February sweetness

February meetings

WOTA in the afternoon meets Thursday, February 6 from 1-3 pm in room 201 of Musser Public Library.

The regular WOTA evening meeting takes place Tuesday, February 18 in room 17 of Musser Public Library. Members can come at 5:30 pm for a quick business meeting to discuss upcoming projects and events. Anyone is welcome to join us at 6 pm for writing exercises and sharing short work. As always writers of all ages, genres, and levels of experience are welcome.

Upcoming Contests

The Midwest Writing Center is taking registrations for its annual Iron Pen contest. Can you write a poem, a short story, or a creative essay in 24 hours? And can you base it on a prompt you’re given? If you’re a WOTA member, you do this all the time! Register here.

Poems are being accepted for the2020 Lyrical Iowa. Find the requirements and submission guidelines on the Iowa Poetry Association website.

Upcoming Workshops & Other Opportunities

Misty Urban is leading a Prayer & Poetry retreat at the Benet Retreat House at St. Mary’s Monastery, Rock Island, on February 7-8. Participants will read and discuss the works of Mary Oliver and others as well as take time to read, meditate, write, and share work.  Register here.

Misty will also be at the Davenport Eastern Library on Saturday, February 29 as part of their Local Author series, offering a workshop from 3-4 pm on the short, short-short, and not-so-short story. No need to register; just show up!

Jodie Toohey is leading an Online Beginning Writing Workshop that will run for six weeks beginning March 20. Classes will cover character, critique, voice, energy, plot, and more. For more information and to register check the Midwest Writing Center website.

Pat Bieber is leading a new Poetry Potluck group that meets at Musser Public Library on the 2d and 4th Thursday of each month from 1-3 pm in room 17. Poets are invited to bring work to read aloud. The focus will be on discussion, not critique. Free!

Word challenge

Need a little challenge in your life? How ’bout you write a sestina for February? Find the form, an example, and some tips at this website. Share your poem in the comments, email WOTA, post to our Facebook page, or bring to a meeting. Hope your February is fabulous!


Holiday party 2019

WOTA will hold its first Thursday meeting in room 201 of Musser Public Library from 1:00 to 3:00 pm on December 5.

Then, join us for a holiday potluck, singalong, and open mic on Tuesday, December 17 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 211 Walnut St. (right across from the library on 2d Street). This event is free and open to the public, so bring your family and friends!

November brewings

The Halloween treats are collected, the clocks are set back (for those of us observing those holidays), and it’s time for the fall harvest in this part of the world. I hope all of your writing projects are prospering and bearing the fruit of your hard labors.

November meetings

WOTA in the afternoon will meet in room 201 of Musser Public Library on Thursday, November 7 from 1 – 3 pm. This gathering is small and informal, so bring a few copies of work to share. We look forward to seeing you!

The evening meeting will take place in room 17, the Makerspace, of Musser Public Library on Tuesday, November 19. We’ll conduct business at 5:30 pm and have it out of the way by 6. Bring a pen, a friend, and a short work to share. New members are always welcome!

Other events

The 6th Annual Book Bums Workshop will take place at West Liberty Public Library on Saturday, November 9 from 9 am to 3 pm. Established authors will speak on panels addressing the topics of crafting suspense, creating memorable villains, and publishing and marketing your work. An author fair between 11 and noon will give attendees the chance to get books signed and talk one-on-one with favorite authors, while a meet-and-greet from 3 to 3:30 pm will give writers a chance to meet and mingle with others sharing their interests. The workshop is free, but you can register and reserve a seat on the website. There’s a great roster of regional writers you won’t want to miss!

It’s NaNoWriMo, and if any of you out there have set your caps on the goals of writing 50,000 words this month, we want to hear about it! Pop over to our Facebook group to find a NaNoWriMo buddy or just share your feelings about this long sprint. Good luck!

Save the date for the WOTA Holiday Party on Tuesday, December 17 from 6 to 8 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 211 Walnut St. (right across the street from Musser Public Library). We’ll have treats, an open mic, and a chance to celebrate another year. Free & open to the public, so bring your family and friends as well as your appetite and your voice, as we’ll have our self-authored Christmas carols to sing!

Elections are approaching!

And we don’t mean November 5! The biannual elections for officers will take place at the December meeting/holiday party/open mic. All positions on the board are open–president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer–so if you feel called to serve, get your name on the ballot now! Self nominations are accepted! All dues-paying members are eligible to vote and to hold a position. Keep WOTA going in its mission as an Iowa nonprofit corporation dedicated to supporting writers & the literary arts in and around Muscatine!

Word challenge

And of course we can’t let a month pass without partaking of the monthly word challenge! The October folks generated these words: Thanksgiving, pilgrim, prudence, unknown, withered, histrionic, and crucible. Those should set your imagination boiling and bubbling! Write a poem, a drama, a story, an essay, or something unique & in-between and bring it to the December meeting to read aloud!

Other news

If you submitted something to the WOTA 30-year anthology, you should be hearing back soon about your submission. Thanks for your patience! We’re still in search of a title for this anniversary anthology celebrating WOTA voices old and new, so if you have ideas, let’s hear them. A publication date of February 2020 is anticipated to observe 30 years of Writers on the Avenue inspiring Muscatine writers and creating community. We hope to keep it going for 30 more!

October events

No doubt those of you who like sweater weather are enjoying the turn toward fall — and those of us who love Halloween are hauling out the decorations. In between planning this year’s costume and experimenting with a new witch’s brew, make time for some writing and these WOTA events:

WOTA in the afternoon

Thursday, October 3 from 1 – 3 in room 201 of Musser Public Library

Evening meeting

Tuesday, October 15 in room 17 (Makerspace) of Musser Public Library. Business will begin at 5:30 pm and the writing commences at 6. We’ll indulge in a writing exercise, share short works, and those who are interested can stay for the critique group. As always, all ages, genres, styles, and levels of experience are welcome! Bring a friend, bring a friend, bring a short work to share.

Word challenge

If you’re looking to prime the creative well, the September group generated this list for the challenge. Try to work all of these into a short piece, any subject, genre, or style:

spirits, tentative, combine, gargantuan, plastic, doppelgänger, red, autumn, mindfulness, gestation, politics, liberation.

(I know–this list says a lot about the group!) Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

As an alternative challenge, Paul Fitzpatrick (author of the highly entertaining interplanetary reports) challenges us to write a flash piece describing a magnificent sunset . . . as seen on / from a different planet. This should be interesting!

Other events

WOTA president Misty Urban is teaching a workshop on autofiction and micro-memoir at the MWC on Saturday, October 19 from 2 – 4. You can register by contacting the MWC or going to the website.

Word has it that Blackhawk College is offering a short evening course on self-publishing during the month of October. If anyone has more information on this–or a registration link–please post in the comments!

Upcoming in November:

WOTA member Jodie Toohey will be launching her latest novel, Shattered Pearl, at the Midwest Writing Center on Saturday, November 2 at 2 pm. Come get your signed book!

The 6th annual Book Bums Workshop will take place at West Liberty Public Library on Saturday, November 9 from 9 am to 3 pm. The workshop is free; lunch will be offered for a small fee. You can register through the library using this link.

Please contact WOTA to let us know of other writing news in the area!

Now, go write. The world needs your ideas, your words, your voice, and your unique, you-and-you-only perspective–tender, weird, biting, cataclysmic, eternally hopeful, or somewhere in between. Your reading is waiting.

Forget August! Bring on September . . .

August has passed in a blur of heat and summer fun, and it’s time to think about settling back into regular rhythms: for some of us, going back to school, and for all of us, returning to a regular writing discipline. Here are a couple of things that might help with that:

WOTA in the afternoon meets Thursday, September 5 from 1:00 to 3:00 in room 201 of Musser Public Library.

The monthly business meeting will take place Tuesday, September 17 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in room 17 (the Maker Space) of Musser Public Library.

The deadline for submissions to our 30-year retrospective anthology is September 15! There’s still time to polish something up and submit it through the form here or by emailing WOTA. We look forward to reading your work!

The September word challenge, based on our August writing exercise, is to write a rondo. You can do this in a prose, stream-of-consciousness form, blending many voices; you can do it as a series of free associations or a list; you can do it as a found poem; or you can really challenge yourself and try writing a real rondeau, described here. Bring copies to share to one or both of the September meetings, along with a pen, a friend, and some inspiration to share.

Happy September!

July events & other fun

If you thought June was fun, wait till you see what we’ve got planned for July!

Afternoon meeting Wednesday, July 3 1-3 pm in room 17 of Musser Public Library

Our usual conference room was booked on the 3d and the library is closed on July 4, but we’re nothing if not flexible. Join us for some afternoon writing talk, word smithing, and creative support.

Authors welcome at the WOTA Second Saturday table July 13 4-8 pm

There are still spaces for authors to sell books at Muscatine’s July Second Saturday event, held on 2d Ave. in downtown Muscatine. WOTA members get the space for free; non-members are asked to pay a nominal fee. Stop by for WOTA news, free bookmarks, writing-related conversation, and signed books! P.S. Anyone who wants to help with set up, tear down, or sitting at the table to chat with visitors will not be turned away.

Evening meeting Tuesday, July 16 6-8 pm Musser Public Library room 17

Join us for writing exercises, swapping work, and the usual suspicious activities. Note that we are trying out the downstairs Makers Space again. We’re experimenting to see which rooms are best for our creative spirits.

Word challenge

It’s not Christmas in July, but Paul Fitzpatrick has invited each of us to write a verse or two to our favorite Christmas carol! Bring it to the next meeting, and he will set it to music for a festive sing-a-long at our December holiday party this year. What a great way to get us all to stretch into new creative territory!

New anthology in the works

Yes, hold on to your hats and sunglasses: WOTA is planning an anthology to celebrate 30 years of supporting writers and the literary arts in Muscatine. See the call for submissions and send us your best work!

Call for submissions!

WOTA has been supporting writers and the literary arts in Muscatine for 30 years!

We want to mark the occasion with an anthology that is a retrospective, a showcase, a reflection on WOTA’s contributions to the community, and a compilation of greatest hits by WOTA members and friends, past and present. To this end, we invite submissions of artwork, poetry, or prose—fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, reflections, journalism, other—that can help us celebrate writing, writing groups, WOTA, and the literary arts of Muscatine.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Favorite pieces from previous WOTA publications and anthologies
  • Previously published or new work from past members or affiliates
  • Reflections on time spent with WOTA, in any capacity: memoirs on past members, events, any impressions or influence the group has had
  • Newspaper articles, press releases, or any other clippings on WOTA events throughout the years
  • New work from current members, affiliates, and friends
  • Anything else that can help illuminate the theme of writers, WOTA, and Muscatine. Surprise us!

To submit, send artwork, up to 5 short poems, or prose of up to 2000 words to our email or submit through the website using the form below. Please note where the work may have previously appeared, and send only work which you have full permission to publish.

Please send submissions by September 15, 2019. Artwork should be in 300 dpi resolution in .jpg format. Documents should be sent in .doc, .docx, or .rtf. Include name, contact information including email and mailing address, and a short bio of around 100 words including your affiliation with or relationship to WOTA.

Work appearing in previous anthologies, pieces generated at or through WOTA meetings, and work by WOTA members and friends past or present will be given special consideration, though we are willing to consider a wide variety of creative works. Contributors receive a free copy of the finished anthology, sales of which benefit WOTA’s mission to continue supporting Muscatine writers and the literary arts for many decades to come.

Email WOTA or call (563) 275-6343 for more information.

Use this form to submit to the 30-year anniversary anthology:

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.


…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.