Thursday, October 29, 2015

Guest Post: M.S.Spencer

Good morning! Let's welcome M.S. Spencer to my blog today. She has an exciting new release to share with us!

Thank you so much, Vikki, for giving me the chance to introduce your readers to my new release, Dear Philomena: Love, Lust & Murder on Chincoteague Island.

Something crashed in the woods.  Was it a deer?  Or something more dangerous? Dagne didn’t care; she just kept running…

In Dear Philomena: Love, Lust & Murder on Chincoteague Island, Dagne is not only an advice columnist but a fiction writer. Searching for historical details for her novel, she explores the many cemeteries on Chincoteague Island. Most were established and maintained by the fraternal lodges—groups like the Red Men, the Odd Fellows, Heptasoph—that once were the centers of social life on the island. That is, until Carrie A. Nation took her hatchet to them, railing against them as havens for demon rum.  Unfortunately for Dagne, in one graveyard she meets with a terrifying accident, complete with shadowy figures and open graves. The only element missing—which greatly disappoints her mother—are zombies.


Dagne Lonegan, aka Dear Philomena, advice columnist, hoped that spending a year on the Eastern Shore island of  Chincoteague would extinguish any feelings she had left for Jack Andrews, erstwhile lover, and long-time jerk.  It’s just her luck that in her first week on the island she’s entangled in 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, disrupting her new romance with Aidan Ellis, the handsome manager of the National Wildlife Refuge.  As if that weren’t enough, Jack arrives to take charge of the murder investigation.

Will Dagne stick with the tall, cool glass of a Ranger or risk falling back into the arms of the man who broke her heart?

I Heart Book Publishing, October 12, 2015
eBook, 72,000 words, Print 209 pp
Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Mystery Romance
M/F, 3 flames

Excerpt (G): Into the Grave

She must have wandered farther than she thought from the entrance, and couldn’t make out the gate in the darkling sea of monuments. She started down one path, then another. Finally, as she reached the end of one narrow corridor between two six-foot-high granite obelisks marked Howell, she saw the glint of chain link in the moon’s feeble glow. Hoping the fence would lead her to the entrance, she sidled along it, her back to the cold metal ribs. She had edged about ten yards when a pile of fresh soil six inches high and four feet wide barred her way. A wilted nosegay of plastic flowers lay strewn on the mound of a new burial, as though tossed indifferently over an uncaring shoulder. She could barely make out an inscription carved in the white marble. “Terri, beloved daughter of Silas and Violet Aster, born October 7, 1992, died September 5, 2010.”

Oh dear, this is the murder victim’s grave. How awful. As she stood there saying a little prayer for the poor girl, a rustle sounded behind her. She spun around. A couple of small grey objects flitted into a bush to her right. Gnatcatchers. Just birds. She flinched anyway. 

Stop it, Dagne. You’ve become way too skittish since that night on the trail. There’s nothing here but dead people and they can’t hurt you.

Her mother’s voice echoed in her ear. “Zombies!”

She spoke aloud. “That’s enough, Mother. I’m going home now.” The sound of her own voice gave her the ounce of courage she needed.

Black night descended like a preacher’s cloak thrown over the congregation. Dagne started to move past the grave, but first took a step back in an automatic gesture of respect. Her right heel met nothing but air. She twisted her body in an attempt to avoid putting the other foot down and felt something knock into her. She fell, face first, for what seemed like hours, landing squishily in soft mud. Yuck. Double yuck. She wiped her face with the back of her hand. The darkness was thicker here. She sat up and blindly stretched out her arms, palms out. Her exploring hands hit a dirt wall about two feet to her right, and another one two feet to her left. She looked up. “Hello?” No response. She could make out the dim light of the sky about…how far up? 

Oh my God, it must be six feet! Six feet under…I’m in an open grave!

She fought down her panic. The walls are not closing in, Dagne. She pushed herself off the floor, sinking an inch into the ooze. Raising her arms, she could just touch the surface with her fingers. She called out again without much hope. “Hello? Anyone there? Yoohoo!” Nothing but the hush of desolation echoed back. She couldn’t help herself—Great image. Remember to write it down.

She closed her mouth and exhaled through her nose, the better to listen. No birds twittered. No bushes rattled in the breeze. Come to think of it—other than her own muttered curses—she’d heard no sound after the gnatcatchers startled her. She rubbed the sore spot in the small of her back. Did something—someone?—push her? Ridiculous. Just like her mother said, she’d been reading too many thrillers. She’d probably only hit the corner of another tombstone. Come on, Dagne—no one’s there. Grab a root or something and pull yourself up.

She felt around the walls until she came across a thick tree root jutting into the hole. With one foot on it, she managed to hoist herself up. Her hands scrabbled frantically over the gravel at the top, searching for something to latch on to. Nothing. Wait. What’s that? Something hard. Stone. It seemed to be solid. She got a good grip on it and dragged herself out of the grave. She rested on her stomach for a minute to let the pounding in her chest slow down. One hand still clutched the stone so tightly she’d lost some feeling in the fingers. With her other hand, she pried it off and ran her palm over the object. Raised letters. A gravestone. Her hand traveled down to soft earth and landed on a pile of plastic stems. 

Terri’s tombstone. She let them go, stifling a shriek.

The word drifted down through the moon’s rays. “Zombies.

At that moment, the high beams of a car flashed over the cemetery. A door slammed, the chain link gate rattled, and she heard the sound of footsteps running toward her. “Lady? Lady? What the hell are you doing?” The male voice was angry, disconcerting her.

“Who are you? Can’t you see I need help?” She pushed herself off the ground and stood up, unwilling to have this jerk find her prostrate in the dirt.

The man skidded to a stop before her and turned a flashlight full on her face. She couldn’t see more than a shadow behind the light. “Say, aren’t you that writer lady? Lives over near Piney Island?”

Déjà vu all over again. Her voice came out a little shaky, but strong enough. “Yes, I am. I fell in the open gr…hole here.” Like it isn’t obvious. “And you are?”

The man didn’t seem to hear the question. His head bobbed as though he were looking her over. He took a step toward her and now stood framed in the car’s headlights. In outline, he stood only about five feet tall. A ridge of leftover hair stuck up from the crown of his head. 

“You okay? What happened?”

“I...I couldn’t find the gate. I…fell. I think I’m all right.”

“Well, then, if it’s okay, I sure do wish you’d get off my daughter.”

Dagne realized she had stepped onto the fresh mound that held Terri Aster’s coffin. She scrambled off, slipping on the fresh dirt. The man held out a hand. She took it gratefully.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Aster. I didn’t mean to.”

“Yes. Well. It sure is lucky I came by when I did. I’d heard someone was hanging around here. Wanted to make sure my little girl was safe.”

“I understand.” No I don’t. His daughter is dead, isn’t she? And Mother, do shut up. Zombies do not exist. “Look, I think I’d better go home and clean up.”

“Just a minute, Miss. You haven’t told me what you’re doing here.” Did she hear an implied threat in his voice?

Dagne sighed. Her arms hurt and lumps of slimy mud kept sloughing off her stomach. “I’m researching the graveyards around here for my book. The evening came on so fast, I became disoriented and couldn’t find the entrance. I…I’m sorry. I didn’t see the …the…grave there.” No need to mention Terri’s name. Or the push or whatever it was. I’m sure I imagined it.

“Researching cemeteries, huh? Isn’t one grave same as the next? They’re all just dead people.”

Now where had she heard that before? Determined not to get into a long debate, Dagne walked unsteadily toward the gate. “Well…er…thanks, Mr. Aster. I do apologize if I upset you.”

He shrugged his shoulders, the picture of desolation. “It’s all right, Miss. Nothing much seems to matter now that my little girl’s gone.” His voice held a full measure of grief.
Dagne wracked her brain for something to say. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Mr. Aster stood quietly for a minute. She wondered if he was praying. His flashlight swept over Terri’s grave. “When I find him, I’ll kill him.”

Buy Links:

About the Author:

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

Contact  M. S. Spencer here:

Author Pages:
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Amazon Author Page:


  1. Thanks for having me today, Vikki! I hope your readers enjoy the excerpt and want to read more.

  2. You're welcome. Your book sounds great!