Long and Short Reviews welcomes N.J. Walters. Her newest book, Mark of the Bear, the second book in her Hades’ Carnival series, was released yesterday.
N.J. uses a pen name and I asked her why and where it came from.

“My first book was out almost two months before I told anyone in my family about it, other than my husband. You have to remember that erotic romance wasn’t accepted as much then as it is now that all the big publishers are doing it,” she told me. “Plus, I’m basically a self-contained person and this is a relatively small community. I like my privacy.

“How did I come up with my pen name? Well, the initials are those from my first and middle name. And the last name is my maiden name.”

“What inspired you to start writing?” I wondered.

“It was back in the mid nineties and my husband and I had moved to a small university town where he was working on his Masters Degree. So here I was in a small university town, unable to get work and my husband was working all the time. No surprise, I did a lot of reading. My husband had been encouraging me for years to try my hand at writing so I finally did. I wrote two books. I sent them out a few times and they were rejected. But one kind editor gave me suggestions on how to improve one of the books. I rewrote them both but tucked them away.

“I stopped writing until December 2003 when I started writing a piece for a contest. I didn’t place in the contest, but I kept writing and finished the book, which was published by Ellora’s Cave in October 2004. And what happened to those two books I originally wrote? Well, I rewrote them yet again and they found a home with Samhain Publishing as the first two books in my Jamesville series—Discovering Dani and The Way Home.

People often ask N.J. where her ideas come from, and she usually responds that they come from everywhere—magazines, television, overheard snippets of conversation, etc. The Hades’ Carnival series actually developed from a blog quiz she did. The quiz asked, “What kind of carnival ride are you?”

“Not surprising, it said I was a carousel. But that got me thinking about carousels. I thought how cool it would be if a carousel had more ferocious animals instead of just horses,” she said. “From there my imagination took off. What if the animals were really immortal warriors trapped? How had this happened? How could they escape? Before I knew it, I had the outline for the series.”

N.J. has dreamed of one day having an office with one long wall of bookshelves, a cozy reading area, and a door that closes. She would love her desk to be by a window so she could look out over the ocean, or maybe the woods, while she writes.

“In reality, my ‘office’ is a corner of the living room in my apartment. It consists of a small metal computer desk, a chair and a bookcase behind the chair. A folding screen blocks off the front of the desk, giving me a “wall” and blocking my view of the front door. The side of the space is open to the living room. I’ve draped a couple of scarves over the screen to give the space some color. I’ve written more than sixty books there over the past eight years.”

When she was growing up, though, N.J. thought she would be a teacher.

“I was the kid who spent her allowance on things like chalk and an eraser. This was back in the days when it wasn’t easy to buy those things. There was no Wal-Mart or Dollar Store where things like that are so readily available now. I didn’t own a chalk board, so I would tape pieces of dark construction paper to my closet door and teach class to my imaginary pupils. But I was also painfully shy and hated speaking in public. I started university but only completed about a year even thought I had about an 80% average before dropping out,” she said. “I did complete a clerk typing course (back in the day when they still used electric typewriters and carbon paper). I did some office work, but ended up working in retail and eventually landed in a job as assistant manager at a bookstore. My love of reading led me to try my hand at writing a book of my own.”

N.J. told me that she falls somewhere in between a pantser and a plotter, but closer to the pantser side. She has to know the hero and heroine before she starts a book. She will fill out file cards with information on their physical traits, family, jobs, and any other information she thinks will be pertinent.

Once she has their bios done, she starts thinking about the book itself.

“I don’t plan it chapter by chapter, but I have a general idea of where I want the story to go and I may even know a couple of scenes I want to put in the book,” she said. “Once I have the opening chapter in my head I start writing and the rest of the book flows from there. I love that there are always surprises as I write.”

She writes romance, but loves the fact that within that genre there is so much freedom.

“I’ve written contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, vampire, werewolf, erotic, ménage a trois and even a historical romance,” she told me. “Romance readers are incredible and are willing to follow authors they love if they want to try something different. It’s one of the reasons I love writing romance. There truly are few, if any, boundaries.”

“How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?” I asked.

“Honestly, it’s not something I think about. All authors have a distinct voice. After all, romance books basically have one single plot—boy meets girl, problems ensue and then they live happily ever after.

“The difference comes from how each author tells the story—individual heroes and heroines with their unique problems, personalities and backgrounds, the genre of the book (paranormal, contemporary, historical, mystery, romantic suspense, etc…), the types of problems the main characters are faced with, the setting of the book, and how they resolve those problems to get to their happily ever after.

“I write what I feel I have to write and trust in my own unique way of seeing the world to make it different.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out? ”

“My advice would be to write what you love. Trends come and go. Write for your strengths but don’t be afraid to push yourself if you want to try something different. Read. Read. Read. It helps you become a better writer. Don’t be afraid of the edit process. The goal is to make your book the best it can be. If that means chopping a chunk of the book and rewriting, then do it.

“Most of all you just need to write. It’s as simple as that.”

About the Author: Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years.
One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first erotic romance novel, Annabelle Lee, and life would never be the same.
Find her online at
Website         Blog          Newsletter Group               Facebook Author Page                 Twitter                    Amazon

4_17 markofthebear_msr At twenty-nine, Hollywood scream queen Kellsie Morris is acutely aware the clock is ticking on her career. Luckily, the one big role she needs to pad her retirement fund has just come through—the story of an immortal, shape-shifting warrior trapped in a carnival run by the Devil’s minions.

When Kellsie arrives on set, she can’t resist climbing aboard an amazingly realistic carousel bear—and finds herself flung into a world where the horror is real. As real as the heat radiating off the half-naked hunk in her arms.

Marko has waited an eternity for the chance to free his goddess, the Lady of the Beasts, and his fellow warriors from an ancient curse. But once he lays eyes on Kellsie, he knows to the bottom of his soul that his purpose is to protect her life.

But in this hellish game, it’s the Devil’s move. And there’s no predicting when and where the final, brutal stroke will fall—and which lover will pay the ultimate price.


  1. Great interview I enjoyed getting to know a little more about N.j. I am a huge fan, love all her books. I hope you get your dream office one day N.j you deserve it. I can’t wait to start reading Mark of the Bear.

  2. Hi, Donna. Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your kindness and support. I try appreciate it. Hope you enjoy Mark of the Bear!

    And I hope I get my dream office someday too. 🙂

  3. A smashing interview there, NJ.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Stevie. 🙂

  5. donna harris says:

    Excellent review! At one time, I was in 6th grade I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a nun too. I would play putting a scarf over my head and make believe. I didn’t have any Walmart, dollar tree etc. so if I was lucky to chalk I would write on the little slate board. Yes I’m old I had a slate board. The being a nun only lasted till I got in 7th grade, that nun was mean as hell. We all called her elephant face, I know it wasn’t nice but we were young kids. I’m glad you’re a writer because what I read so far about “Mark of the Bear” I like it. I hope you get your big office too! If you’re giving away a copy of your book, I would like the printed paperback because I don’t have any electronic devices. Keep up the good writing. Thanks!
    Donna Harris

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