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2023 Emily Contest

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By:  Kelly Larivee, The Emily Contest Chair

Calling all UNPUBLISHED ROMANCE writers. Calling all PUBLISHED ROMANCE writers (traditionally or independent/self) who haven’t published in a chosen category within the past three years. The League of Romance Writers of Houston, Texas is delighted to announce the opening of our premier contest for romance writers, The Emily, on September 1, 2023.

If you’re an aspiring romance writer with a manuscript to pitch, The Emily is the contest for you. Our contest enjoys a high request rate from agents and editors, one of the hallmarks of The Emily. Last year’s contest brought requests for partial and full manuscript requests from our Final Round Judges for our Finalists. Following are a few key points to consider:

  • The Emily opens on September 1, 2023, and closes on October 2, 2023
  • Entry fee is $40 per manuscript entered; if you are a League of Romance Writers member, the fee is reduced to $30.
  • Entries: Consist of the first 6000 words of your manuscript, prologue included, if applicable. No synopsis.
  • First Round Judges are published authors and other experienced writing professionals.
  • Following is a list of The Emily Contest Categories and their descriptions, including the Final Round Judges assigned to each, should you become a Finalist:

Contemporary Romance:  Takes place after 1945, is set in the time that it is written, and reflects social behaviors of the time. Contemporary romances are usually set between the end of World War II and the present time.
Agent: Rebecca Strauss (DeFiore & Company), Editor: Elizabeth Trout (Kensington Publishing)

Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal:  Combines reality with fantasy, and may take place in an alternate world. FF&P romances include but are not limited to vampires, ghosts, werewolves, & other paranormal elements.
Agent: TBA                                            Editor: Sabrina Flemming (Grand Central Publishing)

Historical:  Set any time prior to 1945, before the conclusion of World War II.
Agent: Kendall Berdinsky (Dystel, Godrich & BourretEditor:  Erin Molta (Entangled)

Mainstream with Romantic Elements:  Set in any time period, in any sub-genre, with the primary focus on story, characterization, and reader entertainment. Always HEA or HFN.
Agent: Cori Deyoe (3 Seas Literary)                    Editor: Sinclair Sawhney (Tule Publishing)

Romantic Suspense: Combines romance with elements of mystery or suspense.
Agent: Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary)                  Editor: Patience Bloom (Harlequin)

Young Adult:  Focus is on the lives of young people and contain strong romantic themes.
Agent: Nicole Payne (Copps Literary Services)      Editor: Lydia Sharp (Entangled)

If you’d like to ENTER The Emily Contest, SIGN UP to Judge, or if you’d simply like MORE  INFORMATION about The Emily Contest, please visit The Emily page at League of Romance Writers – The Emily – The Emily Contest


The Emily Contest enjoys an impeccable reputation for professionalism, and for attracting top notch talent from all over the US, Canada, and Australia, due in large part to industry professionals like yourself who’ve volunteered their time as a First Round Judge.

Last year, The Emily hit a record high of over 100 contest entrants, all vying for 1 of 18 Finalist spots, and the opportunity to have their work read by one of our acquiring Agents or Editors. Several Finalists got their wish, and more, as many of our Final Round Judges requested additional material.

But none of this happens without you–our first set of eyes as a First Round Judge–critiquing a 6000 word partial, no synopsis, utilizing a preformed scoresheet and your own constructive comments. As a First Round Judge you may choose to read between 3-5 partials (with the option for more once you’ve completed & returned the original batch), from any of our 6 Romance categories: Contemporary; Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal; Historical; Mainstream with Romantic Elements; Romantic Suspense; Young Adult. 

First Round Judges will receive their partials no later than October 12, 2023, and will have until December 1, 2023 to return their completed entries. Please visit 1st Round Judge Sign-Up Form – League of Romance Writers – The Emily ( today to sign up and remember, we couldn’t run this contest without you! 

Kelly Larivee, The Emily Chair
The Emily Contest
League of Romance Writers



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