Capture the essence of Erma’s writings and you could win $500 and a free registration to the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop! 525 writers from 7 different countries and 48 states entered the 2012 competition.
Erma Bombeck, graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949, lived with her husband and family in Centerville, Ohio, and inspired people worldwide with her columns and books about life’s trials and tribulations. Her memory lives on with the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition hosted every two years by the Washington-Centerville Public Library and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop hosted by the University of Dayton.
1/6/2014 (8 AM): Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Opens
Eligibility & Rules
Entries are accepted from anywhere in the world.
Previous contest winners are encouraged to enter.
NEW! Children under 13 are NOT eligible to enter.
Registration to the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is NOT required to enter the writing competition.
Washington-Centerville Public Library employees, board members, contest judges and their families are not eligible.
$15 entry fee.
Entry must be written in English.
Limit one entry total (not per category) per person.
Personal essay must be 450 words or less (entries of more than 450 words will be disqualified).
NEW! Essay must be previously unpublished. Essays must not have been previously published in a blog, book, magazine, website or any other medium.
Essay must be written by one person; no writing teams, ghostwriters or writing partnerships.
Payment and entry must be submitted online using the official online entry form. PayPal link will be visible below when the contest opens.
Hard copy entries will not be accepted and will not be returned if submitted.
Entries must be submitted by 8 AM, EST, February 17, 2014.
All submissions are final! Corrections to and replacements for submitted essays will not be allowed.
By submitting your entry, you guarantee the work was written by you and expresses your original ideas.
Washington-Centerville Public Library reserves the non-exclusive right to publish the winning entries; however, the owner retains ownership rights for future publication.
How to Enter
Choose one category for entry:
Write a personal essay of 450 words or less following the judging criteria.
A personal essay “deals lightly, often humorously, with personal experiences, opinions, and prejudices, stressing especially the unusual or novel in attitude and having to do with the various aspects of everyday life.” ˜Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay.
After paying the entry fee, you will be directed to the official online entry form where you will be asked to enter your demographic information and essay. The PayPal link will be visible below when the contest opens.
Entries in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition are judged in two rounds – first by a panel of volunteer judges from across the United States and Australia, and then by a final judge in each category.
Blind judging is used which means that the author’s name is not on the work as it is being judged.
Meet our esteemed panel of judges. They will be using the following guidelines to score your entry:
All Entries – General Criteria:
Does it have the voice of Erma? Erma knew how to portray the humor in the mundaneness of everyday life.
Is it organized? Does it stay on topic and have well-developed ideas?
Does it have a compelling lead? The piece should “Hook ’em with the lead. Hold ’em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won’t forget.”
General criteria as stated above.
Is it funny?
Human Interest Entries:
General criteria as stated above.
Is it true and does it evoke emotion?
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Winners & Prizes
4 first place winners will be selected:
Humor – Global (Regional & International)
Humor – Local (Montgomery County/Dayton, Ohio area)
Human Interest – Global (Regional & International)
Human Interest – Local (Montgomery County/Dayton, Ohio area)
$500 cash prize to winners in all four categories.
First place winners also receive free admission ($395 value) to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop hosted by the University of Dayton from April 10 through April 12. First place winners who have already registered and paid for the Workshop will have their registration fee refunded. Winners who are on the Workshop Waiting List or have not registered for the Workshop, will be admitted to the Workshop, if they want to attend.
Winning essays will be published on Washington-Centerville Public Library’s website and in a local newspaper.
Judges will also select several essays for Honorable Mention.
Writers of essays selected for Honorable Mention will receive a competition certificate.
Decisions of the judges are final.
Winners will be announced in late March.