Please welcome Liz Reinhardt! Not only is she one of my favorite bloggers, but I’m lucky to have her as a critique partner, too. She just published her first novel, a YA romance featuring snappy dialogue, a love triangle, to-die-for heroes (two of them!), and lots of humor. It’s the first in a trilogy, and is already netting some fabulous reviews. So read and enjoy her guest post, then go buy her fabulous book. Take it away, Liz!
My newly published book is bumping around out in the world and, I don’t want to brag or anything, but a whole 20-something readers (I can never remember the exact number…okay, I can! It’s 23 last time I refreshed the sales page!! WHEEE!!) are reading it! And tons of them are total strangers, NOT people who I shared Doritos and poetry and too many secrets with in high school, or who drank cheap keg beer at field parties with me and my husband back when he was my boyfriend, or who danced to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in a fist-pumping-Jersey-girl-dance-athon at my wedding.
Okay, maybe just I wish tons of them were strangers…because as amazing, awesome, generous, fun, sweet, helpful, and gorgeous as all these life-long crazy friends are, they know a lot. And they think they know more! And they’re guessing about people and places and events that are fiction. But, you know, fiction that’s based on reality, because I’m not that creative. And I’m sort of lazy. And my friends know that.
Even my husband thinks he knows more than he does. When I was writing Double Clutch, I was in love. Like swoony, butterflies in my stomach, can’t sleep, obsessive love…with this book and Brenna, Jake, and Saxon, the main characters who lived and breathed for me, through me! The need to share this love was absolutely undeniable. And I had a captive audience in my loyal, loving husband, who has a very hard time saying no to me when I get that maniacal gleam in my eye. Also our house is too small to hide in, and he could only stay at work until the bosses forced him to go home, kicking and screaming.He wanted to relax after a long, grueling day, watch “Overhaulin’,” work on his truck, and sit on the back porch quietly contemplating life while the stars appeared in a slow speckle across the darkening sky. He wound up listening to me read AN ENTIRE novel in rushed, breathy spurts, stopping frequently to edit sentences that rang wrong in my ears, and often abruptly leaving him alone on said porch under said lovely stars so I could get down the entire scene that had just blossomed in my brain before I lost it.
It’s not a stretch to imagine that Frank (my husband) assumed he knew at least something about these characters who I so adored and forced him to adore even as he watched them steal his wife away and leave her completely uninterested in things that had never really interested her very much, like laundry and cooking and attempts to keep the floor from getting so sticky certain spots could pull the sock right off of your foot. My husband knows when he’s come against a force stronger than he is. He wanted to stop having to sniff the armpits of his shirts before work in a desperate attempt to find the least smelly one. And he wanted company for star-gazing, and peace when his favorite shows came on TV. He knew he needed the book to end. So he willed it to end.
“Just have Brenna choose the right guy and end it,” he urged as he stuffed our daughter’s red dress into the washer with a load of his undershirts and socks one night when I was close to finishing. The words hot pink flashed a dangerous warning through my brain, but I was too consumed by the Brenna/Jake/Saxon dilemma to give them any serious notice.
“But who does she wind up with?” I mused, my laptop staring at me with its coolly taunting blue light.
“What do you mean?” He banged the lid of the washer down and narrowed his eyes at me before crossing to the dishwasher. “You know who she ends up with. The right guy.” He picked up the bottle of dish soap in one hand and the dishwasher fluid in the other and looked at them both with a frown.
“But that’s the whole point.” Frank held the bottles up, and I pointed to the one that wouldn’t break our appliance. “It’s not that easy to choose.”
“Sure it is,” he growled, holding up the dishwasher liquid for emphasis. He banged the dish soap on the counter. “One works. One doesn’t.” He squirted half the bottle of dishwasher liquid in the tiny dispenser square.
“No. Each one offers something different. Each guy is awesome in his own way.”
Frank’s face darkened. “Um, no. One guy is a loser. One is a decent guy. Stop pretending there’s any question.”
“You’re simplifying, Frank…” I began, but I was shocked into silence when he banged the dishwasher door shut and glared.
“Fine! Let Brenna pick the dirtbag, okay? If she’s too stupid to know who she should end up with, she doesn’t deserve him!”
Part of me was foaming at the mouth with excitement! He was so passionate! He was banging the dishwasher shut! He was in a rage! OVER MY BOOK! Part of me was confused. He was in a rage over my book?
I followed him as he stalked across the sticky floor. “Why are you so upset?”
“Because I know who I am in the book, and I know who you are, and I can’t believe we’re not getting together!” he bellowed.
“It’s fiction! I’m not in the book! You’re not in the book!” I insisted.
Then Frank listed a dozen examples of interests, mannerisms, sayings, and situations that he shared with ‘his’ character, and he was absolutely right. I had plucked details from the guy I loved and peppered them into a fictional guy I loved.
But Frank was also absolutely wrong. See, he did pick up on exactly how he was like one of the guys. He just conveniently missed how he was exactly like the other guy, too. And he didn’t see the other real life guys who made up Jake and Saxon. Obviously! Because I don’t kiss and tell. Okay, that’s a lie! I totally kiss and tell, but I do it in fiction and I hide a lot of it in layers, the same way, I’m sure, a ton of writers do.
My past loves aren’t the only ones who made it into my book, either. For example, Frank has a really charismatic, frustrating, good-looking cousin who we’ve laughed with and watched work his magic a million times. We also watched him fall in love with the girl who inspired him to change his life. They’re both in Double Clutch.
I have a friend whose gorgeous, sweet husband was the object of just about every girl in our county’s crush…and he took full and complete advantage of all that admiration. When he met my friend, The One, the girl who swept him off his feet, she had to make peace with his very active romantic past, and she talked to me about how that felt. They’re in Double Clutch.
I watched my little sister, my best friend, my college roommates swoon with love…first love, unrequited crushes, crushes realized, soul-deep-let’s-get-married love, heart-wrenching-long-distance-love. They’re all in Double Clutch.
So is the guy I imagine my husband was before I ever met him. So is the guy I traded sly glances with every Tuesday and Thursday in Art History 105 but never got up the guts to ask out. So is the girl my ex-boyfriend eventually dated after me, and the next girl, who are both extremely nice, smart, funny ladies (hey, he always had good taste!). They’re all in there, wrapped up and taken apart, sprinkled around and put back together.
I am a little like Dr. Frankenstein. I’ve taken names, personalities, stories, glances, kisses, daydreams and molded them into a walking/talking world all my own but also everyone else’s. So when emails pop up and say, “Okay, is so-and-so based on so-and-so?”, the answer is…yes. And no. And yes. And no.
So I typed the last chapter, and read it to Frank, who crossed his arms and pouted a little, but said that it ended right enough as far as he was concerned. Then I steam-mopped the floor, threw together a fairly edible chili, bleached all of his socks and undershirts white again, and joined him on the back porch after we tucked the baby in. All was right with the world.
Are you in Liz’s book? Go check out Double Clutch and see! It’s available for the Kindle and Nook. The print version and sequel are both coming soon. If you want even more Liz (and who wouldn’t?) check out her blog or like her Facebook page. Have a question or comment for her? Leave it below, and she’ll see it when she checks in.