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

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The proverbial doughnut

No stranger to the doughnut, veterinarian David Abramowicz believes there is no better way to start one’s morning than with a smile and a doughnut. He’s just published 101 Doughnut Proverbs, a delightful collection of humorous adages related to the beloved pastry.

A Dayton gal

(On the anniversary of Erma Bombeck’s death, Sharon Short writes about the humorist’s enduring appeal in her new column, “Literary Life,” in the Dayton Daily News. Here’s an excerpt from Sharon’s April 22 debut column.)

I am delighted and honored to launch a new column today — Literary Life.

I will share the stories of book clubs, writing groups, writing workshops and published writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays in the greater Dayton area.

I’ve shared news of this column with friends and literary cohorts from Dayton to New York and beyond, and universally I’ve received two reactions: (1) That’s so exciting! and (2) Wait, is there that much going on, literary life-wise, in Dayton, Ohio?

My responses: (1) Yes, it is exciting, because the arts are lively and growing in Dayton, including the literary arts and (2) Yes. The challenge isn’t going to be finding material to cover, but how to choose among all the creative, cool, literary people, places and events each week.

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the passing of nationally beloved humor columnist and best-selling author Erma Bombeck, a household name for her witty and poignant insights into American family life during the 1960s-1980s. Yesterday wrapped up the biannual writers’ workshop held in her name.

“Erma wrote about real life, the kind of life most of us live every day, not the cartoons and fantasies that populate so much of our entertainment media,” says Matthew Dewald, workshop director.

The University of Dayton’s National Alumni Association sponsors the biannual Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, the only one in the United States devoted to human interest and humor writing. Registration for the workshop, which attracts hundreds of aspiring and professional writers from around the United States and Canada, sold out the first week it was open. So, writers interested in 2014 are advised to visit

Bombeck was born in Bellbrook in 1927 and grew up in a working-class family in Dayton. She attended University of Dayton and began writing for the Kettering-Oakwood Times in 1964 and the Dayton Journal Herald in 1965. After just three weeks at the Dayton newspaper, Bombeck’s column, At Wit’s End, was picked up for syndication.

In many ways, Bombeck’s and (Manning) Marable’s literary and personal lives couldn’t have been more different. Yet, both grew up in and were, in part, shaped by their experiences in Dayton.

— Sharon Short

Sharon Short is the author of the novel “My One Square Inch of Alaska,” to be published by Penguin Plume in February 2013, and the director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. Click here for the complete version of this Literary Life column.

Gina Barreca

Gina Barreca launched her publishing career with They Used to Call Me Snow White…But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor. University Press of New England is re-releasing the book with a new intro exploring the last two decades of women’s humor. Ms. Magazine calls Gina a “feminist humor maven” and Dave Barry grudgingly concedes she’s “Very, very funny. For a woman.”

Not your mother’s book

Three of Terri Spilman’s humorous essays have been published in Not Your Mother’s Book: On Being a Woman,” part of a new and edgy humor anthology series. “The workshop gave me invaluable experience and the confidence to officially label myself a “humor writer” and pursue outside publishing opportunities,” says the blogger from Carmel, Ind.

Magic in the mundane

Jill Fales believes if you “can find joy between the lint and never ending stream of dirty socks, you can find joy everywhere, everyday.” She’s just published her first book, My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.

Love, Dad

Bruce B. Smith, Connecticut father of three, has published a touching, inspirational and funny book on fatherhood and love, For What it’s Worth… Love, Dad: Things I always meant to tell you, if only we’d had the time.

The job of a laughtime

Brad Ashton, who’s written for Grouch Marx, has condensed more than 50 years of scriptwriting and gag-writing experience into his newest book, The Job of a Laughtime: The Complete Comedy Writer. He offers nine simple lessons on creating your own comedy from gags to sitcoms.

Flies in the milk

Shirley Friedman has self-published Flies in the Milk, the story of a myriad of problems that beset her and her husband before they were married. “My sense of humor is what has kept me going,” says the nearly 80-year-old author. The book is available through Amazon and Lulu.

Reflections of Erma