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, 21 November 2018

Author Interview - Ronel Janse van Vuuren #WriterlyWednesdays


Greetings and welcome to Writerly Wednesday. I am very pleased to welcome the lovely Ronel Janse van Vuuren to my blog today, some of you may know her as Ronel the Mythmaker. She has very kindly agreed to do an interview, so settle in and enjoy.

Author Interview - Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Section 1 - Introduction


1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Rottweiler pack leader and horse servant (my haughty mares look down on my obsessive cleaning of their pasture and stable) who lives in South Africa with a whole menagerie to inspire me. I’m fascinated by folklore and mythology; researching it and using it in my writing makes me happy. I also spend (a lot of) time on my compost heap while stories are sorted out in my head. Sometimes you can hear me arguing with my characters…

I’ve been writing since I was a tween (twelve), but seriously started writing a decade ago. It took a while to find my voice, a genre I love and to do the world-building necessary to “just write”.

I blog regularly about folklore and the writing life over on my blog Ronel the Mythmaker and I also guest blog monthly over on Writing Wranglers and Warriors. Instagram – and taking good photos for it – is something new I’ve been trying out. It’s actually a lot of fun!

2. Tell us about your book(s). 
“Once…” is a collection of tales, myths and legends of Faerie (as the subtitle says). The secrets about how Faerie changed, why Faerie changed, who the rulers of Faerie truly are, the secrets of the seasons, and how magic and fae have infiltrated the mortal realm all make up part of the stories – the rest is about the characters, their choices and experiences.

I wanted to write about what the original fairy tales never shared: the how of it all. Somehow it all came together…

I started with writing how Faerie changed, learned about the publishing competition on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans and then wrote the rest of the stories by drawing from notes and character sketches in my notebooks. It turned out to be fortuitous: The Afrikaans edition of “Once…” (“Eens…”) won the competition and got published.

Since then I’ve ran around like a nearly-headless chicken to figure out the publishing side of the author business – scary! – and both translations of “Once…” are available now in print, audio and eBook editions globally.

I also have short stories in three anthologies: “Just Deserts” and “Lights” in “Cinderella Reimagined” – both are New Adult contemporary Cinderella retellings; “Black Moon” in “Unbound” – Valkyries and Furies fight over the souls of the recently dead; “The Inn” in “FairyTale Riot” – an Urban Fantasy retelling of Fitcher’s Bird (this anthology was released last month).

More excitement – and stories from Faerie – will follow in 2019.

Section 2 - Some More Serious Question


1. What started you writing?
The voices in my head needed to be quieted… Turns out they were characters vying for attention in the form of their stories being written down.

2. What inspired you to start writing in your favourite genre?
I read Holly Black’s “Tithe” and realised that this is my genre. My stories can be Urban Fantasy, Low Fantasy, whatever you want it to be – but it will always be Dark Fantasy.

3. What is the hardest part of a book to write, beginning, middle or end?
The muddy middle. Maybe because I know where the character starts out and where she should end up, but the middle can get boring – or overwhelming! – and turns into “work”.

4. Do you have any advice for other writers? 
Absolutely! But that will take forever… So just head over to my blog. I’ve added a new page “For Authors” listing the posts on my blog (with links) that will help.

5. Is there any genre you won't write and why?
Erotica. At least not under my own name. Why? Because I don’t want readers who know me to blush every time they see me.

6. What is your favourite genre to read and why?
Currently, I’m enjoying thrillers. Usually I read within the genres I write (Young Adult, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Fairy Tale retellings, etc.), but I’ve been seeing the tropes more than the stories of late, so I’ve decided to take a break and read a genre I like to watch. And it’s been quite inspirational.

7. How do you publish, print, ebook or both?
Both (when I’m in charge and it makes sense). When possible, I have it turned into an audiobook too.

8. What social media do you find most effective for connecting with your readers?
Twitter and Instagram. Images with a few carefully selected words, hashtags and links (when necessary) have been met with lots of likes (and retweets).

9. How do you approach constructive criticism, either giving or receiving?
It comes from a place of honesty and someone really wanting to help: so when receiving, I don’t get angry because that person didn’t “get me” or told me I have a crutch word I didn’t know about, rather, I look at what they said and figure out how I can make my story better. When I give constructive criticism, I sprinkle in the compliments of what I liked because it takes away the sting of the things I didn’t (or should change) to make it better – I also try not to take over the story and make it mine, remembering that it’s the work of another author.

10. Do your stories carry a message? 
Absolutely. Dark fantasy is all about examining the human condition, looking at the consequences of actions and decisions, and how the beliefs we hold can change the way we see our world. I think “Rumour Has It”, “New Divide” and “Castle of Glass” depicts all of this from different points of view about the same moment in Faerie history very well.

11. What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
I’d define “Once…” as being Dark Fantasy and New Adult. I already explained what makes Dark Fantasy special (all that digging around in the psyche and looking at reactions). New Adult is all about figuring out who you are, who you want to be and what you have to do to get there. Some would say it’s all about the journey of becoming an adult: the trials, decisions, and reactions to things in life that has far-reaching consequences. Taking all of that into consideration while writing a story means deciding how you want to depict the world and what message you want to share about growing up.

Section 3 - Less Serious Questions


1. Do you have conversations with your characters?
And arguments! And not just while I’m writing…

2. Do you have any odd (writing) habits?
Does staring at the blinking cursor count?

3. When do you have the most fun writing a book? When you first start? When you are blazing along with the main bulk of the plot? When you are rounding it all up?Definitely when I’m rounding it all up. There’s this feeling of elation when I know I’m putting the finishing touches on something I’ve been working hard on. Sure, starting a shiny new project is always fun, but actually finishing it is a much more satisfying.

4. If you could invite one character from your books to dinner, who would it be?
Cian, the Assassin who works for the Faerie Queen. There’s just something about him… I think he’ll be starring in more stories from now on.

5. Do you ever cast your characters with actors in your head?
Yes. For a while, Ian Somerhalder played the lead in many stories… Many others might be quite exhausted by now – seeing as they had to play major and minor roles not just in my writing, but in the works of other writers and in their actual jobs, too :-)

6. Do your characters every run away with the plot when you're not looking?
I’m sure someone’s trying to alter their destiny as I answer this question…

7. Why a faery dog - what was your inspiration?
Faery dogs – or Cù Sìth (pronounced “coo shee”) – play a major part in Faerie. They do not answer to the monarchs of either Court and are more powerful than any other fae (there are a few exceptions, but that’s for later). I like to sprinkle them in through my stories just to make sure everyone remembers that they are there even if they are not the main character (though, Tony is the MC in “The Fae of Bremen” in the anthology “Once…”).

As for my inspiration… As I learned more about faeries, I came across various dogs in mythology and folklore (Barguest, the Church Grim, the Cù Sìth, among others) and realised that I would like a powerful race of dog fae. I have had many Rottweilers in my life, taken away too soon. (I lost another one this year to a fatal disease.) So I decided to immortalise them in my writing.

The Cù Sìth – or faery dogs as I use them in short stories and Middle Grade novels – look just like Rottweilers and make for great protectors (and intricate characters).

Section 4 - Random Questions!

1. Are you a dog or a cat person, why?
A dog person. Dogs give unconditional love. I work hard enough to woo my characters to do what I want them to, I don’t want to win a cat’s affection anew every day.

2. What's your favourite colour, why?
Purple. It’s such a vibrant colour, filled with passion and life. (Maybe that’s just me?)

3. What is your favourite style of music?
A mixture of symphonic metal and hard rock (example: Within Temptation and Linkin Park). We were talking writing music, right?

4. Do you believe in the paranormal?
Yes. Check out my folklore posts for more… But I just go with: if I leave them alone, they’ll leave me alone. And everyone should stay out of the faery circle in the corner of my property – unless they want to end up somewhere else.

About the Book

Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.

Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.

A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.

Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…


Available on major online retailers in print, audio and eBook.

Also Available in Afrikaans as "Eens..." 

Excerpt:

Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.

Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.

Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.

An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…

Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are… well… as otherworldly as the fae themselves.

About the Author

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase from all major online retailers.
Amazon | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Goodreads | Newsletter
Ronel the Mythmaker (blog) | Instagram


Thank you again to Ronel for giving such a thoughtful and interesting interview. Don't forget to visit her blog - her "For Authors" section really is amazing.

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:

🥁DRUM ROLL PLEASE🥁

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!