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2014 Genesis Contest


Congratulations to the 2014 Genesis Contest Winners. See the list of winners here.


The Genesis Contest is the ACFW contest for unpublished Christian fiction writers. Genesis has a number of categories/genres to enter, the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers' work by published authors and experienced judges, and the chance for the category finalists to have their work read by Christian publishing house editors and literary agents. ACFW has been pleased to see many previous category winners and finalists move further in their writing careers to become published authors.

Eligibility – The 2014 ACFW Genesis Contest is open to ACFW members and non-members whose work has not been published in fiction (in ANY print or online form) since September 1, 2007, with no limit to the number of entries that may be submitted. However, a single manuscript may not be entered into multiple categories. Each entry must be its own file. You may enter different manuscripts in the same category.

If you are writing under a pseudonym, you may note that on the entry form, but you MUST enter using your real name. Do NOT place your name or pseudonym anywhere on the manuscript/synopsis. Also, be mindful of not posting the name or other identifiers of your Genesis-entered manuscript(s) to your online profiles since judging is to be anonymous.

Co-authored entries are allowed to enter. If one of the authors is a current ACFW member the entry may be submitted for the member entry fee.

With your submission, you will be instructed to list anyone connected to the publishing industry who has already seen this work.

Your entered manuscript must be complete to be entered.

Any author contracted for publication before March 15, 2014 is not eligible to enter the Genesis Contest. After that date, if an entrant receives a contract on a manuscript entered in the contest, the manuscript may remain in the contest.

Self-published authors are eligible, however you may not enter a manuscript that is in print or was/is available for purchase at any time between September 1, 2007 and September 1, 2014.

Non-Fiction authors are eligible to enter with a fiction manuscript.

Children's authors are eligible to enter an adult or young adult manuscript.

Previously entered manuscripts may be entered again, but category-winning manuscripts from the Genesis Contest may not be entered again. First Impressions Contest entries are eligible so long as they meet all other eligibility requirements as stated. Manuscripts that have been finalists, not category winners, may be entered again.

The manuscript should not contain profanity, graphic sex, or other objectionable material, and must otherwise conform to generally accepted standards of the CBA. The ACFW Executive Board may order the disqualification of submissions not meeting this requirement.

In any category, if fewer than seven (7) entries are received, the category shall be dissolved and the entrant’s alternate choice category on their submission will be used. The author is responsible for choosing the appropriate category for their entry.

Announcements and Prizes – The ten semi-finalists in each category will be announced by May 5, 2014. The three finalists in each category will be announced by June 15, 2014. Each category will have one first place winner. The first place entry in each category will receive a winner's plaque and a gold Genesis lapel pin. The winners will be announced at the 2014 ACFW Annual Conference in September. The finalists in each category will receive a certificate and silver Genesis pin.

Fees – The ACFW member entry fee is $35. Non-ACFW member fee is $95. You may choose to join ACFW at the time of entrance in order to receive the member entry fee rate. Multiple entries will require multiple entry fees.

Any break in membership during the course of the contest will result in withdrawal of the entry and forfeiture of the entry fee.

If an entrant must withdraw from the contest for any reason, they must forfeit their entry fee.

Timeline – The contest will open on January 2, 2014 at 8 AM CENTRAL. All contest entries and contest fees must be received by 4:00 PM CENTRAL on March 15, 2014. No exceptions.

All entries will receive a confirmation e-mail of receipt of their entry. If an entrant does not receive a confirmation e-mail by MIDNIGHT March 16, 2014, the entrant should e-mail the head coordinator at immediately.


Under no circumstances should comments given by a judge be used for publicity purposes without the express consent of the judge.

FIRST ROUND: During the first round, three judges (published authors or experienced writers trained in judging the Genesis) will score each entry, up to a maximum of 100 points per entry. All three scores will be averaged. Discrepancy judges will NOT be used due to the logistics of the contest.

SEMI-FINAL ROUND: The top 10 entries from each category will then move on to the semi-final round. The semi-final judges will be published authors who will use the same scoresheet as the first round. All three judges’ scores are averaged to determine the entry’s standing.

FINAL ROUND: The top three semi-final round entries in each category--category finalists--will continue to the final round. In the event of a tie, the previous round scores of the tied entries will be used to break the tie. Finalists will be allowed 48 HOURS ONLY to polish and resubmit their entries before the entries are sent to the final round judges. If you are unable to polish and resubmit, then your original entry will be sent to the final round judges.

During the final round, three final round judges will score each entry, and the three scores will be averaged. Discrepancy judges will NOT be used. In each category, the entry receiving the top final round score becomes the category winner. The final round scores alone determine the category winners. If any category winner is disqualified or withdraws for any reason, the next highest-scoring finalist will be moved up to become category winner.

For the final round, the final round judges (editors and agents) will not utilize the scoresheet used in the first and second rounds of judging. Instead, final round judges will simply give a numerical score of up to 100 points for each final round entry. Final round judges have the option of giving comments on the final round entries, but are not required to do so. All three scores will be averaged.

If any finalist is disqualified or withdraws for any reason after March 15, 2014, the next highest scoring, non-finaling entry will NOT be moved up to fill the vacant spot as a finalist.

For non-finaling entrants, scoresheets and manuscripts will be e-mailed back to each entrant between May 15, 2014 and June 30, 2014. Entrants are asked to please be patient as coordinators return entries, due to the sheer volume of entries and emails. Questions may be emailed to

Final round judges:

  • Janet Kobobel Grant – Books & Such Literary Management (agent)
  • Joyce Hart – Hartline Literary Agency (agent)
  • Shaina Turner – Tyndale House (editor)
Historical (through Vietnam era)
  • Deb Kaiser – River North (Moody Publishers) (editor)
  • Daisy Hutton – HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson & Zondervan) (publisher)
  • Ann Byle – Credo Communications (agent)
Historical Romance (through Vietnam era)
  • Charlene Patterson – Bethany House (Baker) Publishing (editor)
  • Kim Moore – Harvest House Publishers (editor)
  • Jessica Kirkland – Blythe Daniels Literary Agency (agent)
  • Sue Brower – Natasha Kern Literary (agent)
  • Dawn Anderson – Kregel Publications (editor)
  • Andrea Doering – Revell (A Divison of Baker Publishing Group) (editor)
Novella (15K-45K)
  • Annie Tipton – Barbour Publishing (editor)
  • Susan Downs – Guideposts Publications (editor)
  • Annette Irby – White Rose Publishing (Pelican) (editor)
  • Steve Laube – Steve Laube Agency (agent)
  • Raela Schoenherr – Bethany House (Baker) Publishing (editor)
  • Sarah Freese – Wordserve Literary (agent)
Romantic Suspense
  • Tamela Hancock Murray – Steve Laube Agency (agent)
  • Dave Long – Bethany House (Baker) Publishing (editor)
  • Natasha Kern – Natasha Kern Literary (agent)
Short Novel (45K-70K)
  • Kathy Davis – Love Inspired (Harlequin) (editor)
  • Tina James – Love Inspired (Harlequin) (editor)
  • Mary Keeley – Books and Such Literary (agent)
  • Jeff Gerke – Lord Marcher Press (editor/publisher)
  • Amanda Luedeke – MacGregor Literary (agent)
  • Ramona Richards – Abingdon Press (editor)
Young Adult
  • Amanda Demastus – Howard (Simon & Schuster) (editor)
  • Terry Burns – Hartline Literary (agent)
  • Amanda Bostic – HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson & Zondervan) (editor)

Projected Categories

For all the stories, one or more characters' Christian beliefs are blended with and form a part of the story. However, the presence of a Christian character or the use of Christian phrases and scripture are not the indicators of the spiritual content in the stories. For Speculative Fiction, the traditional Christian terms are often replaced by other words more suited to the fictional setting.

  • Contemporary: Novels or sagas set in any location, in contemporary setting. This category includes literary fiction, women's fiction, and mainstream fiction. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.
  • Romance: The love story is set in any location in a contemporary setting, and is the main focus of the novel. The end of the book is emotionally satisfying. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.
  • Historical (through Vietnam era): Novels or sagas set in any location, in which the time frame of the majority of the story is a historical context rather than a contemporary one. The time period can be up to and including the Vietnam era.
  • Historical Romance (through Vietnam era): Novels or sagas set in any location, but in which the time frame of the majority of the story is a historical context rather than a contemporary one. The time period can be up to and including the Vietnam era. The love story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the story is emotionally satisfying. The stories in this category can be dramatic or comedic.
  • Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: Novels set in any location, in a contemporary setting, in which the suspense or mystery is the primary plot. In suspense, "often the reader learns very early in the story who did what, and how, and even why, so that the tension results from the manner in which an expected conclusion is achieved" (Jessica Mann). In thrillers, "tough, resourceful . . . heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world" (Steve Bennett). "The detective novel, or mystery, is generally driven by a single protagonist and follows the process of detection, functioning like a puzzle" (Ginny Wiehardt).
  • Romantic Suspense: A suspense plot is blended with a love story, which is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is emotionally satisfying. The story can be in any location, but the time frame should be a contemporary setting. Historical romantic suspense stories should be entered in the Historical Romance category.
  • Speculative: Novels in which the science fiction, the future, other planets, a fantasy world, or paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot or setting. This category includes speculative, visionary, science fiction, paranormal, futuristic, allegory, and alternate history fiction. Stories targeted primarily at young adult readers should be entered in the Young Adult category.
  • Novella: Contemporary or historical stories in any of the genre categories in this contest. Word count is 15K – 45K.
  • Short Novel: Historical or contemporary shorter novels 45K-70K in length.
  • Young Adult: Novels targeted toward young adult readers ages 12 through 18. The stories in this category can be dramatic, comedic, romantic, or non-romantic. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Allegory stories targeted primarily at young adult readers can be entered in this category. Stories targeted to Middle Readers are included in this category.

Submission Instructions

Each entrant must upload their entry as a Microsoft Word document when entering. The entries will be judged using Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature.

1. Use 12 point font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. The contest requires the use of Courier New or Times New Roman font.The Manuscript Formatting Example to follow is found here.

2. Include a header on each manuscript page with the title, category/genre, entire manuscript word count, and page numbers. NO entrant's name or pseudonym should be in the header, and the header should be formatted as shown here. Please use the Manuscript Example to format your entry.

To indicate a scene break, insert a single hashtag (#) or three hashtags (###) one double-space down from the last line of the previous scene. Begin the new scene one double-space down from the hashtag(s).

3. If using Word on a PC (as opposed to Word for Mac) make sure that the layout configuration for the entry has the spacing AFTER a paragraph set at 0. Newer versions of Word have it default at .10. You can check this on the "Page Layout" tab. Currently, this is not an issue on Word for Mac.

4. Send a one-page single-spaced synopsis, included in the file with your manuscript. Do NOT send a separate file for your synopsis. PLEASE put the synopsis first in the document, then the manuscript pages.

5. Send the first 15 pages of your manuscript, even if this is more than your first chapter. Prologues are acceptable. Start the first page of each chapter 4 double spaced lines down the page. DO NOT send more than 15 pages of your manuscript and a one page synopsis (16 pages maximum). You may send less than 15 pages.

6. Fill out the entry form, upload the entry file, upload a high resolution headshot photo, and pay the contest fee.

7. Entries which contain borders or frames on the manuscript will not be allowed.

Entries not fulfilling the above specifications will be disqualified. Entry fees will not be refunded.

If you have any questions, please e-mail the contest coordinator at

Category coordinators:

When e-mailing coordinators, please put "Genesis" in the subject line.