Title: THE LAST PAPER DAHL
Word count: 63K
Genre: MG Fantasy
On Monday, eleven-year-old Cecelia Dahl’s sorrows aren’t turning her into paper. Her little brother is alive, and her mother doesn’t blame her for his death then run off to The Land of Yesterday in search of his ghost. Cecelia has a pleasant house in Hungrig, Norway that doesn’t come to life, kidnap her father, or try to kill her. She has a soul she can’t see, not a small blue one that literally strolls out of her body, abandoning her like everyone else. That is Monday. Then Tuesday sweeps in with its terrible claws and rips her life to shreds.
Moments before Cecelia’s house—a dark and crooked thing called Widdendream—absorbs her father and tries to swallow her whole, a pair of mischievous gnomes arrive at her window in a hot-air balloon and carry her away. Outside, question marks rain from Norway’s sky, and Cecelia’s world no longer makes sense. Thank goodness the balloon’s keepers claim to know how to find The Land of Yesterday and save her father from Widdendream’s doom. Cecelia must survive the harrowing voyage over land, sea and stars, in order to find Yesterday and bring her mother and ghost-brother home. If she doesn’t, Widdendream will never give her father back, and Cecelia’s transformation to a Full Paper Dahl will be irreversibly complete.
On Monday of last week, Cecelia Dahl understood the world. She resided in Hungrig Norway, in a crooked house called Widdendream. Daisies that bloomed in both grass and snow circled the shimmering lake outside her window. Sharp mountains loomed over her town. Dogs barked. Cats meowed. Cecelia’s midnight blue hair grew long and fast and cantankerous. Her skin was dark and bronze and oddly freckled, just like her mother’s. Widdendream loved her family, as all good houses should, and her family loved her the same way. Indeed, on Monday of last week, these were all hardboiled facts.
Then Cecelia did the bad thing. And just after midnight of Tuesday last, she understood only one fact: Tuesday hated Cecelia and Cecelia hated it back.
“Cecilia,” Miss Podsnappery asked while pushing up her horn-rimmed glasses. “What ever do you call that instrument in your hand?”
Every eye in class turned on Cecelia. Expressionless gazes traced her charcoal sweater and the black-and-gray striped dress beneath it, judging her frayed tights and scuffed boots too, no doubt. Her teacher, bewildered as always, loomed over her desk far enough to cast shadows. Cecelia forced a smile. She must keep her answer as succinct as possible, forgoing any miscommunications. Teachers were simple creatures, after all, and one had to be succinct, especially since Tuesday last week. Ever since, understanding had gone straight downhill.
“Miss Podsnappery,” Cecilia answered, speaking with extra care as not to confuse the poor woman, for she did try exceedingly hard to please.
Entry Nickname: Who Will Be Winter?
Title: Winter’s Breath
Word Count: 42K
Genre: MG Fantasy
WINTER'S BREATH is a MG fantasy of 41,000 words, exploring the mythology of nymphs and the seasons.
Teresina wishes she could do more than spin spidersilk or gather berries. Fall lingers on, bringing illness and deprivation to the land, and Rezka, Teresina's cruel mother and the nymph of Fall, has become sharp as the dry thorns of the overgrown brush. Suspecting a crystal she found is more than Winter's plaything, Teresina runs away, hoping to persuade Bruma, nymph of Winter, to restore the natural cycle of the seasons - and to teach Teresina her place in that cycle.
Losing her way in the ice forest, Teresina's first encounter with human folk leads her to rescue Gidon, a young boy enslaved by banditti. Grateful, Gidon vows to help Teresina find the way back to the path of ice. The two make their way to Winter's Castle only to find Bruma - dead. More discoveries - about herself and about others - soon follow, and Teresina must overcome ignorance and self-doubt to claim her place in the cycle and bring winter to her land.
"Just what do you think you're doing?"
Mother's voice was colder than the slick of ice glazing the mud puddle. Teresina palmed the crystal, sliding it into a fold of her skirt. Had Mother seen it?
"I was playing." Teresina looked up. "I -"
"Playing? When herbs need sorting for tea and the meadow bower needs tidying - we're half buried in dead leaves - and worst of all, the moss of my bed is parched and scratchy? Bad enough that lazy witch of a nymph Bruma hasn't brought winter yet and I'm exhausted!" Mother scowled, prodding Teresina with her foot.
Teresina looked down at her lap. "I just wanted to see if I could make it snow. I kept a few of the snow seeds Bruma gave me." She willed her hands to be still, to not clutch at her skirt.
"You? Snow?" Mother laughed, and the cackles startled the nearby sparrows into flight. "Foolish child. You know nothing."
"I could do more if you taught me!" Teresina's cheeks grew hot. "It's not fair!" She clenched her fists in the folds of her skirt. Her legs ached with wanting to stand, to hold her ground before Mother. But if she should see the crystal…
"Fair?" Mother gestured toward the woods, thick and dark and deep beyond the meadow. "Is it fair the wolf devours the rabbit? If life were fair, you would not be here.” She bent, her face close to Teresina's, her breath dry on Teresina's cheeks. "You will never be a true nymph of the seasons."