2020 Four Seasons Contest

The 2020 contest will open for entries August 1 – Sept. 7

New for 2020:

  • New category: Mainstream with a Central Love Story
  • Eligibility: any author unpublished or published can submit an unpublished, un-contracted manuscript in any category
  • Final judges: one agent or editor per category PLUS a librarian, romance book reviewer, or bookseller will judge the final round, listed as “industry judge.”

2020 Contest Categories

Single Title Contemporary

Agent or Editor Judge: Agent Eva Scalzo, Speilburg Literary

Industry Judge: Jennifer Prokop, Kirkus reviewer and co-host Fated Mates podcast


Agent or Editor Judge: Editor Debby Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing

Industry Judge: Amy Alessio, Booklist reviewer

Mainstream with a Central Romance

Agent or Editor Judge: Editor Mary Altman, Sourcebooks

Industry Judge: Danielle Dresser, Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager


Agent or Editor Judge: Agent Brittany Booker Carter, Booker Albert Agency

Industry Judge: Karen Toonen, Librarian and Windy City RWA Northern IL Librarian award recipient

Romantic suspense

Agent or Editor Judge: Editor Christa Desir, Sourcebooks

Industry Judge: Robin Bradford, Librarian and Romance Writers of America Cathie Linz Librarian Award recipient

Young Adult

Agent or Editor Judge: Agent Marlo Berliner, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Industry Judge: Roseann Backlin, Love’s Sweet Arrow bookstore co-owner

More details coming for our 2020 Four Seasons Contest!


Eligibility requirements:

The Four Seasons Contest is open to both unpublished and published authors.  Unpublished authors may enter any category. Published authors may enter any category in which they’ve not been contracted or published for three years in any novel-length work of fiction (40,000 + words) in any format (e-book, mass market) to include self-published works. The contest is open to RWA and non-RWA members. Windy City members are not eligible to enter.

Past Four Seasons Winners are eligible to enter a manuscript that has not previously won the Four Seasons Contest.

Submission Guidelines:

Entries must be the first 25 pages of your manuscript in RTF (rich text format). Electronic entries only. Standard industry formatting rules apply: one inch margins, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 or 14 or Courier 12. Author’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.Please do NOT include a synopsis. Entries in all categories must be Romantic Fiction. Short stories, nonfiction, and fiction in genres other than romance will not be accepted. Non-compliance with any of the above rules may result in disqualification. By submitting to Windy City’s Four Seasons Contest you are giving consent to Windy City to be able to use your name (or chosen pen name) on social media (Facebook, Twitter, website, etc). See below for submission link.


Editor: Angela Kim, Berkley Publishing
Agent: Terri Wolf, AKA Literary

Single Title Contemporary
Editor: Candace Havens, Entangled
Agent: Eva Scalzo, Speilburg Literary Agency

Editor:  Margaret Riley, Changeling Publishing
Agent: Brittany Booker Carter, Booker Albert Agency

Young Adult
Editor: Lydia Sharp, Entangled
Agent: Jacqui Lipton, Storm Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense
Editor: Connolly Bottum, Harlequin
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Agency

Erotic Romance* 
Editor:  Alethea Spiridon, Entangled
Editor: Angela Knight, Changeling Press

*Note: Erotic Romance final rounds is judged by two acquiring editors


$25.00 (U.S. funds) per RWA member entry, $35 per non-RWA member entry. Payment will be accepted via PayPal or check payable to Windy City RWA. Send payments to: Windy City RWA, PO Box 3523, Lisle IL 60532. Fees are non-refundable.

Contest Deadline:

Entries will be accepted starting August 1, 2019 through midnight September 6, 2019.


First Round ~ Each entry will be assigned three judges with a minimum of one being a published author from Windy City. Entries may receive a total of 100 points possible per judge and lowest score will be dropped. Judges are encouraged to make comments directly on the manuscript and scoresheets. The entrant will receive their scoresheet from each judge, as well as, their judged submission. The extent of the critique provided is at the discretion of the individual judge (note: some judges elect not to write on the actual manuscript at all).

The selected finalists are the top 4 highest scoring entries. A separate tie-breaker score is assigned by each judge. In the event of a tie, the assigned score shall be tallied and the entry with the highest number of tie-breaker points will place. Non-finalist scores are not ranked and will not be given to participants.

Final Round ~ The top four finalists in each category will be assigned one editor and one agent. The final round judge scores the entries in their respective categories. The entry with the highest combined score is the chosen category winner. ***Final Round Judges subject to change***