Local Writers Extras

Writers Conference Extras: Bookstore, Panera & Coffee

Try as we might, writers can’t live on words alone. And to make your time at the Writers Conference a little easier, we want to make sure you know about these opportunities.

The Green Door Book Store & Gift Shoppe will be on-site and will have an assortment of presenter and faculty books available for purchase. The bookstore’s hours are Thursday 6 - 8 p.m., Friday 3 - 8 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Panera: This year, Johnson County Library is partnering with Panera Bread for lunches on Friday and Saturday. Please order by 10 p.m. the night before to ensure delivery. This will help streamline deliveries and make sure you get your Panera favorites delivered with a significantly reduced delivery fee and NO order minimum. Orders will be delivered to the to the registration table no later than noon.

To choose and place your order, use this link: https://delivery.panerabread.com/panera-to-you/#!/

Please note this link can ONLY be accessed via desktop/laptop or your mobile web browser, it CANNOT be accessed via the Panera mobile app.

  1. Select KS as the state; for location click Johnson County Library Writer’s Conference from the dropdown.
  2. Choose Friday or Saturday and select the available delivery time.
    • All orders will arrive at the same time.
  3. Select what you would like included in your order and place your order.
    • There is a $1 delivery fee.
    • Please be sure to place your order by 10 p.m. the night before the day of delivery. 
  4. All orders are individually and securely packaged, sealed, and labeled.

If you prefer to venture out of the library for lunch on either day, there are great options within walking distance! Here are a few:

Weiner Kitchen, 9645 W. 87th St. (in the strip mall to the east)
Offers a craft sausage menu with traditional favorites such as pale ale brats, Polish, beef franks & Italian Sausage, as well as their own varieties like Bacon Cheddar Hog Dogs, Buffalo Chicken Links and the award-winning Bacon Sausage.

ABC Café, 10001 W. 87th St. (in the strip mall to the west, just beyond QT)
Compact Chinese kitchen offers familiar dishes in casual digs and serves dim sum all day.

India Palace, 9914 W. 87th St. (kitty-corner, across 87th and Farley)

And last but most certainly not least, we’re excited to have a coffee bar just a (very) short walk from the Central Resource branch. Bear Necessities Coffee Bar, 9609 W. 87th St. (in the strip mall to the east),
which offers coffee, tea, wine, beer, and pastries.

We’re especially excited that Bear Necessities will be hosting our Open Mic on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 6 - 7 p.m.  We hope you’ll join us there ... and that you’ll bring a friend!

-- written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist

Meet the Presenter: Polly McCann

The lyrical poetry of Polly Alice McCann paints a beautiful narrative revolving around the internal heartland. With poetry as beautiful as hers, it is no surprise that she is also an artist! This author, artist and dreamer began writing poetry after taking an impactful trip to the desert with a pillow and a book. We can only imagine the beauty she discovered there that would inspire her to start to write — and continue writing — poetry.  

Polly received her MFA in Writing from Hamline University. Her poetry has been published both nationally and internationally in journals such as “Naugatuck River Review” and “arc23” in Tel Aviv. Polly is the managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press and an adjunct writing professor. You can find her poetry collections, including her newest collection, “Night Blooming,” along with her memoir, “Pray Like a Woman,” at online stores.

You can learn more about Polly McCann on her website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can also learn more from her at this year’s Writers Conference, where she’ll be teaching two sessions: “Chatting About Chapbooks: Five Ways to Share Your Poetry” and “Place & Power in Narrative Poetry.”

We look forward to seeing you there!

-- written by Kathryn “Katt” Cooper, adult services specialist

Photo collage of conference planners

Our Writers Conference Planners! Clockwise from top left: Helen Hokanson, Jesseca Bear, Lisa Allen, Kathryn "Katt" Cooper, Joseph Keehn, Diane Haner and Cindy Frazer.

Meet the Conference Planners!

Now that we’ve introduced you to our Writers Conference authors and presenters, it’s time to introduce ourselves!

The core team that plans the Writers Conference is small, but mighty!

Helen Hokanson has worked at the Library for 25 years. She found her niche as the Local Writers Librarian in 2014 and leads our committee not just in planning the Writers Conference, but in visioning and planning year-round programming, readings, and writing contests.

Joseph Keehn is the Events & Programs Coordinator for the Johnson County Library, where he plans, develops, implements, evaluates and manages programs and events that meet the diverse needs of all patrons. He has been with the Writers Conference since its beginning.

Cindy Frazer has been at Johnson County Library since 1985 and has been on the Writers Conference committee for 7 years. Thanks to Cindy, we have signage and schedules and all those didn’t-think-of-that essentials that make the conference successful.

Lisa Allen started at the Library in 2019 and joined the Local Writers Committee that same year. She is an Adult Services Specialist.

Jesseca Bear started at the Library in 2012 and joined the Local Writers Committee earlier this year. She is an Adult Services Specialist.

Kathryn “Katt” Cooper started at the Library in 2018 and has been part of the Local Writers Committee since 2019. She is an Adult Services Specialist.

Diane Haner has worked at the Library since 2001 and joined the Local Writers Committee in 2016. She is an Adult Services Specialist.

-- written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist

An Evening with Anne-Marie Oomen

When we talked with Writers Conference faculty member Anne-Marie Oomen about the possibility of an event to celebrate her newest, award-winning memoir, As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book, the conversation quickly turned to what Oomen calls “book good.”

We learned, then, that as much as Oomen loves to read her work in front of a crowd, she also has bigger goals for this book. Specifically, she wants to share what she and her family learned as they navigated her mother’s deteriorating health and transition into assisted living with others who are currently facing—or will soon face—this stressful time of life.

To bring this vision to life, we planned this evening to be both a literary event and a community conversation. Local author Virginia Brackett will moderate the event and will be in conversation with Oomen about the book itself and the craft elements that make it unique.

In addition, Tim Wholf, Johnson County’s new Director of Aging and Human Services, will join Oomen and Brackett to discuss the realities of navigating the system when a parent or loved one is aging and needs assistance.

In addition to discussions with Brackett and Wholf, Oomen will read from the memoir, which was awarded the 2021 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Sue William Silverman Prize for Creative Nonfiction and will take questions from the audience. Books will be available for purchase from local business The Green Door Book Store & Gift Shoppe.

-- written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist

Meet the Presenter: Jamie Lynn Heller

Jaime Lynn Heller’s life is filled with roles: counselor, teacher, parent, spouse, daughter, aunt, neighbor, writer, and a multitude of others. How is it that she finds the energy to juggle all this? She uses poetry as her caffeine.

Heller’s chap book “Domesticated” was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press) and “Buried in the Suburbs” was published in 2018 (Woodley Press). 2019 was an exciting year for Heller as “Buried in the Suburbs” received a Kansas Notable Book Award from the State Library of Kansas. This collection of poems aims to show the natural rhythms of the world that are overlooked. You can find a complete list of Jaime Lynn Heller’s works on her website.

Jamie will be at this year’s Writers Conference facilitating writing exercises with Metaphor Dice! Get your creativity rolling early with this unique writing tool.

—written by Kathryn “Katt” Cooper, adult services specialist

Meet the Presenter: Diana Richards

Clear, concise, accurate: these are words that guided Diana Richards in her 25-year career as an instructional designer and business trainer. Turns out, they are the same words that drive her as an editor and writer.

Those words and the practice they embody have helped Diana in her years as a Senior Tutor in the Writer Center at Johnson County Community College. Diana has also been a copy editor for an international magazine and says, “It doesn’t matter what you’re writing. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a mystery or a romance, you will lose your message if it’s not built on a strong foundation of solid grammar and proper punctuation.”

So it’s no surprise that Diana will join us at this year’s Writers Conference to offer One-on-One Edits, which will focus on readability and transparency. These sessions, Diana says, are not for theoreticians or academics; they are for real writers in the real world. Emphasis will be on how to use punctuation and grammar to enhance your story, not impede it.

Diana is a past winner of our writing contest. Her story, “Cactus,” was selected in 2021 for the category The Fool’s Journey. You can read it here.

—written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist





Kelly Sime

Kelly Sime

Meet the Presenter: Kelly Sime

Show of hands: how many of you have an author photo? How many have an author photo that you love?

If you’re like me, having your photo taken isn’t exactly your favorite thing. I can think of countless other things I’d rather do than have my picture taken. But here’s the thing: when you want to put your writing into the world, people will want to see YOU. You’ll need a photo if you want to publish work online, because most places ask for a short bio and a photo. You’ll need a photo if you want to present at conferences. And you’ll definitely need a photo when your book is published!

And you don’t want just any photo, either. A selfie might be cute, but does it really serve you as an author? Your photo tells people about who you are: it conveys tone, style, and genre.

Here’s where Kelly Sime comes in. She has more than 20 years of event and portrait photography experience, and she specializes in on-location occasions like weddings and non-profit fundraisers. Her style specialties are candid and photojournalistic images.

Kelly will be at the Writers Conference for two reasons: first, she’ll be walking around taking photos of the sessions, presenters, and attendees at the library. Second—and perhaps most importantly—she'll be taking author photos for any conference attendee who wants one. In just a few minutes, the two of you will work together to create an authentic portrayal of your personality. These photos are free to attendees and will be available online 2-4 weeks after the conference.

— written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist

Jessica Conoley

Jessica Conoley

Meet the Presenter: Jessica Conoley

Jessica Conoley has been on the faculty of our Writers Conference for years for a reason: attendees love her. They relate to her, respect her, and consistently tell us that her sessions are full of information, interesting, and engaging.

And that’s no surprise to anyone who’s spent any time with Jessica. She’s not only an accomplished writer and creative careers coach; she’s curious about others and genuinely interested in seeing people live their dream.

Jessica writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her fiction falls into the fantasy genre, where she creates dark and Ghibli-esque worlds with nods to her beloved 80s action films. Her non-fiction focuses on personal essays and career advice with a focus on mental wellbeing. Jessica also founded and leads The Creative’s Apprentice, where she provides step-by-step, easily implementable mindset and educational guidance so creatives can stop worrying about all of the “business stuff they’re supposed to do” and focus on the creative work they love to do.

Jessica was kind enough to participate in a little bit of Q&A so you can get to know her better before meeting her at the conference:

Why do you write? I write fiction to process the emotional/subconscious things I'm not ready to process in reality.  For example, the book I signed with my agent for is a fantasy prison escape novel.  A few years after I finished it I realized I was processing how I felt working in corporate America and my need to break free of a career path that was unhealthy for me. I think writing the book helped me find the bravery to leave that traditional 9-5 & start my own creative career. I write nonfiction to help other people. I have a knack for simplifying & de-scarying business and then teaching mentally healthy business practices to people. I find it very rewarding when my non-fiction writing empowers writers and other creatives.

Who do you read? Whose work sustains/inspires/challenges/soothes you?  I read a lot of SFF (science fiction/fantasy), Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Novik, Katherine Addison, Becky Chambers. I also read a ton of business/behavioral science/marketing/energy type stuff. My go to books in the hardest year of my life were Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist & Caroline Myss's “Anatomy of the Spirit”.

How does being a business owner inform your own creative work? I see business as a creative medium in and of itself. My goal is to run a company where we find energy giving or energy neutral ways to grow our individual creative careers and help others. Anytime there's an energy draining task that we hate to do, (marketing is the white whale of course) my job is to explore and find a different way to do it that doesn't feel like a drag.

What excites you about what you're teaching at the Writers Conference? I love helping writers meet their writing career goals, but what surprised me was how many people were living their dream & still tormented with anxiety and stress.  It became my mission to help writers reach their career milestones AND enjoy living their dream in the process.  Historically, the mental health of writers hasn't been at the forefront of conference programming, but this year we had multiple organizations came to us super excited about the topic.  It gives me hope that we as an industry are ready to embrace a healthier mental way of going about our writing dreams.

What do you really want attendees to know about you? You can live your creative dreams and do it in a mentally healthy, sustainable way that can bring in money. It will take work, time, and investment in yourself. But you are worth it and you deserve to be happy and bring your writing to the world simultaneously.

You can keep up with Jessica by visiting her website (linked above) or on Instagram and Twitter at @thecreativesapp

—written by Lisa Allen, adult services specialist