This year’s winners of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition are in for a special celebration.
Betsy Bombeck, a social worker, community volunteer and daughter of the legendary humorist Erma Bombeck, will deliver the keynote address at the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 4, at the Centerville Library, 111 W. Spring Valley Rd. It’s free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.
Bombeck is a familiar face at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, where she has participated in panels focusing on her mother’s prolific writing career. In 2015, she joined actress Mary Lou Quinlan in a “Talk Back” session after a benefit performance of “The God Box: A Daughter’s Story” at the University of Dayton’s Boll Theatre.
When her mother died in 1996, she eulogized her this way: “She challenges me to carry on her spirit of dignity, grace, courage, humor, love for others and most especially for family and God. In that way, she never really dies — she continues to live.”
Given the volume of entries this year in the writing competition, the library has increased the value of the prizes. The four winners in the humor and human interest categories will receive $1,000 and free registrations to the sold-out April 5-7, 2018, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton. Previously, they won $500, along with a complimentary registration and publication of their essays.
For the first time, writers receiving honorable mentions will receive $100 prizes.
“This year’s contest seems in a class by itself for a number of reasons,” said Debe Dockins, Erma Bombeck Writing Competition coordinator. “Having Betsy Bombeck as our keynote speaker is an absolute thrill. We, and our public, are fortunate to sit in on her stories. I’m also so pleased by our judging panel — the top-scoring essays from the second round are now with the final judges, and we should know our winners by mid-February. Finally, I am delighted not only that the prize money will cover the travel expenses for the winners (and, perhaps some extra), but also that being selected as an Honorable Mention gets more than a ‘mention.’ I think Erma would be pleased.”
The contest drew 657 essays from 44 states, Washington, D.C., and nine countries (Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Kenya, Spain and the United Kingdom).
It takes scores of volunteer judges to read and evaluate roughly 295,650 words. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and award-winning novelist and short story writer Bonnie Jo Campbell are serving as the finalist judges for the humor and human interest categories, respectively. The nearly 60 preliminary judges include an Emmy Award-winning writer, nationally known authors, essayists, comedy writers, columnists and stand-up comedians
A free shuttle will be available at the Marriott at the University of Dayton for workshop attendees who would like to attend the ceremony. Please RSVP by emailing Debe Dockins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the second international competition affiliated with the workshop. The inaugural “A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program” attracted 401 applications from 44 states, Washington, D.C. and five other countries — Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Samantha Schoech, a writer, copy editor and editor from San Francisco, and Karen Chee, a comedy writer and performer in New York City, will receive complimentary registrations to the workshop and two all-expenses-paid blissful weeks of solitude at the University of Dayton Marriott, where they will work on their proposed books of essays.