Welcome, Jennifer, to a little bit of Texas!
Even though Jennifer is celebrating the release of her first novel, she is far from being a novice at writing. In between chauffeuring her daughters, running youth group activities, training their recently adopted shelter dog, and cooking, she writes freelance articles for magazines and newspapers, and edits newsletters. And here she is!
Jennifer, in one sentence, give a synopsis of your present life.
"My life is a fun and crazy juggling act between my kids, my husband, my volunteer work and my writing."
If you could only use five words to describe yourself, what would those be?
"Mother, daughter, wife, friend, work-in-progress."
"I saw a minor character in a TV show a long time ago who inspired me to write this story. I was extremely lucky that the story flowed easily from start to finish (although the editing and submitting process were much harder!). The only minor autobiographical part occurs in the massage scene. Lily and Gideon are talking and she describes how as a child, she used to give her father massages and pretend his back was a pizza pie. She’d roll out the dough, swoosh the sauce, sprinkle the cheese and pat on the pepperoni. Her father would have a limber back and she’d have a (pretend) pizza. I used to do the same thing when I was about three. And some of the things that Lily’s daughter says and does, like her insane love of the game Trouble, are similar to my daughter’s traits when she was six."
How did you become so immersed in writing?
"Writing was always talked about in my house, because we had several writers in the family. I’ve always enjoyed writing (I so preferred those classes to math and used to love vocabulary tests—I know, weird, right?) and used to have stories mulling about in my head. One day, I decided it would be fun to write some of them down, just to see what happened. From then on, I was hooked.
I know you have two young daughters. How difficult is it to balance your time?
"I’m a big believer in early bedtimes (much to my children’s chagrin), so when they were little, I could write at night after they went to sleep. Now that they’re older, by the time they actually both go to bed, I’m lucky I remember my name, much less be able to write anything, so I have to do most of my writing during the day. Thank goodness for school! I can usually carve out at least some time during the day to get writing done. And I can always go off and hide on a weekend for an hour or two."
What is your favorite thing to do when you need/want to relax and hang out?
"Hanging out with my family and friends, playing games, watching movies or TV, reading, walking the dog."
Without thinking very hard, fill in the blanks:
Once a week I … really should clean the house, but usually procrastinate at least a little by playing on Facebook.
I feel incomplete without …my cell phone, even though I NEVER hear it, which drives my husband up the wall!
Most weekends, I…hang out with my family and laugh.
Most days I wear…whatever is comfortable, as long as they’re not t-shirts or sweatshirts (I never claimed to make sense.)
Once a day, I …(at least) talk to my mom on the phone.
One thing I'd really like to try is…hotwiring a car. I am totally fascinated by this!
Do you have a favorite singer or musical group?
"My musical taste is eclectic—I like almost anything except opera. Some of my favorites are Billy Joel, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, Bruce Springsteen."
Here's what we've been waiting for. Tell us about your novel.
"Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance. Her life begins to change, however, when she meets Gideon Stone. He’s handsome and charming, and spent all afternoon entertaining her rambunctious daughter. Lily believes he must need rescuing—fast—but finds out the two of them hit it off. Although Gideon and Claire form a fast friendship, Lily and Gideon can’t seem to get it right. Despite mutual obstacles, neither of them can avoid the sparks that fly between them. After a few false starts, where tempers erupt, they settle on an uneasy truce, deciding to be friends and nothing more.
That truce is soon tested when Gideon’s overbearing boss demands he start showing up to work events with a date. How can he do this without appearing to violate their truce—and his own vow to never let a woman get the best of him again?
The answer appears when he helps Claire out of a jam. Although grateful, Lily’s independent spirit won’t let her feel beholden to him. Gideon suggests a bargain—he’ll help Claire if Lily will accompany him to work events. The agreement is supposed to be platonic, but each encounter draws them closer together.
As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone."
Will you offer an excerpt to sample your writing?
Gideon entered his sister’s crowded SoHo gallery in Manhattan and glanced at his watch. If he was lucky, he could make a quick appearance and leave. Garish paintings and semi-pornographic sculptures, coupled with snooty patrons and pseudo-intellectual artists, bored him. A mélange of overpowering perfumes blasted his olfactory nerves and he grimaced as he quickly tried to breathe through his mouth. He’d only come to support Samantha, and with any luck she’d be too busy with potential buyers to do anymore than register his presence, leaving him free to make a hasty exit. In the meantime, he needed to find something to eat before he starved to death.
Across the room he spied black-clad catering staff and made his way around half walls and columns to check out their offerings. At least he thought they were catering staff. With black continuing to be the customary dress code of New York art patrons, he could never be too sure. Still, silver platters were sure to give them away. Before he’d gotten halfway across the converted warehouse, a waitress materialized in front of him, offering champagne and scallops wrapped in bacon. Pendulum lights from above glinted on the crystal glasses, and the smoky scent made his mouth water. He snagged a glass of champagne and two scallops, and popped one immediately into his mouth. The ice cold glass chilled his fingers and provided a welcome relief from the warmth of the overcrowded room. The scallop melted in his mouth, leaving the taste of crisp bacon for him to savor. A little bit of heaven.
He saw Samantha and made his way over, past old gentlemen sitting on oversized ottomans comparing notes, willow-thin women chatting about the Hamptons and a few art students staring at the scene with longing. He waited until she noticed him. They said their hellos quickly, and she apologized as another group of people swept her away. He nodded his understanding and, with his duty complete, headed back the way he’d come.
He’d gone about twenty-five feet when something caught his attention. Surrounded by movement — the friction caused by the artist’s use of flashy, contrasting colors against stark white canvas, the undulating positions of the sculptures, or the constant swaying of people in the room — her stillness drew his eye. All other sights and sounds disappeared as he approached her. He no longer heard the chatter and laughter around him. His vision tunneled and all surrounding sights disappeared into a fog. His ears picked up only the sound of her fingernails tapping the crystal goblet and magnified it until her tapping became the beat of a song for him alone. The jasmine scent of her perfume floated toward him and made him think of summer vacations in a tropical paradise. Distracted by her, he didn’t notice those around him trying to get out of his way.
She stood motionless in front of a painting. The spotlight above illuminated her brown hair, turning it a fiery red tinged with gold, her skin a luminous peach. Her blouse, made of some gauzy material he couldn’t name, but longed to touch, draped gracefully over her shoulders and down her back. With the lights pouring down on her, he could just see the outline of her body. The barely there whisper of an outline attracted him more than any wet T-shirt ever could. Her black-flared pants hugged her hips the way he once had held a woman, gently but firmly.
He stared at her, bedazzled. He only intended to look for a moment, but she turned around and met his eyes. Caught red-handed he contemplated turning around, but that would be cowardly. He couldn’t continue to stare at her without appearing either moronic or rude, especially since he hated when people stared at him. He inhaled and tried to muster up a smile, when another man approached her. Breaking their gaze, she turned and smiled at him. Gideon inched closer. He heard her engage the other man in casual conversation before she gently excused herself. As the other man walked off, she turned back to Gideon and smiled. Her green cat eyes pierced his soul and made him believe she could see right through him. He continued to watch her, entranced.
“Hasn’t anyone taught you it’s impolite to stare?”
Struck by the irony of her question, he burst into warm laughter and shook her outstretched hand. Her soft cool hand fit completely within his hard, callused one and he closed his other hand over hers. He felt the delicate veins beneath her skin, her pulse beating in her wrist and wished to prolong the skin-on-skin contact for as long as possible. Reluctantly, he let it go.
“Are you a fan?”
Lily stared at him blankly for a moment and blinked quickly. “Oh, of the artist’s?” She turned once more to look at the painting, tilting her head to the right. “Not exactly. He’s a little too…”
“Much? Bright? Vulgar?”
Lily laughed. “I see you’re a huge fan. No, maybe, I don’t know. The colors are cheery, if only maybe there weren’t so many. But looking at it does brighten my mood.”
“Bad day at work?”
“Terrible. But why are you here if you don’t like the artist?”
Gideon turned and pointed to Samantha on the other side of the room. “She’s my sister.”
Lily raised her eyebrows as she looked over at the gallery owner.
“Oh, Samantha’s my best friend. I didn’t realize you were her brother. So I guess she roped you into this too?”
He sat back and gave her what he hoped was a relaxed grin. “Brotherly duty, or some such nonsense. Apparently I pulled one too many pigtails as a child and this is my penance.”
Lily laughed. She has a great laugh, he thought. It lit up her whole face. “Samantha had pigtails?”
The two of them turned to look at Samantha, currently sporting short and spiky jet-black hair, with small rhinestone barrettes scattered throughout. “You’ll have to fill me in more later,” Lily added, as she stifled a yawn.
“What, is it my stimulating conversation, or these garish paintings that bores you?” Gideon asked, one eyebrow raised.
Lily apologized. “I’m sorry. I had a long day at work and I’m exhausted. I wasn’t even going to come, but Samantha begged.”
“She tends to do that. I’ve told her it isn’t a pleasing trait, but why should she listen to me? I’m only her big brother.”
Find out more about Samantha’s big brother in A Heart of Little Faith, available from Whiskey Creek Press this month! Part of the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Where can readers find your book?
"It will be available through the publisher (http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/ ), Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/ ) and Barnes & Noble (http://www.bn.com/ )."
Where else can readers find you?
"My website is http://www.jenniferwilck.com/
My blog is Fried Oreos and can be found at http://www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com/
I also am one of the contributors to the Heroines With Hearts blog at http://www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/
And, you can find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160
Jennifer, I thank you so much for visiting today. Readers, please leave a comment—if your Yahoo is working! Both of us love to hear your thoughts.
Thank you, Celia, for having me as a guest on your blog. It was a pleasure to be here! And a big thank you to your readers for visiting me here to learn about me and my book! I love meeting new people and hearing from them, so feel free to leave a comment if you’d like. Jennifer