Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Registration for the Young Emerging Writers Summer Camp is now open! Sign your children up for this informative, fun, interactive summer camp today!

MWC offers the Young Emerging Writers Summer Camp for students finishing the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The YEW summer camp consists of close instruction in prose, poetry, and drama. There will be a public reading of the students' work at the end of the camp. With the help of guest instructors, participants will receive many hours of immersion in the literary arts, helping to improve and diversify their writing.
The 2014 YEW Summer Camp will take place at the Bucktown Center for the Arts July 21-25 from 11am-4pm. For more information on registration,visit our website

Midwest Writing Center

225 E. 2nd St. Suite 303, Davenport, IA 52801
563-324-1410
Visit us on Facebook and Twitter
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

HOW TO WORK WITH AN AGENT with JEN KARSBAEK

You’ve written what you think is a great book, and you’d really like a traditional publishing contract. Your next step is getting an agent, but how do you do it and how do you work with an agent once you get one? A stellar query letter is important, but so is knowing what is expected and what questions to ask in the agent/client relationship.


Learn more about how to get and work with agent during the “An Evening with Jen Karsbaek of Foreword Literary Agency” event from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on June 27 during David R. Collins 2014 Writers’ Conference at MWC (3rd Floor, 225 E. 2 Street, Davenport, Iowa). It’s free and open to everyone (even non-conference attendees).

This session with be part presentation, part question and answer session, so please come prepared with your questions about the process of working with an agent. This event will cover topics including writing a successful query letter, presenting yourself professionally to agents, and what questions to ask once you are offered representation.

Jen will also be taking pitches on Saturday, June 28th at McCarthy Hall on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport. Click here toregister and reserve your 10 minute pitch session. You can also pitch to Publisher Steve Semken on Friday, June 27th.

Jen Karsbaek joined first Larsen Pomada Literary Agency, then Foreword Literary Agency in 2013, but has been immersed in the book world since 2008, when she founded the influential blog Devourer of Books. In addition to book reviews, during her time blogging Jen has hosted a literary podcast, an online book club, and a popular annual event celebrating audio books. Jen is also a freelance writer and reviewer.

The conference also features three day workshops on flash fiction, memoir, poetry, essay, and novel. Free evening events open to the public are also planned. Discounts are offered for MWC members. Discounts are offered for MWC members. Click here for more details. The conference is made possible by our generous sponsors: Modern Woodman of America, St. Ambrose University English Department, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Genesis Health Systems.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Publishing, pitches, and writing. A few words and comments from a small publisher: Steve Semken from Ice Cube Press

Everyone gets nervous when presenting someone with their writing, it's a sign you care. I hope, though, that when you sign up to do a pitch with myself, or any publisher, you understand that getting a "no" to your pitch is almost as good as getting a "yes." You have to assume not everyone will like what you write. What you want to do is find the publisher that will say yes. Approach your writing seriously and with passion and you will discover people that want to help you. I know you won't believe it, but it is a big help to hear "no" then. After all, you want to get the rejections out of the way as you search for acceptance. I promise you, as a publisher, I value all people's writing and understand that what you pitch and share with me means a lot to you. Unfortunately not everything is right for every publisher, but I do assure you, if I think I can help you I will try.

I'd encourage you to attend the question and answer session on publishing as well, these are great ways to learn some of what publishers look for. To recognize that you are not alone in your ideas about publishing and writing. Bring a question along. I promise your question is worth asking. I've found the David Collins Writing Conference to be a wonderful place for authors and publishers to meet and learn about each other in a useful way.

Want to schedule a pitch session with Steve on Friday, June 27th? Then, click here to register and reserve your 10 minute pitch session during the 2014 David R. Collins Writers' Conference at McCarthy Hall on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport, Iowa. You can also pitch to Literary Agent, Jen Karsbaek on Saturday, June 28th. The free workshop Steve references is the evening with Jen Karsbaek event on Friday, June 27th at 7 p.m. at MWC (3rd floor, 225 E. 2nd Street, Davenport, Iowa) which is free and open to everyone (even non-conference attendees).

Steve Semken founded the Ice Cube Press twenty-one years ago as a way to use the literary arts to learn about how to best live in the Midwest. Over the last two decades he has helped publish nearly hundred books. He is often asked to speak to writing groups throughout the Midwest on issues of creativity, entrepreneurship, writing, and publishing.

The conference also features three day workshops on flash fiction, memoir, poetry, essay, and novel. Additional free evening events open to the public are also planned. Discounts are offered for MWC members. Click here for more details. The conference is made possible by our generous sponsors: Modern Woodman of America, St. Ambrose University English Department, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Genesis Health Systems.

THE MAKING OF REALITY with RACHEL YODER

As a writer, I’m particularly enamored with Werner Herzog’s notion of ecstatic truth which he talks about in this clip.  “I’ve been after something like…justice within pictures,” he says in his German accent before letting out a faint moan of frustration and moving his hands in gestures similar to those portrayed in antiquated Italian paintings of Christ’s apostles. “It’s very strange to explain it,” he says, looking at the floor.

I’ve felt this need for balance, for a certain justice, most acutely when writing short stories. Every word has to be tuned or the whole narrative falls apart. I’m looking for a certain tone, a pitch that remains just so for the entire piece. This pitch is just above my abilities of hearing. This is to say that when I am doing my best writing, my truest writing, I am operating right there at the edge of my capabilities. I am trying to hear something impossible for my eardrum to pick up. This is why this artistic truth is essentially ecstatic. It’s extrasensory. It’s beyond the flesh.

When I write short stories, the fundamental problem for me does not seem to be one of form—and this is especially true when writing realistic, linear narratives—but one of this elusive pitch. I’m not disoriented by what I’m doing. Of course I’m writing a story. I don’t know exactly how to tell it, but I already understand the concept of story and can, at the very least, decipher a direction in which to head.

Yet when I work in an essayistic mode, form opens up for me. I do not think linear nor narrative and the words of course leave me and instead I wonder how and what and where am I and begin to imagine boxes and spirals and one time a beautiful clay vase glazed in rich azure. These are the shapes or forms to hold what I have to say.

For me, this is what makes the essay such an exciting endeavor. If we are operating with Herzog’s notion that “…there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization…” then the essay, first and foremost, isn’t an act of fact or reportage. It is an act of art without any predefined outlines. Today I will write an azure vase.  Tomorrow I will write my father’s boot.

The essay as art. That’s what I’m interested in when I talk about an “ecstatic essay.” We are used to our stories being artistic but those among us used to, as Herzog puts it, “the truth of accountants” in the traditional “factual” essays may become uncomfortable with an alleged essay that babbles, that lies, that features an obviously concocted narrator, an essay that’s broken apart into shards or that could double as a prayer or spell. Yet how are we to tell the truth without absolutely every tool and trick at our disposal, without the ability to warp time and space and “reality” so as to make it more, well, real?

Intrigued? Want to learn more and craft your own ecstatic essay? Then make sure to attend Rachel’s “The Ecstatic Essay” workshop June 26-28th at the David R. CollinsWriter’s Conference at McCarthy Hall on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport, Iowa. 

Rachel Yoder is a founding editor of draft: the journal of process which publishes first and final drafts of short stories, essays, and poetry along with author interviews about the creative process (draftjournal.com). She holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Iowa where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review Online, The Kenyon Review Online, and The Sun Magazine in addition to many other print and online publications. She was awarded the 2013 Editors' Prize in Fiction from The Missouri Review and has also received notable distinction in Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her work has most recently been anthologized in Writing That Risks: New Work from Beyond the Mainstream (Red Bridge Press) and YOU: An Anthology of Essays Devoted to the Second Person (Welcome Table Press). She's taught creative writing at the University of Arizona, Prescott College, the University of Iowa, the Lifetime Enrichment Adult Program at the University of Iowa, and currently teaches writing classes in the Iowa City community. More info at racheljyoder.com.


The conference also features other three day workshops on memoir, poetry, flash fiction, and novel. Critiques, pitches, and free evening events open to the public are also planned. Mention this blog post and receive the early bird discount even though it’s after June 15th. Click here for moredetails. The conference is made possible by our generous sponsors: Modern Woodman of America, St. Ambrose University English Department, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Genesis Health Systems.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

FLASH FICTION: A LIMINAL GENRE with CHAD SIMPSON

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It might be said that these six words indicate merely something for sale; it might be said that they manage to convey an entire novel’s worth of loss. Very short stories, or flash fictions, have been around for a very long time. In the recent past, Richard Bausch has said that “when a story is compressed so much, the matter of it tends to require more size: that is, in order to make it work in so small a space, its true subject must be proportionately larger.”

As writers, we are always navigating how to get our story onto the page. What should we show? What should we tell? Writing flash fictions presents us with an even greater challenge because we have only so many words with which to convey so much world. The successful flash fiction, then, not only presents to us a world but lets us know what all is going on there, and why it matters.

Intrigued? Want to learn more, including how to craft your own flash fiction? Then make sure to attend Chad’s workshop June 26-28th at the David R. Collins Writer’s Conference at McCarthy Hall on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport, Iowa.  Attendees will read flash fictions and attempt to ascertain which elements of story the pieces contain to begin to answer questions of what makes a story a story or a flash a flash. They will also be given prompts to write their own flash fictions.

Chad Simpson is the author of Tell Everyone I Said Hi, which won the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award and was published by the University of Iowa Press. His work has appeared in many print and online publications, including McSweeney's Quarterly, Esquire, American Short Fiction, and The Sun, and he has received awards from the Illinois Arts Council, the Atlantic Monthly, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. He lives in Monmouth, Illinois, and is an Associate Professor of English at Knox College.

The conference also features other three day workshops on memoir, poetry, essay, and novel. Critiques, pitches, and free evening events open to the public are also planned. Discounts are offered for MWC member and early bird (before June 15th) registrants. Click here for more details. The conference is made possible by our generous sponsors: Modern Woodman of America, St. Ambrose University English Department, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Genesis Health Systems.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

NOVEL AS DISCOVERY - with Jac Jemc


LSD. The slinky. X-Rays. Penicillin. What do these things have in common? They were all created by accident. So often, when we're writing, we can get hung up on the end goal that we don't notice the opportunities evidencing themselves along the way. Or we might so closely edit ourselves and our ideas, that we never get to see what might have developed out of the initial mess. Writing a longer work can become a lot easier if we get out of our own way and allow for both stages of a two-step process: 1) Chaos and 2) Organization. By following Rebecca Solnit's advice, we can find so much more than we ever knew to anticipate: “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” 

Want to explore more alternative methods of generating material for your novel? Then make sure to attend Jac’s workshop June 26-28th at the David R. Collins Writer’s Conference at McCarthy Hall on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport, Iowa. The workshop will also encourage you to follow tangents, explore characters, find the intersection of multiple storylines, and let the language lead you to free yourself and write your novel more quickly and organically.

Jac Jemc’s novel, MyOnly Wife, was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. Her collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time, is due out from Dzanc in October 2014. She's the poetry editor for decomP and web fiction editor for Hobart.

The conference also features other three day workshops on memoir, poetry, essay, and flash fiction. Critiques, pitches, and free evening events open to the public are also planned. Discounts are offered for MWC member and early bird (before June 15th) registrants. Click here for moredetails. The conference is made possible by our generous sponsors: Modern Woodman of America, St. Ambrose University English Department, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Genesis Health Systems.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Register Now for 2014 David R. Collins' Writers' Conference: June 26-28

Come join the fun on June 26, 27, and 28 on the campus of St. Ambrose University for the 2014 David R. Collins' Writers' Conference.   
2013 Conference Faculty
Matthew Guenette

Click here for online registration. 

Come to the Mississippi River for your writing inspiration as have so many other authors. The David R. Collins Writers’ Conference is your destination for writing improvement in a variety of genres, publishing tips, time with multi-published authors, one on one critiques and pitches, readings, book sales, networking, making new writing friends, and Midwest hospitality.  We offer three days of intensive learning from professional writers and publishers at bargain basement prices.  Click here to download a copy of the brochure.

The 2014 Conference Workshop Topics

  • Novel as Discovery
  • Time is on Your Side: Structuring Your Book-Length Memoir
  • Come On, Baby, Make It Hurt So Good: The Art of the Confessional Poem 
  • The Ecstatic Essay
  • Flash Fiction: A Liminal Genre

Click here for workshop descriptions.

The 2014 Conference Faculty
  • Kelly Daniels
  • Adam Fell
  • Jac Jemc
  • Chad Simpson
  • Rachel Yoder
  • Jen Karsbaek
  • Steve Semken
  • Rebecca Wee


Also Offered

  • One-On-One Critique Sessions, 30 minutes for $35
  • Ten Minute Pitch Sessions with Steve Semken (6/27) or Jen Karsbaek (6/28) for $25
  • Author Luncheon with Rebecca Wee, June 28th, for $15
  • Concluding Lunch included with Registration
  • Free Evening Workshop on June 27th, 7-8 p.m. with agent Jen Karsbaek
  • Free Faculty Reading June 26th at Rozz-Tox (2108 3rd Ave. Rock Island, IL), 7-9 p.m.
            Thank You! 
to our 2014 conference sponsors:
Modern Woodman of America
St. Ambrose University English Department
Illinois Art Council Agency
Genesis Health Systems