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

Love’s Promise by Melissa Storm

Love’s Promise by Melissa Storm is available starting today, and will be on sale for 99 cents through Sunday, March 12.  Her dream is to hit the USA Today bestseller list, and since I understand what it’s like to strive each day to make my own writing dreams come true, I’m happy to help Melissa out with hers!  Enjoy an excerpt from the book (below).


Love’s Promise

lovespromiseShe’s waiting for her prince to come … but was he right beside her all the time? Kristina Rose Maher wants to know why fairy tales never happen for fat girls. Certain that diner cook Jeff, handsome and fit, will never want her as more than a friend, she stuffs down her attraction to him. But when she finds herself facing a life-altering weight loss surgery, she discovers she’s willing to do whatever it takes to embrace life—and love—to the fullest. Jeffrey Berkley can’t bear the thought of losing the friend he’s only just beginning to realize matters so much to him… no matter what size she is. But he is also terrified that helping her reach for her dreams will also mean finally reaching for his own—and letting down his family’s legacy in the process. Both Kristina Rose and Jeffrey must learn to love themselves before they can find a way to make a promise to each other. Will they finally be able to lay their heavy burdens at the Lord’s feet, and trust him to bring the happily-ever-after they both crave?

Don’t miss this sweet tale of faith, love, and gastric bypass–get your copy of Love’s Promise today from any of the following retailers: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Kobo


 

Love’s Promise:  Excerpt from Chapter 13

Kristina clapped as her friend took the pulpit. She had never seen Elise in front of her youth group. Even though they were best friends, Kristina hadn’t been back to youth group since she’d graduated to the big church. A few times per year, Pastor Bernie would take a Sunday off and ask Elise or one of the elders to deliver the week’s sermon, but the teen members of the congregation understandably required a different message and a different style when it came to their own church services and events.

All around her, the kids settled onto their blankets with plates of fried chicken, potato salad, and other fatty picnic fare. Peggy, a girl who worked at the diner sometimes on nights and weekends, joined Kristina on her blanket. “Hi,” she whispered with a grin as Elise flipped on the microphone and shouted, “Boo!”

Kristina jumped back, unprepared for the loud noise that shot through the auditorium. Nervous laughter erupted around them, but Elise stood stock still with a serious expression on her face.

“Halloween was last month!” Peggy called to Elise.

More laughter.

Still Elise didn’t speak, didn’t wear her signature smile, didn’t do anything.

The laughter quieted, and everyone sat waiting to see what their youth pastor would say or do next.

“Fear,” Elise said, enunciating the word slowly, taking time with each sound. “What is it?”

Answers rose up from all around the room.

“Not feeling safe.”

“Being worried.”

“Spiders!” Peggy added.

“Not knowing how things will work out,” Kristina said through the laughter.

“And were you afraid just now when I shouted boo right here out of the blue?”

A chorus of Nos rippled through the room.

Elise pouted and stalked forward on the stage. “But it was unexpected. You didn’t know what would happen next. A lot of people find shocks like that scary. Why didn’t you?”

“Because you’re not scary.”

“We know you.”

“You’d never hurt us.”

“You’d never hurt anyone,” Kristina added.

Elise perked up, her eyes wide and voice booming. “Ahh, so I failed in my attempt to scare you because you know me, because you trust me to take care of you?”

Everyone nodded and murmured their agreement.

“You know who else is there to take care of you? God.” Elise bobbed her head and traced her way back to the pulpit. “God’s gotcha. 100% of the time, He is there and He’s got your back. So then why do we continue to live in fear? If I couldn’t scare you, then why does life scare you when you know God is just around the corner rooting for you, ready to catch you if you fall?”

Nobody said anything. They all waited to see what their youth pastor would say next, Kristina Rose most of all.

“Easy in theory, right? But hard in practice,” Elise continued. “They say practice makes perfect, but no one is perfect outside of Jesus. Practice can make better. Practice can make easier, but none of us are perfect. It’s kind of why we need God in the first place. It’s why we need to trust Him with our fears rather than trying to figure everything out for ourselves.”

Oh, now she understood why Elise had dragged her here. She saw Kristina’s fear loud and clear. It was in everything she did, no matter how hard she tried to act otherwise. Elise did love to showboat, but she may have also chose this method of delivering her message so that the kids would be there to back her up, so it would feel less like a personal lecture and more like something Elise was sharing with all of them.

“It’s a lesson we’ve all learned since Sunday School. God’s got you. So then why do so many of us forget as we grow up? As we face new challenges? Why do we think we can do it all ourselves? Why don’t we depend on God for help?”

Some of the teens ventured answers, but Kristina honestly didn’t know what to say. Elise was right, of course. Kristina had been trying to do it all on her own rather than trusting in God—and in her friends—to take care of her. She’d been trying to do it all on her own and still didn’t even fully trust herself. No wonder she was failing so miserably.

Elise reached under the pulpit and pulled out a small black gun. She closed one eye, and stuck her arm straight out toward Kristina Rose.

Nervous laughter broke through the sanctuary once again.

“You’re laughing. Why are you laughing? I have a gun. A gun! Shouldn’t you be afraid?”

“We know that’s not a real gun, Elise,” Peggy said, making a pistol gesture with her thumb and index finger and pointing it back at Elise.

“Are you sure about that? What makes you think it’s not real? It’s the right color, right size, right shape.” She widened her stance and turned the gun to its side, setting up for a kill shot. “Are you scared now?” she asked, her voice flat, menacing.

“No, I’m not,” Kristina answered. “I know you’d never actually shoot me with a real gun.”

“How sure are you? Would you bet your life?” She took two steps forward, unwavering in her aim.

Kristina nodded. “I trust you not to hurt me.”

Elise pulled the trigger and a stream of water hit Kristina on the leg.

The audience laughed some more. It seemed they did a lot of that whenever Elise took the stage. “Told ya! We knew it wasn’t real,” they shouted.

Elise returned the gun to the pulpit and banged on her chest with the mic. “Did you see that? Did you see that? Kristina Rose trusted me to shoot her—to shoot her!—because I’m her best friend and she knows I won’t hurt her. But that’s all I am, a best friend. God is our father. Of course He wants what’s best for us. Of course He would never hurt us without a reason.”

She gave that a minute to set in before jumping off the stage and pumping her arms as she walked animatedly between the blankets. “Here we are, going about our business, and—whoa—a new danger appears.” Elise jerked forward and threw a banana peel she’d been hiding onto the ground in front of her.

This time Kristina found herself laughing along, too.

“Don’t laugh!” Elise warned, spinning around to look at everyone in turn. “This is dangerous. I could slip and fall! How can I keep walking forward when there’s this huge dangerous thing just waiting to knock me off my feet?”

“Step around it!”

“Walk over it!”

“Just avoid it.”

Elise did as instructed with a skip. “Pfffhew, I’m safe!” she cried.

Kristina Rose loved watching her friend in action. She had no idea her sermons involved so much physical comedy, but it all made perfect sense. This is just who Elise was—passionate, energetic, the star of the show. They made a great pair, Elise and Kristina, because while one craved attention, the other was all too happy to let somebody else take center stage. Had they been enabling each other all this time?

Elise winked at Kristina Rose, then rolled her eyes and jogged back up to the stage. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. I know this is all fairly ridiculous. Who slips on a banana peel other than maybe a cartoon character? But here’s the thing: in hindsight, many of our problems seem equally absurd. Why didn’t I just tell her how I feel, or why didn’t I just take the plunge? Well, I’m here to tell you today, God doesn’t give us problems we can’t handle. You know what Kelly Clarkson says: ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Well, I want to be strong. Don’t you?”

Peggy started humming the pop song quietly beside Kristina.

“I want to be strong,” Kristina said.

Others murmured in agreement.

“Well, guess what. So do I, but you know what else? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Say it with me this time…”

Everyone shouted in unison, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

“Yes, you can.” Elise stooped down to pick up the banana peel, curled it into a ball, and then made a free shot at the trash basket.

Some muted applause followed the swish straight into the bin.

Elise tapped her heart and pointed toward Heaven. “Now when we break into group, I want us to share our fears, share our problems, and then place them at the Lord’s feet. Trusting in God doesn’t mean that you give up trying. It just means that you know you’re going to win in the end. It brushes aside the worry, makes the task of living a much more enjoyable—much easier—thing to do. How would your life change if you stopped being afraid and started trusting in God to lead you to the place you need to be?” Elise locked eyes with Kristina Rose as she asked this.

Kristina had no idea whether she was meant to answer, but luckily she didn’t have to. A series of beeps and whirls sounded from beside her, and all eyes zoomed toward the blanket where she sat with Peggy.

“Oops! Sorry!” Peggy leaped up and waved her phone by way of explanation. “I forgot to silence it, but it’s my boss. I have to take this.” She rushed out in the hall, leaving Kristina to wonder why Mabel would be calling on a day she knew Peggy would be taking off to attend the retreat.

“Let’s all clean up our plates and move our blankets into a circle,” Elise said, striding over to help Kristina Rose adjust hers.

“Was that for me?” Kristina asked quietly while the kids laughed and joked with one another.

“It was for everyone, but, yes, inspired by you. I love you, you know, and I want you to know that you’ve got this, that God’s—”

“God’s got me?” Kristina finished for her friend. “I know. Thank you so much for the reminder.”


About the author

melissa-stormMelissa Storm is a mother first, and everything else second. She used to write under a pseudonym, but finally had the confidence to come out as herself to the world. Her fiction is highly personal and often based on true stories. Writing is Melissa’s way of showing her daughter just how beautiful life can be, when you pay attention to the everyday wonders that surround us.

Melissa loves books so much, she married fellow author Falcon Storm. Between the two of them, there are always plenty of imaginative, awe-inspiring stories to share. Melissa and Falcon also run the business Novel Publicity together, where she works as publisher, marketer, web designer, and all-around business mogul. When she’s not reading, writing, or child-rearing, Melissa spends time relaxing at home in the company of her four dogs, four parrots, and rescue cat. She never misses an episode of The Bachelor, because priorities.

Learn more at www.MelStorm.com.

I still want to know…

…what you think I should keep, or change, in my editions of the newsletter for the new year. My goal is to include content that is interesting and useful to you, my loyal readers! Thanks to those who have already answered the short poll–if you haven’t, it isn’t too late. I still want to hear from you. There are only 4 questions, so it won’t take long, I promise!

Did you miss the special Christmas newsletter?

With the holidays, I know many of us were incredibly busy with family, and spent long stretches of time “unplugged.” Christmas is over, but you can still enjoy Saturday’s edition. In it I released part one of a brand new short story related to my series. I’ll be releasing part 2 in an upcoming newsletter. Hope you enjoy it!

 


 

“Letters for the Circle”
by Allison D. Reid

“Get up, now!” Keran woke to find Torren from Tyroc’s castle guard standing over him. A dim glow of flickering torch light spilled in from the open door of his chamber. Despite the fact that Torren’s thick, curly beard masked much of his face, it couldn’t hide the intensity behind his eyes. Something was horribly wrong. His voice carried an urgency that dared not be disobeyed.

“What is going on?” Keran’s voice still croaked with sleep. Surely it was still the middle of the night.

“Treachery,” Torren responded gruffly as though there was nothing more to be said.

“Where are Mother and Father?”

“Just move, and quickly, if you value your life. I told your father I would get you away from here.” He stopped for a moment and took Keran by the shoulders. “I may have to threaten you with my blade if we’re caught, boy. Show your fear on the outside, but know that I would never really hurt you. Do you understand?” Keran nodded with confused alarm. There was nothing about this that he understood.

Torren drug him out of the room and down the corridor at a near run. It echoed with the barks of orders being given, angry shouts, and the clash of steel against steel. They were soon joined by other men being marched forward; some peacefully, others at sword or spear point. Torren gripped Keran roughly by the back of the neck and held his blade at the ready, as though he expected Keran to fight him. And now Keran was beginning to grasp what was happening. But it couldn’t be true—how could it be true? The men of the Circle were being rounded up like prisoners; dragged from their beds, their stations, separated from their families and forced out into the night—to where, and to what end?

Click to read the entire story…


Read the rest of this week’s Fantasy Fix newsletter.

Like what you see?  Subscribe to get each edition emailed directly to you.

 

Did you miss it?

As part of last week’s Weekly Fantasy Fix, I gave my readers a new short story. Well not NEW, but newly released apart from the Dragon Tempest anthology. It is an ancient story from my book world that tells about the dark origins of one of my villains. You can still get it here, it’s not too late. And while you’re at it, check out the rest of last week’s Fix if you haven’t already, for a new Medieval Menagerie, self-editing tip, and more…

Read the rest of this week’s Fantasy Fix newsletter.
Like what you see?  Subscribe to get each edition emailed directly to you.


If you’ve missed previous editions, it’s not too late! Follow these links to find the most recent ones:

The First by A. Claire Everward
With one sister an author and the other a publisher, how can it go wrong? “Forever Looking Forward”. That’s their motto. And that was what they were thinking when they decided to drop everything and just do it.

How to Destroy your Writing Career
With advice from Renee Scattergood on the importance of editing.

It’s Alive!! (And I don’t mean Frankenstein)
My article on how characters even surprise their writers, and a behind the scenes glimpse at who my character Einar might have been…had he not a mind of his own.

The Secret to Success!
Joshua Robertson’s advice on how to be a successful author.

Winter is Here…Beware Winter!
Renee Scattergood shares news about upcoming episodes of her Shadow Stalker series.

Top 10 Signs You’ve Lost Your Mind!
Including my top 10 signs that you’re either losing your mind, or maybe you’re just WAY too close to your fantasy WIP!

Enough is Enough
Featuring Joshua Robertson’s article about the editing process, and when to realize it’s time to stop.

Help us Improve our Newsletter!
Has a poll to help us discover what readers want from an author newsletter. The poll is still open–don’t lose out on this opportunity to make your voice heard.

 

 

Sneak Peek Friday

This week I’m giving readers a brief glimpse into my soon to be released novella, Into the Shadow Wood.

Interested in having your book featured here on Sneak Peek Friday?  I’m always happy to support my fellow authors.  Just contact me through my blog or my author Facebook page.


 

Our weather-worn tents were nestled into a small clearing, like growing things that had sprung up out of the ground. There were so few of us left…so few. Remaining were the stubborn, the desperate—those who, like me, simply couldn’t let go. Something was still driving us to fight—to hope—in spite of the brutal truth that we had lost. What are we still doing here? This decision to go on is folly. Alaric’s words echoed in my mind. They rang no less true now than they had in the heart of the Shadow Wood.

Though I had escaped the confines of its borders, the Wood had not released its hold on my mind, and my nights continued to be filled with its dark torments. I slept fitfully, with a knife in my fist and my bow close at hand…just in case. The Shadow mocked my inner pain, whispering words of despair to my soul; I would never be free. Each morning I bathed in a nearby stream, scrubbing my skin nearly raw, shaving my face, and grooming my hair. No matter how vigorously I washed, I could still feel the slick residue of the Wood’s filth, and my lungs were heavy with its thick air. When I caught glimpses of my reflection in still pools, the face looking back at me seemed not my own. And it was not only my looks that startled me. At meal times, despite my best intentions, I ate like a crazed, half-starved animal. My brethren no doubt saw me as such judging by the cautious looks I caught from the corners of my eyes. So far, none of them had dared to ask about my journey into the abyss—they seemed afraid to know what could have possibly reduced me to such a state.

Sneak Peek Friday

OWS Summer Reading List

The Official Our Write Side (OWS) Summer Reading List is out, and I was so surprised to see that Journey to Aviad is on it! Fellow author Renee Scattergood also made the list with her Shadow Stalker series. Congratulations Renee!

51J6aQb160L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_So in celebration, this week I’m featuring an excerpt from Journey to Aviad, which is permafree as an ebook. If you haven’t read it yet, you can easily add it to your summer reading list.

This particular excerpt came to mind, as the horrific event it mentions also plays out in Into the Shadow Wood, but from a different perspective. Watch for my upcoming cover reveal and release date!

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Smashwords

 


The caravan was slow and cumbersome, and strangely silent. The only voices to be heard were those of the younger children playing together in the carts. There was no singing, or storytelling, or idle conversation to pass the time as one might expect on a journey of that sort. All wore a haggard look—eyes red-rimmed, and expressions numb. Elowyn thought these people looked very much like animals stunned by a predator’s venom, stumbling about in shock and confusion, slowly and unwittingly marching on towards their inevitable demise. Elowyn realized that she probably wore the same expression, exhausted from lack of sleep, and unable to forget the image of the troll and the watchman being eaten alive. That moment in time kept replaying itself over and over in her mind, until the images became so surreal and strange that she wondered if they had really happened at all. She could almost convince herself that it had been a nightmare, except there she still was, marching along with a group of complete strangers, on a road she had never traversed before. If it was only a nightmare, she was still in it, praying desperately to be wakened.

When after a long day of walking the group finally camped for the night, Elowyn lit her own fire a short distance away. She was weary of the crowd and of feeling the weighty burden of everyone’s sorrows crushing down upon her soul. But she found that Morganne’s company was equally mournful. The fire had been fed and stoked many times before she would say anything at all, and even then she spoke with a broken voice.

“I never knew such things existed before today. Even had I known … I don’t think that I would have really understood without seeing. And as horrific as the trolls were, from what Gareth told us, the Hounds are far, far worse. I know in my mind that his word is true, but I fear that without seeing, I do not truly understand their danger either, and that frightens me even more than what I have just witnessed.”

Morganne grew quiet again for a few moments, and then with great brokenness said, “I am sorry. I should never have brought us. Nothing our mother could do would ever come close to the terror I saw unleashed by a single troll, let alone a Hound. It was wrong of me to think that I could make this journey, that you and Adelin were safer away from Tyroc. What I do not understand is why you came. You have seen a Hound—you were nearly slain by one. You knew the danger in a way that I could not, and yet you came.”

Elowyn gathered her thoughts carefully for a few moments, answering truthfully, “Tyroc was not so safe as you imagined it to be. Our cottage was no stronghold, and our mother no sure protector from danger. It is around Tyroc that the Hounds gather their strength. When they have overrun the woodlands, and Braeden has darkened the skies, who there would be strong enough to protect us?”

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

What’s on your #summer #reading list? Here’s our top 25! #ourwriteside #amreading