1898 Day Bros. Building Renovation

Friends,

Renovation is the 1898 Day Bros. building‘s only hope to withstand another century. Can you help me because your illustration purchase directly fixes the historic building?

When I was four years old, barefoot and shirtless, I clenched the sides of my radio flyer wagon not knowing what lay ahead of me. Summer’s midday sun baked the asphalt beneath my wagon and Momma’s bare feet. She patiently tugged the noisy wagon up Highway 109 toward an odd truck parked outside Trotter’s Country Store. Momma propped me on her hip, then carried me into the boxy vehicle she called a bookmobile. Standing inside, a librarian joyfully greeted me asking, “What’s your favorite book little man?”

My favorite book would have started like a Disney movie—magical. At four, I couldn’t conceive how words and drawings would eventually impact my rural community of 2,500 people. Since that memorable day, I’ve illustrated over sixty picture books, meet over one million students as a public speaker, and inspired all ages to chase their publishing dream. In 2015, I relocated my company’s book warehouse to the 1898 Day Bros. building, one of the last historic structures from Dawson Springs, Kentucky’s establishment.

The building is perfect for storage, but it could be much more with your help. The renovation of the 1898 Day Bros. building can be achieved through 1,898 sponsorships. Each illustration purchase receives a signed original children’s book illustrations from my private collection of sixty published children’s books.

Your purchase is important to help save the historic 1898 Day Bros. building in need of care and attention. Most of all your support fosters the much-needed inspiration that the littlest person’s words and drawings can affect the world. Please join me in opening another century of new chapters in the 1898 Day Bros. building’s story.

We thank the current supporters for their recent purchases.

18-Mark Wayne Adams-Headshot 2-www.markwayneadams.com

Sincerely yours,

Mark Wayne Adams-signature

“Words and drawings affect a reader’s world!”

Visit the Illustration Gallery here…

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DOWN UNDER: Moment Two

This complimentary excerpt from DOWN UNDER: Kussins. Read the Introduction and Moment One also.

—•—

MOMENT TWO

PESTER

Located off Old Hospital Road, the farm wasn’t a historic home place to his father, Marq, or to Marq’s father, Pap. Qweepie history prior to these men didn’t exist.

Named after the Dawson family’s water well, Dawson Springs became historic to water boarders. They traveled near and far seeking tallo water’s minerals and healing powers. Water pours from refrigerators, why travel any distance beyond the kitchen, Driew thought.

From the safety of the front porch, Driew looked over his father’s farm, pondering how long this rural life might continue. Less than a year ago, the home place was a wasteland of vehicles, a home covered in despair in the midst of his family disparity, a reflection of a life of defeat—not on the homeowner, but upon the people who had left the worthless mess. Now, Outback was growing into a marvelous Eden home.

Just because a place’s beauty is hidden doesn’t mean beauty doesn’t exist. Dawson Springs is very special too; however, sharing the town with his larrikin bother Pester tainted summer’s shine. Pester’s pranks were an ugly part of this special place.

Driew’s summer started with a violent blue between him and his oldest sister, Killiope. After their confrontation, he had decided to run away from Dawson Springs.

Gulia convinced Driew of an undiscovered spring of magic—his story. His sibling confrontation and friend’s motivational speech canceled out one another. Driew opted for an adventurous Outback life.

Resting in the side porch monkey swing, Driew reflected on the evening’s incomplete chase. Tomorrow’s chase eminently awaits. Since the blue, his body had surprised him. Not only did the fight correct his vision, but also increased his physical endurance.

”Where you chasing lightning bugs, baby doll?” asked Marq Qweepie, Driew’s father.

Marq Qweepie had adapted the lazy talk of the neither northern nor southern state called Kentucky. Lightning bugs replaced fireflies. G’Day replaced hello. And supper replaced dinner. Marq had either adopted or regressed into new habits living in Dawson Springs, as had Driew.

Lazy talk didn’t seem lazy anymore. The words flowed like sweet tea over ice. Smooth and popping at just the right syllable. Yonder didn’t make sense before. Yonder was now a safe distance away.

A winded Pester rounded the porch then wedged his way into Driew’s relaxing monkey swing. Like a pack animal, Pester displayed his hierarchy. In the Qweepie pack, Pester ruled as top dog. Pester had assumed the leader role in Killiope’s absence. As Big Bother, Pester reigned a larrikin like his name implied.

Driew knew of only one other big bother worse than his own—Jameson Hayder, his bully kussin. Driew avoided that bounce. Pester shared Driew’s bedroom—no escaping family.

“Where have you been?” asked Nieve Qweepie, caring for her oldest son’s whereabouts as mothers do.

“I ran Old Hospital Road. Gotta keep in shape for the lacrosse tryouts next spring. There are no teams. If I want to be recognized, I gotta be on point,” said Pester, munching on his third supper.

”We found a team in Clarksville, Tennessee. But we need your help to cover costs,” said Marq.

”Why?” asked Pester.

”We can afford the transportation and time. You need to supply the dues and gear,” said Nieve, more into sports than Marq.

”Boys, we’ve discussed letting all three of you work this summer. Since Payne is working at Pennyrile State Park, Piper Brown has neighborly offered to hire the two of you for jobs in her garden. We are fine with you helping as long as you commit until Gulia returns,” said Nieve.

”Killiope never worked. Why should I?” Pester countered the idea of employment.

”Fine! Work here. Wash the van and mow the fast-growing lawn and fields for free,” said Marq, frustrated by Pester’s response.

”Cleaning a minivan is like cleaning a house without air conditioning,” said Pester.

”How about mowing grass in town? You’ll earn fifteen dollars an hour,” Marq suggested. ”You won’t make that bagging groceries!”

”Mowing is too hot and boring. Back and forth, clipping the same grass week after week!” said Pester.

”This summer is your last opportunity to earn money before graduation. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.” Marq kicked off his soiled farm boots, the same boots he used to mow the same fields week after week at Pester’s age.

”I shouldn’t have to work,” said Pester, sulking in the chair.

”If you want spending money, you’re working! Help Piper or you and I are applying at the DQ, DG, and every tobacco patch within three counties. You’re not gaming this summer away!” Nieve sipped her sweet tea.

Driew had hoped to enjoy the cool evening and sweet tea conversations peacefully—not tonight.

Pester brushed past Driew, flicking his ear. If ever a time for a kid to snap, Driew chose the wrong one. In a reflex action, Driew swung at his pain, hitting Pester.

Pester snatched Driew in a headlock, spilling Nieve’s drink and breaking the Mason jar.

”Stop this bickering! You’re working for Piper! No sass talk. If you two want to touch, sit face-to-face and hold hands!” There are two sides to a story, Nieve always said when resolving conflicts. She ignored the motto today.

“I don’t want to hold his stinking hand,” said Pester.

“Do as I say or you’ll be cleaning this mess and the house too!” said Nieve.

Pester locked hands with Driew, face-to-face in the wooden porch swing.

“Stay there, while I get something to clean this mess,” said Nieve, slamming the screen door. The 1930s farmhouse wood floors whined from the force of her punishing march to the kitchen.

”You jerks, your mom is worried about finding a job herself. Don’t add to her stress by being lazy and spoiled. No one in this house wants to work this summer. To leave, that’s our only other choice.”  Marq collected the broken Mason jar then joined Nieve inside.

Driew contemplated where issues began in his life. Rid of a big sinister, left with an even bigger bother picking up where Killiope left off.

Pester manipulated the punishment into Driew’s torment. ”You’ve never cared for anything but yourself, lil’ bother. You’ll clearly never hafta be responsible,” said Pester, clenching Driew’s fingers. With his strong sweaty grip, Pester forcefully squeezed.

Driew collapsed onto the porch, whimpering in pain.

Pester didn’t let go.

Get back, Driew thought, replacing his whimper with his newfound strength. Driew clinched forcefully as Pester’s hold eased. Getting even, Driew thought.

Pester attempted to break the hand holding bond. He hocked a spit wad, dangling his saliva over Driew’s face. Footsteps creaked over the wood floors inside and toward the porch. Pester jerked Driew off the floor and into the swing beside him.

”Aw, you the lovingest bunch of boys,” Ida Mae said. “Your momma gots a job call. She said you boys bess clean this mess and get off to bed fer work.” She left towels and a bucket of soapy water beside the swing.

”I’m done! Night, lil’ bother.” Pester jumped the porch banister, leaving Driew to clean up.

Driew had become Pester’s keeper, cleaning responsibly, with no verbal appreciation. Pester’s lack of words hit harder than his punches. Driew cared for his family and took on added responsibilities to show his love.

Killiope and I grew closer before she left for bootcamp. Could Pester and I do the same? Driew thought, empowered by his show of strength.

I don’t want to live another torturous year as Pester’s little bother. Can’t Pester resolve his issues to become a loving brother?

—•—

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

DOWN UNDER: Introduction

This complimentary excerpt from DOWN UNDER: Kussins. Read Moment One and Moment Two also.

—•—

INTRODUCTION

“You can’t change songlines—but you can change pecking order.”

M. W. Adams

Everyone holds a story within them. The telling is done in various ways. No one remembers every loving and fearful line, only the moments.

Timing plays the most important factor in childhood. Songlines and birth order direct the outcome of a child’s dreamtime. A songline is one of many paths across land and sky, marking an Aboriginal creator-being’s route during dreaming.

A child cannot change dreaming or songlines, but can change chain of command—thus affecting his or her family tree. The footprints a child follows along a songline may uproot family trees in sacred lands.

Footprints are landmarks used to navigate songlines. A child singing the proper sequence of steps fearlessly walks about the Never Never. Crossing through diverse family lands, language is not a barrier when singing the proper way. Singing the wrong way is a curse.

Children must continually sing-song, keeping lands and family trees “alive.” Their sing-song stories are a rise and fall of words—dreaming. To understand children is to follow the rhythm of the creator-being’s songline they follow.

Driew Qweepie’s songline leads him Down Under, unearthing buried moments he recovers and treasures.

In my story of ordinary people, extraordinary things exist, Driew thought.

—•—

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

“Do you currently have a great studio?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: In the OUTBACK, one of your characters, Marq, seems to reflect some of your thoughts when he tells Driew, “‘I think I-4’s been under construction since they started. It’s like a house or this studio – a perpetual work in progress. Seventeen years of seeking a studio when what I wanted was out back all along.’” Then Driew proposes visiting a Kentucky State Park, and Marq agrees, and then he says he admires Marq’s drawings, and asks if they are for a new book, but Marq explains: “‘Actually, they’re not for new books. They’re from thoughts – past and present. I figured getting them on paper would free me to focus on the money makers…’” (148). Have you had any difficulties building an art studio in terms of constructing it, gathering funds for it and the like? Do you currently have a great studio? Is it open to the public? Do you think a modern artist needs a studio, and if so why?

AdamsI-4 (Interstate 4) is the highway that extends from the East Coast to West Coast of Central Florida. Informational text is included throughout OUTBACK and the series to educate both U.S. and international readers who may visit the places in the books. The continuous construction of I-4 and of a home is to show how environment shapes family life. The Family Tree Novel Series will have two editions: a novel and an illustrated novel version.

As an illustrator no one asks me, “Which character are you?” As an author, that’s the first question readers ask. My answer: I’m every character, action, and moment. In OUTBACK, Marq, Driew Qweepie’s father, is a freelance illustrator who never became a professional. I won’t cause a spoiler, but Marq’s back story is reveled throughout the series. His character is a compilation of numerous illustrator friends and the challenges we all face. Marq voices his concerns, like a parent, to help Driew and readers understand an illustrator’s career. Rarely do illustrators have a studio bigger than a table in a remote corner of their house. And when we get a studio, it’s years in the making.

Mark Wayne Adams and Elaine Goldberg.

I do think some artists need a studio, not a hideout. Every book I illustrate is created remotely: kitchen table, poolside, gymnastics practice, airport, or a Costa Rican rooftop deck. I’m an illustrator dad. While my children finish homework at the kitchen table, I work. During gymnastics practice, I work. Even while the family sleeps in on vacation, I work. Author/Illustrator is a family friendly career. Managing and committing to a work schedule is the greatest challenge.

I have three main “studios”: an outdoor patio table by my screened pool, the Kentucky book warehouse, and a Panera Bread. My best work is created in public. While illustrating Parts of Speech Parade: New York City, written by Irina Dolinskiy, I painted in various Orlando, Florida Panera Bread locations. Patrons compelled to comment would say, “I’ve been to New York City before!” Instant feedback and a new fan eager to purchase a prerelease copy of the book!

Ciao Rolling Carry On BagHonestly my art studio is a rolling bag, stocked with several pads of watercolor paper, Prismacolor pens, five favorite brush sizes, and a Grumbacher watercolor set (24 colors). One $40.00 watercolor set creates illustrations for approximately fifteen children’s books. The watercolor paper investment in each 32 page book is about 3 pads of 12 sheets (roughly $30.00). Gathering funds to start an illustration business is easy. For under $100, anyone can start an illustration business!

IMG_3796My business model is unique in that I license the digital illustrations to the publisher. All physical artwork remains property of MWA, Inc. The words “digital illustrations” in my contracts helped my business make choices. MWA, Inc. owns illustrations from over 40 children’s books (approximately 1,200 original illustrations). My CPA says the art is valued at the cost of the paper, $1,200.00. When sold as art, the value ranges from $500–$1,000 each. Most fine artists don’t consider illustration as art, but I beg to differ. This children’s book illustration collection could cover a football field; fill multiple art galleries at once; and continues to generate an annual income through reproductions. The reproductions generate more money than the original is worth. I’ve only sold a few originals to serious collectors.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Who is Nieve Qweepie?

Moment Three: Perspective

“You’re not convincing, mister. Pull up a cushion and sit with me.” She patted the dirt. “I will only make you work if you tell me falsies!” Nieve parented by working the truth out of her children. “This junk must go. If grass isn’t planted before fall, spring rains will erode what’s left of this yard,” she said.

“Mom, why are we here?” asked Driew, surveying the junkyard home to avoid eye contact.

“Wow! That’s a deep question for a young man,” said Nieve.

“Here, Kentucky, cleaning this worthless farm! Can’t we sell it?” he asked, dropping onto a damp, weathered cushion.

“Your dad and I explained the numerous letters stating ‘the farm is an eyesore to the community.’ It’s been for sale for ten years, but no one wants to invest time in a junkyard home,” she said. “We had neglected this place. Now, she needs us. Anyway, who sees this place?”

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters by M. W. Adams

“I was captivated by the mood and magic that pervades.” —Jack Mangus, Readers’ Favorite

OUTBACK 3D-book-72DPI-RGBReviewed By Jack Mangus for Readers’ Favorite

Outback: Bothers and Sinisters is a young adult coming of age novel written by Mark Wayne Adams. After unsuccessfully listing their inherited property for sale for ten years now, the Qweepie family has reluctantly moved back to Marq Qweepie’s family farm in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. It’s a big change from the suburban sprawl of sunny Florida for Driew and his ‘bothers and sinisters.’ Driew is the baby in the family, and he’s smaller than the average 11-year-old and darker than the rest of his siblings. He’s been the brunt of their practical jokes and pranks for years now, so being hung up as the farm’s scarecrow, and left there hanging as his siblings go back home, is nothing new for him. Something special happens, however, during this unpleasant and humiliating experience. He’s rescued by a gangling and oddly spoken girl named Gulia. Her relatives are Australian, and she tells him how she and her mom go back there to visit her grandparents several times a year. Together, Gulia and Driew explore their own personal outback there in the Kentucky wilderness; a place where Driew is safe from the teasing and pranks of his siblings, and where he can feel a little bit of magic in the air.

Mark Wayne Adams’ young adult coming of age novel, Outback: Bothers and Sinisters, is a book to be read slowly and savored. I was captivated by the mood and magic that pervades this most unusual coming of age story and filled with no little regret when I finally came to the last page. Driew is one of the most unforgettable characters I’ve come across in some years and being present as he comes of age and finds out where he belongs was a rare privilege indeed. I loved experiencing Kentucky’s seasonal changes through his eyes, and especially enjoyed the detailed descriptions of how he makes the deer stand into his own place. While this book is geared towards the young adult audience, preteens and young-at-heart adults will most likely find themselves as enchanted by Driew, his parents and Gulia as I was. Outback: Bothers and Sinisters is most highly recommended.

As a Kentucky native and a Florida transplant, how autobiographical is this story in comparison to your own?

As a Kentucky native and a Florida transplant, how autobiographical is this story in comparison to your own?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_Author

I did pull from my own experiences of visiting my Kentucky family as an adult and how my Floridian children must feel when visiting Dawson Springs for weeks at a time. Growing up in Kentucky, my family was average middle class to most people living there and poor to outsiders when compared to big city living.

My childhood is a far cry from my adult life in a manicured Florida suburb. I wanted to share how caring for even the worst home can change everyone’s perspective. Like Gulia grew to love the Qweepie farm saying she “could live there forever.”

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

OUTBACK is set in the small town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Why did you choose to set the novel here?

OUTBACK is set in the small town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Why did you choose to set the novel here?

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_Author

I’ve lived nearly my entire life in a small town. I’m fascinated by the customs of small towns. Relationships there are a social dance that you don’t get in major cities. I think I’ll always write about this lifestyle.

Dawson Springs is my hometown in Western Kentucky. The Qweepie farm combines my parent’s family farms and a 1939 home where I lived briefly in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I think using the town is a homage to the people who said, “Remember me when you’re famous!”

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

Language of the OUTBACK by Moment

Language of the OUTBACK by Moment

16-OUTBACK-Language_of_the_Outback-By_Moment

This list is for teachers and parents. Discuss these words with readers before they read each chapter. Readers may have difficulty with words that don’t appear in everyday discussion. Adopting new words and terms builds a better vocabulary to describe Outback experiences.

MOMENT ONE:  bothers, G’day, Heterochromia, mate, shonky, sinisters, willy willy

MOMENT TWO:  bloody, boomerang, Kentucky, Outback, shag on a rock

MOMENT FOUR:  furphy, galah, larrikins

MOMENT SIX:  Aussie, Australia, mamaay, momu, sand shoes

MOMENT SEVEN:  sing-song

MOMENT EIGHT:  aints, kussins, Malle, uncools

MOMENT TWELVE:  Billa bing bong boom, bushie

MOMENT FOURTEEN:  water boarder

MOMENT SIXTEEN:  Florida, sunshine state

OUTBACK 3D-book-72DPI-RGB

For more resources using the Language of the Outback or discussion of the OUTBACK book, choose these helpful links:

OUTBACK: Word Search

Reading Group Guide for OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, Conversation with the Author

OUTBACK: Bothers & Sinisters, CONVERSATION WITH THE AUTHOR

16-OUTBACK-Conversation_With_The_Author1. What is your inspiration for writing about the Bothers & Sinisters sibling dynamic?

I believe we all come from multifaceted dysfunctional family. The drama within the smallest of families offers rich writing inspiration. “Sissy,” my cousin Gayla, reminded me of bothersome and sinister things we did as children that our parents never knew. Funny thing was my parents, aunts, and uncles had the same experiences.

What inspired me to use a family tree as my inspiration was the falling out of family members and the severed relationships due to traumatic words that wounded the entire tree. Words in a family can change the entire dynamic for future generations.

When I was hurting as a kid, I found comfort out back in trees. I carved my childhood feelings on tree branches that healed over time hiding my words and feelings. I believe family trees heal much like trees in nature—over time.

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

I’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.

3. What research did you do and how did you go about discovering your inspiration?

Reading and sharing my interest in places and ideas inspires me. When I decided to use the outback as my theme, I received various comments and feedback—positive and negative. Naturally I chose the theme since every parent and child has played in the magical outback at some point in their lives.

I chose to read children’s books to adult fiction about Australia. This taught me what Gulia’s character might learn at her age and what her mother might experience as an adult. Discussions about Australia revealed information about living there that I had not experienced. Smells, sounds, events, and moments only residents can relay.

Lastly I wrote a list of commonalities of Australian and United States families. I chose native folklore, ancient trees, and immigrant family history.

4. As a Kentucky native and a Florida transplant, how autobiographical is this story in comparison to your own? 

I did pull from my own experiences of visiting my Kentucky family as an adult and how my Floridian children must feel when visiting Dawson Springs for weeks at a time. Growing up in Kentucky, my family was average middle class to most people living there and poor to outsiders when compared to big city living.

My childhood is a far cry from my adult life in a manicured Florida suburb. I wanted to share how caring for even the worst home can change everyone’s perspective. Like Gulia grew to love the Qweepie farm saying she “could live there forever.”

5. Which character do you have the closest connection to?

I feel a connection with each of the characters, they are like family. To pick one character I would say Killiope. As the oldest sibling in my family, I feel a responsibility for each of my siblings. Leaving home was my only escape from responsibilities, which soon caught up with me. As the series continues, I hope to become more relatable with each sibling hierarchy as the series continues.

6. Did you enjoy the writing process, since you’ve illustrated over fifty picture books?

I always enjoyed books as a child—from illustrations to reading. Making a career writing or illustrating books never came to mind. As a child my ambition was to become an animator after watching Walt Disney’s movie, Fantasia. Once I discovered there were more profitable art careers besides animation, I began illustrating books. Being around creative writers, inspired my love of writing. I’m a firm believer, you are who you associate with.

7. How do you approach the writing process?

My writing process is fairly structured. I outline the story using a historical timeline which guides the rhythm of each book. As ideas appear, I categorize them into their respective place within the story timeline. I also parallel historical facts and words I want included from the time periods. Some days I sit inside my screened pool and become a prisoner to the story. Every breath is a moment trapped within Driew Qweepie’s story.

8. What part of the writing process do you love most?

My favorite thing about being a writer is hearing from readers! Connecting with book lovers reminds me what writing fiction is all about—escape for us all. I enjoy reading Goodreads and Amazon reviews and seeing posts about the story—both positive and negative. I can’t improve without their honest feedback.

9. When do you decide to share the OUTBACK writing with others?

I waited until the OUTBACK book was half completed—about eight chapters. These chapters are rough and very general in creative language. My goal was to give a bland idea of the plot, character action, and historical content. If this was enough to inspire others to ask questions or want more, then the creative embellishments would be much easier.

For the first novel, I had my wife read it. She is very thorough and not a reader. Needless to say, she only read it once, and wasn’t excited. My next version was much more polished and the reader had decent feedback.

By the Beta Reader stage, all sixteen chapters had been edited using Fire Up Your Fiction: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Stories, written by a colleague, Jodi Renner. Her book was a great resource for a newbie or established writer. I went chapter by chapter and was critical of what I’d written. Trimming excess really makes a difference when creating a fast reading fiction book.

10. Who were your favorite childhood writers and why?

At age 13, Stephen King’s werewolves of the Silver Bullet stalked my warm Kentucky summer nights. King’s photo spooked me, and his writings haunted me. Really cool feeling when an author chooses the proper sequence of words to spur an emotion. To this day I feel Misery hearing “I’m your biggest fan!”

11. What advice would you offer new writers?

Don’t wait to write a great novel. Age is not a limitation to becoming an author. Write everyday moments until the novel revels itself in your average day.

Write often in any format possible. Siri’s dictation on my Apple devices lets me write while walking, driving, or when I’m too lazy to use my thumbs. I carry my Best Sketchbook with me most everywhere to write and draw my thoughts. Use an app like A Novel Idea or software like Scrivener to keep track of your notes. Import your journal entries, dictations, and loose notes once a week into one main document that shows the word count. That will show you how quickly the story grows.

Join a professional writing group to enhance your writing. Join a publishing group to learn the marketing behind writing. Lastly, support local independent book stores. They will be the first to stock your book.

12. In the Author Biography, you indicate OUTBACK was inspired by a brown doll you had during your childhood. Where did the doll come from and what other life experience was used in the novel?

In the years since my childhood, I’ve learned to appreciate the value of dolls and toys as companions in my life. As a Caucasian boy, owning a brown baby doll named Driew was open season for teasing. I protected our colorful relationship which made me a better man in many ways.

I have what I’ve come to call an “adopted family,”­ characters who  came into my life when my family is absent. In their own way, they provided me with an imaginative love that became the structure for my artistic talent. I thank Driew and many more like him.

In OUTBACK, I wanted to bring some of my out back magic to the book. I wanted the book to be about the bonds formed between people that become your adopted family. Hopefully readers are engaged by my writing.

13. OUTBACK is set in the small town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Why did you choose to set the novel here?

I’ve lived nearly my entire life in a small town. I’m fascinated by the customs of small towns. Relationships there are a social dance that you don’t get in major cities. I think I’ll always write about this lifestyle.

Dawson Springs is my hometown in Western Kentucky. The Qweepie farm combines my parent’s family farms and a 1939 home where I lived briefly in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I think using the town is a homage to the people who said, “Remember me when you’re famous!”

14. In addition to being a novelist, you are also a children’s book illustrator. How has being an illustrator impacted your novel writing?

It keeps me focused on the importance of words. I overwrite most scenes and deeply edit my writing to be more precise with my words. This has taught me to appreciate the usage of illustrations with words. Rather than writing numerous pages to explain a message that can be brief and poignant.

15. When you began the Family Tree Novels, did you have the adventure completely outlined? How have you been surprised along the way? Were the introductions of additional characters  important in the influence of the story’s direction?

At the start of the series, I had a thin thread of intention of the entire series, five books. I’m a supporter of timelines and outlines. I used several drafts that were stimulated from the main outline. The titles and Australian theme came as I introduced Gulia’s character. The attraction to Australia and the region inspired the titles.

The character that surprised me the most was Ida Mae. She was a character who was a first draft villain. “The maid did it” theme was my original intent with Ida Mae. Through the revisions, I saw the potential of her adoption into the family. She forced me to choose a dark underlying problem in my childhood to face. I think she has become a fabulous addition to the story.

16. What was your most challenging limitation while writing OUTBACK and what has been the best pleasure?

The greatest challenge was eliminating my prior illustration projects and focusing in on my writing time. I had to eliminate my personal choices and focus on the characters’ lives. I also didn’t want readers to be mired in details of Driew’s torturous life. Readers should experience the positives in his journey: small town life and personal relationships.

The greatest pleasure has been, participating in Driew’s adventure whether living my family life, driving on book tours, walking, or trying to fall asleep. Writing has become a journey I commit to each day. Not the most talented side of my artistic profile, but a frustrating and exhilarating challenge at the same time.

17. What can you tell us about DOWN UNDER the next book in the series?

I don’t want to share too much about the upcoming book. But I will say that DOWN UNDER is a faster progression of understanding Driew’s family magic. A miraculous event happens between he and Pester, his big bother, that will reach far into the choices of Driew’s manhood.