April

Celebrating Laughter

04/10/2021 – Julie Cameron

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

There's Nothing New Under The Sun

 

I have heard authors lament again and again. They were working on a project until they saw or read a story with a nearly identical plot. That leaves them feeling that what they are working on is redundant, even useless. Many end up tossing their work in progress and beginning something else, all because they saw something similar.
 

Well, a few weeks ago I saw something similar. I watched the Disney Pixar animated film, Onward. I had never seen the story before, but I practically wrote it.

At least I felt like I did.

As the movie unfolded, I felt like I was watching an animated version of my 2019 novel, Courage. Fortunately, I could not have tossed my words even if I wanted to. And really, I’d never want to. What I can do is enjoy the similarities in character, plot and theme. Loving mother dealing with two sons who don’t understand how badly they need to reconnect to each other. And a dead father who’s loss makes both boys sad and desperate.


There are also differences. The younger brother in Courage has a talent for swimming and diving that his older brother admires. In Onward, the younger brother discovers he has a talent for magic, which makes his older brother wildly enthused for him. Onward has a Manticore, Courage a younger sister. Both are a little scary, and a lot of fun. Courage has a parole officer keeping an eye on the elder brother. Onward uses a centaur police officer. Thank heavens I abandoned the subplot of having the parole officer fall for my heroes' mother. With the centaur trotting around romancing the boy's mother in Onward, that would have been one coincidence too many.

Both the movie and book have the same core, brotherhood at its worst, and at it’s finest. I am really thankful Onward did not come first. Otherwise I might have ignored the advice I give to others in a similar situation and tossed that manuscript. And that would have been a shame. Both stories deserve to exist and can be loved by any siblings who have ever lost a father and nearly lost each other.

There is no such thing as one and only one way to solve a problem or tell a story. Why else is there an endless stream of versions of Cinderella? Nothing an author can write is really unique. Just because your theme has been used once, or twice, or a thousand times doesn’t mean there isn’t room for your Voice to tell that story one more time.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Laugh in the Face of Danger by Eleri Grace

 I was a little stumped by this month's prompt for a bit. I love novels that can inspire a range of emotions in a reader, including side-splitting laughter, but I would probably have a hard time hitting that humorous tone even if I weren't writing in the WW2 genre. Yet, while many of my favorite authors who write humor very effectively include romance authors Kristan Higgins, Tracy Brogan, and Josie Silver, one of the funniest books I've ever read was the improbably humorous WW2 classic, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. 


Of course, many would deem it dark humor. But Heller's mastery of satire is unparalleled. Though many of the compiled "funniest lines" you might see online are humorous on their own, context adds immeasurably. So I do highly recommend reading the entire novel to get the full effect of Heller's genius. 


“You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you're at war and might get your head blown off any second."

"I more than resent it, sir. I'm absolutely incensed."

"You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don't like bigots, bullies, snobs, or hypocrites. Subconsciously there are many people you hate."

"Consciously, sir, consciously," Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. "I hate them consciously."

"You're antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated, or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if you're a manic-depressive!"

"Yes, sir. Perhaps I am."

"Don't try to deny it."

"I'm not denying it, sir," said Yossarian, pleased with the miraculous rapport that finally existed between them. "I agree with all you've said.”

Catch 22, Joseph Heller 

I am in the midst of writing my third Clubmobile Girls novel, set in India and Burma, and my hero will find himself recruited into dangerous search-and-rescue work in the Burma jungles. I've found a memoir titled "Hell is So Green" by William Diebold to be particularly helpful in my quest to provide my hero with plenty of challenges. Diebold jumped into the jungles and mountains of Burma a number of times to help lead downed airmen back to an American base --- a serious business. Yet, his memoir crackles with dry and self-deprecating wit, and consistently humorous exchanges with the pilots who maintained communication with him after his jumps and during his treks through dangerous countryside. In this instance, Diebold's parachute hung up in a tree, and a native boy helped cut the lines so he could reach the ground. When he made it back to the supplies the pilot had dropped, Diebold got on the radio: "Just once, old man, just once I wish one of you jokers would drop me on the ground. I've been in trees so much lately I feel like a bird." 

Humor can be found in the darkest and lowest of times, and yes, as Lion King's Simba confidently declared, in the face of danger. As we navigate our way back to more normalcy in the coming months, I hope you all find more and more occasion for laughter and humor. 



You can learn more about me on my website or follow me on my social media accounts at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

You can find my Clubmobile Girls novels on Amazon

Sunday, April 11, 2021

So Put on a Happy Face!

 


By: Marcia King-Gamble 

www.lovemarcia.com

Have you ever met someone who is twenty plus years younger than you are but looks--- how do I put it delicately….old?

I have, and while genetics may play a huge part in maintaining youthful looks, your general outlook on life plays an even greater part on maintaining a youthful face.   

My sister, (the world’s skeptic,) often says there’s no old, cranky people, these are folks that have been cranky all of their lives. She thinks that eventually crankiness reflects on your face.

Normally I roll my eyes and let her talk, but on reflection, there is some truth to this.

Take my friend, I’ll call him Norman, (easily one of the best-looking men I know.) Norman has the most negative personality I have ever encountered. Norman takes pride in his body and health. He bikes, runs, and has nothing good to say about anyone who is one pound overweight. But Norman, as he has aged, now has a perpetual scowl on his face which mars his good looks.  He now resembles the curmudgeon he is.  

Another friend, on the high side of seventy, you would never believe her age. Her positivity reflects on her face and in her wide smile. She’s wrinkle-free and has more energy than you and me.




There's some short-term benefits of laughter. Let's look at them.

Laughter doesn't just lighten your load mentally it induces physical changes in your body.

Laughter can stimulate your organs. It enhances your intake of oxygen and stimulates your heart and lungs. It increases the endorphins that stimulate the brain.

Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response. It increases and decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a more relaxed you.  A good laugh can also stimulate circulation and make muscles relax. Both reduce the physical symptoms of stress.

As for long term benefits, laughter has been proven to improve your immune system. Negative thoughts create a chemical reaction bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. Positive thoughts release neuropeptides that help fight stress and more serious illnesses.  It’s sort of a mind over matter thing and may even be the reason some survive serious illnesses and others who have given up, don’t.  It lessens depression and anxiety which makes you feel happier.




Look at the popularity of that emoticon 'Happy Face,'  you can spot it everywhere. It’s on clothes, backpacks, sheets, just everywhere you look. I sure as heck would like to have been the inventor of that smiley face .

Laughter even relieves pain, causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter also makes it easier to cope with difficult situations. It helps you connect with other people. Now more than ever we need that connection.

Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen that depression and anxiety and make the person feel happier.

Given all the benefits of a good laugh (which cost nothing, by the way) it would seem worthwhile to turn up the corners of your mouth and attempt to smile, then follow with a big belly laugh.

The result of laughter is a more relaxed and less tense you. So, why not enjoy the wonders of a good, hearty laugh? It may be more beneficial than the medicine your doctor prescribes.




About Marcia King-Gamble

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. She has contributed to Michael Fiore’s DigitalRomanceInc and served as a moderator on the now defunct eHarmony advice boards.  Having witnessed the bad, the ugly, and the not so good in relationships, she still prefers to write about happily ever after. Caring for her animal family keeps her grounded and sane.

Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Making ‘Em Laugh by Julie Cameron

If you ask me what my favorite book is, I will most likely fall into a trance and tell you that you are asking the impossible of me. Hopefully, however, this will spark a conversation about all the great books we’ve both read, and perhaps we’ll each pick up a few new titles to add to our “To Be Read” list.

JULIE CAMERON

I do, sort of, maybe, kind of, possibly have a favorite sub-genre of Romance though, and that would be the Romantic Comedy. I don’t necessarily mean the and-craziness-ensues-type of comedy where the characters find themselves in mad-cap adventures, although if sufficiently entertaining, I enjoy that, too. What I really love is the witty banter, especially between the love interests. If they can verbally spar with each other and make me laugh, I’m hooked.

But humor is not an easy thing to pull off, especially in the written word. A stand-up comedian will get instant feedback as to whether their humor is being well-received and can adjust on the spot if it is not. As a writer, it is more difficult to know how your wit is coming across, and that can be stressful.

At a table reading for my Christmas Spirit screenplay I was surprised (and thrilled) every time they laughed in all the right places. But it was an anxious time waiting and wondering if it would flop. Because of this experience, I believe I am more sympathetic (even empathetic) as a Content Editor when it comes to my comedy writing clients. I have a healthy respect for any writer who can create it subtly and with panache. 

Not everyone can pull humor off though, so if this isn’t something that comes naturally to you, don’t push it or it will most likely come out flat. 

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Like anything else in learning something new, practice, practice, practice. If you want to add more humor to your writing, read the masters. There are many gifted Romantic-Comedy writers out there, so read different types and see what resonates the most with you, then write in your own style and voice (please notice that I did not just tell you to write what they write – that would be plagiarism).

If you want to see how it is done, here are a few examples: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nobody’s Baby But Mine with its sharp, quick-witted banter especially between the heroine and hero; Kristan Higgins, Now That You Mention It, which blends wonderful dialogue and funny antics (oh, lordy, the scene with the bird!); and Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series has all of the above in abundance.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I am not saying that these are my favorite books. They are certainly among them though!

BIO:  Julie Cameron is an author of award-winning novels with diverse experience in content editing, consulting, writing, blogging, screenwriting, and self-publishing. She is a flexible and adaptable mentor and coach working with both published and non-published authors through Landon Literary.


Friday, April 9, 2021

Feel Good With Laughter


Diana writes light paranormal. If you would like a free novelette join her newsletter on her website.

Feel good with laughter.


I’ve known for a very long time that laughter is a source of relief in times of stress. Laughter can do a lot to relieve tension in the mind and pain in the body of us humans. I’ve seen this with my husband who is in constant pain with back problems. We watch a funny tv show and laugh, and he forgets his pain for a while. 
Laughter releases endorphins which make us feel good and temporarily suppress mental and physical pain. My husband and I have watched a great deal of comedies during this year. Sometimes the thought of a thriller was too depressing. The pandemic was/is depressing enough.

Who can resist a baby or toddler laughing at being tickled? It’s an infectious laugh. One to hold and enjoy and participate in. My Dad used to say it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. The consensus on that statement from six internet sites is 12 muscles to smile and 11 to frown on average. If your smile is really big and involves the eyes, it can take upwards of 23 muscles to smile. So Dad was wrong, but he did get us to smile more! He told wonderful jokes and loved to see his kids smiling and happy. 

A full belly laugh can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. Leaving you with a good, relaxed feeling. The oxygen-rich air you suck in to laugh, not only increases the number of endorphins in your brain, but stimulates many other organs such as heart, lungs and muscles. 

Do you laugh enough? 

There are ways to increase your sense of humor. Try putting funny cards, jokes, cartoons that have made you laugh on or near your work area and look at or read them often. Put up a funny poster that makes you laugh on the wall or the back of a door. Decorate the fridge with a cartoon each week from a magazine or newspaper. Keep movies on hand that you have found uplifting or funny. 


When the clubs open up, go to a comedy club or out with a group of friends that make you laugh. Buy a joke book and read two or three per day and laugh out loud even if you are by yourself! 

There are lots of novels that have humor in. One I just read is “The Billionaire in Boots”. I laughed out loud a lot while reading that book. 

Look at situations that come up in your own life or something you see on tv and try to find the humor in it. Go through each day with a positive attitude, be kind, be humble and LAUGH! A LOT!!! 

What have you laughed at lately? And what comment would you attach to the picture below? (see my comment below.)
Jude Beck from Unsplash
Wait, am I going priority mail?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

We All Need Humor by Lynn Lovegreen

 


It’s tempting sometimes to see the world through humorless eyes. There’s always terrible news about bad things happening, and we do need to think about serious things if we’re going to make the world better. But sometimes, a little humor can help, too. A wise person knows when to be serious and when to laugh. 

 

Balance is necessary for a healthy life. That means taking time to laugh now and then. Whether it’s joking around with family, making puns with friends, reading funny books, or watching humorous shows or movies, a little laughter can lighten our load.   Laughing with others also builds bonds. Those connections are good for everyone’s mental health, and can help us do the serious work when we have to get back to the job.

 

Connect with family and friends, and the whole world if that’s your thing. Share a laugh.

 

The Muppets have always been one of my go-tos when I need a giggle. Here’s a link from Recipes with The Swedish Chef, in case you need a little lift:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7UmUX68KtE

 

Laughter is good for you, and for all of us! Enjoy!


Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for over fifty years. After twenty years in the classroom, she retired to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult historical fiction is set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.