While most of Nashville has been shivering through single digit temperatures this week, Chuck Wicks has been enjoying the Los Angeles warmth and getting a chance to write with an R&B superstar.

"I'm writing for the next record," Wicks tells The Boot. "I'm actually writing with one of my heroes, Brian McKnight. It's so cool!"

Wicks credits his music publisher, Ron Stuve, with helping him make the connection. "I told him that I'd love to write something for the next record with Brian McKnight. I've always loved his music. I think he's a tremendous singer. Ron called his management and said, 'We've got this kid, Chuck Wicks, who is writing for his second record. Let me send you some of his stuff.' So we sent them three songs from the current record and they called up and said, 'We love it! Have him come out!'"

Wick's 2008 debut album, 'Starting Now,' has already spawned the hit singles 'Stealing Cinderella' and 'All I Ever Wanted.' His new single 'Man of the House' is just beginning to climb the charts for the young artist who grew up on his family's farm in Smyrna, Del. The success of his debut album helped pave the way for the country newcomer to connect with McKnight.

"Just the fact that he blocked off a whole week to write with me is great," Wicks gushes. "We've been writing every night."

Is it different writing with someone from another music genre? Not terribly, Wicks tells us.

"It's still the same concept. The ultimate goal is to make good music," he says. "When you sit it the room with another songwriter, no matter what kind of genre, you're still saying the same things. It just changes when you go in the studio and whether or not you put a steel guitar on it. You just try to write music that touches people. Writing with Brian the past few days [I've learned] we think the same way: 'What's real life?' Let's write about that."

Next on his agenda, Wicks plans to co-write with pop/rocker Richard Marx. "I'm definitely trying some different avenues," he says. "I'm actually writing with Richard next week and looking forward to it."

Wicks has also been collaborating with girlfriend Julianne Hough. "We know we get along already," he says with a laugh. "We've got a lot in common so we might as well write a song together. We've been writing for her record and mine. She's a great writer. It's fun to write with her and see where she wants to go creative-wise. I think we've actually got a pretty good one under our belt that will make it on my record or hers."

Wicks remains smitten by his 'Dancing with the Stars' sweetheart. "She's such a doll," he says. "I'm upside down about her."