Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to Everyone (FREE eBooks)

Greetings all, I wish you all the joy, blessings and peace of the season. I hope you are all well and happy and have fun at this holiday time, whether you celebrate the birth of a baby, another festival or just the fact that people seem to be nicer to each other at this time of year :).

I've been rather busy today, I started by making Last Minute Christmas Chutney - it's so easy and so very, very tasty :). We also achieved turkey! We went and picked it up at 6:30 this morning from the butcher and it is now in the back of the car with ice packs to keep it cool. I'm also made a Galette from Mary Berry's recipe for those of us who don't like Christmas pudding. I know, it is sacrilegious to say such things in the UK, but I just don't like it ;). Shortly I will prepare the veg for tomorrow. With that all done it will be time to pop over to my parents' place to celebrate my father's birthday.

Soph and I have been roped in to singing in the choir for Midnight because they have several people away this year, which I am really looking forward to. I love singing carols and descants. And Daddy is taking the 10:30 Christmas morning service, so yay! The local vicar is very nice, but I have always had my Dad standing up the sharp end and so it doesn't feel like Christmas unless he officiates at one of the services :). Church of England vicars never really retire, they just end up doing services for other people :D.

So, now onto the public service announcement about FREE ebooks.

A Very Merry Christmas to One & All!

And at this time of year, we'd like to say a big thank you to all our Wittegen Press readers, especially those who have supported us by signing up to our mailing list. As a gift from us to you, we have two books for you to enjoy totally free. 

Those of you already subscribed to our mailing list will remember us asking you to vote on your favourite genres and now the two books based on the top two genres are ready for you to enjoy :).

Genre: Paranormal

Assassin's Blood

by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Meet Kira Roltof, or rather Jasmin Welby at the moment because she’s undercover. Kira’s an assassin with a sense of humour that’s almost as dangerous as she is. When hunting down her targets it helps that she's a vampire/werewolf hybrid and has been at the killing game for over seventy years. Practice makes perfect and all that jazz.

Of course her combined species status could just as easily get her killed as help her out. If either the vampires or the werewolves figure out she’s both, she’ll never be safe again.

Her latest target is a Mafia big shot. Nothing she can’t handle easily, except she runs into a little snag of the vampire persuasion at the end of the job.

Assassin’s Blood is a short story full of paranormal intrigue and action with a little bit of romance to round it off.

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Curse of a Banshee - (The Darwell [Magical] Cleaning Services #1)

by Sophie Duncan

B, a djinn/banshee low fae, runs Darwell Cleaning Services, a business that specializes in tidying up magical crime scenes. She's managed her company with her friend and business partner, Jean, for over one hundred years without any complaints, or problems. She keeps her head down and offers a job to those whom higher fae look down on for their lack of personal magic.

B and her team are expecting an ordinary night of clean-up when they arrive at the aftermath of a spell battle in the middle of an English woodland. However, when a terrified djinn boy appears in the middle of their job, B finds the mix of her djinn and banshee instincts, which she normally keeps under strict control, beginning to rise. The boy is not alone, he is being chased by criminals intent on selling him to become a genie, the same gang who took B's father a century earlier.

B must struggle with her own unsettled powers and fight the slavers for the boy's freedom, risking her own life and those of her friends in the process.

Curse of a Banshee is fast-paced fantasy taking a fresh look at ancient powers in a contemporary British setting.


Existing subscribers to our mailing list will have received our Christmas Newsletter containing the links to the books, for anyone else, you can get the books as well. We'll send you the links in the confirmation email when you sign up to the Wittegen Press mailing list.

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

So I just got a 1 star review on Amazon ...

So I just got a 1 star review on Amazon for The Avebury Legacy from someone who gave the person I beat on Cover Wars a 5* review.

The review is one line and there is no verified purchase to go with it. People are welcome to their opinion, but I think this (and this is the whole review):

Not worth reading. Nothing but lies and negative horror.

seems to be nothing about the book. I'm not sure how there can be lies in a fiction book anyway - I mean, I made it up, it's all fictitious, but then I don't expect to walk down the road and meet a vampire and am not trying to tell people they will, so no lies.

Does anyone fancy helping me out and giving me some honest reviews in exchange for a free copy of the book. It's only 99c anyway until the 21st, but I would very much appreciate some reviewers and am happy to give you a copy of the book in exchange for an honest opinion. The other reviews are 4 and 5 * BTW in case you were wondering what other people thought of it, there just aren't that many of them.

The book is contemporary fantasy with some elements of paranormal and horror. Nasty vampires, a quest, magic etc.

The Avebury Legacy - book blurb

Love your vampires nasty and your fantasy with elements of paranormal horror? "The Avebury Legacy" is the contemporary novel for you.

Nate was hunting a vampire when he first bumped into Lexie, a witch infected by a vampire bite. When Lexie used blood magic to save him from certain death, she passed on the infection to Nate. For a time Lexie's magic has been able to keep them both partially human as they continue to protect ignorant humanity from the vampire threat, but that magic is now starting to fail.

There are legends that the ancient Avebury ritual designed to destroy Morigan of Leyland, the most powerful vampire ever known, may hold the key to the cure they need, but to perform it Nate and Lexie require the four relics from the original ritual. Enlisting the help of veteran hunter, Brian Hawker, who has his own reasons for finding the relics, they must search across continents before it is too late.

In their way are vampire nuns, a crystal cave, shape changers, a labyrinthine catacomb, mummified monks and even librarians. However, their greatest foe is Dahlia, undead sister of Morigan, who will stop at nothing to retrieve the relics for herself and to claim Morigan's power. If Dahlia reaches any of the relics before them, Nate and Lexie face a fate worse than death, losing their humanity to the blood lust.

Exciting contemporary paranormal fantasy. "Tomb Raider meets vampires" with fast paced action and engaging characters.

The Avebury Legacy by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Monday, 15 December 2014

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Meet Ruby - new kitty

So this is Ruby. She's an F2 Savannah like Amber and she is actually Amber's cousin (they both have the same grandfather). We weren't going to try another kitty with Amber, but Ruby needs a good home and she's quite large and hence not easy to re-home. We have her on a trail period to see if Amber will come round.

So far it's looking better than with Fi. For a start Ruby thinks Rob is completely awesome and so is bonding more with him than me, which should please Amber. Ruby is also much more laid back. They actually seem to speak the same language. Amber is growling and being offish, but she isn't hiding and Ruby keeps simply flopping into the floor trying to make friends. If we can convince Amber that this is a good idea we might be able to get somewhere.

Ruby is incredibly friendly, but she's doesn't like children. She's actually larger than Amber and she talks lots like Amber does, but in an entirely different way. She's very sweet and I do hope they get along or come to some sort of understanding.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Great Review for The Avebury Legacy and Link to Vampire Archetypes blog post

I've just had an awesome review for The Avebury Legacy at A Creative Mind, which is a great blog with great reviews. I recommend it thoroughly. She was also wonderful and posted it on Amazon where it translates as 5 star :).

The Avebury Legacy (Vampires: The New Age #1) by Natasha Duncan-Drake Review @ A Creative Mind

Since I'm on something of a vampire kick at the moment I was also thinking about all the different types of vampire that show up in various forms of fiction so I wrote a blog post about them. The genre really is a lot more diverse than many media outlets would like us to believe.

Vampire Archetypes and The Characters They Spawn @ Wittegen Press

There is a question at the bottom of the above blog post and I would love to chat.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Avebury Legacy and why I wrote it.

I love vampires, there are no two ways about it, that is a simple fact. I love vampire movies and vampire books and I love writing vampires. I own nearly 200 vampire films and have a shelf full of vampire novels so I'm not kidding :).

Now I know lots of people think vampires are over done and passé, but I have to disagree. The thing about the vampire genre is there are so many ways to go with it and so many possibilities. I saw a vampire film just last night that was fresh and new and I hadn't seen done in quite that way before (I'm going to review it shortly :)).

The Avebury Legacy is not your romantic vampire seducing the heroine/hero (be they evil or not) kind of story. I have written those, in fact my best selling book is kind of along those lines, but Avebury's vampires are more of the rip your head off than wine and dine you types.

When I set out to write this novel I knew from the get go that these vampires were not sympathetic in any way. They're also not overly civilised.
  • They are driven by powerful urges and kill and take what they want when they want. 
  • They live in a kind of hive like structure where the queen bee, or alpha, has a brood of workers known as spawn that are subject to her/his every whim. 
  • An alpha is the brains of the operation and spawn have any intelligence they may have once possessed suppressed by the will of their alpha. 
  • Only if an alpha dies or abandons their brood will one of the spawn rise to the level of alpha, regaining their faculties. 
  • A more powerful alpha might have more intelligent spawn, their will being strong enough to deal with more creative minions, but no alpha allows rebellion.
Most people don't know vampires even exist and the vampires live on the edges of society, hidden away. The people who do come across them tend to not live very long or become hunters. The world church is united about one thing even if they disagree about every other doctrine; vampires need to be destroyed. Most vampire hunters are affiliated with a religious organisation in some way, but there are independents, like Nate, my main protagonist.

In this universe, becoming a vampire is a fate worse than death.

Which is the whole premise behind the plot.

Another thing I love to read and write is a character stuck between two world. My entry drug to vampire movies was The Lost Boys and I think Michael had a great effect on my psyche :). My two main protagonists, Nate and Lexie are both infected with vampirism, but Lexie's magic is keeping them partially human using a ritual she invented.

They would have made wonderful characters just like that, but, of course, they needed an impetus to do something, hence they are running out of time. Lexie's magic is bringing them back to further away from human each time and sooner or later they will lose the battle and become full vampires. Something neither of them want. They need a cure.

The cure is offered by the legendary Avebury ritual, designed many centuries ago by a pagan/Christian coalition to destroy the most powerful vampire who ever lived: Morigan of Leyland.

This is where yet another of my favourite things comes in: the quest. I've been a fantasy fan since reading The Hobbit as a pre-teen (or rather at the time having it read to me), so quests are awesome as far as I am concerned.

Nate and Lexie's quest is to find the four relics from the Avebury ritual and the scolls which explain how to use them.

Their big problem is Dahlia, Morigan's undead sister, who is also after the relics because they can give her Morigan's power. That and the fact that if any hunter realises they are infected they are likely to end up staked on principle. Which is why enlisting the help of the most renown vampire hunter alive, Brian Hawker, is something of a risky strategy, but he is also researching the relics and has a head start.

So, basically, I put a whole load of things I love to read in a book that I hope others will love to read too.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my twisted mind :).

Are you a vampire fan? If so what kind of vampires do you like best, romantic leads, evil bastards or something in between? If not, what don't you like about them?

Buy Links
The Avebury Legacy is on sale for 99c ($2.99) until the 21st Dec, so get it while it's on offer.

Amazon US | Amazon (non-US) | Smashwords | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo | Inktera | txtr

The bunny is in danger!

Keep the bunny safe! Vote for The Avebury Legacy over at Cover wars or the vicious kitty will attack!

I'm in second place, but I'm 30 or so votes behind. If I win my book becomes book of the week so all their visitors see it in the side bar of their blog.

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Avebury Legacy in Cover Wars and 99c SALE

This week The Avebury Legacy is up in Cover Wars over at Author Shout and I would be really grateful for a little help with the voting please :).

All you have to do is click here to go to the post, tick a radio box next to The Avebury Legacy and then click submit. You can vote once a day until Sunday.

Many Thanks

99c eBook SALE - The Avebury Legacy

The book is also ON SALE for a limited time only for 99c ($2.99) (everywhere except Nook at the moment).

Amazon US | Amazon (non-US) | Smashwords | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo | Inktera | txtr

Nate was hunting a vampire when he first bumped into Lexie, a witch infected by a vampire bite. When Lexie used blood magic to save him from certain death, she passed on the infection to Nate. For a time Lexie’s magic has been able to keep them both partially human as they continue to protect ignorant humanity from the vampire threat, but that magic is now starting to fail.
There are legends that the ancient Avebury ritual designed to destroy Morigan of Leyland, the most powerful vampire ever known, may hold the key to the cure they need, but to perform it Nate and Lexie require the four relics from the original ritual. Enlisting the help of veteran hunter, Brian Hawker, who has his own reasons for finding the relics, they must search across continents before it is too late.
In their way are vampire nuns, a crystal cave, shape changers, a labyrinthine catacomb, mummified monks and even librarians. However, their greatest foe is Dahlia, undead sister of Morigan, who will stop at nothing to retrieve the relics for herself and to claim Morigan’s power. If Dahlia reaches any of the relics before them, Nate and Lexie face a fate worse than death, losing their humanity to the blood lust.

Monday, 1 December 2014

NaNo Win! and the study is almost complete :)

So first we have this *points up*. There were times this month when I really didn't think I was going to finish. It was right down to the wire.

  1. I had a really nasty cold, which, I kid you not, turned me into a zombie for about a week. I barely managed to write a couple of thousand words.
  2. Last Thursday, just when I was trying to get back on track I fell over in the shower and bruised and jarred my left side which made sitting still and writing somewhat fun for 2 days.
  3. My parents-in-law rang up and asked if they could come for the weekend. Don't get me wrong, they're lovely, but that meant most of the weekend was spent with family rather than deep in novel land.
Hence by Friday evening I was pretty sure I wasn't going to reach 50K and I almost gave up, but then I decided to give it one last go. It's funny, my stats on the site make it look as if I wrote almost 20K yesterday, but it was actually just that I was so disappointed that I might not finish I stopped filling it in until I was almost there :).

I'm pretty sure half the stuff I wrote yesterday is crap and is coming straight back out again or being heavily reworked, but at least it's in the machine :).

Well done to everyone else who finished too.

The Study
Our study is very nearly finished. The only things left to do are the hearth in front of the fire, for which we have all the bits, Rob just needs to work his magic, and half the door frame which had to be filled so didn't get painted at the same time as the other half.
This is a panoramic view of the end wall and the right side. You can see how it lays out, but unfortunately Rob's phone couldn't get the whole walls in :). Click to see it bigger.

This is of the end wall so you can see the cupboard, which was the final part we put in. We have always had a cupboard on that wall, but it was old fashioned and too shallow to be of any use, so we have extended it outwards using the same system as the shelves (they have an amazing catalogue).
This is what it looks like in daylight and looking at the end and left wall.
This is standing in front of the bookcase looking back at the doorway. That stylish picture on the wall came from Range - was £12.99 ;).
And finally for the room, this is the view of the corner along from the door. As you can see we need to put something on the walls :) It's the exercise corner.

Of course it wasn't quite complete so we also bought a rug and a bean bag chair (which is remarkably comfortable :)). We just need to get some anti-slip for the rug because it tends to move, although we could not have found a better size if we had custom ordered it.

All that was left was something for me to be able to reach the top shelves and Rob found these on eBay :)
The steps are made of yew and the frame is made of pine and they were hand made in the east end of London 40 years ago. They have been living in a dry cellar ever since. As you can see Rob has cleaned the top step just to see what colour it would come out, but the rest still need doing. I have tried them out and they are awesome - just high enough, but not too high so that unstable me can fall off and do some damage :).

This has now become my favourite room in the house. Book! :)

So who else has finished NaNo? How do you store you books these days?

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Herbal sleep aid - Rescue Night - it's awesome

Over the years I have been pretty good at sleeping (touch wood), especially since I had to give up caffeinated tea and coffee. However, just recently I was having some trouble - tossing and turning a lot, not being able to relax properly.

Now my husband has had the same problem every now and then and took herbal pills to help him through a bad patch. It worked really well for him. My problem - I can't swallow pills. I thought I was out of luck, but then I discovered Rescue Night.

I was a bit sceptical to begin with - four drops on the tongue and it's made from flowers. However I willing to give it a go.

It's wonderful stuff. I can't honestly say how it does what it does, but it allows me to relax and drift off with far more success than lying there and hoping my brain will shut up.

I've been using it on and off for a about six weeks now and it's brilliant. If I can't sleep I put the drops on my tongue (it's just sugary to taste) and I drift right off. I know several of you out there suffer from sleeping issues, so I thought I would share how well this has helped me.

At first I used it every night, but now my sleep schedule had worked itself back into a normal routine I use it only if I can feel the tossing and turning coming on. Rob has tried it too and it works for him as well.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Fantastic Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Had to share this because it's so easy and it's a Nigella Express recipe. I made it last night for the second time and it really is to die for.

The full amount will serve ~3 as a main dish and 4 as a side. I made it and then froze half and we had it as a side dish with some chicken - it was lovely.


  • 250g macaroni (it says that's 4 cups cooked on this site)
  • 250g strong cheese (2 cups grated) - I used mature cheddar
  • 250ml/1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • grating of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook the macaroni until tender as instructed on the packet.
  2. Mix the cheese, milk, eggs and nutmeg together in a bowl. If you didn't buy the cheese pre-grated (I know, pre-grated is lazy, but so easy) then you can pop everything in the food processor and whizz it all up together. No need for hand grating unless you have to.
  3. Drain the pasta and put it back in the saucepan.
  4. Add the other ingredients and mix, add salt and pepper to taste (be aware the cheese is relatively salty so you won't need much of that).
  5. Now I let mine cool down now because I made it in advance (and pasta is better for you reheated or cold)
  6. When ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 220C/428F/7Gas or 210C/410F Fan assisted
  7. Put the mixture into a shallow, oven proof dish.
  8. Cook the macaroni cheese for 10-15 mins until browning slightly (it only took mine 10 mins). If you cook it too long it will go dry, so ere on the side of caution. Mine was nowhere near as browned as the image above, but it was colouring gently.
  9. Eat :D
I know most of my US friends are probably used to making macaroni cheese all the time, but I'd never made it before I found this recipe. Now I am never eating it out of a can again! The longest part was waiting for the pasta to cook and then waiting for the oven - so very, very easy. This is soft and fluffy and basically, heaven :).

Anyone have any recipes for mac and cheese that are a must have, or other pasta favourites?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

D.I.Y. Update - Shelves with books!

So most of the books are in now. We have discovered we need to add another section of shelving for the big books, but that will have to go on the other side of the room near the door. We ran out of space :).

All of my art books and a significant number of history books do not yet have a home. You can see them stacked on the floor in this photo:

I have left the images large, so if you want to click on them all and judge me for my taste in books you can ;)

The paperbacks are all in sections and alphabetical, but the hardback and extra-large books in the two left hand sets of shelves are somewhat random.

In this piccie you can see the corner shelf properly too and Rob has kindly moved the ladder.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

D.I.Y. update - New Shelves! :)

Do our new shelves are up. Can't compliment the company we bought them from enough:
  • great service (we ordered them Thursday and they had them with us by Friday lunchtime even though their delivery date said Monday - we rang them up and asked nicely and they were so helpful and got everything done for us).
  • Easy to assemble, we put ours up in a couple of hours
  • Very stable and strong
Only down side - definitely not cheap. 

This is our study as of last night:

We have been filling it with books since. I'll post another piccie when we've put everything in it :)

In case you are wondering that's 3m wide by 2.4m high. The shelves to the left of the picture are 30cm deep, the second bay is a 30-18cm transition and the last two are 18cm deep shelves. You can set the shelves anyway you want at 5cm intervals.

The right most set is for normal paperbacks, the middle for bigger paperbacks, the transition for all the hardback fiction and the 30cm for all the really big books.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

NaNoWriMo - Update 4 and D.I.Y. Update

Sorry, I forgot to post NaNoWirmo Updates 1,2 and 3 here, but you can see them over at my Livejournal if you would like :).

As you can see from my graphic, my progress had been a little up and down. I am currently ~400wds behind thanks to my missed days (both the yellow ones were only about 200wrd days and red was none at all :)). However, I finally know who the murderer is! Yay!

For those who haven't seen my other updates, I was bemoaning the fact that I knew who all the players were in the novel, but I didn't know which one of them had committed the murder. For those who have seen nothing of me wittering on about NaNo at all, my novel is as follows:

Mirabel's Bad Day and Beyond (Working Title)

Miri, or Mirabel if you're her mother, is a very powerful witch. When she wakes up on an obnoxiously bright morning she knows it's going to be a bad day. First of all her familiar, Ran, has decided being a cat is no longer interesting enough and has taken to walking around as a naked young man. Not good for her equilibrium, not good at all. Then she bumps into a friend, Ed Hanson, she hasn't seen in five years and she starts feeling the witch's mating urge. Think hornier than Sid James in a Carry On film, only worse. Being a demisexual with few close friends, this is kind of new and confusing.
Oh and her next door neighbour has been murdered, which might be a problem.

The idea is growing as I write and changing a little bit, but the basic premise is still there :). The time line is different, but it's still a murder mystery and Miri is still a witch with something of a personal magical problem. I'm having a lot of fun with it as the universe evolves.


I helped lay underlay last night! I know, this might not be news for anyone else, but I am completely D.I.Y. incompetent and I actually managed to help Rob without messing anything up. In fact I actually came up with some sensible suggestions.

The flooring you can see in the picture isn't actually laid yet, it's just in place to make sure we didn't choose really badly and need to go and exchange all the packs we bought for something else :).

The underlay is actually thermal and you can see from the roll sitting to the top of the picture it looks quite space age when you can see the metal surface. We've laid 2/3rds of it, but we can't do the rest until we've put the floor down on the first part and can move the weights machine to where it will be in the room.
As you can see from this second picture, now we have taken out the old carpet and old lino that was on top of it, we actually have a rather nice old wooden floor. Unfortunately we learnt last time we uncovered one of the floors that they may look pretty, but they make for a very cold house.

The floors are open to the elements looking straight under the house and they have gaps between the boards. This means cold winds come straight in. Hence the thermal underlay and the laminate flooring to go on top :).

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Nate Laven - An Introduction (Vampires: The New Age)

In honour of the fact that I have signed up with to promote The Avebury Legacy, I thought I would introduce you to my main protagonist, Nate (not that he'd get anywhere without Lexie, but she will have her own post). You can read the first page of the book over at and if you like that you can check out the whole first chapter at The Avebury Legacy's book listing on Wittegen Press, or use the look inside functionality over at Amazon or download the 20% sample at Smashwords. There are also sample options on all sites where the book is listed that offer that service, so you can try before you buy.

Name: Nate Laven
Age: early twenties
Description: Think surfer dude - blond, classically handsome, tall. He looks like he should be on a beach or in a frat house, not chasing vampires. That's him on the front cover above, but he's a little beaten up and has a small vampire issue going on.


Nate is British born, but his family moved to the USA when he was nine, so he mostly sounds American. He became a hunter when he was seventeen after his best friend was killed by a vampire and he became aware they existed. He was trained by an experienced hunter and started off as part of a group, but went solo after one of his comrades shot him while being careless.

Nate likes to rely on himself and no one else and he trusts only when he has to. Lexie, a white witch and his travelling companion, is the exception, because she saved his life. Nate was infected by vampirism himself when Lexie, already infected, had to use her blood to connect them and save him from a vampire's magic. They are stuck together, because Lexie's magic keeps them partially human and Nate has come to care for her more than he is comfortable with.

He's a good guy, but he definitely has trust issues.

He gets his jobs from a man called Macintyre, who is the main man when it comes to freelance vampire hunting. Macintyre pays well and has a network to rival the combined world churches who are the biggest players on the world stage of vampire hunting. Nate almost trusts Macintyre ... almost. Hunting keeps Nate's bank account healthy and his adrenaline dose high.

His parents think he works as a business consultant which keeps him travelling all over North America.

If you would like to read how Nate became infected with vampirism, then you'll enjoy my novelette, The Beginning (Vampires: The New Age, Prequel #1). The book is usually 99c, but if you have read The Avebury Legacy (Vampires: The New Age #1) and are willing to give it an honest review on one of the major book sites, I'll happily send it to you for free. There is a Google form at The Avebury Legacy's main page with easy fields to fill in to point me at your review and let me know how to contact you to send you the free book.

I've also written a piece of flash fiction for The Avebury Legacy (Vampires: The New Age #1) this week over at the Wittegen Press blog.

Monday, 10 November 2014

I'm not sure how we got this much stuff in the study in the first place

So anyone who's been to our house and seen our study knows it's the room where all the junk ends up. We have just emptied it so we can redecorate. We have filled 10 64L plastic boxes with memorabilia, craft stuff, tool and other random things. Most of these are going in the back bedroom where the boxes with lost of VHS tapes used to be (we dumped those earlier in the year).

What is going back in are the exercise machines, the books and the craft stuff and tools that are used more than once every five years. Then the plan is to add a sofa bed of some sort so the room can be used to house sleeping guests from time to time :).

We've taken the door off to give more space, but we'll be putting up a nice insulated curtain over the doorway like we have to our bedroom most of the time.

We have taken down all the current book shelves and we're buying some new ones - very sturdy ones. We are going to lay a new laminate floor (when I say we, that's a royal we, Rob's going to do that because I am totally incompetent at such things). We have already redecorated the walls and that's not a royal we, I helped with that. We spent most of yesterday doing it after spending Friday afternoon and Sat emptying it.

This is what our study looks like at the moment:

As you can see in the first picture we haven't done the skirting yet - that's going to be white rather than the half red, half green it is at the moment (most of it used to be hidden so we never actually finished painting it when we first decorated the room ;)). The second image is where all the book shelves used to be. The wall furthest from the window to the left of the picture is getting book shelves back, but the corner is remaining free of them.

This is what parts of the rest of our house look like at the moment:

The Old Dining Room

In the first picture you have the exercise bike and a whole stack of boxes and paperwork. This all came out of the large cabinets we had in the study which have now gone to the tip. Most of the paperwork is headed for the shredder (it's so old it's no longer required), but some of the boxes are going back in at some point. In the second picture you can see about a third of the books all stacked up, with games on top. They are all going back in. Then to the right of the image are some of those plastic boxes I mentioned - 2.5 of them are full of Avengers stuff :). They're all headed for the back bedroom.

The Lounge

As you can see the lounge is hosting most of the books at the moment.They all have to go back into the study once we have book cases. Luckily we don't have to deal with the hats in their boxes (the stripy things). Those are going back to my mother,

Oh and I'm going NaNoWrimo at the same time ... I think I may need my head examining ;). Amber (our kitty) is very unhappy with us at the moment - she dislikes change and all this moving of stuff is freaking her out somewhat. I am sure she will forgive us once she has a nice new sofa to make all her own.

We're trying to get it all finished before our annual Christmas party at the beginning of December, so we're running on a time limit. Once Rob has a 3rd of the floor laid we can order the bookshelves and I can start putting things back in while he works on that. If worst comes to the worst all the stuff will have to be piled up in there and sorted out afterwards :).

Anyone else decorating or have any decorating stories? 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Review - Insidious (2010)

Title: Insidious
Rating: 15
Patrick Wilson ... Josh Lambert
Rose Byrne ... Renai Lambert
Ty Simpkins ... Dalton Lambert
Lin Shaye ... Elise Rainier
When Dalton, son of Josh and Renai Lambert falls into a coma that isn't really a coma, after they move into their new house, evil things start to happen around him.

So Insidious, I finally managed to see the whole thing. On the first watch my husband was so jumpy that he couldn't finish it. However, as I discovered he turned off at just the wrong point.

This is a film of two halves.

The first half is really quite spooky and scary. It made me and my husband jump and hide behind cushions and when I watched it a second time with my sister and mother so I could see the end, it did the same to them.

However, I have to say, the second time through the first half was spooky, but not really scary like it was when I didn't know what was coming. It doesn't have lasting scare factor unlike something like Ju-on - The Grudge which gets me every time. I think it's the noises in Ju-on that do it.

So the first half isn't bad and it's worth a watch. The acting is fine, the plot is reasonable and when you don't know what coming it will scare you nicely.

Then we have the second half. It turns out my husband should have kept watching because the second half totally kills any scare in the first half. The main protagonist flips from being the mother to being the father and the explanations come out and it's just, meh. It's over done, it's heavy, it's predictable and it's not frightening at all. I watched my sister go from hiding behind a cushion to wondering when it would end.

There was only one point in the whole second half that made any of us remotely jump.

It needed a twist or a more interesting big bad, but there wasn't anything. The reveal is supposed to be a big shock, but if you didn't see it coming I think you might have been watching a different film. I don't mean the details exactly, but definitely the general gist.

We're supposed to be afraid and we definitely weren't. It went from good old fashioned horror to more of a dark fantasy without the scare factor. I don't think I will be watching it again.

I do have Insidious 2 and I will give it a go, but I'm not holding my breath for a masterpiece.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween - All Hallows Read, Halloween Blog Hop & Trick of Treat Book Blog Hop

So this year, rather than just doing a book for All Hallows Read, Soph and I have also signed up for a couple of blog hops: Sara C. Snider's Halloween Blog Hop and Patricia Lynne's Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop.

Soph is also doing the hops over at her blog and both of us are doing them over at the Wittegen Press Blog where there are lots and lots of drabbles for all our books with horror or paranormal content.

All Hallows Read 

All Hallows Read is a Halloween tradition supported by Neil Gaiman where the idea is to give someone a scary book on Halloween. As with the past two years Soph and I have written a short story each and put it in a book and it is free just for today.

by Natasha Duncan-Drake and Sophie Duncan

If Wishes Were … by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Essie and her friend Beth are taking a trip to commiserate Beth’s loss of yet another boyfriend. When they visit a spooky old graveyard and Essie makes a wish on a haunted mausoleum things don’t turn out how she expected at all.

Happy Families by Sophie Duncan

Bridget loves Happy Families, so when she finds and old pack in a junk shop she buys them. She lives to regret it as strange and nasty things start to happen to her house-mates.

You can download it for free from either Smashwords, Google Play or iTunes - just use the buttons below.

Cursed from Smashwords. Cursed at Google Play Cursed at iBooks

Halloween Blog Hop

Sara's Halloween Blog Hop is all about sharing something to do with Halloween, be it fiction, poetry, art or something else entirely. To see everyone taking part, scoll to almost the bottom of my post and this Hop is the first list.

I decided to write a little flash fic for you all. I do hope it makes you shiver :).
The Dead of Night
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Maggie shifted yet again and demanded that her brain turn off. Of course it didn't. It was one of those nights where she kept dropping off, but then something would prod her mental map and she'd wake up again. Unfortunately that was how her mind worked and it made for the odd sleepless night.
She was just contemplating picking up her phone and playing something mindless when the bed beside her shifted.

"Can't sleep?" she asked as the bed dipped and then lifted, creaking along the way.

"Hmm," was the inarticulate response from her husband Jack, "pee."

Such was her other half's ability to communicate when mostly asleep.

In response Maggie rolled over and tried to find a comfortable spot to actually get some sleep.

It couldn't have been more than two minutes later when there was a thud at the base of the bed. She had just been drifting off, finally, so she wasn't overly pleased.

"Did you walk into the bed post again?" she asked, not overly sympathetic.

Her night vision was absolutely crap, but she looked over to the vaguely familiar silhouette against the streetlight diffusing through the curtains. A grunt was the only response.

"Well get back into bed then," she said and rolled her eyes even though Jack wouldn't be able to see her.

Jack when almost comatose was not exactly the life and soul of the moment.

There was some shuffling that made her feel guilty; maybe Jack had actually hurt himself this time, but then the bed dipped and there was the expected creaking as Jack settled in. Maggie put her hand out in a silent apology.

"Shit you're cold," she said; "is the bathroom freezing again. We really have to have that radiator replaced. Want to snuggle to warm up?"

There was only a hum of response. Maggie took that to mean no, but she moved a bit closer anyway to share some of her body heat. The last thing she wanted was a sick husband to deal with. A very cold hand settled on her hip, so she figured the gesture was appreciated.

"Bugger," she said as she tried to fall asleep again, "I'm wide awake."

She really didn't expect a low chuckle to come back at that and Jack's fingers tightened on her hip for a second.

"Don't tell me you took that as an innuendo," she said, but smiling to herself; "you can get horny in under a second can't you?"

Another laugh replied.

"Well don't get any ideas, because you might be the love of my life, but I have a big meeting tomorrow and I have to sleep," she told him firmly.

Jack just laughed again, this time a little higher and he didn't stop.

"Jack," she said, "don't."

He didn't comply, in fact he laughed harder.

"Jack," Maggie tried again, an edge coming into her voice, "that's enough; you're starting to weird me out."

Jack just kept going and the laugh was getting higher all the time. Maggie wasn't exactly afraid, but her heart began beating faster and she didn't like it at all. She slapped his hand. He just laughed more. Her annoyance began to morph into worry; this wasn't like Jack at all.

"Jack," she said, turning over to face him; "what's wrong?"

Then, just as suddenly as Jack had started laughing, he stopped.

"Mags," said the voice of her husband from behind her, "who are you talking to?"

Then the light flicked on and Maggie began to scream.

Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop

Patricia's Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop is all about giving away books instead of candy (much easier to do through the internet, wouldn't you agree :)). To see everyone taking part, scoll to the bottom of my post and this Hop is the second list.

Soph and I have taken all our horror or paranormal related books that were greater than 99c and reduced them to 99c for one day with a Smashwords coupon. We also have a collection of titles at Wittegen Press that are always free, and, of course, our All Hallows Read book (Cursed - A Horror Collection) is free for today.

The following books of mine are discounted (see their individual pages for details by clicking on the covers):
Here's a tip, if you want all the stories in the books with the orange covers, buy Myriad Imaginings, if you want just the stories by me buy Half of Everything and only go for the other three if you just want a particular genre (Bright Young Things = YA Speculative Fiction, Supernature = Paranormal Romance and Book of Darkness = Horror). Since they are all discounted to 99c I'd personally go for the one with the most stories in it ;).

What is your favourite thing about Halloween?

Halloween Blog Hop List

Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop List