2022 Finalists Announced

The Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project judges have reviewed this year's contest submissions of indie-published books by Illinois authors. They've narrowed down their choices to these top three entries listed below (in alphabetical order by author’s last name).

Congratulations to these finalists who go on to compete in the next round where one will emerge as 2022's winner. Watch this blog for the winner announcement later this year.


Len Joy of Skokie has been chosen as one of three finalists in the statewide Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project competition for his novel American Past Time. This darkly nostalgic story is a study of an American family through good times and bad, engagingly set against major events from the 1950s to the ’70s, as issues of race simmer in the background. History buffs and baseball fans will especially appreciate details such as sting-ray bikes, Green Stamps, and the names of famous baseball players, including Spahn, Larsen, Mantle and Musial that set the scene for the story.

Len commented, “While I am still in the not quite famous category, I have continued to make progress, and I appreciate the recognition.” He learned about the contest from the Skokie Public Library. Len’s biography (which includes being a nationally rated triathlete!) and more information about his books can be found at lenjoybooks.com.


Alina Rubin of Niles has been chosen as one of three finalists in the statewide Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project competition for her novel A Girl With a Knife.

Alina commented, "I've asked the wonderful staff of the Niles library what I would need to do to get A Girl with a Knife on the library shelves, and they've told me about the Illinois Soon to Be Famous Manuscript and Author projects. I applied right away, and I'm glad I did. The nomination reflects not only my work, but the effort of my editor Kirsten Rees and her team, the cover designers at GetCovers and my amazing beta readers. I can't thank them enough!"

Like many writers, Alina took advantage of the time she saved by not commuting to her job during the pandemic to write a book. A Girl With a Knife is the story of a nineteenth century woman surgeon, and is the first title in a planned series.


Rebecca Taniguchi of St. Charles has been chosen as one of three finalists in the statewide Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project competition for her novel Hiro’s War.

“I am delighted to be honored by the Soon to Be Famous Project for writing Hiro’s War, which tells the little-known story of Japanese Americans who fought valiantly for their country while their friends and families sat in U.S. concentration camps, rounded up and thrown into the armed prisons because of their race,” she commented. 

Hiro’s War tells the story of how Chicago became a beacon of hope for  many of these citizens and their parents, offering acceptance, jobs, and services to help restart their lives during and after the war. Indeed, Chicago was the largest resettlement site in the country as it aided tens of thousands of Japanese Americans and their parents. 

 As Rebecca said, “Written at this time when other groups and individuals are shunned as outsiders, Hiro's story teaches that the American ideals of justice and equality for all demand constant work and vigilance, compassion and resilience.”