Tuesday Tidbits: A Shared Humour

All jokes are in-jokes. The humour that appeals the most to me is the humour that makes sure that everyone is in on the joke.

As I draw closer to the release of my second novel, With Honor Intact, I’ve decided to do a series of weekly posts about some of my thoughts about writing this novel and its larger series, “Tales from the Virtue Inn” (spoilers will be minimal to non-existent). This week, I want to touch on one of the fundamental aspects of this series – humour and how it is written.

Humour can be wielded as a sledgehammer or a stiletto, but the direction it aims can do more to bring people in or push them away than the jokes themselves. While there is a lot of strange humour in With Honor Intact, the core motivation behind most of its jokes is that life itself can be ridiculous. The fantasy world that the Virtue Inn inhabits often seems wildly over the top, although it has its own internal logic. The humour in the story is meant to be grounding, a reminder that even the most awe-inspiring or madly strange things can have roots in the familiar, in a shared experience of a ridiculous world.

It would be easy, I think, to make my heroine, Honor Desry, the butt of the jokes. She doesn’t understand the world she has entered and is frequently at the center of situations that should make it easy to mock her. Instead, I have tried to allow those experiencing her adventures to laugh with her – at the perils of doing laundry, at having awkward conversations with family members, at discovering that, grand cosmic power or not, cats will still be cats.

Above all else, I tried to root the humour of With Honour Intact in empathy. We may not be able to meet the supernatural Guests of the Virtue Inn in our day to day lives, but I hope that shared moments of laughter will bring understanding and commonalities to even the strangest and most fantastical of characters.

I value humour as a celebration of our shared humanity, our shared experiences of the often ridiculous business of living.

I hope that the humour of With Honor Intact will not only amuse but also bring shared moments of understanding, of brief glimpses of other worlds through foreign eyes.

With Honor Intact Cover 11aComing April Twenty-Third!

Honor Desry hadn’t applied to be the Innkeeper of a magical Inn with magical guests, but her sisters and her right-hand fox-man are making the job a lot sweeter.

Unfortunately, the supreme Cat God has disappeared on Honor’s watch and Honor’s old life is about to interfere with her new life in a major way.

The Naked Glassblower’s Association has booked a holiday vacation at the Virtue Inn, and Honor’s old boss and his partner are coming along to chaperone. Honor needs to find the Cat, keep the strange guests away from the supernatural guests, and somehow hold family and mind together.

But the Virtue Inn hasn’t revealed all of its secrets and Honor will need to summon every last piece of her courage and cunning to save the day With Honor Intact.

Warning: Contains some violence, profanity, innuendo, and homicidal cardigans.

With Honor Intact will be available digitally from all Amazon sites on April 23, 2015. To read the first book in the series, you can find The Guests of Honor here.


Some Things that Never Happened (And Some That Did)

So I’ve written one hundred posts. I spent a lot of time these past few weeks thinking about how I could thank all of the wonderful people who have made it such a pleasure to write each of those posts.

Finally, I came up with a wonderful/terrible idea. This blog has been more about my non-fiction than my fiction, so I thought that I would write a piece of fiction exclusively for my readers.

But not just one piece of fiction.

Five pieces of fiction!

And not just any fiction.

Stories written in exactly one hundred words to commemorate my one hundredth post!

Here they are, a collection of  completely original one hundred word* stories to celebrate my one hundredth post! I hope that you enjoy them.

*Except for Number Three. For reasons that will become obvious.

Disclaimer: The labeled stories are works of fiction. I only wish that my life was as interesting as the remixes would imply. No cats, chairs, or octopuses were harmed in the creation of this blog. Yes, that is how I am going to write the plural of octopus. Feel free to tell me all about it.


Five Ways that Cat Amesbury Never Started a Blog (And One Way She Did)


1. You Can’t Handle the Truth

She’d made it to the hole in the wall with the broken chairs and the layer of dust as thick as her hand on the counter. The only secure connection in the city didn’t need to advertise.

The man at the counter nodded, handing her the device without a word. She’d planned and sacrificed and bled for this day. It was hard to believe that it had finally arrived.

It only took a few keystrokes to lay it all out in cold black and white.

There was no turning back.

“The truth is out there,” she whispered.

She hit ‘Post’.


2. It’s a Terrible Life

“Is there a reason I’ve got a chain-smoking angel sitting on my dresser?”

“Look lady, I don’t get paid the big bucks to tell you how you’re too old to play with toy trucks.”

“They’re collectibles!”

“Whatever. Your life is great and you’re great and you shouldn’t do whatever stupid thing it is you’re planning on doing.”

“… Buying a giant purple octopus to hang over my front door?”

“No, that’s a great idea- Hey, are you Nat Amesbury?”


“Well, da- Er, you’ve been chosen to spread the word! Congratulations!”

“Wait! Why do I suddenly have a WordPress login?”


3. The Cat with Artistic Pretensions

She sat in the house
Doing nothing at all
Her eyes on the screen
Her eye on the ball

So sitting and staring
She soon failed to see
The strange-looking creature
That fell from the tree

Its claws were quite sharp
Its fur- how it shone
And it crept to the house
Creep, creep cross the lawn

So when she looked up
Her heart how it beat
It’s not every day
A cat that you meet!

This cat had a hat
And a pen and a book
And he shoved them towards her
And told her to look

No fun for this writer
She lost in the fight
All the words of her cat
She now had to write


4. Temperance and Tentacles

It is a truth not at all acknowledged that a woman in search of world domination must be in want of a giant purple Kraken. Upon meeting such a Kraken, her first act was to secure an unbreakable pact. In truth, there was something in her air and her manner of mad cackling that was appealing to those monstrous cephalopods. Kraken secured, she dispensed with such unpleasantries as suitors and meddling family. Her first desire accomplished, she proceeded to write her manifesto of intent.

As her words were scattered throughout the meeting places of the ton, she smiled.

“Entail this!”


5. Speed Infinity: We’ve Run Out of Tense Situations

The other people in the computer lab looked towards her, their eyes wide.


She picked up the phone with the practiced ease of being the only person old enough to remember when you still had to pick up a phone to answer it.

The person on the other end got right to the point.

So did she.

“So if I type below fifty words a minute, the internet explodes?”

The silence on the other end of the line was all the answer she needed.

“Right.” She nodded and rolled up her sleeves. “Let’s blow the ribbon off this mothertyper.”


∞ The Boring Truth

“Look,” they said. “You’re the one who thought that you needed a blog to show people how you write. So write.”

“So much writing,” she said, glancing nervously at her next chapter. “So much writing.

They shrugged. “So find something you like and write about that.”

They paused for a second before adding, “Well, maybe not the weird things you like. Save those for the story.”

She wrote and she was sure it was a completely normal post. Still, she hesitated before she posted, looking towards her family.

“So how do you feel about giant purple octopuses in carny outfits?”


IMG_0573All good things must come to an end, but here’s to one hundred more beginnings!



Honestly, if you enjoyed this, you are probably related to me and really should go check out my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor.  It’s over here.

The Big Reveal!

Note: Today we will break briefly from our regular schedule of beautiful but cryptic posts to provide an important announcement.

I know  you’ve all been tremendously curious as to what I look like.

So here is the stunning reveal.

shadow3Throwing shade


I have a terrible case of two-dimensionality and monochromaticity and my feet are larger than my head.

But I make up for these tragic defects with my sunny personality and my popped collar.


If you are inspired by my beautifully crafted post about my stunning shadow, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.



Fool Me Once

I am going to make you nervous.

One of my favourite parts of a story is when I reach the end of the story and realize the writer has managed a clever plot twist that I could have figured out based on the clues provided, but was so invested in normal story conventions that I missed it entirely.

Reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd  was a revelation.

One of my least favourite parts of stories is when I reach the end of the story and realize that the writer has tried to manage a clever plot twist, but that there was no way I could have determined the twist ahead of time due to a complete lack of in-story information.

Reading the original collection of Sherlock Holmes was a revelation.

Are you nervous yet?

I enjoy cleverness.

But far too often, we equate cleverness with stacked decks or cruelty.

There are stories that leave me breathless with anticipation.

There are stories that leave me shrinking in anticipation of the blow.

If they aren’t Arthur Conan Doyle, with all of his other talents, I will give writers one chance to play fairly with me.

Those who abuse that trust are writers I do not return to.

I cannot promise a lack of plot shifts or story dynamics.

I can promise that if the shifts are there, their roots will be visible, traceable to the flowers they blossom.

So here is my prank for April 1st.

You get a lengthy meditation on the value of trust in writing.

I get to avoid revealing that I am actually a collection of small green ferns.*



*This would be an example of bad plot twists. I only get to do this once a year. These twists are not representative of Cat Amesbury’s writing, normal posting, or life values. Unless I actually am a collection of small green ferns. In which case, carry on.



The One About the Elephants

How do you get an elephant in a car?

Humour is the biggest security breach to ever allow us inside a person’s head.

Open the door and let the elephant in.

When I write, I am conscious of humour with every word and every sentence.

How do you get two elephants in a car?

Sometimes the story’s humour tells us more about the writer than it does the story.

Open the doors and let the elephants in.

But in the hands of a writer who understands how laughter speaks…

How do you get three elephants in a car?

Tell me what a character laughs at and I will know them before their smirk has faded.

Open the doors and let the elephants in.

Do they laugh at the pain of others?

How do you get four elephants in a car?

Do their jokes hit above them or below?

Open the doors and let the elephants in.

Do they share their humour with their closest companions or with everyone they meet?

How do you get five elephants in a car?

Are their jokes of the world around them?

Open the trunk.

Are they nonsensical?

How do you get an elephant to drive?

When we laugh, we share our pleasure, our nervousness, our raw excitement with the world around us.

Give him the keys to the car.

We can ignore the elephants underneath our words, but only at our peril.

How do you get an author in a refrigerator?

Drive a car full of elephants through my story.

IMG_5089My jokes are a-maize-ing