It's your wedding day. The rabbi pronounces you married. Your new husband steps on the glass -- and it flies across the room, hits a wall and doesn't even crack.
Sound like a nightmare?
It happened to author Eileen Rendahl -- and to Chloe Sachs, the heroine of Rendahl's latest novel, "Un-Bridaled" (Downtown Press).
The difference is that while Chloe leaves her new hubby at the altar, Rendahl stayed in a marriage that ended up dissolving. The good news is it inspired her to write the chick-lit look at a wedding gone awry -- her fantasy of what would have happened if she had ditched the groom. (Each chapter begins with "Chloe's Guide for the Runaway Bride": "If planning your wedding feels just like planning a funeral, buy a vowel and get a clue, baby. That relationship is doomed.")
The notion of giving advice to runaway brides came about as Rendahl tried to think about the "loose ends that would be out there if you had the courage to run, even if you didn't realize you should until the very last moment."
Rendahl lives in Northern California and grew up in Lincoln, Neb., to nonreligious parents who were very active at the South Street Temple. She said her background helps shape her characters.
"In my last three books, my heroines have been Jewish. It wasn't a conscious decision.... I think that's because a Jewish identity is something ingrained in me on a very basic level," said Rendahl, who notes that Chloe has Rendahl's voice, more than a few of her mannerisms and definitely has her way of thinking.
But Chloe's family is the complete opposite of Rendahl's, especially the bride's "nipped-and-tucked" mother, Lily.
"While writing 'Un-Bridaled,' I did on occasion ask myself what my mother would never ever do," Rendahl said of the woman who tells Chloe at one point: "Marrying for love is the stupidest reason in the book."
Rendahl is currently engaged to a man she says is a lot like Chloe's sweet-tough older brother, Rafe. She says she has no plans for a "Un-Bridaled" sequel, although she is contemplating having Chloe make a cameo in her next book, "Un-Veiled," about twin hairdressers who specialize in wedding hair.
As for Jewish brides-to-be, Rendahl advises: "Do not borrow a wine glass from the caterers for smashing purposes."
Eileen Rendahl will be signing "Un-Bridaled" on April 29, 4-5 p.m. in the Borders booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. For more information on Eileen Rendahl, visit www.eileenrendahl.com. For more information on the Festival of Books, visit www.latimes.com/fob.