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.
Chris’s smiling face grew bright as the necklace’s glow increased, the blue mixing with the red of his eyes to form a purple that then formed shadows, reaching shadows, shadows that moved around the room as if attempting to escape the light.
Allie turned to Daniel in horror and saw his eyes rolled back in his head. He fell, but before he hit the ground Chris lunged forward and the light flashed blindingly to fill the room.
Then the room was gone, her so-called friends were gone – it was only her, floating through the sky like a spirit. Could she be dead? The wind passed right through her. Clouds parted before her, the sky seemed to welcome her coming.
But she wasn’t dead. She knew this when she saw the mountain, the Throne of Solomon in the distance, and below her the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan. But it wasn’t the same as before. Now, where there had been sturdy houses, bricks lay scattered, wooden walls eaten by fire. Sunlight reflected on the fragments of glass from shattered windows, and people walked the streets in an eerie silence. She sensed things were different, or perhaps this was a vision of things to come if fate went unaltered.
With a turn of the wind, she flew toward the mountain. The red and gold flags flapped hard before her, twisting and turning in the chaotic sky. The Throne beckoned her forward, like a marker of a time long gone that longed for more.
She stood with the solid rock beneath her feet, at the top of the Throne. With a flash of her necklace, Daniel was there before her, collapsing to the ground. She rushed to him and cradled his head to stop it from slamming into the rock, just in time. His eyes fluttered white, then returned to normal.
“W—What’s going on?” he asked weekly.
“I don’t know.”
“How?” He struggled to sit, holding his head and taking in his surroundings.
“We’re back, but I don’t think we want to be.” Then she saw it, the darkness approaching from the hills, like the last time. “We have to find the cave again.”
She helped Daniel to stand, but as they moved for the cave the darkness approached fast, accompanied by distant chanting sounds, similar to those made by the Strayers she had seen in that dark room at school. And then it was too late. Darkness surrounded them, completely, except for the brilliant light shining from the stone around Allie’s neck.
She turned, aware of eyes on her from below. Sure enough, at the base of the Throne she saw dark forms spread in the darkness – an army of shadows. They began to take form. The shadows twisted around the figures, forming into black robes with full armor, their hollow eyes focused on the ground at their feet. Hands of bone gripped spiked spears and jagged swords.
One figure stepped forward from the rest, his human face turned up toward Allie and Daniel – Chris. The pattern on his arm glowed a purple-black as he pointed to Allie.
Other faces turned up as they materialized, faces she thought she recognized from the groups of Strayers at school. Then, like a swift moving storm cloud, the darkness surged forward.
Allie opened her mouth to yell, but like the worst nightmare, no sound came out. A moment later Chris was inches from her, his hand on her necklace, his eyes shining red.
The chain broke with a snap.
The darkness faded along with her surroundings and she reached for Daniel. Her hand went through him as again his eyes went white, his body limp. He fell to the ground as the darkness took him.
All was darkness.
The light returned, but it was simply the dull buzzing light of Daniel’s bedroom. Allie stood with her hand outstretched for Daniel, but he was gone. She was alone in his room. Pounding came from the door. In a daze, she turned to the window and slid it open, clumsily pulling herself over the sill and then falling in the dirt on the other side.
She pulled herself up and stumbled toward the street, the sky above a storm of swirling gray clouds. The pounding continued and she realized it was in her head. She stood in the parking lot, hands to her temples, spinning in circles.
A low whimper escaped her lips, “Daniel?”
The sky glowed red, the clouds growing darker. She didn’t know where to start – the necklace was gone, along with her mom and now Daniel. And Chris, he’d been odd at times, but this? She didn’t even quite understand what this was yet, but she knew that it meant she had no idea how she would save her mom.
Amid the pounding and confusion, Allie racked her brain to figure out what she could do next. She ran to her house and flung the door open, calling for her dad. But there was no sign of her dad or brother. Was all hope lost?
She was supposed to meet Paulette at the school. It was clear now that Paulette knew something about the necklace, and Allie had to figure out what that was. How did Paulette’s necklace tie into all this?
Heck, she had her own! And what about the others at school? Maybe Principal Eisner could help? But would they still be there? She began to walk, pulling out her phone to dial Paulette on the way.
“Pick up Paulette! Pick up!” she whispered into the phone as she began to jog. There was no answer.
Drops of rain began to fall down around her, but she pushed forward. Dark faces appeared to leer at her from every shadow, not quite there but watching her nonetheless. The trees loomed out over the sidewalk, sending sheets of water down on her as the sky thundered. Soon she found herself in an all-out run, the puddles beneath her of no consequence. She was sick of losing people in her life! Her thoughts focused only on reaching the school. After that she would figure everything out. Somehow.
The school stood tall as a beacon in the rain, dimly lit windows like a lighthouse, guiding her. But she arrived and was hit with a wall of sudden doubt, a fear that she would find no answers here. She moved into the courtyard and shook the locked gate of the main entrance. How could it be closed already?
“Paulette!” she screamed.
But something clanged around the corner. She ran, hopeful, sure it was Paulette waiting with some answer. The hedge wall stood in her way, but she wasn’t going to be stopped by shrubs. She stood back and ran, vaulting herself as high into the bushes as she could, then climbing the rest of the way. No amount of scratches from those branches could dissuade her. She reached the other side and ran in the direction she was sure she had heard the noise. When she turned the corner she saw it was Gabe, the librarian, books on the ground.
“I dropped these,” he explained. “Looking for something?”
“Since you’re here, perhaps you can help me?” He gestured to the books. “Listen, I have to take care of a leak.” He tossed her the keys and winked.
She didn’t understand. She bent down and began collecting the books. A thought hit her: hadn’t Gabe said something about traveling to Central Asia? In the library, on orientation day. Had he known there was some connection? She stood and ran, but there was no sign of him.
In confusion, she returned to the library and managed to work the key in the door while holding the pile of books. She burst through the doors, arms full and clothes drenched. The map on the ground was dark, shadowed from the clouds over the skylight. She took a step back, a sense of terror gripping her.
But her mom needed her. Daniel needed her.
She set the books down on a cart and looked over the library in awe. The marble pillars stood over it all like guardian angels, the paintings fluctuated between dark and light. In her sense of unease, she reached for the necklace, forgetting it was no longer there, forgetting Chris had ripped it from her neck.
She missed her mom, and she was scared for Daniel. She knelt down with her eyes closed.
“Help me, Mom, where are you? How do I save you and Daniel?” A gust of wind touched her cheek and she opened her eyes, staring forward. Something was off about the painting directly in front of her. In the center of the painting a man stood above the rest, pulling her attention toward him. She approached the painting, reaching up to touch the face. Then she remembered the stone carving on the wall in the cave of Osh, under the rock known as Solomon’s Throne. She remembered the face of the king on that rock before it crumbled, and now that face was right before her! She touched the face, knowing it held some mystery. But what?
The man had been painted in extravagant clothes of red and gold. Deep brown hair covered his face and head, a gold crown at the top. But his eyes did not look forward. She followed his gaze to the left, where his hand pointed. Among the many other faces on the wall she saw a line of eyes, starting with the king’s, curving around the painting. She followed them around to a spot where it ended on the opposite wall – here the painting to the left looked down and right, to where their invisible lines of sight formed an upside-down triangle.
These men in the painting were telling her something. She traced the triangle with her finger, hopeful for a crack to appear, a crumbling wall, anything. But nothing happened. She took a step back and then saw it – as if the triangle pointed to it, there on the ground was one stone different than the rest. She hadn’t noticed it because her shadow had covered it, hiding the slight discoloration. The other stones around it were white or grey, but this one stone took on a dusty brown color. She knelt down and inspected the spot, then stepped on it. Nothing happened. She jumped up and down on stone and again nothing happened. She pounded her fist on it, but nothing. She threw herself on the ground, staring up at the stone ledge above her.
At this rate anything could be happening back in Osh, at the Throne of Solomon. For all she knew it was too late.
Then she remembered the tunnel, and again thought about the wall that had crumbled. She hadn’t pushed against that wall, or pounded it. She had touched it ever so gently. She rolled over, onto one knee and reached out her left hand, gently feeling the cold stone against the tip of her finger. Vibrating gently, it sunk an inch into the ground. She smiled, awash with relief.
A gushing sound came from the map in the center of the library and Allie shrieked to see the stone turning to rusty water. The water spun, thick and brown. She didn’t want to enter but when she approached and looked into the great whirlpool she saw a rippling image of gold at the bottom. It had to be a test of faith, and she knew what she had to do. With a yell, she ran and jumped, expecting at any moment to be surrounded by cold, muddy water.
But the water never touched her.