Book Review: Into the Shadow Wood

Thanks to Andrea Lundgren for providing a thorough review of my novella, Into the Shadow Wood. She is a fantastic reviewer, book coach, writer, and blogger. Read the entire review and find out more about Andrea on her blog.


Title: Into the Shadow Wood by Allison D. Reid

Genre: Fantasy/Short Story

Book Description from Goodreads: Once a proud member of the Sovereign’s prestigious personal guard, Einar has lost everything: his home, his Sovereign, and his purpose. Most of his closest friends have either been killed in battle or executed. His friend Nevon died trying to fulfill a dangerous oath…one that Einar disagreed with, but now feels honor-bound to take up in his stead. The quest plunges Einar into the depths of the dark and twisted Shadow Wood, testing the limits of his strength, his beliefs, and his sanity. What he finds in the Wood is far more ominous than anything he’d expected. If he’s not careful, Nevon’s fate might end up being his own.

Book Review: Having read the two novels that are out of The Wind Rider Chronicles, I was quite excited when Allison announced that there’d be a short story continuing Einar’s journey, and even more delighted when she asked me to review the novella. Einar was my favorite character from Journey to Aviad, and this story takes up where that novel left off. So here’s a closer look…

Source: Book Review: Into the Shadow Wood

Under the Magnifying Glass: Is it Getting Hot in Here?

Today I’m giving you a peek at my latest newsletter. These go out every couple of weeks, and in them I share deeper insights into my book world and inspirations. You’ll also get bonus stuff, like links to a wide variety of free books by other authors, Rafflecopter giveaways, and the chance to participate in surveys that shape my series. Additionally, when you subscribe, you’ll get a coupon code for a free copy of Ancient Voices: Into the Depths, the second book in my series.


Under the Magnifying Glass: Is it Getting Hot in Here?

Life really pushes us around sometimes, testing our strength, our patience, and sometimes our faith. Writers test their characters just as hard, sometimes harder. We can put them in situations we hope to never face ourselves, then either shove them over the brink, or pull them back at the last second and pick up all the emotional pieces left in disarray.

Now, you might think writers are really just like a mean kid with a bug and a magnifying glass on a hot summer day. But really, we don’t enjoy tormenting our poor characters. We feel their joy, disappointment, and grief just as strongly as if it is our own. In the process of exploring their circumstances and emotional reactions, we learn something about ourselves, and about people in general. Our writing is often an invitation for our readers to do the same–to put themselves in our characters’ shoes just as we have during the writing process.

Einar is tested to the limits of his sanity in Into the Shadow Wood. Likewise, Elowyn faces the greatest test of her young life in Ancient Voices (I won’t go into detail for the sake of those who haven’t read it yet). I dreaded putting her through it, going through a writer’s version of a stubborn, sulking, toddler-like tantrum where I didn’t write for months. I tried to talk myself out of it a hundred different ways, but as I followed all of those different possibilities to their eventual outcomes, none of them took Elowyn where she needed to go. Without that defining moment her life would have been simpler, happier maybe, but not nearly as rich or significant. She could never be the person she was intended to be.

I eventually came to accept that Elowyn’s test was bringing about a necessary pain. So I gave up my tantrum and got down to writing. I got angry. I shed real tears as I wrote, and if anyone had asked me what I was sobbing uncontrollably about, they probably would have thought I was crazy. Maybe writers have to be…just a little, anyway.

In my final acceptance of Elowyn’s fate was a real life lesson for me as well. Parts of my life have not been easy, and I’ve sometimes thought how much better everything would have turned out without them. If I had power over the master delete key, and could go back and remove all those difficult chapters where I was tested, would I? How would that irrevocably change me, since I am a far more complex being than a fictional character? Would my life have been simpler and happier? Would I be a better person without them? I have no way to know, and I am not done being tested, or growing as a result.

Yet I do have faith that what the Bible says in Romans is true, that God really does work for the good of those who love Him. He can take the horrible things we go through and use them to make us spiritually rich and significant in the lives of others–if we let Him. Elowyn can’t see my plans to turn her pain into a blessing. If she was real, she might very well think of me as a mean kid with a magnifying glass. I am equally blind to God’s plans for me.

In dire times it’s natural to wonder why God doesn’t stop the bad things that cause such pain. But if He has a magnifying glass, its purpose is not for torment, but to give clarity and a tool for self-examination. If I can use Elowyn’s trials to write her into her most beautiful future self, how much more so can the Author of all Life write my story into something more glorious than I could ever imagine?


Click to view the rest of this newsletter. I won’t always post peeks on my blog, so subscribe to make sure you don’t miss an edition. They’ll get sent right to your email twice a month, and if you change your mind, you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words…or Maybe 100,000

In my last newsletter, I asked my readers for some advice.

For those of you who don’t get my newsletter (or just haven’t voted yet) my survey is still open. What’s it all about, you ask?

My cover art for Into the Shadow Wood was custom made by a wonderful artist–and it’s gotten a lot of attention. Readers helped me choose from a couple different concept designs for that cover, and they were totally right!

Now I am considering redesigning my Journey to Aviad and Ancient Voices covers too, so that they match in style and quality. I would release them when my next book is finished.

But before I go back to the artist and have him get to work, I’ve got a decision to make. Should I have him take the existing images and recreate them (or something similar) in his style? Or should I go with a completely new design?

I am not a marketing expert, and most of you probably aren’t either. But that doesn’t matter–you are my audience. You know what you like, and what you don’t, right? So I’m open and ready to listen.

I’ve got a survey set up, and I would appreciate any advice you have. Here are the book covers so you can see the old versus the new. (Click to see them enlarged.)

Ready? Take the Survey

Win an Autographed Book!

It was time to say goodbye to the Weekly Fantasy fix

But you can still follow me through my author newsletter, which has deeper insights into my writing, inspirations, and book world.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, now is a great time to do it.

Why now? Because I’m giving away a free autographed book to one lucky subscriber. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway before the end of April for your chance to win a book of your choice from the Wind Rider Chronicles. I will announce the winner in my May 3rd newsletter.

Want a peek at what you’ve been missing? View my last newsletter, Home is Where the Imagination Is. Or take my just-for-fun fantasy survey, and see how your answers compare those of others.

If you like what you see, subscribe, then enter the giveaway. Good luck!

Liebster Award!

Adam at Write Thoughts nominated me for a Liebster Award last week! I was quite surprised and honored that he thought of my blog. Thank you again, Adam–I know you’ve been waiting to see the answers to your questions, and I’m sorry it took so long. But first I’d best share what the rules are for everyone else reading this post, and for those I’ve nominated in turn (the list is at the bottom of the page).

– Say thank you to the person who has nominated you for the award.
– Answer the 11 questions the person has asked you.
– Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know).
– Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions

Adam’s questions to me:

1. What is your favorite book, or if you prefer, your favorite author?

My favorite author is C.S. Lewis—not just for the Chronicles of Narnia, which are dear to my heart, but for the entire breadth of his writing. The more I get to know his body of work, the more he amazes me.

2. Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, if so where?

Ireland! You’d think I would have gotten there while I was living in Germany, but I never made it that far. It is still on my “someday” list.

3. What do you enjoy about blogging?

Connecting with other authors and readers. My blog also gives me a chance to express interests not specifically related to my books.

4. What’s your preferred writing space?

My desk, boring as that is. More important than the space is the atmosphere though. I need a quiet place to write, with soft lighting and no distractions. I have to be able to mentally leave this world and enter another one, so anything that continually pulls me back into reality hinders my progress.

5. How do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in lots of places: my medieval history research, old myths and legends, the Bible, out in nature, and sometimes in the faces of strangers. My starting inspiration for my current book series was an online medieval roleplaying game and all the characters and stories that came out of it. I have a pretty active imagination, so it doesn’t take much of a spark to set it off.

6. What do you like to do for fun when you need a break from writing?

Writing-related research, building cool stuff in Minecraft with my family, playing with our pets, reading, yoga, and going to our local sports club for some much needed time on the exercise machines or in the pool. (I’ve got to get out of that desk chair sometime!)

7. What started you down the road of writing?

I’m not sure—I have been putting creative words to paper since I first learned how to write a sentence back in first grade. There have certainly been people who have encouraged me along the way, and shaped who I am as a writer, but I think writing is just part of who I am.

8. What’s one story you keep recommending to others?

There isn’t really one story that I recommend. If I do this at all, it is when I know a particular book will resonate with the person I’m talking to.

9. How do you keep yourself motivated?

The stories running through my head are motivating enough. Once the ideas start coming together into a cohesive plot, I just have to get them out in written form.

10. What superpower would you choose and why?

I would want the power to move through time, with no ability to interfere—just to observe. I would finally get to experience the daily life of another era; something historians can only guess at. I’d be able to write some really amazing Medieval Monday posts! It would be pretty awesome to go back and visit my ancestors too. Forget digging through old land deeds, obituaries, and marriage licenses. I’d find out who they really were, the good and bad alike, and see where they came from with my own eyes.

11. What four people would you invite to a dinner party; contemporary, historical, or fictional?

I would go to the Eagle and Child and sit down with the Inklings for an evening. I’d be completely intimidated by all of them, of course, and I doubt they would think much of my writing, but it would be a dream come true to just be in their company.

Now here are my nominations for the Liebster Award! (In no particular order):

Into the Writer Lea – Andrea Lundgren
Literature and Lamp Posts – David Wiley
Books and Beverages – Jamie Lapeyrolerie
Lee Duigon
Renee Writes – Renee Scattergood
Robertson Writes – Joshua Robertson
Chris the Story Reading Ape – Chris Graham
Frederick Anderson
Blonde Write More – Lucy Mitchell
Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life – Sally G. Cronin Stories of Adventure and Friendship – Duri Rolvsson

And since I’ve taken a week to get this far, I am going to cheat a little and ask my nominees many of the same questions I was asked (with a few differences). They were great questions, and I’m interested to see how your answers compare with mine anyway! 🙂  Have fun!

1. What is your favorite book, or if you prefer, your favorite author?
2. Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, if so where?

3. What do you enjoy about blogging, and how has your blog changed in unexpected ways since you started it?

4. What’s your preferred writing and/or blogging space?

5. How do you find inspiration?

6. What do you like to do for fun when you need a break from writing (or from your blog)?

7. What started you down the road of writing and/or blogging?

8. Are there any Indie authors you would recommend to readers looking for a good book?

9. How do you keep yourself motivated?

10. What superpower would you choose and why?

11. What four people would you invite to a dinner party; contemporary, historical, or fictional?