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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)

 

 

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

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

This a revised version of a post originally published on October 1, 2019 at https://kathleenjones.org/page/3/

 As I observed in my earlier post, which was originally published online on October 1, 2018, 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—still offer almost no clothing for petite women. And this situation had not improved at all when I visited these stores again in the fall of 2019.

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:

Saks

Saks continues to ignore the petite woman. No petite-sized clothing is available from their U.S. website; even worse, when I sent an email to Saks asking about their plans (if any) to carry petite-sized clothing, I did not receive a response.

Consequently, I haven’t updated my entry on Saks (below) from last year. There’s  nothing to update:

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?

The upshot: Saks obviously doesn’t want petite women to buy their clothing; they don’t even know that we exist! Don’t bother with them.

What you can do: Nothing. The people who run Saks are living on another planet.

Nordstrom

Nordstrom prides itself on the “size inclusivity” of its women’s clothing. That may (or may not) be true for Nordstrom’s U.S. stores (which I admit I haven’t visited for several years), but that’s not at all true for its Canadian stores, not by a long shot.

In October 2018, Brandon Gross, the manager for Nordstrom’s Eaton Centre location in Toronto, told me that his store planned to add petite-sized clothing by the fall of 2019. But when I re-visited that location in October 2019, I discovered that it only carried two brands—Eileen Fisher and Halogen—in petites.

When I contacted Mr. Gross to ask about Nordstrom’s plans to expand its petite offerings, he put me in touch with Whitney Buczkowski, the Divisional Retail Merchandiser, Women’s Apparel, for Nordstrom Canada. Ms. Buczkowski acknowledged the Canadian stores’ limited offerings in petites, and she told me that she does share customer feedback with the store’s merchant teams in Seattle to expand its extended size (including petite) offerings.

The upshot: Nordstrom has not, to date, lived up to its reputation as a “size inclusive” shopping destination for petite women. Of course, petite women can still order clothing online from Nordstrom’s U.S. website, but they shouldn’t have to do this! They—like taller women—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. In other words, why should women be financially penalized for being short?

 What you can do: Email Whitney Buczkowski (Whitney.Buczkowski@nordstrom.com), and tell her that you want Nordstrom’s Canadian locations to expand its offerings in petite sizes. Also, let her know which petite-sized brands you would like to see in Nordstrom’s Canadian locations (refer to Nordstrom’s website at https://shop.nordstrom.com/c/womens-petite-shop?origin=topnav&breadcrumb=Home%2fWomen%2fClothing%2fPetite-Size+Clothing)

Hudson’s Bay

Last fall, my visit to the Hudson’s Bay location in the Eaton Centre was a dispiriting experience.

Believe it or not, this year’s visit, in October 2019, was even worse.

Last year, the store offered a few stray pieces in petite sizes. Now, it has nothing—and I mean NOTHING—in petites.

The Bay’s online petite offerings have also gotten worse. Once upon a time (just a year or two ago), you could buy Lauren Ralph Lauren clothing in petite sizes from the Bay, not only online but also in many of its stores. Not anymore. The Bay has removed all RLR petites from its website and stores, but continues to offer RLR clothing in Misses and Plus sizes! And (of course), the store does not offer any other designer petite brands (save for a few pieces from Eileen Fisher).

I emailed Richard Montgomery, Vice-President and General Manager, to ask him about the lack of petite clothing at the Bay’s Eaton Centre store. Mr. Montgomery forwarded my email to the store’s Senior Vice-President for Ladies’ Wear; he promised to pass on her comments. To date, I have not heard back from him.

The upshot: Petite women who are unwilling to settle for unsophisticated, poorly made, and (mostly) synthetic clothing should look elsewhere.

What you can do: Email Richard Montgomery, Vice-President and General Manager (richard.montgomery@hbc.com) and ask him about the lack of petite clothing at the Bay’s Eaton Centre store and about the absence of quality petite clothing on the store’s website.

Petite women, it’s all about self-respect. Don’t shop at the Eaton Centre’s department stores (Saks, Nordstrom, and Hudson’s Bay) until they start to offer a decent selection of quality petite-sized clothing, and don’t shop at any other store that refuses to carry clothing in your size range.

 If you want to purchase good quality clothing that actually fits you, 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/joneslepidas and 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 Line Media Room at https://kathleenjones.org/media-room/

 

5-Star Review from the UK!

(See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Punch-Line-Kathleen-Jones/dp/1945181338/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=love+is+the+punch+line&qid=1569769542&s=books&sr=1-2)

A romance that keeps it real

Review posted on Amazon.uk on 16 September 2018 by Jack Dawkins, Esq,

Format: Paperback

 

Love is the Punch Line, Kathleen Jones’ debut novel, is not your average romance.

Straying from the tried and tested formula of two young, beautiful, perfect people overcoming a series of challenges and rivals on the path to true love, Kathleen gives us a relationship that feels a lot closer to the real world. The story revolves around Josh, an aging comedian on a steep downward career curve, peddling weak material at obscure comedy clubs – a world away from his past as a successful sitcom star. Josh is self-obsessed, depressed, and consumed with doubt over both his comedy and his unattractive appearance. When he meets Holly, a Canadian business woman, there are early hints that she could be his salvation – but both of them are damaged from previous failed relationships and prone to overreact to every little setback that comes their way. At times it’s hard to like either character, but that adds to the sense that this book reflects real life, where few people can remain consistently likeable in their most difficult moments.

A string of mishaps and misunderstandings conspires to keep the couple apart as the novel progresses, and we are kept guessing as to their eventual fate until the finals chapters. The book is an enjoyable ride, but touches on serious themes such as depression, suicide, and body image. Recommended if you want a romance that goes beyond the norm.

 

The Birth of a Writer Took 50 Years

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

Above: Kathleen Jones (front row, fourth from right) in Mrs. Eleanor Campbell’s grade 2 class at Central Public School in Windsor, Ontario, in 1967-68.

1967 was a landmark year, a year I’ll always remember. It was Canada’s 100thbirthday . . . and my birth date as a writer.

That fall, I was a 7-year-old entering the second grade at Central Public School in Windsor, Ontario. Up to that point, I had never thought of becoming a writer; in fact, I had never even written anything, even though I was already an enthusiastic reader. I wasn’t even much of a student and didn’t put much effort into my schoolwork.

All that changed when I entered the classroom of veteran teacher Mrs. Eleanor Campbell. An excellent teacher—and a strict disciplinarian—she motivated me to work hard, and my grades dramatically improved. And she made me aware of a talent that I didn’t know I had.

That fall, Mrs. Campbell gave our class a number of creative writing assignments. Even though I wasn’t the hardest-working student at that point, I put a great deal of effort into my writing. I soon discovered that I really enjoyed making up stories and characters, and I didn’t view these assignments as “work” at all. To my surprise, Mrs. Campbell loved my stories and often asked me to read them out loud to the class. She even told my parents that I would become “a famous Canadian author” someday.

Gradually, I began to think of myself as a writer, and throughout my school years, from grade 2 until I graduated from university, I continued to receive encouragement from teachers and professors for my creative writing. Alas, when it came time to earn a living, I had to put my dream of becoming a published writer on hold . . . but I never gave it up entirely. I started writing again at 46, and sold my first novel to a publisher at 57—my 50-year-old dream finally came true.

Mrs. Campbell passed away years ago, but I’ll always be grateful for her for recognizing my talent and inspiring my dream.

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 Line Media Room athttps://kathleenjones.org/media-room/