Humor in writing




Humor can be anything from a belly laugh and the giggles to a chuckle or a smile. As long as it makes us happy to some degree, humor is doing its job. Here’s an excerpt from Book 2,of the Em and Yves series, EMPOWERED—an example of humor in a book that is not meant to be a comedy.

Victor grabbed Jasmine’s arm and dragged her to his office. “Don’t you guys all have something to do?” he said over his shoulder, but none of the men moved. He saw Jasmine look back at them and wink.

“You tell her, Vic,” one of the guys hollered just as he slammed the door.

“Woman, what were you thinking when you came here? It’s not safe and you stand out like a sore thumb.” Victor glared at her. “Please, tell me you’re not that dumb.”

“Belize, I think.”


“Belize for our honeymoon.”

“Honeymoon!” He heard the guys hooting on the other side of the door and imagined a whole lot of high-fives taking place out there.

“Yes, good snorkeling. We’ll have to have a society wedding of course. But we can keep it small and limit the photographers.”

“You’re totally nuts.” Victor shook his head in disbelief.

“We’ll make beautiful babies,” she cooed smiling up at him.

“Babies?  Babies!” Victor screeched. “Get this straight. We. Are. Not. Getting. Married. We. Are. Not. Making. Babies.” What did it take to make her understand?

“We are,” she said in a matter of fact way that enraged him even more. “We have to.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Victor, I love you. I can feel you in every atom of my body. My bones feel like jelly when I’m with you. Can’t you—?”

“You don’t even know me,” he yelled as he yanked the door open. The guys scrambled out of the way. With one hand on Jasmine’s arm and the other on the small of her back, he propelled her out the door to the waiting men. Jasmine stopped abruptly and Victor’s forward momentum caused him to press against her. He jerked back as if scalded. Jasmine turned to the audience in the doorway and mouthed, “I’ll be back.” Five thumbs turned up.

“No, you won’t!” Vic deposited her with her bodyguards and stomped back to his office. “Jesus H. Christ! Miss Jasmine Wade Berdin you are one hundred percent certifiably insane,” he said to no one in particular as he sagged heavily into his chair. His bones felt like jelly.




Naigra falls

I stood under the shower for much longer than I needed to this morning. I should know better.

I’ve lived in Mali where we dared not touch the water from the river for fear of disease, where children sold this same water tied in little scraps of plastic to bus passengers, where plants and people withered and died during the dry season.

I’ve traveled from Edmonton to Tombouctou via Toronto, New York, Casablanca and Bamako.  The most expensive stop? Tombouctou—and that was for the bottled water which cost more than the night’s stay in the hotel in New York.

On safari in Kenya we stayed in a tent camp. Water for the shower was heated in bags and hung outside the tents. My roommate and I showered M*A*S*H fashion. Turn the water on. Get wet. Turn the water off. Soap and shampoo. Turn the water on. Rinse. Turn the water off.

I’ve seen the scant water holes in the Serengeti. I’ve seen the murky water coming out of the taps in Mexico – the water that leaves your skin feeling dirtier after your shower than before you got in. I’ve seen the sharp demarcation between lush green and arid desert in the Nile valley.

Here in North America, we take water for granted, waste water shamefully. Not just any water, but clean water, drinkable from the tap water.

How lucky we are to have such luxury


Halloween Humor



Grandpa (in costume and appropriate voice): “Ha, ha. I am here to drink your blood.”

Munchkin: Laughs.

Mom: “You don’t scare me.”

Grandma: Groans

Mom (as we head out the door): “Now, remember, you can’t eat all the candy you get.”

Munchkin (in perfect Count Dracula voice): “I want to enjoy Halloween, but I can’t because Mom is here.”

Yes, we laughed.


Times, they are a changing

Walking to our polling station to vote in Canada’s Federal Election, we pass these signs in front of this pharmacy:




“There was a day when you never would have seen this,” says my daughter.

“A step in the right direction,” I say.

“Remember my friend, Nicole? She used marijuana when she had cancer. She would have gone to a place like this.”

“Definitely a step in the right direction.”


When the Sun was Mine

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When the Sun Was Mine

Review comments

“Expertly written, suspenseful, the mystery grips you from the first page.”

“… a surprising, entirely satisfying beginning.”

“… moments of true poetic beauty as a delicate, unusual friendship develops between a young girl (Brit) and an old lady(Flo).”

“I couldn’t put it down and towards the end I was sobbing.  Good thing I wasn’t wearing any make-up.”

“Alzheimer’s is such a fearsome disease, but Jones’ story doesn’t live there.”

“… makes its mark in terms of social commentary on this disease.”

“…when you have people willing to care, even those newly in your life, the most dreadful of situations can still touch your heart and leave you as the reader with possibility rather than loss.”



Poor little Miss Wright. Second time she comes into my room and once again she gets the shock of her life. Appreciated her concern for me, but really what could she do? I gave her a little wave as she eyed the two nurses bearing down on me and then slipped out the door behind Matthews.

All I wanted now was a long hot shower and something to eat. I’d missed breakfast of course and there likely wasn’t much left from lunch, but maybe I could scrounge something. I ignored the two nurses who had come in. One took my arm to help me to the bathroom. I shook her off and slammed the door in her face. Not fair to take my anger out on them. They hadn’t strapped me down, but then they hadn’t come to check on me all morning either.

By the time I finished my shower and put on my jeans, M*A*S*H* T-shirt, and thongs, oops, I mean flip-flops, Curly and Mo had remade my bed. The room still stank. I opened the window to let in some air. The incinerator wasn’t spewing forth at the moment so maybe my room would smell decent when I got back. I squirted some Chanel #5 on my neck and wrists and then a couple of sprays around the room. Terrible waste really, but I thought it might help.

I stepped out into the hallway and took a deep breath. Big mistake. The air didn’t smell a hell of a lot better than in my room. The omnipresent hospital odor mixed with the unique scent of old people. Not fair that everything went to pot as we aged. Wrinkles, creaky bones, flaccid muscles, droopy skin, and the sour fragrance of decay.

Just the other day, some little kid was in the visitor lounge with Esther. “Grandma, you smell funny,” he said, when his mother urged him to hug the old lady. Kid refused and kicked up a fuss. Couldn’t really blame him. At least his mother had the smarts to back off.

Yes, we were allowed out of our rooms during the day, the idea being that we could entertain each other and not burden the staff. Heaven forbid they should have to exert themselves for us. I went to the dining room and found a couple of slices of bread to pop in the toaster, and a hard-boiled egg. I poured a glass of watery orange drink made from powder like that horrible Tang stuff they sent us when we were overseas years ago, and smeared my toast with something that was supposed be butter. It tasted okay if you held your nose. Lord knows, I’d eaten a lot worse in my lifetime. Millet laced with grains of sand. I laughed when I remembered seeing the goats foraging in the mortar and pestle that held our food. I brushed toast crumbs off my hands and had to admit I felt better after eating.

I wandered over to the rec room and a sorry excuse it was. A few rickety tables and battered folding metal chairs, which made me think of France with all those sidewalk cafes, the parks, the little wrought iron tables, Michel. Now there was a lover extraordinaire, lived up to the romantic Frenchman reputation; kind and thoughtful and gentle, but a lion in bed. I closed my eyes and lived it again. Ah, those were the days.

Then I made the mistake of opening my eyes. Worn linoleum floors. One tiny window. I didn’t bother looking out. I already knew it was the same dismal view as from my room. Decrepit war-time houses across the street, scrubby grass that passed for lawns, the odd scrawny tree, no flowers to speak of, although one house had a couple of hanging pots that looked pretty, the riot of color a sight for sore eyes. Battered bikes lay scattered in the yards, abandoned haphazardly when the kids got home from school. Wrecks of cars parked in front of some of the houses. Was a wonder any of them still worked, but they did. I’d watched the people from my window when I couldn’t sleep: kids, parents, going about their business, work, school, with a few drug deals thrown in for good measure. Dreary little houses, dreary little lives. Bet all they did was watch the boob tube, guzzle beer, and smoke pot. Bah. Humbug.

We never got to go outside. Never. I’m sure prisoners were better treated. Didn’t they always have an exercise yard or was that just the movie image? A trip to a park or the mall would be nice, or the movies. Not that Hollywood was producing much good stuff these days, but still … just to get out.

Everything about Happy Hearts so conducive to enjoying oneself. I counted five people in the rec room sitting, staring at the floor. A sixth was watching television on mute alternately nodding and shaking her head at the screen.

Old Artie, and I mean old, ninety-nine and still toddling along, spent most of each day sitting at the chessboard. Never had any visitors or anyone to play with. I took pity on him, sat down, and offered to play a match. He proved to be a more challenging opponent than I expected, but I won. Took my mind off the Internet dilemma for a bit. I’d have to lie low for a couple of days, but then what?

I roamed the halls looking for Brittany and found her with a large screwdriver in her hand.

“What are you going to do with that?”

“I couldn’t open your window this morning. It’s stuck.”

Stuck? I burst out laughing. This younger generation never ceased to amaze with their ignorance. The chit had obviously never seen wooden windows before and didn’t know she had to turn the lock thingy at the top of the frame before she could slide the window up.

The girl bristled. “What’s so damn funny?”

“Whoa, did you just use a bad word?”

She blushed. Must have grown up in a staid household, I thought. Much like mine. The words in my head stopped me cold. I squeezed my eyes tight and fought to remember, but nothing came to me. I felt tears forming at the corners of my eyes. To have a glimpse, just one little glimpse of my mother. That’s all I asked. Did I have pictures of her? If so, where were they? Would I recognize her or would someone have to point her out to me? And my dad? What was he like?

That’s the worst thing about this Alzheimer’s business. Thoughts pop in and out of your head until you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. They taunt you with snippets of your life before, but there’s never enough to grasp a whole memory or maybe there is on some days and you just don’t remember.

“Is your window always locked?” Brittany asked.

Her voice jolted me back to the present. “No, why?”

“Not even at night?”

“I like to leave it open all the time for fresh air, if the incinerator’s not rumbling that is.”

“Okay then.”

I watched her amble down the hallway toward the caretaker’s office swinging the screwdriver and humming, “a merry tune to toot, he knows a song will move the job along.” Hated that movie. Maudlin nonsense.



What does Flo know?




When the Sun Was Mine

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Flo:      I was an inmate in this hellhole they charmingly called a nursing home. Then Brit climbed in my window. She was just a kid. How could she possibly help me?

Brit:      I should have been in college, not working in this dump. But then I never would have met Flo. She had Alzheimer’s. They said she never talked, but she talked to me.

Brought together by circumstance, an old lady and a young girl develop an unlikely friendship. Each has a dream they long to fulfill, but first Brit is determined to solve the mystery of Flo.

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