I occasionally submit my writing to different contests, but rarely do I receive a note back! I couldn’t say this better than the contest judge, so here’s a copy-and-paste…
“It gives me great pleasure to inform you that your entry, “Born Rescuer”, has been Highly Commended in the 2009 Tom Howard Short Story, Essay and Prose Contest.
While your submission did not win a cash prize, I’d like to assure you that this omission was not due to any defect in your superlative entry itself. In a large contest like this (I believe around 2,000 entries were received), when the judges are forced to choose between 56 entries of equal merit on the Final Short List, the final decision often comes down to simply a matter of personal taste.
Believe me, to achieve a Highly Commended status in a large contest is no mean achievement, but a most encouraging step in your progress as a writer.
With all my very best wishes for your future success!
John Howard Reid