27th Annual Lone Star Writing Contest – 2019

The 2019 Lonestar Contest is Closed to Entries

Information on the 2020 Lonestar Contest is coming soon!


  • Competition is open to published and unpublished authors.
  • Entry must be an unpublished work – (it cannot be published or under contract in any form or format, not in digital or print prior to the announcement date in October 2019). 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.


      • Patience Bloom, Senior Editor, Harlequin
      • Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, Carina Press
      • Steven Ammidown, 2019 RWA Librarian of the Year

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


      • Nicole Resciniti, the Seymour Agency
      • Deborah Nemeth,  Freelance Editor, Carina 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.


      • Sean Gilmartin, 2014 RWA Librarian of the Year (Elmwood Park Public Library, Elmwood Park, IL)
      • Maya Rock, Owner/Editor, Fresh Ink Book Editing

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 Book Group
      • Sarah Kolb-Williams, Kolb-Williams Writing and Editing

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.


      • Susan Litman, Editor, Harlequin Special Edition
      • Anna Brown, RWA 2016 Bookseller of the Year
      • Katie McCoach, Developmental Editor, KM Editorial, LLC

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.

SINGLE TITLE:  (includes Women’s fiction and Chick Lit) 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.


      • Deb Werksman, Editor, Sourcebooks
      • Sharon Roe, Editor, Soulmate Publishing
      • Rachel Daven Skinner, Owner/Editor, Romance Refined

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 the 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, agents, and other industry professionals will judge final round entries. Each final round judge will rank and score the finalists from first through third.

Winners will be announced in October 2019 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 winner will be selected at random from the first prize winners in each category. The grand prize will be announced by October 15, 2019.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: June 8, 2019 at midnight CST

If you are unable to successfully complete the ENTRY FORM, please copy the blank entry form and paste it into an email, fill in the required information and send it to nwh.lonestarcontest@gmail.com

You will receive an email confirmation once both the entry form and payment have been entered into our system.

Should you have additional questions, please contact the Contest Coordinator: Dana Morales

Electronic Entry Requirements:

  • Send a copy of the first 5,000 words of your manuscript. Double spaced. A prologue may be included if applicable.
  • Save in RTF (rich text format). Entries will only be accepted in this format. (If you are using a Mac computer with Pages – you will need to export to Word, then save in RTF for the headers and page numbers to stay on the entries.)
  • Format: one-inch margins all around, double spaced, do not justify margins.
  • Header of each manuscript page must include the title, category, (please specify if it is a novella) estimated word count of manuscript, when completed, page numbers

My Wonderful Novel/65,000 words           (page #)           Category

  • Entrant’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • 12 point font-Times New Roman or equivalent up to 250 words per page.
  • 25 lines per page
  • Begin chapters a third of the way down the page (approximately 6-8 inches)
  • Completed Payment and Entry Form

The 2019 Lonestar Contest is Closed to Entries


If you have any questions or need any further information, please contact Contest Coordinator

wishes you Good Luck and Happy Writing!