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.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Title: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Rating: 15
Cast:

Benjamin Walker - Abraham Lincoln
Dominic Cooper - Henry Sturges
Anthony Mackie - Will Johnson
Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Mary Todd Lincoln
Rufus Sewell - Adam
Marton Csokas - Jack Barts
Jimmi Simpson - Joshua Speed
Erin Wasson - Vadoma






The first thing I have to say is this is a brilliant film. It is the best vampire movie I have seen in a very long time. From the title I assumed it was going to be somewhat cracky, but it isn't. It is a solid vampire movie with a great cast, superb writing and brilliant filmography.

Okay, so lets break it down a little. Benjamin Walker plays Abraham Lincoln and he plays him with depth and feeling and as a character that everyone can relate to. He's not perfect and he definitely isn't the great statesman he becomes at the beginning of the film. He grows and takes us with him and he definitely isn't Buffy with a beard. His relationship with Mary Todd is also beautifully done and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is superb.

I'm putting in a cut now, because there will be spoilers.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Loki's Escape!

So I received many wonderful pressies yesterday, but I have to admit one made me squeal with delight. We opened our pressies at my parents house and then walked home and I left all of them there to pick up today except this one, which I brought home. Then I sat in bed putting it together.

This resulted this little photo story ...


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Recipe - Chicken Liver Parfait


This is a recipe I tried out for the first time the other weekend for our Christmas/Birthday party and it was a huge hit :). I forgot to share it here when I posted it to LJ. It is a Bryn Williams recipe which can be found in his book called "Bryn's Kitchen" and is what you might call moreish.

Chicken Liver Parfait
Makes 16 slices (or enough for a party as buffet food)
Ingredients

  • 125ml Port (1/2 cup)
  • 125ml Maderia (1/2 cup)
  • 50ml Brandy (1/5 cup)
  • 6 shallots (finely sliced)
  • 1 Sprig of thyme
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed) - I used squeezy garlic from a tube
  • 500g (17.63 oz) Chicken Livers (trimmed and chopped)
  • 1 tsp pink salt (don't worry if you can't get this - just use ordinary salt, your parfait will be more grey, but still taste just the same)
  • 1 tsp normal salt
  • black pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • 500g unsalted butter (I only had salted butter and I left out the tspn of ordinary salt and it still worked well)

Instructions

  1. Put the port, madeira, brandy, shallots, garlic and thyme in a saucepan and reduce over a medium heat until almost dry.
  2. Leave to cool and once cool put in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Place the chicken livers in a bowl and add the cold port/shallot etc reduction and the salts and the pepper and mix. Cover with cling film.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and leave to come to room temperature.
  5. If you keep your eggs in the fridge, crack them into a bowl and allow to come to room temperature, otherwise, just crack them into a bowl to make sure they are good.
  6. Line a 25x5x7cm terrine dish (loaf tin) with cling film (plastic wrap).
  7. Preheat the oven to 160C (325F)
  8. Blend the chicken livers with a hand blender, in a blender or in a food processor.
  9. Once they are all room temp, mix all the ingredients together and then blend again.
  10. Pass through a fine sieve and pour into the lined terrine dish.
  11. Cover the top of the terrine tightly with foil.
  12. Place the terrine in a roasting dish and fill the roasting dish with warm water up to half the height of the terrine dish.
  13. Place in the oven and cook for 45 mins.
  14. Allow to cool and then place in the fridge over night for use the next day.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

eBooks - The Prefect Christmas Gift

Are you looking for that last minute Christmas gift? Want something easy and small to send to a friend? eBooks are almost instant and in many cases very easy to obtain and send.

Imagine it's Christmas Eve and you suddenly realise you need to send a present to Cousin Jo who lives in Scotland and is snowed in. eBooks are virtual, all you need is an internet connection and you're sorted. You can even get personalised autographs through http://www.authorgraph.com/ if you want to make the gift extra special.

I've used the term DRM throughout this post and it means Digital Rights Management. A good reason to go indie is that most of us don't use it so files are not tied to devices and you can send them to who you like. Just remember to buy one copy of the book for each person you want to give it to because starving writers need to eat too :).

Reading if You Don't Have An eReader

You do not need an eReader to read eBooks, most formats have a PC reader that can be downloaded for free or just open in software you most likely already have installed.

Kindle books have the Kindle App which can be downloaded from your local Amazon site.
Barnes and Noble - have Nook Apps for various devices and PC which can be downloaded from their site.
Diesel eBook store offers links Adobe Digital Editions.
Smashwords offer formats that can be read straight on a PC without any new app.

And there are other options as well, like Kobo.

How to Give An eBook for Christmas

The problem with eBooks is the idiots at the top still think of the world as separate markets, which means you can't buy all books in all countries. This is a pain, but you can get over it with some patience as long as the book has no DRM. You can break DRM, but it's technical and illegal, so I'm not going to tell you how here. If you want to know, Google it. Just buy from those of us sensible enough to know DRM is a pain and not worth putting on books in the first place - it might send a message to the big publishers.

Amazon:
If your friend/family member has a Kindle then Amazon is the place to go. If you are lucky enough to be in the US, or able to buy from the US store then there is a gift option on the eBooks. All you need is your giftee's Amazon email addie (the one associated with their Kindle that allows them to send books to it).

If you are outside the US site where they haven't implemented gift giving yet, then it's a bit harder. Firstly it will only work for books that do not have DRM because otherwise you can't move the book from one device to another. There used to be a way to see this on the book page, but they seem to have removed that. The only way is to check out the publisher, for example we at Wittegen Press do not use DRM for any of our books.

Then set up the Kindle app on your computer, buy the book with the options set to deliver to the Kindle ap and then take the file and email it to the person you wish to give it to. They can then add it to their Kindle manually.

Smashwords:
This is the easiest option because they offer a gift option and many many formats all on one site. You only need an email address for the gift book to be sent to, then your giftee can download whichever format they would like.

Barnes and Noble:
They have a gift giving option as well. I don't have an account so I'm not sure quite how it works, but I assume it is similar to Smashwords.

Diesel:
You can buy books from here and download them and they indicate if the have no DRM right on the book page. As long as they are DRM free you can then send them on to the recipient and they can use Adobe Editions to read it on their PC or upload it to their eReader if their reader accepts ePub.

Help, I can't get the file in the format I need for the person I want to give it to.

Never fear, as long as the book is DRM free, this is easy to overcome. You want to download a nifty piece of software called Calibre. Calibre is easy to install and will allow you to convert from one format to another and it does just about anything.

eBooks are quick and easy and rewarding. They make a great virtual stocking stuffer and are well worth looking into. Here is a link to all of Wittegen Press' eBook available now.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The big 40 :)

So Soph and I hit the big 40 yesterday and had a wonderful time doing it :). We also had a fabulous party over the weekend which was for my hubby as well because he hit 40 last week too ::g::. We have had many people who said 'no way!' as well, which was good for the ego ;).

We went to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Tate Britain yesterday with the parental units, my aunt and another friend, which was amazing. I think it's a bit of a cheek charging £14 to go in and then expecting you to pay £4 more for the audio tour as well though! Bad form. Especially since it was only an average audio tour at best. Six rooms full of paintings and only 21 entries in the audio tour. The exhibition is not to be missed, but the audio tour was a bit meh.

Then we went to have a late lunch in the Miller and Carter steakhouse at Bexley (near where my aunt lives) and they had sent me a voucher for a free bottle of bubbly for my birthday so that was lovely. Their food is also very good. A place in the UK that knows how to cook steak - I was stunned! ;)

Thank you to everyone who has wished me a Happy Birthday and thank you very much to sammaetz, veritas03, spike7451, annelislashfan and nenne on LJ for the lovely v-gifts.

I also want to say a huge thank you to all my friends who came to the party and made it such a wonderful time. It was a brilliant weekend and I love you all.

Also I want to say thank you again for the lovely presents. We have already started to watch Monkey and it as cheesy and wonderful as I remember :). Also, Tom has pride of place in a new frame on my desk:

And I have worn the necklace every day except yesterday because I didn't want to risk it being lost in London. In fact I am wearing it now - it looks lovely being set of by a big t-shirt and star wars lounge pants ;). Thank you all so much for such a fantastic gift, I shall treasure it always. Here's a piccie so everyone can see how amazing it is.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Nanowrimo 2012 - done it!

I did it, I reached my word total for Nanowrimo. Of course the novel isn't actually finished yet, but I can sort that out over the next couple of weeks :). Woohoo!


Now I can go have some lunch :)

Good luck to all those still typing away. You can do it.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Den of Eek! was amazing

So yesterday was Den of Eek! and it was so brilliant. I haven't read my own work in front of anyone since school and I was as nervous as hell. Seems people who do it all the time get nervous too though, so we all bonded over wine and how scared we were of the room full of people. Everyone was lovely and it was so well organised.

For those who don't know, Den of Eek! was a horror short story show case organised by Den of Geek, the wonderful and most informative website for all things movie, book, comic and, well everything geeky. The event was in aid of their charity Geeks vs Cancer.

There were nine invited writers and then Den of Geek ran a reader comp for three more spots on the itinerary and I won one of them :). My story is called "Death in the Modern World" and is all done via tweets. It was much fun to read it out even though my mouth felt like the sahara on a bad day because of nerves. All the other stories were superb, everything from disappearing stairs through a phantom limb interpreted as I have never heard it interpreted before, to other technologically based horror, a wicked clock, doppelgänger, a moment with a vcr that should never be repeated and two historical pieces too.

There may be a podcast and an ebook of the whole event, but those were both maybes last I heard, so I will let you all know as soon as I hear.

It may have been a nightmare getting through London traffic (I don't do well on the underground so we had to drive), but it was worth every minute. Love doing it, loved talking to everyone, it was brill.

The organisers:
The lovely @SarahDobbs and @DenofGeek

The invited writers:
@claylittlewood @FinalBullet @cjlines @SarahPinborough @jamesmoran @newsmary @neil_jones @johannesroberts @exkevinmcnally

Us winners:
@JoffB @skippybe and @beren_writes (me)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Well that was a weekend and a half

I'm writing a blog post first today (I've just come home from doing the weekly shop) because I have to put my head down and play catch up with my Nano writing. I managed to get my daily word count written yesterday, but our kitty died on Saturday morning, so that was a write off of a day. We gave him a good send off and had a mini-wake on Saturday afternoon and I didn't feel like writing again until yesterday evening.

Then there's tomorrow. I am very happy to be reading my 500 word ghost story at Den of Geek's Den of Eek! at The Phoenix in Cavendish Square, but I doubt I will get any writing done before hand. By tomorrow morning I am bound to be too nervous to concentrate on the next novel :). I haven't read my own work in front of people since school (and that was longer ago than I care to admit ;)).

So, that said, I best get to it :).

Wish me luck!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Nano - back on track - phew

I have not been able to write anything for the past three days because I've been preparing for, or had the in-laws to stay. It was a fab weekend, but it put me way behind. However, I just poured out over 3.5K in a little over two hours to get back up to speed :).

The break actually seemed to help with the flow, surprisingly. Maybe my brain needed time to juggle some things around? Who knows.

If I can write the same again tomorrow I will be very happy and back ahead of the game again. Actually if I can write the same every day this week I will be most pleased. I still have one section where I don't actually know what to put in it, however. I know where it's set and the overall gist, but no idea what the details are. Once I do I think there are 10K words just waiting to happen :). I may cogitate on it this evening while Rob and I are clearing out our bedroom so it's ready for the new carpet coming Wednesday.

You never know, maybe I will find inspiration in the dust bunnies under the bed ;).

I hope all you other nanoers are doing well. *hugs*

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Nano - Day 14 and spreadsheet

You know I said I had the bad guys figured out yesterday; that may not have been completely true, but it is today. I know who the bad guy actually is now :). Yesterday I knew what they had done and why, today I know who too. I just had the most fun writing the big reveal! Scenes like that are always so exciting to put together.

Still haven't finished the big fight scene, but that's no shock.

Writing is becoming easier every day - I hope it keeps up. I hope all my fellow nanoers are also doing well. You can do it *waves pompoms*. Even if you are behind I bet you can catch up. Just break it down into little segments, even if you look at it as 100 words at a time. Be happy every time you tick off one little block. If I'm stuck I write a couple of paragraphs and then fill in my Excel spreadsheet to watch my total go up (I don't always put it in on the website because I don't want to help kill their servers :)).

BTW, talking of my spreadsheet, it basically mimics the nano web page, but it allows for having an initial word count, having variable days and a variable word count goal. It's a .xlsm file because it runs VBA. I find it very useful for all sorts of projects just to keep me motivated.

If you would like a copy it's available to download here.


P.S. Apologies if there are any bugs in it - this is the latest version where I added in the variable days and I've tested it as well as I can, but you can never be completely sure. I find the best way to use it is to take a copy, name it whatever the project is and then leave the original as it in case of irretrievable errors.

Please LMK if you find any bugs. Thanks.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Nano - Day 13

Totally in the zone with Nano now :). The novel is going very smoothly and I even have the bad guy figured out - yay! I think I have just about all of it in my head now, so it's only a matter of getting it into the PC. Some of the smaller details will still just happen, that's the way I write, but all the important bits are sorted. This makes me happy because I'm not even half way through writing yet.

I have already kicked my word total for the day and then some so I think I am going to stop there until tomorrow. Give the whole new section I wrote time to percolate in the back of my brain and settle in properly. Because we have people staying this weekend I need to clean everything, so I think I will do some of that next, before going on to the other two writing projects.

My favourite scene from today was a completely off the top of my head scene with Charlie dropping a Spider-man reference and then having to explain it. :)

I can already tell that the hardest scene to write is going to be a fight scene towards the end. I've tried to start it a couple of times and nada, so I suspect that will be the last thing I write. It's like in my adult stuff it's usually the sex I write last, in the YA, it's the fights! Anyone else find fights hard? It can be so difficult to make them interesting and exciting as well as anatomically possible for all involved.

Still need a name for the novel. Hmmm... time to get the dictionary out :)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Nanowrimo - day 12

Well I've finished my word count for today, now I just have to make up for yesterday's non-writing :). The end of this week is going to be a bad week for writing because I have so much else to do too, including the in-laws coming down, so I intend to try and do a lot at the beginning of the week anyway.

I am out of the chaos zone now, but that doesn't mean I'm writing in order because that would be boring ;). The details are all coming together in my head now and flowing nicely onto the paper.

Fav scene I wrote today involved Charlie being mothered by a dragon, and no, sorry, it wasn't Alexander.

What I don't think I've mentioned before is that the novel is not the only thing I am writing this month. I'm trying to finish Dark Reflections 2 as well as converting one of my fanfics to an original novel (an no I'm not just filing the names off - I'm creating a whole new universe and using some of the scenes and the premise which was original in the first place). The way I go about Nano is, on a normal working day, I try to get my Nano word count written in the morning (didn't manage it today because of the weekly shopping) and then writing and other duties in the afternoon. This means I don't get nano'd out with the main book. I'm very bad at staying focused on only one thing.

That there is my mind *points down*, flitting from one thing to the next. Seems to work for me though. I think sometimes I give my sister conniptions ;)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Nanowrimo - again

Yes, I've pinched this idea from my sister :). It actually seems to help to talk about Nano.

Still in the chaos stage today, jumping all over the place, but I was putting in more detail. I wrote a few sewing together scenes and some additions to other scenes which give them  more depth and substance. However, I'm very much still making it up as I go along and I still don't have a clue who the bad guys really are.

They now have an identity of sorts, as in they have been mentioned, but they lack substance or named characters. I also don't know how they link with the other characters I have created so far even though I know their most heinous crimes. It shouldn't take long now before my brain gives me the details. At the moment I basically have this in my head:


Favourite scene I wrote today has to be the one where Alexander got to be snarky at Charlie. Of course I always enjoy scenes were Alexander gets to be snarky :).

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Nanowrimo


Doing Nano has become rather a tradition for me. I used it to make myself finish my first Chronicles of Charlie Waterman novel, then last year I used it to finish the second one and so this year I am using it to finish the third one.

I'm aiming for 70k or there abouts, because that's the length these books seem to end up and they are a nice reading length. However, the difference this year is I didn't have the first 20K written. This year is total seat of the pants writing. I had a basic idea and the rest is all just happening.

Never fear, this is how I usually write. I am not an ordered writer at all. Sometimes I write down important points so I remember to put them in, but the way I write is very organic. At the moment I am in the throw it at the page stage. In other words I'm skipping from scene to scene just writing what comes into my head. I'm creating people and places on the fly with random scenes form the very first one to the very last without filling in everything in between.

The plot is still developing in my head and so far I have all the good guys mapped out and know exactly what they're doing. I know exactly what the bad guys are doing, but I have no idea who he/she/they/it are yet.

I think I am almost at the refinement stage where I will go back and start filling in important things like places and more about the characters to give them depth, but I'm not quite there. Maybe another couple of days of random writing before I get down to the details.

Monday, 29 October 2012

New Book for All Hallows Read: When Darkness Beckons


Wittegen Press is supporting
by giving away a free eBook on Amazon.

The brainchild of Neil Gaiman, the principle of All Hallow's Read is simple: during the week of Halloween, or the day itself, give someone a scary book. Well, we can't hand out our books physically, so we're going to let people help themselves.

From 31st October to 3rd Nov 2012
When Darkness Beckons will be available for FREE on all Amazon sites. 

Amazon US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, JP
  1. Download one of the free Apps Amazon offer for reading Kindle books: UK | US | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP
  2. Wait until 31st Oct (midnight PST is when the promotions come online) then download the book.
  3. Now you have two choices either:
  4. Read the book on the ap you downloaded
  5. or
  6. Download this useful piece of software Calibre.
  7. The eBook has no DRM, so you can copy it to where you like and Calibre will convert it to just about any format for you.
  8. Read it on your usual eReader.


The book contains two spooky stories:

Catcher of Souls by Natasha Duncan-Drake
When Miles sets foot inside The King James pub he knows instantly there is a disembodied soul in residence. The question is, is the soul responsible for the deaths that have happened on the site or were they just accidents. It's Miles' job to catch troublesome lost souls, but when danger strikes he might just be too late.

Some Things Are Stranger... by Sophie Duncan 
Life is weird enough for Jake being a werewolf on the run from The Pagan Dawn, ruthless hunters determined to wipe out all 'paranormal scum'. His luck runs out when he is ambushed after a Halloween party and, badly injured, he dives into the shadows of an abandoned warehouse with his pursuers on his heels. Yet, Jake discovers that he is not alone and his encounter with a goofy hobo, who talks about the place being haunted, teaches him that all strangeness is relative.


So have a happy and spooky Halloween Everybody! 

Now because the majority of our audience is on Amazon and we had to enrol the book into KDP Select to ensure it would be free on the right days it is only available on Amazon. However, never fear, you can still read it if you don't have a Kindle. We apologise to non Amazon users, but this was the only way we could see to do it and still reach everyone. This is how to get the book if you don't read on Kindle:
  1. Download one of the free Apps Amazon offer for reading Kindle books: UK | US | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP
  2. Wait until 31st Oct (midnight PST is when the promotions come online) then download the book.
  3. Now you have two choices either:
  4. Read the book on the ap you downloaded
  5. or
  6. Download this useful piece of software Calibre.
  7. The eBook has no DRM, so you can copy it to where you like and Calibre will convert it to just about any format for you.
  8. Read it on your usual eReader.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Review - Prometheus

So, saw Prometheus two nights ago for the first time and I have to be honest, I can't work out why some people panned it. Both Rob and I thought it was superb.

It had everything:  a cohesive plot, good characters, good actors to play those characters, kick arse special effects.

Very rarely have I seen a prequel I actually enjoyed, but this one is superb. I think, because unlike most prequels it was not just showing us something we already knew. Prometheus not only takes the viewer into the origin of the alien species, but the human species as well. It also has a lot of mirroring of the other films in interesting ways.

The whole aliens made us idea is not new, but the way Prometheus approached it was highly entertaining and just different enough to make it very interesting. Beautiful sequel at the start introducing them as well.

Michael Fassbender is utterly brilliant as David. He's all kinds of hot and yet utterly creepy at the same time. He had a whole 'OMG pretty, but wow there's something missing' thing going on that is just perfect for his portrayal of an android.

Idris Elba is also brilliant as the captain of the space ship. He has some great lines and plays down to earth with a side of heroic human really well. He's practical, but not bitter like we have seen in some captains in gritty sci-fi.

Then there's Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers, who is almost as cold as David, but with that spark of humanity that makes her seem actually worse. She does a fabulous job of being the corporate bad for most of the movie.

And of course Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw, who is really the star of the show after David, but didn't actually capture me until about half way through. At the end she definitely shines, but she's no Ripley, sorry.

BELOW THE CUT ARE SPOILERS


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Recipe: Coronation Chicken


I have another recipe for you all. I haven't actually made this one yet myself, but I have eaten it and it is amazing. Since this recipe has been passed down from an aged aunt of a friend to her and then to me, it is possible it's an original Coronation Chicken recipe from some magazine of the time :).

Coronation Chicken

Ingredients
6 Chicken Breast Fillets
1 onion sliced
a handful of celery leaves (added a link because I've never cooked with them before)
Sauce base
2 tblspn | 30ml Mango Chutney
2 tblspn | 30ml Tomato Chutney (this is optional, if you leave it out put in an extra spoon of mango and of honey)
2 dessert spns | 20ml honey
2 dessert spns | 20ml curry according to taste
a dash of Worcester Sauce
Sauce Final
5oz | 140g | 5/6 cup Double Cream (heavy cream)
10 oz | 283g | ~1.25 cups Mayonnaise
1 glass (3-4 floz) sweet sherry (adjust taste)

Instructions
Sauce Base

  1. The base of the sauce can be made up days in advance.
  2. Liquidise the chutney(ies), honey, curry and Worcester sauce.
  3. Cook gently for 15 mins.
  4. Refrigerate until needed.


Chicken

  1. Poach the chicken breasts with the onion and the celery leaves.
  2. Leave in the water too cool (remains very moist).
  3. Take out the onion and leaves.
  4. When cool slice into bite sized pieces.


Full Dish

  1. When ready to make up add the cream, mayonnaise and sherry to the sauce base and mix together.
  2. Fold in the chicken a day or night before you need it and leave in the fridge to marinate.


If you want you can add sultanas or chopped apricots to the mix when you add the chicken, and toasted almonds for a crunch when you are ready to serve. Works well as a salad dish, a sandwich filler or as a side dish.

Recipe - Easy Cheesecake


Ever had a cheesecake that just won't set and goes blurgh all over the plate when you take it out of the fridge? Never gonna happen with this recipe :). It is my MIL's recipe and it is not only incredibly easy, it is amazingly tasty as well. I made a choc orange one yesterday and it was divine.

Easy Cheesecake

Ingredients
The Base
18 digestive biscuits (cookies) ~300g (for my US friends, use whatever cookie base you'd normally use for a cheesecake)
3oz | 85g | 3/8 cup | 3/4 stick butter
The Topping
16oz | 454g | ~2 cups Philadelphia (cream cheese) (chocolate Philadelphia makes an amazing change up as well)
10oz | 283g | ~1.25 cups Greek Yoghurt
2 tblsp caster sugar (fine sugar)
1 jelly (Jello) (135g) - any flavour you like :)
2 tblsp cold water
juice of one med orange

Instructions

  1. Crush the biscuits. The quickest way of doing this is in a food processor, or if you're feeling like taking out some aggression, put them in a bag and bash the hell out of them with a rolling pin :).
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a pan over a low heat.
  3. Mix the two then press into a deep 9inch spring form cake tin (this makes it much easier to get out later). Put the tin in the freezer for half an hour so the base forms up nicely.
  4. Mix the cream cheeese with the greek yoghurt, the sugar and the juice until smooth.
  5. Melt the jelly in the microwave with the two table spoons of water (it takes about 30s on max).
  6. Add the jelly to the mixture.
  7. Pour onto the base and pop in the fridge for at least four hours (if you don't have that long putting it in the freezer will help it set, but make sure you don't freeze it).

The Next Big Thing

Sophie Duncan tagged me last week for this meme, which is all about answering ten questions about my current work in progress.

This is quite difficult because I have several and I really am writing them all at the same time and I'm not sure what will be finished first. Zero out of ten for organisation on that one. Hence I decided to talk about the current novel I'm working on rather than some of the shorter works.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Tints of Gold and Red

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? 
I have a very popular fanfic called Gold Tinted Spectacles, which is based in the Harry Potter fandom and the other day I was poking around in my folders, as one does, and had a nose at it. I realised that there are some great ideas in the fanfic that are entirely separate from the underlying fandom. It occurred to me they would make a good basis for an original book. So what I've been doing is ripping the text apart, saving some bits, marking up others to change as well as devising my own magical universe in which to set the events.

3. What genre does your book fall under? 
Contemporary fantasy, YA

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
Tommy Knight as Rafe Mathian
Ben Barnes as Scott Kem
Rachel Hurd-Wood asYvie Pritchard
Nicholas Hoult as Finlay Debore
Dominic Cooper as Justin Bridge
Gwyneth Paltrow as Saolin
Gina Bellman as Adept Diriu
Stephen Fry as Johnathan Argyle
Helen Mirren as Melanie Pride
Tom Hiddleston as Withers (yes I picked the Loki image deliberately because I wanted the dark hair and the grand costume because Withers is dark fae)










5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
White, Grey, Black: magic has many guises and Rafe has been ruled by the fact none of them agree; now his life depends on balancing them all.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Self-pub, unless I suddenly become incredibly sought after and gain myself an agent :).

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
Well technically I haven't yet, but the original fanfic took a couple of weeks, then several more to make sure all the details were correct. It's going to take me a lot of time to dismantle the original, rewrite the scenes I want to keep and then add in all the new stuff. Probably about a month I should think.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
Harry Potter and Percy Jackson

9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
The main romance in it is a gay one between Rafe and Scott, so it gives an alternative to all the boy/girl teenage angst out there :). There's a lot of magic and Fae and conflict, so plenty of excitement to keep people interested.

10. Tag you’re it! (this is where you link to the five authors you have tagged)
No one wanted to be tagged :(. If you would like to be now, drop me a comment and I'll add you in.


Rules:
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

New Book - Fortunate Soul (Soul Reader #3) (Short Story)

My latest title is out today. It's available from Smashwords and Amazon, apologies for those who buy their books from elsewhere, it will be available at Barnes and Nobel etc once it reaches the premium catalogue on Smashwords.

Thank you in advance to anyone who reviews the book or mentions it to their friends.

Fortunate Soul (Soul Reader #3) by Tasha D-Drake
Fortunate Soul by Tasha D-Drake


Description: With a lot of help from Michael, John is recovering slowly from his kidnapping ordeal at the hands of his previous employers. However, John has noticed changes in Michael's behaviour towards him now that he has been marked by the organisation's captive vampires. He's worried his scars will be too much for their fledgling relationship.

The Soul Reader Series #3

Date Pub: 18th September 2012
Length: Short Story (~6,750 wds)
Genre: Paranormal, Adult, Vampire, Male/Male, Romance
ISBN 978-1-908333-36-0, ISBN 978-1-908333-37-7

Current pricing:
Amazon UK£0.75Kindle
 (unless price matched 
[?])
Amazon US$0.99
Amazon DEEUR0.89
Amazon FREUR0.89
Amazon ITEUR0.89
Amazon ESEUR0.89
SmashwordsFreeePub, PDF, mobi(Kindle), rtf, ltf(Sony), Palm Doc, Plain txt

This is one of the short stories of the series and hence it will eventually be free everywhere, but Amazon take a while to be convinced of this :). Smashwords do offer a Kindle option to download if you don't mind adding it to you device the long way.

Excerpt

"You're looking pensive again, Johnny," Michael said as they reached the top.

It made him smile because, at some point over the last few days, Michael had partially picked up his family's habit of calling him Johnny. Somehow that made him happy.

"Just thinking about the worrying behaviour you've picked up from my Nan," he replied and rewarded his lover with a fond smile.

The only reason they had decided to come back to London was because Michael had things to work out for his play. Well actually John had decided, because he had caught Michael on the phone trying to postpone something and he wasn't letting Michael put everything off for him. Michael's constant attention to him was more than he could ever have asked for. If he was truthful with himself he had thought it would all end before it had really begun, especially with the stresses of reconnecting with his family.

"You undress," Michael told him, steering them into the bedroom, "I'll get the shower going."

Then, with a quick kiss, Michael was gone and John was left to pull off his travel rumpled clothes. It was as he removed his long sleeved top that he caught sight of the scars on the inside of his wrist. Two neat little puncture marks that made him just stop. He saw the other scars from his imprisonment if he looked in the mirror or studied his upper body, but he could avoid looking at them, the ones on his wrist always seemed to catch his eye.

He'd been feeding vampires for a long time, but he'd never been scarred before and it made him feel degraded. He'd been used like a thing and his users hadn't even bothered to use him properly.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #31 The Beginning - Part 2 AND A New Path

Today we have two shorts for you. One is the second half of mine from yesterday, the other is one of Sophs. They're both packaged in the same eBook, so you still only have to download one.

We know the site was down earlier (small snafu with the code), very sorry, it's all up and working now. It's to do with the fact we had originally planned for June, which has 30 days and then moved to July which has 31 and guess what we forgot to change - oops.


To celebrate our last Giveaway Day and to thank all of you who have joined us on our month-long games, we have TWO giveaways today!

The Beginning - Part 2

Nate hunts vampires solo. It makes his life less complicated. He has a new target and is ready to take them down, only in steps Lexie. Nate really, really does not need an unarmed woman to mess up his hunt, especially when she claims to be a witch and is determined to come with him.

Part 1 was available yesterday (30th July 2012) if you missed it, please contact us at publications@wittegenpress.com.

Prequel to Advent by Natasha Duncan-Drake

~

A New Path

After defeating The Scion, Zac Kithrall and Damon Wulfres must adapt to their new life as a gestalt greater than the demon-seer and shadow-hunter magic they each possess. Yet, Zac had another premonition and when Damon discovers that he poses a danger to Zac, he must chose his new path carefully.

This story is a sequel to The End of The Journey by Sophie Duncan, which was published earlier in the Giveaway Games, if you missed it, please contact us at publications@wittegenpress.com.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Young Adult, (Paranormal, Vampire), (Contemporary Fantasy)

Monday, 30 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #30 The Beginning Part 1

So today's offering is one of mine and is a prequel to my novel Advent. You don't have to know anything about the novel to enjoy the short story.


Nate hunts vampires solo. It makes his life less complicated. He has a new target and is ready to take them down, only in steps Lexie. Nate really, really does not need an unarmed woman to mess up his hunt, especially when she claims to be a witch and is determined to come with him.

Part 1 - Part 2 will be available tomorrow, 31st July 2012

Prequel to Advent by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Genre: Vampire, Paranormal, Young Adult

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #28 Dead Not Dying

This is one of mine today and it really is horror. Not an uplifting story today, folkes - made myself cry when writing part of it.


Tigger is old and unwell, which is why Jo thinks it might be time to put her beloved cat out of his misery. However, the vet has one last thing to try. Tigger is like a new cat until it appears his heart gives out, which is when things start to become really weird.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Genre: Horror

Friday, 27 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #27 Queen of My World


Alfred has waited a long time for his Egyptian Queen to come into his life, but when he saw Lissy, English student and actress, he knew he had found her. Assisting on a student film is not his idea of recreation, but it brings him closer to Lissy and he puts his plans in motion.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Genre: Horror

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #26 - Timothy

Another one of mine today. I have no excuses for it, I was simply inspired - LOL

his title is not suitable for younger readers.

Not many families can claim a dildo as an heirloom, in fact not many would want to. Darcy's family does and according to her mother he's called Timothy. She always knew her family were slightly nuts, but this is weird even for them. The fact her mum assures her he (not it) will help her find true love is pushing it that one step too far.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Another one of Soph's today - high fantasy :)


A thief all her life, a minstrel since she met Gaven, her master, Beriel of Darkwater doesn't like the law and, more importantly, since she uses her magic when she's thieving, she doesn't get on with other magic users. So, when Gaven brings her to a place full of both to sing for her supper, his choices leave Beriel unimpressed and confused. Added to that, the mysterious tent on the hill above the gathering is radiating magic that makes Beriel's toes curl. She knows something is going on, she just can't put her finger on what.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Genre: Fantasy

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #24 - The Crosses We Bear

One of mine again today and it's real horror, no punches pulled in this one :)


A team bonding weekend in remote Scotland seems like hell on Earth to Lyle Jones, city boy and ad executive; little does he know how right he is. It's a bad idea to touch the crosses on the walls.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Horror

Monday, 23 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #23 - A Special Catch


This Title Has Adult Content Not Suitable for Minors.

Hayley Delaney is a Roid Wrangler, tracking and rounding up broken and rogue androids. Hayley enjoys her job, she's good at it and she's clearing the streets of potentially dangerous machines. It's just another day for her when she has to follow a damaged roid into the Mulo District of Dagar City, the place where her father was killed by one of The Puppetmaster's hijacked roids. Then she meets a type six that is sending out all the wrong signals. Hayley knows roids, but this one is different and she can't help taking an interest.

Part if The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Science Fiction, M/F Erotica

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #22 - Connections


This Title Has Adult Content Not Suitable for Minors.

Commodore Prim Williamson commands a space station in the back end of nowhere thanks to falling out with the Admiralty. Nothing interesting ever happens there, not until an unknown space ship turns up with an Ambassador from a completely new race. Prim is trained for first contact, but the academy never mentioned sex.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Science Fiction, Erotica (F/M/M)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #21 - Girl In The Mirror


Penelope Beverly is an orphan who grew up working for a washer woman, Ma Meg, on the streets of Victorian London. When Meg dies, Penelope searches for a new position and cannot believe her good fortune when she finds employment as a lady's companion to Miss Verinace. However, she discovers that the lonely country can be far more dangerous than the big city.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Paranormal, Adventure

Friday, 20 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #20 - All That Glitters

This one is m/m erotic romance and is me playing with clichés :)


This Title Has Adult Content Not Suitable for Minors.

Being dumped and then getting drunk had seemed like a good idea at the time. Ending up in a back street being mugged made it seem less so. Luckily for Simon there is a good Samaritan to save the day and quite distinctly turn his life on its head. He never thought he'd meet someone like Philip and, now he has, he doesn't want to let go.

Part if The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Erotica, Romance

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #19 - Just One Day

We have a dark one for you today as Soph stretches her horror muscles :).


Georgie and Xav fall in love with their dream home, it's big, it's gothic and it's in their price bracket. There's just one problem, for one day of the year, it is haunted. When Xav has to go away suddenly on a business trip, Georgie is left alone in the house for the 24 hours in question. She has promised Xav, a firm believer in the supernatural, that she will stay with friends, but Georgie is too busy choosing wallpaper to bother with superstition.

Warning: This title contains graphic scenes of violence and is unsuitable for a young audience.

Part of the Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012


Genre: Horror

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #18 - God of Love

Okay, so this is one of mine and it's very much m/m erotica. I basically asked myself how I could base a story totally on sex and still have an inkling of a plot and this is it :). Enjoy.


This Title Has Adult Content Not Suitable for Minors.

Brought up in the temple and kept closeted and innocent, as he comes of age, Dran's only purpose is to sacrifice his virginity to his god. He knows nothing about sex, but he's not an idiot and he has a very active imagination. Little does he know that his 'sacrifice' is going to surpass even his wildest dreams. (m/m)

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Erotica, Fantasy

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #17 - The End of The Journey Part 2 of 2

Confused and sedated, Zac Kithrall wakes up on the run and in the care of his worst enemy, Damon Wulfres. Zac is a demon-seer, he's one of the good guys: he helps stop demon-raisers from doing their worst in The Demon War that has run for centuries behind the normal world's back. Damon is a demon-raiser, the son of the most ruthless, Harold Wulfres. Yet, Zac's instincts tell him to trust Damon.
He does not know why.
Part 2 (if you missed part 1, drop us a note at publications@wittegenpress.com)
Part of the Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fantasy

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #15 - The Vampire Who Loved Me

Secret agents and vampires in today's offering :)


This Title Has Adult Content Not Suitable for Minors.

David Frederik is running a dangerous cult and Jack Boddington, undercover investigator for an international problem solving agency, has been sent in to bring the man down. The agency's information is top notch, as always: Frederik is posing as a vampire to make his followers worship him and Jack is playing at being a supplicant. There's only one little problem, Frederik isn't pretending and Jack has no defence against fangs.

Part of the Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Menage (M/M/F)

Friday, 13 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #13 - The Machine Part 2

If you missed part 1 yesterday, please drop us a line at publications@wittegenpress.com and we'll send you the file. In the message please let us know which format you would like.


Rafe used to be a world class British figure skater until he hurt his knee, now he reports on the sport. Everything is normal at the special US/Russian/Chinese multi-sport games being held to celebrate the new economic treaty, until Louis Hayes, Rafe's one time rival, turns out to be anything but just the flamboyant skater Rafe thought he was.

Caught in the middle of a game of cat and mouse between sociopathic telepaths with psychokinetic powers and the military, Rafe has to rely on the tentative connection he has with Louis to save his life. That connection might also save Louis' sanity.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012

Genre: Science Fiction

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Today's Giveaway #12 - The Machine Part 1

Today's free short is part 1 or 2 because this time it's me who can't seem to write a short story :). Telepathy, telekinesis and ice skaters ... I kid you not. Enjoy :)

Remember if you rate (award a medal) the story on the site you are entered into our $50 (or the currency of you Amazon site) Amazon draw. You can rate any of the stories at any time, only the download links go away. The name and email required for medal giving is so we can contact the winner, we won't be keeping it after the draw.
Rafe used to be a world class British figure skater until he hurt his knee, now he reports on the sport. Everything is normal at the special US/Russian/Chinese multi-sport games being held to celebrate the new economic treaty, until Louis Hayes, Rafe's one time rival, turns out to be anything but just the flamboyant skater Rafe thought he was.

Caught in the middle of a game of cat and mouse between sociopathic telepaths with psychokinetic powers and the military, Rafe has to rely on the tentative connection he has with Louis to save his life. That connection might also save Louis' sanity.

Part of The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012
Part 1 (Part 2 tomorrow)
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, M/M Romance

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

100Things #12 Stake Land a review

Title: Stake Land
Staring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici and Kelly McGillis

I'll start with the good things about this movie:

not bad acting,
decent script,
good special effects,
a plot that almost hold together


So you're probably wondering why I'm not raving about it then, correct?

My major problem with this film is that it's not a vampire movie. It's a zombie apocalypse movie masquerading as a vampire movie because the monsters happen to drink blood, dislike sunlight and you can kill them with a stake through the heart.

You can also kill them by a central nervous system disconnect (zombies), they don't think they just attack (zombies) and they've spread like a plague over the planet (zombies). It's Day of the Dead with blood suckers rather than brain eaters.

I like my vampires to have a brain. I don't mind if they are pack like and have a few doing the thinking for the others (e.g. John Carpenter's Vampires) or if they're just independent hunters (e.g. most of the other vampire movies), but just mindless killing machines is rather lacking IMHO.

Now this wouldn't totally put me off, I have been known to enjoy a good zombie movie, but the second problem with this one is it's really boring in the middle. It was a fast forward job when eventually Rob and I just couldn't take it any more. The one plus point is that I did care about Martin, the lead character, enough to actually forward through it to find out what happened. The fact that I predicted the whole climax of the movie probably didn't help me enjoy it.

So yes, this was really not my type of film.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wittegen Press Giveaway Games

Sorry for having been so absent lately, but this might explain why :). This is happening is July and Soph and I have been a bit mental getting ready for it. Actually we're still being mental, but you don't need to know that :).

Thank you to anyone who helps spread the word.

July 2012
31 days of competitions and giveaways.
COMING SOON: Wittegen Press Giveaway Games July 2012Wittegen Press are giving away one short story every day in the month of July 2012.
These tales will be from many different genres, fantasy through to crime and everything in between.
Each story will only be available for 24 hours, so make sure you visit the site every day.
What's more: rate a story after you've read it and you'll earn a chance to win a $50 Amazon Voucher in our month-long competition.
We're also running daily competitions.


This is also a shout out to all book peeps. We're looking to hook up with other book giveaways/competitions happening in July. If you look at our giveaway site you'll see we have a prominent section called 'Other Giveaways' that we would really like to fill. The idea is you tell us when your giveaway is, we pop everything in our DB and on the right days the right giveaways/competitions will show up.
The only thing we ask is that no giveaway info has adult language and if your button shows a cover that, that cover fulfils Amazon rules (i.e. no explicitly pornographic images).

Please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested. Thank you.

Giveaway Linkback the details
What we need from you (please send to competitions@wittegenpress.com):
  • A button graphic that represents your giveaway of 100x100px (if you don't have the capacity to make one of these, please contact us anyway and we'll see if we can help)
  • Your giveaway URL
  • The start date of your giveaway
  • The number of days your giveaway will be running
  • Your giveaway name
How to link back to us:
  • Copy and paste the following code and put it somewhere on your giveaway page.

This is what the button will look like.