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.

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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.


To NaNo or Not to NaNo - That is Always the Question

I know, it's only September, but this is the time of year I usually start planning for NaNo. Well that's if I have a plan. A time or two I have just jumped in and hoped for inspiration.

Just in case you don't know what I'm talking about NaNo is NaNoWriMo - or National Novel Writing Month and happens every November. The idea is to write a novel of at least 50K words in a month. There is a website and lots of things to help you achieve your goal as well as having other events through the year to help you actually polish the novel.


I usually use November to start a new book and get it well on it's way or to finish one that I have just started. I have also used it for fanfic projects.

NaNo is a great way for those of us with a procrastination problem to focus and get things done. The daily word counts etc are very useful as a gentle reminder to get our posteriors in gear :). If you haven't tried it before I recommend giving it a go. It's the perfect help for getting the first draft down since the idea is not to perfect the text, but just to get it on paper.

However...

After some thought, this year I have decided not to do NaNo. First and foremost my choice is based on the fact I don't have a new novel I want to finish at the moment. Instead I have decided to take November to finish the rewrite of Cat's Call and the re-formatting of Cat's Creation and Cat's Confidence so they are ready for paperback in time for Christmas.



I had hoped to have them ready long before this, but let's just say life got in the way and leave it at that. The new covers are done at least :).

When I read through the books to start editing them for paperback the first thing that was blatantly obvious was that the first half of Cat's Call just doesn't have the same flow as the latter half or the other two books. Hence I am rewriting it and Cat's Call will get its second edition. It will be the same story, just smoothed out with the help of my editor :). One of the advantages of it being an eBook until now is that I can make the changes and everyone who already has a copy will be automatically updated.

I'm going to be using a lot of paper in November, but I promise to recycle it. As I learned with Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse, the only way to do a final proof read is to print it out and go through with a red pen. The number of typos, extra spaces etc that slip through if very surprising.




I also want to use November to get a head start on lots of the short stories for Free Fiction Friday. On the first Friday of every month we're giving away a free short story to our Wittegen Press Newsletter members. All the details are here if you would like to know more. If you would like to see what stories have been posted so far click here to see the Free Fiction Friday tag.




Are you doing NaNo this year? Do you find the camaraderie and word count useful? What tips do you have to beat procrastination?

Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: September 12, 2017, 11:00 pm

Hearty Mexican Style Bean, Rice and Chicken Soup

This is a wonderfully hearty recipe and it is very easy to bulk up for more people. It's also gluten free and if you want to make a veggie version replacing the chicken with tofu or mushrooms or quorn, and the chicken stock with vegetable stock would work well.

This dish also only takes a few minutes to throw together if the chicken and rice are cooked in advance, so it is great for those dinners when there is little time to cook.

Ingredients

serves 4
  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts (you can also use chicken thighs, just up the number depending on the size of the thighs)
  • 2 tsp oil (olive, sunflower, or whichever you prefer)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red or green pepper (capsicum) (I use a roasted red pepper from a jar because I don't like pepper skin)
  • 250g/9oz (about 2/3 cup) cooked rice (brown rice cooked = 2x uncooked weight, white rice cooked = 3x uncooked weight) I use a basmati/wild rice combo when I can get it, but plain basmati when I can't - a pouch of precooked rice also works 🙂
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle paste (chipotle is spicy, so go with your personal taste on amount, also check the label if you need it to be gluten free - not all of them are)
  • 200g/7oz (just over 1 cup) sweetcorn (I use a can, but frozen is okay too)
  • 400g/15oz can black beans (1.75 cups) (if you can't get black beans, kidney beans, haricot beans or whichever is your fav canned bean will do as long as they are not in a sauce).
  • 1.2 l ( about 4.5 cups) chicken stock (I use dilutable liquid stock)
  • a handful of fresh coriander finely chopped or 1 tspn dried coriander leaf

Optional to serve:
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe avocados
  • 1 lime
  • garlic powder or grated garlic
  • soured cream

Equipment

  • sharp knife
  • large caserole pan that can be used on the hob
  • spatula

Instructions

  1. If using dried rice, cook as instructed on the packet, drain and put aside for later.
  2. Fry off the chicken in the pan with 1 tsp of the oil until it is cooked through, remove from the pan and leave to rest. (You can do this in advance or use left over chicken as well - it does not need to be hot).
  3. Finely chop the onion.
  4. Heat the other tsp of oil in the same pan and throw in the onion, cooking on a low heat to sweat it down until it is translucent. Do not allow it to colour.
  5. Chop the pepper.
  6. Add the pepper to the pan. If it is raw allow to cook for 2-3 mins before continuing, if it is roasted from a jar go on to the next step immeditately.
  7. Add the chipotle paste, rice and sweetcorn to the pan and stir to make sure everything is coated in the paste. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the stock and stir.
  9. Drain and add the black beans and stir.
  10. Up the heat and bring to the boil before turning down the heat again so the pot is simmering.
  11. Shred the chicken and add half to the pan along with the corriander.
  12. Let it simmer for a minute or too and then let it sit for another minute.
  13. While the soup is simmering, cut the avocados into small cubes, add the juice of the lime and garlic to taste and stir.
  14. Ladle the soup into bowls and add the rest of the shredded chicken on top.
  15. Serve with a dollop of soured cream and the acovado salsa scattered on top.
For some added crunch, crumble a few tortilla chips onto to the top of the soup before eating. But not too many or they will go soggy :).

This works really well reheated the next day and is great for a packed lunch where there is access to a mircowave. Just make sure the soup is piping hot when reheated because of the rice and the chicken.
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: September 11, 2017, 11:00 pm


How Not to Write a Police Procedural with Female Leads


Please be aware this post has SPOILERS for Women's Muder Club ep 1.

So I just watched the first episode of Women's Muder Club and I'm hoping that it is an aberation and the rest of the season is better, because it get's one more chance and I'm done.

For those who don't know, Women's Muder Club is a TV show that aired back in 2007-2008 based on books of the same name by James Patterson and the reason it caught my eye is because it stars Angie Harmon of Rizzoli and Isles fame. I love Angie Harmon, but if the second episode does not portray the female characters better I am not watching any more.


It was so bad I made claw marks in the table cloth. What is disappointing is is looked so promising with many lead female characters, one of whom is a WoC and all about solving crime.

This is supposedly a show about a female detective (Inspector Lindsay Boxer played by Angie Harmon), a female deputy DA (Jill Bernhardt played by Laura Harris), a female medical examiner (Dr Claire Washburn played by Paula Newsome) and a female crime reporter (Cindy Thomas played by Aubrey Dollar) and yet the entire first episode was all about men.

I kid you not!

In the first ep Cindy isn't really a major player yet, so we will concentrate on the other three.

I'm pretty sure they did not manage to have one conversation that did not revolve around men, and I'm not even talking about the case. The first scene they are all in together is at a crime scene and do you know what they end up talking about? Let me tell you: Lindsay's ex-husband Tom. No, really, and Jill and Claire are trying to convince Lindsay to get back together with him.

BTW - I would like to point out at this point that I only know the women's names becuase I looked them up, but Tom's is forever stuck in my memory because they talked about him so damn much!

So for Lindsay there's Tom - who turns out to be her new Lieutenant too.

Then we have Cindy, who is apparently commitment shy (we aren't given any hints as to why in the first ep). In her first scene away from the murder site, her boyfriend is asking her to move in with him and they almost go at it in her office with the door wide open, but Lindsay interupts them. This woman is supposed to be a well respected Deputy DA and yet she has sex with a man (not her boyfriend) in her office later on without the slighest reguard for professionalism or even making sure the door's locked! This scene is only there to make her realise she really should commit to her boyfriend, BTW.

She only gets to shine once in the episode where she actually does her job and brings a public defender down to size (the same one she later sleeps with if you were wondering and it's him doing the instigating). It's almost as if a woman isn't allowed to dominate a man without there being payback or something.

Claire is happily married and seems to think everyone else should be too.

The only female character with a major impact on the plot whose life does not revolve around a man is the reporter who is killed, Theresa Wu. Yep, that's right the murder victim and she is portrayed as a lonely workaholic, which is what Lindsay is desperately tyring not to turn into.

The entire message of this episode seemed to be that a woman needs a man and is only whole with one. Now I love my husband and I consider him in my life decisions, but I do manage to have whole conversations on a daily basis that don't even mention him - especially when I'm working! I also know many, many women who are perfectly happy without a man in their life at all!

Even the villain of the piece in the first episode is motivated by a man. She is a doctor who runs a free clinic and her husband is a womanising restaraunt owner. The dead reporter was having an affair with her husband, but that wasn't why she killed her. No, the reporter was working on an expose, which was why she was banging the husband to get access to their house. The doctor had been fraudulently claiming money off the government for non-existent drugs by using homeless people, which she was only doing because her husband's resturant was failing and she needed to help him.

In the end she even confesses to save her husband, not because the police  have the evidence or anything, but because they are accusing her husband.

If this had been a rom-com with a police detective in it, I might have forgiven it some of the dialog, because it would have been about romance, but Women's Murder Club is supposed to be a police procedural.  It's supposed to be a show about leading women. I can't be sure, because I was tuning half of it out by the end, but I don't think it even passed the Bechdel test!

This is not how to write a show with leading female characters! What I really don't get is that the shows creators are two women as well. What were they thinking?

Maybe the first ep was a blip. I'm praying it was and the writing will improve, but I'm not holding out much hope.

UPDATE:


So we've watched the next few eps and they aren't as terrible as the first, but the show does make me wince at regular intervals. The women still have relationship talks at the oddest moments, but they are able to have entire conversations without mentioning their significant others or their potential significant others. However, they don't seem to be able to solve a whole case without doing so.
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: September 6, 2017, 9:11 am

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