Meet the Author: Mary Lane Kamberg

By Mary Lane Kamberg
Rated by Helen H.
Oct 13, 2016

Mary-Lane Kamberg is the author of more than 30 nonfiction books, including many for young adult readers. She has been writing since second grade. She published her first poem at the age of 10. She has a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Kansas and roots for the Jayhawks during March Madness. In addition to her nonfiction books, she has published hundreds of articles, a poetry chapbook, and some short fiction. Her books include the I Love to Write Book: Ideas and Tips for Young WritersThe I Don't Know How to Cook Book, and Seed Rain. She is founder and director of the I Love to Write

Meet the Author: Michael Harty

By Michael Harty
Rated by Helen H.
Apr 14, 2016

Michael Harty will read his poetry at Johnson County Library on Tuesday April 19th at 6pm. Poetry and Prose is presented by the Writers Place and Johnson County Library.

If you could begin the interview, what question would you ask yourself?

I’d ask myself, how does it happen that you started writing poetry when you were old enough for Social Security? And I would answer that it didn’t exactly happen that way. I always had a yen to write poems, sometimes dabbled more or less, but it wasn’t until I reached a pretty advanced age that I decided to get serious about it. One thing that

Meet the Author: Mike O'Leary

By Mike O'Leary
Rated by Helen H.
Jun 2, 2015

In one of my favorite books about writing, The Memoir Project, Marion Roach Smith says “[writing] is serious work. And it cannot be reduced to generic writing exercises and prefabricated prompts.” While reading, I was immediately offended, for I lead a prompt-based creative writing group. And my writers, as I like to call the members, produce wonderful work.

Mike O’Leary has been a long-time member of the Creative Writing Group and has agreed to share some of his stories here. We're working through the exercises in The 3 A.M. Epiphanyby Brian Kiteley. Mike chose "Evil" and "Goodness", two

Meet the Author: Nathan Louis Jackson

By Nathan Louis Jackson
Rated by Helen H.
Oct 11, 2016

Nathan Louis Jackson is the playwright in residence at the KC Repthrough the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Program grant. A Kansas City, Kansas native, he is a graduate of Washington High School. He is also an alum of Kansas State University and did his graduate work at The Juilliard School.

His plays include Broke-ology (Lincoln Center 2009, KC Rep 2010), When I Come to Die (Lincoln Center in 2011, KC Rep 2014), and Sticky Traps (KC Rep 2015). He has received commissions from both Lincoln Center and The Roundabout Theater Company. At K-State, he was actively

Meet the Author: Roderick Townley

By Roderick Townley
Rated by Chris K.
Nov 9, 2015

Roderick Townley is a local author of novels for young readers and poetry for all. His stories, though diverse in their settings and plots, might overall be described as elegant fantasies that balance whimsical and unsettling elements while exploring the nature of magic, dreams, reality, memories, identity, and stories. Townley worked as a journalist in New York before moving to Kansas in 1990 with his wife, poet Wyatt Townley. He has been honored with the Governor's Arts Award, Thorpe Menn Award, Peregrine Prize for Short Fiction, Master Artist Fellowship, Fulbright Award, Academy of American

Meet the Author: Scott Novosel

By Scott Novosel
Rated by Helen H.
Aug 2, 2016

March 5th, 1995 marks an important date for Scott Novosel. As a college senior, he achieved his life-long dream and played his first game as a walk-on for the Kansas Jayhawks. In a article, Novosel “says he has been trying to turn his life into an inspirational story for kids since that day . . .”

And once again, Novosel succeeds! His graphic novel Fieldhouse is a charmer, but I disagree that it’s just for kids. It’s great for all ages and about so much more than basketball.

Novosel turned to Kickstarter to publish his book which allowed him to produce a quality product with full

Meet the Author: Sean Demory

By Sean Demory
Rated by Helen H.
Jun 9, 2015

It’s no secret that the landscape of publishing is rapidly evolving. With thousands of new books joining the marketplace every day, millions of bloggers vying for readers, and the ease of sharing words, how do writers connect with readers? In an environment where readers are either pigeonholed into selecting from an infinitesimal best-seller list, or bombarded with choice, how can one writer rise to the surface and capture the readers who will come back looking for more of the same?

There is no easy answer to this question, but with a little creativity and hard work, some authors can carve

Meet the Author: Sean Demory

By Sean Demory
Rated by Helen H.
Oct 6, 2016

Sean Demory, the brains behind Pine Float Press, was the first author I reached out to when we started Read Local. His original interview holds up just as well today as it did last year. He joins us again in preparation for our 2016 Writers Conference. Demory, with Scott Novosel and CW Cook will discuss how each of them have successfully used Crowdfunding to fund projects.

Introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?

My name's Sean Demory. I live and work in Kansas City, Missouri, where I work for the Public Works Department by day and write by whenever. I'm also the founder of Pine

Meet the Author: Stephanie Morrill

By Stephanie Morrill
Rated by Helen H.
Mar 27, 2017

Today we get to feature a writer who splits her time between authoring fiction and offering guidance to aspiring authors. Booklist described her most recent release as an enjoyable yet sobering mystery with a surprising twist for inquisitive readers. Her book Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book has been rated 29 times on Amazon; one of them is 4-stars, the rest 5. Meet Stephanie Morrill.

Your website introduces you with: “I write books about girls who are on adventures to discover their unique place in the world.” Have you discovered your unique place in the

Meet the Author: Steve Loe

By Steve Loe
Rated by Chris K.
Apr 20, 2016

Of course Steve Loe has been able to put out two books in the past two years since all he does is write every day from dawn until dusk. Well, that and raise four kids. Oh, and he's also the principal of Shawnee Mission West High School. So where he finds the time we don't know, but he does. After years of perseverance, Loe published his first title last year and the second just followed.

In The Glimpsing Book, a group of young teens that has been strangely drawn together attempts to figure out the powerful mystery of the magical book that seems to have the answers to all their questions, a

Meet the Author: Sue Lowell Gallion

By Sue Lowell Gallion
Rated by Chris K.
Dec 7, 2016

Sue Lowell Gallion has recently celebrated the publication of her first book, Pug Meets Pig, a picture book illustrated by Joyce Wan. A sequel is already on the way. We asked Sue a few questions to learn more about who she is, her journey to publication, her thoughts on being an author, and her plans for the future.

Tell us about Pug Meets Pig. What is it about, what inspired it, and what was its path to publication?

Pug Meets Pig is a story about change. Pug’s happy home life disappears when Pig arrives. She disrupts his world in every way, whether she’s eating out of his bowl or making

Oct 11, 2017

Eric McHenry is the immediate past Poet Laureate of Kansas. From Topeka, Kansas, McHenry attended Beloit College and then earned a MA in creative writing from Boston University. His work has been featured in The Harvard ReviewSlatePoetry NorthwestThe New York Times Book Review and Salon. He lives in Lawrence and teaches at Washburn University of Topeka. McHenry will offer a poetry workshop at our 2017 writers conference.

I’m always curious about how someone starts out on a creative path in life. What do you think your first motives were for writing poetry?

I’ve often said that I

Oct 16, 2017

Natasha Ria El-Scari is most known for her honesty about motherhood, womanhood, politics and love. Once asked in an interview what makes her unique she replied, "most people lie to themselves, but I like to reveal myself.” Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Natasha El-Scari has a BA from Jackson State University and a MA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her poetry, academic papers, and personal essays have been published in anthologies and journals. She lives in Kansas City.

Ria El-Scari will offer a poetry critique session at our 2017 Writers Conference.

When and how

Music Writing Contest Winner

By Rebecca Schier-Akamelu
Rated by Helen H.
Jul 7, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Rebecca Schier-Akamelu has won the short story category of our writing contest on the theme of MUSIC with "From One to the Next".

Rebecca writes from Overland Park and has previously been published in A Long Story Short and The Kansas City Star. She is also a voiceover artist and a proud wife and mom.


From One to the Next

Steph took a deep breath and plunged her foot into the muddy stream. It was icy cold; she curled her toes into the mud. She took a moment to let the cold rush through her, chilled to

Jun 22, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Michael Harty has won the poetry category of our writing contest on the theme of MUSIC with "Ralna's Song".

Harty has been practicing psychology and psychoanalysis in the Kansas City area for a long time, and publishing poetry for a fairly small percentage of that time. So far he's had poems in Kansas City Voices, I-70 Review, New Letters, Coal City Review, and other magazines, and he's published a chapbook, The Statue Game.

Ralna’s Song

Nobody on the Lawrence Welk show
knew her the way I knew her,

Music Writing Contest Winner

By Timothy Tankard
Rated by Helen H.
Oct 10, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Timothy Tankard has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of MUSIC with "The Crawdad Song".

Tankard grew up in Kansas City and lives here now. His jobs over the years have included teaching high school and junior college English, newspaper reporting and editing, and computer programming. (That's what has paid the bills!) He's had a few stories published in literary journals, including Kansas City's New Letters magazine. He likes to play music with his wife Valerie. They have two grown kids

Music Writing Contest Winner

By Kayla Wiltfong
Rated by Helen H.
Sep 6, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Kayla Wiltfong has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of MUSIC with "From the Joint".

Kayla Wiltfong is a student in the undergraduate English program at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, with an emphasis in creative writing. She had two poems published in the 2016 edition of Elementia and three in Shawnee Mission East's 2016 Free Lancer literary magazine. In 2017, she won a contest held by the Johnson County Library for her poem "Politics," as well as having an essay published in the

Sep 28, 2018

Groundhouse Coffee Shop in Gardner Kansas is hushed but lively on a Monday night.  The air is rich with the smell of fresh ground coffee.  The rolling murmur of voices from the various tables is punctuated by the occasional hiss from the machine behind the coffee bar.  At the very back table, by the fireplace, we sit together silently reading, all seven of us.  We are each reading our own book, wrapped in the splendor of our own private world, but we are together.  As 7:30 rolls nearer, we stretch and put our bookmarks in our books.  I ask one of the participants about the mystery she’s

May 10, 2017

The Readers Advisory committee is very pleased to announce that Kent Moore has won the Open Category of our The Many in One writing contest with his entry "Rooted and Grounded in Love". In it, our protagonist Grace, is caught between the conflicting identities of wife and mother. The complexity of those relationships adds layers to Grace that we, as readers, get to know, but her daughter may never understand. The physicality of an old woman working in her garden foreshadows her intimate connection to the land and Moore's skillful dialogue brings humor upon a second reading, changing the

The Many in One Writing Contest Winner

By Charlotte Henderson
Rated by Helen H.
Mar 15, 2017

The Read Local committee is very pleased to announce that Charlotte Henderson has won our The Many in One short story contest for her entry "Diversity Club." "Diversity Club" meticulously captures the complex and ever-evolving nature of identity. Musician, mother, friend, sinner--no aspect is as simple as it seems, and Henderson's story gives a powerful glimpse into the multifaceted self in only a few short pages. Caught between all of the lives she's lived and all of the lives she isn't living, Henderson's protagonist Maggie poses questions about alienation and loneliness that might make even

Mar 28, 2017

Did you know that the United States does not have a writers museum? We celebrate authors and have museums for visual arts (among many other things), but we don't really have a museum for writers and their books.

An article from recently caught our eye, not only for its content but because it also resembles something happening locally.

America’s First Writers Museum Is Slated to Open in May - A new home for celebrating American literary titans, titles and traditions takes root in Chicago. The key to the project, say its developers, has been figuring out how to bring the

Time Writing Contest Winner

By Kaleah Petersen
Rated by Helen H.
May 24, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Kaleah Petersen has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of TIME with "A Matter of Time".

Kaleah Petersen is in eighth grade at Indian Woods Middle School and is taking a Creative Writing class. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction in her free time.


A Matter of Time
Time is precious
You always think
That you have more
The only ticking you hear
Is your dying heart
Counting down
The final seconds of life
And every minute
Every second
Of your entire life

Time Writing Contest Winner

By Sarah Donohoe
Rated by Helen H.
May 23, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Sarah Donohue has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of TIME with "Grounded".

Donohue has been writing a weekly column in the Estes Park News in Estes Park, CO for 12 years. In 2017, she published "Slices of Life, Estes Park; Best of The Thunker Columns," a collection of favorite columns from the first 10 years. She currently lives in Lenexa and does seasonal work in Estes Park, supervising the hiking program for YMCA of the Rockies.


Gone hiking. Back about 2:00.

She put

Time Writing Contest Winner

By Frank Higgins
Rated by Helen H.
Feb 19, 2018

The Readers Advisory committee is pleased to announce that Frank Higgins has won our TIME poetry contest with his poem "The Summer We're All Sixteen". We love way the poem circles back on itself and illustrates both the universality of time and its unique passage for each of us.

Frank Higgins writes plays, and occasionally poetry and haiku.


The summer we’re all sixteen

we buy bathing suits we hide from our mothers.
And in the deck chairs at the town pool
we each let a boy rub baby oil
over our shoulders and backs.
And those boys, who gulp so hard
you can hear their

Oct 22, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Mary Silwance has won our poetry writing contest on the theme of Unlocking the Mind with "Remembering." Read the poem below or see the original (PDF).

Originally from Egypt, Mary Silwance lives in Kansas City. An environmental activist and speaker, award winning poet, mother and farmhand, she is a member of the Kansas City Writers Group and serves on the editorial teams of Kansas City Voices and Konza Journal. Her work appears in numerous publications including Descansos, Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity, Sequestrum

Dec 19, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that LeAnne Hansen has won our Essay writing contest on the theme of Unlocking the Mind with "Thoughts of Grief and Healing."

LeAnne Hansen is a mother, community volunteer, speaker, and world traveler. Her time in India, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Thailand, Vietnam, and numerous other countries have taught her to look for and value those experiences that are common to the human condition, especially as we seek to heal the divisions in our own families, communities and country. A lifelong writer, reader, and lover of libraries

Nov 8, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Kent Moore has won our Short Story writing contest on the theme of Unlocking the Mind with "The Corbomite Maneuver".

Kent Moore is a Senior Strategist for Physician Payment at the American Academy of Family Physicians, where he also serves as a contributing editor to one of its journals, FPM. He's also written for Humanities, the magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. An earlier short story, "Rooted and Grounded in Love," won the Open Category of the Johnson County Library's Many in One writing contest and is available on

Women's Voices Writing Contest Winner

By Martha Gershun
Rated by Helen H.
Dec 7, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Martha Gershun has won the essay category of our writing contest on the theme of WOMEN'S VOICES with "Channeling Marjorie".

Martha Gershun recently retired as Executive Director from Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Her first book, "Care & Custody: A Novel of 3 Children at Risk," was published in June. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, SELF Magazine, Kveller, and the Kansas City Star.

Channeling Marjorie

There is something deeply intimate about knitting with another

Women's Voices Writing Contest Winner

By Virginia Brackett
Rated by Helen H.
Jan 11, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Virginia Brackett has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of WOMEN'S VOICES with "Mrs. Cross".

Virginia Brackett, Professor Emeritus of English, retired in 2016 from Park University where she directed the Honors Academy and received varied teaching and service awards, including Faculty Member of the Year, 2013 for Exceptional Services to Student Veterans. She served as a discussion facilitator for the 2017 NEH-funded initiative for veterans and their families, Planting the Oar. Brackett serves on the Kansas City

Women's Voices Writing Contest Winner

By Peggy Epstein
Rated by Helen H.
Dec 15, 2018

Johnson County Library and The Writers Place are pleased to announce that Peggy Epstein has won the essay category of our writing contest on the theme of WOMEN'S VOICES with "Wordless".

My writing career has been crazily eclectic: two parenting books published by McGraw-Hill and Capitol Books; four locally produced musicals (with my partner, composer Allen Epstein)--one for the Kansas City Fringe Festival; 30 or so fiction/essays for various magazines and journals; dozens of features for the Kansas City Star, hundreds of pieces for the on-line site, Demand Studios, and, most rewarding to