What a treat it is hanging with my writer peeps at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop here in Dayton, Ohio.

For those of you would like to be here and can’t . . . here’s a few of the most intriguing highlights.

1. Loretta LaRoche (star of many PBS Specials including Relax, You May Only Have a Few Minutes Left) is often asked “What do you think we should do about stress?” Her response? “Shut up.”

2. Nettie Hartsock – http://www.nettiehartsock.com/ – shared dozens of valuable, “can-use-that-today” tips in her session “Overwebbed; Help, I’ve Had a Social Media Meltdown and Can’t Tweet Up.”

3. Gail Collins, first woman ever appointed editor of the NY Times editorial page said, “I’ve been to a dozen inauguration addresses, and I remember Erma Bombeck’s ‘cookie tin’ column more than I do anything from them.”

4. Craig Wilson, The Last Word columnist from USA Today who is read by millions of readers across the country every Wednesday suggested we “Write as if you’re talking to your best friend.” And when asked where he finds material after producing columns week after week, year after year, he said, “Walking my dog. It’s amazing what you find out there.”

Why is Erma Bombeck so enduringly, universally relatable?

Just read this paragraph and notice the craft.

“When I took stock of myself, sitting there in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, with three unplanned chidlren, a car that didn’t run and a toliet that did – and a mother-in-law who called me ‘Edna’ – I wondered what I had that was unique, and ironically enough, I discovered something. I was ordinary, painfully middle-of-the-road, no frills, bare-boned, Midwest-beige-Our Town-ordianry….Ordinary. That was to be my turf . . .”

Erma Bombeck was far from ordinary. Look at the cadence, the rhythm of that paragraph. It’s a river of words that flowed straight from her heart to ours.

Did your parents put her columns up on your refrigerator for all to see and read? Share your Erma story – and why you think she touched so many people.

I’ll blog later this week about the morning round-tables I faciliated at the conference including “The Path to Paid Professional Speaking” and “Create the Perfect Title and Elevator Pitch.”