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Been There, Done That – July 2018

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In our "Been There, Done That" series, Literary Mama editors and readers share their experiences at conferences, workshops, classes, and residencies. This month Laura Roberts recalls her time at Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop this past year.


What program did you attend?

The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, April 7-9, 2018.

Where was it and what was the time requirement?

It took place at the University of Dayton in Ohio. It was a 2.5-day conference, with most people arriving Thursday afternoon and leaving Sunday morning.

What were the course offerings? 

In addition to wonderful speakers at each of the five meals, there were panels and workshops on humor writing, publishing, branding, stand-up comedy, and social media. There was also a Pitchapalooza on Saturday where writers were given a chance to pitch their book to a panel of judges. The judges offered gentle critique and advice for each pitch and the winner was introduced to an agent or publisher relevant to his or her book.

How did you spend your time? 

I attended both publishing/branding panels and humor classes. There was a great deal of camaraderie and evening events were fun and social.

What did you take away from the experience?

It was encouraging to be with so many other female humor writers. (Some men did attend, but women outnumbered them roughly 10 to 1.) Everyone was at a different stage in their writing careers, but everyone had something valuable to share. I learned so much from new friends about where they submit their writing, and the instructors were incredibly helpful. In particular, I got a clearer idea of where I need to take my unpublished book manuscript next in the publishing world. Connections are easy to make and the professionals made themselves available and approachable for the entire event.

Did you have the opportunity for a writing critique? Was it helpful? 

In particular, there were opportunities to have book pitches and query letters critiqued. This is quite helpful for anybody who is gearing up to publish their book. I now have a clear idea of where I was making mistakes and what I can do to correct them.

Would you attend this event again? 

Absolutely. It's held every other year, it sells out in four hours, and it's very expensive at $450. But I would put this conference on the top of my list.

Share some helpful tips for a writer considering this experience. (Tips may include transportation, lodging, food, classes/instructors, or anything you think future attendees would benefit from knowing.)

I did not make hotel reservations early enough and only got into the conference hotel because of a cancellation. Bring business cards to hand out to anyone and everyone. People who flew in were able to arrive in Dayton or Cincinnati. The conference provides all meals and there's a cash bar in the evenings. I suffered a bit of introvert-nervousness, but made four friends within 15 minutes and now look forward to seeing them again in the future. Lastly, if Pitchapalooza is offered, get over your nerves and sign up for it. The feedback is invaluable, the judges are kind, and the crowd is super supportive.

Have you attended a conference, workshop, residency, or class? We'd like to hear about your experience. Email us at lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com.

The Literary Mama Blog Editor searches for mama-centric news you can use — including information about publishing opportunities and literacy efforts; essays and writing prompts that motivate and inspire; and announcements about events, classes, and workshops. The current blog editor is Rudri Patel; read her bio here.

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