China, Not Paper!



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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 ‪ 

For over thirty years, one of my favourite Boxing Day rituals was a trip to the mall to snap up bargains. And every year, I’d visit card stores, where I would purchase next year’s cards, paper, tags, and bows, all at half price. All too often, I’d also pick up small paper plates printed with festive holiday images, such as vibrant red poinsettias and big white and silver snowflakes.

These cheerful paper plates added colour to our Christmas table, and I loved seeing them year after year. But after dinner was over, these now-soiled, unrecyclable plated were always tossed out. A couple of years ago, I began to wonder what happened to these plates after I threw them out. Did they end up in a landfill somewhere?

Deep down inside, I knew the answer: I was creating waste. And I had to stop. But what alternative did I really have? Good-quality, Christmas-themed china plates aren’t exactly cheap, and a whole set of them would cost a fortune.

But I didn’t need to purchase an entire set; a partial set of dessert plates would do. In January 2020, I spied a set of six small Lenox china appetizer plates (which could be used to serve desserts on) with a pretty green holly pattern on sale at Hudson’s Bay for $112 (marked down from $250). I snapped them up. I wanted to buy six more plates, but they were sold out at the Bay, so I searched online. I finally found them on sale at Wayfair for the higher but still reasonable price of $180.

I now own a set of twelve gorgeous, holiday-themed china plates that will last for years and years, purchased at a fraction of the original price (over $500). And, most importantly, I’ve stopped buying—and tossing—those pretty paper holiday plates that are easy on the wallet but hard on the environment.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪  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 ( and Indigo Books and Music ( Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at


Writing the Quirky Novel


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By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

Most novels fit neatly into a genre: science fiction, romance, mystery. These genres have large and enthusiastic audiences, making them attractive to publishers hoping to sell large volumes of books.

But some novels don’t fit neatly into established genres. Some novels can fit into two or more genres; other novels don’t seem to fit anywhere. And these hard to categorise novels can be difficult to market. So, what’s the point of writing an offbeat, “quirky” novel?

Freedom. Unconstrained by the “shoulds” of conventional fiction, quirky novels give writers the freedom to experiment, to try out fresh ideas, to go wherever their imaginations take them. Quirky novels break rules; even the ones that can be pigeonholed into a genre often break the rules of that genre. Rule breaking is exciting and liberating, and frequently leads to surprises and intriguing insights. What’s more, a well-written offbeat novel tends to be memorable . . . and very entertaining for readers!

Of course, the very uniqueness of quirky novels can make them hard to sell. Literary agents and editors at large publishing houses, sniffing around for the next million-selling blockbuster, usually aren’t interested in them. Authors of quirky novels should consider submitting their work to small presses—which tend to be more open to unconventional books—or even following the self-publication route.

The very existence of a quirky novel is something of a small triumph in a huge universe of increasingly bland and predictable books. As the author of a recently published quirky novel, I know the thrill of seeing a writer’s special vision in print, especially when it’s enjoyed by readers. There’s nothing quite like it.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪  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 ( and Indigo Books and Music ( Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at

Can Indie Novelists Do Book Signings?


By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

If you’re an indie novelist—a self-published novelist or a novelist published by a small press—you’ve probably had a hard time selling your book. Indie novels are usually ignored by reviewers at mainstream newspapers and magazines, and they’re rarely carried in bookstores because small presses and self-publishers don’t have deals with book distributors.

But indie novelists can sell their books in bookstores. How? By doing book signings.

Do this before you approach bookstores

First, create two documents to publicize your book: (1) a tip sheet and (2) a press release. You can find templates for both types of documents online.

What is a tip sheet? A tip sheet is a summary of your book; it includes an image of your book’s cover, the ISBN number, price, format (print and ebook), publication date, publisher’s name and logo, number of pages, and a couple of brief endorsements from reviewers.

What is a press release? A press release announces the publication of your book. It includes the publisher’s name and logo, a brief synopsis of your book, the author’s contact information (phone number, email address, and mailing address), endorsements from reviewers, and a link to your book’s media room (if any) on your author website.

Once you’ve created your tip sheet and press release, copy them to a USB, take the USB to a print shop, then make 25 colour copies of each document.

Which bookstores should you approach?

Strange as it might seem, chain bookstores are usually more welcoming to indie novelists than indie bookstores. Indie (non-chain) bookstores rarely carry indie books—they’re either too specialized and/or they’re biased against books that weren’t published by big houses.

Get your novel into the bookstore’s online catalogue

Once your publicity materials are in order, try to get your book listed in the online catalogue of a bookstore chain. Your book won’t be available in the chain’s bricks and mortar stores, but customers will be able to order it online.

Find the website for the bookstore chain you want to approach and search for instructions for new authors. For example, Indigo Books and Music, Canada’s largest bookstore chain, has a special webpage titled “FAQ for Authors” ( Authors who want their books added to Indigo’s catalogue must send an email that includes the title and ISBN of their book to

After you send your email, you might be contacted by a manager requesting additional information on your book (such as the list price). She or he should be able to help you get your book listed on the store’s online catalogue.

After your novel is listed on the bookstore’s online catalogue

The next step? Try to arrange a book signing at one of the bookstore chain’s locations.

First, order 10 to 20 printed copies of your book. Then order a box of padded envelopes from a company such as Uline (; you’ll need them to protect your books from wear and tear when you take them to the bookstore.

Next, check the bookstore’s website for locations near you; be sure to jot down the address and the manager’s name. Visit individual locations and bring a printed copy of your book and your publicity materials with you. Once you get to the store, try to speak to the manager, show her or him your book, and leave copies of your publicity materials. Ask the manager if you can do a book signing at the store and try to get his or her email address and phone number. When you get home, send an email to the manager, thanking him or her for their time, and attach electronic copies of your publicity materials. Then follow up with the manager by email or phone in a couple of months.

Your book signing

Once you’ve scheduled a book signing, send an email to the manager, confirming the time, date, and the number of copies you’ll be bringing. You can also attach a PDF of the book’s cover to your email and ask the manager to incorporate it on a sign announcing your book signing. The manager might also send you a consignment contract if she or he wants to carry additional copies of your book at the store.

Write a brief pitch for your book—a spiel that will make your book irresistible to customers—and try to memorize it.

Bring 10 to 20 copies of your book (in the padded envelopes) and 25 copies each of your tip sheet and press release to the bookstore. You can also bring a copy of your pitch, just in case you haven’t memorized it.

Get to the store at least one hour before your book signing and leave your books and publicity materials with the staff.

The bookstore will usually provide a desk to display your books and publicity materials, along with a small desktop sign announcing your book signing (which might include an image of your book’s cover) and a chair. But don’t just sit behind that desk; pick up a copy of your book, walk through the store, and approach customers. Ask them if they enjoy reading novels in your genre. If they do, show them your book and deliver your pitch; if they don’t, thank them for their time and leave them alone. Be sure to tell customers who have shown some interest in your book that you would be happy to sign their copy, but don’t sign the book until the customer has paid for it.

Always thank customers who purchase your book. And since book signings usually run for 3-4 hours, sit down and relax for a few minutes at least once an hour.

At the end of your book signing

At the end of your book signing, let the store’s staff (including the manager) know that you’re leaving, thank them for their help, and ask them how many copies of your novel were sold that day. If you have a consignment contract with the store, find out how many copies of your novel are being kept in the store’s inventory.

When you get home, note the number of copies you sold, along with the date and location of the store and the number of copies in that store’s inventory (if applicable). If you don’t receive a cheque for the books you sold within three months, follow up with the manager of the store by email or phone.

So, why should I bother to do a book signing at all?

Book signings can be difficult and stressful; bookselling is tough, especially for novelists, who tend to be introverted and uncomfortable with crowds. But the rewards are often worth the effort, especially for indie novelists, who can get some insights into readers’ tastes and find a new audience for their books.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪  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 ( and Indigo Books and Music ( Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at

Glowing 4-Star Review for Punch Line on Amazon!


Reviewed in Canada on by Ruby Densmore on June 18, 2020


Excellent read. I couldn’t put it down.

Nice love story between two people who didn’t believe they were worthy of love.

Tall People Are NOT Smarter!

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

According to a 2006 study by researchers from Princeton University (see taller people earn more money because, presumably, they’re smarter.

I think the Princeton researchers were wrong.

On the surface, the researchers’ conclusions, based on their research, seem convincing. But they could still be wrong! The world is full of smart, accomplished people who are short on inches but not on brains. For some reason, the Princeton study conveniently ignores them.

Scientists Aren’t Always Right!

The scientific community has been proven wrong before. In 1959, Canadian regulators approved the drug Thalidomide for pregnant women, but it was later found to cause birth defects ( Also, at one time, scientists believed—wrongly, as it turned out—that the size of the universe had always been the same size and that it would never change (

Just like the rest of us, scientists can be influenced by biases, in this case, by height bias. It’s not unreasonable to assume that these scientists could have concluded—perhaps unconsciously—that shorter people are less intelligent and capable because they look a lot less imposing than their taller counterparts. Such a bias could very well have influenced the information the scientists were looking for and the way they interpreted it.

Far too many people think that scientists are infallible. And what’s most disheartening about the results of this study is the fact that nobody challenged the Princeton researchers. Height bias is so widespread in our society that many people are not really aware of it.

The reality is that height has nothing to do with intelligence, as these 20 famous short smarties prove:


Dr. Joyce Brothers (1927-2013), 5’, was called “the mother of television psychology” by the Washington Post. A very popular psychologist and television personality, she wrote a daily newspaper advice column from 1960 to 2013.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 5’, is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She is the second female justice to be confirmed to the Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor.

Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin), 5’1”, an American lawyer, former judge, television personality, producer, and author, has been the star of her own successful Daytime Emmy-Award winning reality courtroom series, Judge Judy, since 1996.

Chrystia Freeland, 5’2”, an award-winning journalist and politician, is the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.

Rachel Notley, 5’2”, is a Canadian politician and the former Premier of Alberta. She’s also a lawyer and a graduate of the venerable Osgoode Hall Law School.

Joan Rivers (1933-2014), 5’2”, a ground breaking female comedian, launched her phenomenally successful career in the 1950’s, a time when female stand-up acts were rare.

Tori Amos, 5’2”, is an accomplished American singer-songwriter, pianist, and composer. She is also a classically-trained musician who won a full scholarship to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at the age of five.

Bette Davis (1908-1989), 5’2.5”, is widely regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history. A two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress, she was the first person to earn ten Academy Award nominations for acting.

Carole King, 5’3.5”, an American composer and singer-songwriter, wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1955 and 1999.

Margaret Atwood, 5’4”, is a celebrated Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, and environmental activist. She has won the Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.


Robert Reich, 4’10”, a distinguished American professor and author, served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.

Martin Scorsese, 5’3”, an Oscar-winning director, is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in movie history.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), 5’4”, lead India’s independence from British rule. Famous for employing nonviolent civil disobedience, he inspired movements for civil rights and freedoms around the world.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 5’4”, is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. He is known for developing a wide range of artistic styles, including Cubism and collage.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), 5’4”, an English comedian, filmmaker, and composer, was one of the most important figures in movie making history. His career lasted an impressive 75 years.

Dr. David Suzuki, 5’4”, is a Canadian science broadcaster, academic, and environmental activist. He was a professor in the genetics department at the University of British Columbia from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. He is also a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Dick Cavett, 5’6.5”, an American television personality and former talk show host, was known for his intelligent conversational style and in-depth discussions.

Albert Einstein, (1879-1955), 5’7”, a brilliant German-born theoretical physicist, developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars (with quantum mechanics) of modern physics.

Paul Krugman, 5’7”, is an American economist who won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a columnist for the New York Times.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), 5’7”, an American Baptist minister and activist, was the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1964, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.

photo credit: Scott McLeod Troublemaker via photopin (license)


Kathleen Jones is a moderately short (5’2.5”) author. Her 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 ( and Indigo Books and Music ( Visit the Love Is the Punch LineMedia Room at

The Green Novelist: Rescuing a Beloved Hat

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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.

Around 2009, I purchased—for the reasonable sum of $70—a gorgeous winter hat from upscale retailer Holt Renfrew (then known for its great assortment of hats) in downtown Toronto. The hat, made in Italy for Holts, was a 1920’s-style cloche that perfectly suited my vintage aesthetic: chocolate brown wool felt adorned in front with a cluster of satin roses in shades of beige, camel, and taupe, mixed with a couple of roses in deep brown velvet.

Every year or two, I dropped off my hat at The Hatter (a Toronto store that sells men’s hats) for a thorough cleaning. But by the spring of 2019, the brim, subjected to years of wear and tear, was badly misshapen. The Hatter cleaned the hat but they were unable to restore its original shape. I considered replacing the hat . . . but I didn’t really want to. I love this unique hat, I know I’ll never find another one to replace it, and above all, I didn’t want to create more waste by throwing it out.

Donating it to a second-hand shop wasn’t an option because—to be frank—who is going to buy a misshapen hat?

So I set out on a quest to rescue my hat. After a brief online search, I found a shop that restores the shape of women’s hats: David Dunkley Fine Millinery at 974 Bathurst St., just north of Bloor ( This charming shop, which sells its own exquisite women’s hats, replaced the worn-out wire from the brim of my cloche and magically restored its shape! I wound up with a hat that looks just as beautiful as it did on the day I purchased it, at a price (approximately $45) that was much lower than the cost of a comparable new hat.

Best of all, I was able to avoid adding more junk to the planet!

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪  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 ( and Indigo Books and Music ( Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at







Chamein Canton’s New 4-Star Rave Review for Love Is the Punch Line

Posted by Chamein Canton on on April 18, 2020:


Very enjoyable romance with a fresh perspective

I was lucky enough to become aware of Love Is The Punch Line. I found it to be funny with romance in all the right places. I appreciated the perspective of comedy in romance and not in a formulaic rom-com way. As a reader, I enjoyed the deft way the author handles comedic and romantic elements of the story to an enjoyable conclusion.

New 4-Star Rave Review for Love Is the Punch Line from Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews!

Posted on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews on March 30, 2020: (

Witty and intense

Jones pens a unique and raw story in Love Is the Punch Line. I haven’t read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed this story. The characters were raw and very real. Reader, enter the world of comedy clubs and an adventure in romance. The author’s writing style is smart and while balancing romance with the raw lifestyle of comedy and fame (or fall of fame). The author brings Josh and Holly’s story to life. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. Josh and Holly’s connection is not forced. A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. The author’s technique of intense and believable characters and great plotlines is a gift. I look forward to reading more by this author. This book is a definite recommendation by Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. ~Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews


How Not to Get Reviews for Your Book

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

First-time authors who are looking for book reviews, beware! There are a number of dicey schemes out there that will waste your precious time and money. I pursued several of them after I published my first novel, a quirky midlife romance (Love Is the Punch Line) in 2018. Here’s a couple that weren’t worth the effort:

  • Ebook Contests and Giveaways: I did a number of ebook giveaways on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and various fan sites catering to fans of romance novels. I also sponsored a contest, offering the winner a $25 gift card on Amazon. Even though dozens of people responded to these offers, I got exactly ONE review! And the giveaways were a huge drain on my time, as I had to send my ebook to dozens of people, then follow up with them a few months later.
  • BookCrossing: BookCrossing promises to give authors greater exposure for their books. The author registers their book online, gives a copy of the book to another person (usually, a stranger), and asks that person to review the book, pass it along to someone else, then record their actions on BookCrossing’s site. I gave my book to a woman who promised to do all of these things; however, one year later, the copy I donated has vanished from the face of the earth. Once again, no reviews!


photo credit: JavaJoba Smyrna Library Private Room via photopin (license)

Kathleen Jones’ 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 and the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at

A Comedian’s 5-Star Review of Love Is the Punch Line!

Posted by Ward Anderson on Goodreads on December 2, 2019 (

This is a truly heartwarming, romantic, and engaging read. And it’s also a pretty good look at the life (and Love-life) of those in the comedy world. Jones manages to understand the industry, and the people involved in it, without resorting to old cliches about comedians or their relationships. Mostly, it’s a very enjoyable read, with fun and engaging characters. There’s a lot of heart and a lot of fun to be had here. Give it a read; you’ll enjoy it.

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