Meet the Author

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Cameron V. has won second place in the 8 and under age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with his piece "A Happy Jackalope, a Sneaky Werewolf, and the Scary Nightmare Moon." 


Cameron (Cam) V. is a newly six-year old boy from Olathe, KS where he lives with his parents and their dog named Remus. At just two-years of age, Cam had memorized word-for-word over twenty of his favorite story books- all of which he can recite on demand to this day. His favorite author is Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, The Snail and the

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Julieta V. has won first place in the 9-12 age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Alicorn" 


Julieta Vera has unruly hair and is well known for her phrase, “We’re alive and good! We’re FINE!” Her favorite book series is ‘Keeper of the Lost Cities,’ which she highly recommends! 
While a book lover, she climbs trees uses nothing on her feet, and tends to nag everyone (especially her little sister) into doing fun and adventurous stuff on a daily basis—which lead to multiple injuries. Ever since she heard the

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Madeline W. has won third place in the 9-12 age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Eyes in the Sky." 


I started writing for school, and decided to start putting the many stories I had into the physical world. I don’t have a lot of favorites, but I like Spider-Man, and really hate spoilers for things I want to watch, read, or participate in in any way. 


 


 As I focused on my connection, my mind spread its boundaries, forming a link― a bridge, if you will―to the spirit realm. My consciousness compressed

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Derek W. has won second place in the 13-19 age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with his piece "I've Been Haunted Lately"


Derek W. is proud to be a lifelong student of the art of writing, a previous winner of a Young Arts Merit Award for writing and several Scholastic Arts and Writing awards. He is nineteen years old, and is currently studying at the University of Michigan. His story "I've Been Haunted Lately" speaks to the painful process of connecting with someone, and the fears that accompany opening up to that person

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Nayla S. has won second place in the 9-12 age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Me & Yule" 


Nayla S. is an amateur writer who enjoys spinning tales with enchantingly scenic settings, (hopefully) endearing characters, and lots and lots of magic. When she isn't writing, she enjoys detective and classic novels, chocolate, and working on her little sapling of a blog which you can find at www.witchywordcraft.com


 


The train screeched to a stop, and I woke up with a gasp. Sheila shrieked and Mom let her

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Sangshita P.. has won third place in the 8 and under age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "The Lost Princess." 


Hi I'm Sangshita. Well, everyone calls me Moonmoon. I'm seven and this fall I will be in second grade. 
I have a duck puppet and I created a story about it. I used to tell stories to my best friend and she said I could write them. 
Then I started to write. The first story I wrote was a fantasy one. 
I love reading books by Dr Seuss. 
A fun fact about me is I'm really really scared of bugs but I

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Ava S. has won third place in the 13-19 age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest.


Ava S. is a homeschooled junior that recently traded her Ohio buckeye trees in for the wild sunflowers of Kansas. Ava has been writing for most of her life and has worked on multiple novels, poems, songs, and short stories. Her inspirations are the books she grew up reading in her elementary and preteen years. This particular short story was loosely inspired by the classic Thumbelina. Some of her author influences are Lucy Maud Montgomery, Leigh

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Sylvie G.. has won first place in the 8 and under age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "The Tree Unicorn." 


First thank you so much for choosing me as a winner. I am so happy right now. I've been writing since about halfway into 1st grade and I'm currently writing a book called Animal City. I want to say if I did not watch My Little Pony I wouldn’t have written this story because that is my inspiration. I have always liked mythical things like unicorns and alicorns. Just ponies are amazing too. My author

Sep 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that James P. has won first place in the 13-19 age group for the Summer 2021 Youth Writing Contest with his piece "When the Caged Zebra Sings." 


My name is James P. and I’m a senior at Blue Valley High School. I’ve been writing for about a year; I began last summer as a means of expressing my thoughts during quarantine. Some of my biggest influences are George Orwell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Joe Strummer. My other passions are soccer, history, and playing the guitar. My story was inspired by the human desire to be led, and our willingness

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Mariam S. has won first place in the third age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Interplanetaries."


Mariam will be a freshman at Shawnee Mission East next year. She is a lover of books, cats, art, and dark chocolate. Though her life goals have changed since dreaming of becoming an author at six years old, she nevertheless enjoys writing a short story from time to time. Her sci-fi story was inspired by a video her class watched in social studies class.


The sound of claws on pavement startled Pauol

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Mariam K. has won third place in the middle age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "10021."


BIO: Mariam is a 12-year-old New Yorker. She describes herself as an aspiring author who finds that the best part of writing is writing through one’s imagination and heart. Mariam has been writing from a very early age. She won prizes at several city-wide and nation-wide essay and poetry contests. Her winning entries have been published in newspapers, magazines, and very recently in a poetry book. But still, she

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Reba S. has won third place in the third age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Drifting Memory."


 


Though now wasn’t a great time for it, Jim Harrison could only think about how gorgeous the view was. A once in a lifetime image to be sure. He could see everything from up here - the clouds, the continents, the ocean - but, poetically, no one could see him up there. Jim looked to his right. Stars like bright holes poked through a jar lid as far as the human eye could see. He looked to his left. Planets

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Georgia M.. has won second place in the early age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Not So Boring."


 


Not So Boring 


Of course we get stuck on the worst planet, Aerial. Out of the 116 planets my family discovered in the past year, we had to get stranded on the most boring and cold one.


I spend most of my time on the ship playing with our munden, Tuerto. He’s a mix between a dog, a cat, an elephant, and a tiger. White with black stripes, he has pointy ears, a short, stubby trunk, and a dog-like

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Arden P. has won second place in the third age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Puppeteer." 


 


The waves dashed themselves hard against the ultra-strong, reinforced Plexiglas of the tunnel, beating relentlessly in a mad, mindless effort to sweep the alien structure away. The surface of the water was sharp and choppy. Had the knife-points of the hills and valleys been frozen at that exact moment, any unfortunate passerby would have been cut quite badly. Driving rain beat down on the unforgiving

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Parsons H. has won first place in the early age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "The Bad."


I love writing and sharing stories. I love to let my creativity show! In my free time I love to read, write, listen to Christian and 80's music, and play dolls. 


The Bad


There are a group of kids, the lonely, the bad, the forgotten, the hidden, the sad, and the blamed. These are not a normal group of kids, they wanted and did get revenge. The lonely wanted revenge on whoever had the chance to become

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Anna Grace V. has won third place in the early age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "Turkey and Della"


My name is Anna Grace.  I am 10 years old and I live with my 2 brothers, my 2 dogs, and my mom and dad.  I like reading, especially Greek Mythology and fantasy books.  I also like drawing and creating fantasy stories. I hope you like “Turkey and Della.” 


The Spectacular Journey of Turkey and Della


This book is dedicated to my teacher; Ms.Westerman, for being an awesome teacher and on awesome

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Hunter G. has won second place in the second age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with his piece "The Time She Had Returned."


 


María sat quietly and carefully outside in the front area of a bar. The area was quite overgrown with a variety of green. What the bar lacked was people. This little town she had once remembered was teeming with solemness. María wondered why the plants continued to grow with little water. They climbed up in search of something. These desperate plants continued no  matter what.  It was

Sep 15, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Julieta V. has won first place in the middle age group for the Sci-Fi Spring 2021 Youth Writing Contest with her piece "What Was Forgotten." 


Julieta A. Vera has unruly hair and is well known for her phrase, “We’re alive and good! We’re FINE!” Her favorite book series is ‘Keeper of the Lost Cities,’ which she highly recommends!  


While a book lover, she climbs trees uses nothing on her feet, and tends to nag everyone (especially her little sister) into doing fun and adventurous stuff on a daily basis—which lead to multiple injuries

Sep 13, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Lauren Loya has won our essay writing contest on the theme of Tails and Tales with her piece "Call Me Cuttlefish." 


Lauren Loya is a graduate of the Literature, Language, and Writing program at the University of Kansas. Her work has been featured in Coal City Review. A Kansas City native, her favorite local haunts include the Green Lady Lounge, Stroud’s, Antioch Park, and many of the shops and eateries along 39th Street West.


You can read more of her work at https://draculauren.wordpress.com/.


Call Me Cuttlefish


She pressed the

Photo of Nadine Shookman

Bodies Writing Contest Winner

By Nadine Shookman
5
Rated by Jack V.
May 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Nadine Shookman has won our open writing contest on the theme of Bodies with her piece "Oma." 


Born in Germany, Nadine Shookman lives in Overland Park with her husband Jesse and a goldendoodle named Oatmeal. She works as a catastrophe modeler and spends her free time writing, drawing, and volunteering in the community.


Oma


I remember brushing my fingertips along the inside of my great-grandmother’s wrist, struck by how different her skin felt from mine. I was around eight years old, she in her eighties. I called her “Oma,” the

Photo of Kaylin Salmen

Bodies Writing Contest Winner

By Kaylin Salmen
5
Rated by Jack V.
May 14, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Kaylin Salmen has won our open writing contest on the theme of Bodies with her piece "Self-worth." 


Kaylin is a college senior at Kansas State University studying food science. She enjoys being outside, playing dungeons and dragons with friends, and art.


Self-worth


She remarks on the scars on my body
As if they were dents left in discarded
College apartment furniture,


But these marks
can be interpreted like runes
on cuneiform tablets.


These marks are not a curse,
But a prayer.
I know because I put them there,
Along

Photo of Dr. Virginia Brackett

Bodies Writing Contest Winner

By Virginia Brackett
5
Rated by Jack V.
Feb 6, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Dr. Virginia Brackett has won our poetry writing contest on the theme of Bodies with her piece "Side Effects.”


Virginia Brackett’s 16 books have been cited by the New York Public Library; the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association; Tristate Books of Note; the American Library Association, Amelia Bloomer Project; and Booklist (Editor’s Choice, Reference Sources, 2008). Her 2019 memoir, In the Company of Patriots (Sunbury Press), focuses on her father’s death in the Korean Conflict and its effect on her family. She contributed the essay

Photo of Karen Morales

Reflections on Race Contest Winner

By Karen Morales
5
Rated by Jack V.
Jan 30, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Karen Morales has won our open writing contest on the theme of Reflections on Race with her piece "Beyond Instagram Graphics.”


Karen Morales is a high school student who is passionate about journalism.


Beyond Instagram Graphics


I am a 17-year-old Guatemalan born and raised in Kansas. One could argue that I don’t look like the typical Guatemalan or Latina. My skin color is lighter compared to the rest of my family and my green-blue eyes stand out next to my parents’ brown eyes. I have been mistaken as White multiple times at

Photo of David Garrison

Reflections on Race Contest Winner

By David Garrison
5
Rated by Jack V.
Jan 23, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that David Garrison has won our open contest on the theme of Reflections on Race with his piece "Nine Minutes."


The poetry of David Lee Garrison has appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and two poems from his book Sweeping the Cemetery were read by Garrison Keillor on his radio show, The Writer’s Almanac. The title poem from his Playing Bach in the DC Metro was featured by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on his website, American Life in Poetry, and read on the BBC in London. His most recent book is Light in the River (Dos Madres Press).

Photo of Jacob Kittilstad

Reflections on Race Writing Contest Winner

By Jacob Kittilstad
5
Rated by Jack V.
Dec 8, 2020

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Jacob Kittilstad has won our short story contest on the theme of Reflections on Race with his piece "Milkshake."


Jacob Kittilstad has worked as a reporter in the North, the South, and the Midwest.


Milkshake


I drink a milkshake on my way home. It is the only thing I have eaten all day. The film drags down the back of my throat. I grunt to clear it on my way home.


I am not going home. I am going back to work. I tell myself that I am going home because it makes me happy. It makes me happier than saying I am going back to work.


I am

Photo of Marcia Hurlow

Reflections on Race Writing Contest Winner

By Marcia Hurlow
5
Rated by Jack V.
Oct 27, 2020

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Marcia Hurlow has won our poetry writing contest on the theme of Reflections on Race with her piece "DECONSTRUCTION.”


Marcia L. Hurlow's first full-length collection of poetry, Anomie, won the Edges Prize. She also has five chapbooks. More than 300 of her individual poems have appeared in literary magazines, including Poetry, Chicago Review, River Styx, Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, Stand, Cold Mountain, Zone 3 and The Journal, among others. Last year she received the Al Smith Fellowship for Poetry for the second time, and this year she will

Sep 23, 2020

“When did you realize poetry could be your companion? Your release?” 


In this episode of the Johnson County Library podcast Did You Hear, Dr. Randall Horton and Anishinaabekwe poet Louise K. Waakaa’igan discuss poetry both as a lifeline and as a discipline.  It’s a discussion between two people who share a gift for and love of poetry; but it’s also a discussion between two people who share a common language that only those who have been “inside” can fully understand.  


An unrelenting advocate for personal voice and perfect line breaks, Dr. Horton is equally passionate about eradicating

Aug 6, 2020

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Nick Lopez has won our essay contest on the theme of Imagine Your Story with "I am a Coconut".


Nick Lopez is a Marine Corps veteran, who served from 2005-20013, and is currently a coordinator for veteran programs at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Headquarters in Kansas City, MO. He volunteers on the board of the Kansas City Veterans Writing Team, who sponsor and hold biannual writing workshops for veterans and their family members of. Nick has been published in "Veteran's Voices" and "Haiku Journal", and most recently his painting

Jul 12, 2020

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that John Adams has won our short story contest on the theme of Imagine Your Story with "Something in His "i"s".


John Adams (he/him/his) writes about teenage detectives, pelican-people, robo-butlers, and cursed cowboys. His publication history includes Australian Writers’ Centre, Bowery Gothic, Briefly Write, Dream of Shadows, Fat Cat Magazine, SERIAL Magazine, Siren’s Call, Trembling With Fear, Triangle Writers, and Weird Christmas (forthcoming: Paper Butterfly, peculiar, The Weird and Whatnot). His plays have been produced by Alphabet Soup

Jun 4, 2020

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Virginia Brackett has won our poetry contest on the theme of Imagine Your Story with "Six".


Virginia Brackett’s 16 books have been cited by the New York Public Library; the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association; Tristate Books of Note; the American Library Association, Amelia Bloomer Project; and Booklist (Editor’s Choice, Reference Sources, 2008). She has published many articles, stories, and blog entries for readers of all ages and her short story “Mrs. Cross” won in the fall 2018 Johnson County Library creative writing