Indie Writer Elissa Riley


Silhouette BOOK COVER by Elissa Riley

I’m extremely pleased to introduce Elissa Riley and her independently published premiere novel, Silhouette. I received a copy of the novel in exchange for a review. First, I have to say that I really love the cover for this book. When I first saw it I found it intriguing and after reading Riley’s novel I think it is a perfect choice to introduce the story of a land called D’or, and two fun new characters in YA writing, Leira and Tristan.

After the unexpected death of her mother, Leira Sky goes to live with her Aunt Agatha in a mysterious manor. The giant house seems to take Leira back in time with it’s traditions, housekeepers and maids and one often forgets that the novel is taking place in present day. Aunt Agatha plays a bit of a wicked stepmother that most of the other story participants fight desperately to avoid.

Then one day, Leira meets the sexy and mysterious Tristan, son of the angry, reclusive lord of the house. Curious about this beautiful young man, Leira follows him one day and finds him in his greenhouse. And so begins their interesting adventures of love, travel to fantastic lands with pixies, tiny mushroom men, weather that changes with a person’s mood, and sinister minions of a dictatorial king. (rated PG/PG-13 – the book is definitely in the YA genre, but refreshingly avoids the need for teenagers to have sex. However, intense descriptions of nightmares or some of the monsters in D’or may push the rating to PG-13 for younger readers)

Readers of The Story Realm will know that I enjoy getting to know authors, not just reading their work. And I was not disappointed by Elissa Riley. She kindly took the time to answer a few questions for us about her writing process and her book. Enjoy!

A Short Chat with the Author

SR: What is your writing process like?

Riley: I knew I wanted to write a fantasy.  This is my favorite genre, not only to read, but to write as well, as it opens itself up to so many possibilities.  I could stretch the story as far as my imagination would take me.  Really, the possibilities were endless.
14137359I’m also a big fan of love stories.  The characters become more relatable and I find myself more emotionally invested in the story.
So, once I had my basic idea (girl meets boy, girl goes to a fantasy world), I drew up an outline.  I found this extremely helpful in keeping me on track while writing.  Then, little by little, I filled in the gaps.
Once I had a finished story, I set it aside and worked on something else.  Sometimes, when I’m so deep into a project, it’s hard to see the details anymore.  After some time, I revisited the story, reading it from start to finish before making any revisions.  Then I repeated this process until I was happy with the end result.

SR:How did this story come to you?

Riley: As I’ve found is the case with many authors, the idea for this story came to me in a dream.  In particular, the image of Leira arriving at a cold, grey, uninviting mansion (which later evolved into Woodbury Manor), only to find herself surrounded by the haunting characters who live there.

SR:Did you enjoy writing a novel enough to try it again?

Riley: I absolutely enjoyed writing this novel.  I found it very therapeutic.  And, while the idea of writing another novel seems slightly daunting (this novel took me roughly four years from conception to completion) I found it well worth the effort.  I currently have several new book ideas in the works that I am extremely excited about.

SR:The description of Bodhi and his home is very interesting.  How did that image come to you?

Riley: Bodhi’s ability to view and alter the future, along with the imagery of his house dripping like wet paint were inspired by the painting “The persistence of memory” by Salvador Dali (the painting depicts several clocks that appear to be melting).  In Silhouette, the concept of time is warped for Bodhi and the idea of a fixed cosmic order is questioned by his very existence.  Bodhi’s house and body are physical manifestations of this idea.

SR:Who is your favorite character in Silhouette?

Riley: I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I have a strong affinity for Leira, as I find her the most relatable.  But the character that was the most fun to write was Nevayah.  Her unapologetic cruelty is so vastly different from my own personality, that writing a character like her was strangely gratifying.

SR:What is your current favorite book?

Riley:This is always a tough question, as my favorites list seems to be ever-growing.  But one book that I always seem to come back to is Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  It’s a magical tale, with beautiful imagery.  Gaiman’s command of the written word is truly inspiring.

Thank you to Elissa Riley for sharing her novel and a glimpse of her process with us here at The Story Realm! If you are interested in reading more about Silhouette or Riley there are links above or here!                        Silhouette            Elissa Riley

Happy Reading and Happy Writing!

Super Fun High Fantasy


Kings or Pawns


JJ Sherwood

So I have had the immense pleasure of reading the first installment of JJ Sherwood’s Steps of Power series, Kings or Pawns. I received a copy of the novel from the author and Sherwood is currently on a blog tour, stopping by The Story Realm today! I was also privileged to receive an audio copy on Audible, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies.

For fans of high fantasy, this is a super fun new series. The elven city of Elvorium is under threat from a savage warlord, Saebellus and it seems that the famous General Jikun is the only hope to defeat him. Despite the threat the warlord poses, the city’s council members  continue to thwart Jikun for their own personal gain. Intertwined amidst the story of war and political intrigue is the story of Hairem, a prince made king, who finds love in a council member’s daughter. Sherwood draws this first installment to a close that both satisfies our desire for answers but also leaves us salivating for more.

Kings or Pawns is a well done and detailed picture of a brand new world inhabited by humans, elves, dwarves and all manners of magical creatures. Her skills at world building and interweaving plot lines and the lives of multiple characters to form one amazing story is brilliant. The portraits Sherwood sketches of so many new characters are at once endearing and frightening and exciting. Jikun becomes, by far, my favorite character. He is strong, commanding and brave, but also compassionate and flawed.

I was able to ask Sherwood a few questions about her inspirations and favorite pieces of her work.

SR: Ms. Sherwood, when did you start writing?

Sherwood: I began writing in kindergarten. I wrote something about a cat and an “orange, orange pumpkin” with crayons and was probably plagiarized from something my teacher read me, so I’d say the first story I actually wrote came a few years later—when I wrote about a duck trying to get into an apartment during the rain (riveting, I know) and for all I imagine that too could have been plagiarized. Such is the mind of a kid. After that, it was something about a unicorn in a forest and time travel… I was seven, at that point.

SR: What was your inspiration for Steps of Power?

Sherwood: Well, as I mentioned, I’ve been writing for ages—and the first bits of the Steps of Power series popped up at about seven—Evrae was the first character I created and over the last twenty years, the characters and world-building has only grown. But as I’ve been working on it for so long, my family began to doubt that I’d actually ever publish. My grandmother said to me, “I’ll be dead before I ever get to read anything”—and thus, Kings or Pawns was born. I was inspired to begin the journey here as it is one of the most diverse in sub-genres and holds a great staple of the world-building in the series.

SR: Who is your favorite character in the series and why?

Sherwood: This depends wholly on my mood, but on most days, it is Jikun fairly easily. He is brave but respects fear. He is as noble as he is flawed. His is as sarcastic as he is cynical. I’ve always fancied that sort of character, and so Jikun is my go-to for the first novel. On other days, it’s Alvena, but she’s just downright delightful on any day of the week!

I am so honored to have been privileged to read a piece by such a talented writer. For fans of fantasy and adventure, Kings or Pawns would be a fun read! JJ Sherwood has created an intensely enjoyable high fantasy series that I will definitely continue reading.

For more on Sherwood and her work visit her website, Steps of Power. You can also find other blogs on her tour!


#AtoZChallenge: O


Theme: My Favorite Stories in Haiku

The Trojan war ended with the deception of Troy and the gift of a wooden horse. The city fell when the Achaeans emerged from the horse and slaughtered the unprepared Trojans.  Achaean warriors departed the Trojan shores leaving the city decimated.  The Odyssey is the poet Homer’s tale of one warrior’s journey home after years away from his people and his wife. Odysseus meets many challenges on his journey homeward. Whether he is tricking a cyclops or escaping the clutches of Calypso, this epic poem is riddled with suspense and adventure. Homer’s lyrical story of a warrior returning to his devoted wife is definitely one of my favorite stories.


O is for The Odyssey

Called by the sirens.

His fight did not end at Troy.

A warrior returns.

#AtoZChallenge: D


Theme: My Favorite Stories in Haiku

For D I do not have a specific story in mind. However, I look to Le Guin, Tolkien, Martin, Rowling, Paolini, Cowell, and Maas and so many others for the legends, stories, and tales of the great magical beast – the dragon.

Dragons make reading fantasy a glorious adventure. They are magical, menacing, mystical and mesmerizing. They are a terror and they are heroic. They are destructive, ageless and life giving. Dragons are portrayed throughout cultures and literature in innumerable ways. Without a doubt they are my all time favorite magical creature. My spirit animal, patronis, familiar, guide, or what have you,  a dragon. And so, without further ado, I give you:


Creatures of great lore.

Colorful scales of magic.

Wings that ride the wind.

“‘The brave men didn’t kill the dragons. The brave men rode them.'”                                                                                                                                                      – Viserys Targaryen (“Game of Thrones”)


When did you first fall in love with stories?


Do you remember? Do you remember the time when you realized you couldn’t wait to find out what happened next in a book? Or when you couldn’t sleep and you hid under the covers with a flashlight because the wizard was going to conquer the evil king? What about the first time you watched a movie and felt your chest constrict with an aching sadness because a character died? Not to mention the favorite TV show that had you checking your watch, or hitting record on that DVR (or for some…the VCR…Beta???).

Whenever that moment may have been, story is a major part of our lives. It is our lives! The sum of our time here on earth is an epic odyssey unique to each one of us. We walk by living stories when we go to school or take the metro. We sit next to them on the plane. They live in our homes.

For me, story was a part of my life before I can remember. Books have been companions since my earliest days. I remember nights stretched out at the foot of my mom’s bed while she read to my sister and me before we would go to sleep. I remember the night we all wept tears of sadness and loss together when Leslie drowned in Bridge to Terabithia. And when we cackled at Bradley’s predicaments in There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom. Books and the characters they described kept me company many a day. Where the Red Fern Grows was the first novel I read, finished and then promptly opened back up to page one and began again.


…a portal to any world I wished to visit.

But story wasn’t just on the page for me. And I am willing to bet that is true for most of you, as well. When I was younger, we lived in a grey house on a fantastic road. In this grey house there were french doors that led out to the back yard…But not for me. I knew what they really were. They were a portal to any world I wished to visit (shhhhh, don’t tell). My sister was almost always my traveling companion. We ran from pirates. We survived on acorns and wild onions. Sometimes we were runaways looking for a new home…not unlike The Boxcar Children. Most of the time we inhabited the forest with fairies, elves, gnomes and other magical creatures with only the fireflies to light our way back home.


Now I listen to my very own magical creatures beginning to write their stories. My little sprites flit and move about with wild abandon – playing out their lives with extreme enthusiasm….and still, I can’t wait to find out what will happen.


(Images: Frodo in tree –, magical door –