Hello! I was in the same boat about a year ago. I am a technology writer and was a total newbie to the photography world and really wanted to get my hands on a SLR and get to know the SLR-World.
Both Nikon and Canon make awesome cameras and both have their groups that will swear by them. But at the end of the day they are both awesome, solid and reliable brands. I decided to go with Canon simply because there was a sale on them at BestBuy at the time and a YouTube producer that I follow and befriended swears by the brand so I figured if I need any help I can always hit them up.
I ended up getting the Canon EOS Rebel t3 and no regrets. Great starter SLR and I would recommend looking into it. If you want something a little more advanced take a look at the Canon t3i or t4i.
I am not to familiar with the Nikon lines but I am sure you would be happy with the entry-level cameras from Nikon as well. Go to a site like BestBuy and look at the entry level SLR's and find the model names, search them on YouTube for reviews, and how-to's. I am sure you will find a camera that catches your eye!
Good luck and welcome to the SLR world, you will not regret it!