Monday, October 24, 2011

GIVEAWAY, BLOG HOP, AND JENNIFER WILCK

Before I introduce my intriguing guest for today, please take note of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop badge at the top of my sidebar. Over 400 blogs have combined--with the concept and planning by blog owners at “I’m a Reader, not a Writer” and “The Diary of a Bookworm.” For my participation, I’m giving away a pdf of one of my books (winner’s choice) each day of the Hop! Winners will be announced on November 1st. After you read the interview below, click on the graphic at the right to be taken to the list of participating blogs. Comments on this blog will be entered in my daily drawing and announced on November 1st. Please include your email. If you follow my blog, subscribe by email, and/or sign up for my newsletter, that counts as extra entries, so be sure to mention those.


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?


Jennifer: Hah! I just wrote a piece about this for a blog I contribute to http://www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/ . My stories are fiction, but I usually add a snippet or two of real life to them. For example, in A HEART OF LITTLE FAITH, the heroine tells a story about how, as a child, she used to give her dad back rubs and pretend his back was a pizza pie. She’d knead the dough, swish on the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and smack on the toppings. She’d have a pizza and he’d have a limber back. I used to do this with my dad when I was about 3 or 4 years old. In my latest book, SKIN DEEP, the heroine’s family goes to the racetrack every Thanksgiving and her mom has a particular betting strategy (you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is and if it works for you). My family and I used to do this every year and the betting strategy was actually my great-grandmother’s—yes, we’re a bunch of degenerates!
AVAILABLE NOW!


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
Jennifer: My latest release is SKIN DEEP, coming 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.


“Valerie?”


“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?”


“Here?”


“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
Twitter: @JWilck.


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.


Readers, don’t forget to leave your email in your comment so that I can enter you in the daily drawing for a pdf of one of my books in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop. If you join as a follower, that counts as a second entry as does signing up for my newsletter.


Thanks for stopping by!

33 comments:

Denise Z said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us today. I have signed up to follow Jennifer on FB and twitter and already follow A Writer's Life and am an email subscriber. I appreciate your generosity with this lovely giveaway opportunity.

dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

holls said...

Awesome gift! Hollybwright atcomcastdotnet

Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. said...

This book looks very interesting. Having both main characters have abuse in their backgrounds will make the courtship much more difficult.

IreneRJ said...

I enjoyed the interview,love reading snippets from different authors it somehow makes reading their books that bit more interesting!
Found you ambling around the blog hop today and have subscribed by email.
irgl7(at)bonzo15(dot)plus(dot)com

Jennifer Wilck said...

Caroline, thanks for having me as a guest today! I appreciate it. Denise, thanks for the follow--I look forward to getting to know you. Stephanie, appreciate the interest; hope I've done the characters justice. Irene, glad you've enjoyed what you've read so far.

katsrus said...

Your book covers are so pretty. Your books sound very good. Enjoyed your interview.
GFC follower
Email subscriberSue B
katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

Ana Morgan said...

I love this story already, Jen, since I'm just off my first film catering job. The crew mingled after work and their destinations of choice were bars. I'm not sure about tv shows, but on my shoot, three meals per day were provided (mandatory). The hours are brutally long, and often on location, so there is no normal life.

Jenn said...

Great interview--great to get to know Jennifer a bit better!

Jennifer Wilck said...

Katsrus, thanks so much. I love them too and the cover artists are amazing. Thank you, Ana, that catering job must have been fun! Jenn, thanks for stopping by. This interview was a lot of fun to do!

Chris said...

Thanks for the chance to win a fun ebook :)

kissyjensen at gmail dot com

Chris said...

I am a new follower to your site

kissyjensen at gmail dto com

Jennifer Wilck said...

Chris, thanks for stopping by and good luck!

Debra St. John said...

Hi Jennifer,

The cover for "Skin Deep" is fabulous. I can't wait for its release next month...which is coming soon.

I wish I had a writing schedule these days. The day job is wearing me out and taking all of my time right now...hopefully things will settle down soon and I'll be able to get some writing done.

DebraStJohn

Elizabeth said...

I LOVE YOUR HEADER....fantastic.

Stopping by from the Spooktacular Giveaway to have a look around.

NEW FOLLOWER.

Stop by my blog if you like to see some flying bats on my Blog Hop post.

Elizabeth

http://silversolara.blogspot.com

Dayen said...

I enjoyed the interview, the covers of books are so pretty!

GFC follower : Dayen Leah
dayenleah [at] gmail [dot] com

Have a great Halloween! ;)

kswederski said...

Thanks you for the giveaway!

kayswederski@yahoo.com

kswederski said...

I am a GCF follower kayswederski

Thanks for the giveaway.

kayswederski@yahoo.com

~April~ said...

Thanks for the giveaway...
april@pinebelt.net

~April~ said...

following GFC as aprilharvell

Darlene said...

Please enter me in the draw, and thanks for the giveaway!

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

+1 following on GFC (Darlene)

Nay Nay said...

Thank you for being part of the hop.
<^_^>
reneebennett35 at yahoo dot com

Ronda (Queentutt's World of Escapism) said...

A very nice interview. Thank you for the oportunity of the giveaway.

I'm a new follower.

mrsqueentutt@yahoo.com

Jennifer Wilck said...

Debra, thanks for stopping by--I love the cover too! Your day job is important--it'll calm down. Don't worry. Dayen and Robin, glad you enjoyed the interview. Good luck everyone with the drawing!

auntiemwrites said...

Great interview and wonderful blog, Caroline!

geschumann said...

Good interview. Thanks for the giveaway!
GFC - Gloria

geschumann at live dot com

Anonymous said...

Wow, this seems very interesting and awesome!

exsedeum@yahoo.com

Paula Martin said...

Great interview, Jennifer - nice to find out more about you, and LOVED your excellent advice to writers. Enjoyed your excerpt too - good luck with the book when it comes out.

BlackWolf said...

wow.. its a great post.. and i like the covers.. count me in
darksiry(at)gmail(dot)com

Judy said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I enjoyed the interview.

GFC follower-judy
email subscriber

Judy
magnolias_1[at]msn[dot]com

Jennifer Wilck said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by to learn more about me and my books. It was a pleasure to be here. Good luck with the giveaway!

Blogger Name: Krystal Larson said...

Thank you very much for the cool giveaway! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

Anita said...

Sounds great! Thanks for the giveaway!
Anita

anitaloves2read at att.net

Marianne said...

Glad i found your blog...your novels sound interesting, even though i don't do paranormal.