Today, I’m happy to be chatting with author, Nikki Prince. Nikki is a mother of two, who always had a dream to be a published author. Her passion lies in raising her children, gaming, reading and writing. She has two Masters, one in English and the other in Creative Writing concentration in fiction.
Nikki’s a multi-published author with several publishing houses. She loves to write Interracial romances in all genres but wants to let everyone know to not box her in because there is always room for growth. Nikki believes that love should truly be color blind and for all.
Nikki’s a member of Romance Writers of America National, DARA, and several online chapters.
Bakersfield Romance Writers Links
Nikki Prince: It’s actually about 25 books and I earned another Masters in Literature during this time frame. My two teens have been a great help as well as inspiration for me because I want them to know that anything is possible in their life as long as they go for it.
I went back to school in 2014 and garnered the BA, and two MA’s in a 3-year span and have maintained a 3.9 GPA. I’ve been wanting to write since I was 11 years old. I finally made that dream a reality when I turned 43 and realized it is never too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Writing and reading has been a passion for since I first found romance books at age 11. Before finding my grandmother’s romances, and Johanna Lindsey on my father’s dresser I hated to read.
Reading helped me in so many ways, you see I had a learning disability. However, once I found romance books and started reading that all changed for me and the only inkling of a disability that I still have is in math which is another part of the brain. Reading and writing saved my life in so many ways and knowing that I can bring joy to someone else from reading the worlds and characters that I build is so satisfyingly wonderful. Another shining part in my writing and real life is belonging to RWA it is a wonderful community where writers of like minds can be together to nurture one another.
Nikki Prince: I’ve had this thought of creating a bunch of friends for who all intents and purposes are the best of girlfriends with great guy friends. Three sets of friends and the desire to be together and yet there is something holding them back. Ashton and Keiko’s love story has a few twists along the way to get to the HEA, because everyone deserves a happy ever after.
Nikki Prince: The last story that I had come out is a short called Blurred Lines, and it came out June 2019. I am working on edits for the second book in the Undeniable Series with Áine Reid and Darian Tisdale in a story called “It’s Work” and following that the next story which is Emmerson Collins and Royce Hanson’s story called, “It’s Real.” Beyond that I have a lot of stories still left in me to write. Stories that may be paranormal, contemporary and love between the same gender, opposite gender, interracial mix or same racial mix as I believe everyone’s story should be told.
Nikki Prince: Indeed, I have. I know there are some that say that writer’s block is imaginary. In some ways I think that is true because there is inspiration to write everywhere. However, there are times when the brain doesn’t want to function and let you put out the stories as you have before. Because let’s face it, life can be messy it is one of the reasons most of us read romance is because it lets us get out of our own heads, our own lives and for a moment in time live a life of beauty.
How I get past it is I game (I play World of Warcraft have since 2006), I spend time with my children, Travel somewhere different , read something else and sometimes a nap will rejuvenate the mind and spirit. When I moved to Dallas last year in 2018 it was hard to get a chance to write and for me that was a block, however if it is in you to write and to create it never goes away so here I am.
Right now I am working on putting together a writing community here in Bakersfield, California. I knew when I moved here that RWA wasn’t represented here and I want to change that. So far I have about 7 other people within the group. I hope to gain more so that I can apply for Bakersfield Romance Writers to be a full chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I am also in grad school for a third Masters. This is a Masters in Marketing and Social Media. I’m taking my time with this MA as I already have two and there is no rush, besides I have plenty of stories within me that I want to share with the world.
My writing day really depends. Between having two teens in High School, being in grad school and looking for a full-time job here in Bakersfield (I’ve only been here since June), I write wherever and whenever I can. That has always been the way of it since 2012. I love writing and creating so I will write at night, in the afternoon, and in the morning. Whatever it takes to get the stories done, I’ll do it. One of the ways to do that is I love to do National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) every November so that I can just immerse myself in my stories for a whole month.
A Few Books by Nikki Prince
Jann Ryan is on vacation and while she’s away, we thought we would reprint one of her more popular interviews. Jann says she’ll be back in September with her usual column. Until then enjoy and little Christmas in August.
Kathleen: Our Writing Something Romantic critique group started some years ago with a few writers who belonged to OCC. We wanted a small group to critique our romance writing. Angela Kyle, Carol Persinger, and I were original members. Shortly after we began to meet, we invited Barb DeLong, Val Millette, Jann Ryan, Ottilia Scherschel, and Jill Jaynes to join us. Ever since, we’ve met once a month to critique each other’s manuscripts. We celebrate birthdays and, of course, each others’ successes.
Barb: We decided as a group to write to our strengths and particular genres with a unifying theme of Christmas time for our first anthology. Hopefully the anthology will appeal to a wide audience because of the different genres.
Ottilia: My mother liked to say I was born with a foot in a suitcase. I’ve always loved to travel. Growing up, Hong Kong seemed mysterious, so far away, and its history with the British fascinated me. I sought out movies set there and visited San Francisco’s Chinatown to gawk at all the finery from Hong Kong. When my husband and I were married, he presented me with pearls he had bought in Hong Kong for his future wife while he was in the Navy. Years later, when my brother started doing business in China, I decided I had a reliable source and the time had come to write about that country and its customs.
Not all my novels are romantic suspense. I also write historical fiction, but all my novels have an element of suspense and are set in foreign countries at least in part.
Jill: Haha! More than once, I’m sure! I think most of us wish we could get a little help finding that guy. I definitely settled for a few frogs before my true love finally swept into my life and showed me what I’d been missing all along. In my story, Allie finds out that nothing is as easy as it seems, even with a magical wish in your pocket. But hey, it’s Christmas! I’m pretty sure something good will happen…
Angela: Children’s stories lend themselves particularly well to myth, legend, and symbolism–all things I’ve been fascinated by as long as I can remember. (As does the fantasy genre.) This is probably why I find myself writing (and reading) mostly in those areas, even though I enjoy contemporary, scifi, mystery, historical, romance, and other genres as a reader.
Old tales, religion, psychology, and modern storytelling speak in the languages of archetypes and symbols. We use them to layer depth and glean meaning from our world. That’s why I enjoy writing stories based on myth—these old stories give me worlds in which I can explore the deeper connections that live in us all.
Barb: I knew I wanted to write a paranormal story because I love reading them. I write humorous and absolutely loved Jill Barnett’s Bewitching. I thought whimsical witches and their magic were right up my alley. My work-in-progress is a paranormal romance series called Charmed by a Witch, with the first book being Charm’d.
Kathleen: My genre has always been historical romance. I’ve written several romances set in Montana during the 1880’s, so my familiarity with the setting made for an easy choice. While doing some research on Helena, I came across a photo of a suffragette from Great Falls. She was identified as a librarian and was standing so straight and proud beside the bicycle she rode to work, I felt an instant admiration for her and all the ladies who strove to secure the women’s vote. And so, Paulette Winslow, spinster and librarian, sprang to life in my imagination. My hero came just as easily. I’ve previously written a romance set in Butte, about a wealthy mine owner. This time my hero, Brent McFarland, comes from Butte to Helena to take over the local newspaper.
When Ottilia Scherschel started sixth grade, she learned her fifth language. Her immigrant parents wandered throughout Europe and Latin America, waiting for papers to enter the United States. Today, she lives in Southern California. After a successful career in international communications, she took up writing romantic suspense stories set in foreign climes.
Her first novel DARING THE DRAGON, takes place in China and her second, A KISS TOO LONG, is set in Hungary and Italy. You can read one of her short stories in ROMANCING THE PAGES, an anthology by the Orange County Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. https://writingsomethingromantic.com/
Jill Jaynes began her love affair with romance when she was a teenager growing up in Southern California, spending many a late-night under the covers with a flashlight and good romance novel.
This early addiction stuck, and she discovered one day that telling great stories was even more fun than reading them. Today she writes stories with happy endings her own way- with a dash of magic that means anything can happen.
When she’s not writing, you can find her (still in Southern California) occupied with one of the following activities: a) wine-tasting, hiking or otherwise hanging out with her hot husband, b) walking her two high-maintenance dogs, c) plotting her next story with her writer-daughter or d) working at her day job in her spare time. http://www.jilljaynes.com
Angela Shelley was twenty-two when writing became a passion. She’s been doing it in one form or another ever since. As a technical writer, she published science articles for magazines, grant proposals, software manuals, and online help systems. She won Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for her first and second novels, Ennara and the Fallen Druid and Ennara and the Book of Shadows.
Angela Shelley is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In her spare time, she makes book trailers and volunteers for her writing organizations and twins’ classroom. Visit her at http://www.angelashelley.net.
Barb DeLong, long-time member of the Orange County Chapter/Romance Writers of America, is a member of RWA’s PRO community. She has been writing one thing or another for as long as she can remember. Her stories have won and finalled in several contests, and she published a short story in the Romancing the Pages anthology. Barb is currently working on a humorous paranormal romance series called Charmed by a Witch.
She’s excited to share with you the magic of love, laughter and happily ever after! https://writingsomethingromantic.com/
Kathleen Harrington, multi-published, award-winning author, has touched the hearts of readers across the country and the world with her sparkling tales of high adventure and unending love. Her historical romances have been published in Chinese, Russian, Italian, and German. She lives in Southern California with her American Bulldog, Auron. http://www.kathleenharringtonbooks.com/
Celeste: I will be returning to the Highlands before the year is out. I left room for characters who had cameos in His Highland Pledge and His Highland Surprise to have their own stories. The new series is tentatively called Highland Ladies and will be a spin off from The Clan Sinclair, following several of the ladies in waiting at Robert the Bruce’s court.
Celeste: As a new author, I was still trying to find my groove. Vikings interest me, and I’ve read numerous Viking romances. After I finished The Clan Sinclair, which was always intended to be five full lengths with a prequel novella, I wanted to try my hand at Vikings. I’ve enjoyed writing this series since some of the social norms are so different for couples; there’s more freedom in many ways to write a steamy story. Much of the historical information included in the books comes from my own running knowledge of European history, which I’ve studied and taught. The smaller details were researched as ideas came to my head, such as, wedding rituals. I couldn’t say exactly how long it took since I fell through the rabbit hole more than once, but the added knowledge is never a waste.
Celeste: I’ve been asked this type of questions before, and the answer is yes. They all come together roughly at the same time, but a scene is usually how it starts. My mind wanders as I’m falling asleep and scenes will form. If my brain returns to the same scene more than once, and the scene grows each time, then I know I have a story I want to tell. It germinates and flowers all at the same time.
Celeste: I like reading and writing alpha males, but each of my male characters is willing to acknowledge his need for an equally strong female partner. I’ve read plenty of arranged marriage stories and even written them, but I wanted this to be a reverse arranged marriage where one family refused to consider it. I thought it would be interesting to have one character not only know, but see, the future relationship while the other had no idea. I wanted to create a female character who was strong enough to live a life with as many uncertainties as there were certainties, and one who could be patient as life progressed. Vikings believed heavily in the power of fate, so knowing that, it made it easy for Leif to fall in love quickly with Sigrid. Readers who might not know that about the Viking culture might wonder how their relationship could develop so quickly, but people do talk about love at first sight. There’s some of that in this story too.
It’s not an easy relationship when one person knows what will happen and the other is in the dark. It’s hard to be the one who must hold secrets while it’s just as hard to be the one who is left out. I wanted Sigrid and Leif to show their commitment to one another despite this sizable challenge. As a seer, Sigrid could only convey the events the gods planned; she could not influence them. Leif shows his commitment to Sigrid through his faith in her gift and his willingness to trust her. They could each have simply accepted their fate and that marriage was their destiny. Instead, they choose to build a solid and loving relationship the way they want and need it.
Celeste: Freya released at the beginning of June, and it was a fun story to write. She’s torn between her self-proclaimed need to prove herself as a shieldmaiden along her need to prove she can be jarl’s wife capable of running a home. She’s insecure in ways no one expects, and her persona of being fierce and untouchable is one she created as a protective wall. She doesn’t let many people get close, and Tyra is her only female friend before she meets Sigrid. She’s prickly and mercurial when she meets Erik because of her insecurities. She isn’t easily convinced that he won’t love her and leave her, so she pushes him away instead. Erik is persistent and is determined to prove he is not just there for the chase. I wanted to include a male character who once again is an alpha but has more insecurities than most alphas would ever admit. He’s in awe of Freya, believing she could have any man she wanted, so when she does finally relent, he is terrified she will decide he’s not enough. It’s the hero’s turn to worry that the heroine will find someone “better.” Forced to travel and work together, they realized they are far more alike than either realized. While they thought it was opposites attract, they discover they are so similar that they complete one another.
I haven’t announced the third book yet, but suffice it to say, there are five friends and only four books. I think most readers have predicted which two will be paired together, but their story has far more history than anyone knows yet. The final character has had a troubled life with loss and more recent betrayal, so when part of the past comes back, our final character isn’t sure whether it’s just familiarity or real love that is at play.
Celeste: This isn’t necessarily strange since plenty of historical authors have to research homeopathic remedies to make cures sound realistic to the Middle Ages, or at least pre-penicillin. I was away with my family this weekend in a little mountain town, and the nature center had an amazing tri-fold with pictures and descriptions of medicinal plants. I was entirely too excited about it. I kept thinking how my author friends will be jealous when I tell them about this since I no longer need Google or massive texts! I have it all on a handy pamphlet.
Celeste: I had every intention of being an international corporate lawyer. I even had that intention when I started law school! Life happens, plans change. I’ve been a teacher for nearly 15 years, and now I’m an author too. Slightly different than what I envisioned at 10.
Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year. Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and over 50 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. She currently writes the Superstition Mysteries and the Barkery Biscuits Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.
I’ve been friends and reading author Linda O. Johnston for many years and it’s a pleasure to do this Q & A with her today. Welcome Linda to Jann Says . . .
Jann: I remember reading your first novel, A Glimpse of Forever, in 1995. What is your writing process and how has it changed since then, if it has?
Linda: My process has changed a lot from what it was back then. When I started getting my novels published, I was a full-time lawyer with young kids. Back then, I would get up an hour before anyone else in the household and write for an hour, then bring printed copies to edit at lunchtime. Now, I’m a full-time writer, and my sons are grown and living elsewhere. My dogs will often tell me what to do—time to eat, time to go out—and occasionally my husband interrupts for something important, but otherwise I spend most of my day on the computer writing, editing and promoting.
Jann: If you could go back in time, is there one thing you would do differently with your writing career?
Linda: Not really. I feel as if I’ve been very fortunate. I’m still working on turning my stories into best sellers, but I’m happy with where I am, too. I’ve had more than 50 books published!
Jann: Many authors, including you, have a deep love for animals, but they don’t necessarily have them play such big roles in their books. You write in several different genres—mystery, romantic suspense, paranormal romance and romance. Throughout all of these genres, animals are a focus. Why?
Linda: I love dogs! I’m a dogaholic. A cynophilist. I didn’t always include dogs in my writing, although one of my favorite time travel romances from way back when is Once a Cavalier, where Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the breed I particularly adore, were the avenue that allowed my heroine to travel in time back to the court of King Charles II of England, where the ancestors of today’s Cavaliers were lap dogs to the courtiers to take the fleas off them. And my own Lexie was the model for the Lexie in my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet Sitter Mysteries, my first cozy mystery series. Kendra was a lawyer who lived in the Hollywood Hills with her Cavalier Lexie. At the time, I was practicing law, I live in the Hollywood Hills, and one of my Cavaliers was Lexie. Unfortunately, dogs’ lives are shorter than ours, so Lexie is no longer with us, but I still have two Cavaliers: Mystie and Cari. They always inspire me to write—and to give them treats!
Jann: Book #5 is a Barkery and Biscuits mystery, For A Good Paws, which is coming out this month. Tell us about the series, characters and story.
Linda: In my Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, protagonist Carrie Kennersly is a veterinary technician. She bought a bakery, Icing on the Cake, from a friend who had to leave their town of Knobcone Heights, California, and Carrie turned half into a barkery, Barkery and Biscuits, where she bakes and sells healthy dog treats she developed as a vet tech. In the first book, Bite the Biscuit, Carrie became a murder suspect and had to figure out whodunit to clear herself. In the subsequent stories several of her friends also become murder suspects so she has to help them, too. Since I always include romances in my mysteries and suspense or mystery in my romances, Carrie has a romantic interest, Dr. Reed Storme, a veterinarian at the clinic where she still works part time as a vet tech. Her brother Neal lives with her in her home, and one of her closest friends is Councilwoman Billi Matlock, who owns a day spa and Mountaintop Rescue, an animal shelter. Carrie also has several assistants at her shops who are also her friends, and several other townsfolk appear a lot in her books including the head vet at the clinic, Dr. Arvus Kline, and the owners of Cuppa Joe’s, a coffee shop.
In For A Good Paws, Carrie takes notice when she hears that a local killer is being paroled. Mike Holpurn, the parolee, was convicted ten years ago of murdering Flora Shulzer, who was then mayor of Knobcone Heights. On his return from prison, Holpurn confronts Flora’s husband Henry Shulzer, whom he claims was Flora’s murderer. When Henry is found murdered, the town assumes the killer is Holpurn, but Carrie’s not so sure… and she gets involved once more in solving a murder.
It’ll be the last in the series, since the publisher, Midnight Ink, is closing. I might find another publisher or self-publish more… but I suspect I’ll go on to a new mystery series.
Jann: How do you stay motivated? What drives you to keep writing?
Linda: Writing is who I am. Even when I tell myself to take a rest, my mind still keeps churning and I take notes!
Jann: What are you dying to try next?
Linda: Another mystery series! And also a possible stand-alone story featuring dogs. My problem about doing that is a good one: time. I’m busy with deadlines, writing four new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books.
Jann: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?
Linda: My mind is always at work, whether I’m awake or asleep, at the computer or anywhere else. Ideas are never the problem. I’ve plenty of them. But time to do something with them is more of an issue with me.
Jann: Thank you Linda for sharing with us today. Looking forward to the release and reading For A Good Paws!
Jacqueline Diamond has sold romantic comedies, medical romances, Regency romances and mysteries—more than 100 titles. A former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist, Jackie is best known for her Safe Harbor Medical romance series, beginning with The Would-Be Mommy. She currently writes a spin-off series, the Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries. Jackie has been honored with a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and is a two-time Rita Award finalist. You can sign up for her free monthly newsletter at www.jacquelinediamond.net.
Jacqueline: One step at a time! I didn’t set out to write a zillion books; this has happened over the course of about forty years. When I was writing for Harlequin, I had to work on multiple books at once but at different points in the process. One book might be a short proposal waiting for a contract (or rejection); another book, already contracted, might be in the writing stages, while a third, completed book might require revisions at the editor’s request.
Frankly, I wish I had had more time per book, and am delighted to be self-publishing my mystery series (Safe Harbor Medical) at my own pace. When I regain rights to earlier books and prepare them for new editions, I rewrite and polish. It’s mostly minor stuff but I just didn’t have the time for it due to contracts (and need for money!).
Jacqueline: Three reasons. I basically felt that, in seventeen books, I’d completed the romantic storylines that felt natural for me in this setting. The second is that I’d been longing to return to mysteries (such as Danger Music, which had been published years earlier, and His Secret Son, a romantic intrigue). Third, I wanted to write and self-publish these mysteries to suit myself not some publisher’s requirements for length or subject matter.
Yet the setting and supporting characters of my fictional Safe Harbor Medical Center still resonate with me. I’ve enjoyed bringing them back to life while creating new major series characters—Dr. Eric Darcy, his PI sister-in-law Tory Golden, and a couple of frenemies, including a homicide detective and a schizophrenic doctor (sympathetic, contrary to stereotypes).
Jacqueline: I have also written fantasy (Shadowlight), s.f. (Out of Her Universe) and of course straight mysteries. Some of my romances border on women’s fiction (e.g. The Family Next Door, which is the first book in my Harmony Circle series).
Jacqueline: The biggest change is that the whole field has opened up. This is largely due to the freedom provided by self-publishing as well as to changes in society. Authors are no longer restricted by whatever publishers believe is selling today or subject to the whims of editors. Of course, there’s a downside as well, because we’re required (whether traditionally or self-published) to promote, promote, promote.
Jacqueline: My protagonist, Dr. Eric Darcy, is an obstetrician in a small town who cares deeply about his patients, family and colleagues. He’s a young widower whose closest friend is a homicide detective and whose crusty sister-in-law is a private investigator. He becomes involved in cases that affect his patients, their families and his own circle of acquaintances.
I’m sometimes put off by mysteries in which the amateur detective has no real reason to be snooping around and, frankly, would get in the way of the police. However, doctors have access to private information as well as the trust of their longtime patients, who might be reluctant to speak to authorities. In The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet, the mother of grown triplets stuns him by claiming there was a fourth baby, a quadruplet stolen from her at birth, many years ago. Was there really a lost child? If she’s still alive, where is she? When someone murders his patient, Eric believes the police are dismissing a vital clue, and feels a responsibility to the victim to discover the truth, aided by his sister-in-law. Night Owl Reviews called it “a very clever mystery where emotions and feelings ran deep.”
Jacqueline: Currently, I’m about two-thirds of the way through the fourth mystery, The Case of the Long-Lost Lover. Eric learns that an old flame is missing and might have been trying to reach him when she disappeared. Even more stunning is the discovery that she had a baby that might have been his. When her body is discovered in an unmarked grave, he’s thrust into a quest for the truth, including the whereabouts of a girl who could be his daughter.
Look for Long-Lost Lover this fall! To make sure of being notified, you can sign up on my website, www.jacquelinediamond.net, for my free monthly newsletter. Also, you can follow me on Amazon or Bookbub.
Jacqueline: I jot a lot of notes before I start writing, and organize (and reorganize) them as I go. To me, it’s vital to incorporate both structure based on turning points, so that the pace never lags, and springing-to-life characters that I and the reader care about. I also place a lot of emphasis on accurate research in the medical field and in police work. My Beta readers include a retired sheriff’s investigator and an obstetrical nurse. I also consult other experts and do research online.
Jacqueline: Honestly, I knew from the age of four that I was meant to be a writer. Something inside drives me, which is fortunate, because there’ve been a lot of rejections and other setbacks along the way. If this were just a hobby, I’d have quit long ago!
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