“Hook ’em with the lead. Hold ’em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won't forget." ˜ Erma Bombeck
The 2023/2024 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition is now open! Competition closes Tuesday, January 8, 2024 at 8 P.M. (EST)
Capture the essence of Erma's writings and you could win $1,000 and a free registration to the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop to be held April 4-6, 2024 at the University of Dayton! Honorable mentions will receive $100.
Erma Bombeck, graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949, lived with her husband and family in Centerville, Ohio, and inspired people worldwide with her columns and books about life's trials and tribulations. Her memory lives on with the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition hosted every two years by the Washington-Centerville Public Library and the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop hosted by the University of Dayton.
For more information or questions about this competition, please call Debe Dockins at 937-610-4429 or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Choose one category for entry:
- Humor (Is it funny?)
- Human Interest (Is it touching and poignant, but less humorous?)
- Write a personal essay of 450 words or less following the judging criteria.
A personal essay "deals lightly, often humorously, with personal experiences, opinions, and prejudices, stressing especially the unusual or novel in attitude and having to do with the various aspects of everyday life." ˜Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay.
- PLEASE DO NOT ENTER TWICE OR MAKE TWO PAYPAL PAYMENTS. If you experience difficulty submitting your entry or you do not receive a confirmation email from PayPal, please call Debe Dockins, Community Relations Specialist, at 937-610-4429 or send an email to: email@example.com.
Meet Our Finalist Judges
The Library is proud to announce that Vick Mickunas and Bill Scheft will serve as finalist judges for the 2024 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.
Final Judges Vick Mickunas and Bill Scheft
Erma Bombeck Awards Ceremony
Betsy Bombeck, Keynote Speaker
- April 3, 2024, at 7 PM EDT at Woodbourne Library.
- The program is free, but registration is required to ensure adequate seating.
- The Awards Ceremony honors the winners of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition who will read their essays.
November 15, 2023 (Noon EST): Registration Opens for Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop (at UD April 4-6, 2024)
December 4, 2023 (8 AM EST): Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Opens
December 5, 2023: Registration Opens for Erma Home Schooling (a virtual workshop that includes five keynotes and four workshops)
January 8, 2024 (8 PM EST): Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Closes
January 10, 2024 through mid-February: Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Judging
Week of February 19, 2024: (projected) Winners Announced
April 3, 2024: Erma Bombeck Awards Evening Featuring Betsy Bombeck, Keynote Speaker, Woodbourne Library
April 4-6, 2024: U.D. Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop
View The Erma Bombeck Collection video which premiered at the 2022 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Awards Ceremony. It's a glimpse of the treasure that's in the Erma Bombeck Collection in the University of Dayton's archives.
- Entries in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition are judged in three rounds.
- All entries are judged anonymously.
- All judges are highly qualified and may include actors, authors, bloggers, columnists, comedians, directors, editors, producers, professors, and writers from across the globe.
- Final Round judging will be Bill Scheft (Humor) and Vick Mickunas (Human Interest).
- Meet our esteemed panel of judges.
General Criteria (All entries)
- Does it have the voice of Erma? Erma knew how to portray the humor in the mundaneness of everyday life.
- Is it organized? Does it stay on topic and have well-developed ideas?
- Does it have a compelling lead? The piece should "Hook 'em with the lead. Hold 'em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won't forget."
Humor Criteria (Humor entries)
- General criteria as stated above.
- Is it funny?
Human Interest Criteria (Human interest entries)
- General criteria as stated above.
- Is it true and does it evoke emotion?
Winners & Prizes
- Read past winning entries.
- 4 first place winners will be selected:
- Humor - Global (Non-Ohio & International)
- Humor - Local (All Ohio Entries)
- Human Interest - Global (Non-Ohio & International)
- Human Interest - Local (All Ohio Entries)
- $1,000 cash prize to first place winners in all four categories and $100 to Honorable Mentions.
- First place winners also receive free admission ($499 value) to the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop hosted by the University of Dayton from April 4-6, 2024. First place winners who have already registered and paid for the Workshop will have their registration fee refunded. Winners who are on the Workshop Waiting List or have not registered for the Workshop, will be admitted to the Workshop, if they want to attend.
- Winning essays will be published on Washington-Centerville Public Library's website.
- A press release will be sent locally and to the winners hometowns.
- Judges will also select several essays for Honorable Mention.
- Decisions of the judges are final.
University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop
- Hosted by the University of Dayton
- Registration starts November 15, 2023.
- Workshop dates: April 4-6, 2024.
- $499 Registration Fee (waived for winners of the writing competition)
- Read about the keynote speakers, sessions, and workshop presenters on the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop website.
- Attendance at this workshop is NOT required to enter the writing competition.