26th Annual Lone Star Writing Contest – 2018

The 26th Annual Lone Star Writing Contest is now CLOSED to entries.


  • Competition is open to published and unpublished authors.
  • Entry must be an unpublished work – (it cannot be published or under contract in any form or format, not in digital or print prior to the announcement date in October 2018). If the entry is disqualified, a letter will be sent to the contestant and the entry fee will be forfeited.


Final Round judges are chosen from experienced editors and agents within the romance publishing industry. Each category will have three final round judges. The following list will be updated as new judges confirm their availability to serve.


CONTEMPORARY: Present day romance novels or novellas that focus on the romantic relationship. Word count is between 20,000 and 70,000 words.


  • Susan Litman, Editor, Harlequin
  • Sharon Roe, Acquiring Editor, Soul Mate Publishing
  • Kate Brauning, Editor, Entangled Publishing


HISTORICAL/REGENCY: Romance novels or novellas with a time period prior to WWII. Projected word count between 20,000 – maximum open.


  • Janet Clementz, Acquiring Editor, Soul Mate Publishing
  • Allison Byers, Editor, The Wild Rose Press


FANTASY, FUTURE AND PARANORMAL: Romance novels or novellas in which the future, fantasy or paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot. May include vampires, ghost, time travel, werewolves, etc. Projected word count: no less than 20,000 – maximum open.


  • Laura Costello, Assistant Editor, Sourcebooks Casablanca
  • Callie Lynn Wolfe, Senior Managing Editor, The Wild Rose Press
  • Tera Cuskaden, Editor, Entangled Publishing


INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE: Novels or novellas in which religion or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religion or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship. Projected word count: no less than 20,000 – maximum open.


  • Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief, Pelican Books
  • Dina Davis, Editor, Harlequin
  • Raela Schoenherr, Acquisitions Editor, Bethany House Publishers


ROMANTIC SUSPENSE/INTRIGUE: Novels or novellas in which suspense, mystery or thriller elements play and integral part of the plot. Projected word count: no less than 20,000 – maximum open.


  • Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency
  • Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
  • Patience Bloom, Editor, Harlequin Romantic Suspense


YOUNG ADULT: Novels or novellas that fit into the following: Young adult; geared to young adult readers between the age of 16-25 (Most fall in audience range of 12-18 yrs old) . Projected word count: no less than 20,000 – maximum open.


  • Alycia Toretta, Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing
  • Michelle Klayman, President, Boroughs Publishing
  • Candace Havens, Editorial Director, Entangled Publishing


SINGLE TITLE:  (includes Women’s fiction and Chick Lit) Novels that may have subplots, but the romance is the central part of the story. These are usually stand-alone novels and have a word count of 75,000 to 100,000 words.

  • Susan Grimshaw, Editor at Large, Penguin-Random House
  • Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Kensington Publishing
  • Deb Werksman, Editorial Director, Sourcebooks Casablanca


Judging and Awards:

In the primary round three (3) judges, at least two of whom have been published in novella or book length will judge each entry.

The lowest of the three scores from first round judges will be dropped from the final tally. This means that although an entrant will receive three critiques, only the top two scores will be used to determine which three finalists go to the editor and agent judges. The top two scores will be added then divided to achieve an average score. The entries with the top three average scores will advance to the final round. In the event of a tie, the third dropped score will be consulted to determine the finalist.

Finalist will be sent back the scores and comments from the first round judges and given one week to make edits on manuscript before they are sent in to the final round judges. Finalist will receive a seal to place on their website announcing they are a finalist in the Lone Star Writing Competition.

Editors and agents will judge final round entries. Each editor and agent will rank and score the finalists from first through third.

Winners will be announced in October 2018 at the Northwest Houston RWA meeting held in Spring, Texas (and notified by telephone/email). Winners in each category will receive a certificate, $50.00, and a seal/banner announcing they are a winner in the Lone Star Writing competition.

Grand Prize:

The grand prize for the 2018 Lone Star Writing Contest will be a free session of “Mailing List Expert,” a four-week course designed to teach authors how to build and maintain a strong and engaged email list (a $299 value).  The grand prize winner will be selected at random from the first prize winners in each category.
Additionally, all non-finalists will be entered in a drawing to win an Amazon Fire tablet with Alexa, pre-loaded with exclusive romance titles.


DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: June 8, 2018 at midnight CST