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

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Amazon KDP Author Copy Paperbacks & Local Promotion


Amazon KDP Author Copy Paperbacks & Local Promotion

We can all cheer - Amazon KDP is finally doing reasonably priced author copies of paperback books, printed in whichever market place you choose, so postage is also reasonable - yay! They are identical to the product customers get when ordering through Amazon itself.

It's really easy:

  • click on the "..." next to the PAPERBACK ACTIONS 
  • choose "Request Author Copies"
Screen grab of KDP bookshelf

  • Put in the quantity
  • Choose our market place
  • Submit the order and it will take us to our Amazon cart.
Screen grab of Amazon KDP author copies page

If we want to order more than one set of books at a time, we can go back into the bookshelf and do the same again - it will add the order to our cart.

N.B.The postage for 5 books and for 10 books was identical for me, so buying more in one go was more economical. Not sure if/when the postage changes, but we can order up to 999 books at a time, so I assume it eventually does :)

What makes this so exciting is I can finally do some local promotion without having to deal with ridiculously high postage costs and having to set up a completely separate book on CreateSpace.

As of next week (or the week after depending on when the bookmarks I'm having made arrive) Cat's Call is going to be available in The Shop on the Green, one of our village stores. The chap who runs it, Alan, is such a lovely bloke and very community minded. I had no idea how much local produce he has in there - I shall have to keep going back for the local strawberries and beer at the very least. He also had the fab idea of raising some money for charity too, so £1 from each sale is going to go to The Air Ambulance.

Now I just have to design an A3 poster and a little stand to go with the books so people know what's going on :).

I will let you all know how it goes. Alan has said I can do a signing at the shop too, which is kind of daunting, because I've never had paperbacks to do this with before, but very exciting too. Shall have to see if they sell and then decide on a signing.

~*~
P.S. Also still seeking guest bloggers to take spots on Writerly Wednesdays - anything to with books, publishing, illustration, editing etc is welcome from authors, artists, editors, bloggers. Details and form are here: Seeking Guest Bloggers

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Seeking Guest Bloggers #WriterlyWednesdays


Seeking Guest Bloggers

Greetings one and all. As the title says, I am seeking guest bloggers to fill some of my Writerly Wednesdays slots in the rest of the year.

Anyone who would like to post anything about writing/editing/publishing/illustration/books/comics is welcome:
  • Authors
  • Artists
  • Editors
  • Bloggers
  • Podcasters
  • Youtubers
What I won't take:
  • Advertising only posts
  • Posts with links to nefarious websites (yes I check all links before posting)
  • Anything that promotes hate speech or other illegal content.
Everyone who does a guest post is welcome to include:
  • an "About the Author" section with links to their own social media/blog (see example below the form)
  • an "About the Book/Comic" section about their latest creation (see example below the form)
Every post I make has a banner image similar to the one at the top of this post - it makes sharing the post on social media more visible. If you do not have a banner of your own, I would be perfectly happy to put something together for your post (default width 500px because it fits my blog layout). Something like :


I'd also be very interested in doing guest posts for other blogs as well, but post swapping is not a criteria for your post being accepted here.

Please fill in the Google form below if you are interested.


~*~

Example - About the Author

Natasha Duncan-Drake


Natasha is a British author with Wittegen Press and has been publishing genre fiction since 2011. Her work includes everything from horror to young adult fantasy and she has never met a genre she didn’t like. A prolific producer of short stories and novels alike, Natasha currently has over twenty five titles in her back catalogue with further releases always imminent.

~*~

Example - About the Book

Title: The Chronicles of Charlie Waterman
Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
genre: contemporary fantasy
Format: eBook & Paperback

Charlie is an ordinary 18 year old whose whole life is turned upside down when he is attacked by a two inch cat figurine. Magic was not in his plans, but he soon learns reality is not quite as straightforward as he thought.


Amazon links:


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Recipe - Malted Chocolate Cake with Malteser (Malt Ball) Edging


Malted Chocolate Cake with Malteser (Malt Ball) Edging

This makes a very large cake that will easily serve 12-14 people, depending on their stamina for chocolate. It is also very easy to decorate and make look pretty without any great skill, because I am not good at icing cakes. This is definitely a celebration cake and the malt icing gives a lovely break from the rich chocolate. I've made this cake three times in 2 months :). (Forgot to add - it's based off of this recipe, but, as usual, I've played with it and this is not the pinata version).

Equipment

  • 2 20cm cake tins
  • grease proof/parchment paper
  • mixer
  • bowls
  • cake cutter or knife
  • pallet knife or spatula
  • measuring equipment
  • cake board

Ingredients

For the cake
  • 400g/14oz/1 3.4cups/3.5 sticks butter/cooking spread (room temp)
  • 400g/10oz/2 cups caster (super-fine) sugar
  • 8 medium eggs (7 large)
  • 300g/11oz/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 50g/2oz/~1/2 cup malt-flavoured drinking powder (e.g. Horlicks)
  • 60g/2.25oz/~1/2 cup cocoa powder
For the icing and decoration
  • 100g/3.5oz milk chocolate
  • 100g/3.5oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 1 large bag (93g) Maltesers or malt balls + extra for decorating
  • 365g/1.7 cups butter (room temp and soft)
  • 700g/5.6 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2.5 tbsp milk
  • 2.5 tbsp malt-flavoured drinking powder (e.g. Horlicks)
  • any sprinkles that take your fancy

Instructions

For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)/160C (320F) fan/Gas mark 6
  2. Line the base of the cake tins with grease proof paper and grease the sides with butter.
  3. Cream together the caster sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat the eggs in a jug or bowl and add to the butter and sugar a little at a time. If the mixture curdled (looks lumpy) add a spoonful or two of the flour to bring it back.
  5. Mix in the flour, cocoa and malt powder until smooth and completely combined.
  6. Spoon half the mixture into each cake tin.
  7. Bake in the oven for 45-50mins - they should be just firm to the touch and a skewer should come out clean when they are done.
  8. Leave to cool a little, then turn out onto a wire wrack to cool completely.
  9. Divide each cake in half with the cake cutter to make four layers in all and if there is a slight mound on the top of the cake which will be on the bottom, flatten this off with cake cutter as well.
For the icing
  1. Place the icing sugar and butter into the mixer or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer and beat together until light and fluffy. (Place a cloth round the top of the bowl when first mixing to prevent icing sugar going everywhere :)).
  2. Divide the mixture in half.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl, either over a pan of simmering water, or in 30s intervals in the microwave. Allow to cool a little.
  4. Beat the chocolate and 1tbsp of milk into half of the icing. Add a little more milk if the icing is thick and grainy and beat until it is smooth.
  5. To the other half of the icing beat in the malt powder and the other tbsp of milk. If the icing is too thick add a little more milk until the icing is of a consistency to spread.
To assemble the cake (the amounts of icing are only approximate)
  1. Take the first layer of cake and cement it to the cake board with a little splodge of icing.
  2. Spread 1/4 of the malt icing over the surface.
  3. Place the second layer of cake on top.
  4. Spread 1/3 chocolate icing over the surface.
  5. Place the 3rd layer of cake on top.
  6. Spread with 1/4 of the malt icing.
  7. Place the 4th layer of cake on top.
  8. Crush the Maltesers in a bowl (easiest way is using the end of a rolling pin)
  9. Cover the sides of the cake in the other half of the malt icing.
  10. Using a hand, coat the malt icing with a layer the crushed Maltesers.
  11. Spread the rest of the chocolate icing on the top of the cake and decorate with a few whole Maltesers and sprinkles.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Recipe - Easy Poached Egg with Italian Spice Mix, Smoked Cheese and Avocado #vegetarian #glutenfree


Easy Poached Egg with Italian Spice Mix, Smoked Cheese and Avocado


So I just made this for my brunch (I forgot to have breakfast, so pushed the boat out to take in breakfast and lunch :)). I cannot poach an egg to save my life, but this method produces a wonderful facsimile with added extras. This recipe is only for 1, but it would be really easy to knock up a bunch of these in advance and pop them all in the water at the same time.

Cooking times are for a soft yolk - if you like yours firmer just up the cooking time.

The base recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

Serves 1
Prep Time 2-4 mins Cooking Time 5-6 mins

Equipment

  • 1 ramekin or small bowl
  • cling film (plastic wrap)
  • bag sealing clip, or bulldog clip, or string for sealing the cling film
  • small mixing bowl
  • fork
  • saucepan
  • kitchen towel

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 slice of smoked cheese (approx 15g)
  • 1/4 medium avocado
  • Dried Italian herb and spice mix to taste (any or all of oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, chilli, rosemary, salt, dried onion - I have an Italian mix grinder which is perfect)
  • oil to prevent the egg sticking (you could use butter if you are feeling decadent :))

To Serve

  • toast/bun/salad/asparagus - just pick your favourite way of having poached eggs

Instructions

  1. 2/3rds fill your saucepan with water and set on the hob to boil.
  2. Separate the egg white into a bowl and set aside the yolk whole in half the shell (or pop it into a bowl if you don't mind the extra washing up :)).
  3. Cut the smoked cheese into small pieces (like thin grated cheese - you want it small enough to melt easily).
  4. Chop the avocado into small pieces (approx 4mm square)
  5. Mix the Italian herb and spice mix, the cheese and the avocado into the egg white using the fork.
  6. Take a sheet of cling film and use it to line the inside of the ramekin/small bowl, leaving the edges over the sides.
  7. Spray the inside of the cling film with oil (or brush it with oil if you don't have a spray).
  8. Pour half the egg white mixture into the lined ramekin.
  9. Carefully tip the whole egg yolk into middle.
  10. Pour the other half of the egg white mixture over the top of the yolk.
  11. Gather up the sides of the cling film and twist so the egg is held tightly, then seal with the clip or string.
  12. Turn down the boiling water to a brisk simmer and add the egg.
  13. Cook for 2.5 to 3 mins then use a fork in the loose tail of cling film to flip the package upside down and keep it there while it cooks for another 2.5 to 3 mins. (If I didn't do this, the top did not cook properly - when the time is up you can unwrap your egg carefully to check it is cooked to your liking, and if it's under done for you, re-wrap it and pop it back in).
  14. Take out the egg, dry on kitchen towel and unwrap it, before popping it on your toast/bun/salad, or however you like to eat your poached eggs.
In case my descriptions are confusing, here's the basic technique of poaching a plain egg in cling film thanks to Tesco Food on Youtube:

Friday, 4 May 2018

Dragon Sight by Natasha Duncan-Drake #Fantasy #FreeFictionFriday


Dragon Sight - Free Fiction Friday


Another month is gone, another first Friday of the month has arrived. Which, of course, means free fiction for all our subscribers of the Wittegen Press Newsletter.

If you are not a subscriber, don't worry, it's easy to become one, just pop over to this landing page for our Newsletter and pop in your details. We'll also give you 2 totally free eBooks just for joining up, and we pride ourselves on NEVER spamming our members. The password for this month's story is in the final welcome email.

Every month we launch a new short story to say thank you to all our subscribers, so far we have had:
  • Jul-17 - Dance of the Dead - paranormal scifi
  • Aug-17 - The Beast in Me - paranormal fantasy
  • Sep -17 - Dark Celebrations - scifi ghost
  • Oct-17 - Looking for Luticia - ghost
  • Nov-17 - A Matter of Will - Paranormal Fantasy
  • Dec-17 - Merry Mid-Winter - Paranormal Fantasy
  • Jan-18 - Manifesto of Meow - humour fantasy
  • Feb-18 - Love Speaks - paranormal romance
  • Mar-18 - Menagerie - humorous paranormal romance
  • Apr-17 - Clippe - ghost
And ...

Today we have:

Dragon Sight

 by Natasha Duncan-Drake

A dragon is guarding her clutch of eggs when she has a visitor. What is a dragon to do with a half-dead human that had the audacity to fall through a magical portal right next to her nest?



No spam and we'll give you 2 eBooks just for signing up.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Recipe: Turkey/Soya/Quorn Chilli with Tortilla Crust and Avocado Salsa


Turkey/Soya/Quorn Chilli with Tortilla Crust and Avocado Salsa

Made this recipe for tea last night and it was very yummy. We usually have salad on a Monday in the spring and summer, but it was so wet and horrible, I did this instead.

It should feed four, but I can attest to the fact that one person can eat enough of it for 3 because I watched my lovely husband, Rob, do just that last night. He had missed lunch. I used Turkey mince, but this is the kind of recipe where the meat is just a carrier for flavour, so it will work just as well with soya mince or Quorn mince.

Adding more beans (haricot or cannellini beans would work well with the kidney beans) would also cheaply bulk it out for more people or for those with an appetite like Rob had last night :).

Gluten Free
  • This is also gluten free if you can get/make pure corn tortillas - I could only get corn and wheat tortillas in my supermarket, but pure corn ones are available online
  • Also, if using soya mince and going for gluten free, check it, because sometimes they add wheat flour.
This is based off of this recipe (Turkey Tortilla Pie from Good Food), but I've changed a few things (of course I did ;)), hence this is my version.

Feeds 4, Time 30-40 mins

Ingredients


Chilli
  • 1 tbsp oil (use your fav - it's for frying)
  • 2 red onions (you could use white onions if you like, I just prefer the sweeter red ones)
  • 1 large red pepper (I used a roasted/skinned one from a jar)
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 450g mince (turkey/soya/quorn)
  • 1 tbsp chipoltle paste (this makes it a decently warn chilli but not mouth on fire stuff, if you prefer it milder, reduce the amount)
  • 500g passata
  • 400g kidney beans (1 can)
  • 200g sweetcorn (1 can)
  • 2 corn tortillas (you can use wheat if it's all you can get, but the corn ones add a nice sweetness and allow for a gluten free meal if they are pure corn)
  • sprinkling of grated cheedar cheese
Salsa
  • 1 large rip avocado
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • dried garlic to taste (either granules or a garlic grinder)
To serve (optional)
  • soured cream
Equipment
  • flame proof casserole dish
    or large frying pan + casserole dish
  • small bowl

Method

  1. Finely chop the onions.
  2. Add the oil to either your flame proof casserole or the frying pan and put on a low heat on the hob.
  3. Add the onions and cover - allow to sweat down until soft. This can take up to 10 mins - the onions should be translucent when done.
  4. Dice the red pepper and add to the pan.
  5. Add the mince and stir thoroughly.
  6. Cook for 5 mins or so until the mince is browned - the time will vary depending on what mince you are using, so use your own judgement.
  7. Stir in the chipotle.
  8. Add the passata, then rinse out the can/box with a little water and add that as well.
  9. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 mins or so.
  10. Add the kidney beans and the sweetcorn and cook until the chilli is thick and viscous, not watery.
  11. While the chilli is cooking, dice the avocado into small cubes.
  12. Place in a small bowl and squeeze over the half a lime.
  13. Sprinkle with the dried garlic to your own taste and mix.
  14. If you were cooking in a frying pan, once it is done transfer the chilli to your casserole dish.
  15. Put the grill on full power.
  16. Cut the corn tortillas into 8 triangles each.
  17. Place the tortilla triangles all over the top of the chilli like a lid.
  18. Sprinkle lightly with cheese.
  19. Place under the grill until the cheese melts and the edges of the tortilla's crisp up.
  20. Serve in bowls with the salsa sprinkled over the top and a dollop of soured cream if that is your thing.
This is a very tasty, hearty meal and it definitely going in my regular use folder.