Words, words, words…

A Busy… Year? Month(s)? Or not really?

Dan Alatorre


I was looking at my writing this morning – the number of titles I’ve completed in 2020 to be released.

I’ve written 32,000 words of Primary Target, the 2nd book in the popular Double Blind mystery series. (I really enjoy the characters in that series. I should write more stories for them.) That’s pretty good, writing 32,000 words, considering I started writing it in earnest this past week. The prior week, I was at the beach, so there was some writing time but really only 1-2 hours a day, compared to about 8 hours a day this week. Big difference.

When we’re staying at the beach, I tend to get up around 6am or 7am and walk out to the water’s edge, take in the sea air (actually the Gulf air, I suppose, but it still counts) and watch… not much of anything. I put up an umbrella for eventual use by my wife, a few chairs for her and my daughter, and then just sit down and enjoy the quiet calm of the gentle waves. I almost always see a dolphin swimming by in the morning, or a few; this time we saw manatees cruising along, and quite a few snook or tarpons.

It’s hard to tell whether it’s a snook or tarpon when it swims by you in the water.

I’m just glad whatever it is isn’t a shark, you know?)

Manatees are a bit strange. I like to wear polarized sunglasses, which are like miniature venetian blinds. They cut a lot of the sun’s glare and you can see into the water better, which is why people who fish wear them. I like them because they cut out the brightness – always a plus in sunglasses – and… they let me see into the water better. You see more wearing them, and I guess I want to see more.

The water where we vacation is very clear, almost like a lightly tinted swimming pool, so you can stand in six feet of water and see shells on the bottom, or a manatee a hundred feet away.

Which is what happened. The manatee moves slow, so for most of the time you are watching him or her, it’s just a big shadow in the water. To the untrained eye, that big shadow could be anything, including stuff that can eat you, so, again, polarized sunglasses are my preferred eye protection. But he casually floats along like a big blob, sticking his snout out for a breath, before gliding past and continuing on his way. That’s about as exciting as manatees get.

Dolphins are much more fun, to me. The breathe more often, so you can see them better, and there’s usually a few in a pack. (Pod? I don’t know.)

So I spend lots of time on the sand in the morning. My daughter usually comes down next, and we play for a bit – make sand castles or snorkel – and eventually my wife comes down.

As the day gets hotter (and I get hungry for lunch) I usually go back to the room or beach house, whichever we’ve rented for this particular visit, and eat. If I’m writing a book, which is most of the time, I shower and spend a few hours writing while the others enjoy the sun and sand. When they’ve had enough, they come in, clean up, and we all head to dinner.

Evenings might be watching the sun set, playing in the pool, or whatever. But you can see, it’s limited writing time.


Yesterday, I did pretty well with the writing. I was in the groove, cranking out the word count, cleaning up earlier chapters, creating interesting subplots, and adding a lot of new stuff to the story. When I stopped for the day, I was happy. I put the day’s work into the main file and it said I had about 32,000 words written for the book. The morning of the day before, that was around 28k or so, I think.

So, job well done.

The book is rolling along now, and when I look at all the subplots I have lined up, I’m not sure if I’m halfway done or 25%. Which means the book might be 65k (my original goal) or 120k (a bit long for a standard murder mystery). But I’m not sure I care. I think, if people pick up book 2 in a series, they wanted more – give it to them. Don’t worry; my stories always move fast no matter how long they are.

So, again, this morning I was looking at my productivity. I often feel as though I haven’t written much this week/month/year. And sometimes it’s true. Six weeks can go by without me putting down a word of a novel I’m allegedly writing. I’m still getting ideas, usually, and thinking up subplots, al of which I write down and save, but it doesn’t feel like I’m writing.

Then I’ll do what I did today – assess how I’m doing, to keep my perspective.

This year I have already put out two full length novels. That’s more than about 80% of authors, so I should feel good about that.

But wait, there’s more.

I have also released 3 (small) books of short horror stories in the Dark Passages series, and number 4 is lined up to come out in 2 days. Dark Thoughts releases June 30.

I’ve scheduled 4 more books that are writing guides. They’re already written, and they come out from July through September.


It looks like I’m being productive, even though a lot of that was written last year. Not all, but a lot. So as I write Primary Target, book 2 in the Double Blind series, and make notes for The Keepers, book 4 in The Gamma Sequence series, I look ahead at what’s planned and how long it will be before these two new novels come out.

October 1 would be a good date to release the next Dark Passages book – Dark Echoes – with my fave characters from the first four books returning for another look from each. I’d have to write it, but the Dark Passages books are short. I could probably do it.

November 1 would be a good date to release Primary Target. I should have it written by the end of July, and then the beta readers will get a look at it for about six weeks, the proofreader gets it for 2 weeks, the editor needs some time… and then we schedule a firm release date. So if I finish writing it by July 1, adding all those days up means it would be ready for the public about November 1.

December 18 is the scheduled release date for when The Keepers comes out. If I start The Keepers more or less right after I finish writing Primary Target, allowing for a week off or so to rest and get into the mindset of a different book series with different characters, I could probably have The Keepers finished about 6 weeks later. I already have the outline; now it’s just a matter of putting down the words. Theoretically, I kinda have to start it by then, anyway, because the same schedule holds for The Keepers as Primary Target. The beta readers need their time, the proofreader does, the editor does… so if the writing isn’t completed 90 days before the planned release date of December 18, there could be a problem! Tick, tock!

But these things usually all work out.

(I don’t know how, though. As they said in Shakespeare In Love, it’s a mystery.)

If I manage all that, THEN I have to start writing book 3 in the Double Blind series, and book 5 in The Gamma Sequence series! But that’s next year. I’ll worry about that later.

  • 9/30 E is for Emotion
  • 8/15 D is for Dialogue
  • 7/31 C is for Character
  • 7/15 B is for Backstory


  • 6/30 Dark Thoughts
  • 5/30 Dark Intent
  • 4/30 Dark Voodoo
  • 5/31 Dark passages
  • 2/28 Terminal Sequence
  • 1/1 Rogue Elements


Ten books released this year PLUS the two I’m working on!

Whew! That’s quite a schedule. Or at least it looks like it.

It’s hard to believe that The Gamma Sequence eBook came out on December 1 of 2019. That’s barely six months ago! So much has happened since then. So much has changed.

And that book changed a lot of stuff for me.

What was I working on before that? Nightmareland, a great horror anthology, came out October 21, 2019. Gosh, I’m proud of that book. It is the most popular book in that series and opened my eyes to creating fun topics to purse in short story form, which led to the Dark Passages series. Nightmareland is the third horror anthology I wrote with other authors, and even though those are a lot of work, they are a lot of fun. Without those anthologies, I don’t meet some new author friends, but I also don’t write Dark Passages. And who knows where that will lead?

So I’ll conclude: I’ve been busy.

I’ll also conclude that I’d better get back to writing (blog posts don’t count) or that schedule I just worked out isn’t gonna happen!




Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

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