The Stiletto Contest is coming! Want to be a judge?

Liza Keogh~ By Liza Keogh

The Contemporary Romance Writers chapter’s annual contest, The Stiletto, opens for entries on March 9 and this year, we’ve expanded the ‘unpublished’ category! Authors may now submit unpublished works under the following guidelines: the work is a standalone or, if the work is part of a series, it must be the first book in the series; the work must not be available on sites such as Wattpad; the work must not be under contract.

Re-issued work is ineligible. Any work available for purchase online or in print at any time is considered published and is ineligible, even if revised in whole or in part, renamed, and even if removed from POD or online purchase prior to the last five years. For more information, go to the main page of our website, click on ‘2018 Stiletto Contest’, and download the contest rules document.

two pink daisies While you’re there, take a look at our Judging score sheets and sign up to be a Judge. We’re going to need over two hundred of you—yes, TWO HUNDRED—to continue to make this contest a success, one that writers and authors get excited about. Each category’s set of finalists will be read by one agent and one editor from established literary agencies and publishing houses. We’ll post their names soon.

Which lead to the question, how does one ‘judge’ for a contest like the Stiletto? A recent thread on the RWA’s PRO Forum got us thinking about general guidelines. Here are some to start:

  • Read through the scoresheet before you begin. Think about what you would want from someone reading your work for a contest like the Stiletto. Understand the inherently subjective nature of judging, and take a vow of ‘objective subjectivity’.
  • Be kind. Find the positive. Give constructive feedback. Cruelty is completely unnecessary. Use your good words to express your judging opinion. And leave out the “I” and “me” comments. Focus on the writer and their entry and remember, your comments have the power to inspire and instruct.
  • Be sure to read the entire entry. Reading the entry from beginning to end allows for more accurate and proper judging. If you’re wearing your Cranky Pants or your Snarky Scarf, take it off and come back to the scoresheet later.
  • Judge each entry on its own merit. Do not compare entries.

We’ll have more advice and ideas in the weeks to come. If you’ve judged for us in the past, we would love to have you back. Sign up here.

And if you’ve never judged for one of the RWA’s contests, or a chapter contest, now’s a great time to start!

I’m delighted to be a co-chair (along with Mary E. Thompson) of the 2018 Stiletto Contest and I look forward to seeing as many CRW members as we can wrangle on board as judges. Contest opens on March 9th. Polish those entries and see you in Denver!

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