Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Clutch by Lisa Becker (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Clutch by author Lisa Becker!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Lisa!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself. 

I’m fortunate to have had a series of wonderful careers outside of writing including being a wife, mom, PR professional, college professor and community volunteer. Clutch: a novel is my 4th book. The book actually started out as a screenplay that was optioned by a production company housed at one of the major movie studios summer 2014. Unfortunately, it fell out of development. I was eager to have this fun story with some of my favorite characters told, so I turned it into a short novel earlier this year.

How long have you been a writer? 

I started writing Click: An Online Love Story after my husband and I married but before we had kids. Then I had to take a break from writing due to the rigors of motherhood. But I had always told myself – even as a little girl – that I would write a book one day. So I made the commitment to finish the book. I wrote in the mornings while the girls were at school or at night after they went to sleep. I made it a goal to write – even if only for a half hour – every day. That was five years ago. I’ve since published three additional novels - Double Click, Right Click and my latest release Clutch: a novel.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

I spent nearly 20 years working in the public relations industry, most of it at a global agency with marquee brand clients such as Ford, Sony and Gatorade. When I turned 40, I quit my job to spend more time with my kids. I’m fortunate that my husband makes a nice living and I’m able to be at home with my kids and focus on writing during my free time.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer. 

I remember writing short stories and poems as a child. I didn’t really ever anticipate becoming a writer. But I always said I would write a book. After my husband and I met online when online dating was in its infancy, I started writing down funny things that happened to me and stories from friends. From there, a novel emerged. It was only based on the positive reception of the book that I decided to continue writing. Now I can’t seem to stop the flow of sweet, romantic and funny stories that flow through my head.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Clutch.

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit story that chronicles the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer, who goes through a series of unsuccessful romantic relationships she compares to various styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to stand up for the handbag style that embodies what she ultimately wants – the “Clutch” or someone to hold onto.

What was the inspiration for this story? 

When I was writing the Click Trilogy, (Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click, Right Click) I was obsessed with NCIS reruns and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode when one of the characters mentioned that men were like purses – something useless to hang on a woman’s arm. I started thinking about how men are like handbags and the idea grew from there.

How did it feel to have your first book published?

I honestly wasn’t sure anyone would buy it or want to read it. I figured my parents would buy a few copies and proudly show their friends that their daughter wrote a book. I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support of the book community who embraced the story all told in emails. It was enough of a success that it inspired me to continue writing.

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

I write books that I myself would want to read. And I love chick lit and romantic comedies. As much as I also enjoy a good Pulitzer Prize winner or tear jerker, I feel like the world is so serious and sad already. I want a fun and sweet escape. And that’s what I hope I give my readers.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why? 

As mentioned above, I love chick lit and romantic comedies – anything with lots of heart, humor and a happily ever after.

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing? 

I sit in my home office at a HP desktop computer with a really big screen. My eyes grow tired pretty easily in my old age;) And, I like to write with the television on in the background. When I first started writing, I was obsessed with Law & Order reruns. As mentioned, now, I can’t seem to get enough of NCIS. I guess there’s a part of me that likes to see justice served.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books? 

The Click Trilogy was inspired by my own dating misadventures and stories from friends. While writing the series, as mentioned, I was obsessed with NCIS reruns and would have the show on in the background as I wrote. There was an episode when one of the characters mentioned that men were like purses – something useless to hang on a woman’s arm. I started thinking about how men are like handbags and the idea for Clutch: a novel grew from there.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes? 

I have two school-aged girls, so my writing window is somewhat limited. I try to sit down every day for at least an hour while they are in school to jot down ideas that come to me. And I always have my iPhone handy to jot notes down when inspiration strikes.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most? 

I really enjoy writing engaging, realistic and fun dialogue. I tend to let my characters have conversations in my head and then quickly write it all down before I forget. I would say I struggle most with descriptive narrative.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing? 

I can often be found watching my girls play soccer, going to the movies, reading a book or hanging out in my small beach town with my family and friends.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

Years ago, I had interviewed Charles Rosen, one of the producers of the original Beverly Hills 90210, for an alumni magazine article while I was in graduate school. And I'll never forget what he told me, "Don't fall in love with your words, because somebody above will probably change them." Having spent nearly 20 years working in the public relations industry where I spent the bulk of my time writing, and now being a fiction writer, I’m finding that to be absolutely true.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

Knowing that someone is giving up a few hours of their time to immerse herself into a world that I’ve created is very humbling and fills me with a big sense of responsibility. I want to make sure she has a good experience and feels it was time well spent. It’s most gratifying when she tells me she wishes she could really be friends with the characters I’ve created.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

I’m active on both Facebook and Twitter and happily respond to messages there. Feel free to reach out to me.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

In my Click series, all of the characters were fictional, but some of their qualities and characteristics were inspired by real people I know, such as Shelley. Her hilarious habit of giving nicknames to her “man du jour” was inspired by a childhood friend of mine who had a nickname for a guy in college that she admired from across the dorm cafeteria. She called him Maverick because he looked like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Much like Shelley, she is a self-confident, gorgeous, lovely gal and it wasn't long before they met and dated for a spell. In clutch all of the characters are just figments of my overactive imagination and not in any way based on anyone I know.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer? 

Many years ago, I read a book called e by Matthew Beaumont which tells the story of a fictitious ad agency vying for a big account, with the story all told in emails. I thought that narrative style would work really well for the story I wanted to tell about the online dating world. It was a modern way of storytelling that fit the topic and the times. Without that first experience, I probably wouldn’t have embarked on this new career.

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

That’s a tough question to answer, as there are so many ways to look at it – financial, audience reach, reviews, etc. For me, I feel good when I see a positive review and know that I’ve brought some entertainment to someone for a few hours.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us? 

In addition to promoting the new book, I’m looking into making connections within the motion picture industry to try and get a movie version made. As mentioned, the book started out as a screenplay that was under option at a major studio, but fell out of development. I’m eager to see if there’s interest from someone else on bringing this fun and quirky story to the big screen. So if you happen to be a well-to-do movie producer looking to make a new romantic comedy, please get in touch!

Thank you Lisa for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career. 

About The Author

In addition to clutch: a novelLisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love StoryDouble Click and Right Click. She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily” and “Chick Lit Central” among others. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters.

Author Website

Book Review

Clutch by Lisa Becker
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: October 26, 2015
Format: Paperback - 214 pages
               Kindle - 329 KB
ISBN: 978-0692489895
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

clutch: a novel is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.

Book Excerpt:

Kayle puffed on the contraband Cuban cigar and let out a smoky round “o” before her lips curled up in a big smile.

“Will you excuse me a moment,” said Caroline, dressed in a short powder blue mini dress that hugged all of her curves and made her eyes pop.

Complementing the look was a small ivory clutch that matched her ivory-colored sandals. She walked through the haze of smoke that hung over the dark leather couches and chairs, accented by small round mahogany tables. She passed a mid-sized room with a glass door that resembled a bank vault. Gold numbered drawers with small locks lined the walls like safety deposit boxes. This was the temperature-controlled humidor where L.A.’s rich, powerful, and elite stored their cigars at the exclusive, member’s-only Grand Havana Room cigar club.

It was kind of Kayle’s brother to host her and the girls that night. He’d been a member for several years, as it was a perfect place to schmooze his entertainment industry clients. While she had been invited many times before, Caroline had never wanted to come. Smoking and cigars weren’t her thing. But Kayle was insistent she get out of the house and set her mind on something other than her new line of bucket bags and Dunham Carter.

She walked into the bathroom, happy to have escaped the stagnant, dingy air. Glancing in the mirror, she dabbed a tissue under her eyes to remove some errant eyeliner. She stood back, taking in her reflection, using her fingers to comb through her long blonde hair.

Removing a nude lip gloss from her small bag, she applied a dab, rubbing her lips back and forth to make sure it was evenly distributed.

Finally, she took a long, last deep breath, enjoying the relatively smoke-free atmosphere.

As she walked out of the unisex restroom and down the hall back to the main room, a handsome man with flopping blond hair and a strong cleft in his chin walked toward her and smiled, dimples puckering on both cheeks.

“Did you know that’s the bathroom where Mel Gibson and Britney Spears supposedly had sex?” he said to her.

“Oh my. I feel a little dirty now,” said Caroline, slightly aghast, clutching her hand to her chest.

“Just a little? I wanted to bathe in a vat of Purell after I found out,” he said, smiling. “I’m Marcus.” Caroline reached out to shake his hand.

“Speakin’ of Purell, I washed ‘em,” she said. Marcus reached out his hand to greet hers and she let hers linger in his for a moment longer than necessary. “I’m Caroline.”

“Good,” said Marcus. “I like a girl who’s clean. And maybe a little dirty,” he said, cocking his head to the side and flashing her a panty-dropping smile.

“You’re in luck. I’m just the right amount of wrong,” she said as she turned her head to the side and gave him a sly smile in return. “Could I buy you a drink?” he asked, gesturing with his hand toward the bar.

“Actually, I was just leavin’. I don’t really like all of this smoke,” she replied as she waved her hand back and forth in front of her face and scrunched up her nose.

“Kind of a hazard when you come to a cigar bar,” he said, furrowing his brow and nodding with his lips pulled together in a line.

“I know. I got dragged here by some friends,” she said, looking up toward the ceiling and shaking her head.

“I know a place that makes a great dirty martini. It too is just the right amount of wrong,” he offered.

“That’s temptin’. But I don’t even know you,” she replied. Tell me to come get to know you, she thought as she lowered her head slightly and looked up at him, her long lashes casting shadows on her cheeks.

“Come get to know me,” he said, echoing her thoughts. “The bar isn’t too far. Just an hour flight on my private jet.”

“Private jet?” said Caroline with skepticism.

“Did I forget to mention the bar’s in San Francisco?” said a smiling Marcus, his dimples causing her heart to beat faster and her panties to become moist. Caroline gave a small girlish laugh.

“Oh, that’s quite an offer, but I think I need to decline. It’s a bit late for me to be jauntin’ off up the coast with a man I hardly know.”

“I can respect that. Maybe I could call you sometime and we could get a drink around here.”

“Sure. Why don’t I give you my number?” Marcus handed Caroline his phone, a lighter-than-air model she hadn’t seen before. She programmed in her number and handed it back to him, letting her fingers brush against his skin. Marcus looked at the contact information.

“All right Caroline Johnson, I’ll call you.”

“I hope you do,” she said before walking past him, knowing his gaze would be watching her ass as she went back to say goodbye to her friends.

My Book Review:

Clutch: A Novel is an entertaining chick lit story that will keep you in stitches! Author Lisa Becker weaves a sassy fun tale that follows handbag designer Caroline Johnson's romantic trials and tribulations that she encounters during her journey in search of the perfect Mr. Right.

The reader can't help but follow Caroline as her dating life becomes a crazy roller coaster ride wrought with misadventures and date disasters that provides a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. She compares the men she dates to the various handbags that she creates. From the hobo bag - starving artist, the briefcase - businessman, the diaper bag - single dad, and the doctor bag - the professional, to name a few ... it's all about finding the clutch - the perfect man that she can hold onto.

And if that isn't enough, add in Caroline's relationship with best guy friend, bar owner Mike Barnsworth, who is by her side throughout her journey, each supporting the other as they go through the dreaded dating process, only to find out that the perfect person has been right in front of them the whole time!

Clutch: A Novel was such a fun and lighthearted story, it easily kept me engaged and entertained as Caroline and Mike's opposite approach to dating is full of dramatic and hilarious twist and turns. I really enjoyed following Caroline and Mike, they had such an awesome friendship bond, their witty banter and crazy antics kept me snickering as I turned the pages. I thought that the author's comparison of the variety of handbags to the male relationship types was fascinating, it made me wonder how many of us readers paused to compare our own handbags to the different men that we have dated ... hmmm ... very clever!

If you are looking for a delightful chick lit tale that has an enjoyable mixture of humor and romance, then look no further, Clutch: A Novel is the book for you!


Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour Event 

Tour Schedule:

November 2- ChickLit Plus – Review 
November 3 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt 
November 4 – Love Chick Lit – Q&A 
November 4 – Little Miss Drama Queen – Excerpt 
November 5 – SSLY Blog – Excerpt 
November 5 – Change the Word – Q&A 
November 10 – The Phantom Paragrapher – Review 
November 11 – Granny Loves to Read – Review & Excerpt 
November 12 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A 
November 13 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt

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