Oh, My!

It is my birthday today.  And my daughter has given me a unique present — the “unauthorized” tale posted for all the world to see of how I used our homeschooling experience to successfully launch a career in writing and publishing.

She’s engaging, witty, and quite a wordsmith.

Here’s the link to her tribute to Mom.

And for those of you who need a great copywriter (or just like reading fun stuff from writers)  — http://www.byhannahdavis.com

Thanks, Hannah!

Writers’ Guide to Hominyims and Similar Situations


Homonyms and similar-sounding words can be real buggers.  Spell Check won’t help, and although Word tries to do the thinking for you, when you really need its help, it lets you down every time.  What’s a body to do?  Relax!  You might not be using the wrong word after all!  It’s all in how you spin it.  This little article will lay many of your worst fears of embarrassment to rest, and down the road I’m bound to come up with a Part Too.

If you are squandering your time, you are usually wasting it, but if you are doing it by spending day after day eating at the local buffet, then it is A-OK to say you are waisting it.

Hanging out with your piers is OK if you are a dock repairman or a yachting enthusiast.  Hanging out with pears is appropriate if you own an orchard or are employed by a canning factory.

Going to collage is not acceptable, unless your institution of higher learning is an arts and crafts shop teaching classes on cutting and pasting.  If you are only into serious art, or don’t like art at all, do yourself a favor and just attend university.

Runway models exhibit wears, GPS gizmos display your wheres, (but not your weres), and flea market vendors sell wares. 

If you plan on altaring a business suit, first make sure the church accepts clothing donations.  And if they except clothing donations, that means they’d rather you gave it to the Salvation Army instead.  (Cash donations are not usually excepted.)

BUT, if you go to the alter to take care of sin business with the Lord, that is definitely OK.  He expects you to alter your ways when you repent.

If you are baring a child, you are getting your little one ready for his bath.  And by the way, beware of Greeks baring gifts!  (I’m told that their traditions do not include wrapping presents.  I like surprises, myself.)

Yes!  Your interest can be peaked!  Peaked interest refers to an extremely  high level of curiosity.  If yours reaches those altitudes, make sure you take your inhaler along.  The air gets thin in the mountains.  (But don’t allow your curiosity to lead you into peeking at things that are none of your business.)

“Balling all over the place”  is only OK if you are a roly poly bug or if it hurts so badly that you are curling into the fetal position.

Righting a term paper?  Go ahead, if you are a copy editor.  I hope you are getting paid well, as this can be a most frustrating assignment.

Hare dryer — I saw one of these handy-dandy appliances at the local farm store.  For best results, be careful to follow the included rabbit jerky recipe to the letter.

I’m sorry, it is not possible to horde money.  But, if you travel with Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun, you will probably come into plenty of loot to hoard, if that’s your fancy.  (It’s more fun to spend it, though.)

So much for today’s taste of homonym grits.


Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 9:15 am  Comments (2)  
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Just Chattin’


It has been a long time since I posted, and I thought it might be a good idea to check in, just so friends know I haven’t died or something.  Writers aren’t supposed to ramble.  We’re supposed to make every word count.  I love to ramble, so today I’m going to do it whether anybody else likes it or not.

You might say I have dual personalities — not as in multiple personality disorder, and I am not making fun of people with that tragic problem, so don’t even go there.  But I do have a very serious side, which peacefully coexists with my thoroughly wacky side — my extremely innocent version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  In real life, most people never guess I have a funny bone until they’ve known me  for years, and if I occasionally get a little mischievous and let some of the wacky leak out, their eyes get wide and they run away screaming.

I love humor essaying  just for the sheer joy of a laugh, but  serious writing on Christian themes provides the bread and butter, so that’s where the majority of my writing time is spent.  Income  is really only a part of it, though.  It’s almost a case of, “You mean, I get to write stuff that helps people, and I actually get paid as a by-product?”   I have a passion for communicating the how-to’s of growing in relationship with God. 

Sometimes humor leaks into my serious writing, and then I get myself in trouble with religious folks who no doubt chew aspirin tablets for a good time.  That type takes issue with everybody just for the sake of feeling good about being eternally mad at the whole world, so I don’t worry about them — much.

That said, I do so hope to get back to humor writing in the near future.  My friend Ornesta has been bugging me about it for a while.  She is threatening to hack this blog and do the writing herself if I don’t get busy.  Ornesta, you are even scarier than I am.


Things I Discovered While Sponsoring a Writing Contest


At Over 50, Still Kickin’, we just finished sponsoring our first-ever Baby Boomer humor writing contest.  I had noticed that there were a lot of literary and poetry contests available, but not much in the humor line.  So I thought it would be fun to provide an opportunity for the funny folks to show off what they can do.

I enjoyed the project immensely, but it was an eye-opener.  We tried to keep the directions uncomplicated, with as few rules as possible.  Still, we had a number of disqualifications on basic points, like word count.  The rules stated it must be clean humor — clean enough that I wouldn’t be ashamed to read it to my small grandchildren.  Wouldn’t you know, we got some entries with four-letter words and sexual themes.  Tsk!

The guidelines also indicated that entries would be heavily graded on writing mechanics — and then explained in detail what that meant.  Alas, writing mechanics were a grave problem in the majority of entries, which just about drove my perfectionist brain bonkers!  I may be naive, but I always thought good writing went beyond an excellent story angle to constructing a grammatically-correct sentence, tense consistency, conciseness, and knowing how to use direct quotation marks.  I’m not trying to be mean, just honest.  If any of our contest entrants are reading this, know that my intent is not to criticize, but to put out a cry for improvement in the writing world.  Reading Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and The Writer’s Harbrace Handbook will fix a lot of problems.

A few entries were not humorous by any stretch of the imagination.  Literary journal material, yes.  Humor, no.  A couple were lovely, heart-warming anecdotes.  I fell so hard for one of them (probably because the writing mechanics were perfect ) that the other judges had to remind me that, well-written or not, it was not humorous, no matter which way we turned or stretched it.

There was one that was laugh-yourself-into-cardiac-arrest material, but the writing mechanics were not only poor, but not even there.  Such wonderful raw material!  I would love to be that lady’s copy editor!

Perhaps I should take up copy editing.  It would be tempting, if I had the time.  Maybe I’ll make time.  Just ask me; I might nibble at the bait.

Baby Boomer Humor Contest Winners

The winners of the Over 50, Still Kickin’ Baby Boomer Humor Contest are now posted at our web site.  The winning entries can be seen at


Over 50, Still Kickin’

Eating for Four


When I’ve got nothing else to do, I co-write an informational question and answer column in The Plains Wheeler-Dealer.  We get some pretty interesting questions from time to time, like this one: 

Erna Persnuckett, from Sunken Flat, Nebraska, writes, “Will eating more during my daughter’s pregnancy give her a bigger baby?” 

First of all, Erna, how much you eat will not in any way, shape, or form affect either your daughter or her baby.  It’s nice that you are empathetic and want to be involved in the pregnancy, but … 

Oh, wait!  I’ll bet you meant if your daughter eats more, will she have a bigger baby!  I’m glad you asked that, Erna.  No, eating more will not give her a larger bambino, but it will give her a larger fanny.  I know this from personal experience.  Seriously!  Let me tell you a true-life story. 

My first child caused me a lot of motherly grief, and it started when she was born.  I doubt if anybody ever had a harder labor than I endured, and, to top it all off, after hours of agony I ended up having a C-section.  When Child #2 began to make her presence known, I was quite confident that this time around the delivery would be a cakewalk — nice, tidy little C-section, and voila! Baby would appear on the scene with a minimum of trouble. 

Not so, I found out during my initial visit with the doctor.  Times had changed, and “once a C-section, always a C-section” was no longer the standard procedure.  “We see how beeg baby ees,” he intoned in broken English. “If baby smaw, you have no’mal deleevery.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!” was my inward thought.  “I’m not putting up with this, just because some insurance company doesn’t want to pay for the full treatment.”

I came up with the bright idea of overeating until that baby became a respectable size.  I figured an eight or ten pounder ought to convince Mr. Obstetrician that going through a regular labor was out of the question.  I did not consult him or Pregnant Mom-O Magazine to find out if my scientific hypothesis would hold water.  I just proceeded to eat – not for two, but for four. 

By the fifth month, the doc was getting a little nervous.  “You put on nine pounds dees mont’.  Don’ you t’eenk dat ees a beet much?  Where you stuffin’ eet?”

By month #9, I was between thirty-five and forty pounds heavier than when we started the whole adventure, and I intimately understood how beached whales must feel.  Two weeks before delivery, I got the good news: he didn’t think we ought to attempt “no’mal deleevery.” 

The upshot of the whole story is that the baby weighed under six pounds, the C-section wasn’t the piece of cake I remembered from the first pregnancy twelve years before, and I had a powerful lot of tonnage to lose. 

So, Erna, tell your daughter that if she is eating more in hopes of breaking the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest baby on the planet, it won’t work.  The baby might end up a dainty Thumbelina, and your daughter could end up in the book for other reasons – like taking up more territory than anybody else in Nebraska.


Hey, It’s Dave Calling


I’m waiting for the call.  I know it’s going to come any day now.  I can feel it.  I will glance at the Caller ID, and there it will be — Dave Barry.  My heart will pound for a moment before I think, “No.  Can’t be.  Must be a local guy calling about the lawnmower we have for sale.”  But then I will notice it is not our area code, and with trembling pinkies I will reach for the phone.


“Hi. Is this the Over 50 lady?”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t give out my age to strangers on the phone.  You’ll have to visit my web site to get that kind of private info.  It’s www. — “

“I know, I know.  Been to the web site.  That’s why I’m calling. Listen, my name’s Dave Barry, and I’m a world-famous humor columnist, and — “

“Yeah, I know.  I was kind of hoping it was really you. You’re not calling to buy the lawnmower, then?”

“You got one for sale?  I could use one.  But, hey, that’s not what I called about.  I’ve got a business proposal.  I’m a little busy, running for President and stuff, and I was wondering if I could use some of your material.  You know, you write it and I sign my name to it — for a hefty wad of dough, of course.”

“I don’t know, Dave.  I might want to make several millions on it in my own right.”

“Look, I’d make it worth your while.  See, I’m putting together a new collection about me living year-round in Wisconsin after retirement.”

“It’s going to bomb right from the starting gate, Dave.  It’ll make Big Brown’s run in the Belmont look like a victory romp.  Nobody’s going to believe you are doing that.  Every Wisconsinite who has any money at all winters in your neck of the woods.”

“Well, but, there must be some way to pull it off.  Everybody understands that humor writing isn’t about giving the real facts like an encyclopedia.  I mean, you folks don’t really run around with blocks of Swiss cheese on your heads and a bratwurst in each nostril like you say in your blog.”

“Um, Dave, I can see you really don’t understand Wisconsin culture.  It’s all true.  We really do those things.  I’m not making this up!  Honest.  Let me give you a little lesson in Humor 101.  People have to be able to relate to some reference point in real life, and living in Wisconsin in the winter if you don’t have to is just not going to cut it.  Still, I see you really need some help, so I’m a little bit open.  What’s your offer?”

“How does a five with a dollar sign in front and six zeroes behind sound?”

“I’ll have to think about it.  Give me a day.”

“Great!  I’ll have my man call yours at noon tomorrow.”

At this point my euphoria will start to fizzle, as I glance in the direction of “my man.”  Hubby has been known to market himself online as anything from the company gofer to the consulting vice president, all in order to get a free pen or T-shirt out of unsuspecting salesmen.

“Uh, Dave?  My man is on vacation right now.  Just have your guy call me personally, OK?”

Sure, I know you’re thinking, “Yeah, right. Dave Barry.  Next, she’ll tell us Erma Bombeck’s going to call her, too.”

Oh, I hope not!  That’s what I’d call a l-o-n-g distance call.  Besides, I don’t do anywhere near the same style of writing as she did.


Baby Boomer Humor Writing Contest!

Over 50, Still Kickin’  is sponsoring its first-ever writing contest. This is a writer-to-writer, Boomer-to-Boomer contest. It’s meant to be fun and to give out modest prize money in the process.

The rules are pretty simple, and anyone is eligible to enter (except Dave Barry, because it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of us).

$5.00 entry fee


1st place: $125.00
2nd place: $75.00
3rd place:  $50.00



Writing Grants Galore!


I have been learning a few things since I embarked on the freelance writing route.  Did you know that there are wealthy people out there who are just dying to pay me to do things and go places that churn their butter (but don’t churn mine)?  I’m talking about grant money for writers.

Some grants are quite specific, and I would not qualify in the slightest.  They go something like this: “The Reebok Foundation is awarding a $5,000 grant to three women under twenty-five who have a desire to write biographies of current great basketball players.  To qualify, the writer must have lived on government assistance for at least two years and not be able to afford Reebok athletic shoes.”

My family should be very grateful right now that I am a homebody to the core, because there’s a rich someone who wants to throw money my way to sit in a cabin in West Texas and have nothing more strenuous to do than write whatever I’d like for three solid weeks.  I imagine the rules allow for a few strolls through the countryside each day (to improve the flow of inspiration).  I could get into that, especially if they’ve got a horse all saddled and at my disposal.  I could don my Stetson and chaps (purchased with my grant money), mosey on over to the local cattle ranch and gawk at the longhorns, chat with a tumbleweed here and there, and hunt rattlesnakes and fry them for dinner.  It sounds like fun.  I’d settle back in the evenings with my Sons of the Pioneers music in the background (that is, if the cabin had electricity) and I’d start my illustrious career as a western writer.  Just call me Lady Zane Grey.

There’s a grant that will let me live in a mansion somewhere out East for a couple of weeks.  I would have to share it with a few other writers, but hey, with dozens of rooms at our disposal and a front lawn the size of my home town, who cares?  I’m sure we could all stay out of each other’s hair.  We’d probably have to put up with sharing the butler at mealtimes, but I’m good with that.  We would all be useful to each other, too.  Other people’s eating quirks are very inspirational.  My own eating quirks are very inspirational.  An etiquette-based mystery could emerge from the depths of my grant-motivated brain — Who Stole the Vichyssoise? 

I would jostle the aplomb of my fellow grant winners with lively table conversation: “Escargot’s OK, but have any of you folks ever sampled bratwurst?  No?  Make sure your next grant settles you in Wisconsin for a week or two.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had a brat — succulent little section of piglet, nestled in a bed of meticulously aged cabbage … artistically surrounded by cheese curd rosettes ….”  At that point I’d be grabbing for my hankie, overcome with emotional memories of the cuisine back home.

There are residencies to be had with prestigious colleges.  Author in Residence.  Sounds good.  All I’d have to do is hobnob with the students, tell them cool anecdotes about my buddy Edna Ferber and the big bestseller that got away, and drop a few political harangues here and there.  I suppose I might have to do a lecture or two on the similar writing styles of Kurt Vonnegut and Charles Dickens, and I might have to write something, but hey, none of that would be difficult.  The hard part would be living somewhere other than home-sweet-home.  I could probably bring the family along, but the bratwurst — what about the bratwurst?

There are some grants that aren’t at all attractive — unless you are an Indiana Jones wannabe.  How many people really have a yen to go to Tehran to write?  If I did that, I might end up being Lady Jane Grey instead of Lady Zane Grey!  I’m known for being sensible and not losing my head here in Wisconsin, but I’d be certain to do something taboo there, and … well!

Postscript: I’m getting some questions from folks who seriously want to get writing grant money.  C. Hope Clark has a couple of wonderful weekly e-mail newsletters that will tell you what you need to know.  Sign up at Funds for Writers.


Where Life’s At


I have been one busy little person lately, and haven’t blogged much as a consequence.  I hope to get back to writing my favorite wacky stuff soon, but just haven’t had the time or the inclination.  (Besides, the retired mailman and the teenage princess haven’t been doing anything outlandish enough to tattle about in the last few weeks.)

For those of you who don’t know, I am an author and publisher.  We publish Christian prayer and character building materials, some of which cater to the home school community.  At this time of year, I am up to my earlobes in book-packing for my wholesale customers.

Although I work pretty hard and get a little tired, at least I get to stay home.  The folks who buy wholesale from us are out on the road, traveling with their vans full of kids from one home school convention to the next, trying to make a living.  They travel all week, and then spend Fridays and Saturdays giving speeches, doing workshops, and, most importantly, selling books.  Some of them travel the entire length of the country and do not get home for months at a time. 

I would not want their lifestyle for the world, but I guess they enjoy it.  I’m happy to take their orders, ship their boxes of books to wherever they hope to show up next, and relax in the recliner with a heating pad on my sore back at the end of the day.  They are all surprised that I do not want to do the circuit with them, and they tell me I am missing a lot of fun and fellowship, but it’s just not me.  I would rather spend my time in prayer and with Beebee and Paul, and I certainly would not want to miss being with our beloved church family on the weekends.

I’ve been spending a lot of time writing stuff for this magazine, that newsletter, and the other anthology.  Being a freelancer is fairly new for me, and I’m still learning the ropes.  I’m finding out which writing things are time-wasters (writers’ forums where people socialize over their desire to write the next best-selling murder mystery fit this category) and which might be worthwhile (paying articles and ministry writing fit here), and I’m improving my writing skills in the process (I hope).  I’m also discovering I can crank out stuff on a wide variety of subjects, if need be.  I love the funny stuff, but I can do the heart-warming reminiscence of Grandpa or the totally serious informational report on something boring, when required. 

I even waxed imaginative a while back and did a fiction piece about an environmental cop.  A problem developed, though.  It was for a writing contest sponsored by some folks who are really, really, really serious about living the green lifestyle, and my quirky sense of humor refused to be denied, and it ended up being a spoof on environmentalism.  Realizing I would be making a total idiot out of myself if I submitted it, and not being fond of doing that unintentionally, I decided it was best to sit on it until I find a market where

a.) the editor hates the green movement and wants to take a few pokes at it,
b.) the editor is green to the gills, but doesn’t mind laughing at himself and his royal environmentalness, or
c.) the editor doesn’t care whether he is green, brown, blue, or purple, just as long as he can laugh ’til his sides ache.

So that’s how it’s been lately.


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