Friday, September 25, 2015

Behind the scenes with Nikki Boyd part two (+ a giveaway)

One of the things I love about writing is the behind the scenes research that goes into a story. Vendetta, book one in the Nikki Boyd Files, is one of those series that has given me a glimpse a completely different world. Between the setting of the stunning Smoky Mountains and Nikki's work on a missing person task force, I found myself completely pulled into both the tough terrain of the area and a look at how police work so hard to find those who have gone missing. If you didn't catch my part one of behind the scenes with Nikki Boyd, you can check it out here. Recently I was able to take a bunch of photographs when our family visited the park last month. One of the things our family did while we were there was white water rafting, which was a blast. 

Along with the gorgeous setting, Vendetta also deals with some tough issues about what happens with someone goes missing and how friends and family often respond. In Vendetta, this case ends up clashing with Nikki's past as she works against time to find a missing teenage girl. Nikki has a lot of motivation to do what she does because of the loss of her own sister which has shown her both the side of the authorities and as the victim. And with that the emotional pull she feels to bring justice to a sitaution isn't always easy.

“Sometimes there is nothing you can do to change your circumstances. Sometimes all you can do is hold on for dear life and pray that God will help you find a way through the storm. Sometimes he shows you a way to escape, and sometimes he walks through the fires with you.” (Nikki from Vendetta)

Sometimes my own spiritual struggles come to light in my books as I wrestle with the tough things I see around me. I've come to realize that because we live in a fallen world, life is hard, but even in the times when we feel as if there is no way out, He will walk through the storm with us.

On to the giveaway. . .

In celebration of the release of Vendetta--the kindle version comes out on Tuesday!--I wanted to have a fun giveaway. While I was at the park, I found a beautiful CD of music and mug that I'll be giving away. Leave a comment below with a way for me to contact you and while you're there, I'd love to hear about any memorable experiences you've had at a national park. Hopefully, none of them were quite as action packed and dangerous as Nikki's! Giveaway ends October 1st at midnight, EST.

Happy reading!!


Official Rules for Giveaway: No purchase necessary. Giveaway is opened to U.S. residents 18 years and older. Odds of winning depend on number of entries. Total prizes: One CD and one mug valued at $25. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator and will be notified via email with instructions on how to claim the book. If the winner does not leave an email or meet the above criteria (US resident 18+), another winner will be selected. If a winner does not follow the instructions within 24 hours to claim the prize, no prize will be awarded. Void where prohibited by law.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Behind the Scenes with Nikki Boyd: Part One

Vendetta--hot off the press!
There's nothing quite as exciting as getting a copy of one your books hot off the press, except maybe the journey it took to get to this point. Vendetta, book one in The Nikki Boyd Files, hits stores in a couple weeks, while I'm actually working on book three.

Originally, when I presented my idea to my editor, I was going to focus on different people on a missing person task force for each book of the series. My editor came back to me and said that the publisher wanted me to stick to telling the stories from Nikki's point of view. Now that I'm writing book three, I'm actually so glad we decided to do this, because I love, love, love her story. Nikki's motivation to do what she does comes from the loss of her own sister who went missing a decade ago, and she's never been found. This makes Nikki's journey very personal. She knows what it's like to be on the side of the victims' family, and that knowledge motivates her to ensure that other families don't go through what hers went through.

Another decision that was made early on in the writing of the series was where it would be set. I wanted a southern setting, and for book one, I needed it to be in the mountains. So while Nikki's team is based in Nashville, Vendetta takes place in and around the Smoky Mountains.

Now one of the things I love to do is travel. And while a lot of the settings I use for my books I've actually been able to visit (like Paris for Taken, for example) I'd never had the chance to visit the Smoky Mountains. So instead, I did tons of research. Which is actually one of my favorite things to do. I love research and the chance to discover places I don't know much about. The Appalachian Trail was one of these fun discoveries for me. I was blown away by some of the stories I read about people who walked the entire, 2000+ mile trek. Let me just say that at first, the idea of walking the Appalachian trail seemed completely glamorous and romantic, but let's face it. . .2000+ miles isn't easy. At all. And it isn't for the faint at heart. . .uh. . .me.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Vendetta is written, edits, are done, and the books is about to be printed. We were staying at a missionary cabin in Tennessee, and when I realized just how close we were to the Smoky Mountains, and my wonderful husband agreed to take me there!

It was so much fun to finally visit the place I'd researched as I wrote Nikki's story. I ended up being the tour guide who know my way around even though I'd never actually visited! This area was even far more beautiful than I ever imagined. I was also able to visit some of the actual scenes from where the book takes place. And as crazy as it sounds, I kept expecting to run into Nikki! But my one goal for the trip-- since I couldn't see Nikki--was to see a bear. And we did! We saw a mama and a couple of cubs which was so amazing, but unfortunately those photos didn't turn out.
My son and I next to the Appalachian Trail.

Hope you enjoyed the photos! They're stunning, aren't they! Check back in a week or so for Behind the Scenes Part Two and a special giveaway!

Happy reading,