One of my favorite books is The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan.
Here’s the description from the back of the book:
“The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio introduces Evelyn Ryan, an enterprising woman who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the “contest era” of the 1950s and 1960s. Evelyn’s winning ways defied the church, her alcoholic husband, and antiquated views of housewives. To her, flouting convention was a small price to pay when it came to raising her six sons and four daughters. Graced with a rare appreciation for life’s inherent hilarity, Evelyn turned every financial challenge into an opportunity for fun and profit.”
Evelyn, whose story is told by her daughter Terry, manages to win contests of skill to provide for her family, when her alcoholic husband cannot. Using the power of her pen, she writes award winning advertising jingles and slogans to win everything from toasters to brand new cars to her weight in gold.
I was first drawn to this book because my grandmother was a contester. In the 1960s, my grandmother, who had four children and an unhappy marriage that ended in divorce, won two new Pontiacs for her witty Kellogg’s jingle and bicycles for all four kids.
I fell in love with this book because Evelyn demonstrates how a good attitude can help overcome many obstacles. She could have been any other housewife of an alcoholic… exhausted from chasing 10 kids all day and paralyzed by her dire financial situation. But instead she was inspired to write and to win… for herself and for her family.
The days of contests of skill are gone. Companies have swapped these types of contests for sweepstakes that don’t require any skill, other than luck.
And now the blogosphere is changing the way we win contests. Now we enter “giveaways” for products donated to bloggers by companies of all sizes. These companies know that there is a valuable market to reach in the blogging community. And most of these giveaways don’t require much more than a comment or maybe a plug for their blog.
The goal is the same: we all want to win something to help stretch our dollars a bit more… to provide for our families… to give us a thrill. But the game is changing, and if you want to win, you’ve got to know how to play.
There are so many wonderful blogs and websites out there that have great lists of giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes, that I couldn’t possibly list them all.
But in the spirit of Evelyn Ryan, who I can only imagine the blog she would have written, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite resources for modern day contesters:
Freebies 4 Mom – not just free stuff for moms! Heather has loads of links to giveaways and sweepstakes. When it comes to the big sweeps, she only lists ones that have more than 1,000 winners, so you’ll actually have a chance to win a prize.
Sweeties Sweeps – an extensive collection of winnable sweepstakes, blog giveaways and Twitter contests. Be sure to check out her “Teach Me How” section.
Mom Giveaways – an extensive list of blog giveaways – smaller prizes, and usually good odds. I like that!
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