Blogging, Friends, Humor, Travel

Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop 2014

I am friends with all the people I met at this conference, to this day. I loved this experience so much. 

As a writer, this is one conference I would recommend you attend either virtually or in-person (if that is ever a thing again).

First published April 25, 2014

When my friend Shannon called me last fall inquiring if I wished to go to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in the spring, it intrigued me.

I remember Erma Bombeck from my childhood. My mom and grandma would watch her on Good Morning America. They bought her books and chuckled at her newspaper columns. I didn’t read her or watch her or laugh at her because I was, like, seven. I was laughing at Scooby-Doo. But she made two women whom I cherished laugh, so I guess you can say I laughed by association.

She was from my home state of Ohio; she was entertaining, and I regarded her writing. I felt like it would be a learning experience, and a getaway with a good friend was something I desperately needed.

Erma Bombeck Workshop


But it was this remark on one of my blog posts in April 2012, that was the real reason I wanted to go:

I absolutely loved your island makeover! I think I loved, even more, your
commentary—you remind me of Erma Bombeck—so funny!! Keep up the
good work and keep me laughing!! You are great medicine for what ails
the spirit.

It is that note that shaped the path of my blog; from DIY to humor in nature.

2020 note- And you don’t think your comments mean anything. 😉 

Erma Bombeck Historical Marker


The more I considered being part of this conference, the more enthusiastic I grew. Because a writer is what I wanted to be. A writer who not only writes a blog but also someday pens an excellent novel.

I love to make people laugh.

In fact, when I make people laugh, I think it gives me some of those hormones that Dr. Oz speaks about that are helpful for your core.



No nuts at Erma Bombeck Workshop
I have a slight peanut allergy. This was on the back of my name tag the whole weekend. Of course, I have no nuts.


So attending this conference with a trusted friend (and 350 new funny friends)? It was like every atom in my body was exploding.

That sounded dirty. And scientific.

Scientifically dirty.

Pretty tables at Erma Bombeck Workshop

Friendly people, funny people, cake with EVERY SINGLE MEAL!

I learned so much!
I took eight pages of notes.
Front AND back.


Phil Donahue at Erma Bombeck Workshop
Phil Freakin Donahue


I learned…

-That Phil Donahue is drinking from the youth fountain.

– Never pay an agent to read your manuscript.

– That life at home can’t exist without me. As evidenced by the massive amounts of texts sent to me from my family.


Tulips from my husband
By the way, NONE of the texts were from my husband, who was amazing in diffusing every situation while I was at the conference. AND he had tulips on the table when I returned home.

I also learned:

– That I might not want to self-publish a book?

– That it is quite difficult to get a book published.

– That women release a hormone (oxytocin) when they get together.


My friends and I at Erma Bombeck Workshop
Listen to Your Mother in one room! Erin, Shannan, Kari, and Shannon. Eating Nutella, pretzels, and drinking wine on night one. 🙂


I heard so many great quotes from throughout the weekend:


“Girlfriends are like an apple a day,” – Suzanne Braun Levine


Shannon and I formed a pact that we would sit with different people at every meal. To be clear, this was all Shannon’s plan. She wished for us to meet ALL THE PEOPLE. I might seem outgoing, but I can be timid when meeting a table full of new people.

Multiply this times 3 per day? It was my worst nightmare.

But she preferred for us to brighten our perspectives; meet diverse writers from distinct backgrounds.


Food at Erma Bombeck Workshop


Let’s blockade the cake! Thus the entire table will share it! Seven ways.”


This was an exact exchange at our lunch table on day two of the conference.

With each meal, we were each provided one slice of cake. But at this table, there was one vacant spot. And one piece of cake at said vacant spot.

All of us (who were strangers before) banded together to secure our hidden gem; the vacant cake.


We barricaded the cake with the pansy floral centerpiece, a pitcher of iced tea, and a table number tag. Instead of plotting out our afternoon of writing sessions with famous writers and publishers, with agents and celebrities, WE BEGAN PLOTTING HOW TO DIVIDE THE EXTRA CAKE.

We would split the cake in seven ways. This way we would have our individual pieces of cake AND the extra sliver of cake split into seven tiny slices.

Nothing like cake to bring people together.


It looked like we all were getting our extra cake!

Until some snooty girl sat down in the empty spot.

I whispered to Shannon something about meeting new people at every table and gave her the side-eye.



No Exit in Indiana
This sign was in a McDonald’s parking lot in Indiana on the way home. I just had to take it. I mean, NO EXIT.  HOW THE HELL DO WE GET OUT OF HERE?


Pooping! I did it!


Last summer, I mentioned that there was this ridiculous “no pooping” rule at the BlogHer convention in Chicago. You can read all about it here if you’d like.
Side note: If you need to save money by sharing a room with four grown women, you have no business being at a conference to begin with.

But this time, I got to poop!
And fart.
And it felt right.
I think Shannon is the first woman I’ve farted in front of besides my mom, grandma, and daughters.
So there’s that honor.


Kari and Tracy

I got to reconnect with a friend from high school who I haven’t seen since graduation day. It was so good to see her and meet part of her adorable family and just be with her.



Kari and Anika
My friend’s adorable daughter. After being away from my daughter’s for two days, I was missing them. I didn’t want to let go of this sweet girl.



Erma Bombeck Gravesite Dayton

On our last morning in Dayton, I wanted to stop at Erma’s grave.


Erma Bombeck Grave Dayton, Ohio

Her grave is across the street from the University of Dayton campus, which is where the conference was being held. I found this information out from a former newspaper journalist I sat next to at breakfast on day two.

I guess it does pay to sit next to new people at every meal.


Erma Bombeck Grave

It felt magical being here that morning. Maybe it sounds weird to describe it as such. I don’t think visiting a graveyard is weird, nor do I think calling it magical is weird either. Some people have issues with it, I don’t.

On this day, the sun peeked out while we were visiting. The birds were singing. For most of this weekend, it was gloomy and rainy. But this morning, it was lovely.

It was a special way to end our weekend with Erma.

I told Shannon that I would love to come back to her grave and write with Erma sometime.

She agreed.



Scary Baby at Erma Bombeck Workshop
Why, yes, that’s a miniature baby doll with a handmade ski mask on.


When you get 350 humor writers in a room, there’s bound to be trouble. And by trouble, I mean wonderful. 

Each night we met a new group of friends.
Then the new friends introduced us to newer friends.
And so on and so on.
I met journalists for Pulitzer prize-winning papers, magazine editors, published authors, moms, and dads of real and fur babies from all over our country.
These aren’t just people with who I exchanged business cards and friended on Twitter or added their blogs to my blog feed.
I added most of these people to my personal Facebook.
I hardly ever do that.
That’s when you know it’s hardcore.


Scary Baby at Erma Bombeck Workshop
Go home, Scary Baby. You are drunk.
Visit scary baby’s mom here.
Shannon and I at Erma Bombeck Workshop

Don’t take this the wrong way, but your ass looks fantastic in those jeans.

You know it’s going to be a great day when your roommate tells you this first thing in the morning.

I can’t imagine enjoying this conference half as much if Shannon wasn’t with me.

She pushed me out of my comfort zone and I learned so much more and met so many amazing people.

It was an honor to share this experience with her.

And I can’t wait to do it all over again.

2020 note- I never went back. I regret those decisions. 

18 thoughts on “Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop 2014”

  1. I am laughing and crying and wanting so very badly to go back right now. I am honored to be among the first women you have farted in front of and to be in such good company. I am honored to sit and stand beside you at this Erma conference and every future Erma conference, at Frank's for pie, and any where else. Thanks, my friend, for being a huge part of my Erma Experience, and a very positive part of my life.And, Your ass did look very good in those jeans. Just sayin'


  2. Excellent summary of the weekend! It was such a great experience. And thank goodness I am not allergic to peanuts.


    1. I look forward to your comments like nothing else.And you were one of the amazing parts of this conference.


  3. Oh wow. This sounds like the best trip ever! The pictures of you with Tracy and Anika make my heart melt! I didn't know she moved in HS either….she didn't move out of Lex right? YOU have given me a new place to go for a roadtrip in Ohio.


    1. How is it I had never been to Dayton?And now you, of all people?I can't wait to read that blog post.Hint hint.


  4. This is one of my favorite Erma recaps. Probably because of the poop talk. Conference poops (or lack thereof) ARE A THING. I totally texted my husband about how I was stealth pooping in short bursts all day Saturday. Emphasis on the short and not so much the burst.I can't believe I just told you that.


    1. I AM SO GLAD YOU TOLD ME THAT.I loved meeting you.Now I just have to work on my master plan to get you and Missy to uproot your lives and move to Chicago.


  5. OMG, I made it all the way through. Do I get a piece of cake? Oh, wait. Someone ate it!!! Glad you told us about the poop thing. I remember what an issue it was when you went to Blogher (it was Blogher wasn't it?). Anyhow, enjoyed the recap. Sounds like a good conference!


  6. I can't believe I am just now reading this (I am the most inconsistent blog writer/reader of all time, FYI). I have so many reactions (not to mention my love for your green end tables), but a) Creepy Baby sincerely appreciates the shout out. She can't wait to see you again in 2016. b) I did not know a single soul going to the conference, so I totally agree with and love your perspective about how welcoming and friendly the vibe was, and c) I had my own room in part because I didn't want a stranger to murder me, but also so I could POOP.


    1. Pooping IS important.I am so in awe of you going alone.I am so glad I met you.I love "our" purse.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s