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!

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.

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.

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!


October events

Join us for an afternoon with WOTA on Thursday, October 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. in room 201 at Musser Public Library! We’re launching an afternoon meeting for those who can’t make Tuesday night or just want more WOTA in their life. Bring a pen, bring a friend, bring a short work to share.

We’ll meet again on Tuesday, October 16 in the board room of Musser Public Library for our regular monthly meeting. Business starts at 5:30 and the fun at 6. We’ll participate in a writing activity, share short work, and then anyone who wishes can stay for the critique group, where we discuss longer works in more detail.

If you’re looking for some inspiration this month, write a piece using these words: pumpkin, headless, shadowy, surprise.

As always, writers of any genre, any age, and any level of experience are welcome to WOTA meetings. There is a membership fee for those who want the WOTA perks (like discounts on books, access to grants and scholarships, etc.) but inquiry meetings are free.

And if you’re starting your holiday shopping, remember that books make great gifts! WOTA anthologies are available for sale on Amazon and from your favorite WOTA member.

See you soon, and happy writing!