Now . . . on to today’s guest, author Jennifer Wilcks.
|Jennifer Wilck, Author|
Caroline: Readers love to get to know authors. Please tell us about growing up.
Jennifer: Except for college, which I attended in St. Louis, I’ve been a Jersey girl all my life, and despite my best attempts, probably have the accent to prove it. I’ve no siblings, although I’ve always wished for an older brother, and I’m fairly shy in person (snarky on paper). I’m married with two girls and a dog.
Caroline: We also have two girls and a dog--and two cats--and I love snarky on paper! Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Jennifer: My favorite author is Lynn Kurland. I love reading anything at all, but prefer women’s fiction and romance. Although I write contemporary romance, I prefer to read historical.
Caroline: As someone who frequently writes historical romance, I love to hear that! How many books do you read a month? What are you reading now?
Jennifer: My reading goes in spurts, depending on my time. Right now, I’m reading about a book a week. I just finished reading THE BEACH TREES by Karen White. It’s set in New Orleans and Biloxi, and it was fantastic! I highly recommend it.
Caroline: Sounds interesting. I loved her books set on Tradd and Legare. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?
Jennifer: I don’t have a lot of time to relax and recharge. I have two girls, aged 10 and 12 and they keep me very busy. When I’m not writing, I’m volunteering with my Temple, volunteering at their schools or trying to work on my to-do list, which is huge at the moment, due to my older daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah. My hobbies (the rare times I get to engage in them) are refinishing furniture and craft projects. I enjoy hanging out with my husband and family.
Caroline: I remember when our girls were that age. I loved it, but they did keep me busy. Describe yourself in three or four words.
Jennifer: Wife, friend, mom, snarky
Caroline: Love the snarky part. How long have you been writing?
Jennifer: Forever. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I started professionally in journalism, and made the switch to fiction about 5 years ago.
Caroline: I was a journalist for a while and loved it. Having deadlines is great training, as is writing whatever you’re assigned. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Jennifer: I use a laptop. I need quiet, so most of my writing is done when the kids are at school and the husband is at work.
Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Jennifer: I’m a total pantser. I tried to be a plotter for my current WIP and I’m paying for it now with a ton of editing.
Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Caroline: When my youngest was 3 or 4, I used to have her walk barefoot on my back. Really helped. Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?
Jennifer: I try to have a writing schedule, although it often gets disrupted. In general, Mondays are when I write my blog posts and edit my critique partner’s work. I try to write a few hours each of the other weekdays. I have goals in my head—a chapter, a scene, etc.—but I’m more flexible with those.
Caroline: How clever to do blog posts all in one day. I believe I’ll try that. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?.
Jennifer: I hope it brings rich characters and stories that stay with them forever.
Caroline: Don’t we all? What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Jennifer: That’s a tough one because I never really thought I’d be here. I’ve always written stories, but they were for my own pleasure. I was fortunate to have two of them published, but it wasn’t necessarily something I planned on happening. I guess long term, I’d like to continue with the way things are now and have more of my stories published and possibly expand into women’s fiction.
Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Jennifer: Love to! I’m working on another contemporary romance, but this one has a Jewish theme. The story is based loosely on the holiday of Purim and involves a hero and a heroine who hide their true natures from themselves and from those around them. When they are able to trust each other enough to reveal themselves, they fall in love.
Caroline: That sounds intriguing to readers whether they’re Jewish or not. Blossoming awareness and romance are always interesting. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Jennifer: I’d advise them to write what they love and to do it for the pleasure of writing. Don’t get bogged down by the “rules” and don’t write only to be published. If you like what you write, others will too and eventually you’ll realize your dreams.
Caroline: Excellent advice! Tell us about your latest release.
|Available in November|
From Whiskey Creek Press
Here’s a blurb: The last thing Valerie needs, after escaping an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and rebuilding her life, is a broody, secretive, standoffish man. But that’s exactly what she gets when she becomes a makeup artist on the set of a hit sitcom and draws the attention of the series’ star.
John Samuels hides a terrible past—a life of abuse and neglect. A successful acting career and the affection and support of cast, crew and friends, does nothing to convince him that he is anything other than an unlovable monster.
Will he learn that the life he’s been living has been built on a lie or will he be doomed to repeat the sins of his father?
Caroline: You’ve hooked me already. Care to give us a peek?
Jennifer: Here’s the excerpt:
The square, plastic bottle crashed to the floor, the white cap skittered under a cabinet, and bisque-colored foundation splattered across the tile floor, where it made a Rorschach pattern within the large white squares. With a groan and a roll of her eyes, Valerie searched under the makeup table, found the errant cap, replaced it on the bottle, and returned the foundation to the tray. She grabbed a damp rag and wiped up the mess.
She looked at the shooting schedule and smiled as she ran her fingers down the smooth laminated page. Only three weeks into this job, she loved working as assistant make-up artist on “Oddballs,” a Top-10 weekly TV sitcom. She double-checked her kit for the supplies she’d need that day. So engrossed in her work, she didn’t notice her boss’ purple-spiked head in the door of the make-up trailer, or the ever-present smell of hair gel that hovered around her, until Michelle called her name.
“Hey, Valerie, a bunch of us are going out after work. Wanna come?”
Flashes from her past competed with images from the present at the sudden voice and Valerie stiffened. She shook her head to clear the jumble of images.
“Where are you going?” She wiped the remains of the foundation on the short cotton apron over her turquoise shirt and faded denim jeans. Eyes closed, she inhaled. The thick weave of rough fabric scraped her fingers and anchored her in the present, despite her body’s momentary lapse.
“Tico’s for some drinks. There’s about eight of us going. It’ll be fun and you can meet some of the crew.”
Valerie’s hands shook and knocked into the plastic bottles on the tray. They clinked together as the tubes slid into the scissors and destroyed their recent orderliness. She kept her face down, eyes averted, as her cheeks heated and her palms became sweaty. She had dreaded this moment. If they’d been going anywhere but a bar, she’d have joined them, but she couldn’t bring herself to go there. So, she had to perform a delicate bal-acing act. Somehow, she had to refuse this invitation, but leave open the possibility for others. Despite their different personal styles, she and Michelle had formed an instant bond. The last thing she wanted was to hurt their new friendship.
“I can’t tonight. Thanks for asking though. Maybe another time.” She took a deep breath and pasted on a smile.
“Hot date?” Michelle raised a perfectly plucked black eyebrow and grinned. Valerie grinned back. “Just with my laundry.”
“You’re turning me down for laundry? Come on, you can do that tomorrow.”
Valerie shook her head. “I really can’t tonight, Michelle. Next time.”
Michelle muttered under her breath as she left. Valerie sighed as the door banged shut and left her alone with her memories.
* * * *
That night, after all the scenes had been shot, Valerie waited for everyone to leave. She didn’t want to answer questions or receive pity.
She arranged and rearranged drawers and tools. The trailer contained three stations, each with its own make-up chair. A long table ran down one wall, with plenty of drawers for storage space. Well-lit mirrors hung above the table. Un-able to find anything else to do, and convinced by the silence that everyone had to have left, she took out her keys to lock up. She jumped as a knock sounded at the door, the trailer rattled, and a head peeked in.
“Oh, hi, John.” She expelled a deep breath and willed her heart to slow its frantic beat. “Do you need something?”
“No.” He entered and stood by the door. John Samuels played the lead. At almost six-foot three, he dwarfed the trailer and had to tip his head to fit. He folded his muscular arms across his chest and spread his feet apart. “Michelle told me you were not joining us tonight. I thought I would see if I could change your mind.”
Valerie rolled her eyes. “She is persistent.”
“You noticed.” John’s dark eyes twinkled. His mouth widened with a ghost of a smile. Valerie tried not to gasp.
He reminded her of a rugged cowboy—broad-shouldered, with a prominent brow, dark piercing eyes, high cheekbones, and a cleft chin. When he smiled, even a slight trace of one, his eyes looked like liquid velvet and his dimples twinkled like stars in the night sky. A five-o’clock shadow covered his cheeks. Her fingers itched to brush against their rough texture, to tease his mouth into a full-blown grin.
“So, what can I say to make you join us?”
As he leaned against the wall in well-fitting jeans and a T-shirt that left nothing to the imagination, Valerie’s mind said, “Sleep with me.” Heat crept up her neck, over her cheeks, and continued to the roots of her hair. A thin sheen of sweat dampened the space between her breasts. She felt the sudden urge to fan herself, like a damsel in distress in an old B-movie. Instead, she ignored her traitorous thoughts. Her balled fist pressed into her tight stomach.
“Tonight, not even chocolate will change my mind.”
She didn’t exactly lie. She had no intention of going to the bar, or of sleeping with him, no matter how her thoughts might try to sabotage her good intentions. She’d been fooled by surface finery before, and it had almost killed her. She wouldn’t let it happen again.
“I will remember that,” he promised. “But next time you will not get off so easy.” His eyes bored into hers for a moment, and then he turned on his heel and left.
* * * *
True to his word, John arrived the following day pre-pared for battle. With a cursory knock on the door, he dangled a bag of M&Ms inside the trailer, but snatched it back be-fore she could grab them. “We are going out for pizza. I will pick you up in ten minutes.” Before she could answer, he walked out.
Valerie shrugged as she finished her work. The new Val-eerie never allowed other people to make decisions for her, but she’d practically handed John a permission slip. And, he had M&M’s. How could she refuse?
Ten minutes later, he returned, ushered her out the door and down the steps. Although he didn’t touch her, she could imagine the warmth of his hand on the small of her back, and feel the gentle puff of his breath against her hair. The angle of his body steered her toward the others in the parking lot as if he had taken her by the hand and dragged her with him. An invisible electric charge pulled her. Or maybe it was his Dial-soap scent. That scent—soap and man—made her stomach flip flop. Her uncontrollable reaction to him disturbed her, especially since he appeared unaffected.
He remained silent, strode toward their meeting place, and studied his surroundings as if he expected someone to pop out of the shadows and yell, “Boo!”
Then she saw the brown bag of M&Ms sticking out of his white shirt pocket. Before he could stop her, she reached around and grabbed them, opened the bag and popped three in her mouth.
“Hey, those are mine!” He reached for the bag, but not fast enough to retrieve them.
“Not anymore.” As she danced away from him, she stuck another handful in her mouth.
He brought his hand up to his heart, as if she had wounded him deeply, but the twinkle in his eye gave him away. Valerie had all she could do not to burst out laughing.
“You did not have to take them, you know. I was plan-nine to give them to you later.” He pouted and his dark hair fell across his brow, but not before Valerie saw a flash of a smile turn the corners of his mouth up.
“Oh really? When?”
“After dinner, of course. I would not want to spoil your appetite.”
As if that were possible. Valerie laughed again and John grunted, a deep hoarse sound that climbed from the pit of his stomach and thrust its way out his mouth.
“What’s so funny?” Lara, from editing, asked as they joined the group of friends clustered outside the lot. All other conversation stopped as everyone waited for the answer.
John looked at Valerie and his ghost of a smile disappeared. He remained silent and backed up a pace, as if need-in to put distance between them now that there were others around. Lara rolled her eyes and walked on ahead as Valerie bent over and massaged the stitch in her side. She watched his feet walk away from her, listened to the crunch of gravel be-Neath his shoes as the warm, funny man disappeared.
“What, no laundry tonight?” taunted Michelle when Val-eerie looked up. She smirked and headed down the street with the rest of them as she stared at the broad expanse of John’s back up ahead and wondered about John’s sudden coldness. The connection she’d started to feel between them disappeared. He walked a pace or two in front of her, his back stiff, his arms held at his sides. With a shrug, she joined in the conversation around her and put John’s odd behavior out of her mind.
Three blocks later, they approached a dark, noisy pub. Valerie’s stomach clenched as the door opened and the smell of beer floated outside. Spots floated in front of her eyes and for a moment, she thought she would faint. Her throat con-stricter and she paused as she clamped her mouth shut against the bile that rose in her throat. She leaned against the cool brick wall and willed herself to breathe, even as the rough surface dug into her back. Her gaze darted down the crowded street, but before she had the chance to flee, John towered behind her.
“Don’t back out on me now,” he whispered. “I already gave you the M&Ms.” His warm breath blew against her shoulder and she took a jagged breath.
She turned, grateful for the distraction, and stared at his massive chest. Rock-hard muscles confronted her beneath his black T-shirt and for a moment, the clink of glasses on the bar and the grainy smell of beer faded away. All she could see was his immense body; all she could smell was his fresh, soapy scent; all she could feel was his solid chest in her imagination. Imagination wasn’t enough.
She lifted a trembling hand to touch him and he backed up just out of her reach. Blue eyes met gray and held for a moment. She swallowed, the gulp audible, and the spell broke. The sights, sounds, and smells rushed back to her. She ran her tongue across her lips, tasted the waxy flavor of her lipstick, and closed her eyes as she swayed.
John frowned and placed himself between her and the crowd at the bar. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him nod to one or two people who smiled in recognition, but he remained at her side. Together, they walked across the sticky floor and past the loud band up front to their table in the back. He pulled out her chair and sat next to her, and she released a pent-up breath. She felt safe with him close to her. It’s not a bar, she told herself. It’s a restaurant that happens to serve drinks. She’d be fine.
John turned to her and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. He clasped his large hands together and looked into her eyes. He held her gaze and as she stared into his thunder-head-colored eyes, she relaxed. “So, how do you like things so far, Valerie?”
“Well, I actually meant at work, but here too.”
Valerie blushed as she tried to focus on his words. “Oh, well, I love working on the show. I was a huge fan before I got the job, so it’s amazing to be a part of it now.” I sound like a babbling idiot.
John smiled. “What may I order for you?” He flagged down a big-bosomed, tight-shirted waitress with bright orange fingernails. She walked over, pen and pad ready. Every-one ordered beers. Valerie ordered a diet soda.
“Not ready to let loose yet, huh, Valerie?” asked Miguel, one of the crew, with a soft chuckle. Valerie smiled, but her cheeks felt as if they would crack and she looked away. John caught her eye and smiled at her. His unexpected warmth re-assured her almost as much as an arm around her shoulders.
She sat back and listened to the conversation at the table. All around her were people from work—Harry, the first AD; Ken, from production; Lara, and Tony, from wardrobe. Tina and Jeremy, John’s costars, had joined them as well. She crossed her fingers and joined in.
The waitress returned with their drinks and took their orders. Her ballpoint pen scratched across her pad as each person ordered a personal pizza, but changed the sauce, type of crust, and combination of toppings.
When the waitress turned to her, Valerie ordered a mushroom pie and a house salad.
The waitress paused, expectantly. As the silence continued, she raised an overly tweezed eyebrow.
“Is that it?”
“Yes,” Valerie answered.
“Are you sure?”
Valerie furrowed her brow. “Of course.” With a shake of her head, the waitress turned to John. She asked for his autograph and after he scrawled his name across a napkin, gave her his order, also simple but large—two personal pepperoni pizzas. During the course of the evening, John kept an eye on Valerie, made sure her drink never ran out, and that she par-tic pated in the conversation. When talk turned to something unfamiliar, he filled her in.
When they finally left, the muggy night air wrapped around Valerie like a cocoon and muffled the smells and sounds from inside. She stretched her spine and threw her shoulders back as she inhaled deeply for the first time all evening. John fell into step next to her and offered to walk her back to her car.
“Are you sure you don’t mind?” she asked, as they crossed the street.
“No one should walk by themselves at night.”
“Thanks, that’s really nice of you.” Although they walked next to each other, John left plenty of space between them. In spite of that, his size made her feel smaller than her five foot six frame. He didn’t intimidate her, and she peered sideways at him as she considered her lack of fear. Maybe because of the physical distance he maintained around her—he couldn’t hurt her if he were far away—or maybe his manners and the careful way he spoke put her at ease. Whatever the reason, she felt as comfortable walking with him as she would have with Michelle.
“Here’s my car.” She pointed to a blue Honda Civic parked under a lamp. “Thanks again for walking me out.”
“See you tomorrow.” He waited, hands deep in his pockets, feet spread apart, while she started the engine. He watched her wave and pull away. Something about her intrigued him—more than just her mysterious nerves or her simple pizza order, although those things contributed to it. She didn’t behave like the typical LA actor crowd who usually surrounded him. Her vulnerability aroused his protective nature. Not that she’d asked for his protection. She’d never ask him to take care of her, no one would. But still...
Caroline: Wonderful storytelling, and love both covers. Where can readers find your books?
Jennifer A HEART OF LITTLE FAITH and SKIN DEEP are available from the following:
From the publisher (Whiskey Creek Press): http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/
From Amazon (SKIN DEEP will be posted there shortly): http://www.amazon.com/
From Fictionwise (SKIN DEEP will be posted there shortly): www.fictionwise.com
Caroline: Anything else you’d like readers to know? How can readers learn more about you?
Jennifer: I love to hear from readers and writers. You can reach me at my website: http://www.jenniferwilck.com/, on
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160 and on
I also write a blog, "Fried Oreos" http://www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com/ and contribute to a group blog, "Heroines With Hearts" http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/
Caroline: Thank you for being my guest, Jennifer, and sharing with us today. Best wishes for continued success in your writing career.
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Thanks for stopping by!