Writing with Research Workshop, Clinton Public Library, Clinton, IA, July 20
Reading at River City Lights Bookstore in Dubuque, IA, August 19
Third Annual Clinton Book Festival at Clinton Community College, Clinton, IA, August 26
A refreshing weekend of creative inspiration at the spring Creativity Camp hosted by the Society of Great River Poets at Langwood Education Center near Grandview, IA, May 19-21. I had the opportunity to lead a workshop on Creating with Myth, Dream, and Archetype, then went on to enjoy other sessions on writing horror, book reviews, and handwritten letters. I painted on canvas, bound books, wrote a sestina, and learned how to use Dawn dish soap for just about anything. A terrific weekend of creative challenge, and community.
Wonderful two-day event at the inaugural Rock Town Lit Fest. Pub crawl on Friday night through the MWC, Blue Cat Brew Pub, and Rozz-Tox with fantastic readers at every spot and headliner/rock star poet Tara Betts. Then an author fair at the Rock Island Public Library on Saturday, May 6 with readings, panelists, publishers, and incredibly inspiring books and conversations. Hope this becomes an annual event!
At the end of February, I traveled to City High in Iowa City to meet with a talented group of readers and writers in Mrs. Davis’s English class. They’d read the title story, “A Lesson in Manners,” from my book, and I couldn’t wait to talk with them about it. They were perceptive, interested, wonderful at decoding symbolism, and we had a profound and provocative discussion about postmodernism, telling stories, and learning from grief. Conversations like these with fresh, young minds restore my faith in the future of literature and the deep, necessary work it does when we read, write, and then think about it.
I had the chance to visit my hometown library, McMillan Memorial Library, on Thursday, November 7, 2016, to talk with a group of writers about the twin engines of storytelling. As usual, I learned a whole lot from the bunch. Plus it was wonderful to see how the library has grown since I was a little kid.
Writers on the Avenue had a series of fall fiction workshops on October and November on writing the mystery, writing romance, and writing historical fiction. Local writers came to talk with attendees about their books, the publication process, and the tough job of writing. We were lucky to get a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine that helped us bring these talented folks to our town.
The Clinton Book Festival on August 27 was a blast! Bestselling author Leigh Michaels signed my books, and I got to chat with Iowa poet laureate Mary Swander and tell her how thrilled I am that she chose my poem to be engraved in concrete in Muscatine. Plus I got to mingle with a whole bunch of accomplished author friends, and make some new ones. Already looking forward to next year’s event!
July 9 was a busy day. I spend the noon hour at Deana’s Java Cafe in Clinton, IA, hanging out with friends and fans of fellow authors Teresa LaBella, Karen Musser Nortman, and Dionne Witt. (I also met Francesca Hawley!) Then I scooted back to Muscatine to set up a vendor table for Writers on the Avenue and the Society of Great River Poets at the Muscatine Second Saturday arts & music festival. Our table featured area authors Anna Counter, Pat Bieber, Dan Rohde, and Lyle Gibson, author of A Lifetime in Motion. We gave away some pencils, told some more people about literary opportunities around Muscatine, and enjoyed the music of Ace Johnson all evening. What a blast!
From June 23-25, I attended the David R. Collins Writing Conference at the Midwest Writing Center. I got wonderful inspiration on fiction and nonfiction writing from Kathleen Rooney and Felicia Schneiderhan and great advice on publishing from C. Hope Clark and Brittany Cavallero. Being around so many other talented writers, hearing their stories, their process, and seeing their minds at work, gave me enormous inspiration and motivation. Plus, I remembered what happens when I go to a room and write every day, even if it’s just for a little while. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that, and it was worth paying somebody else to make me sit down and write, dang it.
Book launch party for A Lesson in Manners
As part of Muscatine’s first Second Saturday, an arts and music street fest, I threw a bash at the Muscatine History and Industry Center to celebrate the publication of A Lesson in Manners! There were drawings for prizes, etiquette competitions, a groaning table full of food, and, I hope, a good time had by all.
Writers on the Avenue hosted a poetry festival on April 30 at Trinity Episcopal Church to wrap up National Poetry Month, and we had a day of poetic inspiration with workshops run by Ryan Collins and Farah Marklevits, then an open mic where participants shared their work. Then we got the evening going for real, hearing from winners of WOTA’s poetry contest, and then real-life, larger-than-life, raw and wonderful poets Collins, Marklevits, and the out-and-out wonderful Lauren K. Alleyne. An all-around amazing day, and the only thing that could possibly make it better is to do it all again next year.
On April 27, I visited Bettendorf Public Library to take part in their Read Local program, a line-up co-sponsored by the MWC to feature area authors. I gave a talk on story arcs, read bits of “Still Life With Dog” from A Lesson in Manners, and learned a lot from the sharp participants. I’m so happy to be in a place with such a lively literary scene.
On March 31 I visited a City High School Literature class in Iowa City, IA, to discuss the making of “A Lesson in Manners.” This is the third year I’ve met with Mrs. Davis’s City High students, and they are always wonderfully prepared readers with smart, perceptive questions about the story and a healthy interest in living a creative life. Hats off to great teachers!
Several leading local women came together to read from SISTERS: An Anthology to celebrate International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8, at the Muscatine History and Industry Center. This was a lovely, heartfelt, and moving celebration of sisterhood, women’s voices, and a community of accomplished people (and a front-page write-up in the newspaper the following day, too!). The event was taped thanks to faculty at MCC, and you might catch it running on the public access channel, Channel 9. Many thanks to sponsors Musser Public Library, Writers on the Avenue, and the Muscatine History and Industry Center for hosting this event.
Moline Public Library hosted a lovely local author book fair on Saturday December 5, at which area writers read from and talked about their work, and were available to chat with and sign books for library patrons. I bought some more books, met some wonderful people, and drummed up some excitement for A Lesson in Manners.
Writer’s Workshop at West Liberty Public Library held on Saturday, November 7. This was a wonderful combination of panelists and local writers intermingling for discussion on plot, character, editing, and the requirements of genre. I came away with a big stack of books to read and a new list of authors I’m exciting about, which means the event was a smashing success.
Opening fiction reader for the SPECTRA Reading Series held October 29 at Rozz-Tox in Rock Island, IL. Got to stalk some amazing Wisconsin poets and hear wonderful local talent from other openers and the Out Loud open mike. Next time I’ll show up early for the social mixer.
Workshop on Researching and Writing Historical Fiction held at the Midwest Writing Center in Davenport, IA, on Saturday, October 17, from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. We discussed useful practices for conducting historical research and ways to incorporate research into a novel or story to create compelling character and authentic scene.
Contact Misty to arrange a workshop, reading, classroom visit, or other event: