Save the Date – Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop

Erma Bombeck photo for

Mark your calendars for April 5-7, 2018 and plan to go to the University of Dayton, Ohio, for the upcoming Bombeck Writer’s Workshop. This is an every-other-year affair, and the slots sell out in a matter of days. Look at the event’s website to get more details. Here’s that link

The applications are early December.

I’m hoping to go myself this coming year. For several years running, I’ve bought all the recordings of the sessions offered on CD. They manage to attract knowledgeable and entertaining people.

UCLA Humor Writing Contest

Profile photo of David Sedaris with caption

David Sedaris is back!

… and so is SCA’s annual writing contest! Student Committee for the Arts is proud to present the 9th Annual Humor Writing Contest in conjunction with CAP UCLA’s presentation of David Sedaris: A Work in Progress.

Submit an original, humorous story of 2000 words or less by January 17th to receive a signed copy of David Sedaris’ latest book, a free ticket to see David Sedaris live at Royce Hall, and your story published on the SCA website.

To submit your story and find more information visit

Twain Results Delayed

photograph of Mark Twain aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens

I just receive this notice from the Twain competition. So… we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see who won!


Dear Robb Lightfoot,

“I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.”
– Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

This note is from me, Jennifer LaRue, director of writing programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum, writing to apologize profusely for the delay in announcing the winners of the 2016 Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Award and to beg a bit more of your patience.

We have experienced major staff changes at the museum during the past few months, and many of them have affected my workflow and, in turn, the process of reading and judging this wonderful competition. I am committed to giving every single entry its due consideration, of course, and I am sorry that it is taking so long. I appreciate every single one of you for taking time to enter your work in the contest, and I promise it won’t take much longer for me to complete this process and get the word out to you. In the meantime, if you wish to hurl rotten fruit in my general direction, I will take my lumps.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. I look forward to corresponding with you again very, very soon.

All best,

Jennifer LaRue
Director of Writing Programs




Twain #Humor Writing Contest – Royal Nonesuch 2016


Deadline is July 10, 2016

I thought this would be worth sharing. Note that they have a youth division, too, with reduced costs to enter. Way cool!

Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest

Accepting Submissions!

Royal Nonesuch - Enter today!

Submit 7,000 words or less of any original work of humor–fiction or non-fiction. Submissions will be judged by our award-winning Twain House staff, Twain experts, Trinity College faculty, and celebrity guest judges. A youth category for Young Authors (under 18) is also available. Prizes are awarded in both categories – Adult & Young Author.

  • First prize: $1,000
  • Second prize: $500
  • Third prize: $250
  • Honorable Mention: $100 Gift Certificate for the Mark Twain Store


Submissions are open February 1 through July 10, 2016. The winners will be announced in September.  For further contest rules and submissions, please visit our page here.

“If Mark Twain were alive, he’d be happy about this contest, because he’d win it.” –Andy Borowitz

2015 winners:


Winner: “Boobs” by Marina Mularz

First Runner-up: “The Efficiency Expert” by Graham Towers

Second Runner-up: “Oh, Here!” by April Kelly

Honorable Mentions (in last name alphabetical order):

The Death Button” by Scott Carpenter

Family Jeopardy” by Elisabeth Dahl

And Starring God as Morgan Freeman” by Ben Greenfield



Winner: “The Hegemony of Bistlethwait” by Nate Jacobs

First Runner-Up: “Huck and Jim Encounter the Slim” by Elizabeth Kaliff

Second Runner-Up: “RAP-UNZEL” by Brooke Echternacht

Honorable Mentions (in last name alphabetical order):

“The Young Person’s Account of The Mugging or: I Too Want to Figure Out My Sexuality” by Andres Cordoba

“Apocalyptic Overcooked Potatoes” by Peter Schmit

“Mass Exodus of Conservatives Following Recent Supreme Court Decisions” by Jesse Zhou


Are You A Humor #Writer?

 smile in cup of coffee funny humor image for

Pull Up a Chair & Have A Cup Of Coffee!

Let’s talk about humor.

I’m looking for humor writers and stand-up comics of all stripes. is kicking off it’s story budget for the summer. This means I’ll be profiling writers who are working in my favorite media – humor.

Here’s how it will work. I’ve been surveying the work of writers I like, both established and up-and-coming folks. I want to interview you and feature your work. My goal is to build a community of artists. I’d like us to be able to share techniques about the craft and help promote one another’s work. Eventually, I’ll be putting together a humor conference. But that will come after I’ve rounded up a convivial team.

If you’re an aspiring writer, but have yet to begin, you, too, should contact me. I’m going to match up writers who are at comparable places in their careers in writing groups.  Together, we’ll be assembling helpful resources. Check back for book and software reviews and tips from the professionals. I also have a collection of my notes from various writing conferences and will be sharing summaries of writing tips that relate to specific genres — children’s literature, mystery, romance, westerns and such — so long as they touch on humor, too.

And if you have a need or interest that’s not being addressed, then drop something in the suggestion box.

If this interest you, please contact me at robb @ (omit the spaces). Let me know about about the sort of humor you write, where it appears, and what most interest you. Much of what I’ve been up to so far is family-oriented humor about raising the kids out here in the sticks. I’ve also recently released a humor book about my hyperactive childhood.

I hope to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by.


Goodreads Giveaway – Problem Child

Problem Child cover art humor book about an ADHD childhood written by Robb Lightfoot

Check out Goodreads to have a chance at your personalized copy of Problem Child – The View From The Principal’s Office. The contest runs from May 7 to June 15th, and 25 paperbacks are up for grabs.

This book is a collection of 25 tall tales of a hyperactive childhood. You’ll learn why school is NOT like a game show where the person who rings in first wins, and you’ll get a quick nine-step tutorial on how to wiggle out of trouble when caught red-handed.

Many of these tales happened exactly as described (spoiler alert – when a semi-clad woman breaks a yardstick over your head, it hurts), others are a compilation of pranks and shenanigans that have grown to epic proportions in the retelling of the Lightfoot family narrative.

And yes, there’s a whopper or two in there. Email the author at [email protected] and he can give you a truthiness rating.

If you miss getting a free copy, you can still get an ebook or paperback at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo,  Barnes and Noble or an independent bookseller near you.

#Contest – Self-Published Book Award From Writer’s Digest Magazine

Ad for Writer's Digest Self-Published book contest

Writer’s Digest is offering his 24th annual self-published book contest. Here’s a link to their application information. It’s a bit pricey to enter, $110 at this point. The contest closes May 2.

Here’s the categories you can choose.

  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction
  • Children’s/Picture Books
  • Middle-Grade/Young Adult Books
  • Genre Fiction
  • Inspirational
  • Life Stories
  • Nonfiction
  • Reference Books
  • Poetry

You may enter your book in multiple categories, but it costs you an entry fee each time. Subsequent fees are a bit less, dropping from $110 to $85.

And here’s what the winners will get:

One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • $8,000 in cash
  • A feature article about you and your book for the March/April 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest
  • A press release from Writer’s Digest, to be sent, along with a copy of your book, to 10 different major publishing review houses
  • A paid trip to the ever-popular Writer’s Digest Conference!
  • A guaranteed review in Midwest Book Review, courtesy of Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC.
  • Guaranteed acceptance in a special sales catalog, providing the Grand Prize Winner with national representation through 60,000 salespeople selling to non-bookstore markets, courtesy of Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC.
  • Three hours of consultation on business modeling and marketing with Antoinette Kuritz of Strategies Literary Development ($750 vale).
  • A copy of The CrowdFunding Guide for Authors and Writers and consultation with Book Shepherd Judith Briles (valued at $500), courtesy of Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC.
  • Four (4) hours of consulting from Ellen Reid, CEO of the Reid Creative Group and President of Ellen Reid’s Book Shepherding.
  • A 30-minute telephone consultation about book marketing and promotion with Scott Lorenze, Westwind Communications.
  • A one-year membership to Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), the largest not-for-profit trade association representing nearly 3,000 independent book publishers, courtesy of IBPA.

One First Prize winner in each category will receive:

  • $1,000 in cash
  • Promotion in the March/April 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest
  • A one-year membership in The Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS), courtesy of Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC.
  • A guaranteed review in Midwest Book Review, courtesy of Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC.
  • A one-year membership to Book Central Station where you can find lists of suppliers rated by previous clients, provided by Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC.
  • An e-book titled Beyond the Bookstore, a Publishers Weekly book by Brian Jud (with CD).

All Grand Prize and First Prize winners will receive:

  • Be featured on the Writer’s Digest website
  • $100 worth of Writer’s Digest Books
  • A digital award seal for use in promoting your win.

Honorable Mention Winners will receive $50 worth of Writer’s Digest Books and promotion on

All entrants will receive a brief commentary from one of the judges. All entrants will also receive free access to a special 60-minute live webinar (a $79 value).


  • Mainstream/Literary Fiction
  • Genre Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Inspirational (Spiritual, New Age)
  • Life Stories (Biographies, Autobiographies, Family Histories, Memoirs)
  • Children’s Picture books
  • Middle-Grade/Young Adult
  • Reference (Directories, Encyclopedias, Guide Books)
  • Poetry

How to Enter

  • You may register online for faster service but all entrants must send a printed and bound book. All books not registered online must be accompanied by an Official Entry Form. Photocopies of the Official Entry Form are acceptable. You may enter more than one book and/or more than one category; however, you must include a separate book, entry form and the additional fee for each entry. We accept check, money order or credit card payment for the required judging fee. All checks will be cashed within 60 days of the competition final deadline. Entry fees are non-refundable.
  • The competition is open to all English-language self-published books for which the authors have paid the full cost of publication, or the cost of printing has been paid for by a grant or as part of a prize. Entrants must send a printed and bound book. Entries will be evaluated on content, writing quality and overall quality of production and appearance. No handwritten books are accepted. All books published or revised and reprinted between 2011 and 2016 are eligible. (Writer’s Digest may demand proof of eligibility of semifinalists.)
  • Due to U.S. Government restrictions we are unable to accept entries from Syria, Iran, North Korea, or Sudan.
  • Click here to download the printable entry form (for entries not registered online)For more information visit our Preparing Your Entry Page or our FAQ page.


Thurber #humor award entries due!

Thurber cartoon image promoting the Thurber House and Thurber humor award competition

If you’ve written a humor book in the last year, then you should get three copies in hand, and get them in the mail by April 1. No fooling.

Here’s a copy of the entry instructions, and a link to the application form over at the Thurber House website.

The link:

The instructions 

The Thurber Prize for American Humor

Entry Rules and Guidelines

How to enter:

  1. For the 2016 Thurber Prize, Thurber House will accept books published from Jan. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2015. Eligible books are those that are published in book form, whether as a hardcover or as an original paperback, in the United States. Fiction, nonfiction, and collections of short stories are eligible.

Collaborations by writing teams are acceptable. Reprints of books published outside the one-year time frame are not eligible. Self-published books are eligible provided the author/publisher is willing to meet the requirements as listed below.

  1. Three copies of each book must be submitted, along with an application form for each title, and a nonrefundable $65 entry fee for each title by Friday, April 1, 2016 to: Thurber Prize/ Thurber House / 77 Jefferson Ave. / Columbus, Ohio 43215.
  1. Books must be primarily written rather than pictorial. Incidental visual material is acceptable.
  1. eBooks of fiction, nonfiction, collections of short stories, and collaborations by writing teams also are eligible. eBooks that were published simultaneously or previously in printed form are not eligible. If an eBook and its printed form are both published during the eligibility time frame, the printed book may be submitted using the general guidelines. Submissions of eBooks must include information on where the book is available, three disc/CD copies of each book submitted, and three printed and bound, 81/2 x 11 inch copies of each book submitted, including publication date information.
  1. Authors must have proof of U.S. citizenship.
  1. Thurber House will make the final decision regarding all questions of eligibility.

Conditions of the Thurber Prize:

Eligible books for The Thurber Prize for American Humor will not be considered unless the publisher/author of the three finalists agrees:

  1. To send the finalist to the New York City event to read from the nominated book. If the book is a collaboration by a writing team, at least one author must attend the event. Publishers of the finalists must agree to pay for their author(s) transportation to and from New York and expenses while there.
  1. Within one year of the announcement date, the winner must come to Thurber House for a special ticketed event in Columbus, Ohio. Thurber House will pay for the author’s transportation to and from Columbus and for the author’s hotel while in Columbus.


Publisher and author agree that the decision of Thurber House and/or the judges chosen by Thurber House is final regarding all matters, including eligibility, timeliness of the submission, and compliance with the rules of the Thurber Prize. Thurber House has the permanent right in any media outlet worldwide to use all online, radio, television, merchandising, promotional, and publicity rights that publisher and author may have in connection with their participation in the competition for The Thurber Prize for American Humor. Both publisher and author release any claim they have by virtue of their participation in the Thurber Prize competition, for use of their photographs, names, likenesses, voice, or appearances in connection with the Thurber Prize, and each consents to the permanent right to tape and/or broadcast the author’s acceptance speech without further consent or payment


Outdoor #Humor w/ Patrick McManus – A Bio

outdoor humorist Patrick McManus a photo posted on

Outdoor Humorist Patrick McManus

Well, shoot, I was going to dive in tonight and get into summarizing some of the suggestions McManus had regarding humor techniques. Looks like that will have to wait. I was rereading “The Deer on a Bicycle,” and the introduction opens with his biography. I think that it bears a comment or two.

McManus’s mom was a teacher, and one of the tricks she used to pull on him and her students is one that I recommend to my students in my classes in oral interpretation. That is, she would read about 15 minutes of a book out loud, and then put it down. If he wanted to know what happened next, then he’d have to read it for himself. Crafty…  So, like so many writers, McManus began to read early and in great volume. He says that part of the reason he was such an avid reader is that there was little else to do in Northern Idaho, at least before TV. I wonder how many good writer’s we’ve lost to TV?

There are other parts of his life story that interest me. He started college as an art student, but when he found his love of Normal Rockwell was not shared by the art department, he drifted away from them an into English, where he earned a string of F’s until he finally opened his composition book and began to work at his papers. He ended the term with an “A+” paper on… Norman Rockwell. You’ve got to love that.

Another part of this story is that his first humorous work brought great enthusiasm from his classmates and teacher alike–but only a “B”. McManus challenged the teacher, but found that he was firm. The class was devoted to “serious literature,” and the humorous paper wasn’t serious. This sent a clear message to McManus that kept him away from humor for a good (or not so good) 15 years. I have seen this theme mentioned by many other humor writers, including PJ O’Rourke. Humor just doesn’t seem to impress, Dave Barry’s Pulitzer aside.

McManus ended up as a journalist, and the pressure of deadlines and writing for publication–and public criticism–taught him to endure criticism. He says this:

“To write for publication is to expose yourself on the printed page. You alone are out there, psychically naked for all to see and comment on, often unkindly. I believe it is the inability of beginning writers to achieve at least a certain degree of detachment from their writing that defeats so many of them before they even get started.”

McManus says that learned not to read reviews, even though so many of his were favorable, the occasional negative one just haunted him. He also says that he went from journalism to teaching, and found that he was so busy that it threatened his writing. He had to discipline himself to write two hours a night–not researching, not reading, but two solid hours of writing his own material, seven days a week, no matter what.

This is impressive to me, and I try to get back into my own writing schedule. Unlike McManus, I let it all slip for many years as my four kids were growing up. Coaching soccer, hauling them to dance, music and sports just seemed to leave no time. Now that they’re older, I am finding more time, but there are always activities that threaten to derail my writing. What I’d REALLY like to see are tips on how to fend off demands that seem too urgent to ignore, the emergencies of late-night homework or heartbreak. Tips on that, well, there’s a great article idea.

McManus ends the introduction with a story of how and why he wrote his first humor article, and it’s a neat story. I’m going to pull the same trick on you all that his mom pulled on him. If you want to find out the beginnings of McManus the humor writer, you’ll need to get “The Deer on a Bicycle.” Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.