Heart Award trophy.jpg


**The 2022 Heart Awards opens to entries on November 1st.**



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, or will be, published in 2022, is eligible to enter.

(Except Poetry which is unpublished and so this rule does not apply.)

Open to Authors Worldwide, HOWEVER, winners outside the USA 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 entries must be publish ready, contain a copyright date of 2022, and contain a cover. (Except Poetry which is unpublished and so this rule does not apply.)

  • Contest Open to Submissions: November 1st

  • Contest Deadline: December 1st

  • Entries go to Judges: December 15th

  • Scores Back from Judges: February 15th

  • Finalists Notified: March 1st

  • Award Ceremony: Heart Awards Gala occurs on the final night of OKRWG Romance Conference in Oklahoma City on August 5th, 2023

    • Location:

      • Register for OKRWG RomCon 2023

      • Embassy Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City Downtown Medical Center 

741 N Phillips Ave

Oklahoma City, OK 73104

Important Dates

Image by Pawel Czerwinski

8 Categories will each have 3 Finalists and 1 Winner

Category Winners will receive the Red Blown Glass Heart Award above. Finalists will each receive a certificate. All Finalists and Winners will be promoted across OKRWG social media(Facebook, & Instagram).

Entry Fee: $25 for first category entered, $5 for each additional category entered.

Questions? Contact the Heart Awards Contest VP HERE

Category Descriptions

All Published Romantic Fiction in Novel or Novella length that are no less than 15,000 words, meet category guidelines, and have a copyright date of 2022 are qualified to enter this contest.

Published Poetry of any Length or Style.

Category 1: Erotic Romance

Heat Level: 5 Flames

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

Heat Level: 4 Flames

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

Heat Level: 3 Flames

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

Heat Level: 2 Flames

Sensual Romance(2 Flames): 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

Heat Level: 1 Flame

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: Young Adult Romance

Heat Level: 1 Flame

The equivalent of PG13-rated movie. The characters are in their teens, sometimes early twenties. Like a sensual romance, there may be kissing, touching, and intimate scenes, but the focus is 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

Examples: Rainbow Rowell and Stephenie Meyer

Category 7: Unpublished Poetry with Romantic Theme

Heat Level: Any

Any single unpublished poem in any style focused on any romantic theme including falling in love, staying in love, angst between lovers, and heartbreak. (This category does not have to worry about the "Copyright in 2021" rule as it is an unpublished category.)

Single poems only, no poetry books.

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


Category 8: Non-Romance with Strong Romantic Subplot

Heat Level: Any

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