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Dayton O'Donnell

Dayton O'Donnell

Denver, Colorado

Dayton O'Donnell is a writer that believes in the unseen magic of everyday life. His philosophy is that we, right now, live in a magical world and often forget it.

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About the author

Dayton O'Donnell: Some guy who writes words

Dayton's key philosophy on art is that it should always be used to say one thing. One idea. One important burning lesson that you want to teach someone. Having learned much about life through the filter of music, he equates writing to the relationship between melody, harmony and rhythm: The main idea of your story - your theme - should be like a strong melody and this is what you want to get stuck in the audience's head. This theme can be twisted, inverted, reversed, contrasted etc... but everything one does in a work of art is to deliver this one idea - in tact - to the audience. 

Harmony and Rhythm are important only in the fact that they work to support your melody. In writing, these are things like emotions, steaks, adding time constraints for tension, using descriptive details etc... A nice harmony is good in and of itself but it's not a strong piece of music. A good rhythm is nice as well, but it's not something that will get stuck in someone's head. 

Dayton, through his adventures, has found that this idea bleeds into every form of art and even into everyday life. In photography, the main goal is to get the viewer to look at one thing. The harmony and rhythm in photos comes by way of using framing, the rule of thirds, contrasting colors, layering the image etc... all of this just to make the subject - the melody - pop. In comedy, it's leading the audience to listen to your one punchline at the end of the joke. In business: all of the advertisements, sales promises, value stacking, branding etc... is all just to say, "I can do this for you." 

In all of his writing, Dayton uses this universal artistic concept to force his readers to learn what he wants them to learn. To see what he wants them to see. To feel what he wants them to feel. 

All of this, essentially, is to simply share the melodies that are stuck in his head with the people around him

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Success! Mr. Strickhams sold 35 pre-orders by March 4, 2019, was pitched to 10 publishers, and is in discussions with publishers.

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Mr. Strickhams

A novel about a depressed and boring wizard who's forgotten how magic life really is

Oliver, a clinically-diagnosed-as-boring wizard, falls in love with an interesting witch. To be with her, he must discover what it means to become truly interesting or die boring and alone.

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Science Fiction & Fantasy Comedy
75,000 words
75% complete
8 publishers interested

Synopsis

The goal of Mr. Strickham's is to remind people that we, right now, live in a magical world. The world that the book takes place in is essentially like our own but instead of things running off of electricity and computer chips, things run off of magic and enchantments and demon infusion technology. Things like printers and airports are, instead, floating magic pens and tele-ports. 

The story follows a young man named Oliver who, in the wake of his mothers death, has lost the ability to see how magic life is. We find him at first in a relationship with an interesting young woman named Beatriz. Soon, we find out that he's had a spell done (similar to an antidepressant) that makes him appear interesting and that, he feels, is the only reason that he's able to date her in the first place. The main problem of the book is that the interesting spell only lasts one year. 

Before the spell runs out, Oliver must go on an adventure to find out what it means to be truly interesting or else he - as a side-effect of the spell -  will "slowly turn invisible and die unhappy, boring, and alone". The novel uses this conflict to explore the question: what makes someone interesting? Is it fighting a Dragon? Is it being needed? Is it being helpful? Having hobbies? 

While exploring the question of interest, the book also explores themes such as; overlooking the magic of every day life, covering up our problems with fake solutions like pills (spells in this world), and the idea that we overlook what we have in order to seek out what we think we need.

The big takeaway for the both the Protagonist and the Reader is that in order to be interesting, all you have to do is be interested. Interested in the world, interested in the people around you. Interested in what you do etc... The only thing that will make you boring is simply thinking that you live in a boring world. 

My main goal is to have the reader put down the book, look at something as simple as a paperclip and think, "hmm I guess life is pretty magic." 

Outline

1. It introduces Oliver, a bland young man dating an exciting young woman named Beatriz. Oliver doesn't see how magic life is and is bored of working at his mom (recently deceased) and dad's general store (that sells overtly magical things) 

2. We find out that Oliver had been clinically diagnosed as boring. The disease is called Iners Distentus Longinquus or I.D.L. (Idle). In order to date Beatriz, he had gotten a spell done about 9 months prior making him seem interesting for 1 year. The side-effect of the spell is: if you don't become truly interesting somehow by the time the spell wears off, then you slowly become less interesting than before and ultimately turn invisible and die alone and boring (side-effects these days are pretty rough). 

3. However, the two of them actually compliment each other and Beatriz leans on Oliver to calm her down because she's really quite high strung. This leads her to tell him those conflict-spuring little words: I love you.

4. Once Oliver realizes that he mustn't lose her, he starts researching how to beat his boring disease. It's hard though because the subject of I.D.L. is so boring that most of the research on it is either half-finished or literally vanishing from the pages. He finally finds one helpful book at the library that says he has to go fight a Dragon. The book was written by a man named Dan

5. He leaves, just when both his girlfriend and his dad need him the most, to go find a man called Dan the Dragon Hunter. Dan teaches a three month long Dragon fighting course. Oliver thinks this has to be the same Dan that wrote the book on I.D.L.

6. He goes to a series of foreign and exotic cities to try and find the Dragon hunter but his web-site and social media is never up to date and it's a struggle to find him.  

7. He finds the Dragon hunter and does the training. When he tries to delve into Dan's personal life, he shuts down and and tries to avoid the subject altogether. This makes Oliver think that he's definitely the author of the book on I.D.L. Also, tensions run high between Oliver and his Girlfriend because he's been gone so long.

8. Eventually, he "fights" the Dragon but it's really just a tour group that takes people to a sad caged up Dragon and has it blow fire at them. All Oliver get's out of it is a picture of him blocking the fire with a shield. Very disappointing. 

9. He meets some tourists that are very against Dragon abuse (Aka the Dragon tour that Oliver just did). They basically tell him that he sucks for taking advantage of a helpless chained up Dragon for entertainment. They assert that everyone fights Dragons these days and that he's not cool. This leads him to believe he has not cured his I.D.L. 

10. His girlfriend calls and he tells her that he doesn't know if he can come home yet. He doesn't say why. She breaks up with him. He asks Dan the Dragon Hunter if he wrote the book on I.D.L. It turns out that he didn't and that he is just a piece of sh** that ran out on his family years ago and is avoiding paying child support. This happens while they are camping near the Dragon tour. When Oliver wakes up the next morning, he's gone. 

11. Oliver has to find his way back home, defeated. As he's walking, it starts raining. That's when an old man tells him to come in to his house to get out of the rain. This old man is the Dan that wrote the book on I.D.L. He tells Oliver that the secret to being interesting is simply to be interested (in a few more words). 

12. Oliver goes back home and finally tells his girlfriend that he's been dealing with I.D.L. and that the only reason he fought a Dragon was for her. 

Audience

To start, according to Authorearnings.com, Amazon sold nearly 19 million science fiction/fantasy books in 2017. This was expected to grow due to Amazon's continually growing popularity and domination of the marketplace.

From a survey done by a Fantasy Magazine. 

  • 60% men
  • 82% of readers are 25-54
  • 60% of their readers don’t have children
  • Occupations
    • 20% professionals
    • 18% writers/editors
    • 12% computers
    • 8% education
  • 52% put writer/editor as a secondary occupation
  • Majority of responses fell within uppermiddle class income
  • 36% had Bachelors degrees
  • 24% had Masters
  • Majority use Windows computers
  • Majority were into computer gaming
  • 58% said they are a writer of Fiction/Fantasy themselves
  • 41% reported being interested in comedic fantasy


Results from a custom audience on the Facebook Ads Manager. 

  • Age: 18-65
  • Interests must match: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (novel), Fantasy films, Fiction books, Harry Potter, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Magician (fantasy) or fantasy books. 
  • To narrow, the interests must ALSO match: Comedic Genres
  • This gave an audience size of 190,000 people in the US, Australia and United Kingdom.

As for a bit of demographic information on Sci Fi and Fantasy readers. Here are notes from a report by Menadue and Jacups:

  • 85% of people who like the SFF genre prefer reading as their main activity
  • Older males enjoy SF vs F a little bit more
  • There is a positive correlation between enjoyment of science in general to reading of SFF
  • Majority of respondents are college educated.
  • Majority of respondents were in a relationship.


Promotion

My personal Facebook page has 800 connections

My Facebook page for my writing has 154

Written Word Media has a Fantasy mailing list of 302,000

My Instagram has 440 followers. 

I plan on doing a couple video pitches of the book. I also am planning on offering a few free writing infographics/writing mini-courses (like a blog but with a more valuable name) in order to get a mailing list going. Then I will use this mailing list to promote discounted versions of the book. I will also use this mailing list along with a FB tracking pixel to see who downloads the book. Then I will follow up and attempt to get honest reviews on the book. 

Competition

  • Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams , 1979 - a sci fi comedy book with an apathetically funny sense of humor. Mr. Strickham's has a similar type of humor but is Fantasy not Science Fiction. It's not direct competition but I included it in the list because it's the most similar in terms of style.
  • The Color of Magic by Terry Prachett, 1983 - A cowardly wizard is roped into a life of adventure. Mr. Strickham's is different in terms of the amount of blatant silliness. My book plays on some fantasy tropes but it is grounded in a world more similar to our normal world than it is to Prachett's disk-world.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Jones, 2006 - humorously examines the common tropes of a broad swathe of fantasy fiction. This is more of a encyclopedia-style book. Mr. Strickham's humorously examines fantasy tropes as well but in story format. 
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman, 1983 - A Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. Mr. Strickham's has some of the love elements that The Princess Bride does. My book is different because it's much more modern feeling.
  • The Bartemaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, 2003 - An alternate magical history novel that follows a young boy and a witty and funny Djinni (Demon basically). My book is similar in the aspect that it reads like an alternate history (though it's not mentioned). 
  • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde, 2005 - This is a crime novel where humpty dumpty is the lead investigator of the case. This genre twisting novel is packed with puns. Mr. Strickham's is also filled with puns but instead of fairy tail puns... It's magic puns! Instead of Facebook, it's Magebook
  • Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them by J.K. Rowling, 1997-2017 - I don't know if you've heard of this one but it's a pretty good read. It's about a family who finds out their son is magic and then he disappears and goes somewhere. They don't really care that he's gone... Mr. Strickham's is different than the wizarding world of Harry Potter in 2 ways. First, there is nothing that's magic in the world. So no muggles. Second, magic and technology are interchangeable. This makes the magic in Mr. Strickham's a lot more subtle. 

8 publishers interested Express interest
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Bee and the Divinationist:

“Gah, thanks so much for meeting with me, Nia,” Bee said as she crashed through the almost shutting door of Nia’s office. A client had just left her office moments before. She set her wicker basket down and took her hat off, as well; tucking it away into the basket’s abyss. Nia was sitting at her desk in her powerful looking suit, behind her was a large glass window with a nice view. On one corner of her desk was a small block that had five perfectly round rocks above it floating in mid-air. The inner three balls stood perfectly still as the two outer rocks took turns hitting themselves against the middle rocks. Without strings, they would float straight out from the group and then magically be pulled back in.

The other corner of her desk contained a pen that floated and slowly twirled about in the air. It looked heavy; powerful. Nia liked that about it. It made her feel like she had more money than she did.

Bee liked it because of the pattern on its feather.

“Anything for you, Bee. After all the times that you’ve watched Scott, it’s the least I could do,” Nia replied. She was referring to all of the times that Beatriz had babysat her son, sometimes for free. Nia didn’t feel great about taking advantage of her from time to time. In truth, she was quite guilty about it, but her practice wasn’t going as well as she wished. Saving money on a babysitter is saving my practice, Nia would justify it to herself.

Bee was poking at the five-rock statue and said, “I love these things. It makes you look so businessy! How do they work anyway?”

“Magic.”

“Oh. I guess I thought it was gonna be something cooler than that.”

“That’s how it goes. Now, what seems to be the problem anyway?”

“Right,” Bee affirmed and leaned in toward the business woman’s desk. “Well, I don’t know. I guess I’m here because my brother is in rehab and -”

“That can be pretty hard for people.”

“Yeah, well, that’s not exactly why I’m here. And I mean, I guess it’s kind of a big deal. But either way, I went to visit him the other day and -”

“Was it tough to see him in that place?”

“I mean, yeah, but what really got me was the fact that he said that I’m a complainer like our mom! Well, he didn’t say complainer but I think it was something more about how much I need to offload on people. Or how stressed I get from helping people out and, I don’t know, I just like helping, does that make me weird?...” Bee continued attempting to explain why she was there to Nia. Bee was never good at being succinct. While she rambled about helping others, Nia's guilt grew.

At the end of the filibuster, Nia asked, “so what is it exactly that you want divined?”

“Am I going to become a complainer like my mom?”

“Ah. Gotcha.” Nia reached into the second drawer down and pulled out a tidy and aesthetically pleasing folder. It had light blue trim and there were pictures of smiling people. “This is an action plan to help you divine whether or not you’re going to end up like a family member or not. Here.” She flipped it open and showed Bee a few of the handouts contained within it. "There are, of course, a thousand options and companies that we could go with, but I've found that this one works great."

Bee tried to read the information as if she was an advocatus. It highlighted many of the main benefits of getting your future told. And in a capitalistic fashion, it explained why to choose this  program over others: For one, it was less invasive than it needed to be; its guesses about the future had a high accuracy rate; in addition to the main question, it tended to both find - and answer - a lot of other helpful questions that the client might have; it didn’t over-answer questions - which was a general thing to watch out for when getting your future told - and lastly, the fees were pretty low.

What Nia failed to mention, however, was that this plan, in particular, had the highest commission rate for her, as well. It's a good plan, Nia would always think. Good for both of us. Win-win.  

After they reviewed those and some other resources together, Nia pulled out another sheet of paper. She turned it on the desk to almost face Bee and said, “okay, so this is just a standard questionnaire. We use it to figure out what input that we’ll need in order for me to tell your future. Let’s just go through it together.”

Angling the paper more toward herself, the Divinationist scanned the opening paragraph. Hovering her pen over each line, Nia thought, okay, how does this go again? As she read, she nodded and mumbled little remembering sounds. “Okay, the first few are just going to be yes or no.”

Bee gave a nod.

“Are you employed?”

“Yep, I work at the cafe right down on -”

“Yes or no is fine. Do you like your job?”

“Kind of. I mean, it’s sort -”

“Bee, the point is to make,” Nia paused and glanced at the opening paragraph to make sure she wasn’t misspeaking. She saw the words hard truths and continued. “The point is to make sure that you are sticking with your gut and answering in hard truths. Okay?”

“Okay,” she said, still looking a bit puzzled.

Nia eyed here for a second to make sure she could go on, then started again, “are you in a romantic relationship?”

“Yes,” Bee said confidently.

“Are you in love?”

“Yes.” She mulled her thoughts and said, “I do wish that he was -" She stopped herself when she noticed Nia’s glare. 

“Do you have any passions?”

An image of her standing in her garden taking a deep breath popped into her head. “Yes.”  

“Do you feel comfortable?”

“What do you mean? Like right now? This chair is nice, I guess.”

“No, in life? Are you comfortable in life?”

“I mean, yeah. Maybe? I don’t know, I guess I think I’m com -

“It’s a gut yes or no. Quick!"

Bee took a breath, “No,” then Nia checked the box. Beatriz was surprised by her own answer.

“Do you have any deep-seated resentment toward your father?”

Refraining from any unnecessary words, she opened her mouth early and then settled on saying, “yes.”

“And your mother?”

“No?” she said, surprised by her own answer again. Nia consulted the opening paragraph once more. She checked the no box while Beatriz sat and wondered more about her unexpected lack of resentment. It felt nice.

Nia said, "okay this is the last of the yes or no questions." She looked at Bee very seriously and asked, “have you eaten dairy in the last six months?”

“Yes.”

“Great, let’s move on to some of the easier questions." She was holding the paper fully in front of her by now. "What do you want to do with your life?”

She blew through her cheeks and said, “easy? Well, I mean, it would be pretty good to get a promotion at the cafe.”

The detached Divinationist began writing down her answer. As she did, Bee’s heart began ripping with every stroke of her pen. She didn't want a promotion at all. All Bee could picture was her standing in her garden. And with every word that Nia documented, Bee felt that her peaceful picture was getting erased.

Just as Nia was about to ask another question, Bee cut her off and said, “actually, I want to work with flowers!"

Nia looked at her apathetically and nodded.

Bee started to ramble again. "You know, it’s just that - she took a quick breath. “It’s my passion. And I think that, maybe, if I can get enough people interested in the flowers that I could, I don’t know, get some sort of business going.” She began to feel interrogated even though Nia had already stopped listening. “People in town already buy them and I help, that’s right! I help people with their garden! Maybe I could be like some sort of garden-landscape-consulting-wizard-helper thing! It could work. I just think it’s so helpful to get into my garden and, I mean, it’s like a little zen zone. The stressful stuff is out there and I’m, well, I’m there. Not out there, but you know what I mean. Right?”

Bee was breathing hard. It was a liberating rant.

Nia looked at her for a moment and then back down at the opening paragraph of the form. After crossing out her previous writing, she wrote in the margins and said in an elongated way, “Gardening.”

They continued filling out the form together. Every now and then, Bee would look over at the five floating rocks that clicked together on Nia’s desk. It made a relaxing sound that helped with the stressful questions like: “Where do you think you went wrong, if anywhere?” or “where do you see yourself in ten years?”

Sometimes they were even more difficult to fully answer without someone else weighing in. How am I supposed to know what my biggest problem is? Bee thought. And why does there have to be so many problems? Things are great, sure I’m a little stressed and, sure, I really don’t want to be like my mom. I don’t think that’ll happen, anyway. I hope... Gah, I really hope not.

After a few more difficult questions and panicked answers, Bee and Nia finished the questionnaire. It was a stressful process and Bee was glad it was over.

Nia scanned it one final time and made sure nothing went unanswered. Then, she slipped it into the fancy folder along with the other documents in question.

“Almost done,” Nia said. She turned to her computer to input some final notes into the various open pages that she had pulled up to accompany the meeting. Why do I have so many pages open, Nia thought. When she finished, she hit the enter button with a rather heavy finger and then made a few clicks of the mouse.

At the last click, ink and paper made shuffling and working sounds as they sprung to action. The quill pen that floated in the corner of Nia’s desk dipped itself in the inkwell nearby. At the same time, a piece of paper floated in - from where, Bee hadn’t seen - and landed on the desk. The pen began writing things down on the paper in a precise and quicker-than-human manner. It scribbled out both words, and the colorful branding surrounding them.

After a few seconds, the printing process was complete and Nia said, “here you go! This is just a list of the things you need to bring to our next meeting. Bring these in and we'll throw them into the spell and then I can tell you if you’re going to end up like your mother. Easy!”

With a sigh of relief, Bee said, “oh that’ll be nice to know. And I know you said that you’d do a discount but I know that you work really hard and, I mean, I already feel a little less stressed! If you need me to, I can totally pay full price.”

Nia had a quick flashback to the dozens of times that Bee knocked on her door saying, "I'm here to watch Scott!" Her guilt grew again and her stomach hardened. She said, “no, no, of course you don’t have to pay full price. It’s the least I could do. Really.”

“Okay, if you say so!" She popped up and almost tripped over the chair. Grabbing her fancy folder, she said, "thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ll see you next Tuesday right?”

"Yep, next Tuesday. Make sure you have everything and we'll see what the future holds for you!


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