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.

Bookshop
Apple iBook
Kobo ebook
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Kindle

Freakshow Summer is also listed on Ingram for librarians.

You can also visit The Moonbeam awards twitter page HERE.

A New Set of Illustrations for Freakshow Summer

Alligator Man and his cat. The Leprechaun Family: Smallest Family in Show Business (Nickel, Penny, Buck, and Sally). Yuri the Yeti and Harriet the Bearded Woman. A Fool’s Errand (Hammer grease, A glass hammer, grasshopper screw, left-handed screwdriver, and a fly whistle).

I am really proud of the great work Ian Bristow has done for my novel. Geoff Habiger of Artemesia Publishing made an excellent choice for the illustrator. Stay tuned for more looks at the new novel Freakshow Summer. A PDF teacher’s guide is forth coming. A link will be provided when it is complete.

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 http://www.filmreference.com

To Go or Not to Go Political

I don’t need to write about how polarized this nation is when it comes to politics. Even in a pandemic and wearing masks has become a dividing point for left versus right. So, it has become very easy to choose a side, write all the rhetoric for that side, and let everyone know where I stand, but I will not do that on this website.

As a teacher in a conservative county within a state governed by a Democratic governor, I’ve learned to walk a line. As a result, I’ve also developed my own political views. I know exactly who I will vote for in the coming election, why I will vote for that candidate, and I will never tell a single student who I voted for. It’s not that I’m gutless or ashamed of my vote, it is that it is MY vote. I don’t want to have to argue with students or have them look at me as though I’m trying to sway them to my side of the aisle. They won’t have to think, “Is this lesson Mr. B has today going to have a liberal/conservative agenda?” I don’t want them questioning my motives for why I’m teaching something in history, and whether or not I’m telling them that their parents are wrong for having certain political views. If they question something based on what I’ve taught them based on the actual text of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, or some other American document, I’m okay with that.

With all this said, I have no desire to step into the political discussion. Maybe that decision will cost me some traffic. Yet, what I do know is that once I’ve taken a side, I will definitely make one side uncomfortable. I choose to remain quiet regarding my views with the hope that my writing will speaking for itself. That kindness, hard work, and education will be the emphasis. I hope that no matter what side you’re on, you can get behind those points.

Monster of the Week

In honor of my new series, Kids Investigating the Paranormal, check back every Friday for a monster of the week where I will provide information about strange monsters from around the world.

This first one hit a pop culture nerve starting with eerie photos of him in the background. Later, he became a hit game, movie, and sadly the inspiration for the attempted murder of a twelve-year-old girl.

In this video, Dr. Emily Zarka discusses the “history” of Slender Man.

Enjoy.

Thief of the Dead Synopsis

A blend of Supernatural meets Goosebumps with a little Scooby-Doo thrown in the mix.

For as long as twelve-year-old Braden Jacobs can remember, his hometown of Odland has had a supernatural creature problem. That’s why in third grade he and his best friend Daya Cortez formed Kids Investigating the Paranormal (KIP). They, along with the plucky Sumiko “Smooki” Hikari and the brilliant Bridgette Mandela, hunt the most dangerous ghosts and monsters.

When disturbing news comes that the souls of elderly citizens are being taken by an unknown creature, KIP investigates. Eyewitness accounts tell of a large, possibly feathered being (weird), perhaps riding a horse (not so bad), maybe headless (oh crap…), and sprays victims with blood (gross!).

It isn’t until the mysterious monster takes Braden’s ailing grandmother that the case turns personal. With no reliable clues followed by the recent death of a young police officer at the hands of the creature, KIP makes a decision against their better judgment—search the forest where it and other monsters roam. Armed with years of paranormal experiences and an alliance with a Japanese trickster fox named Yoshito—Daya, Smooki, Bridgette, and Braden may have found what threatens everyone in Odland, and it’s more terrible than they could’ve imagined.

Mixing horror and mystery, KIDS INVESTIGATING THE PARANORMAL: THIEF OF THE DEAD is a completed 51,000-word middle grade novel and the first in a series.

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.

Enjoy.