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.

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Tasha’s Latest Personal Blog Posts

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Tasha's Thinkings

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find tips on writing/publishing, recipes, reviews, fiction and more.

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse

Set Chocolate Mousse


This recipe is easy, delicious and very versatile. I made it last weekend for my family and it went down very well with everyone but my mother, but she doesn't like dark choc, so not really surprising. Might want to make the milk choc version for those with a sweeter tooth. Next time I plan to add a little orange liqueur to spice it up a bit.πŸ˜‹

The actual recipe comes from here: The Perfect Refuge an absolutely delightful Italian cooking channel on Youtube, but I use something of a different method, so I thought I would post it. This is the vid of the original recipe, and there is a second option using eggs as well - turn on the subtitles for English.


~15 slices (My father was the only one who managed to eat 2πŸ˜‚)

Ingredients

  • 250ml/1.05 cup cream (I used double, but I suspect single would be okay)
  • 40g/ 0.4 cup cocoa
  • 1 lt/4 cups milk
  • 150g dark (or milk) chocolate (3/4 cup of choc chips)
  • 70g/ 2/3 cup potato starch or corn flour (starch)
  • 60g/ 1/4 cup sugar (only need this is using dark choc - milk has plenty of sugar)

Equipment

  • 1 large mixing bowl, 1 medium one
  • scales/measuring cups/measuring jug
  • hand whisk
  • sieve
  • large saucepan
  • large rectangular dessert/terrine tin

Instructions

  1. Put the cocoa in the large bowl and slowly add the cream bit by bit using the whisk. You will end up with a thick paste.
  2. Add a splash of the milk to the paste to loosen it with the whisk, then keep adding and stirring until you've added about half the milk.
  3. In the medium bowl mix the corn flour/potato starch with the rest of the milk and whisk together.
  4. Add the corn flour/milk mixture into the cocoa mixture bit by bit using the whisk, making sure it combines well.
  5. Sieve the liquid into the large saucepan and push through any lumps remaining in the sieve. (I had just a few little ones).
  6. Heat gently on the hob and break in the chocolate.
  7. Stir continuously while the chocolate melts, then bring the mixture to the boil.
  8. Boil gently for 2 mins or until the mixture has thickened (took me more like 5, but I was heating it very gently because I fear the mixture splitting).
  9. Line the tin with cling film (if your mould is silicon, this step may be unnecessary, but it makes like a lot easier),
  10. Pour in the mixture and place more cling film over the top, in contact with the mixture.
  11. Place the dessert in the fridge for 5-6 hours min (I did mine overnight).
When you are ready to serve, remove the top cling film, turn it out onto a large platter, remove the rest of the cling film, and dust with a little cocoa. Slice with a sharp knife into individual portions. Serve will little crunchy biscuits for a bit more texture - it would be wonderful with amaretti.

It is really nice with a little more cream drizzled on if you like you desserts even richer.

Banner Photo by Ihor N on Unsplash

Author: Tasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: September 16, 2020, 1:26 pm

Adobe After Effects and InDesign - My Crash Course

Youtube Journey Part 2

Adobe After Effects & InDesign

My Crash Course


I was going to do this yesterday for Writerly Wednesday, but I was distracted by making birthday cupcakes for a friend. So today it is!

Now I threw together a banner and a logo for the my shiny new YouTube channel, Tales With Tasha, in Photoshop pretty sharpish as soon as I set it up, but I knew doing anything for actual vids would be harder.

When I started out I knew two things:
  1. I didn't just want to film me reading things. I want part of each vid to be live action, but I remember the Disney page turning format very fondly and wanted something along those lines for the stories. Also helps with accessibility.
  2. I wanted a short little logo animation to segue from live action to the story.
My first thought was Adobe After Effects.

Of course, then I hit my first problem - I had never even opened After Effects before πŸ˜‚. However, never let it be said that this has ever stopped me in the past. I taught myself how to use Photoshop using turtorials, how much harder could this be?

This is harder than I thought - From New Amsterdam

Okay, so maybe a bit harder 😎. The thing about After Effects is its for animators and people who understand film terms and I don't, well I've picked up a little now. Never fear, however, because the lovely creators of YouTube have wonderful channels with step by step tutorials on just about everything. I love them.

Endeavour 1 - My Page Turning Book

So I knew I wanted a book with pages that turn, and I found one plugin and several tutorials, but none of them were quite right. In the end this one popped up, thank heavens:


It also isn't quite right, but it does have all the elements I needed so that after following it I could figure out how to create what I wanted. It also allowed me to understand how everything goes together.

For example, I had no idea that when you import images, if you change them on the disc, they are changed in the animation too. This is a revelation to me, and I assume it is actually a setting, like importing the mp3 files into Audition etc.
  • Stage 1 - Follow Tutorial Exactly
  • Stage 2 - Tutorial pages turn backwards for some reason, so figure out how to make them turn forwards.
  • Stage 3 - Figure out how to create page content.
It was Stage 3 that was the hard part.

Page Content

First Idea - Photoshop:

  1. Create a base template
  2. Place text
  3. format text
  4. Rinse and repeat
Only problem - with 2K words per story, this was going to be slow!

Next Idea - InDesign


which I had also never used 😝.

2 most useful things about InDesign
  1. We can import a preformatted Word Doc and it will automatically paginate for us.
  2. We can export all pages as images.
This is the tutorial for I used to find out how to do #1 - Pretty Fabulous Designs has some great turtorials for doing all sorts of things.

The plan was growing! Mwuahahah!!!!

Gary Oldman as Dracula - Evil Laugh


Third Thought - Plain White Pages are Boring


I found some wonderful page textures on Unsplash.com by Annie Spratt.Β She also has some other fabulous photos, but it was the large number of textures I was after this time.

For this I did use Photohop, creating a template for left and right pages with shadows in the margin so it looks a little 3D. Not a lot 3D, but a little πŸ˜‰

These can then be used as backgrounds for the pages in InDesign.



The End Result


Anyway, I played and fiddled and now have a format I can easily customise for each video. This is a very short demo to show what I mean.

I can customise everything I need to:
  • Background
  • Page content
  • Book style
  • Page turning interval
So it should do as a template.

The Plan

  1. Format the story to be animated in Word with the correct size font (I have to play with these anyway to get them ready for reading, so it's only a tiny little step more).
  2. Set up an InDesign layout with the background of choice depending on story content.
  3. Import Word file into InDesign.
  4. Add any extra formatting.
  5. Export pages to PNG
  6. Import into After Effects project and set pages to have the correct content.
  7. Use recording to set page turn intervals.
  8. Add pretty background behind the book to please YouTube's algorithm.

Endeavour 2 - My Animated Logo

This one was actually much simpler - I went through Youtube looking at tutorials, found one I liked and went with it.

This was the tutorial I chose in the end:

And here is what my animated logo looks like:


Now I just have to teach myself how to use After Effects in Premier Pro 😎.
Oh and actually film the bits and format all the stories I have planned etc, etc, etc ...

So, y'know, just a bit of stuff. πŸ˜‚

How is everyone else doing? Any interesting projects going on? Do you have a YouTube channel?
Author: Tasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: July 9, 2020, 12:14 pm

The Cop, The Vampire, and National Security by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Free Fiction Friday

The Cop, The Vampire, and National Security by Natasha Duncan-Drake


It is the first Friday in July which can mean only one thing - Free Fiction Friday!

Every month we offer our subscribers a free short story for them to download at their leisure. We upload it in the following formats, so there is something for everyone:
  • PDF
  • ePub
  • Mobi
  • AZW3
The links are also placed in the final welcome email to our newsletter, so anyone who joins up after the monthly email has gone out still gets a copy of this month's story.


Snoopy reading a book and laughing

This Month's Story

The Cop, The Vampire, and National Security
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Matt Plumber was a detective with the Met, but his career is functionally over. Breaking an international drug ring with ties inside the Met and the Foreign Office has cost him his partner and his reputation. However, while in hospital suffering from a gunshot wound, he has a rather unusual supporter in the form of Sister Bashir who is far older than she looks.Β 

~*~

Sexy Stories 13



This week also saw the exciting finale for season 1 of The Manor - the paranormal series from Virginia Waytes (my alter ego) for a more adult audience.

Josh is back at The Manor, but is he safe? There is still the magic bound inside him to deal with and there is the question of where his uncle's dark witch disappeared to and what she will do next. Danger still looms.
Author: Tasha Duncan-Drake
Posted: July 3, 2020, 1:14 pm