My Writing Habits this Summer Break

img_6586As an elementary school teacher, I’m blessed with a sizable chunk of time off in the summer. These weeks I can enjoy camping, barbecuing, and vacationing with friends and family. I also have a lengthy list of chores to accomplish. Thankfully I am able to get in some good writing time. Writing over the summer fills me with joy because I feel like I’m a career author.

This summer, I’ve found I do my best writing between 6:30 and 8:00 AM. Writing magic happens the moment my loopy-morning-brain is infused with a cup of coffee. This combination allows my creativity to flow. I also type far more words per minute than any other time of my day. It’s amazing!

Currently, I’m three chapters away from finishing my current draft of BACK OF BEYOND. I’m wrapping up Spoon’s dilemma and planting seeds that will grow within THE LEGEND OF SPOON #3. I can’t wait for everyone to read this book.

When are you most productive? Do you get time off to enjoy summer? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your answers in the comments below.



Brady asked, “How is Back of Beyond looking? I’m just itching to read more of The Legend of Spoon!”

I wish I could say it’s ready today. Best guess, four to six months. I’m making changes to the last few chapters, which I’m working on most mornings. I’m going to have my friend, author, Robin Puelma, read it over again. Then I will make any changes needed before I have two more friends read it over. These edits can take three weeks to three months each. I am super excited for this next book! Hopefully, the final edits will go faster than expected. They often do. Thank you for your patience! I’m working hard to finish BACK OF BEYOND, even while I’m on summer vacation with my family. I have it formatted and the cover complete so when editing is finished, I’ll be able to publish it quickly.

When reading a new series, I hate waiting for the next book to come out. When I first started reading Harry Potter, only the first few books were out. It was torture waiting for the next book! What books have you found yourself waiting impatiently for the next in series?


How a Date Night Lead me to the Title for NINTH NIGHT

Early in our marriage my wife and I instituted a Thursday night date night. We were too tired from work by Friday to go out, and if we went out earlier in the week we were too tired at work. (Any other teachers find this to be true?) Our favorite local date night spots to dine were the Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, or Ricardo’s Family Mexican Restaurant.

One of our inexpensive destinations was Costco. We could both eat dinner and dessert for under six bucks. We’d then walk through the warehouse store to do our shopping and inevitably make a couple impulse buys. THE FANTASY ENCYCLOPEDIA was one of those impulse buys.

I had recently finished early drafts for what would become VERVE STONES and UNDER. I sent them out to publishing houses, literary agents, and even submitted it to a writing contest. Everyone passed. Being new to writing as a hobby, I desired to push myself and write a new genre. Something my wife would enjoy reading. Something for her.

When I flipped through THE FANTASY ENCYCLOPEDIA at home, I discovered something mysterious to include in my summer romance story set at Cannon Beach, Oregon. This discovery also allowed me to produce adversaries to influence Liam’s growth as the main character. A detail from this book ultimately became the title of my book. (I left that vague on purpose. Don’t you want to read the book now? Wink wink.)

Do you have a favorite date spot or a fun memory from a date? Writers, where have you found your inspiration? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

NINTH NIGHT Sweepstakes

In honor of the beginning of summer break, I started a sweepstakes to win a FREE summer romance ebook called NINTH NIGHT. Nothing better than curling up with a good story to pass the lazy days of summer.

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Ninth Night (Kindle Edition). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Jun 29, 2018 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules


Kite-flying, barbecues, and walks on the beach: this is what Liam Davidson is expecting when he visits his hometown of Cannon Beach for the summer. He is looking forward to spending time with his childhood best friend, Penelope, and his grandparents, uncle, and cousin. But the night he meets the mysterious and beautiful Genevieve, his summer takes a different turn.

Genevieve has no memory of her past or how she got to Cannon Beach. The only thing she seems certain of are her feelings for Liam. Who is this mysterious girl? A traumatized teen suffering from amnesia, a con-artist trying to fool the town, or perhaps something even more unusual?

Ninth Night is part mystery, part romance, and full of surprises. Follow Liam as he learns to follow his heart and discovers what mysteries the ocean holds on the ninth night.

What Fictional Place Would You Visit For Your Summer Vacation?


In my classroom, we begin each day with a morning meeting where we sit on the carpet in a circle. During the meeting, I explain the day’s schedule and upcoming events. I also pose a question like, “What did you do over the weekend?” or “Would you rather live on the beach or on a mountain?” or “If two students are arguing over who can use a swing on the playground, how would you help them solve their problems?” These questions give us a chance to connect as a class and help everyone to get to know each other better.

Tuesday’s question was, “If you could go to any fictional place from a show, movie, or book for the summer break, where would you go?”

I have several answers to the question depending on my mood.

My answer in class was Narnia. I’m currently reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobewith my daughter. Staying in Car Paravel, eating dinner with the Beavers, and drinking tea with Mr. Tumnus sounds like a relaxing way to spend the summer (although hopefully at this point it wouldn’t be forever winter). Most of all, I want to meet Aslan, hear him roar, and ride on his back. I would love to see the beautiful sights in Narnia but meeting the characters would probably be the best part.

Popular student answers included Pyrrhia from the Wings of Fire series (Who wouldn’t want to hang out in a land full of dragons? Well, me.), Wakanda from the Avengers (A definite dream world for all those tech-loving types. Wakanda Forever!), and Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series (This would be amazing but only if I wasn’t a Squib. I’d want to do magic!).

When I ask the question again next year, I think my answer will be Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I love candy. Drinking from the chocolate river, eating the creamy mushrooms, and zipping around in the glass elevator all summer break sounds like a dream come true. (My dentist might not agree with this plan.)

When discussing the questions with some of my friends, I answered the University from the The Name of the Wind. I’d love to walk the hallways where Kvothe is learning Sympathy, Artificery, Alchemy, and Naming. I’d love to learn all the magic too! Sitting in on lectures and getting introduced to Auri sounds like an out of this world summer vacation.

If you could go to any fictional place from a show, movie, or book for summer break (let’s pretend we all get one), where would you go? What would you be excited to see or do there? Leave your answers in the comments below.

My Happy Place


The cabin. My happy place. My wife’s favorite place is Disneyland so I describe the cabin as my Disneyland.

The cabin is located on Hood Canal in Washington State. Its front yard is a rocky beach sprinkled with clusters of oysters. The backyard is a temperate rainforest with a creek that passes next to the cabin.

The cabin is off the grid. No electricity. An outhouse. Running water is collected from a creek. A wood burning stove provides heat. Propane runs a refrigerator and water heater. You can reach the cabin by boat from a marina a mile away. Or, you can drive in on logging roads, park a half mile above the cabin, and hike down.

My grandparents bought this piece of property when I was in elementary school. They fixed it up with the help of my dad and my uncles. I visited this place several times a year as a kid with Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Dad, and my sister. We caught crabs, shrimp, cut-throat trout, and salmon from the canal. We ate clams and oysters off the beach. Sometimes, I brought a friend from school.

One of the reasons I love the cabin so much is because it is a collection of memories of my family. I remember staying a week with Grandpa one summer break and taking his boat to the marina once or twice to shower because the cabin didn’t have one yet. I remember him teaching me the names of all the plants and animals on hikes. I remember Grandma cooking way too much spaghetti on the antique stove. She always kept a bowl overflowing with candy on the counter. I remember Dad water skiing. I remember him hiking the beach, somehow always at low tide, to unload his overpacked old boat for the weekend trip. I remember my sister and I putting on wetsuits and swimming in the canal. I remember her standing alone on the beach in the dark with a lantern to help guide me in through the dense fog and thick darkness covering the canal at midnight. I remember Mom windsurfing across the canal. I remember her lying on a bamboo mat on a gravely spot on the beach, using cocoa butter for sunscreen, and reading romance books while she sunbathed.

Nowadays, my heart aches to remake all these wonderful memories with my wife and daughter. Especially since Mom passed away. My daughter, wife, and I enjoy taking trips to the cabin, too. My daughter loves to hike to “Big Rock” (it is what it sounds like), eat marshmallows roasted over the fire, and swim. On warm days, she would be happy to spend all day floating in her life jacket in the saltwater. My wife enjoys raking for clams on the beach, taking pictures with her fancy camera, taking a nap, and playing games in the cabin. I have a new understanding for how much stuff my dad packed from the boat to the cabin at low tide, being the dad in this situation now. Thanks Dad!

I love to write. This place would be the best writing spot around. Yet, I never write at the cabin. When I visit, I’m there with family or friends. I will usually bring a journal just in case I get an idea, but it always stays in the bottom of my backpack because I want to soak up every cabin-moment. I envision myself coming to the cabin alone with the purpose to write, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s the cabin after all.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for your generosity, support, and your never-ending heart to share this place with our family. Having the cabin in my life has made me into the man I am today.

What’s your happy place? I’d love for you to share in the comments.