(Take me to Sheralyn’s non-contest Main Page.)

A wise grandmother (mine) once wrote:

“We are not the darers, are we?
And to take a chance we’re loathe.
It’s better to be safe than sorry
but it’s the devil when you’re both.”

Kathryn Kay, 1941

It can be hard to put yourself out there as a writer, yet rising to a challenge is what we all must do to grow.

So, in the spirit of daring and being unsafe and not sorry, I hereby invite all writers to compete in the 2019

Battle of the Bards

Registration Opens July 1, 2019

Hosted by yours truly, Sheralyn Pratt.

*raises liripipe hood*
*continues in sing-song “host” voice*

A contest for the old and the young,
the wise and the shallow,
the credentialed and ad hoc,
the published and unhallowed.

Whatever your color,
whatever your creed,
you are invited to write something
that lures us to read.

The categories are short forms,
including poems, tales, and lyrics
with judges who have faced
more than their share of critics.

Do you have what it takes
and willingness to be seen?
Because that’s part of the price
if you wish to succeed.

So you are hereby invited,
if you have the audacity and will,
to uncap your pen
in a battle of quills.

You have ’til August 14th
to make your official submission(s)
to see how you fare
in a blind competition.

The rules are quite simple;
you’ll find them below.
But first, let’s discuss
how the battle will go.


This is an old-school competition with no corporate sponsorship or agenda.

Anyone of any skill, status, or caliber may enter to compete on their merits alone.

Blind Judging

You will NOT be judged by your age, race, nationality, sex, sexuality, politics, follower count, social status, or any qualities outside of how well you string words together.

So if you are a loner with 4 followers on Twitter, you have the same platform as a celebrity who may want to enter to see if people like their work without their name attached.

Why? Well, because as hard as it is to rise from obscurity and be seen, it is just as hard to get true feedback when you’re at the top of the heap.

So, as all artistic competitions should be, this is a call to the best and the brightest, the seen and unseen, to engage in a battle of wits weaving words into scenes.

In the end, victors will walk away with cool trophies and judges will get nice Thank You gifts.

And, if we do things right, maybe everyone will have a few more friends and increased visibility as they move on to what life brings their way next.

Want to join the fun? Here’s how to participate:

1. Pick your category/categories

There are 8 battle categories for competing bards:

  • Short Story (Comedy)
  • Short Story  (Drama)
  • Poem (Serious)
  • Poem (Humorous)
  • Lyrics (that Start a Party)
  • Lyrics (that Start a Conversation)
  • Modern Parable (open theme)
  • Modern Fairy Tale (open theme)

You may enter UP TO 8 times.

This could be 8 times in one category, or once in each category. However you play your odds, know that 8 is your cap. All entries beyond 8 by the same person will be disqualified (without refund) and only the first 8 submissions will be accepted.

2. Create your work

Create a submission in 1,500 words, or less. DO NOT EXCEED THE WORD LIMIT.

If your submission is 1,501, you will be disqualified for the lamest of reasons and no one wants that. (Although, to be clear, your entry can be much shorter than 1,500 in the categories like poems and lyrics.)

In addition, make sure you are the sole creator of your work. This is not a class project and there are no group submissions. All work should be your own, with no co-authors or plagiarized sources.

3. Edit your work

Read what you’ve written. Re-read it. Run spell check, then read it out loud. Make sure to get all the typos out.

Typos won’t disqualify you but they do distract from your potential and give away free points against you if a judge is trying to choose between you and someone else.

So check your work before you hit Submit. All submissions are final.

4. Question your use of profanity

This is an all-ages competition.

Keeping that in mind, all non-essential profanity and vulgarity should be removed from your submission, unless absolutely necessary. Think of community standards when it comes to radio and TV and ask yourself if your submission would be edited for public airwaves.

If the answer is yes, consider revising.

In the end, the judges decide if uncouth language is necessary, and their decision is final.

5. Pay the entry fee and Submit!

Each submission requires an $10 entry fee. Any entry without payment is disqualified.

6. Keep your entry a secret

You can tell anyone you want that you entered the contest, just don’t tell them which entry is yours.

Why not? Because if a judge finds out who an entry belongs to, the entry is disqualified. Period. Even if the judge doesn’t know you.

7. All submissions processed by your host, Sheralyn Pratt

Hi, I’m Sheralyn. This is my website and I’m running this contest. When I get your entry, I will remove your name, assign your submission a number, and pass your entry on to the correct judges as a numbered entry.

Only I will have the Master List revealing which number belongs to which writer, which means your submission remains entirely anonymous during the judgment process.

You’re welcome.

8. Judges will do their thing

When it comes to choosing winners, there are no rules for how judges must judge. They are professionals. They know what they’re doing and have their own process for screening.

They will judge how they judge and choose their winner.

Fun detail: The judges’ profiles will be revealed only AFTER all the submissions have been received and their identities (should they choose to reveal them) will remain hidden until winners are announced.

This way, you won’t know who they are when you write, they won’t know who you are when they read, and no one can harass them in between.

Can’t get fairer than that, right?

9. All is revealed

Once the judges and the internet pick their winners, participating submissions will be published with the author’s name on

While this reveal SHOULD mark the first time the competing work is published online, it will hopefully not be the last.

10. You keep all your rights

While you will be giving me, Sheralyn Pratt, the right to post your work to my site as part of the contest (and fair use to cite it in the future), you keep all rights for future use and profit.

I will reserve the right to post it as part of the contest but make no claims of ownership or finder’s fees.

Your work is your work. All rights remain with you. This contest only demands that:

  • your submission not be previously published (if we can find it somewhere else, you’re disqualified)
  • you do not claim your work until the contest is over (because claiming it before judging is complete is also a disqualification)

If your work catches the eye of an agent or scout, there is no finder’s fee or negotiation of rights with this contest. You’re free as a bird and your work is your work.

This is a platform of peers, not a publishing company. We hope you catch someone’s eye and that it leads to great things. All the best to you and we wish you luck!

11. If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong

This is a contest of summer fun. Singers, dancers, and other skills have their TV shows seeking talent, but it can be a bit harder for writers to be seen.

This competition is great because you will get to see ALL the competition (just like singers get to hear each other and dancers see who beat them out), which will allow you to both pat yourself on the back for your strengths while also learning from others.

It will also allow you to meet new friends and possibly establish great relationships with people who like your work.

So use this competition to have fun, make friends, and network!

The Importance of Staying Anonymous

Anonymity is often talent’s best friend. It takes all your excuses, tosses them out the window, and allows your work to speak for itself.

If you want to know if your writing has what it takes to stand out in a crowd, temporary anonymity is really the only way to go. Things like your wealth (or lack thereof), credentials, and looks disappear. So does your sex, your gender, and everything else.

There’s really only one question: Can you pull people in with your words and take them on a ride?

That’s what this contest is about, which is why anyone skirting that hurdle by leveraging their identity to try to garner favor has to be hardline we draw in the sand to remove entries from consideration.

The Importance of Playing by the Rules

This is a contest by artists for artists. We all have lives and no one is looking for more random stranger drama.

The rules are intended to keep things fun, fair, and headache-free for everyone.

Read them. Heed them. And let’s have a blast!



  • This contest is open to anyone with a mailing address within the United States (to ensure all winners can receive their prizes).
  • All entries must be in English.
  • All submissions must be submitted by the original author.
  • All submissions must be previously unpublished and original.
  • All entries are due by 11:59 MDT August 14, 2019.
  • All entries must be accompanied with a $10 fee per entry.
  • Contest can be entered exclusively at
  • Limit 8 total entries per person. All entries exceeding 8 will be deleted without refund.
  • No joint submissions (i.e., multiple authors).
  • Authors consent to work being published in full—first attached to a submission number, then with full attribution once judging is complete.
  • All anonymity is temporary. All submissions must have verified authors to credit once judging is complete.
  • Void where prohibited.


  • A displayable trophy.
  • A certificate of award.
  • One (1) prize offered per judge per category (e.g., 3 category judges = 3 prizes, etc.)
  • Each contestant can only win once per category.


  • Winners will be announced on social media, using Instagram and Twitter, on the Autumn Equinox of 2019.
  • Judges will announce their winners through a method of their choosing. Maybe they make it simple by tweeting out a number, or maybe they read or perform your work in its entirety to their followers and give you a shout out. It’s up to them.
  • Sheralyn will retweet/repost all announcements of winners on her feed to ensure they are seen.
  • An official list of winners will be also posted on
  • Prizes will be mailed to US addresses only.


  • Once judging is complete, you give Sheralyn Pratt the right to add your name to your submission for all the world to see.
  • Once the contest is over, you give Sheralyn Pratt the right to republish your work with full attribution in relation to future contests (e.g., if we all decide we want to do this again, winners of previous years can have their submissions posted in their entirety as a shout out to legacy).
  • You give Sheralyn Pratt the right to include a short excerpt of your work (up to 100 words) in a for-profit product, so long as your quoted material is less than 1% of the product’s content and includes attribution.


  • If your submission can be found in any digital or physically published source, it will be disqualified without refund.
  • All plagiarized work will be disqualified without refund.
  • Each competitor is allowed 8 (eight) total entries in the categories of their choosing. Any entries after the first 8 will be disqualified without refund.
  • One entry per submission. Any additional entries beyond the first will be deleted without notice to the submitter and only first entry will be entered.
  • Identifying your work before judgment is complete results in automatic disqualification without refund.
  • Harassing judges, officials, or other competitors is against the spirit of the competition. If distracting behavior requires you to be blocked on social media, your entries will also be disqualified without refund. (So if you’re going to be a jerk, wait until after you win to be a sore loser about it.)
  • If a judge finds your work offensive or profane, they have a right not to finish reading it. There are multiple judges in each category for this exact reason, but be well aware that if you don’t meet the professional standards a judge is held to themselves when it comes to creating content, that is considered permissible grounds for them dismissing a submission from consideration without refund.
  • All entries require a $10 entry fee. If you don’t pay, you’re not entered. Simple as that. Entries made without payment will not be considered.


  • Can judges enter the contest? Yes. Just not in the category they are judging.


  • Once you enter, there are no refunds. We want anyone to be able to participate, so the entry fee is low. Any headache or hoop jumping to reverse payment probably cost $10 of someone’s time so we’ll just call it even if it comes down to that.
  • All submissions and payments are final. You can request to be removed from consideration, but you will not receive a refund for the hassle of demanding special handling and attention.


  • All disputes will be resolved with the disqualification of entry, forfeiture of entry fee, and removal of entry from Entry will be replaced with public notice of disqualification and removal of content.



Did I miss something? Hen-peck me on Twitter about it (@SheralynPratt) and I’ll clarify with answers to your questions in the section below.