2023 Winner Announced

Angelique Burrell, teacher, writer, and mom, can now add “award-winning author” to  her long list of accomplishments. On January 23, her young adult novel A Mark in the Road was chosen winner of the 2023 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project book competition.

Angelique commented, “I was honored to be a finalist and winning is beyond my expectations, especially after learning about the talented authors who were also finalists. I am without words, partly because I’m jumping up and down!  And thank you to the Illinois Author Project for holding this competition to help new Illinois authors connect with readers and to the Illinois libraries for supporting and promoting creativity and independent thought through all their programming and resources.” 

There was high praise for A Mark in the Road from the volunteer librarian judges:

“A thrilling and enjoyable novel with a touch of magical realism and a unique premise anchored by a classic road trip. I genuinely enjoyed my entire time with this book and find it easy to recommend to teen and adult readers alike. Mason and Addie read like two real high school students with a little chemistry and a lot of history, and the supernatural slant separates this out from other thrillers/light romances. Among the nine titles I read for this competition, this one stands heads and shoulders above the rest.”

“It's a thought-provoking premise that traumatic events can trigger unknown human abilities. Without preaching, the story demonstrates the importance of sharing inner thoughts and struggles.”

“Well written suspense with relatable characters and intriguing dialogue. The pacing was on-point and lent to a climactic finish.”

“This was a very creative concept for a plot. I’ve never read anything like it.”

“Well-developed characters, believable dialogue and relatable situations made this an easy-to-read story that kept me interested from beginning to end. Rich descriptions of the characters helped me sympathize with their challenges and cheer for their triumphs!”

As winner, Angelique will win a $2000 cash prize and the opportunity to appear at author events at Illinois libraries, as well as the chance to have her novel included in a select collection of ebooks available to the public through their libraries.

Congratulations Angelique!


Of the many book competitions in existence, the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project (STBF) is unique because it was created and is run exclusively by librarians and other library staff. No other group is more in tune with what appeals to readers than librarians, and no other group is more trusted to make good recommendations. 

Now entering its tenth year, the Project is the brainchild of a group of library marketing professionals who challenged themselves to demonstrate the power of libraries to create a market for authors and find more great reads for their patrons. STBF invites all Illinois authors of self- or indie-published adult or young adult fiction to submit their books to be evaluated by a panel of librarian judges.  In 2015, the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project won the prestigious John Cotton Dana Award for excellence in library public relations by the American Library Association.

Since its inception, STBF has been replicated in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. With help from sponsor BiblioLabs, a division of Lyrasis, winning books from all regions now compete for Indie Author of the Year. Learn more at indieauthorproject.com.

The Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author project is being coordinated in collaboration with the Illinois Library Association (ILA) and Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) and is supported by the American Library Association Digital Content Working Group, the Public Library Association (PLA), and the Illinois Heartland Library System.