Dark-haired woman in a denim shirt looking at camera

Mind Changes Writing Contest

By Sharon Beck-Doran
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Jan 5, 2024

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Sharon Beck-Doran has won our writing contest on the theme Mind Changes with her piece "Lights, Camera, Consent: How Women in Film Are Changing Our Minds About Sex."

Sharon Beck-Doran writes about faith and sexuality for her blog and podcast titled Relevant Faith Journey. She enjoys exploring ideas from a different perspective and invites her readers to join her in thinking deeper so that we might become better humans.

Lights, Camera, Consent: How Women in Film Are Changing Our Minds About Sex

In August of 2023, a monumental thing happened: Barbi

woman with blonde bangs and red lipstick

The Unknown Writing Contest Winner

By Claire McMurray
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Apr 6, 2022

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Claire McMurray has won our essay writing contest on the theme of The Unknown with her piece "Who Is She?" 

Claire McMurray has a doctorate in French from Yale University and runs a blog about special needs parenting at:

Who Is She?

Most parents of a four-year-old know a good deal about their child—everything from favorite colors and television characters to deep-seated fears and hopes for the future. Yet I know none of these things about my four-year-old. She is our family’s mystery.

When JJ was two, the few

Dark haired man with a beard and mustache in a grey Truman Bulldogs longsleeved shirt in the woods

The Fools Journey Writing Contest Winner

By Dan Wikiera
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Dec 17, 2021

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Dan Wikiera has won our Essay writing contest on the theme of The Fools Journey with his piece "I Am the Fool." 

Lifelong Kansas City resident. Lifelong reader. Lifelong writer. This is my first foray into public writing.

It started as a whisper. A vague notion. A desire to open my own business, be my own boss. Create something from nothing. The American ideal, like white picket fences and apple pie. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what. Or that I didn’t have any experience. I had the desire, the work ethic. I was naïve.

I decided on

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Tails and Tales Writing Contest Winner

By Lauren Loya
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
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

Call Me Cuttlefish

She pressed the packet of

Photo of Karen Morales

Reflections on Race Contest Winner

By Karen Morales

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
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 Mexican

Unlocking the Mind Writing Contest Winner

By LeAnne Hansen
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
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

Breaking Free Writing Contest Winner

By Karin L. Frank
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Apr 29, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Karin L. Frank has won the essay category of our writing contest on the theme of BREAKING FREE with "Nearly Me".

Karin L. Frank (@klfrank1 and is an award-winning author. Nurtured by the fantasies and sciences of both coasts, she eventually settled on a farm in the Kansas City area. Her poems and stories have been published in a wide variety of venues both in the U.S.A. and abroad. Her first book of poems, A Meeting of Minds, is a collection of her science-based and science fiction-based poems. It is available through Amazon

Women's Voices Writing Contest Winner

By Peggy Epstein
Star Rating

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 me

Aug 18, 2018

Dear Ijeawele begins with a young, new mother's question: "How might I raise my daughter to be a feminist?" This slim book is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's letter of response, acting as an encouraging and thoughtful manifesto for feminism, in fifteen funny, compassionate, and observant suggestions for loving empowerment.

Oh, I love this book, this essay, this letter. So well articulated, Adichie's work is quick and easy to read and underline. 

I am in my twenties, and it's not that I am planning on raising a girl any time soon, but it is that I am continually raising myself as a female within

Build a Better World Writing Contest Winner

By Barbara Roberts
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Aug 17, 2017

The Readers Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that Barbara K. Roberts has won our Build a Better World essay contest. We enjoyed how "Sisters Building a Better World" sheds light on the amazing rehabilitative work being done at Kansas City's Journey House, a prison re-entry program run in large part by a group of area nuns.  Roberts's ability to capture the women of Journey House--both those who work there and those who come to stay--gives readers a vibrant example of the impact one can have when they try to build a better world.

Barbara Kietzer Roberts writing includes short story

Bear Witness Writing Contest Winner

By Victoria Fries
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Aug 4, 2016

The Read Local committee is very pleased to announce Victoria Fries has won our Bear Witness contest in the open category for her piece "Racism in America." The piece garnered passionate discussion; the universal message, which can be applied to any dehumanized and disenfranchised group, lends power to the topic and we appreciate the call for unity. Structurally, we like the repeated thread of standing tall.

We read it aloud several times, and when we found the right reader, with the right tone, voice, and passion, we knew we had found our winner. It's power is definitely as a performance

Faster, Higher, Stronger Writing Contest Winner

By Debra Callaway
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Apr 26, 2016

The Read Local Committee is pleased to announce Debra Callaway has won our Faster, Higher, Stronger Essay Contest with her essay For the Love of Game. We love the way Deb addresses the different responses to competition within her own family.

Debra Callaway earned a masters degree in Art Education, and went on to teach English to teens in an alternative classroom for the next 30 years. Actually, the two subjects are not as disparate as some might think. She found many similarities. Her favorite part of teaching 9th grade English was creative writing. Now she's retired and paints all day

#IHeartU Writing Contest Winner

By Elizabeth Uppman
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Oct 7, 2015

The Read Local committee is pleased to announce Elizabeth Uppman has won Johnson County Library’s #IHeartU Essay contest with her entry Lucia's War. Uppman's essay was chosen for its response to the theme of love, and the juxtaposition of "war" in the title with Lucia's ultimate triumph. We also love the evolution of Lucia's attack, how her "storming the beaches of Normandy" approach slowly transitions to a blunt and irrefutable request.

Elizabeth Uppman is a freelance writer whose personal essays have appeared in Good Housekeeping, Tango magazine,, Brain, Child magazine, and