Well, flibber my jibbet I've only gone and been drafted by Rebekah Postupak - the chief dragoness - to be one of half of a judging team over the coming five months. A big honour and a challenge too.

I was given Team Number 8 in honour of Steve Gerrard's shirt - probably.

The judging over five or six occasions gives me less opportunities to win the challenge again this year (one of my year's aims). So with the remaining weeks I better try harder!
The other half of the judging team is Voima Oy over the pond in the windy city - Chicago: home of big lakes, great blues and interesting weather.

Check out Voima and the weather news (and other stuff of course) at Chicago Weather Watch and @voimaoy on Twitter.

It will be great to work together, though the distance may prevent coffee table discussions - I may need to try Skype again.

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Good to see that we are a team of Flash Dogs too. In fact almost all the judges for the coming Flash! season are Flash Dogs.

Well done dogs. Woof!

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Judging Vol 3-33

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This was the first of several times when Team 8 (or Team Gerrard as I confusingly call it) was tasked with selecting the winner and associated placings for this great challenge.

As you can see above, Team Gerrard comprises Voima and myself stretched across the globe with a bloody great ocean between us. But hey, what's an ocean between friends?

Rebekah had selected a fabulous book for the week - 1001 Nights - and it was a shame we didn't get to write for it. It gave so many possibilities it was undoubted that the talented bunch would give us a hard time. And boy did they!

It wasn't helped that I was working Saturday and Sunday, but I spent the weekend sorting out my printer and getting everything sorted for my reviews, whilst the Chicago team got on with theirs.

There were 67 stories to go through and with them being longer than usual (250 words) it was quite a task to read them all several times. I'm glad my printer stood up to the task, I always have to review on paper. I'm traditional (old) like that.
@fallintofiction did the honours with respect to taking off the identifying marks on the stories allowing us to review them completely blind. We didn't even find out who the writers were until Rebekah posted up the results on Monday night.

I'd read some of the stories on Sunday night using a tried and tested starring system for which ones I liked most. When Voima sent her top picks and I put them beside mine the easiest thing was to select the picks that were in both lists. We could have argued about ones which were in ours but not the others but if we'd done that we'd have ended up with most the stories in the 'whittled down' list.

Once we had that list it was a question of putting them into an order we were happy with. The process despite the "Atlantic Problem" went remarkably smoothly and then it was simply a question of typing up our comments and a bit of commentary then firing it over to Rebekah so that she could put her sheen on it - and put us out of our misery about who we'd selected.

I won't go into the winners and placers here, you can check them out on the winners page, but suffice to say that while it was a tough week with so many excellent stories we were happy with the final list. And it was almost full of FlashDogs - including a very happy first time winner. I bet he wins it again soon.

Definitely looking forward to doing Flash Fiction Friday this week and letting the next judging team do the job. I'm sure they'll do a fabulous job - but I need a rest!