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.

Press kit downloads: Bio and Contact LinksHiRes Photo | Details of All Tasha’s Books


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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(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.


Tiers - It Should be Tears!

The Joys of Patreon #3

The about section was bad, but, oh my, the tiers were more daunting. This is where we have to decide what we do and what our fans might actually like.

On Patreon we can reward our patrons at differing levels depending on how much they pledge to us - these are called tiers.

There are 2 business models:

  • per creation - patrons pay per product we produce - a bit like a kickstarter
  • subscription - patrons pay monthly
I decided on the subscription model, since that is the way I work, so this post is all about that ideal.
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Advice No 1:
Read the Best Practices and examples given by Patreon themselves - they know what they are talking about. These are to be found on the Tiers tab of the page editor.

Advice No 2:
Go look at other Patreon users and see what has worked for them.
First thing to consider is sustainability. Whatever we add to our tiers we must be able to produce and continue to produce to satisfy our obligations to our patrons - unfortunately we are not Leonardo Da Vinci and we cannot abandon projects just because we feel like it. So basically we should not add in anything we might not be able to produce.

What is really good is Patreon has a benefits system where we can add in each benefit and then it will track it for us. Benefits can either be one offs at signup or monthly, and it will show us who is in line for which benefit. This means we should never lose track of who has had what when.

Some of the things we are looking for are exclusive content, some is value added content, both of which should appeal to fans. What we have to remember about Patreon is that we are not going to be able to grab everyone who likes our product, be it books, fine art, illustrations, comics etc. The people who sign up are more than that, they are fans who wish to support us in our endeavours to succeed at what we are doing.

Exclusive Content

Exclusive content are, simply put, things that cannot be obtained from anywhere else. For example:

  • Blog posts only available on Patreon
  • Videos or podcasts linked nowhere else
  • Cat pictures (seriously - the internet loves cat pictures, or pictures of any pet)
  • Short stories, new art etc

Value Added Content

Value added content are things that may or may not be exclusive forever, but are special to our patrons:
  • Voting rights on content, e.g. authors can ask for input on character names or which cover to choose etc
  • Previews of work, e.g. draft chapters before release
  • Money off products
  • Shout-out on social media or within our work - e.g. in-book thanks, or thank you blog posts etc.
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The Method In My Madness

This is how I went about this:
  1. Read all of Patreon's advice and checked out other authors.
  2. Sat down and wrote a long list of everything I thought might interest fans.
  3. Crossed out everything that I did not think I could produce regularly enough (but kept the notes to revisit in the future - we don't have to launch everything at the same time, after all this is a learning process).
  4. Ranked all the content on how valuable I thought it would be to people.

Creating the Tiers

Right, so now we have our content sorted, we need to decide what to do with it. 

There are several things to decide:
  1. How many tiers we are going to have
  2. What to call each tier
  3. The price of each tier
  4. What to put in each tier 

1. How Many Tiers

Some people only have one tier, some people have many, Patreon recommends somewhere between 1 and 5.

1 Tier:
  • Advantage - we only have to produce one set of benefits and all our patrons get the same.
  • Disadvantage - we would have to price it higher than some of our fans would be willing or able to pay.
2-5 Tiers:
  • Advantage - we can offer varying levels of price for our fans with differing means or levels of engagement.
  • Disadvantage - we have to decide what to offer where and have enough in each tier to justify its price, which will likely be more work.
How I Decided

My thought process on this was 2 fold:
  • I knew I wanted a range of price points that needed to be 3 or 4, because I wanted a tier at the min of $1 and at least 2 above that.
  • I had my list of things to offer, so I looked at how well it would divide.
In the end I went for 4 tiers because it gave me the range I wanted and I figured if anyone wanted to give me more than my highest range, they would anyway.
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2. What to Call Each Tier

The whole point of Patreon is that we're drawing our fans closer, they are becoming our patrons. This gives us a certain relationship to them which is above that of someone who simply buys our product, or even interacts with us online as colleagues or fans. To enhance this Patreon allows us to give each tier a name.

The hard part is coming up with names that reflect how we wish to interact with our patrons and that fit our brand.

I did consider choosing something in the vampire genre for my titles, but decided that might not come across quite right, since the genres tends to use words like familiar and servant etc. Not really the tone I was after, and I don't exclusively write vampires, so I discarded the notion. In the end I went for something more neutral, but I am actually still thinking about this and may yet change my mind.
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3. Price Points

Now this is a very personal thing, for some, having prices into the hundreds could be right, especially if we've gone with the per-creation model. However, the subscription model needs a range of price points.

There are 2 main factors in what patrons are willing to pay:
  • means - some patrons have lots of money, some do not
  • investment - patrons who are highly invested in us and our product are likely to be willing to pledge more
So when setting price points we need to consider how to give good value at the lower end, but with bonuses at the higher end to encourage the investment we seek. This is a tricky balance because, of course, we want to bring in as much income as we can, after all this is our livelihood, but we do not wish to short change our fans that do not have the disposable income to give us more.

I went with a very simple structure: $1, $5, $10, $20

My reasoning was that those at one end ($1) are probably going to be either loyal fans with a low income or people who like to support artists that don't know me well enough yet. Then at the other end $20 there would be super-fans who really want to connect and support me in my writing aims.

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4. The Content

Finally the really hard bit: deciding what to offer in each tier.

Those in every tier, from $1 up, are giving us their hard earned money to support us in our endeavours and what we are offering them in return is membership of our community. Hence I believe that is important to be inclusive from the ground up.

Hence I thought of the tiers like a house and my patrons all have a key to the foundation level where I welcome them to my home, but pledging to the higher tiers gives them keys to the stairwell and the more interesting rooms above.

This made the foundation level very important and it needed to be something I could build on. I considered having levels of blog posts for different tiers, but, in the end I decided that blog posts would be my foundation.
My main assumption with this whole endeavour is that people willing to pledge and become patrons wish to know about me, my work, why I do it, and how, hence my decision about blog posts.
After that is was a matter of adding in content for each tier which added to the foundation in increments. The hardest one was the last tier - coming up with something I knew I could produce, but that would give patrons at that level just that little bit more, in essence, a little bit more of me.

I've changed my mind on what is in various tiers at least ten times already, just in case you were wondering (even made some edits while I was writing up this post), but I think I am done now ... probably ;). I'll make a big announcement when I finally launch so everyone can check out my final choices.

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What kind of thing would you add to your Patreon? 
What would you like to see in an author's Patreon to entice you in?

P.S. This post would have been much easier if I could spell tier - I keep typing it as teir, no matter what I do! Thank heavens for spellcheck. 🙂
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: January 16, 2019, 10:01 am


Sous Vide Honey Sesame Duck Breast with Rice and Sesame Broccoli

Ever had the problem of your duck breast going tough when you cook it? Never again with the sous vide method - it comes out perfectly every time. The searing with duck is a little bit more complicated than with chicken, but it is still really easy.

Now, there are 2 ways to go about this:
  1. quick prep, but the skin isn't going to be as crispy
  2. longer prep, with perfect crispy skin
Both give fantastic duck breast meat, so if that's all you're interested in, go with version 1, but if you love yourself a bit of duck skin, go with 2.

Serves 2

Ingredients

for the duck
  • 2 duck breasts (I use the Gressingham duck breasts from Morrisons that they have in packs of 2 on the 3 for £10 offer).
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed - I use a tube)
for the broccoli
  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp normal oil
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed - I use a tube)
75g of Jasmine rice per person

Instructions

For the duck
  • Preheat the Anova to 57.5 °C / 135 °F
Quick prep:
  1. Place the duck breasts in a bag with all the other ingredients.
  2. Seal using the water displacement method or a vacuum sealer on moist.
More complicated prep:
  1. Score the duck skin with long even strokes - do not cut the meat and score against the grain.
  2. Sear in a med pan, skin side down for 2-3 mins until the skin it golden - no oil is required because the fat will render. Do not have the heat too high or it will burn.
  3. Place the duck in a bag with the other ingredients.
  4. Seal using the water displacement method or a vacuum sealer on moist.
Cooking:
  1. Put the duck in the water bath and set the timer for 2h
  2. When the duck is ready, remove it from the water bath and bag and pat dry - reserve the cooking liquid.
  3. In a hot, but not scorching pan, place the duck skin side down and cook until the skin is crispy.
  4. Meanwhile add the cooking liquid to a saucepan and add a little corn flour.
  5. Cook until bubbling and thickening.
  6. Allow the duck to rest for a few minutes before serving.
For the broccoli
  1. Blanch the broccoli by bring a pan of water to the boil, dropping in the florets and cooking for 3-4 mins (if you have small florets, go for 3, bigger, go for 4). Drain and leave to the side until almost ready to serve.
  2. Heat the oils for the broccoli in a small frying pan or wok and add the garlic (you could use a saucepan if you are using your only frying pan for the duck:)).
  3. Add the blanched broccoli to the garlicy oil and stir fry for a minute.
Cook the rice as indicated on the packet - usually in boiling water for about 12 mins.

Serve with the sauce drizzled over the top.

Cooking the duck sous vide with all the flavours in the bag means they really get into the meat, but the meat also stays beautifully soft and juicy.

If you prefer your duck done to a different level, here are the temps chefsteps.com recommend for different results (I haven't tried any of them):
  • 129 °F / 54 °C: Rare, with some chew
  • 135 °F / 54 °C: Tender and juicy (temp I use)
  • 144 °F / 62 °C: Totally tender, a little less juicy
  • 149 °F / 65 °C: Decidedly less juicy but still delicious
  • 158 °F / 70 °C: Cooked all the way through
Do you have any favourite duck recipes you can recommend?
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: January 15, 2019, 8:13 am

Sous Vide Chicken, Pesto and Mozzarella Roulade + Buttery Potatoes

I made this recipe yesterday and it was delicious, so I am going to share. First let me say that I used these 2 recipes as a base, but had to do added things:
Now I have no idea if the original recipe could actually work as is, but when I used it, the potatoes just weren't cooked, so I had to add a step. The reason I think it is worth the trouble is because, boy, the flavour of the potatoes is wonderful.

Prep time: 5 mins Cooking Time: 1h20

Ingredients

  • enough salad potatoes for 2 (I did a whole bag of Morrisons' The Best salad potatoes because I intend to use the left overs in a potato salad, but just do as many as you want to eat - also in season new pots would be good).
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Set the Anova to 87C or 190F - make sure to use hot water from the tap or kettle to start with because getting to this temp takes a long while otherwise
  2. Put everything in a zip-lock bag and seal using the water immersions method (or if you have a vacuum sealer, use the moist setting).
  3. Pop in the Anova for 1h (you may have to weigh them down because pots float - I used an upturned bowl). 
  4. Once the timer goes off take potatoes out of the Anova and set aside.
  5. Half an hour before serving boil a pot of water on the stove.
  6. Add the potatoes and cook until tender (anywhere from 10-20mins)
Yes it seems like a lot of work and the potatoes are boiled anyway, but seriously, the way the butter infuses with the potatoes is lovely. You could add herbs or just go with olive oil if you are looking for a different flavour profile/lighter option. Honestly, I won't be doing these often, but I wanted to try them and they would be great for a special occasion.

Sous Vide Chicken, Pesto and Mozzarella Roulade

This is delicious, and you may notice that I use a higher temp than the original recipe, this is because my husband just can't bring himself to enjoy the texture of the low-temp cooking.

Prep time: 20 mins Cooking Time: 1h15

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ~100g (4 tbsp ish) green pesto
  • 1 regular ball of mozzarella (~125g)

Instructions

  1. Set the Anova to 63C or 145F - if cooking straight after the pots, adding ice and cold water to the pot will help cool it down quickly.
  2. Butterfly each chicken breast and beat flat between 2 sheets of cling film (don't go too mad, but show it who's boss ;)).
  3. Spread each chicken breast with half the pesto.
  4. Thinly slice the mozzarella ball and place half of the slices over each pesto layer.
  5. Roll the chicken breast tightly and pack it in the cling film so it is easy to handle.
  6. Place each in a zip lock bag and seal using the water immersions method (or if you have a vacuum sealer, use the moist setting).
  7. Place in the water bath and set the timer for 1h15 
  8. When the timer goes off, remove from the water and carefully take each roulade out of its bag using tongs.
  9. Heat a frying pan/skillet on high on the stove.
  10. Remove the cling film from each roulade and brown in the frying pan on all sides - this only takes seconds.
  11. Serve (the chicken can be left to rest for a few minutes in a very low oven while finishing off the rest of meal).
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: January 10, 2019, 7:30 am

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