Pseudonyms: Tasha D-Drake, Tasha Duncan
Natasha is a British author with Wittegen Press and has been publishing genre fiction since 2011. Her work includes everything from horror to young adult fantasy and she has never met a genre she didn’t like. A prolific producer of short stories and novels alike, Natasha currently has over twenty five titles in her back catalogue with further releases always imminent.
Natasha has been writing since she was a young girl ever since she read The Hobbit at Primary School. She is a big fan of science fiction, fantasy and horror in all their forms and is a big advocate of fanfiction as a great tool for writers to polish their skills in a welcoming and supportive community.
Before establishing Wittegen Press with her twin sister, Sophie Duncan, Natasha was a database and systems consultant. She combines these skills with her writing to create and manage her career in the bold new eBook market.
Scroll down to see the most recent posts from Tasha’s Personal Blog and she is also a contributor to the Wittegen Press Blog. Both have free fiction, information about books, reviews of books and films and lots more.
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This blog has Monster Mondays (all the best monsters), Tips Tuesdays (recipes, how tos and more), Writerly Wednesdays (all things about books), Thinky Thursdays (thinkings), Fan Fridays (geek day), Reviews of books, TV and film and so much more.
Mina's Children is in the Shortlist
Please excuse me while I crow just a little bit 🙂 I found out this morning that Mina's Children: The Legacy of Dracula is a finalist in Wattpad's Open Novella Contest.
In case anyone is unfamiliar with the platform, Wattpad is a free fiction site where anyone can post stories, and it is a great place to spot new talent and find new readers. It has a dedicated reading ap for most devices, as well as a website, and has millions of users.
After coming second in round 2 of the Open Novella Contest I worked really hard to come up with an ending for the novella that would entertain my readers and those judging the contest. It seems to have worked so far :).
For those who have no idea what I am talking about, Wattpad started the Open Novella Contest back in November last year. It is a multi genre contest run over many of the Wattpad Ambassador profiles with three rounds.
- Round 1: pick a prompt, write 2K in the first 4 weeks of the contest
- Round 2: write another 6K to bring the total up to 8K before 19th Dec
- Round 3: write another 12K to bring the total up to 20K or there abouts before 31st Jan (writing more was an option, but only the first 20K counted in the contest)
Easy Butter Chicken without the Butter
This is based on this BBC recipe, but I altered the ingredients because when I made it as is, I found it way too astringent. Altering the spices and adding coconut cream balanced it for me, although I have only eaten butter chicken not out of a packet once or twice, so I have no idea how it measures up to normal butter chicken.
As ever with recipes I post that are based on chicken, if you are vegetarian anything similar like Quorn or tofu would probably take the sauce well too. Having checked Google, Quorn and tofu both take marinade well :).
START THIS RECIPE THE DAY BEFORE or MORNING OF for best results - I would recommend marinating the chicken for at least half a day, overnight is even better.
With all the extras will server 3-4, with only the rice will serve 2-3
up the amount of chicken for more if necessary - there is plenty of sauce
Ingredients3 skinless chicken breasts (~450g)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp mild chilli powder
200g (~7/8 cup) natural yogurt
2 tbsp oil (I live olive oil, but use whichever you prefer)
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
inch fresh ginger
1/2tsp garam masala
1 tsp fenugreek
3 tbsp tomato puree
300ml (1 1/4 cups) chicken or veg stock
250ml (~1 cup) carton of coconut cream
To serve (pick n mix)
120-150g jasmine/basmati rice (check the packet for typical serving size and cooking time)
mango chutney or lime pickle
- In a bowl or bag mix the marinade.
- Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the marinade. Seal and place in the fridge overnight, or for a good few hours. This will allow the lemon to get into the meat and the yogurt to mellow the acidity.
- Chop the onion finely.
- Mince the ginger and the garlic.
- Heat the oil gently in a pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook on low until the onions are translucent and soft - at least 10 mins.
- Add the spices and the tomato puree and cook for 2-3 mins until the mixture is fragrant.
- Add the stock, the chicken with the marinade and the coconut milk and allow to bubble gently and reduce to thicken the sauce.
- While the chicken is bubbling away, cook the rice and prepare any of the other extras.
- Once the sauce is reduced by about half, serve immediately with the chosen extras.
Happy Valentine's day to one and all. In honour of all the hearts and lovey-dovey stuff, today I have a little humorous tale of paranormal romance.
And don't forget to click the link at the bottom because Soph has created a much longer tale of ghostly romance in honour of the day. It's so long it wouldn't fit in a post, so it's a free download from Smashwords :).
"Don't tell me you're torturing him again."
Dee looked over at the wolf sitting with his head on the table, balefully watching her with his big blue eyes.
"I am not torturing him," she said, turning to Tobi and accepting a quick kiss from her girlfriend, "the puppy eyes are not trying to wheedle something out of me, he's stuck and he did this to himself. I told him not to come in, that I was practicing complicated magic, but did he listen to me?"
She didn't bother keeping the exasperation out of her voice.
"Oh, Will, what have you done now?" Tobi said, walking over and giving the wolf a rub on the head.
He whined in response.
"So why haven't you turned him back?" Tobi asked.
"I can't," Dee replied. "I don't actually know what changed him into a wolf. He's part fae, the magic will wear off eventually and it's too dangerous to mess around."
"How long is eventually?"
"A day, maybe two, a week at most."
"Deadre, you cannot leave our third as a wolf for a week," Tobi said in a tone that Dee found entirely unnecessary. "We're supposed to be going to my parent's this weekend and, like that, Will will shed everywhere."
"This was not my fault," Dee defended herself. "I told him three times not to open the door, and yes, it was locked, but you know nothing can keep him out if he wants in. It's his major talent."
The wolf made what could almost be taken as a scoffing noise at that.
"Not the point," Tobi said and put her hands on her hips.
Her hair had also started turning dark brown at the ends which, when it came to dryads, was not a good thing at all.
"Okay," Dee did her best to placate her volatile girlfriend, "if he doesn't change back by tomorrow we'll take him to Shallaka. If anyone can figure out how to turn him back it will be her."
The ends of Tobi's hair began fading back to green.
"You really don't know how?"
"Sorry, no," Dee admitted. "I was practicing a spell for a new piece."
Dee specialised in using magic to create art, and she was becoming quite well known in the field. Some people thought having a degree in magecraft and using it to make sculptures and paintings was a waste of power. Her parents for one. They had been horrified, but she couldn't help what she loved doing most. She could have gone out and gone into industry, the military or police work, like most of her classmates, but she'd met a Bolshie dryad and a mischievous half-fae who liked to encourage her to follow her dream.
"I was focusing on a subconscious image, trying to get it to manifest, and Will walked in and interrupted my concentration. Unfortunately I was right on the point of casting. I don't know if the subconscious image was a wolf, so that's why he ended up that way, or if the magic found the wilder part of his nature and just went with that form."
It wasn't that Dee couldn't turn people into animals, it was just she hadn't done this deliberately. Will was a natural shapeshifter, so it was quite possible the spell had activated that, but she couldn't be positive. Magic was nothing to mess around with unless you were sure.
"Damn, and I was hoping for a good hard shag tonight," Tobi said, which made Will sit up and wag his tail. "I suppose you and I could improvise, Dee darling."
Dee couldn't help it, she burst out laughing. Will looked crest fallen at the idea he might be left out.
"Do you think about anything else?" she asked with a wry shake of her head.
"It's spring," Tobi replied, "all dryads are horny in the spring."
"And what about the summer, autumn and winter as well?"
"My tree is very fertile," Tobi said, doing a very good impression of affronted, "it's just nature."
Will yipped hopefully.
"Sorry, Sweetie," Tobi said, "but I draw the line at bestiality."
"Is it technically bestiality if he's not a real animal?" Dee asked, laughing at Will's dejected expression.
"As far as I'm concerned, yes," was the very sure answer. "Shame, what I was after was a big hard ..."
Will sparkled round the edges, there was a small explosion, a large puff of smoke and wolf became man. Admittedly a man coughing as he inhaled magical residue, but he was definitely no longer canine shaped.
"Works every time," Tobi said with a big grin.
"Told you it would," Dee said, she'd been texting her girlfriend for the last half an hour.
"You ganged up on me," Will accused.
"Only because I knew the best chance of getting you back quickly was your own magic," Dee told him and held out her hand. "You just needed the right motivation to activate it."
Will was incredibly powerful when it came to magic, the only problem was, he had little to no control over it. Dee had been positive since the day she had met him that it was a mental block brought on by years of abuse from his fae relatives (they were not fond of half-breeds). She and Tobi were working on helping him with it. Sometimes they used less than orthodox methods.
"So, I am still a horny dryad," Tobi said with such an innocent smile it should have been illegal, "shall we take the afternoon off?"
"One of the reasons I love you is you have great ideas," Dee said and let Tobi pull her out of her chair. "Come on wolf-boy," she added and grabbed Will's hand on the way past, "you still need to apologise for interrupting my creative moment."
"I'll do my best," Will promised.
A triad was not a common occurrence, a triad from three different species was even rarer, but Dee loved how theirs worked.
When Ben promises to show his cousin, Ellen, a ghost, the pair set in motion a series of events that lead them into a terrifying encounter. Yet, within her fear, Ellen finds a purpose, and it is to find out what Millicent Van Curren, shot by her lover, wants from them.
Phantom Love is book 1 in the Inspired By... Series, where each story is prompted by a memory.
If you enjoy it, I would be so very grateful if you click the little vote button on each chapter - they help the story go up the rankings on Wattpad and be seen by more readers.