Thursday March 16, 2006

Keeping Erma's Legacy Alive

Erma Bombeck, America's best-loved humorist, died nearly a decade ago, but her alma mater and family continue to keep her legacy alive through the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

Media Advisory
Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop
March 23-25

Erma Bombeck, America's best-loved humorist, died nearly a decade ago, but her alma mater and family continue to keep her legacy alive through the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

This year's workshop, slated for March 23-25, sold out in 12 days, with more than 350 writers from 44 states and Canadian provinces set to descend upon Dayton next week. Another 200 writers fill a waiting list. Why the enormous appeal? It has helped to attract such marquee names over the years as Phil Donahue, Art Buchwald, Nancy Cartwright, Don Novello and this year's headliner, Dave Barry, but the personal involvement of Erma Bombeck's family makes the event memorable and sets it apart from the myriad other writers' workshops offered across the country. Bill Bombeck and his children, Betsy, Andy and Matt, will return to their hometown to mingle with writers and share their memories of Erma Bombeck as a wife, mother and writer.

Workshop sessions will take place on campus March 24-25, with dinners held at the Dayton Marriott Hotel, 1414 S. Patterson Blvd. For a complete schedule, click here. Some highlights:

5:30 p.m., Thursday, March 23: The world record for the longest Mad Lib will be announced during the opening dinner at the Dayton Marriott Hotel. A Mad Lib is a story with blank spaces where words have been left out. Nearly 200 of the workshop's registered writers filled in the blanks of the literary classic Moby Dick to create a nonsensical tale.

8:15 p.m., Thursday, March 23: Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry will offer the keynote speech, "Humor Writing: A Bad Idea or What?" at the Dayton Marriott Hotel. A book signing will follow.

6:45 p.m., Friday, March 24: World premiere of "Erma Bombeck: A Legacy of Laughter," the first documentary ever produced about the popular writer, will take place at the Dayton Marriott Hotel. Following the premiere, David Fogarty, president and general manager of ThinkTV, and Richard Wonderling, writer, producer and director, will talk about the making of the documentary. Others interviewed, including the Bombeck family, will talk about Erma Bombeck's legacy. Produced by ThinkTV, the documentary will be distributed to more than 270 public television stations - more than 90 percent of the nation's television markets - with many planning to air the piece in May around Mother's Day.

6:45 p.m., Saturday, March 25: The winners of the Annual Erma Bombeck Writing Competition will be recognized during the workshop's closing dinner at the Dayton Marriott Hotel. More than 1,300 writers from 21 countries and 48 states entered the competition, sponsored by the Washington-Centerville Public Library and UD. The essay winners in both the humor and human interest categories are expected to attend.

Workshop speakers include USA Today's Craig Wilson; W. Bruce Cameron, author of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter; Susan Reinhardt, author of Not Tonight Honey Wait Til I'm a Size 6; sitcom writer Fred Rubin; and Kristen Godsey, editor of Writer's Digest magazine. From the Dayton Daily News, columnist Mary McCarty and Ron Rollins, assistant managing editor for features and entertainment, will present sessions.

Attendees will include Suzette Standring, president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, along with about 30 NSNC members. Bob Haught, director of the Will Rogers Writers' Workshop slated next March in Oklahoma City, and Dave Fox, a Seattle writer who won the 2004 AuthorHouse book proposal contest held as part of the 2004 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, also will return.

In addition, American Greetings, the world's largest publisher of greeting cards, will be seeking freelance writers to help the company pen humorous lines for cards and electronic greetings.

The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop is sponsored by AuthorHouse, American Greetings, Andrews McMeel Foundation, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Dayton Daily News, Dayton Marriott, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Endowment and the University of Dayton National Alumni Association.

Contact Tim Bete, director of the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, at (937) 229-4960.