Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Domain Name Not Working without WWW When Pointing at Blogger - SOLVED

Blogger Domain Issues Solved

Domain Name Not Working without WWW When Pointing at Blogger

So as I have mentioned previously, I have been busy setting up everything for my alter ego Virginia Waytes and her Sexy Stories Podcast. I purchased the .com and domains for the name as soon as I decided on the nom-de-plume, but had not yet decided exactly where to point them.

This week I finally made the choice to point them at Virginia's presence on Blogger because everything else is linked from there and I can host everything there as well so its all in one place. IMHO it also looks nicest on mobile.

Anyway, this was a little trickier than I expected, even when following their instructions to the letter. As you can probably guess from the title of this post, it didn't completely work. is a great free service where we can check such things. It does a lot more than that, but after putting in a URL for them to check, we can scroll down to the section called "Indexing" and it will tell us if anything is wrong.

N.B I have "HTTPS availability" and "HTTPS redirect" turned on on my Blogger, because Google down ranks sites that don't have HTTPS activated.

I used these instructions to point my domain at Blogger: Google's Domain Instructions

What is boils down to is that after putting in our domain name on Blogger, we will see this:

Image showing the layout of the instructions on Blogger for setting up the domain name.

Under the black bars on the image is information specific to our Google account and will be individual, but it will be in the same place.

We then have to go to our domain name provider and put in the following record into the CNAME section - wherever that happens to be for them:

Host NameTypeResult
Bit under black box
Other bit under black box

And we have to set up out domain forward to point to our Blogger URL (e.g. in my case

However, when I did this the first time, as I said above, everything worked except the https:// without the www.

Thanks to this article: Solved GoDaddy Domain Not Working without WWW in Blogger I managed to sort it out, even though my domain is with not GoDaddy.

Turns out I had to do the following:
  1. Remove the A records above and save.
  2. Put the A records back in and save (this refreshes the DNS records).
  3. Take out the domain forwarding.
  4. Put the domain forwarding back in making sure all domain version forward the same way.
And it all sorted itself out. It can take up to 48 to propagate, but it took mine less than a minute.

And that's it. For a while there I was very confused, but thank heavens someone else had the same issue and worked it out. Hence the reason I decided to share.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Stretches for Authors and the Pomodoro Technique

Stretches for Authors and the Pomodoro Technique

Okay so I know, as authors/bloggers/desk jockeys, we are all guilty of sitting πŸ’Ί still too long and, I don't know about you, but this plays havoc with my shoulders and neck. However, I have found a solution. Hence I have come to share.

Now this isn't a complete cure if you're past 30, sorry, we all know age is not our friend when it comes to odd aches and pains, but I have noticed a huge difference since changing my routine.

What We Need:

  • Focus To-Do ap - a Pomodoro technique ap available for most devices - has a free and paid option
  • A water bottle or other receptacle
  • A little space to walk around/move


Pomodoro is a focusing technique involving work elements and break elements. This idea is we:
  1. Do some work for a certain amount of time (I use 25min, but the Focus To-Do ap lets you choose)
  2. Take a break for a certain amount of time (I use 5min, but again the ap lets you choose)
  3. Repeat and every 4th time the break is longer. (I pop down and have a little peddle on the exercise bike🚴‍♀️ during the longer break, but I realise this is impractical for those who don't work at home πŸ˜‚).
Focus To-Do also lets us set up lists of tasks in projects, so we can work our way through our list as we use the technique. It also stores what you have been doing and how many Pomodoro sessions it took,

Now I know that working and then deliberately taking a break just because the machine tells us too seems counter intuitive, especially with authors. Surely it will break the flow, I hear you say. And actually, it doesn't.

Personally I can bang out more words using this technique than by just writing non-stop, and it helps when doing covers or blurbs or even social media. Of course if I happen to be in the middle of doing something really important I can keep going for a minute or so, but I have learned to trust the timer. 

The good thing about Focus To-Do is we can use the timer strictly and have it move from work to break to back again automatically, or we can opt to do so manually. I use the manual option so I have the flexibility, but most of the time I simply click the start button straight away so I don't cheat too much.

The breaks allow me to rest my brain and my body regularly, which recharges both for the next element of work. It also means I don't think about twitter or email or anything like that, allowing them to distract me while I am working because I know a break is coming up and I will have a chance to look then.

Stretches and Stuff

So we have our break, but if we just sit there surfing email or twitter, it might help our brains, but not our bodies. Hence I have a little routine.
  1. Take a drink of water or beverage of choice.☕ (Of course you can drink at other times, but only refil during the break and make sure to drink as well because we all forgetπŸ˜‰).
  2. Do shoulder and neck stretches (see below for details).πŸ’ͺ
  3. Walk up and down my stairs, twice (my office is in our converted loft, so I sit right next to the stairs, but any walking around is good).🚢‍♀️
Using this routine every 25mins during the day, I have noticed a huge difference in how I feel. I started with only the walking, which, although I am slow, has really made me feel better. I have an ankle condition that makes walking hard, but my measured up and down the stairs gets the blood pumping even though I take it gently. 

Then I added in the stretching, which is all done in my chair, which has helped my shoulders so much. When I am out of the house I use crutches to help me get around, and it plays havoc with my shoulders along with all the typing, but these help to keep everything mobile and mostly pain free😊. Now these are not full stretches that have to be held for 30s or anything like that, they are just about keeping moving and not stiffening up.

The Stretches

[Edit: Forgot to mention, my PT gave me these stretches as part of my warm down routine]

Sit forward in a chair so nothing is in the way and hold each of this for a few seconds and then release, being gentle and slow so as not to pull anything. If you want you can hold them for 20s each, but I only do that when I'm using them after a workout 😊. It also doesn't matter what order we do these in, we should all find our own rhythm.

1. Cross shoulder stretch
Hold one arm out straight and use the other to pull it across our body so that it remains parallel with the floor while stretching the shoulder. Repeat for other arm.

2. Overhead shoulder stretch
Place one hand on top of the other, lift arm directly about head and stretch upwards.

3. Front shoulder stretch
This is the same as the overhead shoulder stretch, but with our arms held out directly in front of us. Also, drop the head forward to stretch out the neck at the same time. (No doubt there will be some crunching and clicking from our over worked tendons πŸ˜‚).

4. Side shoulder stretch
Hold arms at right angles to body straight out at the sides with palms out, and push outwards to stretch. (This one is surprisingly hard, although the more we do it, the easier it gets).

5. Chest and upper arm stretches 
Arms pointing down at 5 and 7 o'clock positions, palms towards the back, thumbs pointing down, bring shoulder blades together and twist palms out to the sides at the same time.
Keeping shoulders back twist palms to the front as far as possible so thumbs are pointing up and slightly to the back, bending arms at the elbow.

And that's it, simple and easy to do, and it keeps everything moving.

My apologies for not having piccies for the last 3, but couldn't find any. I hope the descriptions are sufficient.

Do you have any tips on making sure we writers on't stiffen up while we're working, or lose focus?

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Another new cover - Myriad Imaginings - Paperback

Myriad Imaginings Cover Reveal Banner

Another new cover - Myriad Imaginings - Paperback

So we've been meaning to get the Giveaway Games anthologies into paperback for a while now, but there had never been time to sit down and give it them the attention they deserve. However, that time has finally come.

Myriad Imaginings is going through a new re-edit, to make sure it is perfect and, of course, every book needs a cover.

As you may recall I redesigned all the covers for the Giveaway Games anthologies last year, so I have a great start to work from in creating the paperbacks.

Now the current book blurb is fine for eBook descriptions, but it wasn't right for the blurb on the back of an actual book, if you see what I mean, hence I had to rewrite that too.

However, it is done and I have what I think is an almost definite cover. Just waiting for some feedback from Soph, but this is likely to be it. What do you think?

Paperback cover for Myriad Imaginings by Natasha Duncan-Drake & Sophie Duncan - Woman staring out of a window at night.

The big space on the back at the bottom is where the barcode gets put BTW. Just in case you were wondering πŸ˜„.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Cover Reveal - New Cover for Shivers: 13 Tales of Terror

Shivers - Cover Reveal Banner

Cover Reveal - New Cover for Shivers: 13 Tales of Terror

So originally Soph designed the cover for Shivers: 13 Tales of Terror - our first collection from our All Hallows Read miniature anthologies. And it was great for the eBook version, but we discovered pretty quickly that the design she chose doesn't pint well.

It's unfortunate, after all the hard work she put in, but the cover comes out virtually all black when printed, with very few of the details of the artwork visible. Hence, we decided we needed a new one. Soph doesn't have time to take on the task at the moment, so it came to me.

I've been working on it for a couple of days and it's all ready - so it's COVER REVEAL time!
Drum Roll!

Shivers: 13 Tales of Terror

Spooks, werewolves and demons haunt these 13 tales that will leave you shuddering with fright!

Enjoy the spine tingles as you read a cautionary tale about not playing with any old deck of cards, however innocent they may seem. Wallow in the horror of a she-demon stalking her victims, or a werewolf discovering there are things weirder than himself. Or maybe you'd like to chuckle at the chill on the back of your neck as you spend time with a hair-raising highwayman.

13 tales of terror. 13 scares. Read them - we dare you.
NEW eBook Cover
New Paperback Cover
Purchase Shivers: Paperback | Kindle | Smashwords | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo | Nook | Scribd

It takes 24 hours or so for the new cover to show up everywhere, but they are now all uploaded, so, hopefully it will be in all the right places very soon.

What do you think? We had a lot of debate over the font. We knew we wanted it to be gothic, in keeping with the theme of the book, but I went through several before going with good old Plain Black, since it was the clearest and easiest to read.


Thanks to Simon Matzinger on Unsplash for the background photo and Dark Indigo from Pexels for the foreground image used on the cover of this book.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Recipe Recommendation - 3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies (#GlutenFree, #Vegan)

Recipe: Banana, Oat and Chocolate Chip Cookie

Recipe Recommendation

3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Gluten Free and Vegan

So Soph (my sister) was recommended this recipe on Youtube after she started looking up overnight oat recipes, but I was the first to try it. I made these yesterday morning and this morning because I had the bananas and the cookies keep well in the fridge or freeze and they disappear fast.

Many of the recipes I have seen for breakfast cookies require loads of honey or some other sugar substitute, but all the sweetness in these comes from the bananas. The riper the bananas the sweeter the cookies and more prevalent the banana flavour - so we can adjust how we like our cookies by how ripe our bananas are. Personally I like them relatively sweet, so my bananas were on the brown side.

Of course the chocolate has sugar in it, but we're not dumping in huge amounts of refined sugar at the cookie level, so it is much better for us.

There is no lie in the title, these cookies literally only have 3 ingredients (I've listed them out with measures to add in the metric measurements as well - the original recipe is in US measurements). 
  • 2 large Bananas
  • 1.5 cups / 135g Rolled Oats - I picked up gluten free porridge oats
  • 1/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips (I just used a standard 100g packet of Dr Oetker 70% Extra Dark Chocolate Chunks - which is probably loads too much, but it works πŸ˜‚ - use vegan chocolate chips if required)
I mean we could easily add other things if we wanted too like nuts or raisins or even a little spice, just as long as we don't add too much and loose all structural integrity of the cookies.

Word of warning - do not touch these when they first come out of the over unless you like being covered in chocolate! Leave them to cool completely before attempting to eat. πŸ˜‚

Banana, oat and chocolate chip cookies on a cooling rack.
Waiting, waiting, waiting for them to cool!
This is the original recipe video from the Clean & Delicious Youtube channel - which has just about everything we need to know, but I've put a few tips below it, that I found most important along the way.

  1. For those who are metric 350F = ~180C = Gas Mark 4
  2. The only sweetness comes from the bananas so the riper they are the better IMHO.
  3. A fork is okay for squishing the bananas, but a potato masher is much faster πŸ˜‚.
  4. Mix the oats and banana and then cover them (I bought some silicone stretch lids before Christmas and they are awesome for such things - no more cling film) and let them sit for 20mins or so, so the oats absorb the banana - gives a moister cookie and better structural integrity.
  5. I baked mine on the lower end at 15mins and they are moist and chewy.
  6. Try not to eat them all at the same time.πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
These are moist, delicious and filling. Could not recommend them enough. These are perfect for those of us trying to cut down on our chocolate bar consumption, but still find ourselves in need of a chocolate hit - and studies have suggested that dark chocolate is good for us too, so yay!

Monday, 13 January 2020

New Blog Layout!

New Blog Layout!

So I decided it was finally time for a change and I have a lovely new blog layout. It's still a 3 col one, but it has a new header and I've changed up some of the widgets in the sidebars too.

If you're on mobile I think the only difference you'll see is the header because, for some reason, Blogger sees fit not to include all the sidebars at the bottom in the mobile layout. I'm guessing it's because half the gadgets don't actually work on mobile. For example my blog topics page that uses a gadget doesn't show anything on mobile, so I have had to create a manual one for mobile users. 

Most frustrating!

I've gone for a brighter choice of colours, or rather grey scale with a hint of browns - so it's easy on the eyes, but feels a bit more upbeat.

I have a new header banner which makes me happy too :). The background image is by Pereanu Sebastian on Unsplash, which is also the background for the featured image in this post.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the new layout as much as I do.

πŸ’–Best wishes to all πŸ’–

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

The Joys of Podcasting - A Beginning

The Joys of Podcasting - A Beginning

The Joys of Podcasting - A Beginning

So I have been setting up and practising for recording the podcast as Virginia (my erotic fiction alter ego 😘)- which has been fun and a total headache at the same time! πŸ˜‚

I am using Audition since I have the Adobe suite of applications and I have never used it before, so that's a learning curve. Nothing Adobe ever makes is intuitive, so I've been checking out all the tutorials etc, but their products are very powerful.

I recommend Audacity to those who do not have Audition - it is fabulous and free and I have used it in the past a lot. The only reason I am using Audition over it is that the Adobe suite had full support if I run into anything I or Rob can't solve.

We put up a bunch of anechoic foam above my desk, because my office is in the converted loft which has a sloping roof, so bounce back was a bit of a problem. It's surprisingly warmer in my little spot now too πŸ˜.

Anechoic foam on the ceiling of my office.

Rob also kindly bought me a foam protector for the mic to prevent reflection from behind, and it keeps out ambient noise quite well too. This is what it looks like at the moment. and yes, the pop guard is held on with bluetac - we couldn't clip it anywhere safely.

Mic and pop-guard in a sound shield on a tripod

Yes, that is also a cat tunnel you can see through underneath it πŸ˜‚.

So far I have tried three mics:

  • My old ProSound Podcasting USB microphone
  • A Blue Mic Snowball ICE USB microphone that I am borrowing off my sister
  • A posh mic with pre-amp, that was not USB

Prosound USB Microphone and Blue Snowball USB Microphone

The best sound by far I can get on my PC is with the Blue Snowball mic. It had a lot more gain than the ProSound and can be set up so it doesn't have a horrible background hiss like the posh mic.

Tip: When connecting a USB mic, plug it straight into the motherboard, not a USB hub or anything similar - it will pick up background noise as a hiss. 

All the mics had a horrible hiss on them to begin with, but Rob used a spectrum analyser on the output and figured out it was power supply noise and plugging directly into the motherboard got rid of it. The posh mic, because it wasn't being converted to digital straight away picked up so much background interference from the rest of the equipment. No doubt it is wonderful with a proper sound desk. πŸ˜‚

Tip: Don't use really posh, sound enhancing headphones when editing - they will mask problems.

As you can see in the piccie above, I started off using my Bose headphones (originally purchased for flying to help with my air-sickness - I can't take all the low level vibrations), but I discovered a problem. Bose headphones make everything sound amazing! When looking for issues in a recording, this makes them difficult/impossible to spot πŸ˜‚. I have now borrowed a pair of Rob's phone style headphones until I can get a pair of my own.

The really fun part has been practising Virginia's voice. She does not speak like I do. She has a lower, sexier voice, whereas my voice just gets higher and higher the more excited I get πŸ˜‚. It's been quite a giggle trying to get her right. So far I have recorded an intro, but I can't start the main part of the podcast yet, until I am sure the set-up is perfectly right. This is the initial music and welcome - LMK what you think!

Anyone else been podcasting? How have you found it? Or do you have a favourite podcast to share?

As join me as Virginia on: Twitter Wordpress Blogger Podbean Facebook

Banner Background Photo by neil godding on Unsplash

Music from
"Moonlight Hall" by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Free Christmas Anthology for One and All!

Free Christmas Book from Wittegen Press

Free Christmas Anthology for One and All!

It's Christmas! So this month Soph and I have a free holiday anthology for everyone.

We want to spread a little Christmas cheer and, hopefully, bring a smile to all faces.

If you're feeling down around this time, for whatever reason, hugs to you and we hope it gets better for you soon.

Light of Christmas

Our little anthology has two heartwarming tales, one from me and one from Sophie.

Light of the World - Natasha Duncan-Drake

Kit and Sam have been together now for six years and three years ago they renovated and moved into Sam's parent's old house in a small village. Sam wants to revive the family tradition of a huge Christmas party, so what's his reclusive vampire husband to do, but say yes and try and melt into the shadows.

Winter's Curse - Sophie Duncan

Pippin is worried about her father who is deathly ill. She knows him as Papa C, the rest of the world calls him Father Christmas. Something is very wrong and dark magic is involved. Their only hope is a strange, dangerous woman who frightens Pippin, but she will do anything to save her father.

Download Light of Christmas at Smashwords
Available FREE until Jan 6th 2020

And don't forget, if you would like a free short story every month, not just at Christmas, join our Wittegen Press Newsletter. No catches, no spam.

Christmas Wishes

πŸ’–Whether you celebrate Christmas as a Christian or enjoy it as a secular holiday where people are usually a little nicer and happier, I offer you this blessingπŸ’–:

May the love of the Holy Family,
The joy of the shepherds and angels,
And the peace of the Christ child,
be with you and those you love, this Christmas time.

Have a great holiday season - best wishes to one and all.

Banner background Photo by Paul Schafer on Unsplash

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The Joys of Cover Design Now We Have Sites Like Unsplash

The Joys of Cover Design Now We Have Sites Like Unsplash

Making eBook covers used to be a lot harder than it is these days. Why I hear you ask?

Because there were a lot less resources available.

There have always been places like Getty images and some royalty free images sites, but the images on them cost not insignificant amounts of money, especially when combining several images to create new ones.

These days we have fantastic sites like:

where the most wonderful artists upload their work to be used totally for free. Technically we don't even have to give credit, but I think that's incredibly rude! For example, the image I am using in the background of my banner today is by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash.

Many of the photographers have donation options - a great way to pay back their hard work.

Now these images aren't always the highest quality and could be problematic for high def print work, but for web images like eBook covers, they are amazing.

Over the weekend I have been working on the covers for The Manor, the new series by Virginia Waytes, coming early next year to Wittegen Eros and the Sexy Stories podcast.


Firstly, can I just say how sexist the photo industry tags seem to be! I typed in the word "sexy" and "erotic" on all 3 of the sites I mentioned above and all I got back were pictures of women. Now while I appreciate this because I needed some of those as well, I was looking for some sexy men too! To get suitable pictures of men the most productive search terms were "young man" "abs" and "muscles" and most of the images returned weren't close to what I was looking for.

Anyway, I did manage to eventually find all the images I was after.

You can check out the cover reveal for Episode 1 - Lamb in Wolf's Clothing over at Virginia's wordpress blog: Virginia Waytes - The Parlour - Sexy Stories. And yes, it's very different from the one that was on the Free Fiction Friday version of the book.  

BTW - for those wondering, yes, Virginia is my alter ego - a new pen name to focus specifically on the podcast and paranormal erotic romance eBooks and get away with being a little bit naughty 😘. Virginia has a shiny new newsletter for everything to do with the podcast and accompanying books, and we will be running a giveaway when we launch for all members.

Come join me as Virginia on: Twitter | Wordpress | Blogger | Podbean | Facebook

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The 3rd Eye (2017) - A Film that Does Not Know How to End

The 3d Eye (2017) aka Mata Batin

The 3rd Eye (2017) - A Film that Does Not Know How to End

So Rob and I watched a film last night, a ghostly horror film to be exact. In the middle Rob uttered the words: "We're going to have to watch something else after this before going to bed so I can sleep."

The film was very scary - I mean Ju-On - The Grudge level scary.

I was watching it through my fingers.

And then ... it totally lost all scariness, ending with a fizzle.

Turns out we didn't need to watch anything else because the film did it for us.

Now before I begin, I have to say, this is not a bad film - it is well worth a watch, just be aware it starts with a bang and finished with a sigh.

The film was The 3rd Eye (2017) aka Mata Batin - it's Indonesian and currently on Netflix.


Jessica Mila ... Alia
Denny Sumargo ... Davin
Citra Prima ... Bu Windu
Bianca Hello ... Abel


Riheam Junianti ... (screenplay)
Rocky Soraya ... (story)
Fajar Umbara ... (screenplay)

Beware - this post is going to have a few spoilers, although I'm not talking in detail about the whole plot.

It started strong with a scary opening set in 2005.

Then it had a totally throw away scene setting section (say that fast three times ;)) set in 2017, using a character that was literally only there to tell us all about how the lead characters' parents died and why they have to move back to their childhood home. I mean I've heard of throw away characters before, but he was literally just exposition.

It was all telling and no showing, but I can forgive that, because then it got scary again, and the plot moved on well.

The story is all about two sisters, the youngest of whom, Abel, is aware of the supernatural realm - her 3rd eye is open. She is attacked in their childhood home and wears headphones all the time so she can't hear the scary noises associated with spirits.
Abel and Alia in 2005 - The 3rd Eye (2017) aka Mata Batin

Alia, her older sister, seems to be a little sensitive, but not like Abel, and Alia goes off to Bangkok to spread her wings, only returning to Jakarta when their parents are killed in a tragic car accident. (This was not a subtle plot). Along with her comes her boyfriend Davin.

To help her sister, Alia asks the local psychic, Bu Windu, to open her 3rd eye so she can see what Abel sees.

Bu Windu, Abel and Alia - The 3rd Eye (2017) aka Mata Batin

The scenes where Alia finally realises that all the talk of dead people and ghosts is real is amazingly done. It takes us on the journey that Alia is having and does it brilliantly, because it allows us to suspect, before it throws us right in the deep end. The haunting scenes in the girls' childhood home are also fantastic. They could not have been done better.

It is brilliantly scary.

However, then it goes on too long.

The film finishes twice.

We find out more and more about the haunting during the film, and it only gets scarier with each part we discover. The ghosts are so well done and the eyes - OMG the eyes! However, eventually the plot starts to resolve and because of the way the film is structured we lose some of the fear. This would be perfectly valid if this was the end of the movie, but it's not - it has a whole 25 minutes left to go!

That's what I mean by it ending twice. It even technically changes antagonist. However, the second antagonist is never really a threat, so they aren't frightening.

It goes from tension-tension-tension to tension-even-though-it's-not-quite-as-scary to OMG-there's-how-long-left?!

Now I do love the twist at the end, but it is handled in such a clunky manner. It's like the writer couldn't figure out how to put it all together in one climax, so we had to have two, with a complete tension breaker in the middle.

I have to admit, I haven't watched many Indonesian films (we're getting to them on Netflix, but we've only seen 2), maybe this is how they like their horror movies - really scary and then with a chance to wind down at the end. However, it was a complete tension killer for me.

Also I think the lead characters would have benefited from the odd Valium. When the characters have been told to control their fear because their fear makes the spirits stronger, them running and screaming all the time gets old. It's like they're not even trying!

Anyway - to summarise - well worth a watch, but the ending is a bit of a let down for fans of really scary horror.

Have you seen The 3rd Eye? What did you think? Is it indicative of the Indonesian style of horror movie, or just this particular writer/director? Do you totally disagree with my assessment (and no, I won't mind)?