Monday, March 30, 2020

Spotlight on novelist Drēma Drudge

Drēma Drudge

Fun facts

I am obsessed with true crime podcasts and TV shows. My show cues are probably frightening to those who don’t know that and happen to see mine! Nearly every morning I listen to Dateline’s podcast, and if they don’t upload one, I get disappointed.

I am terrified of roller coasters – except for Space Mountain in Disneyland, because you’re mostly in the dark on it and can’t see where you’re going. For some reason that makes it not as scary.

My favorite season is summer, to the point where I get irritated at winter as if it’s out to get me.

Virginia Woolf is the writer I love best – I have a bookcase full of her books and books about her. Actually, my second novel (in progress) features her work.

I only live a couple of hours from my dream retirement location, the Indiana Dunes, which is nice because I get to visit it several times a year. (Unless Paris would become a viable option. In that case, my husband and I might have to have two homes.)  


In 1863, Civil War is raging in the United States. Victorine Meurent is posing nude, in Paris, for paintings that will be heralded as the beginning of modern art: 

Manet's Olympia and Picnic on the Grass

However, Victorine's persistent desire is not to be a model but to be a painter herself. In order to live authentically, she finds the strength to flout the expectations of her parents, bourgeois society, and the dominant male artists (whom she knows personally) while never losing her capacity for affection, kindness, and loyalty. Possessing both the incisive mind of a critic and the intuitive and unconventional impulses of an artist, Victorine and her survival instincts are tested in 1870, when the Prussian army lays siege to Paris and rat becomes a culinary delicacy. 

Drema Drudge's powerful first novel Victorine not only gives this determined and gifted artist back to us but also recreates an era of important transition into the modern world.

About the Author

Drēma Drudge suffers from Stendhal’s Syndrome, the condition in which one becomes overwhelmed in the presence of great art. She attended Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program where she learned to transform that intensity into fiction.

Drēma has been writing in one capacity or another since she was nine, starting with terrible poems and graduating to melodramatic stories in junior high that her classmates passed around literature class.

She and her husband, musician and writer Barry Drudge, live in Indiana where they record their biweekly podcast, Writing All the Things, when not traveling. Her first novel, Victorine, was literally written in five countries while she and her husband wandered the globe. The pair has two grown children.

In addition to writing fiction, Drema has served as a writing coach, freelance writer, and educator. She’s represented by literary agent Lisa Gallagher of Defiore and Company.

Where to Buy

Connect with the author

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Mary Ann Bernal, Author of Crusader's Path

The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with Mary Ann Bernal, Aut...: Available for pre-order from  Amazon UK and Amazon US I'm pleased to welcome author Mary Ann Bernal to The Writing Desk: ...

Available for pre-order from 

I'm pleased to welcome author Mary Ann Bernal to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Crusader’s Path is set during the First Crusade (1096-1099). Etienne d’Argences and his overlord, Duke Robert of Normandy, embark on a quest for redemption, joining Pope Urban’s Soldiers for Christ, and freeing the Holy Land from Muslim rule. Urban proclaimed that anyone dying during the arduous journey or on the battlefield were absolved of their sins.

Avielle of Cologne, a healer, ministering to the city’s ostracized lepers, needs to reconcile herself with God after committing a grave sin known only to herself and the Lord. Not daring to reveal her shameful secret in the confessional, absolution is unattainable until she hears Peter of Amiens preaching in the market square. Now, salvation is within reach. Avielle joins Peter’s Army and travels with the holy monk through the Rhine Valley, en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Etienne and Avielle meet in Constantinople, and together, they withstand the hardships of the grueling campaign, enduring privation for the Lord’s sake, to save their souls. But promises made to God are cast aside when they succumb to the temptation of the flesh, forsaking their vows of living a religious life for worldly pursuits.

With each successful siege as the Princes’ Army approaches Jerusalem, Etienne and Avielle struggle to realize spiritual purity over earthly desire.

What is your preferred writing routine?

My routines have varied over the years because of daily commitments. I have burned the midnight oil, arisen at the crack of dawn, and started writing the moment I came home from work. Now, whatever the hour, my goal is to write a few hours while not paying attention to a daily word count. It is less stressful if you set a reasonable goal. I always achieve my minimum word count of two hundred fifty words, but of course, I do not stop until what I want to say has been written.

What advice do you have for new writers?

My advice is to learn as much as you can about the craft. Enroll in creative writing courses and workshops and write a little every day. Two hundred fifty words a day is a novel in a year. Also, forget the naysayers and never give up.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Social media is perfect for author visibility. In addition to my webpage, I showcase my work on my blog and Pinterest. I also have a Twitter account where I share not only my work and the work of other authors but also topics that interest me.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Crusader’s Path follows Duke Robert of Normandy’s participation in the Crusade. He joined the campaign late and spent the winter in Italy before heading out for Constantinople. He also left the siege of Antioch during the winter months, returning in the spring only after being threatened by excommunication.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Death scenes are always tricky because I do love my characters; we share a bond; after all, I created them! The Crusades was a violent time, and people die. I won’t go into greater detail other than to say, “No Spoilers.”

What are you planning to write next?

I am planning on a novel set in Ancient Rome. As my readers know, I have a fascination with the Roman Empire. I’m always referencing the old Roman ruins in my novels. But which Emperor to follow? The jury’s still out.

Mary Ann Bernal

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About the Author

Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Mary Ann is a passionate supporter of the United States military, having been involved with letter-writing campaigns and other support programs since Operation Desert Storm. She has appeared on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS television affiliate in Omaha, and was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her volunteer work. She has been a featured author on various reader blogs and promotional sites. Mary Ann currently resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Find out more at her website and find her on Twitter @BritonandDane

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Warm Up this Spring with Alpha Revealed, a steamy paranormal romance by Brenda Sparks

Natasha Peterhoff is the luckiest vampire in the world. Having pined over the sexy, but aloof Vladimir Starikovich for centuries, her feelings are reciprocated when the pair are drawn to each other the night of her brother's wedding. Unfortunately, the stark light of day dawns, and the couple parts ways.
         Back in Siberia, Vlad is overcome by doubts. Not only will Natasha's brother kill him, but his own past is reason enough to keep her away. He vows to do everything in his power to keep her safe, even it if means never seeing her again.
         With so many reasons to stay apart, will the ties that bind be strong enough to pull them together?


She lifted one arm in his direction. He raised a hand to still her movement. “Don’t…touch me.”

Well, damned if that didn’t smart. He didn’t want her to touch him, even to offer him a little comfort. My, how things changed. He certainly hadn’t minded her touch the night of her brother’s wedding.

Fine. If he doesn’t want me touching him, so be it.

Natasha turned around, sending her harlequin colored pigtails twirling about her face and retrieved the bag of blood from the floor. Without looking in his direction, she stalked through the room and sat in the only padded chair. She punctured the bag with her fangs and drank, glaring at him over the top of the bag.

The blood seeped into her cells, nourishing both her and the baby. The baby moved as she continued to down the bag quickly. Her hunger pangs eased a little with each gulp of the life-sustaining liquid.

Vlad slowly straightened to his full height. The expression on his face, a cross between disdain and pain, softened her eyes. With an awkward gait, he gingerly moved in her direction.

“We need to talk,” he barked, his voice still rough with pain.

She just bet they did. No doubt, Vlad would tell her to leave. It was there on his face. He obviously didn’t want her in his home, and she didn’t blame him.

She had run out after they made love, avoided him for months, and now she had injured his manhood. If the tables were reversed, she probably wouldn’t want him around either.

Purchase At

About the Author

Born in Virginia, Brenda Sparks now resides in the Sunshine State.  Balancing her professional commitment to the local school district with her writing is challenging at times, but writing suspenseful paranormal romance is a passion that won’t be denied. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure.  Brenda loves to connect with readers.  Please visit her online or stop by her website to say hi.

Author Links

Friday, March 20, 2020

Smashwords Launches Authors Give Back sale March 20-April 20, 2020

Author Mary Ann Bernal is participating in the Authors Give Back Smashwords Sale (March 20 - April 20, 2020). All her novels and short story collections are available at either a reduced price or are free. Why not stop by her profile page and have a look? Click here to find all of Mary Ann Bernal's works.

The Briton and the Dane Legacy

Alfred. Sven. Erik. Gwyneth.  Amidst the ferrous reverberation of a battle royale - one or all must die, and the fate of a nation hangs in the balance, one final time.

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #BookReview — Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire by Mary Ann Bernal

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #BookReview — Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire by ...: Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire By Mary Ann Bernal Caught up in a whirlwind romance, Anastasia Dennison, M....


Caught up in a whirlwind romance, Anastasia Dennison, M.D., does not realize her husband is the terrifying dictator, Jayden Henry Shaw, who rules the galaxy with an iron fist while pretending to defend the vulnerable against the Imperial Forces of the Empire.

Denying the existence of widespread suffering, Anastasia ignores her principles as she embraces the spoils of war and takes her rightful place among the upper echelon of Terrenean society.

Will Anastasia continue to support her husband’s quest for complete domination of every world within the cosmos, or will she follow her conscience and fight the evil invading her home?

"It was only a matter of time before the inhabitants succumbed to the oppressor, yet with tyranny came dissension. In the end, freedom had to prevail, whatever the cost."

But when Doctor Anastasia Dennison falls in love with a handsome stranger, the last thing on her mind is the freedom of her planet. All she can think about is Henry, and when she will next see him again. 

But while Anastasia dreams of a happy-ever-after, she ignores the subtle warnings that whisper to her that Henry is not who he is pretending to be. 

With the future of her planet at stake, will Anastasia's eyes be opened in time to see the monumental mistake she is making? Or will she continue to turn a blind eye and embrace the life that Henry has promised her?

Filled with strife, tested loyalties and subtle acts of defiance, Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire by Mary Ann Bernal has a lot to recommend it. In this majestic universe Bernal has created, there are two opposing sides — The Imperial Forces verse the Freedom Fighters. While The Imperial Force has the military advantage, the Freedom Fighters are determined not to be thwarted. This intense and violent struggle between the two sides is a theme that one often finds in Science Fiction novels which gives this book a sense of comforting familiarity. 

Bernal has given us a host of characters in this book, some I liked, some I loathed and others I had mixed feelings about. But, each character, whether it be the protagonist, the antagonist or the supporting characters, brought something rich to this tale.

Talking of characters... For a brilliant and capable woman, Doctor Anastasia Dennison is incredibly naive. She is an incurable romantic who lets love blind her to the truth. This is a time of desperate war, but Anastasia is very free with the information she gives to a man she had just met — a man she has never seen before — which left me slightly bemused. She is either very trusting or a complete and utter fool. At least her friend and colleague, Doctor Sophia Loft, had the sense to question this stranger's motives. But, even then, Anastasia brushes Sophia's concern aside. She refuses to pause and take a moment to consider if the story her beloved told her about himself is credible. Her inability to see Henry for who he really was baffled me because all the signs are there. Yes, Anastasia had never seen a photograph of the dictator of the universe, but still...! Anastasia is completely taken in by the story Jayden Henry Shaw has woven, and she is, for want of a better word, brainwashed. Bernal has not given us a strong and determined character in Anastasia, but instead, she has given us a woman who allows herself to be so blinkered that she no longer sees the suffering around her — her life is perfect, therefore what does it matter if other lives are being crushed? And for that reason, I found myself annoyed with her rather than sympathising with her plight. This, I think, is exactly what Bernal wants her readers to feel.

Jayden Henry Shaw is a compelling antagonist. He is incredibly ambitious and is not the sort of man who takes no for an answer. He is determined to not only rule the universe but to do so on his terms, and if anyone dares to oppose him, he quickly vanquishes them. He can be cruel and yet when it comes to Anastasia, we glimpse a different side to his character. Bernal has made Shaw real in the telling by giving him the ability to love, and despite all the lies, Shaw does love Anastasia. Shaw really closed the deal on this book for me. I thought his depiction was brilliant and demonstrated Bernal's ability at creating very flawed characters.

If you are looking for a gentle introduction into Science Fiction, then check out Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire by Mary Ann Bernal.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

New Release - Mr. 100% by Lance Morcan

New York defense lawyer Madison Harley only takes on clients he believes innocent. He’s known as ‘Mr. 100%’ because he has never lost a case, and consequently he is Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of the NYPD, prosecution lawyers and the media. 

The bad press has taken a toll on his personal life. His wife has moved out, taking their two young sons with her and instigating divorce proceedings. When his latest client confides that he is guilty of the horrific rape-murder he’s accused of, a depressed and guilt-wracked Harley hires a contract killer to terminate him after the jury delivers a Not Guilty verdict.
It’s 1987 and groundbreaking developments in the field of forensic science sees DNA profiling used for the first time in criminal investigations in America. The release of DNA test results causes Harley to rescind his order to carry out the hit on his client. Unfortunately for him, the killer doesn’t change direction once a ‘kill’ order has been placed.
The nightmare scenario that follows sees Mr. 100% negotiating for his client’s life, his own life and the lives of his estranged family with a Mafia henchman, stalking a contract killer and acting as a minder for a client who it appears really is innocent and who is oblivious to the mayhem unfolding around him.
Throughout it all, Harley is sustained by the affections of a new woman in his life – a prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office no less.

FREE Kindle book launch promo on Thursday, March 19, 2020, and again this weekend March 21-22, 2020

New Zealand novelist and screenwriter Lance Morcan is a prolific author with more than 20 published fiction and non-fiction books to his credit as well as several screenplay adaptations of his work. A former journalist and newspaper editor, he regularly writes in collaboration with his son James Morcan, and their books are published by Sterling Gate Books.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The 11th annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Week Sale - Sunday, March 1 through Saturday, March 7, 2020

Author Mary Ann Bernal is participating in the 11th Annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Week Sale (March 1 - March 7, 2020). All her novels and short story collections are available at either a reduced price or are free. Why not stop by her profile page and have a look? Click here to find all of Mary Ann Bernal's works.