The Teeter-Totter Writing Challenge

Has the soggy spring bogged down your muse? Are you looking for a prompt to get your writing for the day? Has it been a while since you challenged yourself to write something new and you’re just looking for a place to start?

WOTA is happy to bring you June’s writing challenge–to compose a short piece of any length, style, genre, or subject matter using the following words:

yellow
broken
corpulent
variegated
infinite
liquid
teeter-totter

Bring your piece to the June meeting (details coming soon), post on our Facebook page, or share your work here and inspire others!

Nine adjectives and a coffee cup: a writing challenge

In our giddiness at being able to meet again in person, if distanced and masked, participants at the April WOTA meeting reinstated the writing challenge. Ready?

The challenge: use these 10 words to write a short piece in any style of your choosing–flash fiction, micro essay, poem, song, screenplay, hybrid, what have you. Post your piece below or in the Facebook group, and bring copies to the May meeting to share!

The 9 adjectives are: PRISTINE, FROLICSOME, TALL, CORUSCATED, WHITE, HARMONIOUS, REBELLIOUS, INTERESTING, and CONFUSING.

The noun is: COFFEE CUP.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Pearl City Press publishes first title

Writers on the Avenue and Pearl City Press are thrilled to announce the publication of their first title, Misty Urban’s moving story collection Married, Living in Italy.

Hailed as “a keen observer of the human condition, a skillful wordsmith who writes with powerful clarity, and an absorbing storyteller who commands your attention,” Urban offers a sequence of beautiful, poignant stories “about what matters in all of our lives”–“grief, loss, longing, and survival despite it all.”

Look for your digital copy on Amazon or other favorite retailers and library services now, with a Nook version in progress. For those who prefer hard copy, the paperback will release on April 30. Please join me in offering a hearty thanks to the editorial board who helped launch the press and bring this book into being, and show your support for Pearl City Press by leaving Married, Living in Italy a glowing review!

Announcing the launch of Pearl City Press!

Writers on the Avenue is excited to announce the launch of our new publishing imprint, Pearl City Press.

The mission of Pearl City Press is to give voice to vibrant stories telling a human truth from a new or unheard perspective.

Check out the website for forthcoming titles and stay tuned for releases and giveaways. We at WOTA are looking forward to this next step of supporting writers and the literary arts in and around Muscatine and, now, beyond.

Seeking contributors!

MWC Press seeks contributions to a literary anthology titled These Interesting Times: Surviving 2020 in the QC.

What did you survive in 2020? What disasters—personal, communal, national, global—can you bear witness to? Sure, 2020 brought us the COVID-19 pandemic, a derecho and flooding, massive public protests along with economic insecurity, and a bitterly contentious election. But your disaster doesn’t have to have the most devastation or the highest body count.

We want to hear what was going on in the shadows, what may have been invisible to the mainstream news. Whether you were an essential worker or trapped in lockdown, on the front lines or dealing with something else entirely, tell us what you grappled with in 2020, and what you learned from it. We seek strategies for survival, testimony to resilience, witness to loss, and antidotes to despair.

Anyone who resides or works within the within the six counties that the MWC serves (Rock Island, Henry, and Mercer counties in Illinois and Scott, Muscatine, and Clinton counties in Iowa): Send us your work by January 31, 2021.

  • Prose: For fiction, essays, or creative non-fiction of up to 4,000 words: Email a double-spaced attachment in 12-pt font in rtf or docx format. Include identifying information, including name, phone number, email, and mailing address, on the first page.
  • Poetry and hybrid or mixed genre pieces (3 poems or up to 1500 words): email an attachment in pdf format. Include contact information in the email.
  • Visual art: Send an image or photograph in black and white, minimal 300-dpi resolution along with a caption, creator credit, and contact information in the text of the email.

Email submissions <at> mwcqc <dot> org. Include a brief cover letter and 100-word bio.

Legacy Book Press will provide contributors with a copy of the finished book. A portion of profits from the sale of the book will be donated to organizations in the QC area that support recovery and disaster relief services. The MWC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting the literary arts and its creators.

We want to hear your story!


If you have a terrific story but want help writing it down, use this form to contact WOTA and we’ll get you in touch with an editor.

Rekindling Creativity Challenge

For some of us, November means NaNoWriMo (write a novel in a month). For others, it means watching the days get shorter, darker, and colder, and fighting the urge to hibernate. (Or maybe giving in, just a little bit, but not too much.)

For you, friends of WOTA, I propose a November challenge that will spark your creativity. However you want to go about it; whatever appeals to you most; whatever you can think of to step outside your comfort zone, stretch your creative muscles, add a little color to your life or a spring to your step.

You can do anything you want, really. But I hope you’ll share your challenge in the comments below, and then check back to tell us how it’s going. What did you learn? What did you do? What inspiration descended from above?

Here are some things you might consider:

  • Write something in a genre you usually don’t write in. Share the results below in the comments or on our Facebook page.
  • Visit a new place in your local area. For example, the National Pearl Button Museum, if you haven’t seen it already, and check out not just the amazing displays on the first floor but the commodious space on the second floor, where WOTA meets.
  • Write a poem and submit it to Riverfront Poetry.
  • Join a new group–a fitness group, a hobby group, a group that provides volunteer services to area residents.
  • Learn a new skill: paint, draw, embroider, crochet . . . the list is endless.
  • Attend a community event–an exhibit, lecture, musical evening or performance.
  • Redecorate or redesign something: an area of your house, your yard, your wardrobe.
  • Read a book you wouldn’t normally choose, or listen to a podcast you wouldn’t normally listen to.
  • <fill in your own artistic, social, or spiritual endeavor here>

Maybe you choose one thing for the month and you’re done. Maybe you choose a small challenge each week. Maybe you decide to try something new for each day in November. Tell us about it and share your spark!

October Occupations

Time to dust off your Halloween decorations and your creativity caps, writers. WOTA is hoping to recharge you this month with some fresh sources of inspiration.

October Meetings

WOTA in the Afternoon will start the month with a bang on Thursday, October 1. Look for the October newsletter in your inbox for the Zoom link to an online meeting running from 1 to 3 pm.

WOTA is going to try a new location for our monthly evening meeting on Tuesday, October 20! The new director of the National Pearl Button Museum, Dustin Joy (also WOTA’s vice-president) has invited us to try out the Museum’s upstairs meeting area. There will be space to spread out but still meet face to face. Bring your mask, your hand sanitizer, your pen, something to write with, and a work to share. We’ll observe social distancing and all necessary COVID-19 precautions. Note there is elevator access to the second floor and accessible restrooms as well. The business meeting will start at 5:30 pm and the writing portion will begin at 6:00. See you there!

October Writing Challenge

How do you learn to write well? Imitate your betters, and steal from the greats. This month’s writing challenge is to compose a short piece in the style of a writer you admire. Don’t tell us in advance who you’re stealing from, though; read it and make us guess. Or post your work in the comments section below and share with the world!

September Word Challenge

If you’re in need of a prompt to make you pick up your pen, try WOTA’s September writing challenge:

Choose a homophone (no need to stick to this list) and write a piece that incorporates as many different meanings (and versions) of the words as you can think of. Poetry, prose, screenplay, hybrid–you know it’s all on the table. Surprise us!

You can post your piece in the comments selection below, post it to our Facebook group, and, of course, share your piece at one of the September meetings. Check the newsletter for the Zoom links for WOTA in the Afternoon on Thursday, September 3 and the regular Tuesday evening meeting on September 15. If you’re not on the newsletter but would like the link to attend the meeting, email us now.

Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

Anniversary Anthology Available Now!

Writers on the Avenue announces the publication of a new anthology celebrating WOTA’s 30 years of serving writers and the literary arts in and around the Muscatine area. Get your copy now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers, and look for copies to be available soon in Muscatine-area stores and from your favorite local members.

If you are interested in purchasing copies directly, email us to inquire. Paperback copies cost $10 for nonmembers, $8 for members and contributors. All proceeds directly support WOTA’s work as a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the literary arts.

Featuring works by:

  • Duffy De France
  • Dan Titus
  • David R. Collins
  • Aldeen Davis
  • Mike Fladlien
  • Dick Stahl
  • Mary Kay Lane
  • Sharon Savage
  • Mike Bayles
  • Gesene Oak
  • Jeff Boldt
  • Judy Chapman
  • Dave Cooney
  • Anna Counter
  • Kimberly Dickens
  • Ron Lackey
  • Jason Liegois
  • Denise Smith
  • Robin Abbott
  • Alan Arkema
  • Bob Bancks
  • Monica Flink
  • Esperance Ciss
  • Dustin Joy
  • Dan Moore
  • Bill Telle
  • Jodie Toohey
  • Misty Urban
  • Rebecca Whitmore