Updated: Aug 29
Me judging a humor contest…
The only thing I can think of to be more awesome than judging the humor writing contest for Flying Ketchup Press would be if someone asked me to judge a baking contest or the “Pies of Pittsburgh” contest (pizza pie, of course; although I’m not opposed to judging pies of any kind!) If the “Pies of Pittsburgh” is not a real thing, I think it should be and I will be lining up to judge.
What makes a good story humorous? I think humor is subjective. For me, the things that strike me as funniest are based on universal experiences that readers are familiar with. A humorous story must make me giggle or laugh without trying. If it is a story, I'll remember it, and tell a friend. It's usually a story that takes a real-life situation or thing and turns it into a crazy, wild tale. Puns are a big hit in my book (literally).
When it comes to humor, like my baking, I like slightly sweet, and a little nutty!
(I like a sugary mix of crushed almonds on my cake icing and sweet sauce on my pizza if anyone is wondering.) 😊 When Flying Ketchup Press asked me to be a guest juror for their humor short story contest “Sugar Coat,” I was excited to read the stories people sent. Then, it hit me…I have to read all these stories and vote on them. It's totally serious, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
I love to write humor which you'll see in my upcoming collection of cozy mystery stories THIS NEW JOB'S MURDER: The Melody Shore Mysteries coming out June 18th, but is my real life funny? Writing humor is writing from life. I had a good friend help me select a few true life “incidents” to share with you we found laugh out loud funny. I guess I don’t lead as boring of a life as I thought. These actually happened…
There was the time we were at double elimination softball tournament with over twenty teams. After three softball games in one day, I decided to go to the parking lot to take a short nap to wait out which other teams we would be playing next. I jumped in, reclined the seat and shut my eyes. I rested for about twenty minutes, brought the seat back to its upright position and then looked in the back seat. I was in the wrong car. The tip off-the leftovers of a large pizza that wasn’t mine on the back seat. (Never mind the time I loaded five bags of groceries into the passenger side of a car and then realized there was a car seat in the back…my kids had grown out of car seats.) I always tell people, I never slept around, but I have slept in other people’s cars. To that end…
“Where is the only place you can sleep with a stranger and not be judged?” Answer: The bus.
While pregnant, I called my husband, and then called my closest friend immediately after. A little while later, I hit redial to phone my husband back…
My friend’s husband: Hello (can you really tell who it is by the words “hello”)
Me: I need you to bring my urine sample to my appointment.
My friend’s husband: Huh?
Me: My appointment your meeting me at 4:00. It’s in the refrigerator, marked with my name and date. Don’t forget it. Oh, I got to go, see you later.
My friend’s husband: Got it. Okay.
He realized my mistake and called my husband to pass on the instructions. Apparently he'd been taught first-hand by his wife to not mess with a pregnant woman.
At the Dollar Store
Me: “Hey, the dollar store has balloons. How many should I get.”
My friend: “Get eight.”
Me: “Oh my gosh... I got to go, I can’t believe I ran out of the house and forgot I still have my polka‑dot fuzzy slippers on!”
Not your Friend
And, last but not least, have you all done this? (At least pre-Covid) put your arm around someone thinking it was a good friend, only to find out, you don’t know the person at all. If you’re like me, I hope you followed it with a hug.
I’m sure we can all relate somewhat to my above stories…I hope I’m right?
Humor is everywhere. As I read the “Sugar Coat” entries, I looked for stories that have a natural sense of humor, timing, and rhythm. Does the funny moment fit into the story? Are there one-liners in the text where it feels right. Does the humor reveal character development and advance the plot or is it simply interjected to try to evoke a laugh? Is the tone of the narrator humorous? Do they add funny incidents and circumstances?
How to begin writing humor? Observational humor always makes me chuckle-I once observed a woman in an outdoor market in New England say to her friend, “Everyone mixes their poodles...” I knew what she meant–after I thought about it. Just hearing it, struck me as funny. That's where humor starts, with observation. To write humor, starting thinking about, what you've done that makes other people laugh, and what makes you laugh? Then take it apart: Is it the situation? Is it the dialog, something someone says?
Is it people's interaction? Is it gags and jokes?
I hope you find my embarrassing stories above somewhat humorous and “Thank you” to Flying Ketchup Press for allowing me to take part in this fun experience and thank you to everyone who entered. You all are tickling my funny bone! Here’s to writing that makes us laugh!
Write-on and laugh out loud.
Carole Lynn Jones
Congrats to our Winners!!!
First Place, "Failure to Triangulate" by Jody Rae. Jody was a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee for her creative nonfiction essay, “Ice Chest” in Flyover Country. Her short story, “Beautiful Mother” was a finalist in the Phoebe Journal 2021 Spring Fiction Contest. Herwork appears in various outlets, including X-R-A-Y, Rejection Letters, MASKS Literary Magazine, Sledgehammer Lit,Cowboy Jamboree, and Red Fez. Her work can be found at www.criminysakesalive.com. Stay tuned to read Failure to Triangulate in a blog later this month!
Second Place, Julie Sellers with "Armed Bandit Refuses Cash, Accepts Magazines." We will post it here this month so watch out for our guest blog coming with Julie's humor entry! Julie A. Sellers was raised in the Flint Hills near the small town of Florence, Kansas. Those great expanses of tallgrass prairie and reading fueled her imagination, and Julie began writing at an early age. After living in several states and countries, Julie resides in Atchison, Kansas, where she is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Chair of the Department of World and Classical Languages and Cultures at Benedictine College. Julie has published three academic books, and her creative prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as Cagibi, Wanderlust, Unlost, The Write Launch, 105 Meadowlark Reader, and Kansas Time + Place. Her first book of poetry, Kindred Verse: Poems Inspired by Anne of Green Gables, was published by Blue Cedar Press in 2021. Julie was the 2020 Kansas Authors Club Prose Writer of the Year. @juliesellers https://julieasellers.com/
Third Place, Andy McLean's "Symphony City and Other Stories." Andy is a psychiatrist whose writings have been featured in literary and medical journals. He grew up reading the works of satirists and humorists, with James Thurber being one of his favorites. He doesn’t write often, as is apparent if you have read any of his work.
Honorable Mention, Frances Flavin, The Poet's Guide to Depravity. Francis Flavin’s work has appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Blueline, Pacific Review, Blue Collar Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Three Line Poetry, The Closed Eye Open and Tempered Runes. His poetry and prose have received recognition in the Soul-Making Keats Competition, Chicagoland Poetry Contest, Working People’s Poetry Competition and the 2020 Writer’s Digest awards.
Carole Lynn Jones is the author of the Melody Shore Mysteries and several children’s books. In her book, This New Job's Murder, you'll meet Melody Shore, a sassy, calamity-prone cemetery assistant trying her best to send the dearly departed off to a “peaceful rest” in the small town of Pleasantview. Unfortunately, no matter how hard she tries she can’t seem to keep herself out of the crosshairs of murder. Come along as she buries her past, digs for clues, and unearths small-town secrets.
Carole says her writing process is like scrambling eggs. You crack open the case, expose the characters and then create a story that is satisfying. A little salt, pepper, and hot sauce are always necessary. When she isn’t putting her imagination to work writing mysteries, she spends her days and sometimes nights formatting legal documents for a large law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She enjoys biking the many bike trails of Western Pennsylvania and spending time at home allowing her cat Elvis to turn her lap into his favorite seat. Married to her high school sweetheart, she has two grown children and one spoiled cat. Find her online at www.carolelynnjones.com, @CaroleJonesy (Twitter), @carole_lynn_jones (Instagram). Join her FB Humor group: I'm Shore You're Joking.
Flying Ketchup Press ® founded in 2018 to champion new and diverse voices in short fiction and poetry. We publish books, anthologies, podcasts, magazines, and contemporary media. Each year, Flying Ketchup Press produces collections of short stories and poetry by select authors, as well as anthologies dedicated to adult and teen readers.
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