Contest Overview – Finalists


NOLA STARs Is Proud To Announce

the 2018 Suzannah Winner & Finalists

Finalists, Listed Alphabetically by author: 

Kaylie Newell’s   DROPPING DEADLY
Carrie Pulkinen’s   FOR THE LOVE OF GHOSTS
Sarah Storin’s   LOVING TROUBLE



Sarah Storin’s   LOVING TROUBLE


Congratulations to our finalists and a special thanks to all the many generous individuals who gave of their time and talents to serve as our first round judges.


Please check back soon for details on the 2019 Suzannah Contest.

Star Divider

The Suzannah Contest is named in honor of romance author and founding member Suzannah Nelson Davis.  We continue to celebrate her love of the romance genre and spirit of support and encouragement to struggling writers through the sponsorship of this contest

The Suzannah is different from most other writers’ contests in that  published authors and unpublished writers all compete against one another in a single pool of entries without categories. Yep, you read that right. Published and unpublished writers all hashing it out together for a spot as one of the six finalists. The only criteria we require is that the manuscript fit within the romance genre and that it be unpublished and uncontracted.

Why would we do such a thing? Because this format allows published authors to anonymously test the waters in a new genre. It also gives unpublished writers the experience and prestige of having their writing judged as in the ‘real world’ against already established authors—just the way it is on an editor’s desk!

And the best part is, if you final, your work will go before a panel of at least six (YES SIX!!) agents and editors who will pick the best of the lot.




  • August 15–The Suzannah is open for entries. Entries received and paid for by August 31st are given a $5.00 early bird discount on the entry fee.
  • October 1st–The Suzannah is closed for entries. Entries must be received by midnight CST.
  • December 1st–finalists are expected to be announced. (NOLA STARs shall not be held responsible for late announcements due to receiving entries late from judges or for any other reason.)

The Grand Prize winner will be announced at the Written In The Stars Event in March.



Round One

First round judges are published authors, RWA PRO members, industry professionals (i.e. librarians and booksellers) and others who love, respect, and understand all that is good about the romance genre. Judges are STRONGLY encouraged to add comments on the entries and on the scoresheets.

Each entry will be judged by three judges.   However, only the two highest scores will be used to determine contest standing.  The lowest score will be used only if a tie-breaker is needed for the sixth position.  No more than six entries will be sent to the final round judges.(see FAQs for examples.)

Final Round

All six finalists will have their entries evaluated by the full panel of agents and editors. Our 2017 panel of final round judges includes:

  • Nalini Akolekar, Literary Agent, Spencerhill Associates
  • JoAnna MacKenzie, Literary Agent, Nelson Agency
  • Jessica Alvarez, Literary Agent, Bookends Literary Agency
  • Lexi Smail, Assistant Editor, Grand Central Publishing
  • Susan Grimshaw, Editor, Random House
  • Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Kensington Books


Note: We reserve the right to add to the list of final agents and editors should outstanding invitations be accepted

The final round judges will rank each of the six finalists from 1st place to 6th place. The total of all the rankings will be added and the lowest ranking entry will win the grand prize. No other rankings will be given. The respective rankings of the 5 other finalists will not be publicized and all 5 will be listed (and celebrated) on all publicity as finalists, without regard to final round ranking. (see FAQs for examples.) The entrants will receive their final score, but information regarding which judges gave which score will not be given.

Grand Prize Winner Will Receive
Three hundred dollars in cash, donated by the Nelson Family in memory of romance author Suzannah Nelson Davis, and a trophy.


To Enter:

For questions, please contact our Contest Coordinator