Borders and Gather.Com in conjunction with Simon & Schuster held a contest for unpublished authors which began with 2600 contestants and was whittled down to 10 finalists. The winner was Terry Shaw with his entry, The Way Life Should Be. The first runner up, Geoffrey Edwards, was compelling enough to the panel that his book, Fire Bell in the Night, was published too. Both books were released today, September 18.
The contest started in January of 2007 so the road to publication for these authors was somewhat swift (discounting, of course, the years preceding this year when they labored over their craft).
The romance writing contest is taking place now and if we can take anything from the first contest, the group is looking for good writers and are willing to award contracts to those that they perceive are saleable.