Natasha Duncan-Drake

Natasha Duncan-Drake – Author

Click here to see all books by Tasha

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.

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Tasha’s Latest Personal Blog Posts

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(to visit the whole blog click here) 

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.


So this weekend I was playing around in Excel trying to sort out our DVD library. I have a nice program that does most of it for me, but I wanted to do some other stuff, so Excel it was. Don't worry I'm not going to go into details about DVDs, but I did learn a couple of things that I just hadn't come across before.

I used to use Excel a lot when I was a consultant, but mostly I was doing hideously complex things in VBA, so a lot of the normal front end passed me by :).

2 Useful Excel Tips When Using HH:MM:SS Duration Format

The DVD program I'm using exports in hh:mm:ss format for the duration of the film. What I wanted was it all in minutes only. Hence some scrabbling around to find out how to make the data useful.

Displaying Hours, Mins and Seconds

We can use formatting to display just the hours, minutes or seconds.
hh:mm:ss[h][m][s]
01:20:151804815
01:40:1511006015
01:20:451804845
  • Highlight the cell or col with the hh:mm:ss in it
  • Right Click and choose "format cell"
  • Choose "cutsom"
  • Type in [h] or [m] or [s] accordingly
The problem with this method is that the formatting converts the larger units into the chosen one ok, i.e. hours into minutes, hours and minutes into seconds but it ignores the smaller untis. There is not round up, only round down.

Hence if we need to take into account the smaller units we need another method.


Calculating Hours, Mins and Seconds

There is no nice function in Excel to calculate hours into mintes or into seconds, so we have to create a formula. Luckily there are funtions to extract the particualr parts so it is very easy.

A2 is the location of the cell where the hh:mm:ss value is stored.

hh:mm:ss to hours - =((HOUR(A2))+MINUTE(A2)/60+((SECOND(A2)/60))/60)
hh:mm:ss to mins - =((HOUR(A2)*60)+MINUTE(A2)+(SECOND(A2)/60))
hh:mm:ss to secs - =((HOUR(A2)*60*60)+MINUTE(A2)*60+(SECOND(A2)))

This gives us a decimal value. If we want a rounded up value so, for example, 01:40:15 converted so hours becomes 2, because that is the closest, then we can just use the format with no decimal places.
  • Highlight the cell with the formula.
  • Right click, choose format cell.
  • Choose "number"
  • Lower the number of decimal places to 0.
Rounded Up
hh:mm:sshrMinSecshrMin
01:20:151.3480.254815180
01:40:151.67100.2560152100
01:20:451.3580.754845181

These are also numbers so they can be easily compared against other numbers.

As with all things in Excel, there are many ways of doing things, but these two were nice and straightforward and quick :). I also don't have the latest Excel, so for all I know there are now functions to do this anyway!
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: October 10, 2017, 9:31 am


Free Fiction Friday


Can you believe we're in October already? Nope, neither can I. This year has been flying by. It's the first friday of the month which mean it's Free Fiction Friday over at Wittegen Press. We've posted a new short story for our loyal readers to enjoy. This month it's really spooky.

These stories are exclusively for subscribers of our newsletter, but anyone can join and it's really easy.

It is completely free to become a member and all you need is a valid email address. Fill in the form at the bottom of this page and you’re done. Don't worry if you join after the 1st Friday, the password for the month will be included in the welcome email after you subscribe.

What we WILL DO for our subscribers:

  • Send you an email on the 1st Friday of the month to remind you about the short story and give you the password for the month as soon as the story goes live.
  • Send you information about new books, competitions and events, so you don’t miss anything.
  • Give you two Free eBooks just for joining.

What we WON’T DO to our subscribers:

  • Spam you with loads of random advertising.
  • Reveal your email adress to anyone else.

This Month's Short Story

Looking for Luticia
by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror, paranormal
Length: ~7.5K wds

Description:
Lucy and her team have the most successful ghost hunting show on UK TV. They investigate, they debunk, and every now and then they catch the supernatural on camera. Their latest project is Darling Manor. This place has a locked room, which may or may not contain the embalmed remains of a dead relative, a very strange inheritance cycle, and more spooky stories than any house really needs.

Lucy and her team have moved in to find out the truth, but the creepy manor has Lucy on edge. Is it her imagination, or is there something to be afraid of? This could be the one investigation that is really dangerous. Will modern technology trump historic legend, or will the supernatural gain the upper hand?

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Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: October 6, 2017, 7:00 am

The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Butterfly Approach to Writing


The butterfly approach to writing is when we, the author, do not write a story from the beginning to the end. Rather we jump around writing various scenes and then going back and filling in what is missing. It is like the butterfly going from flower to flower in random order until it has visited all the blooms it needs.

On a personal level, this is my favoured manner of writing. I can writer from beginning to end if I have to (you can hear the whine in my voice, right? ;)), but I much prefer to butterfly. When writing I rarely do much planning other than jotting down the odd note. Most often I have the beginning and the end written way before most of the middle.

There are however both advantages and disadvantages to the technique.

Advantages


  • The butterfly approach is very much an inspiration driven methodology, so we are able to write what is in our heads right at that moment.
  • Jumping from place to place in the plot can inspire new ideas and ways forward, rather like storyboarding can, but because we're writing in detail it can spark off even more.
  • Writers can and should be able to write when they are 'not feeling it', but the butterfly approach allows much more leeway for leaving off a particular part and coming back to it later. For example it is very hard to write a good battle scene, or sex scene for that matter, when we are not in the right head space. Butterflying around allows us to come back to those scenes on the right day.
  • If our book has more than one protagonist it is possible to follow through arcs individually without worrying about jumping between characters all the time.
  • Over thinking can sometimes result in writer's block, but because this is all about inspiration, over thinking doesn't often happen, especially in the early stages.

Disadvantages


  • Sometimes ideas change, so later scenes that have already been written have to be edited. This has to be done in-line, or at least notes made or it makes for more difficult editing once the first draft is complete.
  • Once most of the story is there it requires much more discipline to go back and fill in the scenes that have been left out. This can be a bit of a shock to our systems after so much freedom.
  • All the hard scenes (like battles and sex and bothersome character interactions) are left until last, so finishing can be difficult.
  • Some planning is needed to go in and make sure our story has everything it needs - this is especially important when 'show don't tell' come into it. It can be very tempting to skim when putting in the final, often not so exciting, scenes.
So both pansters and planners can use the butterfly approach, although planners are likely to have much more stucture to theirs. It can work for both ways of going about things. If you're the kind of writer who writes from beginning to end, have a go at butterflying once in a while; it might be fun! They do say it's good to try new things.

Are you a butterfly writer or a straight line writer? Have you tried both? Why do you like your particular approach?

Readers, I suppose the equivilant might be reading multiple books at the same time and going to whichever one you feel like at the time. Would that appeal to you or would that lose some of the joy for you?
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: October 4, 2017, 8:24 am

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