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.
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Friday, 23 September 2016

Paranormal Recs on Wattpad #FanFriday 23


Paranormal Recs on Wattpad


Like all publishing platforms, Wattpad has a high signal to noise ratio. We have a mixture of:
  • Excellent fiction - great plot, great characters, no huge grammar and spelling issues etc (occasionally perfect).
  • Good fiction - great plot, great characters, needs a little work on the grammar and spelling etc.
  • Could be great fiction - great plot, great characters, badly formatted, spelt and grammar checked
  • Has some good ideas, but needs lots of help fiction - has something that catches the eye, but plot or character is missing and the execution is lacking.
  • Cannot be saved fiction - books that nothing but the delete key will work for.
Hence I thought I'd dive in and see if I could find some of the gems and report back here.

So far I have found two I am really enjoying as they go along, and one that is complete that I also enjoyed. There are a few others I plan to look at, but I'd spend all my time reading if I had got to them all already :).


The Midnight Cleaning Company by MiloTamm

Fleming is a Cleaner. Stripped of an individual identity, a slave in all but name; reduced to a cog in the infrastructure that maintains The Secret.

A decadent secret society of vampires cavorts across Europe, throwing lavish parties and leaving destruction in their wake. The mess is taken care of and the bodies are hidden by the obedient Cleaners, until the resurgence of a traumatic conflict, the return of old friends and the indoctrination of a new generation threatens to destroy the system from within.

This is the one that made me inhale all 12 chapters, that are currently up, in one sitting. So far I'd rate it excellent.

This has a really different take on vampires, the structure of their society and how they react to different stimuli. It's also exciting and fast paced.

It's first person done really well and I am really enjoying the protagonist, Fleming. He's a rules man, and yet he is being introduced to new concepts (I won't say what because of spoilers) and his world is changing.

I really, really hope this continues to be as good, because I'm hooked.

~*~

Redfern by Nevervane.


His ex-girlfriend has moved on to bigger things, like taking control of Europe. His older siblings are at the far flung corners of the earth, utilising their incredible powers. And Arran Redfern is stuck in Lancashire.

He's getting nowhere with his own powers, he's got no plans for the future and whenever his mother happens to be in the country she won't stop saying that she's worried about him. Is it any wonder that Arran spent the summer drinking, fighting and sleeping around?

But summer is over and it's time to get back to reality. The paranormal world's uneasy peace is wearing thin, power systems are shifting and Arran has to go back to school.

This is definitely a YA title and so far has 17 parts. The protagonist is a teenage vampire and I just like him. I'd rate this one as good, and, depending on how it goes, it may be great - the grammar and spelling are good, so no probs there, I'm just not sure where it's headed yet :).

The supernatural world building is interesting and it's well written. It could do with some shorter paragraphs so it's easier to read, but, other than that, I had no trouble with it.

The story telling is good and the characters are interesting - I very much hope it goes places.

~*~

The Ghost Files by AprylBaker7

Cherry blossom lipstick: check 
Smokey eyes: check 
Skinny jeans: check 
Dead kid in the mirror: check

For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She’s been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labeled a freak too.

This is another YA and it's all ghosts and demons this time. It's another first person and Mattie is a great character. This is another excellent story for me.

There is a murder mystery to go along with the ghosts and its very well put together. It's exciting, well paced and definitely worth a read.

~*~

It's also Friday which means update day for my vampire novel (which of course is excellent ;)):

Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse - Ch2: Body and Blood


Max Statton is in Moscow for the premier of his new movie when a terrifying encounter turns his life on its head. Attacked by one of the city's resident vampires, Max is bitten and infected. Only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the underworld of the undead.

Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse with the help of Yulia, the hunter's doctor. But with his humanity slipping away, Max only has two choices: ask the hunters to end it, or risk becoming a monster. His fame makes it dangerous to just kill him, but there may be no choice.

When Yulia offers him a kill or cure option, Max must decide if he has the courage to take it. He wants to go home, he wants to see his family and friends, but his life is poised on a knife edge.

#vampire #gay #adventure #romance #mature

Do you have any Wattpad story recs, or authors to check out?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Introducing Max Statton #WriterlyWednesdays 43


Welcome to my blog for another Writerly Wednesday. I've just launched a new free novel on Wattpad called "Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse", so today I thought I'd introduce you to my leading man, Max. I hope you like him.

Introducing Max Statton

So Max in an actor who has worked his way up to the edges of the A list. I know, another main character who is an actor, I seem to like grabbing them out of their life and then throwing them at things they can't possibly understand :). We writers are evil like that.

Max is the go to guy for playing the nerd who turns out to be a secret ninja.

He's about 5'10''/5'11'', depending on who you ask, with the wiry athletic look going for him. Think something along the lines of James McAvoy's build in Wanted, just a little bit taller. Put him in a t-shirt, jeans and glasses and he can look like a geek, put him in black spandex and he's an assassin.


When he was a teenager he was a very promising gymnast looking at national and international level competitions. He took up the sport because he had some anger management issues after his father abandoned the family. The discipline required gave him something to focus on.

Unfortunately a bus crash all but destroyed one of his knees. He wasn't given much chance of walking normally again by the specialists, let alone competing. Being a stubborn ass he proved them wrong, but he could never quite get back to the level he had been at.

Through all this his twin sister Cal was his rock. She has always been the level headed one. Everyone thought she would be an engineer or a doctor, but she ended up a fashion photographer, which she claims is all about math and angles, so it's the same thing.

When Max's gymnastics career proved to be over, Cal got him into modelling. From there he decided to try his hand at acting and, as it turned out, he was good at it. From bit parts on the New York theatre scene he moved into films very quickly thanks to his agent Terisa. He causes directors heart failure because he likes to do his own stunts, but he has a reputation for being easy to work with.

He has a special relationship with director Darius Vandenborre, along the lines of Depp and Burton. Darius is something of a mentor to Max. Their latest film together is "In From the Cold 2: Rogue Agent", which is the premier in Moscow where all the trouble starts.

Max does his best to keep his private life private. He's gay, but not publicly out.

He has a huge crush on his male co-star from Rogue Agent, Gian Bossard. He hasn't acted on it because he doesn't want to wreck their friendship. Gian is Swiss, from the French speaking region, 'built like a god', openly bi, and his accent makes Max's knees go weak.

Max's life is going just about perfectly until he is attacked by a creature from legend on the back streets of Moscow. Infected by the vampire's bite he's likely be dead before dawn.

~*~

Book Info

Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

#vampire #gay #adventure #romance #mature

Max Statton is in Moscow for the premier of his new movie when a terrifying encounter turns his life on its head. Attacked by one of the city's resident vampires, Max is bitten and infected. Only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the underworld of the undead.

Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse with the help of Yulia, the hunter's doctor. But with his humanity slipping away, Max only has two choices: ask the hunters to end it, or risk becoming a monster. His fame makes it dangerous to just kill him, but there may be no choice.

When Yulia offers him a kill or cure option, Max must decide if he has the courage to take it. He wants to go home, he wants to see his family and friends, but his life is poised on a knife edge.

Being serialised on Wattpad with new chapters every Tuesday and Friday.
Read it on Wattpad

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

New Novel "Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse" Now FREE on Wattpad


My new vampire novel, Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse is finally ready for serialisation.

Ch 1 is now AVAILABLE FREE on Wattpad:

Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse
Chapter 1: Cat and Mouse

Max Statton is in Moscow for the premier of his new movie when a terrifying encounter turns his life on its head. Attacked by one of the city's resident vampires, Max is bitten and infected. Only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the underworld of the undead.
Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse with the help of Yulia, the hunter's doctor. But with his humanity slipping away, Max only has two choices: ask the hunters to end it, or risk becoming a monster. His fame makes it dangerous to just kill him, but there may be no choice.
When Yulia offers him a kill or cure option, Max must decide if he has the courage to take it. He wants to go home, he wants to see his family and friends, but his life is poised on a knife edge.
(Male/Male Paranormal Romance, Mature Content)

All chapters are between 2K and 3K words and one will be posted each Tuesday and Friday.
If you wish to be notified via email whenever a new part comes out follow me on Wattpad and add the book to your library. Votes on story parts are also greatly appreciated - thank you (it helps the book up the rankings to be seen).

Wattpad is a social media site for posting fictional works. There are FREE apps for most operating systems as well as a web interface, so you can read straight on your phone and receive text updates when a new part is ready. If you follow me I can also send you messages, so I can tell you if anything new is happening.

Please LMK if you are on Wattpad and I will follow you back.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Kindred: The Embraced - Fandom Intro


Okay, well since I'm just about to post a new Kindred: The Embraced Fanfic, I thought I would do a fandom intro, for those who haven't seen it or don't remember it too well. It seems I'm all about vampires at the moment :)

Kindred: The Embraced - Fandom Intro

Kindred is a show about vampires that is loosely based on Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf. The vampires call themselves Kindred and to become a vampire a person is embraced, hence the name of the show.

A little background on the Kindred. They are divided into clans:
  • Ventrue - bankers, lawers, accountants, big bosses
  • Nosferatu - look like monsters, keep to the shadows, are the sage like characters or the really dangerous ones
  • Brujah - the mob
  • Gangrel - street gangs
  • Toreador - artists, musicians and everything entertainment
  • Assamite - assassins
In the game there are 13 clans, and we will never know if any more would have been introduced because there are only 8 episodes.

In San Francisco, where the show is set, the Prince of the city is Ventrue, so all the other clans are subordinate to them. There is peace between the clans, but the Brujah are always causing trouble and wanting to take over.

Kindred can walk in the daylight as long as they have fed and there are Kindred in all walks of life. The most important things for all Kindred is the Masquerade: pretending to be human and blending in. Any Kindred who breaks the Masquerade forfeits their life and, more often than not, the life of those they have told.

The Characters:

Julian Luna (Mark Frankel) - Prince of the City

Julian is a Ventrue and very much a planner. He runs San Francisco by the law and does not take well to those who break Kindred edicts.

He can, however, be swayed by his emotions, especially love. The most important thing to him of all is family.

He had a relationship with Alexandra Serris and with Lillie Langtry, but finds himself drawn to Caitlin Byrne.

As prince, Julian treats his subordinates with respect, but those who cross him, beware. He can hold a grudge. When Eddie Fiori crosses him, the Brujah finds out to his cost, that it is a very bad idea.

Archon Raine (Patrick Bauchau) - Primogen of the Ventrue Clan

Archon is Julian's sire and was once Prince of San Franscico. He is now the primogen of the Ventrue clan and still lives in Julian's house as his advisor.

Archon was a much more ruthless prince than Julian. Julian was once his enforcer and when Julian laid down his guns, Archon knew it was time for a new leadership. He sees the future in Julian and believes he can maintain the peace.

Archon is willing to die for Julian.

Lillie Langtry (Stacy Haiduk) - Primogen of the Toreador Clan

Beautiful and ruthless, Lillie controls the Toredor clan in San Francisco. She has the power to bewitch men, both human and Kindred and she is willing to use it.

In a relationship with Julian at the opening of the show, she does not take well to rivals. She wants Julian for herself, whether because she loves him or wants the power, is never quite clear.

When she is jealous she is at her most dangerous and no one should underestimate her.

Daedalus (Jeff Kober) - Primogen of the Nosferatu Clan

Daedalus is the calm and composed primogen of the Nosferatu clan and Julian's best friend. As with most of his clan, he lives below ground in the tunnels and rooms under the mansion where Julian resides.

He is logical and controlled, but when his underlying Nosferatu nature is aroused he can be very dangerous indeed. He can be a deadly enforcer for Julian.

A very intelligent being, he sometimes curses the heritage of his blood. He is loyal to Julian, but above that he is loyal to the peace between the clans.

Cash (Channon Roe) - Primogen of the Gangrel Clan

Street punk, more fond of his motorcycle than law and order, Cash becomes the primogen of the Gangrel clan and chief of security for Julian.

Loyal to a fault he can sometimes be too volatile.

He falls in love with Sasha, Julian's decendant, who knows nothing of the Kindred, but theirs is to be a star crossed love.

Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson) - Primogen of the Brujah Clan

Viscious and brutal, Eddie is the primogen of the Bujah clan. He had a veneer of civility, but underneath he is simply a thug.

He wants everything: power, women, money, and is willing to do just about anything to get it.

Continually trying to get at Julian he will use all means necesary, uncluding traitors inside Julian's house, to see himself the next Prince of the city.

Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell) - Human detective

Frank is obsessed with bringing down Julian Luna, whom he thinks is a mob boss because of his connection to Eddie Fiori and the docks.

During his investigations he meets Alexandra Serris, Julian's previous girlfriend and falls in love with her. Through her he learns about Kindred.

Because he has made love to Alexandra and tasted her blood, he is no longer prey to Kindred mind tricks (although they do seem to forget this in one ep :)). He is continually after Julian, although when he realises who the real bad guys are, they do come to a kind of truce.

Sasha (Brigid Brannagh) - Julian's descendant

Sash is Julian's descendant whom he meets when attending the funeral of his last remaining grandchild. Sasha is Julian's great, great grand daughter, but he pretends to be just another relative.

Wild and headstrong she gets arrested in San Franscico and agrees to live with Julian after he bails her out.

She falls in love with Cash without realising anything about Kindred, only to find out in a very brutal and unfortunate way.

Sonny Toussaint (Erik King) - Frank's partner in the police

Sonny is Frank's long suffering partner in the police force, forever chasing after him in his mad schemes.

What Frank doesn't know is Sonny is Kindred and he's working with Fiori and Luna.

Caitlin Byrne (Kelly Rutherford) - Reporter and Editor of the Times

Caitlin is trying to do a story on "The Most Powerful Man You've Never Heard Of" - Julian Luna.

He grants her an interview as long as she agrees to answer his questions as well.

Caitlin falls in love with Julian, just as he does with her. She accepts when he offers her the editor's job at her paper after he buys it, but only on the condition that she is given free reign.

When asked if she has to shelve the article on him he tells her it is her call.

Alexandra Serris (Kate Vernon) - Ventrue and lover of Julian and Frank

Alexandra is over one hundred years old and she does not like to be told what to do.

She did not expect to fall in love with Frank and it makes her want to feel human again. She wants to run away with Frank, but Julian warns her of the dangers.

When she tells Frank about Kindred, so he has a chance to understand, she condemns herself. A blood hunt is declared and, after making Julian promise to keep Frank safe, she sacrifices herself.

Drained she jumps into the bay just as the sun catches her on fire.

It is unknown if she is alive or dead, in the TV version we last see her falling into the water, on the DVD there is a missing scene where we see her floating at the bottom of the bay and she opens her eyes.

Kindred Powers

Kindred have certain powers that all the clans share:

  • Power to shift into wolves and birds of prey
  • Power to make humans forget what they have seen (Toreadors, especially the women, have this skill highly developed).
  • Their saliva heals small wounds without trace to hide their feeding
  • They can gain in power by drinking another Kindred's blood
  • They can completely stop their hearts, which only beat when they are very angry or have just fed.
I have to admit I'm a little confused on the whole feeding thing, however. Nosferatu definitely have fang and claw, but the only other Kindred we see with them is Julian when Daedalus gives him the power.

However, Lillie definitely bites at least two people, which would suggest her teeth are very sharp and we see other Kindred bite as well. We also see Kindred using a sharp nail/claw to open a wound to drink from. Hence my head canon is that they all have them, just Nosferatu have better developed sets because of their more monstrous appearance.

Light can be a problem for Kindred, but only if they haven't fed. In the pilot they seemed to suggest it was more of a problem, but by the second ep they clearly decided that would be too much hassle. Hence all our Kindred are well fed unless the plot demanded they go up in flames.

Episodes

The Original Saga (Pilot)

Frank Kohanek is involved in the affair of his life with Alexandra Serris. He never meant to fall in love and neither did she and they both have a bone to pick with Julian Luna. As Kindred plots play out around him, Frank is drawn into their world, bit by bit.

Prince of the City

Julian has to defend himself and this place a prince from Eddie Fiori, who is also looking to take down Frank Kohanek. Julian also meet Caitlin Byrne, fiercest investigative journalist in the state, and sets out to seduce her, but is, in his turn seduced.

Nightstalker

A newly turned Kindred, Starkweather, is mentally unstable and becomes a serial killer when he realises what powers he has, even though Cash tries to help him. Frank and Julian team up to catch him. Meanwhile Daedelus falls in love with a singer, Cash falls more in love with Sasha and Julian becomes more involved with Caitlin.

Romeo and Juliet

Julian and Caitlin become even closer, coming dangerously close to exposing the reality of his world to her. Cash and Sasha are also drawn together, but when the Brujah get involved there is a clan war on the horizon and blood at stake.

Live Hard, Die Young and Leave a Good Looking Corpse

Lillie has a new vampire child, Zane, but he is wild and has embraced his Toreador side even more than she could have imagined. When his desires and needs threaten the Masquerade she has to make difficult decisions to deal with him.

The Rise and Fall of Eddie Fiori

Eddie is finally at his wits end with Julian's interference in his clan and their rackets. His numbers are down, so he calls in his sire, Silas, Prince of LA. Silas helps Eddie to plot against Julian and, in her jealousy about Caitlin, Lillie helps him.

Bad Moon Rising

When a human baby is stolen by two Nosferatu renegades, it threatens to expose the Masquerade and brings up some important memories for Caitlin. Julian does what he must as Prince of the city to keep all Kindred safe.

Cabin in the Woods

To save his relationship with Cailin, Julian agrees to leave the city with her for a long weekend. She takes him to a place Julian knows well. It was the scene of a Kindred massacre ten years previously. Unfortunately there are Brujah left in the area who want revenge on the perpetrator: Julian.

~*~

I enjoy all the episodes for different reasons, but I think my favourite is The Rise and Fall of Eddie Fiori. We get to see the wonderful Brian Thompson at his best, and the machinations of Kindred society up close. We also meet the Assamites, a nice glimpse into other Kindred possibilities.

I wish there were more episodes, but any chance of saving the show died with the tragic death of Mark Frankel in a motor cycle accident in 1996. They keep wanting to reboot old series, now here is one that never got a real shot, and would be perfect for all those wishing True Blood hadn't finished.

The Wonders of Crossover Fanfiction - #WriterlyWednesdays 42


It's Wednesday again. Where do the weeks go? Of course that means it's Writerly Wednesday where I talk about an aspect of writing. This week I have chosen something very close to my heart: Crossover fanfiction. I hope you enjoy my post.

The Wonders of Crossover Fanfiction

I suppose a good place to start is a definition. Not all of us come from a fanfiction background, so what is common place to some is a mystery to others.
Crossover: the blending or mixing of two fictional universes or the insertion of a set of characters from one fiction universe into another one.
You know how it's so much fun when two of our favourite shows meet and have an episode where all the characters get to play in the same adventure? In TV land these are often called shared fictional universes, like the Arrowverse or the JAG, First Monday, NCIS, Hawaii Five-0 and Scorpion universe. Well crossover fanfic is this taken to the extreme.

In shared fictional universes the different shows or movies tend to all be of the same genre, so, for example, JAG and NCIS are both to do with the military and solving crimes, Arrow and the Flash are both superhero franchises. In crossover fanfiction the universes don't have to have anything to do with each other at all. Writers can cross anything with anything else.

There is a rule in fancition, a version of Rule 43 : if you can think of a romantic pairing of characters (or sometimes not even characters, but objects) then someone will have written it.

The same holds true for crossovers: if you can think it, someone has probably written it.

There are lots of different kinds of crossover fanfic, some of which are:

  • the universe merge - the crossover is written as if the two universes have always been one and it's perfectly normal for Buffy to be running into Spock.
  • the 'OMG how did we get here' - characters from universe A are transported by magical portal, science experiment gone wrong, worm hole etc to universe B and have to deal with all the new things they come across. For example Harry Potter ending up in Lord of the Rings.
  • the 'WOW I never knew that was real' option - characters in an every day universe such at Law and Order discover the hidden vampire community of Forever Knight.
  • the 'who are you and what are we all doing here' proposition - characters from two or more universes are thrust into a situation none of them understand to work it all out between themselves. We could have Dracula, Lestat and Blade all battling it out in a maze to see who is the top vampire, or the X-men and the Justice League teaming up on an alien planet none of them have seen before.
  • the 'you're both pretty, have sex now' PWP - often with no explanation of how, two characters meet and have mind blowing sex. PWP stands for Plot What Plot or Porn Without Plot :) We could bring together Servalan from Blakes 7 and Amanda from Highlander: TR, just to see who could out sex the other, or Magneto from X-men and Wonder Woman, or Hathaway from Lewis and Walter from Scorpion.
Each one has its merits and can be a lot of fun to read and writer.

It's not just two universes either, a crossover can take many universes and mix them all together.

I love a good crossover. My favourite part is seeing characters have to deal with situations that they would never usually encounter or, especially when writing, the challenge of merging two universes that might not be quite compatible.

The first crossover I ever remember reading was X-files/Highlander/Forever Knight/Starman (Series)/Quantum Leap called The Witness. I don't even remember how it went now, or how well written it was or wasn't, but I remember it got me hooked on crossovers. At the time three of the biggest fandoms were X-files, Highlander and Forever Knight and we were still on mailing lists :).

I've written lots of crossover fanfic over the years. The one I am most proud of is Harry Potter/Anita Blake and it is a universe blend. I had to mess with the timelines a little and come up with some ways to explain the differences in the magical communities, but it was a lot of fun to write. It's called Black Magic by Moonlight and is over here at AO3. If you're interested, all my crossovers can be found on AO3 here: Tasha's crossover fanfic (penname Beren). I think my weirdest choice of crossover it probably Harry Potter/ Figure Skating RPF (real person fanfic) :) - although I have started, but not completed some far stranger ones - Lord of the Rings/Spider-man anyone? :)

The joy of crossovers comes from seeing our favourite characters from different universes all meeting up, or watching characters from a non-magical universe flail around when they get dumped into one with dragons and wizards etc. Like much fanfic it is seeing what we know we will never see on the screen of in the books that brings the pleasure.

If you haven't tried crossover fanfic, have a go, because it is awesome. Just go and search for crossover (52317 found) or xover (391 found) at AO3 to see.

Do you read fanfic? Have any crossover recommendations?

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Some Piccies of Our Kitties

I have a new instagram account: tashaddrake - which is mostly so I can post piccies of our kitties. Ruby is easier to photograph because she likes to sit of lie down and become an immovable object, but I did get a couple of Amber too :).
Amber wanting her tummy rubbed.

Amber deigning to sit still long enough for me to take a snap :)

Ruby demanding chin scritches :)

Ruby sprawled on my old office chair.

Ruby snoring :)

Friday, 9 September 2016

Star Trek at 50 #FanFriday 22


Star Trek is 50 this week, so how could I not use it for Fan Friday? Such a wonderful show - let me tell you why I love it.

Star Trek at 50

There is one thing that I have always loved about Star Trek above all else and that is it strives to show a universe where diversity and tolerance are what most of society aim for. In a time when there was racial strife, they put an African American woman on the bridge of the Enterprise, and they have always tackled issues head on.

Sometimes they've managed it well, sometimes terribly awkwardly where we look back and cringe, but at least they tried. This is one science fiction series that tried to show that the status quo was not the ideal.

Now I have been watching Star Trek ever since I can remember. I used to watch it in repeats on BBC2 as a child. It made an impression then, but I didn't become a Trekkie proper until The Next Generation hit our screens.

I was in secondary school at the time and Next Gen was everything I'd been waiting for in a program. A mixed race, gender balanced crew on a brand spanking new Enterprise, NCC 1701 D, going where no one had gone before.

It had everything:
I loved it from Encounter at Farpoint all the way through to All Good Things.


At university I ended up the president of the Star Trek society and I am proud to say we were the largest society on campus that wasn't political or religious :). We used to meet every Wednesday in one of the lecture theatres to watch episodes we had acquired from the States via some contacts in one of the local comic shops. Bear in mind, in those days there was no download - this was a VHS tape that had been converted from NTSC to PAL and then copied. We used to watch it on a large TV that we perched on the desk at the front of the lecture theatre.


At the time this was awesome. We used to see eps only a week after they were shown in the States. They were a little fuzzy and vaguely green, but we got to see them!

We also used to have quizzes, which I would most often set from memory and check the answers afterwards. Have to admit, people still couldn't answer a lot of the questions. I was a geek of the first order :).

Then came Deep Space Nine, which was also awesome, until they got bogged down in the whole war with the Dominion. I know that's why lots of people loved it, but I didn't. We were all a bit worried to begin with that a space station would be too static to be interesting, but the colourful new characters and interesting conflicts kept it going.

My favourite characters were 
I also still think season 1 is brilliant even though it's a little awkward in places.

In recent years I have also become a big fan of The Original Series. It has it's problems, as with any show of the era, but it does it's best and it is wonderfully entertaining.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
How exciting is that?

Of course, as it turned out they weren't always exploring strange new worlds, but they did enough to keep us hooked. I'm not sure there isn't a contemporary trope that the show didn't hit.

My husband thought he'd catch me out the other day when we were watching an ep. He started it up and then paused it a few seconds in, looked a me and said: "So which one is it?"

I smiled, looked at the paused shot and said: "It's the one with the horta."

1 point to me :)

Never test a trekkie! The great god Roddenberry looks down from the beyond and smiles on us. ;)

Back when I started watching Trek I was sweet and innocent, these days I'd slash Kirk and Spock in a heartbeat. For those who are unaware, slash is fanfiction where you take two male characters and pair them together romantically. The name comes from where it started (possibly) with Kirk and Spock and was written Kirk/Spock.

My favourite character from TOS, hands down, is Spock, but I have also come to appreciate the dry wit of Dr McCoy.

I could go into why I didn't really gel with Voyager, why I love the original movies, but can't stand the Next Gen ones, why I think Enterprise missed the mark, and how much I love the reboot, but that would take too long :). Let's just say I've seen them all.

I shall leave you with just a few of my favs from over the years:

Here's to another 50 years.

What are your favourites from Star Trek?

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Writing Process #WriterlyWednesday 41


Good day to everyone and welcome to my blog for another Writerly Wednesday. First of all I'd like to point everyone at the bottom of the post - as ever I am inviting guest posters. Anyone who would like to post anything about writing/books/comics is welcome, including cover artists etc. Now on to today's topic, I thought I would talk about the writing process, I hope you enjoy the post.

The Writing Process

Now we all have different writing processes, some may be very similar to other peoples, but I suspect we all have our own little quirks. However, there tend to be two main systems:

  • the Planner - writers characters bios and scene breakdowns and storyboards etc.
  • the Pantser - starts writing and see what comes out next (names comes from writing by the seat of ones pants).
I have to admit, I'm definitely on the less organised side of writing. I'm a complete Pantser right up until the closing stages of the first draft. I tend to only plan when I am going back to see what needs filling in.

I suppose you might call me an inspiration writer:
  • I start, sometimes with no more than a single idea
  • I keep going and write whatever comes into my head until the initial inspiration runs out, not necessarily in chronological order either.
That's when the real work starts and planning comes in: 
  • I go back, 
  • look at all the gaps I've left
  • then decide what needs to go in them.
As I am finding with my latest vampire novel "Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse", that's actually doubling the word count as well as editing all the existing scenes. I originally envisaged the book as a stand alone story, but then I started to get ideas to continue it beyond one book, which has lead to  new characters and a whole subplot that wasn't there before. The story had gained layers that, I very much hope, will make it a richer read.
The initial writing where inspiration is flowing like mad is always fun. I'm finding with DBD that the second work through is just as exciting.
If there is one piece of advice that I would give any writer, however, it's be organised with your information. We all think we're going to remember everything as it fills our heads while we're writing, but, there will come that moment, when we can't remember our second lead's full name. 

I kid you not - I had to go look it up yesterday because I knew I had given him a surname, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was :).

There are lots of options for keeping this kind of information organised:
  • the Excel/Google sheets workbook - a sheet per character, a timeline, places etc
  • Word/Google Docs/Other Wordprocessor - just write it all down
  • Pen and paper - go old fashioned and make notes
  • yWriter (this is the one I use - love it - free)
  • Scrivener (hands down best for Mac users - cost ~$40)
  • WriteItNow (has great story boarding and character creating options - ~$60)
There are also many more, but these are the ones I've had experience with.

yWriter's story board doesn't work very well on Win10, so if you're a visual writer and like to move stuff around in blocks, it's not for you. It does, however, allow you to use your default RTF editor (in my case Word) to write your story, and it allows you to highlight names and create characters/locations/things on the fly. This perfectly suits my writing process of making things up as I go along :).

I'm sending this novel to my beta readers in sections, because it's designed to be serialised on Wattpad. That way I know if I get emails back with 'send me the next bit now!' I'm doing something right :).

Next will come the reading out loud experience. 
It really is amazing how reading something in our heads and reading it out load off the page can make so much difference. Errors just leap off the page.
The human brain is a very weird place - we see things that aren't there just because we are expecting them. Changing the way we read helps us to see what is actually in front of us. Reading out load also show up awkwardness in language that we might not have spotted otherwise.

The only problem with all of these processes is they take so long. I want to share the novel now! And I can't. I'm sure we writers feel this all the time. Ah, patience is a virtue as they say.


Would you like to guest post for Writerly Wednesdays? I love to host other people's posts. Just fill in the form below and I will get back to you.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Really Having a Blast With the New Book #ThinkyThursdays 24


Really Having a Blast With the New Book


Welcome to Thinky Thursdays and there's only one thing consuming my brain this week, so I'm going to be self indulgent. I am having such fun with "Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse".

Y'know how sometimes something is just the most fun and then we don't want to stop doing whatever it is we are doing. I feel like that with this novel.

I actually thought the manuscript was almost done a week ago and was in the final edit stage. However, it's gained nearly 25K and there's barely a paragraph that I haven't edited in some way since then. I'm only up to chapter 16 and there are currently 29, probably will be 31 or 32 at least by the time I am done.

Each chapter is between 2K and 3K to make it digestible on Wattpad.

The novel is based on a Real Person AU Fanfic I wrote a few years ago, but I liked the premise so much I wanted to change it up for a wider audience. All the characters have changed, a whole background had been added and there's a completely new undercurrent as well as huge new sections. It's blossoming into something new and I am loving every second of taking it there.

Writers, do you find that you have the occasional story that seems to take no work, or rather, it engages you so much that it feels as if it takes no work, even though you're putting in hours and hours?

If you've not had one of those yet, I wish you one, because they are the best.

We all know writing is often hard and we sometimes have to kick ourselves in the behind to get moving on what we are working on. That's why this novel is such a joy. No doubt the final tweaks will still be a bit of a chore, but at the moment I'm having a blast. I very much hope it comes out in the writing.

Cannot wait to get it to a stage where it is ready to publish. I'm so very, very excited to share this one.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Dead Before Dawn, Cover How To - #WriterlyWednesdays 40


Greetings and welcome to Writerly Wednesdays. Today I thought I'd show you all how I created my cover for Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse. I wanted something effective, but simple. This is a romance, but it also has an element of horror that I wanted to bring out. Hence several of my choices.


Dead Before Dawn, Cover How To



I create all my own covers and if you look you will see that I keep improving and some of my old covers are not so good :). I am slowly replacing these as I go, like I did with all of the Soul Reader series and Charlie Waterman.

One of the important things to remember with eBook covers is that they have to look good big, but they also have to be legible when small. There will be a standard size for every cover on a site, but this is just the biggest it will be seen. It will be resized from anything between that and 80x120. Always test out your cover at its min and its max to make sure you can still tell what it's about.

So the first thing I did was go looking for a good image to use at my background. I wanted to go with the obvious imagery, so I looked for "dawn" on this site:


The images on this site are free to use for any legal purpose without even requiring an attribution. Great resource.

I chose this image:

It is already wonderfully atmospheric and moody and I liked the colour palette.

Next I opened my Photoshop file with the correct sizing. I was making this cover for Wattpad so ultimately it was going to be 256x400 so I decided to work at 400% - 1024x1600 (usually I work at 2000x3000 for a normal cover).

I imported the image above and chose which part I wanted to use for the cover:

At this point I also put on my markers for thirds.

The rule of thirds is simple - you divide your space into three length wise and width wise and then use the thirds as the basis for the layout. This pleases the eye of the viewer, which is definitely what we want. As you can see with this I have the most interesting part of the background image in the bottom third. This article has lots of examples and more information on the rule of thirds.

I knew from the start this cover was going to be title based, that is the title is the most important part. Often my covers have people on them, like The Machine, but it is perfectly valid to go for a title based cover as well.

My most important word - the exciting one in the title, is DEAD, so I knew I wanted that to be big and bold. It had several iterations and actually started as DARK, not dead.

I didn't originally have the the subtitle (The Vampire Curse) on the cover, hence I was going for something to illustrate that, but I decided it was too cheesy. The font I finally chose is Barstarda-K. It has a nice paranormal feel to it, but is easy to read.

The one part I didn't like was the way the small 'd' ends - when it's small I found it hard to read. So I used a layer mask to change it slightly:


The font also has a bevel, a slight gradient overlay and a screening outer glow so that it stands out from the background. I tried a stroke first, but it looked clunky.

Next I moved on to the rest of the title 'Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse'. This I wanted all in the middle third. I started off with the 'Dead' slightly higher and the 'Before Dawn' in the centre, but it felt off balance. So I brought the 'Dead' down and moved the 'Before Dawn' into the left two thirds.


The font is Felix Titling with 140% on the vertical. I used a gradient overlay with colours from the background to link it in with the main design and then used a stroke and a drop shadow to bring it out of the picture.

I used the same font for 'The Vampire Curse' and placed it on the lower third line. I linked it back to the 'Dead' by masking the V of Vampire and replacing it with a V using Bastarda-K.

That just left my name and the Wittegen Press logo. I went with a legible font and chose to place it on the dark area at the bottom to give emphasis to the sunrise happening in the middle of the picture. The Wittegen Logo is standard and all I ever do with that is change the colouring if it doesn't go with the cover.

However, when I looked at it, I didn't think it was quite moody enough. I wanted the focus more on the words and the sunrise. This I achieved by putting in a new layer just above the background which I coloured black. Then I cut out the centre with an oval and used a Gaussian blur (approx 151) to make it less distinct.

It still wasn't quite moody enough, so I added one more layer over the whole thing to bring it together. I used a gradient fill with a dark blue to white value. I made the layer a Multiply layer and then reduced its opacity to 40%.

And that's it, there you have it, my finished cover.


All that remained was the save it for the web at 256x400 and it was ready for uploading to Wattpad.