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Including Humor in Your Writing by Agent/Author Natalie Lakosil and Tracy Badua & Freddie vs. The Family Curse and Query Critique Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Tracy Badua and her agent Natalie Lakosil here to share about Tracy’s middle grade contemporary Freddie vs. The Family Curse. It sounds like a funny, adventure story that has a perfect balance of humor, adventure, and a middle grader dealing with common issues in middle grade. I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

In this thrilling and hilarious middle grade adventure, a young Filipino-American boy must team up with his ancestor to break the curse that’s haunted their family for generations. . . or be trapped in an amulet forever.

Now here are Tracy and Natalie!

Tracy: I’m so excited to share more about my middle grade contemporary fantasy Freddie vs. The Family Curse, in which I try (and hopefully succeed) to be funny. This book centers on a Filipino American boy must team up with the ghost of his great granduncle to break the curse that’s haunted their family for generations. This quick description might not immediately ring bells as “hilarious!” for some folks, but readers have let me know that I managed to coax out a few chuckles from them here and there.

 Natalie: This book was funny from the first page, actually! Freddie has a very dry and begrudging acceptance way of thinking about the family curse that his voice really carries the humor. For example, this is just a few paragraphs in the very first draft I read:

April showers may bring May flowers, but they’re also going to bring me an F if I don’t figure out how to stick everything together.

I thump my forehead down on my desk. My eyebrow lands in a wet smudge of green paint. Typical.

As usual, the Ruiz family curse is making my life a nightmare. Like straight black hair and those little chicken-skin bumps on my upper arms, bad luck is in my genes.

I guess I should be thankful that at least my whole family tree board hasn’t spontaneously combusted. ßfirst laugh out loud moment for me 

Tracy: Trying to make a book funny is serious business! In Freddie, I tried to focus on humor that doesn’t come off cruel or too hurtful. For example, the other kids in Freddie’s class may giggle or roll their eyes when he stumbles yet again, thanks to his family’s bad luck curse, but there aren’t any moments of Freddie being physically hassled by other students or ridiculed for being different. They don’t ostracize him, but they might not pick him first when they’re splitting up into teams during PE.

 That last part may be inspired by my own lack of coordination and understanding of how some sports rules work. In my defense, it was too easy to rack up traveling calls during basketball when my junior high legs were much shorter than everyone else’s! I naturally had to take four scurrying steps to make up the normal easy stride of a taller person back then.

Natalie: I related so much to Freddie’s embarrassing incidents. I think the scene that got me the most was of Freddie having just finished this incredible breakdance routine, and in the very silent room, farts just as he finishes. And OMG, who hasn’t had one slip out like that just at the absolute worst time?! You can feel it because the things he goes through are things we’ve felt, too.

Tracy: Overall, it was important to me to frame Freddie’s many mishaps and others’ responses in a kinder way because sometimes, attempts at humor edge too far into simply being mean. Someone may make a harsh joke about another’s ethnic or economic background or, for the sake of laughs, may otherwise treat them in a way that makes the other kid feel like there’s something inherently wrong with them.

Here, there’s nothing wrong with Freddie as a person. There’s nothing wrong with his being Filipino American, bringing leftover garlic fried rice for lunch, or living in the crowded part of town. He just happens to be the unwilling victim of a generations-long family curse, and the clumsiness that brings –though incredibly embarrassing—doesn’t somehow make him less worthy of friendship and respect. So I tried to keep the humor focused on silly situations and cringeworthy actions rather than personal traits, and it’s my hope that this kind of lighthearted humor resonates with readers.

What kind of humor do you look for in new works, Natalie?

Natalie: Well, reading Freddie should give anyone a great idea of the kind of humor I look for! I have a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old at home, so fart jokes and butts are pretty popular and I giggle too (FYI don’t ever let your kids realize they can ask Alexa to play “fart music.” Yes. It exists.). I like really dry and sarcastic humor, I like silly, I like absurd. One thing I don’t like to read is self-deprecating humor or humor at the expense of others.

And as part of the celebration of humor and Freddie, I’m offering a query critique in the giveaway, so if you have something funny you’re not sure is hitting or you want some feedback on, enter!!

Giveaway Details

Tracy has generously offered a hardback of Freddie vs. The Family Curse and Natalie has offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by June 4th. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book the query critique giveaways are International.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, June 1st, I have any agent/author guest post with Mary Moore and Emi Watanabe Cohen with a giveaway of Emi’s MG contemporary fantasy The Lost Ryū and a query critique by Mary and my IWSG post

Wednesday, June 1st, I’m also participating in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 6th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Chelsea Hensley and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Kayla Cichella and a query critique giveaway

Thursday, June 16th, I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

 Hope to see you on Wednesday, June 1st!






  1. Great interview. Humor is an art, and one that doesn't come naturally to me. I love it though and am awed by the people who are able to do it so well.

  2. I just started reading this book and it has me hooked from the first pages. I'll be sure to post a review next month. Great interview as humor is a tough one to get right. I'll let someone else win the book giveaway since I already have a copy but include me in the critique giveaway. Thanks for featuring this post on MMGM.

  3. Sounds like a great way to handle humor sensitively...ensuring the humor is situational and not related to a character's traits. :)

  4. This sounds hilarious. We've all had the moment where we think we might be cursed. (also, I asked alexa how FAR something was just yesterday and she told us all about the fart noises she can make...)

  5. This book sounds like a hilarious read. I love self depreciating humor. I am querying a middle grade MS that some beta readers have compared to "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." Please enter me in the critique giveaway. Thank you for this opportunity!

  6. Freddie's character sounds so relatable. The break-dancing scene -- omg :-) I love a book that makes me laugh and can't wait to grab a copy of this one. Congrats on your debut, Tracy!

  7. lol fart music! I would love to be part of the critique giveaway; shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

  8. I love the idea of humor. It's that 'spoonful of honey' idea of making lessons and learning palatable. The book sounds great.

  9. Good to know Natalie's taste in humor. Thanks for the interview!

  10. I love reading humorous books, especially middle grade. Please enter me for a chance to win a copy of this must-read book for me, but not for the query critique. I follow Natalie on Twitter and shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/685058933338095616/including-humor-in-your-writing-by-agentauthor

  11. I like that Freddie appears to be an ordinary kid in Middle School, and as an Asian American, he has the respect of his peers -- he just a clumsy, relatable kid with a family curse:) Love that there is so much humor in the book. Kids need to laugh at themselves. Good luck with your new book. Great interview.

  12. Great interview! Congrats to all! I would love to be entered for a critique with Natalie on a (hopefully) humorous piece. Thank you.

  13. Another wonderful interview. Sounds like a humorous book I would enjoy. Congratulations to Tracy on its release! No need to enter me in the critique giveaway but would love an opportunity to read the book. Have a lovely week, Natalie.

  14. I’d love to win these! I follow via email:

    Helloelizabethjames -at- gmail.com

  15. You're a funny lady Tracy! Congrats.

    1. I'd like to be considered for the critique. And I shared on my Twitter. Thanks!

  16. I do enjoy a funny book, but definitely not when the humor is at the expense of someone else.

  17. I have a hard time writing funny, so this sounds like a good mentor text. Off to share this on twitter!

  18. Great interview! Thank you for this great read and for the opportunity! I've shared on twitter as well :)

  19. I love funny stories and will be looking for this one. Thanks for the interview. I will pass on the giveaway. Thanks for the post.

  20. Fab interview and FREDDIE VS THE FAMILY CURSE sounds hilarious! I'll be checking it out asap. I shared on Twitter and follow you on there :D

  21. Great interview, and I'd love to enter to win the book. Humour can be hard to get right, sounds like Tracy has nailed it!

  22. I MUST have this book. Who doesn't want a good laugh with a jump scare? I shared on Twitter and follow you.

  23. This book sounds like so much fun- it's definitely on my list!

  24. Fun interview...and the book sounds just as exciting. I'm putting this one on my radar, too.

  25. This sounds like a great story with healthy dose of humor (which we all need these days). Thanks for the fun interview and giveaway opportunity.

  26. Loved this interview and such a nice giveaway!

  27. Congrats on the release, would love to get a copy!

  28. I love when stories are threaded with humor. Sounds like a fun read.

  29. Sounds great. Book only please. Follow on Twitter. positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com

  30. Looking forward to reading this! Love hearing what caught Natalie's attention on the first read through.

    Would love to win the book and query critique! Thank you, Natalie!

  31. This sounds fun! Congrats, Tracy!

    I tweeted this post. :) Thanks for the opportunity, Natalie!

  32. Sounds like my kinda book. If I don't win this giveaway, I'll pick up a copy anyways! Thanks for hosting this!

  33. This book sounds adorable! I love the fact that Badua incorporated humor that isn't mean-spirited. I agree that that's often the way humor enters into stories (especially those set in schools). This sounds like a refreshing change!