Interview: Nikki Brown

There are people who come into our lives almost by accident and after spending time with them you can’t imagine what life would be without them. That’s what it was like when I first met Nikki Brown. Last year, a friend of mine begged me to join her new online writers group because she enjoyed it and thought I would like it as well.

Dozens of meetings later, I’m still in – and loving it. Nikki heads up the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallit along with recent guest here at the blog, Annie Oortman. Nikki has a special kind of caring confidence that makes everyone around her at ease. I’ve loved my time getting to know her better and am thrilled to share about her life, inspiration, and thoughts with my friends here at the blog.

A flock of birds flying through clouds resembling pink cotton candy. Super inspiring.
Photo by Kenrick Mills on Unsplash

On to the interview:

Let’s start with a getting to know you question. Tell us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t.

One thing most people know about me is that I have two young adult children and that I am incredibly proud of them. We homeschooled them from Pre-K through high-school graduation, and they have done extremely well in college. They are also just really cool people who add so much joy to my life. It’s hard to believe how slowly some of those days seemed to pass as a young homeschooling mom and how quickly it all seems to have gone by now.

Another thing many people know is that I am blind. Of course, that isn’t really what people are interested in. All anyone really cares about is that I am usually accompanied by my very handsome and overly friendly guide dog, Perry. I have been a guide dog handler since 2004.

One more thing many people know about me is that I am a personal coach. they don’t always understand what a personal coach is though. they usually think of a sports coach or a fitness coach, and that’s definitely not me. I do a few different things in the coaching world including helping writers find their voice and fuel their creativity. I love helping writers gain more confidence in themselves and put together systems that help make their creative process more effective. My husband and I also do staff development programs for businesses who want to empower their employees.

As for something most people don’t know about me, I suppose that would be that I love to sing. I usually only sing in the shower, but one of these days, I’d love to get up the nerve to sing karaoke in front of an audience—maybe in another state where nobody knows me. 🙂

Another thing most people don’t know is that I have been married to the same man for nearly 29 years. We have been through a lot together and haven’t murdered each other yet. Now, that’s love. Seriously, he has been my biggest supporter and has always done his best to help and encourage me even when I made things difficult for him. I can be a bit ornery at times. There, that’s another thing many people don’t know. People tend to think I’m really sweet. I think they are disarmed by the southern accent. LOL

What are three things that drive you toward your goals?

I’ve always been very self-motivated. I like accomplishing things, scratching things off my list and winning stuff. I’m fairly competitive, but it’s also fine if I don’t win. My main goal is to always learn from every situation and improve myself in some way from each experience.

A good external motivator for me is my family. I definitely want to be a good role model for my kids. That’s a lot harder now since we relate to each other much more as equals rather than as parent/child. They see all my flaws and don’t usually hold back at pointing them out. They aren’t unkind, just honest. I told someone the other day that God gives us children to keep us humble.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?

The absolute best bit of advice I ever received was from my grandfather. I had joined a 4-H club as a teenager and was promptly placed on the telephone committee. I think it was a committee of one person. Anyway, I was quite introverted (back then, we just called it shy) and hated the idea of calling people on the phone to remind them of an upcoming meeting. One day, I mentioned this to my grandfather who said incredulously, “Why are you afraid? You’re just as good as they are.” I didn’t really believed it at the time, but that bit of encouragement got me through all those phone calls. It took me decades before I actually began to truly believe those words but they have echoed in my heart and helped me through difficult moments many many times over the years.

Where do you think creativity comes from?

I think most people have limited ideas about what it means to be creative. When you say the word creativity, many people often jump to the conclusion that you are talking about the kind that is expressed as music, art, or performance. I think of creativity as much more than that. It is the ability we have to discover new ways of doing things, overcome problems and connect dots that, on the surface, don’t seem to be related at all. I respect that not everyone has the same views I do, but I firmly believe we were created in the image of God meaning that each of us  was created to be creative in our own right.

Many assume that authors and creatives live glamorized lives.  What is your life as a writer and life coach really like?

As with creativity, I think many people define glamorous in a way that is limited. We are surrounded by beauty and love and amazing opportunities, but do we see them? Are we so caught up in the worry and stress of making it through the day that we fail to notice the truly glamorous moments like a child holding our hand, the amazing colors of the wildflowers lining the highway or the awe-inspiring view of a star-filled night sky?  We compare the dust bunnies we see inside our lives with the meticulously manicured exteriors of other people’s lives and judge ourselves based on that faulty comparison. The truth is, at our core, we are all the same. My life isn’t glamorous at all based on Hollywood ideals, but I wouldn’t trade it with anyone. As Tolkien said, “All that is gold does not glitter.”

What are you working on right now that excites you?

I joined Toastmasters one year ago, and I recently participated in their 2019 International Speech competition. I won my Area and Division contests and had the opportunity to compete in the much larger District contest. I did not win there, but the experience was amazing and taught me so much about stepping out of my comfort zone and learning to find the humor in every situation. It has given me an even greater desire to do more public speaking, so I am excited about looking for more opportunities in this area.

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About today’s guest:

Nikki Brown, the Authors ally, is a life coach with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a passion for good stories.

Over the years, Nikki has progressed from reading the encyclopedia for fun to helping clients write website copy and even doing a little ghostwriting. Many years ago, she joined her local writers guild to support her teenage daughter’s love of creative writing and found kindred spirits with others who enjoyed discussing things like sentence structure and  correct comma usage.

For many years, Nikki has helped writers learn how to connect with readers online, but her real calling is coaching writers to help them learn how to find their voice and fuel their creativity. She loves to see her clients break through the roadblocks standing in the way of reaching their goals.

Connect with Nikki:

Want to meet a bunch of writers? Join us at our weekly hangout!

Meet Nikki online weekly at Wednesday Writer’s Whatchamacallit

Wednesday Writers’ Whatchamacallit is a weekly virtual meeting for writers of all genres and all ability levels who like having fun and are looking for an easy way to connect with kindred spirits. Hosted each Wednesday by Professional Coach Nikki Brown and Professional Editor Annie Oortman, meetings are open to writers of all types: fiction and non-fiction, pros and novices alike.

We meet in our online video conferencing room for a mid-week pick-me-up, a dose of encouragement and inspiration, a chance to flex our writing muscles, and an always great discussion mixed with a lot of laughter.

To find the next scheduled meeting, head over to the WWW webpage.

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Friday Fiction: Transdimentional Zombies

The idea for this short story started out as a random thread on Facebook where I was challenged to write a story about none other than Zombies.  Readers be warned.  A shout out to Lauri and Neils who are egging me on.

fiction friday banner

The smell had become unbearable, sickly sweet with a hint of barbeque and just a touch of rot.  Oh, who are we kidding, mostly rot.  I tapped the side of the Anomalous Field Detector, or AFD, hoping to get a reading so I could collect some samples and get out of this place.  It’s not that I dislike graveyards, but considering the circumstances, I’d rather be anywhere else.  A locked down bomb shelter with food and a computer sounds better by the minute.

The zombie invasion came as a big surprise to our whole town.  Most thought it was a joke by the local high school, at first. That soon changed after people started turning up mutilated and dismembered.  Then, there were the ones who were changed, who somehow got the venom in their system.  These were the ones I felt the worst for,  I mean it’s one thing to die a hideous death.  It’s completely another to not quite die and be forced to live an eternity walking the earth, waiting for your next bite.

The air hung hangs heavy and dank in the night, the smell makes bile rise in my throat.  Twigs snap under my feet and I can’t help but imagine dried out fingers and toes.  The thought puts my hair on end.  Times like these make me think my mother was right about a mainstream career, anything but a viral toxicologist.

The AFD pings, sounding too loud in the dark.  It points ahead and left 50 meters.  I switch it off, can’t risk letting them know there’s a snack nearby. Without the light of the detector’s display my eyes adjust to the dim light.  The moon, hidden behind a thin veil of clouds, turns the landscape into a dull palette of grays and shadow.  Off in the distance where the detector has directed, I see a figure shamble along.  He’s missing an arm and is dressed in a dark tattered uniform that reminds me of old civil war pictures.

zombieI ready the catch pole, loosening the noose and twisting the pole to extend it, then checking each joint making sure it’s tight.  Test tubes and syringes are lined up in a special pocket in the lining of my jacket. Although I know it doesn’t make a difference, I don latex gloves and lower my face shield.  Protocol has to be followed.

He shambles across my line of vision, step, drag, step, drag. I wait until he has passed further, so I can approach him from behind.  In a low run I follow, pole held in front and zeroed in on his head, aimed for a quick take down.  I’m about twenty feet away when he drops and disappears from view with a burst of blue light.

 

I curse and stumble back in surprise. Where did the devil go?  He has to be somewhere.  I switch on the AFD once again and sweep the area, the last thing I need is a surprise.  The fellow I just saw should show up, no one disappears like that.  There is always a reason.

Nothing shows up on the AFD. I smack the side of it, stupid university tools were always on the fritz.  He has to be somewhere close.  I keep walking toward where he disappeared, studying the ground.  His trail in the damp grass is clear, I can see where he’s dragged his left leg. Ahead, lies an open grave.  Knowing that he didn’t simply disappear is a relief.  The thought of him falling into a grave is oddly ironic and I find myself giggling.

I look over the side of the hole expecting to find a frustrated tangled mess of zombie. There is nothing there. I mean that quite literally, where there should have been dirt and rocks there is only a dark unfathomable expanse.  I drop a small rock over the side and watch it vanish with a flash of blue light.

I had only read of such phenomenon in the texts of conspiracy books.  Portals aren’t supposed to exist, not in the real world.  The AFD bleeped to life showing dozens of readings around the periphery of the clearing.  Deep in my gut I knew. They weren’t coming for me, they were going home.