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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Welcome Author NJ Walters

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your career?

It’s funny, but I always thought I’d be a teacher. As a child, I’d spend hours playing “classroom” and “library.” The backs of all the books in my shelf had slips of paper taped to them and I had a date stamp and ink pad so I could sign books out for my imaginary students. Even then I had quite an imagination.

I was a good student and went to university after high school, but I never finished my degree. Instead, I went into retail and eventually spent more than a decade working at bookstore. It’s easy to see that I loved books and learning so it wasn’t a huge stretch for me to eventually start writing. I’ve finally found the perfect career for myself. J

Tell us about your latest book.  Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I’ve had three books released in the past month or so: Lady’s Minstrel, a historical Quickie from Ellora’s Cave; The Gift of Shayla, a contemporary/ménage a trois from Carina Press; and Dreams of Seduction, a contemporary/paranormal from Samhain Publishing. All these books are very different, yet at their core they’re all love stories because that’s what I write.

Since it’s getting close to Halloween, I’ll tell you about my paranormal book—Dreams of Seduction.

She doesn’t believe in magic—or love. Until a spirit goes walking on the wild side…

Spells, Secrets and Seductions, Book 2

Maggie O’Neill goes along with her two best friends’ candle-magick spell to summon a lover only because, well, they are her BFFs. She doesn’t really believe in this stuff. Yet the aftermath of the spell leaves her strangely hot and bothered, and then the dreams of a man start—and not just any man. Jed Bearson. Pity, since she’s sworn off men for the foreseeable future.

Jed, part-time deputy and painter, doesn’t tell many people that he has the ability to let his spirit travel outside his body. One night, despite his self-imposed rule to never invade anyone’s privacy, he follows an irresistible pull to Maggie’s bedside. He’s astounded to find her crying out his name in private pleasure. After months of giving her space, maybe it’s time to approach her.

Maggie and Jed’s first touch is lightning hot—and their passion is a thunderclap of erotic pleasure. But when Jed reveals he’s a spiritwalker, Maggie’s reaction is like a curtain of cold rain descending between them. Leaving him wondering what she’s afraid of. Magic? Him? Or of following her heart? 

As for what’s coming up…the final book in the Spells, Secrets and Seductions trilogy, Love in Flames, is due out on October 25th from Samhain Publishing. And you can look for the next two books in my Legacy werewolf series in 2012.

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?

Yes and no. I don’t think I’ve ever used anything taken directly from the headlines, but any author gets ideas from what’s going on in the world around them. I read the headlines on magazines when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store and, a few years ago, I noticed that several of them had stories of the same theme—how to drive your man crazy in bed. So, I took that concept and used it as the basis of Erin’s Fancy, where the heroine decides to use her childhood crush, who has just returned home after years away, to try out all the ideas in the fictional article I created—“Seven Sex Positions That Will Drive You Both Wild! It was a fun story to write.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

The actual writing of the book is fun for me. I especially love starting a new book. There is nothing but potential when you see that blank page. I also love finishing the rough draft of a book. It give me something to work with when I start editing it to make it the best it can be. I get bogged down in the middle of my books and there are days if I wonder if I’ll ever finish. But I trust the process now and know I’ll get there. I just have to take it one day at a time.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write what you love. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t love what you’re writing, no one else will. Only follow the trends if they’re something you would enjoy. I know there are genres I couldn’t write because I don’t particularly care for them. And that’s okay.
Also, the goal is to get better and keep improving. Never be so attached to your words that you won’t edit them. And expect rejection. It’s part of this business.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve ever suffered from writer’s block. Are there days I don’t want to write?  Sure, I have plenty of those days and I allow myself to not write and to do other things, maybe read or go for a walk or run errands. But whenever I do finally put my butt in the chair in front of the keyboard, I write. Doesn’t mean what I write is fabulous, but that’s what the editing and rewriting process is all about. You can’t fix a blank page.

How did you deal with rejection letters?

Rejection letters are part of the business. They’re not personal and you have to recognize that going in. If an editor is kind enough to offer suggestions, than look at your work critically and see if the criticism is valid. They can easily send form letters. If they take the time to send a more personal note then pay attention to what they have to say.

I’ve got a folder full of rejection letters. Most authors do. And I still get them, but that’s okay. I’m always trying to learn and improve my skills with each book I write. One of the best rejection letters I ever received was one I got a long time ago when I sent my first book out. I had a common problem many new authors have—POV (Point of view). I was head-hopping too much in my scenes. It really made me look critically at my work and I rewrote it and resubmitted it. It was rejected again because the publisher was no longer publishing the kind of book I’d written. But I was always grateful to that editor. Why? Because it taught me something about the writing process and about myself as a writer. Oh, and that book that was rejected, I rewrote it a few more times over the years and it was eventually published as Discovering Dani by Samhain Publishing.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Every author is different. Some need a quiet space in which to work while others can write in the middle of chaos. Some authors prefer laptops, while I write exclusively on a desktop. The only thing I think a writer must have is an open mind, a willingness to work and improve, and a drive to write the best story they can even if no one else might ever read it.

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

I’m not sure I have a line as the story and characters dictate what happens in a book. Having said that, I know there are places I probably wouldn’t be able to force myself to go. If there is violence or gory descriptions in my books it is there for a very good reason. I’m a HEA (Happily Ever After) gal all the way.

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Maria D. said...

Great post NJ! I had no idea "Discovering Dani" had ever been rejected and re-written...I love that story!

N.J.Walters said...

Thanks, Maria. Discovering Dani was rejected by several "mainstream" publishers and an early ebook publisher as well. But the advice I received from one editor enabled me to rewrite it and eventually find a home with it. It was the first book I ever wrote and will always hold a special place in my heart.

Tina Donahue said...

Great interview, NJ - love the premises of your books and the covers are awesome. :)