Our Town, 2013 Kansas Authors Club  Convention

2013 Youth
Writing Contest Results

Contest Manager
Kristine A. Plansky

We presented a new youth award this year:
KAC Excellence in Writing Award.
This award went to Sophie Rani Bajaj "for her
demonstrated talent in writing fiction, nonfiction and poetry."

The 2013 KAC Youth Contest had three categories:
Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction.


1 & 2 grades Poetry

1st: "My Dog Jack" - Emma Thompson
2nd: "Jelly Beans" - Andrew Balson
3rd: "Summer Fun!!" - John Arvind Bajaj

3 & 4 grades Poetry

1st: "The Soccer Way" - Judy Lollis
2nd: "The Golden Bird" - Eliot Rabas
3rd: "Crafts" - Abigail Balson
HM: "Swimming for the First Time" - Sophie Rani Bajaj

5 & 6 grades Poetry

1st: "Desert" - Jama K. Gleue
2nd: "Wild Shadows" - Abigail Meyer
3rd: "Reflections on Life" - Miriam Eldridge
HM: "Why" - Miriam Eldridge
HM: "My Quiet Place" - Zoë Graber-Weickert
HM: "Kite" - Abigail Driggers
HM: "Growing Up" - Adelle Suzanne Remke
HM: "Summer" - Kaya Lawrence
HM: "Lightning" - Alex Mehmedovic
HM: "School’s Out" - Vasuma Chaparala

7 & 8 grades Poetry

1st: "Rustling Peace" - Ryan Porcu
2nd: "The Swing Set" - Lana Prager
3rd: "Brain Dead" - Isabel Quiram
HM: "Almighty Nature" - Kathryn Rasmussen
HM: "Active Water" - Ian Reddy

9-12 grades Poetry

1st: "Ex-Tomboy" - Darbi Park
2nd: "Crowded Feelings" - Tori Shephard
3rd: "I remember...leaving" - Quinlan Carttar
HM: "Coffee without Grandpa" - Tristen Miles
HM: "A Stray Dream" - Sydney Schlueter
HM: "The Thoughts through Heartbreak" - Lauren Eustice
HM: "Ex-daughter" - Savanna Cody
HM: "Ex-fisherman" - Justin Horner
HM: "My Home is the Tea" - Laura Idleman
HM: "Space" - Kristin L. Gaddis

Poetry Judges

Poetry judge Sarah Langley, who judged levels 1-2, 3-4, and 7-8, is a life-long lover of words. She grew up finding rhyming words for every object she saw. She wrote numerous short stories. Now she writes poetry because she loves the feel of a pen in her hand, the way a nib sinks into handmade paper, and because words (whether rhyming or not) are always stuck in her head like a favorite song. But most importantly, Sarah wants her writing to simplify the ideas of life and thereby inspire her readers to search out all the marvelous complexities and connections in life for themselves. She is currently sharing her love of poetry by helping with writing programs at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, by mentoring a sixth grader, and attending two local writers’ groups. When not writing, Sarah dons her clown outfit and twists balloons so she can make children smile. She and her brother started their balloon-twisting business, Airheads, four years ago. But whether twisting balloons, helping children, or just living life, Sarah is always searching for inspiration to put those words in her head onto paper.

Nancy and John Sanders, poetry judges for level 5-6, once taught English in Manhattan, he as a grad assistant and she in continuing education, and at Pittsburg State University. Both published stories or poetry in Current (Kansas Wesleyan University) and Touchstone (KSU). Nancy also published in The Font (Colby Community College). John taught at CCC and Haskell American Indian Junior College, and Nancy taught English at Colby Middle/High School and then directed the Secondary Learning Disabilities Program. Nancy, whose pen name is Nancy Larsen-Sanders, published All Stubborned Up, a novel about Alzheimer's and depression, and "Earth's Memories Series," five historical fiction novels with strong elements of suspense: The Mourning Dove's Message; Women with BackboneThe Marrow of LifeFor the Duration; and Sky Bird. John has helped as her critic and proofreader.

Poetry judge for level 9-12, Kevin Rabas, co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State University and edits Flint Hills Review. His poems and stories have been published in Nimrod, Cottonwood, Event, and elsewhere. He has four books: Bird’s Horn & Other Poems; Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano (a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner); Spider Face (stories); and, most recently, Sonny Kenner's Red Guitar (poems) (Coal City Review Press, May 2013).

Messages from the Poetry Judges:
Judge Sarah Langley writes that she was thrilled to read the many good poems submitted by the grade school and middle school poets this year. She says, "I was captivated by the amount of inspiration in these young authors. They did not have to be poets or writers. The fact that they took the ideas in their heads and made poems out of them, and then shared them with us, made me admire their intuition and creativity. They had humor, they had love, they had vision, and they all had what it took to be wonderful writers."

Here is what Nancy and John Sanders said about this year's fifth and sixth grade entries: "Wow! You kept us busy reading and rereading. We were watching for freshness and unity as we looked at the variations in rhyme and rhythm, free verse, detail and imagery, similes and controlling metaphor, voice, and color. Begin working on new poems right now. Let's say you write about your dog. You know there is no other dog around like your dog. Show that to your reader! We bet he sounds different than your neighbor's dog ... and he loves you! Who else slurps all over your face like you're a vanilla cone?"

Kevin Rabas writes, "You are a talented bunch, every single one. When judging, I paid special attention to detail and image. I favored poems that were specific and nuanced with detail, including poems that used imagery, using the five senses to describe and portray the world. I looked for voice, personality on paper. I paid attention to form and structure. Does the poem's shape and architecture support and house its message effectively? Also, I looked for imagination. What innovations did the young writer bring to the page? It was a joy reading these entries. Keep writing, everyone, and enjoy this year's anthology. Be proud.

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1 & 2 grades Fiction

1st: "The Case of the Missing Necklace" - Emma Mantovani
2nd: "The Beaver and the Mountain Lion" - John Arvind Bajaj
3rd: "The Baker and the Cake" - Mary Johnson Byran

3 & 4 grades Fiction

1st: "A Bird on the Wall" - Sophie Rani Bajaj
2nd: "Lost in the Woods" - Mya Brown
3rd: "Secrets of the Owls" - Mary Hudak
HM: "The Crystal Tears" - MaryElena Heyen

5 & 6 grades Fiction

1st: "Grand As Can Be" - Anna Bajaj
2nd: "Pictures of My Life" - Alli Miller
3rd: "The (Short-Lived) Revenge of Casper" - Clare Van Zelfden

7 & 8 grades Fiction

1st: "New Roanoke" - Kaman Simmons
2nd: "Caetus's Sea" - Hannah Nelson
3rd: "Kidnapped" - Ben Whitney

9-12 grades Fiction

1st: "A Walk in the Abyss" - Gabriela Hernandez
2nd: "The Final Trial" - Katie McDowell
3rd: "Lavender Glitter and Army Green" - Ally Burr
HM: "A Clipping from the Austin Post" - Catherine DeVillier

Fiction Judges

Dorothy Masters, Fiction Judge for the 1-2 and 3-4 levels, was born in a year of grasshoppers and dust storms, the seventh child of a mule skinner. She grew up in the Flint Hills, worked forty years as a registered nurse, and began writing about her experiences. She has published two books, Keep on the Sunny Side of Life and A Day on the Trail, and writes a book a year for her family. For a number of years she wrote a column, “This and That,” which appeared in The Mission Valley Herold of Eskridge, The Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise of Alma, and The Osage County Herald-Chronicle in Burlingame. She has gone on-line with “German Prisoners and Lake Wabaunsee” in the magazine Eye on Kansas and four stories in OurEcho. She has written articles for the “Beyond 50” section of The Topeka Capital-Journal, which also has published numerous of her letters to the editor on topics as divergent as windmill farms and picketing at a soldier’s funeral. Cat Tales, the writers group she organized, had a good, seven plus year run, starting at the Electric Cat Café at Paxico. She is very familiar with youth writing, having run a youth writing contest for four years in the Harveyville area.

Sheila Dalrymple, Fiction Judge for Grades 5-6, is a retired teacher. She has taught middle school and high school English, Adult Education to students who were earning their GEDs, and creative writing to senior citizens. Each level has been her favorite level, as well as her favorite subject to teach. She has also worked nine years as house and agenda clerk for the Chief Clerk of the Kansas House of Representatives during its sessions. While raising two sons as a stay-at-home mom, she did home bound tutoring, and tutored adults in basic reading skills. Having retired several years ago, she enjoys foremost, her six grandchildren, then her passion for reading, writing, and shopping! She is presently writing a series of children’s stories. She belongs to Write Stuff Writing Group and is a member of Kansas Writers Association and the Kansas Authors Club.

Gwethalyn Williams, Fiction Judge for the 7-8 and 9-12 levels, was born into a family of both fiction and nonfiction writers and grew up surrounded by family and friends who strongly encouraged her to write. While in school she attended many conferences and events in order to meet published authors and other aspiring writers to learn about and talk about writing with others as passionate about it as she was. She even attended a creative writing summer camp for several years. In high school Gwethalyn discovered that her true passion lies in theater. After earning her degree in acting and directing at the University of Kansas she was lucky enough to get her dream job as director of the Manhattan Experimental Theater Workshop for High School Students in Manhattan, KS, where she has been helping students write and stage their own new plays every summer since she got the job ten years ago. She also got to combine her love of writing with her love of theater by writing teacher's guides while at KU and for the Seem to Be Players. She especially enjoys working with young people and has also served as an adjudicator for the Kansas Thespian Society for several years. She is happy to have this opportunity to keep connected with the creative powers of Kansas youth as she is now traveling around the country while her husband is a travel nurse, which gives her the opportunity to spend more time writing as well as seeking out opportunities for theater making of all kinds. She hopes to one day offer more workshops around the country and teach others how to direct workshops like the one she directs in Manhattan every summer.

Messages from the Fiction Judges:

Dorothy Masters said she enjoyed reading the entries submitted from grades 1-2 and 3-4: “Very interesting fantasy with thought-provoking stories. Writing is a thought game; starting young improves the process.”

Sheila Dalrymple says, “Thank you for allowing me to read your entries submitted to KAC Youth Writing Contest. I consider it an honor to be a part of your creative writing journey and what a delightful journey it is! You have shown that you are on the road to a form of expression that is only yours. Your stories were charming, creative, and informative. I encourage you to continue using your language skills in the form of the written word. After all, you have taken the first step. Do not stop writing. It is a form of giving of yourself.

Gwethalyn Williams writes, “I was extremely impressed by the entries in the groups I got to read. Grabbing a reader's attention and giving them a feeling for setting, characters and what is at stake in the story in such a short length is a truly difficult task, and one that I felt every entry I read succeeded in. Every story had something surprising about it, whether it was the setting, the plot itself, or the way in which something which might seem familiar was revealed. What an amazing amount of inventiveness and creative bravery you all possess. I hope that no matter what other goals you may have in life, you will all keep writing and keep pushing yourselves to discover the great depths of your own abilities and creativity. You truly can make the world a richer, more beautiful place by sharing your stories. Stay brave!”

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1 & 2 grades Non-fiction

1st: "Went to South Carolina" - John Arvind Bajaj
2nd: "Trip to Stone Mountain Park" - Andrew Balson
3rd: "Our Colorado Christmas Trip" - John Arvind Bajaj
HM: "About George Washington, the President" - MacKenzie Williams

3 &4 grades Non-fiction

1st: "My Dog, Peanut" - Sophie Rani Bajaj
2nd: "Stitches" - Sophie Rani Bajaj
3rd: "My Gluten-Free Life" - Emersyn Funk
HM: "Little Blue Penguins" - Jessi Dalke

5 & 6 grades Non-fiction

1st: "The Wall of Lives" - Zach Reddy
2nd: "How to Care for Rabbits" - Dalton Wilson
3rd: "How to Survive 4th and 5th Grades" - Jackson Schrader
HM: "Dwight L. Moody" - Samuel Wild

7 & 8 grades Non-fiction

1st: "That Day When I Got Really High at the Lake of the Ozarks" - Ryan Rankin
2nd: "What Would I Tell America’s Founding Fathers" - Kevin Bruggemeyer
3rd: "A Blessing" - Conner Keith
HM: "Celebration" - Sheridan Sommer

9-12 grades Non-fiction

1st: "Extracurricular Activities" - Shayna Kremeier
2nd: "Allowing Teachers to Carry Firearms at School" - Maria Traskowsky
3rd: "High School Sports: Keep or Eliminate?" - Amanda Steger
HM: "Video Games and Violence" - Matthew Schaecher
HM: "Community Service Hours" - Megan Knopp
HM: "Violent Games Affecting People" - Charles Kluth

Nonfiction Judges

Nonfiction judge Paul Carver is a Middle School Teacher for the McPherson School District. His class is designed to work with high functioning students. As an educator, he works with students’ writing, ranging from movie scripts to research papers. He has also taught at the elementary level. He has a knack for getting his students interested in writing as well as skilled in computer research, evidenced by the dominance of McPherson fourth and fifth grade students during 2011 and 2012 in the nonfiction portion of the Kansas Authors Club youth contest.

Nonfiction Judge for Grades 5-6, Nancy Julien Kopp, is a freelance writer who writes primarily nonfiction, including memoir, inspirational, travel articles and articles on the craft of writing. She has been published in fourteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and several other anthologies. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, e-zines and on her blog, Granny's World.

Messages from the Nonfiction Judges:

Paul Carver writes, “What a pleasure it was to read the entries for this year’s nonfiction writing competition. I’m always excited and encouraged by reading the works from young writers. It takes a certain amount of bravery to allow writing to expose our inner thoughts. Nonfiction writing is challenging as the writers must not only express themselves, but do so in a way that the works rest in reality.”

Nancy Julien Kopp writes, “Nonfiction can be both factual and creative. Like other forms of writing, it should hold a reader’s attention. In judging, I focused on content, originality, and organization.” She also noted the importance of capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure and spelling, since a writer’s skill in the use of these “mechanics” helps readers focus on the message.

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