Monday September 10, 2007

Keeping Erma's Legacy Alive

More than 300 writers will gather for the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop including: Garrison Keillor, Martha Bolton, Mike Peters, Connie Schultz, Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan.

Erma Bombeck, America's best-loved humorist, died more than 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.

The 2008 workshop, slated for April 3-5, will bring more than 300 writers to Dayton. Keynote speakers include Garrison Keillor, Martha Bolton, Mike Peters, Connie Schultz, Aaron Yonda and Matt Sloan. Online registration begins Sept. 10 at noon at www.HumorWriters.org. The registration fee is $350, which includes all events and meals.

"The 2006 workshop sold out in 12 days, so I'd recommend registering as early as possible," said Tim Bete, the workshop's director. "We had 200 disappointed people on the waiting list in 2006."

Why the enormous appeal? The workshop has attracted such marquee names over the years as Dave Barry, Phil Donahue, Art Buchwald, Nancy Cartwright, Don Novello and this year's headliner, Garrison Keillor, 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, have attended past workshops and plan to make the 2008 workshop, too.

Here's the line-up of keynote speakers:

Garrison Keillor is the author of more than a dozen books, including Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Love Me and Homegrown Democrat. He also is the creator, host and writer of the shows "A Prairie Home Companion" and "The Writer's Almanac," both heard on public radio stations across the country. His new book, Pontoon (Penguin Books), will be released this week.

Martha Bolton is an Emmy-nominated writer and author of more than 50 books of humor, including Maybe Life's Just Not That Into You, Cooking With Hot Flashes, I Think, Therefore I Have a Headache! and Didn't My Skin Used to Fit. She was a staff writer for Bob Hope for more than 15 years and also wrote for Phyllis Diller, John Davidson, Ann Jillian, Jim Stafford and Mark Lowry.

Mike Peters, Dayton Daily News' editorial cartoonist, is recognized as one of the nation's most prominent cartoon artists for his outstanding work as both a political and comic strip cartoonist. In 1981 Peters was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning and in 1984 the award-winning "Mother Goose & Grimm" comic strip was born. His work is syndicated in newspapers worldwide and frequently appears in national publications and on national television.

Connie Schultz won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2005 as a columnist for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Pulitzer judges praised her for writing "pungent columns that provided a voice for the underdog and underprivileged." She also is the author of two books, Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths and ... and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, a journal of her experiences on the campaign trail.

Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda have been collaborating as Blame Society Productions since 2002.? They have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and TV Week magazine, as well as on "Good Morning America" and VH1's "40 Greatest Internet Superstars" special. The duo are best known for their video series Chad Vader, a viral Internet sensation that has received more than 13 million downloads and won more than a dozen film festival awards, including the "George Lucas Selects" award from the 2007 Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge.

Other workshop speakers include:

* Craig Wilson, USA Today columnist

* Ray Lesser, publisher and editor, Funny Times magazine

* Shannon Olson, author, Welcome to My Planet: Where English Is Sometimes Spoken and Children of God Go Bowling

* Mark Shatz, co-author, Comedy Writing Secrets

* Mark Levine, author, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing

* Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant, author of 13 humor books

* John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books

* Sophfronia Scott, novelist and former writer and editor at Time, People and Teen People magazines

* Tom Ellsworth, humor writing manager, American Greetings

* Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't

* Mary McCarty, columnist, Dayton Daily News

* Laura Pulfer, former columnist, Cincinnati Enquirer

* Dave Jackson, owner, School of Podcasting

* Steve O'Keefe, executive director, Patron Saint Productions

* Joni B. Cole, author, Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive

* Gordon Kirkland, author, syndicated columnist and entertainer

* Linda Formichelli, co-author of the Renegade Writer series

* Eric Martin, co-author, Tools of Timekeeping: A Kids' Guide to the History and Science of Telling Time and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Coffee Bar

* Sheila Bender, publisher, Writing It Real

* Matt Schneider, freelance development director, American Greetings

* Tony Lupia, author, former literary agent and publishing consultant

The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop is sponsored by American Greetings, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Dayton Daily News, Dayton Marriott, and the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Endowment. Workshop sessions will take place on campus April 3-5, with dinners held at the Dayton Marriott Hotel, 1414 S. Patterson Blvd.

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