RWA sponsors the RITA® contest to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding published romance novels and novellas. The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA’s first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for excellence in published romance fiction.

Jo Beverley

1992, Regency winner: “Emily and the Dark Angel”
1993, Regency winner: “An Unwilling Bride”
1994, Historical Series winner: “My Lady Notorious”
2001, Long Historical winner: “Devilish”
2006, Long Historical finalist: “A Most Unsuitable Man”

 Nonnie St. George

2004, Regency finalist: “The Ideal Bride”
2004, Best First Book finalist: “The Ideal Bride”

RWA Golden Heart Award

Sponsored by the Romance Writers of America, the purpose of the Golden Heart contest is to promote excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding romance manuscripts. Each year 1,200 romance manuscripts are entered in the Golden Heart by writers who have not accepted a publishing offer for a work of original fictional narrative prose of 20,000 words or more from any non-Subsidy, non-Vanity Publisher (by the contest entry deadline).

ORWA is fortunate to have some very talented writers within our midst. Some of them include our Golden Heart finalists and winners.

Jen Gilroy

2015, Contemporary Romance Finalist

Ashlyn Macnamara

2011, Regency Historical Finalist

Annette McCleave

2005, Long Historical Finalist
2008, Paranormal Winner

Claire Fried Huffaker

2003, Paranormal Finalist

Anne Papadacos

2001, Single Title Finalist

ORWA First Impressions

The goal of the ORWA First Impressions contest is to bring the entrants closer to publication by being mentored on how to improve their work. In addition to the crystal heart, the winning manuscript will be sent for critique by a published romance writer or for critique and consideration to an appropriate editor or agent. The contest uses electronic submissions; the cost to enter is $20.

Contest rules


Past Winners

Historical note: from 1987 through 2008 the award was known as the First Meet Award.

2010: Coreene Smith
2009: n/a
2008: Lucy Farago
2007: Tammy Plunkett
2006: Kris Wong
2005: Teresa Wilde
2004: Margaret Attiwell David
2003: Sandra Hickey
2002: Nonnie Saad
2001: Nina Davis
2000: Anne Papadacos

1999: Kathryn Young-Davis
1998: Linda Poitevin
1998: Heather Postill
1997: Mary Munk
1996: Mandy Steinberg
1995: Kathy Childerhose
1994: Marianne Avon
1993: Liz Palmer
1992: Helene Spreng
1991: Mandy Steinberg
1990: Mandy Steinberg

1989: Linda Wiken
1988: Carmen Kingsley
1987: Audrey Jessup

Other Award Winners

We honour our authors with the First Impression Award, the Jo Beverly First Book award, and the Indie First Book Award.

Our authors also enter in other contests. Congratulations to all of them who have won awards for their writing!


Julie Evelyn Joyce, winner of Kobo’s Emerging Writer Prize for Romance

2015 to 2017

Opal Carew (Mastered by the CEO)
2017 National Readers’ Choice Awards winner, Novella category

Christine Gallimore (The Devil You Know)
2017 Washington Romance Writers Marlene Contest finalist, Series contemporary

Opal Carew (Hard Ride)
2016 Golden Quill Winner, Erotic/Hot/Sexy Category

Opal Carew (Hard Ride)
2016 NJRW Golden Leaf Winner, Erotic Romance Category

Julie Evelyn Joyce
2016 First Coast Romance Writers Beacon Contest for category-length romance

Anne Lange
2016 Winner of the Carolyn Readers’ Choice Award, Erotic Romance Category

Anne Lange
2015 Winner of the Book Buyers Best Contest, Erotic Romance Category

Anne Lange
2015 Winner of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction (NERFA), Erotic Romance Category

2012 to 2014

Opal Carew (His to Command)
2014 Golden Quill Winner, Erotic/Hot/Sexy Category

Lucy Farago (Sin on the Strip)
2013 Maggie Award in Romantic Suspense

Sharon Page (Blood Curse)
2013 A Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Paranormal Erotic Romance

Opal Carew (Insatiable)
2012 National Reader’s Choice Award Winner, Erotic Category

Sharon Page (Engaged in Sin)
2012 Daphne Finalist, Historical Romance Mystery/Suspense

2010 to 2011

Opal Carew (Bliss)
2011 Golden Quill Winner, Erotic Category

Sharon Page: (Blood Wicked)
2011 RT BOOKreviews Finalist for Best Paranormal Erotic Romance

Sharon Page: (Engaged in Sin)
2011 Finalist for the Daphne Du Marier award for Mystery/Suspense in the Historical Category

Sharon Page: (Engaged in Sin)
2011 RT BOOKreviews Finalist for Best Sensual Historical Romance

Sharon Page: (Engaged in Sin)
2011 Devon, the Duke of March, received an RT KISS Hero Award

Opal Carew (Forbidden Heat)
2010 Golden Leaf Winner

2007 to 2009

Opal Carew (Blush)
2008 Judge A Book By Its Cover Contest Winner

Sharon Page (Blood Rose)
2007 National Readers’ Choice Award Winner for Romantica/Erotic Romance

Sharon Page (Blood Rose)
2007 2nd place More than Magic Contest (Erotic Romance), by Romance Writers Ink of Oklahoma

Sharon Page (Blood Rose)
2007 2nd Place Write Touch Contest (Erotic Romance) by Wisconsin Romance Writers of America

Sharon Page (Blood Rose)
2007 National Readers’ Choice Finalist for Erotic Romance

Sharon Page (Blood Rose)
2007 2nd place in Passionate Ink’s Passionate Plume Contest for