My Interview With
December 25, 2011
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Romance & Freelance Writer Jennifer Wilck!
Romance is my cup of tea, which is only one of the reasons I fell in love with Jennifer’s first book, A Heart Of Little Faith, #1 Best Seller for four months in a row on “Whiskey Creek Press.”
Congratulations, Jennifer, on the success of A Heart of Little Faith and your new release, Skin Deep, which I’m in the process of reading now.
Ever since A Heart Of Little Faith, I’ve been dying to ask: What prompted you to take on the interesting but challenging task of writing about a handicapped hero?
Jennifer: Thanks for having me here, Victoria. I’m so glad you liked my book! I’m not really sure, honestly, why I decided to write about a handicapped hero. He just kind of popped into my head that way.
Victoria: Did you have to do a lot of research for Gideon’s character?
Jennifer: Yes, I did. I found a loop on Yahoo for people dealing with paralysis and there was a very nice man there who was willing to talk to me and answer all of my questions, some of which were very awkward (seriously, asking a complete stranger about himself, much less about sex, etc, made me blush). But he was a great guy!
Victoria: Your characters are vibrant and your imagery is wonderful. Was it difficult to create and fully develop Gideon and Lily, the protagonists you’ve brought to life and love, in your first novel?
Jennifer: I’m usually inspired by my characters, so they tend to be easier to write than other parts of the book. And for this book, my characters really came into my head almost fully formed, so it was just a matter of getting all the details down and making Gideon and Lily come to life.
Victoria: How long did it take to complete A Heart Of Little Faith?
Jennifer: The writing took about six months; editing and rewriting took about another six to eight months.
Victoria: Was it an easy and smooth write? Any struggles along the way?
Jennifer: The initial writing was very smooth. Making the changes, whether they were my suggestions or someone else’s, was a lot harder. No one, other than those I submitted to (contests, editors, agents), saw the book except me, so I really had to decide what changes felt right to me, what changes I didn’t want to make, and whether or not I was just being stubborn by not following suggestions. It was kind of like writing in a vacuum, so that was really hard.
Victoria: Do you do your own editing?
Jennifer: Now I have a critique partner, so I do a first draft and then I show it to her. She gives me suggestions and I decide whether or not to follow her advice—usually I do! We go back and forth with each other’s manuscripts, so I get the benefit of another pair of eyes, something that’s always helpful.
Victoria: Are you always happy with your writing, or do you ever feel like you should toss something into the trash?
Jennifer: Oh my gosh, I so often hate what I write! But I’ve found that if I let it sit, I usually feel differently about it (not sure if it’s me changing my mind, or the little writer fairies who come and fix it when I’m not looking…). Sometimes, I can send something to my critique partner with a note that asks her to help me fix it. She can usually make a suggestion that at least tells me what direction to go.
Victoria: When did you find out you loved to write?
Jennifer: I’ve always loved to write. I tried writing when I was very young, but had a really hard time with dialogue. So I stopped for a bit, and then went back to it as I got older.
Victoria: What inspires you to write?
Jennifer: Almost anything. I have this crazy habit of talking to myself when I’m by myself and sometimes what comes out is good for a story. Other times, I’ll see a character on TV or in a movie that intrigues me.
Victoria: Are you ever influenced by people or places or do you draw only on your own imagination?
Jennifer: I’m definitely influenced by people and places. My uncle has a house on Block Island and I’d love to write a story that takes place there. There are a few family legends/stories that I’d love to turn into something someday as well. And I usually put something real into my stories. Skin Deep has a racetrack scene, which is based on my family’s Thanksgiving tradition (weird, but true), including the betting strategy. Claire, in A Heart of Little Faith, is based on one of my daughters.
Victoria: Who is your favorite author?
Jennifer: That’s a tough question because I have so many! I love Lynn Kurland, Robyn Carr and Elizabeth Hoyt. I also love Charlotte Bronte, Arthur Conan Doyle and Shakespeare.
Victoria: What books do you like to read?
Jennifer: Everything. In romance, my favorite tends to be historicals, but not always. I like reading the Pendergast series by Preston Douglas and Lee Childs. I like modern women’s fiction, mysteries. Really, if it has words, I like reading it.
Victoria: Is there any specific reason you chose to write romance?
Jennifer: It’s one of my favorite genres to read when I want to escape.
Victoria: Do you write in other genres?
Jennifer: Not yet, but maybe someday.
Victoria: Is your writing structured? Do you use outlines?
Jennifer: Ha, I’m a mom and life is crazy. The only thing structured into my life are my nervous breakdowns at all the things I have to get done. I try to write in the afternoons before my kids get home from school. I hate outlines, personally, so other than jotting down where I want something to go, I try to write just from my head. I do make outlines as I write though, so the editing process is easier (and so when I forget what color someone’s eyes are, I know where to go back to check).
Victoria: Have you taken courses in creative writing?
Jennifer: Yes, in high school and college.
Victoria: What do you write besides novels?
Jennifer: I’ve worked as a magazine editor and writer for trade publications and local papers. It’s a very different style of writing.
Victoria: Was it difficult finding a publisher?
Jennifer: Yes, it was. But Whiskey Creek Press has been great and I’m so fortunate to have found them.
Victoria: Do you have an agent?
Jennifer: No, I don’t.
Victoria: Being a mom and a successful writer, how do you ever find time for yourself?
Jennifer: Ha, that’s funny. I have time for myself when my kids go to school, so I really take advantage of that. From the moment they’re home until they’re in bed, my life is filled with their needs (which is awesome, I’m not complaining), so when they’re at school, that’s my time for myself, to write, edit, market or just relax. They also go to camp for a month in the summer, so I’m able to get a lot done then (we all have a countdown going during the rest of the year, they just don’t know about mine!).
Victoria: Balancing a hectic schedule is not easy. Is your family supportive and helpful while you’re in the middle of a novel or other literary project?
Jennifer: They’re wonderful! Because I kept everything kind of secret for a long time, no one, other than my husband, knew I was writing. But since they’ve found out, they’ve been so interested and supportive, that it’s been great! And when I’m on a deadline, they give me the space and time that I need to get things done. My kids are probably my biggest fan club and my mother and mother-in-law are my best marketers ever! My husband is awesome too, about everything. He even read the book (as did my dad and father-in-law) even though he doesn’t like romance.
Victoria: Do you share ‘work in progress’ with family or friends?
Jennifer: No. I’ve told them a brief sentence or two about what I’m writing, but that’s it.
Victoria: Do you have any tips for struggling writers who are trying to find an agent or publisher?
Jennifer: Just be persistent and do your research. Make sure you’re sending your work to agents and editors who actually represent and publish what you’re writing.
Victoria: Are there any words to describe how you felt when Whiskey Creek Press accepted your first manuscript for publication?
Jennifer: I started shaking and closed the email halfway through reading it. I had to re-open it several times. It was amazing!
Victoria: How long was the process from acceptance to ebook and paperback?
Jennifer: They accepted pretty far in advance, so it was about 9 months. Kind of like a baby, but less painful.
Victoria: Do you have any advice on how to promote and market books?
Jennifer: First of all, my family has been awesome in talking to everyone about my book. I have a website, which I try to keep as up-to-date as possible. Also a Facebook page and a Twitter account that I use to promote my book. For A Heart of Little Faith, I created magnets that I sent out to everyone I’d ever met with the announcement. For Skin Deep, I made bookmarks. And I also have a few blogs which I write regularly—Fried Oreos (www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com) and Heroines With Hearts (www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com). Starting in January, I’ll be a contributor to Sandra Sookoo’s Believing is Seeing blog (http://sandrasookoo.wordpress.com/front-porch-saturday-contributors/). Another way I promote my books is by going to book clubs. My friend invited me to hers and it was so much fun! Very laid back and entertaining. Everyone bought the book and had questions for me. I met a lot of nice readers who hopefully will continue to read my books.
Victoria: Can you tell us what it’s like to go on ‘Blog Tours’ and book signings?
Jennifer: Blog tours and book signings are great ways to promote yourself and your books. I’ve met a lot of authors online and blog tours are basically a way of being a guest writer on other writer’s blogs. I try to reciprocate so that we both benefit. By appearing on someone else’s blog, I get their readers as well, and hopefully some of them will be interested in my writing and will check out my blog and buy my books. Book signings at book stores are another great way of promoting your book. I had a book signing at my local bookstore for A Heart of Little Faith and let all my friends know I’d be there. A lot of them came, talked to me and bought my book, including my fifth grade teacher and his wife!
Victoria: How did you come up with the concept for Skin Deep?
Jennifer: I came up with the idea of the damaged hero first. Why was he like that? What happened to him in his past? Then I tried to come up with a job for him or a life for him that would create the most conflict, and a heroine that would add to that. So I made him a beloved TV star and I made her the makeup artist.
Victoria: Who did the cover art for Skin Deep? The model is absolutely gorgeous!
Jennifer: The head of the art department for my publisher. She’s amazing!
Victoria: When it comes to book design, does your publisher permit author creative and artistic input?
Jennifer: Yes, there’s a cover art form to fill out where I talk about my book, things I’d like or dislike for the cover (I hate Fabio-style covers, for example) and then the cover artist goes from there. She submitted her cover to me and I suggested some changes, which she graciously followed and that was it.
Victoria: When can we expect to see your next book, and will it be another romance?
Jennifer: I’m working on it now and if it all goes well, it will be a six-part series. It will be a romance, but with a Jewish theme. I’m still in the editing stages yet, so it will be a while before it’s ready to submit. Hopefully in the spring.
I’ve enjoyed speaking with you Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your books, experiences and advice with us. We wish you continued success with A Heart Of Little Faith, Skin Deep, and your future books. We enjoy updates. Will you keep us posted?
Jennifer: I’d be happy to! Again, thanks so much for having me as your guest.
Here are links to Jennifer Wilck’s books on Amazon.com. Happy Reading Everyone!