• Stella Quinn

The RWA Emerald Award Diaries

This year, I am a volunteer co-ordinator of the RWA Emerald Award, 2020.


I reached out to some past winners and finalists and asked them if they were glad they entered the RWA Emerald Award, and received some amazing responses. Here is a sample of them:

The RWA Emerald Diaries – Flashback to 2006


In case you were wondering whether being a finalist in the RWA Emerald Award matters ... the answer, aspiring writers, is yes!


The year is 2006. An unpublished author named Vanessa Barneveld enters the first 10,000 words of the manuscript she’s been slogging over into a competition. She follows the formatting rules, she pays her entry fee, then she waits ... first round results come back in and she gets a fabulous surprise. She’s made the cut. Now is the time to panic and think – oh wow, they want to see my full manuscript in a week’s time.


Vanessa Barneveld went on from coming 2nd in the Emerald in 2006 to being a three-time Golden Heart Finalist, and being reviewed in USA Today. Need inspiration for what a wonderful career could look like? Go visit her website at www.vanessabarneveld.com


I reached out to Vanessa and asked her if she was glad she entered the Emerald, and this is what she said:


The Emerald was a great motivating factor in proving to myself that I was a Serious Writer. Before the contest, I struggled to finish my first-ever manuscript. But I pushed through, learned a lot about writing, and entered the inaugural contest. The icing on the cupcake was becoming a finalist in a formidable field!


Go on, enter your manuscript. To use Vanessa’s words ... push through!


I’ll be back with another flashback from the RWA Emerald Diaries soon.

Stella Quinn x



The RWA Emerald Diaries – Flashback to 2008


The year is 2008. An unpublished author enters the first 10,000 words of her manuscript, little knowing that this is going to be an early step in her career writing as C.J. Archer.


C.J. Archer went on from winning the Emerald in 2008 to becoming the USA Today bestselling author of historical fantasy novels including The Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy, the Freak House series, the Ministry of Curiosities series and the Glass and Steel books. She has also written historical romances set in Elizabethan England. For a snapshot of her career, visit her website at www.cjarcher.com


I reached out to C.J. Archer this week and asked her if she was glad she entered the Emerald, and this is what she said:


Winning the Emerald gave me the confidence to continue writing, knowing my story resonated with reader judges and I had a handle on the craft.


So go on, enter your manuscript. Maybe your story will resonate with judges, too!


I’ll be back with another flashback from the RWA Emerald Diaries soon.

Stella Quinn x





The RWA Emerald Diaries – Flashback to 2010


Fast forward to 2010 and check out another Emerald legend. Bec McMaster, a country girl with a cockatiel and a dog called Kobe sends in her Emerald entry. She comes 2nd ... and what happens next? An American agent, books galore in her London Steampunk, Dark Arts and Burned Land Series. You can read all about Bec’s success on her website https://www.becmcmaster.com/


I reached out to Bec and asked her if she was glad she entered the Emerald, and this is what she said:


Hey, Stella! 'I owe huge thanks to the Emerald for helping me along in my writing journey. It forced me to finish Kiss of Steel, the book that soon sold to a US publisher! To all aspiring entrants I encourage you to get your work out there and use the great feedback these contest can provide.' Cheers, Bec

I love this. Especially the bit where Bec says “get your work out there”. So go on, enter the RWA Emerald 2020.

Check back soon for another instalment in the RWA Emerald Diaries ...




There's another two instalments in the RWA Emerald Award diaries, but they've not gone live yet on the competition page, so they'll have to wait for another blog post.


I hope you're feeling inspired by these, as I am.

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