The Sheila Contest
Rules & Registration

VFRW has suspended the Sheila Contest for 2022.

While VFRW focuses on building a new Romance organization, our hope is to bring back a stronger and even more effective contest in 2023.

We will be examining our contest rules, judge training, and practices to ensure we provide an open and safe environment for all writers regardless of race, age, religion, gender, sexual identity, or physical ability. The Sheila will be inclusive of all voices pursuing publishing via traditional or independent methods.

We look forward to reading your submissions in 2023!


Participation is open to ALL romance writers who are unpublished, self-published, and traditionally published. The entry must be the author’s original work, unpublished in any format (including author’s website, self-publication, ebook, mass market, etc.) and not under contract for publication when submitted to the contest. You do not have to be a member of VFRW to enter The Sheila.


The Sheila Contest typically opens in March of each year for registration.  All submissions must be received electronically by 11:59 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) on the “closing date” for entries.  Entries received after the deadline will be returned and the entry fee will be forfeited.

NOTE: If fewer than 10 entries are received for a category, VFRW reserves the right to cancel the category. If a category is cancelled, the author will be given the choice of switching the entry to another category or having the entry and fees returned.



In 2019, the entry fee was $25 for all VFRW Chapter members / $30 for all non-VFRW members. 

Electronic payment (via PayPal) only. 

All entry fees must be received by VFRW by 11:55pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) on the “closing date” for entries or the entry will be disqualified and the fee forfeited.

All entry fees are non-refundable except in the case of category cancellation, as stated above.



Entry typically opens in March and closes in April each year. Exact entry dates, closing dates, and announcement dates change each year. When dates are set for the current year, they will be posted here.



The FIRST 20 pages of the manuscript and a synopsis no longer than 5 pages in length. The synopsis is REQUIRED, but not judged.

Previous category and Best of the Best winners may not re-enter their winning entry, even in edited format. They may, however, enter another work.

Enter as many different manuscripts as you wish, but each entry must be entered and submitted separately. 

The same manuscript may not be entered in more than one category. Choose the best category for any single work.

Any entries received after the deadline will be returned, and the entry fee forfeited.



One Microsoft Word .doc formatted document emailed to the category coordinator (the email address will be provided in the registration confirmation email) including the beginning of the manuscript (first 20 pages), followed by the synopsis (up to 5 pages). The manuscript and synopsis may not exceed 25 total pages

Entries must be presented in standard manuscript format: double-spaced with one inch margins using Times New Roman font, 12-point. Chapters must begin 1/3 of the way down the page. All entries must be in U.S. page sizing and standard formatting. (A4 will not be accepted.)  Both synopsis and manuscript pages must be no more than 25 lines per page.

Manuscript headers should include the title of the entry and category in the upper left corner and the page number in the upper right corner only. The author’s name may not appear anywhere on the entry.


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



Entrants will receive a detailed score sheet from three qualified judges. Judges will be encouraged to comment on the score sheet, but VFRW cannot guarantee that all judges will comply with this suggestion. The lowest score will be dropped unless in the event of a tie, at which point the lowest score will be included to break the tie. To review the score sheet, please click HERE.

The top five entries in each category will advance to the finals. Scores will be returned to all entrants in early August (typically.)

No entry from a Valley Forge Romance Writers member shall be judged by any other member. All member entries will be judged by non-member judges to ensure fairness to all entrants.

All decisions of the judges are final.



Three (3) qualified, trained judges, both published and unpublished authors. We strive to have each entry judged by at least one published author. 


Final Round Judges vary each year.

  • Contemporary 
  • Fantasy/Futuristic/Paranormal 
  • Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Young Adult 

All heat levels are welcome in all categories.



Top scores from the final round will move on to the Best of the Best round, and will be judged by best-selling authors:



Grand Prize for Best of the Best:  $100

Top Prizes:  Certificates, pin, and web badges (graphics to use on social media and your website.) 


Contact The Sheila Contest Chairpersons

The Sheila Questions