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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘writing contests’

Readers Favorite Awards Ceremony

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 21, 2017

This was my first time attending the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Ceremony. I won a gold medal in the Southern category for Facials Can Be Fatal. I’d submitted this title in their contest a while ago and forgotten about it until I received an email one day telling me I had won. This was indeed a pleasant surprise! Most writing contests let you know when you’re a finalist, but the winners aren’t announced until the actual event takes place. This usually happens at a conference away from home. I really liked that I knew I’d won ahead of time.

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Because the Readers’ Favorite Awards Ceremony was being held nearby, I signed up to attend along with my husband. We checked into the Regency Hotel Miami on Friday afternoon. The hotel is conveniently located near the airport for winners flying in for the ceremony. People came from all over the country, plus Canada and Australia. Since the event didn’t include a full meal, we ordered a snack in the lobby bar/restaurant.

Dress for the event was billed as formal or semi-formal. Ladies wore cocktail dresses or gowns and men for the most part wore jackets and ties. The doors at the hotel’s nightclub opened at 6:00 pm. The evening before on Friday, there had been a Meet and Greet in the lobby, but we hadn’t attended. So I picked up my name badge Saturday night along with a pin and a complimentary pen. Then we took our seats. A cash bar was available in the rear.


I was impressed by the production that made this event special for the award winners. Chairs were draped in white like at a wedding and arranged auditorium style. The stage was flanked by two huge floral bouquets and a back screen projection of the award logo. We could take photos before and after on the stage or over by the official photography station.

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The event was filmed, while the photographer took pictures of each candidate standing beside the host. The awards were not called by category, like at other ceremonies. Instead, beginning at 7pm, people sitting in a certain section of the room were directed to line up. One-by-one, we climbed the steps to the dais and handed the emcee a card from our name badge. He read from this card, which included our name, book title, award level and category. Then we proceeded to the center stage to receive our medallion, shake the host’s hand, and pose for the photographer. When one group finished, the emcee called another section to come forward.

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This method proved to be efficient as we were done in an hour. A buffet of finger foods followed while contestants mingled. We ate triangles of grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, turkey slices, chicken empanadas, cookies, or pastry. Free soda and coffee were available.


I truly did feel special. My book had been picked by anonymous judges for this honor. There might have been hundreds of submissions. I liked that my story had been evaluated for its merits and wasn’t a popularity contest with votes like some other writing awards. This made it more meaningful, and so did the sponsors for giving winners an evening to showcase their talents.

Find the list of winners here:

Visit the Facebook page:

Enter the 2018 contest at


Posted in Appearances, Book Reviews, Conferences, Contest, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Contests for Published Authors

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 18, 2012

Is it worthwhile for published authors to enter writing contests? Yes, it is. Here are the pros and cons for you to consider before entering your book in a contest.

Gain exposure for your work to new readers
Have a chance at calling yourself an Award-Winning Author
Adds prestige to your credentials if you win
Ego boost and sense of validation if you at least final in a contest

It’s expensive when you add up the contest fees, cost of books, and postage
Entering contests can be time-consuming
Winning awards won’t help you sell books to either fans or your publisher
Low scores can be demoralizing

Why would you want to enter a contest at all? In the mystery/thriller field, we have MWA’s Edgars® and the International Thriller Writers contest, the Thriller Awards Competition. These you can enter yourself. Mystery conferences like Left Coast Crime and Malice Domestic have contests, but your book has to be nominated and voted on by attendees. Those don’t count in our discussion since you can’t enter them yourself and the books are not evaluated by objective judges.

States have writing awards you can enter, and so do smaller regional or chapter conferences. For example, I entered Shear Murder, my tenth Bad Hair Day mystery, in the Florida Book Awards competition. This applies to all fiction genres, as does the Florida Publishers Association contest. Why didn’t I enter that one? The cost was too high. Both require four print books, but the Florida Book Awards costs $50 to enter and the latter one costs $60. That’s too expensive, in my opinion, despite the exposure my book would get.

And this brings up another matter. How do you decide which contests to enter? Consider these factors:


Sponsoring Organization: Will anyone besides other genre authors recognize this award?
Judges: Are they readers, booksellers, librarians, or other authors?
Prize: Is it worth the entry fee and effort merely to get a certificate if you win? What types of publicity come along with the award? Will you get a plaque, medallion, lapel pin, website logo, or trophy?
Cost in Entry Fee and Number of Books

If you write in the romance genre, you have a much broader range of contests to enter. True, most readers have probably never heard of them. But winning may gain you publicity, new fans, and the chance to call yourself an award-winning author. Use the criteria above to determine if the contest is worthwhile for you to enter. RWA’s Romance Writers Report lists contests, plus you’ll find mention of them on many chapter listserves.

Keep track of which contests you enter, because the costs will add up. I entered a lot with Warrior Prince because this is the first book in my Drift Lords series, and I’m aiming to gain exposure. Judges are readers, too, even if they’re booksellers and librarians. But I’ve spent close to $164 on entry fees and nearly $200 in the cost of books alone. I can’t afford to do this for the second book in my series.

Following is a listing of writing contests for published authors that I have gathered. These are specifically ones you can enter yourself, minus the contests particular to Florida. If you spot one that needs correction, please let me know. Also share with us contests in the SciFi/Fantasy or YA genres as those are not included here. And good luck! Even if it’s an obscure contest, being a finalist or winning still means the judges liked your work, and that alone brings a warm glow of satisfaction. It’s hard to win, so consider it a well-earned reward if you do place in the top tier.


ASPEN GOLD (Heart of Denver Romance Writers)
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE (Colorado Romance Writers)
BEACON (First Coast Romance Writers)–Discontinued; see comment below.
DAPHNE DU MAURIER (Kiss of Death chapter RWA—Romantic Mysteries, Romantic Suspense)
EDGAR® AWARDS (Mystery Writers of America—Mysteries)
EPIC (Ebooks)
HOLT Medallion (Virginia Romance Writers)
IDA (Ebooks only, All genres; Oklahoma Romance Writers)
LAUREL WREATH (Volusia County Romance Writers)
MAGGIE AWARDS (Georgia Romance Writers
NATIONAL READERS CHOICE (Oklahoma Romance Writers)
PRISM (FF&P chapter of RWA—Fantasy/ Futuristic/Paranormal Romance)
RITA® (Romance Writers of America®)

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Hold Me! Thrill Me! Writing Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 15, 2011

“HOLD ME! THRILL ME!” Writing Contest 
Sponsored by Southwest Florida Romance Writers

DEADLINE: Entries must be submitted and payment received by midnight September 1st, 2011

ELIGIBILITY: Open to all unpublished authors: Romance Writers of America members and non-members. International entries are welcome in English.

ENTRIES: The first 20 pages of an unpublished manuscript featuring romantic elements. Contestants can enter an MS in each category, but no more than one MS per category.

FORMAT: Only files in Rich Text Format (*.rtf) will be accepted. RTF is an industry accepted format supported by all major word-processing software. Check
the Help Menu of your word processing software for how to use ‘Save As’ to create an RTF document. Manuscripts must be double spaced, have one inch
margins, and use Times New Roman or Courier. Entries that do not meet these formating requirements will be returned.

FEE: $25

Contemporary: Amanda Bergeron, Avon
Historical: Elizabeth Bistrow, New American Library
Paranormal: Meredith Giordan, Berkley
Romantic Suspense: Alex Logan, Grand Central
Young Adult: Kristin Rens, Balzer & Bray

AWARDS: (in addition to getting your MS in front of a top industry editor)
1st Place $50 and a Certificate of Achievement
2nd Place $20 and a Certificate of Achievement
3rd Place a Certificate of Achievement

Enter Now!

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Golden Palm Writing Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 13, 2011

***Permission to forward granted & encouraged***

Golden Palm Writing Contest

We’re low on entries!

There are only a few days left until the August 15th Deadline to enter the Golden Palm. We have a fabulous lineup of final judges so don’t miss out!

Categories and Final Round Judges:

Short/Long Contemporary: Megan Long, Harlequin Superromance
Single Title: Whitney Ross, TOR Books
Mainstream with Romantic Elements: Elaine Spencer, The Knight Agency
Historical: Elizabeth Bistrow, New American Library
Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Time Travel: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Erotica (*new this year*): Kelli Collins, Ellora’s Cave

Fee: $20 for FRW Members, $25 for all others
Entry: Maximum first 25 pages. ALL ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS
Sponsor: Florida Romance Writers

Eligibility: The Golden Palm Contest is open to any writer who has never been contracted in book-length fiction (40,000 words or more) with any publisher.

For more information, go to

Posted in Business of Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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