Weta Nichols 2016 Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 2016 Weta Nichols Competition have been announced. Winners will be revealed on Saturday, September 17 at the final ORACON event. Be sure to be there! Register now and avoid paying more at the door!

Congratulations to the finalists of our 2016 Weta Nichols competition! And to everyone who submitted -- thank you so much for participating. Your stories were a joy to read.

These are your finalists (listed in no particular order)

Contemporary Finalists

Kristin Helling for The Idea Man

Brooke McBride for Edge of Us

Jessie Gussman for Turbocharged


Historical Finalists

Tim Blane for Love Bird

Olive Swan for Deadly Sins

Bonnie Olsen for Lily's Story: The Sanitarium Years


Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy Finalists

Athena Prescott for The Earth We Walk - The Pentacle Series

Toni J Strawn for Dream State

Katie Bennett for Delirium


Young Adult/Middle Grade Finalists

Kayla Griffith for The Color of the Mist

Kayla Griffith for The Necromancer of Possum Bluff

Cathy Morrison for Say Something

Congratulations to the 2015 Weta Nichols Writing Contest WINNERS!

Congratulations to the 2015 Weta Nichols Writing Contest WINNERS!

Historical Category

  • 1st Place: Pam Bazemore, "A Choice Between"

Pam BazemorePam Bazemore. (Birchwood, 20 minutes NE of Chattanooga, TN) She’s attempted a number of things to find her primary role in life: secretary, cashier, piece worker, fork-lift driver and even tank driver in the TN Army Nat’l Guard. Writing short fiction and personal journals is something she’s done off and on since high school. ‘A Choice Between’ is her first novel. She has a completed second, a raw third, and eight chapters (so far) of a fourth. When not writing, she makes the claim of ‘glorified gopher’ for her husband’s business, devoted mom to their brilliant 23 year old son, and chief feeder and caretaker to six dogs she didn’t really intend to have but couldn’t give them up even if she wanted to.

  • 2nd Place: Veda Boyd Jones, "Will Jolie's Excellent Vietnam Adventure"

Veda Boyd JonesVeda Boyd Jones (Joplin, MO) has written romance novels and children’s fiction and nonfiction books and is trying her hand at a mainstream historical novel. She reread letters she received from her husband during his army years (previous to their marriage), and using them as a catalyst, she decided to fictionalize the turmoil and angst of the Vietnam era on a young man and the young woman he loved. New ebooks: The Governor’s Daughter, That Sunday Afternoon

  • 3rd Place: Lindsey Edwards, "Awaiting the Viscount's Kiss

Contemporary Category

  • 1st Place: Jessie Gussman, "When Silence Speaks"
  • 2nd Place: Lindy Dierks, "Who Says You Can't Go Home"

Lindy Dierks

Lindy Dierks, an avid reader her entire life, began writing a few years ago. She squeezes in writing contemporary romances in the early morning hours, between a full time job, three kids, and the mountains of laundry.



  • 3rd Place: Lori Younker, "Without Borders"

Lori Younker

Lori Younker has enjoyed the world of words with her international friends for over 30 years. Whether she is learning a new language or teaching English, she appreciates the power of words to capture issues that inspire others. She has had several short stories published in anthologies some of which placed first and second in contests. Lori and her husband raised three kids in warm and woodsy Missouri. Currently, she is president of the COMO Writers’ Guild and donates her energies to recent immigrants and to her writing.


  • 1st Place: Rosalie Stanton, "Hellion"

Rosalie Stanton 2

Rosalie Stanton is a multi-published erotic romance author, with emphasis in paranormal and contemporary. A lifelong enthusiast of larger than life characters, Rosalie enjoys building worlds filled with strong heroes and heroines of all backgrounds.




  • 2nd Place: Allison Merritt, "Lawless"

Allison Merritt 2015A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal, contemporary, and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. It's not unusual to find her lurking in graveyards, wandering historical sites, or listening to ghost stories.


  • 3rd Place: Anne Belen, "Past Mistakes"

Young Adult/Middle Grade

  • 1st Place: Mary Holm, "The Fatal Crown"

Mary HolmMary Holm started writing her first novel after her twins were born as a way to stay sane between feedings and diaper changes.  Since then, she’s written two novels and is working on a third.  After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a BA in Television, she worked in production, did documentary research, and currently works as a script researcher for TV programs and movies.

 She lives in Burbank, CA with her wonderful husband of 32 years.  Her boy and girl twins are now grown and have recently made her a grandmother to two beautiful grandsons, three months apart.  On the rare occasions when she has spare time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, watching TV and tweeting.

  • 2nd Place: Charles Robertson, "Ghost Tree"
  • 3rd Place: S.D. Keeling, "Songs Never Sung, Words Never Spoken"

sharon davis keelingS. D. Keeling is the pen name of Sharon Keeling Davis, an award-winning photographer, aspiring author and mother of two rambunctious little boys. She is often drawn to historical and time travel fiction--not surprising since she spent five years as a grad student in ancient and medieval history.


TODAY is the LAST DAY to enter the 2015 Weta Nichols Writing Contest!

The countdown has begun. Don't miss out! Submit your entry to the 2015 Weta Nichols Writing Contest TODAY!

Submit the first chapter (up to 2,500 words) of your unpublished novel to win prizes and a chance to be read by the agent or editor serving as our final judges. Louise Fury, an agent with The Bent Agency, will judge Historical and Young Adult/Middle Grade. Candace HavensEditorial Director with Entangled Publishing, will judge Contemporary and Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

Contest is open to both published and unpublished authors, but the piece submitted must be unpublished (traditional, self-pub, or e-pub) and not under contract to be published. Entries are open genre and not required to contain romantic tones. Categories in which entries may be judged are:

  • Historical
  • Contemporary
  • Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Young Adult/Middle Grade.

Membership in Ozarks Romance Authors is not required in order to enter. There will be three prizes awarded in each category:

  • 1st place – $75 and a 1-Year ORA Membership (a $25 value)
  • 2nd place – $50
  • 3rd place – $25.

Please read all guidelines carefully. If you have questions about the rules, please email us at with WETA QUESTION in the subject line.

Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions About Our 2011 Annual Fiction Writers' Contest

Each year, Ozarks Romance Authors is asked a lot of the same questions about our annual fiction writers' contest, which is named in honor of one of our founders, the late novelist Weta Nichols. As we receive more questions via our Facebook and Twitter pages, we will post the answers here for reference.

Details about the 2011 contest, including guidelines for submission, are available by clicking HERE.

Q: When is the deadline? A: Midnight USA Central Time on May 23, 2011.

Q: I don't write romance. Can I still enter? A: Yes! Contest is open to all fiction genres.

Q: I'm not a member of your writers' group. Can I still enter the #writing #contest? A: Absolutely!

Q: Must I live in the USA to enter? A: No! We've had entries from all over the world. They just need to be in English.

Q: Is it true that published authors can't enter the #writing #contest? A: No. Pub authors are welcome to enter.

Q: I placed in another #writing #contest. Can I still enter? A: Yes, as long as the piece you submit is unpublished.

Q: Who are the judges? A: Final round judges are lit agent Louise Fury and Avalon editor Lia Brown.

Q: Do I send my entire manuscript to enter the #writing #contest? A: No, just the first 10 pages. Details here:

Q: Can I enter your #writing #contest online? A: Yes! All of the details are here:

Q: I've never heard of your #writers #group. Are you new? A: No. We're a nonprofit in Missouri USA, founded in 1987.

Q: Isn't the deadline for your #writing #contest May 16? A: No, we extended it to May 23, 2011, due to a PayPal glitch.

Q: Is your #writing #contest open to writers outside of the USA? A: Yes! As long as the manuscript is in English.

Q: I can't come to your #annual #conference in July. Will I be disqualified? A: No! Winners need not be present to win.

Q: Are there prizes available for your #writing #contest? A: Yes! $100 1st, $50 2nd, $25 3rd. Info here:

Q: Does the cover page count as 1 of my 10 pages? A: No. The 10 pages should begin with page 1 of your manuscript.

Q: Should I include my dedication page? It's very special to me. A: No. Your 10-page limit is prime real estate. Drop us into the story.

Q: Should I use my favorite font on my submission? A: No. Instructions are available here:

Q: I didn't see details on single space vs. double space. A: This is addressed here:

Q: Is there a theme my novel must follow to be included? A: No. Any genre is welcome. No non-fiction or poetry.

Q: Can I enter via US mail? A: Yes, but we prefer emailed submissions, as do most editors.

Q: I'm not good at proofing or editing. Can I still enter? A: Yes, but proofing and editing are part of the writing process. Judges won't polish manuscript for you.

Q: I need to include a few paragraphs to set up the story and let the judge know what's going on. Should I count this page as 1 of the 10 pages? A: Your 10 pages should be the first 10 pages of the manuscript. There shouldn't be a need to share info with the judge to set up the story. The story should be strong enough to stand on its own, without explanation.

Q: I entered your contest and I'm thinking about coming to the conference. Can I register online? A: Yes! Details about the speakers, their topics, and a link to register online are HERE.

Q: I have a really great non-fiction book. I think your judges will really like it. Can I enter? A: We are only accepting fiction for this contest. If you are interested in submitting non-fiction, Ozarks Romance Authors publishes its own magazine, and accepts non-fiction, fiction, essays, articles, recipes, artwork, and photography by members. If you're interested in becoming a member in order to particpate in this publication, you are welcome to visit one of our monthly meetings or email us for more information. Click HERE for information about our magazine. Click HERE for information about our monthly meetings, and/or email us at

Q: How will winners be notified? A: Winners will be announced at our 2011 Annual Conference scheduled for Saturday, July 23, 2011, at The Clarion Hotel Conference Center in Springfield, Missouri. If you are not able to attend, you will be notified via email. We will ask winners for their mailing addresses so that we can send their certificates and prizes.

Q: I'm interested in entering next year. Will you notify me when submissions are accepted?A: The easiest way for you to find out about our 2012 contest and conference would be to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Click HERE to follow us on Facebook. Click HERE to follow us on Twitter.

Q: I have a question that is not addressed here. How can I get in touch with someone? A: Email us at, or call and leave a message at (417) 597-4716 and we will return your call.

2010 Weta Nichols Contest Winners

The 2010 winners are: First Place: Crista McHugh "Lessons From a Scoundrel" (regency romance)

Second Place: Cecily Cornelius-White "Half Past Heavenly" (young adult paranormal romance)

Third Place: Meg Mims "Double Crossing" (young adult) Honorable Mentions:

A. R. Cummings "The Convict and the Cattleman" (historical romance)

Jennifer Tanner "Heart on a String" (contemporary romance)