The 2014 Sandy Entry Deadline is Midnight February 11, 2014
The Crested Butte Writers Conference and the Sandy Writing Contest are unique and special events.
But in 2015 we're taking a break from the extensive planning and administering such a conference requires, to focus on our own writing.
Hope to see you in the future, and happy writing!
2014 Sandy Final Judges
  • Romance - Tessa Woodward, Editor at HarperCollins
  • Mainstream Adult Fiction - Sarah Branham, Senior Editor at Atria
  • Suspense / Thriller / Mystery - Stephany Evans, President, FinePrint Literary
  • Fantasy / Science Fiction - Claire Eddy, Senior Editor at Tor/Forge Books
  • Children's & YA - Tracey Keevan, Senior Editor at Disney Hyperion
New to The Sandy:
  • New Eligibility Rules.
    • An author may only enter the same work (title) two different years. For example, If I entered Just Destiny in 2012, then revised it and entered it again in 2013, I cannot enter it 2014 or ever again—even if it's been significantly revised.
    • Published Authors Welcome!! The Sandy now welcomes published authors. The entry MUST be original and uncontracted at the time of the contest deadline. No self-published works will be accepted.
  • Word counts listed are estimates, not hard and fast rules (though the work should not stray hugely—say not by 40%). Take a look at the score sheet for your genre and if you think your work will score well, feel free to enter it.
  • Please direct specific questions to each category intake coordinator:
The Sandys

The Sandy is a competitive contest for unpublished and published writers alike to provide aspiring authors the opportunity to gain feedback from experienced writers, to give them the opportunity to get their work in front of industry professionals in their genre, and to provide them the opportunity for recognition for those who have honed their storytelling skills.

It was named after two wonderful Crested Butte women, Sandy Cortner and Sandy Fails, who have spent decades writing, promoting, and nurturing writers in the Crested Butte area.


"Dear Theresa,

Thank you so much for your contributions to this competition. I just finished a stint as a category coordinator in a contest, so I have some sense of the care and dedication required to successfully execute a job like yours.

Please also convey my gratitude to those who judged my work. I'll be responding to an agent request within the next few days, so their comments (and each of them provided extensive comments) are especially valuable. The Sandy has the most thorough score sheet I've seen in a contest, demanding more of judges, but also providing more invaluable feedback to writers. I appreciate the time and thoughtfulness that was put into providing me with these results, which are both encouraging and helpful."

Peter Andrews

"Theresa, The first time I entered the Sandy contest, I was disappointed when I did not place. The judges’ comments were right on the mark, though, so I tried again a couple years later, with a different story. I struck out again, but the comments were more encouraging, and my score was higher. Last year I entered a new story. The judges liked this one better, but once again told me that my synopsis was weak. I took the judges’ comments to heart, and studied and sweated and revised until I had a decent synopsis. Last fall, I was offered a contract for one of my novels.

I highly recommend the Sandy Contest for the quality of the judging. Their comments, questions, and advice were worth so much more than the entry fee. Thank you to everyone involved. The high level of dedication and care are obvious in the thorough and yet kind comments. Entering the Sandy encouraged me to keep working until I had a good synopsis and publishable novel."

Catherine Dilts

"Theresa, - Thank you so very much for your great efforts in this contest...please, if you get the chance, let your entire contest team hear that in one writer's opinion this is the best run, most valuable contest for writers out there.

I was blown away by the level of judging on my 3 entries. Honestly, for the small price of entering the contest, I received the most thoughtful, helpful critiques I've ever been sent. Your panel rocks, even the brilliant guy (no irony here at all) who gave me only 104 points.

I wish I lived in Colorado!"

Marsha Nuccio

"Dear Theresa, - My fingers were literaly shaking as I opened the score sheets from The Sandy. No, I wasn't a finalist. I didn't really expect that I would be, but the comments your judges sent were beyond amazing, truly helpful, positive, realistic and encouraging. I have recommended The Sandy to all my friends in the local chapter of RWA. Please keep me on your mailing list for next year."

Fran Abram

I wanted to say thank you for picking such knowledgeable judges for the SF/Fantasy division of The Sandy. I entered a few contests with this piece, and was devastated recently by some non-helpful, destructive critique from another judge. While I realize judges don't get paid, it's nice to have a contest like The Sandy that offers writers helpful, constructive comments to make the entrants better writers. I appreciate the thorough judging and feedback on each section of the entry. The breakdown was a fantastic way for me to understand the scoring, and weigh the judge's opinion of the strengths and weaknesses in the piece. Looking forward to entering again."

Jen Greyson

"Dear Theresa,
Thanks so much for your dedication to your chapter, for the efforts you put in to coordinate such an important contest, and for your prompt replies to my inquiries! I can't tell you how much I appreciated the wonderful and encouraging feedback from all the judges! It's not about whether or not you final, it's about whether or not you are 'reaching the reader' - which makes all the difference in a future writing career.

I wish you all the best in your own writing career!"

Meg Mims

"Dear Theresa,
Thank you for coordinating this contest. Though I didn't final, The Sandy was a very positive experience. The process was easy and (relatively) painless, and I appreciated that it was also paperless. The judges' comments were thoughtful and fair. I came away with some positive feedback and excellent suggestions for improving my manuscript. Posting the rankings is a fantastic idea. Having the opportunity to compare my scores to those of the other contest entrants was extremely helpful.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this contest, and I hope to someday attend the Crested Butte Writers Conference."

Best wishes,
Jennifer Sundstedt

"Dear Theresa,
While I'm handing out thanks, I felt it was just plain wrong to leave you out! Thanks so much for all your hard work. This is the second year I've entered this contest. I came close to placing last year, and placed with one of my entries this year. Two of my other entries this year nearly made it, too! This is what I have discovered about The Sandy: Whether the judges gave me compliments or criticism, whether I made the finals or not, there is one consistency throughout: The judges are by far the most professional and courteous I've come across. I get the feeling that these judges really like to read, write, and help other writers. I have entered many contests, and I've placed in quite a few, too -- and this contest just beats all for helpfulness, professionalism, and an absence of personal ego on the part of the judges. Thank you!"

~Elysia Whisler
2009 1st Place Romance

"If you can only enter one contest, this is the one I recommend. The Sandy is special. My experience is that everyone: the first round judges, the coordinator and the editors and agents who regard the finalizing work, has the writer's interest at heart. They provide positive, encouraging words as well as candid feedback. The kindness entries receive will keep you, like me, coming back."

~Brenda Nelson-Davis
2007 1st Place
2009 3rd Place

"The Sandy is a great contest with a large enough writing sample to provide a good representation of the writer's work. The feedback was specific and helpful and very encouraging. Since my entry was a western-themed historical romance, I was especially grateful for the detailed feedback by judges who were familiar with the area/setting of the manuscript. Thanks to all who took such care in judging it."

~Kaki Warner
2007 2nd Place Romance
Sandy Honor Roll

"The Sandy was the first contest I entered In Over Her Head in, mainly to see reader feedback and if the story was working. When a judge wrote, "Let me know when this gets published," I realized the story was on the right track. I'm happy to report that two years after the contest, In Over Her Head hit bookstores around the country-and will be followed up with two more in my Mer series."

~Judi Fennell
2009 3rd Place
Sandy Honor Roll