First publishing the stories of her hometown in the Wadena Pioneer Journal, Jessica Sly is now publishing her first novel.

At age 16, Wadena native Sly made a goal to get a book contract with a traditional publisher by age 18. When that didn’t happen, she didn't give up the fight. She devoted herself to writing more and more. In her earlier years of writing, Sly said she'd write about one story a year.

“When my dream of being published as a teenager didn't happen, it was a big wakeup for me,” she said. “But I kept going because I love writing. I love creating stories. And I had to get real with myself. Would I keep writing even if I never got published? Yes, of course.”

Twelve years later, after many writers conferences, writers group sessions and manuscript drafts, Sly landed a contract for her multi-award-winning debut, “The Promise of Deception.” It's a book that took her about eight years of crafting to finish.

“This novel feels special because it’s kind of a mashup of everything I love,” said Sly in a news release from her publisher Mountain Brook Fire. “Faith, history, Europe, magicians, true crime, romance and a little touch of speculative elements.”

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According to a book summary, the focus of the novel is on a spirited member of the Edwardian London upper class, Adelynn Spencer who's engaged to detective inspector Baze Ford. The two are caught up a murder mystery with Adelynn having vivid dreams of murders and Baze bewildered when her dreams become reality.

"As Baze wrestles with the decision to harden his heart or take action to protect the woman who means everything to him, Adelynn ventures further into the clutches of magic and murder," according to Sly.

Research for this book took Sly down some interesting roads as she worked to understand tricks of the trade of illusionists.

The judges for the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest and the Mountain Brook Fire Award certainly thought her work was special, as Sly’s book won both contests in 2020, paving the way for a contract with Mountain Brook Fire. She shared that while she never planned for the book to be a series, she's now contracted to write three books in the series. She'll be spending more Saturdays in the trenches of a Tennessee coffee shop cranking out chapters on her quest to keep writing.

Sly’s passion for writing isn’t limited to fiction. While still in high school, she interned for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, which helped kick off a career in journalism after college at the Alexandria Echo Press. She later worked in the communications department of Tri-County Health Care in Wadena. She currently copy edits for Ramsey Solutions in Tennessee.

When asked for her advice to aspiring writers, Sly pointed to the fundamentals. “Write, write, write! The more you do it, the better you’ll get.” And in following her own advice, Sly’s perseverance has paid off.

“The Promise of Deception” releases on Dec 5. You can find her book on many of the major online platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and ChristianBook.com. Sly said a visit back to Wadena to talk about her book may soon be in the works as well.

Mountain Brook Ink is a small press based out of White Salmon, Washington, owned by multi-published and ECPA bestselling author Miralee Ferrell. Mountain Brook Fire is an imprint of Mountain Brook Ink dedicated to speculative fiction for middle grade, young adult, and adult audiences.

Sly draws story inspiration from her world travels and lifelong love of all things nerdy, immersing readers in rich historical adventures with a speculative twist. You can connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest at @jessicaslyauthor or sign up for her newsletter at jessicasly.com.