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…
… 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.
Allie waited expectantly on the couch, rocking back and forth, the necklace held between her hands. She figured this was a talk better had between her and her dad. Daniel said he had plans anyway, so he headed home. What would her dad do when he found out? She imagined him jumping up and down for joy, like a child on Christmas morning. And then what? Somehow, he would know what to do. She was sure of it.
Her dad came home later than usual, his eyes heavy and focused on the ground before him. In the entryway, he sighed and pulled out his phone, stared at it longingly, then looked up to Allie with a half-smile.
She ran to him, the news exploding from her mouth. “I found her!”
“What?” He took a step back, colliding with the open door.
Ian came in behind him and paused at the awkwardness, eyes shifting between the two.
“Allie?” her dad said.
“I know where Mom is, or, I know how to get there anyway, you see—”
“You feeling alright, pipsqueak?” Ian said.
Allie rolled her eyes at him. “I mean, I didn’t see her, but her necklace took me there, to where I’m sure she is.”
“Her necklace?” her dad said. “How would you have that?”
“And there were trees surrounded by fog,” Allie motioned around, as if the trees were still there. “And this place in the distance, and—”
“Wow,” Ian said, holding up both hands in mock surrender. “She’s lost it.” He closed the door and leaned against it, watching for their dad’s response. “She finally lost it.”
Her dad stood staring at Allie, his breathing loud and his eyes unfocused. Finally, he shook his head and blinked hard. “Honey, this isn’t funny. Junior High can be tough, I get it. And with all this going on…. Listen, we went out to Ft. Lewis today, trying to get an answer, but there aren’t any answers, okay?”
She held her hands together, pleading for him to listen to her. “I’m telling you—”
“I’m sorry. Why don’t you get some rest?”
“Dad, wait!” She followed him as he moved to his room. “I’m telling you the truth!”
Her dad stopped in his doorway and turned, shaking his head. “Let’s just pretend that this isn’t one of your games, that you haven’t reverted back to your ways when you were eight or nine, and that for some reason you believe this. Well, you’re wrong. What you’re saying is impossible.”
“It’s the truth!”
“No, it isn’t.” He closed the door.
She reached for the doorknob, then paused, hand extended. She slowly let it fall, along with her hopes. She turned to Ian, desperate, but he chuckled as he walked past her to the kitchen. How could they not take her seriously? She was twelve now! She stomped into her room and slammed the door. Sure, her mom could be a real pain sometimes, but at least she never treated her like a child.
How could Allie convince her dad to believe her? Their family depended on it. The love of his life was at stake and he closed the door in Allie’s face! She was going to have to find some way to convince him, some way to show she was telling the truth. After all, she couldn’t be expected to save her mom, whatever that entailed. That was a job for a dad. She considered trying to get Ian to help her. If she could convince him…. But no, she knew the futility in that. The last time he had sided with her on anything was when they had both wanted to drive to Aunt Betty’s for Thanksgiving, and that was only because Aunt Betty had a next-door neighbor whose daughter Ian thought was cute.
No, he would be no help.
She moved to the side of her bed and threw off the sheets with a scream. She fell to the mattress with her eyes stinging. The rain splattered against her window, sending rivers of water down the glass. The mood of it all, the dimming night sky and the pounding rain, made everything worse. She couldn’t do this alone, she was sure of that. Daniel said he would help, but two twelve year olds? No matter how grown up she thought she was, she knew the realities of that idea. She still had her ten-o-clock curfew. Traveling to weird, foggy places was surely out of the question.
It wasn’t dark outside, but she lay in bed, hoping to fall asleep. She needed to clear her head, but she couldn’t stop trying to piece everything together. Her brain hurt. She closed her eyes and rolled into a fetal position.
A dream started to form, one of her on an airplane, reclining in the seat and eating peanuts (though she had never been on a plane). The smell of lasagna baking pulled her out of it. The last time her dad had made lasagna he’d had a pretty bad fight with her mom, so Allie imagined he was feeling guilty this time for not believing her about the necklace. She wasn’t going to be able to sleep with that delicious scent filling the apartment, so she lay there staring at the darkness outside.
Water continued to cascade against the outside of Allie’s bedroom window. Somehow, the weather in Hartsville hadn’t felt so invasive. She tossed and turned in her twin bed, wishing the rain would stop so she could fade away to the happiness of her dreams. Generally, her dreams were pleasant, and she still remembered the dream of flying over Mt. Rainier, surrounded by friends.
Sixth grade had been bearable, nothing like seventh grade so far. Having only gone to Silver Road Elementary School for one year, Allie hadn’t become too attached but had made several friends, at first. On her birthday, they had come over for pizza and cake, and they had even invited her to go over to their houses more than once. Not that she had ever enjoyed playing with dolls or gossiping about boys. A day of soccer won out every time as far as she was concerned.
When Ian was younger, he would even kick a ball with her occasionally. Her friends had teased her and called her a tomboy, but at least she had friends back then. At her good-bye party, seven girls had come over and played in the backyard, girls that had laughed at her only a week earlier, thanks to Crystal… who hadn’t bothered to show. At the end, they all hugged as if it would be the last they ever saw of each other. Perhaps it had been and, if so, now what? All she had was a brother who had stopped playing with her as he grew older, a missing mom, and now a dad that didn’t even trust her.
Well, she had Daniel.
She threw her feet over the edge of the bed and onto the beige carpet. Rummaging through her closet, she found her fluffy green jacket and threw it on, then grabbed the yellow rain boots with red eagle patterns on her way to the door.
“Hey squirt.” Ian stood in the hallway, apparently waiting for the bathroom—his dance wouldn’t have made sense otherwise. He had gotten all dressed up in his pea coat with gold buttons. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he also wore a checkered brown scarf wrapped around his thick neck to make him look like he was bundled up to enter a blizzard. Blizzards didn’t hit Washington in September too often, but he wanted to study music and painting and called his style ‘artistic expression.’ Ridiculous.
“Got a date?” she said sarcastically. She knew he never had dates.
“Where you think you’re going?”
“Is that Allie?” her Dad’s voice called from behind the bathroom door. “Tell her dinner will be ready soon.”
“Looks like she’s all ready for the rain,” Ian said, still blocking her path. “Maybe it’s you who have a date? With your new friend in the apartment nearby?”
“Shut up,” she said, then called out to her dad, “I need to clear my head, maybe explore our new apartments. Just for a bit, before dinner?”
“We need to talk dear,” he said. “And besides, it’s all wet out there.”
“Ian, why don’t you go with her?”
“Dad, come on,” Allie said. “I’m not some little kid anymore.”
“Yeah Dad, she’s human now, not a baby goat anymore.” Ian snickered. He always thought the same old jokes hilarious. “Besides, I kinda have to use the bathroom, so if you could hurry up, that’d be amazing.”
“Ack, all right,” her dad said. “Go have fun, but stay out of trouble and come back in twenty minutes, okay?”
“Promise, Dad,” Allie shouted as she dodged under Ian’s arm and ran into the chilly evening air. She paused at the doorway, surprised at the amount of rain pounding the sidewalk. She hated to be seen using an umbrella, but she grabbed the black one by the door and decided to suck it up. As long as she wasn’t trapped in that apartment anymore, where the walls echoed her negative thoughts and no one believed in her.
She looked down the gloomy streets covered in increasingly large puddles. There had to be something special about this place, anything to distract her. But she saw nothing, only normal chestnut-brown two story apartment buildings in the middle of nowhere. She pulled the necklace from under her shirt and caressed the silver star for a moment, wondering if it had all really happened. Could stress cause such delusions?
Incessant rain met her umbrella in a rhythmic taunt as if saying, ‘Figure it out, Allie.’ Amidst the sheets of rain, an opening appeared between the brown buildings. Hemlock trees rose up on each side of an overgrown path, giving it the look of a welcoming entrance to a kingdom in the forest. She imagined a sheltered paradise of star-shaped cookies hanging from the trees and dancing fairies—a latent memory of her three years of attending a hippie school on Whidbey Island. They had all lived there, together, a whole family, without a single deployment. One time she had spotted the end of a rainbow in the backyard of their two-story farmhouse and had been ecstatic. Ian helped her chase it down, but the rainbow had faded before they reached its end. That was before Ian became too busy for her. She still remembered the days running through the woods on the other side of that field, building forts and hunting mice.
These woods in Portsdale enticed her with the potential of reliving the past. She had her rain boots after all, so why not have an adventure? Using her umbrella to push aside branches, Allie took her first cautious step into the woods. It was a different world. A canopy of the trees blocked nearly every drop of rain from reaching the ground. Rays of light shone through an opening in the north where the grey clouds parted. Orange and yellow rays of sunset sifted through shadowed wings, perhaps an eagle flying high above the branches. Allie was in heaven, an upside-down bed of green, covered in tiny rainbows where the sunlight met the moist air. It was a treasure all for her. No fairies or cookies, no end to the tiny rainbows, but the scent of fresh Washington State air and the beauty inspired a momentary sense of belonging.
She meandered along the path, glancing up occasionally in hopes of seeing the eagle perch on one of the tall evergreens. Huckleberry bushes boasted their red berries and she considered snacking, but contemplated her chance of being wrong, the berries possibly poisonous. Her cousins had always picked the berries and her aunt would even make pies out of them, delicious pies and great memories. But for now Allie would wait for her dad’s lasagna.
Maybe this Eden could be her fortress from the world? She closed her eyes and breathed in deep, spreading her arms as if to hug the forest. A swoosh sounded to her left and she spun, eyes open. Perched on a low hanging branch a great eagle stared at her, its damp feathers glistening. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. The eagle was so close that she could see her own reflection in its eyes. She took a step and reached her hand forward, as if to touch it.
The illusion of solitude was ripped apart by a recurring thump nearby. Allie’s eyes searched for the source, and when she turned her head back, the eagle was gone. Still in a sense of wonder at what had happened but annoyed at the thumping for ruining it, she set out to discover what caused the noise. Following a narrow trail, she found herself at the edge of a stream. Not far on the other side, she saw a shape among the trees, and then the shape, which she realized must have been a person, noticed her. Why was she here in the first place, she wandered, and wanted to be home, curled up in bed.
She jumped up and sprinted toward the opening she had come through. The rain appeared in front of her and the ground took on its sleek, muddy form, which she knew meant safety. There it was, the opening and the curtains of rain. She could hear the splattering of water on dirt. Almost there.
“Allie!” she heard a voice call from behind, but as she turned to see who it was, her feet slipped in the mud. Her body lunged forward with no control. A hand attempted to save her, but as too late. Mud splashed like the waters of a still pond when a large pebble is dropped in its midst. A sharp pain hit her lungs and she tried to yell, but she could not.
She lay on her back, rain falling on her face and mud beneath her. A round face with red cheeks and startled brown eyes appeared in front of her. Daniel.
“You okay?” he said.
She groaned, more out of embarrassment than pain.
“You gotta be more careful.” He reached down to offer assistance.
She looked up at his concerned face and felt her blood rushing into her cheeks. Determined to go back in time and erase everything that happened, Allie picked herself up with the help of her umbrella.
“What’re you doing out here, anyway?” she asked.
He shrugged and looked around. Only then did she notice a soccer ball in his hands. “I needed to clear my head, and,” he held up the soccer ball, “I thought I’d give it a try, since you seem to love it so much.”
In spite of now being covered in mud and in pain, she smiled at him. She groaned. “My dad’s gonna kill me.”
“Come on,” Daniel said as he walked past her. “We can go to my place for a bit to lie low.”
She laughed. “Thanks.”