Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Happy Halloween! Free eBook of Ghostly Tales #AllHallowsRead


Happy Halloween!

Greetings lovelies, I hope we are all having a fun and spooky time this 31st October! It's Halloween when the ghouls and the ghosts, the sprites and the spirits all come out to play and that means:

FREE BOOK TIME!

As usual, Soph and I have put together a small anthology of 2 ghost stories to give away in support of All Hallows Read.

Title: We All Fall Down
Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror, ghost
Length: 2 Short Stories
Coupon Code: QF26Z
Description:
Join us as a lone grad student braves the silence in the restricted books section of her campus library and all the mystery it contains, or as a witch dares to investigate the cryptic darkness on the third floor of her local tea room.
Both are fraught with danger and the icy spark of fear. Come in and find out why.

How to get your free book:


  1. Click the link We All Fall Down and visit Smashwords.
  2. Click the buy link to add the book to your cart.
  3. Put the coupon Code QF26Z into to box on the checkout screen.
  4. Click "Apply Coupons"
  5. Click "checkout" and the book will available for download.
We very much hope you enjoy the book and our spooky little tales.

Coffee Morning in Aid of Cancer Research UK


Sophie and I, along with another author friend, are hosting a coffee morning on 10th November 2018 between 10am and 1pm at my house, in Chartham near Canterbury, Kent, UK. If you happen to be in the area, we will be selling our books, as well as homemade cakes, drinks, a raffle, cream teas and we'll be doing readings as well. All the proceeds from the food etc are going to Cancer Research UK and £1 from every book sale is also going to the charity.

Both our families have had to deal with cancer in one way or another, so we wanted to do something to help the wonderful work carrier out by Cancer Research UK.

Full details can be found at our website here: Creatives Against Cancer

We also have a Just Giving page for those who can't be with us, but would like to contribute to the charity. Many thanks.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Horror of Shakespeare #24 - What light through yonder window breaks



Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
Good morrow my dear friends, with a quote like this one, of course I went with vampires :)

What light through yonder window breaks

"While the chase has been delightful, my dear, I tire of it. Surrender, you will enjoy it."

Paul backed off, but thudded into the wall. When Hector had come for him, he had run, but now there was nowhere to go. It was ironic that a vampire claimed to love the son of a vampire hunter.

Paul was sure Hector had no idea what love really was.

He closed his eyes as the monster stepped in closer. He expected a bite, what he got was a scream as daylight crept over the windowsill.

Maybe his plan had worked after all.

If anyone would like to join in, please do!

Cover Reveal - Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy

Writerly Wednesdays - Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy, Cover Reveal - has a book cover with a bow obscuring most of it.

Cover Reveal - Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy

So I'm converting Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy, my dark contemporary fantasy novel, into paperback and so I'm redesigning the cover for the 5th time. Yes, I do seem to have had trouble with this one when it comes to the cover, but I'm really pleased with the new one.

This one is all vampires and vampire hunting and magic with New Adult age characters in the lead and older characters backing them up.

I'm editing it yet again as I convert it, and for the paperback, The Beginning: Blood and Curses, which is the prequel about how Nate and Lexie met, is included for free.

So here we have it, the new front cover:

šŸ„DRUM ROLL PLEASEšŸ„

Animal from the Muppets, madly banging his drums.

Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy

Deep orange red sunset in the background, with a close up of young man hugging his knees and looking at the viewer with red eyes. Over this is the silouette of a woman with a crossbow and a fallen vampire. Over the top are the title Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy and Natasha Duncan-Drake.
eBook

Deep orange red sunset in the background across from and back, darkening over the back. There is a close up of young man hugging his knees and looking at the viewer with red eyes on the front. Over this is the silouette of a woman with a crossbow and a fallen vampire. Over the top are the title Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy and Natasha Duncan-Drake. At the back is the blurb and a bio of the author.
Paperback
As you can see I had to change the outline of the female figure between the eBook and the paperback because, although I prefer the colour for the paperback to marry it into the background, it just doesn't show up well small. which the eBook has to.

As you can tell this one is designed using the Rule of Thirds rather than the golden ratio. The sunset, for example is bang on the cross of 1 third down and 1 third from the right :D.

Anyway, I hope you like it.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Horror of Shakespeare #23 - The course of true love never did run smooth


Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
Hello again, I have a ghostly tale for you this evening.

The course of true love never did run smooth


Benjamin watched Melanie take bite into her cream cake and sighed.

"Seriously, do you have to do that?" Leo complained.

"But I love her."

"She's alive, you're dead, get over it."

Even as Leo spoke Melanie began to go a funny colour, making odd croaking sounds.

"Well maybe not," Leo said, "she's choking."

If Benjamin had had a heart it would have been pounding. Maybe there was a chance? If Melanie died… but no, he could not let that happen. Reaching out a spark jumped from his finger to Melanie and a piece of unchewed choux flew across the room.

If anyone would like to join in, please do!

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Horror of Shakespeare #20 #21 & #22

Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
My apologies for not posting over the weekend, I have been really busy proof reading and designing a new cover that I have barely been online. I did write the drabbles though, and here are all three :)

Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be


Ashley knew Katie had exactly the necklace she needed to set off her outfit. Problem was, Katie was out for the day. Then again, Ashley was sure Katie wouldn't mind, they borrowed each other's stuff all the time.

So she snuck into Katie's room, mentally apologising as she went.

The necklace was right there on the dresser. She picked it up and placed it round her neck.

"Oh yes, you'll do."

She turned to try and find the owner of the voice.

"I'm going to enjoy you."

The metal of the necklace pieced her skin and her mind was invaded.


We are Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On


"Bill stop!"

All he could do was stare as Mary grabbed the hat pin he had been using to repeatedly stab his hand.

"What are you doing?"

"Have to stay awake," he said, already feeling the edges of darkness in his mind. "Mustn't sleep."

"I'm calling an ambulance."

"No," but she was already turning away.

The hospital would make him sleep. The monsters would be there, waiting for him in his dreams. They were supposed to be make believe, but he had played the game, he had opened the door. The monsters would come and make him one of them.


A Horse! A Horse!


Scotland was such a wonderful place, Nancy was enjoying her holiday immensely. The locals were friendly enough, but also a little odd. They had warned her not to go near the loch during the full moon, but she was a naturalist at heart and she wanted to see the nightlife.

She was being rewarded with the sight of something huge. At first she thought stag, then she saw horse features. It was magnificent, even if, given its size, it had to be domesticated.

Only when she saw red eyes and fangs up close, did she realise how wrong she was.

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Horror of Shakespeare #19 - The Better Part of Valour is Discretion


A fountain pen with italic writing in the background. Over the top are the words The Horror of Shakespeare and the quote 'The Better Part of Valour
Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
Good evening, running late again today, sorry. Today we have vampires again :D

The better part of valour is discretion

The crossbow pointed at her heart made Henrietta think her night was not going to go well.

"Prepare to die, spawn of Satan," the vampire hunter said.

She just about manage not to roll her eyes. These fanatics were all the same.

"I have never had anything to do with Satan in my life," she said, "and that's a very long time."

Just as she was about to move there was a 'schtck' sound and the hunter fell over, looking comically startled. She couldn't really miss the small dart sticking out of his neck.

"You're welcome," said a disembodied voice

If anyone would like to join in, please do!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Horror of Shakespeare #18 - If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On

A fountain pen with italic writing in the background. Over the top are the words The Horror of Shakespeare and the quote 'If Music Be the Food...''

Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
Good afternoon - this one had no gore or monsters, just horror *evil grin*. I do hope you enjoy it.

If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On

It was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the music festival in the park was amazing, and you were there. It was the best day of my life.

We danced, we sang, we ate the best food. Truly love was in the air.

Then one careless driver took it all away, and He came.

As you died he asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted the day over again so I could change it.

He laughed and granted my wish.

The day is always beautiful, the music always sweet, but you have died 107 different ways.

If anyone would like to join in, please do!

P.S. I am so sorry if you are waiting for replies from me - I will get to them.

The Horror of Shakespeare #17 - The Lady Doth Protest Too Much

A fountain pen with italic writing in the background. Over the top are the words The Horror of Shakespeare and the quote 'The Lady Doth...''

Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
I forgot to post this yesterday! I am so sorry. I'm in the middle of reading through final proof of paperbacks and it's breaking my brain!

I went for something a little different for this one - the old serial killer in a limited setting trope :)

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much...


"One of you did it," Nancy said, waving the gun between the two girls.

"It wasn't me," Emma protested, "you know I could never hurt anyone."

"Neither could I," Mary said, face full of hurt.

"You've always been the evil twin," Emma insisted, stepping away from her sister.

Nancy had to swing the gun further to cover them both.

"I'm not," Mary wailed and began to cry.

"We're the only three left it has to be one of you."

"Or…"

The gun dropped from suddenly lifeless fingers.

"…we're both the evil twin," Mary finished as her sister wiped her knife.

If anyone would like to join in, please do!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

The Horror of Shakespeare #16 - The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them

A fountain pen with italic writing in the background. Over the top are the words The Horror of Shakespeare and the quote 'The Evil That Men Do...''

Every day in October I will be posting a horror/paranormal drabble (100 word story) inspired by a Shakespeare Quote. 
Greetings :) Today we have zombies. Brains!

The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them


Horror was all Gemima could feel at the sight that greeted her in her father's lab. Pure, unadulterated horror.

The three shambling creatures standing over her father's bloody corpse turned at the sound of her entrance.

"No," was all she could whisper.

The faces, once so familiar, were saggy and grey, with eyes empty of life. When her school friends had vanished, she'd thought they'd run off on a road trip like they had always said they would. But they had been reduced to nothing more than experiments.

Her father was dead, but they were something else, something terribly dangerous.

If anyone would like to join in, please do!

Things to Look Out for When Uploading a Paperback to Amazon KDP

Things to Look Out for When Uploading a Paperback to Amazon KDP

So I've been uploading a final proof to Amazon KDP this morning (3 hours - I've been at it 3 hours!) and there are a few things that hadn't occurred to me to look for, so I thought it might be useful to list them so others don't have to upload their manuscript as many times as I have :).

To be clear, I use the Kindle Create plugin to format my manuscripts and upload them in docx format.

Small tip - don't throw things at the screen when KDP suggests we grab a coffee or make a sandwich - I know it's annoying, but it's not our computer's fault ;)

1. Chapter Title Capitalisation

There are several templates available in Kindle Create and at least one of them capitalises all the chapter titles. This looks awesome, but doesn't allow us to see if we've accidentally capitalised an incorrect letter, or forgotten to capitalise the first letter of each word.

However, inside the table of contents, chapter titles are not all capitals, so these mistakes show up.

Hence, we need to go through our table of contents and check we haven't fluffed it anywhere.

2. Page Numbers

With the advent of Kindle Create and automatic tables of contents you'd think we wouldn't have to worry about this, right? Wrong!

Problems arise when the final page of one of our chapter almost fill the page when we are editing the document. Sometimes, during the conversion, paragraphs are shifted slightly, things move, and this can add in an extra page.

For example, my chapter chapter 9 should have started on page 109 according to my docx file and table of contents, however, during conversion it was shifted to page 110. This was because the final page of chapter 8 almost filled the page in my docx file, and something shifted in the conversion process, making it overflow.

This causes 2 issues:

  • The page numbers in the table of contents will no longer match.
  • Sections that were supposed to start on a right page, will now be on a left page.
The easiest way for us to check this is to:
  1. Download the PDF proof offered inside the Previewer. 
  2. Have this open in one window at the table of content and the previewer open in another.
  3. Type the expect page numbers for chapter titles etc, into the previewer and make sure we see what we expect to see.
How to Fix :
We cannot add another section break in to move the first page of the offending chapter to the correct page number because it will add in an extra page we do not want in the converted manuscript.

So we have to do what is against all rules of formatting documents, we have to add in carriage returns to shift down the section break at the end of the previous page, until it shifts on to the next page. This will add in the extra page in our document, so when things shift in the conversion, everything is where it is supposed to be.

3. Headers

Headers can be tricky. Personally I have my name on one page and the title on the other throughout the book. However, I don't have the headers over the front matter or the back matter.

Especially in cases where we've had to deal with things like the page numbers issue above, sometimes the header can end up on a page where we don't want it. It's just a matter of checking to make sure everything is where we expect it to be in the proof.

[Edit - 17-Oct-2018]

4. Kindle Create Template Issue That Prevents Book Conversion

Yesterday I was also reformatting my first paperback to use Kindle Create, since that's the way I intend to go forward. Frustratingly, every time I tried to upload my manuscript if failed at the initial conversion stage.

First tip: the easiest way to check to see if you manuscript is likely to fail conversion, is to use the kindle previewer inside the Kindle Create plugin. If it has an error, the likelihood is that the paperback conversion on KDP will fail as well. This only takes seconds, rather than minutes, so is a good first check.

This morning, after a little thinking, I tried a few thing, using the tip above as a test and discovered it wasn't anything silly that I had done, it was a bug in the template.

These are the factors required to see this issue:

  • I used the Classic template for the book in question.
  • I added numbering to the chapter title style.
  • This template has a chapter subtitle and chapter quote as part of the template. I don't use these so I removed them from each chapter.

It seems that if numbering is added to the chapter title in the template (does not occur if chapter title style is left unchanged) it requires something to be between the chapter title and the first paragraph of the chapter.

Fix: I added in a blank line of normal text between the chapter title and the chapter first paragraph and all is sorted.

Extra: I can confirm this happens with the Amour template as well - so it probably happens with the others too.

[End Edit]

[Edit: 22-Oct-2018]

5. Drop Caps at the Beginning of Chapters

So the Kindle Create templates all offer drop caps at the beginning of chapters, to distinguish the first letter of each one. However, with the Classic template I have discovered that the conversion has an issue - at least it does in the PDF preview and the previewer, so I can only assume it will in the printing.

With some letters, because of the serif font, the drop cap occasionally runs into the main text.

This all depends on what it is next to etc, but it does happen. I choose to make sure it can't happen with the following quick fix.

Fix: When we add the chapter title page, before adding in our own text, do the following:

  1. Double click on the frame around the drop cap to bring up the frame dialog.


  2. In the frame dialog, go down the the "Horizontal" section and increase the "Distance from text" value from 0 to 0.1cm and click "OK"

Voila, no more text overlapping and we can add in our text to the page as normal.

[End Edit]
And there you have it, all the niggly things that have made uploading a paperback a royal pain :). I hope this helps one of you lessen the pain.