The Dayton Riviera Awaits

Posted Oct 11, 2017

“You had me at room service,” one applicant wrote.

The inaugural “A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program” attracted 401 applications from 44 states, the District of Columbia and five other countries — Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

What writer wouldn’t want to attend the University of Dayton’s wildly popular Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and spend an additional two all-expenses-paid weeks at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio? Free room service. A housekeeping staff. An omelette bar.

And, most importantly, the gift of time to write.

“We were blown away by the response on all levels, including the number of applicants, the enthusiastic response to the program by the public and the quality of the submissions,” said Anna Lefler, a Los Angeles-based comic novelist and writer who underwrote and helped create and launch the program. “We had no expectations, and yet they were surpassed.”

Comedy legends Alan Zweibel and Laraine Newman, original writer and cast member of Saturday Night Live, will team up again, this time to serve as finalist judges for the competition. Preliminary judges include more than 50 established writers. All entries will be blind-judged, with the two winners named Dec. 4.

The program attracted entries from writers working on comedic novels, narrative non-fiction, plays, essays, sitcom scripts and other humor-writing projects.

“I would be thrilled for this program to provide the catalyst for emerging comedy writers to break through with their art,” Lefler said.

Beyond the two-week residency, winners will receive a free registration, travel and hotel expenses for the April 5-7, 2018, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, where they will be honored.

Besides the residency, the workshop also co-sponsors an international writing competition organized by the Washington-Centerville Public Library. The writing contest opens Dec. 4, with entries accepted until Jan. 4, 2018. Four winners receive $500 and free registration to the spring workshop.

Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and award-winning novelist and short story writer Bonnie Jo Campbell will serve as the finalist judges for the humor and human interest categories, respectively.

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is the only workshop in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing and is so popular that it sells out within hours. Registration is expected to open the first week in December.