Lyn Fairchild Hawks of Chapel Hill, N.C., Runner-up In 2011 James Jones First Novel Fellowship

WILKES-BARRE, PA (10/05/2011)(readMedia)-- The 20th Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship awarded runner-up Lyn Fairchild Hawks of Chapel Hill, N.C., $750 for her manuscript St. Michael, Pray For Us. The competition is co-sponsored by the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing Program and the James Jones Literary Society.

The James Jones First Novel Fellowship was established in 1992 to "honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture as exemplified by (the writings of) James Jones." It is awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress. This year's competition drew 667 submissions.

St. Michael, Pray For Us introduces Wendy Redbird Dancing, a 16-year-old with a hippie mom, a missing father, and no real friends. Wendy has declared war on the 21st century by making Michael Jackson her patron saint. She uses her self professed "freakdom" to create a barrier that masks the real problem: as a child she was sexually assaulted by her mom's former boyfriend, a man who may not be as long-gone as Wendy hoped. When asked to join the all-black cast for her high school production of A Raisin in the Sun, Wendy makes some unlikely friendships that cross religious and racial barriers at a crucial time. With these unlikely friends she will begin the journey to turn her life around.

The Fellowship awarded first place and $10,000 to Robert Shuster of Bedford, N.Y., for his novel To Zenzi.

Runner-up Carol Piasente of Berkeley, Calif., also received $750 for her manuscript Known Unto God.

Two finalists rounded out the top five submissions: Sophie Rosenblum of Tallahassee, Fla., for her manuscript City, Beach, Farm, Forest; and Alexandra Salerno of Columbus, Ohio, for her manuscript The Butcher's Daughter.

Requests for guidelines for entering the annual competition should be sent, along with a stamped, self-address envelope, to James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o The Graduate Creative Writing Department, Wilkes University, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, or via e-mail to

The submission deadline for entries is March 1 of each year.