Blog Posts

Ankeny Writers–Saturday January 20 2018

Readers of Kurt Sparks (pen name: Francis Sparks) say his recent book MADE SAFE compares to novels by James Patterson and David Baldacci. (“…a gripping thriller that involves crime and a gritty investigate”). Kurt will visit with Ankeny Writers on January 20 at the Kirkendall Public Library. Come to the library this Saturday and participate in an amazing workshop about using on-line social media to connect with authors, promote your book and find a publisher. A published author, Sparks found his publisher using the methods he’ll be sharing with us. BTW. Warmer weather is predicted for Saturday!!

Bring your laptop or electronic notebook for this workshop at the library. Free to the public, funded by the Kirkendall Library.  


  • Plot Twist Bookstore “One of the reasons people enjoy reading so much is because they can get lost in the world of the story, whether they are going to Hogwartz or Narnia, traveling through space, or visiting a foreign city.” There will be a Writing Workshop focused on “World Building,” led by Author Chad Michael Cox on February 10th from 10:00am to 12:00pm at the bookstore. Click the bookstore’s webpage for details. Bring a copy of Cox’s novel to the workshop.
  • From our leader Dorthy Mathis: Join Ankeny Kiwanis Club on February 3rd for Pianopalooza (yes – Dueling Pianos!), and Channel 13’s Megan Reuther for a camping-theme, music-filled fundraising gala!…The 6th Annual ‘A Night for Miracles: Camping for Kids’ gala will feature Formal Flannel suggested dress, silent auction with online bidding by BidPartner, live auction, fabulous upscale camping-inspired food by Hy-Vee Catering, and open bar.  Funds raised will support Ankeny Miracle League, send Ankeny kids to Camp OK, and send kids to Easter Seals Iowa & Camp Sunnyside… helping kids go to camp! Purchase tickets now at and join Ankeny Kiwanis Club  for a fun-filled evening on Saturday, February 3rd!
  • Upcoming writers workshops at Iowa Writers’ House in Iowa City: Great weekend opportunities! Click HERE for information about schedule.
  • Ames Poet Dennis Maulsby has poem accepted for publication by the Illinois State Poetry Society was chartered in 1991 at the yearly convention of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies held in Madison, Wisconsin. ISPS was formed “to encourage the crafting and enjoyment of poetry in the State of Illinois. Check the website for 2018 contest opportunities. Dennis’ poem is entitled “Cameo Dream State,” A soldier ankle-deep in delta mud, / carved on the back of his Rolex / a woman’s profile in cameo. / Outbound currents reshuffle // diamond-winking gulf waves. / Passing clouds turn the sea salt-white. / A pod of bottlenose dolphins spin stories of the ancient // landmass of Laramidea.* They swap / short-lived tales with island-bound / Komodo Dragons. The reptiles’ claws / dig up fossil-rich wetlands, resurrect // stone-turned bones and mottled leather / of parasauraus, kosmoceratop, velociraptor. / The last dragons wrap serrated teeth / in the lost fat of ancestors. The wave-feathered // night-gulf becomes quiet, unsinkable / India ink. The face on the watch-cameo / smolders, a coup de foudre occurs, the soldier / falls suddenly in love again. *Laramidia was an island continent that existed during the Late Cretaceous period. The area is rich in dinosaur fossils.
  • Note: This poem was written by sewing together random images from old National Geographic magazines as a writing assignment at one of the Muscatine/Burlington retreats.


My own debut novel (novella) JIMMIETOWN, KS has been a hit (at least among my friends and relatives) and netted about $60 in commissions in May. Wow! Who would think? My cousin’s review was particularly compelling: 

Just finished “Jimmietown” …It’s a homer!   Eager, now to re-read. It’s wonderful! Jenny is annespecially strong fully-formed character reminiscent of Scout in TKAM. She’s a better fit, though, to the midwestern mileau where you grew up and which you colorfully capture. I remember visiting you there where the slighly “southern” accents were exotic to the ears of your northern cousin Others in an exceptionally lengthy list of characters for a short novel (are you calling it a novella?) are artfully drawn as well. Your book is ripe for a sequel or prequel – “Jimmietown 2.” JKJ

Jimmietown, KS published

  • Good news for me! My debut novel Jimmietown, KS is now out on Amazon and Kindle. The short novel is the work product of my time at Ankeny Writers Workshop and the several small groups that have helped me “workshop” my book, a coming-of-age story told by the narrator Jimmie who experiences life in a ‘50s era Kansas town where WWII is a recent memory and where racial tensions separate the community—as Jimmie finds his first love. Get a copy. Matt Davenport helped me launch the book via Create Space

For Richard Ford, Memoir Is A Chance To ‘Tell The Unthinkable’ : NPR

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. My guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Ford, has written a memoir in which he does the eloquent version of what we all try to do, at least those of us who have grown up with our parents, to reflect on their lives, take their measure and attempt to understand how our parents shaped us and how our arrival transformed their marriage and their lives. Ford says he also wanted to reconcile his self back then when his parents were alive and his self now, decades after they’ve died.

Ford’s memoir, “Between Them,” was written in two parts. The section about his mother was written in 1986, soon after she died of metastatic breast cancer. The section about his father was written recently. He died in Richard Ford’s arms in 1960, after his second heart attack. Ford’s novels include “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day” and “Let Me Be Frank With You.”

Orwell’s “1984” climbs to the top of the best seller list

IOWA PUBLIC RADIO. In recent weeks, sales of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, first published in 1949, have soared. It climbed to the top of the best seller list, and bookstores report that copies are flying off the shelves.

Since so many people are reading or re-reading it right now, on this “book club” edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation about what makes this classic relevant in 2017.

Nebbe starts the hour talking with Andrew Simmons, an English teacher who transforms his classroom into the world of 1984 and Big Brother every October.

Also see:

Take a creative writing course from MIT: online and free!

A friend pointed out that Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) doesn’t only teach young people to be world-class engineers who invent new photo-jpgstuff. People (like Ankeny Writers) who work with words can also take an online class to learn the craft of creative writing. Classes are rated as “undergraduate” in difficulty. Go to the site HERE.

Matt Davenport brought new ideas to Ankeny Writers

Last Saturday–January 21–Ankeny Writers met up with Des Moines author Matthew Davenport. Matt shared his writing journey and asked and answered questions about “independent” (Indy) publishing. If “independent” publishing is your route, Matt is your guy. He is a recognized coach  for helping authors find their resources, publish their works, find their audience, and build a career.  One Ankeny writer in attendance said the morning was the “best day ever” at the AWW Saturday meet ups. Thanks Matt.