Guess the Plot
Dylan O’Leary and the Magic of the Calawacadoza
1. Dylan O'Leary is rolling home from Paddy Whack's Knick-Knack Pub when he stops to give a dog a bone. From a single act of kindness comes the gift of magic, bestowed by a mysterious Italian circus troop, the Flying Calawacadoza. But is the ability to turn people into gold truly a gift? Or is it a curse??
2. When stage magician Dylan O'Leary inherits a life-sized wooden Indian named "Calawacadoza" from his uncle, the spirit in the statue shows him that Magic is real. Can he defeat Prince Tromedlov and save the world from the next Dark Age?
3. A poet was all he ever wanted to be, a real one, like his namesake Dylan Thomas. Instead all Dylan O'Leary has is a job at a pub and a girlfriend who cheats on him. When he keeps a strange coin found on the bar, tiny men begin following him around. Will they help him . . . or destroy him?
4. No one believes Dylan O'Leary when he tells them about his favorite new herb - especially not his closest family members, who insist he's just drunk on the local ale. But they sing a different tune when they try his special recipe for brownies.
5. Dylan O'Leary is your typical Irishman. He spends most of his days (and nights) at the local pub. Until that stranger walks in the door and dies at his feet. Now, Dylan is on the run from leprechauns who want to know the secret of the magic of the Calawacadoza. Dylan runs into a fairy circle and begs help from the Fairy King whose price is eternal sobriety. Will Dylan pay with his liquor to remove the threat of the leprechauns?
6. Dylan O'Leary falls through a wormhole in Lake Michigan, emerges in a land where magical calawacadoza flowers have helped create an advanced talking animal civilization, and is assigned a mission to save humanity from an evil organization of criminals. Can Dylan succeed in time to start the sixth grade?
Dear Evil Editor,
Through a bit of very obvious research, I know you take great joy in tearing apart query letters, which is exactly the reason I’m sending you the "final draft" of my letter for the 68,500-word middle grade fantasy, Dylan O’Leary and the Magic of the Calawacadoza. I’m hoping to get some wonderful advice that I can use or, at the least, a good laugh. [At first I assumed this was a note to Evil Editor, but as it's the only place that mentions the title, we'll assume it's part of the query letter, and that we should replace "tearing apart query letters" with "dispatching form rejection letters.]
One hot summer’s day, Dylan O’leary, daydreamer and adventuress-at-large, listens to unexpected directions from a crazy red bird, falls into a wormhole in Lake Michigan, and finds herself on the hidden islands of Animalia. [Immediately she wonders what was in that Kool-Aid her friend Johnny D. Light gave her.] But her biggest shock comes when the island’s outlandish creatures assign her a task; stop the Black Eagle Group (B.E.G.) from discovering their treasure-filled land. If she fails, these animal poaching modern-day pirates will become the wealthiest powers on the planet and rule our world. When Dylan embarks on a wild adventure in the middle of the Indian Ocean, she must challenge the unknown. [Is this the same adventure?] What’s being human really about? [It's about being at the top of the food chain. Okay, second--I forgot about sharks.] Is being brave in her DNA? Will she ever meet her father? [Where did that come from?] And as she plunges further into harm’s way, can she lead the notorious B.E.G. to their demise without exposing Animalia’s secrets? [If you were going to use the phrase "notorious B.E.G.", you should have made them the Black Iguana Group.] In a place where nothing is as it appears [Nothing? Are there or aren't there outlandish animals on the islands of Animalia?] and magical Calawacadoza flowers make the unimaginable possible, the battle to save humanity becomes hers to win…or lose.
Pretty daunting task considering Dylan starts grade six in three weeks.
I’m a creative director from the world of advertising and a first time novelist who’s very active in my writer’s group and the SCBWI. I was sitting in my backyard when a crazy red bird instructed me to write a humorous and culturally relevant story that was inspired by my travels, history and current events.
Please let me know if you would like to see the completed manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. May many wild adventures fill your dreams!
There's a kids' book called Animalia which I understand is being made into a television series as we speak. It's for younger kids, and "animalia" is a word anyway, but consider that once something's on television, no one'll think you came up with it yourself. That's why Dr. Suess changed the street in his book And to Think that I Saw it on Sesame Street to Mulberry Street after the TV show came on. He knew everyone would think he stole it from PBS.
In the first sentence Animalia is a group of islands. In the second it's one island.
I assume a big draw of the book is the outlandish creatures of Animalia, but no animals are described once we reach Animalia.
Although I could envision this query getting a request for pages, we had a fairly specific plot going until we cut it short and started asking vague questions. Eliminating the questions leaves room for a more engaging opening, like this one which uses information from your as-yet-unposted synopsis:
How could Dylan O'Leary possibly have known that that crazy red bird, CARDINAL RICHELIEU, would open a wormhole at the exact moment two dogs pushed her and JAKE, her braniac best friend, into Lake Michigan? When Dylan and Jake emerge, they're on the hidden, treasure-filled islands of Animalia, home to totally advanced, and oftentimes freakish, creatures. The surprises keep coming: Dylan couldn’t converse with animals before, and now they won’t shut up.
Dylan and Jake soon learn that they’ve been called by KING RAJ III--half tiger, half chameleon, half spider monkey--to stop Black Iguana Group (B.I.G.) from discovering the islands. If they fail, these animal-poaching modern-day pirates will become the wealthiest powers on the planet and rule the world.
In a place where magical Calawacadoza flowers make the unimaginable possible, Dylan and Jake battle to save Animalia--and humanity itself. Can they lead the notorious B.I.G. to their demise without exposing Animalia’s secrets . . . and still make it home in time to start sixth grade?