You Had Me at Room Service!

Posted Aug 25, 2021

“A green jacket might be appealing if you’re a golfer but, if you’re a writer who barely goes outside, what could be better than being awarded a hotel room of your own?”

That’s how Lois Alter Mark of Forbes describes what “may be the best writer’s residency in the country,” A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program.

The University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is once again offering two emerging humor writers the opportunity to compete for an all-expenses-paid trip to Dayton, Ohio — the birthplace of Erma Bombeck. Here, the winners will be “robed” in plush, custom-embroidered bathrobes and given free registration to the spring workshop, slated for March 24-26, 2022.

But there’s more.

As part of this fun, unconventional program, the winners will spend two blissful weeks at the University of Dayton Marriott, the workshop’s official hotel and an in-kind sponsor, to work on their humor projects.

Yes, a hotel with a “Do Not Disturb” sign that can be draped over the door knob. Free room service. An omelet bar. A housekeeping staff. A TV remote of one’s own. The sun rising over the Great Miami River (aka, the Dayton Riviera).  It’s the ultimate gift for any writer — the luxury of time to write.

Applications will be accepted Sept. 7-28, with Nancy Cartwright, best known as the voice of Bart Simpson, and Mike Reiss, writer on The Simpsons for three decades, serving as finalist judges. Apply here.

The package for the grand prize winners is worth approximately $5,000, but the experience is priceless. Three finalists and five honorable mentions will win cash prizes ($250 and $100).

“The chance to step away from your everyday responsibilities to concentrate on your humor writing AND unlimited tiny soaps? The comedy practically writes itself,” says Anna Lefler, a Los Angeles novelist and comedy writer who conceived and funded the program. “I would be thrilled for this program to provide the catalyst for emerging comedy writers to break through with their art.”

Online applications are due by midnight (EST) Sept. 28, with the winners announced in mid-November. The program is open to all aspiring humor writers regardless of gender or comedic point of view. Writers working on novels, narrative non-fiction, plays, essays, sitcom scripts and other humor writing are encouraged to apply, with special consideration given to emerging writers. The application fee is $25. Entries will be blind-judged by preliminary and finalist judges, all established writers.

The application does not require a new piece of writing. Writers are asked to describe their project and themselves and upload a writing sample of no more than 1,250 words, “of which at least 47 percent are really funny.” For more information about the program, visit the website and read the FAQs.

Founded in 2000, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop has been dubbed the “Woodstock of Humor.” It’s the only workshop in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing and is so popular that it typically sells out within hours. Besides the writer’s residency, the workshop also co-sponsors an international writing competition. Its newest humor anthology, Sisters! Bonded by Love and Laughter, will be published this fall.