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Author Interview: Nikki Duncan

Morning, folks! Today we have a very special guest! Yes, we have a guest! *happy dance* I’ll admit, I sort of put the thumbscrews on this nice lady because I just had to have a guest author. So without further ado, here she is, Nikki Duncan!

Bio:

Heart stopping puppy chases, childhood melodrama and the aborted hangings of innocent toys are all in a day’s work for Nikki Duncan. This athletic equestrian turned reluctant homemaker turned daring author, is drawn to the siren song of a fresh storyline.

Nikki plots murder and mayhem over breakfast, scandalous exposes at lunch and the sensual turn of phrase after dinner. Nevertheless, it is the pleasurable excitement and anticipation of unraveling her character’s motivation that drives her to write long past the witching hour.

The only anxiety and apprehension haunting this author comes from pondering the mysterious outcome of her latest twist.

What made you decide to become a romance writer? Did a soothesayer say this was the path you’d be taking, or was it something more realistic, like you’re a multi-millionaire with time to spare so you do this to keep yourself busy?

 Well of course I’m a multi-millionaire who spends her days lounging with books and bon-bons. *sigh* Did I not convey that well enough in Orlando?

 LOL, seriously, I’m not sure what made me decide to start writing. I love romance books. I’ve always been word happy. Some classmates in high school used to tell me I should write books. Somewhere along the way it all converged and turned into a story. Of course, then I had to realize it wasn’t a good story and I would need to work on my craft, but that’s another story. lol

 Tell us about your writing journey. How did you go from novice writer, to a published author with two books out (pimp your books!)?

 Ah, see, the other story.

 I wrote that first book, and of course thought it was brilliant. Well, the rejection letters began pouring in and I got the hint. Not so brilliant. L So, I began searching for online classes and stumbled on RWA. Finally, I could learn about my craft in a way that worked for me. WooHoo!!

 So, I studied and practiced and revised and wrote new stuff and got rejected and studied and practiced and revised and wrote new stuff and got rejected and studied and practiced and revised and wrote new stuff and got rejected and studied and practiced and revised and wrote new stuff and got rejected (that’s 4 times/books I did that routine).

 Finally, I was sitting in a hotel room one night with some awesome women and one woman mentioned a story idea she wanted, but no one would write it for her. A friend of mine volunteered me to write the story. Long story short, SOUNDS TO DIE BY came to life. That woman? Crissy Brashear, owner of Samhain Publishing. My Ian became the blind hero she’d been wanting. I was lucky to find an editor within Samhain who loved the story. The rest… Well, it’s not quite history yet, but it was a fun beginning.

 And SCENT OF PERSUASION, my second book is now available from Samhain.

What’s your writing routine like? Do you wait for Mars to align with Venus, or do you have a schedule you follow? Do you set daily word goals?

 Dude, if I waited for stars and planets to align I wouldn’t have finished chapter one of book one. My life is crazy busy, so it’s a matter of planting my tush in the chair and writing. I’ve explained to my family why writing is important to me, and they support me, which makes it a little easier. In the end it’s a matter of making writing a priority.

 If I’m not actually working on a story, I am studying craft or working on plot ideas or putting promo stuff together or reading – which is in a way studying. J When I’m ready to start on a new project – and I’m starting one this week, I tend to sit down and hammer out the first draft in a couple weeks.

 Are you a plotter, pantster, or plantster?

 Plotter primarily, especially on my suspense books. With those, I have more threads I have to keep track of, so plotting helps a lot.

In Sounds to Die By, your hero was blinded as a child. Do you feel that physically – or emotionally – flawed heroes resonate better with audiences?

 First off, check out my inspiration for Ian and tell me what it is about my hero that resonates with you?

Hmm, I think it depends on the reader. What I think does resonate widely is giving characters emotional depth. Sometimes that depth comes from flaws or wounds because those make them human. So I guess in a way yes.

Wow, was that a rambling round about answer or what?

Who are some of your role models? I ask because my list keeps growing and growing. Dammit.

Author role models? Wow, that’s a long list and I know I’ll forget someone, which always makes me feel bad, but here goes (people who’ve personally influenced me as a writer): Shelley Bradley/Shayla Black, Candace Havens, Kris Cook, Jax Cassidy, Sylvia Day, Karin Tabke, Jaci Burton, Cathryn Fox, Mackenzie McKade, Melissa Schroeder, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Shirley Jump/AJ Whitten, Jules Bennett

What’s the best part about writing for you? 

Beginning a new project ranks right up there with getting a contract. It’s the excitement of the new path and possibilities.

How did you come up with your Sensory Ops series? How many books will be in the series? Do you have a character named Danica? You should. Danica is a very nice name. 😉

After contracting SOUNDS TO DIE BY I was talking with my editor and she mentioned the possibility of more books. Specifically she mentioned the possibility of doing one for each sense, so there will be 6 books in the Sensory Ops series.

Each book will stand alone and can be read independently and out of order. Only Ian will have a physical disability. SCENT OF PERSUASION is book two in the series and I’ve turned in book 3 to my editor. The third book deals with empaths and I LOVED every minute of writing that book.

Now, as for Danica as a heroine’s name…She doesn’t exist in the Sensory Ops series, but that project I mentioned I would be starting this week? The heroine is Danica Kent. Heather Long helped me come up with that name. It’s a great name and fits my character perfectly. 😉

What’s up next for Nikki Duncan?

Well, I talked a little about this. Danica’s book is a straight contemporary romance. It’s a reunion/homecoming story placed in small town America. She wants stability. He wants adventure. They’ll have to find a balance between the two if they hope to stay together. This one is also going to be HOT HOT HOT!

What’s some advice you can give to pre-published authors?

Keep writing. Allow yourself to set a project aside and start a new one. You can actually slow yourself down if you don’t allow yourself to move on to book 2 and 3 and 4.

And for the really important questions:

What’s your favorite color?

Depends on my mood, but I’m going to go with red/burgundy.

Do you have any hobbies that help you decompress from writing? You know, like skydiving, or base jumping…you know, safe things.

Watching TV with hubby, though I would love to do some of those safe things like bungee jumping or sky diving or learning to shoot a gun.

Favorite hunky movie star (and hopefully you don’t say Gerard Butler because he is MINE!).

You can have Gerard. I would struggle to choose between Gabriel Macht

and Channing Tatum.
 

 What’s your favorite movie?

 My favorite movie changes, but currently I’m on a romantic comedy kick. That’s where I discovered Gabriel and fell in love with him. Specifically, it was the movie he did called BECAUSE I SAID SO with Diane Keaton, Stephen Collins (I think that’s his last name), Mandy Moore, Lauren Graham, and Piper Perabo.

 Of course, I also love RENT, STEP UP, GI JOE, TRANSPORTER, 27 DRESSES and the list goes on and on and on.

I want to know what smexy stars I’m missing out on though! So come on ladies, out with it. Who’s your fave?

Thank you, Nikki! I loved Sounds to Die By and Scent of Persuasion. If you’re looking for hot, sexy romantic suspense, be sure to put these on your to read list!

Nikki’s book SOUNDS TO DIE BY is now available in print. Read more about it at www.NikkiDuncan.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Wanna See Dead People

Right. So I was a bit obsessed with the body farm speaker during the Conference last month. I was so intrigued by it, that I mentioned it to my co-workers (who have no idea I write). I talked about the actual body farms, the deer eating dead people thing, and other little tidbits I learned from that workshop. I didn’t realize it would be such a great conversation starter!

One of my co-workers told a story about how when he worked at another shipyard, they lost a welder. The guy was having marital problems and everyone figured he’d just taken off one day.  About three days later, it was discovered that he didn’t run away. They called in divers to look for him in the water. See, the man had fallen between the hull and the dock, knocking himself out on the way to the water. He drowned and was sucked beneath the dock where he wasn’t discovered until one of the divers found him.

This led to a second story from my co-worker who said yet another time, maybe a year or two after the first incident, he was walking to one of the vessels when he saw something strange out the corner of his eye. Yup, you guessed it: another dead body. This one was a guy who’d worked further up the canal and been battered down the waterway until he landed on the job site.

Now, this got me thinking. My job duties include collecting water samples. At least once a month, I haul out my sample pole, my cooler, and head to the ditches and canals at the yard. When I’m not taking water samples, I have to do audits which means I grab a camera and head to those same places (plus other more remote locations on the yards). Most of the time when I’m doing my audits or collecting samples, my main concern is snakes. Indiana Jones and I have a lot in common: we’re both adventurous and we hate snakes. I also keep an eye out for alligators, but I never, ever, ever thought I’d have to look out for dead bodies.

This wasn’t something they ever brought up during the job description discussions we had. You know:

You’ll have to track VOC emissions and air monitoring reports, collect water samples and send them to the labs, organize and set up hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste removal, conduct environmental audits, DEQ inspections, and watch out for dead bodies.

I’m pretty sure I would’ve remembered that part of the discussion. I told the co-worker with the gruesome stories that if I did come across a dead body, they’d have to send out body bags for two bodies instead of one because I’d have a heart attack. Okay, so I might be exaggerating, but it is a scary thought.

I’m not a cop, or a paramedic, or even someone who may occasionally come across a dead body, like a bounty hunter (Stephanie Plum style), or a vampire hunter (Anita Blake style). I’m an environmental assistant. I don’t think body finding is in my contract…you know, the one in my head that I signed but no one else knows about, kind of like the “best friends forever” contract I signed with Kresley Cole and Shelly Laurenston. Uh, probably shouldn’t have mentioned that, huh?

Anyway, this is something I’m keeping in mind from now on. When I enter the inspection scene or the water sample designated area, there are several things to look for:

A. Are there snakes?
B. Are there alligators?
C. Does it meet the environmental compliance regulations?
D. Is there enough water to take a sample?
E. Oh, are there any dead people here?

So what job hazards do you face on a day-to-day basis? If you’re Alice (Resident Evil), I don’t want to hear it, okay? I don’t want to hear you world-saving zombie killers moaning about evil corporations and flesh-eating monsters with viruses. I’m sick of it already. Everyone else though, do you have a dead person at work story you want to share?

Oh! and a special treat! Tomorrow I’m having a guest author. Yes, guest author, Nikki Duncan, will be answering all of those questions you’ve always wanted to ask a published writer. Er…should I apologize for introducing her during a post about dead people? She does write romantic suspense. She probably sees dead people all the time!

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