Natasha Duncan-Drake

Natasha Duncan-Drake – Author

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Pseudonyms: Tasha D-Drake, Tasha Duncan

Bio

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.

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Contact Information

twitter: @beren_writes | Facebook | G+ | Tumblr | Livejournal | Fanfic on AO3 | Goodreads | Amazon Author Profile | Wattpad

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.

If you would like to email Tasha, please use this Contact Form


Tasha’s Latest Personal Blog Posts

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Tasha's Thinkings

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.


Those Mad Ideas


You know sometimes we writers have mad ideas - oh boy did my darling sister (Sophie's Blog) have one :). She decided, in her wisdom, that it was time to create a database of all her fiction, from ideas through to finished novels, including fanfiction. So she jumped into Airtable with both feet.

Of course the next thing she did is drag me along for the ride ;).

It's actually a really good idea, because I had no clue how many drabbles I had scattered around this blog alone, let alone elsewhere. It's going to take work, but it will be so useful in the end.

So far I have learned one valuable thing - I use the name Jack for characters far too often. I don't think I have any major novel characters called Jack, but I have so many in drabbles and flash fiction. Clearly I like to abuse Jacks ;).

Do you have any names for characters that always pop into your head?

There's also part of me that loves cataloguing. I suppose it's my inner librarian - not that I have the skills and training that my friends who are actually librarians have :). My skills lie in databases since that was my speciality before this whole writing thing.

Do you have skills from your "proper job" that help with writing, be it for profit or for fun?

I like Airtable - it makes some things much easier than your average, from the ground up, databse. However, it does freak me out a little that it kind of pretends to be a relational database, but hides things like many to many relationships and indexes :). The fact that it pretends its primary key field is a name also rubs me the wrong way, but since it does not in fact have to be unique I know it has proper one hiding in the shadows.

Now all I have to do is convince my brain not to vanish into this database for days at a time. I shall have to be firm with myself and only do a little bit every day until it is done :).

What things do you have to ration so you actually do some writing/work?

My father has had his final round of chemo now, which means his treatment is finished and its all about recovery now. His consultant is incredibly pleased with his progress, which is a great weight off all our minds. I'm hoping to get back into the flow of proper writing and marketing and, y'know, all this author stuff again now. 😀

To all whose families/friends are going through similar things, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I wish you love and hope and patience, as well as a healthy dose of good luck.

Best wishes to all. To the writers: may your words flow and the feedback be joyous. To the readers: may you find stories that fill your heart with wonder and enjoyment.
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: July 19, 2017, 6:48 am

Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing


This is another fabulous recipe that is one of my favourites, even though I now realise I haven't made it in ages 🙂 *Makes note to buy some bananas* I have mentioned it before on this blog, but never posted the whole thing. This would undoubtedly be really nice if you added a tablespoon of rum to the bananas and took out a tablespoon of the butter milk too ;).

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • medium missing bowl
  • Fork or mouli for blitzing 
  • Sieve
  • Two to three bun trays
  • Measuring equipment (baking is a science rather than an art so you'll need to measure)
  • Bun cases
  • Electric hand mixer
  • 2 teaspoons
  • spatula (not vital, but makes life much easier)
  • wire rack
  • Piping bag

Ingredients:

Cup Cakes
  • 255g (2 1/4 cups) of plain flour (sifted)
  • 110g (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas (the riper they are the better the cupcakes taste)
  • 55ml (1/4 cup) of buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 115g (1 cup) of sugar (caster)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Icing:
  • 440g icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
  • 300g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 tsps of vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles to decorate

Instructions

  1. Preheat the over to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5
  2. Place bun cases in the bun tins
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda, along with the salt into a middle sized bowl and combine thoroughly
  4. Place the butter and vanilla into the big mixing bowl and use the electric mixer to whip together until creamy and light in colour (you can do it by hand, but it will take longer)
  5. Add the sugar bit by bit, beating so that the mixture becomes light and fluffy
  6. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating each in before adding the next
  7. Mash the banana (either with a fork or an electric hand blender)
  8. Add a little of the butter milk and beat in, then add in some of the dry mixture and beat in, then add some of the banana and beat in.
  9. Repeat step 8 until all the ingredients are combined.
  10. Using the two teaspoons, spoon the mixture into the bun cases (to just over half full – about two teaspoons full)
  11. Bake in the oven for between 18 and 20 mins until golden on top - they will rise into quite sharp mounds
  12. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
  13. For the topping put all the ingredients into a large bowl (I did it in two lots to make it easier) and combine using the electric whisk until they go light and fluffy
  14. Put the icing into a piping bag and pipe over the cooled cup cakes (you can spoon it on if you don't have a piping bag) - this is where the spatula comes into it's own to get the last of the icing from the bowl.
  15. Sprinkle randomly with petty edible things 🙂
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: July 18, 2017, 12:42 pm


Title: The Mummy
Cast:
Tom Cruise ... Nick Morton
Russell Crowe ... Henry
Annabelle Wallis ... Jenny Halsey
Sofia Boutella ... Ahmanet
Jake Johnson ... Chris Vail
Summary (from IMDB):
An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

I will start by saying only one cinema near us is still showing this and now I know why!

Firstly, the good things. The effects are superb and the stunts are really well done. There are exciting sequences in the movie and parts will get your heart pumping. I love the look of Ahmanet and the double eyes are fantastic. If only the plot had held up to the effects.

My favourite character in the whole film is Vail (Jake Johnson). He's basically the reimaginining of Jonathan from the original 1999 masterpiece and he's a lot of fun to watch. His timeline actually makes sense and his story conclusion is the only really good thing about the whole sequence of the film.

Sofia Boutella does wonders with what she is given as Ahmanet, but her character is so badly written that it just doesn't make sense. She a pretty good baddy, but since this movie should have been called Cruise, not The Mummy, she doesn't have a who lot to work with. Her physical acting is superb, if only the film had actually been about her.

There ends the good.

This film is basically an attempt to start a new franchise about monster hunters, only in doing that it fails to do the Mummy any justice whatsoever. The rest of this review is going to have spoilers gallor, so be warned.

The first thing that really annoys me is the lack of any indepth Egyptology. The 1999 movie might have been a little dodgy, but they tried to stay true to the genre. Frankly in this version she wasn't really a Mummy, didn't need to be Egyptian and they just used whatever bits of Egyptian history they felt like, most of which made no sense.

Let's start with Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) herself. She is the sole heir to the Pharoh and is being brought up to rule, but Daddy falls for a new wife who gives him a son. Was she just the eldest of a whole host of girls? Was is just because she was the daughter of the Great Royal Wife? How come it took him so long to have another wife? How is she the sole heir? I need more explanation. Women could rule in Egypt, but Pharohs took having heirs very seriously, so where are the others?

Then their is her whole plot. She sees the new wife and new son as her downfall because the baby will inheret. She wants the ultimate power so she makes a deal with Set to become a monster. She kills her father and her brother and her brother's mother. Yay, ultimate power. Oh, but wait, part of the deal was to bring Set into the human world and give him a body ... Hang on, so she's going to give away ultimate power to a man. Didn't she just kill everyone for that?

Makes no sense!

Then they mummify her alive for her crimes before she can bring Set to this world and erase her from history - only they helpfully still put her name and her whole story on her sarcophagus? Seriously?!!!

Oh, and if you didn't want anyone to bring up the sarcophagus, Ancient Egyptians, why did you leave all the machinary in place to make it easy? Oh, and why no boobytraps? Could it be possibly because the writers don't give two stuffs about the Egyptian tomb part and it's all a quick way to get the Mummy out of Iraq?

I also have a question to anyone who may know - did the ancient Egyptians really believe mercury would contain monsters? All I can find when searching is that they used it in cosmetics. The whole power over evil thing is not something I had heard before, but not being an expert I don't know if one of the writers actually did some research, or just made that shit up :).

So, on to our hero.

You know how in the original 1999 movie Rick is a bit of a rogue, but a loveable one? Well Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is just an asshole. I disliked him from the moment he first appeared and nothing in the film ever redeemed him to the point where I actually liked him. He made me want to throw things at the screen. I was really hoping for something good because I've enjoyed some Cruise movies recently (Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, the last 3 MI movies), but this is right up there with all those I have really disliked (first MI movie, War of the Worlds).

His story arc is so predicatable it's painful and when he actually becomes Set and end up possibly "the best hope" of the monster hunters, but of course only if he hangs on to his inherent goodness and does not give in to the evil, I was so not shocked. This film was not about Ahmanet or anyone else, it was all about making Nick a god so he can be the ultimate hero in the rest of the franchise. It's an ego trip.

We do have another female character in Jenny (Annabelle Wallis). Her first conversation in the film revolves around having had sex with Nick. I'll just let you guess what her character's all about for the rest of the movie.

The two female characters in the movie have one conversation together - just one. It starts off hopefully with Jenny speaking Egyptian to Ahmanet and asking about the old gods, of course it ends up about Ahmanet's chosen (Nick). So, yes, this movie fails the lowest bar possible for female agency in a movie the Bechdel Test.

They also Fridge Jenny to further Nick's plot - specifically to make him a god.

Then there is the whole Dr Henry Jekyll (Russell Crow) part. I believe my reaction was something along the lines of 'you have to be f***ing kidding'. They seemed to be trying to create a film that was of a cross between The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Mummy 1999 and it fell short of both. Given that I have never been overly impressed with tLoEG, that's not a high bar to try and improve on and they failed. I doubt they ever could have managed to match The Mummy 1999 though.

This film:
  • is full of cliches, 
  • has a plot that makes no sense, 
  • has no characters that we, the adience, can really root for,
  • fails its female characters spectacularly,
  • and is a reboot of a franchise that seriously DID NOT need rebooting in the first place.
I sincerely hope they never, ever make a second one.
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: July 17, 2017, 11:02 am

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