GeekGirlCONLINE is less than a month away, and although the con will be a bit different this year with totally virtual panels, workshops, and livestreams all October long, the one thing that isn’t changing is our reliance on volunteers & donations to fulfill our mission to support, empower, and celebrate women, girls & other marginalized fans in all areas of geekdom.
As you get hyped for what will, presumably, be the best virtual con of all time, please consider supporting the GGC mission with a one-time or monthly donation. Your gift will not only help us make GeekGirlCONLINE a success, it will also fuel GGC 2021—our 10th anniversary con (and, presumably, the best in-person con of all time).
We know this year has been difficult for many, and we want you to know that we appreciate your love and support regardless of whether or not you’re able to donate. GeekGirlCon exists because of this community, and we can’t wait for you to see what we have in store next month!
Now that Labor Day has come and gone, summer is officially over. Fall is fast approaching, and with it comes the awesome virtual party that we are calling GeekGirlCONLINE!
For anyone who didn’t hear, we are moving GGC to a totally virtual experience for 2020. We are so excited to explore this new way to bring content to our community and we are committed to making GGC as accessible as it can possibly be.
GeekGirlCONLINE is a totally new experience, and we are planning to bring you content through the entire month of October. We will be bringing you panels, workshops, and livestreams focused on a weekly theme.
We will be announcing programming in the coming weeks, so check back often to see what we have planned! Stay in the know by subscribing to our blog or following us on social media.
The seasons, they are a-changin’! As we move from a (strange, confusing) summer to a (also strange, also confusing) fall, I’m feeling conflicted. Saying goodbye to summer means less time to spend (masked!) outside, and even more time spent inside comfort-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender in its entirety. It means that I’ll have to stop exclusively wearing denim cut-offs and start looking into sun lamps to combat the S.A.D.
But even though this summer to fall transition is bittersweet, there are so many things to look forward to. A few of those things are listed on our Geek About Town events calendar, where we feature the upcoming (and, now, mainly virtual!) events that we’re most excited for!
if you’re looking for a few great events to fill some of that white space in your schedule, be sure to check out the full calendar. In the meantime, here are just a few of the events that are making this between-season time a bit brighter for me:
I’ve always been drawn to the idea of book clubs. But, in reality, that’s always all it’s ever been to me–an idea.
During high school, in a last-ditch effort to find community at the time when I felt most incapacitated by my anxiety, I recall trying to start a book club with the help of the librarian. In the end, I was one of two people who read the book, and we never met a second time. When I graduated from college a year before my two best friends, we started a book club (/podcast, which is highly cringey to admit in retrospect…) as a means to stay close despite the newfound distance. Again, we read one book before letting the self-imposed pressure to publicize our conversations get the better of us. A couple of years ago, I did an internship at the Feminist Press, and even there, perhaps the place one would need the least external motivation to collectively read and talk about books, I become absorbed with the idea of starting dedicated book club among the staff. No surprise, that project did not come to fruition. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve officially joined approximately five different book clubs, some through bookstores, some through friends, some through neighborhood groups. I’ve never actually been to a single meeting, though I still read the books on my own sometimes–always with the best and most hopeful intentions.
If there’s something my friends and family know about me, it’s that I love snail mail. I’ve sent many correspondences throughout the years, whether it’s for a holiday, a birthday, or just a random hello. In 2020, sending mail has been one way to keep in touch with loved ones across the country; while I can’t visit physically, at least I can send something physical to let people know I’m thinking of them.
One of my favorite ways to keep in touch through snail mail is by writing postcards. I don’t have to write much on a postcard to convey my feelings, since there isn’t much space to write! While I know I could just text someone a random hello, I like sending postcards because it lets me be more creative in my message sending. I can write hello with fancy hand lettering, or stick washi tape on the lower border of the postcard. Every postcard is like a custom made art piece, sent to someone I care about.
Not sure how to get started writing postcards? No problem, I’ve written out my tips below. Happy postcard writing!
In the world we currently find ourselves in, masks and other face coverings have quickly become an essential item to bring with you when leaving your home. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Mask? Check! This is especially important now that face coverings are mandatory in Washington state.
Let’s be honest though. Like bras, masks are often hot and uncomfortable to wear. No one really likes wearing them, but we do it in the name of social decency and for the sake of public safety during a pandemic. But are masks a necessary evil, or can they be a potential fashion statement? Instead of looking at face masks as an imposition, maybe we can view them from a more positive angle. This is really an opportunity to let your geek flag fly!
I know you geeks out there love to express yourselves. You are smart and crafty! Think of your mask as a blank canvas. What kind of geekdoms can you proclaim to the world through your mask?
There is a plethora of geeky cotton fabric available from just about every corner of the internet. Or, if you are anything like me, you have a ton of leftover fabric scraps from other projects long finished that were just a smidgen too big for you to toss in the garbage without feeling immense guilt (I knew that fifteen inch square of leftover fabric would come in handy someday! Take that Marie Kondo.).
Once I realized that COVID wasn’t going anywhere, I started researching some basic face mask patterns and found a great video tutorial. I gathered some fabric I had laying around, and made some fun masks that have turned out to be some great conversation starters at work. Plus, I like the added bonus of having a reusable mask. It feels less wasteful, and cotton is a very durable fabric.
I was having so much fun with different fabrics, I decided to buy some more geeky fabric online. There were so many different patterns that it was truly a challenge to choose what to purchase while staying inside a reasonable budget. I ended up with enough fabric to make nearly sixty face coverings! I know that sounds a bit excessive, but I’m glad I ended up getting so much.
Since masks have been made mandatory in public, I’ve started making them to give to family and friends who are not able to make them for themselves. I can’t control much in my life right now, but I can do this. I can look out for the people I love. I can help to keep my community safe by providing this small service. I can make an unpleasant situation a little more colorful. And if that’s all I can do for now, then that is okay.
So, what have you been choosing for your coverings? Let us know how you have been showing some love for your favorite fandoms on your face!
One of the best pleasures in life is curling up with a good book. I love to read just about anything, but some of my favorite reading content comes in the form of mass market romance novels. I know what you’re thinking. You mean those cheezy paperbacks from the grocery store that have a shirtless muscle-head and a fawning woman on them? Well, essentially yes, and I can tell you why. They are fun and easy to read and they offer an amusing escape from reality for a little while. Who doesn’t love to be swept away by a good love story?
With all the changes going on in the world, it has prompted me to take a closer look at the content I consume and who is generating that content. When I look at romance novels, I see a traditionally white female cisgender space, which is no accident. These books have always been marketed to that specific audience, and the statistics can prove it. Eighty-four percent of romance readers identify as female, mostly between the ages of eighteen to fifty-four. Eighty-one percent of readers are white.
The romance novel industry is a billion dollar industry, making up twenty-nine percent of the fiction market. People may laugh off romance novels as trashy or worthless, but there is serious money to be made in the genre.
With the popularity of self publishing, consumers have more agency than ever in deciding what types of content they wish to see. It has never been easier for authors of all kinds to put their work out in the world to be found by like-minded people craving the types of content they are creating. This is the time that we need to make room for other points of view. The content is out there, and we need to find it and support it.
With this idea in mind, and a nudge in the right direction from one of my current favorite romance authors, I decided to indulge in something new and different.
I’m a person who likes to start at the beginning, Unmasked Heart was a natural starting point for me. Riley self-published the book in 2015, and it is the first novel in her Challenge of the Souls series. Like many people, I’m usually strapped for time, so I chose to purchase this book from Audible so I could listen to it while doing chores.
Synopsis (with only a few spoilers)
Gaia Telfair is a quiet, unassuming young lady who has always felt like an outsider in her family. She is treated differently by her father and feels that she looks nothing like her siblings. One day, her father reveals to her, in a rather cruel way, that Gaia is the product of an affair her mother had with a African man who was getting an education in England. Having been raised to fit in with “good English society,” Gaia is shocked by the revelation. She struggles with her new identity, and is desperate to find a place where she can be happy and really belong.
William St. Landon, The Duke of Cheshire and a widower with a young special needs daughter, runs to his family’s country estate to escape a looming scandal. He is being blackmailed over his late wife’s infidelity, and he is being pressured back into marriage by his annoyingly persistent cousin. All William wants is what is best for his mute daughter. He hears through the locals that Miss Telfair is gifted with special needs children, having instructed her autistic little brother with great success, and he is determined to have her teach his daughter.
William begins an unlikely friendship with Gaia, and eventually proposes a marriage of convenience. Will Gaia tell William about the circumstances of her birth? Can William uncover his blackmailer? I’m not gonna ruin it for you! You’ll need to read the book yourself!
My Take on the Book
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Riley does a great job of painting a Brontë-esque portrait of Regency Era British society, and she doesn’t shy away from topics such as slavery, racism, and how special needs children were treated at the time. I found the take refreshing and honest, which is something we need right now. I’m tired of books that don’t paint an accurate picture of the past, and this one gets a big thumbs up from me.
The characters are endearing and believable in their motivations. The pacing was decent and the plot was full of action. Honestly, I think that the biggest thing I disliked about the book didn’t even have anything to do with the actual content. I got the audiobook, and I have to say that the narrator was awful. I kept getting hung up on the fact that she constantly pronounced the word mulatto as mew-LAtto, and it was distracting. The audio quality was also sub-par. This is currently Riley’s only work to be available on audiobook, and I sincerely hope that any other works made into audiobooks can get a little more love.
I will definitely be reading more of Riley’s books. Much of her content is available on Amazon Kindle, either for free or for less than a dollar. I find that a small price to pay to support a BIPOC author that I enjoy. These stories deserve to be told. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth (or keyboard) is and show the romance novel industry that there is a desire for diverse content.
Events looks pretty different these days than they ever have before. We’re hanging out with friends over Zoom and avoiding public spaces we used to love (oh how I miss you, concerts and movie theaters!). We’re tuning in to an endless stream of Instagram lives (may I recommend Ziwe Fumudoh’s genius live show on Thursdays and also every IGTV Sonya Renee Taylor has ever made?!). And, of course, many of us are protesting against anti-Black racism and police brutality, and spending our nights speed-dialing our electeds (P.S. here’s a cool tool to find your reps!)
So it’s no surprise that our most recent round up of upcoming events looks a little different than normal too. From virtual talks to drive in movies, check out our full Geek About Town events calendar to find out about all of the online (or physically-distanced in-person) events coming up that may just help you feel a little bit better about the strange, sad, confusing, and exhausting times we’re living in.
Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the upcoming events I’m most excited for:
I live in a sleepy Seattle neighborhood that’s known for its historic, small-town charm and strong sense of community. Renting is the exception, not the norm, and many of my neighbors have been here for decades. I once described where I live to someone in the area, and he responded with, “Oh! You mean the rental unit?”
My neighborhood is also dotted with Neighborhood Crime Watch signs, a fact I was only peripherally aware of until a few weeks ago.
When you walk down the Artist Alley at GeekGirl Con, if you’re looking for them, you may find a TON of different self-published or small-press books. Many of them call themselves zines, but the content, format, and presentation from one to the other might be wildly different. I know that’s part of what makes me so excited to stumble upon each new zine I find: the feeling of discovery, excitement at finding something totally unique, and the way that each creator’s individuality comes across so clearly to show me a new perspective on something I had never thought about before.
So, how do you define a zine, and what makes it such a perfect medium for self expression? Pronounced “zeen” as it is short for “magazine,” the name gives us a clue: a zine is a small press publication, popularly thought to have less than 1,000 copies produced (it’s the low quantity that makes it small press!), but more typically having even 100 or less copies made.
It’s hard to imagine someone from the 1940s saying the word “fanzine,” but it actually goes back at least that far! It’s worth mentioning that self-published papers have been a way for marginalized groups to share their truths since the invention of the printing press, but fast forward to the early 1900s, and amateur printing was becoming a phenomenon. The term “fanzine” arose from science fiction fan material being created, and artist groups like the Dadaists, who you may remember from art history, gave these publications the visual style they can be identified by. It’s not surprising speculative fiction has always been pioneering, even in zines!
There’s a lot more I could say about early SF fanzines, but I’ll just mention that the first TV-inspired fanzine was about Star Trek, and it was called Spockanalia. (…Okay, I can’t just leave it there, I have to say that Star Trek fans also created some of the first slash fics through zines, and if that doesn’t spark your interest in history, I don’t know what to tell you.)
Throughout the ‘70s, science fiction focused zines were also standing up to do what small press had always done before: representing voices of marginalized people. Probably the best familiarity fans might have with zine culture from this time is through the 1990s riot grrrl scene: women who continued to be marginalized found a voice in punk culture, and were able to reach a wider audience through zines and small press when larger publishing houses were gatekeepers to the means to publish traditionally. The DIY nature of punk culture gave a lot of aesthetic influence to zines at that time, identifiable by the photo-copied-and-stapled approach, and you can still see plenty of that today.
Nowadays when I go to a con, I see incoming fans and their excitement for zines, but also their confusion. “I thought a zine was when a bunch of artists each do an illustration on a theme or fandom, and compile it into a book,” or “I thought a zine was like an ashcan*, really low budget and DIY.”
*Ashcans are usually specifically comics, typically low-grade prototypes for promotional use.