2020 Goals

Just like everyone else this time of year, I’m setting my resolutions for 2020. It’s not enough to have dreams: to make them a reality, you have to have a plan. I’ve broken out categories that make sense to me.


My top goal for writing this year is to match last year’s output: 4 books for 2020. I think this is achievable: the first book (Bonds of Iron) is two-thirds written, and what remains is completing the book, then all the editing/beta/formatting/marketing. I also have a concept for a cover but nothing mocked up.

I also have solid plots for the next 3 books in the series, a sequel to Dark Empire that I really need to finish (60,000+ words in!), a new series that I have in mind, and several standalone novels I’d love to write.

Of course, actually advertising these books effectively so they bring in some income is also a pretty important component of this goal. I’m investigating AMS ads as my next step.


I’m on track to write two blog posts a month. If I can do this consistently with content that I find really interesting (and hopefully you do, too!) I’ll look at increasing the frequency.

First up is a series in advance of Valentine’s Day… Stay tuned.


I need a new approach to writing newsletters…and I need to send them out with some regularity, too—at least monthly, but that doesn’t really help people know who is actually sending them a newsletter. If I can generate some good free content that I can give away to subscribers, that would give me a focal point for adding value to people’s inboxes. I’m going to focus on this goal starting in the second half of the year.


What would a New Year’s resolutions list be without some fitness goals? I’ve got a few inches left to lose. I’m already on Day 6 of a new 30-day HIIT/body weight challenge, and I’ve been working out consistently since I left my corporate job. I’m trying to remember that pounds matter less than inches, but getting on a scale is my default response to monitoring my fitness. I’ve got a pretty good collection of workout videos that I’m pretty good about following, and of course there’s a great variety always available on YouTube.

I don’t usually bother with resolutions for things that I already do that are habits: personal reading (follow my personal Goodreads challenge!), my language lessons (befriend me on DuoLingo!), or things I do just for fun, like drawing.

So why share my 2020 resolutions here? Accountability begins with writing down the goals and sharing them here on the blog. I’ll check in quarterly with progress updates.

A Thrilling Dive Off a Ship

On Saturdays, you can check out a snippet from my latest writing efforts. All excerpts are copyrighted. This text from my writing is first draft, unedited, and may not appear in the final work.

This is another scene of the new Stargazer Conservatory novel I’m working on, “Bonds of Iron.” As promised, Kai and Maryn make a reappearance.

Parisa smiled weakly. “[…] I leapt off the ship and […] planned to hitch a ride with anyone who would take me. Rand and his friends happened to be leaving.”

“That’s incredible,” Maryn breathed. “I’m a mermaid and I’m not sure I would have dared a dive like that.”

“Right, because you’re not desperate, or a thrill-seeker,” Kai pointed out, his tone warning her not to try it. “That dive could break your neck, never mind that you’re a mermaid. It’s one thing to dive that deep once you’re in the water, but the change from air to water affects the rate at which different parts of your body decelerate.”


“You dove from what deck?” Requine asked, returning to the original subject.

Rand was curious too—he’d never pressed Parisa for the details. […] Based on what Kai said, what she did was incredibly risky. She was lucky to be alive. Imagine being so close to her and having never met her. The thought sent a chill down Rand’s spine […]. His hands twitched involuntarily, seeking contact. Trying to be nonchalant, Rand leaned against the table next to her, his leg brushing hers and he stretched out.

“One of my friends helped knot some sheets and tie them to one of the lifeboats. I climbed onto the lifeboat, used the sheets to lower myself as far as I could toward the water, then dropped in feet first. We calculated it was about a two-story drop…”

Disclaimer: Do not try this at home or on a cruise ship. Teacup Publishing does not accept any liability for the act described or any attempt to do something similar.

We are putting the finishing touches on a cruise trip plan, and I couldn’t help doing some research on how high the decks really are. This is a surprisingly difficult detail to find online. Obviously I have no interest in jumping off a cruise ship, but recent stories in the news talk about the fatalities and injuries experienced by people who have fallen, either deliberately or accidentally.

Of course, Parisa’s daring escape violates all kinds of safety codes, but I wanted to make it believable that she could have succeeded. I did a little bit of research on the right way to dive from a great height.

Amusingly, a lot of the guidance I found talked about how successful Rose and Jack might have been doing something similar during the sinking of the Titanic. Cruise ships today are much larger than the Titanic, so what might have worked for Rose and Jack might not work under similar situations today. Oh, and obviously, they wouldn’t have been trying to save their lives in such a manner if there were enough lifeboats, as there are today. Anyway, I digress.

If you need to see the whole scene, I understand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uFlzTvUnjE

The first piece of advice for amateurs diving from height was—duh—get as low to the water as you possibly can. If the distance Parisa dove really was two stories, her likelihood of injury from the dive itself lowers considerably. The other advice was not to dive head-first, for the reasons Kai described above.

I guess this falls under the category of the weird stuff writers research for their books. I just hope our cruise line doesn’t have an inside track to my browsing history.