June activities

May was brilliant fun, with meetings full of poetry, music, very creative nonfiction, some rolls of the dice, solid critiques, new visitors, and old friends. We also had a table at the first Second Saturday! Join us for any and all of these upcoming events in June:

Thursday June 6 1-3 pm

WOTA in the afternoon will meet in room 201 of Musser Public Library. Bring a short work to share.

Friday June 7 6:30 pm

Accomplished poet and Vietnam veteran Dennis Maulsby will read from his new collection of short stories, Winterset, and answer questions about his writing. Maulsby also has a story, “Balaclava,” now out in Dispatches, the quarterly magazine of the Military Writers Society of America.

Saturday June 8 4 – 8 pm

Stop by the WOTA table at Second Saturday, Muscatine’s summer street festival! Get information about WOTA, stock up on WOTA anthologies, and buy signed books from local authors in between enjoying the sights, sounds, and shops of downtown Muscatine.

June 7-9

Creative Writing Camp is running at Langwood Education Center! If you want to sign up and take advantage of these stimulating workshops in a peaceful natural setting, contact Pat Bieber.

June 18 6 – 8 pm

Join us for the evening monthly meeting in the board room of Musser Public Library! Visitors are always welcome. We’ll enjoy a brief writing activity, share work, and–if promises are kept–will hear some original song lyrics set to music. See you there!

June 27-29

The annual David R. Collins Writing Conference will take place on the lovely grounds of St. Ambrose University. Learn more and register through the Midwest Writing Center.

Word Challenge

June’s word challenge was generated by a few rolls of the afore-mentioned dice and some creative counting on fingers. Write a piece of no more than 200 words incorporating these words: vent, magic, shine, branch, handle, seventy, eventful, week, months, tacit, masters, originate, ring-a-line, agricultural. If you can’t make it to a meeting, feel free to post your piece here or share in the group’s Facebook page. June is going to be great!

May Mischief

Here’s what’s coming up for WOTA in the month of May. Hope you can join us!

May Meetings

We’ll meet first on Thursday, May 2 from 1 to 3 pm in room 201 of Musser Public Library. Bring a short work to share and prepare to be energized!

We’ll meet next on Tuesday, May 21 starting at 5:30 pm for business and 6:00 for writing fun. We’ll engage in a writing exercise to fine-tune the writing muscles, spend time sharing short work, and then the critique group will discuss Pat Bieber’s poetry chapbooks. Please note a changed meeting space for this meeting: we will be downstairs in room 17, the Maker Space. Who knows–we might like it so much we want to stay.

Scholarships

…are still available for Creative Writing Camp running June 7-June 9! Apply here.

Upcoming Events

WOTA President Misty Urban will lead a workshop on memoir writing at Musser Public Library on Saturday, May 18 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm in room 301. We’ll discuss how-tos, special considerations, and how to handle writing about people you know well. The workshop is free, but registration is required. Contact the library to register, or stop by the front desk.

Award-winning poet and short story author Dennis Maulsby will read from his latest book, Winterset, and answer questions about his writing life starting 7 pm on Friday, June 7 in the third-floor program room at Musser Public Library. Books will be available for sale and signing. (You can attend Dennis’ reading and then zip down to Langwood for Creative Writing camp – it’s a quick drive!)

The David R. Collins Writer’s Conference is slated for June 27 – June 29 this year. Save the date for this fabulous 3-day workshop at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, with headliner Ben Miller.

Word Challenge

For some reason, the Bermuda Triangle reversed itself and returns everything it once swallowed. The first week, cargo ships; second week, 16th-century explorers; third week, dinosaurs. And if that wasn’t enough, what came next surprised everybody . . .

This challenge brought to us by Jason Liegois, who led an excellent mini-workshop on revision at the last meeting, and also made us all hungry for pancakes.

Happy writing, all. May the new month nurture your tiny shoots of inspiration and not beat them back with hail, fire, bombs, and everything else April has been throwing at us. Write your way through. And bring your work to share at the meeting so we can all see what you come up with.

April doings

WOTA’s April started with a great Tuesday afternoon meeting! Among the writings on offer were an essay, a play, formal poetry, flash fiction, and micro-memoir–a varied and entertaining selection, and we enjoying sharpening our critique skills on each.

Meeting

Join us for the general meeting on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:00 pm. There will be a brief business meeting at 5:30 for members and those interested in becoming members. Writing work will start at 6:00 with an exercise in revision led by Jason Liegois, published novelist, and after that we’ll share our short works. Anyone is welcome to stay for the longer critique group, where we’ll be discussing “The Tooth That Time Forgot.” Email Misty if you’d like a copy of this work to read in advance.

Fair

WOTA will have a table at the Crossroads Spring Craft and Vendor Show on Saturday, April 13, held from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church on Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine. We’ll sell books and tell people where the writers hang out. If you’re looking to buy WOTA books, now’s your chance; and if you’re willing to sit behind the table for an hour or two and tell people about WOTA, even better! If you’re just interested in shopping vendors, this fair benefits Crossroads, an organization worth supporting. Plus, you can bid on WOTA’s basket for the raffle! Contact Pat if you’d like to help out.

Challenge

April is National Poetry Month! The challenge is to write a poem. If you’d like some guidance, try the tricube, a form invented by Philip Larrea. The rules are deceptively simple:
1. Each line has three syllables.
2. Each stanza has three lines.
3. Each poem has three stanzas.
Bring copies to the meeting to share! As always, if you’ve got something other than the word challenge, bring that, too.

Creative Writing Camp

Want to hang out with other creative writers at Langwood Education Center for two days and two nights from June 7-9? Who wouldn’t?? Click here for registration info and for the form to apply for a scholarship. WOTA members have priority through 4/30, and we can sponsor one day or the whole weekend, depending on your preference. The final workshop schedule will be available soon. Note: Scholarships for non-WOTA members will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis from May 1 – 31 as funds are available. Get your application in early!

T.S. Eliot says April is the cruelest month, and I think he was talking about the weather. Between flooding, wild swings in temperature, and daffodils shivering in the cold rain, the promise of spring seems distant at times. Let this be fuel for our hardship, turning our suffering into pure poetry.

Scholarships Available for Creativity Camp

WOTA is pleased once again to provide scholarships to those interested in attending this year’s Creative Writing Camp, held June 7 – 9 at Langwood Education Center in Grandview, IA, and hosted by the Society of Great River Poets.

Creative Writing Camp is designed to give adults 18 or older a stimulating, instructive weekend in a beautiful natural setting that will exercise the writing muscles and replenish the creative well. Activities begin Friday night with stargazing and story-telling and continue through workshops on Saturday and Sunday that address different aspects of the writing craft.

Registration fee is $15 for Friday, $30 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday, or $60 for all three days. Email SGRP to register now or gather more information; use the form below to apply for a scholarship. Scholarship amounts of up to $60 per person are available.

Though you’re not required to stay on-site, accommodations are included in the registration fee. Choices include an A-frame dormitory-style lodge with twins beds, a central shelterhouse with full kitchen, and campsites with and without electricity. There are plumbed bathrooms with shower and AC in the shelterhouse where workshops take place. Recreational opportunities include hiking, boating, bird-watching, and telling tall tales around the campfire.

To apply for a scholarship, please apply below and provide a brief explanation for what you hope to gain from the camp. WOTA members have first priority through April 30. Applications will be accepted through end of May 2019 and scholarships awarded thereafter on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

March Madness

Join us for WOTA in the afternoon on Thursday, March 7 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in room 201 of Musser Public Library. Bring a pen, bring a friend, bring a short work to share.

Then join us again the evening of Tuesday, March 19 at 6:00 pm in the first-floor board room of Musser Library for our monthly meeting. Bring the same work, bring fresh work, bring the same pen or many others. We’ll do writing exercises, critique work, and talk through whatever is on our minds.

March’s word challenge is based on the exercise given to us by Paul Fitzpatrick at last month’s meeting. Find a book on your shelf – open to a random page – scan the page until a word leaps out at you. Then grab pen and paper and write something with, in response to, or around that word – story, poem, memory, whatever. It was amazing to hear what everyone came up with in February, and we’d love to hear what this exercise unlocks in you. Bring copies to share at a meeting, post to our Facebook page, submit here as a comment, or send it to WOTA through the Contact form for posting on the site. May the words be with you!

In other news

Congratulations to WOTA member Dustin Joy for winning honorable mention for his piece “Dan” in the nonfiction category of the Iron Pen contest sponsored by the Midwest Writing Center! The challenge to produce something from a prompt within the space of 24 hours would defeat many, but Dustin clearly rose to the challenge. WOTA actually walked away with two winners, as Misty Urban‘s story “A Many-Chambered Vessel” took second place in the fiction category. Way to represent, WOTA folk!

Congratulations also to member Jason Liegois for publication of his novel A Holy Fool: A Journalist’s Revolt, just out from Biblio Publishing! Check out Jason’s blog Liegois Media for information on book signings and workshops near you.

Thanks to all who came out to support WOTA at our Read Local event at Bettendorf Public Library! It was wonderful to hear such great work from our members, and a special shout-out to Mary Davidsaver for sharing from her novel in progress.

Free 6-week class on writing spiritual memoir

Writers on the Avenue and Trinity Episcopal Church are teaming up to offer a FREE six-week workshop for anyone interested in writing a spiritual memoir.

The class will include guided reflection, discussion of craft, writing time, and sharing works in progress. Writers of all ages, levels of experience, and different faith paths are welcome. We welcome anyone who’s interested in reflecting on and writing about their experience of religion, spirit, spirituality, and the divine. We will incorporate discussion about different experiences of faith as well as writing exercises, generative activities, and workshopping what we’re creating.

The class will meet from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. in the parish hall of Trinity Episcopal Church, 211 Walnut St., Muscatine, on the following Sundays: February 10, February 24, March 10, March 31, April 14, and April 28.

The class is co-led by Reverend Kathleen Milligan and Dr. Misty Urban. Rev. Milligan has decades of experience guiding Episcopalian churches throughout Iowa and is currently interim rector at Trinity. Dr. Urban is a professor of creative writing and English literature and is currently president of Writers on the Avenue. She has published award-winning short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, medieval scholarship, and two collections of short stories.

For more information on spiritual memoir, visit SpiritualMemoir.com for reflection, writing exercises, resources, and a reading list. The class will make use of Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew’s book Writing the Sacred Journey.  The only required materials are pen, paper, an open mind, and a willing spirit.

The class is free, but space is limited. Use the contact form below to reserve a seat, or contact WOTA with questions.

 

Read Local w/WOTA

As part of Bettendorf Public Library‘s terrific Read Local series, members of Writers on the Avenue will read from the latest anthologies, share works in progress, and answer questions about craft and the writing life on Wednesday, February 13 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

This event is free and open to the public, so we hope you’ll be there for moral support!

riv to riv coveranthology coverholiday-anthology-front-cover

January meetings

Happy new year, writers! There are two opportunities to meet up this January:

WOTA in the afternoon will meet on Thursday, January 3 from 1 to 3 pm in room 201 of Musser Public Library. Bring a pen, bring a friend, bring a short work to share.

We’ll have our monthly evening meeting on Tuesday, January 15 with the business discussion starting at 5:30 and the writing starting at 6. We have folks on deck to lead us in writing exercises and share work for longer critique, along with the usual sharing of short work. Hope to see you at one or both meetings!

If you’re up for a challenge, we generated this list of words at the holiday party. Use them in a poem, song, story, essay, whatever-you-like and share with us: flamingo, riotous, generate, elaborate, parrot, bright, Christmas, resolute, entertain.

Hope your 2019 is full of inspiration!

 

Warm your heart with some free books!

To spread holiday cheer, WOTA is offering the Kindle version of our recent anthologies for FREE this December.

Get your copy of Winter Holidays in the City of Pearls between 12/6 and 12/10: https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Holidays-City-Pearls-Stories-ebook/dp/B01MSOOFG2/. These twelve poems, stories, and short essays celebrate food and family, reflect on holidays past, and explore the meaning of the season. A great way to get in the holiday spirit!

Between 12/11 and 12/15 you can lift your spirits with the inspirational artwork, poems, and stories of Climbing the Hill of Life: https://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Hill-Life-Stories-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B0761391G3/. Writers of all ages and from all walks of life share messages of hope and wisdom, offer healing for the troubled heart, and celebrate the simple beauty of the everyday.

From 12/17 to 12/21, enjoy a free copy of From River to River, and savor its beautiful photographs and moving poetry along with your cup of hot cider, cocoa, or tea: https://www.amazon.com/River-Thoughts-Life-Great-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B07GZ3HL8B/. Let these lovely contemplations on nature and life warm your heart while a toasty fire warms your toes.

May all your days his holiday season be merry and bright!