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21st Annual

2013 Heart of the West Writers Contest

2013 HOW Contest Winners Announced!

Sponsored by the Utah Chapter of
Romance Writers of America®

Contest Timeline:

  • Entry deadline Extended: July 31, 2013
  • August 23, 2013 - Finalists notified by telephone or email
  • October 12, 2013 - Winners announced at the HOW Conference Awards Banquet
  • October 15, 2013 - Finalist score sheets returned

Enter the opening twenty (20) pages of romance novels of all sub-genres (projected length of at least 50,000 words). Contest is open to published and unpublished authors. Published authors may submit only unpublished, uncontracted manuscripts. NOTE: If you have a romance novel published by a traditional publisher, e-published, OR are self-published, Utah RWA Considers you to be published.


  • Contemporary: Single title; category; mainstream, inspirational in a contemporary setting.
  • Historical: Single title; category; Regencies; suspense, mainstream, inspirational in an historical setting.
  • Paranormal: Time travel, ghost, futuristic, paranormals of all other kinds.
  • Mystery/Suspense: Single title; category; suspense, mainstream, or inspirational.
  • Young Adult/New Adult: Single title; category; historical, inspirational, paranormal or contemporary.

**Published and Unpublished Will Be Judged Collectively**

*URWA reserves the right to combine categories if fewer than eight (8) entries are received.*

NOTE: URWA's Golden Pen Contest, FOR URWA MEMBERS ONLY, is additional to the Heart of the West Writers Contest. URWA Chapter Members who enter the Heart of the West Writers Contest are automatically entered in the URWA Golden Pen.

Judging and Awards

An individual may enter more than one manuscript, may enter in more than one category and may enter more than once per category; however, each submission must have its own entry fee and completed entry form. The same entry may not be entered in more than one category. Manuscripts that won in previous Heart of the West Writers Contests will not be accepted. Each entry will receive three scores; The lowest score will be dropped. The top four entries from each category will be selected for final round judging.

*New This Year*

    •    -Overall 1st prize winner receives winner's choice of a free eCover Design* or a free Manuscript Edit**
    •    -Overall 2nd prize winner receives the non-selected option of the winner's choice
    •    -Overall 3rd prize winner receives a $25 Amazon gift certificate
    • Unpublished and Published authors may enter in each submission category: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense and Young Adult/New Adult.
    • The first place recipients for all categories except Golden Pen will be awarded a $10 Amazon gift card and a certificate.
    • The second through fourth place recipients from each category will receive certificates.
    • Winner of the Golden Pen (for URWA members only) will receive a plaque.
    • All finalists will be recognized in the Romance Writers Report.
    • First round judges will be a mix of published, PRO, readers, experienced and trained individuals who are encouraged to comment on entries and scoresheets.

    *[BOOK COVER DESIGN SERVICE by Inspire Creative Design Services: The custom eCover Design Service includes the following:
    • A Project Consultation between Client and Designer to discuss the New Project Form, including ideas, concepts, and any other specifics of the project if needed.
    • An original mockup Book Cover Design (using stock photos).
    • Up to three rounds of changes as needed. (See Mockup(s) and Revsions)
    • A composition of the front book cover to meet eCover specifications for ePublishing houses (i.e. Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc.)
    • Digital delivery of the included Book Design Cover files.
    NOTE: eCovers do not include print rights unless additional promotional materials are purchased (i.e. bookmarks, postcards, collectors cards, business cards, etc.)
    MOCKUP(s) and REVISIONS: Designer will provide Client with a mockup of a Book Cover Design for Client to approve or ask for changes. After the Client receives the initial book cover mockup, he or she may begin modification rounds. Client is given three rounds of changes. Additional change requests (after the initial three) will be billed at the rate of $25 an hour with a 1/2 hour minimum. ANY changes made after the final design is approved by the Client will be billed at the rate of $25 an hour with a one hour minimum unless otherwise specified by the Designer.]

    **[MANUSCRIPT EDIT by Annie Edits, Inc.: A first-round edit of a fiction manuscript (up to 80,000 words). First-round edit will review spelling, grammar, continuity, flow, plot, and character development. A two-week turnaround.]

2013 Finalist Judges

Tips on the Judging Criteria:
Is this contest right for your manuscript?

  • Does your story make the reader want to keep turning the pages from the beginning?
  • Do you have a great opening line?
  • Is your manuscript easy to read? (i.e. free of major grammatical and spelling errors)
  • (See judge's scoresheet.)

Submission Checklist:
  • Submissions should be in standard manuscript format, 1" margins, double-spaced.
  • Use an easily read font that is acceptable for submission to publishing houses, such as Courier or Times New Roman
  • A maximum of 25 lines per page. At the top of each page, include title, category, and page number
  • Up to twenty (20) pages of your manuscript. Do not submit more than twenty pages; only twenty pages will be judged.(All Electronic)
  • Save submission file with the name of [Category]_[Manuscript Title].rtf as a RTF (Rich Text Format) file.
  • Your name must ONLY appear on the entry form and not on any manuscript page. If authors name(s) appear on the entry pages, the entry will be disqualified and the entry fee will be forfeited.
  • A completed entry form (All entrants must complete the electronic entry form)
  • Contest fee of $25 for URWA Members;$30 for All Other Entrants, paid via PayPal,  check or money order, drawn on U.S. funds, made payable to Utah/Salt Lake Chapter RWA®. (Each entry must be accompanied by the entry fee.)
  • Attach submission to email with subject header as HOW Contest [Category]_[Title of Manuscript] and send to Heart of the West Entries at HeartOfTheWestEntries (at) gmail . com.

Please save your submission file with the name of manuscript and category as a RTF (Rich Text Format) file. Send your submission as an ATTACHMENT to the email below.

Send all entries to: Heart of the West Entries at HeartOfTheWestEntries (at) gmail . com. 

[NOTE: If you wish to send thank you notes to judges after completion of contest, please e-mail them to the contest coordinator with the judge number.]

To Enter:  Please fill out the Electronic Entry Form. (All entrant must complete electronic entry form even if paying by check.) After you complete and submit the entry form, return to this page and use our easy PayPal Cart to process your entry fee. Please enter manuscript title under merchant instructions in PayPal.

2013 HOW Contest Fee
URWA Members: $25.00
All Other Entrants: $30.00
Contest Fee

If paying by check or money order, click here for Manual Entry Form to mail with check. Mail entry fee with manual form to:
Utah RWA
c/o Heart of the West Contest
P.O.Box 274
Hooper, Utah 84315

Please complete Electronic Entry Form even if mailing check.

For questions and comments, contact the contest coordinator, Annie Whittaker at Annie.Whittaker (at) yahoo . com.

Click here to see the winners of the 2012 20th Annual Heart of the West Contest

Click here to see the winners of the 2011 19th Annual Heart of the West Contest

Click here to see the winners of the 2010 18th Annual Heart of the West Contest

Click here to see the winners of the 2009 17th Annual Heart of the West Contest

 Updated 10/12/13