Beacon Is Closed

The Beacon Contest is CLOSED. Our apologies for any inconvenience or disappointment this may cause. We sincerely appreciate the enthusiastic support of the Beacon over the years and hope that our critiques and feedback have helped many writers on their writing journeys.

The Beacon was a romantic fiction writing contest designed to closely mimic the categories of Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart (r) contest. Judges provide feedback intended to assist authors in modifying their entries prior to the RWA Golden Heart deadline. In addition, agents and editors judging the finalists often request partials or full manuscripts, which can help an unpublished writer become published!

1. Read the category descriptions farther down this page to determine which category you wish to enter.

2. Format your manuscript as explained below:

  • Double-spaced, no more than 20 pages (do not include a synopsis)
  • One inch margins
  • Include a header on each page (Title, Contest Category in upper left corner; page number in upper right corner)
  • Do not include your name on the entry anywhere
  • No more than 27 lines per page (including header)
  • Use a 12 point or larger font, easily readable such as TNR or Courier
  • Document should be in .RTF or .DOC or .DOCX file format

3. Once your manuscript is formatted and ready, and you know which category you are entering, then click the registration button. This will take you to the RWA website (Romance Writers of America). Be prepared with PayPal or a Credit Card.

The Beacon Contest is CLOSED until further notice.

Fee: $25 FCRW members, $30 RWA member (not FCRW), $35 non-RWA member.

More contest details follow, including category descriptions and final round judge information.


  • All finalists and winners receive a certificate and BRAGGING RIGHTS!
  • A GIF Beacon image to update the authors’ websites to denote that they are a finalist or a winner.
  • Winners receive a Beacon Lapel Pin.
  • All entrants receive constructive feedback from the judges to help them modify and improve their work.
  • Finalists have their work seen by an editor and an agent, which could lead to an offer for publication.


  • The Beacon is open to unpublished writers of romantic fiction.
  • The Beacon is also open to published authors, provided they have not been published or contracted in book length fiction (40,000+ words) in the category which they are entering, in the past 3 years.

Contest Deadlines and Dates

  • The Beacon Contest is CLOSED until further notice.

Rules and Submission Guidelines

  • Electronic submissions only
  • Choose the category that best fits your story (see category definitions below)
  • Entry consists of a maximum of the first 20 pages of a manuscript (double-spaced). No synopsis required.
  • Entrants can enter as many entries as they wish, in as many categories as they wish. However, each entry can only be entered in ONE category.
  • A category must receive a minimum of 5 entries or it will be cancelled. Any entrants whose category is cancelled will be contacted and allowed to choose an alternate category.
  • Contest is limited to the first 125 entries.
  • The contest entry deadline will NOT be extended unless man-made or natural disasters are deemed by the FCRW Executive board to have interfered significantly with the ability of the contest to accept entries.
  • All entries will be judged in the first round by two trained judges. When possible, one of the judges will be a published author.
  • In the case of a discrepancy between two judges on an entry, where the point spread is 20+ points, a third judge will be brought in. The lowest score will be dropped.
  • Each finalist will have their entry judged by one agent and one editor.
  • Finalists will have an opportunity to revise the contest entry based on judges’ comments before the final round.
  • Our Scoresheet provides a summary at a glance. In addition, judges are encouraged to offer detailed feedback/critiques within the entry itself.
  • Final round judges are subject to change when unavoidable.


Category or Series Romance (Short Contemporary Romance)
Manuscripts that are set from 1950 to the present that are less than 65,000 words.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Contemporary Romance (Single Title)
Manuscripts that are set from 1950 to the present that are 65,000+ words in length.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Erotic Romance
Manuscripts 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 manuscripts may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Historical Romance (Including Regency)
Manuscripts that are set prior to 1950.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Romantic Elements
Contains a strong romantic element, such that one or more romances contained in the story form an integral part of the story’s structure, but in which other themes or stories may also be significantly developed. Includes Chick Lit, Mainstream, and Women’s Fiction.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Romantic Suspense
Manuscripts in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Paranormal/Fantasy/Futuristic Romance
Manuscripts in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

Young Adult
Manuscripts in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD

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.
Agent: TBD
Editor: TBD



Category Length Series

2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   Steeped in Love by Julie Evelyn Joyce
2015   A Degree of Hope by Tanya Angler
2014    n/a (not enough entries)
2013   The Ren by Sarah Bailey
2012   Sex and Insensibility by Maggie Preston
2011    The Script, Cherie Marks
2010    n/a (not enough entries)
2009    The Charm Offensive, by Peter Andrews
2008    A Woman of Her Word, by Deborah Macias
2007    Desperate Favors, by Vonnie Kennedy
2006    Nemesis in the Night, by A. J. Stewart

Contemporary Romance (Single Title)

2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   Murphy’s Secret by Becke Turner
2015   Silver Platter by Babette de Jongh
2014   The Dream by Jennifer Doyle
2013   Why Can’t This Be Love? by Lee Kilraine
2012   Going All the Way by Heidi Ulrich w/a Megan Ryder
2011    Saving Captain Marsh, by Caro Carson
2010    Beauty and the Ballplayer, by Arlene Hittle
2009    How to Marry a Kajillionaire, by Jenny Bernard
2008    Extreme Love, Jennifer Mackin
2007    Public Relations, by Amy Attwell
2006    Tough Love, by Christie Craig

Erotic Romance

2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   Devi’s Bliss: Noelle by Mika Lane
2015   Fired Up by Anna Durand
2014   Getting Evan by Abigail Sharpe
2013   His Law To Obey by Reagan Phillips
2012   n/a (not enough entries)
2011    Legally Mastered, by Sarah Castille
2010    The Barn Dance, by Camryn Rhys
2009    Vampire Vacation, by C.J. Ellisson
2008    The Surrender of Lacy Morgan, by Suzanne Welsh
2007    The Love Genie, by Judi Phillips
2006    Love Heals All, by Carolyn Ellis

Historical / Regency

2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   Dangerous Moonlight by Genevieve LaViolette
2015   Love’s Triumph by Jeanine Englert
2014   Lessons in Scandal by Crystal Eliot
2013   Deal With The Devil by Cindy St. James
2012   Wicked Things by Leah Cavendish
2011   Sense and Seduction, by Thomasine Rappold
2010   Deception of a Highlander, by Madeline Martin
2009   Never Too Late, by Karen Dobbins
2008   A Knight in Her Arms, by Oberon Wonch
2007   The Devil’s Virtue, by Laura Williams
2006   Mesquite Tree, by Kathleen Warner


2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   To Kiss a Carpenter by Kathleen Casey
2015   n/a (not enough entries)
2014   n/a (not enough entries)
2013   n/a (not enough entries)
2012   In the Light of Day by Kristy Cambron
2011    Madeline’s Protector, by Gayle Vanessa Link
2010    Hotshots, by Rebecca Lynn
2009    Faith, Family and the Girl Next Door, by Susan Diane Johnson
2008    Love on Assignment, by Cara Slaughter
2007    n/a (not enough entries)
2006    To Win a Gladiator, by Carla Hughes

Paranormal Romance

2017  N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016  The Twenty-Eighth Kiss by Michelle Joyce Bond
2015  The Vampire Lust Club by Denny S. Bryce
2014   Stalking Horse by Alleyne Dickens
2013   A Rip In Time by Helen Pilz
2012    Howlin’ Hearts by Kristal Hollis
2011    Mated by Magick, by Kat Bastion
2010    Chosen, by Denise Swank
2009    Bad Girl, by Cathy Pegau
2008    A Sweet but Deadly Desire, by Laurie Thompson
2007    Shadow Horse, by Mary Rhyan
2006    Shrouded in Mystery, by Carol Webb

Romantic Suspense

2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   Covet by Holly Dodd
2015   Betrayed by Susan Dunn
2014   Sins of the Past by Babette de Jongh
2013   Worth Running For by Kairee Taylor
2012   Double Trick by Ava Milone*
2011    Small Town Storm, by Elise K. Ackers
2010    Bad Vibes, by June Faver
2009    Blowdown, by Jeanan Glazier Davis
2008    A Killer Match, by Linda Heller
2007    Jayhawk Down, by Sharon Calvin
2006    Secret Stranger, by Kathleen Mix

Romantic Elements

2017   N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016   The Map with No Names by Kristin Judy
2015   Lipstick on the Strawberry by Margaret Spence w/a Margaret Ann Spence
2014   The Phoenix Syndrome by Claire Gem
2013   One More Breath by Pamela Kopfler
2012   The Day The Merry-Go-Round Stopped by Orly Konig-Lopez
2011    Damn Enchanted Evening, by E.J. Russell
2010    Twenty-Eight and a half Wishes, by Denise Swank
2009    The Lake Effect, by Gabrielle Luthy
2008    All for One: When the Bough Breaks, by Chris Keniston
2007    Flaherty’s Crossing, by Kristina McMorris & Linda Yoshida
2006    Mermansk, by Alan Chaput

Young Adult Romance

2017  N/A – Contest Was on Hiatus
2016  A Whisper of Death by Yanicke Forfang
2015  Wrecked by Amy L. Gale
2014   Silver Sun Amber Moon by S.A. Tudhope
2013   Macha And The River Blue by Barbara Gerry
2012   Whose Truth by E. Lane
2011    Forget Tomorrow, by Pintip Dunn
2010    Running Lean, by Diana Sharples
2009    Venetian Blind, by Natalie Dias Lorenzi

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