Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2015 Contest Update

Another year. Another opportunity to diva/divo! 
Don't waste a single opportunity to get your name out there
 in front of editors and agents and new readers.

Published Author Contests

Golden Quill Awards are now open. Deadline January 9. 2015.

National Readers Choice Awards are now open. Deadline January 15, 2015.

Judge a Book by It's Cover. Deadline January 15, 2015. Open to Indies. 

Gail Wilson Award of Excellence. Deadline January 15, 2015. Open to Indies.

Holt Medallion. Opens December 1. Deadline January 15, 2015. Open to Indies.

Reader's Choice Bean Pot Award. Deadline February 1, 2015. Open to Indies.

Inspirational Reader's Choice. Deadline March 1, 2015.

Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Deadline March 2, 2015. 

ACFW Carol Award. Opens January 2, 2015. Deadline March 15, 2015. See Indie Guidelines.

The Unpublished Maggies. Opens January 2, 2015. Deadline April 3. Open to Indies. 

Unpublished Author Contests

2015 RWA Golden Heart® Contest is open as of December 2, 2014. Entered works and related contest fees must be submitted to RWA's contest site by the deadline of January 12, 2015: The Golden Heart contest is open to 1,200 paid entries. Once again Seekerville is offering two entrants in the inspirational category a refund of their entry fee. The goal is to keep that category open. Once you enter, submit proof of entry to Share this information with your writer friends. Winners will be announced once RWA announces that the category made it. 

 Desert Diamonds. Inaugural Contest. Opens January 1, 2015 and ends at midnight MST on January 31, 2015. Open to Published and Unpublished authors. Submit the first 20 manuscript pages and a 3-page (max) synopsis, all in one file. Total page length must not exceed 23 pages.Final round judges are agents and editors attending the 2016 Desert Dreams Conference.Genres are Contemporary, Inspirational, Historical, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Fantasty/Futuristic/Paranormal, and Romantic Suspense.The three finalists from each category will be announced on February 28, 2015. JUDGES TBA.

 ACFW Genesis. Contest opens: January 2, 2015 at 8:00 AM central time. Contest closes: March 15, 2015 at 4:00 PM central time. All contest entries and contest fees must be received by that time. Entry consists of the first 15 pages and a single spaced, one page synopsis. Finalist judges announced in January.
Historical Romance
Romantic Suspense
Short Novel
Young Adult

Let's do it again! If you are reading this and considering entering the Genesis, and would like your name entered in a drawing for a critique of the first fifteen pages of your manuscript, then send an email to by tonight at 9 pm EST. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition (which is tomorrow).

The Pacific Northwest Literary Association Contest is now accepting entries. Contest closes February, 2, 2015. Cash prizes.
Categories include: 
1. mainstream
3.romance/women's fiction
6.young adult
7.middle grade
10.short story
11.children's picture/chapter book short topics (articles/essays/memoir) 

 Great Expectations. DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JANUARY 4.· Send in the first 5000 words. THIS EXTENDED DEADLINE IS HUGE TO YOU UNPUBS. ENTER!!! This is opportunity knocking! ANSWER.

Final Round Judges
Karen Reid - Associate Editor, Super Romance, Harlequin
Gabrielle Keck - Editorial Assistant, Avon / William Morrow
Raela Schoenherr - Bethany House

Laura Fazio - Assistant Editor, NAL
Julie Mianecki - Assistant Editor, Berkley
Alex Logan - Editor, Grand Central Publishing.
Madeleine Colavita - Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing
SPECIALIZED (Fantasy, Futuristic, Time Travel, Paranormal)
Kristine Swartz - Assistant Editor, Berkley
Alice Jerman – Assistant Editor, HarperCollins

 The Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. Opens January 1, 2015. Deadline February 14, 2015.  For  Novella category, submit the first 2000 words of an unpublished work of fiction.For all other categories, submit the first 5000 words of an unpublished work of fiction.A one to two page (max 500 words) synopsis is optional and will not be counted as part of the entry. The synopsis will not be judged.

2014 Categories and Final Judges:
Contemporary Romance–Adrienne Macintosh (Harlequin) & Kathleen Rushall (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency)

Historical Romance–Erika Tsang (Avon) & Elaine Spencer (The Knight Agency)

Paranormal Romance–Mary Altman (Sourcebooks) & Miriam Kriss (Irene Goodman Agency)

Erotic Romance–Nina Gooden (Ellora’s Cave) & Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency)

Mainstream with Strong Romantic Elements–Leis Pederson (Berkley) & Courtney Miller-Callihan (Greenberger Associates)

Young Adult/New Adult–Heather Howland (Entangled) & Becca Stumpf (Prospect Agency)

  Fabulous Five Writing Contest opened for enteries January 1. Deadline March 1. An entry consists of the opening pages of your unpublished novel, up to 2500 words. Categories capped at 35 entries this year. Get your entry in early.

The top five entries in each category will move to the final round.

Finalists in each category will be ranked by the following editors and agents:

Erotica:Cheryl Yeko, Soulmate Publishing-Jessica Alvarez, Bookends, LLC

Historical:Laura Plude, Grand Central Publishing-Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen Pomada Literary Agents

Inspirational:Giselle Regus, Harlequin-Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency

New Adult:Nicole Fischer, Avon Romance-Patricia Nelson, Marshal Lyon Literary Agency

Futuristic/Time Travel:Brenda Chin, Imajinn Books-Shira Hoffman, McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Romantic Suspense:Madeleine Colavita, Grand Central Publishing-Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency

Series Contemporary:Christina Brower, NAL/Penguin Random House-Saba Sulaiman, Talcott Notch Literary Services

Single Title:Mercedes Fernandez, Kensington Books- Courtney Miller-Callihan, Greenburger Associates

Women’s Fiction: Jennifer Herrington, Lyrical Press-Victoria Lowes, The Bent Agency

Young Adult: Alycia Tornetta, Entangled Publishing-Taylor Haggerty, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency

If you are going to enter the Inspirational category of this contest and want a quick critique of your 2,500 words (turnaround by Monday, January 5). Send an email to by 9pm EST tonight. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition (which is tomorrow). This is an exciting opportunity and Giselle is my editor.

 Fire & Ice. Deadline March 14. Enter the first 6,000 words. Contest capped at 120 entries. Did you know that Rachel Renee Russell (on the cover of this month's Writer's Digest) and author of the Dork Diaries entered this contest and said, “Participating in Fire & Ice was the motivation I needed to take my manuscript and writing to the next level. I received excellent critiques from your judges and a lot of encouragement. That manuscript evolved into Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life. It spent seven weeks on the NYT Bestseller List and my publisher, Simon & Schuster, just purchased Books 3 and 4.”

Each finalist will be judged by both an editor and a literary agent.  2015 final round judges are:

Contemporary Romance-Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks (editor)
 Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (agent)

Historical Romance-Debby Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing (editor)
 Agent TBA

Women’s Fiction With Romantic Elements-Gabrielle Keck, Harper Collins (editor)
 Melissa Jeglinski, Knight Agency (agent)

Young Adult/New Adult Romance-Tera Cuskaden, Samhain Publishing (editor)
 Shannon Hassan, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (agent)

Paranormal Romance-Mary Altman, Sourcebooks (editor)
 Agent TBA

Unpublished Maggies. Opens January 15. Deadline April 30.  Entry consists of first pages and synopsis, not to exceed 35 pages. 

 Single Title Romance-Madeleine Colavita Editorial Assistant, Grand Central Publishing

Contemporary Category Romance-Ann Leslie Tuttle-Senior Editor, Harlequin

Inspirational Romance-Stephanie Broene-Senior Acquisitions Editor, Tyndale

Historical Romance-Gabrielle Keck-Editor, Avon

Paranormal Romance-Rose Hilliard Editor, St. Martin’s Press

Young Adult-Candace Havens Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements -Sarah Murphy Editor, Ballantine Bantam Dell

Erotic Romance-S.N. Graves-Senior Editor, LooseId


More Writing Opportunities

Chicken Soup for the Soul. Christmas and Holiday Story Call-Out. Deadline:  January 15!

Announcing the 19th Annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest-Deadline April 14, 2015. With an unbeatable lineup of over 300 of the greatest literary works the world has ever known, Signet Classics is the publisher that students, education professionals and the public turn to more than any other. Now, we are proud to host our eighteenth annual Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest, in which five high school juniors or seniors can each win a $1,000 scholarship award to be used toward their higher education plus a Signet Classics library for their school! Essays must be submitted by a high school English teacher on behalf of students who write an essay on one of six topics for this year’s competition book, Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. ALSO OPEN TO HOME SCHOOLED STUDENTS so pass this along!

Check out the Writing Contests available at Literal Latte!


AND NOW....Introducing Anna Weaver Hurtt, our January 2015 Contest Diva!

Contesting has impacted my writing journey in many ways. I've entered 3 contests (one for each manuscript, ironically) and have learned something from each one. It's difficult to send your precious words out into the world, but it can provide some helpful feedback.

I've gotten widely ranging feedback in the contests I've entered. Some good, some bad. I entered a contest last year and placed 31st out of 32. Ouch! While some of the judges' comments were hard to accept, I took what I learned and wrote my third manuscript over this summer, which is the one that won the 2014 First Impressions Contest.

Here are some tips that worked for me:

Develop a writing schedule. Write every day or every other day.

Study the craft. I read several books over the summer as I wrote and revised. Two that immediately come to mind are "Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict" by Cheryl St. John and "The Story Template" by Amy Deardon.

Find some critiquers. I got some very valuable help with polishing my entry from the ACFW Scribes Critique Group.

Don't give up! Let your bad scores fuel your desire to be a better writer. I'm so glad I didn't throw in the towel last year, even though I really wanted to at the time.

Stay connected with other writers. It was much easier for me to stay motivated to write when I spend time with writers, both here at Seekerville and though blogs and Facebook groups.

That's all I have for you today. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. God bless!

My recent list of contest placements:
2014 ACFW First Impressions winner

And today we're giving away a copy of Woe is I (print), to one commenter who shares their contest goals for the new year. To a reader, a copy of any Seeker book currently available on Amazon (print or ebook). Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

From Publishers WeeklyStarred Review. Former New York Times Book Review editor and linguistic expert O'Conner (Words Fail Me, You Send Me) updates her bestselling guide to grammar, an invigorating and entertaining dissection of our ever-evolving language. In this third edition, O'Conner guides readers through conversational conundrums with aplomb, filling in not only the logic behind the appropriate choice for, say, possessives, but also explaining such oddities as the spelling of restaurateur (instead of a "restauranteur"), the proper pronunciation of prix fix ("pree feeks") and a slew of mnemonic devices to help amateur grammarians keep ifs, ands and buts in check. It's these small digressions that make the book so readable, even for those with a deep-seated hatred for grammatical do-goodery. O'Conner gleefully eviscerates poor sentence construction and dangling participles, soothes verb tension and debunks the frequently intimidating semicolon with finesse. Tempered with a heavy dose of wit (reaching its nadir in her chapter on clichés), O'Conner's lively treatise is as vital as a dictionary for those who wish to be taken seriously in speech, in print or on Facebook.

That's it! Now go forth and contest!


  1. I already sent a note to Desert Dreams to ask a couple of questions. I'll enter the Golden Heart and the Maggies. Other than that, I haven't thought about it.

    My big goal is to get myself out of entering unpublished author contests. :-)

  2. Let's hear it for so many great contests to enter. I wish all those who submit entries the best.

  3. And an honorable goal that is, Walt. It's time! NO LIMITS.



  5. And a big congrats to Anna Weaver Hurtt our January contest diva!!

  6. Editor Emily Rodmell on Twitter:

    If you resolve to write 1K words a day starting Jan. 1, you could have a @LoveInspiredBks manuscript ready to submit by end of Feb.

  7. Hi Tina,

    Thanks for another great list of contests. I'll definitely enter the Genesis this year. I think I'll also enter Great Expectations this weekend and study the others you suggested.

    Walt, I completely agree with your goal. No limits, right?

    Thanks so much. I hope your new year is starting out great.

  8. Thanks, Jackie. The new year is starting off with a bang as I hit the ground running.


  9. I'm off to the day job. Will check in later. Don't forget. NO LIMITS!!

  10. Tina, Emily also had another intriguing tweet, perfect for contest day:

    Emily Rodmell (@EmilyRodmell)
    12/31/14, 11:46 AM

    Have ideas in my head for a possible new pitch opportunity for the Love Inspired lines in 2015. So start those manuscripts now. :)

  11. So many contests to enter for published author's this month! It's hard to decide.

    Good luck to all who enter contests.

  12. If Tina will allow me a short PSA:

    Pre-published folk, If you have something ready in these two days, get into the Great Expectations contest! This is the one that started everything for me when I placed second two years ago.

    And if you aren't impressed by that, look at who won first place--Kristy Cambron. The editor who judged the final round is her editor now. I'm just saying. Look at her now two short years later...
    DO EEET!!!

    Have a great day.

  13. Well, I'm still in 2014. It was three years ago, but still....:)

    Get in there!!!

    And the Golden Heart as well!!!!

    Ok, I'm really leaving now....

  14. I'm pumped!!! There's no limits to how many novels you writers will have ready for me to review by the end of 2015!!! So excited!!! Wishing you all success! ( as you define it for yourselves)

  15. My contest goals for the year...

    To have my wip in shape for next year. That's been my goal for several years, and that's discouraging. But I'm not going to let it get me down.

    I have enough words for some of these contests, but they don't always say if it has to be complete or not. At any rate, I'm certainly not ready for this contest season.

    Tina, that Emily Rodmell tweet steps on my toes. I'm already a day behind. =O

    1. Bite sized goals Andrea. Your goal is too big and then it becomes discouraging. What is your January goal???

  16. Oh, my!!! I so wish I were not related to a Seeker so that I might have the opportunity to win a copy of Woe Is I! It sounds truly fascinating!

    1. First, I was terrified when I saw Grammar Queen here. What evil had I committed??? Whew, she's only here to lust over a grammar book!!!!

  17. ANNA!!! Congrats on being our first Contest Diva of 2015!!!

    (Wow, it feels weird to type that number!)

    Another fabulous contest update, TINA! I have already entered the RITA and am deciding which other contests to enter my 2014 novels in. Must get busy since a few have January 15 deadlines!

  18. YAY to 2015 at Seekerville!
    Congrats to Anna!!

    As a reader, I am so looking forward to the great books you great Seeker authors will be writing! Please count me in the draw for a book today!

  19. Congratulations to Contest Diva Anna. The thing that really impresses me about contesters is tenacity. That's something essential to any writer, and just by entering you prove your tenacity.

    1. Divas and division are Bulldogs. No pain. No gain. No risk. No reward.

  20. Anna, Congratulations on being the first DIVA of 2015.

    But even bigger congrats for this:
    2014 ACFW First Impressions winner

    Excellent! Good luck with your story.

  21. Thanks for the update, Tina.

    I'm considering which contests would be best for me.

    Fresh coffee is here!

  22. Thank you, ladies! I'm honored! :)

    I'm looking into several of the contests listed... My biggest goals for the new year are getting back into writing daily and polishing the rough draft of my WIP. December was a wipe-out for me due to the holidays and family obligations, but once I get home on Monday, I'm jumping back into the saddle. :)

  23. Thanks to judge's feedback, contests made me a better writer. I also used contests to get reactions to a new opening for a book I was writing. I used contests for name recognition with those in the industry and with other writers. I used contests to get my book in front of a editor judge with a publisher I was targeting. As a published author, I use contests to bring my books to new readers and a final or win pleases my editors. Me too. :-)

    So proud of you, Contest Diva Anna, for persevering and using the feedback you received to write a new book!! Huge congrats on the First Impressions win!!!


  24. Great contest update! I'm definitely planning to enter some from this month. The Fire and Ice one, Great Expectations, and the Genesis. BTW, I'd love to be in the drawing for a critique for that. :) And any others. :)

    Contest goals for the year? Hmmm, to final in more and maybe win one? :) Definitely to learn from the feedback I receive. Now that I have a MS that is ready enough for contests, I'm back into entering them. :)

    Thanks for all you do to put these together each month, Tina!

  25. Thanks for the great contest update. I'll be entering my WIP after my kid readers return it from reading over the holidays. I'm getting my goals ready for this year and wish you all the best!

  26. *Looking sheepishly at my feet* I've never entered a contest before. I've only participated in the Love Inspired pitches. Hmmmm...I need to change that in 2015. The only problem is that I don't really have anything to submit right now. I have my Killer Voices entry which I'm currently revising for resubmission, but since LIS is interested in seeing more on this ms, I don't think it would be a good idea to put it in front of another editor at this time. So, I guess I can set a goal to enter a contest in the spring and work on getting something ready. *Makes note: write a list of goals and stick to them!*

    1. When you need a break from your KV entry start something new, Rhonda. Did you email us about your NYE win???

  27. I am not currently ready to enter any contests but it is my goal for the year to get busy writing so that someday soon I can be.

    1. Specific goals, Sandy. Daily, weekly and monthly!! That's the way to get it done in 2015!!!

  28. Congratulations Anna! I will enter Genesis but need to write something new before I contest too much. Thanks for a great New Year's eve party Seekerville. Now I'll take me and my sinus problems back to bed for a while. Tis the season. . .

  29. the year of no limits.

    I'm driving right now 90 mph

  30. Rhonda with interest like this from Killer Voices IF YOU ARE KEEPING BUSY then you're doing the exact right thing.

    But if you've got downtime NOW is the time to start a new book.

    Start it, finish it, then either have it ready to pitch to LI or enter it in another contest.

    Don't wait on that first book to sell. Get more work ready and polished.

    1. Mary, agreed with me Rhonda. Consider that a good omen!!!

  31. Wow that's a lot of contests. Thinking of entering contests overwhelms me! I have set a goal of at least 9000 words a month, which seems so small compared to all of you! I'm hoping to build on that for 2016. Maybe I'll be ready for a contest by the end of 2015.

  32. Applause, applause, on you contest diva status ANNA! I know it's wonderful to be acknowledged for you hard work!

    I love the Arthur Ashe quote,
    "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can"

    This applies to writing or any other life goals.

    I'm adding this to the top of my journal for the year, along with my "one word" GRADITUDE. I'm planning to remember one thing I'm grateful for everyday. Emphasis on gratitude, less on complaints.

  33. And so nice if Anna to match our decor too!!!

  34. MARY. I do NOT think TINA was talking about speed limits!

    SLOW DOWN!!!!! And for heaven's sake, don't blog and drive!!!

  35. Yes, Tracey. It's right up there with... jUST DO IT!!

  36. Mary Connealy ~ Thanks for the advice. I AM working hard on my revisions currently. Though, there have been times in the past couple of months that I got frustrated and had to walk away for a while. Now that I think about it, I wasted a good deal of time when I could have been working on another project while clearing my mind. I need to learn how to balance multiple projects. I guess that knowledge will come with time and practice.

    Tina ~ Yes ma'am, and thank you!

    Anna ~ I just realized I failed to congratulate you earlier. Congrats on being the January Contest Diva! I need to take lessons from you!

  37. Congratulations, Anna!

    And so many contests!

    If you are unpublished and don't have a manuscript ready to send to a contest, you need to make that your first priority this year. Contests are so valuable! They open doors :)

  38. Jan Drexler is exactly right. If you do NOT have a book ready to sub to a contest then make that your goal.

    Now, I know every writer has their own way that works for them. So just because I spout it doesn't mean it works for you. HOWEVER before I was published I set a goal of 300 words seven days a week.
    I have now upped that to 1000 for years that was my goal.

    I often wrote more but I rarely wrote less and those few words were such an ACHIEVABLE goal that it wasn't daunting.

    And the real trick to a short but steady goal like that is, often the real roadblock is SITTING DOWN. OPENING YOUR DOCUMENT.

    And that's not even unreasonable because so often we quit when we are done with a scene or because we don't know quite where to go next.

    So that first sentence IS HARD. But if you look at it as 300 words, on a double spaced page that's about a page and a half. In more dense work with little dialogue, that can be THREE PARAGRAPHS.

    So do it. Slow and Steady wins the race.
    And if you've got another way then that is fantastic but if you DON'T then try this.

    If you're not ready to enter a contest then this is how you GET READY.

  39. Congratulations, Contest Diva Anna, both for being the lovely diva and for your win in FI!

    Your advice is all good. 2014 was my year of studying craft....and now hope for 2015 my renewed contest year. Thanks for the encouragement and your advice.

    Great list of upcoming contests.....thanks, Tina!

  40. There are always limits.

    Limits create the friction that ignites our creative fires.

    Even a 'no limit' credit card is limited by our sense of responsibility.

    “No Limits” is really just a double-dare challenging you to discover where the limits lie!


    The above is just a different POV.

  41. Great list of contest. I'm going to enter the Judge a book by its Cover contest. My son did such a great job designing the cover on my last book, Three in a Quandary, that people keep asking who published it.

  42. From 31st of 32 ... to First Place in First Impressions? Major congratulations, Diva Anna!! What an inspiration you are. I have a feeling I'll be reading your books soon.

    Good wishes to all who enter contests this month! It's great fun watching Seekervillagers go from pre-published to published. Hard on my book-buying budget, but fun :-)

    Nancy C

  43. Happy New Year everyone. What a great contest line-up. This is a wonderful way to start the new year. Thanks Tina.

    Best wishes to all who enter a contest.

    And congrats to our contest Diva. Way to go Anna.

  44. I saw Emily Rodmills comment on Facebook.

    Yay. Let's all write 1K per day. We will have so many great books out there. woo hooo

  45. VINCE you always manage to crack me up. What a sense of humor.

    Happy new year.

  46. Wow, so many writing contests! Best wishes to all those who enter! Please include me in the reader drawing for a Seeker book :)

  47. A double sermon! Go Conneally!! She is soooo right!

  48. No Limits versus limiting your goals!!!

  49. In other words.... Drive in the fast lane and feel the wind in your hair! Woooot!!!

  50. I'm excited about contesting this year since I have a new MS to enter! I'm glad to hear about the extension on GE and am planning to enter my new MS in that one and both of my MSS in the Genesis. I look forward to the contest updates so much. Even if I'm not entering that month, reading about all the opportunities and all those who are entering makes me excited about all the great fiction in the works! :)

  51. Jumping up and down miz Natalie!!! Do it!!!

  52. I know, Nancy C. Talk about someone who learned from her contest entry comments. Way to go, Anna.

  53. I admire all of you aspiring authors who are entering contests! Good luck to all of you! I am a reader who anxiously awaits your books :)

  54. Congrats to Diva Anna!
    Thanks for all these contest updates, Miss T (yes, I PROMISE I really AM entering at least one this year).
    Hope everyone's NEW YEAR is off to a wonderful start!!
    Hugs, Patti Jo (who is feeling very good about 2015) :)

  55. GO, PATTI JO!!! YOU CAN DO IT. Cats can help!

  56. I do enjoy reading about how authors find inspiration and do research.. Things I had never given a thought to before. Wishing you all much success in the contests!
    please enter me :)

  57. Nicely done, Anna! You're an inspiration.
    Tina, thank you for getting these contests together in one spot for us each month. I really appreciate it!

  58. Thanks from North Texas RWA for the great recommendation! You gals are terrific.

    NT Pres