5 Star Review: “OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters

OUTBACK 3D-book-72DPI-RGBReviewed By Tracy Slowiak for Readers’ Favorite

“Wow! Just, wow! How’s that for a review? Well, that was certainly my first thought when I finished reading Outback: Bothers and Sinisters: A Family Tree Novel by author Mark Wayne Adams. In an incredibly unique and interesting story line for young adult readers, the story follows Driew Qweepie, a ‘tween-aged’ boy who lives in a family filled with magic and ends up with a life filled with adventure. This first book in a planned series does a great job of introducing readers to Australian, American and Qweepie vernacular that will be necessary for the rest of books, but does so in a very intriguing manner. Young protagonist Driew must learn the importance of family, of home, and of history in this novel, and the journey he takes to get there will keep readers on the edge of their seats!

I so enjoyed reading Outback: Bothers and Sinisters. Author Mark Wayne Adams has done a fantastic job in creating characters that his young adult readers will have no problem in connecting with and relating to. His scene setting abilities are simply second to none, and his book provides a great message without making a reader feel as if they are being bonked over the head with it. Any young adult reader who enjoys an adventurous and fun read would enjoy this book. Any parent who is interested in a book that will allow their child to think and learn while reading should definitely pick this up for their loved one. I am pleased to recommend this book very highly, and look forward to reading more in this series as soon as more books are available!”


“Authentic glimpse into the lives of the passengers.”—Gisela Dixon, Readers’ Favorite

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers’ Favorite

Mayflower (Fly on the Wall Series) by Linda Smigaj is a children’s book for ages five up to pre-teens. Mayflower (Fly on the Wall Series) is one in a series of books in which literally a “fly on the wall” observes historical events and presents the story to the reader. In this book, Anna is a small cheese fly from Holland. She has moved with her human family to England and from there to the New World via the Mayflower. The fly narrates how they boarded the ship, their hardships and experiences on the ship, and finally their landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the coast of the New World. Although the book is told from the point of view of Anna, the fly, it provides an authentic glimpse into the lives of the passengers, as well as the living conditions on the ship and the voyage itself. At the end, the book also provides a glossary of words for young readers.

Mayflower (Fly on the Wall Series) by Linda Smigaj is a cute and engaging book on the passage of some of the early settlers from England to America. It describes a real, historical event in a concise, educational, and yet entertaining way that will appeal to children. The illustrations that go with the book are outstanding. In fact, the pictures really make the words come alive and add to the overall fun and engaging style of the book. This is a great book and I am looking forward to reading the other books in the Fly on the Wall series.

This one is a true keeper!: “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!”

Nicholas Thats Ridiculous-3D-book“Dear Mr. Adams,

I met you at the Christmas Made in the South show in Macon, Georgia last November. I bought a copy of the book, Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!, and I just have to tell you how pleased I was with that book! The story line was perfect for my best friend’s five-year-old grandson. However, your illustrations were the true selling point; I love the expressions and the level of detail you include in each and every picture!  I found the illustrations very engaging, and I feel sure that the new owner of the book will enjoy having it read to him again and again…

Thanks for autographing the book for me. This one is a true ‘keeper!’”


Judy D. Jaeger

RADIO INTERVIEWS: Global Book Marketing

I met Danielle Hampson, Founder of The Authors Show, at the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards in Miami, Florida. The Authors Show is a professional book marketing audio and video program offering authors interviewed a unique marketing outlet for their work.

Three benefits I found from the show include:

  • A professionally edited audio and/or video interview showcasing the author and his/her book(s);
  • Interviewed authors are included in The Author Show’s extensive weekly social media outreach;
  • Interviews are shared with a network of readers through broadcasts on The Author Show’s network of thousands of potential book buyers;
  • Radio interviews of the original broadcast and the above benefits are created at no cost to the author.

OUTBACK 3D-book-72DPI-RGBLinda Thompson, Show Host, was professional and created a polished interview featuring my new book, OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters. The book series has an Australian theme and The Authors Show’s international broadcast helped me reach thousands of potential international readers, book buyers, and Australians I otherwise would not reach.

The Authors Show also provides these optional benefits for a fee:

  • Professionally produced interview podcast MP3 copy for posting on author’s website and/or preferred social media platforms
  • Periodic rebroadcast of interview podcasts
  • Publicity outreach to journalists, search engines, social media;
  • And much more.

OUTBACK-Bothers & Sinisters-www.mwa.companyI highly recommend The Authors Show and Linda Thompson, Show Host, to authors wanting international exposure through radio broadcasts.

Listen to OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters Radio Interview

Reading Group Guide: Teddy Tales

16-Teddy_Tales-Reading_Group_GuideWhat kind of dog is that?

Teddy, the rescue dog, is a mixed breed of love, fun, and curiosity. When he comes to live with Kay and Sam, their neighbor boy, Josh, learns that kids and dogs have a lot in common. And everyone joins in the adventures.

Teachers, counselors, parents, and grandparents will enjoy reading Teddy Tales with children, as a pet-assisted guide to discuss:

• adoption  • bullying  • caring for pets  • choices in eating  • going to school  • grief and family illness  • making friends  • running away  • scary haircuts  • sleepovers  • the meaning of family  • unique qualities

Teddy’s friends invite you to share his adventures: 

Teddy Tales is a seriously fun look at how caring for a special dog can help us better understand our own choices and behavior.”

—Otto Fad, Jr., professional animal behaviorist


Teddy Tales is delightfully told and insightfully written. Combining her ability to craft a story with her counselor’s heart, Spruill uses the ordinary adventures of a dog to give us all a deeper understanding of what it means to truly experience healthy, balanced living.”

—Sandra Doran, Ed.D., Executive Director, TheTeacherTrack.com; SchoolDreamsUnlimited.com


Teddy Tales is a must-read for anyone who loves dogs or children—or both! It is a true story, told with compassion, insight, and humor.”

 —Patti Boyle, President, Buddies for life, Inc., Orlando, Florida

3 Secrets to Transitioning into Professional Illustration

I’ve shared numerous “trade secrets” with fellow artists. I thank Joe Duncan, phenomenal illustrator and printmaker, for asking this question:


Now’s the part where I ask you for something. I’ve always looked to you as a mentor, and your advice has never steered me in anything, but the right direction. Our past conversations have always challenged and rewarded me on a professional level and personally as a growing artist. I was hoping pick your brain about making the transition into more full-time freelancing career. I would like to chat about the things I should be thinking of and taking into consideration, as well as checkpoints, I should be looking for to guide my decision to make this planned transition meaningful and effective.


#1.  Understand your value before becoming a freelancer.

Remove freelance artist from your vocabulary! Professional Illustrators, Graphic Designers, even Sandwich-makers have added value. Clients respect the word “pro” far more than the word “free.” Professionals in any career require a basic income to exist: bread, water, cell phone, etc. Some professionals desire a more comfortable existence: reliable car, home, etc., while others choose a lifestyle: brand names, travel, etc. No matter your professional classification, define the value of your time with a desired monetary outcome.

#2.  Develop multiple income streams.

Yes, don’t quit the day job yet. For aspiring illustrators, the day job and illustration contracts are multiple income streams. If balancing these two isn’t possible, a full-time illustration career may not be for you.

Transitioning from Art Director, a 40-60 hour week at base salary, to “freelance” illustrator was double the work. Believe me, I was that guy. Now as a professional illustrator, most people assume I have one job—not true. I’m an illustrator, author, publisher, graphic designer, and public speaker. My annual income fluctuates between several income streams.

For my transition roadmap, I concentrated my time in one area of illustration—picture books. My reason was, do something fun that you’ll enjoy after working all day. I committed to watercoloring one page a day for two hours. This commitment allowed me to illustrate a picture book every 30 days, if I wanted. Below is how I mapped out the income for the transition.

First Year:
4 illustration contracts:  120 days to earn $24,000–$30,000
Day Job:  355 days to earn $45,000 salary
Vacation:  10 days to earn $0

Estimated Annual Income:  $69,000–$75,000 for 355, 8-hour work days, which included 120, 2-hour nights.

Second Year:
4 illustration contracts:  120 days to earn $24,000–$30,000
Day Job:  355 days to earn $45,000 salary
Public Speaking:  5 days to earn $2,500
Royalties:  1500-5000 books sold in 365 days to earn $1,500–$5,000 in royalties. (Royalty based on 10% of a $10 Net Sale or $1.00 per book sold.)
Vacation:  5 days to earn $0

Estimated Income:  $73,000–$87,500 for 355, 8-hour work days, which included 120, 2-hour nights. Plus, 5 days vacation were allocated to public speaking.

By the end of the second year, the day job salary of $45,000 (355, 8 hour work days) was matched with my Professional Illustrator income of $30,500–$40,000 (120, 2-hour nights and 5, 6-hour days speaking). Note: My Professional Illustrator’s income was created through multiple income streams: contracts, royalties, and speaking.

Full-time Professional:
5 illustration contracts:  150 days to earn $30,000–$40,000
Public Speaking:  45-60 days to earn $22,500–$30,000
Royalties:  4500–9000 books sold within 365 days to earn $4,500–$9,000 in royalties. (Royalty based on 10% of a $10 Net Sale or $1.00 per book sold.)
Vacation:  155 days while earning royalties from past contracts

Estimated Income:  $57,000–$79,000 (for 210 days of work). Note: This income was pretax, and based on my timely completion of projects, hence professional.

#3.  Don’t quit the day job until asked or all debt has been paid in full.

Two incomes are better than one—ask my wife. With the additional income from illustrating, pay off or down debt while saving six months salary. After quitting the day job, deadlines become less demanding and laziness takes over. Minimal debt and a financial buffer are necessities during any transition. Marriage wasn’t a reliable financial buffer—ask my divorced friends.

Once the transition was complete, I had 155 vacation days! I dedicated 100 days to new projects that generated income or enhanced my professional skills. This left me with 55 vacation days, enough to make previous co-workers and family envious.

I attribute my decade of success to understanding the value of my time, maintaining multiple income streams, and working through my potential laziness. The above formula remains my roadmap for transition and maintaining a professional illustration career.

Why is the Australian theme important in the Family Tree Novels?

Why is the Australian theme important in the Family Tree Novels?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_AuthorI’ve always felt life would be different on the other side of the world. Australia’s size and location in the hemisphere was nearly opposite of the United States in position. They spoke a derivative of English as does the United States. One was founded on religious persecution the other by persecution of outlaws. These two worlds are rich in native culture and national treasures. I could explore both my entire life and be surprised daily.

Read the full OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, Conversation with the Author

Who is Driew Qweepie?

Moment One: Hangin’

His eyelids rose and fell over eyes of blue and green. Heterochromia, the condition was called, thought to be hereditary, or caused by a disease or an injury. Since he was healthy and the only family member with heterochromia, Driew’s explanation was an unimaginable injury. His siblings teased, “Dropped on your head is your problem.”

Thick wire-rim glasses obscured the condition. Non-family members awed at Driew’s pleasing appearance. His dark complexion, chocolate ringlets of hair, and dwarf-like size made him a doll for sure.

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters by M. W. Adams

Reading Group Guide for “OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters”

Reading Group Guide for OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters

1. How does the author parallel out back the yard to Outback the Australia region?

2. What are Driew’s perceptions of his big sinister, Killiope? Could Killiope have been perceived differently if he understood her sooner?

3. Can you relate to siblings as Bothers and Sinisters? Have there been times when your actions were bothersome or sinister toward your siblings? Were those feelings resolved?

4. In what way has Killiope forced Driew to grow? Is there a defining moment in Driew’s maturation?

5. How does Gulia’s family life contrast Driew’s? Would Gulia have the same experience as Driew if they were switched at birth?

6. How do you think Killiope would have handled being the youngest Qweepie sibling? What are some ways the youngest girl might be treated that the youngest boy wouldn’t be?

7. What stops Killiope’s anger in the Blue chapter? Is there a line she has drawn that keeps her from going too far? Do you have lines drawn in your own family relationship?

8. How does the tornado resolve the issues Killiope has with Driew? How might their relationship be different if the blue had happened sooner?

9. How does Driew’s relationship with Killiope affect his relationship with Ida Mae and Gulia?

10. What role does Ida Mae play in the novel as a permanent fixture on the farm and in Marq’s family?

11. What role does Jameson Junior play in Driew’s story? How does he influence Driew’s actions?OUTBACK 3D-book-72DPI-RGB

12. For most of the novel Eli, the diary, has influenced Gulia and Driew’s friendship. What are other influences that affect both characters’ relationship?

13. Does the Outback appear to be a safe haven for children?

“A story that young readers and adults of all ages will enjoy.” —Ryan Jordan, Readers’ Favorite

OUTBACK 3D-book-72DPI-RGBReviewed By Ryan Jordan for Readers’ Favorite

Outback: Bothers and Sinisters, A Family Tree Novel by Mark Wayne Adams is an excellent novel about Driew, a character we meet tied up as a scarecrow and left behind by his brothers and sisters. He refers to them as his bothers and sinisters, and throughout the work we are gradually introduced to his family and start seeing what he is going through. We see his life as a middle school student, such as friends who are only friends while he can do something for them (buying cookies, sitting at their table) but stop being friends as soon as he is unable to perform. Worse still, he is tormented by his family, even while at school.

I really enjoyed reading this story, and there are a lot of moments that I am sure many tweens and teens will be able to relate to. It’s well written with a lot of snappy dialogue and clever descriptions. I like the way the story progresses from Driew not really having any friends to going on adventures, facing down tornadoes and his own family, and overcoming all of his obstacles. I also enjoyed how the author snuck in vernacular from the outback into the story and included a glossary and reading guide for anyone who is interested in learning more about it. This adds a little playfulness and depth to the overall story. Outback: Bothers and Sinisters, A Family Tree Novel by Mark Wayne Adams is a real winner of a story that young readers and adults of all ages will enjoy.