Monica E. Spence

At the interview I felt as if my life was on the line. The man who interviewed me was very nice; we shook hands and parted company. I did not get the job. But, about two months later, he called me. The person who had been hired did not work out. The job was mine if I wanted it. I opted to take the job.

By now I have designing every type and variation of swimwear known to man-- and woman. I received awards as well as the respect of my industry peers. I also started and ran the swimwear department for a major US manufacturer. However, all good things come to an end. In December 2003, my job went off-shore.  It was a bad year for the US textile and garment industry. Many owners sought to make a financial killing for themselves by sending their manufacturing to the cheap-labor plants in Asia. Unfortunately they did not heed the saying:“Arrogance is blind to the stumbling block.”

When I lost my job, I thought I would panic or tears would set in, but I resolved to embark on a new career: teaching. I found a one-day-a-week faculty job in the brand new Fashion Design Department of the Art Institute of New York City. Strangely enough, I LOVED teaching. It felt wonderful to give back to the next generation of designers. 
At first I missed the excitement of the garment center, but my life had a new focus. The Art Institute of New York City was home for me, giving me the opportunity to teach, to learn, to grow and to share with my colleagues and my students.   

With more free time available, I began to write historical fiction. The Writer's Voice Workshops at our local YMCA gave me (and later my husband, as well) the opportunity to get feedback on what I'd written. I loved the workshops and bought everything I could on writing instruction. While surfing the Web one day for writing programs, I stumbled upon a familiar name. Seton Hill.

My undergraduate Alma Mater had become a University, and it had a graduate program called Writing Popular Fiction. In June 2008 I graduated from the program with a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction. In 2009, I began my work on my PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster University in England.

I am the luckiest woman in the world. I am doing what I dreamed of back in High School—I am a professional writer.  And THAT is how a Costume designer morphs into a writer.

Here is a list of my work. I will update it as necessary:

How does a Costume Designer Become a Writer?

Author of Historical Fiction and Historical Romance

After training as a theatrical costume designer at Seton Hill College, and spending six fun-filled and exhausting years in professional theater, I decided I needed a steady paycheck. Eating was never much of an option for me and the landlord got cranky if I failed to come up with the rent on a monthly basis. 

I spotted an ad in a day-old issue of Newsday, our local newspaper. "Swimwear Designer Wanted. Experience Desired but Not Necessary." I knew less than nothing about swimsuits, but I took a chance. After all, I had nothing to lose but my pride. 

Published Novels, Short Stories and Works- in-Progress

Marco de Medici, a Florentine nobleman, cuts through a moonlit alley and stumbles upon a woman being attacked. He springs to her defense and is stabbed for his efforts.  Susanna d'Angelo, a widowed midwife, feels obligated to care for her mysterious defender.

A budding friendship blossoms into love. Marco keeps his family name from her, wishing to be judged on his own merits while Susanna has her own secrets. Facing a strict society, the Medici’s power, and Susanna’s dark history, will their love survive?

The book is available at: 
Amazon (5 stars)

  • LOVE IS NOT PROUD: A Historical Romance set in 16th Century Florence.

  • A QUESTION OF JUSTICE: A Historical Short Story about Duke Cosimo I de Medici of Florence dealings with artist Benvenuto Cellini. 

  • CIPHER: A Time Travel Historical Romance set in 18th Century Colonial America (under contract with The Wild Rose Press).

  • A  WOMAN’S FIGHTER PANTY: Non-fiction. Issue 101, Tournaments Illuminated, the Society for Creative Anachronism, Milpitas, CA.

  • AN ILLUSTRIOUS WOMAN: PhD Thesis novel: In progress: a Historical novel about Sofonisba Anguissola, the first internationally recognized woman painter of the Renaissance.

  • THE MEDICI PRINCE series: THE GENERAL’S SON and THE EMPEROR OF FLORENCE. A two-book Historical novel series about the Sixteenth Century Medici Family. (Unpublished)

Benevento Cellini is a renowned artist, much sought after as a sculptor and goldsmith, though he is egotistical, temperamental and boastful. His reputation for anger and violence are as well-deserved as his reputation for creating magnificent artwork.

Cosimo de Medici, the second Duke of Florence, is inspired by the example of his prominent Medici ancestors, and is a noted benefactor of the arts. As Cellini’s patron, he is the sponsor of some of the finest works made by the artist. Over the years, Cosimo has ruled his city with patience and an even hand. His ideas of justice cut across class lines—most unusual in the Renaissance.

This is the story of the relationship between two strong-willed men and how they came to clash over their views of right and wrong, and of what justice means to both men.

Amazon (5 stars) (5 stars)