NEW BOOK RELEASE: I Heart Africa Project

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As of March 10, a book I have been working on for the last five years finally left my desk and entered the public domain for readers and travellers alike. Over the last five years I have interviewed over fifty people – all carefully selected by myself, who are from all around the world, and who either live, work, or travel on the African continent.
Now, when I say that these people are incredible human beings – that is a HUGE understatement. At the time when I started this project, my goal was for people to hear about the good being done in Africa and the beauty to be found and experienced there (despite its bad rep). Personally, it was a time in my life when I had no faith in humanity, or that there were good people left on this planet. However, over the course of this project, these individuals not only restored my faith in humanity but completely inspired and motivated me. They filled me with joy and untouchable happiness and contentment that is beyond anyone’s capability to burst. They truly are the most incredible human beings I know – period!
Within the pages of this book, you hear about their stories, adventures, and their love of Africa.
I will not spoil the details of the book, but there are conservationists, ecologists, herpetologists, travellers, wildlife photographers, rangers, guides, anti-poaching team members, Maasai and Chaga tribe members, tour leaders, residents, tourists, leaders in their industries, ethnoecologists, film producers, television hosts, veterinarians, carnivore ecologists, the owner of the largest rhino orphanage in the world, a US Green Beret, a member of Nitro Circus, volunteers.

Their stories have truly captivated my spirit and continue to inspire and amaze me, the more I learn about them (yes, even after the book was completed). I am just so truly grateful and humbled to be allowed the honour of sharing their stories with the world.

The book is on sale now on AMAZON. There are Kindle, Paperback Standard Colour, Paperback Premium Colour, and Hardback Editions of the book available for purchase.
Help me, help them, by supporting their stories, and sharing them with the world.

For now, happy reading, and much love to you all.

Nikki xxx

Link to Hardback and Premium Colour Edition above. Kindle and Standard Colour Edition link below.

‘Curse of Stone’ Character Interview

Writing the first book in the ‘Curse of Stone’ series was a four year process as there are many characters, twists, subplots, and many facets to the main plot. I needed to be clear on who was whom, what they looked like, their background, their role, and how they would react in certain situations as the story unfolded. I ended up creating a one-hundred page character book, giving each character a profile and biography. Many of these characters do appear in the first book, however, there are still many yet to appear. It was a great exercise for me, and a tool that I have referred back to countless times to check certain things, including small things like eye colour or hair colour, or even if that character had tattoos.

Because of this, I developed a great sense of character and have modelled the character development I did for this book into a workshop. For each character, I can tell you everything about them, and eighty-percent of it isn’t information included in the book, but it was critical to how they come across on the page.

One such character development tool that I frequently use, is the character interview tool, but that is just one of many tools I use to develop a character (can’t give away all my secrets in one post).

Below is the character interview I did for Jamie. He is the second main character in the ‘Curse of Stone’ series, and his story is told from first POV, and he is intertwined from the very beginning with Danielle Stone – the main POV. I decided to interview him with different questions to that of Gabriel (third main character) as he has different motives and background.

Basics

What is your full name? Do you have a nickname (if so, who calls you this)?
Jamie Wildhorn, but my friends call me Jay.

Where and when were you born?
I was born 16 June 1994

Who are/were your parents?
My biological parents died when I was young. The man who raised me and ultimately I see as my father is King – my alpha.

Do you have any siblings?
Not that I am aware of.

Where do you live now, and with whom?
I live an apartment on the fourth floor of Stone’s building.

What is your occupation?
What do I do? Let’s just say that I work in a team situation, it’s like security guard type work, and we protect the city.

Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Left-handed.

What is your hair and eye colour?
I have long brown dreadlocks, and my eyes are blue.

Do you have any physical traits that stand out? If you have tattoos, why did you get and what meaning do they have to you?
My upper body is covered in tattoos. They tell my story, my history, where I come from, and my loyalty to my pack.

How would you describe your childhood?
Normal I guess, except I also had to learn things that regular kids didn’t, like the history of our species and our role in society. I had to learn how to fight, pack law, and learn about demons and how to kill them. I got all of that knowledge from King, but I feel like I had a normal childhood like regular kids because Stone was my best friend back then, and still is, and after my parents died, her grandmother took me in as sort of like a foster grandson, I spent a lot of time at her house.

How much schooling have you had?
I finished high school. Didn’t need to go to university.

Did you enjoy school? If not, why did you struggle?
I enjoyed the social side of it, and being there with Stone.

Where did you learn most of your skills and abilities?
From King.

Do you have any role models? If yes, describe them and why they are your role models.
It would honestly have to be King. He raised me by himself, and taught me everything I know today. He is the strongest, fiercest, and smartest man I know.

Do you get along with the other members of your family?
I don’t have any blood relatives but I consider my pack as my family – we are like a big extended family. So, yes, we all get along for the most part.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Even back then I knew I didn’t have a choice. I can pretend to have a normal job, but my real job is so much cooler. Who wouldn’t want to be a werewolf, right?

What are your favourite activities?
Sex. Partying. Going to the gym. Flirting.

Who were you friends with growing up, and what were they like?
I had heaps of friends growing up. There was a big group of us. Kyle, Marcus, Harley, Tiffany, Stone, Flynn. They were all really nice and laid back.

When did you have your first kiss, and who with?
My first kiss, that takes me back. I think I was like six or seven years old and it was with Danielle Stone.

Are you a virgin? If not, when and with whom did you lose your virginity?
Ha, ha, ha. Me? A virgin? Yeah right. But I don’t kiss and tell…all the time.

Do you have a criminal record?
No

If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why?
Not making Stone mine before Harley transferred to our high school. She should never have dated that loser. But I have waited for her to come back to me, and now she is back…in my life.

What is your best memory so far? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
When I transformed to my human form for the first time, when I turned two years old. We are born in wolf form, so that moment was incredible.

What is your worst memory so far? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
My first transformation back to wolf, after taking human form at age two.

What is your biggest secret? Does anyone else know about this? Which person do you least want to know about this secret, why?
That would that Stone doesn’t know I’m a werewolf. I don’t even know how to tell her that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Optimistic.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is telling the woman I have loved all these years that I love her and being rejected by her when I finally decide to tell her and make myself the most vulnerable and honest, I have ever been.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Women

What are your religious views?
None – the devil exists.

What are your views on sex?
The more the better.

Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
Perhaps, but there is more than just one person who is our soul mate, but I believe that there is only one soul mate that is right.

In your opinion, what is the most evil thing any human being could do?
Side with evil.

Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable?
Yes, I can kill anything I want; however, I am designed to kill demons, without being susceptible to human law.

How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings in the company of others?
In a round-about way I am honest, except about Stone. Sometimes people don’t need to know.

Who or what would you die for, or otherwise go to extremes for?
My pack, my alpha, and Stone.

In general, how do you treat others?
I’m a bit of a smartarse, I am cheeky, and make people laugh. Although sometimes I can be annoying. I treat others with respect, absolutely.

How close are you to your family?
If you are talking about my pack, then we are close.

Which person do you wish you were closest to?
Danielle Stone.

Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person in some rough strokes.
Not right now, but there is someone special I wish to make my mate for life.

Have you started your own family?
No, because the only person I would ever consider settling down with, doesn’t know how I feel about her.

Who is the most important person in your life, why?
My dad, my pack, Danielle Stone.

Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help?
Dad or my pack.

What is/are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?
Sex, partying, working out.

Do you like to read? If so, what do you like to read?
No

Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? How do you get the money for it? Do you want to quit?
Drink alcohol. Don’t smoke – that’s bad for you.

How do you spend a typical Saturday night?
Having a few drinks with mates on occasion, having sex, annoying Stone, or working.

If you usually walk away from a situation that makes you angry, where do you go to calm yourself?
I like to be alone.

How do you deal with stress?
I don’t get stressed, but if I’m really fustrated or bothered by something, then sex.

How do you deal with pain (physical and emotional)?
I put a mask up when I am hurting, I don’t like anyone to know.

Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan?
Depends on what you are referring to.

What are your pet peeves?
Girls who don’t stick up for themselves.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence, and calling me on my shit.

Where would you like to live? Why?
Wherever Stone is.

Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted?
I don’t have a routine, what each day brings is unknown for me.

What is your greatest strength?
My strength.

What is your greatest weakness?
Danielle Stone.

Do you like yourself?
Absolutely, I mean look at me.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing, I’m awesome.

Name three things you consider yourself to be good at, and three things you consider yourself to be bad at.
Good things – flirting, talking, sex. Bad things – feelings, monogamy, honesty.

What three words best describe your personality?
Playful, charming, genuine

What three words would others probably use to describe you?
Sexy, handsome, manly.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Wherever Stone is. I hope to be able to muster up the courage to tell her how I feel about her, so I guess I secretly hope for us to be together. Married to Stone with one or two kids already.

If you could choose, how would you want to die?
In the arms of Stone.

If you knew you were going to die in twenty-four hours, name three things you would do in the time you had left.
Tell Stone how I feel about her, hold her close to me and love her with all I have, and I would marry her.

If you were to die and come back as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think it would be, and why?
Well since I am already both human and wolf, I would like to come back as me.

What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death?
The greatest lover of all time.

What do you have in your pockets or purse?
My phone, wallet, lip balm.

What in or on your nightstand?
Condoms, light, glass of water, phone charger.

What is in your refrigerator?
Beer, water, vegetables, leftover pizza

Book Review: Bone Tiki – David Hair

Bone Tiki – Wow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have ordered the next book in the series.

The first few pages for me were a little slow, and I was not encouraged, but persisted. 

Using a mixture of culture, heritage, mythology, legends, and historical knowledge, David Hair was able to bring life to those well known mythological/ancient creatures and Maori legends in a way that captivated my imagination and soul, and with a balance of backstory weaved amongst the story to keep it moving forward. 


The aspects I liked were:
1) That David Hair was able to use legends and myths within Maori culture that are established. Based in Taupo, and having spent much time in the Hawkes Bay and Hastings regions as well as further north. Using the taniwha of Lake Taupo/Waikato River coming up over the bridge in Taupo was so real, I could envision it clearly. The legend of HatuPatu, is a place that I always honk at on my way north, but never really knew significance. There were so many. But the author really brought them to life in a whole other way, by not only paying tribute to these Maori legends/mythical creatures/people but ellaborating as to their story and significance to the region and Maori people. The Opepe battle scene is real along the Napier-Taupo Highway, and so that leads me into my second point.

2) I liked the attention to detail with not only the significant locations, and legends, but also the scenery. It was so vivid, the walking along the rivers and through the bush.

3) Whether the ellaborations on existing legends and myths that are brought to life in this book are entirely true or not, is not a hundred percent clear to me. But there was definitely an aspect of realism to this book. It has been cleverly done. I loved the part about riding the Taniwha up the Waikato river and all other (smaller) taniwhas rose their heads.

4) The character of Wiri was captivating, as too was that of the dog. Wiri reminded me of a friend of mine from high school that actually died in a river along the Napier-Taupo Highway. But his presence and character was so familiar, it drew me in. Also, to note, his entrance into the book was powerful. I was like ‘wow – who is this?’ 

5) I liked the character development of all the characters – Mat, Kelly, Wiri, Tama, etc. They kept growing and gaining more depth.

This is definitely a book I would read again, and recommend. Great selection guys.

Two things I picked up on was a catastrophic spelling mistake – only one. And that this book is categorized as a YA.

Book Review: Halfway to the Grave

Frost, J. (2007). Halfway to the grave. New York, USA: Harper Collins Publishers.

Author:

Jeaniene Frost is an American author who has penned New York Times and USA Today bestselling fantasy – The Night Huntress series. Halfway to the Grave is the first book in the series.

Summary: 

The product of a non-consensual tryst, Cat Crawfield is different but not in the way most humans consider. She is born half-vampire, half-human. Filled with a vengeance towards the very undead that ruined her mother’s life, she crosses paths with Bones. Forced into a partnership, Cat trains under Bones, to hone her deadly skills and lure vampires to their death with her beating heat. Then pursued by a ring of human enslaving vampires, Cat and Bones must choose a side.

Analysis:

From the first paragraph, I was hooked. The first three chapters were all action, with backstory interwoven in small increments, so the flow of the story isn’t interrupted.

With all the action sequences, there is a building romance between Cat and Bones. It is fierce and primal. In the early stages, Cat is disgusted at the very thought of him, and plans to kill him the first chance she gets. What struck me most about this romance, was hate turned to love. In the end, she chose to run away, to protect him. The last line of the book, she hopes that Bones will come find her.

The complexity of their bond and the distaste between Bones and Cat at the beginning, reminds me of Jay and Stone. The moment Stone is attacked, Jay still hides his feelings for her from Velkan. From the relationship of Cat and Bones, I am going to rewrite the scenes following the attack, to insert Jay’s inability to hide his feelings anymore. Velkan will become aware of them, Stone will not. It will add conflict between the two men.

The language used, for the intimate scenes wasn’t explicit. I find it hard to write intimate scenes, but reading one is catapulting for me. Frost was able to enact scenes and movements, in a way that wasn’t crass. I will put the intimate scenes between Velkan and Stone, under the microscope. Tightening their touches, and intimate interactions, but keeping within my own voice. Forcing an intimate scene, is not what I feel comfortable with. It will bring the characters of Stone and Velkan closer together, and readers get a better sense of Velkan’s character.

The use of non-explicit language to lift the tension between Stone and Jay, when they fall on the couch together, by describing what Stone is feeling using touch sensory, the context could become electric. 

It would change the entire dynamic between Jay and Stone; Stone and Velkan; Jay and Velkan; attributing to a building tension.

Book Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

The Awakening is the first book in The Vampire Dairies series. The main plot follows main character, Elena Gilbert, who is a doppelganger for a centuries old vampire who caused romantic havoc between a pair of brothers, Stefan and Damon; whilst she tries to readjust to normal life after losing both parents in an accident.

The subplot follows Elena and her encounters with a black crow, unaware it’s Stefan’s brother Damon. The crow appears at the most harrowing times, causing unease. The subplot is crucial to moving the story forward because it lays the foundation for Damon’s entrance, his fascination with Elena, and shows us that his character is darker and more dangerous than Stefan’s.

I applied an interwoven subplot to my story by the lingering strangers following Danielle, i.e. “standing at the edge of a darkened alleyway, was a man. His eyes were locked on me, even as the sea of people crossed his path continuously. I stared back at his eyes for what felt like a minute, he did not look away or falter…and as I looked back to the man, he was gone.” This intertwines with the main plot by letting the reader know everything is not as it seems, it adds to the external conflict when all is revealed to Danielle.

Smith, L.J. (2007). The vampire diaries: the awakening and the struggle (1st ed.). New York City: HarperCollins Publishers

Curse of Stone

First book in ‘Curse of Stone’ Series.

Danielle Stone is searching for answers about her great-aunt’s mysterious disappearance fifty-eight years ago. Following a new lead, she quickly discovers that the world is not as it seems. Each step she takes closer to the truth puts her in more danger than ever before.
Unaware she is being hunted by an ancient evil who seeks her heart, and minions of evil descend upon Danielle. She confides in her childhood friend, Jamie, who is fighting an inner battle to keep more than one secret hidden from her.
When her great-aunt suddenly reappears, Danielle’s life hangs in the balance.
Enter Gabriel. A cursed man who searches for his healer – the one human female destined to break his curse. But he must find her before something evil does.

Can Gabriel and Jamie save Danielle before it is too late?

Will the battle of good versus evil prevail? Or will evil succeed this time?

Get it now on Amazon (Kindle and Paperback) and Google Play Bookstore.