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Fifty shades of grace

The newly released Fifty Shades of Grace includes a chapter by Bruce Stambaugh, a community activist and newspaper columnist in Millersburg, Ohio. A retired educator, Stambaugh is working on his first book, Among the Amish.

Mostly true

Paige Kellerman is publishing her first humor book, At Least My Belly Hides My Cankles: Mostly-True Tales Of An Impending Miracle, in June. If you want a laugh, check out her blog, “There’s More Where That Came From.”

Horror stories







From trying on bathing suits to dealing with quirky neighbors, this collection of 22 stories from Lois Podoshen makes us laugh at life’s little trials and tribulations. After all, who but Heidi Klum really wants to venture into that dressing room and try on bikinis? One reviewer writes, “There are enough smiles and chuckles in this book to paste a grin on the Grinch.”

Doggone funny

Leigh Anne Jasheway, who won the 2003 Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Award for her essay on how her first mammogram caught on fire, has published a new book, Date Me, Date My Dog: Finding Mr. Right For You and Your Pack. It’s doggone funny. Partial proceeds benefit Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene, Ore.

Alas, not The New Yorker

Humorist David Martin‘s latest self-published book, Screams & Whispers: 69 humor pieces rejected by The New Yorker, includes pieces previously published in such publications as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Smithsonian Magazine. But never in The New Yorker.

Every mother’s anthem

Blogger Stacey Hatton is a contributing author in a new humorous anthology. I Just Want to Pee Alone is billed as a collection of hilarious essays from 37 of the most “kick ass mom bloggers on the web.”

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.

Reflections of Erma