Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Heart's Journey Home by Nikki Jackson

Title: The Heart's Journey Home
Author: Nikki Jackson
Series: California Blend Summer Vacation #1
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Release Date: September 12, 2015
California Blend Summer Vacation is the first book of this series.

As book one it introduces the three main characters: Tori Logan, AJ Reynolds and Kalea Kinimaka.

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.

The Heart’s Journey Home Book CoverTori, 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.

     Tori moved in sweeping his left leg out from under him. He fell backwards with a thud landing square on his back. As for Tori, she was standing full on her feet dancing in front of him. He came to his feet quickly, lunging. Tori side-stepped, took his lead arm and gave his momentum a healthy shove. Off balanced he went flying across the ring and bounced off the ropes landing hard on the canvas.
     They’d drawn a crowd by now, half hooping for Tori. The noise trickled over to the Community House and Harald left Fletcher to investigate. As he rounded the side he stopped short to see his granddaughter going toe to toe with the Grant boy.
     “Oh my goodness.” Rachael said stepping beside Harald.
     Mitchell came at Tori, snatching her arm quickly and shoving a hip at her getting her off the ground. Tori was surprised he could move so quickly for a tall thick guy. As she came around his hip she turned slightly, grabbed his wrist and knocking him off balance enough with her hip she flung him over her head. Mitchell landed hard but rolled to his feet and advanced and so did Tori.
     Tori met his karate blows, blocking them with responsive blows of her own and every kick, which she saw telegraphed ahead of time, was slapped away with a hand or blocked with her feet. Frustrated Mitchell attacked with a barrage of punches and throws only to have each one deflected or trapped in a maze of Tori’s blurred arms, legs and hands. He couldn’t believe it. It was like some sick scene from The Matrix where Neo was fighting Smith with one hand while looking at the fingernails on his other hand. All the time Smith was punching and throwing everything he had at him. Mitchell got the sick sinking feeling that Tori was Neo and he was cooked.
     Desperate, he lashed out and swept Tori’s leg. Surprised and off balance she hit the canvas and he was on her before she could roll out and get to her feet. He tried frantically to get an arm, a foot, something trapped but she was slippery quick. Maybe if he grabbed her hair, he thought. It was in a large braided ponytail. Mitchell grabbed her hair jerking it back and then maneuvered an arm around her neck.
     “Tori!” Rachael gasped moving forward. Harald grabbed her arm pulling her back.
     “Be still woman.” He whispered loudly. Rachael stopped and stood, shocked. She stared at him. He was smiling. That brute of a boy was trying to choke his only grandchild and the old loon was smiling.
     Rachael scanned the ground for a brick or cement block to throw but Harald’s chuckling brought her eyes back to the ring. Tori was on Mitchell’s back, her right arm around his neck. As he flailed about trying to get loose, they rolled over which allowed Tori to cinch her choking arm under Mitchell’s chin. She clasped her left hand in her right and applied more pressure to his neck.
     While he fruitlessly struggled she moved her left leg over his chest, then moved her right over the left shin locking her legs in place. Mitchell rocked helpless back and forth, but he couldn’t get loose.
The crowd was yelling instructions to Mitchell and to Tori. She bent her mouth close to his ear.
     “Your choice Mickey.” she whispered loud enough for only him to hear. “I’m not gonna make you tap out in front of everybody, just blink your eyes.” she said. “Blink’em quick, outside of that you’re going to sleep.”
     Mitchell felt his head getting foggy and he started seeing stars. He was grabbing madly with his hands but he couldn’t get himself free. He was starting to lose consciousness and he knew it. He would never be able to live down being choked out by a skinny girl. His life would be ruined.
     While he still could he blinked his eyes with everything in him and he felt the hold loosening. With his last ounce of strength he rolled over shoving Tori hard, as far away as he could, gasping for breath as he came to his feet.

My Dream Co-Writing Partner 
If I had the opportunity to co-write a book with any living author I would choose Steven King.  Those who know me would be surprised because I don’t watch ‘scary’ movies and I don’t read scary books.  I saw the original version of Night of the Living Dead many years ago and that was it (well, that coupled with those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz).  I couldn’t sleep for a month.  That’s when I swore off scary movies forever.

So then why Steven King?  Two works of his: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. The movie - The Shawshank Redemption was adapted from King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. I thought it was excellent - the plot, the characters, the tightly woven story – I’ve watched the movie a zillion times.

Likewise, The Green Mile, another prison story and another fine piece of work.  Wonderfully diverse characters, great drama: parts of it was funny, other parts sad, a story any author would read and wish they’d written (or co-written).

King is great at his craft.  Literally a master.  We writers read and view the works of those we respect with a jealous awe because they’ve figured it out – how to take the reader/audience through a full range of emotions and leave them spent and satisfied in the end.  I’d love to look into the non-scary inner workings of his writer mind, a mind that can make plots and characters so believable. A mind that can weave a morality tale into the middle of a gory story that challenges the reader/viewer with - what would you do if faced with the same situation?  He both scares you and makes you think.  He makes you commit.  This is why Steven King is my co-writing choice.  He’s an amazing story-teller and cinema genius.

I love being a writer.  I love the idea of having the effect on others that the authors I’ve read have had on me.  Laughing out loud and crying out loud too.  Getting mad and yelling at the book, even throwing the book against the wall because I got shocked or snookered just that bad.  I love endings I didn’t see coming and then the sweet sugary ones I saw coming a mile away but I hung on because I was curious as to how the author would write it.  I love reading that last page and closing the book and smiling. Totally satisfied.

Ultimately that’s what we writers want from you readers – we want you to buy into the journey and be satisfied at its end.  We want you to lick the plate clean, and grin your widest grin, and ask us for more.

Author Bio:
Nikki Jackson considers herself to be an Indie Writer, Journeyman and Traveler. She's camped out in the Grand Canyon just to see the sunrise over a stupendous backdrop and she yet dreams to travel to Mount Everest, not to climb any part of it but to simply stand at the North Base Camp and take it all in, in person. Nikki's love of adventure was inspired at an early age at the local library where she spent summers reading about young travelers going cross-country and around the world. She loved the adventures that took her out of the bottom bunk of her bed (her favorite reading spot) and had her soaring across the clouds to lands filled with wonderful and diverse people. It was then and there Nikki decided she wanted to be a writer - she wanted to have the same effect on people reading books had on her. The Heart's Journey Home is the beginning of the adventure.


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