Sunday, October 18, 2015
1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Cushing Revision 2
Name: Emily Cushing
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Title: RACE TO BUTCH CASSIDY’S GOLD
With her parent’s bank account drained, twelve-year-old Maggie McCoy and her family will be forced to move away from the prestigious Renaissance Academy of Arts and back to her former, bully-ridden school. So when Maggie gets the chance to go on a cross-country trip with her Grandpa Jim and cousin Jake to search for gold hidden by infamous bank robber Butch Cassidy, she jumps on the bandwagon, or in this case, a beat-up Winnebago.
Less than two hours into the trip, Maggie’s worried she’s made a mistake. The perfect adventure she envisioned crumbles in the face of reality with cousin Jake’s “anger bursts”—a side effect of his parent’s divorce. But with her home on the line, Maggie is determined to find the treasure, even after they discover dangerous thieves are also after it.
With only each other to rely on, Maggie and Jake must decipher clues about Butch’s life to solve the mystery. Because this just may be Maggie’s last chance to save the home and life she loves.
A middle grade adventure complete at 50,000-words, RACE TO BUTCH CASSIDY’S GOLD follows both present-day Maggie McCoy and the legend of Butch Cassidy until mystery and history collide.
First Five Pages:
Whenever Mom and Dad point to the couch and say, “Sit down, Maggie, we need to talk,” I’m like, Please, no. Because I know when I hear those seven little words something terrible is coming.
Sowhen they motioned to the couch and asked me to sit I was like, “I don’t think so.” I knew what they were up to and I refused to play that game. I figured if we weren’t sitting we couldn’t have a Sit Down.
I was wrong.
You don’t have to actually be sitting to hear bad news. Even if you’re standing (and even if it’s in the kitchen—super far from the couch), they still tell you.
Dad rubbed his short beard and rested both palms on the glass kitchen counter he had hand-blown. “There’s something important we need to tell you.”
I jumped into panic mode. They were moving forward with the Sit Down even though I had refused to sit. I needed a Plan B. Fast. I hummed loudly and scanned the kitchen for anything that might stop him from talking. My eyes landed on a bag of microwave popcorn. Maybe if I couldn’t hear him, he wouldn’t be able to tell me. I opened the microwave, threw in the popcorn, and slammed the door, loudly punching each button as I turned it on.
Mom pulled her hair into a messy bun, securing it with a pencil. “Maggie, please listen.”
I scrunched my face, cupped my ear, and shook my head. “What? Can’t hear you.” I pointed at the microwave. “Popping noises. Too loud.”
Dad’s mouth formed a straight line and Mom folded her arms. “We can wait,” she said.
“All night,” Dad added.
I sighed and hit the stop button on the microwave. “Fine.” I slumped onto a wobbly wooden stool. “Let me have it.”
I held my breath and waited. Dad glanced at Mom and she gave me one of those you-know-we-love-you-but-this-
is-going-to-hurt smiles. “It just hasn’t worked out, Sweetie. We’re going to have to move back to the city.”
My chest tightened and my eyes darted to Dad, hoping he’d say it wasn’t true, but his shoulders dropped. “I talked to my old boss at the accounting firm and they have a position opening up on.”
I bit down on my bottom lip and focused on the colorful photos on the refrigerator, trying to hold back tears. This could not be happening. Not now. Grandpa Jim just hung a tire swing in our backyard, Jake and I had summer passes to Wild Waves Waterpark, and I was supposed to attend Renaissance Academy in the fall—one of the best art schools in Missouri. I was one of only 50 seventh graders who had been accepted to their six-year program.
But the very worst part about returning to my old school in the city was bullies like Harriet Nerdin. I hated Harriet, but even more I hated myself for never standing up to her.
Like in fifth grade when I was going through my “cowgirl phase” and was completely obsessed with all things old West-y. When my school held an art competition to draw, paint, or sculpt a historical figure, I chose Butch Cassidy, famous outlaw of the Wild West. As part of my character study, Grandpa Jim gave me the special binder of famous Americans Grandma June had made when she was alive. I read all sorts of facts and stories about Butch from her book.
After a month of studying his life and taking sculpting lessons from Dad, I completed my sculpture of Butch riding his getaway horse with sacks of stolen loot hanging off the side. I knew I had the contest in the bag and the first place prize, a new bike, was all mine. In fact, on the way out the door that morning, Mom patted me on the back and said, “You’ve got this, kiddo.”
When I arrived at the bus stop, Harriet eyed my sculpture and rolled up her poster of Justin Bieber. “What artsy fartsy thing did you make?”
Everyone at the bus stop laughed. I swallowed. “It’s Butch Cassidy.”
Harriet rolled her eyes. “Never heard of him.”
“He was a famous outlaw,” I stammered, but she and her friends had already turned their backs. I moved closer to the bus stop so I could hurry onto the bus once it arrived.
Just as the bus pulled up, there was whispering and laughter behind me. And then a shove. A hard, deliberate shove that sent my sculpture of Butch flying out of my hands and into the gutter, where it broke into a hundred pieces.
Not one person stopped to help me pick up my broken sculpture. They just stepped over or around me as they got onto the bus.
That one incident pretty much summed up my entire life in the city.
One of the greatest days ever was last summer when we moved to Hollister—the best small town this side of the Mississippi—and Mom and Dad started the whole one-year experiment to see if they could get a commission for their sculpting.
• Commission: when an artist gets paid to sculpt.
Super big deal for them. Super good move for me. But they still haven’t gotten a commission, which is crazy because their sculptures are crazy good.
I shifted my eyes from the fridge and stared at my parents. “I’ll give back my Snap Cam.” It was a camera like those old fashioned-y ones that gives you the picture right after you take it. I had been begging for one for months and they finally gave me one yesterday for sixth grade graduation.
Mom shook her head. “It won’t help, Sweetheart.”
I puffed out a large breath of air. “Well then, what can I do?”
Dad reached for my hand. “There’s really nothing you can do, Maggie.” He squeezed. “Just try not to worry, we’ll take care of it.”
Heat flushed through my body and I pulled my hand away. "Of course I’m going to worry and of course I’m going to try to help us stay. I’m not a baby—I’m twelve. I can come up with good ideas, too." I pushed back the stool and stood. "In fact, you’re the ones that don’t have to worry. Because I will figure out a way for us to stay.” I marched to my room and slammed the door. My class schedule for next year flew off my magnet board and onto the floor. I crumpled it, opened my bedroom door, and threw it into the hallway. “I guess I won’t be needing this anymore!”
I have to find a way for us to stay. I just don’t know how. Ugh!
What am I going to do?
I know what I’m going to do!
I’m going to find Butch Cassidy’s hidden gold coins! I didn’t leave my room once last night. Which seemed like a good idea until my belly ached with hunger and my bladder felt like it might explode, but it gave me the chance to formulate a plan.
Grandma June’s Famous Americans binder says Butch hid gold coins somewhere in Utah and gave clues to his family leading them to where the coins might be, but they’ve never been found.
It’s a total long shot, but we only have 18 days, so it’s worth a try. The coins have got to be worth a ton, which means we’ll never have to leave Hollister. Ever.