Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cover Reveal - HYBRID (The Domino Project #2) by PitchWars mentor K.T. Hanna

I'm so excited to be part of this cover reveal for the indomitable K.T. Hanna, author and Pitch Wars  mentor extraordinaire.

And it gets even better -- because this cover reveal is a PUZZLE.  So cool.

But first, about the book:
Hybrid (The Domino Project #2) is the sequel to Chameleon. It's set in the wasteland of earth after a meteor shower causes ecological disaster, damages So
As Sai recovers from her life-threatening injuries, she struggles to piece together her damaged relationship with Dom. He fights the parasite within, suddenly freed from the interference of the other Dominos in his head.

Inside Central, Bastian’s Shine dosing has become a dangerous dance. Enhanced security protocols and endless meetings have him on a tightrope, with little room to move without revealing himself.

When the GNW release the Damascus to begin their systemic hunt of the Exiled, the noose closes around the rebels and their allies. If they can’t disable the threat, the Exiled won’t be the Damascus’ only agenda

Without further ado - here's a teaser of the cover by the amazingly talented S.P. McConnell.


Go see the full cover at YA Interrobang!

Isn't it GORGEOUS!?!?!

Sit back and bask in this for a moment.

It's available for pre-order for $3.99 and will be available on November 10th, 2015!

mazon Link

It will also be available in print via CreateSpace, Amazon, but best of all, my local indie is supporting me again and it's available for pre-order in print there!



Haven't read Chameleon? There's still time to catch up!

Get it HERE!

About the Author

KT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds.

Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you.

When she's not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, interns for a NYC Agency, and chases her daughter, husband, corgi, and cat. No, she doesn't sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky.

Note: Still searching for her Tardis


To celebrate, we're giving away a copy of books 1 & 2! With an Amazon e-card, and a SWAG pack!

Winners will be announced on Monday October 19th!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

PitchWars - On Winning and the First Week's New Writing Tools

This is what it felt like, the night the PitchWars list was released.

In the first week we mentees were high-fiving all around, and the haze of celebration was thick and heady plus infused with disbelief. Me? My MS? The one I have sweated blood and tears for? You chose me?

**Breaks down sobbing grateful tears of relief that someone has seen beauty where so many before have seen dreck**

We, the 2015 PitchWars Mentees, introduced ourselves, started a secret-squirrel Facebook group and pinched ourselves because now WE were UP IN DA CLUB. (I don't often speak like 50Cent, but somehow that seemed appropriate here, go figure)

And then the work began.

My mentor, the incredible Kendra Young, began by sending me a spreadsheet.

I am a plotter by nature and I love outlines, but had never considered the spreadsheet because they're for bean counters, AmIright? They're rife with numbers and data and other inscrutable things.

But yanno what? It was a beautiful thing.

Because I was beset, bedeviled even, by structural problems I didn't know how to fix. And Kendra, with her laser vision, saw that right away. And she also saw, because she is a  teacher, that the best way for me to fix my problems was to engineer the solution myself.

In other words, working through her spreadsheet allowed me to excavate the weaknesses in a way I could never have seen just by copious re-reads of my ms.


This spreadsheet helped me gauge not just the goal of each chapter but also the tension and action levels. And there it was in column form - places where the tension level was too low for too long. Chapters whose goals were too similar or repetitive or unclear.

Boom again.

From that spreadsheet, we went to yet another, one some of you may already know but I was unfamiliar with - from Larry Brooks's Story Engineering. This lovely little Excel allowed me to enter my total word and page count, and then spit out an exact blueprint of where I was supposed to hit milestones - plot and pinch points, etc.

Armed with spreadsheet data and new ideas for tightening plot, strengthening and clarifying my antagonist, and streamlining the number of flat characters, I was off to the races. And Kendra was right by my side the whole time, offering insight, asking all the right questions, and suggesting some of the key ideas that ultimately shaped where SPOOKY JANE is today.

So - perhaps it's been said a few thousand times, perhaps it gets old. But Pitch Wars DOES change lives. Within one week of learning I'd been chosen, I was already a stronger, more educated writer with more powerful tools at my disposal.

Thank you doesn't begin to cover it. Thank you Kendra, thank you Brenda Drake. And thank you to the data which has given my creativity a new lease on life.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Today I am .... a Prospective #PitchWars Mentee

Hello People of #PitchWars!
Let me introduce myself:
I'm Heather Murphy Capps. 

I’m a mom (I have two children, my youngest is 3), an Army wife (we call ourselves Dharma and Greg), a Minnesotan (but haven’t lived there since my early twenties), a teacher (business/government writing and public speaking), of course, a writer. I dig kidlit -- both MG and YA.

My Backstory:

 I’ve got an acidic sense of humor and love to laugh, but I’m also deeply earnest and nice because Minnesota.

I <3 Christmas decorations.

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a rock star. 

I love, love, love reading and writing adventures and thrillers, especially those with sci-fi, magical, or ghostly twists. The cherry on top is when there’s humor involved. (I’m the one who jokes when everyone gets too serious) But I also like a good cry, and it doesn’t have to be for sad reasons. I’m a big fan of the happy cry. I cry at the end of Frozen and Cars. EVERY. TIME.

I’m committed to writing diverse characters. I’m mixed race, so are my kids. I want them to have access to non-white characters who are smart, interesting and funny, who do cool, exciting, adventurous things.

I’m fascinated by: cell biology, what might happen when we learn how to use more of our brains (magic! Super powers!), time travel, clones, reincarnation, witches, and ghosts. What else? Fringe science, pop culture, and quantum physics.

I like music, poetry, the ocean, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Both cats and dogs. And sunflowers.

I’ve always been a writer, but have only recently turned to fiction. I was a television news reporter for nearly two decades before I stepped away to raise my kids. Now I never want to go back because STORIES! IMAGINATION! So much more fun than real life.

I reported many stories I’m proud of, but THE ANCHOR DESK was where I gained some cocktail-party-worthy notoriety.

I was also briefly the press secretary for the mayor of Jacksonville, Florida. 
Why Chose Me?
  • I no longer have anchor hair, yay!
  • I am a hard worker, straightforward communicator, and I WANT THIS. I have the FIRE IN THE BELLY to improve my work.
  • I will happily slice and dice characters and scenes under your guidance. I will revise until my ms is shiny and pretty, even when it hurts.
  • I will respect your time and understand you are a volunteer and I will THANK YOU for giving back to the writing community in such a HUGE way.

My favorite MG Writers (IMPOSSIBLE to pick a short list!!):

Madeleine L’ Engle, Rebecca Stead, Kate Messner, Linda Urban, Holly Black, Shannon Hale, Sharon Creech, Mary Downing Hahn, L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), Laura Ingalls Wilder (did I mention I’m from Minnesota?), Louisa May Alcott, E. L. Konigsburg, C.S. Lewis, Rick Riordan, Anthony Horowitz, Tim Federle
Favorite YA:
Libba Bray, Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, Myra McEntire, Tess Sharpe, Stephenie Meyer, Victoria Schwab, Maureen Johnson

Favorite TV:

Grey’s Anatomy (I have a medical degree earned from watching all seasons since its pilot)
The Vampire Diaries
Orphan Black
The X-Files (I’m a VERY recent but enthusiastic fan)
The West Wing
The Newsroom

Some Favorite Movies (I have WAY too many to list – this is just a taste)

Star Wars (New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi), Phenomenon, Fried Green Tomatoes, Dead Poets Society, Steel Magnolias, Contact, Dogma, The Blues Brothers, Casablanca, Bridesmaids, Shrek.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Everything Changes

So for a while, I had a rhythm and it was nice.
I wrote on the weekends and in the mornings when both my kids were in school. I had space to both parent and write, and while it wasn't perfect, (what ever is?) it was pretty workable.

And then we MOVED. Goodbye, Arizona, Hello Virginia. We drove cross country for 6 days and had lots of fun and also some too-much-togetherness, because families.

We arrived and then our stuff arrived and ATE OUR HOUSE. We were buried by boxes

So now I am unpacking and keeping up with all the many moving parts of a transition - emotions, loss, discovery, paperwork, finding all the things that were packed in random boxes. Let me be clear: we're a military family, we move a lot. This isn't new. But it's never easy.

 Also I am unpacking and parenting and tutoring my kids so as not to lose ground during their endless summer vacation. (because of a scheduling difference between states my kids have been out of school since mid May and won't go back until September.)

And I am not writing. Much.  I feel as though one of my lungs has been removed.

But I just can't devote the time I need. My kids need me, my house is still in complete chaos, and my life needs me. The DETAILS of my life need me.

And here's the thing: ZEN has happened.

Because I can't REALLY write like I want to -- for all those reasons -- I have been THINKING and NOODLING and guess what? I have found a new zone. I am feeling patient. (Well, patient for me, which may not look like much to some, but it's pretty amazing from where I sit.) I am feeling focused. I am feeling CAPABLE.

Here's what patience and waiting and the Zen Space have wrought:

  • New story ideas - So Excited to start outlining. I want to do them ALL. NOW.
  • Discovery of a small list of agents to query -- all of whom seem like cool, simpatico people I want to hang out and talk books with.
  • New ideas for tightening, strengthening, and bettering my current WIPs. Ideas that feel RIGHT.
So, yay for enforced down time. It's a new rhythm and not one I asked for but you know the whole thing about closing doors and opening windows. It's true, even if it's sometimes hell in the hallway.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I am SO excited to be a part of this fun contest!
#NestPitch is the brainchild of the wonderful @NikVukoja (go follow her on Twitter) and it's BIG. 
Here's what it's all about:
In central and northern Croatia, the day before Easter, the children make Easter Nests for the Easter Bunny. (I love this!!) They collect leaves, grass, twigs, flowers and then make their “nest” -- and this is where the Easter Bunny places Easter-Egg-Presents. The children go to bed that eve wondering if the Easter Bunny will like or love their nest, because the best nest gets the best and biggest eggs!

And that’s the basis of Nestpitch -- but in our contest, the ‘nests’ are the author’s pitches, and the ‘Easter Bunnies’ are the agents – get it? Great!

Who can submit to Nestpitch?
This year we have changed things a bit, therefore even if you participated in Nestpitch 2014 you will still need to read the below.
This year we are NOT accepting Picture Books. We are accepting MG, YA, NA and Adult FICTION ONLY. 
We are accepting all genres within these categories. If your novel is either Erotica or Christian, please state this. For example: Adult Romance (Erotica) or YA Historical Romance (Christian).
We support diversity and strongly encourage authors with GLBT, geographic, cultural and/or social diversity within their manuscripts to submit. Having said this, we DO NOT support sexual violence, violence against children, bigotry and racism, pedophilia and/or animal cruelty. While it is true that violence and cruelty features within some genres, horror for example, or racism in a historical fiction set in the time of slavery, we will not accept manuscripts that support or promote, directly or indirectly, racism, misogyny, rape, sexual, physical or emotional violence.

Who reads the slush?
These wonderful Teams! (Including me! @SC_Author, @LH_Writes and I are Team #OneBasket)
This year there are nine Teams made up of one Mentor & two Slushies. The Teams are listed here:

Entry Guidelines:
The Pitch window will be open for 48 hours, thereby allowing everyone, regardless of where you live in the world, to prepare and submit a pitch.
The Pitch will be made up of three parts.
(i)                 a 35-word pitch
(ii)               answer to a question (in your main characters voice)*
(iii)             the first 300-words of their manuscript

*QUESTION: If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be?  Keep your answer to NO MORE than 15-words.

How to submit your Pitch:
On April 1st the submission window will open. Please follow the guidelines. Last year some people put their first 300 words at the top or mixed up the order. Please do not do this. There is a reason for the order and failure to follow the below will likely mean your submission will not pass Round#1 (refer below).

Send the following in your email:
In the Subject line: Nestpitch2015 Sub and your name/author name

In the body of the email type these words: 
By submitting this pitch + first 300 words I agree to allow the Nestpitch blog and/or any other affiliated blogs to post my submission on an open forum for the purposes of critique and feedback.  I understand this can be for the life of the blog(s). 

Manuscript Title:
Category/ Genre:
Word Count:
35-word Pitch:
QU (in your MC’s voice), if your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavor would s/he be?:
*First 300-words of your MS:
*1st 300 = if your MS has a prologue, then your 1st 300 starts from your prologue. Also, finish at the end of a sentence. This is 300-word MAX, so your last word is 300-words. If your sentence finishes on 292-words, submit that. If your sentences run into 30 or more words, then you might want to rethink the length of your sentence(s). Broken sentences do no one favours.

Example of a Submission:
Subject line: Nestpitch2015 Sub – Nikola Vukoja
By submitting this pitch + first 300 words I agree to allow the Nestpitch blog and/or any other affiliated blogs to post my submission on an open forum for the purposes of critique and feedback.  I understand this can be for the life of the blog(s). 

Manuscript Title:      Easter Bunny goes to Vegas
Category/ Genre:      MG/ Fantasy
Word Count:             26,000
35-word Pitch:                      
After loosing all his eggs in a card game to March Hare, the Easter Bunny heads for Las Vegas where he plans to win enough money to buy back the world’s Easter eggs.
If your MC was an Easter Egg, what flavour would s/he be?
I’d be every flavour, colour, shape and size imaginable; I’m the Easter Bunny… geez!
First 300-words of your MS:
Easter Bunny Blah Blah…

Send your submission to: (please note the submission window below, submissions sent prior or post those times/dates will not be accepted)

Either Times Roman or Arial (we are aware that there may be issues with some email accounts regarding font, please do your best to use either Times Roman or Arial, or something as close as possible to these two)
Please don't indent. Single Space. One space between each Paragraph.

Selection Process:
Last year we contacted all submissions that had made a mistake or left something out (listing only category or genre for example). This year we aren't able to do that. All submissions will be read by Nikola first to ensure each submission has followed the above rules/guidelines. 
NOTE: WE understand formatting can get wonky in emails. That is not a disqualifier.

There will be three rounds before final selection.
a.       Round #1: Follow guidelines. That's it!
b.      Round #2: Each Team will select an initial 5-8 submissions and then request more pages/material. Based on the additional pages/material, each Team will drill their selection down to between 4-5 to go to the next round. Note: authors may receive more than one request from more than one Team.
c.       Round #3: Teams will critique the first 2,500-words of each ms that made the  final round. That's also our chance to get to know the authors! 
      This round is a 3-step process. Being selected does not necessarily mean being featured. Teams will want to know the author(s) are willing to accept feedback etc.  The Teams will work with their authors for 3 weeks, offering feedback, sharpening pitches, & suggesting improvements. After this, the authors have a full week to make any final changes before the agent round.

From the Slush-pile Picks.
Nikola's Team #Team2Beat, will be hunting through the slush-pile and the reserves, looking for gems that have been missed. We will have the option of selecting between 1-5 pitches (at our discretion) to feature. This is basically a bonus-pick so, you may just get an email after the date, but if you do, you’ll be expected to work twice as hard as the other authors as you’ll have less time – so be ready!

Additional Rules:
a.       Only manuscripts which HAVE NOT been featured in another online competition are eligible to enter. This DOES NOT include workshops, critique groups or similar. It also DOES NOT include Twitter or any other tag-line style pitches either. Please feel free to ask if you aren't sure.
                                                              i.      If you have submitted the same manuscript to #Pitchslam, due to the time-line cross-over, we are accepting these submissions. However, if your submission goes to the final stage of either or both competitions, please advice us and the host of #Pitchslam.
b.      Submissions MUST follow the submission format. We accept that sometimes emails de-format fonts and tabs, what we don’t want is people forgetting to put CATEGORY & GENRE (for example) or not answering the question; that sort of thing.
All pitches that have followed the rules (round#1) will then be forwarded to each Team. After the internal cat-fight, erh discussions will take place and each Team will select their top 4-5 author submissions (round#3). Expect to also see teasers and cryptic clues via Twitter & Facebook (*don’t forget to follow the Mentors and Slushies, lots of fun to be had!)

Nikola's Team #Team2Beat will be the Bandit Team. I bet all of you have a brother or sister who always stole your favorite Easter Eggs – well that’s what they’ll be doing – sort of. They will look for hidden or missed gems. #Team2Beat may have as few as one submission featured or as many as five – it all depends on how many diamonds in the rough they believe were missed.

This year there will again be an Amazon Gift Voucher Prize for the submission with the highest number of requests and another for Matching the Agents with their Masks (more on that at agent reveal).

Agent Reveal: March 27th

Submission Window Opens April Fools Day (April 1st 2015)
10pm Aust. Eastern Standard Time
7am USA New York Time
12 noon London UK Time
Submission Window Closes Good Friday (April 3rd 2015)
10pm Aust. Eastern Standard Time
7am USA New York Time
12 noon London UK Time

Secret Agent Bunny Mask Reveal: April 9th

Teams send out requests for 1st 2,500 words Sunday 12th April
Authors reply by Tuesday 14th April
Final Selection Sunday10rd May (Mother’s Day)
Agent request open Monday 11th May to Tuesday 12th May 2015
Unmask the Agent: Wednesday 13th May 2015 (Amazon Voucher)
Agent request(s) sent out to authors Wednesday 13th May 2015
Authors to send requested pages to Agents by Friday 15th May 2015
Winner of Most Requests: May 20th or 21st
Stats: May 28th or 29th
Nestpitch2015 Close: May 31st (follow up blog with success stories as they come)