About the TARA Contest


The 2017 TARA Contest is closed. Start preparing your 2018 entry now!

2017 Contest Rules and Regulations

Submit the first 4500 words of your polished manuscript for an opportunity to get your entry in front of our awesome lineup of final round editor judges.


Contest Opens:

The 26th TARA Contest opens for entries at 12:01 am EDT, April 1, 2017.


Entries, signed entry forms, and payments must be received by 11:59 pm EDT, May 13, 2017.


$25.00 (U.S. funds) per entry for non-TARA members, or $20.00 for TARA members. Fees are non-refundable.


Make payment via PayPal from your PayPal account or debit or credit card, or mail a check made payable to Tampa Area Romance Authors to the address below. Note: mailed checks must be received – not postmarked – by May 10, 2017.

TARA Contest

c/o Karen Fleming
P.O. Box 443
Plant City, FL 33564


The TARA Contest is accepting the first 4500 words of a qualifying manuscript. The maximum word count will be verified.

Entries in all categories must be novel length romantic fiction, with the exception of the women’s fiction category. Women’s fiction stories should center on the female protagonist. Short stories, nonfiction, and fiction in genres other than romance or women’s fiction will not be accepted. The TARA Contest reserves the right to reject any entry that does not meet the acceptable industry standards for romantic fiction.

An author may enter multiple manuscripts, but each manuscript can only be entered once and only in a single category. All fees and rules apply to each entry.

Eligibility requirements:

The TARA Contest is open to unpublished and published writers of romance fiction. The author does not have to be a member of Romance Writers of America® (RWA) to enter the TARA Contest; however, the entry must be the author’s original novel-length, unpublished work. Entries which have been contracted, previously published, printed, or either partially or fully posted in any format visible to the public such as on a website, in a blog, as an eBook, mass-market copy, self-published, or made available with the intention of distribution during the duration of the contest, will not be accepted.

Ineligible entries will be disqualified, and the entry fee forfeited.

Manuscripts that have previously won the TARA contest award may not be re-entered.

Manuscripts that are not past TARA Winners are eligible for re-entry.


must include the following:

  1. ENTRY – uploaded to the TARA website, www.www.tararwa.com. (maximum 4500 word count will be verified)
  2. ENTRY FORM – completed and signed contest entry form uploaded to the TARA website, www.tararwa.com.
  3. FEE – $25.00 per entry for non-TARA members (U.S. funds) or $20.00 for TARA members. Payment may be made via PayPal or by check. Check must arrive to the TARA mailing address on or before May 10, 2017.


If the TARA Contest does not receive any one of these items by the deadline, the entry may be disqualified.

Submission format:

  • At least 1″ margins on top, bottom, and both sides.
  • Minimum 12 point font. Times New Roman preferred.
  • Manuscript title in upper left-hand corner of header.
  • Page number in upper right-hand corner of header.
  • First page of each chapter must start approximately three (3) inches from top of page.
  • Text must be double-spaced, aligned left, and unjustified right.
  • Author’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Manuscript(s) must be saved as a doc or docx file / format.
  • Deductions in score will be made for manuscripts not in the standard format as defined above.

All entries must be uploaded electronically via the TARA website, www.tararwa.com. The entrant agrees to hold TARA harmless in the event of the transmission of any unwanted files, viruses, trojans, worms or any other destructive entities currently in existence or not yet discovered.


In the first round, judging is based on the Diederich scale for a possible maximum score of 50 points. Individual judges are encouraged to make written comments directly on the manuscript and in the score sheets. Judging by its very nature is subjective. The degree and depth of the critique provided is at the discretion of the individual judge. A minimum of two (2) judges read and score each entry. Judges are published authors, RWA PRO, or TARA-trained and certified judges. All judging is confidential. The TARA Contest will not reveal the names of the judges. While TARA requires judges to agree to NOT re-distribute or share contest entries, TARA has no way to enforce this policy. The author accepts that story ideas and titles cannot be copyrighted.


The top three (3) finalists in each category are determined by averaging each entrants’ scores and will be notified by phone. To be considered a finalist, an entry must have a minimum average score of at least 40 points. If there are no average scores of 40 or above in a particular category, the TARA Contest reserves the right to not select any finalists in that category. All finalists will have an allotted amount of time (approximately 1 week) to review judges’ critiques and make changes to her/his manuscript before it goes to a final-round editor judge.


Per the request of our editor judges listed below, all finalists must submit a synopsis with their entry. The synopsis cannot exceed five (5) pages. Any finalist who does not submit a synopsis in the final round will be disqualified. The finalists may submit a revised version of their contest entry. The final manuscript and synopsis must be sent in ONE (1) Word doc or docx file to taracontest@gmail.com.

Romance Category Editor’s Name Publishing House
Category (also known as Series Contemporary)

Brenda Chin

Entangled Brazen / Scorched

Contemporary Single Title

Lexi Smail

Grand Central Publishing / Forever

Paranormal (Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel) Tera Cuskaden

Entangled Otherworld


Gabrielle Keck

Avon/Harper Collins


Giselle Regus

Harlequin Love Inspired

Romantic Suspense

Alison Dasho


Women’s Fiction Jennie Conway

St. Martin’s Press

Click here for the TARA Contest Romance Category Descriptions.

TARA reserves the right to eliminate a category if there are not sufficient entries in the category.


Editor judges rank the top three (3) entries in their respective categories. First place winners in each category receive a sterling silver TARA flamingo pendant and a contest winner graphic for websites and/or blogs. All other finalists receive commemorative certificates highlighting their achievement in the prestigious TARA Contest. Winners are announced in the Romance Writers Report.

Agreement and Waiver:

Entry in the TARA Contest constitutes an agreement by the author to conform to all contest rules and abide by the decision of the judges and/or contest officials. The entrant agrees to hold harmless the Tampa Area Romance Authors, Inc., its Board of Directors, officers, members, the TARA Contest, all contest judges, personnel and volunteers, heirs and assigns, et al., in any and all disputes arising from her/his entry(s) in the TARA Contest.

Please email any questions and/or concerns to: taracontest@gmail.com.

Thank you for entering the 2017 TARA Contest. Good luck!