I threw a party recently for my nephew’s 21st and was given the job of baking the cake. My nephew’s top choice is choc/banana which just happens to be my specialty. The cry went out for my “world-famous” double banana-chocolate-cream masterpiece.

Why world famous, you ask? Because it’s a combination I’ve concocted perfected over the years, with wild experiments careful testing in my laboratory kitchen.

I have honed the dynamics to a point where they really work together in sweet harmony, or as my youngest son would say, this cake is “boss” (translation: perfect).

It’s a great “event cake.” In other words, it’s a bit flash. This is the sort of dessert that always gets mostly eaten up, the sort of which leftovers are few and far between, and are sometimes even fought over the next day. When I shared the news I was baking it again, on Facebook, one friend requested the recipe. Here it is.

Double Banana-Chocolate-Cream Cake

Method:

031

Start with a basic banana cake recipe. I use the one from the Kiwi classic, the Edmonds cook book.

034

I double the recipe because I like a nice amount of cake to work with.

035

Pour the mixture into a wide baking tray. A flatter, larger tin is best. Once the filling and the icing is added later, the cake becomes substantially higher. I don’t want to end up with a cake that is top-heavy.

*My tip: I use a disposable roasting dish, lined with baking paper. That way, you end up with a nice sized cake for decorating (and you don’t have to do the dishes, if you’re that way inclined – I recycle mine and use them again).

001

I need to let this sucker cool completely. Otherwise, I’ll never get it cut in half and turned over cleanly.

*My tip: I always bake the cake the night before the event, so it can cool overnight.

008

I cut the cake in half and line one side with sliced bananas.

009

*My tip: I spread a thin layer of cream on the bottom half before applying the banana layer. That way, I can move the slices about more easily if I drop one or make a mistake in the pattern. 

*My tip: While blackening bananas can be used for the batter, use only new perfect fruit for the middle layer. As the slices may be partly visible on each slice served.

011

Spread a layer of whipped cream over the bananas. Fresh cream is best.

*My tip: I find I can never make this layer thick enough. Even when I buy the big bottle of cream and whip it, and I put a glacier of cream in the middle, it always somehow is never quite enough when it comes to eating it! I try to be ever more generous.

014

Put the “lid” on top.

The next secret to this great cake is the icing must be mostly chocolate, no icing sugar as it adds too much sweetness. I use the “Melted Choc Icing” recipe, also in the Edmonds cook book.

004

*My tip: The trick is to make the icing first thing in the morning. This icing needs to cool.

Once completely cool to the touch, I beat it until thick and glossy.

017

When icing, sometimes I cover the sides altogether so the filling is a surprise. Other times, like this one, I left the middle layer partly visible. Either way, once I’ve cut this delicious dessert, it’s a matter of standing back and watching the stampede.

img_0111

*My tip: Get a piece early or I’ll miss out.

I waited too long on the day, as I was busy in the kitchen. I managed to eat one slice later that evening. The next morning, my family returned. Over cups of tea, they ate the leftovers. Before I could turn around, the cake was gone. Sigh. One slice after all that work! However, that’s a sign they loved it – every cook’s dream come true.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, too. If you do, write to me and let me know.

*My tip: I feel obliged to say, remember the “80/20 rule,” friends: eat good, healthy clean food 80% of the time, and you’re allowed 20% goodies. Yay!

022

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

I attribute my longevity to constant smoking and marrons glaces. – Noel Coward

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

teresa-robesonimg_0046

After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/ and Catherine Johnson http://www.catherinejohnson.com/ on the SelfieArt Day challenge seven months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

022

For September’s SelfieArt, I used the photograph taken yesterday of my sister and myself, at my nephew’s 21st party.

001

I started with a faint pencil outline of my face.

I know – yawn! I admit it. I got started on the SelfieArt challenge, imagining I’d be stomping about in a different medium each month, going buck wild in there. But, something tells me I’m a bit more staid these days than my imagination likes to think I am. I see myself, in my mind’s eye, as a Poppy-Longstockings-Pocahontas, whereas in reality, I’m a mature stay-at-home mama with a slight touch of OCD.

I find myself drawing my SelfieArt each month in plain old HB pencil. Nothing less, nothing more, and going, “That’ll do.” Oh, the complacency of age!

You can see how the challenge of the SelfieArt challenge is multi-fold, because the process continues to be self-revelatory.

003

005

009

#SelfieArt for September

Done, baby!

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

‘Art is essential to life, it feeds the eyes with the aspirations of life.’ ~ David Prosser

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

 

 

“Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish” ~ the Bible, Book of Proverbs

Last night, I went along to a speech contest, one of four which take place each year within Toastmasters. The Humorous and Table Topics Contest this year had within it a most thought-provoking question. The chair asked each contestant, “Is art essential to daily life?”

nat-001

Wow, what a great question. I thought about it all the way home.

When you think the earliest examples of the cave art of our ancestors began to appear around 30,000 years ago, it makes you realize how deep this question really is. From that artistic moment in man’s history, we sought to express strong feelings through imagery. This proved a great intellectual breakthrough for our species.

In effect, man could ‘freeze’ part of his environment long enough for his powerful intelligence to think about it, to manipulate it, to understand it fully. ~ Readers Digest, The First Two Million Years.

nat-art-008

Art can show us who we are and who we want to be, and it can give us the metaphors and thematic connections that let us understand our world in a bigger, weirder, more resonant way. ~ Chuck Wendig

When you think that our primitive art led to teaching aids, toys and tools, you realize that art has played a quintessential part of our evolution. Therefore, the answer to the question could be, art is not only essential to life but life as we know it today would not have been possible without it.

nat-002

This morning, there was a new post out by Wendig, entitled, It Is Art That Will Help Us Survive http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/09/21/it-is-art-that-will-help-us-survive/

Wendig gave verdant life to some deep concerns people have these days about the future of everything. Yet, he leavens the doom and despair of “reality” with the message, ‘Spoiler warning: it’s art that will save us.’ In other words, he’s doing through his blog what art does for the observer.

nat

He likens the positive effect to being healthy for us: ‘The act of art as a probiotic boost to our emotional and spiritual immune systems. Art as rebellion, revelation, renewal.’ I like the idea of that, art as antioxidant! Thanks, Chuck. You, the man.

I’ve been an artist all my life, whether through art or the written word. About a year ago, a talented, creative friend asked, Does being able to draw have a purpose these days…it doesn’t seem to have any artistic or financial merit.

I replied: “My oil paintings will outlive me. I kind of like that. However, leaving legacies aside, a world without art and artists of all kinds I would not want to live in. Our purpose may not be expressed in the same clearly linear format of hours done/recompense given/living earned sort of thing as other people get to do. The arts are about much more than that. They’re about spiritual, emotional, mental, physical expression and transmutation and magical processes.

nat-art-010

‘The arts provide the rest of mankind with those most important of elusive experiences: hope, and inspiration, and aspiration and joy. They’re about the alchemy of being reminded to look up and remember the bigger picture.’

And as Wendig reminded us, ‘We learn who other people are through art — it’s not just our stories we need reflected, but everyone’s. Art maybe won’t create empathy out of whole cloth, but it can stir it, it can stoke it, like breath blown against cooling embers.’

Empathy is a vital asset in these explosive, uncertain times. Therefore art provides a vehicle for understanding one another.

nats-last-pic-done-at-kindy

This is why in times gone by, the Ancient Maori, for instance, would greet a group from another tribe by stating who they were, who their kin were, and then by sitting and sharing stories (the “mihi”). In this way, they would create common ground with those they needed to ally with and trade with or whatever. Art greases the wheels of reciprocity and peace.

Therefore, you could say, art is essential to future life.

It was the wonderful writer, Terry Pratchett, who said, Before you can change the world, you have to be able to form a picture of the world being other than it appears. I think this is the essence of the argument right here. Yes, as Wendig says, art provides an escape, and this opens us to envision, to build new worlds, better, greater, more sustainable worlds.

Imagination, said Pratchett, not intelligence, made us human. It’s art, said Wendig, that will save us. It’s art, said Carol, that will preserve our species and our world.

Yes. Art is essential to life!

1343264927

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

Humans, in order to live effectively and happily, need a goal—a vision—to pursue. ~ Paul Rosenberg

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

dad-with-sam0012

15 September, 2002

The worst night yet for aches, pains, difficulty turning over and lack of sleep. I woke at 4.22 a.m. with the conviction the Braxton Hicks (false labour pains) had changed nature and were stronger. Fortunately, I remembered to breathe.

Some people dismiss keeping journals, however when you’re looking back at one of the major events of your life, after a period of fourteen years has elapsed, and you think, I’ll look that one up, you realize the wisdom in keeping a record of every day.

You have notes on the milestones in your life. This forms a precious record of your thoughts and words at that moment in time. Not sanitised by the mind, not romanticised by distance, but the fresh, raw “moment” captured.

pregnant-with-sam

At this particular point in my life, 14 years ago, I was newly married to my second husband, expecting my second child. My first born child had been delivered when I was a teenager, under crisis circumstances. I’d always had the dream of getting to experience a planned pregnancy, in a family situation.

15 September, 2002

It was great to have my husband here, because I felt like a ‘space cadet.’ My head was spacey, my belly felt firm like a melon, my whole body seemed to be vibrating, the cells skittering. Throughout the day, the contractions fluctuated in time and intensity, sometimes bearable, sometimes unbearable. I didn’t feel afraid. Rather, I felt joy; at the “second chance” I’d been given.

Whew. This excerpt takes me back so clearly to this day.

After a long, difficult and traumatic birth, I remember, I climbed from the birthing pool into bed, at last. My husband and I waited for the baby to be cleaned up and examined.

weighing-sam0003

I wrote in my journal, Instead of our emotions rushing into euphoria, we both felt there was something wrong with the look of his face. Our midwife said she had to tell us, she thought our baby might have Down Syndrome and our emotions rushed into shock and fear instead. We held him and looked at him. He was born at 1.26 a.m.

My own words bring it all back so clearly.

I sit here shedding a few fresh tears at the memory of how devastated we were at the time.

The day followed in a blur of visitors, texting, breastfeeding, and talking, and at the end of the day everyone left.

16 September, 2002

After dinner, I wrapped Sam in blankets and lay him on the bed in front of me, so I could sit with my legs stretched out on either side of him.

Watching my baby and stroking him, I began to truly connect for the first time and feel my heart start to break free of its bonds to stretch towards him.

newborn-sam0003

At 9 pounds 11 ounces, and long-bodied with it, he was a lovely plump size. And his nature was beautiful, compared to the other babies I could hear wailing and crying, Sam never cried at all, he radiated a gentle sweetness.

From that moment on, Sam and I began our mother-son bond, a connection that has steadily built with every day.

It has been a long and interesting road these last fourteen years with my middle child, my special boy.

We went from the grief and devastation of the early days, to the dawning realisation we’d been graced with a little Buddha in our midst.

me-with-sampicture-293

This masterful character who has a heart as pure as driven snow, a spirit as unbreakable as steel, and a wisdom that is as earthy and real and grounded as you’re ever going to meet, has changed us and our lives for the better, forever. None of us in Samuel’s immediate family or even range of influence altogether will ever be the same again.

Little did we know, in our “green” state back in 2002, the miracle that had taken place on that day.

On the 16th September, at 1.26 a.m an angel was born to us. And, we had been forever blessed.

006

16 September, 2016

I woke this morning and my first thought was of my middle child, my wonderful son, Samuel, who turns fourteen today.

Happy Birthday, my darling son

You are perfect in every way

You teach me every day how to slow down, how to listen and be happy

Thank you

I love you!

Mama xxx

005-7

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

The hero’s redemption (and ultimate victory) hinges on their transcending their self-concern. And it rarely happens unless the writer brings the hero to the point of despair. ~ PJ Reece

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

On Wednesday of this week, it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

What am I feeling insecure about? Being stuck in the “aditing” phase with my book.

I tend to get asked this question a lot these days, ‘How’s the new book going?’ My standard answer has been to say that I’m still editing. However, as I was confessing to a friend, at Toastmasters this week, I’ve been going through my manuscript adding more words than I’ve taken out. She coined the perfect word for it, which I immediately purloined, “ad-iting.”

I thought, wow, this is the perfect word for a stage in the writing process which is necessary and also, annoying. The “aditing.”

022

The other day, I celebrated having edited the entire manuscript the whole way through five times. Here I am, studiously taking words out of my tome of 60,000 words. Yet, by a process of diligent aditing, I’ve also managed to get the word count on ‘The Sasori Empire’ up to 63,760 words!

How? Answer: because I’m temporarily stuck in the stage of “aditing,” which is strictly speaking the opposite of editing. It is nevertheless, a valid part of the creative process of creating fiction. For any writer, especially those who are just starting out, this can be the most frustrating stage of our job. This is what happens naturally, when each time you go through your prose, you find more and more gaps which need filling, more questions which need answering, or where there needs to be more description, more context, and more depth in general.

Kindle_Paperwhite_WiFi

These are the tough yet vital moments in the development process of a good story. This is when you have to examine what’s there and what needs to be there to add texture and context. It’s vital to the enrichment and vibrancy of our fiction.

A few years ago, I entered a short story into a contest held over on LinkedIn. On the forum boards, members of the group wrote in with their feedback on the entries. A lovely old Indian writer, who I was friends with, gave me some very valuable insight on my piece, which I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Nice story, but not enough furniture.”

His wise words made me wake up. I had an epiphany. I realized that in my slavish abeyance to the modern rules of writing fiction, I’d stripped my writing nearly bare. This is the danger today. There are rules for everything! The danger is that we polish a story to the stage where it’s too sanitised. We might get an “A” from the “Was Police,” but no one else wants to read it because the story is also sans voice, sans colour, and sans energy. It’s boring!

021

http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I

When I began work on this series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, a decade ago, I set out as we all do, into the fun, easy “Genesis project” stage of writing a book, when you’re gushing the rough copy into words.

Once I had the substance of the overall trilogy, I started editing Book One, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ However, I cut out all the flavour. In my nodding to every literary more, I’d whittled my story down to the bare bones. I ended up having to do some serious aditing, before it ended up feeling like a fully realised story.

Therefore, with the sequel, I didn’t want to leave the bones bare. This is when the aptly named, “aditing” came into play; the vital time spent adding furniture to the rooms of the house. Then, adding the decorations.

The award-winning author and teacher, Kate de Goldi said, ‘I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction, and a palette of Smarties.’

Writers'_Week_Kate_de_Goldi_Adelaide_Festival_medium

www.lollyleopold.com

It’s in the visceral detail that brings the scenes alive and makes the characters more real.

I commenced working on Book Two in September.

Within the process of editing, I have had to re-learn how to accommodate prolonged periods of aditing. I’m here to report, it can be done. One must keep a stoic face. And, not worry or think of it as a waste of energy. Allow the words to flow to fill the gaps. You can always take half those words out again later. The important thing is to let them flow. This is that point of manuscript development about which Oscar Wilde famously said, ‘This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.’

This admittedly requires a lot of patience. But then, what part of writing does not?

017-2

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned. ~ Oscar Wilde

+

 

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

Do you remember the Humorous Speech Contest I’ve been sweating over? I took one in the eye. I didn’t even place.

It’s a process, losing.

I think I must have gotten full of myself there for a while. You see, even though public speaking was my number one fear in life until a year ago, through tackling it, I seem to have somehow discovered an unknown resource. People keep telling me I’m good at it. I keep saying, ‘Am I?’ with a dazed look. I really have been genuinely moved and pleasantly surprised. In fact, the joy of back-patting has become so addictive, I’m a Toastmasters convert.

5 Speeches Award, 2016

I’ve always felt alien to everyone else, and that my particular gifts with writing, creating, and communicating were burdens for other people in some fashion. My entire life I’ve been told I’m too loud, and that I’m too expressive. Now, these very traits which have been my afflictions have undergone a process of alchemical transmogrification. They are now revealed as perfectly suited for public speaking. I can easily pitch my voice to fill a room and I can bring a story to life. I can also write a speech.

Last year, I won the first round of the speech competition and came second at the District level. Secretly, I wanted to win the District Contest as well.

It was like I was competing against myself. I poured weeks into figuring out how to write humor, Funny, Me? And Funny, Me! And, I didn’t just pay lip service, I utilised all the advice given. I followed every lead. I watched comedians, and other humorous speakers, I read humorist blogs. I wrote my speech and rewrote it a dozen times. Finally, about a week prior to the competition, I started trying to learn the material. I practised, rehearsed, refined, and edited my speech, ‘You Call That Progress?

006

Wednesday, 31st was the day of the Contest. There were five of us in the fray. It’s a strange animal, the contest. Some people thrive in those situations, others don’t. When you’re faced with judges holding pens at the ready, as they frown over their scoring sheets, the words start to get jumbled in your head.

While I’d imagined a year of my attending Toastmasters meetings would have helped banish the nerves, no, it was just as terrifying as the first time. I found the speech I knew so well at home suddenly became slippery and ethereal, slithering through my fingers. The same thing happened last year, when I went blank in a couple of spots. I did recover and carry on, but it had rattled my composure. And any humorist worth their salt will tell you, it’s all in the attitude. Once you lose the swagger, you’re lost.

The person who won deserved to win. Her speech was amazing. What got me was that the lovely friend who came second, put his speech together in 10 minutes! Agh, the injustice.

003

I went through a real journey after the Contest. First, I came home and sobbed a bit. Then, I watched the video of my dress rehearsal which I’d put on my YouTube channel, and it made me laugh. I watched it a few times and the laughter made me feel better.

Then, I realize how pleased I was for the winner. She’d said to us in the kitchen beforehand, that this was really far outside her comfort zone. She’d challenged herself to do it because it was difficult. I felt that kinship that we co-contestants feel, and there really is a sisterhood there, because we know how hard it is to do. We admire each other. The respect is earned. So, I made contact with congratulations and posted flowers on her FB page. It really felt good. I had come full circle.

039

After sharing the news of my defeat with friends on Facebook, one replied, “Maybe sometimes we try too hard?” Burn!

I know I tried too hard. That’s one of the things I need to learn is, how to relax while I strive.

One of the other losing competitors and I consoled one another as we left the club on Wednesday. I said, “At least we competed.” She said, “Yes, it’s always good for the experience.” What a brilliant way of putting it. We did it. Yeah. Go, us.

As L. Frank Baum once said, ‘The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.’ What have you done lately despite being afraid?

026 - Copy

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating

Yvette K. Carol

“The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself,” E.E. Cummings

+

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC08zS1p4-H-y_xmMAuL41Eg

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

After rashly deciding to join in with writing pals, Teresa Robeson http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/  and Catherine Johnson on the Selfie Art Day challenge five months ago, I now find myself part of a regular artistic quest to capture one’s own features. An elusive, multi-fold quest.

Teresa Robeson

My first thought when I faced the prospect of Selfie Art was ‘pastels.’ I imagined myself sweeping colour blocks all over the place. I brought out a lavish tray of pastels, and an old HB pencil and bitten-down eraser.

As always, I started with a faint pencil outline, a bare suggestion of features. This gave me a template to work on.

001

Then, I started firming up the outlines. I made my first attempts at getting the lines right, especially with the eyes. They were a big concern.

004

I refined the features with pencil and added more detail.

007

I took a photo of myself, to get a better handle on the line of the brim of my hat. I adjusted details. It was only at that point, I realized I’d completely forgotten the pastels. It was too by then to go back.

Without more ado, here’s my Selfie Art portrait, number six.

018

If you decide to join in on the challenge, make sure you swing by Teresa Robeson’s wordpress blog at http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com/ and tell her about it. She’ll include your links on her regularly updated list. Include the hashtag on your post: #SelfieDay. Have fun.

021

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

“The role of the artist is the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” ~ James Baldwin

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

The thing about writing humour is that everyone has a different sense of humour.

I remember having a conversation about this with a friend. She said, their family had invited the son’s new girlfriend over, to join them for dinner. After the meal, they thought they’d watch their favourite show, with the idea that laughing would bring them all together. So they put on a comedy which they knew was side-splitting, ‘Little Britain.’ My friend said that she, her husband and sons were rolling off the couch, nearly crying with laughter, while the son’s girlfriend never cracked a smile throughout the whole show.

Humour is personal and deadly serious.

164

I promised readers I’d share my journey towards the holy grail of engaging the funny bone. Let’s say, it’s been an interesting process, so far.

In my last post, there was a great moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth about having to write the material for my humorous speech.

I got some helpful pointers from a number of responders. With regards my first idea for material, which had been my mother and her dementia, a friend on social media – the wonderfully gregarious Lord David Prosser  – countered with a great comment.

David Prosser

‘If you get the chance to read the Deric Longden story Lost for Words or get the chance to see the TV film that was made starring Dame Thora Hird you’ll see that the subject of dementia can be dealt with i a funny, charming yet sympathetic way. Because we see the humour in a situation doesn’t make us uncaring towards people suffering that illness, it just means the particular situation was funny.’ ~ David Prosser

Thanks, David.

However, for the upcoming Speech Contest, I decided to go with the same topic I covered last year, something I know intimately – being a parent. Since then, after many anxious, feeble attempts at writing it, and wringing of hands, I began to despair I’d ever be able to write anything good ever again!

Bun Karyudo

I watched footage of award-winning humorous speaker, Jeanne Robertson http://www.jeannerobertson.com (thanks for the link, Jenny), and read a post or two by my friends who write funny blogs, like the self-confessed undie chronicler, Jenny Hansen, https://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/ and sweet blogger, Bun Karyudo, whose excellent “Lovingly Hand-Crafted Humor Blog” is always good for a chuckle.

I thought Bun’s recent post, Teaching My Son to Swim? It’s Just Not Going to Happen https://bunkaryudo.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/teaching-my-son-to-swim-its-just-not-going-to-happen/ was hilarious.

Here’s an excerpt, where his wife is convincing a reluctant Bun why he ought to teach their son to swim:

“When someone makes a promise, isn’t it only right to keep it.”

When someone made a promise, I nodded, it was only right to keep it.

“Right then,” she said, “I promised our son you’d teach him to swim. How can you possibly refuse?”

Bun, however, has a natural gift for turn of comedic phrase. I don’t!

Still stumped, I gazed upon these people’s brilliance and felt unable to produce anything of credibly feather-tickling value myself.

I’ve been having the same conversation everywhere I’ve gone, what makes comedy?

This week, a friend asked me, ‘Look at this way, what makes you laugh?’

IMG_1633

Terrific question. I can tell you, one-liners leave me cold; I prefer it when there’s a storyline, and the humour comes through what happens.

A light went on! I realized that my earlier attempts had failed, because each was basically a series of one-liners strung together.

Yesterday, my two youngest sons left to spend the weekend with their father. Last night, I relaxed and listened to some music, as you do. I was thinking about how different childhood is for kids these days, compared to say, when I was young, or say my parents, or their parents before them.

A few words wafted by me on the wind. If you consider that my grandmother was born in 1901. She lived in the “pre-nuclear age…” I thought, Gran had perfect recall, while I have trouble remembering something from one room of the house to the other… that’s a funny idea! Lucky for me, I was fleet of foot and captured the words before they flew on by.

I had the start to my speech.

The concept of comparing childhoods in our family, from my gran through to my youngest son, gave me the all-important narrative I needed. The rest flowed from there.

002 (14)

Here’s an example of the content as it stands so far: ‘They say there are more crazy people on the streets these days than ever before, we parents get warnings to keep an eye on our children’s whereabouts at all times. I know my children’s whereabouts – couch one and couch two in our living room, where they can get the wifi.’

Therefore, the raw material for my humorous speech has finally been produced. A labour of love, no less.

Now, I just need to figure out how to deliver the speech to achieve maximum impact. Wish me luck! Any tips for comedic timing/inflection that works,  please let me know! There’s a chocolate fish in it for you (nah, just kidding).

#WhySoManyRules

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

 

It is impossible to look cool while picking up a Frisbee. ~ Peter Kay

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

Since I put my name forward to compete in a Toastmaster’s “Humorous Speech Contest,” a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been working on the dilemma of material. Or, lack of it. The race has been on to write something funny.

I have spent days wondering what I should write about.

My hairdresser came over to give me a trim. She has her aging parents living with her, one of whom is blind, while the other has Alzheimer’s. The stories she told, of the mishaps going on in their household, had both of us nearly crying with laughter. I thought, ‘this stuff is priceless.’

13502006_10208582145142875_6200044633615959004_n

I thought about my own family’s hilarious stories, about my mother, and her dementia. I put it to the arbiters of taste in my circle. The resounding answer was, ‘No, don’t go there. Mothers are sacrosanct.’ Then, I read an article the other day, in which a woman, whose mother had died with Alzheimer’s, decried another guy, who had written a piece about his mother “going mad.” She said, it was ‘cruel and inconsiderate’ to mock those whose parents had dementia.

I realized that my first two ideas were hot-button topics! I decided “not to go there.” In a contest situation, the idea is to appeal to the audience, not turn people away.

What is funny?

33

I have wracked my brain, and done a bit of research.

I’ve learned from reading various comedian’s blogs that humour comes from the unexpected. We laugh because we’re led to expect one thing but are given the opposite instead.

I began to experiment. Going back to the subject of raising kids for my subject matter, I wrote a short speech.

U

According to what I read, one’s success with a “humorous speech” depends less on content than on the delivery. In the latest Toastmasters magazine, it was reported that the speaker, Palmo Carpino advised, if you want to go from good to great, is “It’s not so much about building a library as it is about building your reflexes.” Paul, who is active with the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, says, “This is what usually separates the “ok attempts” scribed into a written speech from the “memorable point illustrated in a memorable manner.”

The next time I saw my nephew, I tried out some of the so-called “funny bits” in my speech on him. He gave me one of those face-spreading smiles you give, when something isn’t really funny. My jokes had flat-lined.

006 (3)

I reworked the speech completely, remembering the rule of the unexpected. I practiced it again and again, by standing up, marching about and testing the delivery, the pauses, the inflections.

That’s what you have to get just right, the sound and timing of your material.

I tried rearranging each piece so as to take the audience in one direction then, casting about for the punch line which turns the listeners in a different direction. Bouncing it off myself and others.

I’ve received some great tips and ideas from people. The top two would have to be, ‘Just be yourself and let your character shine through.’ A great resource, according to a writer/artist friend of mine, Steve Attkisson, is Gene Perret’s Ten Commandments of Comedy. This is ‘one book that has been instructive and entertaining.’ I intend to withdraw this book from the library, to read next. I know I need help.

Will the audience laugh? Only time will tell!

In the end, I’ll get it right. Meantime, I thought the lessons I’m learning along the way might be valuable. As I figure out how to write a humorous speech, hopefully, what I share via my blog might also benefit someone else. Ain’t the internet cool?

How do you write funny? Any tips to share? Send help. Please. Or chocolate.

017

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

My advice? You wanna look 20 years younger? Stand further away. ~ Jeff Green

+

 

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

I know, I’m late again. Wednesday is time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

Right now, I am deeply insecure about the human race.

It’s hard to look at our planet right now and be chipper about it, even for an upbeat, optimistic, Sagittarian Dragon like me.

How can I continue to create my imaginary literary worlds when the real world around me is going to hell in a hand basket?

Although I appear somewhat refined, I’m actually low-brow. I loved Harry Potter, love ‘following the Kardashians,’ going to the movies, eating ice-cream and too much junk food on my time off. I don’t read the news, don’t know anything about politics, didn’t go to University, didn’t get a degree, well, you get the idea. I’m a fairly basic human being.

036

Nevertheless, I still have my own expression to share.

I look at the world and I am disappointed by the sad state of our planet, by stupid credit wrecking world finances, by inane politics, by religions, by the state of our education system, by practically everything! I’m deflated right down to being scared of the strange characters loose on the streets, that make it too dangerous for a single woman to jog.

On my jog today, I was frightened by a man.

All day, I’ve been trying to think of a solution. I could jog with someone else, if I knew someone who lived nearby who jogged. But, apart from the lack of such a person, I use my running as time to commune with myself, in the style of a semi-meditation. So, that’s not really an option.

005

There have been lots of incidents over the 20+ years I’ve been living here. I’ve been forced to change the times of day I run, and the routes many times. I used to run at 5 in the morning, when I got a doozy of a scare to find a man had been waiting for me in an alley. I changed to running at 9 a.m. 4 p.m. midday. Then, I changed it back to 8 in the morning which is where I am, currently.

Today was the second time in a few days, that I’ve seen the same terrifying guy, with the deadly serious attitude.

It was pouring with rain.

011 (6)

As I ran past this man walking, I knew it was the same man who had given me chills from two days before. I thought I’d better check the stranger was still walking on up the road. But, he wasn’t. He’d stopped and was starting to turn around.

My guts said, “MOVE!”

I saw I was a few steps from the driveway of another school mama. I shot down to her front door. She and her daughter, and their big dog were just getting ready to leave for school. She said, “What’s wrong?”

I said, “There’s a strange man on the road, and I came to the nearest safe house.”

016

She said, “Don’t worry. Brut will scare them off!”

We went back up their driveway. The man in the hoodie was loitering on the other side of the road.

I said, “There he is!”

At that, the man pivoted and took off into the property behind him.

11889507_1104398626237740_4156882009942782235_n

I thanked my friends and ran home safely. Yet, it was like the final straw. I have ignored the signs for years. But now, it’s unavoidable. I have to accept that my freedom is curtailed, because it is not safe to jog anymore. And something in me really rankles against that. I’ve spent the day feeling incensed.

With evening, I find I’m left with this great weight of disappointment like a sad blanket upon me. I’m disappointed by the human race.

Someone on Facebook said a few days ago, that he feels a sense that the miraculous is afoot. This does give a glimmer of hope. Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie, says, “I think you’re underestimating the human race” I sure hope so! However, I’ve also decided to invest in a treadmill.

In this sad, old world of ours how do we artists continue to create our imaginary Edens?

026 - Copy

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

+

The sun, the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago, had they happened to be within reach of predatory human hands. ~ Henry Havelock Elllis

+

Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com