Soon to be a famous Illinois author’s project named the finalists.

The story of a woman disguised as a man to become a surgeon in the 19th century and the tale of a baseball player who lost his early shot at success attracted Niles and Skokie’s statewide interest in the Rookie Writers competition.

Nile resident Alina Rubin and Skokie resident Lynne Joy have been named two finalists in a soon-to-be-famous statewide project in Illinois. Robin was selected for her novel “The Girl with a Knife” and Farah for her novel “American Past Tense”.

The competition was started in 2013 by a group of librarians in northern Illinois to celebrate the authors of self-published books. The books are judged by groups of librarians.

The judging coordinator, Gretchen Murphy, adult services librarian at Wheaton Public Library, said Robin’s book “A Girl With a Knife” was praised by the judges “for its realistic and immersive setting, and[the judges]were impressed by the medical and historical research that was done in the book.”

Murphy reports that Joy’s “American Past Time” impressed the judges with his “strong characterization and broad appeal that goes beyond just baseball fans.”

Robin is a junior writer, who started writing in February 2021. She published her book exactly one year later.

Robin, an IT compliance analyst, took advantage of the time she saved by working at home during the pandemic to write this story, which was inspired by a documentary she watched. Set in early 19th century England, the film tells of a young woman who leaves her life of luxury and an abusive father in the hopes of becoming a doctor. But women were not allowed to enter universities at that time, so she disguises as a young man to become a medical student.

“I wrote the book and it felt good and wanted to share it with the readers so I published it myself,” Robin said. “I was visiting the Nile Library with my daughter and I asked the librarian, ‘What does it take to bring a book into the library?’ She said this contest was very beneficial for her.

So Robin introduced the “Girl with a Knife” to the project of the famous Illinois author soon. The plan worked, because Robin’s book is now in many libraries in Illinois, as well as the Nile Public Library.

“It’s very exciting,” Robben said of reaching the final in the competition. “It is a great appreciation not only for my work but for the hard work of the editor, cover designer, and other people who have given me advice. I am so excited that more people will discover my book.”

Robin has already written the manuscript for the second book in which her character completed medical school and decided to become a doctor.

This is Len Joy’s second successful time on a project Soon to Be Famous Author in Illinois. “I entered the competition in 2015 or 2016. I was a finalist but there were eight or nine of us at the time,” Joy said. “I am glad to be recognized in any way possible.”

Self-published in 2014, “American Past Time” was Joy’s first of four novels to be published. His most recent book, Dry Heat, published last April, was a Book Excellence Award winner and a Titan Literary Award winner.

Skokie-based Lynne Joy is one of three finalists on an Illinois author project soon to be statewide acclaim for his novel,

Set in the 1950s and 1970s, “American Past Time” is the story of a minor-league pitcher star who dreams of making the transition to the major leagues. He’s about to shoot him but he hit his arm while he was making a non-hit. Unable to fulfill this dream, the archer starts drinking and getting into a fight, which makes his marriage and life spiral out of control.

“I always wondered, when you watch any kind of sporting event, what happens to these people after the cheering stops,” said Joy, who is a huge sports fan.

Being final again means a lot to Joy. “I appreciate the project in general,” he said.

In addition to writing full-time since he quit his motor manufacturing company in Arizona in 2004, Joey has been a nationally ranked triathlon athlete. “I usually do five or six races a year,” he said. “This year, I completed half of the Iron Man in Michigan in September, and I am really happy that I finished third in my age group (70-74). Not many of us are left.”

“I think it’s a good combination,” Joy said of balancing his writing with his athletic pursuits, noting that both require discipline.

In addition to Robin and Joey, one of the finalists for the project by Soon To Be Famous Illinois author: Rebecca Taniguchi of St. Charles for her book Hero’s War.

One of the three will win, and the finalists have been told that the winner will be announced sometime in November. This person will receive $2,000, statewide recognition from Illinois libraries, hard copy inclusion in the Library Journal and sales of printed books to Illinois public libraries. They will also compete with other winners of the Indie Author Project competition for the Indie Author of the Year award.

Myrna Petliky is a freelance reporter for the Pioneer Press.

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