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.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Mina's Children is Top 5 in Wattpad's Open Novella Contest

Mina's Children is Top 5 in Wattpad's Open Novella Contest

The Open Novella Contest at Wattpad is over!

They announced the top 5 winners yesterday and my novella, Mina's Children: The Legacy of Dracula, came in at #5. Woohoo!

I have no idea how many people entered originally, but I can say that after Round 1, 550 novellas went on to Round 2, then 217 to Round 3 and there were 36 finalists. I can only imagine how much work went into organising the contest. Kudos to the organisers.

Wattpad is a free to read platform, so all the winners are there for your reading pleasure. Here's mine :), but check out the other four from the top five too - links below.

Mina Harker (née Murry) was changed by Dracula's attentions, and so were her descendants. Reggie comes from this line of vampire hunters, nature's definitive balance to the darkness. Her whole life has been building up to this one mission in Romania, to face the evil that started everything for her family.  Unfortunately there are others with their eyes on Dracula too, and Reggie has run right into them. She must make them allies or remove them from the game before she can face the ultimate foe.

genre: vampire, paranormal, action adventure

Other Winners

Monday, 19 March 2018

#AtoZChallenge 2018 Theme Reveal

#AtoZChallenge 2018 Theme Reveal

It's AtoZ Theme Reveal day!

Quick recap - AtoZChallenge, runs through April, 26 posts, each inspired by a letter of the alphabet, lots of bloggers, lots of wonderful posts, and lots of us have themes. P.S. Anyone can play and there's still time to join.

A theme links all of our posts together. Themes are not compulsory, but they are fun.

My theme this year is:

Movie Monsters

Every day I will be talking about some of my favourite movie monsters and the films they come from. Well, okay, for some letters, not my favourite, because I was scraping the barrel, but definitely interesting, and, yes, I have seen every one of the films and monsters I will be talking about.

  • Some of the monsters will have human faces
  • Some of the monsters are animals
  • Some are vicious aliens/paranormal creatures
  • And some of them aren't as bad as they might seem at all.
A few letters are a theme within a theme, for example, I bet those who have visited my blog before never would have guessed that "V is for Vampire" - other days will be a mixture of monsters whose names begin with that letter.

I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone in April and checking out all the other wonderful posts. Now I have to go and write mine :). Good luck to all taking part.

Go here for all the details on the official blog post about the Theme Reveal.
Go here to see all the blog participating in the Theme Reveal

BTW, while we're waiting for April, if you'd like to see what I've done in other years my themes so far have been:

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day

This year's International Women's Day theme is #PressForProgress to obtain gender parity. They have a great website that explains it far better than I can. Their 'take action' section is very comprehensive and their values are very important. It's not all about marching on the capital of the country, it's the small things too.

Also, feminists, always remember those who struggle against even more than just the fact they are women:
  • women of colour
  • lesbian, bisexual, asexual and transgender women
  • disabled women
  • all other women who face obstacles on more than one level
The future is bright, but it dims if we do not remember all women, everywhere.

Ladies, you are amazing, let your light shine forth.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Read an eBook Week 2018 - eBook Sale

It's Read an eBook Week 2018 at Smashwords and to celebrate eBooks all over the site are marked down in price. At Wittegen Press we love to get involved in anything that celebrates books, so we have enrolled many of our eBooks in the promotion. Some books are FREE and others have between 25% and 50% OFF.

Below you will find all our discounted eBooks and links to Smashwords.

Title: The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
genre: contemporary fantasy
Cat's Call 100% OFF
Cat's Creation 50% OFF
Cat's Confidence 25% OFF
Title: The Burning Web
Author: Sophie Duncan
Genre: horror, ghost, LGBTQ+
Length: novella
Title: Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: paranormal, LGBTQ+
Length: novel
Title: Dreams and Reality (Dark Reflections 2)
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: sci-fi, LGBTQ+
Length: novel
Title: In the Event of Death
Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror
Length: 2 short stories
Title: When Darkness Beckons
Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror
Length: 2 short stories
Title: Myriad Imaginings
Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: various genres
Length: Anthology - 28 stories
Title: Night Blood
Author: Sophie Duncan
Genre: contemporary paranormal, vampire
Length: novel
Title: Blood Sacrifice: The Avebury Legacy
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: contemporary paranormal, vampire
Length: novel
Have fun, and don't forget to check out all the other fab books on offer this week at Smashwords too.

Monday, 5 March 2018

It's Nearly #AtoZChallenge Time! Sign-ups Have Begun!

It's Nearly #AtoZChallenge Time! Sign-ups Have Begun!

It's that time of year again, the AtoZChallenge is only a month away. Yay! The challenge runs all the way through April and is a great place for bloggers to meet other bloggers and find new traffic for their site. If you have a new blog you're trying to get people interested in, this is a great way to do it.

This is my 6th year participating and I love it.

They even have a snazzy new logo this year as well as the traditional one for those who prefer old school.

What is the AtoZChallenge?

The AtoZChallenge was originally the brain child of Arlee Bird back in 2010 and keeps growing year by year. Hundreds of bloggers all sign up and then create a blog post for each letter of the alphabet, which they post through out April (1st=A, 2nd=B etc). Sundays are usually non-posting days (which is how you get 26 days out of a month), but because the 1st is a Sunday this year, the first Sunday is a posting day.

Blogs of all different kinds sign up, which is more than obvious by the list of categories they have. Everyone from food bloggers through writers and artists, to self-help bloggers post and visit each other's blogs.

Categories are optional so we don't have to categorise our blogs when signing up, but it makes it much easier for people to find us if we do.


Now it is perfectly okay to create completely unrelated posts for each letter.
  • A is for Apple - where we wax lyrical about our love of the fruit growing industry
  • B is for Bear - our critical analysis of which kind of bear is the dorkiest in its natural habitat. etc
However, I am a big believer in themes. This is where we link all our posts together with an overriding theme that runs through each of them.

My themes so far:
As you can see my themes kind of have a theme, and I'm going with a similar idea this year, but you will have to wait until March 19th, which is theme reveal day, to find out what it is.

I love themes for two major reasons:
  1. From a blogger's perspective, it helps with the creative process of coming up with all the posts. We might have to cheat a little on the odd letter (Q, X and Z) but it make life easier in the long run.
  2. From a surfer's perspective, it encourages return visits and gives the reader an idea of what to expect so may make them more likely to click on our blog to begin with.

Where to Sign Up

This post on the AtoZChallenge site has all the details of how and where to sign up.

Tips to Stay Sane Through the Challenge

It can be a little overwhelming to post every day during a month if it is your first time, and it can seem daunting when others have been doing it for years. These are my words of advice:
  1. Create posts in advance of April and have them scheduled. Some people can write posts every day on the fly, but creating them all first means no worries during April. Even if not all of them get done in advance, having a head start with some will really help.
  2. Visit and comment on at least ten new blogs per day when possible. There is a master list and there will also be a daily post to advertise blogs, but the key to getting lots of new visitors is to visit other people. Most bloggers with visit you back and, if they enjoy your blog, will keep coming back.
  3. Make it easy for people to visit back. When commenting always leave a link back to your blog so you are just a click away. I always make a signature to paste into comments. A few blogs do not allow html so links must be just text, but most will let you put in a direct link.
    <a href="http://tashasthinkings.blogspot.co.uk/">Tasha's Thinkings</a> - 
    Theme Name
    http://tashasthinkings.blogspot.co.uk/ - Theme Name
  4. Keep track of who you have visited. I use a spreadsheet, but you could use a new folder in your bookmarks or anything similar. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you found a fantastic blog and then not remembering which one it was. We are fallible creatures, and making notes really helps.
  5. Try to keep up on comments and visiting back other blogs. The first thing I usually do of a morning during the AtoZ is reply to the comments on my blog and visit everyone who has visited me. I also note it all down in case I get interrupted and forget where I got to. Only after that do I check the list for new blogs to visit.
    Sometimes it's impossible because real life gets in the way, but I find it's good to make it a rule to try.
So there you have it, my take on the AtoZChallenge. It really is a great time for blogging and meeting new people and making friends. I have lots of people I love to visit every year on the challenge. It's so much fun. Best blog hop of the year by far.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Menagerie by Natasha Duncan-Drake #FreeFictionFriday #Paranormal #humour

It's far too cold for March! Today I have a free read for everyone to raise a laugh and keep us all warm. It's the first Friday of the month which means Free Fiction Friday.

At Wittegen Press we like to make our newsletter subscribers happy, so every month we give away a free short story. If you're not a member yet, don't worry, it's very easy to join—just fill in the form at the bottom of the page and check your email. Even if you miss the announcement email to the list, the password for this month's short story is in the welcome email when you sign up.

Our newsletter is for:
  • announcements about books and our authors
  • competitions
  • free fiction friday
and we promise, no body else will ever hear of your email address from us.

Come join us, we are friendly and give away free stuff.

This Month's Free Short Story

by Natasha Duncan-Drake
genre: paranormal, romance, humour, lgbtq+

Sid is half-fae, but that's only part of his secret. Another part is he's also a little bit - okay a lot - attracted to Jamie of the perfect abs and lovely nature. When Sid gets over excited there's glitter and you don't usually get a lot of glitter in a zoo.

Newsletter Subscription Form

We'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.
Wittegen Press

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Two Free Short Stories for The Romantic at Heart

Two Free Short Stories for The Romantic at Heart

Good morning on this snowy Wednesday. I hope you are all warm and safe. Thanks to dear old Valentine, February is the month of love and Wattpad had lots of contests running. I have entered two of them and hence, today, I present 2 free short stories that have a side of romance. One is 2K words and the other is ~2.5K, so they are both the prefect length for a coffee break.

Castle In the Air

Katie's Great Nana Brenna always told the story of the cursed princess and the castle that appears every one hundred years. Only Katie ever believed it was true.

genre: paranormal, fantasy, vampire, lgbtq+, romance
length: 2K words

Oh Dear

written for the Valentine's Contest 2018

Lorrie is about to discover she had been oblivious for far too many years. Her wife, Mags, has a really big, supernatural secret, and their neighbours aren't exactly average people either.

genre: paranormal, werewolf, lgbtq+, romance, humour
length: ~2.5K words

P.S. If you enjoy the stories, I would be incredibly grateful if you would hit the vote button on the chapter at Wattpad - it's one of the ways stories become more visible on the platform. Many thanks.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Yay! Mina's Children is through to the shortlist for the Open Novella Contest

Mina's Children is in the Shortlist

Please excuse me while I crow just a little bit :) I found out this morning that Mina's Children: The Legacy of Dracula is a finalist in Wattpad's Open Novella Contest.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with the platform, Wattpad is a free fiction site where anyone can post stories, and it is a great place to spot new talent and find new readers. It has a dedicated reading ap for most devices, as well as a website, and has millions of users.

After coming second in round 2 of the Open Novella Contest I worked really hard to come up with an ending for the novella that would entertain my readers and those judging the contest. It seems to have worked so far :).

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, Wattpad started the Open Novella Contest back in November last year. It is a multi genre contest run over many of the Wattpad Ambassador profiles with three rounds.
  • Round 1: pick a prompt, write 2K in the first 4 weeks of the contest
  • Round 2: write another 6K to bring the total up to 8K before 19th Dec
  • Round 3: write another 12K to bring the total up to 20K or there abouts before 31st Jan (writing more was an option, but only the first 20K counted in the contest)
I have no idea how many people entered Round 1, but 550 progressed to Round 2, and 217 progressed to Round 3.

That has now been narrowed down to 36 finalists, which you can see here:

I am thrilled that Mina's Children has made it through to the last 36. I have everything crossed for the final judging.

Mina Harker (née Murry) was changed by Dracula's attentions, and so were her descendants. Reggie comes from this line of vampire hunters, nature's definitive balance to the darkness. Her whole life has been building up to this one mission in Romania, to face the evil that started everything for her family.  Unfortunately there are others with their eyes on Dracula too, and Reggie has run right into them. She must make them allies or remove them from the game before she can face the ultimate foe.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Recipe - Easy Butter Chicken without the butter :)

Easy Butter Chicken without the Butter

This is based on this BBC recipe, but I altered the ingredients because when I made it as is, I found it way too astringent. Altering the spices and adding coconut cream balanced it for me, although I have only eaten butter chicken not out of a packet once or twice, so I have no idea how it measures up to normal butter chicken.

As ever with recipes I post that are based on chicken, if you are vegetarian anything similar like Quorn or tofu would probably take the sauce well too. Having checked Google, Quorn and tofu both take marinade well :).

START THIS RECIPE THE DAY BEFORE or MORNING OF for best results - I would recommend marinating the chicken for at least half a day, overnight is even better.

With all the extras will server 3-4, with only the rice will serve 2-3
up the amount of chicken for more if necessary - there is plenty of sauce


3 skinless chicken breasts (~450g)

juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp mild chilli powder
200g (~7/8 cup) natural yogurt

The rest
2 tbsp oil (I live olive oil, but use whichever you prefer)
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
inch fresh ginger
1/2tsp garam masala
1 tsp fenugreek
3 tbsp tomato puree
300ml (1 1/4 cups) chicken or veg stock
250ml (~1 cup) carton of coconut cream

To serve (pick n mix)
120-150g jasmine/basmati rice (check the packet for typical serving size and cooking time)
naan bread
mango chutney or lime pickle
fresh coriander


  1. In a bowl or bag mix the marinade.
  2. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the marinade. Seal and place in the fridge overnight, or for a good few hours. This will allow the lemon to get into the meat and the yogurt to mellow the acidity.
  3. Chop the onion finely.
  4. Mince the ginger and the garlic.
  5. Heat the oil gently in a pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook on low until the onions are translucent and soft - at least 10 mins.
  6. Add the spices and the tomato puree and cook for 2-3 mins until the mixture is fragrant.
  7. Add the stock, the chicken with the marinade and the coconut milk and allow to bubble gently and reduce to thicken the sauce.
  8. While the chicken is bubbling away, cook the rice and prepare any of the other extras.
  9. Once the sauce is reduced by about half, serve immediately with the chosen extras.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Happy Valentine's - Motivation by Natasha Duncan-Drake #paranormal #humor

Happy Valentine's day to one and all. In honour of all the hearts and lovey-dovey stuff, today I have a little humorous tale of paranormal romance.

And don't forget to click the link at the bottom because Soph has created a much longer tale of ghostly romance in honour of the day. It's so long it wouldn't fit in a post, so it's a free download from Smashwords :).


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

"Don't tell me you're torturing him again."

Dee looked over at the wolf sitting with his head on the table, balefully watching her with his big blue eyes.

"I am not torturing him," she said, turning to Tobi and accepting a quick kiss from her girlfriend, "the puppy eyes are not trying to wheedle something out of me, he's stuck and he did this to himself. I told him not to come in, that I was practicing complicated magic, but did he listen to me?"

She didn't bother keeping the exasperation out of her voice.

"Oh, Will, what have you done now?" Tobi said, walking over and giving the wolf a rub on the head.

He whined in response.

"So why haven't you turned him back?" Tobi asked.

"I can't," Dee replied. "I don't actually know what changed him into a wolf. He's part fae, the magic will wear off eventually and it's too dangerous to mess around."

"How long is eventually?"

"A day, maybe two, a week at most."

"Deadre, you cannot leave our third as a wolf for a week," Tobi said in a tone that Dee found entirely unnecessary. "We're supposed to be going to my parent's this weekend and, like that, Will will shed everywhere."

"This was not my fault," Dee defended herself. "I told him three times not to open the door, and yes, it was locked, but you know nothing can keep him out if he wants in. It's his major talent."

The wolf made what could almost be taken as a scoffing noise at that.

"Not the point," Tobi said and put her hands on her hips.

Her hair had also started turning dark brown at the ends which, when it came to dryads, was not a good thing at all.

"Okay," Dee did her best to placate her volatile girlfriend, "if he doesn't change back by tomorrow we'll take him to Shallaka. If anyone can figure out how to turn him back it will be her."

The ends of Tobi's hair began fading back to green.

"You really don't know how?"

"Sorry, no," Dee admitted. "I was practicing a spell for a new piece."

Dee specialised in using magic to create art, and she was becoming quite well known in the field. Some people thought having a degree in magecraft and using it to make sculptures and paintings was a waste of power. Her parents for one. They had been horrified, but she couldn't help what she loved doing most. She could have gone out and gone into industry, the military or police work, like most of her classmates, but she'd met a Bolshie dryad and a mischievous half-fae who liked to encourage her to follow her dream.

"I was focusing on a subconscious image, trying to get it to manifest, and Will walked in and interrupted my concentration. Unfortunately I was right on the point of casting. I don't know if the subconscious image was a wolf, so that's why he ended up that way, or if the magic found the wilder part of his nature and just went with that form."

It wasn't that Dee couldn't turn people into animals, it was just she hadn't done this deliberately. Will was a natural shapeshifter, so it was quite possible the spell had activated that, but she couldn't be positive. Magic was nothing to mess around with unless you were sure.

"Damn, and I was hoping for a good hard shag tonight," Tobi said, which made Will sit up and wag his tail. "I suppose you and I could improvise, Dee darling."

Dee couldn't help it, she burst out laughing. Will looked crest fallen at the idea he might be left out.

"Do you think about anything else?" she asked with a wry shake of her head.

"It's spring," Tobi replied, "all dryads are horny in the spring."

"And what about the summer, autumn and winter as well?"

"My tree is very fertile," Tobi said, doing a very good impression of affronted, "it's just nature."

Will yipped hopefully.

"Sorry, Sweetie," Tobi said, "but I draw the line at bestiality."

"Is it technically bestiality if he's not a real animal?" Dee asked, laughing at Will's dejected expression.

"As far as I'm concerned, yes," was the very sure answer. "Shame, what I was after was a big hard ..."

Will sparkled round the edges, there was a small explosion, a large puff of smoke and wolf became man. Admittedly a man coughing as he inhaled magical residue, but he was definitely no longer canine shaped.

"Works every time," Tobi said with a big grin.

"Told you it would," Dee said, she'd been texting her girlfriend for the last half an hour.

"You ganged up on me," Will accused.

"Only because I knew the best chance of getting you back quickly was your own magic," Dee told him and held out her hand. "You just needed the right motivation to activate it."

Will was incredibly powerful when it came to magic, the only problem was, he had little to no control over it. Dee had been positive since the day she had met him that it was a mental block brought on by years of abuse from his fae relatives (they were not fond of half-breeds). She and Tobi were working on helping him with it. Sometimes they used less than orthodox methods.

"So, I am still a horny dryad," Tobi said with such an innocent smile it should have been illegal, "shall we take the afternoon off?"

"One of the reasons I love you is you have great ideas," Dee said and let Tobi pull her out of her chair. "Come on wolf-boy," she added and grabbed Will's hand on the way past, "you still need to apologise for interrupting my creative moment."

"I'll do my best," Will promised.

A triad was not a common occurrence, a triad from three different species was even rarer, but Dee loved how theirs worked.

The End


Phantom Love

by Sophie Duncan

When Ben promises to show his cousin, Ellen, a ghost, the pair set in motion a series of events that lead them into a terrifying encounter. Yet, within her fear, Ellen finds a purpose, and it is to find out what Millicent Van Curren, shot by her lover, wants from them.

Phantom Love is book 1 in the Inspired By... Series, where each story is prompted by a memory.


If you love paranormal fiction and would like to read another freebie, I have a new novella up on Wattpad. Wattpad is a completely free to read platform, that you can read on your phone/tablet with the ap, or on the web. In case you can't guess by the title, it's a vampire novella ;).

If you enjoy it, I would be so very grateful if you click the little vote button on each chapter - they help the story go up the rankings on Wattpad and  be seen by more readers.

Mina's Children: The Legacy of Dracula