When her best friend ran away ... Erika promised to keep all of their secrets safe. But how long can she keep lying? The summer of 1977 is shaping up to be the worst experience of Erika's life. Everybody knows she was the last person to see Cassie before the teen beauty queen disappeared into the night. Now Erika is making false statements to the police, hiding from Cassie's father, and mourning the loss of the only person who ever filled her days with light. She's certain her life can't get any worse. Then the bullying starts. Under the weight of it all, Erika struggles just to breathe. Until a new movie transforms her lonely existence with new hope. For Erika, Star Wars changes everything. Safe in the cocoon of a darkened movie theater, she can escape to a galaxy far, far away from her current nightmare. But she can't hide forever. And someone thinks she knows too many of Cassie's secrets. Fans of Rainbow Rowell or John Green will enjoy this quirky page-turner.
The recent buzz around an article in The Atlantic about bibliotherapy in the time of Covid-19 surprised me. (The Exquisite Pain of Reading in Quarantine) My immediate reaction was - doesn't everyone know reading is therapeutic? And not just reading, but reading fiction is particularly beneficial. Let me share some of the quick facts. I found an online article that isn't nearly as erudite in style as The Atlantic, but really makes the case. The Surprising Power of Reading Fiction (https://open.buffer.com/reading-fiction/). Here's some quick highlights: Just 6 minutes of reading lowers stress by 60%. Regular readers sleep better and have less mental decline later in life. Reading fiction makes us more empathetic, happier, and more creative. So go ahead. Don't feel guilty. Escape into a good book and feel better tomorrow.
Every time I re-read this description of Erika's last night with Cassie, I feel overwhelmed by my own memories of growing up in Central Ohio.I was only 6 years old in 1977. So I wasn't sneaking outside and drinking champagne. But I definitely remember the ticking and clicking of an analog alarm clock in my bedroom, the joy of rolling down a grassy hill, and whispering secrets under a canopy of stars. During the current crisis, as movie theaters have gone dark, I've found myself deeply regretting the loss of the drive-in movie theaters that were such a big part of my summertime memories back in the 1970's. So perfect for enjoying movies in the safe cocoon of your car. Is it crazy to hope someone will bring back drive-in movies in the near future?
This novel is set in the summer of 1977. Erika's best friend is missing. She's surrounded by suspicion and rumors. She feels isolated and miserable. This scene is her darkest moment in the first act. Then she sees a movie that changes everything ... Star Wars. A silly space movie can't solve her problems; but it transforms her inner world with fantasy, creativity, and hope. That's the key. Change your thoughts; change your life. It happened to me. The year was 1980. I was 9-years-old. My grandfather, who was my best buddy, passed away suddenly in March. Mom and I lived with my grandparents. We were trying to pretend we weren't miserable so my grandmother wouldn't be burdened with our grief on top of her own. It wasn't working. When summer vacation rolled around, my grandmother decided I needed projects. Most of them involved home improvements and gardening - two things I hate on a good day. But she also decided we would see a new movie every Saturday. And that's how we ended up seeing The Empire Strikes Back in our local theater. For me, Yoda lifted my grief with "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter." "I love you" & "I know" made my heart sing. "I am your father" changed everything.
There's a dedication that appears at the beginning of this novel that reads, "For my mother, who is nothing like Erika's Mother Monster. She never left half-moon marks on my body or my spirit. And in memory of my grandmother. She was a little bit like Anita and too much like me." Like my main character, I'm the only child of a single, unwed mother. Unlike Erika, I had a fairly good relationship with my mom (and I still do). Not perfect. Definitely not perfect. But I never suffered through the sort of casual cruelty that Anita inflicts on Erika. So why do I keep writing about difficult mother-daughter relationships? I'm not sure. It probably has something to do with the fact that my mom, my aunt, and I all struggled to get along with my grandmother. Also, I suspect it has something to do with growing up so dependent on one person. No matter the reason ... I loved writing every scene where Anita appears in the book. This scene might even be my favorite.
About six months ago I received a wonderful email from a reader. It said, "I read your novel Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away when I was 15, and I can honestly say that it changed my life. I saw so, so much of myself in Erika." Although I'd never met this person and didn't recognize her name, she grew up in the same small town in central Ohio where I was born and raised ... which was the same "Nowhere, Ohio" setting I'd used as the inspiration for Erika's hometown. Originally published in 2013 through a traditional contract, NSLA, NSFA made a small profit. But it wasn't considered a commercial success. When publication rights reverted back to me last year, I wasn't sure what to do. I'd moved away from sweet YA stories and started a new supernatural mystery/suspense series. Then I opened this unexpected fan mail from home and I knew I couldn't let Erika's story die. After a makeover (new cover, new editor, new marketing) this book will be re-released on Tue 5/14/19. It's available for pre-order now.
Vera Birch is a former prosecuting attorney turned paranormal investigator. Vera specializes in cases with supernatural complications. Most of her clients are either talented spirit mediums in peril or deceased victims looking for justice from beyond the grave. Until the day a dead woman demands Vera solve a murder that hasn’t happened … yet. Please Note: Currently, this title is only available to my email subscribers as a FREE gift. Go to https://trishaslay.com/subscribe to claim your free copy.
In theory, I love the idea of writing shorter works of fiction. In practice ... I struggle to keep it short. But a series of short works gives me the best of both worlds. Mystique is the first in a series of White Crow investigations. The next one is Grimm Beaker and more are in the works. Both Mystique and Grimm Beaker are currently available for free (along with over 100 short mystery, thriller & suspense shorts) until 6/15/19 at this link - https://books.bookfunnel.com/mysteryandthrillershorts/69pnnep9xo
One of the best (and worst) things about creative writing is when the story veers away from the original plan and uninvited guests show up on the page. Vera Birch was an important supporting character in Unhaunted (my 1st White Crow novel). She's a former Assistant DA who was gunned down while prosecuting organized crime in San Francisco. After her near-death experience, she discovered a newly awakened ability to communicate with the dead. This story was supposed to be a short peek into Vera's work as a private attorney and paranormal investigator. Then Allura Mystique (a.k.a. Lorelei) walked in and everything went topsy-turvy. The full ebook for Mystique is only available as a free gift to my email subscribers. Go to https://trishaslay.com/subscribe to claim a free copy.
Adrift in Sin City ... two young souls are locked in a struggle between life and death. He's a superstar in a gilded cage. She's a modern spiritualist determined to help him break free. Both of them are on a collision course with evil.
Tonight, I'm looking forward to a "Virtual Las Vegas" Zoom session with friends. Twelve weeks ago we were laughing, drinking, gambling, and feeling on top of the world in Sin City. And now we're stuck in ... this moment. I don't know what to call this current reality. It's a nightmare but my family has been extremely lucky so far. So it feels selfish to wail and moan. This week's prompt suggested we talk about description. I'm one of those authors who strives to keep the description in my stories to light, atmospheric touches. In this excerpt I tried to paint the early part of an evening in Las Vegas tinged with the right mix of melancholy and dread. It is not a happy story, but it is ultimately hopeful.
This short story started with a sleepless night in Las Vegas. Okay, maybe I should clarify that statement. It was a sleepless night spent alone in a hotel room with no gambling, drinking, or any other form of debauchery. I was a single girl at the time. Two of my favorite people on the planet invited me to join them for a long weekend in Vegas. Unfortunately, I misunderstood the dates and ended up spending the last night all by myself. (Cue Eric Carmen singing on AM radio circa 1975.) But seriously, the Vegas strip is not a good place to be all alone. Something weird happened that night. It felt like someone was in the hotel room with me ... someone sad, lonely, and filled with regrets. Maybe it was my overactive imagination. But maybe it wasn’t. Either way, I sat up all night with every light burning and a chair wedged under the doorknob, imagining all sorts of unhappy events that might produce a lingering miasma of tragedy in an otherwise pleasant suite. I wrote some story notes on my journal, but then forgot all about it. Until years later ... when shocking news reports inspired me to sit down and write the first draft of this story.
A murdered girl is begging for justice ... why is no one listening?
Asha was raised among spirits. Messages from beyond the grave are her family's business. Now she's plagued by a flood of unsettling communications. Is she the only one who can hear this ghost?
Her mother, infamous psychic detective Xia Celeste, claims to give dead victims a voice. So why isn't Xia responding to this girl's pleas?
To stop a killer, Asha must decipher a kaleidoscope of memories, images, and emotions that send her down a treacherous path ... leading back to her own front door.
Has Asha's mother truly lost the Gift?
Or is she trying to silence the dead?
Are you ready to join the investigation?
Grab your copy today.
Perfect for fans of Simone St. James or Terri Reid, Unhaunted is a spine-tingling mystery from break out author Trisha Slay.
If there's one thing I know about myself, I could never be a first responder or work in any capacity in an emergency room. There are members of my extended family who are out there right now on the front lines of this crisis. It scares the [bleep] out of me, so I try not to think about it too much. Because thinking will only lead to anxiety attacks and free-falling into panic doesn't help anyone ... ever. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't heal people with direct care, but I hope reading fun and entertaining stories helps everyone feel a little less stressed. This scene I'm sharing is written from the patient's point-of view after a traumatic event. Asha isn't able to feel gratitude for the care she's receiving (yet) but I loved writing this scene. I love the idea of a ghostly nurse still looking over the patients in need.
I love a gothic setting as much as the next person. Dark and stormy nights are scary on their own ... even without the terror of a haunting in the mix. That said, there is something uniquely disturbing about the shadow of death looming over a beautiful spring day. I lived in the Silicon Valley for eight years and this description of turquoise sky and birdsong on a sunny day in Northern California taps into my happiest memories of that time ... until an unnatural roiling, boiling gloom announces all is not well in this idyllic moment.
I saw this quote by Susan Hill (author of The Woman in Black) and it made me laugh out loud: "It would be difficult to write a convincing ghost story set on a sunny day in a big city." Why is that funny? Because I totally disagree. And because that's exactly what I attempted with Unhaunted. Most of my ghost scenes take place during sunny days and most of the action happens in highly populated urban neighborhoods within the Silicon Valley. I love a moody English ghost story as much as the next person. But I don't think ghost stories need to rely on gloomy, isolated settings. With all due respect to Ms. Hill, "a dark and stormy night" has become cliché. And what could be more unsettling than the discovery that daylight does not chase away the shadows or silence the voices of the dead?
This scene occurs very early in my novel. Fifteen-year-old Asha Kidwell has just arrived home from school to discover the ghost of a murder victim in her living room. Asha was raised among spirits. Her mother is a famous psychic detective who is known for giving victims a voice. That's why a police officer is in their home looking for clues. So Asha intends to stay quiet, observe the session, and not get involved. Until she realizes her mother is getting everything wrong. Asha has to make a difficult decision. In order to help, she will have to open herself to the memories of a murder victim. Worse, she will need to speak up and contradict her mother. But how can she possibly stay silent?
This excerpt from Unhaunted started as part of a short story I wrote for a "flash fiction" contest. The original version didn't win the contest. (No surprise there. I'm just not that good at keeping my stories brief.) But I loved the premise, characters, and scene I'd written! A year later, I read my short story to a live audience during an open mic event. The response was extremely positive. Several enthusiastic readers spoke to me after the event. They all said variations of the same thing. "Great beginning. Can't wait to read the whole book!" Really? As much as I loved it, I didn't think there was a whole book there. But I decided to expand the original scene into a longer short story ... which grew to a novella ... which developed into a novel ... which is currently branching out into a whole series of White Crow Mysteries. And it all started from one failed attempt at flash fiction.
I'm drawn to stories that start right in the middle of things, or in medias res if you're feeling literary. Something terrible (or wonderful) is happening. We have the rest of the novel to explore a tangled web that led to the opening scene. No matter how promising the cover and book description, it's difficult for me to read past first pages of "this is my boring everyday world" or "this is the 900 years of alternate history that led to now" or (gulp) "I was born." Maybe this means I've been spoiled by Hollywood and too many episodes of Law and Order. Some of my favorite novels—Amy Snow, The Night Circus, In a Dark, Dark Wood, Beloved—start in the middle. And who can argue with the opening scene of The Usual Suspects? So I was shocked when I learned some readers find this type of beginning so offensive they will refuse to read past the first page. Zoinks! I mean, this storytelling technique dates back to Homer (The Iliad). Shakespeare used it (Cymbeline). It was good enough for Edgar Allan Poe (The Tell-Tale Heart). What do you think? Does the in medias res beginning to my novel make you curious to read Chapter 2? Or does it tempt you to dismiss the entire novel?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish