Workshop Recap: You Can’t Suck at Everything

Prepare yourselves, dear readers, for today I will be telling you about an experience that changed my life.

No, not a death-defying feat, a thrilling adventure, or an inspiring turn of events.

A workshop.

Specifically, “You Can’t Suck at Everything,” a writing workshop that I was lucky enough to attend last October at GeekGirlCon ‘18.

As someone who has abandoned so many half-finished novels I could set up a small graveyard in my backyard, I couldn’t get to this workshop quickly enough. Not only did it promise to help provide the basics of a 3-act story structure, delve into character creation and worldbuilding, and explore how our perceived “flaws” are actually key to finding and articulating our own unique perspective as writers, but it was also run by the one and only Margaret Stohl.

Image Description: A headshot of author Margaret Stohl. Stohl is turned slightly to the side, and is looking straight at the camera. Source: Twitter

If you are one of the ten billion people (a rough estimate) who devoured the Beautiful Creatures series (co-authored with Kami Garcia), you might be familiar with the powerhouse talent that is Margaret Stohl. As if being an internationally bestselling author isn’t enough, Stohl has also written multiple comics, including the Mighty Captain Marvel series, and has a long career as a writer and narrative director for video games.

Almost immediately, Stohl cultivated a sense of community in the workshop, uniting us all as writers, artists, and creators of all kinds. It can be so easy to feel isolated as a writer or creator. If you’re like most of us, you’re probably plagued by constant doubts, spend an unhealthy amount of time with fictional characters, spin off into daydreams when you should be doing things like “concentrating” or “working at your day job,” and guard your work like a fearsome dragon mother.

Image Description: A screenshot of a tweet by Margaret Stohl, which says “WRITING TIP: NOBODY NEEDS WRITING TIPS! You need LISTENING TO THING YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR tips & JUST GET IT DONE tips. Then you’re golden.” Source: Twitter

This workshop felt like the perfect antidote to the self-imposed isolation of doubt, fear, and embarrassment. When everyone’s in the same boat, what is there to be self-conscious about?

There were so many points, tips, and ideas that I walked away from the workshop with, but, in the interest of not making you read a full thesis, here are some of the highlights:

  • Everyone has a story, and everyone wants to tell a story. As Stohl said, “I’m interested in yours and you should be more interested in yours than anyone.”
  • Don’t put off what you want because you’re worried about failing. You will fail! Spoiler alert: that’s okay.
  • It’s hard to take yourself seriously as a writer and creator, even–and especially–if it’s the thing you want most in the world. Do it anyway. Affirm yourself as a writer and creator.
  • “If you want something, you take it. There is exactly nothing standing between you and that thing.”
  • “You cannot write a protagonist without being a protagonist in your own life.”
  • Understand who you are writing for, and write for them, not for the whole world.
  • A novel is, at its core, just 30 words. Write a list of 30 words that map the arc of your story, and make those your chapters. Go from there.
  • You are probably a specialist in fear. Write about that, use that. There is nothing you know more about than what you fear.
  • Start developing and curating your “brain office.” Collect and organize your material, even in your own mind.
  • Keep everything. Old lists, descriptions, terrible poems, scraps of dialogue. Keep it all.
  • Find a critique partner for accountability and support.
  • “Do not confuse sucking at one thing with sucking at everything.”

There you have it, some solid gold advice for when you’re feeling stuck, uninspired, or insecure. If I came away with one conviction from the workshop, it’s that I’m a writer. I’m a creator.

You probably are too.

Now let’s go write.

Image Description: A screenshot of a tweet from fellow GeekGirlCon Copywriter Teal Christensen quoting me, which says “Who knew that @mstohl would become our mother today?? – @hupptwothree re: a mind-blowing writing workshop this morning at #GGC18. GeekGirlCon Campaign Manager JC Lau comments “I like everything about this tweet.” Source: Twitter

Hanna Hupp
“Rock On!”

Write for Us!

Maybe you just attended our amazing con and had the time of your life connecting with fellow awesome geeks, maybe you’ve been looking for a way to share your nerdy pursuits with the world, or maybe you’re interested in contributing to an incredible organization that values enthusiasm, geekiness, and inclusion as much as you do. If any of these sound vaguely like you, we want to hear about it! We’re looking for all sorts of cool people to contribute to our GeekGirlCon community by writing for the blog.

While I personally only started writing for GeekGirlCon this past summer, I’ve been involved with attending the con and keeping up with events for much longer than that. Contributing to the blog has taken my experience to a whole other level, though, letting me express my passions and enthusiasms, share cool information with our readers, and generally provide an outlet to talk about all the things I geek out about most.

If you feel aligned with the mission of GeekGirlCon, are excited about supporting and empowering women and other marginalized communities in the realms of STEM, gaming, comics, fandom, cosplay, books, media, and so much more, or if there’s something else you wish you were seeing on our blog, please pitch your ideas to us and think about becoming a guest blogger!

To get started, just submit a short pitch (around 100 words) on the topic you’d like to write about to If accepted, our awesome copy team will work with you to get your piece published on our blog.

We’re excited to hear your voice, so please reach out with your ideas and pitches!

Source: GeekGirlCon flickr

Hanna Hupp
“Rock On!”

Writers and Writing at GeekGirlCon ‘14

If there’s one thing nerds love, it’s stories: reading them, watching them, playing them, and for many of us, writing them. At GeekGirlCon ‘14, we have so many writing-related panels that you will need a Time-Turner to attend them all!

Have you ever wondered what geekdom would be like if it weren’t dominated by male heroic-journey sagas? B.J. “Lex” Priester of Fangirl Blog takes us on “The Heroine’s Journey: Moving Beyond Campbell’s Monomyth,” exploring how female-focused sci-fi and fantasy such as The Hunger Games, The Legend of Korra, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Disney’s Frozen differ from the established archetypes, and what that means for the stories they tell.

Kill your darlings! No, not literally; you must have been reading too many classic sci-fi short stories. Instead, join a professional editor and learn “Editing 101 for Writers,” skills that every writer needs whether they are writing for publication or for personal pleasure.

For the YA lover, we have two dedicated programming events. There’s the “Fierce Reads Young Adult Author Panel,” featuring four science fiction and fantasy authors talking about getting their work published. There’s also “Diversity in YA,” which will tackle the dearth of protagonists of colour, and LGBT protagonists (among others) in young adult fiction. For writers–and readers–who want to see more diversity, what are the current issues, and what can we do about it?

Huntress Arc Cover

Photo source:

If your kid is an aspiring writer, or a natural storyteller, you might be interested in “Imaginary Worlds (for Kids).” Author and spoken word artist Danika Dinsmore leads an interactive story time for families, which is sure to inspire young imaginations!

As we’ve mentioned lately on the GeekGirlCon blog, fanfic is going mainstream. No longer the dirty little secret that you stay up indulging after everyone else has gone to bed, it’s now cool to share fanfic recommendations–gasp!–in public, to own up to being an author, even to get work published. But where does the law stand on this? Commercial publishers’ and authors’ stances range from, “I’m flattered when people play in my worlds,” through, “Do it, but I’ll avoid looking at it,” all the way to, “Cease and Desist.” Our panel “Fan Fiction: Sharing, Creating, and the Law” explores the nuances of copyright law for fanfic authors.

In this context, slash fic has its own specific problems. Now that it’s being acknowledged in the works that inspire it, how much of that acknowledgement is genuine recognition, and how much is exploitation, tokenism designed to hush the calls for diversity and meaningful representation? “21st Century Boys: Slash in the Mainstream” delves into these questions.

Finally, in “If You Can Write, You Can Make Games,” discover how easy it is to make interactive fiction using free, open-source programs you can find online. Take your existing writing skills and expand them into a whole new medium.

There’s something for every writer, storyteller, and daydreamer at GeekGirlCon ‘14–we’ll see you there!

 By GeekGirlCon Copywriter Winter Downs

Winter Downs
“Rock On!”

How I Almost Became a Pharmacist

by GeekGirlCon Copy Writer Sarah “SG-1” Grant

This is what I would have looked like behind the pharmacy counter!

This is what I would have looked like behind the pharmacy counter!

Photo credit

I’m surrounded by intelligent women and men in my life; I always have been. From the time I was in grade school and hung out more with the teachers than the kids my own age, all the way up until now–just look around the room at any GeekGirlCon meeting! It can be fairly intimidating at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I always knew I was book-smart. I read every single thing I could get my hands on (unless it was something my big brother told me I had to read, and then I ignored it entirely), loved playing trivia games of all kinds, and would far rather watch “Jeopardy!” than any other television show. I was in the upper levels in all of my classes, reading at grade levels three or four higher than where I actually was in school. My mom tells me that a lot of the split level classes in my grade school happened when my brother and I were there; the teachers had to split up classes and send us to different grades for specific classes like reading and math. So yes, I’ve always been told I’m smart.

I never felt comfortable with math, though. Math tests were hard, and we never had enough time to do them. I remember–and still have nightmares from–speed tests in second grade, where we had five minutes to finish ten math problems, and anything not done was marked wrong. I had what I know now were anxiety attacks around those tests, but at the time, I just felt like I was dumb.

Just looking at this is making me nervous.

Just looking at this is making me nervous.

Photo credit

A lot of that feeling transitioned into junior high and high school, where math just kept getting harder. I didn’t understand algebra, and geometry was just mystifying. Why did I have to “prove” all of these things that we already knew?? I managed to get okay math grades, but never without much trepidation around report card time. My science classes–physical science, biology, and chemistry included–were much the same. I never thought I was doing anything right, but I managed good grades anyway.

In college, I chose English as my major, for several reasons. First, I got to read stuff. Books, plays, poems, more books–what could ever be wrong with that? Second, the hardest science class I took was Geology 306, nicknamed “Rocks for Jocks”, which was a notoriously easy class that the entire university sports program apparently took at one time or another. Third, I didn’t have to take ANY math. None whatsoever. No math for my English degree? Yes, please!

Fast forward to the year after I graduated from college. I worked full time for my former university as an administrative assistant, but was bored and restless with very little to do after work. One of my roommates convinced me to get a job as a pharmacy technician at the Walgreens where her mom was a pharmacist, and where my roommate herself was a pharmacy intern. My job interview consisted of the pharmacy manager shaking my hand, and then asking me when I could start. Apparently, my roommate and her mom had told the manager that I would be perfect for the job, and he listened to them.

At one point in my seven year pharmacy career, I decided I wanted to become a pharmacist. I had seen and worked for many pharmacists, and I knew I could do what they did. The sticking point: pharmacy schools don’t accept people with English degrees until they’ve taken a lot of pre-pharmacy courses. I started over completely in a pre-algebra class and a pre-chemistry class to see if I could actually do it.

And it was easy. I got As straight through math and chemistry, Bs in biology and physics.

Best grades I ever got!

Best grades I ever got!

Image by Sayed Alamy

I’d spent the majority of my life thinking I was dumb where math and science were concerned, which brought down my self-esteem considerably. As it turned out, not only was I not math and science dumb, I was actually pretty good at it. I soared through three semesters of math with no problems, even thriving under the strict tutelage of my trigonometry professor–a grumpy,  old-school Russian professor who lived and grew up in the Soviet Union. He taught me to rely more on my brain than my calculator, which was awesome and very empowering. Also, after my semester of pre-chemistry, that chemistry professor selected me to become a lab assistant for several of her classes in the following semesters. My next chemistry professor, also a woman, showed us different ways to solve chemical problems of all kinds. She encouraged me each time I spoke to her, in every class and every lab. To this day, Professor Phillips is one of my favorite teachers, and I think of her and her teaching abilities whenever I have to find different ways to attack a problem in any aspect of my life.

I didn’t end up becoming a pharmacist after all, but that had more to do with choosing the profession for the dollar signs attached to it than with my abilities to get through the schooling. If I had stayed on that path, I would be in my third year of working as a pharmacist right now–and I truly believe that I would be dreadfully unhappy.

The reason I’ve always been so into books and reading is because words–their creation, use, and near-infinite combinations–are what truly fascinate me. Money is important as a way to keep a roof over my head, but money isn’t what excites me. My friend Bridgett helped me come to that conclusion over a calculus project, and I will be grateful to her for the rest of my life. It’s not easy to work with all the words, but the struggle is definitely what makes it worth it–and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Words, words, words...

Words, words, words…

Photo credit

Have YOU ever had a realization like this one in your life?


Sarah Grant
“Rock On!”

Strong Female Character: Georgia Carolyn Mason

GeekGirlCon is running a series of blog posts about strong female characters from all sorts of fiction, from books and comics to movies and TV shows. Welcome to our inaugural post, penned by GeekGirlCon staff copy writer Sarah Grant (aka SG-1)!

My favorite female characters tend to be strong (emotionally, mentally, and physically), smart, and sassy. Considering this characterization is how I tend to view myself, this preference isn’t too remarkable. It doesn’t matter if said female is human, alien, android, or fae; if she’s strong, smart, and sassy, I identify with the character.

feed mira grantLast year I read the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant (no relation!). Feed, the first book in the trilogy, was published in 2010; Deadline and Blackout followed, along with a novella called Countdown. It’s a post-zombie-apocalypse series, and one of the grimmer series I’ve read (perhaps not for the kids, folks). The storytelling style is unique: the author combines blog posts, private journal entries, the occasional Internet announcement, and first-person narratives by most of the main characters at one point or another. This may sound confusing, but don’t let it put you off. I’m giving you the inside scoop: at the beginning of each chapter, there is a blog post or journal entry written by that chapter’s narrator.

Now, you’re wondering when I’m going to get to the strong female character. Here she is: Georgia Carolyn Mason. Georgia, her brother Shawn, and their friend Buffy make up a team of journalists who are selected to accompany a hopeful presidential candidate on his campaign journey. Along the way, they encounter bad politics, extremely enhanced security measures (including regular blood tests, bleach showers, and retinal scans), and—of course—zombies.

George (as many call her) is the “newsie” of the trio: she finds and reports facts to her readers, and she has journalistic integrity coming out of her ears. She won’t post anything she isn’t sure is correct, and she has no qualms about posting news that might get her into trouble. Shawn enjoys “poking dead things with sticks and getting it on camera” to entertain the masses, and Buffy writes stories and poems, as well as acting as the team’s tech wiz—she’s never met a piece of technology she can’t figure out in less time than it takes me to boot up my computer.

What makes George a strong female character, and why do I like and admire her so much? Three things:

1. She’s intelligent.

2. She’s sarcastic.

3. She’s loyal—to her brother, and to the truth.

All too often, female characters are used as the android-type, uber-smart foil to another character. That other character tends to be a guy, or just as often a pretty girl who is the main character—but as decoration. Think about Scooby Doo: Daphne (the pretty one) has the boyfriend, and she’s the one everyone watches. Velma (the smart one) has the stereotypical glasses and general nerd factor. George is the main character, and she is the perfect mix of both. For instance, she knows how the “The Rising” happened in the summer of 2014—the science behind two unrelated viruses combining to reanimate the dead around the world. George also takes care of her appearance: in a world where repeated bleach showers streak everyone’s hair blond, she dyes her hair regularly, determined to look good while she’s busy reporting to the world.

zombiesI personally learned sarcasm in utero, and George’s sarcasm seems to be on that same level. She will always give the sarcastic answer before she gives a real answer. George and I have the same sense of humor—though she tends to be a little bit more on the fatalistic side of things, what with living through the actual zombie apocalypse. There are very few situations in which she will be serious to the exclusion of sarcasm, though one of those situations is the death of a close friend. If I knew George in real life, we’d completely get each other.

George’s best characteristic is her absolute loyalty to two things: the truth, and her brother. Shawn is the only person she’s ever felt she can really depend on, and she knows he will tell her what she needs to know, whether she asks for it or not. She has the same way of dealing with him: she doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear, but what he needs to hear. George can be tactful with people outside her team—especially handy for dealing with politicians and their minions—but otherwise she doesn’t hold anything back. This is definitely a characteristic I aspire to.

The truth is what drives Georgia: truth in life, truth in journalism, and making sure that the people (her blog readers around the world) get both of these from her. It may not be the easy thing to do, and it’s certainly not the safest, but it is the right thing to do. As the team wends its way through the presidential trail with their candidate, their personal danger increases at every moment. Others tell them to go home, that the only way they will be safe is to distance themselves from the campaign and the uncomfortable truths they are uncovering. George’s sense of black-and-white morality absolutely precludes her stepping back; she needs to know the truth so she can bring to light the shady decisions of the government and bring about change in her world. I believe in knowing and telling the truth as well. I like to think that if I were in George’s situation, I would be just like her.

Georgia Carolyn Mason fits my ideal of the strong female character in fiction. I initially started reading Feed because I am a fan of Mira Grant (and her alter ego, Seanan McGuire), but watching George interact with her world and do everything she can to make things better and tell the truth about what’s happening quickly pulled me into the story in a way that not many books do. I highly recommend the Newsflesh series to anyone looking for action, sarcasm, intelligence, and just plain fun–and I’d love to hear from you when you read them. Drop me a line:

Sarah Grant
“Rock On!”

Ask GGC: What is your geeky New Year’s resolution?

Hello and Happy New Year, readers!

It’s another year and another 365 days for geekery and nerdiness! When asking the GeekGirlCon Staff what their geeky resolutions for 2013 are; here’s what some of them said:

This would be a great cosplay!

“I have two geeky resolutions this year. My first resolution is to attend a convention that I am not volunteering at in any way. For most this may sound easy, but I work a lot of cons, so it’s more difficult than it seems. My second resolution is to cosplay at least once this year. Maybe I’ll dress up as Illyria, even if it’s just from the neck up.” – Jex Ballard, Manager of Volunteer Administration

These two adorable creatures are already into Kristine’s goals for 2013.

“I don’t so much believe in making resolutions just because it’s a new year. I DO believe in continuing to treat people as I wish to be treated, making healthier choices in life, and lastly being true to myself so I can be happy. There’s also the matter of planning a honeymoon this year… Happy New Year’s everyone! Thanks for making GeekGirlCon a reality and see you in 2013!” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator

A fantastically decorated page.

“My resolution this year… well, one of a couple, actually… is to start writing things down. This includes everything from tasks at work, to outings with friends, to starting up an altered journal so that I can note day-to-day activities, movies, good and bad times, everything that I possibly can! That, along with the usual of eating better, more exercise, just generally treating myself better — this should keep me busy.” – Kris Panchyk, Exhibitor Services Manager

I’m right there with you.

”Save Community from cancellation and get Dan Harmon back on the show. Should be easy enough, right?” – Abby Reinheart, Manager of Hospitality and Transportation

So what say you, readers? What is your geeky resolution for 2013?

“Rock On!”

Artist Corner: Rebecca Brinson

Greetings readers! November is winding to a close and with it, National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. I thought what better way to highlight writing in the Pacific Northwest than to speak with Development Director at Seattle’s own Richard Hugo House, tireless 826er, and my friend, Rebecca Brinson!

Rebecca Brinson

Hi Rebecca!


Let’s begin with your origin story. How did you land at Hugo House? Tell us what you do for the House?

Well, I ended up at Hugo House the same way many people do—I was an errant creative writing major. After I graduated from the University of Washington’s undergrad creative writing program, I worked for several years in the development department at ACT Theatre. One of my favorite jobs there was as the grants manager, where I got to put my writing talents to good use. Outside of my work at ACT, I co-founded Northwest Essay with a friend of mine. We had both worked as college tutors and saw a need for affordable, high-quality online personal statement essay editing. As Northwest Essay started to show some promise, I wanted to dedicate time to building it up, so I left my full-time job at ACT and ended up working part-time at the front desk at Hugo House. When the development position eventually opened up, I was ready for full-time work again and ended up in fundraising once again.

I still run Northwest Essay on the side, but my responsibility at Hugo House is to raise roughly 50 – 60% of our annual operating budget from institutional grants (gifts from foundations, corporations, and government entities), special fundraising events, and individual donations. I’m a one-person development shop, so I write grants, plan, and produce fundraising events, manage our membership program and our annual giving campaign, work with our executive director on major donor relationships, and generally be an ambassador for the House. I also end up spending a lot of time managing IT, as I’m the administrator of our online patron database and am enough of a web developer that I get under the hood occasionally of our Drupal installation. (PS, we’re looking for a new Drupal developer contractor to help us out with, among other things, the upgrade from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7! If any of your readers are into that, they should contact me.)

Richard Hugo House

I am familiar what Hugo House does but can you explain it to those unfamiliar with its mission?

Richard Hugo House, named after Seattle poet and writing teacher Richard Hugo, is an arts center grounded in the written word. Our mission is to foster writers, build community, and engage the Pacific Northwest in the world of writing. We offer creative writing classes for adults; creative writing camps and writing circles for youths; produce readings, book releases, art shows, and multi-genre performances; commission and premiere new work by established and up-and-coming authors through our Literary Series; employ two writers-in-residence to work on their own writing as well as mentor (for free!) members of the community; and manage ZAPP, the Zine Archive & Publishing Project, one of the largest independent zine archives in the world. Whew! Through all of our programs, we support the creation of new work, encourage artistic risk and cultivate a welcoming community.

Can anyone just come to the house for writing inspiration or do you have to be a member?

ANYONE can come by! Our cabaret space is often (though not always) empty during the day, and it’s a fun place to write. Of course, there are benefits to being a member–members at the Sentence level ($100+) can use our member writing office, which is stocked with a desk, books on the craft of writing, wifi, and general coziness.

What programmes and classes does HH offer to help aspiring authors?

Nearly all of our programs and classes can be useful to aspiring authors. Works in Progress, our twice-a-month open mic, is one great resource. And our writers-in-residence, Tara Hardy and Peter Mountford, are another–they will meet with you for free to talk about writing and your work! You can also choose from many workshop-based (feedback on existing work) or generative (prompts for creating new work) classes. Also, keep an eye out for more “State of the Book Salons” that we present with Seattle7Writers.

Does fostering a community of writers help authors come out of their collective shells?

We talk about this a lot at Hugo House. Writers, after all, are pretty solitary creatures. But we’ve come to the same conclusion that people who regularly travel alone often come to–yes, being alone is fulfilling and key to who you are, but it makes it that much more important to have a landing pad to return to. The writers’ community, of which Hugo House is proudly a part, is that landing pad.

Any words of advice for aspiring authors?

1) Find a niche, and 2) don’t just labor alone in your garret.

The writers that I see succeeding in Seattle and beyond are, more often than not, those that lay claim to a certain subject matter, audience, genre or subgenre, reading style, or area of expertise, and are willing to make connections with others. It’s not “networking”–it’s being part of a community. If you go to people’s readings, they will come to yours. Honestly, it isn’t about being a perfect writer–it’s about being a good-enough writer that stands out in your chosen field who’s always trying to improve and who’s willing to be a part of something bigger.

How has HH helped YOU grow as an author?

Osmosis! Well, sort of–just being around this many writers, and this much writing, on a daily basis really forces you to bring your A-game. And while most of my writing energy is used up at work for grants, letters, blog posts, annual reports, and the like, I’ve found that my editing muscles have really bulked up. Part of that is training and practice I’ve pursued outside of Hugo House (my continuing work with Northwest Essay, the nine-month certificate in editing I got from the UW, joining the Northwest Independent Editors Guild), but much of it is editing material here at work–and having my own materials edited, too!

1st Annual Richard Hugo House Local Celebrity Spelling Bee Logo

As a lifelong word nerd, I participated in spelling bees when I was younger. When I heard about the Celebrity Spelling Bee, it was an easy decision to attend. Whose idea was it to do a twist on such an American school tradition?

Brian McGuigan, the program director, and I came up with it together. We knew we wanted a lower-level fundraising event to balance out our $150/plate springtime dinner auction and we knew we wanted it to be raucous and irreverent. Taking the general spelling bee model, and adding local celebrities, cheating (people can bid money to cheat their faves into the next round), and a bar…well, the math made sense, and the Celebrity Spelling Bee was born. We’ve done it for two years now, and I hope we do it for many more. It’s got some room to grow; I hope we can make it a landmark event.

As I mentioned earlier, you are also a tutor with 826 Seattle. One of our Community Business Partners just happens to be one of my favorite shops in Seattle, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. located easily enough, on Greenwood. Can you talk a little about the 826 Seattle connection with all things spacey?

Sure! The original 826 is 826 Valencia in San Francisco; 826 Seattle is now one of eight chapters around the country. The basic model is that there is a wacky retail store out front and a tutoring and writing center in the back (I believe this tradition descended from the retail zoning of the 826 Valencia location). For us here in Seattle, the theme is space travel, which riffs on our “Jet City” history. Hugo House and 826 Seattle are great complements to each other, and great resources for writers of all ages in Seattle; you’ll often find some of the same adult volunteers contributing time to Hugo House and 826. As far as youth writing instruction goes, I view it as a two-tiered system: 826 Seattle is about welcoming access to writing support and encouraging creative and critical expression; Hugo House youth programming is welcoming, too, but asks more of its participants, who tend to self-identify as “writers” and are looking to develop their craft. We have a fair share of those kids at 826, too, of course, but the time commitment alone required of Hugo youth programs (for example, two straight weeks of the Scribes summer camp) means you really gotta be into it.

826 Seattle

How long have you been a tutor with 826 Seattle?

I started volunteering as a tutor at 826 in October of 2005. Apparently, I was the first person to fill out the online volunteer application, which is a fun not-actually-an-award to have. I still tutor; I’ve also led many workshops and helped out with multiple fundraising efforts, too. Plus, I met my now-husband there–so I feel like I got a pretty good deal out of it all!

What’s in store for the rest of 2012 and can you share a little of what can we look forward to in 2013 for Hugo House and 826 Seattle?

For me, I’ll be focusing on Hugo House’s year-end fundraising campaign, tutoring on Monday nights at 826 Seattle, and editing essays through Northwest Essay (right now is our busy time, as people are readying their applications for undergrad and graduate programs). At Hugo House, through the end of the year and next spring, we have the three remaining events in our 2012-13 Literary Series (featuring writers like Ryan Boudinot, Patricia Smith, and Cheryl Strayed), as well as many other events and tons of classes. 826 Seattle is in the midst of after-school tutoring (including high school-only tutoring from 6 – 8 p.m., M – Th!), field trips, workshops, and more, which will continue through the rest of the school year.

Finally, we here at GeekGirlCon, love sharing our geekdoms. What have you been geeking over lately?

Bread! I do a lot of amateur baking; currently I’m tweaking flour ratios and testing new baking vessels for my basic naturally leavened bread, which I make with a sourdough culture that lives in a jar on my kitchen table. My next step is to create a system of note-taking about changes that I make. It’s fun to make things up based on memory, but not as effective for improvement, perhaps, as methodically tracking my every baking move.

Bread! Delicious!

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule and if you are interested in any of the programs that Rebecca mentioned above, please click through to read more!

Kristine Hassell is the Twitter Administrator for GeekGirlCon.

“Rock On!”

Artist Corner: LadyJ

Emcee Lady J

Hi folks, Shubz here! Recently, I got in touch with emcee LadyJ to ask her a few questions about her journey as an artist and to also discover what makes her inner geek sing (or in this case, rap)!

1: We ask everyone this: what are you geeky about right now?
All I gotta say is this. If you understand the term “Love & Tolerate” you are 20 percent cooler in LadyJ’s book! >:)

2: What made you choose rap as your preferred method of self-expression?
I found myself having a hard time understanding my own emotions. Like seriously, at the age of 9, I just never seemed to give a crap. Musically, it all came out, whether it was composing the music, lyrics, or otherwise.

3: What boundaries have you faced in your development as a performance artist?
Sacrifice, know what to sacrifice, when to sacrifice, and how to do it. Ya can’t reach where you want to be without it, so ya gotta become a juggernaut.

4: What song did you have the most fun creating?
Off my Our Fantasy mix tape, there’s a song called Lunar Cry. I got to act the most insane I ever got to act on a record. A couple of friends helped me alot with the concept and lyrics; one of them was even on the chorus. (Note: song contains strong language)

5: Are there any upcoming projects you have to share about?
I have a few commercial single dropping soon. Fat Trel and a few other local celebs will be featured. I plan on doing another project for my fellow otaku soon… It’ll be completed before the year is up in time for AUSA and MAGFest!

Thanks for taking the time to geek out with GeekGirlCon, LadyJ!

For more information about LadyJ and her fantastic tracks, visit:
Twitter: @createladyj
Facebook: LadyJ
YouTube: LadyJ’s YouTube Channel (Note: songs contain strong language)

Shubz Blalack
PR Content Producer

“Rock On!”

Live Blog: Geek Girls in Popular Culture

Hey again! Shubz here and I’m back live blogging at Geek Girls in Popular Culture in room 301/302 with Cecil Castelluci, Sarah Kuhn, Sarah Watson, Stephanie Thorpe, and moderator Javier Grillo-Marxuach!

Why do you think that level of interest in science and mathematical persuits are less desirable in female characters?

Cecil Castellucci (CC): That character is usually designated as a sidekick.

Sarah Kuhn (SK): Is this female protagonist a good role model?

Sarah Watson (SW): I don’t think geekiness and sexiness is separate.

Is the role-model trope restricting characterization?
Stephanie Thorpe (ST): People don’t like feeling stupid in general. When someone comes across as smart, they may put on an air of condescending. We want women to be likeable, adorable, and cute. Smart tends to go with aloof a lot of the time.

Headless Heroine: Has all characteristics that can relate to a wide range of reader.

Nancy Drew as a headless heroine. Many authors have depicted her differently.

Are there any characters that you identify with?
ST: I’m influenced by the X-Files. Dana Scully was that lightening bolt – she’s a skeptic, she’s intelligent, and her scientific background. I want to see more strong characters like her.

SW: I loved the Goonies, Martha Plimpton.

CC: I loved Daria!

Thoughts on editing geek girls
ST: Depends. Sometimes they want more nerdy, sometimes they want less.

SW: I’m more of the middle man.

SK: Not a lot less nerdy notes [in scripts], but I did make notes like, “What does this mean?” Is it a reference?

CC: Made a love story about a Klingon and a Jedi. Writing a geeky character made it easy to have a demand for more geeky media and characters.

Lisabeth Salander
ST: She is a strong female lead. She’s not necessarily someone I look up to or want to be like, but I enjoy spending time reading about her.

Star Trek Characters
CC: It’s subjective. Uhura in classic Star Trek, not a nerd. Uhura in the recent film, language nerd.

Love stories with geek girls
CC: Amidala falls apart when love is threatened.

SW: Hermione is intelligent and a fighter despite her obstacles.

Changing genders in iconic characters
ST: (RE: Elementary’s Watson) If they’re doing it to add a romantic element, I’ll be disappointed.

SW: I’ve seen it and it’s fantastic. Lucy Liu brings a nurturing role to Watson.

SK: There’s a new interest piqued when you introduce new elements or changes.

CC: I’m excited!

Any socially unattractive female geek characters?
SW: In TV, everyone’s really attractive. Books offer you to create what they would look like.

“Rock On!”

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