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A Hotel Room of One's Own Residency

What writer wouldn’t want to spend two all-expenses-paid, blissful weeks at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio?

Yes, a hotel. Room service. An omelette bar. The sun rising over the Great Miami River. It’s the ultimate gift for any writer — the luxury of time to write … and on the “Dayton Riviera,” no less.

That’s the premise behind A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program, what Forbes says "may be the best writer's residency in the country.

Applications will be accepted Sept. 5-Oct. 1, 2023. Winners will be announced in November and honored at the April 4-6, 2024, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

Thanks to a generous gift from humorist and novelist Anna Lefler and in-kind support from the Marriott at the University of Dayton, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop offers two emerging humor writers the opportunity to take a deep dive into their comedy writing without pesky everyday responsibilities.

A “lifelong fangirl and devotee of Erma Bombeck,” Lefler says she was inspired to start the program in 2017 because it has the potential to transform a writer’s life.

“The chance to step away from your everyday responsibilities to concentrate on your humor writing AND have access to unlimited tiny soaps? The comedy practically writes itself,” says Lefler a Los Angeles-based author of two funny books, Preschooled and The Chicktionary, and a three-time workshop faculty member.

The 2021 contest attracted applications from nearly 300 writers from 43 states coast to coast, Washington, D.C. and four countries  — Australia, Canada, Spain and the UK.

Dozens of preliminary judges, all established writers, narrowed the field for finalist judges Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, and Mike Reiss, who's written for The Simpsons for 30 years. Meet the winners

GRAND Prize winners:

Jillian Van Hefty
Kristen Mulrooney
Mary Oves

finalists ($250 prize):

Jenny Crowley, Chicago, Illinois
Sue Gelber, Denver, Colorado
Lisa Pertoso, Beacon, New York
Sarah Lowman Reynolds, Brookhaven, Mississippi

Honorable mentions ($100 prize):

Gretchen Cion, Berkeley, California
Anna Jadow, New York, New York
Jen Parsons, Placerville, Colorado 
Linda Presto, Lafayette, New Jersey 

The biennial program is open to all humor writers regardless of gender or comedic point of view. For more information, visit