Contest Rules


The Writer is a romance writer’s contest hosted by the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA). LERA is an RWA chapter that meets in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information about LERA go to

The Writer takes the place of LERA’s longtime contest The Rebecca, named in memoriam for Rebecca Gault. For more information about her and the former contest, you can find it here.

All times given are in MST.

  • July 1, 2020 — Contest open for submissions.
  • July 31, 2020 11:59pm – Deadline for submissions. No other submissions will be accepted after this date. The contest will close when 45 submissions have been accepted, which may be before July 31, 2020.
  • September 09, 2020 — Round One Finalists notified by e-mail within the week of this date. Finalists will be posted on the LERA Website
  • September 16, 2020 — Round One Finalists to submit a synopsis and letter of intent to final judges
  • October 4, 2020 — Round Two Winners Announced
  • October 4, 2020 – November 7, 2020 – Celebrity judge mentoring
  • November 14, 2020 — The Writer announced at LERA meeting with announcement in RWR e-notes


All authors are encouraged to enter, regardless of published or unpublished status. However, the manuscript itself must be unpublished. No contracted, currently published, or previously published manuscripts will be accepted. Any manuscript that is found to break eligibility status will be immediately rejected and no refund will be served.


Entrants MUST use the contest form located on the LERA website to submit an entry.

Enter the opening five thousand (5,000) words of romance novels. Entries should include the title, author-chosen subgenre, and heat level only. The author’s name should not appear at any point in the document. Standard manuscript format (1” margins, double spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font) is preferred. 5,000 words is determined by computer word count. The contest committee recommends that authors cut off text at the end of a complete sentence, even if that word count falls short of exactly 5,000.

All submissions MUST include romance or romantic elements with an HEA/HFN ending. All subgenres, pairings, and combos accepted. All heat levels accepted. Please see the provided suggestions to indicate which subgenres and heat level the manuscript falls under.

***Please note: NO sex between an adult and a minor on the page, bestiality (this does not include shifters), necrophilia, rape, or incest used as titillation will be accepted. Any questions, please email the Contest Chair at

The excerpt should be provided in Microsoft Word or .rtf format.

Please give File name in this format:

[Titleofwork]-[subgenre initials]-[chile number].docx  OR

[Titleofwork]-[subgenre initials]-[chile number].doc  OR

[Titleofwork]-[subgenre initials]-[chile number].rtf

Example: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone-PNYA-1.docx

These sub genres have been provided as suggestions to aid the author in choosing their sub genres. The author is welcome to include all sub genres that pertain to their manuscript in their file name. Crossover sub genres and multi-sub genres are welcomed. Initials and a brief description of common sub genres have been provided below. Please use the initials provided.

CRContemporary Romance: Romance novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship; it will include a modern setting, modern language, and diction, and a general focus on the emotional development of a relationship.

ER- Erotic Romance: Romance novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth, and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.), will have graphically described sexual encounters/scenes, more than one sex scene, and unique tropes (ex. Ménage).

HR- Historical Romance: Romance novels that are set prior to 1950. It will include a dated setting (ex. Wild West, Edwardian period, Regency era), language and diction from that era, and characters occupying roles not found in common society (ex. duke, duchess, earl).

PN- Paranormal/Science Fiction/ Fantasy Romance: Romance novels in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot. All three will tend to have action-packed plot lines, but romance is still key to the story.
For paranormal, expect a setting in the modern world with slight differences (ex. Magic may be present, known and unknown to characters) and romantic relationships with supernatural beings (ex. werewolves, angels, demons).
For Sci-Fi, expect a setting in the future or near future and/or dealing with new technology or futuristic elements and expect romantic relationships that may not always have human/human pairings (ex. aliens/non-human love interests).
For Fantasy, expect a setting in a world separate from what is currently known, where a magic system or creatures that are known are merely a normal part of life. There may be crossover with modern technology, but most branded terms (ex. jeans) are given new and unique descriptions.

SE- Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements: Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs are an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may be set in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system of any culture. They can mesh with other genres (ex. Historical, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, etc.). They will include characters who have strong religious convictions or who end the book with strong religious convictions, any explicit sexual content is typically avoided (or if it appears, it is light), and there will possibly be tropes on the issue of faith or beliefs.

RS- Romantic Suspense: Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. Some characteristics are a fast-paced, heart-pumping plot, some facet of crime that might jeopardize the romantic relationship, most will focus on current crimes and scenarios but they can range from historical (gothic) to present day.

YA- New Adult/Young Adult Romance: Romance novels in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot. For New Adult expect to see post-high school characters as they journey through the struggles and beginnings of adulthood (ex. First job, college life, financial independence, living away from home for the first time, loss of innocence fear of failure, etc.). For Young Adult expect to see teenage relationships or issues related to young adult lives, tropes typical of a young adult (ex. Empowerment, coming of age, love at first sight, bullying, etc), but love is still the main force behind the plot.


Please indicate the manuscript’s heat level (from 1 to 4 chiles) in the file name. This will ensure the right judge is paired with the right manuscript. Fun fact, New Mexico spells “chile” like the country.

One Chile- Mild (ex. PG movie, Hallmark, “sweet”, some handholding, a chaste kiss, no detailed descriptions of intimacy, all intercourse and steamy scenes occur off the page or it fades to black, lots of emotional tension)

Two Chiles- Medium (ex. PG-13 movie, second base, kissing and touching and intimacy shared but less focus on the body parts, majority of the sexy stuff is still behind closed doors)

Three Chiles- Spicy (ex. R movie, sex on the page, doesn’t fade to black but might follow the participants through the door and into the bed)

Four Chiles- HOT HOT HOT (ex. NC-17 movie, explicit sex, graphic language, anatomically descriptive in detail)

Jordyn Kross
Anna Taylor Sweringen
Darynda Jones
Jeffe Kennedy
Lauren Teffeau
Tamra Baumann
Louise Bergin
Robin Perini

Meet the Judges Here!


  1. Contest opens July 1, 2020.
  2. Entries may be neither contracted nor published in any format at time of entry.
  3. Contest is capped at 55 entries total.
  4. Contest deadline is July 31, 2020 11:59pm or when cap (45 entries) is met. Entry must be received no later than that date. No entries will be accepted after that point.
  5. Once a manuscript is accepted for entry in the contest, no refund will be served.
  6. Round One finalists will be the top 12 finalists as determined by mean score from the scoresheets, where the lowest score is dropped. LERA members will judge and determine finalist status. The LERA review team will include three (3) judges, with at least one judge that is a published author or PRO member. The review team score sheets will be made available to authors along with any feedback provided.
  7. Round One finalists will be announced on or around September 09, 2020.
  8. Round One finalists will be contacted and asked to provide a one (1) page synopsis that describes the entire story to the end and a letter detailing what they wish to accomplish with the mentoring to the Contest Coordinator due by e-mail within three (3) days of notification (September 12, 2020). This synopsis may be included with the initial entry, but is not required and will not be read by the first round judges.
  9. Round Two winners will be determined by a final judge and will be notified by October 4, 2020. In the event that two (2) or more final judges wish to mentor one (1) manuscript, the author of that manuscript may choose which final judge they wish to have as their mentor. Note: Three (3) to five (5) mentorships will be given from the pool of Round One finalists.
  10. After notification, the Round Two winners will work with the final judge on their manuscript submission to make any changes agreed upon. The mentored manuscripts will then be resubmitted to the membership of Land of Enchantment Romance Authors by November 07, 2020 whereupon they will be submitted for a final vote by the chapter members to determine “The Writer”.
  11. The final winner, The Writer, will be announced on the LERA webpage and at the LERA Meeting, scheduled for November 14, 2020. The Writer and the winning final judge will receive an enamel pin as a prize and their name posted on the chapter website. The Writer will also receive full support from the entire chapter to assist in the winning manuscript’s success, which may include possible industry connections for traditional publishing and/or marketing in the case of self-publishing, and promotion on social media when the novel is published.
  12. Entry in The Writer Contest constitutes agreement by the author to conform to all contest rules, abide by the decision of the judges, and hold blameless the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors, The Writer Contest Coordinators and all judges. In entering, the author agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Chapter, its officers, members and all judges of the Contest from liability for its/their actions arising from or relating to judging and handling of the entry and conducting, sponsoring and advertising the event.
  13. The Contest Committee reserves the right to disqualify any entry if rules are not fully met.
  14. Author must:
    1. Use the contest form located on the LERA website to submit an entry.
    2. Pay entry fee of $25 for LERA members, $35 for non-members, for EACH entry (one entry, $35, two entries, $70, three entries, $105, etc.) through PayPal.
    3. The author must email the PayPal transaction number, including author’s name and each entry’s title to This is needed to confirm the PayPal payment.
  15. All entries will be acknowledged via e-mail within one (1) week of being received.

For additional information, please contact:
Contest Chair Dianne Lindstrom at:

Thank you for participating and good luck!