The workshop for humor writing, human interest writing, networking and getting published

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2016 Bombeck workshop faculty
Susan Pohlman

Susan Pohlman Susan Pohlman is an author, writing coach/instructor, freelance writer and retreat leader from Scottsdale, Arizona. Her memoir Halfway to Each 
Other was the winner in the Relationships category and runner-up in the Memoir category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Inspy Awards. She has written six short films for the Baltimore 48 Hour Film Project, and her essays have been published in The Washington Times, Family Digest, The Family, Raising Arizona Kids, Guideposts Magazine, Homelife Magazine, Arizona Parenting, The Review Review, Goodhousekeeping.com, Italiannotebook.com and The Mid. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Susan is currently working on a second memoir and leading “transformational travel” retreats for writers willing to leave their comfort zone to inspire their muse and work on craft.

Bathroom stall to center stage:
a writer finds her groove

Kate MayerFour kids, three houses, eight cars and three colleges ago, I was a waitress at Denny’s. Many a Grand Slam breakfasts and chicken fried steak paid for community college. Whenever a posse of older women came, the wait staff would immediately hide in the kitchen, no one wanting that table.

Chimes of “not me, not me, not me” rang out like seagulls finding fries at the beach, and with good reason.

What pains in the as**! Dressing on the side, skim milk for coffee, lo-cal syrup, hold the mayo, extra mayo, no salt, eggs hard, fork is dirty, no ice please, decaf tea, substitutions galore, then separate checks and crappy tips.

I’m still traumatized some 35 years later.

So why then do I flock to a writing conference in Dayton, Ohio, a mecca of sorts of middle-aged (being generous here) women (and nine men) to pay homage and learn by sheer osmosis the writing and wit of Erma Bombeck.Erma typewriter

Here gather 350 women (and nine men), the VAST majority between the ages of 45-105 (except for the room crashed at 2 a.m, where four politically savvy, very smart, very drunk young women discussed writing, friendship, politics, parenting and marriage — an anomaly of demographics to be sure, but one I welcomed and not just because of the late-night pizza and free booze).

The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop is every two years, and frankly, it’s not enough. Last time, I spent the vast majority of the conference between workshops, alone in a bathroom stall, pity party of one. I was in a dark place and looking for some light. And laughter. (You can read about that here.)

Kate_Mayer_standupThis year, I was on stage doing stand-up. Four minutes of hell that I will remember forever. From the bathroom stall to center stage, and it’s all thanks to the writers who flock to Dayton.

They, these 350 women (and nine men) who are all in some version of the same boat, want you to succeed. There is room for us all. I flee self-help, inspirational live-your-own-life spiritual bliss bullsh**. I despise it, and yet, that is exactly what I find here.

Like a spoon full of sugar, or a shot of tequila, I go for the workshops, the how-to craft, the social media tips, the networking and face-to-face opportunity that doesn’t happen on Facebook, or at larger conferences with bigger egos.

And yet, through the workshops, I find inspiration. Peace. Excitement. Energy. Encouragement. Talent. It all happens here.

Here are some of my brain dump notes, and you can find others by searching #2016EBWW on FB and Twitter:

Susan Pohlman:

• Is what you write a window or a mirror? If a mirror, it only applies to you and has limited audience. If a window, it offers a wider, universal story others can participate with.
• There’s a fine line where your story ends and someone else’s begins.
• Get it on the page. Even if it is crap.

Shannon Olson:

• Anytime you sit down to write your story, you have something unique to bring to the page.
• Be real. Share moments of emotional generosity.

Alan Zweibel:

• About Gilda Radner, Bunny, Bunny: “I wanted our words to touch each other again.”
• The jokes will come, but writing the truth must come first.
• There’s no secret to writing comedy. The secret is writing. The jokes will come.
• Do the work.
• The best writing touches the soul.

Wendy Liebman:

• You won’t suck. I won’t let that happen. Breathe.
• Control what you can: the jokes, the writing. Delivery. Your health and stamina. Ignore what you can’t control.
• Act as if it’s a great audience. Every single time.

Kathy Kinney:

• Surround yourself with positive people.
• You never know who you’re gonna meet who will give you a leg up.
• You don’t have to be 21 to have your whole life ahead of you. But it helps.
• Find a friend who doesn’t have an agenda.

Judy Carter:

• Suck up to others. Really. Do it.
• Get your foot in the door by finding your niche.
• Stand up is for alternative thinkers.
• If you have something to say, get out and say it.

Leighann Lord:

• If you don’t ask, you don’t get. No one is sitting around thinking about you.
• If the word ‘no’ frightened you, you wouldn’t be sitting here.
• Opportunity comes through friendships.
• Pursuing your passion is the gift you give other people.

Nancy Berk:

•Surround yourself with people who believe in you.
• You’re funny. Really funny. (To me. To my face, in the lobby)

Cyndy Ratzlaff:

• Your personal brand is a story you write about you.
• Leave digital breadcrumbs everywhere.
• Fan base believes they know us. Interact and build the relationship. Don’t let a share or comment go unnoticed.
• Readers read. Writers read. Colleagues are part of your tribe. Be a steward of that tribe. Share.
• Engage wherever fans want to play. Go there.

Adair Lara:

• Narrator is a hero if things don’t happen to them.
• Epiphany is the pay-off: when it stops being about you and starts being about the reader.
• You can’t go back and un-have an epiphany.
• Don’t be safe. If you’re being safe, you’re probably talking about other people.

It was like this for two days and two nights. I stole a little extra time from Leighann Lord because I mooched a ride to the airport with her, completely blurring the lines between “talent” and  “attendee.” Because that’s how this workshop rolls.

Eat dinner with a bunch of strangers, and learn about publications, editors, tips and leads. And second chances, career fails, good bras, in sickness and in health, menopause, tequila, online dating, great moisturizer, trolls, dark clouds and bright skies.

This workshop has something for everyone, regardless where you fall on the bell curve of writing. From polished, published professionals marketing a script, screenplay, or manuscript to a hospice nurse who always wanted to write, to an investment banker who thinks she might be funny — we all attend the same classes, taking what we need for this time in our life, and walk out lighter, braver and bolder.

The workshop also included a performance of the one-woman show, At Wit’s End starring Broadway and movie star Barbara Chisholm, and I sat near the back so I could sneak out if it sucked.

IT DID NOT. I was spellbound. Erma resonated because the tiny moments of the mundane had a far-reaching audience. Still. Her observations of parenting and housework had huge implications for the Equal Rights Amendment then. And now. Because there’s still work to do.

As Nancy Berk said during the all-woman in comedy panel: “Ageism is real, but here’s the thing: we are the lump in the demographic bubble. We are the majority. We sell out venues because they don’t see us on television.”

Thanks to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and the 350 women (and nine men), I for one will not forget the power of the pen, and our responsibility to use it wisely. With poise and humor, I can do both. Be funny and serious. Humor and activism. Doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and I hope the writers who experienced what I experience are tasked with continuing important conversations that may, in fact, inspire others to do the same to make the world a better place. One essay at a time.

— Kate Mayer

Kate Mayer is a potty-mouthed, somewhat irreverent storyteller, humorist and activist sharing life as she lives it in Newtown, Connecticut. She writes with humor, wit and a great amount of levity about parenting, teenage angst, aging parents, midlife, social issues and, sigh, gun- violence prevention. Her essays have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, BluntMoms, Scary Mommy, BlogHer, The Mid, The Good Men Project, Midlife Boulevard, much in thanks to EBWW. She is a very proud Listen To Your Mother NYC 2012 alum. She blogs at http://www.kathrynmayer.com and is occasionally funny on Instagram and Twitter as @klmcopy. If you play well with others, find her on Facebook.

The tribe of Erma

stand-up comedy performersVirginia author Kimberly “Kimba” Dalferes says you can quote her on this: “Finding your tribe is life-affirming and feeds your soul.”

Dalferes describes the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in this way: “What happens when 350 people, predominantly women, truck in from all across the U.S. to spend three full days laughing (and a little crying), eating (mostly desserts) and baring their souls to each other? Magic. In a place called Dayton. That’s not a punchline.”

Humorist Wanda Argersinger blogs, “I have never attended any other conference where the attitude of the attendees actually infiltrates the air. You walk and breathe support, love, hope, admiration, curiosity and absolute acceptance of who you are. ‘These are my people,’ could be heard over and over again. ‘This is where I was meant to be.’”

From storyteller Kathryn Mayer, who “found her funny” at the 2014 EBWW and returned a renewed writer: “I find inspiration. Peace. Excitement. Energy. Encouragement. Talent. It all happens here.”

In all, nearly 60 writers tapped out literally thousands of words to capture three laugh-filled days of learning and networking at the University of Dayton, Erma’s alma mater. These include essays from Lori Mansell, a long-retired school teacher who discovered it’s never too late to write, a couple of University of Dayton students, journalists, authors, magazine writers and bloggers.

A special highlight: Keynoters Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff are producing five video features of stories from their sprint writing workshop that encouraged writers to find their voices.Cindy Ratzlaff and Kathy Kinney

Here are links to newspaper and online stories, blogs and podcasts:

Amy Abbott: Afterglow

Amy Abbott: Erma Bombeck’s Forever Legacy

Wanda M. Argersinger: A Legacy Like No Other

Anne Bardsley: Erma Summer Camp

Jennifer Belden: How Erma Helped Me Reclaim My Focus and Boot Dolores

Nancy Berk:  Showbiz Analysis: Legendary Author Roy Blount Jr. Talks Creativity, Satire and Pie on Parade.com. Listen to podcast here.

Nancy Berk: Showbiz Analysis: The Drew Carey Show‘s Mimi Elevates Kathy Kinney to Queen of Her Own Life on Parade.com. Listen to podcast here.

Betsy Bitner: Together in a Spirit of Humor, Times Union in Albany, N.Y.

Valentine Brkich: Let the Sessions Begin!

Valentine Brkich: Welcome to No Man’s Land

Patricia Wynn Brown: Ride ‘em, cowgirl

Lisa Carpenter: 2016 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop: 13 Things I Loved Plus a Few Me-Loved-Nots

Helen Chibnik: Secret Passion (illustrated and recorded by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff)

Michelle Poston Combs: Like a Greased Watermelon

Michelle Poston Combs: Standing Up at Erma Bombeck 2016

Kimberly “Kimba” Dalferes: Can I Quote You on That?

Julie Danis: The Olga Stores: The Best Seamstress of Section A of the Block Association of EastWest Warsaw (illustrated and recorded by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff)

Lexie Digby: Erma’s Essence

Lori B. Duff: Men, Women, and the Equality of Functional Pockets

Lori B. Duff: How to Fly Without a Driver’s License in 27 Invasive Steps

Amy Eddings: She Who Laughs, Lives More Fully

Estelle Erasmus: Pearls of Advice from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference (#2016EBWW)

Christy Heitger-Ewing: Muted Joy: Learning to Live, Love and Laugh AgainHuffington Post

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp: MomWriter, Cincinnati Family Magazine

Sharon Tjaden-Glass: Walking Through the Fear

Rachel Grise: Erma Bombeck and the Marriott of Despair

Stacey Gustafson: Got My Funny Back at Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2016

Stacey Gustafson: Quotable Quotes, featuring Alan Zweibel, Cathryn Michon, Joel Madison, Wendy Liebman, Leighann Lord, Kathy Kinney, Judy Carter and Jenny Lawson

Katie Hamlin: Ermafied

Lori Herlihy: Emulating Erma

Mary Hirsch: Life Without a Name Tag

Ann Hudock: 2016 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and a Belated Thank You

Hillary Ibarra: Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop

Natalie Kirland: Erma Bombeck Spirit Still Alive Through Writers’ Workshop

Becky Koop: Whim to Revelation, My Erma Bombeck Workshop Legacy

Myron Kukla: Strange But True Tale

Kate Mahar: A Little Something About My Day Job

Lori Mansell: Queen for a Day

Lisa Marlin: Yes, Mr. Dickens, It Was the Best

Kathryn Mayer: Bathroom Stall to Center Stage: A Writer Finds Her Groove

Mary McCarty: Lesson from Bombeck Workshop: It’s Never Too Late, Dayton Daily News

Kelly McKenzie: If Only I Had the Chance to Meet Erma

Julie Osborne: From Virgin to Queen

Gianetta Palmer: An Ode to the EBWW…2016 Version

Lisa R. Petty: Hermit at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop

Susan Pohlman: When Erma Calls

Yvonne Ransel: My Happy Place

Teri Rizvi: Brigadoon for Writers

Julia Roberts: Great Advice From the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop

Julia Roberts: The Erma Gap

Julia Roberts: The Power of Erma Listen to podcast here.

Anne Saker: Erma Bombeck Lives on in Admiring Writers, Cincinnati Enquirer

Sheri Saretsky: Mother…Wife…Boss…But Writer?

Sharon Short: Authors to Offer Free Events Tied to Writers’ Workshop, interview with Roy Blount Jr. and Gina Barreca, Dayton Daily News

Pam Sievers: When the Only Thing Left to Do is Write

Suzette Standring: Women: Stop Apologizing As a Preface to Comments, Huffington Post

Molly Stevens: Who Was Erma Bombeck and Why Does She Still Matter?, (Maine) Bangor Daily News

Becky Sydeski: 13 Things to Remember for the Erma Bombeck 2018 Conference

Janine Talbot: EBWW — A Cast of Characters

Janine Talbot: Can Great Minds Who Think Alike Survive Collaboration?

Annette Januzzi Wick: Erma Made Me Miss My Mom

Leah Vidal: Finding Human Interest in the Funny

Jan Wilberg: Three Days with a Name Tag

— Teri Rizvi

Teri Rizvi is the founder of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Worshop at the University of Dayton, where she serves as executive director of strategic communications.

Whim to revelation

Becky Koop, 2016Registering on a whim years ago, I slipped away from family obligations to enjoy my first Erma workshop. It is no exaggeration to say I laughed ‘til I cried.  But what I remember most is wondering if … IF I could be the kind of writer people would actually want to read.

My first piece of Erma swag, a deeply yellowed and slightly crunchy mousepad, now hangs on my office wall as a reminder of when the writing seed planted. Over the years, Mary Oliver’s “The Journey” nestled next to Erma’s mousepad. A plaque “Well behaved women rarely make history” joined the wall party. A flying pig landed nearby proclaiming anything is possible. And, a knight in shining armor, sword in motion, stands tall to slay my inner critic. But, while my walls sag with the paraphernalia of encouragement, my writing never works itself loose from the hard drive.

Last fall, while cleaning the tumbling debris of a decade-old clutter pile, I uncover a tiny watercolor quote long forgotten. “Don’t wait for your ship to come in if you haven’t sent one out.”  Karma speaks — it’s time to sail.

A self-diagnosed introvert, I can competently address a room of 500 people, but in a social gathering, walls are my friends, observation my forte. Sometimes in uncomfortable situations, I experience a quirky mix of verbal diarrhea and tongue tie. After a cocktail party-ish gathering, my thoughts swim furiously, rerunning dialogue over and over, revising spent script, longing for another chance meeting to perfect tone and vocabulary.

In my world, EBWW is a 56-hour cocktail party. For 2016, I make a commitment to myself. Instead of rerunning the cocktail chitchat through my mind, I decide to set sail, focus on the presentations, and share my ideas without apology. I leave EBWW the first two nights overwhelmed by encouraging feedback from attendees who listen without judgment, and faculty who embolden with abandon.

Then, in the waning hours of the conference I share my projects with a few newly met attendees whose judgmental criticism slaps me breathless. “Oh, that’s wrong, that’s not a good idea.” “That’s not what people need. Don’t do that.” “You’re way off… that’s not right … you don’t really know –”

And that’s the precise moment the workshops coalesce into my own writing revelation.

A month ago, I would have sponged up those judgments and let them swim like sharks in my head until they devoured all the positive feedback I’d collected.

But not this time. I listened politely. Then with Cindy Ratzlaff‘s voice still flowing through my thoughts said, “You’re not my audience. I’m a photo-taking, travel-loving, almost grandma, recovering helicopter mom, who works every day to silence the call of judgment. I experienced an epiphany moment (thanks Adair Lara), when creating such a vivid scene for discovery (thanks, Susan Pohlman), that I live a message rooted in my childhood backstory (thanks, Judy Carter). I’m determined to spread my message. Don’t tell me that I’m wrong. I merely see the world through a different lens. It’s taken me 55 years to understand that I am Queen of my own life, and the rest of my life starts today (thanks, Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff).  I’m going to use every single bit of talent God gave me in this life (thanks, Erma). And, frankly, if you don’t back away now, I’m enlisting the help of my new Italian cousin, Gina Barecca, to help me show you what kind of impact a loud, smart woman can make.”

Of course, I’m still working on the introvert stuff, so I didn’t actually say anything aloud, but as soon as my naysayers paused, I excused myself and slipped away. The next time I see them, I’m going to tell them that I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate the sweater they’re wearing (thanks Alan Zweibel).

Drifting off to sleep Saturday night, the only rerun in my mind is the lovely lullaby Leighann Lord so beautifully and humorously crafted.

– Becky Berens Koop

Becky Berens Koop is a freelance writer, recovering helicopter parent and the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Local Human Interest winner for her essay Revealing Ink. Having shed her technical skin for creative pursuits, Becky believes she is finding her voice (thanks, Sharon Short) and starting to polish her craft (thanks, Katrina Kittle). She shares her ongoing recovery from helicopter parenting at CopterDetox.com and struggles daily to view the world through nonjudgmental eyes. Follow her on Facebook and learn more at BeckyBKoop.com.

2016 Bombeck workshop add-on
Speed Dating For Writers

Speed Dating for Writers (advance registration required, limited spots)

As a special — and what’s bound to be a popular — add-on session, seasoned writers, marketers and agents will answer your questions and share writing and publishing tips. It’s based on a speed dating model that allows writers to learn a variety of perspectives from the pros in a short amount of time.

Tracy_BeckermanTwo sessions will be offered (7:45-8:45 a.m., Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2).

The sessions will be moderated by Tracy Beckerman, nationally syndicated humor columnist and author.

 

Meet the pros:

Kim BongiornoKim Bongiorno, author, full-time freelance writer and award-winning blogger behind Let Me Start By Saying, is best known for her parenting humor, whether in 140 characters on Twitter or essay form in a New York Times bestseller. She has had well over 1,000 articles published on more than two dozen websites, appeared in seven humor anthologies, self-published a collection of short fiction, wrote a YA novel, was a social media manager for a popular women’s website, has taught writing and online presence at writing conferences, and creates something new every day. Kim lives in New Jersey with her handsome husband and two charmingly loud kids, who she pretends to listen to while playing on Facebook and Twitter. If she were less tired, she’d totally add something really clever to her bio so you’d never forget this moment. (Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros, Saturday, April 2)

David BraughlerDavid Braughler is the founder and CEO of Braughler Books. He works with authors, organizations and executives to help them turn their stories and expertise into published books. Over the last six years, he’s worked individually with more than 200 authors on nearly 300 titles. David has partnered with authors in the U.S., Spain and Australia on books ranging from self-help and memoirs to business topics and personal essays. He’s a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences. (Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, both days)

EstellefinalEstelle Erasmus is a journalist, author, writing coach and former magazine editor in-chief of five consumer publications who has been published in The Washington PostSalonNewsweekPurple CloverBrain, Child, vox.com, Redbook.com, Good Housekeeping.com, Your Teen and more. Clients say working with her is like “publishing on steroids” because they get published fast and furiously. She writes a column for PsychologyToday.com, The Practice of Parenting, where she takes peer-reviewed and empirical studies and applies them to mothering in real time. Represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, she is a three-time BlogHer Voice of the Year winner and blogs at Musings on Motherhood & Midlife. Follow her on Facebook and join her 10K followers on Twitter. (How to Break Into the Huffington Post and Other National Online Outlets, both days)

Sorche FairbankSince establishing Fairbank Literary Representation in 2002, Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank has had the pleasure of working with a dynamic and varied list, representing best-selling authors, Edgar recipients, award-winning journalists, and of course, one of her favorite kinds of client — the debut author. On the nonfiction side, her list is split between books that tackle current events and topical and societal issues with a narrative treatment; memoir that goes beyond the “me-moir;” and a loose but strong category of humor, pop culture and gift books. Tastes in novels tend toward literary fiction, international voices and women’s voices. Sorche is actively seeking humor titles that will keep her standing as one of the top agents in the genre. (How to Find a Literary Agent, Saturday, April 2)

Bonnie Jean FeldkampBonnie Jean Feldkamp has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. She specializes in writing about topics relevant to kids and families. Her weekly blog for new and expectant moms can be found on the retail site www.MilkandBaby.com. Bonnie is also a frequent features contributor and blogger for Cincinnati Family Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Motherlode column; Brain, Child Magazine as well as regional parenting publications across North America such as Staten Island Parent, Vancouver Family Magazine, Space City Parent, Orlando Family and more. Ask her how to break into regional magazines and how to sell reprints in multiple markets across the country. (Writing for Magazines, Saturday, April 2)

Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Books & Such Literary Agency, representing both fiction and nonfiction. In publishing since 1995, Rachelle previously worked for two publishing houses in positionsRachelleGardner-LowRes-2013 encompassing marketing, sales, international rights, acquisitions and editorial. She has ghostwritten eight books and edited more than 200. As an agent, she loves helping authors strategize and build their careers, and takes great joy in sharing the important milestones in a writer’s journey. Learn more about Rachelle by visiting her blog. (Finding a Literary Agent, Friday, April 1)

Katrina KittleKatrina Kittle is the author of five novels — Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, The Kindness of Strangers and Reasons to Be Happy. The Kindness of Strangers won the 2006 Great Lakes Book Award for Fiction. Katrina teaches creative writing workshops from the third grade to retirement communities, focusing on craft and motivation (and is especially good at jumpstarting stalled writers). She teaches in the Dayton-Cincinnati area through Word’s Worth Writing Center and online through OnLiten. She also offers manuscript consultations through Write Sisters Consulting and is a public speaker. She lives near Dayton, Ohio, with her wonderful fella, and their sweet beagle and odd cat; has a thing for goats, gardening and going barefoot; and is totally addicted to coffee, pedicures and movies. (Fiction Writing, Friday, April 1)

Adair LaraAdair Lara is a writer, teacher and author in San Francisco. A former magazine editor, she wrote a popular, award-winning personal column for the San Francisco Chronicle for 16 years before leaving the paper to write and teach full time. Her most recent book, which has become a cult favorite in the writing blogsphere, is Naked, Drunk and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay. Anne Lamott calls it “very savvy and smart and hugely entertaining.” In all, she’s written 11 books. She holds sold-out workshops in her house on writing essay and memoir and other forms of autobiography, and consults with authors individually, in person or long-distance. Her essays appear in many national magazines, and have been anthologized in dozens of textbooks. (Memoir Writing, Saturday, April 2)

Susan Pohlman - retouchedSusan Pohlman is an author, writing coach/instructor, freelance writer and retreat leader from Scottsdale, Arizona. Her memoir Halfway to Each 
Other was the winner in the Relationships category and runner-up in the Memoir category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Inspy Awards. She has written six short films for the Baltimore 48 Hour Film Project, and her essays have been published in The Washington Times, Family Digest, The Family, Raising Arizona Kids, Guideposts Magazine, Homelife Magazine, Arizona Parenting, The Review Review, Goodhousekeeping.com, Italiannotebook.com and The Mid. A graduate of the University of Dayton, Susan is currently working on a second memoir and leading “transformational travel” retreats for writers willing to leave their comfort zone to inspire their muse and work on craft. (Memoir Writing, Friday, April 1)

Cindy RatzlaffCindy Ratzlaff is a passionate brand evangelist, keynote speaker and marketing strategist who creates award-winning marketing campaigns for publishers, authors, entrepreneurs and businesses. She developed the campaigns behind more than 200 New York Times bestselling books. She has appeared on national television programs such as Good Morning America and The Today Show, and her essays on marketing and on happiness have been featured on Oprah.com, CNN.com and Business Insider, among others. (Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros, Friday, April 1)

Julia Roberts founded Decoding Creativity to help writers achieve clarity on their creative thinking style and process. Her clients learn where their talents are unique and where they’ll be valued. Julia’s ownJulia Roberts creative thinking preference was assessed in grad school, and she could finally see – quite plainly – what overwhelmed and stopped her writing. She wants others to have insight into their creative strengths and struggles and to learn to work well with their innate creativity. Julia’s coaching approach is a mix of hard science of creativity and the softer skills and mindset tools. She has her MSc in Creativity from SUNY/Buffalo State College and is a certified creativity coach (Martha Beck, Eric Maisel). She is the author of three books, most recently Sex, Lies & Creativity (Difference Press, 2014). She is also the founder of the Storytellers Summit, an annual virtual conference for writers. (Are You Blocking Your Best Writing?, both days)

Sharon ShortSharon Short, executive director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, has written the coming-of-age novel My One Square Inch of Alaska (Penguin Plume), two mystery series and a collection of humorous essays. She is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant, a Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts and Cultural District Literary Artist Fellowship, and was the 2014 John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Sharon is also the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News, an adjunct instructor at Wright State University, and is part of a fiction manuscript consulting group, The Write Sisters. (Fiction Writing, Saturday, April 2)

Suzette_StandringSuzette Martinez Standring is a syndicated spirituality columnist with GateHouse Media. She wrote The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists, which won a First Place in the 2014 New England Book Festival and is an Amazon Kindle bestseller. Her previous book, The Art of Column Writinghas won awards, and both books are used in national journalism courses such as Johns Hopkins University. Suzette is a past president of The National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the host and producer of It’s All Write With Suzette, a cable TV show about writing. She took first place in the category for on-line blogs in the 2013 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ competition. (Syndication, both days)

Kathy TullyWanting a husband as much as she wanted to become a writer, Kathy Shiels Tully began her writing career by proposing to her then-boyfriend on the op-ed page of The Boston Herald in 1996. She hasn’t stopped writing since. Today, she and her happily married husband live with their two daughters north of Boston. Inspired by Erma since age 10, Kathy is a regular correspondent for The Boston Globe and The Boston Globe Magazine where she writes about intriguing people, travel, food, lifestyle, human interest and parenting. Her work also has appeared in national, regional and online magazines, including FamilyFun, The Writer, NCLR’s Agenda, Lola, Boston Parents Paper, Cape Cod Magazine, schoolfamily.com, New Hampshire To Do and Merrimack Valley Magazine. Her stories are included in the books Chicken Soup for the Brothers & Sisters Soul and Thin Threads. (Writing for Magazines, Friday, April 1)

Ermapalooza!

2016 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

 

 

Roy Blount Jr., who’s been described as “a humorist and social critic in the tradition of Mark Twain, Will Rogers, H.L. Mencken and W.C. Fields,” will kick off the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop next spring.

A master storyteller and prolific writer, Blount has written two dozen books and is a familiar voice on NPR’s Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! He’s part of an all-star workshop lineup that includes a staged reading of the new one-woman play, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, starring Barbara Chisholm, who most recently appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Boyhood.

The workshop is slated for March 31-April 2, 2016, and online registration opens at noon (EST) Tuesday, Dec. 1. A link will be posted at www.humorwriters.org at that time. The registration fee is $425 with a number of free scholarships available for University of Dayton students, beginning in January.

Besides Blount, the workshop’s keynoters include:

• Amy Ephron, bestselling novelist, journalist and contributing editor at Vogue;

• Kathy Kinney (known for her iconic role as “Mimi” on The Drew Carey Show) and Cindy Ratzlaff (marketing guru behind The South Beach Diet). The longtime friends are the creative force behind the Queen of Your Life book series, calendar and blog; and

• Leighann Lord, stand-up comedian, actress, commentator and author who’s known as “the Urban Erma.”

The humorous and poignant Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End is billed as “a look at one of our country’s most beloved voices, who captured the frustrations of her generation by asking, ‘If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?’” Twin sisters Allison and Margaret Engel wrote the script for the play, which is receiving its world premiere at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9-Nov. 8 as part of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival. While Chisholm’s performance is open only to workshop registrants, the playwrights hope to bring the one-woman show to Dayton at a later date.

Wendy Liebman, a semifinalist on season nine of America’s Got Talent and a frequent guest on late-night TV shows, will teach a stand-up comedy boot camp and serve as emcee for the attendee stand-up comedy night.

The workshop will once again feature “Pitchapalooza” — described as the “American Idol for books, only kinder and gentler.” Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry’s wildly popular, entertaining event has drawn thousands of people into bookstores, writing conferences and book festivals all over the country — and captured attention from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and NPR. Writers get one minute to pitch a book idea before a panel. The judges pick a winner, who will receive an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for the book idea.

The workshop also will include a special panel, “Ask the Agents,” moderated by Brian Klems, online editor of Writer’s Digest, and a new add-on session, “Speed Dating for Writers,” where writers meet briefly with a variety of pros to learn writing and publishing tips.

Erma Bombeck’s humor and influence on contemporary writers will receive special attention at the workshop. Former Good Morning America producer Ed Miller and the workshop’s popular emcee Patricia Wynn Brown will offer “Mayhem in the Morning: Laughing With Erma,” featuring some of Bombeck’s funniest television clips and a conversation with the Bombeck family. Humorist and feminist scholar Gina Barreca, a former keynoter, will teach a workshop, “Erma 101,” geared to workshop newcomers.

The workshop’s faculty includes two other former keynoters — Emmy Award-winning writer and author Alan Zweibel and comedian and author Judy Carter — among the 25 experienced writers and publishing professionals. Here’s the full slate:

• Elaine Ambrose, founder of Mill Park Publishing and author or co-author of 10 books, including Midlife Cabernet: Love and Laughter After 50 and Menopause Sucks

Gina Barreca, feminist scholar and author of nine books, including the soon-to-be-released If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse? Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times

Tracy Beckerman, nationally syndicated humor columnist and the author of two books, including Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir: How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs

Nancy Berk, radio personality, host of the celebrity podcast Whine At 9 and online entertainment columnist for Parade magazine. Her book College Bound and Gagged can be seen in the Tina Fey movie Admission.

David Braughler, founder and CEO of Braughler Books

Patricia Wynn Brown, performer, producer and author of Hair-A-Baloo: The Revealing Comedy and Tragedy on Top of Your Head and Momma Culpa: One Mother Comes Clean and Makes her Maternal Confession. She has performed her humor-memoir Hair Theater shows nationally.

Judy Carter, comedian, speaking coach and bestselling author of The Comedy Bible, The Message of You and The Message of You Journal: Finding Extraordinary Stories in an Ordinary Day

Rachel Ekstrom Courage, literary agent at Irene Goodman Literary Agency

Nick Courage, book marketer, author and co-founder of Littsburgh, Pittsburgh’s literary community

Arielle Eckstut, agent-at-large with Levine Greenberg Literary Agency in New York and the author of nine books, including The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank, literary agent at Fairbank Literary Representation, which she founded in 2002

Rachelle Gardner, literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency

Katrina Kittle, author of five novels, creative writing teacher and manuscript consultant

Brian A. Klems, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular parenting book, Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters

Adair Lara, writer, teacher and author of 11 books, including Naked, Drunk and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay

Jenny Lawson (aka “The Bloggess”), author of two New York Times’ bestsellers, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Anna Lefler, humorist, comedy writer and author of two books, including her latest novel Preschooled

Wendy Liebman, stand-up comic who’s performed on Carson, Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Kimmel, Ferguson and Hollywood Squares. She was a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent

Joel Madison, sitcom writer for more than a dozen TV shows, including Roseanne and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Cathryn Michon, best-selling author, actress, Hollywood screenwriter and director who stars in and directs Muffin Top: A Love Story

Ed Miller, former Good Morning America television producer

Shannon Olson, director of creative writing at St. Cloud State University and author of two best-selling novels, Welcome to My Planet: Where English is Sometimes Spoken and Children of God Go Bowling

Susan Pohlman, writing coach/instructor, freelance writer and author of the memoir, Halfway to Each Other

Sharon Short, executive director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and author of a coming-of-age novel, My One Square Inch of Alaska, two mystery series and a collection of humorous essays

David Henry Sterry, author of 15 books — from memoir to young adult fiction — actor and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Co-wrote The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

Alan Zweibel, producer, novelist and Emmy Award-winning writer who has worked on such productions as Saturday Night Live, PBS’ Great Performances, and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show

For a description of all the workshop sessions, click here.

If past workshops are any indication, the popular event will fill up quickly. The 2014 workshop sold out in 12 hours.

The 2016 workshop is expected to bring more than 350 beginning and professional writers to Dayton. Why the enormous appeal? The workshop has attracted such household names over the years as Dave Barry, Art Buchwald, Nancy Cartwright, Don Novello, Gail Collins, Garrison Keillor and Alan Zweibel, but the personal involvement of Erma Bombeck’s family makes the event at her alma mater memorable and sets it apart from the myriad other writers’ workshops offered across the country. Alumnus Bill Bombeck and his children, Betsy, Andy and Matt, have regularly attended the workshops. In 2010, the workshop was featured on “CBS Sunday Morning.”

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is co-sponsored by the University of Dayton’s Alumni Association, College of Arts and Sciences and Bookstore; National Society of Newspaper Columnists; Books & Co.; Dayton Marriott Hotel; Dayton Mailing Services; and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Endowment.

Sessions

Subject to change

SPECIAL FEATURES

Erma 101
Gina Barreca

Who is Erma Bombeck, and why has her writing endured the test of time? Best-selling author, syndicated columnist and feminist scholar Gina Barreca will provide a context for Erma Bombeck’s success and help EBWW newbies understand more about why being funny is essential — even when you’re addressing complex issues. Gina will show you how to bring your own humorous voice to life in personal essays. She’ll not only discuss how she works, but she’ll also dish about how other writers (including Erma) face the blank screen and page. To know whether you’ll be the next Erma, you need to know why she continues to inspire millions of devoted readers even today. Thanks to a grant from Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Erma 101 is open to attendees and the general public.
Offered Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Mayhem in the Morning: Laughing With Erma
Patricia Wynn Brown and Ed Miller

For more than a decade, Americans started their day laughing with Erma Bombeck at life’s absurdities. As one of the original members of the “Good Morning America” cast, Erma entertained viewers from 1975-86 with three-minute humorous bits — from discussing picky eaters to trying her hand at the slippery sport of curling. EBWW emcee Patricia Wynn Brown chats with GMA producer Ed Miller and Erma’s children, Matt, Betsy and Andy, about life behind the scenes as we watch a selection of clips and appreciate how her witty writing has stood the test of time.
Offered Saturday at 2 p.m.

Let’s Talk about Success: Best-Selling Secrets, Novel Ideas and Hit-Making Humor, featuring Amy Ephron, Cathryn Michon, Cindy Ratzlaff and Alan Zweibel (one time only)
Nancy Berk

Imagine having coffee with four or five friends who happen to be acclaimed authors who want to help you write your own success story. Bring your “to go” coffee mug to this panel and soak up advice from the experts. From writing inspiration and productivity tips to promotional strategy and insights they never saw coming, you’ll benefit from the wisdom, history and candor of these unique writers.
Offered Friday at 2 p.m.

Behind the Curtain: Maximizing Your Comedy Power, featuring Judy Carter, Wendy Liebman, Kathy Kinney and Leighann Lord (one time only)
Nancy Berk

Whether you’re looking for the formula to kick-start your comedy writing or push you toward stand-up success, this panel of comedy experts will help guide you toward your next creative move. We’ll dig a little deeper with our EBWW comedy genius team to uncover strategies and secrets that have worked in a competitive industry notorious for being fun but fickle.
Offered Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Speed Dating for Writers (advance registration required)

As a special — and what’s bound to be a popular — add-on session, seasoned writers, marketers and agents will answer your questions and share writing and publishing tips. It’s based on a speed dating model that allows writers to learn a variety of perspectives from the pros in a short amount of time.
Offered Friday and Saturday at 7:45 a.m.

 

PUBLISHING

Pitchapalooza — American Idol for Books (one time only)
Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

Pitchapalooza is American Idol for books (only kinder and gentler). Twenty writers will be selected at random to pitch their books. Writers get one minute to make their best pitch. A panel of judges will help these writers, and everyone in the audience, improve their pitches, rather than tell everyone how bad it is. Judges critique everything from idea to style to potential in the marketplace and much more. Authors and audience come away with concrete advice as well as a greater understanding of the ins and outs of the publishing industry. Whether you’re pitching yourself, or simply listening to trained professionals critique other writers, Pitchapalooza is educational and entertaining for everyone. From Los Angeles to New York City, and many stops along the way, Pitchapalooza has consistently drawn standing-room-only crowds, press and blog coverage, and the kind of bookstore buzz reserved for celebrity authors. At the end of Pitchapalooza, the judges will pick a winner. The winner receives an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for his/her book. Numerous authors have received publishing deals due to Pitchapalooza. Bonus: Anyone who buys a copy of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published will receive a free 20-minute consultation, a $100 value.
Offered Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Ask the Agents, featuring Rachel Ekstrom Courage, Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank and Rachelle Gardner
Brian Klems

Moderated by Brian Klems, online editor of Writer’s Digest, this Q&A with a panel of agents provides you with an opportunity to find out what agents look for in sample chapters, what makes them stop reading, what they can do for self-published authors, what they want to hear during a live pitch, and much more. You’ll get the chance to ask the agents about any topic, from platform and marketing to self-publishing and series writing. Whether you’re writing for children or adults, fiction or nonfiction, these agents can answer your questions.
Offered Friday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

You CAN’T Write a Book!
David Braughler

You don’t have the time. What would you write about? Who would even want to read what you’ve written? How many writers have talked themselves right out of publishing a book? (And whose name did you just mutter under your breath?) David Braughler works with authors to help them turn their stories into published books. Under direct coercion of many of his authors, he is currently co-authoring a tongue-in-cheek book, You CAN’T Write a Book, that addresses many of the rationalizations he’s heard over the years from reluctant authors. In this publishing boot camp, he will address some of the bigger culprits — along with ways to move past them — so that you can self-publish your book. You’ll leave feeling a little less guilty about not writing, along with a clear plan on the steps you need to take to successfully self-publish, price and market your book.
Offered Friday at 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The Journey to Publication
Nick Courage

Everyone agrees: It’s hard to get a book deal — and that’s just the half of it. Nick Courage, an author with more than a decade of publishing industry experience, will tell you what to expect both before and after publication so that you can make the most out of your publishing journey, from querying agents, to finding a publisher, to your first book signing. This session will include tips, tools and resources for the not-yet-published author, with ample time for Q&A.
Offered Friday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Turn Your Blog into a Book (one time only)
Elaine Ambrose

This session focuses on the nuts and bolts of creating a self-published book from your best blogs. You will learn how to compile and format chapters, hire professional designers to create the cover and layout, hire editors to read your manuscript, obtain reviews for the cover, purchase an ISBN number and bar code, and submit to print sources such as CreateSpace to produce a paperback and e-book for mass distribution. Targeted to experienced writers who have written at least 100 blogs or 10,000 words of a manuscript.
Offered Friday at 10:30 a.m.

How to Get Published Successfully (one time only)
Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

It is the greatest time in history to be a writer.  The barriers have been torn down, and now anyone can get published.  But to get published successfully is a whole other matter. Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry take you through the entire publishing process. This step-by-step, soup-to-nuts workshop will remove the smoke and mirrors from the murky world of publishing and give writers a compass and map to a successfully published book. Topics include:

• Choosing the right idea
• Creating a blockbuster title
• Crafting an attention-getting pitch
• Putting together a proposal/manuscript
• Finding the right agent/publisher
• Self-publishing effectively with e-books, print-on-demand or traditional printing
• Developing sales, marketing and publicity savvy
• Producing a video book trailer and helping it go viral
• Building a following through social media
Offered Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

CRAFT

Is There a Secret to Writing Funny?
Alan Zweibel

Erma Bombeck wrote, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” Great humor writers — from Mark Twain to Tina Fey — have been adept at straddling those thin lines. Learn how to write funnier from one of the funniest writers in the country. Tapping into his wealth of experience as an award-winning television writer, screenwriter, playwright and novelist, Alan Zweibel will offer his secrets for writing humorous essays, sketches, stand-up routines, blogs and novels.
Offered Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m.

The Message of You: The Power and Humor of Your Story
Judy Carter

A seemingly ordinary day is filled with hidden stories that contain laughs, drama and a powerful message — all waiting to be uncovered and turned into comedy gold. In a fun, creative and interactive workshop, best-selling author and comedian Judy Carter will give you writing prompts that will show you how the stories from an ordinary day can turn into a TED talk, an essay or your memoir.
Offered Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Crafting Compelling Personal Essays, Blogs and Humor Pieces
Adair Lara

Writing coach, columnist, essayist and author of Naked, Drunk and Writing, Adair Lara will teach you how to write very funny short pieces using setup, angle and voice. A humor columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle for 16 years, she will show writers how to use ordinary details and events to create extraordinary insights. Workshop includes great handouts (including a list of essay markets) and some fun (and useful!) writing exercises. Hundreds of Adair’s students have gone on to successful writing careers (including her son, who writes humor pieces for the New Yorker).
Offered Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Welcome to the Writers’ Room
Joel Madison

Writing scripted comedy is a dynamic, collaborative process. Re-writing scripted comedy is what a writers’ room is all about. This session will mirror the tasks and atmosphere of a professional rewrite room as you and your fellow attendees dig into a real sitcom script under the direction of industry veteran Joel Madison (“Roseanne,” “Fresh Prince,” “Undeclared”). You will have the opportunity to review and study pages of a real script in the weeks before the workshop and gather your thoughts on how to improve a few pages from your own comedy perspective.  Then, in a group setting, pitch your new jokes, scenes and even entire story lines to Joel and your fellow attendees as everyone collaborates to hammer out a better, funnier version of the script.  As Joel moderates this fun and lively session, he will also share his own hilarious anecdotes from the TV and movie trenches, giving you a true insider’s view of the scripted writing experience.  Whether you want to jump in and pitch your own jokes or you simply want to see what a real comedy writers’ room is all about, this session will give you a perspective that you can’t get anywhere outside of Hollywood. For the script and instructions, click sit-com script.
Offered Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m.

Novel-Writing for the Faint of Heart
Anna Lefler

Do you have an idea for a comic novel that you’ve been lovingly stroking for ages but can’t seem to sit down and begin? Does the thought of writing anything longer than a blog post make you want to lie down — and not in the sexy way? Do you have a passion to tell a long-form story but you’re not sure what that process would look like in your busy life? Great! Bring ALL of that (and your idea, if you happen to have one) to this session, where we’ll be digging into the processes and practices of getting you started on your novel-writing journey. From silencing insecurities to combating procrastination to carving out time to write, this session will provide you with a “tool kit” of techniques, resources, and — yes — downright tricks that you can rely on for the long haul. Along the way, we’ll wrangle with a real-world exercise that will focus your energy and leave you fired up to get started … writing your novel.
Offered Friday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

How to Uncover Your Own Voice and Get It Down on Paper (one time only)
Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Using a series of improvisational writing techniques and a simple kitchen timer, this hands-on workshop will help you get past your self-criticism, reveal your unique voice and help you incorporate that voice into your writing. You’ll learn how to use your voice to paint a clear picture for readers, helping them experience who you are, where you are, who you are to the others in your scene and what makes this day so important in the story. Come prepared to write without self-editing and to give your imagination a good workout.
Offered Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Introduction to Memoir: Write What You Know (one time only)
Susan Pohlman

Everyone has a natural writer within, and everyone has something meaningful to say. Our lives hold many tales, but how do we bring our personal and family stories to life on the page in a compelling manner? This interactive workshop, tailored for less experienced writers, will explore the art and craft of memoir writing and include writing exercises to help you narrow your focus, be authentic — and take readers on an emotional journey of the heart.
Offered Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Skipping the Parts People Skip: Strengthening Description
Katrina Kittle

Best-selling author Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Nothing makes a reader skim more than long, flat passages of description that stop a story’s momentum. No matter what kind of writing you do (fiction, memoir, poetry, essay), this class is chock-full of tips, tricks and exercises designed to make your descriptions come to life. We’ll give tired old clichés a makeover, bolster our figurative language and embrace concrete, sensory details. Everyone is always telling writers, “Show, don’t tell,” but this workshop will show you to actually do that effectively and creatively. We’ll look at lots of published samples of description that is doing double- and triple-duty in a story, and you’ll write some of your own as well.
Offered Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m.

The Art of the Anecdote: Crafting Small Stories
Shannon Olson

The anecdote has been the focus and the building block of work by writers as different in style and voice as Erma Bombeck, Garrison Keillor, David Sedaris, Dave Barry, Russell Baker and Jo Ann Beard. Though small in scale, the anecdote packs a punch on the page. Told well, these little stories — often amusing, sometimes profoundly moving — draw readers in by offering an illustration of shared experience, by opening a window on a moment. In this workshop, novelist Shannon Olson will show participants how to make their own small personal stories come to life. This interactive session includes brief writing exercises.
Offered Friday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m.

Write Funny, Now! (one time only)
Elaine Ambrose

Experience the serious work of humor writing. In this interactive session geared toward beginning writers, participants will learn how to use various types of humor to deliver humorous lines and grab readers. Participants will read a sampling of Erma Bombeck’s columns, discuss why certain lines are hilarious, share their own on-the-spot work and interact with others to improve their writing.
Offered Friday at 2 p.m.

Finding Your Writer’s Voice
Sharon Short

Tailored to more advanced writers, this interactive session will help writers develop a deeper understanding of what makes a compelling writer’s voice — and how to bring yours to life on the page. In this session, writers will learn to demystify the concept of “voice,” using examples from literature, film, music and even one’s own speaking style and voice. Through writing exercises, you’ll learn how to identify, embrace and apply your unique voice to your own writing — whether it’s fiction, memoir or humorous essay.
Offered Friday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

How to Write a Compelling Story, One Vivid Scene at a Time (one time only)
Susan Pohlman

All of us have treasured scenes from movies or books that have imprinted themselves upon our souls forever. They make us laugh, cry or root for the hero/heroine. Scene is the element of craft that captures the heart of the reader. Designed for all levels of writers, this session will clarify the difference between narrative summary and scene and present the fundamentals of how to create effective scenes. You’ll leave with a user-friendly checklist that will help you strengthen your scenes and take charge of your writing.
Offered Friday at 2 p.m.

Stand-Up Comedy Boot Camp (one time only)
Wendy Liebman

Learn the basics of stand-up comedy and hone the four-minute set you’ll perform Saturday night at the workshop. Nationally known stand-up comic Wendy Liebman will share writing techniques to make your stories funnier — and ways to deliver them to get a laugh. The workshop is open to stand-up performers and anyone who wants to learn the techniques for writing and performing stand-up comedy. Come prepared to laugh and scribble down your own hilarious ideas. A dozen comedians will be selected in advance to perform at stand-up night. Wendy will choose an additional three from the hilarious writers she meets in the workshop.
Offered Friday at 3:30 p.m.

MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA

It’s a Brand New Brand YOU World: Why Authors MUST Treat Themselves and Their Books as Brands — Even Before Publication (one time only)
Cindy Ratzlaff

You are the brand and every book you write is a brand extension. Developing a personal author brand will save you time, money and frustration as you move from the writing phase to the marketing phase of your book — and help you attract a large following of passionate readers who are truly interested in your books. Cindy Ratzlaff will share the exact tips, tools and strategies she has used to help best-selling authors create their own personal brands, promote their books through a set of massive, branded social platforms and drive sales — all without compromising their privacy or engaging in hard-core selling. You’ll come away from this workshop with a step-by-step guide to developing your own personal author brand and a checklist of action items you can take immediately to build your own brand and position your social influence for rapid growth.
Offered Saturday at 9 a.m.

From Misfit with Blog to Author with Deal
Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson (aka “the Bloggess”) is an Internet rock star, with millions of readers — women and men — clicking on her every irreverent, hilarious thought. Her blog is consistently rated as one of the top blogs in the country. How do you create a social media persona, draw the attention of readers and build a community? Discover how to improve your blog, promote your writing — and maybe even land a book deal.
Offered Friday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m.

The Real Hollywood Dream Is in Your Purse:  How to Use a Smartphone to Create an Empire
Cathryn Michon

Though some mistakenly think dreaming of being a creative artist in Hollywood is a long shot, and you need to live in L.A. or New York to realistically pursue mass media, nothing could be further from the truth. The rise of social media has leveled the playing field like never before in history — and anyone can turn their creativity into a media empire. Just ask Psy, who with one deliciously crazy music video (Gagnam Style), turned himself into the world’s most-watched pop star ever! Discover how to use your smartphone, Twitter feed, Facebook fan base, Tumblr blog and other new media to market yourself and promote your writing — whether it’s your blog or book — to build an audience, develop leads, attract mainstream media attention and perhaps even land a contract, or better yet, to monetize and distribute your content without old media middlemen. The most powerful writer in Hollywood, E.L. James, started as a self-published fiction author. The power is in your purse (or backpack!). Learn social media tips from author/screenwriter/director/actress/entrepreneur Cathryn Michon, who created a “movie-ment” with her small, independent film, Muffin Top: A Love Story, now available on Netflix and multiple other platforms.
Offered Friday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m.

This Ain’t Your Mother’s Résumé: Turning a Simple Blog into a Great Website
Tracy Beckerman

There was a time when you would have to mail a cover letter, your résumé and writing samples to an editor in order to get a writing job. Not anymore. These days your website is your résumé, and email is your cover letter. Writing samples? They’re hyperlinks to your work online. If you’re not optimizing your website to make it your most effective selling tool, you’re missing a huge opportunity to market yourself and get work. However, creating a great website can be incredibly intimidating. In this session, you’ll learn to how to turn a simple blog into a compelling website that catches an editor’s eye and increases readership.
Offered Friday at 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Schedule

(Subject to change. For a description of all the sessions, click here.)

Wednesday, March 30 (special pre-workshop event, free and open to the public)

7 p.m.
Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Awards Ceremony
Emcee: Gina Barreca, humorist, author, feminist scholar
Centerville Library
111 W. Spring Valley Rd.
Centerville, OH 45458
(free and open to the public)

Thursday, March 31

2 to 5:30 p.m.
Attendee sign-in, Dayton Marriott Hotel Lobby

4 to 6 p.m.
Networking reception, Dayton Marriott Hotel, Tradewinds
(cash bar)

4 to 9 p.m.
EBWW bookstore open

6 p.m. — Welcome dinner with Roy Blount Jr., Dayton Marriott Ballroom

8 p.m. — Book signing with Roy Blount Jr.
Dayton Marriott Hotel Foyer
Dessert reception, Tradewinds
(cash bar)

Friday, April 1

7 to 8:30 a.m. (loop) — Shuttle bus from Dayton Marriott Hotel to 1700 South Patterson Building on River Campus

7:30 to 9 a.m.
Attendee sign-in (lobby of 1700 South Patterson Building)
Continental breakfast (Riverview Café)
Informal breakfast roundtables

7:45 to 8:45 a.m.
Speed Dating for Writers (advance registration required)
Executive Dining Room

9 to 10:15 a.m. — Six concurrent sessions

Ask the Agents — Panel moderated by Brian Klems, featuring Rachel Ekstrom Courage, Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank and Rachelle Gardner
Meyer Room — This session also offered Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Journey to Publication — Nick Courage
M2265 — This session also offered Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

This Ain’t Your Mother’s Résumé: Turning a Simple Blog into a Great Website — Tracy Beckerman
Auditorium — This session also offered Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Finding Your Writer’s VoiceSharon Short
M2300 — This session also offered Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

Is There a Secret to Writing Funny? — Alan Zweibel
Marshall Room — This session also offered Saturday at 9 a.m.

You CAN’T Write a Book! — David Braughler
M2380 — This session also offered Friday at 3:30 p.m.

10:15 to 10:30 a.m.
Break

10:30 to 11:45 a.m. — Six concurrent sessions

Introduction to Memoir: Write What You Know — Susan Pohlman (one time only)
M2380

Crafting Compelling Personal Essays — Adair Lara
Alumni Center North — This session also offered Saturday at 2 p.m.

Novel-Writing for the Faint of Heart — Anna Lefler
M2265 — This session also offered Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

The Real Hollywood Dream Is in Your Purse:  How to Use a Smartphone to Create an Empire — Cathryn Michon
Marshall Room — This session also offered Saturday at 9 a.m.

The Message of You: The Power and Humor of Your Story — Judy Carter
Meyer Room — This session also offered Saturday at 2 p.m.

Turn Your Blog into a Book — Elaine Ambrose (one time only)
Auditorium

11:45 a.m. to noon
Break

Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Lunch with Amy Ephron, Riverview Café

1:30 to 2 p.m. — Break and Book Signing with Amy Ephron

2 to 3:15 p.m. — Six concurrent sessions

Let’s Talk About Success: Best-Selling Secrets, Novel Ideas and Hit-Making Humor — Panel moderated by Nancy Berk, featuring Amy Ephron, Cathryn Michon, Cindy Ratzlaff and Alan Zweibel (one time only)
Meyer Room

How to Write a Compelling Story, One Vivid Scene at a Time — Susan Pohlman (one time only)
M2380

Welcome to the Writers’ Room — Joel Madison
Marshall Room — This session also offered Saturday at 2 p.m.

From Misfit with Blog to Author With Deal — Jenny Lawson
Auditorium — This session also offered Saturday at 9 a.m.

Write Funny Now! — Elaine Ambrose (one time only)
Alumni Center North

The Art of the Anecdote: Crafting Small Stories — Shannon Olson
M2265 — This session also offered Saturday at 9 a.m.

3:15 to 3:30 p.m.
Break

3:30 to 4:45 p.m. — Six concurrent sessions

This Ain’t Your Mother’s Résumé: Turning a Simple Blog into a Great Website — Tracy Beckerman
M2265 — This session also offered Friday at 9 a.m.

You CAN’T Write a Book! — David Braughler
M2300 — This session also offered Friday at 9 a.m.

How to Uncover Your Voice and Get It Down on Paper — Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff (one time only)
Alumni Center North

Skipping the Parts People Skip: Strengthening Description — Katrina Kittle
M2380 — This session also offered Saturday at 9 a.m.

Stand-Up Comedy Boot Camp — Wendy Liebman (one time only)
Marshall Room

Erma 101 — Gina Barreca (open to the public)
Auditorium — This session also offered Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

3:30 to 5:15 p.m.
Shuttle buses to Dayton Marriott (loop)

4 to 11 p.m.
EBWW bookstore open

6 to 8:30 p.m. — Dinner followed by staged reading of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, starring Barbara Chisholm, Marriott Ballroom

8:30 p.m. — Talk Back with Bombeck family and playwrights Allison and Margaret Engel

9 to 11 p.m. — Book signing with all faculty
Marriott Tradewinds
(cash bar)

Saturday, April 2

7 to 8:30 a.m. (loop) — Shuttle bus from Dayton Marriott Hotel to 1700 South Patterson Building on River Campus

7:30 to 9 a.m.
Continental breakfast (Riverview Café)
Informal breakfast roundtables

7:45 to 8:45 a.m.
Speed Dating for Writers (advance registration required)
Executive Dining Room

9 to 2 p.m.
EBWW bookstore opens

9 to 10:15 a.m. — Six concurrent sessions

Is There a Secret to Writing Funny? — Alan Zweibel
Marshall Room — This session also offered Friday at 9 a.m.

The Real Hollywood Dream Is in Your Purse:  How to Use a Smartphone to Create an Empire — Cathryn Michon
S2006 — This session also offered Friday at 10:30 a.m.

The Art of the Anecdote: Crafting Small Stories — Shannon Olson
M2265 — This session also offered Friday at 2 p.m.

From Misfit with Blog to Author with Deal — Jenny Lawson
Meyer Room — This session also offered Friday at 2 p.m.

Skipping the Parts People Skip: Strengthening Description — Katrina Kittle
M2380 — This session also offered Friday at 3:30 p.m.

It’s a Brand New Brand YOU World: Why Publishers MUST Treat Books and Authors as Brands — Even Before Publication — Cindy Ratzlaff (one time only)
Auditorium

10:15 to 10:30 a.m.
Break

10:30 to 11:45 a.m. — Six concurrent sessions

Behind the Curtain: Maximizing Your Comedy Power — Panel moderated by Nancy Berk, featuring Judy Carter, Kathy Kinney, Wendy Liebman and Leighann Lord (one time only)
Meyer Room

How to Get Published Successfully — Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry (one time only)
Marshall Room

Novel-Writing for the Faint of Heart — Anna Lefler
M2380 — This session also offered Friday at 10:30 a.m.

The Journey to Publication — Nick Courage
S2006 — This session also offered Friday at 9 a.m.

Finding Your Writer’s Voice — Sharon Short
S2060 — This session also offered Friday at 9 a.m.

Erma 101 — Gina Barreca (open to the public)
Auditorium — This session also offered Friday at 3:30 p.m.

11:45 a.m. to noon
Break and book signing with Gina Barreca

Noon to to 1:30 p.m. — Lunch with Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, Riverview Café

1:30 to 2 p.m. — Break and Book signing with Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

2 to 3:15 p.m. — Five concurrent sessions

The Message of You: The Power and Humor of Your Story — Judy Carter
Marshall Room — This session also offered Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Crafting Compelling Personal Essays — Adair Lara
M2380 — This session also offered Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Welcome to the Writers’ Room — Joel Madison
S2060 — This session also offered Friday at 2 p.m.

Ask the Agents — Panel moderated by Brian Klems, featuring Rachel Ekstrom Courage, Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank and Rachelle Gardner
Auditorium — This session also offered Friday at 9 a.m.

Mayhem in the Morning: Laughing with Erma — Moderated by Patricia Wynn Brown and Ed Miller, featuring Bombeck family (one time only)
Meyer Room

3:15 to 3:30 p.m.
Break

3:30 to 5 p.m. — Pitchapalooza — American Idol for Books: Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry
Meyer Room

3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Shuttle buses to Dayton Marriott Hotel

5:30 p.m.
Shuttle bus to University of Dayton main campus, photo opportunity at Erma Bombeck historical marker and memorial tree (pick up at north entrance outside the Meyer Room at 1700 South Patterson Building)

6:30 to 8:30 p.m. — Dinner with Leighann Lord, Marriott Ballroom

8:30 to 9:30 p.m. — Book signing and reception with Leighann Lord
Dayton Marriott Ballroom Foyer (cash bar)

8:30-9:30 p.m. — Photo Booth
Marriott Ballroom Foyer

9:30 to 11 p.m. — Attendee stand-up comedy, with master of ceremonies Wendy Liebman
Dayton Marriott Ballroom

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Reflections of Erma