NEW YORK -- Two aspiring romance novelists, one a 28-year-old doctorate student, the other a 56-year-old horse farmer, will have books published next year by Simon & Schuster after winning the First Chapters Romance Writing Competition.
Grand prize winner Meredith McGuire, currently working on a social science PhD at the University of Chicago, received a $5,000 advance for her novel "The Shadow's Kiss." Runner-up Starr Toth, who raises horses in Ortonville, Mich., received $3,500 for "Trust Me."
"Gather.com's community of readers, writers and aspiring authors has allowed us to tap into talent we would have had no way of previously knowing about," Maggie Crawford, editorial director of Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement Tuesday.
"The quality of submissions in this competition far exceeded our expectations, and we are truly excited to bring Meredith and Starr's talent to the public."
The contest was co-sponsored by Simon & Schuster, the superstore chain Borders Group and the social media site Gather.com. The same companies previously organized the First Chapters writing contest, leading to the release this fall of two debut novels, Terry Shaw's "The Way Life Should Be" and Geoffrey Edwards' "Fire Bell in the Night."