The Tales of a Contemporary Romance Writer

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Talkin' Tuesday with M.S. Spencer

Good morning everyone. I'm so happy you could join me today! My home is coming along and it looks like we just might be able to move back in this Sunday. Hey...a woman can dream. :)  Soon I'll put up some pics so you can see what's going on. Or, you can go to my facebook page and creep the disaster my family and I have been living in.

Today we have my friend M.S. Spencer. She's a wonderful smart woman who keeps you guessing throughout her stories! ENJOY

Hi Rebecca,
Before we get into the really fun questions you’ve asked, I want to let your fans know that I’ve a book coming out this Wednesday! I’m very excited. It’s my third, this one entitled Losers Keepers, published by Secret Cravings (, a wonderful indie publisher.  I don’t have a buy link yet, but here are the book facts:

Losers Keepers, by M. S. Spencer
eBook, 72,000 words, contemporary romantic suspense
M/F, 3 flames
ISBN: 978-1-936653-95-9


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.
Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or fall back into the arms of her first tempestuous passion?

If you’d like to read more, I’ll have an excerpt up at Long and Short Reviews ( July 31 and at Raine Delight’s site August 9 ( You can read the first chapter at after the release.


-What's your favorite read or series?
MSS-I can’t read fiction while I’m writing (too confusing) but I do enjoy books about food and cooking (Tony Bourdain’s books, Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, or Julia Child’s autobiography), biographies, and non-traditional travel books like those of Bill Bryson. I’m currently reading Christopher Buckley’s Washington Schlepped Here, an irreverent guide to Washington DC.

-Writing was a natural thing for you, but what part of it is the hardest?
MSS-I think the hardest part is the first draft—I’ll have the general outline of the story in my head and I want so much to get to the (happy) ending that I skip over a lot of character and plot development to get there. Once I’ve put the last sentence down then I can relax, go back, and actually write prose.

-Too organized Plotter or Maniac Panster?
MSS-Probably more pantser (panster?) than plotter, if I understand “pantser” to mean “seat of the pants?” When I first start a story I’ll write down a general outline—character names and descriptions, setting, a vague plotline.  I often have the last scene complete in my head but that’s because it’s the happy ending part. Then everything changes as I get further along into the plot.  It’s always a stitch to go back and read my initial draft outline once I’ve finished the book. Nothing is the same, not even the happy ending!
Isn't it funny how you can write it 'panster' or 'pantser'? I look it up almost every time and no matter what I'm right

-You've been a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Once worked for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of the Interior, in several library systems, both public and academic, and at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. You hold a BA from Vassar College, a Diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. WOW Is there anything you haven't done that you've always wanted to do?
MSS-What a wonderful question! Yes, of course there are innumerable things I have yet in the bucket list—I want to go to Tuscany and Easter Island, and about a thousand other places.  I’d like to see an American bittern (a family joke). I’d like to convince all my unenlightened friends of the correctness of my economic views. I’d love to see my books made into movies. And to see a volcano erupting would pretty much make my day.
You really do have a thirst for adventure, don't you?

-Do either of your two children write?
MSS-As a matter of fact, my son is a poet—halfway through University of Virginia he decided to add a second major and joined a poetry writing program.  And yes, he has a “slim volume” out! My daughter is an artist (oils), so I’ve got one visual and one verbal offspring. Oddly enough, I just learned that my brother (a truly gifted sculptor and photographer) has started a writing group, has a website, and has published short stories. And me, I can’t even draw a recognizable stick figure. Go figure…(ha ha).

-Is there any thing we all would be shocked to know about you?
MSS-Probably J.
LOL No sharing, eh? :)
For Fun:

           Red and sexy or Black and mysterious?
Black and sexy! I like to think I’m sexy (I do have testimonials on file), but being blonde and blue-eyed not only means red isn’t my color, but trying to be mysterious is like Pollyanna trying to be snotty.

Wine with cheese or Beer with TV?
Jeepers, both! Or champagne and caviar, Jack Daniels with steak, gin and tonic with raspberries…I’m an omnivore and proud of it!

Paperback or ebooks?
Again, both. I take the Kindle when I travel but I still like to dog-ear a page now and then.

Great cook or master at ordering take out?
You’re not gonna believe this…yes, the answer, again, is both. (I’m beginning to think I spread myself too thin…) I love to cook, but now that my children are far away and my husband only a sweet memory there doesn’t seem much point. When I do cook it’s healthy. When I order out it’s for junk food—is that a vice or a virtue?

Where was your favorite place to live?
Now that’s a toughie. I’ve lived in so many parts of the world and loved them all, although sometimes not till after I’d left. I loved Paris and Istanbul for the architecture, the history and the food. I loved Morocco and the Florida Gulf Coast for their beaches, I love Washington DC for its beauty and the excitement of being near the pulse of the nation.

What's your biggest pet-peeve in the world that makes you want to beat something/someone?
It is SO tempting to get political, but I won’t. So I’ll say paying for parking. I’ll go anywhere as long as it has free (and plentiful) parking. It kills me to give money to a shopping mall for the privilege of spending my money there.

Back to Work:
-You have an incredible amount of energy. What do you do to ground yourself to stay focused?
MSS-Not enough. Although with three books under my belt it’s a lot easier to buckle down. Validation is a great motivator!

-Are you insanely organized or are there notes written on everything?
MSS-At last count I had five pads of paper or notebooks with lists on them, some duplicative, some not. I cannot keep anything in my head—thank God for the internet.  I even had to copy my book calendar onto a word doc.  I’d be interested to know whether other people hate clutter but are incapable of throwing anything away. I’m the kind who has clean, clear counters but can’t open a cabinet without coming eerily close to that bucket list item with the volcano.
I'm in need of a professional organizer! There are so many notes and piles everywhere that sometimes I just clean it up with a broad sweep of my hand. 
-What's the biggest misconception people have about you and your writing?
MSS-Well, a lot of my ancient friends have no clue about ebooks. I had a friend order my first book then complain to me that it had been a week and no package had arrived! Plus, that I mean it when I say puleese buy the book.

-What's the writing no-no that makes you want to scream?
MSS-Improper punctuation. Drives me nuts. That, and misspellings. Oh, and poor grammar. Actually it’s the careless attitude toward these essential elements that bothers me the most. I edited some stories for a fellow and no matter how I tried he refused to believe that using first, second and third person in the same sentence might confuse the reader.
You'd hate to read my first few drafts! Being dyslexic has caused some fairly funny grammar mistakes. :)

-I listen to music for inspiration, then need to sit with as much quiet as three kids will give me, to write. What sparks your stories?
MSS-The stories have been piling up for a lifetime. I published my first book in 2009 at an undisclosed age and have yet to come close to using up the plots I’ve imagined over several decades.

-Any advice for aspiring writers?
MSS-I blogged on July 21 for Joanne Troppello at her site It Takes A Mustard Seed on that very topic. Here’s the link: The one point that elicited comments had to do with my instruction to submit, submit, submit.
Yup, don't give up. It's all worth it in the end!

You can find M.S. Spencer at:
All Romance E Books Author Page:

Thank you for being here M.S. Spencer! I've always loved your novels and I know our readers will too. Can't wait for Looser Keepers to come out tomorrow because I'll be getting it first thing!
Next week I'll have my partner in crime, YA writer, Lorettajo Kapinos.
Have a Sparkling Day and thanks for visiting!
Rebecca Rose 


  1. Thanks for hosting me Rebecca! Meredith

  2. You're a favorite of mine so the pleasure having you here was completely selfish. :)


  3. I agree with being annoyed by punctuation seems like some editors allow more flexibility in this area. And, your suggestion for writers to submit is right on! So many writers do endless edits and never send their books anywhere.
    Nice interview!

  4. Wow, and here I find first, second and third person in the same book annoying.

    Good luck with your latest release.


  5. LOL Janice! I agree about the person issue--but with the aspiring writer I was working with having them in 1 sentence was literally true! I feel the same about head hopping. Thanks for reading--hope you all enjoy my new book too! Meredith

  6. Hi M.S.,

    Oh yes, head hopping is another pet peeve of mine too. I read a excerpt from a fellow writer that had eight, yes eight, head hops in a single scene. When I spoke to her, she couldn't understand why that wasn't okay. Ugh. She wasn't a new writer either, she had several books under her belt.


  7. EIGHT? Wow. My first editor was SO great about that--she caught every one of mine (with a "now how does he/she know that?) and now I'm super sensitive to it. Good blog topic, don't you think? Meredith

  8. Thank you everyone for visiting us.

    Have a Sparkling Day!