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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)

 

 

Have No Time to Write?

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

If you’re like most people, your life is busy, filled with work, home chores, and family responsibilities. But you also need some time to work on your novel. What can you do?

Set Small Writing Goals

If your writing time is limited, try setting small writing goals. Some ideas:

  • Decide how quickly you want to write or rewrite a single chapter (for example, one chapter per week).
  • Then decide how many days per week you can write. Three or four days per week might be realistic for some people.
  • Next, decide how much time you have to write on those days (e.g., one or two hours).
  • Set realistic goals for each writing session. For example, you might try writing just one or two scenes or three to six pages during a single session.

The Results Add Up!

These goals might seem ridiculously small, but the results really add up! If, for example, you write one chapter per week, you’ll end up with four chapters per month. That means, if your novel has twenty-eight chapters, you can finish one draft of your manuscript in seven months.

<a href=”https://www.vecteezy.com/free-photos”>Free Stock photos by Vecteezy</a>

Exactly two hours on the round clock
Exactly two hours on the large round clock

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/

Writing the Dark Novel

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

My first novel, recently published, was a joy to write. A lighthearted romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, it was a sweet and funny story built around two loveable characters. My second novel, which I am currently writing, is far different: it’s angry, cynical, and deeply sad. In other words, it’s a “dark” novel.

Why would anyone choose to write such a gloomy book? Lots of reasons . . . .

First, a dark novel gives a writer the golden opportunity to deal with real-life experiences, the sorts of everyday events that most people experience but rarely talk about. Trouble paying off a mortgage, disrespectful and abusive treatment from a boss, unruly children, parents who don’t understand your personal struggles . . . all of the hardships of modern life can become the foundation of a dark novel. Dark novels also offer intellectual challenges for writers, as their plots and characters tend to be more complex and harder to describe.

More importantly—at least from my point of view—the process of writing a dark novel forces a writer to confront the truth. By confronting certain hard realities I’ve had to face and by writing about them, I’ve been able to come to terms with my past and to help myself heal. Doing this takes courage, but the experience has been more deeply satisfying than I could have ever imagined.

It’s not easy to write a dark novel. Far too often, the dredging up of painful emotions leaves me depleted and depressed, and all I want to do is to abandon the novel once and for all. But I just can’t; the book is too powerful to run away from, and it’s crying out to be written. The journey hasn’t been easy so far, but it’s definitely worth taking.

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/

Photo credit:<a href=https://www.vecteezy.com/photo/4811250>woman holding a pen sitting on a desk writing</a><a href=”https://www.vecteezy.com/free-photos”>Free Stock photos by Vecteezy</a>

You’ve Finished Your Novel. Now What?

 

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

You’ve finally finished writing the third or fourth or seventh draft of your novel. You’re ready to show it to another pair of eyes—beta readers or a freelance editor—but you’re exhausted. You need to take a break first. But should you?

Of course you should! Novel writing is a demanding task that requires hours of intense focus and discipline. So set your manuscript aside for at least one month and don’t pass it on to anyone else right away.

But don’t let that one- or two- or four-month break go to waste! Use that time to plan the future of your novel. How? By creating the following files in Word:

  • a schedule for your novel that lists all necessary tasks, along with their proposed timelines;
  • a marketing plan for your book;
  • a list of potential agents; include links to their webpages, contact information, and submission requirements;
  • a list of publishers in your genre who accept unagented manuscripts; include links to their webpages, contact information, and submission requirements;
  • a list of reviewers (both publications that review books and online book bloggers) who might be interested in your book; include links to their webpages and contact information; and
  • promotional materials for your book, such as a tagline, a brief synopsis, and a long synopsis.

Why should you bother doing these tasks now? After all, you’re trying to relax!

Two reasons:

  • It will be easier to keep your book’s momentum going after you’ve worked through all of the comments from your beta readers and/or freelance editor and made changes to your manuscript because you’ll know what you have to do next. And you won’t have to spend weeks and weeks compiling all of these lists from scratch; you’ll only need to spend a few days checking the information online for updates.
  • It will also be easier to keep track of all of the tasks you’ll need to do and when you’ll need to do them.

In other words, organizing yourself during a slow period when you’re taking a break from writing will make the process of getting your novel out into the world a lot smoother, less stressful, and less overwhelming. And it will free up your time for a task you truly love: Writing your next novel!

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/

 

Daydream Your Novel

Daydream Your Novel

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

Finally, you manage to find some time in your jam-packed schedule. You wrack your brain, trying to force the words out . . . nothing. Or the words appear, but your writing seems awkward, forced. You try again and again, work harder and harder, only to get the same dismal results. Why? You know what you want to write. So why aren’t you getting anywhere?

Because creative ideas can’t be conjured up through conscious thinking. Creative ideas are products of the unconscious mind, and they float to the surface only when we aren’t “thinking” (in the conventional sense of that word).

But how can a writer gain access to creative ideas locked up in the unconscious mind?

By freeing the mind. By daydreaming.

Begin by taking the pressure off yourself to write. Close your ideas, lay down somewhere quiet (if you’re at home, that is), let your mind wander. Envision the scene you’ve been trying to write, let it unfold on its own, relax and watch it like a movie. Then, while that scene is still fresh in your mind, write it down as you’ve experienced it. Don’t worry about making every word perfect.

As odd as this technique sounds, it helped me to write my first novel. It also made the process of writing easier, smoother, less intimidating, and more fun. And writing a novel should be fun; otherwise, why bother doing it at all?

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/

I Miss My Characters!

I Miss My Characters!

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

I spent over three years of my life with two special people, Josh and Holly. I knew how they met, how their relationship grew, how they felt about each other. I knew their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, their checkered pasts, their worries about the future.

I knew everything there was to know about these two people. Then one day . . . they were gone.

Josh and Holly were the main characters in my first novel Love Is the Punch Line. Even when I wasn’t writing, they lived in my head. I could see them and hear them so well that they became part of my daily life. So when I finished writing the book, I found myself missing them.

How did I deal with it? I started writing a new novel with a new set of characters I could befriend. But I still miss Josh and Holly. Maybe I should write a sequel . . . .

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/

Saving My Bag

Neal3K Handle With Care via photopin (license)

A series of posts by a Toronto-based novelist who’s trying to reduce her carbon footprint by making more thoughtful choices in her daily life.

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

I’ve always loved leopard prints; among other things, I’ve owned a leopard print dress, pants, shirt, blouse, sweater . . . even a belt. So when I spied a large brown leather shoulder bag with a haircalf, leopard print front on Banana Republic’s website in the fall of 2011—the bag was part of the store’s 1960’s-themed Mad Men Collection—I just had to purchase one.

I took very good care of that bag, keeping it clean and treating the leather with a special conditioner several times per year to keep it soft and supple. Unfortunately, I discovered that haircalf is very difficult to take care of. The haircalf front of my bag became more and more bald with each passing year, and by the fall of 2019, it looked awful. I was ready to buy a replacement . . . but I didn’t.

Why? For one thing, haircalf bags cost a fortune. Also, the rest of my bag—the leather—was still in decent shape. It seemed wasteful to toss it out, and I didn’t want to hurt the environment. I knew that nobody would purchase my damaged bag if I donated it to a resale store and that it would end up in a landfill.

So I started hunting for a shop that would either dye the bald spots on the haircalf to conceal them or replace the front of the bag with a new piece of haircalf.

None of the shops I approached were willing to take on the dye job. One shop was willing to replace the haircalf panel . . . at a cost that was far higher than the price of a brand new haircalf bag! I was about to give up and buy a new bag . . . then I had an idea: Maybe I could replace the damaged haircalf front with a piece of plain leather.

The owner of the shoe repair shop in my local mall offered to take on the job for the reasonable price of $120 (versus $500 and up for a new haircalf bag). He replaced the damaged haircalf front with a piece of reddish-brown leather that contrasted beautifully with the rest of the dark brown bag. Two weeks later, my bag looked like new.

I now have a lovely bag that didn’t cost a fortune and is much easier to take care of than the old version of the bag. And my contribution to the world’s landfills was minimal: a panel of damaged haircalf instead of an entire bag.

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/

Sympathy for the Villain

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

Photo credit: License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)<

Ever since I was a child, I’ve sympathized with the villains in stories.

It all began during my earliest years, when I sided with the “villainous” cats in those all-too-common cat and mouse cartoons that used to run on Saturday morning TV. Even though Tom or Katnip had been trying to catch—and presumably, eat—the mouse, he didn’t seem to deserve the cruel and brutal torture that was supposed to be “funny”, but never was.

As I grew older, I found myself feeling sorry for villains in novels, movies, and TV shows. All too often, I became angry when a male character was humiliated in public or a woman was jilted by her fiancé for a more beautiful woman or someone’s job or career was destroyed when a more “deserving” person snatched it away from them.

Whenever I talked about my sympathy for these “villains,” most people thought I was crazy. After all, the villain had done something to deserve his or her fate! And I was supposed to cheer for the hero!

But I wasn’t crazy; I had very good reasons to cheer for the villains. 

In most of these stories, the villains are losers. They’re underdogs who never had any realistic chance of winning. And they’re almost always outclassed in some way by the heroes—the winners—who have some unfair advantage over them, be it looks, some special talent, or even good, old-fashioned “virtue.” Heroes are nothing like real, flawed people with shortcomings, who usually don’t have outstanding looks or talents. And real people don’t always win.

In other words, real people are more like the villains than the heroes in stories. Unlike heroes, real people know how painful it is to lose. We’re often outclassed in some way by those who have some unfair advantage. That’s why I—and perhaps other people—sympathize with villains, not with heroes.

And also like us, all of those fictional villains probably have a good side and deserve their fair share of happiness! Why can’t their creators—novelists, scriptwriters, animators—find someone to love the villains or give them a shot at a promising career . . . or even let those cartoon cats catch those stupid mice, just for once?

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/

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