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Hey there, fellow judges!

You may recall that I’ve been running a flash fiction contest to give away a 50% discount to Scrivener, a very rad writing program. Tonight, I’m more than pleased to announce to you your lovely champion. Drumroll please!

The winner is Em, with a lovely little story titled “The Women’s Studies Major’s Break-Up Story”.

As promised, Em will be receiving a code for 50% off her download of Scrivener, for added ease and organization on her continuing path of literary genius. Also as promised, her story will now be shared with all of you!

P.S.: If you like Em’s story, which I think you will, you can follow Em’s real-life adventures over at her highly entertaining blog, Tales from Hipster College.

Without further ado, I give you: “The Women’s Studies Major’s Break-Up Story”.


     Tuesday night wasn’t a busy night at campus pub, but the Women’s Studies major needed to relieve her heavy heart and her roommate’s friend, the English major’s, poetry course was canceled. You can guess who dragged whom to the student-run restaurant.

     “So,” the Women’s Studies major said to her friend for the evening. “You wanna know about the lovely, radiant, thoughtful, red-head that shall forever be known as ‘that beautiful-piece-of-scum.’”

     “Well, when you put it that way…”

      The Women’s Studies major sighed. “How far back should I go?”

      The English major shrugged. “Well, where did—”

     “Other-Prom.” She continued. “We met at Other-Prom, this dance for LGBTQ teens in Columbus. I was wearing this dressy-vest and black slacks and she was wearing this flow-y, glittery dress that could have slid off her body like cream. And her curly red hair was all over the place. You know what we had in common?”

      “You were both gay and single?”

      “Well, duh,” The Women’s Studies major grinned. “No, we were both wearing red converse sneakers. And we both noticed. And we were both Seniors at our respective high schools. And we both knew how to swing-dance.”

     “I didn’t know you danced!” The English major piped cheerfully.

     “Actually, I didn’t, but I was strong enough to lift her over my head and around my body and what have you. People thought we were the shit: instant favorites. We were joined at the hip all evening.” The Women’s Studies major took a sip of her illegal pint. “At the end of the night, she found a sharp-y and wrote her phone number and Facebook name on the bottom of my shoe. I was so busy flirting that I hardly noticed. And high. I could’ve been high.” The English major giggled. The Women’s Studies major didn’t care. “Three dates later we were ‘official’, or as ‘official’ as the close-minded community we lived in would allow. We graduated from our respective high schools. Attended each other’s grad parties. Went out. Snap chatted. Sexted, but you don’t know that. We were regulars at the sushi place down the street from me. Did you hear that? Regulars at a sushi place. Good God, I really changed for her. I mean, I was nice to people. I was even bubbly. I don’t know what the fuck she did to me, but I was a nice person to be around. I wore those fuck’n converses everywhere; so did she.”

      “So then college?” The English major assumed out aloud.

      “I’m gett’n there!” The Women’s Studies major insisted. “So, then, college. She was going to Cincinnati for statistics and I was going to this lovely hipster college for, what? I didn’t even know. Point is, neither of us wanted to call off the relationship because we thought we were in love. First love, you could say. She was patient with me and our personalities did that whole yin-yang deal; it worked. We said we’d get through college, see each other as often as we could, and then we’d be together again in a quick and easy four years. And so we split off.”

      “Like cells in mitosis,” the English major mused.

     “Quit being poetic.” The women’s-studies major playfully retorted. “At first: constant communication. I mean, all the time. Texting, phone calls, the works. Saw her at Thanksgiving break,” she paused. “For about an hour.” The Women’s Studies major took another sip of her almost drowned pint. “I visited her for spring break Freshman year, and it was like the time and distance wasn’t a problem. We hit it off great. Her friends loved me. She still loved me.”

     “Oh,” the English major sighed.

      “With or without her, I wore those fucking converses around all the fucking time, trying to feel close to her on this campus full of dykes, pardon my French.”


     “Lots of lesbians here, you know, but I didn’t go for any of ’em in the past two years I’ve been here. I’ve been waiting out for my lovely lady, who kept promising me that she’d come. I’m the one who believed her.” She sighed. “For summer break, that prick got an internship in Louisville; I visited her for a weekend. After that, she promised me, promised me, that she’d visit this year.” The Women’s Studies major ordered another pint; fake ID to the rescue. She continued. “You know how many fucking dates I passed up because I thought she’d come see me? I did the solo-lesbian gig at a school where much of the student body is gay. You know how shitty that feels?”

      “I’m sorry,” the English major frowned sympathetically.

     “And, to no one’s surprise but my own, she never came. That lying bitch never called it off either; always kept me hanging. So you know what I did on our ‘two year’ anniversary?” The second pint came.

      “What’d ya do?”

      The Women’s Studies major grinned. “I walked my ass down to the mailroom, barefoot, boxed up those red converse sneakers, and sent them on their way to Cincinnati. I was done. Two years after that fucking prom, I freed myself.” She smiled. “I am a free woman, I’m 20 years old,”

      “Don’t say that too loudly,” the English major advised, eyeing the beer.

     “We gotta live while we’re young! We can’t go wasting our time with people who don’t love us! Two years of my college life are gone, I won’t get ’em back, and now I’m gonna enjoy myself, damnit! Here’s to singlehood!” The Women’s Studies major raised her new pint just as a thin, red-headed woman walked in the door of the pub, carrying a pair of worn, red converse sneakers. The English major first glanced at the red shoes in her grasp. Then the red shoes on the woman’s feet. Then at the Women’s Studies major. The Women’s Studies major dropped her pint.


queen geekEnjoyability:     smile transpsmile transpsmile transpsmile transp graysmile transp gray

Deep Thoughts:brain2brain2half brain outlinebrain outline transp 2brain outline transp 2

Pages: 319  Copyright: 2006

          The blurb: If you’re somebody like Shelby Chappelle, a smart, witty, pretty geek army of one, you can’t just put a poster up at school and advertise for somebody to be your best friend. But now freakishly tall Becca Gallagher has moved to town, with her dragon tattoo and wild ideas. Suddenly Shelby’s mad scientist father and their robot, Euphoria, seem normal. They become best friends instantly. But Becca wants to shake things up at school and look for “others of our kind”…and decides to form the Queen Geek Social Club. The thing is, this guy Fletcher Berkowitz keeps nosing around, asking lots of questions about the Club. He’s cute, and interesting, and possibly likes Shelby. Therefore, she must torture him. One good thing about being a loner: no one can break your heart.” (NOTE: this book is actually the first in a trilogy, though it pretty much stands on its own.)

          I read the first few pages of The Queen Geek Social Club in a second-hand bookstore and was immediately captivated by Shelby. She was a girl who embodied a certain combination of traits that creators of fiction are too often unwilling to allow coexistence: interested in dating and relatively traditionally feminine, on the outskirts of high school society, and confident and powerful. And that’s pretty much the premise of the book: girls organizing to be powerful feminine geeks.

          In practice, the story had a certain safeness that kept it from reaching the full battle cry of edginess that girl-crusaders can rally behind. The problem is that I couldn’t fully buy in to Shelby (and her friends)’s geekhood. There were references to her liking old sci-fi movies, and each of her friends had their “thing”—colorful hair, intensely Type-A personality, passion for dark poetry—but I felt more like I was being told they were eccentric and expected to believe it than actually being shown the money. I would have liked their characters to have delved deeper beyond simple stock-quirk appearances and to have seemed like more genuine representations of the many kinds of girl that feel high school is not their turf.

          Even so, the heart was definitely in the right place in this book, and the message was, overall, executed in a way that I loved. The Queen Geeks recognized the pitfalls of teen girl life and fought against them without attempting to force themselves unnaturally in the other direction. Preble gives them permission to be everything: susceptible to the allure of cute boys, but determined not to change to impress them or to allow their lives to revolve around them. Put off by the negative messages of fashion magazines, but still inclined to spend a little too long choosing the perfect ensemble for an important social event. Smart, but not always glued to a textbook.

          Both Shelby and Becca’s difficulties with their family situations added depth to them and highlighted their complexities. Despite not really having that much in common with Shelby, I actually related to her a lot. I really enjoyed the friendship between the two, and I enjoyed waiting to see what Becca’s next Geek campaign would be, and how the group’s image in the eyes of the school would evolve.

          There was a slight packaged flavor to this book that kept it from fully blowing up for me, but there was a positivity, sweetness, and sense of fun that made me glad I read it.

          Don’t forget to send me your super-short story for the Flash Fiction Flash Contest!

I’m a winner! And I want to share that experience with one of you!

This month, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, an international online writing challenge. I set a goal to write 30,000 words of a novel in the thirty-one days of July. And I did it!


Because I made my goal, I was given a package of special prizes and promos. One of these prizes was a 50% discount on Scrivener, a writing program with lots of tools to help novelists, students, intellectuals, etc. A program which I’ve actually been very interested in this month. And which I purchased full price… yesterday.


But after I finished weeping and kvetching over the missed opportunity to save a few bucks, I realized there was a way I could turn the situation around. Scrivener normally costs $40. It has completely changed my writing experience, and I’m never going back to MS Word.  I want to give my winner’s discount away to a fellow writer who can use it.

Enter: The Flash Fiction Flash Contest.

Here’s how it works: Send me a piece of your own original flash fiction. Flash fiction refers to a complete, self-contained story that is (for the purpose of this contest, at least) 1,000 words or less in length. Your submission should be based one of the three following prompts:

  • Escape from something is symbolized by getting rid of an item

  • Something unexpected becomes powerful

  • Someone saves the day by doing nothing

Click here to submit your piece via Surveymonkey. The reading process will be blind and anonymous.

In keeping with the “flash” theme, I’m going to make this a relatively short time frame. All submissions will be due no later than 11:59 pm on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. So sit down today and whip up that mini-story. Don’t be afraid to make it shorter than 1,000 words; concise style is the goal here. I will announce my decisions on Saturday, September 27.

One submission per person. In addition to the first prize of 50% off your purchase of Scrivener, the top three submissions will be published here on I’ll Be the Judge (unless you request that they not be for whatever reason). They will still be the sole property of the writers, of course. The first prize winner will receive via e-mail my code for 50% off Scrivener, which will need to be used before October 1.

Here is that link to submit once again. One submission per person, please. Don’t hesitate to comment with questions if there are things that are still unclear, or alternately, you can contact me by e-mail at

(Note: SurveyMonkey only allows 100 responses with the subscription I’m using, and I’m only one girl, after all, so at least as of now, this contest will be limited to the first 100 entries.)

Happy writing!