The Heart's Journey Home
by Nikki Jackson
GENRE: Young Adult
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.
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.
FIVE RANDOM QUESTIONS WITH NIKKI JACKSON
That’s kind of tough, I’m not really up on cartoons - but I’m female, Black, wear glasses and have dreads. I don’t have a thin nose or thin lips and while I’m not dark-skinned I’m not light-skinned either. So if by ‘resemble’ you mean physical comparison I’m not all that sure there’s a cartoon character out there that would resemble me. If you mean a character that resembles the way I think or feel about things, who has dreams and passions that are similar to mine that would be a hard question to answer because I’m still female, Black, wear glasses and have dreads. The character of me is physical, emotional and psychological, as with us all. Sure, we can share common traits and like-passions but at the end of the day the character of me is a combination of all the physical stuff too. Should I be defined by the color of my skin or the shape of my nose or my naturally kinky hair? Of course not, but over the course of my life I have been and so have you. If nothing else I hope my teen characters inspire teen readers to be who and what they are. To dare to dream dreams no one else has. To go against the grain and climb out of the box and do them. Be them. The only way to change how society thinks about something is to confront it. Not with aggression but with the best of you. That’s something that isn’t easily challenged or readily dismissed.
Would you rather go a week without bathing, but be able to change your clothes, or a week without a change of clothes, but be able to bathe?
This is a super easy question to answer. A couple years ago I was on a mission trip to Thailand. We’d gone up the side of this mountain to visit some villages. We went to the upper-most village first then drove down the mountain to the next one, then the next one. We were up there for days living in the villages. We had tents and sleeping bags but there was no electricity, no running water, only out-houses. There was none of the creature comforts of home. I’d rather go a week without bathing just so long as I was able to change clothes. Look, by the time we got down that mountain we were all pretty funky but being able to put clean clothes on was refreshing for me. I couldn’t stand it if I was able to bathe but I had to put on the same funky clothes I’d just taken off and was stuck wearing these same clothes for a week. My mom was a registered nurse and she had this thing about wearing clean underwear in case you got hit by a car and was taken to a hospital. Needless to say I had about 30 pair of underwear with me on that one trip. I may have smelled like a hot mess but I was wearing clean underwear.
Which of the four seasons do you most anticipate?
Spring. I live in Michigan so we have cold winters and snow. Leaves fall off the trees, the green grass will stop growing and sometimes get brown, and flowers wilt and die. Sure, snow is cute for a minute, really pristine after it initially falls but then it gets dirty and it’s not so cute and enchanting – it’s a slippery bothersome mess. But in the spring everything comes back to life. I love it when you get to put away the heavy winter coat and the hat and gloves. You kick off the boots and put on sandals or flops. You pull off the heavy sweater and put on a t-shirt and shorts cause it’s spring. It’s daylight longer, warm outside, you just want to smile.
If you joined the circus, what act would you most want to perform?
I’d want to perform with that group of people that really don’t say anything they just do this slap-stick physical sort of comedy. Pulling linked handkerchiefs out of each other’s ears, knocking each other down and messing with the crowd. Just being zany and silly and making people laugh. A bunch of strangers who, if they passed by each other in the street, wouldn’t acknowledge each other but who’d be sitting in the bleachers at the circus laughing at the same thing. Having a good time. Side-by-side.
You discover that your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mix-up at the hospital, not yours. Would you want to exchange the child to correct the mistake?
No. If my husband and I have been hanging around a kid for a year it’s pretty much a wrap. The kid would be as crazy as we are. When we were raising our son we carted that kid with us everywhere. Movies, restaurants, kid-type vacations. We were a loud talking, zany pair of parents and our son developed our ways. Sure, if the squirt is only one you could switch them both out and over time they would forget you. At the age of one he wouldn’t remember much, but I would remember everything. A year is a long time to hang with a kid. Your soul maps to that kid. How you see yourself sort of gets re-defined. All this emotional and psychological and possibly spiritual stuff happens to you not simply because you’re a parent, but because you’re the parent of this particular kid. My son died almost two years ago and there’s yet a dull ache in me for that kid. I love him so much and miss him like you wouldn’t believe. Sure, we had him for 23 years but I can’t imagine having him for one year and feeling any different. You don’t fall in love with DNA you love the person. You love the personality you see developing, their quirks, the face, the smile. Sure, I’d want to know that my biological child was healthy and okay and that the parents were decent people. I’d want us to be in each other’s lives, but my kid is mine now and theirs is theirs and I’d hope and pray they could be cool with that.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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