Friday, November 11, 2011

Welcome Guest Author Jennifer Wilck

STEPH: I don't know much about Skin Deep What's it about?

JENNIFER: Skin Deep is a contemporary romance and addresses the theme of believing in yourself and rising above your circumstances, taking control and making something better out of your life. Both the hero and the heroine come from past abusive relationships and both of them find the strength to move past them and discover the love they were meant to have. Of course, it takes the hero a little longer to get to that point (men!) but they’re two incredibly strong characters with great chemistry. 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?

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

JENNIFER: Writing the story took about 8 months and editing took another 6 months. This was the first story for which I used a critique partner, which really took me out of my comfort zone. Usually, I don’t let anyone ever see what I write, but my critique partner is amazing and she really helped strengthen the book.

STEPH: Did you do a lot of research for it?

JENNIFER: The heroine, Valerie, is a makeup artist, so I had to research that profession. I found a makeup artist loop on the Internet and interviewed one of the women on it. It was really interesting! I never knew there was so much work behind making someone look like they do on TV!

STEPH: What was the inspiration for the novel?

JENNIFER: Most of my stories start with characters and this one was no different. I saw an actor on TV whose face and eyes were so expressive that I couldn’t stop looking at him. He wasn’t particularly gorgeous—I think “arresting” is probably more appropriate. So while I was watching him, my mind started doing its thing and the character of John was created. Then I needed to find a perfect heroine for him, and along came Valerie. The rest just sort of happened when I sat down at my keyboard.

STEPH: Hollywood is calling! Cast the main characters.

JENNIFER: I have a tough time with questions like this because the characters form their own personalities and descriptions in my head and it’s hard to find a real person for them to be, even if this one happened to start with an actual person on TV. So, let’s see. For John, I think I’d choose Jeff Kober—he’s from China Beach. And for Valerie, maybe Ellen Pompeo, even though she doesn’t look anything like the Valerie in my head. But I think she’d do a good job with the character.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

JENNIFER: Hah! I’m a mom, so anywhere my kids aren’t…I tend to move around a lot. Usually I start in the dining room, which has big French doors overlooking our deck and lots of trees outside. I like the light and the open feeling. Sometimes I’ll move into our family room with the big comfy sofas (recliners are awesome!) or our office if I want to shut the door and write in peace. With my laptop, I can pretty much write anywhere.

STEPH: How long have you been writing? Are you a plotter or a panster?

JENNIFER: I’ve been writing for a really long time. I’ve always written down story ideas or parts of stories. My last book, A Heart of Little Faith, which was my first published book, was probably the first time I sat down and wrote a story from start to finish without changing my mind part way through, though. And I’m a total pantser. I can’t stick to an outline to save my life. I tried that with my current WIP and it’s awful! Never again! But I really admire those who can do it.

STEPH: What romantic genre do you like to write? Read?

JENNIFER: While I’d love to write historical, I don’t think I could do it justice, so currently, my favorite romantic genre to write is contemporary. I like to read all kinds though. At the moment, I’m reading Claire Delacroix’s The Beauty Bride.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one.

JENNIFER: I have the iPad. My parents got it for me to congratulate me on my first publishing contract (thanks, Mom & Dad!). It’s pretty cool! I like the whole page-swishing thing!

STEPH: Fun question: It's football season. Who's your favorite team?

Easy! The New York Giants! It’s hereditary. My dad is a huge fan and growing up, he was fanatical about them. If I walked into the room and they fumbled, I was banished until after the game ended. So, I really never had a choice. My husband is from outside of Philadelphia and is an Eagles fan, so football season is an interesting time in our house!

STEPH: Please share an excerpt, buy links & links to where we can find you on the web.

Excerpt, Skin Deep

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 balancing 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. Unable 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.

Buy Link: (Skin Deep will be released in November) in e-book and print format. It will eventually be available on Amazon and Fictionwise as well.

Jennifer’s contact info:
Fried Oreos Blog:
Heroines With Hearts Blog (contributor):
Twitter: @JWilck


  1. Great interview, Steph and Jennifer!

    I enjoyed your excerpt, Jennifer and hope SKIN DEEP sells lots of copies!

  2. Thanks for popping in Diane. The story sounds like fun, doesn't it?


  3. Hi Steph and Jen - great interview. And what a good idea to research via someone on a makeup artist loop. Must remember that idea!
    Best of luck with Skin Deep, Jen.

  4. Hi Diane and Paula, thanks for stopping by today. Paula, the Internet is great for research!!! And thanks to Steph for hosting me today.

  5. Hi Jennifer,

    I'm a 'migrating' writing, too. I love, love, love my lap top!

    Can't wait to read "Skin Deep".


  6. Hi Debra--have laptop, will travel! :) Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Enjoyed you questions, ladies, thank you! The internet really is an thing!