Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Author Inteview- MS Spencer- The Penhallow Train Incident

Happy Wednesday readers. 
We're halfway done with the week!!! To help you through the rest of it, I've got new rose, 
MS Spencer on the blog today with her new release, The Penhallow Train Incident. 

Welcome to the blog MS. It's great to have you on today.
Tell us three words that describe yourself starting with A, B, and C.
Appreciative (of my blessings). Bookish (I once filled two large rooms with my books—thank God for Kindle). Curious.

What are your three favorite things?
My granddaughter, my son, and my daughter.

Are you self- published or with a publishing company (if so, which one?)?
I am currently published with two companies, I Heart Book Publishing and The Wild Rose Press.

Is there a process you stick to, or do you just write as it hits you?
I try to work in the mornings before I totally peak out, but generally I work when the mood strikes—which turns out to be about 6 hours a day.

Was there any particular inspiration for your characters or story?

I always draw on experiences I have had, plus a lot of research. Both my BA and my MA thesis were on the Queen of Sheba, plus I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East, so it was great fun to bring those exotic features to the page.

Music is a big influence on my writing. I have certain songs that inspire each chapter, or the whole book. What helps to inspire you?
Mainly the setting—the location, history, culture of a place inspires a story. I just visited Amelia Island, FL. Much like St. Augustine it has a rich and crazy history—I have to use it for a story! My WIP, the Ghost Hotel, is set where John Ringling of circus fame tried to build a Ritz-Carlton. Worked started and stopped in 1926, but the hotel sat half-finished until the 1960s. What better setting for a ghost story?

What’s the one thing you would do if you could be your character for a day?
I’d spend it with Griffin.

What is the ultimate goal you have for your career?
What is every writer’s goal—to have my books read and loved by millions.

When not writing, what can you be found doing?
I’m steps from the Gulf of Mexico, so I spend an hour or so basking and watching for dolphins. I love to bird watch and kayak...and eat!

What do a small Maine town and the Queen of Sheba have in common? Rachel Tinker and Griffin Tate must find out before more people die.


In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust. 

The Penhallow Train Incident is set in the fictional mid-coast Maine town of Penhallow. Midcoast Maine is not perhaps as well known as the southern beaches or the Down East sites such as Bar Harbor, but it has its own special charm. Towns like Bath, Camden, Rockland, and Belfast showcase the Maine of lobstermen, shipbuilders, and farmers, while towns such as Thomaston on the many small peninsulas that jut into Penobscot Bay offer gorgeous views and pleasant cottages.

Just north of Penhallow is Searsport, where our hero and heroine try out a new restaurant, inaptly named Salmonello’s.  Searsport is also home to the Penobscot Maritime Museum, where Rachel comes into unexpected contact with an enemy.

Excerpt: Salmonello’s

He sat back. “Okay, turn left here. Now right on Union Street. There it is—Salmonello’s.” He chuckled. “Not what you’d call a felicitous choice for a restaurant name.”
They walked into what a native Mainer might envision a traditional Italian trattoria to be. That is, if a traditional trattoria consisted of a room filled with Formica tables and farm implements, a salad bar, and a wall of pinball machines. “Doesn’t look like lobster roll is on the menu. Too bad,” Griffin said jocularly.
The place was empty except for a group of women at the bar talking in loud voices. A girl of about sixteen with a long braid and braces skipped over to them. “Anywhere.”
Rachel knew that Griffin was biting his tongue to keep the retort at bay and loved him for it. “Thanks.”
They found a table as far away from the din as possible, which wasn’t. Griffin ordered a carafe of their house wine—“Please, God, at least make it Italian”—and they perused the menu. Without looking up, Griffin asked, “So, how did George strike you?”
“He only hit the furniture.”
“No, I mean, do you think he’s telling the truth?”
“About what?”
“Really, Rachel, I’d hate to think you’re being deliberately obtuse. His story of Masri’s perfidy.”
“I don’t have any idea. You’re the Middle East expert. Does it make sense?”
“There are lots of stories out there of fanatical academics pursuing the elusive tomb or artifact. It’s not impossible. I have a call in to a friend at Harvard.”
“Harvard? Oh, right, about George.”
“And one to a friend at Cairo University about Masri.”
The waitress plunked a basket of bread and a glass carafe on the table. Drawing two plastic wine glasses from her pockets, she inserted the bowls into the bases and set them down. And left. Griffin poured a smidgen of wine into his glass. With an affected simper, he rotated it, then sipped, holding the wine on the tip of his tongue before swallowing it. His eyes opened wide. “Whaddya know? It’s excellent. How refreshing.”
Rachel sipped hers. “You’re right. Go figure.”
He called the waitress over. “My dear child, can you tell me the name of this delightful beverage?”
“Huh? Oh, the wine? I’ll go ask Dad.” She shuffled back a minute later and read from the back of her hand. “Tig…Tin…Tignanello, he says.” She read further. “Two thousand nine vintage. Dad gets it from his cousin in Tuscany. He says it’s ready to drink now.” She smiled perkily, the fluorescent light pinging off her braces.
“Tell Dad he’s right. Thanks…”
“Sally. You want some more time?”
“No, we’re ready. Rachel?”
“I’ll have the tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese.”
“The spaghetti in meat sauce. Gotcha. You?”
“How’s the veal?”
“My brother just brought it in from Kenworthy Farm. You know, the place that raises all those weird breeds? Calf got its leg caught in a fence and they had to put her down. Butchered her yesterday. That’s why it’s on special.”
With a slightly green face, Griffin handed her the menu. “I’ll have that.”
Rachel laughed. “For a tough guy you can be pretty squeamish.”
He produced a rueful grin. “I suppose if I’m going to eat it I should be able to hear how it made its way to my plate.”
Sally returned and slid tiny simulated wood bowls of wilted lettuce drenched in what looked like tomato soup under their noses. “Your salads.”
Rachel took a gulp of wine to fortify herself and said with determination, “I’m going in.”
Griffin watched her take a forkful, chew slowly, and push the bowl away. “I hope the wine and not the salad is a portent of things to come.”
They took a moment to gaze into each other’s eyes before waking up to the fact that they were gazing into each other’s eyes. In the lull, while both desperately sought something to say, a raspy female voice rang out.
“I tell you, Jackie, that sheriff was way outta line. He as much as told me I’m a liar!” They both turned to see a woman of about fifty with a staggering cascade of pumpkin-colored hair. Her red lipstick was a little smeared, and her lashes, thick with mascara, blinked rapidly.
Rachel nudged Griffin. “I think that’s Noreen Fowler, Stan Holiday’s girlfriend,” she whispered. “At least she looks like the woman Edna Mae Quimby described.”
Confirming Rachel’s guess, a tiny woman with a nose that could follow a cold scent twittered, “Well, Noreen, you gotta admit your story sounded pretty flimsy. I mean, there were witnesses who saw John on the train.”
“Witnesses? A buncha tourists who were busy watching that moronic cowboy show. Probably didn’t give him a second glance. John’s not exactly a standout in the looks department. I love him for his personality.”
“Personality? Or money?” The klatch broke out in snickers.
“Laugh all you want, Ellen. I’ll swear he was with me that day.”
Someone in the back of the pack cried out, “And what day was that, Noreen?”
She hesitated. “Last week. I forget the day exactly.”
Jackie piped up. “It was last Saturday.”
“Wait a minute.” A tall, gaunt woman in jeans spoke slowly. “Wasn’t Stan Holiday up here with you last Saturday? I thought I saw you two on the sidewalk by the cafe.”
Noreen gulped down her beer. “That was earlier, Betty Jo. John came by later.”
Betty Jo seemed to mull this over, then stubbed out her cigarette. “But I ran into Maude Jewett in the Penhallow co-op last week, and she told me Stan was supposed to drive the train.” She wagged her chin. “That he missed it because he was with you, Noreen.”
The voices rose and intertwined in a cacophony of anger and insults, and the women spilled out the door.

The Wild Rose Press, 3/30/2016, Crimson Rose Line
Contemporary romantic suspense/Cozy Mystery; Sensual (PG-PG13)
Ebook 79,665 words, Print 334 p.

Buy Links: Penhallow Train Incident is available in both ebook and print-on-demand.
TWRP ebook: 




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Romantic suspense and mystery, they are available in ebook and print from The Wild Rose Press, I Heart Book Publishing, and all fine on-line book stores. For more information, visit

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press:
The Mason's Mark: Love and Death in the Tower (an Old Town Romance)
Artful Dodging: The Torpedo Factory Murders (an Old Town Romance)
 Whirlwind Romance


  1. Thanks so much for having me, Rachel and Griffin visit today. I hope your readers enjoy the excerpt and want to read more!

  2. Wonderful excerpt. IS this book going to be part of a mystery series?

  3. Thanks Angelina. So far I have too many settings and plots running around in my head to stick to a series, although I admit Griffin and Rachel are favorites of mine. I have a WIP with another--totally different but equally fetching--couple. Maybe after that... Thanks for reading!

  4. Great excerpt MS. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for being a guest today.