galaxy are an interesting group of very different characters that just work together and provide a lot of laughs for the audience. (Dance off, anyone?) My personal favorite characters are Thor (I have an affinity for Norse mythology) and Captain America. And while he is sometimes a villain and sometimes a reluctant hero, I do love Loki as well. It really helps that I think the casting has been really well done in the MCU.

Image copyright, Marvel Studios.

I love how characters cross over from one character’s movies to another. For instance, in this month’s awesome Thor Ragnarok, Bruce Banner/The Hulk played a big role. And while you don’t typically see the actual characters/actors cross over between the movie and TV properties (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans), Agent Phil Coulson being an obvious exception, there are mentions of what is happening in the bigger MCU between the two.

There have been 17 MCU movies so far, and more are in various stages of production. Next year will see the release of Black Panther (which looks fantastic and chock-full of talent), Avengers: Infinity War (we’ve been building toward this battle with Thanos for a long time; see all the references to the Infinity Stones peppered throughout the previous movies) and Ant-Man and Wasp. We’ll see another crossover in Infinity War as the Guardians of the Galaxy team up with the Avengers.

So there is lots more Marvel goodness in the years ahead, and this Marvel fangirl is eagerly anticipating all of it. Any of you Marvel fans? Who is your favorite Marvel character?

This has been a year of change in my career and having to figure out how to deal with that change. And so, of course, I thought I should write about it and hopefully help or inspire other authors in the process.

Let’s go back in time a little bit. Late last year, I was burned out. While I had worked long and hard to have a career as a romance author and particularly at Harlequin, some grueling writing schedules and having to adhere to certain parameters in my stories had finally caught up with me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very appreciative of Harlequin’s support, my wonderful editors there, and the fantastic readers who have read my books. But I just hit a wall and felt I had nothing left in the creative well. I had to do something I never would have imagined myself doing — renegotiating the back end of my contract so that I could have more time to write and turn in the remaining books. I can’t tell you how nervous I was to do that because I’ve always been the type of person who gets work in on time or often early. That dates back all the way to elementary school homework. Little did I know that less than a year later Harlequin would announce that my line (Harlequin Western Romance, formerly Harlequin American Romance) would be closing in June 2018.

Before that announcement, however, I had to drag myself out of the creative funk and what turned out to be a hormonal shift that left me feeling way more anxious than I usually am. Gradually, that happened. I got on medication to help the hormone imbalance, took time to think about where I wanted to go next in my career, attended some conferences for inspiration and the latest industry information, and started making a plan. During these Writer Wednesday posts, I’m going to be talking about various aspects of how I pulled myself out of the funk and how I’m approaching a necessary pivot in my career. I’ll also be talking about timely topics that affect writers and other tidbits I learn along this writing journey. I hope you’ll go along for the ride.

And don’t forget, each Monday here on the blog will be devoted to the week’s #UpbeatAuthors motivational topic, and Fridays are all about me fangirling over something I’m really enjoying, be that movies, TV shows, books, music, websites, or whatever else strikes my fancy.