If you had a chance to read Chapter 1, you already know that I’ve decided to blog Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon before releasing it. You can pre-order it on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo, and I encourage you to do so if you enjoy the blog (Only $2.99 while on pre-order, $4.99 after). If you are intrigued and want to know what happens now…
… sign up for my author mailing list for a free copy (along with other free books, audiobooks and updates).
When the book goes live (November 15), it would be great if you have a review ready to go (hint hint). You can also pre-order book 2, Allie Strom and the Sword of the Spirit, which will go live mid-December (just in time for Christmas).
PLOT: Allie discovers that her new necklace and an unlikely friend are her keys to traveling across the world to save her mom from a cult and their otherworldly leader, and in the process learns that she has a greater destiny.
Without further ado, let’s dive into my MG novel, Allie Strom and the Ring of Solomon.
A drop of rain followed Allie’s bangs and dripped along her forehead then down her cheek. She reached her destination and paused for a moment to wonder if this could really be a school. The hedge walls surrounded the perimeter and came together on each side of an arch above her with a sign that read, “Vigil Junior High School.” It was more like a fortress straight out of one of her brother’s games. Her elementary school back in Hartsville had been no bigger than a small church and had one-hundred students making up all six grades. Compared to that, this new school was enormous.
Kids scurried around like an army of ants. Parents dropped off their kids and a school bus pulled up nearby. A spray of water from a puddle barely missed her as a car pulled off.
Unsure what to think of this place, she held her backpack straps tight with her left hand, her right fidgeting with her mom’s necklace.
Near the sliding glass doors, a couple of boys shoved a younger one between them. Allie stood for a moment, watching in shock, sure a teacher would step in any minute. The boy’s eyes met hers and she was about to say something when a group of older girls walked by, giggling. One looked her way as if waiting to see what Allie would do. Allie quickly about-faced and made her way through the doors.
This was something she would have to get used to, she decided. In her old school there were so few students that everyone was friends with someone, so picking on anyone would mean picking on a friend’s friend. Everyone but her that is, and that hadn’t been until the end of the year, when Crystal found out Allie was changing schools. Her betrayal had been a political tactic and maybe she would have done the same in Crystal’s shoes.
But here in this new school, Allie wanted no part of the bickering. With a subtle side-step, she ducked into the library. It was the only resting place, the only room in the whole vicinity without kids everywhere.
The library was unlike anything she had ever seen. Massive pillars supported a domed ceiling. Paintings covered the walls, similar to ones they had tried to teach her about in sixth grade, like those in churches. She walked among the towering book shelves, amazed at how ancient it felt. A dusty scent drifted in the air and she felt at home. She had never cared much for history or science, but a good fiction book got her skin tingling.
She turned a corner to see a boy ducking behind a shelf. She wondered if he was also hiding from the chaos in the halls. When he turned her way, she saw it was the young boy from outside. He was about two inches shorter than her and wore a Sylvester and Tweety t-shirt. A thin line of red trickled from his nose. He looked up and attempted a smile.
“You got a little….” She motioned toward the blood.
The boy cocked his head and then, understanding, wiped his nose with the base of his shirt.
“Thanks.” He turned to leave.
“Wait.” She didn’t know why she had said it. He wasn’t the coolest looking kid, but he was the only one there. The only one who had talked to her so far.
“You skipped the tour?” he asked when he drew close.
She turned away slightly, unsure what to say.
“You live in Valleyview Apartments, right?” he said after a long, awkward silence.
“Yeah, I noticed you. We’re neighbors.”
“You spying on me?” She had seen this before—at her last school she was captain of the soccer team. She had had her share of boy stalkers, before the other girls turned on her. Sure it was a soccer team of fourth through sixth grade and most of her stalkers had been two years younger than her, but still.
“What? No, I—I just saw you moving in a couple months back, and—”
“So you’ve been watching me for two months?”
“I….” He looked around, his face bright red.
She sighed. Of course he hadn’t been stalking her, but the idea of someone knowing about her gave her the squirmies.
“What’s this tour?” she said.
“Oh…. Yeah, the eighth graders are showing the kids around. You are new, right?”
“All seventh graders are new.” He smiled as if very proud of his observation. They stood there for a moment before the boy finally stuck out his hand. “I’m Daniel, if you have any questions.”
She looked at his hand with a smirk. “Allie. Thanks.”
“Yeah, well.” Daniel put his hand in his pocket and looked to the doorway in another awkward moment of silence.
This boy reminded her of someone she knew a few years back. Ben Davis. The curly haired son of one of her mom’s colleagues. They had spent hours trying to figure out how to take things apart. The worst was his dad’s television that had stood as tall as her. But when they hit fifth grade and Allie had the opportunity to hang with the cool kids because she could run and kick, Ben soon faded from her life. It hadn’t helped that he had asked her to be his girlfriend—she just hadn’t been ready for that. And the fact that her self-perceived coolness hadn’t lasted more than several months didn’t change a thing between them. The guilt still ate at her. Who throws away a friend like that? No, she couldn’t go through that again, and didn’t want to make this clingy kid suffer either. Best not to get too close.
“You coming?” Daniel asked.
“Not yet, I think I’ll linger and check out some of these books.” She grabbed the nearest one and smiled.
Daniel turned to go. “Have fun.”
She looked down at the book in her hands and cringed as she dropped it—a taxidermy book with a picture of a crazy-looking wolverine on the front.
She turned to explore the library, amazed by its beauty. On the floor in the center was a bronze map of the world, which she walked across in awe. Outlines of the countries glimmered in gold trim, catching sunlight from the skylight above. She bent down and traced the map, feeling the rough relief of a mountain range against her fingers.
“Ever been there?” a raspy voice asked. She looked up to see a man in his sixties with smile-wrinkles lining his eyes and mouth. “Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan?”
“I, uh….” She glanced down to see she was squatting immediately west of China. She knew that one. But this was the first time she could remember hearing about Kyrgyzstan. Or was it? She hadn’t paid much attention when her mom had said she would be deploying again. Allie had grown so used to it all, the constant deployments, Christmas, birthdays, everything without a mom. When her mom had sat her and her brother down to give them the news, Allie remembered leaning back and glaring, but not much else.
She turned to find Daniel, but he was gone.
“I haven’t traveled much,” she mumbled.
“Perhaps you’ll have a chance soon,” the man said, then turned and limped away.
Allie stared after him, thinking how much he reminded her of the pictures she had seen of her grandpa, or what he would have looked like if he had lived past thirty. She had not known her grandpa on her mom’s side, since he died when her mom was only nine, but she had seen many pictures and wished she had the chance to know him. In the pictures, he was a young version of what a grandpa should look like, with a big nose and gentle eyes. Her mom had always said he was great, the kindest man in the world.
Allie decided at that moment that she liked this librarian.
She glanced back at the map once more, curious as to why the man had thought she may have been anywhere but America. She had traveled to Canada once for a camping trip, a whole two-hour drive, but that was the extent of her international travel. The idea of leaving a perfectly great country, with every food one could possibly crave just around the corner, didn’t appeal to her. For now she would skip the rest of the tour and any more awkward interactions, and instead find a nice fantasy novel to curl up with. She hid in a corner of the library beside one of the oddly too-intricately-designed pillars, and lost track of time as she delved into a story of a female werewolf searching for a cure to her curse.
“Ahem,” someone said and Allie jolted.
She looked down to see she had almost finished the book, then looked to see an older girl, about thirteen, Allie guessed, standing in the aisle beside her. Was she the same girl who had looked at her earlier, when Daniel was being shoved around? She was a pretty girl with straight brown hair and none of the freckles Allie had always been self-conscious about.
“New kid.” The girl motioned her over. “Yeah, you. Tour’s over, come on. It’s lunch time.”
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Did you miss chapter 1? Get it here!