Three Finalists Named by Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project




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), Illinois Heartland Library System.

For Immediate Release: March 24, 2014

Sue Wilsey, Niles Public Library, 847-663-6405,
Cris Cigler, Fox River Valley Public Library District, 224-699-5884,

Three finalists have been selected from the 103 self-published authors nominated by Illinois librarians for the Soon to be Famous Illinois Author Project. Robert Doyle, Executive Director of the Illinois Library Association, one of the project sponsors explained, “The purpose of this exciting project is twofold—give a talented author exposure and spotlight the importance of libraries to literature efforts.”

Rick Polad, Carol Stream, was nominated by the Phillips Library at Aurora University for his book Change of Address; Mary Hutchings Reed, Chicago, was nominated for her work Warming Upby the Mount Prospect Public Library; and Joanne Zienty, Wheaton, was nominated by the Forest School Library in Des Plaines for her book The Things We Save.

The winner will be announced at a media reception during National Library Week on Wednesday, April 16, at 2 p.m. at the RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) Administrative Offices at 125 Tower Drive in Burr Ridge.

David Vinjamuri, brand expert and NYU professor who inspired the project, will present the award. Vinjamuri spoke eloquently about the importance of libraries in the era of eBooks and branding at the American Library Association’s annual conference last summer. “David made the point again and again about how libraries are instrumental in promoting reading and literature. He issued a challenge to libraries to find an unknown talented Illinois author that will become a success based on librarians’ recommendations,” said Illinois Library Association Executive Director Robert Doyle.

The winning author will be interviewed by Steve Bertrand, host of Bertrand on Books on WGN Radio (720 AM). Bertrand’s interviews with authors are featured on the Kathy and Judy Show on Saturday mornings between 10 a.m. and noon and posted on WGN’s website in their entirety. He’s interviewed top writers including Scott Turow, Jackie Collins, Lisa Gardner, and Sara Paretsky.

The library community in Illinois is also planning to promote the winning author through special appearances, interviews, feature articles, book discussions, and Skype visits. The committee will be encouraging libraries to purchase the winning title and feature it in displays and book discussions. “Libraries and librarians are experts at recognizing exceptional literature and promoting the works of authors,” said Dee Brennan, Executive Director of RAILS.

Find more information at

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Authors’ Personal Statements

Rick Polad, Carol Stream
Author, Change of Address






After a career as a Geologist, I am now teaching Earth Science and Astronomy at the college level. I spend summers volunteering with the Coast Guard on Lake Michigan and playing golf – sometimes with success. I have been an avid mystery reader since I learned to read and, over the many years, I developed my own character. I wrote a story for my parents and friends but, given the hurdles of the publishing industry, never considered that route. After a suggestion from a friend to e-publish, I published the first book in the Spencer Manning series, “Change of Address.” The third book is due out shortly. The hardest part of this venture is marketing. I am very excited to be a part of the “Soon to Be Famous Author” project. This is wonderful exposure for “unknown” authors and libraries.


Mary Hutchings Reed, Chicago
Author, Warming Up







Warming Up started out as a novel exploring why some incredibly talented people never step into the spotlight and others with less talent never shy away, but it was soon hijacked by a fearless street kid who once charmed sixty dollars from me.

What is exciting about STBF Author Project is not the prospect of becoming “famous,” but the opportunity to reach new readers. Technology has made it possible for writers to become their own publishers, but access to on-demand printing and internet marketing only ensures availability. With ever-increasing choices, the selection process for readers has become overwhelming. Projects like STBF celebrate the critical role of libraries and librarians in curating the public culture and making it truly accessible. Readers trust their librarians to guide them, and there is no greater compliment to a writer than to have a librarian recommend her novel as “a good read.”


Joanne Zienty, Wheaton
Author, The Things We Save





Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, I vividly remember the “glow of industry” that lit the night sky with an orange haze and perfumed the air with acrid odors of coke ovens and blast furnaces, although the steel mills have been shuttered for decades. My first success as a writer came in 5th grade, when I completed a 70-page novel—an “homage” to Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series— and had my first play – a Thanksgiving melodrama – produced on stage at my elementary school.   I’ve been writing ever since. My other passion is working as a library media specialist, combining my favorite pastimes:  reading, encouraging others to read, teaching information literacy and playing with technology.  I live in Wheaton, Illinois with my very supportive husband, two amazing daughters and two naughty cats. As a writer, participating in the Soon to Be Famous Author project has been an incredibly validating experience!


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