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.

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.


Which eBook Shall We Convert to Paperback Next?

At Wittegen Press, we are in the process of converting all eBooks that are suitable so they are available in paperback format as well. We've already done The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman, and Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse, and The Burning Web, but we haven't yet decided which order to convert the rest of our titles.


Cat's Call

Cat's Creation

Cat's Confidence

The Burning Web

Dead Before Dawn

We would greatly appreciate it if you would help us decide which book to concentrate on next. In the Google form below are all the options we currently have in mind. We know some of our titles aren't listed yet, for various reasons, and if there is one you would really, really like to see in paperback that isn't there, please tell us in the last question in the form as well.

If there is anything else you'd like to tell us, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.

Many thanks for your input, we are really interested to see the results.


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Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: January 17, 2018, 9:37 am

Honey Sesame Chicken with Sesame Broccoli and Rice

It's the new year, so it's time to try new recipes. I started last night with this one. The base recipe comes from Two Peas and Their Pod, but it's done with a pressure cooker, so this is how I made it without one. I've also added UK measurements as well as US and reduced the original recipe which was to feed six.

N.B. This recipe can be gluten free if you use Tamari (Japanese soy sauce) rather than regular soy sauce, which usually contains gluten.

Given that chicken is basically a meat that takes on any flavour it is put with, I would guess this would be nice done with tofu or Quorn, for those of a vegetarian persuasion.

If you don't like broccoli, you could substitute snow peas, or something similar - but if you haven't tried sesame broccoli, give it a go - it was that which turned me onto the green menace after years of having hated it.

Feeds 2 (just scale up for more)


Ingredients


For the chicken
  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts, bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 tblspn oil (use whichever you like best)
  • 1/2 small (lemon sized) onion, finely chopped (I used red, the original recipe says white, so go with what you prefer)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup/60ml soy sauce (low salt)
  • 2 tbsp/30ml ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4cup/60ml honey
  • 1 tbsp corn flour (cornstarch)
  • 1.5 tbsp cold water
For the broccoli
  • 1/2 head of broccoli in florets
  • 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
Sesame seeds to garnish, optional - (I toasted mine in a dry pan to bring out the flavour)
Rice to serve - I like Jasmine rice, but just use your favourite.

Instructions

  1. Put the oil in a frying pan or casserole (suitable for direct heat) that has a lid, heat gently on the hob and add the onion. Pop on the lid and allow to soften and go translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min to allow the flavour to start coming out.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the diced chicken, sealing it all over.
  4. Lower the heat again, add the soy sauce, ketchup and chilli, put the lid on and cook gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. (Depending on your definition of bite sized, this can take between 10 & 15 mins usually - check by splitting a chunk in two). If you are waiting for someone to come home, this is the point where you can leave it until you know they are almost back - just keep the lid on and the heat really low once the chicken is done.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, get the rice going - follow the instructions on the packet.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the sesame oil and honey to the chicken and stir well to mix.
  8. Mix the corn flour and water in a small bowl, then add to the frying pan - stir in quickly and cook gently until the sauce thickens.
  9. 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 chicken 🙂).
  10. Add the blanched broccoli to the garlicy oil and stir fry for a minute.
  11. Serve in warmed bowls with sesame seeds sprinkled on the chicken and the broccoli (you can sprinkle them on the rice too if it makes you happy 😉).

Rob all but licked the bowl when he was finished, which I count as a success :).
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: January 16, 2018, 8:25 am


The Problem of Endings


So we've slogged through creating the characters, the world, the plot and only one thing is left: the ending. I can hear the dramatic music in my head.

Now, I don't know about you, but the ending can make or break a story for me. A bad ending can strip away all the pleasure I've felt during the book/film/tv show and destroy it for me. This makes writing them somewhat stressful.

Endings are hard!

Hands up who has had something ruined by a terrible ending (and I don't mean just tragedies, which I understand some people love). I'm more talking about endings that don't make sense, or are simply flat.

This topic came to me today, because, yes, I am struggling with an ending. I have a novella entered into the Open Novella Contest over at Wattpad (Mina's Children: The Legacy of Dracula). There are three rounds to the contest:

  • Round 1 - write 2K words
  • Round 2 - add another 6K words to take the novella to 8K
  • Round 3 - complete the novella to 20K
At each round authors are eliminated, and yay, I'm into round three. Of course this means coming up with the ending.

We've all done it, writers, haven't we, plotted and schemed and come up with things we love and then ... the big question comes of how to finish it.

Last week I didn't have an ending at all, now I have two, possibly three, and I'm not sure which way to go.

I've heard it said by some that a surprising ending is the best, but I have to disagree. Too many times a show, book or film has come up with surprising ending that's just terrible. There are many things to take into account for a good ending, and these are some of the things I think about.
  • An ending needs a payoff - we've dragged our readers through trials and tribulations, through twists and turns and the ending is where they get their reward. It does not have to be the conclusion of everything, but we can't skimp on what we have promised. This is most important in series because there is a balance. We have to make sure there is enough for our readers to want to continue to the next part, but if we don't give them enough of a payoff in the current one they're going to be upset with us anyway.
  • An ending needs to be true to our characters - this is where the surprise ending sometimes fall flat. It's all well and good giving our audience a shock, but if that shock betrays the characterisation of our protagonists, they're unlikely to enjoy it. For example, having character A be the level headed and sensible one all the way through, with no hint of anything bubbling under the surface, and then having them doing something completely nuts right at the very end might be fun for the writer, but the observer will want to brain us. (The operative words above being 'no hint', because it's an entirely different matter if all the ground work is laid - a big finish like that where the audience goes - oh, wow, of course, should have seen that coming, can be the best).
  • Deus ex Machina is usually a really bad idea. Bringing in something or someone completely new to fix everything is likely to really annoy our audience. This is a classical term, so they have their place or they wouldn't have been around so long, but usually this is bandied about as detrimental these days. Of course it can be done, but there better be a really, really good reason for it.
  • An ending can't be too easy - I'm all for the happy ending, in fact I all but insist on it, but if getting to that happy ending is too easy, there is not satisfaction when it arrives. This probably boils down to us making sure our protagonist doesn't waltz to the finish line without taking some serious knocks over the last hurdle (be they physical or mental or abstract).
There are many different ways of writing a story, and many different tropes, setups and approaches, but the above ideas seem to apply in some form to most of them.

Personally, my perfect ending is good for the characters (Boromir dying and Han getting frozen in carbonite had big effects on me as a child, okay, I need happy endings - there is a reason Game of Thrones is so not my thing ;)), leaves some questions hanging, but not the big ones the particular story asked, and has a little bit of a twist as well.

What is your perfect ending like? Does it have to have certain elements?

So I am off to wrestle with the ending for Mina's Children now - wish me luck, and good luck to all those in a similar position. May your story have the ending it deserves.

~*~

Here are a set of stories I hope have satisfying endings 🙂
The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman are now available in Paperback.


Cat's Call

Cat's Creation

Cat's Confidence

Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: January 10, 2018, 8:30 am

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