Joseph Spencer’s Inspiration for Wrage

Joseph Spencer's Wrage features crime fiction.I’ve written a lot about the influences that mythology, religion, and historical lore have had on the supernatural aspect of my Sons of Darkness series books Grim and Wrage, so I thought I’d touch on the crime aspects of the novels and their influences today. There are parallel threads running in both books. There are events occurring in the supernatural realm which affect the afterlife and there are events which affect everyday life in Prairieville. The supernatural realm and the realm of men have become interconnected thanks in large part to the corruption in Prairieville caused by the influence of organized crime.

Though I’ve read a lot of crime fiction and it’s one of my favorite genres, I’ve gathered part of my inspiration for the characters which work for the Prairieville Police Department from my real life experiences. I work as a manager at a 9-1-1 emergency communications center for my full-time job, so I work alongside police officers every day. My center handles between 300 to 400 9-1-1 calls on a daily basis and even more non-emergency calls. Our job is to gather information such as location, types of crimes being committed, description of victims and suspects, description of the direction these suspects are travelling away from the scene of the crime, a medical disposition for those who are injured and any officer safety information such as weapons being used by suspects. After we’ve gathered that information, we relay it to police officers, firefighters and paramedics on the radio to respond to the scene of active and previous crimes.

The experience I’ve gained in public safety has helped to humanize these responders and given me a window into their personalities when I’m working on character development for my novels. Over the course of my five-year career, I’ve dealt with calls reporting to suicides, bridge jumpers, homicides, bank robberies, fatal fires, fatal car accidents, airplane crashes and almost any situation you can imagine. I’ve also had front-row access to see how people are first on scene at some of these tragic events handle the situation. In my experience, most of the public lauds these responders as heroes and rightfully so. But there’s more to their stories, and that’s what I try to capture when I create that sort of character. The stresses of the job are difficult to handle, and that’s resulted in some of the gallows-type humor I’ve incorporated in Grim and Wrage. That’s why some of the characters are heavy drinkers or womanizers. It’s a release from the pressures and stress of a stressful job which I’ve observed.

Another advantage to working in the public safety sector is that it allows me to become familiar with jargon and procedures used by police, fire and ambulance personnel. Did you know officers have specific radio codes to let each other know there’s a suspect armed with a gun or a business has received a bomb threat? Unlike what the movies and television shows would have you believe, you can report someone missing without waiting 24 hours. Did you know that when a fire department refers to a RIT team that it’s a specially-designated group called a Rapid Intervention Team with the sole purpose of evacuating fire personnel in case there’s some sort of accident while fighting a fire? These are all intricate details that I try to weave into my writing to add some authenticity.

Organized crime is another prominent aspect featured in Grim and Wrage. Even though most communities don’t have larger than life villains like the ones featured in my books or in movies like The Godfather, organized crime is still a pervasive problem in our society. Gangs traffic people, weapons and drugs every day, and I didn’t fully realize the severity of the problem until I worked in public safety. That’s why I chose to make gangsters such an integral part of the decay of Prairieville. I think gangs plague their surroundings wherever they are allowed to gain a foothold.


Joseph Spencer's Wrage features crime fiction.Blurb:  

Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family’s stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus’ heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero’s name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

Joseph Spencer's Wrage features crime fiction.Author Information:

As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”

Twitter Link:

Facebook Link:

Goodreads Link:

Book Video Links:  (Grim trailer)  (Wrage trailer)


Joseph will be awarding a $25 Starbucks gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Joseph Spencer's Wrage features Crime Fiction.Excerpt:

Thunderclaps from high above jolted Jeff out of his slumber.

Something hard and cold with jagged edges pressed into his back.

When he tried to move, iron shackles strained against the skin of his arms and legs. Chained to a rock in a dry stream bed, he knew he’d become a helpless prisoner who could do nothing more than wait for his captor. Stormy skies threatened from directly above him with bright flares of lightning snaking among sooty clouds and disappearing. Out of the corner of his eye, he could detect that the sun was shining brightly on the other side of the rock.

Scant rays of brilliant sunshine peeked over the rock, reflecting bright light off a magnificent golden shrine on a bank not far from where he was chained.

This can’t be real. He’d never seen a place like this in his life.

Large wet drops crashed against his skin. The coolness of the rain streaking down his body caused steam to rise from his skin, which he noticed had turned a dark shade of crimson. The only being this red was….

“Lucifer,” a calm voice echoed from above Jeff on the shoreline.

A giant, dressed in white armor sparkling like diamonds in the spare sunlight, stepped into view. He wielded a golden-hilted silver sword in one hand and a silver shield with the Latin inscription “Quis ut Deus” (I am like God) on the front in the other hand. He loomed above Jeff. A large gold cross ran down the center of the giant’s breastplate. A second inlaid golden cross glinted at the center of his white helmet. The helmet obscured his face, save for flawless ivory skin which radiated a blinding light. There was something across his back casting a large shadow, but Jeff couldn’t see what it was.

“You were thinking of Lucifer, whose skin is often portrayed as red,” the giant said. The ivory giant stepped into full view. From his back a pair of massive wings spanned over ten feet wide and five feet long majestically fluttering in the breeze, yet didn’t cast a shadow. The rain pelting Jeff in the eyes didn’t touch this giant. He certainly was no man. The only thing Jeff could compare it to would be—

“An angel,” the giant completed Jeff’s sentence again. “You are correct.”

Further on Rod Marsden’s Desk Job

Desk Job features dark fantasy by Rod Marsden.

A satire on office politics

I hate injustice especially when it is disguised as fair play. At the time I was looking for inspiration to start a new book a news report on television caught my attention. A new wave of political correctness was in the planning stage. Political correctness, especially in the office, bugs me. Hence the giant praying mantis menacing a computer jockey on the cover of Desk Job. Like Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett, I use symbolism and metaphor to reveal the darker, weirder and more fascinating elements of life as I know it. Fear created by censorship inspired by political correctness is at the heart of why the office where Desk Job mainly takes place is so dysfunction. I have worked in offices not far removed from the office in my novel.

I do most of my rough first draft writing on the train. I edit at home on my P.C. Since I do a lot of travelling for my current job as a researcher for public transportation, this works out fine.

I don’t expect to get everything right with the first draft. If I did then I suspect the work, whether short story or novel, would lack inspiration and the kind of flavor that makes for a good read. It is okay to let your id free to play with ideas in the early stages of any kind of writing. You can edit out the accrued garbage in subsequent drafts. Also the ending you originally have in mind is often not the ending you arrive at. You get to know and develop your characters as you write and this can result in your muse finding a more suitable if not a more fun conclusion.

I get my ideas from life. I always have pen and paper handy when I’m travelling. You never know who you are going to meet on the train or how they will inspire you. I also read a lot. I try to get in a couple of factual books a year along with the novels I absorb. Even a bad author can teach you something about writing. There’s the question of why you have decided that he or she isn’t very good.

I have a novel in mind that will deal with a common fear. A man has just won a fortune but his past is about to catch up to him. Will it be flight or fight? It’s presently titled Cold Water Conscience. No plans to imbue it with fantasy elements like my other novels. It will be stark and compelling.



Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA. He has worked in the American anthology Cats Do it Better. Many of his short stories have been published in Night to Dawn magazine. Undead Reb Down Under and Other Vampire Stories is a collection of his short fiction on vampirism. His novel Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand is his first venture into the vampire novel. Ghost Dance is his first undertaking into dark fantasy involving a quest. Desk Job is a first in that it is his salute to Lewis Carroll and it is also his initial surrealist novel. He is no stranger to controversy and much of his writing is purposely as well as purposefully politically incorrect. He prefers truth and integrity over the lies and half-truths we are so often inundated with. Thus his work has a certain honesty about the times we are living in that may not be found elsewhere.


Buy Links:



Nook Books:



Drive-by Balloon Purchases

During the past weeks, I’d lost five balloons to the heat and humidity. For a while, the stores stopped selling them, or didn’t sell as many. On July 22nd, I had my dental surgery. Since then, I’ve packed on five Mylar balloons. No, make that seven. Definitely seven. One was a present for a job well done. Another was a sleeper I bought at Giant. Three were hallway rescues, that is, lone balloons looking for a home. They’ll make great sleepers, too. Two others were drive-by balloon purchases. Drive-by, meaning I park the car near the store, run inside to buy one item, then back to the car. Except that something else accompanies me on the way to the car.

Every two weeks, I prepare meals for the Aid For Friends, but this time, I ran short on chicken patties. So I stopped by the Acme, realizing a buy-one-get-one-free sale. Trouble was, a horde of Mylar birds perched by the door. I had to get past them to get to my chicken. One of them flew after me and landed on my shoulder, singing “Bye Bye Birdie.”
I haven’t owned a Mylar bird in years. I do now.
Four days ago, I got a five dollar coupon for CVS. Thought I’d do a drive-by and get a pediatric toothbrush for my sensitive gums. I had trouble deciding which toothbrush to get, and my indecision cost me. I didn’t expect the corral of balloons to sit idle while I pussyfooted around the toothbrushes, did I?

Last Christmas, I did a drive-by to pick up refreshments for a party. Ditto balloon purchase.

Lately, these drive-by purchases have yielded more balloons than leisurely shopping with a big grocery list. Let’s say I’m on the road and thinking about getting a sandwich. Before I stop anywhere, I have to ask myself if the store sells balloons. If I don’t, something might accompany that sandwich. Tomorrow I’m heading to CVS to pick up Mike’s medicine. I’ve got a coupon, too. Oh, boy. I’d better look out.

I said I’d lost five balloons before I had the dental work. But I sure as heck found them!

This Mylar balloon belongs to Barbara Custer, author of zombie fiction.

School’s in Session

I’d like to think of it as schooling for me because I find myself tripping on the difference between “lie” and “lay” as well as other words. When I was little, I overheard a construction worker talk about horses, and I thought they were referring to the equine version. If the English language was confusing for people growing up in the US of A, then I feel for people learning the language as adults. They’ve got to deal with our idioms and slang. When I’m writing or editing, I’ve found one of my best friends. Some of the words below have stumped me and I suspect they confuse others, so I’m reviewing the difference between each one.

Aggravate / irritate
Aggravate means to make worse. Irritate means to annoy or disturb.
Cold weather aggravates my pain.
The automated telephone systems really irritate me.

Cement / concrete
Most people use these terms interchangeably, but “cement” and “concrete” have completely different meanings, as you’ll find out if you ask a Home Depot salesman for concrete. Cement is a powder that you mix with other materials to form a solid mass known as concrete. Cement porches, cement pavements, and cement overpasses don’t exist. All of these are concrete.

Everyday / every day
Every day means literally “each day,” as in: I admire my balloons every day.
“Everyday” is an adjective synonymous with “ordinary.” Purchasing Mylar balloons is an everyday occurrence for me.

Loathe / loath
“Loath” is an adjective meaning “unwilling. It rhymes with “growth.” Ex: I am loath to travel in the wintertime.
“Loathe” is a verb meaning “to hate intensely.” It ends with a soft “th” like smooth.
Example: I loathe cold weather.

Less / fewer
These words are easy to mix up, since both mean the opposite of more.
Use “fewer” if you’re referring to quantities of things or people. Example: Because my house was getting crowded, I’ve had to buy fewer balloons.

Use “less” when you’re referring to things that can’t be counted or doesn’t have a plural, as in:
Some jobs pay less money.
This week, I bought less food.

Further / farther
Farther pertains to physical distance and “further” for figurative distance. Hint: farther has the word “far” in it, as in: how much farther do we have to go?
Further applies to metaphorical or figurative distance. Example: If my balloons tangle further with my fan, I’m putting them in a separate room. I’m not talking about physical distance. I’m talking about a figurative distance, i.e. the extent of my balloons tangling with the fan.

Okay, many of the examples involve balloons. I don’t think any blog would be complete without at least one reference to my balloons. Maybe someday I’ll ride in a hot air balloons. This brings me to another confusing word set – someday versus some day. “Someday” means an indefinite time in the future, but “some” is an adjective indicating a specific day. Example: I’m heading to the grocery store some day this week.

There are dozens of other word sets that confuse people. Can you think of any?

Steel Rose features zombie fiction by Barbara Custer

When Balloons Lead to Change for a Website

I’m going to begin with a balloon story.

The other day, the Acme had great sales on items I needed, but they had a plethora of lovely Mylar balloons. So I put on my track shoes with the intention of running through the store, snatching up groceries as I went, so that the balloons wouldn’t catch me. I shopped early in the morning so that the store would be empty, allowing the run.

As the doors slid open, I barreled in…and collided with a grove of Mylar Margaritas and other balloons. So much for running. A Mylar Margarita snagged around my shoulders and plopped on my head. I continued running, hoping to dislodge my Mylar rider, but it clung to my head. Rather than be called on shoplifting, I paid for the balloon, explaining that it stuck to my hair. Got a lot of giggles for that one.

That’s right, Bar-ba-ra, the balloon whispered. You can run, but you can’t hide.

Mylar balloon Barbara Custer loves her zombie fiction.Out of the mouths of balloons come words of wisdom. For months I’ve been avoiding the issues with the print on my website. Running away from the problem, if you will, but I couldn’t hide. The glaring green hyperlinks kept staring at me every time I added or changed material on the website. I kept telling myself I’d read a book on CSS to change the font myself. It never happened.

Then the “aha” moment came to me at the Philadelphia Writers Conference when Cecily Kellogg discussed blogging and recommended dark print on a light background.  Those words slammed me against my chair as I got to thinking about my red background, white and green print. Tiny print. Change can be frightening. You can run, but you can’t hide, the balloon whispered.

I started reading posts about the best color combinations for blogs and websites, and got mixed opinions. So I ran a poll on Facebook, and the dark print on white background won hands down. The responses were helpful and much appreciated.  A couple of years ago, I’d entertained Walter Mitty fantasies of having a Zombie Apocalypse theme for my website. These fantasies rekindled, and I installed the theme. It gave me red print for the links and black for the posts.

Over the next weeks, I will likely want to do some tweaking with the images, but I feel great about the graphics and readability of the print.  Thank you, Miss Margarita Balloon, for pointing out the need to change.

When a Witch Hides to Survive…M. Lathan’s Hidden

M. Lathan's Hidden features a paranormal thriller.I am delighted to host M. Lathan as a guest blogger. Before reading her post, I thought I was the only writer reluctant to release her tales. Do other writers tend to hover? I think so…

The hardest part about writing is…

Writing is difficult work. Enjoyable, but difficult. Plotting, creating compelling characters, and editing are just a few of the tough tasks writers are faced with. But to me, the hardest part about writing is releasing a story.

While the technical issues of putting your work out there – querying agents or self-publishing, marketing, designing book covers, or writing a synopsis or description – are daunting tasks on their own, to me, releasing a book is difficult for one major reason: writers care and are personally connected to their work.

The story started as a tiny thing inside of your head and you’ve slowly developed it, nurtured it, and with great effort, brought it out of your mind and put it into words on a screen. Like a new mother or father, you’re hovering, being cautious, or screaming at it when you haven’t had any rest. You’re polishing polished scenes and making excuses to why it’s not ready to be out on its own.

Sometimes, a lot of times with me, it isn’t ready. It needs more love and discipline. It needs more time. The difficult part is distinguishing the times when you’re hovering and when your story baby really can’t make it in the world on its own.

I’m constantly trying to find a balance with this. In the past, I’ve tended to brush off my concerns and rush. Now, I’m becoming a bit of a hoverer. If I had to choose a side to be on, I think I’d rather hover than rush. However, if you hover too long, you may never take that leap.

Of course this isn’t the only aspect of writing you have to master, but, in my opinion, learning how to balance being cautious and trusting your story is the biggest hurdle writers will face.


M. Lathan's Hidden features a paranormal thriller.BLURB:  

Sixteen-year-old Leah Grant has given up on being normal. She’d settle for stopping the voices in her head, intrusive visions of the future, and better odds of making it to her seventeenth birthday.

That’s the thing about pretending to be human in a world where magic used to exist – at any moment, her cover could be blown and she’ll be burned to death like the rest of the witches.

Everything changes when she loses control of her powers and flees the orphanage she grew up in. She desperately wants to be invisible but finds her face plastered on every news channel as humans panic over the possible resurgence of her kind. And now the hunters won’t give up until they find her.

Making friends for the first time in her life and falling in love with one of them drives her to discover why she is unlike any being she’s ever met – human or otherwise. The dangerous powers inside of her that would repel Nathan, her new, handsome reason for living, are priceless to some. The locked up forever kind of priceless. And to others, they are too dangerous to allow her to live.

Let’s hope she can stay hidden.


M. Lathan's Hidden features a paranormal thriller.Author Information:

M. Lathan lives in San Antonio with her husband and mini-schnauzer. She enjoys writing and has a B.S. in Psych and a Masters in Counseling. Her passion is a blend of her two interests – creating new worlds and stocking them with crazy people. She enjoys reading anything with interesting characters and writing in front of a window while asking rhetorical questions … like her idol Carrie Bradshaw.




Twitter: @hiddenseries

Buy links: Amazon:



Sienna snatched last week’s Chemistry test from my desk. I hadn’t turned it over. I knew it was a D minus.

She cackled and passed it around.

“Leah, you would think someone who spends most of her time alone would have better grades,” she said. Her birds laughed on cue. “What do you do all day? Obviously not study.” She gasped slowly like she’d gotten a revelation in that blonde head of hers. “You fantasize about us, don’t you? You probably sleep in Whit’s old bed to feel close to her.”

Laughter spread around the room like an airborne disease. Disease. I shivered. That was an intriguing thought; I could almost hear the sound their bodies would make against the floor when it hit.

“Leah, come on. Say something. Scream at me, it’s been a while. At least cry,” Sienna said, laughing and leaning into my desk, closer to danger.

I didn’t cry. I never cry. And if I were going to, it wouldn’t be because of Sienna. I had bigger problems. I’d just broken a promise I’d made to God to not think about hurting His people, His children. And today was not the day to piss Him off.

My old roommate, Whitney Nguyen, graciously returned my test as she cackled with the rest of the birds. She liked the idea of me pining over her, but she knew I didn’t spend my free time thinking about her or sleeping in her old bed. After fourteen years of hard labor as my roommate, she’d given up on being friends or me being remotely normal. The current theory to explain my oddness was that I was in love with all of the girls and consumed by lust.

As long as they didn’t know it was magic.


One randomly chosen commenter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.

M. Lathan's Hidden features a paranormal thriller.

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 35 other subscribers