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2012 Honorees

Dan Wakefield, lifetime achievement honoree

Dan Wakefield is a novelist, journalist and screenwriter whose best-selling novels “Going All The Way” and “Starting Over” were produced as feature films, and he created the NBC prime time TV series “James at 15.” A documentary film has been produced of his memoir “New York in the Fifties.” His non-fiction books on spirituality include “Returning: A Spiritual Journey;” “Creating from The Spirit;” “The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography,” “Expect a Miracle,” and “How Do We Know When It’s God ?: A Spiritual Memoir.”

Wakefield has been the recipient of a Neiman Fellowship in Journalism, the Bernard DeVoto Fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Rockefeller Grant for Creative Writing, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught in the writing programs at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Emerson College, The Iowa Writers Workshop, and is presently Writer in Residence at Florida International University in Miami. For more information, visit

John green, national winner

John Green is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns. His books have won many awards, including the Chicago Tribune Young Adult Fiction prize, the Michael L. Printz Award and the Edgar Award, and he has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green is also one-half of the vlogbrothers on YouTube, an online video collaboration with his brother Hank that has been watched more than 230 million times and spawned a community of viewers committed to celebrating intellectualism and decreasing what they called “worldsuck” through philanthropic efforts and volunteer projects. Green lives in Indianapolis with his wife and children. For more information, visit

barbara shoup, regional winner

Barbara Shoup is the author of eight novels. Her short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous small magazines, as well as in The Writer and The New York Times Travel Section. Her young adult novels, Wish You Were Here and Stranded in Harmony were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. Vermeer’s Daughter was a School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Young Adults. She is the recipient of numerous grants from the Indiana Arts Council, two creative renewal grants from the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the 2006 PEN Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. She was the writer-in-residence at Broad Ripple High School Center for the Humanities and the Performing Arts for 20 years. She has also served as an associate faculty member at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and as an associate editor with OV Books. She is currently the Executive Director of the Indiana Writers Center. For more information, visit

Christopher coake, emerging winner

Christopher Coake is the author of You Came Back (Grand Central Publishing, 2012) as well as the collection of short stories We’re In Trouble (Harcourt 2005), which won the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship. In addition, Coake was listed among “Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists” in 2007. His stories have been published in several literary journals, and anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories 2004 and The Best American Noir of the Century. A native Hoosier, he received his MFA in fiction from Ohio State University. He and his wife Stephanie Lauer live in Reno, where Coake is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Nevada.

douglas light, Emerging finalist

Douglas Light was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University with a BA in economics and earned an MA in creative writing from City College of New York. His first novel, East Fifth Bliss, won the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Fiction. The screen adaptation, which he co-wrote, was filmed in 2010. It stars Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu, Peter Fonda and Brie Larson. Light received a 2010 NoMAA writers grant, was selected as a finalist for the 2002 James Jones First Novel Fellowship and has been published in Narrative, Guernica, Alaska Quarterly Review, Failbetter and other publications. His fiction was selected for inclusion in O. Henry Prize Stories 2003 and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 anthologies. He lives in New York City. More information is available at

Sherri wood emmons, emerging finalist

Sherri Wood Emmons was born and raised in Irvington, on the east side of Indianapolis. After graduating from Earlham College, she spent four years in California before moving back to Indiana to raise her family. The married mother of three operated a freelance editorial business for more than 20 years. For eight years, she served as managing editor of DisciplesWorld, the award-winning denominational magazine of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Emmons’ first novel, Prayers and Lies, was published in 2011 by Kensington Books. Publishers Weekly hailed the book as “a strong debut,” noting, “Emmons has a rich voice that pairs well with the (book’s) earthy setting.” Her other titles include The Sometimes Daughter, The Weight of Small Things, and The Seventh Mother.