Tag Archives: humor

The Bachelor Effect

After fourteen years on television, The Bachelor managed to snag my attention for a full episode. Yes, I’m a “late adopter.” But that had nothing to do with my lack of exposure to the reality romance show. It was the evening of the Iowa Caucus, and there was nothing left upon which I could focus my political frustrations. Zeroing in on a TV program about a harem of women competing for the affections of one average Joe was the distraction I needed.

According to The Bachelor’s viewer ratings, women (and men) everywhere await each weekly episode, to find out which of the dozen or so remaining prospective lays, oops, I mean brides, with whom the male cast member–the bachelor–has passionately gone mouth-to-mouth, will receive a single long stem rose. This begs a few questions. Are flowers that difficult to obtain now? Or is there a global shortage of unwed heterosexual men?

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Free Kindle Book: Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

Today only, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road is FREE on Kindle.  Here’s the link:  http://www.amazon.com/Driving-Wrong-Side-Road-ebook/dp/B003XVZB7A    Misadventures in travel, home repairs, and everyday life.  Makes a great gift.  Available in paperback too!

 

 

 

 

Regular Kindle Price: $2.99

Paperback: $12.95

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Family Board Games: A Holiday Hazard?

In case you’re thinking about board games to keep your extended family engaged,  this holiday season, let me share what can go wrong.

 

Christmas Monopoly

From morning routines to family customs, our lives are filled with rituals. I figured there was no time like the holidays to incorporate a new one into my repertoire. But trouble arrived when one of my four children suggested we add a Monopoly game to our holiday boredom prevention program.

My oldest son Ron and his wife Julie had driven into town to stay with us for a few days. Their visits, which typically last just about long enough to digest a meal, are always welcomed. However, this time they’d brought along with them the dog they endearingly called my “grandpuppy,” a wiry-haired, hyperactive mixed breed with a vision problem. To this dog, everything must look like a tennis ball—because nothing is deemed unworthy of a good chase. So as you might imagine, our two cats were nonplussed about this houseguest.  

After a food orgy that began at noon and continued well past the point of intestinal discomfort, I commenced pitching camp in front of the television. (I mean, let’s face it; there’s only so much eating you can do before every bathroom in the house is clogged.) It was time to yell, “Back away from the table, and put down your fork.”

But just as I lifted the TV remote controller, Ron blurted, “Don’t turn on the TV! Let’s all do something together. You know, like family bonding.”

First he says he’s staying for two days, and now he says, “Don’t turn on the television”? This can’t be my child.

“I know,” Ryan, my twelve-year-old, said. “Let’s play MONOPOLY!”

Ron’s face brightened. “Yeah. It’ll be our new family tradition,” he chimed.

Right then, I was glad I hadn’t followed through on selling that game in my last garage sale.

As we gathered around the family dining table with Parker Brothers, the dog and one cat joined us. Each gave the other a suspicious eye, though thus far they’d been fairly tolerant.

About twenty minutes into the game, Ron said, “Hey, Mom, I’ll give you these two blue ones for that railroad you’re holding.”

I didn’t really need what he’d offered me, but I said, “Sure,” anyway.

His eyes lit up as he snatched away my railroad card. “Suck-Er-Er-er-er!”

Okay.  This is my child.

I’d forgotten how long a game of Monopoly can last.

Ryan was the first to go bankrupt, so he moved into position to help me. Already, I’d given Ron his third of four railroads. What blunders were left?

If any family bonding was taking place, I hadn’t yet observed it. More like it was every man, woman, child, and dog for himself.

My arms vibrated from all the table shaking that Ron’s leg bouncing produced. His childhood tics had reemerged, the ones that had caused him to be sent home from school with report cards that said, “Refuses to sit still in class.” That was back in the days before Ritalin.

Next, it was my husband’s turn. He drew a Chance Card that condemned him to pay the last of his money to the remaining three players. “No-o-o!” he shouted, slamming his fist down onto the table.

The dog yelped. Then the cat, thinking she might be in jeopardy, attacked with a hiss and a few punches to the muzzle. Ryan fell out of his chair, laughing, and hurt his knee.

Julie, who was by now almost out of money, maintained a glum expression. So Ron looked lovingly into his wife’s eyes and asked, “Would you like me to give you five hundred dollars for that railroad, Hon—just to keep you in the game?”

She gazed back at him and smiled. “Would ya?”

“Of course. What are husbands for?” he gushed. Then he whisked the card from her hand and hollered, “All R-R-I-I-I-IGHT!”

 No one was surprised when eventually Ron won the game, and he was the only one who went to bed happy that night. My husband felt his position as “head-of-household” had been usurped. Julie had been deceived by her own spouse. The other children had been once again outdone by their older brother. And thanks to this entire ruckus, the dog and cat now had more trust issues than ever before.

That evening, I fell asleep and dreamed about traipsing cross-county to view exterior illumination like most normal families do.

This year, we’ll need to establish a new holiday ritual—because the most I got out of that Monopoly game was the two bucks it brought during last summer’s garage sale.

Excerpted from the book, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road, by Diana Estill.

 

Available in paperback and Kindle format

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Free Kindle Book: You Can’t Change Crazy

I am pleased to announce that  You Can’t Change Crazy is now available for FREE from Amazon!

Here’s the book description:  Neither sex has cornered the market for crazy. But in these seven reprinted essays by bestselling author Diana Estill, the competition is brutal. Determining which behaviors are most insane often depends on who’s making the call. Both genders will relate to these funny vignettes about the ways men and women inadvertently drive each other bonkers.

 

Kindle: 99 Cents

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My Fiction Writing Method: Wandering for Words

My Fiction Writing Method: Wandering for Words

 

 

After reading what other authors have to say about their writing process, I’m ashamed to admit my bad habits. Some set word-count goals and force themselves to remain at their computers during specific times each day. But I follow an internal voice that tells me I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. It’s possible that I have authority issues, even with my own conscience. As evidenced by my current weight, self-discipline isn’t my strongpoint.

Nonetheless, while working on a chapter for my forthcoming novel, I decided to keep track of my writing methods. I likened this effort to maintaining a food journal (which, for me, might have been more beneficial). By looking back at my scrawled notes, I hoped to uncover both my good and bad writing practices.

Having ignored the urge to surf the Internet and check Facebook postings, I planted my butt in my work chair and got down to task. I needed to write another scene, a big one, to complete the final edits for my novel. No more procrastination. No more diversions. No more excuses.

Here’s a recap of what followed:

 

Nothing looks emptier than a blank page. To stop the agonizing pain, I type, “Chapter 8.”

I have no idea where I’m going with this story.

Pushing past my resistance, I crank out the opening sentence and pause for a self-congratulatory moment. Woo-hoo! Way to go, girl!

Before I know it, I’ve written several paragraphs.

But then the words float away into the ethers.

Waiting…

Waiting…

Still waiting for Divine Guidance to intervene.

I’m thirsty. I should get a drink. Maybe an idea will come to me somewhere between the office and kitchen.

At the fridge, the answer I’ve been waiting for arrives! I race back upstairs to my computer so I can write it down before I lose my train of thought.

Furiously, I churn out the next few sentences.

Once more, I’m stumped.

Waiting…

I rise from my chair and pace as I consider my next character move.

A car drives past my house, and I see it through my office window. Staring outside, I notice the front lawn looks parched. When is it EVER going to rain? Did I remember to reset the lawn sprinklers so the water police won’t fine me for watering on the wrong day? I should go check.

 

On my way back from the garage, I realize I have to pee. I’m inside the restroom, still concentrating on suitable character actions, when I glimpse the toilet paper holder. It’s nearly empty. I check the overhead cabinet. None in there.

Scenes continue playing out in my mind.

Didn’t I recently buy a jumbo pack of toilet paper? Maybe I stuck it in the pantry.

Finished with my business, I leave the throne and detour to the kitchen storage area. I have to restock the toilet paper. If I don’t, next time, I’ll be stranded.

I stand inside my walk-in pantry, lost, trying to recall what drove me there. Out of nowhere, I remember a word I couldn’t locate earlier. I repeat the word, over and over, hoping it won’t slip away before I write it down.

To my right, I spot not one, but three, multi-roll packs of toilet tissue. Omigod, am I becoming a hoarder?

Suddenly, I make a connection between hoarding and something in my storyline. That’s it! I know what should happen next! I trot back upstairs to my computer, holding two rolls of toilet paper.

At the keyboard, I realize I forgot to put away the tissue. However, I don’t dare return to the bathroom. I simply can’t afford to take that risk.

 

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It’s not Easy Being Indie

Often I read articles or blog posts about independent eBook authors who’re making it big, selling 100,000 or more eBooks in less than a year, receiving six-figure offers from major publishers, or landing movie deals. My spirits are lifted and hopes rekindled by such news. However, I quickly remind myself that for every one of these fortunate (and, no doubt, hard-working) authors who are hitting the Big Time, there are thousands of others who are refreshing their Kindle Data Publishing dashboards every few minutes and wondering why their sales numbers haven’t changed in days.

 Truth be told, I’ve spent most of my self-publishing time on neither end of that sales spectrum (though I admit to being a numbers checker). So I thought I’d offer a glimpse of what middle ground looks like. 

I’ve written three humor books and one short collection of, I’m almost (but not quite) ashamed to admit, bathroom humor essays. What began as a silly newspaper column grew into a full-time obsession when I wrote my first book, Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road. I didn’t set out to become a humorist. But I don’t need to tell you what happens to plans. Right? 

Initially, I didn’t fully appreciate my book market size and competition. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here are a few statistics: According to Amazon’s category listing details, as of today, there are 18,223 humor books available on Kindle. In the past ninety days, 2,939 of those titles were added to the Kindle store.

 For my eBooks to simply maintain their rankings, I must constantly outsell the new titles coming on board. This means that every time Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, Ellen DeGeneres, or Jenny McCarthy releases a new book, my books lose whatever position and ranking they’ve previously built. I wish these famous folks would just be content with their awards, TV shows, and stage appearances. But, sadly (for me), they’re not.

 Flipping through the TV channels last night, I paused to catch a glimpse of an Oprah rerun. There sat Jenny McCarthy, looking all gorgeous and well-rehearsed as she discussed her latest release with the Queen of Book Marketing. I folded my arms and tried my best not to be a “hater” (or a “hate her”). Humorists like me don’t get invitations to promote our books on Oprah. We get asked to provide free speeches at ladies’ garden club luncheons.

 Oh, sure, I once garnered mild interest from a top-tier literary agent. But in the end, the woman said my “platform” wasn’t big enough. I wanted to say, “Oh, yeah? Well, my caboose is!” But I doubt that would have helped my case.

What the agent was telling me was this; I didn’t perform stand-up comedy, and I lacked my own radio and television show. My material was good, but without a blog like Snooky’s (Okay, her name wasn’t tossed out—but I got the drift.), this businesswoman feared I’d be a tough sell. Most likely, she was right.

 After that exciting but big miss, I forgot about agents and dared to publish my own work.

 Some suggest my paperback books have sold well, for an “unknown” author. Sales figures have been less than stellar, though, if you ask me. Nonetheless, in 2010, I decided to release Driving, my first book, in eBook format. With no previous formatting knowledge, I followed the Kindle and Smashwords publishing guidelines to make my book available through multiple outlets. I had no idea what to expect, but I figured I had nothing to lose . . . other than maybe a little despair.

 To my surprise and delight, readers found me!

 I’m not entirely sure how this happened. I did no advertising, other than on my own website (which was getting all of  three hits per day). The only people who seemed to be visiting my blog were ones offering to enhance male performance. My family (excluding my husband) and most of my friends paid zero attention to what I’d written and even less to how they might help me spread word of my books. 

It wasn’t until I received my first sales report from Smashwords that I realized Driving was selling overseas. Through Smashwords’ distribution arrangement with Apple, the book was selling in the U.K. and Canada! How were these audiences finding me? They weren’t visiting my website or blog, to be sure. I could see the number of visits posted on each site. Something else was leading readers to my work. But what?

 I wondered what might happen if I did a little advertising.

 Some research led me to Kindle Nation Daily, Daily Cheap Reads, The Frugal eReader, Red Adept Reviews, and Kindleboards.com, where I tested the waters with various sponsorship ads and banners. Over the next four months, I rotated my books’ exposures through these channels. Each ad produced a bump in sales, followed by a tapering off. But the lift was enough to get my books off the ground and into their Amazon categories’ top 100 lists.

One year after the eBook launch of Driving, this title is currently #167 in Amazon’s Kindle humor category. (That is among all 18,223 titles.) Today the book is sitting at #21 in Amazon’s Kindle humor essays listings and #8 in humor/parenting.  

Despite my book sales success, I have not sold 100,000 eBooks. Nobody has offered me a movie deal. Playboy hasn’t asked me to pose nude, either. (And if they do, the answer is “ARE YOU CRAZY?”) Oprah doesn’t, and likely never will, know that I exist. But thousands of readers do. And I am humbled and sufficiently awed by that knowledge.   

Personal success is measured not by how much of the journey remains ahead of us but rather by the distance we’ve already traveled. The stamina required for completing a book, the courage it takes to publish your own work, the faith that’s needed to believe what others don’t, and the fortitude necessary to stay the course are all accomplishments to celebrate. In between hitting the refresh button, of course.

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What’s Funny about IBS?

 

What’s Funny about IBS?

After years of shunning “potty humor,” I’ve written a book on crap. Well, okay, I didn’t actually write on crap—that would be disgusting—I wrote about the subject. Now I feel the need to explain why I changed my mind. Like any sane reasoning individual, I blame my family. 

You see, most of my clan suffers from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), or as I call it, “Infinite Bouts of Shoo-Shoo.” Why do they call it “irritable,” anyway? Wouldn’t “dangerous” or “explosive”  be more accurate? But I’ve digressed. 

For years, my relatives have regaled each other with stories of diarrhea disasters. Each time one of my kin offered another hilarious tale about being doubled over in some remote location that lacked a toilet, I threatened to include his or her story in my next humor book.

 Over time, my imaginary manuscript gained a title. Soon my adult children were beginning their “uh-oh” reports with, “I’ve got another story for your Crap Chronicles book!” 

A few years passed before my son and husband began pressing me for action. “Quit threatening and DO IT,” my husband taunted. “If you think there’s no market for it, it’s sure to go viral.” 

I wondered if diarrhea could be all that funny. I mean, other than to junior high school students. Yet weren’t we all hee-hawing privately about these untimely attacks? Either my kinfolks were completely warped (a strong possibility), or I was shortchanging readers’ ability to identify with, and laugh at, someone who’d pooped his pants.

 To be truthful, I think I held back because I felt ashamed of my own, and maybe my spouse’s, mishaps. Why would I want to admit to the kinds of embarrassing behaviors these stories revealed?  Hadn’t I already exposed enough family craziness in my other humor books? Did I really need to discuss our bathroom habits too?   

After I considered this more carefully, I realized anything feared is great fodder for humor. When it comes to dreaded outcomes, losing bowel control in public ranks right up there with discovering your prior spouse made a secret sex tape.

 No one is too powerful or smart or refined or beautiful to suffer an intestinal revolt. No one. But plenty of folks are too insecure or ashamed to admit they’ve “shart” their shorts. Those who swear they’ve never come close to crapping their britches just haven’t lived long enough. We come in to this world needing diapers, and the majority of us leave the same way. 

Anyone who’s experienced the aftermath of going toe-to-toe with a “Hell Burger” or ever caught a case of “traveler’s trots” will surely agree that, given enough time and distance from the ensuing humiliation, there’s something therapeutic about sharing news of such events with a close friend or family member. In fact, doing so is the best way to get rid of any residual negative emotions. 

We can choose to be either embarrassed or tickled by our limitations, but not both at the same time. Shame and amusement simply cannot coexist. 

Confessing tummy turmoil is nothing to be ashamed of, anyway. It’s healthy to laugh at ourselves and to be reminded of our physical and human constraints. 

This is why I decided to write Crap Chronicles, an eBook that includes my seven best IBS stories. The title is available now for 99 cents in Kindle format. (Actually, you can get the title plus the stories for that price.) I don’t know how many people will buy the book, but at least I’ve finally found the courage to divulge what I swore I’d never write. Already, I’m feeling lighter! And, no, not from IBS.

So can IBS be funny? Perhaps that depends on who is the victim and what are the circumstances. But to my clan, we never tire of trying to “one up” each other with our tales of affliction. And I’m guessing that, when it comes to potty humor, we’re not chuckling alone. 

If you’d care to read an excerpt from Crap Chronicles: When IBS Strikes in all the Wrong Places, you can find one here

I’d love to hang around, but I have to run because I’m feeling a little rumble I can’t ignore . . .

   Crap Chronicles: When IBS Strikes in all the Wrong Places

   Available now from Amazon for Kindle: 99 cents!

www.thecrapchronicles.com

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