Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Visiting with M S Spencer

This past weekend I was part of a group of authors who gathered at the local library to meet readers and talk about our various books. I've always found such excursions to be entertaining and a great chance to shoot the breeze with other creative people.  A couple of them wrote children's stories, a few wrote poetry and several of us focused on fiction. I hit it off with a guy who has been inspired by the efforts of Stephen King (me too!) and a geology professor who penned a thriller.  We traded stories of our struggles with writing, editing and promotion.  We shared experiences about promotion. But through it all, one thing came to mind. We're not competitors. We're comrades.

Writers often support each other.  There is some kind of bond that occurs between people who take up this mostly solitary challenge of trying to write a story, to entertain or to educate. Whatever it may be, it brings us together.

Today is a perfect example of that. My good friend M.S. Spencer has offered to host me on her blog to talk about the re-release of the new and improved "Devious" the first book in the Jamie Richmond series.  She even persuaded me to offer up a free e-book copy to a lucky winner.  So use the link below to swing by her site and see what's new.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


About once a day I check in on Facebook and see what my various contacts are up to. I'm not one to post a lot, not sharing what I had for dinner or where I'm headed. But every once in a while, something will catch my eye that triggers a response.  Yesterday was one of those days.

A friend posted a blurb and a photo from "The Princess Bride" a great movie that immediate brings to mind such lines as "He's only mostly dead!" and "Hallo, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die!"

Image result for the princess bride photos 

But the line that always sticks is from the character Vizzini. 

Image result for the princess bride photos


Yesterday it was my turn to use it.

I was holding a copy the soon to be released "Devious" in my hands.  Now I can't say it's the same for every author, but there is something surreal when you're standing there, holding a novel that you created.  These are characters from my imagination. It was me who brought them forward, who put them into jeopardy and figured a way to get them out. It was me who told the story, with all the little twists and turns that will hopefully hold your interest and make you anxious to see what comes next.  To stand there with that finished product in my hands is confirmation of a dream, of a long time goal. So in some respects, to have that happen is indeed inconceivable.

Which just encourages me to keep at it. There's another story percolating in the gray matter, just waiting for its turn to be let loose on the page.  I just need a little time and patience to coax it to life. And if for some reason, I slow down, I'll just pick up this copy from its place of honor on the shelf for a little reassurance.

If you'd like to check it out, here's a link.  "Devious" will be released on December 7th.  To miss it would be...inconceivable!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gotta Have Music

During a meeting with the writer's workshop recently, someone mentioned the only way they can write is in a quiet room. No distractions, nothing to break their concentration. They assumed that everyone was the same way. Several around the table nodded in agreement. All eyes came to me. I could only shake my head and laugh.

"No way," I said with a grin. "There must be music. I can't work in silence. It drives me crazy." 

I went on to explain that certain music can set the mood and have an impact on what I'm writing. If I'm working on narration, setting the stage with a lot of background information, it's very possible that I'll have some instrumental music in the background. If there's dialogue at play, particularly if it's between a man and a woman and there is some sexual tension, I may dial up something like Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall or some old Motown classics, with the sultry undertones that help carry the message.  If it's fast paced, like a chase scene, a shootout or the final confrontation, it can be rock and roll. We're talking anything from Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen to ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan and more. Thank goodness for Pandora, where you can spin the dial with a click of the mouse and set the mood accordingly.

But variety is a part of life. Lately I've been doing a lot of editing, rereading manuscripts, getting them ready for publication.  I've landed a new contract with Inkspell Publishing for the Jamie Richmond mysteries.  In December,  "Devious" the first book in the series will be released.  I'm ready for my favorite redhead to return to the scene.   Meanwhile, in editing mode, I've been listening to a lot of the Gipsy Kings and great guitar work of Jesse Cook. 

So if you're looking for a change of pace check these guys out.

You can preorder "Devious" on Amazon now.

By the way, I don't normally watch the numerous talent shows on the air. But when looking for a clip recently that could be used as an example for the business class I teach, I stumbled upon this one.  It gave me chills and I haven't been able to get it out of my system yet.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Halloween Treat

Recently I saw a request from Shawn at Knightmist, looking for short stories in the horror genre to run in time for Halloween. Checking the archives, I discovered an old ghost story called “Rituals” that I had written years ago. Despite a few attempts, this story never found a happy home.

So I blew the dust off it, gave it a quick read and sent it along.  Shawn checked it out and decided it was perfect for his week-long tribute to horror.  Not only that, but he awarded it the position of October 30th.  Back in Detroit, that’s always been known as Devil’s Night when kids would get into mischief.  How appropriate.

So if you’re ready for a dark little story, click the link and visit the Knightmist site.  Be advised if this was a movie, it would definitely be rated R.

I hope you enjoy it. 

 Image result for ghost pictures

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: The Penhallow Train Incident

Like most authors, I read a lot, somewhere around 40 novels a year. While I don’t always write a review, at times I’ll enjoy a story so much that I’m inspired to spread the word.
That’s the case with The Penhallow Train Incident by M.S. Spencer.  I’ve read several others works from this talented author. She always delivers. 

An innocent ride on a vintage train becomes the triggering point for a series of events that include multiple murders, history, archeology, international intrigue and more confusion than a Hollywood family reunion.

Is a ten year old local robbery the motive behind the murders? Were the victims’ innocent bystanders or active participants? Is this all about money, or righting ancient wrongs? How does all this tie together?

Spencer draws the reader in with well-developed characters and enough conflicts to keep you guessing what comes next. Adding to the mixture is the attraction between Rachel Tinker and Griffin Tate. The fencing match that ensues as they try to unravel the puzzle before turning their attentions on each other includes the type of banter we can all relate to.

A very enjoyable read.

5 Stars

Check out Spencer's blog to learn more about her great books.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Guest: M.S. Spencer

It is my great pleasure to host the talented M.S. Spencer on my blog.  Over the last couple of years I’ve enjoyed a number of her novels where she mixes mystery with enough passion to get your attention.  I’m looking forward to the latest one.  Welcome M.S.

Thank you so much, Mark, for giving me the chance to introduce your readers to my new release, Dear Philomena: Love, Lust & Murder on Chincoteague Island.

Something crashed in the woods.  Was it a deer?  Or something more dangerous? Dagne didn’t care; she just kept running…

Chincoteague is one of a pair of barrier islands off the coast of Virginia.  Its eastern sister, Assateague, is the actual home of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and of the ponies made famous in Marguerite Henry’s children’s books (remember Misty of Chincoteague?). The refuge sits on the Atlantic flyway, so in spring and fall it is inundated with migrating birds—thousands of ducks and geese descend on the flats—and so too do birdwatchers. Unfortunately for Dagne Lonegan, the flocks of bird watchers hadn’t yet arrived when she took a walk on a deserted trail in the refuge. Alone in the dark, she feels suddenly, unaccountably, frightened. She learns later that her fear may have been justified when the police find a dead body on the trail.

I Heart Book Publishing, October 12, 2015
eBook, 72,000 words, Print 209 pp
Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Mystery Romance
M/F, 3 flames


Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice columnist, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of  Chincoteague would extinguish any feelings she had left for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk.  It’s just her luck that in her first week on the island she’s entangled in a murder.  Only she doesn’t know it.  Unfortunately, the murderer doesn’t know she doesn’t know.  Strange and dangerous things begin happening to her, disrupting her new romance with Aidan Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge.  As if that weren’t enough, Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or risk falling back into the arms of the man who broke her heart?

Excerpt (R): Reassurance and Desire

Jack stared at the floor and played with his hat. Dagne tried to take a sip of iced tea but her throat constricted with sudden alarm. “You think the murderer killed her on Friday night, don’t you? Maybe even when I was hurtling down the path, scared out of my wits.” Is that where the panic came from? Did I feel her terror? Did I sense the presence of evil only a few yards away?
“No, not at all!” Jack patted her hand in a clumsy masculine attempt to reassure her. It didn’t help. “We’re pretty sure the murder took place somewhere else. The County CIS folks found traces of motor oil on her clothes. The lab is still analyzing them. The current theory is that the murderer originally hid the body somewhere either too exposed or too easily associated with him. She was reported missing three days before her body was discovered. I’m guessing he waited for the hue and cry over her disappearance to subside, and then moved her to the dumpster. The coroner estimated time of death at least two days earlier. Her body had already begun decomposing by the time the K9 unit discovered it.”
The memory of a rancid smell assaulted Dagne’s nostrils. “I remember an awful stench coming from the dumpster when I got back to my car.” She gazed at him, doubtful. “I don’t think I smelled anything when I first parked there.”
“Aha!” Jack threw the now completely disfigured hat on the sofa, and jumped up. “That’s why it’s so crucial that you remember everything you saw or heard that night.”
“But nothing happened!” she wailed. “I didn’t hear anything but deer. If someone else were on the path I would have seen them. Or at least heard them.”
He held out a hand and Dagne slowly took it. He pulled her down on the sofa next to him. “Don’t worry, Dagne. It’s more than likely the killer threw Terri in the dumpster before you even got to the trail and you just didn’t notice the smell. Or he might have been hiding in the brush waiting for you to leave, and what you smelled was ordinary garbage.”
She thought about her irrational terror on the trail, of the comforting sound of an engine, and then the letdown at the sight of the empty parking lot. She gulped. “No, I’m sure I didn’t see anything important. Just deer.”
Jack’s arm went round her shoulders. “That’s all right. We’ve got plenty of leads.” Her head rested on his shoulder. Sure, okay, I’ll let him hold me. For a minute. I can think better this way.
And a thought did come. “Wait, Jack. When I came out of the woods, I only saw my car, but Terri must have come in one, or her killer brought her in one. I did think I heard a car engine.”
Jack squeezed her shoulder eagerly. “In the parking lot?”
“No.” No reason to treat it as more important than it was. “Farther away—I think out on the beach road. Could’ve been anybody at that hour. It wasn’t that late after all.”
“Never mind, you’ve still got a point. We haven’t located the actual site of the murder yet, but we know it wasn’t the dumpster. Someone had to have transported the body there.”
“And it had to be a car. I can’t see the murderer balancing his victim on the handlebars of a bike.” Dagne’s titter hovered just shy of hysteria.
Jack didn’t laugh. “Yes, and that means someone drove it away.”
“Does anyone know who she’d been with the day she disappeared?”
Jack’s hand rubbed her neck, then moved down the arm. His breath smelled tangy, like fresh grapefruit. “That’s the trouble. It could have been one of any number of people. Like I said, Terri didn’t lack for male companionship.”
Dagne tried to stand up but Jack’s face barred the way. “Dagne, have you been thinking about us?”
She thought to push him away, but instead drew him close. His lips hovered near hers, inviting, warm. Oh, what the hell.
A few minutes later, she exhaled raggedly and opened her eyes. “Jack! How…what…?” Jack didn’t answer. She looked down at her naked body and up into his hungry eyes. Carpet scratched her shoulder blades. We must have fallen off the sofa. Ignoring the unforgiving floor, she pulled her arm from around his neck. On its own volition, her hand snaked up between Jack’s legs, unbuttoned the jeans, reached in and grabbed the only thing harder than his thigh muscles. His eyes opened in surprise, then closed, and a wry smile touched the edges of his mouth.
“You always knew how to please me, babe.”
Dagne held on tight and began massaging. Jack’s breathing grew unsteady. Up and down, up and down, gently squeeze, tickle that little sensitive vee with the tip of her index finger. She felt his penis stiffen, saw his chest contract, and heard the slight sigh as he gave in to her. “Oh, Dagne.” He fell to one side, the smile a little broader.
“Oh no, Mister. You ain’t done yet.” She straddled him, hanging over him, and wiggled sensually. Her breasts swayed before his face, inviting attention. Swiftly, he raised his head and caught one nipple in his mouth, sucking and drawing the rest of her down. He let go the breast and took her mouth, his tongue exploring. Their bodies ground together in a slow circular motion, breast to chest, belly to belly. She could feel him harden and grow again, pressing against her, forcing her thighs open.
Passion held her in its grip. She remembered, oh how she remembered, that feeling of helplessness, of desire unloosed. The times when she lost control, when her brain shut down and her synapses flashed with heat and the only thing she wanted was for it to go on and on forever. Always with Jack. Only when she was with Jack. Always, and only, with him. A memory toggled on. That’s how he could hurt you. He knows how vulnerable you are. He’ll hurt you again, Dagne. He’ll break your heart again. Don’t give in to the passion. Stop while you still can.
She sat up and twisted away from him. “No, wait, Jack, that’s enough.”
Dagne swallowed hard, willing the hot lust to cool. “Why are you here, Jack? What do you want of me?”
Jack closed his eyes, his features twisted with frustration. “Can’t we talk about this later?”
“I don’t know whether there will be a later.” Her breath came in heavy gusts. Talk me into it anyway, please Jack, please. Jack’s big callused fingers took a handful of her red-gold hair and twirled it gently. He looked into her eyes. He almost looked sincere. She tried to concentrate on his stubbly chin, but her eyes rose inevitably to his mouth, to those lips. It’s no use. I want him.
“Dagne?” His fingers trailed down her back, then cupped her bottom, tickling and rubbing. It was all she could do not to melt into a little pool of bubbling desire. “Let me satisfy you first. I want to make you very happy. After that, you can break my balls. Deal?”
Don’t laugh. Don’t…laugh. A giggle escaped her best intentions, and the hard knot of pain that had risen between them unraveled. She pulled him to her and said, her lips muffled against his softly furred chest, “Deal.”
And the first of three incredible orgasms began to build.

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About the Author:

Although M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five continents, the last thirty years have been spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. She has two fabulous grown children and a perfect granddaughter, and currently divides her time between the Gulf coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.

Contact  M. S. Spencer here:

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