Entry Rules and Submission Link

The 2018 contest is on hiatus while we restructure the competition.  Look for the revamped 2019 contest in the fall of 2018.

The 2017 Marlene Awards

Presented by the

Washington Romance Writers


Emotion, tension, drama. Does your book have what it takes to be the next bestselling romance?

The Marlene Awards is a contest for unpublished manuscripts sponsored by the Washington Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America.  Every entry is evaluated by at least three judges.  Finalists are ranked by publishing professionals.  The grand prize winner in each category receives a detailed critique from a published author.  We are still cementing the final details of this year’s list of judges and prize critiquers, but so far the list is amazing. Take a look:

Erotic Romance
Final Round Judge: Rhonda Helms, Carina Press
Critique Author: Adriana Anders
Coordinator: TBA

Final Round Judge: Lexi Smail, Forever Romance
Critique Author: Elizabeth Essex
Coordinator: Kelly Maher

Final Round Judge: Jessica Ruth, Editor, Evernight Publishing
Critique Author: Mindy Klasky
Coordinator: Carlene Love Flores

Romantic Elements
Final Round Judge: Amanda Leuck, Literary Agent, Spencerhill Associates
Critique Author: Tracy Brogan
Coordinator: Delancey Stewart

Romantic Suspense
Final Round Judge: Alethea Spiridon, Entangled Publishing
Critique Author: Cristin Harber
Coordinator: Avery Flynn

Series Contemporary
Final Round Judge: Johanna Raisanen, Harlequin
Critique Author: Robin Covington
Coordinator: Tara Kennedy

Single Title
Final Round Judge: TBA
Critique Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Coordinator: Kimberly Kincaid

Young Adult
Final Round Judge: Wendy Loggia, Senior Executive Editor, Random House
Critique Author: Pintip Dunn
Coordinator: Meredith Bond


Contest Coordinator
Harper Kincaid, wrwmarlene.contest@gmail.com


Washington Romance Writers has been offering the Marlene Contest (named in fond remembrance of Marlene Montano) since 1996.

Click here for previous Marlene Award winners.



ELIGIBILITY: The Marlene Awards are open to unpublished novel-length manuscripts. The entry must have a projected minimum length of 50,000 words.  All entries must be submitted electronically.  Due to the limited number of spaces in each category, each contestant may enter only one manuscript per category.  A contestant may submit entries in more than one category, however.

Please click here for a listing of our category definitions.

DEADLINESThe contest opens for entries on December 12, 2016. All entries must be received electronically by 11:59 PM EST on January 23, 2017.  Entries received after the deadline will be returned. Finalists will be notified by March 1, 2017.  Winners will be announced at the annual WRW Retreat April 21-23, 2017. Those winners and finalists not attending the retreat will be notified after the event.

ENTRY FEEEntry fees vary based on entry date.  From December 12 to 11:59 PM EST, December 31, the fee will be $20 for WRW members/$25 for all non-WRW members. From January 1 to 11:59 PM EST, January 23, the fee will be $25 for WRW members/$30 for all non-WRW members. All entries must be paid via PayPal option on www.wrwdc.com. All entry fees are non-refundable unless your category is cancelled and you do not choose to switch to another.

JUDGING:  Three judges will score each entry on a 50-point scale. Judges will be encouraged to comment on the score sheet and/or manuscript, but WRW cannot guarantee that all judges will comply with this suggestion. The lowest of the three scores will be dropped. The top three scoring entries in each category will be ranked by an editor or agent. The decision of the judges is final.

WINNERSFirst-place winners receive a Marlene Pendant and a detailed critique of her/his submission by a published author. All other finalists will receive certificates.


  • One electronic copy of a synopsis (up to 5 pages) and the beginning of the manuscript not to exceed 35 pages total for synopsis and manuscript pages. Important: Your attachment file must be received as one .doc or .rtf file that should include your manuscript pages first and then your synopsis second. Total page count must not exceed 35 pages. Files must be saved as: storyinitials-Marlene-category.doc or storyinitials-Marlene-category.rft (example: Little Red Ridinghood should be: LRR-Marlene-YA.doc). The categories for purposes of file saving are: YA, RE, Single, Series, Para, Erotic, RS, and Hist.
  • Entries must be presented in proper standard manuscript format: double-spaced on 8 ½” x 11” pages with one-inch margins using a standard 12-pt. font such as Courier, Courier New or Times Roman.
  • The title and category of entry must appear in the top left corner and the page number in the top right corner of every page.
  • The author’s name may not appear anywhere on the manuscript or synopsis. 
  • Each entry must also include the following information:
    a. Entry title
    b. Author’s name
    c. Address
    d. Phone number
    e. Email address
    f. Projected word count
    g. Targeted publisher/line

For the purposes of this contest your typed author’s name and submission of the appropriate category form will be considered your acceptance of the contest terms.

Entrants who do not comply with the above rules will be contacted and given until the contest deadline to make corrections. Failure to comply by the deadline will disqualify the entrant and the entry fee will be forfeited.


NOTE: If fewer than 10 entries are received for a category, that category will be eliminated and the author given the choice of switching the entry to another category or having the entry and fees returned.  If 30 entries are received for a category, that category will be closed, regardless of date.

We also reserve the right to extend the submission deadline in order to boost entries if a category is in danger of being canceled due to lack of entries.

Questions?  Contact Harper Kincaid at wrwmarlene.contest@gmail.com