100 Hours of Humo(u)r – Hour 3: Flash Humor Writing Contest #1

Outside the Zone — with Guest Judges Betsy and Warren Talbot of “Married withe Luggage.”

By Dave Fox

Yikes! These first two hours of the 100 have been insane! Many thanks to Katherine in Oregon for alerting me to the fact that online courses sell better when the sign-up forms work. Many more thanks to my web designer, Matt Preston in the Cotswolds, England, for fixing the problem!

Eerie subliminal message: The class sign up form works so you may now use it!

Okay… onward to hour three.

It’s time for the first of four “flash humor” writing contests we’ll be running over the next four hours. Flash humor has nothing to do with running around in skimpy raincoats and nothing else. It’s like flash fiction: brief, to the point, and excellent for readers with short attention spans. Your mission in each of these four contests: To write a humor essay with a maximum of 500 words, on a topic to be announced at the start of the contest.

Your story must be original, written by you and you alone during the contest period. You may not submit stories you have written previously. (This is kind of on the honor system, but if I find your story online elsewhere, I’ll know you cheated. And on a more serious note, if I find your story online elsewhere with someone else’s name on it, I will publicly humiliate you. I am not kind to plagiarists.)

As an added twist, the later contests will have relatively short time limits of two or three hours. But for this first one, I’m going to give you a bit more time. We are at the start of hour three. All entries for this first contest must be received by the end of hour 12. 

One final irritating rule I must impose for legal reasons: If you are under the age of 18, you must have permission from a parent or legal guardian to enter.

I am not going to judge any of these contests myself. I’m a bit busy with other stuff at the moment. Also, I know some of you and I don’t want to be biased. So we will have different judges for each contest who will receive all entries without knowing who they are from. Our judges from contest one are Betsy and Warren Talbot from

Betsy and Warren have been traveling the planet endlessly for more than two years — encouraging the rest of us not necessarily to travel, but to step out of our comfort zones, try new things, and challenge ourselves. As Betsy puts it:

“Here at Married with Luggage, we advocate pushing out the boundaries of your comfort zone so you have more room in which to live the life of your dreams. The easiest way to bump out your walls is to try something new. It can be as tame as trying an ethnic restaurant in your hometown or as daring as jumping out of a plane. But one thing is certain; you won’t grow if discomfort never enters your life.  And sometimes, discomfort can turn into a very funny story.”

So the theme for this contest is “Outside the Zone.” Tell us a hilarious story about a time when you stepped outside your comfort zone.

Stories will be judged on comedic value, literary deliciousness, and anything else Betsy and Warren feel like judging them on.

The winner will receive:

  • An copy of Betsy and Warren’s e-book, “Dream, Save, Do,” in any electronic format it’s been published in, or as a .pdf file to read on your computer if you don’t have an e-reader of some sort. 
  • Your choice of any two of my books in any format available. (Please note that “Globejotting” (the book) is now availble for Nook and Apple iReader formats as well as Kindle and paperback.)
  • A written critique of one piece of your writing — maximum length 1,000 words — or a 45 minute writing or humor coaching session by phone, Skype, or in person if we are ever in the same place. (Reminder: I live in Singapore. And that is not a punch line. I really do.)

To enter, e-mail your entries to before the end of hour 12 of the 100 Hours of Humo(u)r. By submitting a story for this contest, you verify that it is your original work, and that nobody else holds the copyright to it. In addition, you grant permission to publish the story on this website. (You retain all copyrights and are free to publish it elsewhere as soon as the “100 Hours of Humo(u)r” online festival has ended.)

Good luck!

Dream, Save, Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers
By Betsy and Warren Talbot

dream-save-d-betsy-warren-talbotYou yearn for something more: to travel, start your own business, create art, or change the world. You want to make your own rules for a change, but you aren’t quite sure how to start – much less how to pay for it.

What you need is an Action Plan for Dreamers.

We felt the same way back in 2008, and we spent 2 years sculpting their conventional reality into one of world travel – a life we are still enjoying to this day.

If you’re looking for an overnight success or a lot of navel gazing and contemplation, this isn’t the book for you. But if you think something is missing in your life and you want to do something about it right this minute, this is the plan you’ve been waiting for.

Published on Saturday, March 2, 2013

One Response to “100 Hours of Humo(u)r – Hour 3: Flash Humor Writing Contest #1”

  1. March 3, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    The Only Thing Missing Was the Dog
    The vacation from hell began as a simple plan to visit a few western landmarks, and do some family bonding. Heading for our rendevouz site in Denver, Jim drove West from Rhode Island. The kids, aged 8 and 10, and I headed East from San Diego, circling mountains with narrow ledges in a train compartment smaller than some walk-in closets. Our roomette served as traveling seat, bathroom, and bedroom. With the requisite six inches for the “no touching” DMZ, there was barely room for three to sit. We were not lulled to sleep, as promised, by the train’s constant clickety clack. In fact, we didn’t sleep at all. The constant swaying made us all queazy. Ten dollar sandwiches from the dining car failed to calm our roiling stomachs. As we hurtled through orange-colored mesas, I entertained myself with homicidal thoughts of a certain father somewhere out there on a flat road. Alone.
    Jim greeted us at the train station anxious to hear about our trip. It was, after all, his idea of a dream vacation. Somehow he failed to notice that the children resembled survivors of the zombie apocalypse, or that I knelt to kiss the ground like a traveling Pope. If I hadn’t known what we were in for next, I might have been able to forgive and forget.
    The Volkswagen Rabbit is small car bought for commuting to and from work. It’s greatest features, were the dual fuel tanks that could be filled for under twenty dollars. The interior could hold pint-sized people, over-stuffed suitcases, or the grill brought along for roadside picnics, but not at the same time. After we squeezed in and fastened our seat-belts, we resembled an unopened pack of cigarettes. Our first unplanned stop was Sears, where we purchased a luggage rack. Our belongings safely strapped to the car’s roof we were ready to hit the adventure highway. Things could only get better, right?
    Fahrvergnügen be damned. It was hell on wheels. No one could agree on a radio station. Altitude sickness, Native American souvenirs that broke before the next trading post, and a man who hadn’t had sex in three months leering at me suggestively made us all a bit cranky. Like the semi-deaf helicopter pilot he was, Jim drove through five states without once threatening to leave the children or his uncooperative wife on the side of the road.
    Disaster struck at our first picnic stop. Wendy dared to step into a quiet-looking stream. Jim grabbed her arm before the swift current swept her away, but not before she lost one of her favorite shoes. There was nothing we could do but watch and weep as the shoe bounced along river rocks until out of sight. The promise of a feather-enhanced cowgirl hat and a turn in the front seat helped her get over it. Faster, I might add, than her father when he noticed a teensy tiny tattoo on my left thigh.

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