The blogging of my book continues! You can pre-order it onKindle, iBooks, 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…
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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.
The next day at school was going well enough, except that Allie couldn’t focus on a single thing her teachers said. She couldn’t stop thinking of her mom’s voice whispering “Help” from that dark shape she had seen through the fog, or the images of the dark tunnel she had seen when she found the necklace.
Math class was so bad Allie had to get a bathroom pass just to escape and clear her head. She ducked down the hallway, avoiding Principal Eisner’s office because more of that talk right now would overwhelm her.
She needed to breathe and be alone, but noticed several kids dressed in black looking at her. They weren’t returning her forced smile. After another turn she found the bathrooms, but just as she was about to enter she heard a low humming nearby. It was too odd not to investigate, so she followed the sound to a door, opened the door, and found herself at the top of a descending staircase. After ensuring that no one was watching, she began the descent.
With each step the humming grew louder. Soon it became more of a chant. She reached the final stair and retracted her hand from the cold wall. The noise came from a hallway to her left. Two layers of curtains covered a red door. The door, chipped from years of neglect, had been left slightly ajar.
Candlelight flickered through the crack in the door. When Allie leaned in, she saw a room full of cloaked figures, none of their faces visible. Some sort of circle pattern covered the floor where they stood. They each held out their left forearms, waiting for a particularly tall hooded character in the middle who paused at each one with a special chant. With each pause, the darkness increased and the flames in the candles seemed to wither.
Realizing she hadn’t been breathing, Allie slowly exhaled.
A pair of eyes found her, then the rest of the hooded figures turned.
“Grab her!” one yelled.
Allie fled back into the hallway, her legs shaking. She collapsed, but picked herself up at the base of the stairs and climbed. A hand clawed the back of her shirt. They had her hair. She screamed and the grip loosened, but then someone had her arm. She pushed and then pulled, but fingernails dug into her skin as she broke free.
The yellowish lighting of the hallway was dull, but that moment filled her with hope of escape. She made it and closed the door behind her, but there was no way to fasten it. Desperately she threw herself into the nearest door she could find. Trapped in darkness, she fumbled with the door to lock it. She collapsed to the floor and pulled her knees to her chest. Yelling sounded outside, and then the pounding of fists on the wooden door. She held her necklace tight.
A song sounded from somewhere. Her phone!
She pulled it from her pocket and pressed accept as the closet door flew open.
“Help!” she shouted into the phone, and then a bright light took her. Allie cringed, holding the phone to her ear and waiting for the hooded people to take her.
No one came. When she opened her eyes, she saw the mossy green of the forest beneath her. She raised her eyes and saw she was in the woods, with Daniel standing in front of her. He looked at her with wide eyes. He held his phone to his ear, his hand trembling.
“How did you…?” He looked around, trying to figure something out.
She stared at him, stunned.
“I wanted to check these woods again,” he said. “See if I could find anything. Then I thought I better see if you wanted to join me, and…. Are you okay?”
She jumped up and threw her arms around him, nearly sobbing and very relieved to be with him, regardless of how she had gotten here.
A crack of a tree branch pulled Allie to her senses. She pulled back from Daniel, eyes searching the woods.
“I think we need to go see Principal Eisner,” she said.
They ran back to the school and it wasn’t long before they found Principal Eisner. They led her to the door Allie had taken down to the weird room, but when they reached the spot, there were no stairs, only another broom closet. Allie checked the door she had hidden in and, sure enough, it too was a broom closet.
Allie turned in exasperation to Principal Eisner. “I don’t get it. They were right there.”
Principal Eisner’s eyes darted up and down the hall, then she leaned in and said, “This is worse than I thought. Are you ready to listen?”
“Good, come with me.”
They made their way to the library, where Gabe stood waiting. He held in his hands a massive book with the title “History of the Bringers of Light.”
They sat around a table and, after briefly explaining everything to Gabe, he nodded, his expression solemn.
“But the door,” Allie protested, “How…?”
“You may soon learn that doors don’t always lead to the same place,” Principal Eisner said. “You are too young, but maybe soon you will begin your training and you will enter such a door. It is unfortunate that the first door you entered was one of theirs.”
“But why do they need this door?” Daniel asked.
“The doors open from cities throughout the world, and often lead to the training facilities on our end, but the Dark Ones use these doors for other purposes.”
“So they could show up anywhere?” Allie asked. “Cult followers of some dark power, out to get us, and they’re everywhere?”
“In theory, yes. The ones you must have seen, they most likely don’t all reside here. But they must have one on the inside, a teacher, or perhaps a student, or the door could never have been opened. We will have to keep a better eye out for these Strayers.”
For a moment, they sat there in silence. Allie eyed the floor as she tried to process all of this. Finally, she looked up and made eye contact with first Principal Eisner and then Gabe.
“What do they want?” Allie said, feeling her hands begin to sweat and clam up.
“The Strayers have been after the necklace,” Gabe said. “But there is something larger at stake here. What your mom went to Kyrgyzstan for in the first place.” He turned the page to a detailed drawing of a warrior in glowing armor, his head haloed in gold like a saint. “There are those of us on the good side, the Bringers of Light, and then….”
Principal Eisner cut in, “There is a dark force at play, one the Strayers follow. One they call Samyaza.”
“These tired eyes have lingered long over the old books,” Gabe said. “The pattern written is clear. When the Ring of Andaleeb is united, formed as one, the Tenth Worthy will stand against the dark forces with the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.”
“The ring of what?” Daniel interrupted.
“It is another word for the ring of Solomon. King Solomon.”
“And what does that have to do with us?” Allie asked.
“The Tenth Worthy is destined to stop the fallen one, Samyaza, and keep light in the world.” Gabe opened the book to a page of a winged shadow with eyes of fire. “Unless Samyaza is able to get to these items first, as he hopes to do. If indeed he’s able to wield them this time.”
“This time?” Allie said, her head spinning.
“He wasn’t always bad, he wasn’t always called the Dark One, or Samyaza. He was once like us, a Guardian. But he envied the Bringers of Light, and his heart began to rot as his lust for power grew. He meant to make the ring his own. He took what had not chosen him, and was corrupted in the process. He was banished, turned into a mere shadow, and almost ceased to exist. But he stood his ground and called on darker forces to aid him. If he gets the ring now, he will be an evil not easily defeated, as his power is great.”
Allie stared at them, baffled. They were talking like her brother had when playing his RPG games, only these people were much older than him, and they appeared to be quite serious.
“I was once one of you,” Principal Eisner said. “I once carried a symbol like your own. The Bringers of Light. Now we are but Guardians. There are many of us, more possibly in this very school. Bringers of Light, those fighting and searching, and Guardians, the ones that support. But there is one that is chosen, one that must bring an end to Samyaza and the dark forces he represents. That one is the Tenth Worthy.”
“And that one is my mom?” Allie asked.
Gabe shook his head and pointed to the necklace. “We had thought so.”
“But not anymore?”
Principal Eisner shook her head. “As I said in my office, Allie, the necklace chose you. Are you ready to accept this?”
“And if I’m not, what then?”
“Then no one can save your mother.”
Allie’s hand instinctively gripped her necklace. “But you said there are others, the Guardians. Right? Can’t one of them—”
Principal Eisner waved her question off. “The Guardians support the Bringers of Light. Only one Bringer of Light, the so called Tenth Worthy, the one with that stone, can stand up to Samyaza when he comes out of the depths.” She leaned forward and put her hand on Allie’s shoulder. “Your mother depends on you.”
“I….” Allie searched for a response. “I’m going to need time to think.”
Allie stood and walked out of the library and soon found herself breaking into a run. So it was all real? It was more insane than she could have ever imagined, yet somehow, it was starting to feel real. That was the scariest part—that somehow she believed all of this. She turned a corner and slammed right into someone. The collision threw her back onto her rear, and for a moment she had to clear her head before she saw it was the girl from earlier, Paulette. Then Allie noticed a sparkle from down the hall and reached for her neck—the necklace had been knocked free by the collision.
As Allie locked eyes with Paulette, Daniel came jogging up.
Paulette stood, brushing herself off. “Allie, hey. And…?”
“Daniel,” he said.
“Yeah, gottcha.” Paulette turned and spotted the necklace. She reached for it. “Looks like you dropped something.”
“Thanks,” Allie said as she thrust herself in Paulette’s way and pocketed the necklace.
“You feeling okay?”
Allie and Daniel shared a look, not knowing what to say to that.
“Well,” Paulette continued, “listen, me and some of the girls, well, we’re thinking of getting together for soccer practice after school. What’ya say?”
Allie couldn’t believe it when she answered with a “No, no thank you. Not today.”
That afternoon, Principal Eisner gave Allie and Daniel a ride home from school. Principal Eisner explained that she didn’t want to risk anymore trouble with the Strayers. She told Allie how she had worked with Gabe to look out for them after the incident, but so far had not identified any particular kids that could be Strayers, and Chester and Vince seemed to have ditched their classes.
Principal Eisner opened the door for them to exit, with a glance around. Her smile wrinkle creased down in worry. “Remember, if you need a ride tomorrow. Let me know. And don’t forget, Allie, you have it inside you, the strength to win over this thing.” In response to Allie’s look of doubt, she said, “You just have to have faith.” With a wink, she returned to her car.
“But…” Allie tried to protest.
“You hold tight, the necklace will reveal the path when you are ready.”
Daniel walked Allie to her door as the car drove off. He paused and, without a word, turned to go.
Allie reached out. “Don’t leave.”
He paused and then turned to her, unsure.
“She was deployed, my mom, for part of some developmental assessment in the Middle East, or Central Asia, my dad tells me, and…. Maybe all this craziness is part of that? Maybe it’s true?”
“Like the librarian said?”
The necklace sparkled around Allie’s neck. Allie’s eyes lowered to it. “If this is really happening, I’ll need you here, with me.”
He reached and their hands touched. “I promise.”
Allie stared at him, feeling the sidewalk heave from side to side. The air tasted stale and her lungs struggled for breath. She hadn’t asked for any of this, but she had heard her mom’s call for help. She would have to answer.
Daniel stared into her eyes. “If you’re in some kinda trouble, of course I’m going to help you. That’s what friends do.”
“Thank you,” she said. Cars whizzed by and a little bird flew nearby and landed on a tree branch that reached out across the sidewalk, and seemed to watch them.
“But, just to get this straight,” Daniel said, his brow furrowed. “There’s this ancient evil, some sort of demon or fallen angel or something called Samyaza, and he has a group of followers, called the Strayers, and they go around doing his bidding in an attempt to bring him back to power?”
“That’s about the gist of what I got from all that.”
“And now you are somehow involved, because your mom is missing?”
Allie swallowed, her throat dry, and she slowed her pace to keep herself from falling.
Daniel walked beside her for a few moments in silence, but then he asked, “Why can’t they just call the cops?”
At first she thought about this, but then couldn’t help but laugh. “What would they say? Hey, these people believe in some sort of demon and worship it or something, arrest them.”
“Oh,” Daniel smiled at the silliness of that idea. “Right, freedom of religion and all that?”
“And freedom to not sound crazy, I guess.”
Daniel thought about it for a moment, and then said, “Well, it looks like we got our work cut out for us. Have a good night, Allie.”
She turned and walked back to her apartment, trying to make sense of it all. Just yesterday she thought all this stuff was the creation of imaginative nerds, like her brother or like she had been for a while. Now, she almost believed it could be true. She could even start to believe she had some role to play in saving her mom.