Like a little suspense? Guest Author, M. S. Spencer

The author world is very small and most of us here on Main Street know a wide variety of authors in probably every genre. I’ve known M.S. Spencer for ages, and I’ve enjoyed her books.  But often she’s left me with my heart racing as I’ve read! So if you like a good file0001179129151suspense…she’ more than a cozy, much more, but she’s never gross or over the top with the suspense. So I figured I’d bring my friend here and let you peek at her books for a little change of pace. I can’t wait to read A Widow’s Walk.  Which one will you add to your TBR pile?  E. Ayers

Thanks so much for having me today! Before I give short introductions to two of my new releases, I’d like to talk about what it’s like when your whole world crashes in on you.

Melodramatic, you say? Somewhat histrionic? Well, yes, but for a few weeks after my wonderful publisher Secret Cravings, announced it was going out of business, it felt that way. SCP had published eight of my ten romantic suspense/murder mysteries. The publisher, staff, and authors were incredibly supportive, helpful, and accessible. Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to succeed in the indie publishing business, so last September I found myself faced with the prospect of finding new homes for my babies. I was lucky. Partly due to SCP’s reputation, several houses were willing to take them in.

I Heart Book Publishing and The Wild Rose Press have been wonderful, but it’s not as easy to transition to different publishers as you might think. They all have their little foibles—formatting preferences, contract terms, editing process, even style manuals. I found myself resisting the new rules—slamming my laptop closed, muttering curses, pacing. Thank God everyone agreed on the Oxford comma or I would have drowned myself (editor’s note: again with the histrionics?).

E. Ayers: I would have a major hissy-fit if the Oxford comma was removed!

Eventually I settled down, and now nine books have reentered the market and—I must confess—all the better for a good going over by new eyes. So all you writers who find yourselves in a similar position—and there are lots of you—fear not! Look at it as your chance to re-edit and polish your works as never before. Robert Frost, in answer to a question, replied something on the order of, “When is my manuscript done? When the editor pries it out of my cold, dead hands.” (I can’t find the exact quote, but you get my drift). Here’s another:

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”
― Patricia Fuller

E. Ayers: Oh, I love that quote! Or as my grandmother would say your slip is showing. Does anyone know what a slip is today? 😉

Below are introductions to two of my releases—Whirlwind Romance came out August 17 from the Wild Rose Press, and A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma was published by I Heart in June.

Pirates, Puritans, and princes—pieces of the puzzle in the whirlwind romance between a jelly maker and a castaway.

WhirlwindRomance_3_850Whirlwind Romance

Wild Rose Press, 8/17/2016, Champagne Rose imprint
Contemporary romance/Action Adventure; M/F; 2 flames
Ebook 89,905 words; Print: 358 p.


In the aftermath of a hurricane, Lacey Delahaye finds herself marooned on an island on the Gulf coast of Florida with a mysterious man. They are immediately drawn to each other, but before Armand can confess his identity, they are kidnapped and taken to a tiny island in the western Caribbean. With the help of her son Crispin and a cadre of loyal followers, she and Armand must face down pirates, power-mad ideologues, and palace intrigue, if they are to restore the once idyllic tropical island to its former glory.

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My latest release from I Heart is A Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma.

 Which will she choose—her old love or her new love?

A Widows Walk FINAL EBOOK COVER copyA Widow’s Walk: Catherine’s Dilemma

I Heart Book Publishing, June 6, 2016

Ebook: 71,500  words; Print:  227 pp.

Contemporary Romantic Suspense, M/F, 2 flames


Catherine Killean is a woman on a mission. When her new husband disappears, leaving a suicide note, she is determined to find out why. She follows his tracks first to the North Woods of Maine, then to Florida, and back again to Maine. Along the way, she meets the tall, dark, gruff Holden Taggart, a Maine guide.

In her doubt and loneliness she is drawn to Holden, leaving her confused and adrift. What will happen when her questions about Jonathan are finally answered? Will old loyalty or new love triumph?

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About the Author:

M. S. SpencerAlthough M. S. Spencer has lived or traveled in five of the seven continents, the last thirty years were spent mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director, and parent. After many years in academia, she 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 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ms. Spencer has published ten romantic suspense and murder mystery novels. She has two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter. She divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.






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Hurricane Season

In Florida, we are facing our yearly hurricane season. The weather channel forecasts worrisome news about hurricanes and tropical storms, and warns residents to be prepared.

For the last month, we had typical summer weather–hot, sunny or hazy in the morning. Sometimes we were lucky to enjoy a slight breeze. Around noon the wind picked up, the clouds threatened and the surf heightened. Before we knew it, we were drenched with pouring rain while lightning and thunder competed in the darkened sky.

From my desk, I could see the change in weather– squalls of heavy rain pelleting the window while my office turned dark. It was time to switch on the light and switch off the computer.

After facing this warning on a daily base, one can’t help worrying about nasty weather, especially when we remember the mess caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. It’s difficult to decide how to prepare and behave when the forecast predicts a hurricane. To panic and evacuate as we did during our first summer in Fort Lauderdale? Or stay and weather the storm hoping it would bypass us?

Writers from my local chapter are exchanging advice on how to protect their precious files. Some use an online ‘storage’. Others send a disk/flash drive with their current work in process to out-of-state family members or friends. Many email themselves with their own files as attachment.

My husband has networked my computer, his laptop and an external back-up hard disc, a small box that is easy to carry if we have to evacuate. Still, I prefer to save my own files on a flash drive every night.

While we hope that Mother Nature will spare us this year and Wilma will remain a memory, how do you protect your work during hurricane season in the South, tornadoes in the Midwest (years ago, I faced a memorable tornado,  in Cincinnati) or blizzard and disaster time if you live in the North?

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk published more than twenty books, some translated in German and French.
She received an Outstanding Achiever Award at Affaire de Coeur Magazine and is a
Best Romance Novel winner at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll;
Two-Time winner of Best Contemporary Romance Novel at Readers Favorite;
EPIC’s Ebook Award Finalist; and a Kindle Top 100 Bestselling Author

ON CHRISTMAS EVE is Book 6 of Holiday Babies Series, and my contribution to a coming Christmas anthology titled:

SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES 3 on pre-order now:

iTune /Apple
Kobo Books

The two previous boxes SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES 1 and SWEET CHRISTMAS KISSES 2 reached the USA Today bestselling lists several times.


Blue Background With Snowflake



Tiffany broke their engagement five years ago when she thought Matthew cheated on her. But fate keeps throwing him in her path. His tender gaze erases years of loneliness and her heart squeezes with longing. Until she notices the two little girls in his arms. His daughters? Where is their mother?
Can Tiffany and Matthew forgive each other, live in the present, and create a new future?

A Poodle and a Pinscher

We have no pets now since we lost our sweet Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Prissy a few years back. Prissy was a gift from our son and his wife after they married. They said she would fill the void and give us someone to care for. She sure did that!

Well, both hubby and I fell in love with her. She slept beside the bed at hubby’s side, on the floor. She was a big bundle of joy, kept us entertained and gave as much love as she received. When she became ill and passed away, our hearts were broken. We didn’t want to replace her, but we probably should have. As time went by we grew accustomed to just the two of us in the house.

But before Prissy went to ‘Doggy Heaven’ our granddaughter Emaleigh came along. What a thrill to welcome her into the world. She was our diamond, our jewel, our wonder, our angel. Emaleigh filled our lives with the sweetest joy imaginable.

Prissy was so gentle and protective when she was around Emaleigh. Prissy became Emaleigh’s delight when she visited. I think the feeling was mutual.

I believe it was 2003, Emaleigh’s Uncle Brad and Aunt Christy gifted her with an adorable bundle of fluff. A Toy Poodle.



Emaleigh named her Cloe. Yes, the spelling is correct, because being seven,  that’s the way Emaleigh spelled her name and Mom and Dad didn’t want to correct her. Excited over Cloe, doesn’t even describe the way Emaleigh felt. Cloe was her baby and Cloe was treated accordingly, in every way.

I remember once calling Cloe a dog. Wow! Emaleigh became indignant and informed me, “Nana, Cloe isn’t a dog, she’s a Poodle.” Needless to say, I never called Cloe a dog again. Lol.

Fast forward several years. Our fabulous grandson, Owen wanted another dog, but Mom and Dad weren’t quite ready to make the leap to add to their family. Owen was saddened by the news, but accepted their decision.

Mom and Dad had a change of heart. Mom took Owen to check out a litter of Miniature Pinschers. Since neither Mom nor Owen could resist, the household had another member. Owen received his wish and Cloe had a little brother to play with.



Owen named him, Comet. Comet sure lived up to his name. He and Cloe were definitely not playmates. Comet had, I believe, two bouts at behavior school to learn to keep out of mischief. He wanted to rule the roost and poor Cloe had no idea what was going on. It took a while, but now he and Cloe are almost best buds, though they still have their moments.

So…we are grandparents of two doggies. Oh, excuse me. One Toy Poodle and one Miniature Pinscher.

I wish you love, butterflies and music.

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.


Monkeys, and Ducks, and Dogs. Oh, My!

We’re talking pets this month on Main Street, and boy howdy! I’ve had some memorable ones.

For example, growing up in what, at the time, was a rural area of Long Island, my parents raised chickens and ducks.When I was a soon-to-be toddler, our family also had a St. Bernard who was instrumental in teaching me how to walk. I would pull myself to a standing position on his haunches and hold his tail to take my first steps.Unfortunately, on one of these walking adventures in my backyard, I tripped over a white duck named Donna. From that moment on, Donna Duck tormented me whenever I stepped out the back door. She’d chase me and flap her large wings at me and nip me. And let me tell you, those nips hurt! It reached the point where I refused to go outside, I was so terrified of her. Finally, my parents took Donna to a poultry farm, much to my relief. My husband swears my love for duck as an entree is rooted in those terror-filled days. He claims it’s my way of gaining revenge on my tormentor. I can’t deny the possibility.


When I was six, my older brother came home with a squirrel monkey. Yes, you read that right. My family had a pet monkey. Sugar was not your typical adorable monkey. She was nasty to everyone but my father (including the brother who brought her home). She bit, she clawed, she screeched all hours of the day and night. My mother had to make her oatmeal every day (she hated bananas) and we had to pin up plastic sheeting because a lot of her food wound up thrown against the wall. Oddly, though, when I wrote my first book, THE BONDS OF MATRI-MONEY, I included a character who had a pet squirrel monkey (though I made “Honey” a lot sweeter in nature than Sugar.) My editor balked, claiming in this day and age, it was probably illegal to keep one as a pet. Honestly, it was probably illegal back in the 70s when we had one too, but, at the time, no one cared. To appease my publishing house, Honey the squirrel monkey became Buttons the cockatiel. But if you read between the lines, the bird still has a lot of monkey-style characteristics. Like this scene:

“You want to get the door while I clear the table?”

He shrugged. “No problem.”

Yeah, sure. No problem. With halting steps, he walked to the door, opened it, and saw no one. Then a screech pierced his ears, and his gaze traveled downward. He blinked twice, looked up at the ceiling, then down again, but the view didn’t change. Beneath a scrap of white gauze lay a pair of feathered cheeks with what looked like circles of heavy orange rouge.

“Um, Renata,” he called over his shoulder. “I know we didn’t have wine with dinner, and you’re probably not going to believe this, but there’s a bird in a bridal veil out here.”

Her laughter sent butterflies flitting across the base of his back. “That’s Buttons. Lillian’s probably on her way.”

“The woman has a pet parrot?”

Lillian’s responsive cackle sounded like the scratch of an old phonograph needle. “She’s a cockatiel, Connell. A gift from an admirer many years ago. And speaking of gifts…” She appeared in the hallway holding a large box wrapped in white paper with a giant silver bow.

“Here,” he offered. “Let me take that from you.”

“Thank you.” As she passed the parcel, she poked a bony elbow into his ribs. “Actually,” she continued in a raspy whisper indicative of someone who had smoked heavily at one time, “the original Buttons died in 1968. This is Buttons III.”

With her signature whistle, Buttons hopped inside and sat on the back of the sofa.

“You must really love cockatiels,” he said, staring in fascination at the creature peeking at him through the gauzy white veil.

Lillian shook her head. “I loved Oscar.”


“Oscar Hammerstein. We worked together in the original Broadway production of South Pacific. I was a chorus girl then. He gave me my first Buttons as a token of his affection. When I brought her home, the owner of this building was less than enthused about having a cockatiel roaming around.” She winked. “I used my powers of persuasion to gain his permission to keep her. But he insisted once she died, no more birds. Thus, every time a Buttons dies, I replace her before the landlord finds out.”

“So he and the owner think you have the world’s oldest living cockatiel.”

“It’s the only way to keep the memory of my dear Oscar alive.”  

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The Kindle version of BONDS is currently on sale at Amazon for 99 cents. Pick up a copy and see how many monkey characteristics Button got away with!

We also had the usual cats and dogs, including Kismet, my bionic Labrador retriever. When Kismet was about three or four, she tore her ACL while playing ball with my husband and required surgical repair that included a titanium part. She was known as the six-million-dollar pup from then on – with good reason. Don’t ask about the cost. Let’s just say my boss was thrilled because it meant I wouldn’t be leaving my job anytime soon. Kismet passed away last year, just a few months’ shy of her sweet sixteen birthday. ‘Til the end, she was a companion, a playmate, and a guardian for both my kids.In fact, my daughter loved her so much, she had her favorite photo of her beloved Kismet made into a tattoo.









These days, we live with Zoe the Wonder Pup. She’s a shelter dog, of cocker spaniel descent, and just too darn cute for words. So cute, in fact, she was featured in advertisements at the NY Daily News for the 2015 Puppy Bowl. You can see the video and photos here. At the time, she was the cocker known as Lily Rose, the younger of the two featured (the one in the ref’s lap). She’s grown since then, of course, and now looks like this:

Zoe w football

As you can see, she’s still a big football fan. You know what this means, though, right? No matter what I do in life, I’ll never be as famous as my dog.



Celtic Canines and My Nordic Beasts

Vince &amp; Hounds-3There are three Scottish Deerhounds, one Westie, and two cats in our household. Life is rarely dull and always filled with affection in our home.

aug3-5We got our first Deerhound, Somerled, from a breeder in Tennessee. I still remember the 14 hour drive with my young family – my son was two when we got Somer. My daughter was in fifth grade.

Originally, my husband and I were looking at Irish Wolfhounds. After months of research and speaking with breeders across the country, we settled on Deerhounds instead.

The choice was made on health and longevity alone. I have a tendency to love deeply, as does my husband, so longer life expectancy matters.

Smiling HoundsWe got to the breeder, who owned several fenced in acres, and saw through the six-foot high fence that the yard was empty. After helping my children out of the car, the yard was no longer empty. Lined up across the front were eight completely silent grey coated giants; regal and quietly assured that they were, as Sir Walter Scot put it, “the most perfect creatures under heaven.”

I looked at my husband and said, “What were we thinking?” completely oblivious to the fact that I’d subconsciously pulled my children close.

Well, we went in, greeted our pup, and I fell instantly in love. So did my entire family.

IMG_5070We adopted Somerled’s half-brother, Fingal, about two years later from the same breeder. We adopted Puck, Somerled and Fingal’s great-niece, about three years after that from a breeder in Ontario.

Somerled, my big boy, was over seven feet tall when he put his front paws on my shoulders. He could easily clear off the top of the refrigerator – he didn’t, he was too polite for that. Yes, cookies did go missing once or twice, but that was probably the fairies.

We lost Somerled and Fingal after long lives – far longer than their littermates. They continue to add joy to my life every morning when I smile at their photos on my wall and know how much I and the rest of my family were loved.

IMG_4940Puck, my sweet girl, is still with us, two years after the best emergency vet clinic in the state told us to say goodbye. What a gift, that.

I wanted a big boy again so we started our search for another Deerhound. The first took us four years. This time took eighteen months. After a series of quasi-comical events, we ended up going to Ontario for an eleven-week-old girl, Awen. We came home with Awen (I named her for the Druid word for “Inspiration”) along with one of her brothers, the runt of the litter, as well.28904837-mjs_highland-_nws-_sears-_1

Somerled was the runt of his litter. He grew far taller and more regal than any Deerhound from his breeder – far taller than the tallest Wolfhound I’ve ever seen. I chair the Celtic Canine tent at our local Highland Games, so I’ve seen plenty.

IMG_3764Awen’s brother, Merlin, is now gigantic. The two are now eleven-months-old and Merlin is as tall as Somerled was, and he’s still growing. Talk about a “What were we thinking” moment. Honestly speaking, there was no “we” in the two puppy deal – that was all me. After much chewing of family items, I am often reminded of this fact.

Deerhounds are exceptional creatures. Even with the chewing, we are blessed.

Gandalf is our West Highland White Terrier, more commonly called a “Westie”. He is my “Little General.” My daughter, son, and I drove to Ohio when we learned he was the last available pup – again the runt with astronomically big ears that no one wanted.

2016-06-25 13.50.59Somerled had passed and Fingal wasn’t feeling as spry as he once was, so within two hours of becoming aware that there was a Westie puppy available, we left for Ohio.

What a wonderful decision that was.

2015-04-30 17.25.46Gandalf is my first “small” dog. He’s grown into his ears and is now a big boy, topping out at the highest end of the breed standard. He still hasn’t grown into his personality.

He’s a clown and so loving that he makes everyone smile. He’s stubborn though – like most Scots.

Our cats are talkative. One sleeps near my feet and the other constantly head-butts me when I’m working at the computer. She’s also the one who holds my face and pets me with her front paws. Loki and Freya are the most loving cats I have ever known.

I’ve got an odd bunch of animals – some no one thought would amount to much more than misfits of their own breed. Awen and Puck are the exceptions, as both girls are gorgeous and would have shown beautifully had I any interest in showing.

I don’t.

Our interest is in having loving members of our own rag-tag family. In that, Puck, Loki, Freya, Gandalf, Awen and Merlin excel.

Here’s to animal lovers everywhere!

May our hearts be open and our lives enhanced through our mutual and elemental love of our pets.


Remembering Cleo


About 1987

This month we’re blogging about pets. I don’t have any pets now because I’m allergic to cats and dogs (and lack the time, energy and money for pet ownership). But there was one special cat in my life for many years—a Siamese named Cleo.

My mother brought her home when I was fifteen. Our old cat had recently died, and Mom decided to get a new companion for our six-year-old Siamese, Tia. I remember the excitement of coming home from school to meet the new kitten, who was sitting on a dining room chair when I arrived. When I pulled out the chair, this adorable, delicate little thing looked up at me with bright blue eyes that were slightly crossed—giving her a look somewhere between dimwitted and deranged—and bellowed at me. It was more of a “waah!” than a meow. Her loud human-baby-like voice was part of her charm.

Because of my allergies, Mom banished the kitten from my bedroom. But I smuggled her in that first night and let her sleep in my bed, tucked under the covers next to me with her paws over my arm. Her purr was just about as loud as her voice and rumbled on for ages. She slept in my bed every night until I moved out of the house years later.

People have the impression Siamese cats are nasty, but Cleo was sweet and loving. Like any cat, she had her destructive tendencies. In the wee hours, she would jump onto the shelves in my room and knock things over. She chewed up my headphones and shredded the picture sleeves on my precious 45s (if you are of a certain age, you know what I’m talking about). She was persnickety, and yowled and muttered in complaint if things were not to her liking.

Tia didn’t appreciate the interloper and never accepted her. Often Cleo ran to me for protection from Tia’s wrath. And in return, Cleo saved me from many teenage bouts of despair, comforting me with cuddles and purrs. She sat in my lap when I watched TV, and enjoyed being carried around with her chin resting on my shoulder. When I felt like I didn’t have a friend in the world, she reassured me otherwise.

After I moved away to go to college, for a while Cleo sat on my bed in the evenings and yowled. I missed her, too, alone in my little bed in residence. Eventually we got used to being apart. Not being around her as much, I developed an allergic reaction to her. I got busy with marriage and having a baby, and she became sickly.

Cleo died at the ripe old age of eighteen, after a good life in a loving home. When I think about her, I still miss her, and wish very much that I could find another cat just like her. But I doubt that’s possible.

Living with cats

black cat named Athena

“I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.”

is nothing like living with dogs. (Dogs greet you at the door to love you, not demand the food bowl be filled. Because, OMG, I can see the silver at the bottom of the bowl.)

is demands of rub my tummy, rub my tummy, oh, I’m okay now, leave me alone. (At least twenty times a day and stops way before the human wants it to.)

is tiptoeing around the animal who thinks she is the goddess of the house and sleeps all day to prove it. (What she is sleeping to recover from, I have no idea.)

is to find constant hairs glued to your stove, countertops, and any other surface you would like to not have hair glued to. (This one I could live without.)

is to have a companion at your side when you are crying over the sappy happily ever after in the current book you are reading or writing. (Bestest part of living with cats.)

is to have your forehead connected with theirs to let you know you are part of the pack. To be groomed with a sandpapery tongue because you are a member of her family. (Good to know, otherwise I would wonder if I was the next meal.)

is priceless. (No words needed.)

Jill James, romance writer and lover of cats.
Time of Zombies series soon in audiobook!