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That’s how the Christmas cookie crumbles

DeeDee Filiatreault (Excerpt from Tales from the Crib: Adventures of an Over-Sharing, Stressed-Out, Modern-Day Mom by DeeDee Filiatreault.)

I remember one Christmas when my mother had it all together. Just one.

That one fine year, I’d come home from school most December afternoons and find something new under our tree, topped with a cheap stick-on bow. This level of advance preparation was something new and rare in our house, something peaceful and enchanting. I loved that year.

Every other Christmas of my memory involved Mom’s traditional Christmas Eve scavenger hunt for the Lost Treasures of Yule followed by a late-night wrapping frenzy of flying Scotch tape and dime-store paper.

My mom’s holiday hurriedness would reach its crescendo on Christmas afternoon when she would let out a gasp, dash off to the underbelly of the spare bed, and unearth a tambourine or a latch hook kit she’d tucked away and forgot ever existed. (I wonder if that’s where the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine is that I never got…)

As dearly as I’d hoped to usher in my own motherly Christmases all cool, calm and curling-ribboned, history has a way of repeating itself — like the day 30 years later when my kindergartener and I thoughtfully brought cookies to the school bus driver.

I was commiserating at the bus stop with another mom friend, recounting all that was frazzling us this Christmas. She had a ticking time bomb of a sickly husband, ready to stick the stomach bug in everyone’s stockings. I had all these wildly insurmountable work deadlines, stacked on top of my towering pile of unwritten Christmas cards. Neither of us had wrapped the first gift — cheapie bows or none. Together we threw aside O Holy Night and sang a rousing chorus of O Holy Crap.

On that day’s to-do list, the single solitary item I’d checked off was one little bag of Christmas cookies for the bus driver. (Never mind that I bought them from the school bake sale.)

My daughter, Lucy, wanted to present the cookies herself, which I told myself would be a lovely way for her to act out the spirit of giving…or some baloney like that. Why were my Spidey senses not tingling like mad as I placed this precious cargo into her wee hands?

Oh, you know what happened next.

Lucy heard the bus coming. She ran. She tripped. She fumbled the bag, which fell to Earth in a crumbly crash.

Then my darling daughter — like Godzilla trudging through Tokyo — staggered, stumbled and stomped all over my pretty bag of cookies.

There lay my one yuletide accomplishment in pieces on the ground, the bag busted wide, its sugary entrails sprinkled with grass and sand.

I suddenly morphed into Marlon Brando, hands on my head, crying heavenward in holiday agony, “LLLUUUUUCCCYYYYY!”

Then like some inept schlubby Magi, I toted my humble gift back home in defeat and added these words to my to-do list: “Get bus driver a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.”

The death of those cookies felt like the last straw — as if gnarly green fingers had come along and snatched my last can of Who Hash. But once I stopped my glowering, all I could do was double over and laugh.

My Grinchy heart grew three sizes that day. Because ready or not, perfect or not, Christmas was coming…and not from a store. (Or someone else’s oven).

Christmas, I mused, must mean a little bit more.

Therefore, in the true spirit of the season, I did what had to be done. I smiled. I reflected on my many blessings. Then I flicked the grass off those cookie shards and ate them for breakfast.

I’m sure it’s what the bus driver would have wanted.

— DeeDee Filiatreault

DeeDee Filiatreault is all about finding the funny in family. She has spent the last decade writing witty, warm-hearted essays about the foibles of family life, beginning with a humor column for her local weekly newspaper in Shoreline, Connecticut in 2007 and now for her blog, She is thrilled with the publication of her first book of essays, Tales from the Crib: Adventures of an Over-Sharing, Stressed-Out, Modern-Day Mom, which she hopes will bring a sense of solidarity and healthful snorts of laughter to other woefully inadequate parents who read it. She has spent her entire adult life as a writer for all kinds of people and places, including a New England art museum, a Southern mega-church and former South Carolina Governor David Beasley as his chief speechwriter. A transplant from the Carolinas, she now lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, a cat, a fish, a rabbit and an odd little mutt who never stops staring at her.

Making your reviews into workhorses

Carolyn Howard-Johnson(Excerpted and adapted from Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s new How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.)

Authors rarely get the most from their reviews. Surprised? I think it’s because the idea of extending a review’s value doesn’t occur to them. Reviewers have the same problem because these days so many reviews are written by superfan readers. They aren’t professionals, so they have no idea how to distribute content beyond posting their review on Amazon.

Reviewers can get more mileage from reviews by getting them reprinted in more venues than just online bookstores. Authors can do it for them, too. And, no, it isn’t stealing or plagiarism if you get permission from the reviewer first. In fact, it can benefit the reviewer.

When you distribute reviews beyond their original placement, it’s like getting a little marketing bonus for your book. Here’s how authors can do that.

• If your reviewer doesn’t normally write reviews (these reviewers are often called reader reviewers), suggest she send her review or the link to her review to her friends as a recommendation.

• If your reader reviewer lives in a town with a small daily or weekly newspaper, suggest she send her review to one of the reporters or editors. She may realize the thrill of being published the first time.

• Ask professional reviewers — the ones who review for journals — to post her review on, and other online booksellers that have reader-review features. I have never had a reviewer decline my suggestion. It is ethical for a reviewer to do it or to give you permission to reuse the review as long as she holds the copyright for the review. (Most reviewers do not sign copyright-limiting agreements with the medium who hires them.) Get more information on Amazon’s often misrepresented review policies in chapter 11 of How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically under “Managing Your Amazon Reviews.”

• After you have permission from the reviewer to reprint the review — whether she is a pro or amateur — post it on your blog, on your Web site and in your newsletter.

• Once you have permission to use reviews, send copies of the best ones to bookstore buyers and event directors as part of your campaign to do book signings, to speak or do workshops in their stores. Click here for a starter list of bookstores.

• Use quotations from the reviews to give credibility to selected media releases and queries.

• Send quotations (blurbs) from the reviews you get to librarians, especially the ones in your hometown or cities you plan to visit during book tours. Include order information. Click here for a list of libraries.

• Use snippets from positive reviews as blurbs in everything from your stationery to your blog.

• If your reviewer doesn’t respond to your request to post the review on Amazon, excerpt blurbs from them and post them on your Amazon buy page using Amazon’s Author Connect or Author Central features. They will appear on your Amazon sales page. Yes, that’s ethical, too!

• Include the crème de la crème of your reviews on the Praise Page of your media kit and inside the front cover of the next edition (perhaps a mass market edition like the pocket paperbacks sold in grocery stores). See my multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter for the complete — and I do mean complete — lowdown on media kits.

Hint: Occasionally authors get reviews on Amazon that, shall we say…don’t thrill them. Reviews like that can be minimized by asking others for reviews. As new reviews are added, the old ones tend to get buried in the lineup of reviews. We can also (pleasantly!) refute a position a reviewer takes using the comment feature — or thank them for bringing something to our attention. We can also dispute their validity with Amazon, though that rarely works.

You can use some of these suggestions as part of your keeping-in-communication-with-reviewers effort after their reviews have been published. As long as it’s nearly impossible to do without Amazon and still have a successful book campaign, we might as well get Amazon to return the loyalty we show it in as many ways as possible.

— Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer and retailer to the advice she gives in her award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program. She loves to travel, has visited 89 countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

Grandfather Playground Society

Jerry ZezimaTo steal a line from Groucho Marx, who is dead and can’t sue me, I would never belong to any club that would have me as a member.

But I made an exception on a recent weekday afternoon when I was indicted (sorry, I mean inducted) into a prestigious, exclusive and, I can proudly say, entirely dubious organization called the Grandfather Playground Society.

The founding members were yours truly and two guys named Jeff and Steve. I was there with Chloe, who is 3; Jeff had Madison, 2; and Steve had Aliya, also 2.

The first thing Jeff said to me was: “I am going to have a heart attack.”

That’s because he had already been chasing Madison around for an hour.

“I think I’ll join you,” I responded, because I had just raced with Chloe from slides to swings and back again and was feeling a bit short of breath.

Unfortunately, Chloe doesn’t yet know CPR, which stands for Collapsed Poppie Resuscitation.

Steve, meanwhile, was following Aliya on a tricycle (she was riding it and he was walking in circles behind her because there wasn’t enough room on the seat for both of them) and was grateful he was getting a breather.

“This beats running,” he noted.

“When you have grandchildren,” I said, “you don’t have to join a health club.”

“It saves a lot of money,” Jeff said.

“And you can use the savings to buy beer,” I pointed out.

“I could go for one right now,” Steve chimed in.

Then all three of us went back to the slides with our granddaughters, who wanted us to accompany them. This required us to put the kids on our laps and swoosh down at breakneck speed, absorbing jolts to our tailbones before coming to a screeching halt on the hard plastic surface about two feet from the end, the result being that we were almost catapulted skyward with toddlers who thought it was fun but didn’t realize that their grandfathers nearly suffered grievous injuries that could have transformed us into falsettos.

“Let’s go again, Poppie!” Chloe exclaimed. Her new friends agreed.

“What do you do for joint trouble?” Jeff asked after the third trip.

“Move to a new joint,” I answered.

Instead, we moved back to the swings, where Madison, Aliya and Chloe were secured in their seats while Jeff, Steve and I pushed them and officially convened the meeting.

“Being a grandfather is the best thing in the world,” I said.

“Yes,” agreed Steve. “And after you’re done playing with your grandkids, you can give them back.”

“Speaking of backs,” Jeff said with a wince, “mine is sore as hell.”

“But it’s worth all the aches and pains,” I said. “In fact, it makes you young again.”

And I proved it, after the girls were done on the swings, by chasing Chloe up and down a nearby hill, then going to another set of slides, where I didn’t have to accompany her but did have to catch her at the bottom and run back around to watch her as she climbed the steps.

Meanwhile, Jeff and Steve were running after their granddaughters, who don’t move as fast as Chloe because they are a year younger but who nonetheless can take the wind out of any geezers who happen to be their grandfathers.

A little later, we met up again at the park entrance.

“It’s time for a nap,” Steve said as he looked down at his tired granddaughter.

“You look like you could use one, too,” Jeff said.

“We all could,” I added with a yawn.

On that note, the first meeting of the Grandfather Playground Society ended. The three of us, granddaughters in tow, limped back to our cars and wished each other happy healing.

“The next time we get together,” I suggested, “let’s go to a spa. If it’s good enough for their grandmothers, it’s good enough for us.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written three books, Grandfather Knows BestLeave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is the past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Karma is a you know what

Laura FahrentholdEveryone already knows the answer when asking the question, “Do I reeaaally have to?” Otherwise, no one would ask. Everyone would just do whatever it is and be done with it. The question is really just a delay tactic.

My teenage daughters do it all the time when it comes to housework.

“But Mooooom. Do I reeaaally have to (insert chore: clean the bathroom, bathe the dog, do the dishes)?”

I want every parent out there join hands and chant after me: “YES, YOU REALLY HAVE TO CLEAN THE BATHROOM, BATHE THE DOG and/or DO THE DISHES.”

“But I hate scrubbing the toilet!” they will inevitably cry. “It’s gross! People pee in there!”

Here’s what you do. Don’t engage. Just say, “OK. That’s fine. You’ll just have to find your own bathroom.”

When I said this to my daughter, she looked overjoyed as if a fairy contractor came in, waved his magic plunger and built her a private on-suite room de toilet over the weekend.

A nanosecond later, it registered.

“You mean I would have to go outside?” she asked weakly, eyes darting between the white scrub brush and the sliding glass back door that leads to the grassy paradise.

“Yup. If you don’t want to clean the bathroom, you don’t have to, but you can’t use it anymore. You can pee in the yard. How high can you lift your leg anyway?”

I then called the dog over to lead us on a tour of his favorite spots.

“Oh and see that hose over there?” I said pointing to that hose in our yard. “Just Google how to turn it into a outdoor shower. It’s called DIY or do it yourself. I’m not sure what you’ll do in the wintertime but for now, it’s a perfect solution to your problem.”

Surprise! Surprise! That night after work, I was greeted with something better than a bouquet of flowers: the smell of Windex, Comet and Clorox bleach permeating the air.


unnamedI quickly made the lovely girl a flower out of a Kleenex tissue, thanked her for her service and began to slowly engage in neutral conversation… That’s when we heard a bloody scream coming from the backyard. It sounded like two wild animals fighting.

Turns out, I was unfortunately right. And there on the back deck was an opossum’s almost dead, screaming body in a flowerpot to prove it.

Neither my sister, Wendy, nor my friend visiting from England were of any help, beyond shining a flashlight from inside the cover of the house. Oh, and they handed me a makeshift undertaker’s tool kit: barbecue tongsand a plastic bag.

“Do I reeaaally have to?” I begged.

That’s when my daughter’s head popped out of the bedroom window in a moment of sheer glee.

“Yes, Mooooom. You reeaaally have to.”

Karma is a you know what.

—Laura Fahrenthold

Laura Fahrenthold is a former New York Daily News crime reporter about to publish her first book about spreading her husband’s ashes on cross-country RV trips with her eyeball-rolling teenage daughters and the pink steering wheel acting as her spiritual guide. Visit for more of her work!

Dogs just wanna have fun – at the beach

Jass RichardsOur next trip was to the beach. It was a longer drive, so it would be a whole day thing. No problem, said Hunk’s guy. Okay, said Big Miss, a little cautiously. Sure, said Spunky Doo’s people—please. And Chum? He had gone home on his own after the field trip, but I’d remembered his number.

“Oh, he’d love to go to the beach with you! I’ll get his beach ball out.” His beach ball? Turns out it was a severely waterlogged rubber ball, essentially a sponge ball. Chum was waiting at the door, his beach ball in his mouth, clearly understanding he was GOING TO THE WATER!! Of course. He was part lab.

Little Miss was also waiting at the door, in a bikini. Oh my god. It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny bikini. A yellow, polka dot bikini.

Hunk pretended not to notice. As did Chum. Spunky Doo wouldn’t have noticed in any case. And Kessie didn’t really care what other people wore. She had a bright green tennis ball in her mouth. And Snookums—Snookums was having her second car ride, so she threw up. I pulled over and with Little Miss’ permission, and I suspect, her approval, took off her bikini and used it to clean up Snookum’s throw-up.

Half an hour later, we arrived. I parked the car and let the dogs out. Yippee!! Woohoo! Kessie knew what she wanted. She’d been here before. She put her ball in my hand, got ready, and then tore off down the runway of hard packed sand by the water’s edge, racing after her ball. Sheer bliss.

Chum put his beach ball down at my feet, then looked expectantly out to the water. Of course! I threw it out as far as I could. He heard the plop, noted its position, and then threw himself into the waves after it.

This was Snookums’ first time at the beach. What would she do? Turned out she was fascinated by the water’s edge. She toddled along the edge, beside me, as I walked along on the firm part. Splish, splash, plunk, plunk. She was very focused. On what, I wasn’t sure. Shiny grains of sand? Rotten bits of fish?

Spunky Doo was running ahead and back, barking at the waves. Little Miss was walking on the other side of me, careful not to get her tootsies wet, lifting them higher than was really necessary. And Hunk. Hunk was a surprise. I don’t think Dobermans are known for their swimming abilities. And suddenly he was out there, howling, and yipping, and squealing, and splashing at the surface with his huge paws, having the time of his life, and gulping water, and—oh my god, was he drowning? I looked at Chum, who, as part lab, was our designated Lifeguard. Until this moment, he had been repeatedly plowing through the waves with masterful and determined strokes after his soggy and increasingly forlorn beach ball. But upon hearing Hunk, he stopped, looked, and listened. And then resumed plowing through the waves with masterful and determined strokes. After his soggy and increasingly forlorn beach ball. Okay then. Little Miss had also looked to Chum. She understood he was not concerned, but she wasn’t entirely convinced. She kept her eye on Hunk as she walked beside me.

Apparently Spunky Doo didn’t get the memo. He dove into the water after Hunk. Whether he intended to rescue him or just join in on the goofiness, we’ll never know. We do know that once Spunky Doo reached Hunk, the rescue situation had to be reassessed. Again Chum stopped, looked, and listened. I looked attentively at Chum. As did Little Miss. Even Snookums paused. (Kessie used the moment to put her ball securely into my hand.) But by then Hunk had extricated himself from Spunky Doo and had struggled ashore, muttering. (‘Dumb a** dog…’, no doubt.)

—Jass Richards

Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head.” “At the Beach” is excerpted from its sequel Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun.   All of her books, including her most recent, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of Godcan be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places.


Give the gift of laughter and inspiration

2016-gt-logo-wdate1Everyone has heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. How about Giving Tuesday?

The University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is kicking off the season of giving by participating in #GivingTuesday on Nov. 29, asking those who support the workshop to make a gift and urging supporters to post an “unselfie” on social media to encourage others to give.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to make a difference in the lives of others and the causes they support.

The workshop has set an ambitious goal of raising $20,000 in contributions by the end of the year to take full advantage of a generous $20,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. The #GivingTuesday social media campaign is part of that push. Between now and Dec. 31, all donations to the workshop will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $20,000.bombeck-writers-workshop

To make an online gift, click here. Checks can be mailed to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-7054. If you or your spouse works for a matching gift company, the impact of your gift may be doubled or tripled. Please check here or your human resources office for details.

Why give?

“For many, it’s a way of giving back to a workshop that helped launch their writing lives. We’re trying to keep the workshop affordable for writers and continue Erma’s legacy,” said Teri Rizvi, who founded the biennial workshop in 2000. “We are asking writers and supporters to help us honor Erma in a way that will allow us to reach as widely and as powerfully as her writing and humor have.”

When Rizvi recently asked for personal stories, writers from around the country said they gained the confidence, writing know-how and connections to publish books, write essays for The New York Times and other national outlets, perform stand-up comedy, secure speaking engagements and submit work for anthologies. Read their stories here. Writers described the popular, nationally renowned workshop as “life changing,” “empowering,” even “magical.”

heartEntering its fifth year, #GivingTuesday is powered by social media and collaboration. Last year, more than 700,000 online donors in 71 countries gave nearly $117 million to nonprofit organizations.

In 2004, University of Dayton alumnus Ralph Hamberg and his wife Cindy gave a $100,000 gift to start a workshop endowment fund in memory of her cousin, Brother Tom Price, S.M., the English professor who launched Erma’s career with three simple words of encouragement: “You can write!” The Hamberg family, the Bombeck family, workshop faculty members, volunteers, writers and other supporters continue to contribute to the endowment fund. In 2015, actress and playwright Mary Lou Quinlan brought her one-woman show, “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” to campus for two benefit performances for the endowment.

The University of Dayton’s Alumni Association underwrites the cost of scholarships that allow between 25 and 30 University of Dayton students to attend the workshop for free. The University of Dayton’s Human Resources Office provides 10 scholarships for faculty and staff.

For more ways to support the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, click here.

Inspired to write

Erma typewriter

As a University of Dayton student, humorist Erma Bombeck heard “three magic words” from an English professor: “You can write!”

In preparation and celebration of the 10th anniversary workshop in 2018, a generous donor has stepped forward with a $20,000 challenge gift to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop to make sure other aspiring writers receive the same encouragement. Between now and Dec. 31, all donations to the workshop will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $20,000.

The funds will be used to help keep the nationally renowned workshop affordable for writers.

“We are so grateful for this generous support. If we had to charge all our expenses to workshop attendees, our registration fee would more than double,” said Teri Rizvi, who founded the workshop in 2000 as a way to honor Bombeck’s legacy and inspire writers. “The workshop gives writers — both aspiring and seasoned — the courage to pursue their dreams.”

Online donations can be made here. Checks can be mailed to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-7054. If you or your spouse works for a matching gift company, the impact of your gift may be doubled or tripled. Please check here or your human resources office for details.

The workshop also will be part of #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to philanthropy on Nov. 29. Following “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” “Giving Tuesday” kicks off the traditional season of giving. Read about our social media campaign here.

Joe Valenzano, chair of the University of Dayton’s communication department, said the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is worthy of support for the way it provides valuable hands-on learning for students and writers from all parts of the country.Pitchapalooza

“The workshop has demonstrated its value time and again, helping inspire and educate aspiring and professional writers. In my mind, and for those who attend, it is the ‘Hope Diamond’ of writing workshops and a University of Dayton treasure.  As such, we need to nurture it to ensure that students and writers across the country continue to benefit from it,” said Valenzano, who serves on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop campaign committee.

Since the inaugural workshop in 2000, literally thousands of writers, inspired by Bombeck’s humor and humanity, have gathered at her alma mater to laugh and learn from an impressive lineup of keynote speakers and presenters, including Dave Barry, Garrison Keillor, Phil Donahue, Nancy Cartwright, Roy Blount Jr., Don Novello, Gail Collins, Lisa Scottoline, Alan Zweibel and Leonard Pitts. The wildly popular workshop always sells out.

Approximately 400 writers from 35 states and two countries participated in the 2016 workshop, which sold out in record time — less than six hours.

“It’s fitting that we honor and nurture Erma’s legacy at the University of Dayton, where she found support and inspiration for her life’s work,” said Vicki Giambrone ’81, trustee emeritus and former president of the Alumni Association who helped launch the workshop.

“The University of Dayton has always provided a safe place to explore for all who want to learn and grow. The workshop’s educational mission showcases how the University of Dayton nurtures talent and aspirations. When those talents blossom, writers have the power to change the world,” said Giambrone, who serves on the campaign committee.

The University of Dayton’s Alumni Association underwrites the cost of scholarships that allow between 25 and 30 University of Dayton students to attend the workshop for free. The University of Dayton’s Human Resources Office provides 10 scholarships for faculty and staff.

In 2004, University of Dayton alumnus Ralph Hamberg and his wife Cindy gave a $100,000 gift to start a workshop endowment fund in memory of her cousin, Brother Tom Price, S.M., the English professor who launched Erma’s career with three simple words of encouragement. The Hamberg family, the Bombeck family, workshop faculty members, volunteers, writers and other supporters continue to contribute to the endowment fund. In 2015, actress and playwright Mary Lou Quinlan brought her one-woman show, “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story,” to campus for two benefit performances for the endowment.

For more ways to support the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, click here.

New face behind the workshop

img_1413Madeleine Eiting, a senior University of Dayton marketing major from Minster, Ohio, has joined the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop as an intern.

“Given my love for both comedy and writing, I knew this position would be a perfect fit,” said Eiting, who will edit and post essays on the workshop’s blog, explore ways to improve the workshop’s social media presence and help implement a matching gift campaign.

“Two summers ago, while backpacking through the Philippines, I was fortunate enough to share my travel experiences on my personal travel blog. Writing about my adventures not only encouraged me to develop my own comedic voice, but also allowed me to find humor in the smallest of events,” she said. “As I have continued to study comedy and comedic writing, I’ve learned that the greatest comedians are so popular because they are able to transform the smallest, most insignificant events into hilarious and relatable stories.

“As an intern for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop I will capitalize on this understanding to connect with both the newsletter subscribers and website visitors,” said Eiting, who is minoring in English.

At the University of Dayton, she serves as president of Big Brothers Big Sisters. In 2015, she won $2,500 for “Best Social Enterprise” in the University’s Business Plan competition. She designed a company that helps meet the needs of American youth while providing educational funding for children in developing countries.

This is her fourth internship. Last summer, she worked as a market research analyst for C+R Research in Chicago. In 2015, she served as a social media marketing intern for Bleu Market Group in Mason, Ohio. In 2014, she interned for Martha’s Table in Washington, D.C., where she distributed fresh produce and non-perishables to underprivileged children and families.

— Teri Rizvi

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

Reflections of Erma