writing contest

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Submit the first chapter (up to 2,500 words) of your unpublished novel to win prizes and a chance to be read by the agent or editor serving as our final judges.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Contest is open to both published and unpublished authors, but the piece submitted must be unpublished (traditional, self-pub, or e-pub) and not under contract to be published.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 OzarksRomanceAuthors@gmail.com with WETA QUESTION in the subject line.

Good luck!

ORACON 2013 - Save The Date

Save The Date

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ozarks Romance Authors Annual Conference

Springfield, MO

Workshops - Pitch Sessions - Speakers - Headshots - Networking - Fun

We're putting together a fantastic lineup of speakers. Stay tuned for more details!

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. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: I don't write romance. Can I still enter? A: Yes! Contest is open to all fiction genres. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: I'm not a member of your writers' group. Can I still enter the #writing #contest? A: Absolutely! http://ow.ly/4lYIt

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. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: Is it true that published authors can't enter the #writing #contest? A: No. Pub authors are welcome to enter. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: I placed in another #writing #contest. Can I still enter? A: Yes, as long as the piece you submit is unpublished. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: Who are the judges? A: Final round judges are lit agent Louise Fury and Avalon editor Lia Brown. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: Do I send my entire manuscript to enter the #writing #contest? A: No, just the first 10 pages. Details here: http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: Can I enter your #writing #contest online? A: Yes! All of the details are here: http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: I've never heard of your #writers #group. Are you new? A: No. We're a nonprofit in Missouri USA, founded in 1987. http://ow.ly/4mWt9

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. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: Is your #writing #contest open to writers outside of the USA? A: Yes! As long as the manuscript is in English. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: I can't come to your #annual #conference in July. Will I be disqualified? A: No! Winners need not be present to win. http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: Are there prizes available for your #writing #contest? A: Yes! $100 1st, $50 2nd, $25 3rd. Info here: http://ow.ly/4lYIt

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: http://ow.ly/4lYIt

Q: I didn't see details on single space vs. double space. A: This is addressed here: http://ow.ly/4lYIt

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 OzarksRomanceAuthors@gmail.com.

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 OzarksRomanceAuthors@gmail.com, or call and leave a message at (417) 597-4716 and we will return your call.

2011 Annual Conference

Make plans to attend the Ozarks Romance Authors Annual Conference Saturday, July 23, 2011 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. The Clarion Hotel Conference Center, 3333 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, Missouri

*** Conference site is just a few minutes' drive from the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store and Grizzly Tools, so make it a family weekend trip. Your hubby and kids will have plenty to do while you are at the conference. ***


Pre-registration through July 1, 2011 = $60.00 Pre-registration after July 1, 2011 (or at the door) = $65.00

Members of Ozarks Romance Authors (ORA) receive discounted tickets: ORA member pre-registration through July 1, 2011 = $50.00 ORA member registration after July 1, 2011 (or at the door) = $55.00

Once again, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Ozarks Literacy Council to help their mission of promoting literacy in our region.


Attendees who would like to schedule a 10-minute pitch session with either Literary Agent Louise Fury or Avalon Editor Lia Brown must register for the conference (below) and then contact the conference chairwoman, Cecily Cornelius-White, in advance via email to schedule your pitch session. professorcecily@yahoo.com


-- Registration and Breakfast

-- Opening remarks and intros

-- Shannon Vannatter - Cut the Fluff: The Art of Revision and Self-editing

-- Shannon Butcher and Eliza Lloyd - Suspense Plotting and Making it Hot

-- Leigh Michaels - Things that Stump the Best of Us (Pacing, Backstory, and Transitions)

-– Lunch (catered lunch provided on-site)

-- Discussion with Publishing Panel - Making a Good First Impression.

-- Break for small group discussions

– Break-out Session #1

- Shannon Vannatter - Crafting Effective (and Gender Appropriate) Dialogue - Publishing Panel - Future Directions in Publishing - Small Group Discussion with Agent and Editor Panel

– Break-out Session #2

- Shannon Butcher & Eliza Lloyd - Crafting Heroes to Die For - Leigh Michaels - Playing Fair: When Characters Keep Secrets

– Break

-- Full Panel Q &A

Awards -- Presented for Weta Nichols Writing Contest

Closing remarks and Adjourn


Shannon Vannatter Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/writer. She recently signed a three-book contract for her contemporary inspirational romance series set in Romance and Rose Bud, Arkansas.

Heartsong titles ship to a 10,000 member book club before releasing in stores. Vannatter*s titles: White Roses, White Doves, and White Pearls will be available through the book club and preorder in May 2010, October 2010, and January 2011 respectively and in stores six months later for each title.

It took Vannatter nine years to get published in the traditional market. Like Janette Oke, she views her work as a ministry and her books as paper missionaries. Vannatter hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all, Jesus does.

Her short stories appeared in Mature Living and The Writers’ Journal, in 2009. Her first novel was Print On Demand published in 2001. She’s received several awards including 2nd place in RWA’s 2007 Touched By Love and 2008 Where the Magic Begins Contests, and a Honorable Mention in The 2007 Writer’s Journal Romance Contest. Her works have been displayed at Springfest’s Annual Artist & Author Exhibit.

Vannatter has taught fiction workshops for several writers’ groups including: Arkansas Inspirational Writers, Cleburne County Writers’ Guild, Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas, and White County Creative Writers. She’s contracted to teach workshops in 2010 at the Life Press Christian Writers’ Conference in Memphis, TN and the Ozark Creative Writers’ Conference in Eureka Springs, AR.

Vannatter is available for writers’ groups, workshops, conferences, schools, colleges, churches, book clubs, media appearances, print interviews, speaking engagements, and book signings.

Shannon Butcher

Since launching her career in 2007, award-winning author Shannon K. Butcher has penned more than eighteen titles, including the paranormal romance series, the Sentinel Wars; the action-romance series, the Edge; and a handful of romantic suspense novels and works of short fiction. Being a former engineer and current nerd, she frequently uses charts, graphs and tables to aid her in the mechanics of story design and to keep track of all those pesky characters and magical powers. An avid beader and glass artist, she spends her free time playing with colored glass and beads. You can find her online at http://shannonkbutcher.com/.

Leigh Michaels Leigh Michaels is the author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels, three historical romance novels, and more than a dozen non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published. Six of her books have been finalists for Best Traditional Romance novel in the RITA contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America. She has received two Reviewer's Choice awards from Romantic Times.

Her work has been translated and published in 120 countries in more than 25 languages, including Japanese, Korean, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Czech, Bulgarian, Russian, Turkish, Hebrew, Greek, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Africaans, Arabic, Indonesian, and Chinese.

She is the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award presented by the Iowa Library Association to an Iowa author for outstanding contributions to literature.

She is the author of On Writing Romance, published by Writers Digest Books.

She is the author of non-fiction books such as WRITING THE ROMANCE NOVEL, a step-by-step workbook, and CREATING ROMANTIC CHARACTERS. She is also the author of DEAR LEIGH MICHAELS: A Novelist Answers the Most-Asked Questions about Getting Published, and a cookbook, A TASTE OF LOVE. She has produced audio programs and written magazine articles on subjects of interest to writers in general.

She teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers' Workshop. Men and women from around the world have participated in her workshops, and a number of them have gone on to publish their own romance novels with commercial publishers. She is currently an adjunct professor in the School of Communications at the University of Iowa.

She wrote her first romance novel when she was a teenager and burned it, then wrote and burned five more complete manuscripts before submitting to a publisher. Her first submission was accepted and published by Harlequin Books, the first publisher to look at it.

Eliza Lloyd Eliza Lloyd currently has three novels published with Ellora’s Cave in their 19th Century/Legend line of historicals. Eliza thinks romance writing is nearly as good as the real thing. Given her choice of professions, she would have preferred to be a 19th century archeologist, but she is perfectly happy living in the 21st century and comfortably writing about such romantic but inconceivably inconvenient times instead. She also writes contemporaries, romantic suspense and the occasional sci-fi when plotting and characterization don’t matter and invisibility does.

Eliza wrote her first romance novel after years of yearning. She finally woke up one day and asked, “Why the heck am I not writing?”

She enjoys traveling, movies, everyone else’s novels and a good meal out with friends on Saturday night. Her greatest flaw is that she believes there is such a thing as true love. Don’t tell her otherwise, please.

Louise Fury I am a Literary Agent, Marketing advocate and general lover of books. I work at the L. Perkins Agency and always on the lookout for fun pop culture books. I organize massive book groups for MG and YA Readers where kids can Meet, Greet and Eat with talented authors. I am also passionate about connecting with South African Authors. The rest of the time I network while navigating the slush pile.



Lia Brown

editor at Avalon Books, started her career in publishing at Starlog magazine as a high school intern, fell in love with editing and the creative process, and hasn’t wanted to do anything else since. During the last twenty years she has worked on a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction topics and genres at several publishing houses including, Marvel Comics, HarperCollins, St. Martin’s Press, Oxford University Press, and Random House Children’s Books.

At Avalon she acquires family-friendly contemporary and historical romances.

ORA Conference 2011

Pre Registration or Late Registration Member or Non-Member


Video highlights from our 2010 conference!

This 30-second video features highlights from Ozarks Romance Authors' 2010 conference, "Romancing The Ozarks: Dancing With Words."

The conference was held July 10, 2010, at The Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell Ave., in Springfield, Missouri.

Conference speakers were:

Kensington author Kimberly Killion (www.kimberlykillion.com) and Harlequin author Megan Kelly (www.megankellybooks.com) presented "The Road so Far: The First Year After the Call."

Ginger Kolbaba, editor of Marriage Partnership magazine (www.christianitytoday.com/mp), a publication of Christianity Today International, presented "Writing for the 21st Century Woman."

Mary-Lane Kamberg (http://kansascitywriters.com) presented "What's So Funny?" She has more than twenty years of writing experience and is the author of seven books. Her articles have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Marriage and Family Living, Christian Science Monitor, Healthy Kids and many others.

“Each year, our conferences are so inspiring for new and seasoned writers alike, but this year’s lineup of speakers will bring some really talented authors to town,” said Kathy Mullens, 2009-2010 president of Ozarks Romance Authors, said in the press release that was issued prior to the conference. “We look forward to sharing their expertise with the local writing community, and we’re excited to present this scholarship to Ozarks Literacy Council.”

A portion of the proceeds from the writers' conference was donated to Ozarks Literacy Council, based in Springfield, Missouri.

Ozarks Literacy Council conducts programs including one-on-one tutoring, and outreach events and partnerships with other nonprofits, such as sending free books home with children who are part of Ozarks Food Harvest's backpack programs. According to Nicole Thom-Arens, Ozarks Literacy Council's program director, Ozarks Literacy Council served 97 adults and 8,600 children in 2009. For more information, visit www.OzarksLiteracy.org.

The afternoon of July 9, 2010, a booksigning event was held for the conference speakers at Border Books & Music, 3300 S. Glenstone Ave., in Springfield's Primrose Marketplace shopping center.

Borders also provided staff members and a mini-bookstore during the conference to allow attendees to purchase books written by the authors who spoke.

Published members of Ozarks Romance Authors also sold and signed books throughout the day, including Jennifer Jakes, Beth Carter, Cindy Sigler Dagnan, Lisa Wells, Brenda Brinkley, and Shirley McCann.

ORA's 2009-2010 President Kathy Mullens was interviewed by the local CBS affiliate, KOLR-10, and appeared on the news that evening. That news story (including the video) is available online here: http://ozarksfirst.com/search-fulltext?nxd_id=293565

Ozarks Romance Authors is a non-profit organization for writers of all genres in the southwest Missouri region. Monthly speakers help writers of all genres hone their skills and explore writing opportunities.

Meetings are held the first Saturday of each month at The Library Station, 2535 N. Kansas Expressway, in Springfield (Greene County), Missouri. Visitors are welcome! The first three visits are free. More information is available by calling (417) 597-4716 or by visiting www.Ozarks-Romance-Authors.com.

Become a fan on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/OzarksRomanceAuthors or follow the group on Twitter @OzarksRomance.

Novelist Weta Nichols, founder of Ozarks Romance Authors

Weta Nichols, novelist and founder of Ozarks Romance Authors in Springfield, Missouri.Weta Nichols launched Ozarks Romance Authors in 1987 in Springfield, Missouri, with the goal of encouraging writers in southwest Missouri who were interested in the art of writing for the romance fiction industry.

As the popularity of the industry grew, the membership and its outreach grew. Members achieved various levels of success in the publishing industry, and the organization gave back to the community by donating to scholarship funds with the Writers Hall of Fame, with its headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.

Weta (pronounced "WEE-ta") was devoted to the group and its members until her death in the spring of 2008 at age 84.

Weta was a Texan by birth, but lived in many different places. Her husband's work took them to many states, plus Peru, South America. She soon felt that writing letters and journaling wasn't enough. She wanted to include the many places she had been in stories, and she began learning the basics of writing. She attended a Romance Writers of America conference in Dallas, Texas, and was then inspired to form Ozarks Romance Authors.

She called the Missouri Ozarks her home for the last 18 years of her life. Her family included 1 son, 2 grandsons, and 1 great-granddaughter at the time of her passing. According to one of her publishers, Whiskey Creek Press, Weta was "described as a person with determination, grit and perseverance."

She published many articles for both magazines and newsletters. Her repetoire included short stories and novellas, and several novels, including the Whiskey Creek Press Number One Bestseller, "Cutter's Woman."

Her books are still available in many places, including Whiskey Creek Press and Amazon.com. Several of her books are also available in print and Nook editions at Barnes & Noble.

Members of Ozarks Romance Authors continue the tradition of holding an annual fiction writing contest, which was renamed The Weta Nichols Writing Contest in her honor, as a way to acknowledge talented authors and the industry that meant so much to her. Winners are announced each summer at the writers' group's annual conference in Springfield, Missouri.

What did reviewers say about Weta's work?

Review For BELINDA'S LOVE by Weta Nichols

“Lawlessness, prejudice, and love permeate the pages of BELINDA’S LOVE. This novel takes the reader to Pioche, Nevada in 1875 where “bad guys” abound as the lure of the Nevada silver mines brings in a motley assortment of people. Both the newcomers and the old-timers are less than admirable in their dealings with their fellowman. Belinda’s low self-esteem, due to the way people treat her because of her ethnicity, is a strong thread in the makeup of the story. At times, I read with a sense of urgency as I looked for her to become aware of her own self-worth. Prejudice, as it was at that time, comes through loud and clear.

Both men and women are culpable and inflect much underserved cruelty on Belinda and her family.

The parade of adversaries that both Belinda and Rich have to deal with kept me turning pages. If you enjoy a story of the early days of settling the West and of how love blooms among a multiplicity of thorny problems, BELINDA’S LOVE is it.”

– Camellia, The Long And Short Of It Reviews

Reviews For CUTTER'S WOMAN by Weta Nichols

"Cutter's Woman is a romantic story that carries the reader into the lives of two lonely characters who have lost so much in their years. They’re just trying to find happiness with each other. The setting and landscape are so brilliantly detailed, as are all the secondary characters, that the reader can’t help but feel a part of this rare read. The ending almost makes you swoon; such a perfectly packaged romance that feels good all over. I loved that Maggie never regretted going to Wyoming and marrying a man like Cutter. Weta Nichols composes a delightful story that reaches out and pulls at the heart. She weaves in characters that jump right from the pages. It was so in-depth, the way Cutter claimed her for his woman. This book is a rare find and a keeper." Reviewed by: Linda L 5 Angels Fallen Angel Reviews

"This is an excellent historical romance. Ms. Nichols described the country and the era vividly. The characters are exceptionally written with plenty of history and emotions. Secondary characters pull up from the back to enhance this tale with plenty of excitement of a ranch life of this time of history. Sensual romance scenes ties all of this up, making is a wonderful read."

Wateena 4 cups Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

Review For HONEY'S LOVE by Weta Nichols

Ms. Nichols’ story is one of hardship, love and acceptance, The author’s attention to detail lets the reader picture the scene so well that they can almost smell the flowers, feel the rain falling and sweat from the heat of the hot sun. Ms. Nichols gives the readers some historical events along with the story that only make it more believable and help it to flow smoothly from one scene into the next without a hitch.

Reviewed by: Donna - 5 Angels