Thursday November 16, 2017

Write On

The University of Dayton's wildly popular Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop will feature celebrated writers ? and a few celebrities. Registration opens Dec. 5.

Craig Ferguson, comedian, actor, writer and, for 10 entertaining years, the madcap host of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, will kick off the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop next spring.

An author of two books, he won two Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host for "Celebrity Name Game," and can be heard nightly on The Craig Ferguson Show on SiriusXM.

The biennial workshop, which hits a milestone with its 10th offering, is slated for April 5-7, 2018, with online registration opening at noon (EST) Tuesday, Dec. 5. A link will be posted at at that time. The registration fee is $450 with a number of free scholarships available for University of Dayton students, beginning in January. Besides Ferguson, the workshop’s all-star keynoter line-up includes:

Liza Donnelly, award-winning cartoonist with The New Yorker Magazine, resident cartoonist for CBS News and author/editor of 18 books.

John Grogan, author of the international #1 bestseller Morley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, a memoir and numerous children's books.

Karen Walrond, bestselling author, photographer, coach and speaker who inspires others to find and celebrate their own uniqueness, through the power of storytelling.

Monica Piper, Emmy Award-winning comedy writer and stand-up comic who has written for sitcoms Roseanne, Mad About You and Veronica’s Closet, and was the head writer of the #1 children’s animated series Rugrats.

Patricia Wynn Brown, dubbed “the Mistress of Mayhem,” returns as the workshop’s emcee. Anna Lefler, author, comedian and “lifelong fangirl and devotee of Erma Bombeck,” will recognize the two winners of the inaugural A Hotel Room of One's Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program. Winners of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, which opens Dec. 4, also will be honored.

Wendy Liebman, a semifinalist on season nine of America’s Got Talent and a frequent guest on late-night TV shows, returns to teach a stand-up comedy boot camp and emcee the Attendee Stand-up Comedy Night that closes the workshop.

The workshop will once again feature “Pitchapalooza” — described as the “American Idol for books, only kinder and gentler.” Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry’s wildly popular, entertaining event has drawn thousands of people into bookstores, writing conferences and book festivals all over the country — and captured attention from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and NPR. Writers get one minute to pitch a book idea before a panel. The judges pick a winner, who will receive an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for the book idea.

The workshop also will include a special panel, “Ask the Agents,” and sessions on “Speed Dating for Writers,” where writers meet briefly with a variety of pros to learn writing and publishing tips. In addition, two publishing professionals will offer one-on-one consultations with writers considering options for publishing their books.

Among the nearly 30 experienced writers and publishing professionals, the workshop’s faculty includes three former keynoters — stand-up comedian and author Leighann Lord; actress and author Kathy Kinney, best known for her iconic role as “Mimi” in The Drew Carey Show; and Cindy Ratzlaff, author and a 29-year veteran of the book publishing industry. The rest of the slate includes:

Read the keynoter and faculty bios and the session descriptions.

Since its launch in 2000, the workshop has attracted such household names as Phil Donahue, Dave Barry, Art Buchwald, Nancy Cartwright, Don Novello, Gail Collins, Garrison Keillor, Roy Blount Jr., Lisa Scottoline and Alan Zweibel, but the personal involvement of Erma Bombeck’s family makes the event at her alma mater memorable and sets it apart from the myriad other writers’ workshops offered across the country. If past workshops are any indication, the popular event will fill up quickly. The 2016 workshop, which drew 350 writers from around the nation, sold out in less than six hours.

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is co-sponsored by the University of Dayton’s Alumni Association, College of Arts and Sciences and Bookstore; National Society of Newspaper Columnists; Writer’s Digest; Books & Co.; Marriott at the University of Dayton; Washington-Centerville Public Library; McMeel Family Foundation; Markey’s Rental and Staging; A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program; and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Endowment.

- For more information, contact Teri Rizvi at 937-229-3255 or

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