How the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition 2020 is Judged

Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition - Sydney Hammond
Sydney Hammond

Judging a writing competition is an eye-opening experience. For two reasons. First, the valuable insights one gains by reading hundreds of short stories in a field, rating them against judging criteria, and seeing first-hand what makes the one or few stand-out above the field, cannot be replicated by any other experience. In a writer’s tool bag of knowledge, it’s gold-plated.

The second reason that judging a writing competition is eye-opening, is that one sees first hand the amount of work required to administer a competition, and to judge the entries against the entry terms and conditions.

The Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition is a not-for-profit venture, and we rely on volunteers who help with publicising the competition, and judging the entries.

Now in its second year, to date the competition has been funded by the Hammond family and Hawkeye Publishing. Any year a profit is made, the profits will be used to fund bigger prizes the following year.

Entry fees go towards printing the anthology. It is not inexpensive to produce the anthology, and post to all 40 winners a free printed copy. For the integrity of our competition process, this will continue to be a hallmark identifier of our prize pool.

Our judges kindly volunteering their time, aids in that quest. We have six judges this year: Lynette Hammond (Syd Hammond’s eldest daughter), Daniel Brown (a talent for structural analysis), Michelle Murray-Cox (children’s author), Kylie Kaden (international author), C. T. Mitchell (best-selling international author), and L. E. Daniels (writing lecturer, editor and author).

Our process is that our three industry-experienced volunteers judge all of the entries and agree on the Top 40 to be published (the long-list), and the Top 10 to be short-listed. They also recommend an overall winner, second and third places.

Our three author judges then judge the overall winner from the Top 10 short-list.

The Director of Hawkeye Publishing, Carolyn Martinez (Sydney Hammond’s youngest daughter), tallies judges’ scorecards to announce the winners, and adjudicate any tie-breaks.

The 2020 Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition closed at 6pm on Saturday 1st August. This morning, we sent the many entries to our three first-round, volunteer judges, and we’d like to say a very big thank you to them for the time-consuming and difficult judging they are undertaking. This year’s field is twice as big as our inaugural year.

A Big Thank You To Our Volunteer Judges:

Lynette Hammond – Sydney Hammond’s Eldest Daughter

Lynette Hammond, Judge of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
Lynette Hammond

Lynette is studying a BA with a double major in Digital Media Design, and Professional Writing & Publishing. She is a long-time proofreader and an avid reader.

She says it is a privilege and an exciting experience to be reading and judging the entries of this competition that bears her father’s name.

Michelle Murray-Cox – Children’s Author

Michelle Murray-Cox, Judge of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
Michelle Murray-Cox

Michelle writes training materials for a living – and for fun writes children’s stories. See The Hopeville Book of Records and The Curse of the Cap, both published by Blake Education.

Michelle works on the Sunshine Coast writing safety, training and corporate material. She also writes a blog under the name ‘Pertrain Pen’.

‘I love everything about writing and am always on the lookout for ways to be involved in the Qld writing community,’ said Michelle. ‘So when I saw the opportunity to be involved with the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition I jumped at the chance. I had no idea that it would be so hard! So many great stories, so few prizes to go around. Well done to everyone who entered.’

Daniel Brown, QUT Double Major in Creative Industries and Social Work

Daniel Brown, Judge of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
Daniel Brown

Daniel is a combination of editor and community worker, which means he uses language like ‘walking beside the text’ and always tries to see the strengths in a work. Turns out this makes for addictive critiques, so he decided to veer out into reviewing. Daniel’s keen eye came to our notice when he completed his final-year university internship in editing at Hawkeye Publishing.

Kylie Kaden – International Author

Kylie Kaden, Judge of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
Kylie Kaden

Kylie Kaden is the author of Losing Kate and Missing YouShe holds an honours degree in Psychology, and was featured in Woman’s Day’s ‘Top 50 Australian Authors 2019’. Her new book, The Day the Lies Began with Pantera Press, is a domestic noir-thriller that explores one of her favourite themes: why good people do bad things.

L. E. Daniels – Writing Educator, Editor and Author

Lauren Daniels, Judge of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
L. E. Daniels

The director of the Brisbane Writers Workshop, Lauren Daniels is a qualified editor, author, mentor and trainer of professionals, academics, writers and editors.  She has edited more than 90 published titles.

She has taught writing courses for Whistler Writers Festival in British Columbia, Queensland Writers CentreTAFEThe University of Queensland, Stafford Heights Community Ed., Brisbane State High School, and the Tasmanian Writers Centre.

She has a Bachelor of Arts Creative Writing, and a Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing. Lauren is co-author of the writing guide, Winning Short Story Competitions.

C. T. Mitchell, International Bestselling Author

C. T. Mitchell, Judge of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
C. T. Mitchell

C. T. Mitchell has over 30 short mysteries. His Detective Jack Creed mysteries are set in Cabarita Beach, and achieved numerous no. 1. bestseller nominations on Amazon. He says his career in Real Estate has inspired some of the shonky characters one can find smattered throughout his work. C. T. is loved by his loyal fans, and appreciated by fellow writers with whom he generously shares his knowledge on ‘How to Launch an Amazon Bestseller’.

A Big Thank You Also to our Volunteer Publicity Officer, Silvana Nagl

Silvana Nagl, Volunteer Publicist of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.
Silvana Nagl

Silvana has given Hawkeye Publishing and the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition a day a week of her valuable time for over a year. We could not be more grateful. Her industry experience is vast and we are incredibly lucky she enjoys hanging out in our office.

Silvana has worked in broadcast media, in the music industry and for a variety of businesses in publicity, community relations and marketing. She is a qualified Counsellor & Pastoral Carer, and a passionate advocate for the arts and creativity, particularly writing.  She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations, and is on the cusp of some big news!

Thanks entirely to Silvana, twice as many writers as last year heard about the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition and had the opportunity to submit.

The Thing About Judging

Many think that the hardest decision to make is identifying the winner. Interestingly, the winner often leaps out. The toughest point for the judges tends to be numbers 38 – 42. It can be marginal marks between the published number 40 and the unpublished number 41 – that’s the decision judges tend to enjoy the least, and the one that gets animated discussion in the judges’ bunkhouse.

Junior Entries This Year

We got word this year that a primary school principal offered extra credit to students who entered our competition – he likes to encourage writing over the school holidays. The junior entries are being judged in the open category (the only category we have), however, in addition to the Top 40 Open stories published, we’ve decided to also publish the best story written by a primary school child in the winners’ anthology.

Would You Like to Volunteer at Hawkeye?

Opportunities are available for judging the upcoming Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize (if you don’t want to enter yourself that is), next year’s Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition (unless Lynette, Daniel or Michelle are unwilling to relinquish their cap), or to take on a title publicity project to aid in keeping independent publishing thriving in Australia. Volunteers learn new skills, and gain valuable experience, while being mentored by experienced industry practitioners. Volunteers can work remotely, or at our office in North Brisbane, Queensland. If you’re well matched to Hawkeye, and want to explore volunteering, contact us through the contact form.

Seeking Book Reviewers

If you currently write an unbiased book review blog, and would like your blog featured through Hawkeye, please contact Carolyn Martinez. Or if you’re an avid reader, and would like to write a regular book review blog on our site, also drop us a bell. We’re looking to offer readers a range of book reviewers so that readers can come to trust a reviewer that suits their own taste in genres and storylines.

Recommended Writing Guides

Hawkeye Publishing recommends these writing resources:

Winning Short Story Competitions by L. E. Daniels and Cate Sawyer.

On Writing by Stephen King.

How Writing Works by Prof Roslyn Petelin

Making Stories: How Ten Australian Novels Were Written by Sue Woolfe and Kate Grenville.

First to Hear – Next Year’s Theme

The theme for next year’s Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition (2021) – is COURAGE.

Hawkeye Publishing Seeks Sponsors for the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition 2021

GOLD $500
SILVER $200
BRONZE $50

Gold and silver sponsors receive mention on our website, member newsletters, social media, publicity flyers, and in the printed anthology – mention size dependent on sponsorship level. Feature article opportunities offered. Gold sponsors receive display advertisements on our website.

Bronze sponsors receive mention on our website, social media, and the printed anthology. Contact Us.

Carolyn Martinez

4 comments to “How the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition 2020 is Judged”

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  1. Louisiana - August 12, 2020 Reply

    Thank you so much!

  2. Christopher - August 12, 2020 Reply

    Many thanks for this. I did find it interesting.

  3. Mason - August 12, 2020 Reply

    Thanks for that.

  4. Gina - August 12, 2020 Reply

    I help the Rainforest Writers’ Retreat organisers with critiquing and editing their Anthologies and I am very mindful of how much work is involved. And like your volunteers, I too gain valuable lessons with every story I edit. I am very grateful to be a part of the second SHMSSW Competition. All the very best with the whole arduous process that not only offers upcoming writers the opportunity to be published, but also honours your father’s memory.

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