The Sheila Contest

The Sheila Contest is suspended for 2022. Please see the Contest Rules & Regulations page for the full statement. 

What is the Sheila Contest?

The Sheila Contest has for many years been one of Romance’s premier writing competitions, known for providing constructive comments to entrants. To keep our first-round judges at the top of their feedback game, we provide a detailed scoresheet and both in-person and written training to everyone who volunteers to help judge. It’s no surprise, then, that many Sheila entrants have praised the contest for giving them the help and guidance they needed to take their writing to the next level.


So, are YOU willing to take the plunge and submit your entry for feedback?


When VFRW holds their next Sheila Contest, we hope you’ll join us!


Congratulations to The Sheila Contest 2019 Finalists and Winners!


Best of the Best: Love Me Like a Love Song by Annmarie Boyle


Here are the Finalists’ Placements:


Judged by Rhonda Penders, Wild Rose Press

1st Place – Love Me Like a Love Song  by Annmarie Boyle
2nd Place – Fight For It  by Jessie Harper
3rd Place – Something to Talk About  by Despina Karras
4th Place – A Fast Woman  by Laralynn Doran
5th Place – Love In An Elevator  by Kilby Blades


Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal
Judged by Lori Polito, Soul Mate Publishing

1st Place – Child of Eden  by Laralynn Doran
2nd Place – In Blood and Ice  by Susan Person
3rd Place – Seditious Hearts  by Renee Wildes
4th Place – Hex, Love, & Rock N Roll  by Kat Turner
5th Place – Praetorian Rising  by Lisa Knight


Judged by Claudia Fallon, Wild Rose Press

1st Place – Moonshine River by Marie Wells Coutu
2nd Place – Tempting a Thief  by Emmaline Warden
3rd Place – Maiden of Dreams  by Susan Varno
4th Place – Uncoiled  by Susanna Lane *
5th Place – A Good Match for the Major by Josie Bonham


Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance
Judged by Scott Eagan, Greyhaus Literary Agency

1st Place –  Silent Stream by Marie Wells Coutu – REQUEST FOR FULL
2nd Place – When We Were Friends by Nancy Yeager – REQUEST FOR FULL
3rd Place – Keeping the Pieces by Brenda Lowder – REQUEST FOR PARTIAL
4th Place – Crocodile Tears by Kilby Blades
5th Place – Legend of the Purple Orchid by Remy LaCosta


Romantic Suspense
Judged by Meghan Farrell, Tule Publishing

1st Place – Searching for Eden  by Kimberly Ford – REQUEST FOR FULL
2nd Place – Raven Falls by Celeste Straub *
3rd Place – Deadly Aim  by Tracy Brody
4th Place – Forbidden Paradise by Barbara Forlenza
5th Place – The Cracking  by Anise Eden


Young Adult
Judged by Tara Gelsomino, One Track Literary Agency

1st Place – Escape the Room  by Sandi Van Lieu
2nd Place – Witch of the Wild Beasts  by Catherine Stine
3rd Place – The Keystone  by Wendy Goodman
4th Place – Song of the Sophos by A.Y. Chao
5th Place – A Scent of Lilac  by Frances McCoy



The Best of the Best entries were judged by the following authors:

Xio Axelrod, USA Today Bestselling Author

Pintip Dunn, New York Times Bestselling Author and RITA® Winner

Priscilla Oliveras, USA Today Bestselling Author

Angela Quarles, USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA® Winner

Laura Trentham, Multiple Golden Heart® Finalist

Rebecca Zanetti, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author

Click here for prior finalist and winners.


Who was Sheila?

Sheila Conway was VFRW’s President when she unexpectedly passed away in 2003. Beloved for her bubbly personality, Sheila had a shock of bright red hair and a laugh you could hear from the next room. She was a mentor and critique partner, and it is in honor of her spirit and vitality that we hold the Sheila Contest each year. Just as Sheila Conway dedicated herself to helping friends reach the next level with their writing, the Sheila Contest is committed to providing constructive feedback to entrants and to help them connect with industry professionals.

Hear directly from prior entrants just how the contest helped their careers:


“Because of the Sheila I have an opportunity to put my work in front of a wonderful editor, and I’m am beyond grateful! Thank you!!” ~ Meta Carroll, 2017 Best of the Best winner.


“Enter the Sheila! This contest led directly to my three-book sale to St. Martin’s Press. My book, Secrets of a Wedding Night, was published in 2013! Thanks Valley Forge Romance Writers and the Sheila Contest!” ~ Valerie Bowman


“I’m excited to say my finaling historical manuscript, Tempting Bella, sold to Entangled Scandalous in a two-book deal. Critiques from the first-round judges were detailed and very helpful, with excellent suggestions. Final-round judge Elizabeth Poteet from St. Martin’s Press also put her comments directly on the entries themselves!” ~ Diana Quincy


Hear more from prior entrants on just how the Sheila Contest helped their careers here.