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**The 2024 Heart Awards

Opens to Entries

on January 1st, 2024!**



The Heart Awards is a contest sponsored by the Oklahoma Romance Writers Guild and is open to all romantic works of fiction in digital form.

Who Can Enter

Any author with a published novel or novella available in digital format that was originally  published in 2023, is eligible to enter.

AND NEW FOR 2024, any unpublished novel, short story, or poetry that fits the criteria for that category.

Open to Authors Worldwide, HOWEVER, winners unable to attend the Heart Awards Gala in person will receive a digital certificate in place of the trophy UNLESS they choose to pay the shipping to have the glass heart trophy shipped to their location.

Note: All published category entries must be publish ready, contain an original copyright date of 2023, and contain a cover.


Absolutely NO AI-written books are eligible for entry in this contest.

  • Contest Open to Submissions: January 1st

  • Contest Deadline: February 1st

  • Entries go to Judges: February 5

  • Scores Back from Judges: May 15

  • Finalists Notified: June 1

  • Award Ceremony: 2024 Heart Awards winners will be announced during the OKRWG 2024 Writing Retreat and will be broadcast virtually via Facebook Live.​​

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Important Dates

Image by Pawel Czerwinski

12 Categories will each have 3 Finalists and 1 Winner

Published Category Winners will receive the *Red Blown Glass Heart Award above. Unpublished Category winners will receive the crystal heart award above. All Finalists will each receive a certificate. All Finalists and Winners will be promoted across OKRWG social media.

Entry Fee: (OKRWG Membership is FREE! Join HERE.)

  • Member: $25 for first category entered(except Poetry category)

    • $5 for each additional category entered

    • Poetry category only: $25 entry fee for 2 poems

    • $5 for each additional poem.

  • Non-Member: $30 for first category entered (except Poetry category)

    • $5 for each additional category entered

    • Poetry category only: $30 entry fee for 2 poems

    • $5 for each additional poem.

PayPal payments to:


Questions? Contact the Heart Awards Contest VP HERE

*Winners who do not attend Heart Awards in person will receive a digital certificate via email UNLESS they send payment for shipping of the trophy.


Category Descriptions

Published Categories

All Published Romantic Fiction in Novel or Novella length(no less than 15,000 words), meet category guidelines, and have a copyright date of 2023 are qualified to enter this contest.

Category 1: Erotic Romance Novel

Heat Level: 5 Flames

Novel Length: Novels & Novellas of any length

As opposed to straight erotica, which focuses primarily on the sex rather than on the plot or characterization, erotic romance is about the emotional journey lived through sexual experience. This sub-genre pushes boundaries, uses graphic language(including F-bomb), contains multiple sex scenes explicitly described…and because it’s romance, it has a happily ever after. Erotic romance can bring in BDSM, sex toys, anal sex, menages, and multiple partners. These are stories that cannot be told if you take sex out of the equation. UNLIMITED SEX SCENES.

Examples: EL James or Sylvia Day Novels

Category 2: Scorcher Romance Novel

Heat Level: 4 Flames

Novel Length: 50K words or more

The equivalent of NC-17 in the movie world. Sometimes described as one level shy of erotic romance. At this heat level, there’s explicit sex, indelicate language(including F-bomb), and graphic depictions of a sexual nature used to further the story. Scorcher might also include sex toys, mild BDSM, and other light forms of kink. UNLIMITED SEX SCENES.

Example: Nalini Singh or JR Ward novels

Category 3: Steamy Romance Novel

Heat Level: 3 Flames

Novel Length: 50K words or more

The equivalent of an R-rated movie. The majority of romance novels fall into this heat category. With steamy romance, you can expect action-packed love scenes where the reader goes along for the ride. There is graphic sex on the page, and what is happening between the couple is described with specific language, but emphasis is more on the emotional than physical. Swearing, but no F-bomb. Steamy romance doesn’t fade to black. Instead, it follows the participants right through the door and climbs into the bed along with them. NO MORE THAN 3 or 4 SEX SCENES

Example: Linda Howard or Linda Lael Miller novels

Category 4: Sensual Romance Novel

Heat Level: 2 Flames

Novel Length: 50K words or more

The equivalent of a PG13-rated movie. Kissing, touching, and intimate scenes are shared usually with focus on feelings and emotions rather than body parts. Sexual tension and love scenes might be included in the story, but most descriptions of physical intimacy still happen “behind closed doors.” NO EXPLICIT SEX SCENES

Ex. Nora Roberts novels

Category 5: Sweet Romance Novel

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Novel Length: 50K words or more

The equivalent of a PG-rated movie. There might be no contact at all except for some hand-holding or a chaste kiss at the end when the couple gets together. Mild sensuality might contain intimate scenes and sexual situations, but they’re not described in the book. You know it happens, but you don’t read about it because it happens off the page or fades to black. NO SEX SCENES.

Example: Hallmark Movies


Category 6: Non-Romance w/Strong Romantic Subplot Novel

Heat Level: Any

Novel Length: 50K words or more

This category is for any genre that contains a significant romantic subplot. The romantic subplot can contain any heat level, but it must be appropriate to the age level to which the books were written. I.E. No erotic scenes in a YA book, etc.

Examples: Brandon Sanderson and Sarah J. Maas

Category 7: Sweet/Sensual Romance Novella

Heat Level: 1-2 Flames

Novella Length: Under 50K words

Sexual content same as Sweet Novel or Sensual Novels


Category 8: Steamy/Scorcher Romance Novella

Heat Level: 3-4 Flames

Novella Length: Under 50K words

Sexual content same as Steamy or Scorcher Novels

Unpublished Categories

All unpublished entries must be no more than 25 pages and include a 1 page synopsis. (except Cat. 11 which should be no more than 5000 words and does not need a synopsis since it is a complete story.)

Formatting: First page of entry(except category 11) should be a complete 1-page synopsis that is single line spaced, 1in(3cm) margins, and 12pt Times Roman or Courier font. Other 24 submitted pages after synopsis should be the first 24 pages of your story and have 1in(3cm) margins, be double spaced, and use 12pt Times New Roman font or Courier font. Include a heading in the top right corner of the first page of your entry that includes: 1st line: Category Number & Category Name, 2nd line: # of pages if novel OR # of lines for poetry, 3rd line: Title of entry. Starting with page 2 of your entry, all other pages should have only the title and page number. (Category 11 should have # of words on 2nd line.)


Accepted submission files are .doc or .docx (Word). They should be saved WITHOUT AUTHOR NAME in this format: Category number entering + title of entry (example: cat6twilight.doc)

NOTE: Your entry will be AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFIED if you submit it with your name in the file name OR in the header of the entry. Your name should only be on the registration form you fill out, not anywhere on your actual entry pages.

Category 9: Unpublished Spicy

Heat Level: 3-5 Flames

This category is for unpublished romance with sexual content and/or graphic language(including F-bomb) on the first 25 pages. 

Category 10: Unpublished Clean

Heat Level: 1-2 Flames

This category is for unpublished romance, YA, or Non-Romance that does NOT include sexual content in the first 25 pages.

Category 11: Unpublished Poetry with Romantic Theme

Heat Level: Any

Any Length or Style.

Any single unpublished poem in any style focused on any romantic theme including falling in love, staying in love, angst between lovers, and heartbreak.

Single poems only, no poetry books.

Fee: $25 pays for up to 2 entries, $5 for each additional entry

Do not include your name anywhere on the PDF of your poem.

Examples: Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, Allison Joseph, and Shakespeare

Category 12: Unpublished Short Story

Heat Level: Any

Limit: 5000 words

This category is for complete romances of any heat level that are no more than 5000 words in length. Stories do not need a synopsis since they are complete. Otherwise follow submission and formatting guidelines for unpublished entries above. 

Contest Closed

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