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A hotel room along the Dayton Riviera

"I haven't slept in 12 years," one beleaguered writer started her application.

And this realization from another hopeful writer, "You had me at room service."

The University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop is once again offering two emerging humor writers the opportunity to compete for an all-expenses-paid trip to Dayton, Ohio, where the winners will be "robed" in plush, custom-embroidered bathrobes and given free registration to the April 2-4, 2020, workshop.

But there's more.

As part of the biennial A Hotel Room of One's Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program, the winners will spend two more blissful weeks at the University of Dayton Marriott, the workshop's official hotel and an in-kind sponsor.

Yes, a hotel with a "Do Not Disturb" sign that can be draped over the door knob. Free room service. An omelet bar. A housekeeping staff. A TV remote of one's own. The sun rising over the Great Miami River (aka, the Dayton Riviera). It's the ultimate gift for any writer - the luxury of time to write.

Applications will be accepted Sept. 3-24, with Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and best-selling novelist Adriana Trigiani serving as finalist judges.

"This is an opportunity for funny writers to deep dive into their comedic voices and create without limitations. I would be thrilled for this program to provide the catalyst for emerging comedy writers to break through with their art," says Anna Lefler, a Los Angeles novelist and comedy writer who conceived and funded the program.

It already has done just that for the winners of the inaugural 2018 competition.

"Not only did the residency allow me to binge on Netflix uninterrupted by pesky family members, it allowed me the time, space and solitude to see how the book I was working on was actually going to work. Lucky Like That, a collection of funny personal essays, is now completed and being shopped around by my agent.

"Who knew that 17 of the best days of my career would be spent on a little window seat in a corner room of the Dayton Marriott?" asked Samantha Schoech, a writer, copywriter and editor from San Francisco.

Brooklyn-based comedian Karen Chee has traded "hotel life" for a TV studio. She's now part of an Emmy-nominated group of comedy writers on Late Night With Seth Meyers. "It's such a fun and delightful place to work. Everyone is really kind and goofy," she said.

"The uninterrupted time in Dayton absolutely helped me focus on my career. What a gift to have time dedicated fully to my work, rather than worrying about chores and bills and everything else that goes with life," said Chee, whose writing credits include the 2019 Gold Globe Awards and the upcoming Reductress pilot on Comedy Central.

She's also a regular contributor to The New Yorker and has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeneys and others national outlets. In a recent humorous segment, "What Does Karen Know?" Meyers interviewed the millennial writer about pop culture.

The program opens Tuesday, Sept. 3, with all online applications due by midnight (EST) on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Winners will be announced Nov. 12. It's open to all aspiring humor writers regardless of gender or comedic point of view. Writers working on novels, narrative non-fiction, plays, essays, sitcom scripts and other humor writing are encouraged to apply, with special consideration given to emerging writers. The application fee is $25. Entries will be blind-judged by preliminary and finalist judges, all established writers.

As part of the residencies, the winners will write funny essays about their experience living and writing at the Dayton Marriott for the workshop's blog, meet with University of Dayton classes to discuss the writing journey, and tweet out amusing observations from the hotel using such hashtags as #HotelLOL, #RoomServiceWriter and #LaughInn.

A self-described "lifelong fangirl and devotee of Erma Bombeck," Lefler says she was inspired to start the program because, much like the wildly popular biennial workshop, 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 unlimited tiny soaps? The comedy practically writes itself," says Lefler, author of the funny books,PreschooledandThe Chicktionary, and a three-time faculty member at the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

Founded in 2000, the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop has been dubbed the "Woodstock of Humor." It's the only workshop in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing and is so popular that it sells out within hours. In 2019, The Writermagazine named it the best writing conference in Ohio and "THE conference for humor writers.

Besides the writing residency, the workshop also co-sponsors an international writing competition, which will run Dec. 2, 2019 - Jan. 7, 2020.

For more information about the writing residency,

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Joanne Brokaw

Improvisor and award-winning writer Joanne Brokaw spends her days dreaming of things she'd like to do but probably never will - like swimming with dolphins, cleaning the attic and someday overcoming the trauma of elementary school picture day. When she's not writing, performing or staring at the computer screen listening to the deadline clock tick, she's leading improv workshops to help people of all ages push past fear, embrace creativity and learn to play again. As a freelance writer an ...
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