Award Winner!

Freakshow Summer recently won a silver medal for historical fiction at the 2022 Moonbeam Awards! I am so proud that the novel has been recognized. Maybe awards don’t equal sales, but it does validate a writer’s effort when recognized by educators, other authors, and those working in the field of children’s literature. I am very grateful to my publisher, Artemesia Publishing, and the man behind the company, Geoff Habiger.

For those interested in getting a copy of the book, it can be found on most major bookselling sites.

Apple iBook
Kobo ebook
Barnes & Noble

Freakshow Summer is also listed on Ingram for librarians.

You can also visit The Moonbeam awards twitter page HERE.

Freakshow Summer Illustrations

Thanks to the quick work by Ian Bristow, I have the first four chapter illustrations. For details about the novel, see the previous post: Debut Novel Freakshow Summer.

These are first draft sketches.
Here is the final draft. Frame one (Chapter 1: Order and Chaos) carnival owner Oliver Neil preparing to break up a fight. Frame two (Chapter 2: Arrivals) Constancia and her son Ron Montoya (one of the antagonists) being introduced to the carnival. Frame three (Chapter 3: The Two and One) Ron, Nickel, and Manny (the main protagonist). Frame four (Chapter 4: Leona’s Shooting Gallery) the introduction of Leona the Leopard Girl by her husband Abel.

Freakshow Summer will be released July 2022. A free teacher guide will be available in PDF, as well as an audio version of the novel. Stay tune for more details.

Debut Novel Freakshow Summer

After many years of revisions and editing, my debut novel Freakshow Summer will finally be available July 2022. Published by Artemesia Publishing out of Tijeras, New Mexico, this middle school/young adult novel focuses on such themes as acceptance, family, and friendship. Artemesia Publishing picked up Freakshow Summer in May of 2021, but I had been working on it off and on for nearly eight years. Ian Bristow will be doing the cover art as well as chapter illustrations within the novel. I am really excited to see his work, but you can check out his other projects here and here. Once I am able, I will have some artwork published on the webpage. To give readers an idea of the plot, below is one of several blurbs that will be used to promote the novel, which is set in 1938.

“In a world of freaks, thirteen-year-old Manny Dobra longs to find his place. Orphaned at a young age, he is raised by the sideshow performers of Oliver Neil’s Marvelous Carnival. But even his deceased fortune-telling mother couldn’t have predicted the bully who can’t stand Manny, Oliver falling in love with the bully’s mother, or the return of the Oldies—a group that intends on destroying carnivals. But with help from his friends Nickel, Margot and Penny, Manny begins to traverse the tricky road of life, finding his footing in a world of human curiosities, both the beautiful and the ugly.”

I will also be working on a teacher’s guide as well as an audio version of the novel, both of which will be available on this website. The teacher’s guide will be a free downloadable PDF and will have chapter summaries, vocabulary, review questions, project assignments, and cross-curricular materials if teachers wish to incorporate the novel into their lessons. I am hoping to be the narrator for the audio version. Once I have the first chapter read, I will provide the audio and print sample here on the webpage as well.

As we get closer to the date of release, I will be providing more information and links.

From the 1932 film Freaks. Image courtesy of

Damn, It’s Been a While

Life, work, family, laziness. It all contributed to my absence from this webpage. Excuses aplenty, but it is time to set those aside and focus on writing again.

Since I last posted, I’ve completed a second novel and am currently working on a third. My first one, Sideshow Summer, a.k.a. Freak Show Summer, has been sidelined for now. I attempted to find an agent for that novel, but I don’t feel it is up to what it should be. I love that story and the characters, but it needs revisions–tightening. Once those have been finished, I will look for a publisher rather than an agent, just to get my foot in the door. For synopsis you can visit here.

In doing so, I need to make a presence, and coming back to this site and blog I think is a logical step in that direction. I tried creating another webpage with another web building platform, but the steps to create said webpage were cumbersome and not to my liking or perhaps my skill. Nevertheless, I persisted but have since found that WordPress is a better platform for me.

With help from a Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation grant, my writing group–San Juan Writers–published a themed anthology called Into the West. I have two horror/paranormal stories in it, “A Spiritual Rebirth” and “La Marcha de los Muertos.” It is only $3.99 on Amazon Kindle.

The completed novel? It will be the first in a series called Kids Investigating the Paranormal. The working title for this new story is Thief of the Dead. I will have a follow up post about the story.

The novel in the works? Also the first in a series called Monster in a Box, which is in the very early stages with only eight chapters and roughly 50 pages completed. Perhaps in later posts, I can provide more information.

The earlier themes of this blog dealt with the themes found in Sideshow Summer. However, I plan on moving away from that to some degree into the realm of monsters, the paranormal, and horror. I wish to build an audience for not only my writing, but also for the content I’ve loved as a child, scary stuff.


Tis Done!

Summer has always been time to write on the novel, but most summers are spent teaching summer school or being otherwise preoccupied with responsibilities to my young family. After three summers of trudging along on my young adult novel, I have finally FINISHED it. Of course, to say it is finished is rather a relative term seeing how I have weeks and probably months of revisions to go through before I begin the arduous process of finding representation.

There is, however, a great sense of accomplishment to say and write that I have finished writing a novel. I have created characters, caused them joy and hardship, changed them, and made a world for them to live in. The process has also changed me as a writer and an individual. Though it took me a lot of time to do this task, I have in fact written a novel. A literal frickin’ novel!

As a kid, I was a struggling reader and writer. In fact, when I was in third grade and moved to a new state and new school (1979), I was placed in a special education reading class because I was behind where the other students were. Even though I think I was misdiagnosed, I nonetheless struggled with classwork and, to be honest, cheated a lot. My failings as a student (though I only earned one F and two D’s throughout my entire public education) stemmed from other outside influences. Partially, I was lazy and partially I longed for escape. I didn’t have that great of a home life and sought escapist activities as often as I could. Going to school and being with friends was one of those escapist activities, but schoolwork was not.

My first year (1989) of college was similar, but as I grew in years and experience I found that I actually enjoyed learning. I also found that I had a marginal talent as a writer. This grew as I began writing short stories. They weren’t that great, but it was a start.

It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I really started pursuing my writing and looking for markets for publication. I had a few success and even made a few bucks in the process. I had quite a few rejections along the way, as well.

When my third child was born, life grew a little too hectic to continue with my writing as devoutly as I had before. I had to make more money to support my family by teaching night classes, which in turn took a good deal of my time and energy. However, over the last couple years, my kids have grown and are able to entertain themselves to a large extent and this gave me time to sit back in the writer’s chair and do something I forgot I loved to do.

I don’t know if this book is any good let alone publishable. Nevertheless, I finished it. My kids know I’ve finished it, and it may be something they can look back on and say, “My dad wrote this. It’s kind of weird, but he wrote a full novel.”

My long-suffering wife, who has supported me throughout the process, is just as excited and proud of my accomplishment. She has often pushed me to go find a quiet corner and write. Sometimes her encouragement has bordered harassment, but it made me see that my accomplishments are just as important to her as they are to me.

Ultimately, I fulfilled a goal. I wrote a book. I made my family proud. That’s not a bad start to a potential writing career.