All posts by Belinda Crawford

Triple Chocolate Marshmallow Ice-cream

Many people have asked me where they can find the triple chocolate marshmallow ice-cream mentioned in Hero. It’s one of Fink’s favourite deserts and lots of fun to make, just try not to make too much of a mess in the kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 2 litres chocolate ice-cream
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

You will need

  •  A large bowl, preferably metal but glass will work as well

Directions

  1. Place the bowl in the freezer and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. If you’re not using mini marshmallows, cut them into quarters. Likewise, if you aren’t using chocolate chips, chop the chocolate into small pieces. Do this before proceeding to the next step.
  3. Once the bowl has been in the freezer for 30 minutes, take the ice-cream out of the freezer (but leave the bowl in the freezer) and let it soften for 5-10 minutes, or until the ice-cream is soft enough to scoop out easily.
  4. Working quickly, take the bowl out of the freezer and scoop ALL of the ice-cream into it. Keep the ice-cream container.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and marshmallows to the ice-cream and stir through. Do not over-stir the ice-cream.
  6. Put the ice-cream back into its original container, replace the lid and put it back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Done. Enjoy!

Notes

If you can’t find chocolate chips or mini marshmallows, get regular chocolate and marshmallows and chop them up as directed in step 2.

 

 

Strange and peculiar things: An interview with Amie Irene Winters

Amie Irene Winters is the author of Strange Luck, a fantasy series about a girl named Daisy and a secret realm that built on stolen memories.

BELINDA: You’ve just released the second book in your Strange Luck series, The Nightmare Birds, tell us a little about the heroine, Daisy.

AMIE: Daisy is one strong and cynical chick, but she also has a kind heart. She possesses the unique ability to create and destroy worlds, but that’s not all. There’s a dark reason why she is able to do these things, and only when she accepts who she really is will she be able to defeat the Order of The Nightmare Birds.

BELINDA: I love the Theatre of Secrets. What inspired it?

AMIE: Thank you! It was a lot of fun to write about the mysterious Theater of Secrets. I’ve always loved the concept of the supernatural creeping into the real world, especially stories with dark magic and unseen monsters (I’m a big H.P. Lovecraft fan). A mythic circus operating beneath a bustling city seemed like the perfect setting to invite strange and peculiar things.

BELINDA: Tell us a little about the Nameless.

The cover of Nightmare Birds, book two in the Strange Luck series by Amie Irene Winters
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AMIE: The Nameless in a beautiful and dangerous world built using stolen memories. The memories are collected by a dark entity who is in search of the perfect memory. All of its residents, called Collectives, were lured there using a variety of tactics. Vain people can be lured with a map to the Fountain of Youth. People who love space or exploration might be lured under the pretense that the map is a wormhole to another galaxy. Daisy fell into the Nameless’ trap in search of immortality in hopes of saving her ailing father. The terrain and everything in the world are based upon other people’s memories, so you’ll find everything from famous wizards in fairytales to talking stuffed animals all looking to escape while retaining their memories before they are stolen.

BELINDA: What’s your worldbuilding process like?

AMIE: After coming up with a general idea for a world/other realm, I look at how it got to be that way. This really helps to fill in the backstory and develop a richer history of the world’s existence. Then, I work in all of the good and bad things in the world which can be used to help and hinder the characters. The rest I leave up to free flowing. I try not to plan things too tightly so that they may change, develop, and grow. I might go into writing with a specific idea about the world and as I’m writing think of something that works much better.

BELINDA: What sort of things do other authors in their worldbuilding that bug you?

AMIE: I think creativity and originality is most important, then planning the logistics. I think a lot of authors do this backwards and spend all of their time planning magical rules and scenarios, but not focusing on the imagination/fantasy part of it. I honestly get bored reading a book that’s all rules and no imagination.

BELINDA: What books do you think are examples of great worldbuilding?

AMIE: Harry Potter and The Neverending Story are my favorites. When you feel like you are completely and totally there, the author has succeeded in immersing you in the world they’ve created—in a world you don’t want to leave.

BELINDA: How many more installments are there in the Strange Luck series?

AMIE: There will be four books total, including a prequel. My newest book, The Nightmare Birds, is the second book in the series. I’m currently working on Book III.

BELINDA: Can you give us any hints about what’s to come?

AIME: There will be lots more dark magic and strange things creeping into the light. Stay tuned for details.

About Amie Irene Winters

Amie Irene Winters, author of the Strange Luck Series.
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As an environmental conservationist, Amie Irene Winters has had a lot of unique experiences—from participating in archaeological digs and camping solo in the Rocky Mountains, to writing grants and designing natural history museum exhibits—but writing fiction has always been her passion. 
She’s the award-winning author of the Strange Luck series. 

Originally from California, Amie has lived in every region of the U.S., and currently resides in a small town in western Pennsylvania. She loves hiking, traveling, baking desserts, and spontaneous adventures.

You can connect with Amie via her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and buy her books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-MillionBook Depository and Kobo.

Image courtesy of Crisco Photography (via Flickr) used under a Creative Commons license.

Wild, Tough and Cheeky: Carolyn Gilpin on Antiheroines

Carolyn is the author of Facing Up a story about a girl trying to pick up the pieces of her life after a car crash ruins her life.

BELINDA: Tell us about Carly, what makes her an antiheroine?

CAROLYN: Carly is an antiheroine because she is cynical, prickly, quick-tempered, stubborn, impatient with her family and pretty much most of society. She is rebellious and smokes and tends to stir trouble rather than smooth things over. But she is also tough, fiercely loyal to her friends, and suffers from inner guilt about the innocent person killed in the car accident which she and her friends caused while joyriding. This is one of the main causes of her issues, and she eventually finds a way to atone for this. Continue reading

Worldbuilding and Game Design: an interview with Diana Pinguicha

Diana Pinguicha is a woman of many talents not least of which include designing games and writing books.

BELINDA: Tell us about your book. What’s it about and what kind of audience would it appeal to?

DIANA: The Fantasy novel I currently have on submission is called A Trace of Madness (I call it ATOM, for short). It’s about a mind witch (essentially someone who manipulates minds) who’s sent to a neighboring country to plant the seeds for an invasion. There’s lots of magic, an insane girl, and bad decisions—it’d appeal to YA fantasy readers, as well as older ones, since it has crossover potential.

BELINDA: What inspired the world behind your story?

DIANA: Normally, when I read books based on European cultures, it’d always be more French/English/Hungary, and so on and so forth. I never found many books whose culture had been inspired by Portugal, so I used my own roots to shape the world in ATOM. It’s actually funny, because I have my main character doing things like eating tomato jam, and a lot of people asked me if it was a real thing—it is, and it’s delicious.

BELINDA: You’re a game designer, has that influenced the way you’ve built your world?

DIANA: Definitely. Before I started designing games, the worldbuilding would be pretty much as I went. There would be a lot of conflicts, and fixing them took a lot of time. However, as soon as I started my Master’s (which was heavily based on game design and programming), I realized it’d be much simpler to create an entire world first. So now I start with the world, the culture, the belief, and then, after I’ve shaped all I need to, I start on the story.

BELINDA: How does designing a game differ from writing a book?

DIANA: A lot. You have to consider a different array of things when you’re designing (and writing!) a game that you don’t in a book. For instance, you need to accommodate a player’s choices, and write outcomes for every different one—visual novels, for instance, do this, and it’s like having five different books that share the same beginning but different endings. It’s almost like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, but trickier, because you also need to consider interaction, interface, and so on.

Another aspect is the way you present your story to the player. In books, people are expecting to read a lot, but if you do that in a game, well… One of the biggest complaints I had for Sightless (a novel which I made a game prototype for) was that it had too much text. Since the game was more of a visual novel-meets-puzzle, it didn’t bother me much, but it’s something I need to be careful with on my job: you need to know how to balance information and gameplay, otherwise your players will get bored and give up. Similarly, one of my favorite games ever, Planescape: Torment, suffered from the same criticism: too much text, which possibly led to low sales when it was first released (but it was such a great game it’s found a lot of love after).

Bottom line is, when you write a book, you control everything the reader will see and know through your characters. In a game, the player can do what they please, and you need to find ways to support such freedom. You also have to be more careful in balancing play time with story exposition in a game, whereas in a book, there’s more leniency because, well… readers like to read. Gamers? Many do, but not the majority.

BELINDA: Do you have a particular worldbuilding process you follow?

DIANA: I always pick a culture I want to base myself on, then build from there. For instance, since I picked Portugal for ATOM, a lot of things are very Portuguese. Everyone loves to eat, and eat well, and they kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting (I do this on instinct and people think it’s weird, but it’s not! It’s just how I was raised, I promise!) Houses are big and mostly in white stone to prevent the flood of miserable heat, and a lot of people are loud—which, if you’ve met me, you know it’s mostly true.

I pick a climate (in this case, I chose to stay true and have it be hellish hot from March to November), then move onto politics—is it a Democracy? A Kingdom? An Empire? Once that’s picked, I pick the rest of the social structure (if it’s a caste system, a merit system, etc), then religion and beliefs, and so on.

I then draw a map, see what other countries I need, and do the same for them. If there are different races at play, I start working on them, their customs, what sets them apart, etc. Once the world is set, I start writing!

BELINDA: What are the things that other authors do, or have done, that really tick you off in regards to worldbuilding?

DIANA: When people do all these different alien races and they’re somehow all humanoids. Also, when there’s absolutely no fleshing out of a culture, and your character just lives in this flat world with no personality whatsoever.

BELINDA: What are some of your favourite examples of great worldbuilding?

DIANA: Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series is a work of pure genius. Even if his prose isn’t your style, his worldbuilding and magic system is phenomenal, and I recommend it to everyone. Tolkien, obviously, and JK Rowling. Juliet Marillier is bright example of taking something that exists, and building up on it to perfection—all her books feel real, like those legends could’ve really happened. Kate Elliot has terrific worlds through and through in all her different series, and all of them feel alive, and real. Last but not least, Susan Dennard, who not only has amazing advice on her blog, did an amazing job with bringing her Witchlands to life.

BELINDA: Do you have any worldbuilding tips?

DIANA: Do it at the very beginning, and don’t hack it together as you do. Research the cultures you’re inspired by so you know almost all there is to know about them, from who rules the land to where do women keep her monthly supplies for when the red sea strikes! And, for your own sanity, keep it all in the same folder and put it on Dropbox, because Jesus saves, but we need to back up!

About Diana Pinguicha

Diana Pinguicha Connors
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A Computer Engineering graduate, Diana is a game designer for serious games, an illustrator, and a Fantasy writer. Born and bred in Portugal, she lives in Lisbon, where she tries not to melt under the sun. Keeping her company are her two cats, Sushi and Jubas, and the bearded dragon Norbert. Together with three colleagues, she made a small game out of one of her novels, and it was the runner up for 2014 SINFO’s Innovation Awards.

You can connect with Diana via her blog, DeviantArt, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

 

Feature image courtesy of wiredforlego.

Going Her Own Way: LG Surgeson on Antiheroines

LG Surgeson is the author of the fantasy adventure series The Black River Chronicles, including the short story Clara’s Buttons.

BELINDA: Tell us about Clara, what makes her an antiheroine?

LG: Clara grew up on the dirty streets of Aberddu (pronounced Aber-thee) city. She was orphaned during the Summer of Fire, and left picking over the rubble of destroyed temple. She was found by Iona Pringle, a local adventurer, who took a certain amount of pity on the young Clara. She hosed her down, fed her and handed her over to the Guild Below–an organisation famous for its skills in thievery, among other things.

The Guild took her in and trained her in some of their trade mark skills; pick-pocketing, appraising items, forgery, and general thievery. It was in the guild that she met Min, Luce & Angel the other members of her gang and between the four of them they set about making a living by mugging rich people.

Irrepressible is the best way to describe Clara, nothing keeps her down for long. She’s had knock after knock, but she always bounces back. She doesn’t take anything or anyone seriously and she’s not afraid of breaking the law. Clara is a petty criminal who will lie and cheat to keep her head above water. She is loyal to handful of people, but she would still push them out of the way to get the last crumbs in the pie-tray. Continue reading

The Worldbuilding Leviathan goes Spanish!

I love how many people have discovered the Worldbuilding Leviathan and I’m always quite chuffed (and just a little bit amazed) whenever someone drops me a line to tell me how useful they’ve found the template.

One such person was Juan de la Cruz, who asked me if he could translate it into Spanish. I said ‘of course!’ and last December an amazing Spanish version of the Leviathan landed in my inbox.

I do have to apologise to Juan for taking so long to upload the translated template, but now here it is for all the world to enjoy!

The template

#B2BCyCon Science Fiction Blog Tour!

Welcome to stop 3 on the Brains to Books Cyber Convention SF tour! On this stop, you’ll find book covers, blurbs and a few reading recommendations!

Also, don’t forget to check out how you can win 7 YA sci-fi books!

Daimones by Massimo Marino

Cover of Daimones by Massimo Marino.For readers who liked The Road, Earth Abide and Childhood’s End.
A post-apocalyptic sci-fi with elements of first encounters and genetic engineering.

The death and re-birth of the human race.

Death swept away the lives of billions, but spared Dan Amenta and his family, leading them to an uncertain future. When merely surviving isn’t enough and the hunt for answers begins, memories from the past and troubling encounters lead Dan to the truth about the extermination of the human race. Distressing revelations will give new meaning to their very existence.

Early humans shaped the future and seeded a plan millions of years in the making. Now survivors must choose: Endure a future with no past or fade away into a past with no future?

Get it on Amazon.

The Call to Search Everywhen by Chess Desalls

The Call to Search Everywhen box set by Chess Desalls
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For readers who liked A Wrinkle in Time and The Never Ending Story.

A YA sci-fi time travel series, in a box set!

In TRAVEL GLASSES, Calla Winston falls into a world of worlds after meeting Valcas, a time traveler who traverses time and space with a pair of altered sunglasses. After learning that his search for her was no mere coincidence, she tracks down the inventor of the Travel Glasses in hopes of discovering more about Valcas. With Valcas hot on her trail, Calla hopes to find what she’s looking for before he catches up.

In INSIGHT KINDLING, Calla faces charges against her for changing the past. She teams up with a group of talented travelers and discovers that she has a special travel talent of her own. But will that be enough to protect her and her teammates?

In TIME FOR THE LOST the team reunites for a mission they never saw coming: a journey to a world caught between life and death, and hidden within the deepest recesses of time.

Get it on Amazon.

Invasion (Identity Crisis 2029: Book I)
by JD Brink

Invasion by JD Brink
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For readers who like Batman, Star Wars and Watchmen.

A sci-fi superhero adventure in space.

A swarm of biomechanical monsters attack a new U.N. space station. Fortunately, two of its engineers are more than just astronauts…

Earth’s Apex superheroes—a physicist turned nuclear colossus, a hyper-intelligent silverback gorilla, and an otherworldly gladiator—are all that stand between an alien beachhead and the innocent billions below.

But repelling the first wave isn’t enough. And the best defense is a good offense.

Adam Smasher, Symian, and Ballista leave this world behind and venture into deep space, where the void—and the mission—may be darker and colder than they ever expected.

Get it on Amazon.

Escape From B-Movie Hell by MT McGuire

Escape from B-Movie Hell by MT McGuire
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For readers who like Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat Series, Red Dwarf and Terry Pratchet.

A sci-fi comedy for everyone to enjoy!

If you asked Andi Turbot whether she had anything in common with Flash Gordon she’d say no, emphatically. Saving the world is for dynamic, go-ahead, leaders of men and while it would be nice to see a woman getting involved for a change, she believes she could be the least well-equipped being in her galaxy for the job.

Then her best friend, Eric, reveals that he is an extraterrestrial. He’s not just any ET either. He’s Gamalian: seven-foot, lobster-shaped and covered in Marmite-scented goo. Just when Andi’s getting used to that he tells her about the Apocalypse and really ruins her day.

The human race will perish unless Eric’s Gamalian superiors step in. Abducted and trapped on an alien ship, Andi must convince the Gamalians her world is worth saving. Or escape from their clutches and save it herself.

Get it on Amazon.

Looking for more Sci-fi awesomeness?

Don’t forget to check out the next stop on the #B2BCyCon16 SF blog tour!

On fighting, YA and sci-fi: An interview with Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee knows kung fu, so when she writes a fight scene you know it’s going to be awesome. Which is fortunate, since her debut novel, Zeroboxer, is all about boxing (plus you know, intrigue,  planet-spanning criminal enterprises and a smattering of romance).

Find out how you can win a copy of Zeroboxer at the bottom of the interview.

BELINDA: What is YA science fiction (sci-fi) to you?

FONDA: YA is fiction about the experiences of characters who are transitioning to adulthood. Science fiction is the genre of exploring the possible—not the world as we know it, nor a world that has never been, but the world as it could be. So to me, YA science fiction is about young characters navigating challenges in the context of a world that is different from, but a plausible extrapolation, of our own.

BELINDA: What drew you to the genre?

FONDA: I write science fiction and fantasy because it’s what I was drawn to read when I was growing up. As I kid, I loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain, and John Christopher’s Tripod Trilogy, among so many others. In my teenage years, I loaded up on Issac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, and Piers Anthony. I’ve been an aspiring writer since I was ten years old, and have always written speculative fiction. I guess in some ways I’m lucky in that I have no desire to write anything else; I’ve enough to keep me busy!

BELINDA: Do you think there is a difference between YA sci-fi and that which is marketed at adults?

The cover of Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee.
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FONDA: I do think there’s a difference. I’ve had many adult readers tell me that they “don’t read science fiction.” Yet they’re fans of Star Trek, and Star Wars, and they read Michael Crichton and loved the movie The Martian. I think there’s often a general public perception that adult science fiction literature is for brainy physics types who want to read the hardest end of what we in the field dub “hard science fiction.” Which is not all true, though some readers do prefer this type of literature and perpetuate the impression. YA science fiction can still be “hard” (adhering strictly to science as we currently understand it) but because it contains elements typical of YA (focus on a young protagonist, coming-of-age issues, relationships with friends, parents, and romantic interests, and faster story pacing), I believe it can often be marketed as more mainstream and accessible than science fiction literature for adults.

BELINDA: What inspired the world of Zeroboxer?

FONDA: Zeroboxer was inspired by a number of things: my love of science fiction, martial arts, and action movies, combined with my background working in a sports company and seeing first hand the enormous amount of marketing, money and emotion involved in the athletics industry. It all came together in my mind as a nascent idea about a futuristic prizefighter who ends up inspiring and representing Earth. Everything else fell into place.

BELINDA: You’re a martial artist, what do most writers get wrong in fight scenes?

FONDA: I’m a big fight scene aficionado, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when writers don’t realistically depict the time required for someone to become a good fighter, and the extent of how exhausting and dangerous fights are. I roll my eyes when someone writes a character who seems to fight for hours against multiple opponents without getting injured, or who gets injured but then seems to miraculously recover after a short period of time.

BELINDA: What are a few of your favourite YA sci-fi books?

FONDA: House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Feed by MT Andersen, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, and the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld.

About Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee, author of Zeroboxer.
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Fonda Lee is the author of the novel Zeroboxer (Flux/Llewellyn, April 2015), which is an Andre Norton Award nominee, a Jr. Library Guild Selection, and an ALA Top 10 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. Her second YA sci-fi novel will be released by Scholastic in January 2017. A recovering corporate strategist, when she is not writing, Fonda can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. Find her online at www.fondalee.com and on Twitter @fondajlee.

YA Sci-fi giveaway

Win a copy of Zeroboxer, along with six other awesome YA sci-fi books, in our giveaway running from 8 April 2016 to 10 April 2016.

Sign up to be notified about this and future giveaways.

Feature image courtesy of clement127 (via Flickr). Used with a Creative Commons licence.