Here’s the Story . . .

Are you unpopular? Do you get pooped out at parties?

If you know me and/or have read anything I have written, you know I like to write humor. My personality is wired for the “funny,” and someone recently gave me the ultimate compliment: “I love your quick wit!”

I could say it’s just me, but I owe a good chunk of my sense of humor to Lucy, Laverne, Shirley, Oscar, and Felix.

It’s so tasty, too!

Classic sitcoms are my “jam,” as the younger set would say. I grew up on them, cut my teeth on them, and still watch them whenever I can. I have a substantial DVD collection, and I am constantly scouring streaming services and YouTube for episodes.

Do I just sit around all the time, passively watching classic TV? No (well, mostly “no”). In my writing, I can tell that my “style” has developed over the years from tricks and tips learned through these wonderful comedies. The “triple” joke, used so often in the Dick Van Dyke Show? I use it all the time. Broad exaggeration of everyday situations? Thanks, Lucy and Ethel and Laverne and Shirley. Contrasting opposite things for humorous effect? I see you, Oscar and Felix.

Join the thousands of happy, peppy people . . .

I guess you could say my research with classic sitcoms has been both intentional and unintentional. There are times when I search out a show or a specific episode for a focused purpose; other times, I am relieving stress by popping in a “Lucy” for a good laugh.

So, in the words of that great philosopher Jed Clampett, take off your shoes and sit a spell—enjoy an episode on me. Trust me—it counts as research!

WRITING PROMPT: Find an episode of an old sitcom, either on a streaming service or on YouTube. Watch with a critical eye, noticing the style of the humor and the jokes. Now, think of a humorous situation in your own life and write about it, incorporating ideas you learned from the episode.

[Click to Tweet] Classic sitcoms are my “jam,” as the younger set would say. I grew up on them, cut my teeth on them, and still watch them whenever I can.

3 Questions Wednesday with Carlton Hughes

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday.

Carlton Hughes

Today’s guest is a familiar one, a member of the Writing Prompts Crew. Among other things, he’s a communications professor, a children’s pastor, and an all-around great guy. Our readers know him for his warm, humorous posts.

So, let’s see how he answers our 3 Questions–

Question: Carlton, what inspires you?

Carlton:  Many things inspire me, but I’ve narrowed it down a bit. (1) I live in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and you truly witness the creativity of God here. Right now the colors of autumn are vivid, and nature inspires me. (2) I’m also inspired by the people in my life—my family, friends, students, and co-workers. There are always good stories floating around! (3) This one may sound strange, but I love classic sitcoms and get inspiration from them. When I’m feeling down, I’ll watch an episode or two of I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc. I love to write humor, and what better way to learn than to watch the best.

Sounds like you’re inspired by life. And you’re right–stories are everywhere. For humor writers, those classic shows are the best.

Next question–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Carlton: This question is hard, but I’d have to say a vibrant royal blue, mostly because I bleed Kentucky blue!

The color blue indicates patience and calm, and also fealty (loyalty), and you are certainly loyal to your Kentucky Wildcats!

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Carlton: For a long time, I wanted to be an architect—I think it was the “Mike Brady Effect.” When I realized you had to take a lot of math to be an architect, I changed my mind quickly. I developed an interest in journalism starting in junior high and wanted to be a broadcast news anchor—I even double-majored in broadcasting and print journalism in college. God had other plans, though, and I became a professor and a freelance writer. However, I use the skills from my broadcast journalism classes in my writing all the time. Math? Not so much.

Good choice! This is a perfect example of how God uses our gifts to be a blessing to others.

Thanks, Carlton, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday, and giving our readers the chance to get to know you better. Readers, besides here on our blog, you can find Carlton on Almost an Author (blog).

Click to tweet: Carlton Hughes bleeds blue! #Kentucky #3QuestionsWednesday #InspiredPrompt


Carlton W. Hughes is a communications professor at Southeast Kentucky Community College and coordinates the Dual Credit Program at Harlan County High School, where he also teaches part-time. He is children’s pastor at Lynch Church of God and won the 2013 Shepherd’s Cup Award, the highest honor for children’s pastors in the Church of God denomination. Hughes is also a year-round volunteer and Relay Center Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. As a writer, his works have been featured in numerous publications, including the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game and Simple Little Words. Hughes is a two-time first-place winner in the “Dramas/ Plays/Scripts” category in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Writers Contest. He resides in Cumberland, Kentucky, and he and his wife Kathy have two sons, Noah and Ethan. He is a fan of chocolate, good books, basketball, and classic television shows like “I Love Lucy.”


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3 Questions Wednesday with Fay Lamb

Today’s guest is author, Fay Lamb.

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Fay. First question:

What inspires you?

Fay: Well, let’s get the truth out there first. Coffee. Have you ever sat down in the morning with your cup of coffee made the way you like it? You drink that coffee, and the caffeine seems to seep into whatever part of your brain provides motivation. You start thinking you can do anything. You make a list. You jot down ideas for a story. You’re invincible.

In my writing, I am inspired by many things. Locations get the creative juices running. My Amazing Grace series is based on a real area in Western North Carolina. Yet, in my novel Better Than Revenge, the heroine wasn’t connecting with me. She stood off to the side, aloof, daring me to get to know her. Then one day, my husband and I were driving around the area, and I was looking for a farmhouse because Issie lived in her grandparents’ old farmhouse she’d renovated. And there it was, this fantastic two-story white-framed farmhouse with a swing in the front yard, a field of corn to the right, and in the backyard between the house and the beautiful red barn were vegetable boxes. I saw them as Issie’s personal garden and the corn as her crop. Then to the side of the barn, there was a field and two cows grazing there. And Issie whispered into my ear, “You found me.”

Actors provide me with all types of ideas. I’ll admit it. Usually, it’s their looks that catch my attention, but then I look into the roles they’ve played. In my novel, Charisse, I have had readers tell me who they see as the hero, Gideon, and they saw him exactly as I saw him. He is one actor, but his character is based on two entirely different roles he played. One was an adventure/comedy where I realized for the first time that the guy could really act and had taken roles beneath his abilities. The other movie was one of the few dramas he has starred in. The subject was intense, and his character was likable but cautious, perfect for a multi-dimensional character.

A Bible verse or a Bible story has been an inspiration for me in a couple of novels. One is Libby. If anyone knows me, they know I tend to joke about my looks and about breaking cameras, and I see myself as great fodder for comedy, but God says in Psalm 139:14 that I’m fearfully and wondrously made, and that was the lesson Libby has to learn—in between a lot of hilarious matchmaking and some sad moments of truth. And my upcoming novel, set to release in March, is the biblical retelling of the aftermath of David’s sin with Bathsheba.

And lastly, a moment in time can be an inspiration. My novel Hope deals with serious matters from healing to forgiveness, but from the very start, one backdrop was set for that story: the Central Florida fair, and more particularly the carousel. I’ll admit that the moment in time was not on a carousel, and it was not as poignant for me, but my friend was there, and that is an important part of that storyline. In fact, the moment that brought to mind the carousel, as embarrassing as it was is still considered the most horrifying moment of my life as well as the one that can still bring me to laughter that causes tears to run down my face.

There’s inspiration in many forms here. I especially love the “moment in time.” This is so true. Sometimes we miss those moments, or don’t really appreciate them.

I almost hesitate to ask this one: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Fay: Interesting question, and more interesting that I didn’t have to think much about it.

I’d be turquoise because it goes well with black. Turquoise alone doesn’t ever stand out for me, but when you wear it with something black, it pops. And I know you want a better explanation than that, so here goes. I consider myself pretty bland when I’m just going through life, everything is okay. I don’t naturally look for the humor around me. I’m turquoise. But when I am sad, there is a darkness inside. When I use that term, I don’t mean it as evil. It’s just that my thoughts could turn to the morose. Depression doesn’t suit my brain, so it automatically begins to look for humor. Let’s take the moment I alluded to above—the Hope inspiration.

I was with my friend at the Central Florida Fair. We decided to go into the fun house. However, at the end of the fun house was a turning cylinder. My friend, an agile, gymnast and later a Disney dancer made her way easily across. Me, the clumsy person who fell off the inch-high balance beam in gym, hesitated. I was challenged by the ride’s operator to hurry across. So, the proverbial light bulb shined above my dim head. I’d hold on to the side and make my way over.

And you can imagine what happened next. My hand against the rotating cylinder began to pull me downward. I found myself on the ground, the cylinder taking me up and down, up and down, and the crowd growing outside and the laughter turning into a roar. I could see my friend laughing for all she was worth (and she’s worth a lot to me). And behind her stood my aunt and uncle who took us to the fair—laughing at their beloved niece. Finally, I guess after he stopped laughing, the ride’s operator climbed in and helped me out.

Now, I could cover the turquoise with black and mutter that I’m a clumsy idiot and hate the recall of the memory, or I could layer the outfit with turquoise and make a funny story out of my ability to be a carnival sideshow act without any effort. Life is easy when I’m wearing turquoise, but it is more interesting when I combine it with the black.

Lol! I’m not sure at this point, whether to laugh or be embarrassed for you–never mind–I’m laughing too hard to write sensibly. About that color turquoise–“Complex, imaginative and original, Turquoise people drive themselves hard and may be in a state of turmoil under their outwardly cool exterior.”–according to my favorite color website. Um…I think it may be fairly accurate, what say you?

Now, one last question:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Fay: This is going to be the shortest answer you’ll get from me. From the time I remember thinking, I was a storyteller. I never wanted to be anything but a writer, and after taking my high school aptitude test, I was informed that my best track for my life would be either as a librarian or a writer. I answered back that there was only one choice. I would be a writer. While I took a series of detours that proved the aptitude test wrong, I still wrote. Each detour added to the growing collection of stories I have carried with me since I began as a storyteller all those years ago.

I’m not at all surprised by that answer! I love your stories and look forward to many more. Thanks so much for participating in 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers! You can win a copy of Fay’s latest release, Frozen Notes. Read more about the book below, then leave a comment in the comment section. Feel free to ask Fay a question, or let us know you’d love a chance to win the book. Thanks for joining us at 3 Questions Wednesday.

CLICK TO TWEET: #3QuestionsWednesday provides readers with inside information on author Fay Lamb #amreading


More about today’s guest:

Fay Lamb

Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities. Currently, Fay will be donating her royalties from the second quarter of 2017 through December 31 (royalties paid March 31), to Samaritan’s Purse Relief Fund to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma and any other relief the organization feels necessary.

Fay’s fourth book in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, Frozen Notes brings to a close stories of intrigue and suspense and reveals to her readers the secrets of one of the series reoccurring characters from the first three novels, Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken.

Fay is also the author of The Ties that Bind Series, which includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope. The fourth story in the series, Delilah, will be coming soon.

Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Readers of Fay Lamb’s fiction can look forward to her Serenity Key series, with her epic novel Storms in Serenity set for release in March 2018.


Frozen Notes by Fay Lamb

Lyric Carter’s dreams of fame and fortune in a rock band ended the day Balaam Carter left to pursue their dreams without her. When Balaam’s brother promised to love and protect Lyric and to love her son, Cade—his brother, Balaam’s child—as his own, she believed him. But Braedon turned her dreams into a nightmare by killing Balaam’s best friend, turning the gun on himself, and placing Lyric in the middle of a criminal investigation that could leave her and Cade dead.

Balaam Carter’s every dream has come true, but he’s living in a nightmare of addiction and regret. The famous rock star would give everything he has to return to the girl he once held in his arms—back when his only crime was running moonshine for his father. Now, he’s seeking redemption for all the destruction his dreams have brought to the people he loves.

No one said the road to recovery would be easy, but Balaam is also desperate to protect Lyric and the little boy he left behind from a state full of drug lords who believe Lyric has the evidence that will tumble their lucrative cartels. Balaam’s continued sobriety, his natural ability for finding his way out of trouble, and his prayers to God above for the strength to never let them down again are all that he has to protect Lyric and his son, and still, he doesn’t know if he’s up for the task.

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Genre: Humorous Fiction

by Betty Thomason Owens

Humorous fiction: novels and stories written in a comical and amusing manner.  I heard humor defined as “playful incongruity.” Incongruity – out of keeping with expectations. Off-kilter, unexpected–slapstick–something that takes you completely by surprise.

horse-218872_1280I love the stories that make you laugh out loud in the middle of a paragraph, whether it’s the genteel humor of Austen’s Emma, or the warm family humor of Bunker’s Cheaper By the Dozen. I relish in a classic turn of phrase like, “I should as soon call her mother a wit.” –Darcy’s haughty come back in Pride and Prejudice.

Many works like these contain humor, but are not classified as humorous fiction. More blatant humor is found in Keillor’s Lake Wobegone Days, Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada, Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, or anything by Mark Twain. Even Oscar Wilde’s 51PUT4663DL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The Importance of Being Earnest, and E.M. Forster’s Room With a View, would qualify as out-and-out humor. Of Wilde’s Earnest, it was said, “…Wilde’s most brilliant tour de force, a witty and buoyant comedy of manners that has delighted millions…”

And speaking of incongruity, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe–is silliness intensified by the outlandish setting.

A1ioFv+8+oL._SY606_Oh, and I cannot overlook Morgenstern’s classic, The Princess Bride. Can anyone who has ever seen the movie or read the book forget such a story? I hear it quoted everywhere and in the most unexpected moments.

Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!

Is it just silliness, then, that makes a story humorous? No, I don’t think so. It’s the humorous situations expertly fitted into the story, kind of like real life, that makes us laugh and nod. Yes, we can imagine that happening. It’s turning life into entertainment. There’s nothing so endearing as a bungling hero or heroine, because it makes them real. We can identify with them. They’re no longer on a pedestal, they’re fallible and well, human.

Speaking of human, a long time ago, before radio, television, and internet–you know, long, long ago–there was the practice of storytelling. It started out as a means of keeping an oral history, but as often happens, someone embellished the original story. Or just completely made it up. And American folklore is brimming with humor.

2013-08-25 03.55.16Tall tales like the stories of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry, Daniel Boone, Davey Crockett, and Casey Jones, just to name a few. What do they have in common? They’re all a part of American folklore, and they have all been immortalized by Walt Disney. Disney, himself is a folk hero, is he not? Bigger than life. Many happy moments of my childhood were whiled away, watching The Wonderful World of Disney.

51QphzCfE4L._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_Do you aspire to write humor? I don’t think it’s an easy thing to do, and I wonder if it’s unintentional at times. After all, the funniest things in life are often accidental. Slipping on a banana peel, or tracking toilet paper out of the bathroom and down the hall of your workplace, in direct view of everyone. A while back, I read a book by Patsy Clairmont. Have you ever attended a conference and heard her speak? Life situations turned in to out-and-out comedy. Liz Curtis Higgs is adept at this also. I laughed so hard at one of her conferences, I needed a visit to the little girls’ room.

51gm-bi9tsL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_And then you have pure genius like my favorite humorist of all time, Erma Bombeck. Yes, I wanted to be Erma Bombeck when I grew up. I loved her humor, her voice, her demeanor–the combination stole my breath and expelled it in belly-laughter. Her books conjured memories of her expressions. I heard her voice through the words on paper. She was funny. She was a gift, who brought us merriment and made us forget our troubles for a moment.

And that, I think, is what humor is all about.

Writing Prompt–finish the following paragraph, showing how even the most polished of professionals can be tripped up…

After one last glance in the bathroom mirror, Eloise straightened her shoulders and strode purposefully down the long hall toward the boardroom, where the CEO and other members of the board waited to interview her. She turned the knob, opened the door, and stepped inside…