Interview with Indie Author: Nikki Anne Schmutz

Say hello to Nikki Anne Schmutz, author of Found, which is Christian Inspirational Fiction and author of a poetry collection called In Speaking Of…

Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.

I am a novelist, screenwriter, songwriter, blogger, & poet who is also a full time wife and mother of four kids.

Do you have a day job?
I have 15 day jobs… oh wait! That’s also known as motherhood.

Cat person, dog person, or I forgot to feed my fish, and it died?
I am an all-around animal lover, if I had the space in my house I’d adopt way too many pets….

Light side, dark side, or tragically caught on the edge of both worlds?
I am tragically caught on the edge of both worlds in my writing, as well as in my real life. My poetry collection is evidence of this!

Share a favorite quote or small excerpt from your latest work.


I just might have an overuse word problem. I just can’t help myself. There are just times when I just need to just express myself. What’s your biggest writing hang-up?

I use way too many commas! For some reason I think they are needed as I am typing along. Then as I’m editing most of them are deleted as I reorganize all my run on sentences.


Share the love with a creative shoutout to your favorite Indie book or author:
Two of my favorites lately? Effrosyni Moschoudi, author of ‘The Necklace of Goddess Athena’ and Jack Lacey, author of ‘American Crow’ Completely different genres but both amazing reads!

Pantsed or outlined? How do you tackle a new story?
I try to outline everything before I really start writing the meat of the story. Otherwise I get frustrated and sit staring at the screen wondering what in the world to write next. But…. after an outline is done I don’t write the story from beginning to end. I usually write the main turning points to get a feel of how my story is going to flow.

Life is full of hard choices. Would you rather be a hobbit or an elf?
An elf for sure! I’m short & wouldn’t want to go through life any shorter than I already am!

Tell us about your latest or upcoming novel:
My book ‘Found’ came out just before this past Christmas season. It’s a story of a runaway teen who finds herself in a precarious situation around Christmas time. It’s a Christian book dealing with mistakes, faith, and love. I’ve gotten quite a few favorable reviews on amazon.com.

Last week I released my first poetry collection. I’ve been writing poetry as a form of therapy for most of my life. It’s a bit on the dark side as it deals with the hard things so many of us face in life, but is a journey to the light and bright things that can be found in every hard thing we deal with.

E-reader, print book, audiobook, or a combination?
I prefer to hold a book in my hands, feel the pages against my fingers…. But I can’t deny the convenience of having an entire library at my fingertips! I love having audio books for long trips!

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I really enjoy reading (many different genres but have a love for YA). I love to cook, garden, sew, watch great movies, and sing at the top of my lungs when I think no one is listening!

Do you stick to one genre or switch it up?
 In screenwriting I switch it up! I have written almost every genre out there! I find I have a voice that differs depending on the story and genre. It’s very fulfilling to give different voices to the many sides of me. When I’m writing my novels I tend to stick to a classic literary style with an inspirational undertone. The next book I’m writing fits in that category but revolves around a mystery.

Tell us about your cover art: Who designed it? How did you choose a direction for it? The cover for my novel ‘Found’ is patterned after a red journal that is part of the story itself.

Predict the future: Yours or mine, I’m flexible.
The thing about the future is that it’s always changing. I could tell you that tomorrow you’re going to meet someone who will change your future forever…. But HOW that person changes your future is ever changing.

What’s the most unexpectedly strange piece of advice that you could share with aspiring Indie authors?
It might sound cliché, but believe in the story you are telling. Not just in the twists and turns, but in the journey between the lines that you feel you need to share. Don’t let anyone tell you to change what you feel your story is meant to be.

Why do you write?
I write because something deep in my soul would explode if I don’t. It’s a necessity for my own survival. Sometimes living in an imaginary world of my own making is better than real life. I feel purpose in my life when I share my stories and poetry.


Where do you write?
I usually write in the middle of the chaos known at home where my 4 children are being noisy and rambunctious. I’ve learned incredible focus as a form of creative survival. I like to stay up late after everyone has gone to bed so I can actually find moments of quiet when I really need them.

Check out Found and In Speaking Of…A Poetic Journey From Dark To Light on Amazon. You can also follow Nikki’s Blog, Facebook, or connect up via Twitter: @NikkiAnne510

In honor of her appearance on my blog, Nikki has made her poetry collection FREE for today and tomorrow (February 22-23, 2014) only! Click the title to order it free through Amazon: In Speaking Of…
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Interview with Indie Author: Rektok Ross

Today’s interview is with Indie author Rektok Ross, who wrote Prodigal, a YA inspirational romance.
Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.
I write books about people who discover their own unique paths through love, trials, and life changing moments.    
Share a favorite quote or small excerpt from your latest work.
“It’s just not that easy answer you want wrapped up in a pretty, little bow. Nothing real ever is, but that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless.”
Share the love with a creative shoutout to your favorite Indie book or author:
I actually just stumbled upon the The Keatyn Chronicles series by Jillian Dodd and love the books. They’re a little like “Gossip Girl” meets Hollywoodand are written almost like a television show. Very quick pace, tons of romance, and lots of talk about amazing clothes. I will warn though that I do think they are for a more mature audience–there might be just a little glorification of sex and drugs.
Cat person, dog person, or I forgot to feed my fish, and it died?
I am a huge animal lover (it’s even part of my official bio). I would pick both the dog and the cat, and a horse, and a pig, and a . . . well, you get the point. 

Do you have a day job?
I do. I actually graduated with a journalism degree and law degree. I currently practice entertainment law at a top-ten international law firm. I’m also the official Young Adult Examiner for Examiner.com where I cover all things YA. You can find me here if that’s your bag: http://www.examiner.com/young-adult-fiction-in-los-angeles/rektok-ross
Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, or I’m so undercaffeinated it’s frightening!
Green tea all the way! I’m kind of on a health kick. I’m also holding out for someone to buy me a Vitamix, too.
Tell us about your latest or upcoming novel:
“Prodigal” follows the story of Lexy Quinn, the hard-working wallflower who finally lands the coveted spot as Editor of her school’s newspaper. But the rug is ripped out from under her when she finds out her mom is sick, and the family is moving half-way across the country to Preston Hills, Texas. Lexy can’t think of a worse place to be than at a school full of snobby rich kids where she’ll have to start all over to get people to notice her writing, or—who is she kidding?—notice her at all.
When the most swoon-worthy boy in town, who also happens to be the jock celebrity quarterback, gives her an exclusive interview, Lexy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Ash Prestonis the perfect guy and, even better, he sees Lexy as she wants to be seen. But can she trust him?
Do you stick to one genre or switch it up?
I definitely like to switch it up and keep my readers guessing. My debut novel, “Prodigal,” was an inspirational romance but my current project is an action/adventure. Next up is a thriller that I’ve been mulling over. The one thing I try to stay consistent on are the hallmarks of my books: a kick-ass heroine/hero, a healthy dose of romance, and some spirituality.
Tell us about your cover art: Who designed it? How did you choose a direction for it?
I had a wonderful designer, Brecca Theele, and we worked a lot on the feel of the cover for “Prodigal.” I get a lot of questions about the cover (a sheep, why a sheep?) but for me it was really important to break genre rules and not have a traditional romance cover with a girl and a boy gazing into each other’s eyes or something else similar. Not that there is anything wrong with that but “Prodigal” is not a typical love story. Spirituality plays a very big part in it as well, ergo, the sheep, which is a throw-back to a parable in the Bible. I wanted my readers to know right off the bat that there is something different about “Prodigal.”
I can tell you’re hiding something interesting from me. Fess up now, and I’ll go easy on you:
Well, this is embarrassing because I’m over thirty but I’m addicted to the Disney Channel. It started when I first discovered Hannah Montana when the show first aired and I just thought Miley Cyrus was such an incredibly cute and talented little kid. The show came on Friday or Saturday night and I’d have to make up some excuse why I had to meet my friends out later at night so I could see the show first. And then it just got worse now that Disney has so many more adorable tween shows – Austin and Ally, Shake it Up, My Babysitter’s a Vampire, A.N.T. Farm, Jessie, okay I’ll shut up now . . .
Why do you write?
I wrote “Prodigal” because I wanted a fun page-turner for my readers but I also wanted to create a different kind of love story—one where faith, romance, and God converge.  I wanted to write an accessible story that had a romance you could get lost in but that also had a deeper message that might change the way people looked at their lives.
Where do you write?
Anywhere I am when I get inspired. I don’t really have a special place. Give me some headphones and my playlist and I can write just about anywhere. For example, about two years ago I was on a trip with one of my best girlfriends. We were in Egypt and I just couldn’t get this idea out of my head so I would lock myself up in our hotel bathroom when she was sleeping at night and write on the floor next to the toilet. I didn’t want to ruin the trip for her during the day but I just had to write it all down as it was coming to me. I know she probably thinks I was pretty nuts that week but I’m hoping she’ll forgive me when I put her in the dedication page when that book comes out.
Thanks for stopping by for a fun interview! Check out “Prodigal” by Rektok Ross on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Connect with Rektok Ross by Blog, Examiner Page, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram: rektokross, and Twitter: @rektokross
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Interview with Indie Author Lucas Bale

Today’s interview is with Indie author Lucas Bale, who is currently working on the Beyond the Wall series books, which are Hard Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia novels. Mark your calendar now, as the opener to The Beyond the Wall series, The Heretic, is coming July 2014.

Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.
I am currently a criminal lawyer looking to change direction and realise a long-held dream of writing inspiring and thought-provoking fiction.

Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, or I’m so undercaffeinated it’s frightening!

I start at 8am on my days off and drink tea at my desk. By 3pm, I’ve had anywhere between seven and nine mugs of tea. Sometimes, I don’t even eat…


I just might have an overuse word problem. Ijust can’t help myself. There are justtimes when I just need to just express myself. What’s your biggest writing hangup?
Curiously enough, ‘just’ is one of those words I have to be careful of too. But I would say that my descriptions are the first thing I pare down in the first pass over my work after that lightning first draft madness.

I’ve been described as a bit Dashiell Hammett in my first drafts, but I don’t mind that—I tend to let myself go nuts when I am furiously scribbling those first thoughts and then I’ll pick one or two key features of a description and focus on those, deleting anything else. Then I let the reader imagine the rest. I think that’s one of the joys of reading fiction—imaging a scene or character for yourself rather than being told everything by the author. Robert Crais is great at that, as is Hugh Howey. Also, shorter, punchier descriptions mean no loss of pace and, as I write thrillers under the pseudonym Marcus Cameron, my sci-fi has elements of the thriller genre and style too.


Share the love with a creative shoutout to your favorite Indie book or author:
For me it’s Jason Gurley. His writing style is smooth and almost poetic. It’s emotional and heartfelt and he brings to sci-fi a genuinely thought-provoking instinct. His stories come from a very personal, character driven point of view. And his covers are breathtaking (he’ll be designing all of mine). The Last Rail-Rider was a great short which I read on a train!

Share a metaphor or simile that explains your writing process:
I don’t really have a process yet. I am new to the craft, learning all the time and flexing my newly discovered muscles. I tend to plan for a while—perhaps a month or so—interspersing writing odd scenes as inspiration strikes me whilst I am undertaking that process. When I’m ready, and the plot is outlined to my satisfaction, I’ll get on with writing scene after scene, usually in order. Also, I tend to edit sequences after they’ve been written rather than waiting for the end of the first draft. I find this easier as I am still finding my own voice. So a metaphor (or more like an image) for my writing process, mimicking my own mountain-writing background, is meandering along a misty mountain trail with the flank of the rock-face falling away into fog with a compass which only works half the time but having half-memorised the map beforehand.

Pantsed or outlined? How do you tackle a new story?
As I’ve said, I plan pretty assiduously. I am currently working on the outline for the second book in the Beyond the Wall series. However, because the themes are central to the whole series, as well as individual books, and there is quite a bit of world-building going on, I find it easier to have a solid outline which I can depart from if I like or change when I want. I work out where the inciting incident is located; where the hook is (and whether it works); where the key event is; which scenes make up sequences and that there are escalations within those scenes and sequences which get progressively stronger; where each Act ends and so on. I am not slavishly tied to it but it helps my writing move along at a clip if I have a map of roughly where I am going. However, I do tend to change things. In one novel I wrote recently, an important character who I envisaged being around at the end of the novel, died at the end of Act One. I didn’t see it coming until I wrote the scene.

Tell us about your latest or upcoming novel:
The Beyond the Wall series is a five-part story set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. Two centuries after Earth has capitulated and descended into a new ice-age, humanitys few remaining survivors have achieved faster-than-light travel and fled. They slowly colonise a handful of terraformed systems but war strikes at the fabric of humanity’s survival. Now governed by an authoritarian power, headed by the Consulate Magistratus, religion is forbidden. Earth’s history is buried in Archives only the Magistratus may read. The war is said to have been caused by men driven insane by the vast empty reaches of space so travel beyond the boundaries of the New Republics territory – known as the Wall – is forbidden and FTL travel through tunnels in the fabric of space is tightly controlled. The Magistratus protects those who submit to its authority within the pampered confines of The Core but casts out all others to the poverty and disease-stricken border systems each under the control of a Praetor and his Peacekeepers. Stimulants are outlawed and crime is punished by banishment beyond the Wall or to the brutal mining colony of Kolyma. Every citizen must be implanted at birth with devices to monitor every nuance of human existence – failure results in termination of the child. Yet some of humanity strives to be free and there are those who defy the Magistratus and preach a new religion, a new way of life. Revolution is coming…
 Do you stick to one genre or switch it up?
I write crime and spy thrillers under the pseudonym Marcus Cameron. The first of those, and in fact my first novel ever, is called Thread of Fate and is part of a series. I hope to release that around the same time as the Beyond the Wall series opener. I didn’t want fans of my stuff to see something I’d written and expect one genre and find another so I kept them separate. That may be old-fashioned, but it seemed sensible.

Where do you write?
For years I have always wanted a study and now I have one. A quiet place I can concentrate and where everything is laid out so I can work without distractions and interruptions. Easy access to my reference material, all my books lined up to give me inspiration and my desk on which is perched an iMac with Scrivener (and Lightroom for my photography). Perfect!

E-reader, print book, audiobook, or a combination?
E-reader for the train and carrying around with me and print book for the feel of pages on my fingers and for something to treasure. I have not yet experimented with audiobooks.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I am currently a criminal lawyer so that takes up a great deal of my time. I intend to become full-time writer shortly, however. Additionally, I write adventure travel features and edit a major online adventure travel and expedition magazine called Sidetracked. I am also an adventure travel photographer. Did I also mention I have a family? Not sure when I sleep…

Aliens have conquered Earth and are forcing you to give up either reading or writing. What’s it going to be?
Escape or revolt! I can’t be without either. But I guess if I must chose one, I’d stay a reader. I’ve been one for as long as I’m able to remember. There’s too much talent out there to give up immersing myself in wonderful stories.

Be sure to check out Lucas Bale’s Website and follow him on Twitter: @balespen

Thanks for participating in Indie Author February! The next time my characters get themselves in a legal bind, I know who I’ll email. 

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Interview with Indie Author: Chris Mentzer

Meet Chris Mentzer, author of The Askinar Towers: Nexus of the Worlds, a YA Portal Fantasy available on Amazon and Kobo.


Tell me as much as you can about yourself in only one sentence.
Married with children serving a Life sentence in Retail.

Cat person, dog person, or I forgot to feed my fish, and it died?
We have all three in the house including others. There are days when I feel like I live in a zoo. Overall, I’d say I was a dog person. Just don’t tell the cats…shh!!

Do you have a day job?
Since 1996 I’ve worked in the retail industry. Every few years, I change departments to keep the job fresh and interesting. It pays the bills and sometimes fuels inspiration for stories.

Coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, or I’m so undercaffeinated it’s frightening!
I’m predominately a coffee drinker, even in the Summer time at temperatures of 120 degrees outside. I’ve all but given up soda except the occasional one when getting takeout. Coffee has kept me writing for a number of years, but I haven’t lost sleep due to caffeine.

Pantsed or outlined? How do you tackle a new story?
I do a little of both leaning more towards outline, if you want to call it that. I’ll have an overall view of the story, and some general plot points, but then I let the characters take me where they will. It’s developed some interesting ideas.

What’s the toughest criticism you ever got?
Back in 2005, I entered my first NaNoWriMo challenge (50K words in 30 days). I told a good friend of mine at work about it and he tried to talk me out of it. Basically, he said, I’d crash and burn and that there would be no way I could do it. It hurt a little to think that a friend would tell me this, but I used it as determination to do the challenge anyway.

Although I didn’t reach the 50K, I reached my personal goal of 25K and was very glad I attempted it. Had I listened to him, I would have spent the next 11 months wondering “What if?” Plus, I wouldn’t have written book 1 of my trilogy.

Life is full of hard choices. Would you rather be a hobbit or an elf?
Definitely a hobbit! I consider them the underdog in stories and my current WIP has a collection of them (halflings, that is). I can see myself living in a small tight-knit community, in a Hobbit hole, but also having the desire to see the world!

Tell us about your latest or upcoming novel:
Nexus of the Worlds is the first book of my trilogy being released on Jan. 31, 2014. The series is called The Askinar Towers and is written in the tradition of The Wizard of Oz.

What does your favorite protagonist think about you?
My favorite protagonist is Jarryd McCallen from my current WIP. He’s a former thief serving a thirty-day sentence in a tavern. What he thinks of me is that I’m a lazy good-for-nothing loser who won’t finish his book!

Light side, dark side, or tragically caught on the edge of both worlds?
I truly believe there is both in all of us. I mean, even the most positive, outgoing individual has had dark thoughts at one time or another. The same can be said about the other side. What? Yes, I know it doesn’t fully answer the question about me. Let’s discuss this over some coffee. Wait here while I fire up the chainsaw.

E-reader, print book, audiobook, or a combination?
I began reading print books back in the day when e-anything wasn’t in exisitence. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of e-books and mostly from indie authors. It’s my main resolution for 2014, read more books by indie authors.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?
If I’m not reading, I’m referring my children. Every once in a while I’ll go hiking out at Superstition mountains or around Saguaro Lake. It’s quiet, peaceful and a great scenery for inspiring the writer’s mind

Tell us about your cover art: Who designed it? How did you choose a direction for it?
Hanna-Riikka Kontinaho designed the cover for book 1. Since I first began this writer’s journey back in 2005, I’ve always wanted a custom-made cover that featured the towers, which are the overall setting of the trilogy. When I first published with a P.O.D. (Print on Demand), I didn’t have money for a slick cover, so I took pictures of my daughters (the main characters are based on them) and used them for the covers. But none of them said, “Fantasy” or “set in a tower”.
When I decided to self-publish in December, 2013 I remembered Hanna, as she had done work for another indie author. I contacted her, gave her my ideas, and she really took off with it. She exceeded my expectations for book 1 and we’re currently finishing the cover for book 2. She will also be doing the cover for book 3.
 Share a favorite quote or small excerpt from your latest work.
This is from chapter 14 of book 1: Nexus of the Worlds.

“Oh, this is Miss Gatling, my personal secretary.  She goes everywhere with me.” 

Mercedes held out her hand.  “Charmed, I’m sure.”  She smiled sweetly. 

Seavers studied her for a moment and thought she looked familiar.  “Have I had the pleasure, Miss Gatling?”

“I don’t believe so,” she replied. “I have one of those common faces that everyone is familiar with.”  Johnny thought it strange that she lapsed into a southern accent.  The last time he’d heard such an accent was from comedian Charlie Newell, a regular of the vaudeville stage.

As if satisfied with that response, Seavers invited them in and proceeded to the parlor.  Johnny gave Mercedes a look as that seem to ask “what are you doing,” and she shrugged her shoulders as if she wasn’t sure herself.

“Please wait here,” said Seavers.  “I will inform Lord Raleigh of your presence.”  Seavers bowed again and as he departed the room, he turned and backed out while closing the double doors.

“Where did that accent come from and why did the butler seem to recognize you?” Johnny demanded.

“The accent was a fluke,” she replied in her normal tone.  “As for his recognition?  I don’t know.  Maybe I reminded him of an old girlfriend or something.”

Butlers don’t have girlfriends,” Johnny announced, as if he were an authority on the subject.

Mercedes feigned surprise.  “Really, Mr. Leoné?  Do tell.  Are you saying he’s not the marrying kind, or that all servants should be single?”

“No, its not—I mean he should—I—we.” Johnny stumbled for an explanation but couldn’t produce one.

“Ah! The great detective defeated by a mere woman!” she mused.  “Let’s just say that my venture here this morning paid off.”

My favorite line in this scene is, “Butlersdon’t have girlfriends.” It always struck me funny, as we never know what the staff does on their own personal time.

I can tell you’re hiding something interesting from me. Fess up now, and I’ll go easy on you:
Okay, you dragged it out of me. I love Twitter! A few years ago I used to despise it because I couldn’t understand the layout. I’d been on Facebook since ’09 and got into that. But Twitter was a whole different planet. Last May when I began to develop my Writer’s Platform, I took a new interest in Twitter and now I’m a big fan!

I look at the 140 character limitation as a writer’s challenge; even wrote a story on Twitter, one tweet at a time. And I’ve met a lot of great people, fellow writers, on Twitter whom I probably wouldn’t have met if I chose to ignore it.           

Thanks for dropping by my blog! Find out more about Chris Mentzer via author blog, story blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ account, or check out The Askinar Towers: Nexus of the Worlds on Amazon or Kobo!
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