Montana Strong Contest

2014 Montana Strong Contest
Sponsored by the Montana Romance Writers Chapter of
Romance Writers of America®


Congratulations to the finalists in the 2014 Montana Strong Contest!


Best of the Best: Embracing Betrayal – Rachel Britt

First Place: Second Thought – Jennifer Sanchez
Second Place: Damned if She Do – Janet Walden-West
Third Place: Dating the Undead and Other Disasters - Karen Rock


Whole Lotta Bull – Christine Griffin
Embracing Betrayal – Rachel Britt
Deep Down – Mia Hopkins
A Simple Deception – Vanessa Rapkoch
Running the Cobblestone – Kathey Schneeman
An Unexpected World – Carlyn P. Jones
Second Thought – Jennifer Sanchez
Damned if She Don’t – Janet Walden-West
Damned if She Do – Janet Walden-West
Kept – Julie Andrews
Remember – Colleen Laughlin
Dating the Undead and Other Disasters – Karen Rock 

Congratulations to all finalists and winners!

Contest Opens: February 1, 2013

Deadline for ALL Electronic Submissions: June 30, 2014

Finalists Notified by telephone or email, the week of August 25-29 2014

Winners Announced during Montana Romance Writers’ Conference, October 3-5, 2014

Fee:  $20 – RWA members, $25 – non-RWA members

2014 Final Judges:
Contemporary (Series & Single Title) – Ellen Smith, Champagne Book Group
Historical – Nikki Terpilowski, Holloway Literary Agency
Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal/Time-Travel – Cassie Knight, Champagne Book Group
Romantic Suspense – Tara Gelsomino, Crimson Romance
Young Adult – Jennifer Conner, Books To Go Now (BTGN)
New Adult – Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency 

Contemporary Series & Single Title– We’ve decided to combine these categories, because the focus is very similar, which is primarily on the romantic relationship and typically set after 1945. Word count: 50,000 and over.  View/Download Scoresheet Here.

HistoricalRomance novels set in any time period prior to 1945 and taking place in any location. Includes traditional Regency novels where the majority of the story is set during the Regency period of the British Empire.  Word count: 50,000 and over. View/Download Scoresheet Here.

Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal/Time-Travel – A little self explanatory, but Romance novels in which Futuristic, Fantasy, Paranormal (Ghost, Vampire, Werewolf, etc.) elements are an integral part of the plot. Time-travel is included in this category, and may be set during any time and in any location. Included in this category is Fantasy and/or Futuristic manuscripts that would also classify under Young Adult or New Adult—example: the Hunger Games. Word count: 50,000 and over. View/Download Scoresheet Here.

Romantic Suspense – Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot. Books may or may not part of a series, in which suspense is a major element of the plot.  Word count: 50,000 and over. View/Download Scoresheet Here.

Young Adult – Novels with romantic elements that are targeted for young adult and teen readers such as Harry Potter, the Twilight series, or The Fault in our Stars by John Green, etc. Word count: 50,000 and over. View/Download Scoresheet Here.

New Adult - Novels with romantic elements that are targeted for new adult readers and may have more graphic language and situations than Young Adult. Books like Easy by Tammera Webber, Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, The Edge of Never by J. A. Redmerski, etc. Word count: 50,000 and over. View/Download Scoresheet Here.

Give us your character or characters at their moment of greatest challenge, and show us why they deserve the honorary title of "Montana Strong." Enter a setup paragraph of up to 250 words to introduce the judges to the characters, the situation, and the stakes. Also enter the greatest challenge scene of up to 3,000 words of your finished, polished, and unpublished manuscript that’s projected word count is 50,000 or greater. The 250 word set up and the 3,000 word greatest challenge scene are to be on one rtf file, including your scoresheet. (We will have screenshots/video of what this looks like via our website.)

Entrants who are unpublished are especially encouraged to enter. All entrants must not have published a novel in the last 5 years. OR if entrant is self-published, must not be PAN eligible—cannot make $5,000 a year.

Montana Romance Writers of RWA reserves the right to limit entries to the first twenty-five (25) manuscripts received in each category. Failure to comply with any of the entry requirements below could result in disqualification of your manuscript.

For Payment by PayPal: It is strongly encouraged to pay via PayPal. Please pay first, then complete the entry form—which will ask for a PayPal Transaction # or check #, then email your entry as an attachment to Once the Release/Entry form/Entry has been received and PayPal payment has been recorded, a confirmation email will be sent to entrant. Entrant has up to the contest deadline of June 30, 2014 to email their entry. 

For Payment by Check:  Please ensure you PRINT/SIGN/SNAIL MAIL a copy of the entry form along with your entry fee to the Contest Committee prior to submitting your entry. The Contest Committee will send you a confirmation email that your fee and form have been received, and the entry can then be emailed to the Category Coordinator.  Entrant has up to the contest deadline of June 30, 2014 to email their entry.  Once entry is received, the Category Coordinator will send a confirmation email back to entrant. 

Entries shall consist of the 250-word setup plus the 3,000-word greatest challenge scene of the novel.

Entries will be received in RTF (Rich Text Format) files only. (To convert your file to RTF, open the document, go into File, click on Save As and choose RTF format. This will create a new document with the same title in RTF format.) Please do not send .doc or .docx files as they will be deleted, unopened.

Attach the appropriate category scoresheet to your electronic entry by copying and pasting the scoresheet to the beginning of your document. Use a page break between the scoresheet and the beginning of the entry. It’s okay if the header appears on the scoresheet. Problems? Email the Contest Committee for assistance at

Entries shall be in standard manuscript format, double-spaced, 12-point font (Courier or Times New Roman strongly suggested) with one-inch margins and unjustified left margins. The name of the author, RWA number, or any other identifying information must not appear on the entry. A cover page is not necessary. As a side note, manuscript format is not a judged component of the Montana Strong Contest. Judges may or may not point out formatting issues to an entrant, but no points are deducted for perceived infractions.

The header on each page must contain the title of the manuscript and a page number. We understand that you are cutting a scene from your manuscript, and it might not start on page one, but your entry might. We need page numbers to ensure for quality. (Example: My manuscript’s title is Birdie, Bye-Bye, so my header will be Birdie, Bye-Bye 1 or Birdie, Bye-Bye page 1 will be acceptable too.) Traditionally the header will be on the upper right side. However, we know because of different software programs our headers can turn up on someone else’s computer centered or other areas. We will not discount the entrant if header is not in upper right side.

Document title should be the title of the manuscript only. Please do not add author name. Please do not name your document “Montana Strong Entry” or any other variation. Entries containing this in the title will be deleted, unopened.

Once entrant has headers, scoresheet copied and pasted at the beginning, then the entry—consisting of 250 word setup plus the 3,000 word greatest challenge scene—together, then save file to RTF. Remember to have the file saved as the title of entrant’s manuscript. (Example: My manuscript’s title is Birdie, Bye-Bye, so I save the RTF file as BirdieByeBye.)

Entrant has already paid via PayPal or check, filled out the entry form, now email your entry as an attached document to  Please note that your payment for PayPal must go to

Entrants will receive email confirmation for receipt of their entry.

Each entry may only be entered in one category (i.e., you can’t enter the same exact entry in both historical and paranormal). However, you may enter different entries into the same category or different categories. Each entry must have a separate entry form. This form may be copied. You may send one check/money order payable to Montana Romance Writers to cover all entry fees. If you’d like to join Montana Romance Writers, please note that you must fill out a membership application and attach a separate check to cover membership dues. And you can only do this after the contest.

Mail printed entry form with check payment for contest fee to:
Montana Romance Writers
Attn: Montana Strong Contest
PO Box 2324
Missoula, MT  59806

Paypal payments should be made to:

RWA Members, Click here
Non-RWA Members, Click here

First round entries will be judged by experienced, qualified, or published judges. Montana Romance Writers cannot guarantee judge commentary will be on every entry, however, we strongly encourage our judges to provide positive, constructive feedback.

Entries will be judged by Three (3) first round judges. Then scores will be averaged. Three highest scoring manuscripts will advance to the final rounds, to be judged by agents, editors, and booksellers/librarians. All judged copies will be returned to non-finalist entrants following finalist announcement. Finalist entries will be returned after winners are announced.

1. Pay via check or PayPal.
2. Fill out this entry form.
3. Send in your entry after receiving confirmation your payment has been received.

CATEGORY SCORE SHEETS (also available in category descriptions):

Contemporary Series & Single Title –  View/Download Scoresheet Here.
Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal/Time-Travel – View/Download Scoresheet Here.
Romantic Suspense – View/Download Scoresheet Here.

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Best of the Best
To be determined by bookseller/librarian and one editor, this winner is chosen as a favorite and given $100 and certificate.

First Prize per
All First place finalists receive $10 and a certificate.

Second Prize
All Second place finalists receive a certificate.

Third Prize
All Third place finalists receive a Certificate.

Questions? Email us!

Montana Strong Contest Committee: