2017 Stiletto Contest Winners & Finalists

Stiletto Contest 

The Contemporary Romance Writers are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2017 Stiletto Contest.
Winners were announced at the annual Stiletto Party, held at RWA17 on Friday, July 28th.

Published Division

New Adult Romance
Stiletto: S.R. Grey – Today’s Promises
Jessica Calla – She Laughs in Pink
Megan Westfield – Lessons in Gravity

Contemporary Romance – Short
Stiletto: Win Day – On A Whim
Peggy Jaeger – A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights
Jordyn Redwood – Fractured Memory

Contemporary Romance – Mid-Length
Stiletto: Gina Drayer – Modern Girls Guide to Kink
Tracy Ewens – Reserved (A Love Story)
Carrie Ann Ryan – Love Restored

Contemporary Romance – Long
Stiletto: Laura Trentham – Kiss Me That Way
Nicole Evelina – Been Searching For You
Rachel Lacey – Run to You

Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Stiletto: Janet Elizabeth Henderson – Reckless
Sarah Andre – Tall, Dark, & Damaged
Diane Benefiel – Solitary Man BPG

Women’s Fiction
Stiletto: Kat Drennan – Goddess of Undo
Jolene Cazzola – Love’s Journey
Amalie Coles – My Journey

Best First Book
Stiletto: Win Day – On a Whim

Overall Winner
Stiletto: Gina Drayer – Modern Girls Guide to Kink

Unpublished Division

Women’s Fiction
Stiletto: Rita Ciresi – The Doctor’s Wife*
Jennette Fox – Playing It Safe
Ruth Kvarnstrom-Jones – Halleholm*

Contemporary Sweet/Inspirational
Stiletto: Nicole Smith – The Greatest Gift*
Jane L Josephs – The Ruby Knot
Amanda Wen – Fresh Brewed Love*

Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Stiletto: Barbara Heintz – Treasures Lost
Ayesha Court – Blood Rights
Lisa Malice – Lost and Found

New Adult Romance
Stiletto: Leanne Farrell – More Than Chemical*
C.R. Grissom – Mouthful•
Meghan Steinbrenner – Nineteen•

Contemporary Romance – Mid-Length
Stiletto: Jamie Steinman – The Wrong Brother
Rayn Ellis – Soul Song
CJ McCay – The Sheriff of Cassidy County*

Contemporary Romance – Long
Stiletto: Brooke Salesky – Project Karma Sutra
Emily Mahon – Working the Polls
Christina Mitchell – How To Stay

*Requests for full or partial manuscripts
•Offer to submit


The Stiletto Contest returns and opens on Friday, March 3, 2017!

Submission ends on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 11:50pm EST. The Stiletto is low on entries in all categories. Get your entry in now!

Categories for published novels and unpublished manuscripts:

Contemporary Romance Short – Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are between 40,000 and 56,000 words in length.

Contemporary Romance Mid Length – Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are between 56,000 and 84,000 words in length.

Contemporary Romance Long – Novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and that are 84,000 or more words.

New Adult – Novels in which new adult life is an integral part of the plot.

Inspirational/Sweet – Novels in which the love story is central to the storyline, and the “heat level” between the main characters is low, with “closed door” intimacy. Novel with religious/spiritual beliefs may be an inherent part of the love story, character growth, and relationship development

Suspense/Mystery – Novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.

Women’s Fiction – Novels in which a fictional story cannot fit neatly into a specific category and also has strong romantic elements with an emotionally satisfactory ending, set in the contemporary genre. In women’s fiction, the driving force is the woman’s journey and doesn’t necessarily end in a happily ever after. It is character driven and tells distinctly women’s stories about self-discovery, self-preservation, self-acceptance or self-improvement.

*Other category to enter after your main category choice: Best First Book.

*An Overall Top Winner in the published category will be chosen of all the finalists.

*Each category will have 3 finalists determined from first round judging.

** All categories are based on RWA standards/descriptions.

**All categories are in the contemporary romance genre. All entries must be in the contemporary romance genre.

See contest rules: 2017 Stiletto Contest Rules. (When clicking on Stiletto Contest rules, in media page click on the rules one time to enlarge to standard PDF file.)

Unpublished Category Finalist Judges: 

  • Contemporary Romance – Short
    • Editor – Kerri Buckley, Carina Press
    • Agent – Lois Winston, Ashley Grayson Literary Agency
  • Contemporary Romance – Mid Length
    • Editor – Susan Grimshaw, Loveswept/Flirt (Penguin-Random House)
    • Agent – Tricia Skinner, The Fuse Agency
  • Contemporary Romance – Long
    • Editor – Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
    • Agent – Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
  • Contemporary Romantic Suspense
    • Editor – Marie Force, Jack’s House Publishing
    • Agent – Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management
  • New Adult
    • Editor – TBD, Inkspell Publishing
    • Agent – Sara Megibow, kt literary
  • Sweet/Inspirational
    • Editor – Dina Davis, Harlequin
    • Agent – Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency
  • Women’s Fiction
    • Editor – Rhonda Penders, Wild Rose Press
    • Agent – Kristy Hunter, The Knight Agency

Published Category Finalists are based on first round judging scores.

Judges score sheet unpublished category:  2017 Stiletto Contest Unpublished Category Score Sheet

Judges score sheet published category:  2017 Stiletto Contest Published Category Score Sheet

Cost: $15 Contemporary Romance Writers, $25 non-members

Payment must be received before entry form is filled out. Submissions are open from Friday, March 3, 2017 through Friday, April 4, 2017 at 11:59pm EST.

Entering more than 1 manuscript or novel? Join the Contemporary Romance Writers and save on your entry fees, as well as take advantage of discounts on workshops, free workshops for members, access to the CRW forums on MyRWA, the private Facebook group, and more!

Please read Stiletto Contest rules fully before making payment!


Thank you for entering the 2017 Stiletto Contest! Good Luck!


Please direct all questions to CRWStilettoContest@gmail.com.


Judge the Stiletto Contest and be entered to win a choice of one of three prizes! Sign up here to judge.

Winners of the 2017 Stiletto Contest will be announced at RWA17 at the Contemporary Romance Writers Stiletto Party, on Friday, July 28, 2017!

*Finalists will receive free entry into the Stiletto Party.