March is for Madness

March is well underway, and so is progress on WOTA’s latest anthology. Thanks to the editorial board for their thoughtful comments, and thanks to the contributors who are busy revising.

If you have an old photograph or memory that might serve as cover art, send it to us!

Join us for the monthly WOTA meeting on March 21 from 6-8 pm in room 301 of Musser Public Library. Inspiration will definitely be in the air! Words for the March word challenge are OBSERVE, HARMONIC, TOFFEE, MEDIATE, EMANCIPATED, ELITE, AMOROUS.

Registration is open for the David R. Collins Writers Conference hosted by the Midwest Writing Center. Check their website for information about the fantastic faculty and classes on offer this year. Runs June 22-24, 2023, at Augustana College in Rock Island. While courses require a fee, other events around the conference are free & you’re welcome to attend!

The Muscatine County Arts Council is holding their Wandering Words poetry contest again this year!

Flirty February

Join us for the monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 21 from 6-8 pm in room 017 of Musser Public Library in Muscatine. Bring a pen and copies of a short work to share. Aside from reading and discussing each other’s work, we like to work in writing exercises, warmups, or mini-lectures on craft. New members, inquirers, observers, and guests are always welcome.

If you’re looking for something to bring to the meeting, January’s WOTA group challenges you to write a short piece using these words:


Upcoming opportunities:

Registration is open for the 2023 Iron Pen! This annual contest hosted by the Midwest Writing Center challenges you to compose a short story, short essay, or poem within 24 hours. Register now to get the prompt on Friday, February 24 and turn in your piece by Saturday, February 25. Winners receive a cash award, a medal, and bragging rights.

Looking for more ways to flex your writing muscles and try something new? Check out these upcoming workshops from the MWC.

The Society of Great River Poets will hold a spring creative retreat the weekend of April 7 – 9. Bring whatever project you’re working on and give yourself time to create in the beautiful environs of Langwood Education Center near Grandview, Iowa. Cost is $30. Then, in summer, SGRP will host its annual Creativity Camp on June 9 – 11, a full slate of workshops offered by practicing writers and artists for the bargain price of $60. For more information check out the website or to register email SGRP.

The Lyrical Iowa competition is now open! Send your poems to the Iowa Poetry Association and see if you make the cut! But first review their contest rules on the webpage – the requirements are quite specific, but there are a lot of categories you can try.

The Midwest Writing Center is taking applications for the Great River Writer’s Retreat, an entire week at the lovely and very peaceful Benet House in Rock Island, IL, where you can focus on nothing but your writing. Residents must live in IA, WI, MN, or IL. Find details here.

Once-a-month WOTA meeting not enough?

Join local writers at these gatherings:

  • Writer’s Studio meets from 11 am to 1 pm on the first and third Saturday of each month at the Midwest Writing Center, located on the ground floor of the Rock Island Public Library
  • The Society of Great River Poets meets from 1 to 3 pm on the first and third Saturday of each month at the Burlington Public Library

Jolly January

Join us for the regularly monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 17 from 6-8 pm in room 017 of Musser Public Library. Room 017 is the downstairs Makerspace, next to the fiction stacks.

Need some inspiration? The December group challenges the January group to write a piece using these words: blizzard, orange, suspend, whiteout, refrigerant, calico, plethora, manic, conducting. That’s what happens when writers have a lot of sugar and a little too much cider, I guess.

Don’t forget to submit a piece to the anthology on Memories! Details, including word limits, described here. Submit by January 31.

At the monthly meeting we’ll put out a call for those interested in leading short exercises on craft to round out our meetings. We’ll also put out a call for local authors interested in appearing on “Libraries Alive!”, a local show hosted by Musser Public Library that will feature area writers along with other library news.

Keep an eye on doings at the Midwest Writing Center to see if there’s something of interest to you. And if you know of upcoming events, opportunities, or publications of interest, please share here or on the WOTA Facebook page.

Happy writing!

December doings

Join us for a holiday party and open mic on Tuesday, December 20 from 6 – 8 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 211 Walnut St., Muscatine. Bring a short work to share, a festive attitudes, and a food or beverage to add to the holiday spread if you wish. Friends, family, guests, and grinches are all welcome.

December word challenge:

Have a holiday memory to share? Don’t forget about our upcoming anthology!

Books make the best gifts!

Give your loved ones the gift that keeps on giving: a book from Pearl City Press. All proceeds fund WOTA events and efforts to support the literary arts in and around Muscatine.

Want to give back to WOTA? Write a review for a Pearl City Press and leave it on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, wherever. We appreciate your support!

Happy holidays!

November news

The November WOTA meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 15 in room 301 of Musser Public Library from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Bring a pen, bring a friend, and bring a short work to share! Also be prepared for a warm-up exercise to get the words flowing.

If you’re stumped for a prompt, compose something using the word list the October members cooked up: CATACLYSM, MERRY-GO-ROUND, SOMBER, EPICUREAN, TIME, WONDERFUL, SOUNDING. If you can’t share at the meeting, post your work in the comments below!

Some fun upcoming events:

Author fair and meet-and-greet at Skylark in Rock Island from 4:30 -6:00 on November 13, sponsored by the Artsy Bookworm

The Sterling Lord Readers & Writers Festival runs every Saturday in November; check the schedule at their website to see who will be on deck!

Tuesday, December 20 we will have our holiday party at Trinity Episcopal Church, 211 Walnut St. in Muscatine, from 6:00 – 8:00. Wear festive attire if you wish; bring a dish to share if you care to; bring a short work to share at our open mic. Family, guests, and spectators are more than welcome!

Member news

Congratulations to Misty Urban for winning a BookFest Book Award for her novel MY DAY AS REGAN FORRESTER!

Call for Submissions: Memories

Writers on the Avenue is seeking contributions to an anthology on the topic of memories. Happy, haunting, complicated, or sad, pulled from the distant past or as recent as yesterday, show us in prose, poetry, or visual art the power memory has for you. Whether memory of a person, place, event, or epoch, make us feel the deep pull, the trickster caprices, the calm or the worry or the comfort that recollection can bring.

Prose: fiction or nonfiction of 3000 words or less
Poetry: up to 5 poems, formatted for a 6×9 page
Visual art: black and white, at least 300 dpi

Direct submissions or attachments in docx, rtf, or jpg/png form to by January 31, 2023. Please include a 50-100 word biography.

Anticipated publication is fall 2023. Membership in WOTA is not a requirement for inclusion.

Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the book.

Ready to submit?

October spice

Join us for our monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 18 from 6-8 pm in room 017 (the Makerspace room, downstairs) in Musser Public Library. Bring a pen, a short work to share, and some paper as we’ll begin with a short craft-related exercise to get the creative muscles warmed up before we get to the serious business of sharing our work.

Pearl City Press is delighted to announce the publication of Bob Bancks’ memoir THE ADVENTURES OF BOBBY, IOWA FARM BOY! Peek into a vanished world as you hear about young Bobby’s life growing up on a family farm in eastern Iowa after World War II: the one-room school house he attended; the characters of his family and memorable friends; the escapades, the scrapes, the triumphs, and the losses that both reflect this time and place but are also uniquely Bob’s own. The ebook is available now; the paperback is coming soon.

If you like the book, please leave a review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, or any other online retailer or review site. Reviews help readers find books! We appreciate your support of Pearl City Press!

AND: stay tuned for a call for submissions for an upcoming anthology on the theme of memories. We’ll post the call here and broadcast widely.

Need a prompt? The challenge for October is to write something using these words:


May all your creative projects prosper!

September is for writing

For those of us with household members in school, September might also be back to our own projects month! With the kids usefully occupied, let’s hope we can all squeeze in some time for our writing. In addition there are lots of events in and around the region to help you build your writing community and learn from other writers. And don’t forget the monthly WOTA meeting Tuesday, September 20 from 6-8 pm in room 301 of Musser Public Library. We’re cooking up some new projects & hope you can join in!

Winners of the 2021 and 2022 Great River Writer’s Retreat will read from their works in the community room of the Rock Island Public Library on Thursday, Sept 1 at 5:30 pm

Poets: Call for Submissions

The German American Heritage Center and Museum is opening a new exhibition with a night of resistance poetry on October 2nd. If you’d like to submit, send something to the GAHCM by September 10th. Poets must be between 13 and 20 years old, and the poem must be 5 minutes or less in length. To submit, email¬†¬†

Banned Books Week is Sept. 18-24

The Midwest Writing Center and the Rock Island Public Library are hosting their annual Banned Books Reading at the library on Sept. 21 at 6 pm. Come hear local librarians, artists, and other readers share excerpts from banned and controversial books to celebrate Banned Books Week. Join the fight against censorship by buying banned books, reading banned books, and sharing banned books. Human knowledge ought to be a gift available to all.

Write More Light

The Midwest Writing Center’s “Write More Light” video series will return August 30th! Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 pm, join the MWC’s Facebook or YouTube channels to enjoy writing talk, advice, practice, and inspiration from a special guest.

Hope your September is a harvest of fruitful words!

August doings

WOTA meets Tuesday, August 16 from 6 to 8 pm in room 301 of Musser Public Library. Bring a pen, bring a friend, bring a short work to share. And bring something to write on, as we’re returning to our habit of having a short, introductory craft talk/writing exercise to get the gears turning.

Other literary news:

Audio recordings of the pieces in THESE INTERESTING TIMES: Surviving 2020 in the Quad Cities are available on the WVIK website! If you need a bit of inspiration on getting through challenging times, revisit this inspiring collection of local and regional authors and artists.

Authors and artists: the Midwest Writing Center is accepting pitches for workshops for the coming year. Send them your ideas!

Here’s to an August that fills the creative well and lets those projects grow & thrive!