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, 7 August 2019

Interview - The Wonderful Ronel Janse van Vuuren

Interview - The Wonderful Ronel van Vuuren

Today I have the great honour of having Ronel Janse van Vuuren on my blog, and she has been kind enough to answer some of my questions.

1. Hello and welcome back! For those who are new here, would you like to introduce yourself and tell everyone what it is you love to do?

Thanks, Tasha. I’m award-winning, dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. Though I mainly write for children and teens, I have short stories in various anthologies meant for older readers. I tend to use lots of folklore and mythology in my writing. And though I love writing, I’m also a Rottweiler pack leader, chicken wrangler, horse servant and compost enthusiast. I also blog about folklore on my website. www.ronelthemythmaker.com

2. What draws you to be a writer and means you can never give it up?

Creating new worlds and seeing how people react to situations. I guess I can throw crazy situations at real people, but it probably won’t be legal (and it might get me locked up with the criminally insane).

3. What is the first thing you ever remember writing?

Something about faeries, lady bugs and a rock garden. Sadly, that story got lost in time.

4. Dark Fantasy is one of those terms that seems to pop up a lot these days, how would you define the genre?

Dark fantasy is all about examining the human condition, looking at the consequences of actions and decisions, and how the beliefs we hold can change the way we see our world. It can contain some gore, darker and frightening elements of fantasy, atmosphere of dread, but it mostly deals with studying the dark and frightening sides of our nature.

5. What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?

Is there a term for something in between? Basically, I’ll have an idea of what I want to write (theme), create basic characters and an outline. Then I have fun with a first draft (getting to know the characters better) before doing a synopsis and a rewrite. Though, this differs from one project to another.

6. You have a new book out, what's it about?

Magic at Midnight” is about a farmgirl who takes care of her pegasi until one she is “asked” to take the place of a princess at a gathering of all the princesses from all the lands to compete for the hand of the prince of Acacia Wood. Conspiracies, betrayals, magic and romance become part of her life as she does her best to prevent war. She doesn’t want her pegasi to die needlessly in a senseless war.

Some readers have called it a “Cinderella” meets “Miss Congeniality” coming of age story.

7. Which aspect of the new book gave you the most trouble?

Writing about Amy’s feelings for Rachel. This is the first time one of my main characters have revealed to me their bi-sexual gender identity. (I’m not rude enough to ask if it isn’t pertinent to the story.) So dealing with Amy’s feelings, society’s rules against it, and juggling the other ways Amy can get killed made for a troublesome -- but fun! -- time.

8. Which aspect of the new book was your favourite to write?

The scenes with the pegasi. I based them on my chickens and horses -- and a bit on my Rottweilers! -- and it was by far my favourite time spent writing this book. For some readers, the pegasi made the book.

9. Do you have a favourite character from your new book?

Idil. She’s a pegasus and Amy’s best friend. (She’s also on the cover -- though the how’s and why’s are only revealed near the end of the book.)

10. What is your comfort read book(s) – the one(s) you can go back to when you need something you know will relax you and bring you joy (like and well-loved cardigan)?

“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman.

11. Do you enjoy movie/TV adaptations of books, or do you find they never do the source material justice?

I enjoy adaptations. Sometimes they are my first introduction to a book/series! Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Mortal Instruments, and Vampire Academy are a few that come to mind. Of course, you should see them as their own story and not compare them to the original book.

12. What part of the writing process do you love best, getting the first draft down, editing the first draft or polishing the final draft for publication?

Depends on my mood and the time of year. Spring and Autumn are best for first drafts. Summer for editing and Winter for polishing. But we don’t always get what we want. There’s always treats (bribes!) for getting through the not-so-much-loved parts.

Thank you so much to Ronel and don't forget to check out her new book below. Sounds exciting!

Magic At Midnight

by Ronel Janse van Vuuren




Amy has only known one life. Now she needs to put it all on the line to save what is precious to her. Can this simple farm girl survive court-life? Can she stop a war from burning down her world? And what of the mysterious princess of Hazel Wood and her covert glances…? Not to mention the prince of Acacia Wood who might or might not be involved with the prophecies ruling their kingdoms. With mysteries and secrets threatening the life she longs to return to, can she separate her feelings from the mission?


About Ronel

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

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

All of her books are available for purchase from all major online retailers.

Connect with Ronel on:

Friday, 5 July 2019

Monsters! #FreeFictionFriday Exclusive Free Short Story

Monsters! #FreeFictionFriday Exclusive Free Short Story

It's Friday and we're not in July, which means it's Free Fiction Friday.

This month's story is a short about vampires and secret agents.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Marc, codename Redhawk, is a hardened agent for I2, a global intelligence agency. Even in his weird world vampires don't exist, that's just a fact, until he wakes up dying in the arms of one.

It's easy to get a copy even if you're not already a subscriber - just join the Wittegen Press Newsletter and the links are included in the final welcome email.

Our promise to our subscribers: we never spam and we promise to never use you email address for anything else.

We send our newsletter via Mailchimp, so your details are perfectly secure.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Perfect Boiled Egg

The Perfect Boiled Egg

Now, I know, there is much debate about the perfect boiled egg. I'm not trying to be controversial😜. This is not a method that claims to make the epitome of boiled eggs for everyone, HOWEVER, it is a way of boiling an egg that produces the exact same results every time.

I don't know about you, but I've always found boiled eggs to be hit and miss. I'd use a time at my house and it would be perfect, then use the same time at my parents house and the egg would be over done or not done enough. Then I discovered the secret!

Keep reading to find out what it is...


  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 2 slices of bread of choice - I favour multi-seeded wholemeal
  • butter (or spread, or nothing if you are so inclined)
  • beverage of choice - mango and lychee green tea with honey is my choice


  • 1 pin (one with a large head is the best, like the ones that are covered in plastic on the end and look like pearls)
  • 1 desert spoon
  • 1 small saucepan
  • a timer of some sort
  • water
  • a double egg cup or 2 single egg cups
  • 1 teaspoon - preferably with a flat handle
  • butter knife
  • 2 plates
  • toaster


  1. Fill your saucepan 2/3rds with water and place over a high heat - if it is hot water from the tap of kettle it will be quicker.
  2. Put the bread in the toaster and pop down. Now I like my toast well done and cold for making soldiers because the structural integrity is better. If you like your toast warm, do this step once your eggs are on.
  3. Pierce the top of the eggs with the pin very gently. This will stop them cracking when they are placed in the boiling water.
  4. When the water is boiling, lower the eggs into the water using the desert spoon. Avoids any chance of scolding.
  5. Start timer for 4m30s. This produces a runny egg where the yolk is beginning to firm up on the outside and the white of the egg is no longer clear, but there is some runny white under the yolk. If you like your egg less done, reduce the time, more done, increase it.
  6. When your toast pops - take it out and put it on the plate to cool like you are balancing 2 cards against each other when making a house of cards. This stops the toast going soggy. If you like your toast with butter melted in - just butter it straight away - that's what i do for toast and jam, but for soldiers I use this method.
  7. When the timer goes off, carefully tip away as much of the hot water as possible down the sink. Then immediately fill the saucepan with cold water. Tip out again and refill with cold. This will stop the eggs from continuing cooking. THIS IS THE SECRET I MENTIONED!!!
  8. Pop the eggs into the egg cups.
  9. Cut up your soldiers - I butter them afterwards - I know, weird, but then they don't get soggy.
  10. Tap the top of the egg with the teaspoon to crack the shell, and use the handle of the spoon to carefully lift away the top of the shell. None of this whack it off with a knife in this house - too much chance of shell in the egg!
  11. Use the spoon to nip off the top of the egg white until the yolk is visible and consume.
  12. Dunk soldiers and be happy (while trying not to get egg yolk all down the front of the new top).
And there we have it - my chosen method for getting the perfect boiled egg and soldiers every time. I had this for my breakfast this very morning, actually.

So I know there are many methods for boiling the perfect egg - which is your favourite?

Photo for banner by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Writing and General Update

Hello, one and all. Sorry I have been remiss in posting here recently, I've been super focused on writing and getting one of my novels ready for submission.

The Writing

I've mentioned before that I'm writing a novel series based off of my novella Mina's Children: The Legacy of Dracula and I've been focusing on that a lot. It's going well and the second books is shaping up nicely, while plans to extend Mina's Children into a novel are afoot too.

It's weird, but having a notepad for this one has been the key. I make no excuses for my brain, it's just the way it is!

The Submitting

Last year I finished writing a novel called Ellie Grange and the Mythical Space Diamond and I knew I wanted to try and land an agent with it. However, I've been letting it sit, because I also knew I wanted to change the ending a little. It just wasn't quite right.

Turns out, with some distance, it only needed a little tweaking to fix what felt wrong, so yay!

An agent just requested the manuscript after reading my query letter, so I really, really hope they like the book. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


As I've mentioned before, I'm an ambassador over at Wattpad - which means I'm a volunteer who helps out with some stuff, and it's a great place to hang out. Link to Ambassdors profile on Wattpad.

I've been posting original fic and fanfic over there for a while and I've decided to do a big push with some of my old fanfics, to share them with a new audience. Those of us who came from Livejournal know AO3 is THE place for fanfic, but there are many, many people on Wattpad who have never heard of it.😮 My plan is to entice people in with fanfic and then hopefully hook them with my original work too 😎.

Wattpad is a little pickier about what content is and is not allowed than AO3 - for example, no PWPs 😭, a story has to have plot as well as sex or it's not allowed, but there is still a thriving fanfic community over there.

I'm stacking up a whole heap of fanfic to post and having a lot of fun doing it (not that I'm not posting original work too). It gives me a chance to:

  1. re-edit some of my older work - I'm looking at you wayward commas, or commas lost in action, or OMG how many "and then"s are there in this fic?! 😂
  2. create covers for them - which is fun

There are some that can't go over because they aren't suitable, but I can rarely ever write a story with out it growing a plot, so most of them are good.

I did discover I have one Weiss Kreuz story which is basically 17K of porn. It does have plot, but the plot revolves around the sex, so I'm thinking it's probably on dodgy ground. 😂

The Issue of Plagiarism

And before you ask "What about the plagiarism problem" - because I have had so many people ask me that when I mention Wattpad, I have no idea why some people think Wattpad has a reputation for plagiarism and not helping writers.

Yes, people's stories sometimes get copied and re-uploaded by unscrupulous individuals to Wattpad or other sites, but Wattpad has a very clear, easy to follow procedure for having them removed. As I mentioned to someone on Twitter, I have had way more problems with people stealing and uploading my eBooks from other sites like Smashwords and Amazon than anything on Wattpad.

Wattpad has more than 65 million users, so there are bound to be some bad apples, but they (unlike some other sites I could mention) work very hard to make sure they are dealt with.

Canadian Lovelies

Wattpad are Canadian, but they have users from all over the planet. They are also lovely💖 just like their country's reputation and they have a whole section of their site dedicated to helping writers expand their audience and get the most out of the platform. Wattpad loves writers and it wants writers to love them.

Friday, 7 June 2019

New Free Exclusive Short Story - #FreeFictionFriday

It's that time of the month again, and by that I mean Free Fiction Friday!

Every month we, over at Wittegen Press, have a free short story for the wonderful subscribers of our Wittegen Press Newsletter. Never fear, if you are not yet a subscriber, it is easy to join and the links to this month's story are in the final welcome email.

The stories rang in genre and length and we try to mix it up so that everyone has something they enjoy.

This month's free story:

The Journey Home by Sophie Duncan

genre: high fantasy

Morgan has been betrayed, attacked by assassins and magic that could only have come from one of her own. Now she must learn what it means to trust and love so she may heal.

We offer each short story for download in PDF, ePub, Mobi and AZW3.

Monday, 20 May 2019

A Break Can Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

A Break Can Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

I was on holiday last week from Sunday to Friday and it has worked wonders for my inspiration and general outlook on everything.

It pains me to admit it, but I was feeling a bit burnt out before we went away. Writing seemed like so much effort. The ideas were all in my head, but turning them into words was hard. The break was just what I needed.

I took my hard drives and my laptop with me,
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash
but when we got there I made a decision, I wasn't going to do anything writing related at all for the entire six days. And I didn't, well not exactly. My fingers stilled, but, wow, did my brain take off.

We were in the Lake District, staying in Windermere, and it was peaceful and lovely and we went all over the place to just as lovely villages, beauty spots and towns as well. If you've never been to the area, let me just say, the scenery is spectacular - wide valleys with huge crags on either side, twisty roads, woods, ancient ruins - it's got the lot. Driving through it all was great for the creative juices.
by Rob Drake
However, I think what helped me most of all was the reboot. The total down time where I barely thought about writing, except in those moments in the car when my mind did a bit of plotting, or going over a scene or two.

It was on the drive home that I really began thinking about writing again though. It took us 8.5hrs to get back thanks to someone tanking it on the M1 and I let my creative drive go wild.

I haven't felt this excited about writing in longer than I care to admit.

So, if we're facing burnout, just remember, sometimes a break can be just what we need. Even creative types need a rest sometimes!

Hope you are all well. Best wishes to you all.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Cold Inside: Call of the Necromancer - #Free #Novella #WriterlyWednesday

The Cold Inside: Call of the Necromancer

Free Novella

The Open Novella Contest happens once a year over on Wattpad. It has 3 rounds:

Round 1 - 2000 words
Round 2 - +6000 to reach 8000 words
Round 3 - ~12000 to reach 20,000 words

Then there is a long list and a short list, after which the winners are announced.

It's a lot of fun and I've taken part both years. Last year I came 5th, this year I made it to round 3 but didn't make the long list, but still had a blast. My novella is up on Wattpad for everyone to read:

The Cold Inside: Call of the Necromancer
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Becky is staying with her parents, after an acrimonious breakup, when her bedroom cupboard starts singing to her in the middle of the night. As she investigates she finds a long forgotten heirloom, bequeathed to her by her great great aunt Rosalind years ago. Things get really weird and kind of creepy when it starts to talk.

Read on Wattpad

It has ghosts and revenants and magic and lesbians.

I'd love to know what you think.


And an added bonus, Soph entered this year as well and her story is in the shortlist. Go check it out, I beta read it and it is an excellent story.

Old Earth Rising: Reed-Hall Investigations
by Sophie Duncan

Something strange about your crime scene? Every well-informed copper in Britain knows it's time to call Reed-Hall Investigations, even if they'd never admit it afterwards.

Ally Reed and her investigative partner, Sherrod Reed-Hall, are called in when an archaeological site in the Highlands of Scotland unearths more than just grave goods. One of the dig team has disappeared, leaving only burnt markings on the wall that give Ally's extra senses a dose of dread. 

Taking on the case, Ally and Sherrod must face the most powerful foe they have ever encountered.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Thought by Natasha Duncan-Drake #FreeFictionFriday

Free Fiction Friday - May 2019

It's the first Friday in the month, which means Free Fiction Friday at Wittegen Press. Every month we give the little gift of an exclusive free short story to all the subscribers of our newsletter. This month we have a contemporary fantasy tale.

Our newsletter is run on Mailchimp, so it’s secure and reliable, as well as being easy to join and we promise there is no spam. Fill in the form on our landing page at Mailchimp and you're done. The links for this month's free short story are in the final welcome email.

We provide the short story in mobi, awz3, ePub and PDF to cater for all needs.

Thought – by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Genre: contemporary fantasy
A head injury leaves James with more than just a bump on his skull. He’s hearing voices.

Author’s Note:
This is a story I have had in my concepts folder for a few years now and it was a joy to finally be able to flesh it out. It was originally designed to be much longer, but that will have to wait for other projects to be finished. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Z is for BrenZett - Denizen by Natasha Duncan-Drake - Day 26 #AtoZChallenge

Z is for BrenZett

Yes, I'm late again, sorry - truth be told I just completely forgot about this yesterday! I had my head down doing other things and it totally slipped my mind. Apologies.

Today's ghost story is inspired by the village of Brenzett and a ghost story written by E.Nesbit. The ghost story is a grim one and can be found here: Man-Size in Marble. It's a great ghost story, so I recommend reading it yourself.

This one is a scary one.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

The church was absolutely beautiful, but that wasn't why we were here. We were after a good scare. It had been Julie's suggestion as we sat around drinking and discussing ghost stories. Our group did something every year at Halloween, but we'd already done all the ghost tours in the local area and nothing we could find took our fancy. That's when she had mentioned the ghost story about the church in the village where her parents still lived.

Of course we all read it, and it was clearly fictional, but it had our attention.

Which is why Halloween found us all in St Eanswith's while the weather helpfully closed in outside. And, yes, we had permission. Julie's father also happened to be a church warden and was happy to let us hold our vigil as long as we left everything in the state in which we found it. A donation from Grant, who is the one member of our group who is loaded (the rest of us are poor students) helped to smooth the way too.

Now, in the fictional ghost story there are two knightly figures in full plate armour lying each side of the altar, but the real church only boasts two gentlemen reclining on a tomb monument in the north chapel. However, it was close enough for poetic licence and to get us all going with spooky tales.

It was not that we expected the marble figures to get up and walk, as in the story, we merely loved the imaginative possibility tingling our spines.

October was unseasonably warm this year, hence the storm, but it was still cold inside the stone building. I must admit I've not been in too many churches during my life, but one thing I do know about all the country parish churches I have visited, is they were all cold. Luckily, we had all had the sense to wrap up warm. The cold added to the spooky atmosphere, so we drank our hot coffee and tea from flasks and didn't complain too much.

According to the story, the knights walked at eleven p.m., not the traditional twelve, which was a nice twist.

We had set ourselves up in the pews a little way up from the north chapel, so we could not directly see the monument. After all, we wouldn't have wanted to give the statues performance anxiety. Each of us had prepared a ghostly tale to tell which would take us up to the fateful hour. I have to admit, but the time eleven o'clock rolled around, I had more than enough icy fingers running up my neck.

If I'm honest, the only reason I went in for these ghost walks and spooky things was because my friends loved them. While I enjoy being scared in a nice warm living room in front of the TV, I preferred not to test out the real thing. Something I've never told the rest is that I saw a ghost once. I was only five, and my mum always said it was my imagination, but I still remember it clear as day. I was really not on board with repeating the experience. However, since most of these ghost things are completely fake and it made my friends happy, I didn't see why not.

At least to begin with.

There was something about St Eanswith's that, the longer I stayed in it, the more it got to me. Of course that could also have been the spooky stories and the shots of brady we were adding to our drinks.

"Here we go," Beth said, brandishing her phone so we could all see the time.

The clock had to be well kept up, because just before Beth's phone declared it was eleven, it wound up for its chime. We'd all gone silent at Beth's announcement and we sat there, looking at each other in the cold, dark church as the chimes sounded off, one by one. I counted them in my head because it felt as if doing so out loud would be rude.

On the strike of eleven there was the most almighty crack.

I'll be the first to admit, I jumped so hard I almost fell off my pew.

"What the hell was that?" Grant asked.

"Probably the storm," Julie said, "a tree branch falling or something."

We all nodded along, but it was obvious none of us really believed it.

"Is it me," I asked, "or is it colder all of a sudden?"

The fact I could see my breathe in billows in front of my face answered my question, really. It had been cold in the church when we had come in, but not enough to cause that kind of effect, and us sitting around talking had warmed up the air around us considerable.

"Maybe lightning cracked a window?" Beth said hopefully.

The problem with that was we all knew it was warmer outside than it was inside.

A low grinding sound carried to our little party and we all looked towards the north chapel.

"That definitely came from over there," Nathan said.

"Jules, would your dad..?"

"No," Julia said firmly before Grant could finish the question.

"Then what was it?" Beth asked.

"Probably something we've been hearing all night, but we didn't notice until we were all spooked," Julia said.

Of course, she knew the place better than we did.

"We should go look," Grant said.

He looked at us one by one and, eventually, we all agreed.

Y'know those dumb ideas people have in horror movies? Yes, I think that may have been one of those. We were closer to the door than the north chapel, but we still all stood up and followed Grant's lead.

We had with us two hurricane style, battery powered camping lamps. Apparently well-lit churches are not great for spooky stories, so we had none of the main lights on. At this point, that felt like a mistake. Grant and Julie each took one of the lamps as we made our way up the aisle en masse.

The north chapel was one big mass of dark shadow.

As I stared into the darkness, I just knew something was looking back at me. I'll be the first to admit, as the others continued forward, I was rooted to the spot.

The closer Julie and Grant got, the more of the chapel lit up.

"Oh shit," Beth said. "Look … look."

She was pointing at the tomb.

The two marble figures were still there, right where they should have been, no sign of them walking, but there was something wrong with the angle they were at. It took me a few seconds to realise what Beth was pointing at. There was a dark rip all along the edge of the tomb, right under the lip. It was as if the whole thing had been titled up and open, like a coffin lid raised a few inches.

I think I was the first to see what was sticking out of the hole and I gasped, but I could not get my voice to work. I was struck mute as cold fear lanced all over my body. It was a familiar fear, an instinctive one I remembered all to well from when I was five. There were three, white fingers, wrinkled and desiccated, like a pale mummy.

And they moved.

There was the grinding sound again and the top of the tomb lifted further.

That's when I saw the eyes, beady and red, glaring from inside the monument.

I remember screaming, but that's the last thing I can recall for what they tell me was three days. The doctors say it was shock and the police are investigating the whole thing, but they don't believe anything I've told them. They found me sitting in the churchyard rocking and muttering about eyes, and Grant, Julie and Nathan unconscious in the church. They haven't woken up yet. But the worst is, they can't find any trace of Beth at all.

They won't give me the details and they seem to think we were doing drugs or something, but Beth is just gone.

I know where she is, but they'll never open an old tomb that is completely sealed on the say so of someone they had to keep giving Diazepam to stop their episodes. They did let slip the crack we saw is completely gone, just like Beth.

Dramatic Reading on Patreon

For this month I am also recording dramatic readings of all the ghost stories. These are available on my Patreon. Some are public, some are patrons only.
Denizen- read by Natasha Duncan-Drake - coming soon

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.
Ever been sure something bad was going to happen?

Monday, 29 April 2019

Y is for the Bell Inn, hYthe - Yikes by Natasha Duncan-Drake - Day 25 #AtoZChallenge

Y is for the Bell Inn, hYthe

Greetings and welcome to the penultimate day of the AtoZChallenge. Where has April gone?

For today's ghost story I have taken the Bell Inn at Hythe as my inspiration. They have haunted cellars and a Grey Lady is said to walk the darkened alcoves. Legend says she it the ghost of a former proprietor who dies during childbirth - which seems very specific.

Think of this one like a tame horror movie with a jump scare.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

The cellars gave Karl the creeps. It was ridiculous for a six foot four rugby player to be afraid of the dark, but Karl couldn't help it, not here. Every time he had to go down to change a barrel, he fumbled for the light switch like a six year old sent to retrieve a lost ball.

Not that the light helped that much, it was just better than the dark.

He'd just connected up the new keg when there was a tink and the single bulb in his area went out, then the other two went off as well. Karl swore very colourfully as he found himself shrouded in darkness. If he was honest it was a yelp of fear, almost a scream.

The wiring in the cellar was old, and when one bulb went, it had the unfortunate habit of throwing out the nice new trips they had upstairs. Karl had heard more than one member of staff complain about it, but he had, up until then, never experienced it.

He knew it was his imagination, but it felt a couple of degrees colder as soon as the illumination failed. Goosebumps rose on every patch of his skin and he wanted nothing more than to be out of the brick lined room as fast as possible. The only problem being, his eyes were taking time to adjust, and if he moved without being able to see, he'd end up going arse over tit.

Blinking a couple of times, he willed his eyes to cooperate. Gradually he began to make out shapes in the darkness. However, it wasn't enough. He closed his eyes and counted to three before opening them again.

The face was pale grey and only centimetres from his own.

This time he did scream.

How he made it from the cellars back into the bar he had no idea. It was as if his forebrain disconnected and his hindbrain did all the work. Surprisingly Jackie, the land lady of the establishment, didn't immediately make fun of him.

"So you met the Grey Lady, then," she said, sitting him on a stool and handing him a whiskey.

Karl took a swig of his drink and let his silence reply.

Dramatic Reading on Patreon

For this month I am also recording dramatic readings of all the ghost stories. These are available on my Patreon. Some are public, some are patrons only.
Yikes- read by Natasha Duncan-Drake - coming soon

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.
Do cellars creep you out?

Saturday, 27 April 2019

X is for Pillow Talk seX Shop - eXtraordinary by Natasha Duncan-Drake - Day 24 #AtoZChallenge

X is for Pillow Talk seX Shop

I had to cheat a little for X, because it's not a letter you find in many Kentish place names, but I found one that almost counts for today's ghost story.

Today's tale is inspired by the former Pillow Talk sex shop in Margate. It was rumoured to be haunted by the playful spirit of a girl who once worked in a brothel on the site.

This is definitely not a scary story, and don't worry, it's not adult rated.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

The first thing Susan noticed when she walked into the shop was the new kinky bra display. Three of the bras were missing and the rest were all upside down, back to front or sideways in an almost artistic arrangement. She immediately pulled out her phone.

"Bryant," came from the other end of the call.

"Mr Bryant," Susan said, "this is Susan, I think the shop's been broken into."

"Dammit," her boss said, "what's been taken?"

Susan looked around; the rest of the shop didn't seem to have been touched.

"I can only see three bras missing," she said, "and the display we put up last night is all over the place."

"Three bras?"


"Nothing else?"

Susan walked up the shop, even the till appeared pristine.

"Not that I can see," she said. "Doesn't look like they got further than the new display. The door was still locked when I got here as well."

She moved into the back storeroom.

"The back window is fine too."

"Is there anything on the display that wasn't there before?" was the odd question that came from her boss next.

"Um, I'll just check," she said and went back into the main shop. "Oh, there's a feather boa draped around it that we didn't put there."

A rather heavy sigh came from the other end of the phone call.

"You don't need to worry, Susan," her boss said, "I should have warned you."

"Warned me about what, Mr Bryant?"

"Peggy," was the even odder reply.

"Who's Peggy?"

"Our ghost."

Susan laughed. She got it now, this was a new girl prank kind of thing.

"Very funny, Mr Bryant," she said, because she'd only had the job a week and she was discovering that she enjoyed working in the little shop.

"Sometimes I wish it was a joke," her boss replied, "but Peggy is real. Every now and then she takes a dislike to one of the displays and does a little rearranging. She also likes bras, you'll probably find them in the back room hidden under something. Just put it back as well as you can, I'll be in in twenty minutes."

"Yes, Mr Bryant," she replied.

Not that she believed a word of it. Still, she could play along until her boss actually arrived.

By the time he walked through the door, she had the display back to almost what it had been, but she hadn't been able to find the missing bras yet.

"Good job, Susan," Bryant said as he viewed the carefully arranged rack.

"No problem, Mr Bryant," she replied.

"Call me Bob," he said with a smile. "Sorry for the panic this morning, we don't usually give new staff the Peggy talk before their third week. She probably likes you if she's made herself known this soon."

Susan considered that for a moment, it didn't sound like her boss was kidding.

"It's not a joke then?" she finally asked.

"Oh, no," Bob said, "Peggy has been here longer than any of us. We think she may have worked in a brothel that used to be on the site in the dim and distant past. She's mostly a cheerful soul, but every now and then she gets artistic and moves things."

"I don't believe in ghosts," Susan said, because she really didn't know how to deal with this new information.

A box containing a feather teaser fell off the shelf just left of her ear, and her heart leapt into her throat.

"Peggy makes believers of us all," Bob said and gave her a sympathetic smile. "Come on, I think you could do with a cup of tea."

Susan nodded and stared at the fallen box as Bob walked past her. This had not been in the job description.

Dramatic Reading on Patreon

For this month I am also recording dramatic readings of all the ghost stories. These are available on my Patreon. Some are public, some are patrons only.
eXtraordinary- read by Natasha Duncan-Drake - coming soon

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.
Ever worked in a haunted establishment?

Friday, 26 April 2019

W is for Wayfield - Walking by Natasha Duncan-Drake - Day 23 #AtoZChallenge

W is for Wayfield

Hello and welcome to day 23 of the AtoZChallenge - can you believe we're almost at the end? I have to admit I have mostly failed this year - not only have I been late posting, but I haven't done anywhere near the visiting I usually like to do. However, I plan to finish my ghost stories, if nothing else.

W is for Wayfield in Waterslade which has a park which has a grizzly story of murder attached to it. Now I couldn't find many details, but is sounds like more of an urban legend to me than an old fashioned ghost story, so that's the idea I ran with. I won't go into details here, because it's in the story, so I shall just get on with it :).

This one is more ominous than outright scary...


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

A joke was a joke, but this was taking it too far. Mark had agreed to the dare. He had come out to the park alone and he had started walking the cursed path. The gang had promised that's all he would have to do, them pretending to be the ghost wasn't fair.

"I know it's you," he yelled into the darkness.

The sound of drum beats continued, no doubt from Kevin's phone.

"You promised you wouldn't do this," Mark tried again.

He didn't believe in ghosts, but he was still sweating under his coat. The urban legend had been told and retold for as long as he could remember. A person walking through the park while listening to music with heavy drum beats too loud to know anyone else was there, had been attacked and murdered. Their blood covered Walkman, iPod or phone, depending on who was telling the story, had been found with the body, still playing the same music. Now those who heard drums while walking down the path never made it to the other side.

Kevin had said it was just a test to prove he was brave enough. No one was supposed to be in the park with him, they were supposed to be waiting on the other side.

"This isn't funny," he shouted.

He felt cold, even though his clothes had been plenty warm enough only moments before.

Kevin had told him he had to walk, not run, all part of the test, but Mark was on the point of not caring. There was something in the air, a feeling that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. It wasn't good here.

When a figure with a white luminous face appeared near the trees, that was it, Mark was off. He was on the football the cross-country teams and he ran as fast as his legs would carry him. He didn't care about being in the gang anymore, all he wanted to do was get out of the park.

Kevin managed to hold it in as Mark vanished into the distance, but then the laugh burst out of him. That would teach the little snit who thought he was good enough to be in his gang. Now, maybe, Mark would show him the respect he deserved.

Turning off the drums he switched his phone to be a flashlight instead. He'd almost bashed his brains in by falling over a tree root already, it was dark away from the path and he didn't want to mess up his new jeans. He couldn't wait until school tomorrow, he'd tell everyone what a coward Mark had been.

It was as he was walking towards the path he realised he could still hear drums. He swiped at his phone, ready to kill the annoying track, only to find there was nothing playing.

Dramatic Reading on Patreon

For this month I am also recording dramatic readings of all the ghost stories. These are available on my Patreon. Some are public, some are patrons only.
Walking- read by Natasha Duncan-Drake - coming soon

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.
Would you test out an urban legend as a dare?

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

The joy and blessings of the season to one and all, whether you celebrate the Christian meaning or just like the chocolate :)

Have a great day.

I made the cake for Easter Sunday lunch - it is from this recipe:

Friday, 19 April 2019

Q,R,S,T,U,V - Catch up for Days 17 to 22 #AtoZChallenge

Sorry for being so behind - stuff happened, nothing bad, just lots of stuff and Easter. This is my catch up post for Q, R, S, T, U and V. I hope you enjoy the ghost stories.

Q is for Querns Road

This is a road in Canterbury and today's ghost story is inspired by the residence of Dorothy Crawford who is supposed to have lived in a haunted house for thirty years. I know nothing about the real Dorothy Crawford, or who her ghost may have been except that the ghost was a woman in nineteenth century garb.

This is not a scary story.

Quality of Life

by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Staying with Auntie Dot has always been an adventure for Kathy as a child. She had spent some exciting summer holidays with her godmother from when she was seven to when she was fourteen. Her parents had always taken a week's holiday somewhere posh before picking up Kathy and her brother Steven from Dot's and having another week at a more family orientated location.

Dot was on the eccentric side and she had always found the most amazing things for Kathy and Steven to do, so they had never begrudged their parents their week alone. Of course, what Kathy remembered the most was Mary.

Auntie Dot's house had had one other resident. She happened to be dead and had been for over one hundred years, but that didn't stop her being a fixture of Kathy's childhood. Looking back, she always wondered if Mary had been a product of Dot's stories and their childish imaginations, but she had never forgotten waking up to find her covers pulled to the bottom of the bed, or the time the tea table had trembled in place.

Dot had always talked to Mary as if the ghost was really there. Kathy remembered asking once how Dot knew Mary was in the room. The answer had been simple: "The goosebumps."

Standing in Dot's sitting room so many years later, Kathy felt the goosebumps. Of course, it was probably just the whole situation.

Dot had gone out the way she would have wanted: a sudden heart attack after rescuing a kitten from a tree in the park. Dot may have been ninety four, but that hadn't stopped her from doing anything that took her fancy. Now she was gone, and Kathy was the executor of her will, so Kathy had to sort out the house.

It was bringing back all the memories.

She picked up the photo frame from the mantelpiece and smiled at the picture of her, Steven and Dot from when they were young. Dot was smiling from ear to ear as usual and she looked so happy. It sent a pang of sadness through Kathy as she decided it would be a good photo for the back of Dot's funeral service.

"Oh, don't be sad, Dear," a voice said and made her almost drop the frame.

A feeling of unreality came over her, as if the past few days had all been a dream. She turned, sure she would see Dot, just as she always was. However, she did not come face to face with the old woman she had known in later life. The woman standing beside her looked even younger than in the photo she was holding.

She looked perfectly solid, like a normal human being, but Kathy knew that was impossible. The goosebumps said otherwise.

"Auntie Dot," she said, and her voice came out as little more than a whisper.

"Of course," her companion said, smiling brightly, "you didn't think I'd just go did you? I've a few things left to do, and I couldn't leave Mary all alone."

When Dot glanced over Kathy's shoulder she turned to look and there, for the first time, was Mary. She was dressed in old fashioned clothes and Kathy could see through her, but there was no doubt in Kathy's mind it was Mary.

"I finally know why the poor dear can't move on," Dot said as if it was just any other day. "Now here's what I need you to do."

Kathy just didn't have it in her to be scared of Dot and the urgency in the woman's tone was catching. She had taken to carrying around a notepad in case the house sparked memories she wanted to put in the eulogy, so she pulled it out and began writing down what Dot had to say.

Three days later the headline in the paper read: "One Hundred and Fifty Year Old Cold Case Finally Solved".

Kathy looked over to where Dot was standing chatting to thin air. The body had been in a small cupboard in the wall of the dining room, right where the tea table had been known to shake. It had been boarded up and papered over, but it hadn't taken much for Kathy to open it up, once Dot had told her how.

They had never known that the house had once belonged to a Dr Bartholomew and his wife Mary, nor that Mary had disappeared one cold December night. Dr Bartholomew had claimed she had run away with her lover, but, just over one hundred and fifty years later, the truth was now out. Mary had been murdered and hidden away in her own house.

Kathy had not seen Mary again since the day Dot had introduced her, and Dot was beginning to look a little transparent on the edges, but the atmosphere in the house seemed lighter somehow. Life was never going to be the same without Auntie Dot always at the other end of the phone or email, but Kathy could not be too sad when Dot didn't seem to mind being dead.

When Kathy had asked how long Dot would stay around, Dot had just said: "While you need me."

It was enough.

Recording coming later.

R is for Rochester Castle

Rochester castle is said to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Blanche de Warenne who fled to the roof during a siege in 1264. Unfortunately for her she was killed by an arrow and doomed to forever walk the castle.

This is a short funny one.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Blanche ran up the stone stairs and threw herself out on to the battlements.

It was a beautiful night for it, rain and high winds. Of course, none of it touched her, but it added to the atmosphere.

She gave a wail for good measure.

The ghostly arrow appeared overhead, arching its way down and she flung wide her arms, baring her breast. It thudded home and she cried out again, letting her body go limp, falling over the balustrade.

She wailed some more and made sure to vanish halfway to the ground—it never did to under-do the dramatics.

Recording coming later.

S is for Shurland Hall

Shurland Hall is a property on the Isle of Sheppey and I have never been there, so don't know the layout, but I ran with it anyway. The ghost is said to be that of Grace Davis, a woman who drowned herself in the pond there in 1769.

Be warned, this is a scary one.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

An open-air show, a night glamping, it had all sounded wonderful to Alison. Now she wasn't so sure. The show had been great, a travelling company with Royal Shakespeare backing and the tent was amazing with a four-poster bed in it, if you could believe it. What wasn't so wonderful was the trip to the loo in the middle of the night.

There were lights and a webbing path laid in the grass right up to the building housing the facilities, but there was something about the place that was creepy. The moment Alison had stepped out of the tent she had that prickling sensation on the back of her neck. It had continued all the way to the bathroom and was still there when she stepped back out again.

The whole glamping thing seemed to have attracted a slightly older crowd, so now, after midnight, the camp ground was virtually silent. The creeping feeling up her spine made Alison wish for the muddy tents at Glastonbury from her younger years. That was a camp that had never slept.

She began to walk as quickly as she dared back to her tent where her wife, Leah, was snuggled under the covers. Keeping her eyes forward she refused to look left or right. The instinct that something was there just wouldn't let go. She knew it was silly, but she couldn't do anything about it. No doubt, Leah would laugh at her over breakfast when she confessed what had happened.

Possibly she should have been concentrating harder on where she put her feet, not what may or may not be in her peripheral vision, because about halfway back there was a very wet squelch. She looked down and the mesh had vanished under her foot into a large puddle.

"Oh yuck," she said.

She was only wearing her sandals that she'd slipped on for the walk. The water was very cold and it felt muddy. Her only consolation was that she'd missed it on the way to the loo, at least. The sensation of mud between her toes was decidedly unpleasant and she went to pull her foot out. It wouldn't budge.

"What the hell?" she muttered, more annoyed than anything else.

Doing her best to put all her weight on her other leg she tried again. No joy. Now her anxiety came back full force. It was ridiculous to think her foot could be stuck in a puddle no more than an inch or so deep. She grabbed her knee and added her arm strength to her leg, but her foot would not budge.

Water dripped onto the back of her neck.

Alison looked up sharply, but there was nothing there. Her heart beat madly as adrenalin fuelled lightning shock through her core and she pulled at her leg urgently. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but water hit her neck again. This time she turned, as least as well as she could with her foot stuck. What she glimpsed out of the corner of her eye made her freeze.

At just about eyelevel there was a foot in a courtly black slipper, a foot that had no means of support, but was just hanging there in the air. More water dripped onto Alison and she didn't want to move, but it was as if she was compelled to do so. Turning her neck she saw a matching slipper on another delicate foot and her eyes slowly made their way upwards no matter how she tried to stop them.

A black silk dress with ornate frills and a pale lacey collar led up to a pale, perfect throat. All dripping wet and ornamented with what looked like pond weeds. Long pale fingers on slight, delicate hands rested on the skirts of the dress.

Alison begged her body to obey her, but her gaze continued upwards. Long dark hair, once ornately styled, but hanging in bedraggled clumps, framed an expressionless, almost white face with dark, haunting eyes. Alison began to shake. The face may have held no emotion, but those eyes, they were shiny and filled with a malevolence Alison could feel in her bones.

She breathed in little gasps, wanting to scream, but finding no air to do so. Her body was beyond her control and every move felt as if she was moving through viscous muddy water.

When those pale hands twitched all Alison could do was watch. They curled into claws, arms lifting them towards Alison and the pale, unmarked skin grew blotches, shifting to dirty grey, like meat left to rot.

Still Alison's body refused to obey her, eyes going back to the apparition's face without her consent. Bits of the woman's skin were missing, and one eye was gone, but the other glinted with menace. 

"Come with me," the woman whispered, although her ruined lips never moved.

Alison whimpered.

Her foot came free from the puddle. She could not stop herself turning even as her mind screamed.

"Follow," the woman's voice demanded.

She almost took a step.

"Hey, Ali, what are you doing?"

The feeling of water vanished as the apparition disappeared between one blink and the next. Alison sagged with a sob, falling to her knees as all strength evaporated from her body. Not even the puddle remained, but she couldn't say anything as Leah ran to her side. Alison had never believed in evil, she did now.

Recording coming soon.

T is for Theatre Royal
The ghost story for T is inspired by the Theater Royal in Chatham. This establishment has several ghosts, one who shows his pleasure of displeasure by watching or walking out of shows, a woman in a long evening dress and a poltergeist which causes mischief.

Not scary for this story.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Grant walked off stage before breaking character in the wings and hightailing it round the back for his costume change. He had two minutes before he was due back on.

He had the new trousers and jacket on before he realised one thing, the tie was missing. He panicked. It wouldn't have mattered except the tie was actually mentioned in the scene. It was a small line, but important.

Grant searched around desperately until he heard a disembodied giggle. He looked up, there is was hanging from a hook two metres away.

"Blood ghost," he muttered, running to get it.

Recording coming soon.

U is for Underground Tunnels at Dover

There are tunnels under the castle at Dover, which run through the cliffs and were used during the Second World War as a secret base of operations. If you ever get the chance to visit, it is an amazing place to see. The ghost story for U is inspired by these tunnels, which are said to be haunted by soldiers from the war.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

I did not die here, that happened on a beach in a foreign land, but sometimes an important place calls a spirit anyway. During the war these halls were filled with activity, never still, not even in the middle of the darkest night.

Now they are often quiet, but the tourists bring in life and energy. I never meant to frighten those poor people, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes the pull of this place is too much and I'm back there, doing my duty, not watching the curious visitors in this new century. 

It's nice to be noticed occasionally though.

Recording coming soon.

V is for HeVer

Yes, I cheated a little for today - but it does have a V in it :). Hever is a lovely village with a magnificent castle which was once home to the Boleyn family, so, of course it has many ghosts. Anne Boleyn is said to cross the bridge to the castle every Christmas Eve, and her father haunts the village in a ghostly horse-drawn carriage. There is also a less high born ghost, that of a farmer who was robbed and murdered in the 16th century.

This one should make you smile, I hope.

by Natasha Duncan-Drake


"But it's a great deal."


"It'll be romantic to stay at a castle for Christmas. How many of our friends will be able to say they've done that? Why not?"


"You have to be kidding."

"Don't look at me like that, you know my family. I've been there before; the ghosts are real."

"You saw one?"

"No, I felt it, and I don't want to meet Anne Boleyn, headless or not, in the middle of the night."

"But 50% off."

"Remember my grandmother's house and the moving toiletries?"


"This would be worse."

"Okay, how about Disneyland?"

Recording coming soon.

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

P is for Penshurst - Penance by Natasha Duncan-Drake - Day 16 #AtoZChallenge

P is for Penshurst

Hello, I hope everyone is stocked up with chocolate for the coming weekend :). It is day 16 of the AtoZChallenge - where has all the time gone? Today is P and I have a drabble ghost story for you.

This little story is inspired by Penshurst, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a man, reenacting his journey to meet his secret love, the vicar's daughter. Being a vicar's daughter myself, I had to pick this one. I have no idea what the full tale is, but this is my interpretation. It is more sad than scary.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

He never came.

She sits and waits for him, a lonely figure in the window of the big old house. Every day she watches, her vigil never ending, never heeding those who tell her he is gone.

Only the father knows why. Only his hand burns where it held the blood money to pay those who intercepted his daughter's lover. Only he sees the shadowy figure that stands behind his dear child through her days of solitude.

At night the spirit walks the village. Those who see it guess at the truth.

It was never meant to end this way.

Dramatic Reading on Patreon

For this month I am also recording dramatic readings of all the ghost stories. These are available on my Patreon. Some are public, some are patrons only.

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.
Do you think love continues beyond death?

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

O is for Old House at Home - Obsession by Natasha Duncan-Drake - Day 15 #AtoZChallenge

O is for Old House at Home

Hello and welcome to day 15 of the AtoZChallenge. I'm a little late today, but I have a good reason, I was hoping my voice would stop being scratchy and squeaky so I could record today's story, but, alas, it is not to be, so it will have to wait until tomorrow to record the story.

We have a drabble today (exactly 100 words) and it is inspired by The Old House at Home pub on the Isle of Sheppey. This pub has noisy troublesome ghosts who slam doors and tip people out of bed. I went for a humorous take on this.


by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Ben woke up as he flipped out of bed and hit the floor.

"What the hell?" he growled, picking himself off the carpet.

He glared at the room in general.

"What is your problem?" he demanded of the empty air.

The bedroom door slammed and opened again in a pointed fashion.

"Seriously," he said, standing up, "why..?"

Then he saw the clock.

"Ah," he said, immediately turning on the TV.

Selecting the right channel, he settled back into bed as the nearby chair sunk as if an invisible person had sat down. Even ghosts were addicted to Game of Thrones.

Dramatic Reading on Patreon

For this month I am also recording dramatic readings of all the ghost stories. These are available on my Patreon. Some are public, some are patrons only.

Visit Other AtoZers:

AtoZChallenge Master List of Blogs 

Please do let me know what you think of the story and leave me links to your AtoZ entries so I can visit you back. I love to chat.
Would you accommodate a phantom's needs if you figured out how to make them happy?