Do Authors Base Romantic Novels on Real Relationships?


I’ve often wondered whether authors base their romantic novels on real relationships in their pasts.

In my case, the answer is yes. A relationship I had with a boy in middle school (he was 12 years old and I was 11!) inspired me to write my own romantic novel. Even though 45 years have passed, I still cherish fond memories of this larger than life character: tall, darkly handsome, whip smart and, most importantly of all, funny. AND this handsome and smart boy used his wonderful gift for humour to flirt with me!

Virtually every afternoon for three or four months, he would walk home from school with me, always trying his hardest to make me laugh, creating cute nicknames for me and devising amusing songs about me, often snatching the little round green leather hat off my head (it was mid-winter) and kicking it across the street like a football.

I didn’t mind the teasing at all; it was good-natured, he made me laugh, and he was so gorgeous, with his curly dark hair, big brown eyes, and freckles. I looked forward to our afternoon walks home, and wrote about him in my diary every night. I still have that diary, filled with his witty comments, its cloth cover awash in the wild psychedelic colours that were so trendy in 1971.

By the end of the school year in June, he had stopped paying attention to me. He was Jewish, my mom told me, and his family probably didn’t want him to get involved with a Christian girl. Sigh.

For the next four decades, I was haunted by memories of this boy. He was such a unique individual with such a big personality, and I’ve never met anyone else like him. Then one day in early 2013, I had an important insight: unique personalities like my former boyfriend belong in novels!

Of course, nobody wants to read about the “puppy love” of two pre-teens. Well, maybe pre-teens do, but I was now in my 50’s . . . so I aged the two of us by 40 years. I kept my former boyfriend’s marvellous sense of humour but transformed him from a class clown to a professional stand-up comedian. I also kept his Jewishness; it’s an important part of who he is.

Once I established the character of the comedian, it was easy to spin a romantic tale around him and to create a host of other characters, especially the non-Jewish heroine (you’ll never guess who I based her on!). The rest of the novel is pure fantasy, the result of my overactive imagination run amuck (and some research), but its core, its heart, is the sweet relationship between a funny, outgoing boy and a shy, studious girl over four decades ago.

Want to Read More?

Finish author Helena Halme transformed her real-life romance with an English naval officer into a romantic novel The Englishman: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-how-to-turn-your-life-into-a-novel/

Have you based a novel that you’ve written on a real past romantic relationship? Please post your comments.

photo credit: Inseparable via photopin (license)



A Dreamer’s Blog by Jason E. Foss

Thursday, December 6, 2018
“Love Is The Punch Line”
An Interview with Kathleen Jones by Jason E. Foss
“Everyday we are writing a story of our life.  Trying to figure things out.  Sometimes great writers can help us along the way.  A great story can help us with our own.  I like to find out what motivates great Authors to bring a great story to life.  Kathleen Jones is an Author that does just that.  She was able to share with us where she got her motivation from.”

Jason E. Foss

Jason:  “What motivated you to write “Love Is The Punch Line”?”


  “A relationship I had with a boy in middle school inspired me to write this novel.  Virtually every afternoon for three or four months,  he would walk home from school with me, always trying his hardest to make me laugh, creating nicknames for me and devising amusing songs about me, often snatching the little round green leather hat off my head (It was mid-winter) and kicking it across the street like a football.  In other words, this handsome and smart boy used his wonderful gift for humour to flirt with me!  I didn’t mind the teasing at all; it was good-natured and he made me laugh.”

Jason: “Briefly tell us about “Love Is The Punch Line”?”


 “Middle-aged stand-up comedian Josh Steinberg, formerly the star of his own popular TV Series, finds himself struggling to keep his career alive, playing seedier and seedier clubs.  Plump, balding, and plain-looking, he has never had much luck with the women.  That is, until Josh meets Holly Brannigan while performing his stand-up act in a comedy club.  Holly, an attractive, intelligent, and divorced 50 year-old businesswoman, becomes instantly smitten with Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy.”

                                       “The lonely and vulnerable Josh soon falls in love with Holly, even though she’s not the statuesque type he usually goes for.  But Josh, terrified of being hurt and discarded by yet another woman, hides his true feelings for Holly by making fun of her in his stand-up act.  And Holly, taking Josh’s words to heart, starts to wonder if she means anything to him at all.”

Jason: “Describe Josh and Holly’s attraction toward one another and tell us what you like most about working with those two characters.”


  “Josh is attracted to Holly’s intelligence and kindness; he also likes the fact that she “gets” him.  Holly is attracted to Josh’s warmth, sense of humor, and vulnerability.  I enjoyed working with these characters because they were realistic and flawed but also loveable.”

Jason: “Are you working on another book?  If so, what can you share with us about it?”


 “Yes, I am writing a second novel.  It deals with the cruel way the modern corporate world treats its employees.”

Jason: “What is the easiest way to buy copies of “Love Is The Punch Line”?”

Kathleen: The book is available in both paperback and ebook formats from the following:





Barnes and Noble:




Moonshine Cove Publishing:



“It’s amazing how a great experience with someone from middle-school can motivate Kathleen Jones to create a unique love story.  Finally Josh finds someone that “gets” him.  The best relationships whether present or past it is pretty safe to say that they are usually with someone that “gets” us.  So book lovers that enjoy reading a creative love story go to one of Kathleen’s links to buy her new book “Love Is The Punch Line.”

Article on Love Is the Punch Line in The University of Toronto Mississauga Magazine, Fall 2018 

(see https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/communications/sites/files/communications/public/shared/010986%20Hambly_Woolley_UofT%20Miss_revised.pdf)

Write On

Kathleen Jones (BA, 1982) can now tick ‘published author’ off her bucket list. After majoring in English literature, the Erindale College alumna worked for three decades as an editor and technical writer before realizing her own life-long dream of becoming a fiction writer. In April, Moonshine Cove published Jones’ first novel “Love Is the Punch Line” which has earned several five-star reviews on Goodreads. The comic romance chronicles the midlife relationship that blooms between a washed-up comedian and a divorced businesswoman who meet at a comedy club. The Scarborough-based writer is at work on her second novel and posts about the writing on her blog, The Quirky Novelist, kathleenjones.org.


(Review posted by Mary Yaroscavitch of Coffee, Books, and Cakes on October 29, 2018 (https://www.coffeebooksandcakes.com/books/love-is-the-punch-line-by-kathleen-jones/); also posted on Goodreads and Amazon.ca)

I received this book for free to base my honest review on.

Kathleen Jones’ book, Love is the Punch Line, is a about an honest romance between two people who are not gorgeous and not young. They are based on real people, everyday people. They are in their 50’s and have a bit of self esteem and trust issues.

You can clearly see that when Josh gets up on stage for his comedy routine. He’s balding and he’s on the plump side. You can read what Josh is thinking while giving his stand-up routine. Even though it’s suppose to be funny, it felt kinda sad. He was barely getting any laughs from the audience.

Holly, meets Josh at the comedy club. She’s from Toronto, a business woman, kind and smart. Even though they both have self esteem and trust issues, they do have their ups and their downs. It’s not a novel that’s love at first sight, it takes awhile for there HEA (happily ever after). I do like a slow burn within the pages, and that’s what Kathleen has done here.

I liked the fact that this relationship was about 2 older adults, as I am creeping up to that age in a few years. It was refreshing to read, and you can truly find love at any age.

Kudos to you, Kathleen. I enjoyed the book a lot.

2 New Book Signings for “Love Is the Punch Line”!!!

Author Kathleen Jones will be signing copies of her novel Love Is the Punch Lineat the following two locations:

  • IndigoSpirit: First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West (King and Bay), Toronto

When: Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m.

  • Coles: Eglinton Square, 1 Eglinton Square (Eglinton and Victoria Park), Scarborough

When: Friday, November 9, 2018, 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.

New 5-Star Review from the San Francisco Review of Books!!!

Grady Harp’s 5-Star Review (on behalf of the San Francisco Review of Books) on Goodreads, October 7, 2018


“Look, I’m sorry. I was having a rough night, and I took it out on you.”

Canadian author Kathleen Jones earned her degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She worked as an editor for various Canadian book publishers. Now Kathleen is a full-time author who writes for a number of popular book blogs and contributes monthly book reviews to Goodreads. LOVE IS THE PUNCH LINE is her debut novel. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

For a first novel LOVE IS THE PUNCH LINE is not only a very original idea for a romance but it is also written with a joie de vivre style that suggests the beginning of a very successful career. Her prose is infused with humor and contemporary ideas of where we all are at this point in history and she is able to set her scenery and stage props early on in the first pages of this endearing romance.

An excerpt follows: ‘Josh Steinberg’s mission in life was to make other people laugh, but these days, he could barely make himself smile. “Good evening, everyone,” Josh said, starting his act in a halting voice, his eyes sweeping the half-empty, dimly lit room. What a dive. The Yahoo Comedy Club in Toronto? Never heard of it before. Why does Greg keep lining up these crappy gigs? And how did I end up with an agent who knows nothing about the comedy business? Serves me right for hiring someone who used to be a roadie with a rock band. Josh smiled at the half-drunken faces before him, then launched into his routine — the usual shtick about his hopeless love life. “My looks have helped me in life. I mean, no women are filing paternity suits against me.” Deep down inside, Josh knew that his looks had done absolutely nothing for him. He had never really been a hunk: five foot nine; slightly plump — always plump, even when he was young; a plain face with a big nose; thinning and graying brown hair; receding hairline; double chin. Josh especially hated his big, protruding belly; he had tried for years and years to get rid of it, with no success. As if his aging looks weren’t bad enough, Josh now had some unwelcome competition from his new twenty-eight-year-old agent, Greg. Despite his short stature, Greg was darkly handsome — and Italian — with brilliant, piercing blue eyes and perfect features. On more than one occasion, Greg had stolen the woman that Josh tried to pick up. Each and every time it happened, Josh vowed to fix himself up through the magic of drastic diets and plastic surgery. “I have to be realistic about my expectations. I mean, if I were a woman, I wouldn’t date me.” Josh had always known he wasn’t great-looking, but he had never dreamed that he would still be alone at the age of fifty-four. He believed that once women got to know him, they would see the beautiful heart under his less than gorgeous exterior. All he had ever wanted was a soul mate, one special woman who could love him as much as he could love her. Josh knew that he would make a great husband, unlike most of the other comics on the road, who often cheated on their wives. “Anyhow, don’t feel too sorry for me. I’ve slept with lots of gorgeous women. They simply can’t resist us paunchy guys.”

The synopsis hints at the pleasure ahead – ‘He courted her with punch lines. Middle-aged stand-up comedian Josh Steinberg, formerly the star of his own popular TV series, finds himself struggling to keep his career alive, playing seedier and seedier clubs. Plump, balding, and plain-looking, he has never had much luck with women. That is, until Josh meets Holly Brannigan while performing his stand-up act in a comedy club. Holly, an attractive, intelligent, and divorced 50-year-old businesswoman, becomes instantly smitten with Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy.’

Kathleen’s debut is wholly successful – just the right amount of humanity and humor and romance. Watch her rise!




Save on shipping charges! Support a local author! Purchase your copy of “Love Is the Punch Line” at these Toronto bookstores:

* Book City: 348 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, on the north side of Danforth, one block west of Chester subway in the Carrot Common Building.

* IndigoSpirit: First Canadian Place, 100 King Street West (King and Bay)

Petite Women Are No Longer Welcome at the Eaton Centre’s Department Stores in Toronto

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

Petite women in Toronto are no longer welcome at the Eaton Centre’s department stores in downtown Toronto. The three department stores in and around Toronto’s Eaton Centre mall—Saks, Nordstrom, and Hudson’s Bay—offer almost no clothing for petite women.

Every woman, regardless of her shape or size or height, should be able to find chic and flattering clothes that fit. If only the fashion world felt that way.

Most women’s clothing is sized to fit a woman of about 5’5” and won’t fit shorter women properly. Just shortening a garment won’t make it fit; it needs to be entirely re-proportioned so that the neckline, waistline, pockets, and hem all sit at the appropriate place on the body.

The fashion industry offers clothing in petite sizes for women who are 5’4” and under. The average woman’s height in North America is around 5’3”. Clearly, petite women are far from rare, yet they’re offered limited choices, mostly basic styles in shoddy fabrics. And those choices, which were never extensive in the first place, have been shrinking over the last ten years, as department stores closed their petite departments.

Let’s take a closer look at the three culprits: in the Eaton Centre:


In early 2016, Saks Fifth Avenue, an American department store known for its high-end fashion offerings, opened its first store in Canada. The local media gushed about the luxurious store’s first location in Toronto’s Eaton Centre mall, noting its extensive line of exclusive designer clothing. About fifteen years ago, I used to shop at Saks when I visited the U.S. Their store in Denver’s Cherry Creek Mall had an impressive petite department—I’m 5’2.5”—with a wide range of beautiful clothing. I remember buying a petite-sized Ellen Tracy denim jacket there; it had gorgeous ivory top stitching and a blouson shape. I decided to visit the Toronto Saks store to see what all of the fuss was about. I wasn’t impressed.

The Toronto store doesn’t offer a single item—not one single item—in petite sizes. The store’s website doesn’t, either. When I emailed the store to ask about their petite sized offerings, a representative told me that (1) Saks does offer petites in some of their stores, (2) I wouldn’t be able to find petite sizes on their website (no kidding!), and (3) if I wanted to find petite clothing, I would need to contact individual stores in the U.S. Apparently, Saks abandoned its petite department in 2006 for reasons that remain unclear to this very day. When their petite-sized customers complained, the store brought back its petite department, but it seems to have disappeared again. In the meantime, they’ve expanded their plus-sized clothing department and now offer pieces by such high end labels as Eileen Fisher and Lafayette 148. Come to think of it, Lafayette 148 also makes glorious clothing in petite sizes, but you can’t buy it at Saks, or (apparently) anywhere else in Toronto, even though there are probably a lot of petite-sized Toronto women who could afford it.

Toronto’s fashion media might be in love with Saks, but I refuse to shop there, not even if I suddenly become rich, not even when their clothing goes on sale, not ever. Because I, the customer, shouldn’t have to do the work of contacting individual stores to find something, anything in my size. Obviously, the people running Saks don’t value people with bodies my size, so why on earth should I give them my hard-earned money?


Several months later, in September 2016, Nordstrom opened in the Eaton Centre; once again, the local media greeted the new store with fawning coverage. In the U.S., Nordstrom is known for its reasonable selection of designer petite clothing, but when I visited the Eaton Centre store in September 2018, I discovered that it offers NO designer petites; in fact, the store’s only petite offerings were a few pieces by Halogen. A clerk in the store reassured me that I could still purchase designer petites online from Nordstrom . . . as long as I was willing to pay a lot of extra money for shipping and duties! No thanks! Petite women—like other shoppers—need to be able to try on clothing in the store, and they shouldn’t have to bear the extra cost of having clothing shipped from the U.S.

Petite-sized women who live in Toronto should have the option of purchasing quality clothing (including designer clothing) in their size range. Their counterparts in the U.S. already have that option. They should also be able to find petite-sized clothing in Nordstrom’s stores. The Eaton Centre Nordstrom made the mistake of combining misses and petite-sized clothing into one department; shoppers weren’t aware that the store carried petites because they couldn’t see them. Petite shoppers should have had their own department within the store.

I contacted Brandon Gross, the manager of the Eaton Centre, and expressed my concerns about Nordstrom’s limited petite-sized offerings, but have not yet received a reply.

Hudson’s Bay

The biggest disappointment, however, was the Hudson’s Bay store across the street from the Eaton Centre. When I visited the store in September 2018, I was shocked to discover that it will no longer be carrying any petite sizes at all! NO PETITE SIZES IN THE BIGGEST BAY STORE IN CANADA!!! The only petite clothing left in the store was a sad-looking rack of left-over items in the Lord and Taylor section (see the attached photo). When I wrote a letter to the Bay to protest this decision, I received a call from Richard Montgomery, who promised to pass my letter on to the store’s buyers. Meanwhile, a clerk at the Eaton Centre store reassured me that I could still purchase petite-sized clothing from the Bay’s website. That site, however, offers limited options for petite women, and almost nothing in the designer category, with the exception of Lauren Ralph Lauren, which is no longer available in petite sizes at the Bay store at Yonge and Bloor.

So, what can petite women do about this?

  1. Write to Nordstrom, and Saks/Hudson’s Bay, and tell them you want better options for petite women at their stores (especially at the Eaton Centre): (1) Ask for special petite clothing departments at those stores. (2) Ask them to carry some of the quality designer-petite lines available in the U.S. and list those lines (Eileen Fisher, Johnny Was, Nic and Zoe, Caroline Rose, Joan Vass, Go Silk, Misook, Michael Michael Kors, which are carried in the U.S. by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom).
  2. Send your message by snail mail, not email. Snail mails are taken more seriously:
  • Nordstrom: Brandon Gross, Store Manager, Eaton Centre, 260 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 2L9
  • Saks and Hudson’s Bay (Hudson’s Bay now owns Saks): Richard Montgomery, Vice-President, HBC, 8925 Torbram Road, Brampton, Ontario L6T 4G1
  1. Don’t shop at the Eaton Centre department stores (Saks, Nordstrom, and Hudson’s Bay) until they start to offer a decent selection of quality petite-sized clothing.
  2. Don’t shop at any other store that refuses to carry clothing in your size range.

Petite women, it’s all about self-respect. If you want to purchase good quality clothing, try Neiman Marcus (online), Talbots, or my personal favourite, Brooks Brothers, which carries some of the fashion-forward items from its Zak Posen line in petite sizes. A lot of the clothing from Brooks’ regular-sized Red Fleece line fits petites well, too. Custom-made clothing (from a dressmaker or tailor) is another option.

Please share your experiences. Did you contact Saks, Nordstrom, and Hudson’s Bay? If so, how did they respond?

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidasand sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT Kathleen’s first novel, Love Is the Punch Line, a midlife romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, is available NOW, in trade paperback and ebook from Amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/Love-Punch-Line-Kathleen-Jones-ebook/dp/B07BYNX7BM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525812415&sr=1-1&keywords=love+is+the+punch+line)and Indigo Books and Music (https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/love-is-the-punch-line/9781945181337-item.html?ikwid=love+is+the+punch+line&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0)Visit the Love Is the Punch LineMedia Room at https://kathleenjones.org/media-room/