Scribal Love Welcomes M. S. Spencer!
M. S. Spencer is an author of contemporary romantic suspense. Her newest work Losers Keepers is now available from Secret Cravings at http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MSSpencer.html.
What is the name of your latest book? And how did you come up with the title?
Losers Keepers. In my answer below I claimed I am not interested in writing a series yet, but I confess I have indulged in a series of sorts when it comes to the titles of my books. Thus: Lost in His Arms, Lost & Found, and now Losers Keepers. Since in the story we meet the heroine after she’s lost her own true love, just before she finds him again, it seemed apt.
My fourth, just contracted, is simply titled Triptych. I tried subtitles: Loss, Love & Larceny, or Three’s Company, but everyone shook their head in dismay and I gave up. Still, if anyone has a good idea how to insert a form of “To Lose” into the title I’m open to suggestion.
What is this book about? And what genre is this book in?
Losers Keepers is a full-length adult contemporary novel, combining spicy romance with suspense. It is set on the Atlantic barrier island of Chincoteague (where Misty’s descendants live). Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice dispenser extraordinaire, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of Chincoteague to write her novel would clear her sinuses, if not her heart, of any feelings for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover and long-time jerk. It’s just her luck that her first week on the island she’s in the right place at the right time to be involved with 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, interfering with her new romance with Tom Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge. Complications ensue when her Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.
My family and I have been visiting the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the beach on Assateague Island since my (now grown) children were small, and I know and love the place. Imagine my surprise and joy when photos of the famous annual Chincoteague Pony Swim were splashed across the front page of the Washington Post the day my book was released. How cool is that?
Here is the purchase information:
Losers Keepers, by M. S. Spencer
eBook, 72,000 words, M/F (3 flames), contemporary romantic suspense
Buy link: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/MSSpencer.html
Who is/are the main characters? And why did you choose them?
Like my first heroine, Dagne Lonegan is a writer. You know what they say: Write what you know! The novel she is expecting to write is not a major part of the story, however. Her advice column is. Every chapter is prefaced with a letter from a lovelorn young creature which mysteriously mirrors the events in her real life. The hero is purely fictitious. Really.
What is the coolest or best part about your book? (Any Favorite scenes, the world-building etc.?)
I love the ending. I always have a smashing denouement and this one is no exception. But actually an image toward the very end, after the dramatic conclusion, is my favorite. It involves a very old fisherman and a halo. That’s all I’m saying.
Do you have a favorite character in the book? If so, why?
That would be the ancient fisherman, old Bill Nettleton. He is both part of the story and a kind of deus ex machina, a little mysterious and too, too sweet.
Is this book part of a series? If so? What can we expect in future books? If not? Are you considering expanding it?
No to both options. The characters, plots and settings in each of my five books are unique. I have too many stories to tell to settle down with one. Perhaps down the road I’ll want to expand a story or follow the heroine on her next adventure, but not yet. Besides, once you have the happy ending, what else can happen?
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not at all. Although I had to oust one character I dearly loved. But I mitigated the pain by adding a new and equally annoying character.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn stuff while researching my books. While I know Chincoteague very well, I still had to check out fish and wildlife regulations on hunting, the historic cemeteries, folklore and history of the island, including men’s lodges at the turn of the century and famous murders. I also learned the correct terms for the phases of the moon. And I added a new word to my vocabulary: “coriaceous” meaning chewy. Isn’t that a glorious word?
Do you have a publisher? And if so, why did you choose them?
I have 2 publishers. Red Rose published my first two books, Lost in His Arms and Lost & Found. They are still available. Losers Keepers (and the upcoming Triptych) are published by Secret Cravings. For my first book I did research on publishers interested in my genre. I had decided to go with e-publishing for various reasons, the most important being my belief that it would be the preeminent publishing format in the near future (was I right or was I right? The latest study shows a 160% increase in sales!). I also like the quick turnaround, the higher royalties, and the ability to do everything from submission to editing on-line. That way I can keep my bunny slippers on all day.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Probably Jane Austen. Her writing is so precise and perfect—it’s as though she spent whole days pondering every single word she wrote. Her sentences are like miniature paintings, drawing a scene or emotion in only a few sharply appointed words.
What books are you reading now?
In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson. It’s about the last American ambassador to Berlin before World War II. It’s a fascinating account of life under Hitler’s regime before he revealed his plans. I find on-site accounts given while history is in the making provide an alternate view that can help explain why people acted in a certain way, one which those of us with the benefit of hindsight may find inexplicable.
What are the current writing projects that you are working on?
I have signed a contract with Secret Cravings for Triptych, a tale of three sisters, three lovers, and three spirits guarding a dangerous river. It involves lost artworks, stolen prototypes and a resident genius. The inevitable result? Jealousy, sex, love and a little larceny.
Both Miranda Cabot and her sister Honor prefer their solitude to romance, Miranda having watched her husband die in flames on the Potomac River rocks called the Three Sisters. Not so the youngest, Sybil, who invites a mysterious Frenchman calling himself the Chevalier du bon Arnaque to stay with them in their mansion overlooking the Sisters.
Misgivings about the stranger’s intentions lead Miranda and Honor to ask their neighbors Dieter Heiliger and his grandson Corey to chaperone. Three beautiful, strong-willed women living in a house with three handsome, virile men results inevitably in an intricate web of jealousy, sex, and intrigue. Add in long-lost master artworks, stolen prototypes and a resident genius and you have a recipe for romance. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend calls for?
While I await an editor for Triptych, I’m editing my latest romantic mystery, The Torpedo Factory Murders.
Here’s a taste:
Waiting out the rain, Georgia Delaney takes stock of her widowhood and the handsome man standing in the door to the bar. Little does she know she will meet that man again and again under both passionate and terrifying circumstances.
Hugh Brody waits for his date, too conscious of the beautiful woman sitting by the door. Little does he know that she will hate him for trying to destroy her beloved art center, and even suspect him of murder. Nor that she will be drawn inevitably into his arms.
Little do either of them suspect they will be embroiled in not one, but two murders, in which the fate of the Torpedo Factory, an art center housed in an old munitions factory on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, will be decided.
Do you write full time? If not, do you hope to do so one day?
Pretty much. I have a pension which enables me to spend most of my time writing. I have a part-time job as Executive Director of the Friends of the Torpedo Factory, which permits me to get out of the house and mingle with creative souls (the Torpedo Factory is a former munitions plant on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, now home to over 150 artists in all media).
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Interesting question. Like most authors, I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil (the wrong way as it turns out—which is why I still have a callus on the ring finger of my right hand). I’m not sure whether I wrote because I had something to say or whether I wrote because I wanted to do something with my hands and after failing miserably at visual art and music went with Option #3. Perhaps both.
The desire to create and to share that creation is a strange phenomenon. It depends a bit on ego—the assumption that what you say is important. But there are other factors. Most artists are rather solitary in their habits. When I’m writing I won’t answer the phone or the door. I enjoy being alone. On the other hand, I’m not satisfied unless I know someone else is reading it. I don’t think that is unique to me.
Before I get too far into the weeds, I’ll stop here. But I blogged on July 31 on the Urge to Write at Long and Short Reviews (http://lasrguest.blogspot.com). By all means, tune in and sound off.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It is extremely difficult for me to write the first draft of a novel. When I have a story in mind I may not see all the details but I know what the ending will be. I’m as impatient as readers to get to the denouement (or the sex, or the answer to the puzzle). My first draft of Losers Keepers ran 30,000 words. As I started editing it I found great gaps in the story where my galloping desire to get to the happy ending made me leap ahead (how’s that for a metaphor?). By the time I’d finished the second draft it was 60,000 words.
Do you have any advice for other writers seeking to get published for the first time?
I recently blogged on the top ten do’s and don’ts for aspiring writers (see Joanne Troppello’s blog, http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/1/post/2011/07/guest-author-meredith-ellsworth.html. If I were to distill that I’d have two indispensable bits of advice: (1) Submit, and (2) Trust your editor.
Thanks M. S. for Stopping By!