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2024 Manuscript Finalists Announced

The 2024 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project Manuscript competition is proud to announce this year’s finalists:

  • Nicky by Hailey Atwood (West Chicago Public Library District)
  • The Wizard of Odd by Patti Sherry-Crews (Evanston Public Library)
  • Expedition Noah by Jeremy Zentner (Fondulac Library District)

Authors from across the state submitted a total of 27 manuscripts to this year’s contest. Librarians across the state have volunteered their time and expertise to judge these entries and narrow the list down to these three outstanding finalists.

Fondulac Library District resident Jeremy Zentner commented, “To be honored as a finalist in a state-wide competition from the state that brought us Ray Bradbury and is home to Veronica Roth is especially endearing to me, as Expedition Noah is also a sci-fi adventure and I'm a major fan of sci-fi authors. Thank you to everyone who put in the work to make this competition happen!” 

Hailey Atwood from West Chicago was also thrilled to have her story selected. “Nicky is a psychological thriller that follows Adam, a self-proclaimed psychopath who hides behind his success as a respected anesthesiologist, until one day, a young woman dies mysteriously, leaving her dog Nicky behind as a witness. I developed the premise when I adopted my own dog from a rescue organization. He became absolutely terrified when I opened a bottle of wine, and I learned that his previous owner had died suddenly from something alcohol-related, and he discovered her body. It made me think about how little we know of everyone's backstory, and how people discover things about themselves and others.”

Patti Sherry-Crews shared that her book, The Wizard of Odd, like the classic the Wizard of Oz, explores “…how people will sometimes give more weight to advice or opinions of others over their own instincts. Taking a page from my own book, I deliberately didn’t show any version of this manuscript to anyone, which was a first for me. The first sets of eyes on The Wizard of Odd were the judges of the Soon to be Famous Contest. I knew the story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it. Like the inhabitants of Todd Island, I know I’m susceptible to the opinions of others, and that would’ve made a hash of my story the same as Miles made a hash of the lives of residents of Todd Island.”

These three entries go to our final round of judging. We'll announce the overall winner later this summer. The winning author will receive free line-editing and cover design services provided by our sponsor, Lyrasis, for their manuscript. Should the winner decide to self-publish or indie-publish their manuscript, that book will be automatically entered in next year’s Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project Book Contest.

The goal of the STBF Project, now in its 10th year, is to recognize and promote outstanding self- or indie-published adult fiction (and memoir for the IAP contest) to support local authors and bring more great reads to library patrons.