For Writers

At Johnson County Library, we love local writers. To support writers at every stage, we have developed a suite of programs, resources, and opportunities to develop their craft and grow their portfolio. If you are a writer (genre doesn’t matter!), we want to meet you, read your work, and celebrate you in the community. This page will help you learn how Johnson County Library can support you as you continue to hone your craft.

The 2022 Writers Conference will be Thursday, Nov. 17 - Sunday, Nov. 20. Check back soon for details.

Next up on the JocoWrites Blog:

Celebrated yearly on June 19th, Juneteenth commemorates the day that enslaved African-American people in Galveston, Texas learned of their new freedom. It took over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation for word to officially travel to Galveston, but in the century and a half since, Juneteenth has evolved into a jubilant celebration of African-American pride and liberation. Signed into law as a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth now carries an even greater public presence. We want to know about your Juneteenth experiences! What does the holiday mean to you? How do you celebrate? What do you look forward to this year? Whether you’ve been celebrating your whole life or are newly coming into knowledge of the day, we look forward to learning more about Juneteenth in our community. Keep responses under 500 words.

Want to learn more about Juneteenth? Ask a staff member for help search the catalog or online databases.

Submit your work here »

One of the beautiful submissions we received last month is from Anna. Here, she looks at her routine walk to school with new eyes.

For months I’ve been reciting a Spring incantation. Every day as I walk to school, I gather some energy and recite: “There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground…” as if I must will myself into believing it. The seed moon came and went, but my mother was a little slow to wake this year. It wasn’t until this week that I felt my incantation recited back to me. It made for a horrendous walk. Now, I can tell that the lilies are eager to bloom. I note the cool and shaded glens, where the mayapple will soon bear fruit, and the sunny corners where the nettles are nestled. More often, I watch the flood of garlic mustard take over the undergrowth. Honeysuckle is invasive too, but isn’t it sweeter on the tongue? New gardeners should be tasked with feeling, listening, smelling, tasting, watching – and savoring the season.

Spring isn’t like Autumn, when it’s easy to spot the purple stems of elderberry and hemlock. Instead, the purple clover greets the first corn stalks who will in turn greet their sisters, the squash and the beans. It makes you want to dance about and trade the neighbors, “Don’t let your herd munch on the snakeroot down yonder. Have you seen any pawpaw buds yet?” Spring is a time to develop your mental map. The morning rain showers will leave behind heavy mist. The summer growth will soon obscure everything too, soon enough. So the incantation continues: “And swallows circling with their shimmering sound; And frogs in the pools singing at night, And wild plum trees in tremulous white, Robins will wear their feathery fire Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire…”

Read other responses here »  Share your favorites with friends.

Writing Contests:

Every month we host a new contest with prizes including a $200 honorarium and an invitation to read at a Library event.

Jack Vandeleuv
Jack Vandeleuve is our most recent winner with his story “Exhibit” It’s a futuristic story about a remarkable egg-shaped object.

Our contest theme for May – August  is Oceans of Possibility.

Water is part of our everyday life. It sustains all forms of life. It inspires poems and stories, it causes divisions and political strife. We dream about it, fight about it, drink it, swim in it. And while those of us in landlocked states don’t see the earth’s largest bodies of water every day, we’re connected to the oceans through the earth’s water cycle. 

For our current writing contest, think about water. Maybe how you felt the first time you traveled to the shore and stepped into the ocean; maybe how your debate theme one year in high school was whether aquifers should be federally regulated to protect against pollution.

This is an opportunity to think big, no matter how many times you’ve been to the ocean. We want to read about how water inspires or limits you, how it shapes your work or family life. Don’t be afraid to include Johnson County’s own lakes, rivers and aquifers. While they are certainly not oceans, the water cycle connects it all.

See additional previous winners »

Read more about the guidelines and enter your original works »

If you missed their conversation, don't fret. You can listen to B.J. and Henry Hollars sharing their experience at Library OnDemand in Making Every Mile a Memory. You can also watch BJ Hollars' craft talk on travel writing.

The Local Writers Committee is excited to invite our Writing Contest winners to share their work.

Tuesday, July 12th * 6:30 p.m.
Central Resource Library – Carmack Community Room

Our first reading includes Dan Wikiera reading I Am the Fool, Diana Richards with Cactus, Marcia Hurlow reading Olfaction, and Kaylin Salmen sharing Self-worth.

Wikiera and Richards were responding to the prompt The Fools Journey; Hurlow, Tails and Tales; and Salmen, Bodies. You can read their work at

Tuesday, July 19, 6:30 p.m.
Central Resource Library – Community Carmack Room

Our second reading includes Marcia Hurlow reading Lost on Callisto, Annie Newcomer with The Broken Plate: a Still Life, Molly Hopkins reading Kerplunk, and Claire McMurray sharing Who is She?

Contest winners were responding to the prompt: The Unknown.