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True confessions

Dave Astor chronicles 25 years as a reporter for Editor & Publisher in his new book, Comic (and Column) Confessional: Finding Myself While Covering Syndicates, Celebrities, and a Changing Media World.

Don’t roll your eyes

Boston author, scholar and activist Ruth Nemzoff is publishing her second book, Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws into Family (Palgrave Macmillan). She received her first book contract at the age of 66 for Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children.

The power of Erma

Clinical psychologist, author and comic Dr. Nancy Berk left the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop (EBWW) with enthusiasm and strategies. Since then, she’s finished her second book, blogs for The Huffington Post, USA TODAY and national magazines and hosts three podcasts. Here, she shares her secrets about maximizing the 2012 EBWW experience.

The Power of Erma: 5 Steps To Kick Start Your Career

Two and a half days at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is like a semester of strategic planning for writers. Inspired by the talent and spirit of a woman who set the stage for female humorists, this event brings in the experts, including gifted attendees, to give every participant an opportunity to develop and promote their craft. Being in a room with 350 accomplished or aspiring humor writers can panic even the most confident —“Is there room for me?” The answer is “yes” — if you use what you learn. Follow these five steps to kick start your adventure from Erma and beyond.

1. Just Do It

Erma was living proof that great accomplishments can happen when you give it a shot. EBWW provides endless opportunities for writers to test the water and explore all avenues of humor. From publishing strategies to stand-up comedy, there’s something for everyone. Step out of that comfort zone, and you just might be pleasantly surprised.

2. Connect

Seasoned participants know that EBWW is THE place for business cards. Don’t leave home without them. You’ll make some lifelong friends and wonderful acquaintances, but it helps to give them a reminder. Social media experts will stress the importance of virtual connecting. (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) Listen to them and learn these tools. “Friend” and “follow” your new EBWW acquaintances. Most of us are helpful and harmless. Is social media worth it? I’ve gotten paychecks with commas thanks to social media referrals. If done well, social media can be your best (and cheapest!) publicist.

3. Be Genuine

Erma’s humor was rooted in real. She revealed an absolute love of family while being honestly hilarious. Great writing and humor comes when you allow yourself to be genuine. You’ll find your voice and develop your brand in the process.

4. Consider Alternate Routes

Success doesn’t always happen in the direction you’d thought. Keep an open mind about opportunities and analyze carefully before turning anything down. Every opportunity is a possible connection or avenue to showcase your talent.

5. Give Back

Don’t lose sight of the need to be an advocate for others. Help them find opportunities for success. Promote those you respect. Help out when someone needs an extra push. There are great rewards in being supportive. As your circles grow, you’ll learn more than you ever imagined.

—Nancy Berk, Ph.D.

Nancy Berk is a member of the 2012 Bombeck Workshop faculty. Her second book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind, is a parent survival guide for the college-bound journey.


Award-winning journalist  and humorist Lisa Alcalay Klug’s new book, Hot Mamalah: The Ultimate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe debuts in October from Andrews McMeel Publishing. Hot Mamalah is a humorous pop culture guide, a start-to-finish celebration of the strengths, challenges and triumphs of women: the good, the great, the PMSy and the menopausal. Hot Mamalah is the much anticipated companion to the hilarious 21st century Jewish catalog, Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe.

Tracy Beckerman

With an irreverent sense of humor, nationally syndicated humor columnist and blogger Tracy Beckerman tells the tale of one woman striving to reinvent her life after motherhood in her newly published book, Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs (Perigee Publishing). Read the prologue. Her column is carried by more than 400 newspapers and 250 websites — and reaches 10 million readers.

Fabric of fairytales

Purdue University Press has published Angie Klink’s latest book, Kirby’s Way, How Kirby and Caroline Risk Built their Company on Kitchen-Table Values. Brian Lamb, founder and executive director of C-SPAN, writes the forward in the book, which is described as  “an inspiring biography.”

Dave Fox

Dave Fox is author of Getting Lost: Mishaps of an Accidental Nomad and Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!). For 100 hours in March, he’s throwing a 100-hour global online writing festival. A member of the 2012 EBWW faculty, he teaches online travel and humor writing courses.

Lorraine Holnback

Lorraine Holnback Brodek‘s new humorous memoir, A Nobody in a Somebody World: My Hollywood Life in Beverly Hills, includes a book jacket endorsement from Erma Bombeck’s son, Matt. “Her stories about growing up in Beverly Hills, encounters with celebs and a near-death experience in the Grand Canyon with our family are priceless!” he wrote. She’s also the author of The Tale of Peeky Peeker, a whimsical children’s book. Click here for an excerpt of the book’s dedication to Erma Bombeck.

Reflections of Erma