We had the chance to speak with the co-author of “20 Beautiful Women,” Jennifer Wilkes. We chatted with her on her latest project and the upcoming Book Launch Celebration for this novel.
Everything Exclusive: So, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Jennifer Wilkes: I’m from Florence, South Carolina originally. I’ve been in Atlanta for almost 5 years now. I started in Broadcast Journalism; I’ve always been in Communication and leadership roles in school with Journalism, the newspaper, and our high school news. But, I was a radio personality in South Carolina on two prime time stations on the weekends; I had my own show and I also worked for a State Senator with community relations. So, I’ve always just been involved in all things communication and that pushed me to really focus in on creating my own business. I saw that there were some weaknesses in some of the companies that I worked for that I could contribute to; building them and making them more effective. So, after graduating high school, I went to Voorhees College, an HBCU. My sophomore year is when I became pregnant with my daughter and transferred back home, then I just finished out there. What brought me to Atlanta was my girlfriend who worked out here and lived here. One of her friends needed an assistant for his company, an independent music company. That’s how I ended up moving to Atlanta; to help build or restructure their music company. It was a lot of growth while I was there, but things had to change and I just moved on. I was great learning experience because there I learned how to start my own business. I learned the do’s and dont’s’ with professionalism and creating my own marketing. It helped me learn how to spearhead my own business.
EE: I see that you have a book signing coming up for a book that you’ve recently had published entitled, “20 Beautiful Women.” Can you tell me a little bit about the context of the book?
JW: I was approached about the project, I think, in the beginning of the summer. I was approached by Saba Tekle and she actually lived in Atlanta for awhile, but now she’s in Seattle. We had mutual friends on Facebook and she does life coaching, so we just kind of connected. We were elaborating on things that we could work together with and she said, “Oh well, I have this project that I would really love for you to come in on. I’m doing a book and I want to get 20 women to share their personal stories or something in their life that was really transformational for them.” So, I was very, very honored to do that. I think I was one of the last few ladies to come on to the project. It’s been a great, great journey and all of the women were from different countries, different states. We all have completely different backgrounds; however, we all shared commonalities in our stories whether we went through some type of hardship or pain that brought us to living out our purpose. So, even though we all are different, we all speak to every woman in the book. We’re different ages, but we all have a story that I think appeals to whoever reads the book, really.
EE: What were some of the challenges you faced while composing this book, if any?
JW: I would say my biggest challenge was to really decide how deep I wanted to go. When you’re sharing something that’s very personal and you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, sometimes it can be difficult to know like “do I want to tell all of this or do I want to tell a part of this.” Other people are affected by your story as well, but you can’t deny your experience of it. So, that for me at first was a bit of a challenge, but I had to really just kind of say, well this is my experience, mine, no one else’s. I can’t speak for whoever else is involved. They have their own and if they want to write a book, they can write a book, but this is my part. For me, that was very liberating.
EE: Was there ever a time where the process of getting 20 women together to share personal stories became challenging or very emotional?
JW: Well actually I didn’t spearhead it; Saba Tekle spearheaded it. So, she spoke with the ladies about their stories and helped all of us to really cultivate exactly what we wanted to say. She really helped to pull it out of each of us, I would say. Reading the book, I would probably say what would have been a difficult process was really allowing each of the women to have their own voice. Of course there was editing, but still you get a sense of who the woman is and where she comes from by her language and just how she formulates her words. So, I think the book in itself is an art form because it really shows how women can come together and still have their different personalities and their uniqueness.
EE: What inspired you to become involved with the book? Was there any specific driving force behind the project?
JW: What inspired me to really agree to the project, I would say… When Saba approached me, I was actually in the mist of publishing my own solo project and it was kind of a struggle because I was thinking, well I have my solo project out and I don’t want this to overshadow what I’m trying to put out because it’s a part of my business. But, I knew I wanted to tell my story and it could be told. Because I’m a life coach I do tell my story, but it’s different when you can reach so many people with a book as well. So, I had to kind of weigh my options; do I push my book on the back burner? What my book is about… It’s not totally different, but it’s on a different subject matter. However, still related, I guess you would say. It’s not so personal. For me, it was an opportunity to really get published quickly because Saba was really doing all of the back-in work which was a very great advantage to have her doing most of the back-work. So, it was like okay well, I’ll go ahead and do it; I need to tell my story and it’s great to network with all of these women and then to work with women in different parts of the country. Being a coach you just never know where business is going to take you and having those connections in different areas was something that I just couldn’t pass up.
EE: So, you mentioned that you are working on another project at this time. Can you tell me a little about that?
JW: Yes, it’s actually called “5 Ways to Conquer Chaos,” the extended version. The ebook is actually available on my website, http://www.thecoldcoach.com for free. It’s just a quick-read; it was written in a weekend, basically. It includes 5 methods that help you to overcome any type of chaos or dysfunction in your life. They’re quick steps that ANYONE can use, but definitely for the college student, high school student, whoever, the mom who’s doing everything. It’s just really 5 quick methods that’ll help you to really come back to yourself and bring things to some type of order. So, like I said the ebook is available on my website, it’s the shorter version. It’s free; however, the extended version is going to come out before the year is up. So, it’s “5 Ways to Conquer Chaos.”
EE: Personally, have you witnessed a situation where this book has helped a reader through a life circumstance?
JW: With the reviews that I’ve read, especially from men, I would say that they appreciate that they are able to get insight into what women are thinking and these life situations. They’re able to understand more and sympathize with us more on what we’re really feeling and what’s going on. So, I know women are going to get something from it, I know that without a shadow of a doubt. But, for men to be affected by it, to me it’s very powerful. It’s a great movement to me to have men that have read it to say, “Wow! I just didn’t know it was that deep.” or “Was it really that serious?” You know, they really understand where we are coming from, I think. And I want to clarify, it’s not bashing any men or anything, but it’s really showing what we’ve learned about ourselves through those circumstances.
EE: So, about the book signing that you are hosting, what are the details for that event?
JW: It’s October 4th at Infusion Bistro, I’m very thankful to them for offering their space to me. Some of the ladies are going to fly out and some of them are going to read from their chapters. So, we will have book readings, definitely a book signing. So, whoever buys a book or if they pre-ordered it, they can come and get their book signed by me and all of the other authors that will be there. Michael McFadden from “Real Talk With Michael McFadden” will be there. He has an internet radio show in Atlanta. He’s going to be one of the guest speakers. He actually was the first one to have most of us on his radio show to talk about the book. So, we’re very grateful to him. We’re also going to have a panel discussion where our guests can ask the authors who are there questions about our life, our chapters or whatever they want to ask; it’s an open panel discussion. We may have some poetry.
EE: Where can this book be purchased?
JW: You can purchase it at my website, http://www.thecoldcoach.com. There you can purchase the hard copy, it’s available for pre-order right now, but it will be available October 1st. The ebook is already available; it’s already on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.
EE: Thank you for your time. I am looking forward to reading this book and attending your book signing!
To find out more about “20 Beautiful Women” and the upcoming book signing, visit Jennifer Wilkes’ website at http://thecoldcoach.com/ or follow the event on the Facebook page, “’20 Beautiful Women’ Altanta Book Launch Celebration. Do not let this great opportunity to gain inspiration and network with others who can relate pass you by! This book is definitely a must-read that you should add to your collection!
Interview conducted by Michaela C., Editor of College Life