OTFS 2024 Contest

Contest Description and Rules

 Do you write fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal romantic fiction? This is the contest for you!! We want to see your stories whether they’re set in a far away galaxy, a long forgotten age, or in your very own backyard. Our judging process has been redesigned to maximize the helpful feedback you’ll receive, so even if you don’t win, you’ll still be a winner.


2024 OTFS Contest Schedule

  • Submissions Open:  Mar 11, 2024.
  • Submissions Close:  June 23, 2024. All entries and payments must be received by this time.
  • First Round Judging:  July 6, 2024, to August 18, 2024.
  • Finalists Notified the week of August 18, 2024.
  • Finalist Synopsis Due: 11:59p.m. PDT August 25, 2024
  • Finalist Judging: August 26, 2024 – September 29, 2024
  • Winners Notified the week of October 6, 2024.
  • Full list of Winners and Finalists posted by October 13, 2024.
  • Scoresheets Returned to all Winners and Finalists by October 21, 2024.

Entrant Eligibility

Entrants must be:

  • unpublished in romantic fiction; OR
  • if published, the entry must not be part of an already-published series

Note: No member of the On the Far Side Contest Committee is eligible to enter.

Entry Fees

  • FF&P Members in Good Standing: $20 per entry (You must log in for Membership Discount)
  • Non-members: $25 per entry

How to Enter

Fill out the

OTFS 2024 Entry Form

by June 23, 2024.

Contest Rules

  • All entries must contain romantic elements.
  • All entries must contain futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal elements.
  • Entries must be unpublished and not under contract throughout the contest.
  • Entries must be submitted electronically as a .doc or .docx file.
  • An entry consists of a blurb in the format of back-cover copy, a list of triggers, tropes, subgenres, and any content you’re concerned might not be every judge’s cup of tea, and no more than the first 5,500 words of your manuscript. Elements should be contained within a single document, with the blurb and trigger/subgenre/content warnings on the first page and the manuscript beginning on the second page. NOTE: We added the trigger/subgenre/content warning both to protect our judges and to give you, the author, an opportunity to direct your entry to the judges most suited to give your entry a fair read.
  • Entry files should be saved with the year, OTFS, category abbreviation, and entry title as the file name. Example: 2024-OTFS-SF-YourTitleHere.docx
  • Finalists will be required to provide a synopsis of no more than 2 pages to accompany their entries into the final round. (The synopsis is not judged but helps the final-round judges put the submitted scenes in context.) Finalists will be given approximately one week after notification to submit their synopses.
  • The author’s name must not appear anywhere on the entry. See: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/word-delete-add-or-change-author-name/
  • Entrants may submit no more than two (2) entries per category.
  • Entrants may submit to more than one category, but they may not submit the same entry to more than one category.
  • We understand that some stories may fit multiple categories, so just do the best you can selecting a category. (See the category descriptions below.) The Contest Coordinator cannot provide category recommendations for your entry.
  • A category must receive at least 5 entries to be viable. If a category does not reach viability, any entries will be moved to their designated backup categories. If an entry does not have a designated backup category, the entrant will be given the opportunity to select one or receive a refund.
  • Any entry that has won in a previous OTFS Contest may not be resubmitted in any category.
  • Novellas are allowed.
  • Judges are not eligible to judge any category in which they are entered.
  • An entry that violates any of the above rules will be disqualified.
  • Entries deemed by the FF&P Executive Board to have been plagiarized in part or in whole will be disqualified.
  • Entries without Content/Trigger warnings included on the first page of the submission will be disqualified at the discretion of the FF&P Executive Board.
  • Entries containing abuse, rape, bestiality, pedophilia, or other illegal, non-consensual, or objectionable practices will be disqualified at the discretion of the FF&P Executive Board.
  • No refund shall be provided for any disqualified entries.

Manuscript Format

When formatting your entry for submission, please adhere to industry standards:

  • 1” margins
  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point face type, Times New Roman
  • Title and category on left of header, page number on right of header.
  • Each chapter should start on a new page, 1/3 of the way down the page.
  • Do include content warning, trigger warnings at the beginning of the submission.
  • Do not include illustrations, author bio/photos, vocabulary lists, or footnotes.

Contest Categories

  • Science Fiction and Futuristic (SF). These stories may be set in an alternate reality or in the future, and include elements such as technological advancements, space travel, aliens, and science-based time travel.
  • Fantasy (F). These stories may be set in our world, other worlds, the present, the past, or the non-technical future. They MUST include magical elements or mythical creatures. Time travel by magical means (e.g., an imbued object or supernatural portal) falls in this category.
  • Young Adult (YA). These are paranormal stories that are appropriate for teen readers, featuring main characters in high school (ages 14-18). They may take place in a historical, contemporary, futuristic, or otherworldly setting.
  • Urban Fantasy/Dark Paranormal (UF). These stories may include mythical creatures, magical elements, or other paranormal happenings as a major element of the plot, with ominous overtones.
  • Light Paranormal (LP). These stories include paranormal happenings as a major element of the plot and are lighter in tone and theme.

Note: Historical and Erotic entries should choose whichever secondary category best fits the tone and theme of the story.


  • Each entry will be reviewed by four or more experienced, qualified judges in the preliminary round.
  • The three manuscripts per category with the highest scores will advance to the final round.
  • Each finalist entry will be reviewed and ranked by at least one agent, one editor, and one published author. Ranks will be averaged to calculate final winner placement. Scores from the initial round of judging may be used as a tie breaker.
  • Though FF&P cannot guarantee commentary on every entry, we strongly encourage our judges to provide encouraging, constructive feedback both on the scoresheet and within the document itself. However, judges will remain anonymous.
  • No member of the On the Far Side Contest Committee is eligible to judge.

Apply to Serve as a First Round Judge

Do you like reading fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal romance? Contestants and non-contestants alike can apply to be preliminary judges (in categories to which they aren’t entered). Not only is it fun and easy, but you’ll receive a craft-related thank you gift as well as the opportunity to attend an optional zoominar guaranteed* to give you unique insight into how to take future contest entries to the next level.

Fill out the

OTFS 2024 Judge Signup form

by June 23, 2024.

* If the seminar isn’t helpful, the instructor will personally buy you a cup of coffee.

2024 OTFS Contest Final-Round Judges

Confirmed Agents
Confirmed Editors
Confirmed Authors
Note: Final-round judges subject to change.

Science Fiction and Futuristic (SF)

  1. AGENT: Ramona PinaBookends Literary
  2. EDITORJosette ArthurThe Wild Rose Press
  3. PUBLISHED AUTHOR: Elizabeth Schechter – Elizabeth’s Books

Fantasy (F)

  1. AGENT: Sandy Lu – Book Wyrm Lit
  2. EDITOR: Amanda Barnett – The Wild Rose Press
  3. PUBLISHED AUTHOR: Amanda Bouchet – Amanda’s Books

Young Adult (YA)

  1. AGENT: Ann Leslie Tuttle — Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC
  2. EDITOR: Mara Delgado-Sanchez — St. Martin’s Press
  3. PUBLISHED AUTHOR: Denise Alicea – Denise Alicea Books

Urban Fantasy/Dark Paranormal (UF)

  1. AGENT: Eva M. Scalzo — Speilburg Literary Agency
  2. EDITOR: Danielle DeVorCity Owl Press
  3. PUBLISHED AUTHOR: Elizabeth Cole — Elizabeth Cole Books

Light Paranormal (LP)

  1. AGENT: Caitlin Blasdell Liza Dawson Associates
  2. EDITOR: Rachel Gilmer Sourcebooks
  3. PUBLISHED AUTHOR:  Leslye Penelope – L. Penelope’s Books


Contact the 2023 OTFS Contest Chair at otfs@ffprwa.com

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