Family Relationships

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Virtual Book Tour: "If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny"

Today we are delighted to welcome Lucy Adams to our blog’s Virtual Book Tour. Lucy is the author of “If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny.” Her first book celebrates family and the struggle to balance life while maintaining a sound mind and body. Readers get lost in her stories of family antics which somehow always seem to explore and further her own personal growth through insight and a healthy portion of humor. Now see for yourself:

Nourishing Relationships: What inspired you to write this book?

Lucy Adams: So many things inspired me to write If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. My husband stayed after me about doing it. Readers of my weekly newspaper column frequently asked me when I planned to write a book.

The turning point came when a publisher called and asked if I was interested in writing a how-to book on parenting. Wow! I was flattered. But when I finally got my puffed up ego to sit down and be quiet, the reasonable, logical side of me said that it was dangerous territory to tread. After all, my own children aren't fully cooked. I've yet to see the end product of my own parenting. Who am I to tell someone else how to do it? I had to call the publisher and decline the invitation. While on the phone, however, with newfound confidence clutched in my sweaty palms, I pitched the idea for If Mama. He liked it.

If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny was also inspired by my need to prove that life is more than a collection of chaos book-ended by rare moments of calm. Every moment counts. Every minute of every day has a purpose. I have found that by learning to live in the little moments, I open myself to the biggest lessons and the best rewards. And, of course, humor. The smallest sliver of a second contains a complete journey. So much more happens between loads of laundry than wiping noses, folding shirts, and scrubbing the kitchen floor. In fact, most of life happens at the same time that I’m driving carpool, cleaning toilets, and scorching spaghetti.

N R: How did you decide on the title, "If Mama Don't Laugh, it Aint Funny"?

L A: My husband actually inadvertently coined the title. One evening at dinner, several years ago, one of my sons asked my husband to pass the rolls. Instead of passing the plate, the man tossed a roll to the child who bobbled it. Buttery bread left a long grease streak down the front of my child.

I was irritated at the poor display of table manners and at the challenge of getting butter stains out of navy blue pants. My husband could see it on my face, so he said, “Uh oh, y’all. Mama isn’t laughing. If Mama doesn’t laugh, it isn’t funny.”

The title (and ghastly grammar) evolved from there.

N R:
Do you have a favorite story from the book?

L A: My favorite story is "I Hope I'm Getting Smaller." It tells of a brief but poignant interaction with my then 4 year-old daughter. She questioned me about loving "bad guys" and what God would want us to do. We shared an amazing moment when I had a revelation about my relationship with my daughter, as well as about how she and I both understand God. It was such a profound experience; tears fill my eyes every time I read that story.

Another of my favorites is about Noah, the three legged pig. But that story is best consumed a little bit at a time, so I won’t go into detail here.

N R:
Did all of the stories in If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny really happen?

L A: All the stories but one are true. There is a clue embedded in the book. Can you find it? Do you know which story isn’t true?

N R: How do your family and friends feel about their lives being published?

L A: I have to admit, there’ve been a couple of pieces I published that sent my husband over the edge. He has actually given me a list of things I can’t print about him in the newspaper. For example, I can never write that he “squealed like a school girl.”

And every now and then my parents will question something I put in print. My parents are very thrifty and I once used a metaphor of gnomes burying their gold under toadstools to describe my mom and dad. There was no end to the grief they caught for that. I’m fortunate that they have a good sense of humor.

My friends laughingly say things like, “Uh oh, you’re not going to put that in the paper are you?”

But my children seem to go out of their way to supply me with topics. I even find myself lecturing them on not doing brainless things just to see if I’ll write about them.

Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize how entertaining the chaos is until the crisis du jour has passed. In the moment, I’m like every person – I’m surviving. I hope that in all the minutes that come between racing time to the grave, ha, ha, I’m teaching my children to laugh at themselves and take life’s ups and downs lightly.

N R:
What is your favorite thing about being an author?

L A:
Let’s see. Perhaps that total strangers write me and e-mail me to say they love If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny and that they’ve put it in the basket of reading materials in their bathrooms. On a home tour last Christmas, one man actually walked me into his bathroom to point out my book, which he keeps on the back of his commode.

Making people laugh; making an emotional connection.

I also enjoy the idea that something of my creation with my name on it is recorded in perpetuity in the Library of Congress. I'm a permanent, though tiny, piece of the fabric of America. It's a record of my existence and my contribution. Hmmm. That sounds so silly and neurotic when I say it out loud.

N R:
How did you get started writing?

L A:
My original plan, when I was 5, was to be an artist and live in my parents’ garage and take care of them in their old age. Despite my father nursing that ambition, I ended up being a writer and living down the rod from my parents. An arrangement that pleases my mother very much, since she and my dad haven’t decided to get old yet.

My high school friends would tell you that they always knew I would be a writer. My college friends would tell you they were all surprised. My husband says I’m not the same woman he married; that it’s like my alien inside took over.

I always wanted to write. I sort of gave up on it, though, after high school, seeking to do more practical things with my education and my life. It wasn’t until I was 34, with four children ages 6 and under and a husband who said we needed extra income, that I got up the courage to act on it.

I typed up sample columns and went to my local newspaper and asked if I could write for them. Then I called back the editor again, and again, and again, until he said, “Yes, if you’ll quit bothering me. I’ve got work to do.”

Now, in my 40’s, going a day without writing is like going a day without oxygen.

N R: Do you have any advice for other people who would like to get into writing?

L A: It’s NEVER too late to start. But, if you’re serious about it, you have to truly commit to seizing every moment. Working full-time and managing a family can pose barriers to a writing career.

I write in every sliver of time I can find. I try keep a notebook and a pen with me at all times, everywhere I go. Ideas suddenly come to me and I have to write them down or I’ll never remember them. Sometimes I don’t have my notebook handy when I get inspired on aisle 9 of the grocery store. I’ve written entire stories on the back of my grocery list. I’ve also been known to scribble notes on the backs of soup labels, on napkins, and flattened straw wrappers. Sometimes I dictate to my 14 year-old son when ideas come to me while I’m driving (deciphering his handwriting, however, is whole other challenge in and of itself). I jot things down while in waiting rooms, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. I have lots of scraps of paper stashed here, there, and everywhere with various notes. Often, writing a story is like piecing a puzzle together, literally.

The first step, however, is just starting. Commit to writing a certain number of words a day. My number is 250. It’s manageable. You’ll find that once you start, it’s very, very hard to stop. I know I do. I’ve burned countless meals because I couldn’t put my pen down.

N R: What's in the future for Lucy Adams - another book?

L A:
My second book of humor, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, chronicling embarrassing moments in life, is due out in late spring 2010.

I also continue to blog at, to write freelance articles, and to publish my syndicated humor column.

N R: If your readers only got one thing from If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny, what would you want that to be?

L A:
That life is short, without a lot of big moments outside of marriage proposals, weddings, and children’s births. So it’s important to live it all in the everyday small moments. That’s where the marrow of our existence is. Fill those moments with laughter, and appreciate the lessons they hold.

Thanks, Lucy, for a delightful interview. Now, Readers, it's your turn. Ask Lucy questions, share your thoughts, you can even show us how funny you are. Just click on 'Comments' at the bottom of this post and follow the prompts.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a great interview, Lucy. So which story in the book isn't true?

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were you always funny or did you cultivate your sense of humor? I admire your skill and, although I see the humor in stuff, I don't seem to be able to convey it to others. sally

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Lucy Adams said...

Oooooh, I cannot reveal which story in the book is not true, but the book contains a good hint in the story Words Can Never Hurt Me. I guess I'm really PIG-headed about that (also another good hint).

I think a good sense of humor runs in my family. My best memories of my great-grandmother and grandmother are of them laughing, and mostly at themselves; my mother, likewise. I learned from them to note the details in life, to find humor even in unlikely places, and how to tell a story. So, I owe them for my gift of humor . . . and for many wonderful memories.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With raising a family, writing and working, how do you ever find any time for yourself? A Very Tired Mom

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say you have 4 children and seem to be pretty intuitive - any insights about birth order?

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Lucy Adams said...

How do I find time for myself? Funny you should ask that. I just finished writing an article 9for a parenting magazine) about moms making time to pursue their own interests.

Writing is my THING, my personal interest, and I tend to squeeze it in where ever I can. I always have a pen and paper with me, I've been known to take out a pen light in a movie theater and jot down an idea that suddenly comes to me. I wrote an entire story one time in a fitting room, sans children of course, in the women's department of Macy's.

I don't watch television, don't carry on long conversations over the phone, try not to get bogged down in e-mails, don't spend long hours on facebook. I find those things steal my time.

But most of all, I guess I've made time for myself to write because it is very important to me.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Lucy Adams said...

Aaah, birth order. Well, first of all, I suppose I should confess that there are two babies of my family. And, no, they are not twins. My oldest three children are boys and my youngest is a girl, the natural baby of the family. My youngest boy is the baby of the boys. It really complicates things.

One of the stories in If Mama Don't Laugh capitalizes on the whole birth order idea, when I refer to my children as Say Some Evil (the go-getter oldest), See Some Evil (the observant, quiet middle boy), Do Some Evil (the attention grabbing youngest boy).

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're able to look at your life and find the humor in it - I've never been able to do that. I wonder if that's in the DNA or I can learn to see the world through a softer lens. What do you think, Lucy?

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Lucy Adams said...

I think all the little annoyances of the day - trying to get four kids to six different activities while also getting myself to my own obligation, dinner burned, no milk for breakfast, an unexpected meeting at work, car battery dies -while on the surface very managable, start to pile up until my jaw is clenched and my heart is racing and all I want to do is go back home and get back in bed. I think everyone has days like this, weeks like this, or even lives like this.

But in the big scheme of things, these little annoynaces are barely blips on the radar. And it's important to keep them in perspective. I don't want my life to boil down to one frenetic day after another, without happiness or joy. I don't want my children to remember me as a stressed out shrew who only said, "Hurry up." When they see my face in their mind's eye, I hope they picture me smiling and laughing.

I believe it is a personal decision to find the meaning, the lessons, the laughter in the very chaos of life. If I can't do that, then I have nothing but chaos, and I cannot live that way.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved If Mama. Living in the south and having a gaggle of kids may help, but there was so much I could relate to. The title of your new book makes me wonder what it's about.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Lucy Adams said...

My upcoming book, Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run, due out late spring 2010, is about life's embarrassing, uncomfortable moments, both mine and those of other people. The first chapter highlights some of my own flubs and foibles, then I go on in subsequent chapters to share about my husband and children, my extended family, my friends, and finally observations of total strangers.

The book and title were inspired by an actual incident in which I walked out of the bathroom and down the hallway at work, past several coworkers, with my skirt tucked into my panties. I dedicated Tuck Your skirt to the author of a scathing letter in regard to one of my columns published in the newspaper. Her letter and my response are both included in the introduction.

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Lucy Adams said...

Wow, everyone asked such great questions. This has been a wonderful Virtual Book Tour stop. Please go out and purchase your very own copy of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. Ask your local bookstore to order it for you, or order it on-line at all major bookstores - Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, Books-a-Million, etc. Hint: It makes a great Christmas gift!

And please keep your eye out for Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run in the Spring of 2010.

5:38 AM  

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