The Writer’s Voice: THE LAST PAPER DAHL, MG Fantasy

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to say my number came up in the drawing for the writing contest, The Writer’s Voice (kissing your imaginary feet, Rafflecopter!). Great news for my blog as well, which has become a poorly neglected entity, no thanks to it’s cruel mistress, and is starved for activity. I’d like to thank Brenda, Monica, Nikki, Elizabeth, Krista and Kimberly for hosting this contest and for all your hard work!


Category: MG Fantasy

Word Count: 63,000


Dear Writer’s Voice Readers,

I’d be thrilled if you’d consider my 63,000-word MG Fantasy, THE LAST PAPER DAHL. It will appeal to fans of CORALINE and THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, also readers seeking diversity.

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.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


K. A. Reynolds

First 250 Words:

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.


68 thoughts on “The Writer’s Voice: THE LAST PAPER DAHL, MG Fantasy

  1. You said Coraline, and I’m imagining this as a claymation type cartoon. The story is awesome and I might know a girl who would love to read this. Good Luck!

    • Elaine!!! So glad to see you here! I’m entering a writing contest. I do have the whole thing, but I’m hoping to find an agent to represent me and my Last Paper Dahl. Wish me luck, old friend!!! xx

  2. I simply can’t stop thinking about this beginning! So delicious and voicey and confident and seriously all I want to do is read on. All the best to Cecelia (and you!). I am rooting for this entry so hard!

  3. Hey, Kristin! This is SO wonderful that I have another chance to have you on my team!!

    (For those of you reading this comment and don’t know what I’m talking about, Kristin applied to me on Pitch Wars 2014 with another MS, and I wanted to work with her, but she got snatched up by another mentor—*eyes Jaye Robin Brown.* So I couldn’t work with Kristin. But now, I realized Kristin has a brand new ms, and I can’t let this opportunity go!)

    So! Kristin, what do you say? Can we FINALLY be on the same team? I would really love to have you and Cecelia on my team!
    You know I’ve always loved your writing! And guess what? Stephanie loved your entry, too. And I think the premise is nice, too–lots of intriguing things going on. And there’s an air pf mystery that I love, too.
    We would have suggestions for the query and the first page (mostly the beginning of the first page), but nothing big at all.

    Let me know if you have any question. 🙂
    We really want you on our team! And I guess it’s a good thing that I’m posting on a Monday and not a claw-filled Tuesday! Eep!

    • !!!!!!!!! Eeeeeeek!!!!!!!! I love you! I am so very excited, Mon! And yes, haha, good thing it’s not Tuesday, or we’d all be in trouble. Widdendream has serious issues. lol YAY!!! Thank you! ❤

  4. Ha! Hey Monica. I’ve still one-upped you – because I’ve already read this manuscript. And it is all kind of wonderful. It’s like the wild rainbow-maned unicorn with one sapphire and one emerald eye that will only let magical girls and flatulent gnomes ride its back. So are you feeling magical? (PS – I’m so glad you picked this for your team – it’s wildly imaginative and such an important story about healing and grief)

    • Jaye, I want to hug and squeeze and hold and love-up this comment until the end of days. I mean it. I literally would not be right here without you and your help during PW. You helped birth Cecelia, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you, love. xxxxxxx

  5. I want you! Your entry was actually one of the last ten I read, but as soon as I read it, I knew I wanted it on my team. I loved the feel of Scandinavian fantasy worlds, and yours has the perfect mix of time-honored story elements and unique additions to the canon. I also loved the fairy-tale tone in your first page (and don’t even get me started on all the perfect names that you’ve come up with!).

    I’m not completely sold on the first paragraph in your query. It’s a lot to wrap your brain around while you’re getting acquainted with the world, and I think it works better in the first page, where we see it echoed. (Favorite line: “Tuesday hated Cecelia and Cecelia hated it back.”) But I think we can more than tackle those changes during the coaching round.

    I have a ton of experience reading and writing middle grade, so that’s one good reason to pick me. I’ve also been on the winning team, either as the coach or the guest coach, in every previous year, so that’s another good reason to pick me.

    It isn’t often that I stumble across a middle grade entry that I’m as excited about as yours, so if you don’t pick me, I don’t think I’ll be able to go on. *presses back of hand to forehead, gets ready to swoon*

    • Oh my goodness!!! I cannot believe this is happening! Krista, you are amazing and I’d love to work with you. What do do? How do I choose? Can I have a little time to decide? I so admire your Blog and MG prowess. You are so impressive, I can’t believe it. THANK YOU!!!

  6. Hey Kristin! I know I’ve already shared some of my love on Twitter, but since it seems as if Monica and I already have some stiff competition for this I wanted to jump in and say why I think you should pick us. 😉

    There are so many things I love about this entry! I want to explore your world and get lost in it. Your query reminded me of Tim Burton, but your pages totally had a Roald Dahl vibe–I think you have something really unique and beautiful here, and I would love to work with you on this. I already think this entry is strong, but if you chose Monica and me, I believe we could take this to even more amazing places–and I promise we are fun! Please pick us!!

    • Ohhh! This. Is. So. Hard. You get it. Without knowing what the other said, all my CP’s mentioned Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman and R. Dahl (which Cecelia Dahl is actually named after!). I am psyched you mentioned that. Let’s me know you see it the way I do. 🙂

  7. I agree that it’s reminiscent of the classic authors Stephanie mentioned, but I also think you have to be aware of what’s happening in the market now to truly know its place. It immediately reminded me of (Newbery Honor-winning) Margi Preus’s WEST OF THE MOON, Tone Almhjell’s THE TWISTROSE KEY, and Lauren Oliver’s LIESL & PO, which she wrote as a way to cope with the grief of losing a close friend. I’m probably the only coach who reads as much current MG as she does YA, so PLEEEEASE pick me!

    • Yes! Yes, you are so right. I’ve never read any of those books (slaps wrist) but they sound lovely. Krista, you are singin’ my song, lady. I definitely need a coach who knows the market!

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