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Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

judges for Nickie's Prize

“From the day she first broke me out of my crib, we have been creating havoc together,” one applicant wrote about her sister.

“No one in the world gets the quintessential me like she does,” another wrote. “We laugh to the point of tears and inability to breathe.”

From coast to coast and far-flung spots around the world, writers sent in funny, joyful, touching essays about their sisters — and soul sisters. In all, Nickie’s Prize for Humor Writing drew 263 original essays from writers in 39 states, Washington, D.C., and six countries — Canada, Australia, Kenya, Israel, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Entrants wrote about the humorous ups and downs of sisterhood, friends who are like sisters, the sister bond among daughters (by a father) — and other twists, including amusing stories about a nun or two.

The writers, ranging wildly in age from early 20s to 80s, hail from different backgrounds — from humor writers and stand-up comedians to an occupational therapist, caregiver, lawyer, administrative assistant, teacher, grad student, CEO, rabbi, nurse and stay-at-home parent. Twenty-one writers received $300 cash prizes each, with their winning essays expected to make up the heart of a new book. Meet the winners.

Nickie’s Prize is named after an aspiring humor writer and beloved sister who died eight weeks after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018. Nickie’s sister, Marcia Stewart, a West Coast writer and editor, partnered with the workshop on sponsoring the contest. 

All entries were blind-judged. A preliminary judging panel of authors, essayists and comedy writers assessed the quality of the essays, with the best ones passed along to four finalist judges — Karen Chee, Lian Dolan, Loni Love and Alan Zweibel — for the naming of the winners. The winners were honored in a tribute video at the Oct. 29-31, 2020, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.


Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop