Finding Help With Back Taxes

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 25-07-2014

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fhwbtThere are a lot of ways to find help with back taxes. First, you can ask your friends or family about this need and know how to go about this kind of tax issues. Not all people experience tax disputes but there are some who had been to it in the past. So if you want help with back taxes, you can always approach your friends about it. Second, use the internet to know the right actions for your IRS problems. There are several helpful websites that post updates about how to settle tax disputes even if you are broke. You just have to read it carefully and understand the proper ways to handle such problem with the Internal Revenue Service.

Third, you can seek help from tax professionals. Certified public accountants and tax lawyers are licensed to resolve tax issues so if you want to feel secured, you can always avail their services. When hiring a tax professional, you should be ready for the possible options that you have to take. Some of them will require you to spend some time gathering the documents needed so just abide on it. The best help with back taxes can always be obtained from tax professionals.

Knowing About Offer In Compromise Help

Paying taxes is a necessity for all employed and self-employed individuals. However, some people are not capable of paying it in full amount and on time because of the circumstances they are encountering. This is the reason why the Internal Revenue Service provides an offer in compromise help. Basically, an offer in compromise help is an option to any individual who struggles to pay the tax debts. Regardless of how small or big the debt, this kind of option is granted to individuals who are in a financial hardship. The Internal Revenue Service will go through the individual’s ability to pay, expenses, income and asset equity in order to guarantee whether he/she is capable of paying the taxes or not.

If granted with an offer in compromise, the individual will have to settle the tax debts in a specific period of time. The amount to pay will be lesser than its original price but it is important to take note that abiding on the agreed payment option is a must. The Internal Revenue Service does not grant this kind of option all the time but in certain circumstances, they will give an offer in compromise help to individuals whom they think cannot pay the tax debts in full.

It Is Not Easy To Have A Panic Disorder

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 18-04-2013

netpdA person with panic disorder cannot foretell when the next attack would come. The intensity and duration of panic attacks are also variable. There are times when symptoms of panic attacks are mild. And there are also times that these seem to be increasing in intensity. The attacks could last for few minutes to more than an hour. A person with panic disorder must seek professional help immediately. It is advised to receive treatment as soon as possible to avoid embarrassment and social isolation. A physician that specializes on this type of condition will be very helpful. He can propose effective solutions in reducing panic attacks. The support of the family and friends is also important. They must be oriented about the condition of the person with panic disorder. It is vital for them to understand the kind of challenge that the person is going through. They can help by reducing the stressors that may trigger panic attacks. The person with panic disorder should also be reminded that his or her family and friends are always there to help him or her. They can also help by reminding him or her that everything will be alright.

The Panic Attacks Are Unpredictable

There are a number of panic attack remedies that can help you prevent panic attacks from coming back. The first thing that you should do is to reflect on your lifestyle. You should identify the things that give you extreme stress and anxiety. Once you have identified these things, you should be prepared to get rid of them. This is because extreme stress and anxiety can trigger panic attacks. And you should know that if they are not worth keeping if they are causing extreme stress and anxiety. It is advised to accept assignments or responsibilities that match your capabilities. It means that you have to save some time for yourself. If you are already working on a number of assignments, you should not accept more. It is very important to have enough time to relax. You should also consider enrolling on a yoga class. Yoga can be beneficial to your overall health because it is a form of exercise. This a good form of relaxation for people with panic disorder. It is also suggested to learn how to meditate. You should dedicate an hour of your day for this kind of activity. Meditation can help you relax and make sound decisions.

Stop Snoring Pillows Best To Prevent Sleep Problems

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 29-03-2013

stop-snoring-pillowThere are many factors that lead to disturbed sleep. Everything from our general health to the conditions that we sleep in can cause sleep problems. For example, if we have nasal congestion or a blocked nose, it is quite natural that we will not be able to sleep well at night. Though nasal congestion is in itself a problem that can steal our sleep, it can further lead to other sleep complications like snoring.

Snoring has, in fact, been seen as a very serious issue that can cause sleep apnea. The disturbances in our sleep patterns have been recognized to cause heart attacks if they go unchecked. One of the ready-made solutions for sleep problems is a stop snoring pillow. It is a comparatively recent innovation in the field of prevention and cure of sleep disorders. These pillows not only reduce the possibility of snoring but also help us to get peaceful sleep.

So, if your night’s sleep is disturbed by snoring or some other health issue, a snoring pillow must form part of your sleeping gear. These pillows are available in different sizes, shapes, and materials and can be used in a wide variety of ways. You can select the best stop snoring pillow according to the sleep issue that you are facing.

Snoring has been proved to be one of the worst destroyers of sleep. Among married couples, snoring can cause insomnia to a partner or lack of good rest. Nobody would be comfortable having a partner snore all through the night. It has also been proved that some marriages have broken as a result of snoring especially among couples who are uncomfortable with sleeping in general. This is one of the major reasons as to why one should use a stop snoring pillow to avoid the unnecessary harm.

A stop snoring pillow is a good thing to invest in since it helps one sleep without distraction through the night. It majorly helps in giving one a perfect sleeping position for your head and neck that opens up the airway preventing the act of snoring. The nose and mouth are well placed by use of it as one enjoys his sleep. Also, this kind of pillow offers total comfort due to the materials that have been used in making it. For example, one that uses a latex pillow cannot have the fear of using a product that contains chemicals. This is because a latex kind of stop snoring pillow is made out of natural materials which in turn are eco friendly and do not even harm the environment. Lastly, snore pillows are cheap and available in the health stores near you.

Pillow Types

Many companies have come up with their own different spin on stop snoring pillow. Therefore, it is important for you as a consumer to know how to choose the best quality type available. One that will offer the best performance for your needs and leave you satisfied. There few things that you need to put into consideration as you choose. As a first timer, ensure you know the kind of materials that you are comfortable in sleeping on. This is because the pillows are made of different materials such as latex and the like. Secondly, choose a pillow that has a soft removable cover which can be washed and replaced. This is because the more you sleep, the more your pillow becomes dirty, hence, a removable washable cover can be a great choice.

Third, at the middle of the stop snoring pillow, ensure that you have an adjustable anti-snore air posture support. This will give you a proper position for your nose and mouth which enhances free flow of air to your airway. Additionally, use a pillow which is medically tested to avoid unnecessary back aches and headaches. A clinically tested anti snoring pillow can be purchased from a drug store near you or in pharmacies which are specialized in sleep disorders.

Respect For The Laughs

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 17-09-2012

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I recently turned 55, and thought I’m still only a midlife apprentice, as Karen Cushman might put it, I figure that at five years older than a half-century, I should finally get some respect, okay?

But, then, I also expect the Chicago Cubs to get some respect, but I recognize that neither of these expectations has much chance of being realized – about as much chance, in fact, as there is that humor, the Rodney Dangerfield of literary forms, will soon be getting its fair share of the R word.

It’s always puzzled me that humor should be taken so lightly, since it seems as essential to our survival as sunshine. We seem wired from birth to laugh, an act as explosively involuntary as sneezing, and one that affords similar relief. We can choose to smile, but a laugh always sneaks up and surprises us. And so it has an air of the ineffable – at least for those of us who try to analyze its catalysts. When I wrote a book about humor several years ago, I began to realize that our individual senses of humor are as unique to each of us as our fingerprints. That’s why it’s so hard for us so-called experts to recommend funny books for readers we don’t know personally. A related problem is that our sense of humor seems to evolve as a function of our maturation, but this occurs at different rates in different people. Underwear may well be, as Betsy Byars asserts, the funniest world in the vocabulary of many a 17-year-old, but not all of them.

No wonder E. B. White called humor “a complete mystery.” He went on to say, “It can be dissected, but like a frog it dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”

Undaunted by White’s gloomy pronouncement, Dr. Robert R. Provine, a professor of neurobiology and psychology at the University of Maryland, has recently reported the findings of his dissection of the laugh. He concludes that it is, above all, a social act, the purpose of which is to solidify friendships and bring people into the fold (I guess that’s why those cheerfully beautiful young people on the TV sitcom Friends laugh so much). According to Dr. Provine’s research, though, most of what we laugh at isn’t particularly funny or clever (don’t tell the writers and producers of Friends he said that) but is, instead, a kind of glue, a merry mucilage that binds people together. Folks are 30 times more likely to laugh in groups than when they are alone, he observes. So why do we laugh when we read? Because, the researcher claims, we are participating vicariously in a social event – one that I would call a communion between writer and reader and also a kind of communion between readers and characters in the book being read.

Speaking of books, authors Joseph Heller and the late Norman Cousins have argued in their respective books, No Laughing Matter and Anatomy of an Illness As Perceived by the Patient, that laughter has a more serious purpose than simple socialization; that, in fact, it’s a sovereign remedy for what ails us. The nicest thing about laughter as medicine, I think, is that you don’t have to have a doctor’s prescription to get it. it’s available in the form of over-the-counter books at your nearest library.

There is no question in my mind, by the way, that kids, too, need laughter as their own medicine for melancholy. Life is no easier for them than it is for us, and like us adults, kids are – to borrow the titles of two recent books by a wonderful Australian humorist, Morris Gleitzman – inveterate Worry Warts and Misery Guts. As a means of at least temporarily escaping the oppressions of the world and its attendant anxieties, humor is as essential for youngsters as it is for us oldsters – er, midlifers, I mean. Kids intuitively understand this and look for “funny” books. And when they are found, they will forever occupy a special place in the reader’s heart. of course, because our humor is so personal and because the heart is not a literary critic, the best-loved books of childhood may be the ones that have gotten the shortest shrift from critics. This “fondness of the heart” is certainly why I have such great and abiding love for Walter R. Brooks’ Freddy the Pig books, which were and still are unrespected by academic critics. But I loved them as a kid and still do today because Freddy and his friends never failed to make me laugh, and the world they occupied became, accordingly, a place of emotional sanctuary for me when I was a boy and, yes, remains so to this day.

I suppose that’s why I think we need to take humor so seriously. And why, as people who are involved with the lives of kids, we need not only to be as thoroughly familiar as possible with the literature of humor, but also to attempt to wrestle to the ground the slippery-as-a-greased-pig understanding of the nature of humor, of what it is that makes us laugh.

Unfortunately, there seems to be less occasion for laughter these days than ever. George Plimpton, the American editor of Paris Review – a recent issue of which was devoted to the topic “Whither Humor?” – notes that written humor “seems so … well, sparse these days. It’s getting hard to find in American culture or at least harder to discover than it used to be.” Plimpton and company attribute this, in part, to the more strident aspects of the political-correctness epidemic currently infecting our intellectual climate, but they also cite as causes our social dissolution and lack of a commonality of cultural experience as immigration turns increasingly to alienation.

Americans aren’t the only ones who are wondering, “What do we have to laugh about?” This was the theme of a recent conference at Marburg, Germany, where it was noted that the post-World War II partition of that country into East and West had created such divergent cultures that half of the now reunited nation doesn’t understand what the other half is laughing about.

Apparently, we are all looking around and wondering, “What’s so funny?”

If there is a lesson in all of this, it may be that it’s time for us to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Let’s lighten up and once again give laughter a chance to do its healing work. I’d consider it a personal favor. After all, at my age, I need all the laughs I can get.

Bosses – Chill On The Bad Jokes!

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-09-2012

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When humor is appropriate, differences in authority, position and opinion are not factors in measuring its value – a shared laugh levels differences. Equals laugh together; when co-workers laugh with each other, goodwill develops and they trust one another.

Inappropriate humor, however, can turn people off and lead to negative connotations. While humor used wisely can make you welcome in most circles, used unwisely, it can put you on the workplace blacklist. To keep your use of humor up and positive, avoid the following subjects and situations:

* Anything that suggests you are important. This will bring a frown to most people’s faces unless it is an obvious exaggeration. But if you soberly or subtly make fun of yourself, you show that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Of course, you must be careful not to put yourself down too much – you might sabotage your credibility.

* Jokes or puns that make fun of any ethnic, religious or racial group. Such behavior is strictly forbidden. Even if you think stereotype humor is funny, many people do not. Since you do not know how another person feels about it, you may inadvertently offend or hurt someone.

* Derogatory and belittling remarks about the opposite gender. Fewer and fewer people today willingly accept humor that is based on the supposed foibles and weaknesses of the opposite sex. Instead of being funny, such comments are generally in bad or poor taste, if not downright rude or uncultured.

* A famous person’s personality or others’ jokes that don’t match your temperament. Trying to imitate someone is usually difficult, and retelling someone else’s experiences often won’t ring true. Better to develop your own sense of humor by thinking about what makes you laugh – then relate the funny things that happened to you.

* Other people as the butt of a joke. Attempting to make fun of someone’s mistake or error is bad enough; to do it behind the person’s back is worse. To humiliate publicly is unforgivable. Such behavioral style is bound to result in a countermeasure of some type in the future.

Properly Introduced

If you frequently find yourself in situations where injecting some humor is likely to result in benefits or advantages, you should certainly give it a try. Laughter is always an effective communication tool as well as a complement to anyone’s day – especially to harried employees. But select your humor wisely and carefully, just as any good stand-up comic would do. A contingency exists – you must properly present it. Following are some easy and simple ways:

* Look for opportunities when talking with employees or in a group meeting to tell a joke or humorous story. The more relevant it is to the subject being discussed or the current situation, the better it will go over.

* Ask employees to bring in the best jokes they’ve recently heard. Combine them into a newsletter giving credit to those who have contributed.

* Collect humorous cartoons and display them on bulletin boards or the lunchroom walls.

* Distribute novelty pens and pencils at both factory and office supply storerooms. When used on the job, they serve to remind people to maintain a sense of humor at all times.

* Award a wind-up toy each month to the employee who, in your opinion, does the best job of mixing humor and work.

* Celebrate with soft drinks and cookies when the department solves a difficult problem or achieves a particularly challenging goal.

Timely

While it is more and more evident that a sense of humor helps in calming people’s nerves and reducing tension on the job, the timing of its use also is a factor. When used with discretion and with words that are relevant, a well-timed comment or funny remark can greatly alleviate an uncomfortable situation.

As to when you should come up with a joke or a play on words, you might try a little humor when conditions such as the following exist:

* When you feel that a key point in a discussion should be emphasized. By recalling a funny incident from the past, you can increase the importance of the point while also making it more memorable.

* When an embarrassing event occurs. For example, you may be about to demonstrate a new electrical tool and find it won’t start, or the wrong kit for a repair project is brought to the job site. A bit of humor at this time can be a clever coverup for your nervousness until you get back in control.

* When a general feeling of despair exists among a group trying to meet a deadline. Your humor may generate some hope and is also likely to boost the group’s productivity.

* When meeting attendees are tense and one or more seem ready to lose their temper. Find a relevant quip to tell – it can have a cooling off effect.

Meets Standards

Time and again, humor has proved to be a valuable aid to professional communication. This is especially acute in public speaking where maintaining decorum and meeting social standards are critical. The wrong joke told to the wrong audience can turn out to be a devastating flop.

Certain situations also govern your use of humor. Joking about the company’s new policy may be an enjoyable activity when talking with friends, but the boss may not find it very funny during a department meeting.

If you are accustomed to telling jokes, you are undoubtedly aware that an appropriate sense of humor improves with practice. Here are some tips on turning jokes and personal anecdotes into humor with universal appeal:

* Tell only “approved-for-all-audiences” jokes. Regardless of how funny it might be, a potentially offensive, vulgar or insulting joke can pose a huge risk, both academically and personally. Always take the time to know your audience and select your humor accordingly.

* Assure that the incident you talk about really happened. Since stories that are true are the funniest because they frequently are coincidental or improbable, you’re better off with telling ones which meet that precept. Besides, even the least perceptive listener can detect a story that’s been blown beyond reality.

* Strive for smooth transitions. If a presentation or speech is to follow your story, make sure the gist of your tale including the punch line relates well to the topic or audience. Otherwise, even the funniest story will be left hanging in mid-air without a hook to tie it to what follows.

Makes Sense

“It’s long been argued that good senses of humor are key communications tools that will bring about group cohesion and commitment,” says John Sosik, co-author of a study that suggests a little levity can actually make workers perform better. Sosik, assistant professor of management at Penn State University’s Great Valley branch, adds, “This study gives us some evidence of (humor’s) effects that, in the past, were just hunches. Humor brings people together and helps them cope with their demanding jobs.”

The study, co-authored by Bruce Avolio, management professor and Executive Director, Foster Center for Leadership, and Jane Howell from the University of Western Ontario, was presented at a national meeting of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology in San Diego.

The researchers began by surveying the 322 employees of a major Canadian financial institution and asking them to rate their supervisors on leadership style and use of humor.

A year later, the authors examined the company’s financial records and looked at the performance results of the individuals in the units of the supervisors or managers who were being assessed. The units that performed best throughout the year had managers who used a style called transformational, which raised performance through intellectual stimulation, including humor. Those leaders treated workers as individuals and inspired them to work together.

In addition to making sense, humor requires sense. If you have a good sense of humor, you can diffuse tension, reduce stress, promote friendship and punctuate a message. While a hearty laugh helps you to salvage an otherwise poor day, it can also turn pain into pleasure and frustration into fun.

However, if it is used negatively, humor also can hurt feelings, promote misunderstandings, cause resentment and generate tension. It can embarrass you and everyone else, damage relationships and jeopardize jobs. You can make humor a positive, rather than a negative, force in your life by understanding when and how to use it. Above all, don’t forget the best form of humor of all: Being able to laugh at yourself. You will always have a responsive audience – one you will never offend.

Computer Jokes – How Lame Are They?

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-09-2012

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Are personal computers funny? You bet, judging from the jokes computer users share with one another over the Internet.

Following the great tradition of Vaudevillian comedians stealing jokes mercilessly from one another, here’s a rundown of the best jokes about computers that I’ve found on the Internet. Some I received in e-mail messages; others I found myself in Usenet newsgroups or on Web sites. Whenever possible, I site the source, but many of these jokes have been circulated so much that the link to the originator is long gone.

This originally came from The Official Computer Freaks Joke Book: Joe, a computer programmer, was talking with his psychotherapist. “You’ve got to help me,” he says. “I’ve fallen in love with my computer, but I know I can never marry her.” “Well, it’s good you haven’t totally lost touch with reality,” says the therapist. “Oh, it could never work,” says Joe. “She wants a career.”

Old friend Jane Leathersich sent me this one: You know you’re addicted to the Internet when you run into an old friend and exchange home page addresses, say “LOL!” when someone tells you a joke in person, and find your Internet service provider calling you for tech support.

I found these computer definitions in the newsgroup comp.internet.net-happenings. Binary: possessing the ability to have friends of both sexes. Buffer: programmer who works in the nude. Computer: a device designed to speed and automate errors. Computer club: device that’s used to strike a computer forcefully upon receiving error messages. Keyboard: an instrument used for entering errors into a system. Online: the idea that people should always be accessible. Password: the nonsense word taped to your terminal.

Here are some tips to successful flaming (angry, abusive debating), which I found on the computer news service Cnet: (1) You were a newbie once, too. You deserved all the flaming you got then. The current batch deserves no less. (2) Lurk until you get a feel for what’s acceptable in a particular newsgroup, then leap in and do the opposite. (3) Share expert knowledge. If you know how to push someone’s buttons in a forum, send private e-mail to everyone else telling them.

Overheard at a computer conference: The Web is creating the new urban problem of homepagelessness. But those who insist that we are now on the brink of the paperless society should go try to find a paperless toilet.

You know you’re a techno-geek when you butt in to correct salespeople talking to customers in computer stores, only to have the salesperson spend the next 20 minutes standing by silently, nodding his head in agreement; you stop saying “phone number” and replace it with “voice number”; and you would rather get more dots per inch than miles per gallon.

Jorn Barger’s Inverse Law of Usenet Bandwidth: The more interesting your life becomes, the less you post … and vice versa.

Lightbulb jokes from Cnet: Q: How many support technicians does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Please hold and someone will be with you shortly. Q: How many America Online users does it take to change a lightbulb? A: None. They wait for new lightbulbs to be added. Q: How many Mac users does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Mac users don’t do lightbulbs. They’re made of glass, and that makes them too much like Windows.

From the Usenet Guide to Power Posting, seen in the newsgroup soc.women: Use foreign phrases. French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of Usenet. You should use the words ad hominem at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are ad nauseam, E Pluribus Unum, and fetuccini alfredo. Use the smiley to your advantage. You can call anyone just about anything as long as you include the smiley. On really nasty attacks add, “No flames, please.”

Richard Lee Holbert devised these tips, which appeared in the newsgroup comp.internet.net-happenings, to tell if you’re a high-tech redneck: You start all your posts with the words “Howdy y’all,” your screen saver is a bitmap image of your favorite truck, tractor or farm animal, and your computer is worth more than all your cars combined.

From LaughWEB, you know you’re too serious about computers when you call in sick because you found a great new Web site, you look for the zoom icon when reading a magazine for a better look at a photograph, and you find yourself engaged to someone you’ve never actually met except through e-mail.

Best e-mail signatures, found on ms. chat.humor: He who laughs last thinks slowest, There’s too much blood in my caffeine system, and Artificial Intelligence usually beats real stupidity.

Finally, why DID the cursor cross the screen? Here are some answers, provided by Lynne Lieberman and her crew of fellow computer programmers at Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based Reed Technology and Information Services: 1. To get to the other pixels. 2. He was in a “no cursing” zone. 3. To get to the cursette. 4. In search of the wily and elusive autoexec.bat. 5. He didn’t, but he put it on his resume anyway.

Keeping The Kiddies Entertained – Writing Humor

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Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 06-09-2012

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The earliest American humor used exaggeration in its purest form: larger-than-life heroes performing superhuman feats. Remember Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry? The American tall tale is still a favored form of humor for children. Anne Isaac’s Swamp Angel moves this classic genre into the 1990s with her female superheroine. Not only does Swamp Angel fend off Thundering Tarnation, the marauding bear, she has to prove herself to taunting backwoodsmen who’d have her stay at home, quilting.

Transcendental toasters, madcap Martians, and articulate animals are all examples of truth stretching. My favorite mouthy mammal is the mutt, Martha, in Susan Meddaugh’s Martha Speaks. After Martha dog eats a bowl of alphabet soup, she becomes quite the loquacious pooch. “You people are so bossy. COME! SIT! STAY! You never say please.”

Journey beyond the bounds of possibility to create exaggerated humor. How about a plucky petunia? A daring doormat? Even preschool children can differentiate between the real and unreal as they gleefully embrace the fun in make-believe.

Word and language play

With wordplay, language is key to the rhythm, sound, and rhyme that carries your story forward. Readers become reciters. Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and Joyce Armor are wizards of wordplay in their witty poetry. Nancy Shaw’s “Sheep” books are shear joy (yes, pun intended).

If you’re not a poet and you know it, try your hand at literal translation. Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish teach you how. Amelia Bedelia, the indomitable maid, takes every order, every conversation, every suggestion literally, and sets herself up for catastrophe. Children love trying to predict the consequences of Amelia’s misunderstandings.

Role reversal

Eugene Trivizas chose role reversal to retell a classic fairy tale in his The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. To make the most effective use of role reversal, choose familiar characters acting out of character. Turn everyday events topsy-turvy. Harry Allard uses children’s perceptions about substitute teachers (whether true or not) when he changes meek, mild Miss Nelson into bleak, vile Viola Swamp. You may choose to switch family members, as Mary Rodgers did with her mother/daughter exchange in Freaky Friday, or people and their pets, aliens with automobiles, princes and paupers. Stay away from twins, though. It’s been done and done and done.

Nonsense

Nonsense includes incongruity and absurdity, ridiculous premises, and illogical series of events. What makes a nonsense book funny is its weirdness. Imogene’s Antlers, by David Small, is the story of a young girl, Imogene, who wakes up one day to find she’s grown antlers. This is a problem. Imogene has trouble getting dressed; she can’t fit through narrow doorways; her antlers get caught in the chandelier. Even worse, her mother keeps fainting at the sight of her. Though children recognize the absurdity of Imogene’s situation, they also see how well she copes with her sudden disability. This book speaks to children’s physical differences, which is a fundamental value of humor.

Literary humor helps children grow. It offers distancing from pain, from change and insecurity, from cruelty, disaster and loss. Children are not always sophisticated or mature enough emotionally to laugh at themselves. Humorous books with subtle serious themes offer children ways to deal positively with life’s inequities. They offer a magic mirror, through which children’s problems–and their solutions–can be reflected back.

Slapstick

Farce and horseplay have been part of the American humor scene since vaudeville–maybe before. Who knows what Neanderthals did for fun? Physical humor appeals to the child in all of us. Hectic, frenetic chases and bumbling, stumbling characters cause chaos in the pages of children’s books. Your plot will immediately pick up pace if you include a frantic fiasco or two. Check out Betsy Byars’ Golly Sisters. May-May and Rose’s calamitous capers are rip-roaring fun. Avi used slapstick masterfully in his book Romeo and Juliet Together (And Alive) At Last! His high schoolers’ rendition of Shakespeare’s masterpiece would make The Bard weep (with tears of laughter).

Satire

You can achieve humor by poking fun at human vices, human foibles, or the general social order, which rarely makes sense to children, so they love to see it pulverized on paper. My favorite satirical series is “The Stupids,” by Harry Allard. I swear these people lived next door to me when I was growing up. James Marshall’s illustrations add hilarity to the humor.

To write effective satire for children, you must recognize the ridiculous in youngsters’ lives. Make fun of uppity people’s pretensions, lampoon restrictions, and spoof the silly societal mores children are expected to embrace. Create characters who teeter on the edge, who challenge the status quo–and thrive. Read Sid Fleischman’s The Whipping Boy for a lesson in writing satire.

Adolescent angst

Family and school stories, growing up and coming-of-age novels make up the bulk of children’s humorous fiction, Adolescence just seems to lend itself to humor. Laughter helps older children deal with life’s larger dilemmas: death, divorce, disability, senility, loss, and unwelcome change. Reading about characters who successfully and humorously overcome obstacles provides children with painless lessons on how to handle their own problems.

For my book B.J.’s Billion-Dollar Bet, I started with a troublesome topic–betting. Frequently, I overhear conversations between kids who are placing bets: “Oh, sure. I bet you,” or “Wanna bet? Come on, let’s bet on it.” And they bet away valuable items–clothing, sports card collections, lunch money. To show the consequences of betting, I created B.J. Byner, a compulsive gambler who bets and loses all of his possessions, then begins to bet away his family’s belongings. When B.J. loses his mother’s lottery ticket in a wager, then finds out the ticket is a fifty-million-dollar winner, he has to get that ticket back!

I hope young readers will see that the risks of gambling are considerable; the losses more than they may be willing or able to pay. Betting can result in loss of friendship, family conflict, and, as with any addiction, loss of control and self-respect. If I hadn’t chosen a humorous premise for this book, it would have been too preachy.

Middle-grade and young adult novels include more urbane, cerebral humor. These young people are developing their own individual views of the world, and social relationships take on a major role.

For my middle-grade novel, How Do You Spell Geek?, I began with a funny, offbeat character, Lurlene Brueggemeyer, the geek, and built the story around her. The issues are serious ones-judging people by their appearance, shifting alliances between friends, peer pressure, and self-examination, but I gave my main character, Ann, a sarcastic sense of humor and a wry way of watching her world get weird, which seems to lighten the load.

Read the masters of middle-grade humor: Ellen Conford, Barbara Park, Beverly Cleary, Betsy Byars, Daniel Pinkwater, and Jerry Spinelli, among many, many others.

Quirky take on life

There are humor writers who defy classification; they relate to their audiences through rebellion, radicalism, and general outrageousness. Three young adult authors who fall into this special category are M.E. Kerr, Richard Peck, and Paul Zindel. Their books validate an emerging adult’s individuality, passion, and self-expression.

If you plan to try your hand at humor, steer clear of targeting a specific age group. I’ve received letters from eight-year-olds who are reading my junior high novel, Risky Friends. And I’m sure you know high schoolers who still get a hoot out of Dr. Seuss. Even though sense of humor evolves as we grow older, we never lose appreciation for the books that made us laugh when we were younger.

Humor writing is a spontaneous act. It comes from deep within, from your own wacky way of looking at the world. One word of caution: Humor has power. What we laugh at, we make light of. What we laugh at, we legitimize and condone. Cruelty is never funny. Violence isn’t funny. Torture, torment, neglect, war, hatred, and preying on others’ misfortunes are not subjects for children’s humor. There’s a fine line between sarcasm and cynicism; between light-spirited and mean-spirited. So be aware. If you do write humor for children, observe the limits.

There’s more than one way to connect with children through humor (beyond using “underwear”). In fact, with all the techniques available, and given the fact that children laugh easily, your chances of eliciting gleeful responses are excellent.