OUTBACK: Moment Two

This complimentary excerpt from OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters. Read the Introduction and Moment One also.

—•—

MOMENT TWO

PERSPECTIVE

“Welcome to the Outback!” The open-armed stranger soaked in the panoramic hillside view. “That is shonky business about your brothers and sisters.”

Driew was awed at the sunset’s radiance. “Call them bothers and sinisters. They’ve used those names my entire life.” Driew’s voice cracked.

“Why?”

Driew tried to speak, but his voice had succumbed to dehydration.

“You need water before you go hoarse—which might not be a bad thing.” Like an Olympian, the stranger heaved a wooden disk from a pile of fieldstones, revealing a well. He pulled at the well’s rope until a water-laden bucket appeared. The stranger filled the canteen with water.

“Drink. Best Outback water in the county, I guarantee.”

The metal container chilled Driew’s lips at the touch. Its contents not only quenched his dry palate, but also his hangin’ feelings.

“I agree! Best . . . drink . . . ever,” said Driew.

While drinking in the refreshing view and water, Driew contemplated how he would respond to the question about his family’s moniker for brothers and sisters. He handed the canteen to the stranger.

“Hey! Mate to planet earth! Are you avoiding my question?” prodded the stranger.

“Imagine you’re the only normal kid you know,” said Driew.

“I am! You confirmed that, mate,” said the stranger.

“You’re hilarious—NOT! I’m not only their ‘lil bother,’ but also the smallest and darkest member of my family.”

“You’re literally the black sheep of the family!” laughed the stranger. “You make bloody good stories. Go on.”

“Misspellings like bother, sinister, and our names are a historic Qweepie family birthright. Qweepie is pronounced like it sounds, and is always followed by chuckles,” said Driew.

“You have issues, mate. Not only creepy, but you can’t spell it either!” The stranger slugged Driew’s shoulder.

Be them ever so cruel, there’s no family crueler than ours, Driew contemplated before responding. “You wouldn’t understand the humiliation.”

“Oh, I understand! There are some real haters in this town. I’m Gulia. Spelled with a G instead of J. Kids call me Goo-lia, Gruelia, Moolia, and a list of bloody hurtful and ignorant combinations,” said Gulia. “What’s yer name, mate?”

“You’re a girl!”

“Too right, mate! Don’t I stand out like a shag on a rock?”

“What’s with your pirate talk, mate? Does everyone here talk like you or is it Talk Like a Pirate Day?” asked Driew.

“I adopted words when visiting Australian relatives,” said Gulia.

I need an Australian dictionary to understand her, Driew thought. “That makes sense. My name is Driew; also misspelled, with an ‘I’ after the ‘R.’ My bothers tease that an odd baby needed an odd name,” said Driew, with a crooked grin.

“We have one thing in common, weird names!” Gulia smiled.

“Two things actually. My dad and Ida Mae, our housekeeper, tell me to play out back. Outback, we have in common,” Driew returned her smile.

“Okay. Bizarre names and the Outback, two things we share.” Gulia passed the canteen to Driew. “What brings you to my Outback?”

“Dad inherited a farm years ago. Since it didn’t sell, we’re here until it’s sold, which I hope won’t take long,” said Driew.

“Which farm?”

“The one where you rescued me,” said Driew.

“That old dump! People live there?” said Gulia, gagging dramatically.

“I know. Mom says magic can be found in the ugliest places. A magic goldmine must be buried there,” said Driew. “Our Wekiva Springs house must have had no magic because it was beautiful.”

“Wekiva Springs. Never heard of it. Is it near Dawson Springs?” asked Gulia.

“No. It’s a subdivision near Wekiva Springs State Park, near Longwood, Florida,” Driew answered.

“Moving from one spring and state park to another. You must not like change,” said Gulia.

“I don’t understand?” said Driew, shrugging.

“Wekiva Springs to Dawson Springs. Wekiva Springs State Park to Pennyrile Resort State Park. You’re about eight miles from Pennyrile,” said Gulia, pointing away from town.

“Oh, I didn’t know!”

“I don’t see the magic in your farm either. But like I said, people dump treasures on Old Hospital Road all the time. Your farm appears to be the biggest dump of treasures around,” chuckled Gulia.

“Old Hospital Road? Where is New Hospital Road?” asked Driew.

“I’ll show you,” said Gulia, signaling Driew to follow her into a tree near the well. They rested in the comfortable cradle of a twisted branch.

“See Outwood Bridge? It’s not used much. A long time ago, Old Hospital Road led to Outwood Hospital beyond those trees. Built in the 1920s for soldiers coming back from World War I, it even had a golf course. They called the road Hospital Road. The new road is Highway 109. Locals call the hill from Dudley Riley Bridge to the top ‘Hospital Hill.’ Don’t ever step onto the road at the bottom! People drive way too fast through there,” warned Gulia.

“Why would they build a new road when a good one already existed?”

“Who knows why people stop using perfectly good routes? I do know the old, unused road and your rundown farm are eyesores in my Outback. Both are mostly hidden until fall when the leaves drop and I can see both of them from my bedroom window,” said Gulia.

“Sorry.” Driew wished many things in life stayed hidden. Not only his farm, but also his childhood memories of unacknowledged pleas. That’s not cool. That’s not right. Don’t! Stop, STOP, STOPPP! PPPlease. These resurfacing memories drowned out his good times. “Why doesn’t my sinister like me?” asked Driew.

“Boomerang! You must have hit your noggin on that scarecrow. What do you mean, mate?” said Gulia, giving a cross-eyed look.

“Boomerang? Definition please,” said Driew.

Boomerang—my word to avoid saying something mean. Like ‘right back at you’ or ‘come again.’”

From the Qweepie farm, Nieve clanked a cowbell to summon Driew home.

“I’ve got to go,” sighed Driew, disappointed to leave his judgment-free listener who, as an added perk, lived within sight of the farm.

“Driew, holdin’ a grudge means letting mates live rent-free inside your noggin.  Time for their eviction letters,” Gulia encouraged.

“Unfortunately, my sibling grudge owns the deed to my mind.” Driew smashed his fist into his palm. The force stung, causing him to shake off the pain.

The cowbell interrupted their conversation, followed by a more determined call from Nieve.

“I gotta go!” said Driew.

“Here, one last swig for the road.” Gulia tossed the canteen to Driew.

He finished the last sip of cool Outback water then leapt from the comfortable branch. “I’ll see you around the Outback,” said Driew, running toward home.

“Hey, mate! You’re the best roadside treasure I’ve found in the Outback—a scarecrow with a brain!” Gulia watched Driew descend the hill.

Driew’s perspective of his Outback was not clear like Gulia’s Outback water. The pumpkin patch and the tree line were concealed by dusk’s darkening hold. A sprinkling of fireflies twinkled in the foggy air. Like the pumpkins, Driew was maturing.

Nieve called southern slang lazy-talk. Some of her words like dija, y’all, and prolly were Driew’s favorite words. Gulia’s slang wasn’t southern, but boomerang was sort of like lazy-talk, and it was a word he could adopt.

Speaking a combination of Kentuckian and Australian slang—how cool, Driew thought. He sensed speaking Australian words made Gulia feel closer to her Australian relatives. Her words made her unique!

— • —

Marq found the house’s torn window screens obstructed his view from inside and had not rushed to replace them. Their absence freed the night air to blend with the fragrant smell of southern cooking. Driew enjoyed this open-air lifestyle.

Bits of plastic jugs, stacks of decaying vehicle cushions, and bald tires were strewn around the front yard. The eyesore Gulia saw was clear from this distance.

Nieve beckoned Driew from their two-story concrete house’s side porch. The rest of the Qweepie family had gathered in the dining room.

“Driew Dawin Qweepie, where were you, baby doll? Dinner is ready!” Nieve hugged him, happy he had returned from out back.

She hung the heavy cowbell beside the door and gave it a pat. Great placement, she thought. “You’ll save my voice,” she whispered. Overwhelmed by the work ahead of them, tears welled within her as she surveyed their Kentucky farm. She gently kissed Driew’s forehead, removing straw from his hair. I don’t want to know, she thought. “You’re a mess! Wash up before dinner.”

They strolled through the aged 1930s doorway to dinner.

—•—

Text and illustrations copyright © 2016 by Mark Wayne Adams. All rights reserved. Family Tree Novel is a SYP Kids imprint.

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OUTBACK: Moment One

This complimentary excerpt from OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters. Read the Introduction and Moment Two also.

—•—

MOMENT ONE

HANGIN’

“Be them ever so cruel, there’s no family crueler than ours!” Driew Qweepie’s hooded tormenter chuckled. “Go! Here comes that Brown kid!”

Four teenage silhouettes bounced through the overgrown pumpkin patch, their escape concealed by the shadowy tree line.

Fall’s first cool breeze crept through the once popular town of Dawson Springs, ending the suffocation of summer’s dog days. Driew Qweepie’s tween body hung limp in his overalls from the scarecrow’s post. Cawing crows, darker than his hair, mocked him from their perch above.

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.

As he hung from the scarecrow’s perch, his consciousness swayed like a porch swing in a gentle wind. The hangin’ left him to reflect on his family hierarchy. An unwritten historical timeline that flipped through his mind recalled a decade of prank-filled albums created by four tormenting siblings. Soon his eleventh year would bring new volumes of teenage tortures.

Labeled “little bother,” he was the youngest and lowest ranking member in the Qweepie family. From the first moment of his life, he learned trust was not easily earned. His bothers’ and sinisters’ torments had worsened since moving to the Kentucky farm.

His parents, Nieve and Marq Qweepie, uprooted their Florida lives to resolve nasty letters received about their farm’s demise. Marq listed the property for sale after his father died and never intended to return. Ida Mae, the caretaker during Marq’s absence, became feeble and unable to maintain the farm properly.

“She needs you. She needs you,” a voiced echoed melodically, awakening Driew. His heavy eyelids rose to reveal a hazy heterochromic gaze reflecting his own.

“PSST! Holy Dooley! You alive mate? G’Day! Here down under!” a voice called below him.

Driew’s light-sensitive eyes focused on the pumpkin patch. Behind the scarecrow’s post, the setting sun cast a veil of darkness over the stranger. “Wh-wh-who are you? Wh-wh-what do you want?” Driew’s voice screeched into the silent patch.

“I heard whimpers. Thought I’d find an abandoned pup out here, or something entertaining. People dump treasures off this road all the time.” The stranger pointed toward the road leading to the Qweepie farm.

Scarecrow was an elevation from being a “little bother.” This prank signified his torturous life—a pawn to ward away intruders.

“No worries. They aren’t coming back,” coughed Driew.

“Who did this, mate?”

“My bothers and sinisters.”

The stranger tugged at Driew’s overall straps, releasing him from their confines. The stranger backed away in awe of Driew’s glide to safety.

A whirling cloud of dust howled through the patch. Crows abandoned their perch, alerting the hillside of the disturbance.

“A willy willy! Let’s rack off! These spirits give me the heeby jeebies!” The tween stranger grabbed Driew’s overall straps and led him away.

—•—

Text and illustrations copyright © 2016 by Mark Wayne Adams. All rights reserved. Family Tree Novel is a SYP Kids imprint.

“Do you make money for public appearances?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: You were drawing for visitors to your booth at the ALA. I believe you also do these types of drawings during your art presentations at schools. Do you do these public art projects because of your desire to perform your art before a live audience? Do you ever make money on these appearances? Do you use them for research or to market your illustrations to kids? At ALA, were you giving any of the resulting drawings away? You had tossed a few of them onto the carpet in front of you at ALA, and you toss them on the floor of auditoriums etc. in your school presentations. Do you toss them down for symbolic reasons or to illicit sympathy, or because you want to display them and you don’t have board to clip them onto? Were you drawing what visitors asked for, or whatever came to mind? Do you doodle and free-draw to come up with ideas for your illustrations? If not, what do you do to research ideas or to come up with initial character sketches?

AdamsDrawing Is My Super Power! That would be my t-shirt slogan. I find an audience, whether drawing on a pad, a napkin, or in a Best Sketchbook. I drew for free when I was younger. Some people appreciated the gesture, other discarded my effort. In the 3rd grade, I began to charge for my time and the appreciation level increase. This remains true today.

My first professional illustration contracts came from tossing drawings on the floor at Book Expo America in Los Angeles, California. I did this both for symbolic and sympathetic purposes, depending on the audience.

Publishing (writing, illustration, and marketing) is about inspiring an emotion. I can’t keep every drawing, so I give them to conference audiences who feel sympathy when they step on a “pretty picture.” I also joke, “This drawing is worthless until I sign it!” Publishing audiences find my personality a plus in the working relationship.

IMG_6356I’ve meet over 1 million students through paid elementary school visits. I walk on “pretty pictures” to show students and teachers sheets of paper have less value than the pages within a book. This reinforces the need to journal in hardbound books.

Do I give away drawings for free? Yes, I’ve given away over 45,000 drawings in eight years like the ones you mentioned at ALA. My gift makes others happy and in return makes me happy. I do have two rules. Children are the recipients of most drawings unless it’s for a teacher’s classroom or at a conference. Also, I only draw one picture per person, per day. This rule stemmed from my own children asking me to draw instead of doing it themselves. My children get one picture, just like anyone else’s child.

IMG_3952I have over 100 journals (23,000 pages of drawing and writing). These journals are 20 years of research and inspiration. Illustration clients are asked to provide me a list of 5 of their favorite children’s books, 5 new books they discovered at the library or bookstore, and 5 things they’d do for free. Their favorite children’s books tell me who they were. The new books tell me what they expect based on paper types, finishes, and dimensions. Lastly, incorporating something they love in the illustrations will boost discussion topics with readers.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Little Miss Grubby Toes: Steps on a Bee!: Word Search

16-LMGT-Steps on a Bee-Word_Search

Little Miss Grubby Toes: Steps on a Bee!: Word Search

Put readers’ skills to the test with our Grubby Toes reader word search. Can your reader find all the words related to the book, vocabulary words, and Grubby Toes events?

See how many of the Grubby Toes words readers can find and have fun with this free puzzle game. This teaching resource is a fun and easy activity that will keep students happy and save teachers time.