Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project!

The Soon To Be Famous Blog

Pandemic Prose III: Writing in the time of COVID

Join us for the third installment of our series. Indie authors and Soon to Be Famous Manuscript contest winners, Kate Robards and Hollie Smurthwaite, discuss how the pandemic and conflict in our world today has affected their writing. They’ll discuss what challenges or advantages working from home presents, what effect current events have on what they’re writing, advice they have for other authors and more. We’ll also provide information on some powerful, free tools available to all writers in Illinois.

Free Zoom webinar on Friday, November 6 at 11:00 a.m. (central).

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81148806839

Or join us on Facebook via RAILS.

2020 Finalists for Illinois Author Project Announced

We are pleased to announce our Finalists for the 2020 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project contest.

Adult Fiction Finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • War, Spies, and Bobby Sox: Stories About WW2 At Home, Libby Hellmann
  • The Color of Trauma, Hollie Smurthwaite
  • Children of the Revolution, Joanne Zienty

Young Adult Fiction Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • ROAN: The Tales of Conor Archer, Vol. 1, Eric Barr
  • The Influencers, Kassandra Garrison
  • The Secret Journal, Andrew Schafer

Congratulations to these six authors listed above. 

Pandemic Prose II: Writing in the time of COVID

Join indie authors Joanne Zienty and Daniel Rosenberg as they discuss how the pandemic and conflict in our world today has affected their writing. They’ll discuss what challenges or advantages working from home presents, what effect current events have on what they’re writing, advice they have for other authors and more. We’ll also provide information on some powerful, free tools available to all writers in Illinois.

2020 Semi-finalists for Illinois Author Project Announced

This year 52 Illinois authors submitted their works of Adult or Young Adult fiction to be considered for the 2020 Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project contest. After carefully reviewing these submissions, we are excited to announce our Semi-Finalists for the 2020 contest.  Congratulations!


Adult Fiction Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • Seeking Grace In Beulah Land, Lu Clifton
  • The Whistle Stop Canteen, Barb Warner Deane
  • A Sparrow Alone, Mim Eichmann
  • Crossing Over, Daniel Frank
  • Kelli's Pine, Jay Grochowski
  • War, Spies, and Bobby Sox, Libby Hellmann
  • Ruby Island, Anita Rodriguez
  • Cause of Death: ???, Kristen Salustro
  • The Color of Trauma, Hollie Smurthwaite
  • Children of the Revolution, Joanne Zienty

Young Adult Fiction Semi-finalists

In alphabetical order by author last name.
  • ROAN: The Tales of Conor Archer, Vol. 1, Eric Barr
  • The Influencers, Kassandra Garrison
  • Gumshoe and the Mysterious Mushrooms, Laura Hawks
  • August Raven, LeAnn L. Morgan
  • The Secret Journal, Andrew Schafer

Congratulations to these 15 authors listed above. We thank everyone who took the time to submit their work. And if you didn’t make it to the second round this year, we encourage you to keep writing and editing. And perhaps, try again next year. 


A Candid Discussion - Race and Writing with Ran Walker

Learn from national award-winning author Ran Walker about speaking your mind through writing. The moderator is Sarah Hawkins, leader of Minnesota's MN Writes MN Reads and interview duties are handled by Denise Raleigh, co-founder of the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project.

What are Award-Winning Authors Writing about During this Pandemic?

Discover what two of Illinois' award-winning authors are experiencing during this pandemic.

Join the library-curated Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project winners, Michael Alan Peck (2015, "The Commons") and Geralyn Hesslau Magrady (2016, "Lines") as they discuss what they have been writing and reading. Also, learn about free tools available to support Illinois writers in the free, insightful webinar.

This is a video replay of our May 22 webinar.

Don't forget, the deadline for this year's Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project contest is fast approaching— May 31, 2020. Submit your indie-published books here.

Meet Our 2020 Manuscript Contest Winner

We're thrilled to announce the 2020 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript Contest winner. Meet Kate Robards who won for her unpublished work, The Songbird Baby. In this video, she shares her background and writing process. Be sure to catch her heartwarming reaction when we tell her she won, too.

For more information about our winner, visit her website. Kate's prizes include working with an editor and having a professional cover designed. More details about our Manuscript Contest can be found here. The next round starts November 2020.

Congratulations Kate!

Jean Rabe and Lauren Eckhardt Author Talk, Manuscript Winner Video

Join our award-winning authors Jean Rabe and Lauren Eckhardt as they discuss their books, writing process, winning the 2019 contest, and so much more. We also named the winner of this year's Manuscript Contest!

This is a video replay of our April 22 webinar.

The Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project is for independent or self-published adult or YA fiction. Submit your book to be evaluated by a panel of librarians and potentially win prizes and opportunities to promote your book and much more. The contest opened Wednesday, April 1 and closes May 31, 2020. Details here.

2020 Illinois Author Project Now Accepting Submissions

Submit your indie published adult or YA novel today.

The Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project is now accepting submissions for our 2020 contest. The submission deadline closes May 31, 2020. 

This year, the winners of the contest will receive:

  • Statewide recognition by Illinois libraries as the top indie-published books in adult and young adult genres
  • $500 prize each for our two winners, one in each genre
  • Opportunities to promote your book(s) at Illinois public libraries
  • Inclusion in a full-page print spread in Library Journal
  • Print book sales to Illinois’ public libraries
  • Inclusion in Popup Picks, a mobile media curation service offered by Reaching Across Illinois Library System, for three months
  • Opportunity to compete with other Indie Author Project contest winners for the Indie Author of the Year award
  • Honors at the 2021 spring IAP reception
  • Opportunities to earn royalties through the IAP Select collection

Each book that is submitted to the contest must be:

  • Indie-published
  • In an adult fiction or young adult fiction genre
  • Written by an Illinois resident
  • Available in either ePUB or PDF file

The 2020 contest opens April 1 and the submission deadline is May 31, 2020.

2020 Manuscript Finalists Selected

Our judges have selected this year's finalists for our 2020 Manuscript Project. These three manuscripts (listed below in alphabetical order by author last name) now compete for the top prize in our final round of judging.

  • Strawberry Creek by Chris Gerrib
  • The Songbird Baby by Kate Robards
  • It’s Raining Men by Hollie Smurthwaite

Congratulations to these Illinois writers. Details about our Manuscript Project are found here.