Past Contest Winners

Southwest Florida Romance Writers

The High Five Contest

Many thanks to all who have made our contest a success over the years.
Our members, final judges, and most of all our entrants – we could not do it without you!

* The final agent/editor judge requested a partial or full manuscript
+ The final agent/editor judge requested other manuscripts from this author


Announced soon!

Joyce Henderson SWFL Romance Writers Contest

The Joyce Henderson Contest (2013-2018)

JOYCE HENDERSON was one of SWFRW’s founding members and a true testament to perseverance… writing, rewriting, and submitting for years before making the first of many sales in her 60s. As a girl, she and her mother fled Texas for California to escape an abusive relationship. Joyce married young, raised three children, pursued a successful modeling career, owned and operated an avocado farm, and followed her dream to publication, embodying all the best characteristics of our heroines. Never too busy for a fellow writer, her candor and professionalism balanced her warmth and willingness to help others. As she inspired our chapter members in life, we honor her in hopes of showing every hard-working writer that they too can make their dreams come true!


Editor: Sue Grimshaw, Penguin Random House Publishing
Agent: Scott Eagan, Greyhaus Literary Agency

1st: The One That I Want by Keely Thrall
2nd: Crocodile Tears by Kilby Blades (Full Request, Scott Eagan)
3rd: On the Brink by Lynn Harris
4th: Mirror Image by Betty Unkel

Final Judges:
Editor: Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
Agent: Nicole Resciniti, The Seymour Agency

Three-Way Tie for 1st place:
The Heiress Affair by Catherine Chase (Full Request, Robin Haseltine & Nicole Resciniti)
The Paper Doll Princess by Bethany Truex (Full Request, Robin Haseltine & Nicole Resciniti)
Better Wed than Dead by Lesli Lent (Full Request, Robin Haseltine; Partial request, Nicole Resciniti)

Young Adult
Final Judges:
Editor: Jennie Conway, St. Martin’s Press
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

1st: Before and After August by Jennifer Hawkins
2nd: When I Found Her by Allison Hay
3rd: Whisper by Tracy Bilen

Romantic Suspense
Final Judges:
Editor: Georgia Woods, Hartwood Publishing
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency

1st: High Heels and Handguns by Lisa Heartman (Full Request, Georgia Woods & Dawn Dowdle)
2nd: Midnight Intervention Gone Wrong by Kathryn Carr (Full Request, Georgia Woods)
3rd: Ashes to Dust by Kathryn Carr (Full Request, Georgia Woods)

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy
Final Judges:
Editor: Nancy Schumacher, Melange Books
Agent: Kat Enright, The Seymour Agency

1st: Forever Linked by Farrah Blake (Full Request, Kat Enright)
Alien Son by Ginger Kenney
 Stealing Time by William Haggart


Contemporary (including Women’s Fiction)
Final Judges:
Editor: Lexi Smail, Grand Central Publishing
Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

1st: Fighter by Sarah Morgenthaler
2nd: Hills Are Alive by Kate Mackenzie
3rd: Pictures of You by M.C. Vaughn

Final Judges:
Editor: Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
Agent: Julie Gwinn, The Seymour Agency

1st: Chasing Scandal by Leslie Knowles*
2nd: Merely Players by Meg McNulty
3rd: Secrets and Smoke by Esme Rose Cooper*

Young Adult
Final Judges:
Editor: Jennie Conway, St. Martin’s Press
Agent: Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

1st: Mouthful by Christine Grissom*
2nd: Don’t Say a Word by Tracy Bilen
3rd: Me, Too by Courtney Berman

Romantic Suspense
Final Judges:
Editor: Georgia Woods, Hartwood Publishing
Agent: Erin Niumata, Folio Literary Management

1st: Beyond Paradise by Barbara Forlenza*
2nd: Stay Hidden by Leigh Fleming*
2nd: Written in the Scroll by Caroline Rhame

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy
Final Judges:
Editor: Nancy Schumacher, Melange Books
Agent: Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency

Mystic Rapture by Penelope Jiuditta
Survival by Laurie Ryan
 Three Days to Love by Celeste Deveney*


Final Judges:
Editor- Sue Grimshaw, Random House/Loveswept
Agent- Nalini Akolekar, Spenser Hill Agency

1st: Running From A Rock Star ~ Jami Albright*
2nd (tie): EX, EX, OH ~ Kelli Newby
Homecoming ~ Jo Anne Banker

Final Judges:
Editor- Lee Lawless, Tor/Forge Publishing
Agent- Dawn Dowdle, BlueRidge Literary Agency

1st: Scandalous ~ Sha Laviolette*
2nd: The Red Parrot ~ Lisa Marie Wilkinson*
3rd: Dangerous Moonlight ~ Sha Laviolette

Young Adult
Final Judges:
Editor- Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Agent- Sara Megibow, KT Literary

1st: The Girl with the Sun on Her Heart ~ Denise Trowbridge*
2nd: Covenant Park ~ Christine Gunderson
3rd: An Exchange Student’s Guide to Love & Legends ~ JoAnn Sky

Romantic Suspense
Final Judges:
Editor- Junessa Viloria, Random House Publishing
Agent- Jessica Waterson, Dijkstra Agency

1st: Blood Like Mercury ~ Jacqueline Jayne
2nd: The Bone House ~ Liah Penn
3rd: Steele Justice ~ Michele Dunaway
Hon Men: Voice for the Dead ~ Stacy Woodson

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy
Final Judges:
Editor- Georgia Woods, Hartwood Publishing
Agent- Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

1st: Rule Breakers Soul Takers ~ Jacqueline Jayne*
2nd: The Story-Teller ~ Diana Admire
3rd: The Twenty-Eighth Kiss ~ Michelle Joyce Bond

Final Judges:
Editor- Susan Brower, Gilead Publishing
Agent- Julie Gwinn, Seymour Agency

1st: Fair Haven ~ Laura Kestner*
2nd: Judgment Between the Rivers ~ Marie Coutu*
3rd: 15 Days ~ Rebekah Millet*


Contemporary – Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency
1st: The Portrait by Diana Welker*
2nd: Between Nowhere and Lost by Alexandra Christle
3rd: A Work In Progress by Jennifer Barlament

Historical – Isabel Farhi, Editor at Penguin-Random House
1st: My Lord Mercenary by Tracey Amey
2nd: The Apothecary’s Niece by Linda Saether
2nd: A Wild Colonial Girl by Jean Harrington

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy – Susan Brower, Agent for Natasha Kern Literary Agency
1st: Legend: Brotherhood of Shadows by Teresa Ramin
2nd: Work Log by Jennifer Collins
3rd: The Mercy Killers by Jessica Kelly

Romantic Suspense – Junessa Viloria, Editor for Random House Publishing
1st: Semper Fi by Meta Carroll
2nd: Lucky Beach by JoAnn Haberer
3rd: Sconnie by Michelle Caffrey

Young Adult – Lee Lawless, Editor for Tor/Forge Publishing
1st: Soren’s Resistance by Christine Gunderson*
2nd: Conflicted by Lori Freeland
3rd: The Snake and the Darkness by Mari Clark


Contemporary – Sue Grimshaw, Penguin-Random House
1st: Left of the Left Bank, Victoria DeGette
2nd: Belong to Me, Alison Pion
3rd: Branded, Robin Delany

Historical – Laura Fazio, Penguin-Random House
1st: Lessons in Scandal, Crystal Elliot
2nd: How to Train Your Knight, Susan Hammond
3rd: A Duchess Is Always Right, Bess Gilmartin

Paranormal – Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
1st: The Nascent Bloom, Janet Halpin
2nd: Wicked Thorn, Kristina Wright
3rd: Watcher Untethered, Jennifer Madore


Contemporary – Sue Grimshaw, Random House
1) Unforgettable, Carrie Christie+
2) Roping the Cowboy, Bree Roberts
3) Rules for Burning, Chloe Carson

Historical – Alicia Condon, Kensington
1)Beauford’s Run, Pat Eckoff
2) To Feel Special, Sandra Cutting
3) The Saffron Crocus, Alison McMahan

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy – Leslie Wainger, Harlequin
1) Blood, Pain and Pleasure, Nadine Mutas*
2) The Hidden One, Adrienne Trent*
3) Queen of Hearts, Harris Fischer

Young Adult – Annette Pollert, Simon & Schuster
1) The Harbinger, Meg Kassel*
2) Coming Alive, Jennifer Norwood
3)SlipSync, Eileen Shick

2012 Hold Me, Thrill Me Contest
(Contest name changed in 2013)

Contemporary – Jhanteigh Kupihea, New American Library
1) Return to Love, Kerri Carpenter*
2) Synchrony’s Call, Susan J. Bickford*
3) Short Fortune, Annie Rains

Historical – Leah Hultenschmidt, Sourcebooks
1) The Promise of Dawn, Lisa Baker
2) Love and Madness, Margaret A. Swan
3) Sea Charm, Laura Connors

Paranormal – Whitney Ross, Tor
1) Empress Game, Rhonda Mason*
2) Probie, Regan Loyd
3) Divide and Conquer, Carmen Fox

Romantic Suspense – Leslie Wainger, Harlequin
1) The Duel, Catherine Lawrence
2) Chemical Attraction, Mary Oldham
3) Once in a Lifetime, Karen E. Papandrew

Young Adult – Leis Pederson, Berkley
1) Nightmare of Truth, Tracy Sprayberry
2) Forces of Nature, Denise R. Cychosz
3) Adventures in English Quantum, Charlotte E. Hunter