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Fevered imagination

Two of humorist Dale Andrew White’s short story anthologies, Moe Howard Died for Our Sins and Return of the Dittos, are now available in paperback and as e-books. Midwest Book Review calls White “a natural born storyteller with an especial flair for blending fantasy, whimsy, satire and a fevered imagination into original stories that are replete with ribald humor and reader-engaging novelty.”


Another Erma Bombeck conference has ended.

I’ll come home and friends will ask, so how was it? I’ll answer: Great, I loved it!

They will raise an eyebrow and wonder why I’m so uncharacteristically enthusiastic. Then they will smile at me the way people do when an older person indulges in reminiscences.

“I’m glad,” they’ll say, and quickly move on, lest I start talking about my love for pressed linens and starched curtains.

No! If you think the Erma Conference is quaint, you are wrong. Yes, we honor Erma, the writer many of us read and loved, the one who made us laugh aloud. But it is more  than that. This was my third conference and I was finally able to crystallize why it means so much to me and other attendees.

It’s about sisterhood. I think it should be spelled with a capital S. We celebrate and laugh here in a way that only  women do. We laugh, not the tinkly little-girl laughs women give in response to a man’s joke, but those big, deep-belly laughs women emit when we make each other laugh. The ones that shake the puppies out of their foundations and loosen tear ducts and bladders as well. These are never the mean girl laughs. On the contrary, they come from a deep understanding and appreciation of one another. Women tend to reflect on life in a way men don’t, a speaker commented. Women’s humor is different from men’s.

I observed the men to see if she was right. The men seemed to be watching the women here as they might an athlete or a musician, admiring them from a distance but accepting that they can’t fully participate in what was happening. (What else is new?) But, I think they were enjoying the laughter vicariously.

Yes, younger women attend also. I wondered if they read Erma. I suppose, if asked, they would say they came primarily to network. Oh! We are in Dayton, Ohio. We come here primarily to laugh. I watched as these young women got rid of their buttoned-up professional demeanor, at least for the moment. They roared. LMAO is how they might term it. And, sure enough, they wiped mascara from under their eyes, even if there wasn’t any there. (An atavistic response, we were told.)

Women laugh out of sisterhood; we understand one another. It’s a profound phenomenon, this understanding. When triggered, it makes us laugh and cry at the same time. And here I could see we are all afflicted with it. Older and younger. From New York City to the hills of Kentucky. Dems and Repubs. Wow!  We laughed together. It all builds. The great speakers, the books, the writing sessions, the encouragement, the understanding, the warmth of the Bombeck family.

Yeah, you can tell, I love this conference!

I must add, with one exception: I didn’t win the contest — again. (Judges, if any of you are reading this, I’m not getting any younger.)

— Lynda Zielinski

Lynda Zielinski writes the blog, “Ole Granny Slogs,” and shamelessly will use her grandson and dogs to sway EBWW judges in future writing competitions.

My next husband will be normal

In Rae Ellen Lee’s entertaining memoir, My Next Husband Will Be Normal,” Lee and her husband fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands with a down payment for a mom-and-pop business on St. John. Then life takes a twist when soon after unpacking the flip-flops, the husband realizes “he” is really a “she.”

Life’s wisdom

Angel in Your Mirror: Musings From the Curly Mind of JB Shelton-Spurr is a collection of humorous and poignant essays by a journalist and rancher who delights in writing about children growing up and grownups reinventing themselves. Author JB Shelton is president of The Agency for Written and Spoken Communications in North Carolina.

Leslie Marinelli

Leslie Marinelli is editor-in-chief of In The Powder Room, an online global community for women. Her new book, with 38 other women bloggers, is a humorous anthology of original short stories, You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth: And Other Things You’ll Only Hear from Your Friends In The Powder Room. She is the creative force behind the riotous blog, The Bearded Iris: A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All. Leslie was named a BlogHer Humor Voice of the Year in 2013 and 2012, and a Babble Top 100 Mom Blogger in 2011.

Noah Vail and Mary Farr

This is not your ordinary writing duo. Noah is a wise and witty horse who blogs, tweets and writes the occasional book with his business partner, Mary Farr. He calls her “Madam” and “The Management.” She’s the author of four books and frequently presents on topics that foster health, happiness and healing. Their funny and inspirational book, Never Say Neigh, won an honorable mention in the 2013 Paris Book Festival.

One square inch of happiness

Sharon Short, director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, has published a beautifully written coming-of-age novel, My One Square Inch of Alaska (Penquin Plume). “I adored these characters, feared for them, and rooted for them every step of the way,” says novelist and EBWW faculty member Katrina Kittle.

Bob Dyer

A nearly 30-year veteran of the Akron Beacon Journal, Bob Dyer has earned  52 regional and national writing awards — including this year’s top humor award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for large newspapers. In 2008, the National Society of Professional Journalists voted him Best Columnist in the Nation. He has been named Best Columnist in Ohio by at least one professional journalism organization for six consecutive years. He was one of the lead writers for A Question of Color, a yearlong examination of racial attitudes in Akron that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. In addition, he has written two books.

Reflections of Erma