Entry Nickname: Paper Girl in The Land of Yesterday
Word count: 63K
Genre: MG Fantasy
On Monday, eleven-year-old Cecelia Dahl had a little brother who was alive, a mother and father who didn't blame her for his death, and a pleasant house in Hungrig, Norway. She was made of skin and bones and happiness, not crackling paper and sorrow. She had a soul that lived inside her body, not a miserable blue one that ran out through a door in her chest. But then Tuesday swept in with its terrible claws and ripped her life to shreds.
Cecelia’s mother has left for The Land of Yesterday to find her ghost brother. Her house, now a dark and crooked thing called Widdendream, absorbs her father into its walls as punishment for making her mother leave. Just before it eats her as well, two mischievous gnomes whisk her away in their hot-air balloon. The gnomes, soul-catchers by trade, claim they know the way to Yesterday, and also how to capture her runaway soul. They say its absence is why she’s turning into a paper girl, but that finding it won’t be easy. Now Cecelia must survive the harrowing voyage 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.
Cecelia hated Tuesday, and Tuesday hated her back. 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 true-to-life facts.
Then on Tuesday, one week ago today, Cecelia did the bad thing. Her little brother died and she took the blame, and now Tuesday had come again. And Cecelia dreaded what it would bring.
“Cecilia?” Miss Podsnappery pushed 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, cast looming shadows. Cecelia forced a smile. She must keep her answer as succinct as possible, forgoing any miscommunications. Teachers were simple creatures, after all. And easily confused.
“Miss Podsnappery,” Cecilia answered, speaking with extra care as not to confuse the poor woman, for she did try exceedingly hard to please. “This,” she continued, holding up the device in question, “is what is called a Pen.”
Entry Nickname: Musical Mirror Mayhem
Title: The Fantastical Tale of Mirrorland: The Musical
Word count: 59K
Genre: Lighthearted MG Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Jack tells his soccer buddies he’s auditioning for the middle school musical because he needs an easy performing arts credit. He'd be mortified if they found out how badly he wants to be on stage. But if Jack had known that The Fantastical Tale of Mirrorland would be such a poorly-rhymed, nonsensical mess, he might have joined the band instead. Things go from embarrassing to just plain weird when rabbits invade the rehearsal room, the music director passes out on the piano keys, and Jack finds himself transported to the real Mirrorland.
Only, the musical got it all wrong. The Jester can't tell jokes. Jack's character, Leroy the Slayer, is not a villain, but an overweight magical repairman, and the true bad guy is the fairy queen. She'll do anything–even kidnap Jack's brother–to restore her status in the kingdom. To top it all off, thanks to a casting glitch, Mirrorland itself is trying to kill one of Jack’s cast mates!
When Jack discovers that he has the same magical powers as the real Leroy, it’s up to him to save his friends, his brother, the citizens of Mirrorland… and the middle school musical.
Run, thought Jack. It's not too late to escape! He stared at the red exit sign as forty nervous middle schoolers whispered and fidgeted around him.
Jack commanded his body to stay put. He unfolded the damp sheet of paper clutched in his hand, and reviewed the words for the thousandth time.
You WILL return me my enchanted stone
Or you will wish you’d never taken that throne
The verse sounded stupider each time he read it, but it was what he was given to recite for the audition. Mrs. Harper said the words might seem less silly once they were set to music.
Singing. He wished he hadn’t remembered that part. He crumpled up the paper and plucked at the fuzz lining the edges of his dull red auditorium seat.
Jack's buddies thought he was auditioning because he needed a performing arts credit for his seventh-grade year. They’d expect him to be cast as an extra and get off easy. He hadn’t mentioned to them that he’d always dreamed of being on stage–making people laugh, cry, rise to their feet cheering–they wouldn't understand. They might laugh him off the soccer team, but Jack was going for a lead role. Jester? Too goofy. Villain? Yes.
“All right, everyone!” Mrs. Harper yelled over the buzz, startling Jack to attention. The students fell into a jittery silence. Auditions were about to start.