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Schedule is subject to change. (Please note that all times listed here are EDT. However, when attendees log into the workshop on Crowdcast, the times will reflect their local time. All sessions will be recorded and available immediately afterwards for viewing at attendees' convenience. The recordings will be available for at least a year.) View or download the program.

Session Descriptions

7 p.m.

Virtual Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Awards Ceremony, featuring keynote speaker Betsy Bombeck. Sponsored by the Washington-Centerville Public Library.

Free and open to the public. To watch a replay, click here

Erma's Got Talent: The Stand-Up Auditions
7-9 p.m. (EST)

Erma’s Got Talent, loosely formatted along the lines of America’s Got Talent, will offer 12 randomly selected contestants the opportunity to perform two minutes of their original stand-up material in front of three celebrity judges — acclaimed comedians Brian Kiley, Wendy Liebman and Leighann Lord. Nancy Berk will serve as emcee.

The winning contestant and runners up will be eligible to perform on the virtual stage on Attendee Stand-Up Comedy Night  at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30. Other performers will be selected randomly after the auditions. 

Entertaining and educational, Erma's Got Talent is an instructional opportunity for participants as well as the audience. The judges will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of performance/material and offer expert suggestions.

Free and open to the public, but only registered attendees are eligible to perform. Because the demand for this stand-up opportunity is high, performers will not be eligible for the random drawing of Stand-Up Night participants.

To view the replay, click here.

6 p.m. — Virtual networking cocktail hour hosted by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

7 p.m. — Opening night kick-off with emcee Patricia Wynn Brown

Recognition, Nickie's Prize for Humor Writing winners

Fireside chat with keynoters Peggy and Mike Rowe

9 to 10:15 a.m. — concurrent sessions

Satire Starter Pack — Riane Konc

Profitable Authorship — Quit Your Day Job — Rebecca Regnier

Ask The Agents — Panel featuring Stacey Graham, Sam Hiyate and Paula Munier, moderated by Jessica Strawser

Using Humor to Weather the Pandemic — Tracy Beckerman

Pitching During a Pandemic Without Getting Ghosted — Estelle Erasmus


10:30-11:45 a.m. — concurrent sessions

Welcome to the Writers’ Room — Joel Madison

Finding the Funny in Your Story — Annabelle Gurwitch

Sweet and Salty: Writing the Food Memoir — Diana Abu-Jaber

Eight Reasons You Need a Blog and E-newsletter — and Eight Tips for Quickly Making Them Work For YouJess Montgomery

Book Publishing Paths: What's New? What's Old? What's Right for You? — Moderated by Dr. Nancy Berk, featuring Jim Azevedo and David Braughler

Lunch Break

1-2 p.m.

Wendy Liebman keynote

2:15-3:30 p.m. — concurrent sessions

Personal Essays Gone Wild — Susan Pohlman

Humor Writing: Punch Up Your Prose — Dan Zevin

Tools & Tips to Get More Eyes on Your Words: It Doesn’t Matter How Good Your Writing Is if Nobody Sees It — Kim Bongiorno

The How-To of National Syndication — Lisa Glowinski

Intro to Ebook Self-Publishing: How to Publish, Distribute and Sell Your Ebook — Jim Azevedo

3:45-5 p.m. — concurrent sessions

How to Uncover Your Own Voice and Get It Down on Paper — Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff

Family — The Ties That Bind…and Gag! — Moderated by Lian Dolan, featuring Tracy Beckerman, Bruce Ferber and Leighann Lord

Surprise and Delight Your Readers on Every Page — Jessica Strawser

Writing Stories That Matter — Lee Martin

How to Tell Your Story — Margot Leitman

Dinner Break

7 p.m.-8:15 p.m.

Annabelle Gurwitch keynote

9-11 p.m.

Attendee Stand-Up Comedy Night With Brian Kiley

9-10 a.m.

Sophfronia Scott keynote: "The Hunt for Big Mojo"


10:15-11:30 a.m. — concurrent sessions

Wooing Your Muse: Rediscovering Inspiration and Jumpstarting Your Writing — Katrina Kittle

How to Brand Yourself, Build a Platform, Balance a Personal Life and Create a Bestseller, Without Killing Your Spouse, Alienating Your Friends or Running Screaming into the Night — Cindy Ratzlaff

Beginning to Bloom: Opening Up to Poetry — Barbara Fant

Write a Page Turner: An Agent’s Secrets to Creating Stories Readers Can’t Put Down — Paula Munier

How to Get Published Successfully — Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

Lunch Break

1 p.m.-2 p.m.

Mike Reiss keynote: “Finding the Funny in Terrible Times”


2:30-4 p.m.


Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry

4 p.m.
Wrap-up with Emcee Patricia Wynn Brown


Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop