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John Howard Reid

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Pen-Names? Why Most Contests Insist on So-Called Anonymity!
Monday, February 02, 2009  12:33:00 AM

by John Howard Reid



Publishing
The theory of contestant anonymity seems to be both fair and sound, but in practice it's just a waste of time and creative energy!

Pen names? Most contests -- not ours, though -- insist on pen-names. Why? In theory, all entries are judged anonymously so that best-selling "name" authors are placed on the same level as equally creative amateurs. That's the theory. In reality, of course, best-selling writers do not enter literary contests. Imagine all the fun that every comedian in the country would have if a top "name" author had his/her entry published in the "Commended" or even "Highly Commended" results?
 
Another theoretical reason that's often given is that "anonymity" helps prevent judges awarding prizes to their relatives and friends. How? That's what I'd like to know. How? All the relative/friend has to do is tell the judge his-her pen-name!
 
That's why real names are used in our contests. Everything is transparent. If relatives or friends are silly enough to enter, they waste their entry money, for the judges will discriminate against them. Not once, in the entire history of our contests, has a relative or friend or even an acquaintance of the judges been awarded a prize!
 
Of course, if you wish to use a pen-name for publication, that's okay.
 
Both The Margaret Reid Poetry Prize for Traditional Verse and the Tom Howard Poetry Contest for Verse in All Styles and Genres, plus The Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest are now open for entries. For this coming year, the prize pool for each of these contests has been increased to $5,350 (including a First Prize of $2,000), yet entry fees remain pegged at $7 for every 25 lines for the Poetry Contests, and $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length.

Judging for the 2008 Tom Howard Poetry Contest has now been completed and I have commenced the process of contacting the winners.

The full results of the 2008 Tom Howard Poetry Contest will be  published in this Newsletter and also online at http://www.winningwriters.com on Sunday, February 15.

Once again my theory that we writers are often the worst judges of the worth of our own work, has been substantiated by the number of winners who expressed surprise that a particular entry appealed to the judges, rather than some of the contestant's personal favorites.

My advice is: Don't stop at one entry, even if you think it's your best work. Send two or three. Or even five or six! This is one of the primary tips in my book, Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS.

Another tip from my book is to pay some regard to the entries that have won prizes in the past. For instance, it's no use sending a humorous story or poem to a contest that has never awarded a prize for a laugh piece.

However, you'll be glad to know that humor is not only most welcome in all our contests, but that the judges will look with favor on an entry that makes us laugh! We will endeavor to award at least one cash prize in each contest to a humorous entry.

All three of our 2009 Contests are now open. You'll find full details at respectively http://poetrycontests.exactpages.com and http://shortstorycontest.0catch.com Alternative sites are http://www.geocities.com/rastar330 (for traditional poetry), http://www.geocities.com/rastar330/poetry.htm (for poetry in all styles and genres) and http://www.geocities.com/rastar330/prose.htm

Just a reminder that all subjects and genres are welcome in all our Contests. But, as implied above, the judges are human beings, not robots, so take a look at some of our previous prizewinning entries:

"Watching Time", our latest anthology of winning prose, has for the third time almost completely sold out. The good news is that the wholesaler managed to find a few copies and that Amazon has purchased them. So once again Amazon (and Amazon alone) has this book on sale for only $12.95. Please click this link:

WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories

Another piece of good news concerns the reprinting of "Mr Christian and the Bag Lady", an earlier collection of Tom Howard Prose winners. This particular anthology has been out of print for years. But here it is, now on sale for the first time at Amazon:

Mr Christian and the Bag Lady: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Stories

Finally, and also at Amazon, is a new, expanded edition of my "Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS". The book has been completely revised, re-written and re-set. Despite all this, and an additional 20 pages of helpful text, the price has been lowered to only $12.50!

Write Ways to WIN WRITING CONTESTS: How To Join the Winners' Circle for Prose and Poetry Awards, NEW EXPANDED EDITION

Writing Contests

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$5,250 Last Chance for 2008 Prose Contest - 3/15/2008 5:04:00 PM

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