Posted by authorcamilson
The Heart’s Journey Home
by Nikki Jackson
GENRE: Young Adult
BLURB: It’s summer vacation, and all seventeen-year-old Tori Logan wants to do is hang out with her two best friends, practice her mixed martial arts and go to FBI spy camp. Summer means freedom (mostly from adults) and Tori plans to fill every spare moment of her last summer before graduating from High School with all the fun things she and her best pals can come up with.
Tori, whose mom died of breast cancer when she was young, has always relied on her own strength to get by – especially because her Archeologist father tends to leave her behind with his live-in girlfriend while he gallivants around the world on digs. Thankfully, Tori can take care of herself. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her Lakota Sioux grandfather, a former Navy SEAL, trained Tori in self-defense from a young age. Now, as a teenager, Tori excels at mixed martial arts and the use of various weapons. During the summer she will be attending an FBI sponsored Summer Camp which she hopes will lead to her dream job – becoming an FBI serial killer profiler.
With her two best friends at her side, Tori believes she can handle anything. And with summer vacation stretching before them, the trio plans to find plenty of adventure.
But while Tori is determined to be independent, life has other plans for this fierce young woman, and they include coming to grips with some hard – and surprising – truths about both her past and her future.
I could really use a belt. Fin thought as he jumped from the porch, bounding over the five steps. Running down the graveled drive at break-neck speed he cursed the fact he was wearing tennis shoes – that along with the baggy, beltless pants was hemming up his stride.
The sound of shrieks and a male voice yelling at him in a foreign language didn’t help the matter. Fin tripped over his own size 12 feet, rolled and got up running. After gathering his wits about him he heard a muffled roar zoom past him followed by a streak of green. He was unsure of what it was but he was too scared to try to figure it out – he was running now – minus the jeans and a tennis shoe.
Fin all but dove into his Camaro thankful he’d left the keys in the ignition and not in his pants pocket. He turned the key and sped down the drive, kicking dirt and gravel in his wake. In his rear-view mirror he could see the crazy man chasing him with the longest, sharpest sword he’d ever seen.
Making it to the end of the drive, Fin did a complete donut, spun the vehicle around in the right direction and then tore off down the street. Tori had grabbed his errant shoe and AJ leaned down to scoop up the jeans, then the two of them tore down the drive after Fin.
Ever since she was young, Nikki Jackson has loved reading and the way that books allow you to journey on wonderful adventures without ever leaving the comfort of home. She decided at a young age that she wanted to become a writer to enable others to experience the magic of books—and The Heart’s Journey Home is the result.
In addition to writing, Nikki Jackson is a contract worker for General Motors. She and her husband currently live in the Detroit metropolitan area.
The Heart’s Journey Home Blog is currently under construction and will be online soon.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/journey4home
Nikki Jackson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Tell us about you
I’m always challenged trying to figure out where to start when someone asks this question. Do I start with I’m Black, female, have gray hair in my dreads. Do I say I’ve been on a few mission trips with my church to places like China, Thailand, Peru and Pakistan. I could say I’m married, lost my only child almost two years ago, I’m a contract worker for General Motors. It’s weird isn’t it how we can sum up so many years of life with written sound-bites? Notwithstanding the aforementioned I think I’d like people to know me as a writer. A good writer. A great writer. A writer with a career that endured.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Probably fear. What if I miss something exciting? Is there something earth-shatteringly important I could be doing that will be left totally undone if I don’t show up and do it? Am I leaving anything behind that will leave a mark or an impact? There was a time when I thought it was my kid. My husband and I raised our son Trey with values and ethics and a moral base. We wanted him to love and care about people regardless of what color they were. Like any parents we believed he would be an asset to society and a wonderful citizen, he would be the best of us to leave behind. Well he died. The day after Christmas 2013 he simply didn’t wake up. Wow. So what do I do now? I just don’t want to leave this planet with nothing left behind to show I was ever here. Trey was our only child so the line of my husband and I will go no further. When we’re gone we’ll really be gone. That’s a crazy thought. So fear probably inspires me to get out of bed each day – that and the desire to leave something behind.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Wow, this is a good question. It would probably be Anne Frank and I would have just this one question. How did you keep from hating? Here you are hiding from an entire nation of people who want you not only dead but you and your people exterminated off the face of the planet. You’re in 24/7 hiding and in danger of being found any minute. Whatever teenage hopes and dreams you imagined for your life have been dashed against the rocks, your future appears bleak to non-existent and you have the crazed audacity to say – “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” I would spend the day trying to get into this teenager’s head. I’d want to know the mind and the heart that can go through what she went through and not have it taint her and make her angry and bitter. I’d like to talk about her diary and her inspiration for writing it.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
The Heart’s Journey Home is a series following the life of the main character Tori Logan and her relationship with her two best friends AJ and Kalea. She’s 17 and is still mourning the loss of her mother (she was 7 years old at the time). Her father is a millionaire archeologist so he’s away from home a lot on digs leaving Tori at home with the live-in girlfriend who she barely tolerates. Book one of the series – California Blend Summer Vacation introduces the story, the characters and the major and minor plot lines. It’s a thick book (700+ pages) yet I assure you the reader is getting their money’s worth. There are twists, turns and revelations involving Tori that the reader gets to see before Tori does. Things aren’t necessarily what they seem.
Tell us your writing process
I write long hand on yellow legal pads so when I’m in writing mode I’ve always got a pad with me. I write everywhere – any spare moment I can grab I’m writing. I work full-time, I’m married, I have a dad I have to check up on, all this life is competing for my time so I have to factor writing in. I get to work an hour early to write. I eat lunch at my desk so I can write. I get up early on Saturdays and go to Panera Bread where I write till about noon. I do missions with my church so I did some marathon writing on the 20 hour plane ride to Thailand, the 6 hour plane ride to Peru and the 9 hour van ride to New York. The process is to write – anywhere and everywhere.
Do you have any advice to other writers?
Oh my gosh this promoting is no joke! You would think the hardest part of being an author was writing the book, no way! It’s promoting the book. The Heart’s Journey Home debuted September 12 and I have been promoting it almost every day since. I kid you not. We self-publishers don’t have the luxury of having a publicity machine like the traditional publishing houses so your sales are dependent on how far you can fling your book. I would advise a writer to think about promotion while they’re still writing the book and definitely while the book is going through the publishing process. You need to know your genre and then figure out where that base hangs out. Facebook your book and ask people to share it on their sites. Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, wherever your social contacts are. Use social media but don’t depend on it exclusively. I haven’t had the success I initially though I would with social media. Look for online book clubs in your genre, most of them have a homepage where they sell ad space and some will even let you up-load your cover and a short blurb for free. Many of these online book clubs have a newsletter that goes out to their subscribers. I’ve probably had most of my success targeting my specific genre this way. Also don’t forget word of mouth. I have my siblings and my husband promoting my book in their circles and that’s generated some sales. Lastly, most definitely sign up for a book tour. I wished I’d done this the first month my book was out but better late than not at all.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Thinking back I almost can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I remember though when it crystallized for me – I was eight years old and had just finished the last book in a kid series I was reading – The Boxcar Children. I wiped the happy tears from my eyes and proclaimed to the world I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Okay, maybe not the world but my seven year old sister Shelia heard me and believed in me. That’s where it began.
Tell us about your main character:
Tori Logan is 17 and extremely proud of her Lakota and Norse (Viking) backgrounds. She sees herself as being the product of two strong warrior groups and as such she has a warrior spirit that she feeds into. Her dad’s a millionaire archeologist and she’s followed him around on many of his out of the country digs. As a result she’s fluent in various languages and she’s been trained in a number of martial arts in these foreign lands. In addition, her Lakota grandfather is an ex-Navy SEAL so he’s trained Tori from an early age in the military-type things he’s learned. As a result of all this Tori feels she’s strong and can handle and take care of herself. She’s lonely for a parental presence in her life (her dad’s often gone) and she barely tolerates the live-in girlfriend Rachael. In that Rachael has lived in the home for nearly nine years they’ve forged somewhat of a peace. Tori loves her two best friends AJ and Kalea. She’s known AJ the longest, they met when they were bout about 8. The pair met Kalea when she transferred into their high school. Though she’s almost three years younger than the pair her geeky sweetness endears her to them.
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on book two of the series – A Layover in Doppelganger-ville. I’m really enjoying it and it gives me a nice break when I need to think about something other than promoting the current book. What I like about this second book is that it delves into Tori a little bit more. Due to circumstances outside her control she finds herself in a setting where her lone wolf, independent ways are more of a hindrance to her than a help. As a matter of fact her attitude can put her and the people around her in danger. The major task for her is being able to trust and rely on the adults in the setting to take care of her instead of her relying on herself.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I have to laugh. Outside of writing, no. I wish I could sing or play an instrument. But I don’t have the voice or the tempo for either. If I could have a special talent, I would want to be able to inspire people to see greatness in themselves. I’d be like a little fairy flitting around blowing ‘be great’ dust into people’s faces. I’d hang around and watch as self-awareness came upon them and they charged out of the room to pursue great and mighty things. I love this about teens, their ability to believe in the greatness within the human spirit. They’re so unjaded and so open to possibilities and the impossible. They’re incredibly strong and honest and true. Some might say well what about the bad teens, the ones who hurt other people and abuse substances and get into trouble? I have to believe that the good outweighs the bad. I would not have survived as a Black female in this country if I didn’t believe that – that the good in humanity outweighs the bad.
Who are your favorite authors?
If I had to pick an author I would have to say Stephen King. I go out of my way not to see any of his scary stuff but he’s my favorite career-wise. King has written tons of stuff and all of it has been good. It amazes me that this stuff came out of his head (okay, maybe it scares me a little too). Through-out his career he’s been consistently good. I don’t think he’s written a bad or lame story. He shows up for it all and that’s what I like about him. He’s straight-up a writer. He owns his craft and you can see it in the finished product. I envy that he not only writes books but he pens screen-plays for TV and movies. I so want that for myself. To be so fully ranged! I’m not looking to be a one hit wonder, I want longevity. I want to be stretched out on my deathbed, two seconds from leaving up outta here and I want to yell out – “wait, one more word…!”
What do you like to do with your free time?
I love going to the movies. My sister will send out a text blast and about five or six of us will get together and go as a family. Afterwards we go out to eat and talk about the movie ad nauseam. I love it. My nephew is just on the edge of his seat waiting for the new Star Wars movie so I know that’s going to be the next big ‘to see’ movie for the group.
Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I’d seriously love to write a sci-fi series. Strong teen female lead character and a group of aliens. I’ve got something in the works in the back of my mind so I will definitely be penning it. I want to get ahead a couple of books on the current series I’m working on. If I can manage that then I will definitely start working on the sci-fi series next year. I’d love to have it published by the end of next year. That might be ambitious but I think it’s do’able.
Where can people find you on the web?
I have a blog – theheartsjourneyhome.net. I’m on twitter @Journey4Home and I’m on Facebook. I’ve never really been one for social media and chatting people up over the computer but I’m getting used to it. I’ve got friends now in other countries so I think that’s especially cool.
Any final thoughts?
This has been fun, thanks. To you aspiring authors out there I can’t encourage you enough to keep chipping away at it. Believe it yourself and your abilities more than you expect or hope anyone else ever will. Pick a favorite and allow their work to inspire you to carry on. Write something every day to keep the writing muscle worked out and limber. Be true to the craft. Do your best. To you readers – please support us. Especially those of us who self-publish. We’ve put everything and all of ourselves on the line to get our words to you so be gentle. Give us constructive reviews and encourage us to get better. This is a collaboration – the reader and the writer. One really couldn’t exist without the other.
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