Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Covers and the art of cover design

So I spent most of Friday and the weekend designing a cover for Soph's short story (which she hasn't finished yet, but is getting there). I'm really pleased with it.

Sorry, I can't show it to you because that's her privileged and she hasn't decided on a title yet so it's incomplete, but I'm very happy with the way it turned out. It's dramatic!

The more covers I make, I think, the better I am becoming and I keep looking back at the older ones and thinking I need to redo some of them. I love making the covers, which is why I do it and don't pay someone else (other than the fact that it's cheaper).

I use every resource and piece of advice I can find to improve. My latest find is this site: Creative Indie. It is truly awesome and I found it because I was trying to decide what font to use and Derek Murphy (the designer and owner of the site) has a post called 300+ Fool-Proof Fonts to use for your Book Cover Design (an epic list of best fonts per genre) and it's so, very, very useful.

I also have a new book called Digital Manga (picked it up in The Works in town, but have linked to their website) which has some very useful techniques that can be applied to all sorts of digital design as well as manga. I love The Works, they have all sorts of wonderful art books for such reasonable prices.

YouTube is also wonderful for techniques. So many wonderful artists out there ready to share their knowledge. I have learnt so many new things since starting this whole cover design stuff.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

My Husband is Awesome - he feeds my Loki addiction :)

I have the best husband in the world. Not only is he generally awesome, but he feeds my Loki addiction with things from eBay.

Nano-Lego Loki

This is nano-Lego (only he's from China so it isn't really Lego) Loki. He has 180 pieces and the kitkat is in there to show scale :). He arrived this morning through the post and Rob and I put him together over lunch. It was a bit tricky, let me tell you ;).

Nano-Lego Loki

He has now taken up residence on my desk under my monitor with the three other Loki figures there and I'm pretty sure Heimdal is about to have a nervous breakdown, because he's the only other figure to share the spot!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cover reveal - Assassin's Blood

So I finished the cover for Assassin's Blood. I've been working on it for a while, but finally finished it yesterday after finishing the story it goes with.

In case you missed the last post about this one, it's a short story that will be free to the subscribers of the Wittegen Press Newsletter. My brief was Paranormal and Soph is doing one that is Contemporary Fantasy. Once Soph is finished with hers we will be releasing them together.

Assassin's Blood by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Assassin's Blood by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Kira is my protagonist and she is a vampire/werewolf hybrid and an assassin with a rather twisted sense of humour. In this short story she's after a Mafia big shot, but runs into a snag of the vampire persuasion.

She's a lot of fun to write so I suspect I shall use her again at some point.

Figure reference for cover from senshistock.deviantart.com (totally awesome pose reference resource).
Blood splatter brush from dead_brushes/brusheezy.com

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Just finished a new short story - Assassin's Blood

I've just finished writing the first draft of a new short story. It's called *drum roll please*

Assassin's Blood 

- at least it is at the moment, you never know if I'll change my mind before release day :).

It's about a vampire/werewolf hybrid who kills bad guys for a living. Her name is Kira and she generally kicks arse, but she runs into a snag after her latest job.

The setting is Whistler, BC because I've actually been there once and I liked it and it was vaguely different as far as places to set assassinations go :). I don't know, maybe I just had snow in my head :). It's also first person present, which is not usually my tense of choice, usually I'm a third person past kind of girl, but this one just seemed to fit so I went with it. Was fun to try out something a little different.

I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil the plot.

It has to go through editing and then I have to come up with a cover and blurb for the website, but it's going to be a freebie for all our current and future Wittegen Press Newsletter subscribers.

We had a poll for all our current subscribers as to what genre of short stories they would like and the top two were Contemporary Fantasy and Paranormal, so Soph took Contemporary Fantasy and I grabbed Paranormal because of my *cough* small obsession *cough* with vampires :). Soph is still working on hers and it's going to be awesome!

What is your favourite genre of fiction?
Personally I can never decide - I love all kinds of genres, but usually with a little bit of magic or paranormal in them.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ginger Nuts of Horror - The Film that Made Me Guest Post

Today I have a guest post over at a wonderful blog called Ginger Nuts of Horror. How could anyone not love a site called that?

This site is all about the horror genre and has some wonderful sections:
  • Horror Interviews
  • Horror News
  • The Book That Made Me (articles by horror authors and fans about the books that made them fans of the genre)
  • The Film That Made Me (as above, but horror films)
  • Horror Reviews 
  • and more
The Film That Made Me - The Lost Boys - Ginger Nuts of Horror
The Lost Boys
I have a post in The Film That Made Me section and I chose "The Lost Boys". If you would like to see why, head over to Ginger Nuts of Horror and check out my post:


If you enjoy horror you should definitely check out Ginger Nuts of Horror. The blog also takes guest posts, does interviews and does reviews (although that will take more time and cannot be guaranteed) so if you are a horror author/film maker, check out the site.

P.S. For those who do not know what Ginger Nuts are they're ginger biscuits/cookies, hence the site's logo (which is awesome).
Ginger Nuts of Horror
Ginger Nuts of Horror - click on over to see it full size in all its glory

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Gun Encyclopedia - Useful site for Authors

So I'm currently writing a short story with a character who is an assassin and I wanted her to use handguns. Since I know nothing about handguns at all I turned to Google and this really useful site popped up. It has everything you could possibly need to know about guns and ammo. of the 20th Century.

I thought I'd pass it on because these are the kind of resources I know we writers are always after. I suspect many of you have found it already, but I hadn't so for those that also haven't here is the link.

I had no idea there were so many different types of gun out there; it's all a little scary really.  The site gives run downs on what a type of gun is as well, so if you want to know the difference between a submachine gun and a machine gun, this is the site for you.

The site is in English and Russian.

This is a list of the categories the site has:
  • Handguns
  • Submachine guns
  • Military Rifles
  • Assault Rifles
  • Sniper Rifles
  • Civilian Rifles
  • Shotguns
  • Machine guns
  • Anti-tank rifles
  • Grenade launchers
  • Ammunition
  • Traumatic Weapons

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Guest Post - The Phoenix Blade Origin - Andrew Hess

Today I am very pleased to welcome Andrew Hess to my blog to talk about the origins of and the characters in his book series The Phoenix Blade.

The Phoenix Blade origin
by Andrew Hess

Plot and Characters

The idea for The Phoenix Blade Series began in 2005 in New Paltz, NY. I was a naive college kid that worked for Blockbuster Video, so obviously I spent most of my time watching endless amounts of movies. Two of them in particular were Michael Moore documentaries which gave an alternative outlook to the U.S. government. It made me think there was a lot the government did that its citizens didn't know about.

The story originated as a group of friends carrying out vigilante justice against corrupt politicians and greedy corporate leaders, but it evolved into a fictional government conspiracy where someone on the inside hacked emails and recorded phone conversations to get a young naive group to work for him covertly.

This was supposed to be a one and done book with no intention for any sequels that was until I dreamt of a new ending. A happy ending didn't seem like a realistic option for the group and what I dreamed gave me the idea to stretch the book out into a series which has the third installment in its rewriting phase.

  • Andrew Lancaster
    The Andrew Lancaster character was originally created as an extension of my own thoughts about right and wrong, truth and justice. I needed to create someone that I could easily get to know so I based Andrew Lancaster’s attributes, thoughts and his interactions with his friends off of me. His family life and the death of his mother was designed to illicit an immediate reaction of sympathy toward his character rather than thinking this kid is an idiot for trusting some guy he’s never met.
  • Mike Santangelo
    Almost everything about this character was based off of my actual best friend. The character was created to be the friend to watch Andrew Lancaster’s back, to be some comedic relief, and the one to urge Andrew to continue (kind of like the little devil that sits on your shoulder telling you to do something you shouldn't).
  • Lilly Henderson
    She is the love interest for Andrew Lancaster that was loosely based off of another friend of mine. While Lilly took on many of the physical attributes my friend has, Lilly’s personality and emotional rollercoaster evolved throughout the rewrites and became vital to the story. Her purpose was not only to be the love interest for Andrew Lancaster, but also to be the voice of reason to him and the rest of the group (the angel that sits on your shoulder trying to steer you into doing the right thing).
There are many more characters that I could go on about, but I think the fun will be in reading what happens.

The Phoenix Blade #1: Project Justice
What would you do if everything you said and did was monitored and used to force you into working covertly for the government?

College student Andrew Lancaster has had enough of corrupt politicians and corporate greed, but his anger filled rants may have gone too far. When Lancaster is contacted by a government official calling himself “The Benefactor,” he learns his private communications have been monitored. And there will be consequences. 
Lancaster is given a choice; join forces with the government he distrusts, or face a treason indictment. As an added incentive, he’ll receive the answer to a question that has plagued him since childhood-who killed his mother.

It is something Lancaster cannot live without knowing and enlists as an undercover operative in Project Justice. At first the mission seems ideally suited for his do-gooder attitude. But Lancaster soon discovers the tactics he’ll be using are not only dishonest; they’re deadly. 
Lancaster learns he will be an assassin; eliminating targets the Benefactor and other high ranking officials deem to be evil.

The Phoenix Blade #2: Awakening
Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Benefactor has been arrested, the Phoenix is dead and the group known as the Revolution has been disbanded for nearly three years. Witness the fallout from the biggest government conspiracy the U.S. has ever seen as the President faces treason charges. But there are those that don’t want him to make it to trial. As the group known as the Committee plans out their attacks, a familiar face begins eliminating the former members of the Revolution.
About Andrew Hess
Andrew Hess is a resident of Long Island New York who likes to spend much of his time travelling between Long Island, New York City and the Dutchess County areas. In 2011 he debuted with his first book Chamber of Souls, a small book of free verse poetry which depicted the struggles of a man who thought he had everything in the world only to feel like he lost everything after a rough break-up. In 2013, Andrew debuted his novel The Phoenix Blade: Project Justice; the first in The Phoenix Blade series.

Andrew is also a blogger at TheWritersRevolution13 where he interviews and promotes other authors in order to assist indie authors get more exposure. Andrew is also a frequent guest on the Anthony Charles Podcast, a show dedicated to creative professionals as they give insight into their works and the lives they lead; guests have included authors, comedians, musicians, stuntmen, actors and producers.

Monday, 1 September 2014

IWACA Autumn Issue - fiction, advice and other creative things. (I'm in it)

You might not have heard of IWACA (Indie Writers and Creative Artists), but it's a wonderful on-line magazine put together by the amazing SD Neeve.

It is filled with all types of creative people and here is the:

There's free fiction to read and interesting articles to peruse.

I have a short story in the magazine for this issue and an author spotlight. Because it's the Autumn issue, we thought Halloween is coming up soon, so it's a bit of a zombie story.

It's called Rest In Peace and is slightly humorous and suitable for most age groups from teen up (due to gory descriptions).

For the sharp eyed of you, yes, the zombie in the picture is my husband Rob :) - I needed an image fast to create the illustration and his was just sitting there on my hard drive :D.
Sara puts a lot of work in IWACA and it really is well worth a read so go take a look.

Review: The Little Vampire (2000)

Title: The Little Vampire (2000)
Rating: U
Jonathan Lipnicki ... Tony Thompson
Richard E. Grant ... Frederick Sackville-Bagg
Jim Carter ... Rookery
Alice Krige ... Freda Sackville-Bagg
Pamela Gidley ... Dottie Thompson
Tommy Hinkley ... Bob Thompson
Anna Popplewell ... Anna Sackville-Bagg
Dean Cook ... Gregory Sackville-Bagg
Rollo Weeks ... Rudolph Sackville-Bagg
Summary: After moving to Scotland, Tony, a lonely young boy obsessed with vampires starts having dreams. Then he meets an actually vampire and they become best friends.

Now this isn't one of my all time favourite vampire movies or anything, but it is one hell of a feel good film. I happened to catch in on TV yesterday and it really is adorable.

You'll recognise Tony (Johnathan Lipnicki) from Stuart Little, which gives you a hint as to the level and tone of this film. It has vampires, but they're kind of cuddly vampires. There are even vampire cows and they are awesome.

This is the kind of movie you curl up with on a Sunday afternoon with cookies and milk and just enjoy.

Alice Krige and Richard E. Grant as vampires are a god send and they are simply wonderful. I love them in most things and this is no exception. They are the perfect choice for slightly creepy, but really, actually good underneath vampire types :).

The child actors in this are also well chosen and talented. I love Rudolph (Rollo Weeks) especially and he has such a completely awesome costume too. If I had been watching this as a child I so would have wanted his outfit - as it is, I want Alive Krige's. ;)

The plot hold together, which is not always a given with children's films; the characters are entertaining and the cast is good. The bad guy is bad, the good guys are good and everything works out in the end. It's difficult to fault the film for what it is.

This is a great vampire film for children and adults who want a heart warming tale with a few fangs thrown in. It's worth it just for the vampire cows, really it is :).

Saturday, 30 August 2014

My Parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary

So yesterday we were all celebrating with my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. This was my fridge before the do :) - and that was only 2/3rds of the bubbly cooling off.
We had a service in church where Mummy had a replacement engagement ring blessed (her original one wore through and it was going to cost thousands of pounds to repair it) and Daddy had his resized engagement ring re-blessed (they did the whole retaking of vows, nuptial mass and having wedding rings reblessed on their 40th, so they decided to do something different this time :)). We sang lovely hymns and Soph and I sang "Fields of Gold" and "The Gaelic Blessing" (or the Garlic Dressing as everyone I know who has ever sung it refers to it ;)) for them with all of their friends in attendance.

Then we had a champagne reception in the church with the most wonderful canapés. We have friends who run their own catering company and we were going to hire them normally, but they insisted on doing it for cost because it was Mummy and Daddy. The food was amazing. If you're in Kent and need a caterer, they are awesome and I can put you in touch - I would post their details, but I don't actually know them yet since we organised everything over a cup of tea etc - need to get their card.

There were over 100 people there and it was so lovely to see how happy everyone was for Mummy and Daddy. We had their wedding vid showing on the wall (Uncle Ken has a colour camera at the time, which was unusual for home film making, so everyone got to see what everyone looked like then in full technicolour :)).

Then they had a few people back to their house and we did our best to eat what was left of the food :). There was so much and it was so yummy. I was especially fond of these little crab,  savoury biscuit (little crackers to my US friends, not scones ;)) and cucumber canapés - I may have eaten a few ;). We overdid buying the wine a little and now have bottles of the stuff left, but never let it be said it will go to waste in our family ::g::.

Rob hasn't sorted the photos yet or I'd post some, so you'll have to do with the fridge for now :).

It was such a wonderful day fully of love and laughter and happiness. I wish the same to every one.