Friday, November 20, 2015

The Heart's Journey Home by Nikki Jackson - Q&A and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nikki Jackson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. Welcome Nikki Jackson to It's Raining Books who stopped by to answer a few of our questions. Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I really like young people. Their hearts and heads are so open. They haven’t become stick-in-the-mud jaded adults. They grow, they forgive without tons of drama, they’re still dreaming. And they are so committed. Look, if somebody tells me I can’t go to school because I’m a female and they’re going to throw acid in my face if I show up I’m liable to sit my tush at home and go to school online. Just sayin’. Teenagers are brave and they believe something to the depths of their soul. That’s a character I’d love to write and develop till my pen runs out of ink. Teens just make great characters and they’re what drew me to the young adult genre - knowing I can create deep, rich, growing and developing characters that are totally believable.

What research is required?

I’m probably sounding like a broken record to those who know me but if anything drives me crazy it’s reading something that’s messed up because the writer didn’t bother doing the research. Personally, I spent almost a year doing the research for The Heart’s Journey Home, I’m not kidding. This is a 4-5 book series that has tons going on in it. There are the three major characters, the list of secondary characters and then tons of folks behind them. The setting ranges from Napa California, to West Virginia, To Maryland to Israel. The main character Tori is part Lakota and Norse (Viking) so I had to research both these groups so I could build an authentic heritage for Tori that didn’t offend the Lakotas. AJ lost a leg to cancer so I had to research that. He’s into animation so I had to research that. Kalea is into NASA so I had to research that. Her dad’s part owner of a winery so I had to research wines and grapes. The FBI is running a junior training camp for teens as well as the NSA running their own camp. I had to research enough whereby both these weeklong camps would be realistic to the reader. The story takes place in the year 2009 so I had to research everything electronic – from phones to TVs to ensure I wasn’t writing in something post-2009. I even had to check the music the kids listened to. Granted, writing fiction means you’re making up the story but you can’t just ‘make up’ details your readers are aware of or juggle history (if you’re writing contemporary fiction) unless there’s a good reason and it’s been set-up through the course of the story. I’m a stickler for doing the necessary work up front and putting a good product out there for the reader.

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

Be true to you even if it means you’re standing there all by yourself. There’s this scene in the story where Tori could make the decision to do something because it’s the easier route, or she could choose the other route and be stuck there alone. She couldn’t take the easier way out. See, she felt that if she caved in this one point, then when and where would be the next cave and the next one. She would rather be there by herself, and get dogged out for it, then to cave and feel that somehow she’s betrayed herself. It was an impossibly lonely task but at the end of the day she was a better person for it.

Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I’m not sure if any of my writing habits are interesting or quirky. I’m old school so I write everything out longhand first on these yellow legal pads (which I number), then I type everything out on the laptop. I write everywhere. I’ve been on mission trips with my church and I’ve been just writing away – China, Thailand, Peru and Pakistan. These flights are typically super long so I’m writing. If it’s a long drive from village to village, I’m writing. If we’re sitting quiet for more than fifteen minutes I’m writing. The Heart’s Journey Home was penned all over the world.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

Oh my gosh, definitely a plotter. This book would have been a hot mess if I didn’t have a serious outline. As it is it’s over 700 pages and that’s with a tight outline! I kid you not there’s tons going on in this book. There’s twists and turns and reveals that would have had my dreads standing on end if I had to keep all of this in my head. There’s the major storyline but then there’s all these little secondary storylines because the major characters are in relationships with secondary characters, then there’s also things going on behind the scene that Tori knows nothing about but the reader sees, these are additional story lines. The Heart’s Journey Home is a good story and a fast read despite its size.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
I have to laugh. I’m at my desk at the office and to the right of my computer screen is a copy of my book covers in a double photo frame. A color copy of the current book: California Blend Summer Vacation and a copy of the next book in the series: A Layover in Doppelganger-ville. Half of my life is spent here at the office, at this desk, doing my working stiff nine-to-five. I need something concrete and in my face as a daily reminder that there’s more to me than the working career grind. I glance over at those book covers a hundred times a day and they remind me that I’m a writer.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I’m currently working on the second book of the series titled – A Layover in Doppelganger-ville. This book finds Tori thrusted in a situation beyond her control and for the first time in her life she has to depend on adults more and herself less. Her independent ways are a hindrance and a danger where she is and the question is can she adapt or will she act out thus putting herself in harm’s way? I’m also mulling over a sci-fi series. Strong female teen vs aliens. I love the sound of that. I’d like to have that out sometime next year.

Do you have a question for our readers?

No real questions just a couple parting comments. To you aspiring writers – please don’t wait till you’ve got gray hair in your dreads before you finally get around to publishing your first book. Find a way to make this a priority in your life. You’re a writer if you believe you are regardless of what others may think. Find ways to encourage yourself. Find other writers (or at least one other writer) to hang with and encourage each other. Write something every day, if only for ten minutes. Always endeavor to put your best work out there. To you readers - we really want you to love our work. Support us. Be kind. Give us constructive criticism. This writer/reader thing is a collaboration of sorts and hopefully a lifelong friendship.

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.
Enjoy an excerpt: 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. About the Author:
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. Check out Nikki's blog or catch up with her on Twitter. Buy the book at Amazon. a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting a stop on my book tour! Looking forward to spending the day with you!

  2. Are you superstitious? If so, what are you most superstitious about?

  3. Okay Mai I'm really laughing! No I don't freak at the sight of a black cat nor do I wave a chicken wing over a blank sheet of paper believing it will give me a best seller. But if there's a "must need" it's coffee. I have to sit down with a caramel latte before I start writing

  4. Thanks for the excerpt and Q&A :) Who is your favorite character of all time? Why?

    1. Hands down Ellen Ripley, Alien. she is simply bad to the bone!. I love Alien, loved Aliens more (hated the rest though). She was such a good fleshed out character. I love how she grew from Alien 1 to 2 where she was ready to take on that mama alien to get little Newt back...that was perfect. That's the way a character should be written. In real life we rarely grow or change because we got a year older, we change because life twisted on us, or hit us in the face with something we couldn't avoid or swallow. At the end of the day my main character Tori should be different than the kid that started out on page one of the book, and she is.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Rita, much appreciated!

  6. Sounds like great read, I enjoyed following the tour and learning about The Heart's Journey Home, thanks for sharing and good luck!

    1. Thank you Eva for riding along on the tour, glad you enjoyed.

  7. Thank you for sharing the great excerpt

  8. I enjoyed the guest post, thank you! This has been a terrific book tour! Happy writing, Nikki!


So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?