Oh Really, What’s It About?

Last summer, I didn’t teach a summer school class and decided to dedicate my time to writing that novel “I always knew I had in me.”  Of course as I clicked-clacked away on the laptop keyboard, grandiose thoughts of fame and fortune (à la Ralphie’s Red Rider BB gun daydreams from a Christmas Story) would butt in and show me how wonderful this novel was, and agents and editors would fawn over it, and how I would sell the movie and TV rights, and how groundbreaking the series would be, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Yeah, well I haven’t finished it (but I’m close).  The question, however, that I most often get is “what’s it about?”  Well, I’m glad you asked because this will give me a great opportunity to write a synopsis of this fine piece of frivolous fiction.

One Sentence Version:

Manny is a thirteen-year-old orphan working in a Great Depression era carnival and sideshow, but he discovers that what he finds normal and everyday is quite frightening (in a fun sort of way) and morally wrong to the rest of the world.

One Paragraph Version:

In the 1930’s, carnivals displayed human “oddities.”  To many these oddities were fantastically grotesque and to others they were an abomination.  But to thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra, it was home.  After his carny parents were tragically killed, the carnival workers banded together to care for one of their own. A bearded woman, an alligator man, a family of little people entertainers, and many other “normal” and “oddity” individuals who make up Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival become Manny’s parents, brothers, and sisters.  Soon, however, Manny begins to realize that the people he has grown to love aren’t loved by all, and are often met with mockery, disgust and scorn wherever they travel.  Now, forces both within and without the carnival threaten to tear apart his adoptive family.  Can Manny and his friends keep the carnival together?  Or will it all come crashing down around him, leaving him alone once again?

Multi-Paragraph Version:

In the 1930’s, carnivals displayed human “oddities.”  To many these oddities were fantastically grotesque but to others they were an abomination.  To thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra, it was home.

When Manny’s carny parents were killed, the carnival workers of Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival banded together to care for one of their own.  A bearded woman, an alligator man, a family of little people entertainers, and many others become Manny’s parents, brothers, and sisters.

Now, Oliver Neil has fallen head over heels for beautiful Constancia.  He has invited her and her fourteen-year-old son to join the carnival, but Ron doesn’t seem pleased living with a bunch of freaks and felons.  He has no room for friends like Manny and lets it be known.

While turmoil from the new additions bubbling in the carnival, an old foe has resurfaced with a ferocity not seen in years–The Order of the Lions Den:  group bent on wiping out dens of iniquity from American soil, and carnivals are on top of their list.  Manny must now discover how to face these ever present challenges and find his place in a carnival of misfits.

And there you have it.  The working title is Sideshow Summer, but I’m not sure if it is, 1). catchy enough, or 2). captures the essence of the story.  I am open to suggestions for a new title as long as they’re the type of suggestions I want. 😉  Hopefully, it will all be done this summer.  I still need to go through and give it a good revision or two or three, but soon I can say/yell/scream, “I wrote my first novel!”

Thanks for reading,


P.S.  Want to check out some cool sideshow/carnival links?  Well then check these out:



Sideshow World


Sideshow! Carnival Oddities and Illusions Provide Lessons for Skeptics


Carny Lingo


Here We Go…

A strange feeling comes upon one who is about to enter the blogging world and being willing to share personal information to strangers and friends alike.  There is a sense of self-importance that I will be “out there” with so many other great bloggers, yet a pessimism settles in when realizing that it will be luck, time, and creativity that will make this blog into something that people will want to read.  Nevertheless, I’m wading out into the savannah grass like our pro to-human relatives to see what lay within this vast veldt.

I’ve come to realize that, as I sit here typing, this first post is quite difficult.  This could potentially set the tone of the blog and I want to make a good impression.  What does my little monkey brain need to do now that it has taken the first steps into this personal hinterland?  How does one capture attention?  How can I make this engaging?  How will it be beneficial?  Why do I even want to do this? And, can I honestly make a difference?  Or will saber-toothed apathy and red-clawed frustration hunt down poor little australopithecine me into extinction?  Maybe he will evolve into a viral omnivore bent on world domination.

So, what is the purpose of this blog?  Thanks for asking.  First of all, I am a teacher.  Have been for 16 years (holy crap!). I may have some experience, and I work with middle schoolers, which I actually enjoy (your turn: holy crap!).  I taught English for 13 years and am currently teaching American History to 8th graders (holy…yeah you get it).  I am also an adjunct college instructor working with beginning writers who have been either out of school for a number of years or just need a little extra help to improve their writing.  As a result, I would like to use this blog to relay some lesson plans that have worked, problems I have faced, and provide resources that may be helpful.  The proverbial tools in the caveman’s belt.

Secondly, I am in the process of writing a novel.  I started it last summer (2013) and nearly finished it.  Then the boa constrictor that is school (i.e. work) squeezed away all my time ( I also have a family who say they like me, so I reciprocate.)  As a result, I’ve done very little writing from August ’13 to May ’14.  To use middle school vernacular, it sucks!  To use a Neil Shubin-ism, the monkey inside me is screaming be let out of his cage and explore.  Therefore, perhaps this blog can not only give me an opportunity to stretch and exercise my atrophied writing muscles, but also allow me to share what I have written and what I have I learned. I am coming to find out that there is a lot to this writing thing if I want to make any sort of money off it, not to mention the struggles in just trying to get a word on a page.

Finally, I am a learning individual and have come across both exciting and shocking information as I go about my learning duties like a bee flits from one brightly colored flower to another.   Some of those flowers have the sweet nectar that I expect, while others have a praying mantis that scares the hell out of me.  Some information may not be fun, but it can be enlightening.

So, there you have it.  NMTony’s first blog post.  Now that I’ve bloviated and excreted my verbal diarrhea all over, I make an end of my words with that pleasant image.

Thanks for reading,


P.S.  Want to know who Neil Shubin is, check out the following because he is a really cool guy: