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A long drive from Albuquerque to Taos provides the spark for an author’s first novel

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The idea for Minerva Spencer’s debut novel came to her on a three-hour drive from Albuquerque to her home north of Taos.

Minerva Spencer

“I wrote the book in my head,” Spencer said in a phone interview. “I had to amuse myself. So for whatever reason, I thought of a pirate story.”

The book’s genesis was in 2013 shortly after she and her husband closed the bed-and-breakfast they had operated for six years. They still live in the nine-bedroom former B&B.

Spencer’s debut novel, released in late June, is a romance titled “Dangerous,” the first in a series called “The Outcasts.” It’s about Lady Euphemia, whose father, the Duke of Carlisle, demands she marry the man he picks for her or live out her life in seclusion. The lady has her own ideas.

Spencer wrote the next two novels in a matter of months.

She has been so industrious that she wrote 11 books by the end of 2016.

In October of that year, she sent out copies of her first three books to beta readers. “Beta readers are non-publishing industry people who will read your manuscript and tell you if the book is enjoyable,” Spencer said. “I have two beta readers. And they probably read nine of my books.”

She made contact with one beta reader through and the other after joining the Romance Writers of America.

“Both (readers) said after reading all 11, ‘How come you’re not trying to sell these books?’ I promised at the end of 2016 I would write a query letter,” Spencer said.

And she did. Kensington Press signed her, bought her first three books and asked for a fourth. Then Spencer got a literary agent.

She wrote “Dangerous” as a historical adventure. But it falls under the “romance” category.

“I like romance, because I really enjoy giving people a happy reading experience. They are happy books. They have happy endings,” Spencer said.

At the request of her agent, she is branching out to writing a trilogy of modern detective novels.

When not writing, Spencer and her husband manage an unofficial animal rescue operation.

“We’ve had emus, a llama, turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, had a peacock … and five non-rescue dogs.”

Minerva Spencer is her nom de plume. Her birth name is Shantal LaViolette.

Jeffe Kennedy

Veteran Santa Fe writer Jeffe Kennedy will join Minerva Spencer at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 8, at Page 1 Books, Mountain Run Center, 5850 Eubank NE.

Both will discuss and sign their new books.

Kennedy’s newest novel is “Prisoner of the Crown,” the first in the Chronicles of Dasnaria series.

“Prisoner” is “high fantasy,” which Kennedy said usually involves a hero or heroine’s journey and often contains elements of magic, though not as sweeping as an epic fantasy.

“Prisoner” is about an imperial princess who grows up in a cloistered environment, Kennedy said. Against her will, the princess marries the king.

There is a romance book later in the series, the Santa Fe-based Kennedy said.

Kennedy is the president of Land of Enchantment Romance Authors, which is the New Mexico chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is also on the board of directors of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.