Monday, October 22, 2018

M. S. Spencer, @msspencerauthor, #Pit&thePassion, #MSSpencerbooks, #Floridafiction

I’d like to welcome M. S. Spencer, author of The Pit and the Passion: Murder at the Ghost Hotel, to my blog today.

RW:    How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

MSS:  A lot! As you can see from my biography, I’ve led a rather eclectic life full of travel & adventure. While every novel I write is fiction, bits of experiences do crop up in them. Lapses of Memory is particularly rife with actual experiences. I figure, this way I don’t have to write my autobiography.

RW:    Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from? What genre is it? Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

MSS:  Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair, is a murder mystery/romantic suspense novel set on Amelia Island, southernmost of the Sea Islands on the Atlantic coast. I went to a book signing event there a couple of years ago and fell in love with the island’s quirky history. It’s been conquered and reconquered by not just countries, but pirates and mercenaries. I wanted to write a contemporary story, but one that draws on that history.

Here’s the blurb:

Who’s littering the park with corpses?

State Park Rangers Simon Ribault and Ellie Ironstone are used to dealing with messy campers and ravaging raccoons, but when three bodies wash up on the beach, they mobilize all their powers of deduction. Who are they and how did they get to the shore of Amelia Island? Are they connected to the secretive League of the Green Cross? Or linked to a mysterious Jamaican drug ring?

Ellie, new to Amelia Island, must penetrate a close-knit community if she wants to find answers to the mystery, all while deciding between two rivals for her affection: Thad, the handsome local idol, and Simon, the clever, quirky bookworm.

Simon, for his part, will have to call on his not-so-well-honed romantic prowess to lure Ellie away from Thad and at the same time use his wide-ranging research skills to solve the case.

RW:    How many books have you written, and how many have been published?

MSS:  Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair will be released this year. It marks my twelfth published book, all romantic suspense or murder mystery. I wrote one other full manuscript—a murder mystery set in Williamsburg, Virginia—that sat in a drawer for a couple of years until my husband inadvertently (Or not? The jury’s out.) threw it out.

RW:    What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

MSS:  The easiest was probably The Pit & the Passion, released in January. The characters practically wrote themselves and the setting (a grand hotel in ruins that circus man John Ringling built in the 20s) so much fun. I even managed to set a scene or two in my beloved Paris.

The hardest was definitely Flotsam & Jetsam: the Amelia Island Affair, which is due out before the end of this year. That’s the first time I’ve tried a male POV. I had to worry that I was feminizing him too much—plus there are surprising gimmicks I had to ditch—like how to describe the characters. Men usually tell women they have beautiful hair/eyes, etc., thus providing a description for the reader with little effort. But women don’t do that—so how to provide an image of the hero to the reader? We’ll see if it worked.

RW:    Which comes first, the story, the characters, or the setting?

MSS:  I usually like to set a story where I’m setting 😊 but sometimes I get an idea while fiddling around on the internet. I’ll follow research leads until something jumps out. I was reading about John Ringling’s Ghost Hotel—a Ritz-Carlton he started in 1926 and left unfinished for decades when it struck me—what do you find at a ghost hotel? Anyone? The Mason’s Mark: Love & Death in the Tower, is set at the Masonic Memorial and has lots of Masonic intrigue. It came to me when I was reading about a real life renegade Mason with an incredibly flamboyant (& wicked) history.

RW:    Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?

MSS:  Oh, they definitely control me—even to their names. My hero/heroine are literally called “/name/” up until about the third chapter, when they are fully formed little beasts who insist on going their own way. Sometimes they even bring in relatives I didn’t know they had! In Dear Philomena, my Chincoteague mystery romance, Dagne drags her no-good father right onto the page and made me write him in.

RW:    A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be in six words or less?

MSS:  Been there, done that.

RW:    If you were stranded on a tropical island, who would it be with? You can choose any living, deceased or mythical figure.

MSS:  Samuel Johnson, definitely. He had an opinion about everything and was the greatest wordsmith ever. I could listen to him for hours. He didn’t mind a dram or two either.

RW:    What’s your most embarrassing moment?

MSS: Hard to choose among so many! But one time—I had my family with me (husband & two young children). We were heading into DC for a victory parade and the subways were packed. Finally, I went full Nike (goddess of Victory, not the shoe) and pushed my way onto the car proclaiming that “I had children with me” as though I expected them to make way for the royal family. I managed to squeeze us in, turned around, and had a full-blown panic attack. In the same stentorian tone I announced that we had to get off RIGHT NOW. I grabbed one child and plowed through the quickly parting sea of people. Once out, I absolutely, positively died of embarrassment. Especially once I realized we were six miles from home. And that I’d left my husband and son on the subway.

RW:    I love pizza with (fill in the blank).

MSS:  Anchovies, bacon, and pickled jalapenos. Don’t argue with me 😊

RW:    Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.


The Plot

At midnight, in the darkness of a deserted hotel, comes a scream and a splash. Eighty-five years later, workmen uncover a skeleton in an old elevator shaft. Who is it, and how did it get there? To find out, Charity Snow, ace reporter for the Longboat Key Planet, teams up with Rancor Bass, best-selling author. A college ring they find at the dig site may prove to be their best clue.

Although his arrogance nearly exceeds his talent, Charity soon discovers a warm heart beating under Rancor’s handsome exterior. While dealing with a drop-dead gorgeous editor who may or may not be a villain, a publisher with a dark secret, and an irascible forensic specialist, Charity and Rancor unearth an unexpected link to the most famous circus family in the world.

An Excerpt:

That Hot Heavy Feeling

He scratched his neck. “You are no fun at all.”

She smiled with satisfaction. “Good.”

“Because you see, while you with such easy indifference relegate Tommy T to a mundane accident and the benighted Biddlesworth to a watery grave, you haven’t answered the question of my grandfather’s disappearance.”

“Am I supposed to?”

He stopped. An uncertain look passed over his face, catching Charity off guard. “I…I thought we were in this together?”

A feeling she couldn’t name rushed through her, one that filled every pore with a heavy sort of heat. It weighed her down, made her sluggish. Time slowed. She watched with vague interest as her knees buckled, and the floor rushed toward her. Just before she smacked into it, two strong arms caught her, lifted her up, and held her in a crushing grip. “Charity? Are you alright?”

“Yes. Yes. Oh, Rancor.” After that she couldn’t talk because her lips were smashed against his and her chest against his and she couldn’t breathe at all, but she didn’t really need to because he was breathing for the both of them.

A while later, they sat down on the couch. Rancor traced her cheek with his finger, his eyes wondering. Charity felt at peace. She had recognized the hot, heavy feeling and accepted it. Now to explain it to Rancor.

“Rancor? I—”

The phone rang.

M. S. Spencer


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

Book Links:

Contact M. S. Spencer At:

Author Pages

The Wild Rose Press:

Amazon Author Page:

Sunday, October 07, 2018


RW:    What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

PW:    I’d prefer no one did, but since I’m engaged to marry one of the most rich and eligible bachelors in the country. I suppose I need to get used to it. Unfortunately, there are things about my past that I fear might be taken out of context.

RW:    Can you tell us about your boss?

PW:    Robert Peterson? He’s still my boss, but he’s also now my fiancé. His public persona is very different from his private life. Publicly, he seems a little forbidding and aloof, which has little to do with the way he interacts with his friends and close business associates. I realized when he first hired me that I was about to meet a side of him only a few people get to know, but I didn’t realize just how different he truly was until we got to know each other better. He’s very protective, both as a boss and as a future husband, so he does his best to act as a buffer between me and the media to keep me out of their gun sights, but given our ever-evolving relationship, and the tenacity of reporters, it’s almost an impossible task. His social standing and business acumen have made him a celebrity in his own right, and he’s the CEO of his own company, so it’s nearly impossible for me to keep a low profile when we’re together. And sometimes even when we’re apart.

RW:    What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?

PW:    Other than the media? I’d say his family. His parents expected him to marry someone of his social standing, not a poor nobody who spent three years in prison for murdering her abusive stepfather. Not at all what they hoped for in a daughter-in-law. Rob doesn’t blame me for my past and assures me that once his family gets to know me, they’ll love me as he does. I, however, am not nearly as confident.

RW:    Do you expect Mr. Peterson to help?

PW:    I expect he’ll do everything he can to protect me, but sooner or later I’m going to have to stiffen my spine, speak up and admit publicly what I did and why. My life wasn’t easy back then, so I don’t look forward to that time at all.

RW:    How are you coping with the conflict in your life?

PW:    Coping? I’m not sure I am. I’ve never been comfortable with confrontations of any sort, and that hasn’t changed. I tend to speak honestly, which gets me in hot water at times, and I tend to cut myself when I grow overwhelmed. Rob has made me promise if I ever feel the need to hurt myself again, that I should come to him first and without delay. Problem is, I’m not sure I can do that when my staying with him is the cause of my unease. I love him, but I’m afraid there are too many reasons why we shouldn’t be together, and not enough justifications for why we should.

RW:    Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel?

PW: Bubble baths, mountains, puppies and chocolate.

RW:    If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

PW:    Looks and tastes sweet and harmless, but is as toxic as cyanide. Stay away at all costs.

RW:    Party life or quiet dinner for two?

PW:    I’d prefer a quiet dinner with Rob, but he is socially active, so I’m going to need to put on my big girl panties and get over my shyness.

RW:    If I could (fill in the blank) I’d (fill in the blank).

PW:    If I could fly, I’d be strongly tempted to fly away to an unknown land and start over again. Problem is, to do that I’d have to leave my heart behind.

RW:    I can never (fill in the blank) because (fill in the blank).

PW:    I can never be free of my past because it will continue to pursue me wherever I go.

RW:    Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.

PW:    Thank you. You’ve been very kind, and I’d like to say it’s been a pleasure, but… Is it okay if I leave by the back door?

Kathryn R. Blake


Lessons in Love is Kathryn R. Blake’s sixth novel with Blushing Books, and fifth spanking romance where domestic discipline is primary to the plot. Let Him Go is the sequel to that story and is still a work in progress.

Kathryn writes about dominant, alpha males who are extremely protective of the women they love. However, part of that protectiveness includes the need for a certain amount of control. They do not suffer defiance or disobedience lightly. Even so, these men aren’t infallible, and they do make mistakes, but love and respect will always triumph in the end.

Kathryn has been a member of RWA since the early 1980s and tries to keep involved and helpful to the romance community in general. Besides writing, Kathryn enjoys traveling, reading, attending the theatre, and is a passionate lover of animals, so much so that in 2015 a stray cat adopted her. The stray now sleeps in Kathryn’s bed. She has also recently taken up the expensive hobby of making and selling jewelry.

Her personal website,, is going through a transformation since the rights to her non-erotic paranormal romances have been returned to her. She spends most her time on Instagram and FB as well as maintaining her naughty blog at She loves to hear from her readers, so she has contact links in almost all her social media.

Lessons in Love

The Plot:

When Pam Weston was ordered to report to the president of Peterson Enterprises she had no idea her new boss had hired her specifically as his next pet project, so she took the assignment suspecting he would fire her before the end of the day. Recognizing a prison record rendered her unemployable by most companies, she worked hard and kept a low profile. Except, working as an executive assistant for the president was about as “high profile” as any job could get. And working for Robert Peterson, in particular, would present Pam with challenges she never expected.

Let Him Go
Kathryn’s current Work in Progress

The Plot:

Let Him Go picks up where Lessons in Love ends Pam Weston is now engaged to marry Robert Peterson and her troubles are just beginning. Robert comes from money. His parents expected him to go into politics like his father, but he chose to follow a different path by starting his own company. His mother believes she can still change his mind, but Rob is adamant. Even so, taking a woman with a prison record to wife will do nothing to improve his image and could do much to harm his career. Pam loves him more than anything else in the world, which means when her past tarnishes his spotless reputation, she has to do what is best, even if it destroys her in the process.

Lessons in Love


After Mr. Peterson insists she let his driver take her home, Pam realizes her boss knows a lot more about her and her past than she realized. However, as they talk on the phone she develops some serious doubts about agreeing to his conditions.

“David doesn’t need to see me upstairs, sir. It’s not that late.”

“This is my decision, not yours, Miss Weston. Tell me again what your job is.”

“To assist you, sir,” she answered softly.

“And how do I expect you to fulfill your obligations to me?”

“By following your orders.”

“Correct. So, get out of the car and allow David to escort you inside. Since this is not a request, Miss Weston, I expect you to follow my instructions without comment or delay.”

Ironically, a part of her wanted to stick her tongue out at his bossiness, but she refrained and accepted David’s helping hand. Mr. Peterson was domineering, for sure, but he was also looking out for her in a way that made her feel safe and secure. Cared for, even.
David followed her to her apartment door, while Mr. Peterson asked what she had in her refrigerator for dinner.

“I can heat up a frozen meal.”

“Don’t bother. I’ll order something and have it delivered in fifteen minutes.”

“You shouldn’t waste your money, sir, I’m perfectly capable of—”

“Stop right there, Miss Weston, or you are going to get into trouble. I will decide what is best for you.”

She harrumphed.

“Not allowed,” he answered, but she sensed he was smiling again.

“You’re a bossy boss,” she teased with a half-smile as she handed David her keys.

“Oh, Miss Weston, you have no idea.

Contact Kathryn R. Blake At:

Book Links: