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.

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.


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.


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.


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!

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