Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Executioner at the Institute for Contaminated Children Review Tour



Welcome to my stop on the What Gifts She Carried tour hosted by Dark World Books.  Click HERE to see the full blog tour schedule!


The Executioner
at the Institute for Contaminated Children
16 The deciding age of contamination.
30 The number of coin flips it takes to prove that Donna may have subconsciously used her genetically enhanced abilities to excel in school.
24 The number of hours Donna has to board a train to the Institute for Extraordinary Children.
14 The flights of stairs she must climb to get to her room.
700 The number of pages in the rule book that will determine how she eats, sleeps, and…well…smells for the remainder of the school year.
2 The number of members in her squad. Good thing Dan’s there to help get her abilities in shape and avoid Donna’s worst fear—humiliation. Her abilities skyrocket. Until the day she learns exactly what Dan is capable of.
1 The number of bodies that turn up dead.
0 Her chances of getting out alive.
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My Review:
When I first picked up The Executioner of the Institute for Contaminated Children I had no idea what I was in for, and I wasn't sorry. The idea of children developing powers has always been an interest of mine, and Donna was a fantastic character to follow into this story.

Donna is a smart character, and that is actually her power. She has the ability to always pick the right multiple choice question and she has the ability to predict things in games of chance. That is why Donna is sent to the "special" school.  Soon Donna learns that something is not right, especially since there are no phones, TV or internet at the school. When students start turning up dead, Donna is determined she's going to find out what's going on.

Margaret E. Alexander has written a thrilling story that will keep the reader guessing until the very end about who the executioner is. Donna is a strong character who really develops as the story moves. In the beginning she was very timid and she definitely morphed into the butt-kicking heroine that I love, and she will do anything to stand up for what she believes and protect the ones she loves.

The Executioner of the Institute for Contaminated Children was a thrilling read and I recommend this to anyone who loves superhero stories.
_________________________


Margaret E. Alexander
Margaret E. Alexander grew up in Miami, FL. Ten years of frizz and hurricanes chased her away to sunny San Diego, CA. While in college, studying biomedical engineering didn’t stop her from pumping out novel drafts every year. She found her escape in storytelling and others like her who sometimes preferred the world of fiction to the real one. The Executioner at the Institute for Contaminated Children is her first YA novel with Crescent Moon Press. She loves blogging about thrillers with young protagonists and is putting her art minor to good use with a graphic novel project on the side. Her wandering focus is the fault of her cat.
Blog – Twitter – Goodreads

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Adventure on Nemesis Mountain


Annie McMahon’s Blog Tour – October 15-31

Today I'm very excited to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate a fantastic author who I have had the privilege to be a part of the same critique group of. As someone who read some of the earlier drafts of this story I'm glad to be able to pass on the word that now people can read this great story.

Blog tour post: http://anniemcmahon.blogspot.com/2014/09/volunteers-needed-for-blog-tour.html

One-sentence pitch
When nature-loving Emilio and athletic Hans get lost in the forest during a fifth grade field trip, they have no choice but to put their differences aside to survive the harsh wilderness.

Back Cover
Emilio would rather eat a slimy worm than miss the fifth grade field trip. Nemesis Mountain must be full of rare leaf specimens and bugs for his collection. Besides, he needs a break from the playground and Hans’s nonstop teasing. His excitement is squashed when he gets lost in the woods with his worst enemy.
Alone in the forest, the two boys battle to survive the harsh wilderness, facing challenges that will change their lives forever.





About the Author

Annie McMahon is originally from Canada but now lives in New Jersey. She has a degree in computer programming, but her life took an unexpected turn and she ended up writing stories and articles instead of computer programs. Now she uses every spare minute to write children’s novels and to help other writers succeed.

Her three children have been the inspiration behind many of her short stories, over forty in total. Her flash fiction story, Paradoxical Neighbor, has been published by Nelson Education in a book for 10th graders, Nelson Literacy 10.

Annie has a certificate in copyediting, moderates a critique group for children's writers, and is the editor at UK Children's Publishing.

Links
Twitter: @anniemcmahon20
Goodreads: Annie McMahon
Author page on Amazon:  Annie’s author page



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Take-over Wednesday: Of Fire & Ice & Wind & Rain

Adam here again, taking over Cheree's blog to tell you another story of my life over in Japan.
 
Sometimes living in a foreign country is like living on an alien planet. In your homeland you get used to things being a certain way, but as soon as you go elsewhere you’ll find that things are hardly ever simple. The weather is always going to be unpredictable, but at least at home it’s an unpredictable that you are familiar with.

I moved from a dry desert country in the southern hemisphere to a muggy wetland in the northern, so there’s a lot of getting used to. For starters the seasons are reversed. I’m used to September being my much beloved Spring, instead here it turns to Autumn, so what is for me usually a warm and lively season becomes a cold and bitter one instead.

Technically speaking, Japan has 24 seasons called (Jun) which last around ten days a piece, all of which have unique and varied characteristics, but just like Australia (which technically has 5) and many other countries around the world, they make use of the standard four season naming practice for simplicity’s sake. Summer and Winter are the two high points of each year regardless of how you wish to call them.




Summers here can get a bit hot, but while everyone is busy exclaiming あついよ (Atsui yo “It’s hot!”), I’m chilling easy because hot here and hot in Australia are two different beasts. When I left Australia, we were in the midst of a record breaking heatwave of up to 50°c, which is hot enough to melt roads. So yeah, not really bothered by heat here. I actually enjoy the Summers here. One of the best days I’ve had was sitting in a McDonalds that had a broken air conditioner, it made me feel right at home, like I was back in Australia. The biggest problem with Summer here is that it is so humid. No matter where you go you wind up drenched in sweat before too long.

On the other hand, Winters here are ridiculously cold. I do not like snow. I once spent a hellish two weeks working at an Australian ski lodge (yes, they do exist) and, aside from wanting to murder several of the noisier people I had to bunk with, it left me with a deep passionate hatred of snow. It’s like sand, but cold. It gets everywhere and after the first fifteen seconds of ‘ooh, isn’t it pretty?’, it gets to be very annoying. In winter here, it snows A LOT. Either I have the worst luck on the planet or the weather here hates me, because I keep getting hit with record snow storms wherever I am. I am not kidding. A couple of years ago, Cheree and I were touring Japan and in that small window of time Tokyo was hit by a massive blizzard. We lucked out and were in Kyoto that day, but still slim odds that we were in the country when it happened.

Don’t believe that? Try this one, last year I was living in Yamanashi (near Mt. Fuji) and we got hit with a ridiculous amount of snow. It lasted for several weeks and everyone kept commenting on how they’d never seen so much snow before. One of the teachers even lost a car because their garage collapsed under it all. People here, having gone through a few major disasters already, are rather quick to panic at any sign of the abnormal. I’ve spoken before on the wonders of Conbini, but once panic shopping begins it doesn’t take long before the stores wind up as ghost towns. Making the mistake of living off Conbini meals and impulse snacks, I was dismayed to see the steadily dwindling supplies each time I entered. It started with the readymade food and bread, then all the ramen, then all the basic elements of food, then all the party snacks, then whatever wasn’t bolted down, then whatever was. It got so bad that there were rumours of rescue choppers preparing to make supply drops. At the time I had plenty of food in the house, unfortunately 90% of it required the basic element of electricity to prepare and with rolling blackouts it did get pretty dicey. I have since learnt my lesson, and have a cache of survival food ready in waiting. Just in case.



To compound matters, there is also an entirely unique Japanese season. 梅雨(Tsuyu) or Rainy Season.  As I said earlier, I come from a desert land so I’m not used to seeing so much rain at once. Just days and days of falling rain at the turn of the season. You get a lot of 台風(Taifuu) or Typhoons during the Rainy Season. Severe wind and rain ranging from seemingly endless rain to full-on hurricanes. As a matter of fact we’ve got a major one barreling down on us right now, registered as the most powerful storm on the planet all year. I’ve been lucky so far and all the typhoons have petered out before reaching my location but you can’t dodge every bullet.

That being said, it’s not all doom and gloom over here. I can happily confirm that Spring here is exactly like the Anime said it would be. When the Sakura trees are in bloom, you are treated to an awe-inspiring sight. Everywhere you go pretty pink petals are raining from the sky, and it is enough just to be able to watch it happen. I’ve spent ages just sitting around watching the surreal dance of falling petals and no matter how many times I see it, it is still a marvel to behold.

Monday, October 13, 2014

When characters evolve

It feels like forever since I started plotting Rin's story before Shinigami Eyes ever became a full fleshed out story, and I can tell you that it has changed (a lot). Even though there are some characters that I knew their roles right from the beginning still changed and developed. I knew Matt was always going to be an otaku, Rin was always going to be, well, Rin, and then there's Misa...

Where to start... I don't want to give too much away about Misa, but I can tell you that Misa is Rin's imaginary friend, and also the reason why Rin's sent to Japan in the first place.

I always knew the role Misa was going to play, but the way I wanted to reveal her really changed... At first I tried to be sneaky and do the whole 'unreliable narrator' route with Rin not mentioning that Misa's not even a real girl, so it would lead the reader to think she was just a little sister, but Misa just wouldn't shut up and how could I explain why no one else was talking to her?

So, I let Misa dictate how she wanted to be treated, and invisible friend it is... I find out that if you go in with a very strict plan about where you want your characters to be at the end of the story, or what you want them to do, then they have no real time to grow... My motto is let the characters be free to disrupt the story, just hopefully not do something as silly as get thrown into a padded cell (that's another character in another story, still working the kinks out of that one... yeah, where can you go when your character wants to be declared cray cray???)

What's the craziest thing your characters have done that wasn't what you had originally planned out?

Monday, October 6, 2014

From words to graphics

With less than a month to go before the release of Shinigami Eyes, I'm still in awe that I was able to get everything ready in time, and soon I'll have a shiny paperback to prove that I actually finished it (YAY!!!)


Writing Shinigami Eyes story with my brother wasn't the only aspects of this novel though. From the start I also had the idea that I wanted to place graphics in the story to help it resemble the manga that is a main part of the story.

I enjoyed creating the visuals so much that I didn't want to stop there... There was so many other stories that I could tell, and add to at the end of Shinigami Eyes, and that is why I also chose to create a manga, with chapter 1 being released in the paperback version of Shinigami Eyes. I can't say much about the story of the manga or the characters that appear in the storyline as it might give away some crucial plot points of the main story.

Through this whole journey I have discovered that I enjoy graphics design manga creation just as much as I like writing, and I hope that I'm hoping that I'll be able to create a full length manga based around the world of Shinigami Eyes in the not too distant future.

But for now, I'm going to ensure Shinigami Eyes is the best it can be for the release, October 31st... and then get some well deserved sleep.

Don't forget you can pre-order Shinigami Eyes now.



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BIG Announcement: Shinigami Eyes available for preorder... but wait, there's more


Wow, I can't believe today's actually the 1st of October... just 30 more days until Shinigami comes out. And as promised I have a big announcement to make.

Shinigami Eyes is now available to pre-order from Amazon:

ebook is available for $2.99 from:

paperback is available for $12.99 from:

Also with the paperback, it comes with a bonus manga.

We have a very special promotion running for a limited time for everyone who purchases either a paperback or ebook version of Shinigami Eyes. 

We have mobile phone charms to give away, and all you have to do is email proof of purchase (eg invoice number) to cheree@chereesmith.com with your name and address and we'll send you this charm.

Inspired by the manga in Shinigami Eyes, with the inscription of 'beware the fox' written in kanji, there are only a limited number available.

I know a lot has happened today. But I just hope this is making you excited for the release. So, I'll leave you with one last preview for Shinigami Eyes to help whet your appetites further.




Monday, September 29, 2014

Never a moments rest

It's been quite busy on both mine and my brother, Adam's lines lately. We've been passing different editing notes back and forth over the past week, never stopping... and I can't believe it, but the novel looks like it's actually complete.

I have been getting questions like, how can I work with my brother, and, do I find it challenging. I can answer, I wouldn't have it any other way. But, yes, it can be challenging... especially when I spend two days working on an image just for him to say, "okay, I like it... but, what about this..." Yes, that happened on nearly all the images I completed for the novel.

But I don't see this as a negative. albeit it's very frustrating, but he's also very critical and wants perfection. And I hope that's what we're going to deliver when Shinigami Eyes gets released October 31st.

I have been working constantly on getting everything out and ready so I can make this special announcement on Wednesday, and it looks like I'll be making that announcement, so stay tuned for Wednesday to find out something quite exciting that is happening.

That's me for tonight, now I'm going to try and get some sleep without them being plagued with creepy robotic Japanese singers trying to kill each other... mmm, the things I do for research.
 
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