About the TARA Contest

The 2018 TARA Contest is closed.

Start preparing for the 2019 TARA Contest now!

2018 Contest Rules and Regulations

In memory of Anne-Marie Carroll

November 26, 1958 – April 14, 2018

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 27th TARA Contest opens for entries at 12:01 am EDT, April 1, 2018.


TARA must receive the entry document, signed entry form, and payment by 11:59 pm EDT, May 13, 2018.


$30.00 (U.S. funds) per entry for non-TARA members, or $25.00 for TARA members. Fees are non-refundable.


Make payment with a credit or debit card via PayPal, your PayPal account, 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 13, 2018. Please include the title of your entry on the check’s memo line.

TARA Contest
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. An separate entry form must be completed for each title. 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The TARA Contest is open to unpublished and published writers of romance fiction.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(RWA) or the TARA chapter to enter the TARA Contest; however, the entry must be the author’s original novel-length, unpublished work.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 which culminates at the announcement of the contest winners, 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 previous finalists, but not past TARA Contest winners, are eligible for re-entry.


  1. ENTRY DOCUMENT FILE – uploaded to the TARA website 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 – $30.00 per entry for non-TARA members (U.S. funds) or $25.00 for TARA members. Payment selection is available on the entry form and may be made via PayPal or by check. Check must arrive to the TARA mailing address on or before May 13, 2018.


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.
  • Paragraphs should be inset one-half inch (.5)
  • Author’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Manuscript(s) must be saved as a doc or docx file.
  • 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. TARA judges are encouraged to make written comments directly in the manuscript and on 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, but guided by the TARA Contest Committee. 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 to the entrants, nor entrants’ names to the judges. While judges 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.

Click here to view a sample of the contest score sheet.


The top three (3) finalists in each category are determined by averaging each entrants’ scores. 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 be notified by email and will have an allotted amount of time (approximately 1 week) to review the judges’ critiques and make changes to their manuscript before it’s sent 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)

Glenda Howard


Contemporary Single Title

Gabrielle Kelly

Grand Central

Paranormal (Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel)

Tera Cuskaden

Entangled Publishing


Lucia Macro

Harper Collins


 Dina Davis


Romantic Suspense

Alison Dasho

Amazon Publishing

Women’s Fiction

Jennie Conway

St. Martins 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 website / blog graphic for their achievement in the prestigious TARA Contest. Winners are announced in the Romance Writers Report. Finalists receive a contest finalist graphic for their websites and/or blogs.

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 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 2018 TARA Contest. Good luck!