Carmel woman becomes queen at Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop
Commentary by Julie Osborne
We were a mother-daughter pair of newbies. Actually, we were officially “Erma Virgins” to be clear and precise as all writers should be — a tip gleaned recently at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. It was a Christmas gift for my mom, a lifelong Erma fan who dreamed of being a writer.
Day one started with a decision to “divide and conquer,” to soak up more knowledge from concurrent sessions. By the day’s end, we had conquered nothing except finding bathrooms and snack tables. Day two we gave up on conquering and focused on companionship. Together we attended a workshop on social media using tools like “The Facebook,” as Mom calls it.
At lunch the program began with the coronation of the conference king and queen. As the master of ceremonies spoke, emotions overcame me with her words, “Will our new queen, Lori Mansell, please come forward with her daughter, Julie.” On the stage, Kathy Kinney (aka “Mimi” from The Drew Carey Show) placed a jeweled plastic crown on Mom’s head, and the newly- crowned queen addressed her court, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and you’ve all inspired me. I’m going to write a book. It’s never too late. This is a new beginning.”
With that, the Erma Virgin had become the admired Erma Queen, inspiring more than 350 attendees from all over the country. Fellow writers greeted her with bows and hand kisses. Selfies with the royal family became commonplace. The queen perfected her regal wave. And just before we departed back to our Carmel castle, it could be nothing less than a divine hallway encounter that we would meet the Bombeck family. I know if Erma were still alive that she and Mom would have been great friends. At least on The Facebook.