Local Distinguished Author Award


The Local Distinguished Author Award is awarded annually to recognize the outstanding achievement of authors in our area and to raise awareness of their talent.  A variety of literature is considered including fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry for consideration.  The 2021 award will be given at the closing of the SouthWord Abridged Festival.



Applications will be taken in the fall for 2021Authors, or their nominating agent, should submit an application, curriculum vitae and three copies of a completed, published work.  Self-published works are not eligible for the award.  Application deadline is September 30.  Send the application to:


                        Southern Lit Alliance  

                        301 E. 11th Street, Suite 301

                        Chattanooga, Tennessee 37403.



​For more information or questions, contact Lynda LeVan at lynda@solitalliance.org


Authors must reside in Hamilton or the contiguous counties of Sequatchie, Marion, Rhea, Meigs, or Bradley counties in Tennessee. Eligible Georgia authors must reside in Catoosa, Walker or Dade counties.



A three-judge panel whose members have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in the field of creative and published writing chooses the winner. The winning author must demonstrate a successful track record of publication in the genre of fiction, non-fiction, short story or poetry.  This year's judges are:

Kris Whorton, senior English lecturer and internship coordinator at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she teaches Creative Writing, Scientific Writing, and Literature.  Kris is also an accomplished author; her work has appeared in publications such as Eunoia Review, Askew Anthology, and Driftwood Press, and has been anthologized.

Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang (Ecco, 2011), Perfect Little World (Ecco, 2017), and Nothing to See Here (Ecco, 2019), and associate professor of English at Sewanee: The University of the South.  His fiction has appeared in PloughsharesTin HouseOne StoryA Public Space, and elsewhere, and has appeared in four volumes of the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology as well as The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012.  He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rivendell, and the KHN Center for the Arts.


Deck Cheatham, a guest columnist in the Rome News Tribune and the Dalton Daily Citizen News, and regular contributor to Good News Magazine.  Prior to becoming a writer, Deck was an accomplished golf pro, playing the sport for 40+ years.




The prize trophy, designed and sculpted by local artist Isaac Duncan