FARMINGTON >> On a whim, Farmington author Gloria O'Shields entered her novel, "Quinn's Quest," into the 2013 Beach Book Festival.

"This book is the type you take to the beach and read," she reasoned.

When the festival winners were announced in June, O'Shields learned her novel had been chosen as the runner-up in the romance category. "Quinn's Quest" tells the story of a widow who moves to New Mexico in an attempt to start over after her husband's death. She falls in love with an actor she sees in a movie and, accompanied by her best friend, she sets out on a quest to meet him.

The Beach Book Festival started in 2008. Each year, the festival judges books based on their potential to be engaging beach reads that particular summer.

The award is not the first one O'Shields has won for "Quinn's Quest." In 2010, she was a finalist in the Chick Lit/Women's Lit category of "Best Books 2010" awards, sponsored by USA Book News.

O'Shields has been writing for about 10 years. Her first published book was a non-fiction novel about women speakers. She said she had the idea for "Quinn's Quest" bouncing around in her head for years.

O'Shields joined the San Juan Writers Critique Group, which helped her transition from non-fiction writing to novels.

"Dialogue was my biggest challenge," O'Shields said.

O'Shields said she doesn't really classify her novel as a romance. Instead, she calls it humorous women's fiction. And she said it has various life lessons, from friendship to taking risks.

"Sometimes in life you have to go out on a limb," she said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.