Name: Mike Hays
Twitter Handle: @coachhays64
Title: THE BATTLE OF WONDERLAND GARDENS
Genre: MG Fantasy Adventure
Word Count: 41K
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
Ellis Brown’s greatest fear is losing, and not just to anyone, but to Alicia Swanson, his middle school nemesis. It doesn’t matter what it is—theater auditions, fundraising or sports—Alicia wins every time. She even beat him out as the sixth-grade starting quarterback. That hurt, big time. His friends still give Ellis crap about it, even after leading the Alicia-less, seventh-grade team to the championship. Losing to anyone is tough, but losing to Alicia is a nightmare.
Ellis has a big problem—seventh-grade classmate and thorn-in-his-side Alicia Swanson. Whether it’s auditions or competitions or grades, she always comes in first. Every. Single. Time.
So when their theater teacher announces a contest to see who can sell the most tickets to the summer play, Ellis decides this is IT. He’s going to win, and he’s going to win by hitting up the old folks at the Wonderland Gardens Retirement Community. When he arrives, tickets in hand, he not only discovers Alicia got there before him, but she’s gone missing. Good riddance, he decides, now she can’t brag about winning again. Good riddance, that is, until the frightened residents tell him about the community’s beloved owner/dance instructor, Donovan Lucia...how she hasn’t been the same since returning from her mysterious trip…how she waltzes through the halls accompanied by nine ravens terrorizing the residents…and how she was the last person seen talking to Alicia.
Ellis is not sure what to believe, but something strange is happening at Wonderland Gardens and he can’t just walk away with Alicia and the whole retirement home in danger. Accompanied by an oddball team of seniors citizens, he’s soon up to his eyeballs in weird, including accepting help from a talking Scottish terrier and trusting a pack of seven cats whose allegiance in the battle is unclear. If Ellis is going to rescue Alicia and help the residents reclaim the Wonderland Gardens, he’ll have to hope that not being the best will make him a winner in the end.
The news hit Ellis Brown like a blindside tackle, instantly ruining his once-promising Saturday morning. He could not believe what he just heard. “You mean a girl has already been here selling these tickets?”
Mr. McGregor nodded, “Yes, she came about an hour ago. Still in the building, I believe.”
“Such an angel, blonde hair, blue eyes, and beaming with joy,” said Mrs. McGregor perched beside him in a matching red velvet armchair.
Yep, that’s Alicia. What a fake. Ellis forced a smile as anxiety bubbled in the pit of his stomach. “And I suppose she sold you tickets to our show?”
“As a matter of fact, she did," Mr. McGregor said. “She seems to be a sweet young lady.”
Sweet? Maybe, if rattlesnake’s venom is sweet. “She does have a way,” Ellis said.
“She did mention that a friend might stop by later. That must be you.”
Ellis had one big problem, Alicia Swanson. She had been a thorn in his side since the very first minute of middle school. She beat him at everything. Worst of all, she had a habit of broadcasting it to everyone. Ellis stifled a groan and wondered how long until the whole world knew of this latest conquest.
Ever since their summer drama teacher announced a contest to sell the most tickets to their performance of Alice In Wonderland, he’d been banking on winning by selling a boatload of tickets to the old people at the Wonderland Gardens. Instead, Alicia had beaten him to the punch.