Winners of the Archivist Romance Novel Contest: It’s the Romantics vs. the Cold-Hearted Career Women

After a grueling review, the judges have come to a decision. The entries in the Archivist Romance Novel Contest were spectacular, and fall naturally into two groups. The world of creative archivists willing to buy and read a cheap romance novel and then write funny answers to a multiple choice quiz divides itself into two camps: those who embraced the sentiment of the book and ran with it and those who wanted to slam on the brakes and bring Tamsin back to reality. We are awarding one prize in each category. And the victorious archivists are . .

Winner, Romantics at Heart Category: Jess Kahan
Winner, Cold-Hearted Career Women: Deborah Kaplan


Why did we need to create two categories? Let’s take a peek at some of the winning responses to question #1:

You are waiting in a royal library to meet your new employer, a prince. You are told that he may be delayed for some time. While you are waiting, you . . .

Jess the romantic chose “c: Climb a ladder, remove a stack of books from a top shelf and pile them in your lap, and perch precariously so that one leg (one seriously sexy leg) dangles exposed” and explained:

I am indignant that the prince would keep me waiting while he is most likely seducing a glamorous beauty from the ball. Therefore, I too should demonstrate proper professional demeanor. Such feats cannot occur less than ten feet above ground.

There are few ways to make a good impression as effective as sitting in a needlessly precarious position with a priceless artifact.  Such things illustrate the proper care one must take with a totally unique, and therefore probably irreplaceable, text.  Also, I will use white gloves so as to ensure an additional layer of clumsiness when handling texts.  Not only will I be more likely to tear individual pages, but I will also be less likely to catch these books when they fall, giving the prince a chance to catch said books and earn a man point. Even though using these gloves is somewhat pointless when not handling photographs or other artifacts with a metallic component, when at work I shall always be seen with these gloves.  Better yet, I’ll also put them in my pocket so as to make clear that I recycle them until they are properly grungy and soil texts more than if I had just washed my hands in the first place. Besides, nothing makes bare feet more enticing than covered hands, like socks but in reverse.

Sitting with one leg exposed is a bonafide method of safely testing a book’s durability.  If the book falls intact, then it is solid. If the book breaks as a result of the fall, it is either time to order some archival boxes to place the pieces in or demonstrate to the prince your super sexy physical conservation skills.  Keeping an entire stack of books on one’s lap shows proper respect and care.  If this is not the image of professionalism, then I don’t know what is.

Additionally, when the prince mistakes me for a giant, lithe, and curvaceous mushroom, this presents an opportunity to demonstrate disaster recovery skills from a fungal attack. In order to avoid being whacked with the dowdy stick, only one half step up from the ugly stick, in the future I will dress for the appraising male heterosexual gaze instead of my own comfort. Or not, seeing as smoldering kisses result from discussion of said frumpy clothes, as proven in chapter four. I will continue to let my fashion choices make me a target for shallow pity, but more importantly I won’t use Thymol or other fungicides dangerous to one’s health.

But Deborah, the cynic, chose “d: none of the above”:

I leaned back in a chair in the Ruvingian’s Prince’s library, rubbing my temples and letting my tired eyes close. My back had a crick in it from leaning over the delicate manuscript all day, and I was hoarse from all the red rot that had made it through my mask. I didn’t know much about the Prince, except that he was apparently a playboy, but I needed to find some way of convincing him to give this project more money. Sure, I was slowly gaining bibliographic control over the priceless find, but what good would that be if the collection deteriorated any further? Ruvingia needed to digitize, and fast. And surely this wealthy principality could afford that Zeutschel overhead scanner I’d been ogling in the catalogs.

Suddenly I heard a sound. My eyes flew open. There was a man standing in the library door, and what a man! His pellucid eyes drew me in magnetically, while his rock-hard abs showed clearly through his tight shirt, stirring me as much as the Bag-it specification ever had. I felt a warm fluttering in my womb…

Ah, but those rock-hard abs don’t distract Deborah’s character for long:

I checked my Twitter feed as I packed my bag, tears running down my cheeks. My friends were furiously retweeting; I expected hashtag #royalassault to start trending any time down. The Twitpic of that bastard Alaric groping me — thank goodness for my Android phone — was making the rounds.

I’d loved him, the bastard. His melting eyes had been like bottomless pools as he stared into mine. I’d have given up my career for him, stayed here in Ruvingia, just to feel the shuddering warmth that pooled in my belly when he kissed me.

But what I would not give up is my beliefs. Prostitute myself in order to hire adequate staff? The Society of American Archivists Code of Ethics droned through my mind as I tossed my favorite cardigan (L.L. Bean marled cotton, in stone) into my suitcase.  “Respect and cooperation form the basis of all professional relationships with colleagues and users.” Professional relationships did not include parading about as one’s employer’s “companion”.

Hey, had Jezebel just picked up my story? Damn.

And by the end even the romantic Jess seems to have gotten a bit more cynical:

And besides, every healthy relationship should start off on the basis of secrets and deceit. This is also acceptable workplace behavior and there is no need to feel any sort of guilt until chapter eleven. The chronicles are so old anyway, why is anyone acting like this information is time sensitive?  I mean, they’ve been sitting around forgotten for eons, so surely they’re not that important.

My employer should be informed of the document’s authenticity implicitly, in the same way in which my sexiness is implicit: buried beneath colorless garments, an avalanche, whatever. Clearly my professionalism was just a means to the ends of seeing the prince’s azure blue and never redundantly described bed curtains.

Or to put it another way:

Why am I here again? Oh right, papers. Psh.

You can read all of Jess’s winning entry here and Deborah’s here. I promised them a fabulous prize, and they’re getting one: cookies, made by the same fair hands that created the truly inspired lolcat version of the novel, Rebecca Goldman of Derangement and Description.

Many thanks to our panel of intrepid judges:

  • Rebecca Goldman
  • Jessica Lacher-Feldman
  • Aimee Morgan
  • Arlene Schmuland
  • and me, your host

But there were so many awesome responses to this call for action that we can’t hold them all in one post! Coming soon: highlights from the honorable mentions!

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5 thoughts on “Winners of the Archivist Romance Novel Contest: It’s the Romantics vs. the Cold-Hearted Career Women”

  1. Thank you for once again providing me with a useful and highly entertaining way to avoid any real work. Seriously, thank you!

    So…when will these works be presented at SAA–a night of short plays perhaps?

  2. The full text of the winner entries was HILARIOUS! Best moment: “For a brief moment, I thought fondly of Alaric’s rippling biceps, his chiseled lips, his splendid ass. It was really too bad he was such a douche.” Ahahahaa 😀

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