Junior to be published in Johnson County Library magazine

Junior Rylie McDaniel poses in the library on March 9.

Wildcat Photo

Junior Rylie McDaniel poses in the library on March 9.

Clara Sloan, Opinion Editor

When English teacher Phillip Hamilton first read junior Rylie McDaniel’s short story for his Creative Writing I class, he knew it needed to be published.

So, later that semester, when librarian Jennifer Sosna presented his class with the opportunity to enter in a writing contest for a chance to be published in elementia, Johnson County Library’s teen literary magazine, Hamilton immediately thought of McDaniel.

After weeks of urging McDaniel to put herself out there, she finally caved to Hamilton’s pleas just hours before the deadline had ended.

“Since the prompt was about the passage of time and time’s impact and that somewhat related to her story, I thought that that would be a natural fit,” Hamilton said.

Evidently, so did elementia.

McDaniel was among the handful chosen to be published in the magazine’s 15th edition this spring out of over 800 submissions.

Her story, titled “Fall Leaves and People Do Too,” centers on a young girl trying to avoid the quarrels of her parents while keeping watch over her little brother.

“It was just a random spurt of inspiration,” McDaniel said of the idea.

While only a page and a half, McDaniel delivers all the components of a longer, more thorough story. Hamilton credits this to her knack for description and vivid imagery. As the character’s toes go numb, so do the reader’s.

“Rylie’s really good at describing scenes in a way that show off the characters challenges without relying on telling us. You can read one of her scenes and understand the conflict, the visualization of the scene and really get a lot of emotion and character without actually having to come forward and, as a crutch, tell us what’s going on,” Hamilton said. “It’s a very subtle form of writing and a very advanced form of writing.”

This use of description first allured McDaniel as she fell for the writing of Markus Zusak, author of bestselling books like The Book Thief and The Messenger.

“He uses a lot of metaphors and I like to kind of incorporate that into my writing,” McDaniel said.

elementia, which accepts original poetry, fiction, nonfiction, graphic stories, photography and illustrations, has a committee of ninth-12th grade students who help decide which submissions are published.

Along with McDaniel, seniors Faith Smith and Brooke Portz are also being featured in the magazine for their art submissions through the Shooting Stars scholarship program.

elementia’s next and 15th issue is dedicated to magical realism author A.S. King, who will give the keynote address at the reception for the issue, which all submission winners will attend, on April 26.

The issue can be found at the Johnson County Library, or even De Soto’s very own.

“It’s a great venue for students to be able to do some things and get their names out there,” Sosna said. “Being part of the magazine is a big deal.”