Need Feedback on Speak Out with your Geek out

Speak Out with your Geek Out began with a single drop of creativity. Today, from where I sit, I’m floating happily along in an ocean of laughter, smiles and friendship. For that? I thank you muchly. (See: the answer to why is a raven like a writing desk.)

The majority of the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. There have been a few critical conversations that highlighted deeper issues within the community but that is to be expected from an event that got a lot of attention. Speak Out got a signal boost earlier in the week which amplified people’s knowledge about it. Geek Dad on Wired.com blogged about it, John Kovalic from Dork Tower drew a strip about it, Matt Forbeck interviewed me for GeekDad and Jennisodes podcast hosted me for a special chat.

In my mind, what has happened here can and should happen again. Many people would like this to be an annual event. There have been other conversations about going above-and-beyond what this event is. For that? I need your help.

Everything that was done: interviews, comic, writing, hosting, logo, etc. was donated or done on a volunteer basis in an extremely short span of time. Please keep that in mind when you’re answering my questions. You can either comment below or answer these on your blog and link to them in the comments.

(1) Do you feel Speak Out was a positive experience? Why or why not?

(2) Would you like this to be an annual event?

(3) Did you understand participation was voluntary? That there was a reason why “geek” was never defined?

(4) Is there anything that can be done differently for next year?

(5) If your answer to (4) was yes, how would you feel about a Kickstarter to help fund those goals?

Geeking Out about Hobby Anthropology

Today for Speak Out with your Geek Out, I’m going to talk to you about something I enjoy.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be my own brand of heroine. In my head, I morphed Amelia Earhart, Indiana Jones, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart and Marie Curie all wrapped up into a happy mixture of bravery, intelligence, talent, beauty and adventure. I had no idea where to begin, but it all sounded so incredibly exciting. (Still does.) New worlds, new cultures, new people, new places. I read an entire set of encyclopedias and poured through books in the library. In my head, I pretended to be this amalgamation even though I wasn’t.

Well, here I am and everything is still exciting to me. I love learning and there’s one discipline I often dive right back into without realizing it: cultural anthropology. Reading opened my eyes to the differences between cultures. I took several courses in ethnic literature in college because those stories (some of which chill me to the bone like the autobiographical narrative Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black which you can read for free online) helped me see the world through the eyes of different people and fictional characters. Those perspectives stuck and I dove into non-fiction. Ancient Egypt, which I started to read and explore as a child, was the first culture I fell in love with. The names didn’t imprint so well but the discovery of the culture did. My travels stretched into art, music, food and other aspects, too.

I do this sort of thing all the time. I look at trends and big picture stuff. See how cultures evolve and dive into history. It helps me imagine how this big crazy world of hours can hold close to seven billion people and not explode. It allows me to see patterns, sure, but also piece together different lifestyles and unique ways of living. That’s why I call myself a hobby anthropologist, because I’m always amazed at the world and trying to make sense of it by understanding and experiencing cultural evolution and revolution. My philosophy is: everybody has a story to tell. The second part of that is: There’s more than one way to be.

My interest in getting to know our world is part of the reason why I love creating characters and settings for my stories and games. I’m not looking at characters in context of skin or hair color or cosmetic differences. It’s about culture and history, too. It’s about avoiding the “paint” of a skin tone and tying it back into where/how/when that character grew up. Setting details help me shape the story on characters that are more realistic. They’re characterized as opposed to behaving like paper dolls. Vampires, immortals and the undead allow me to dive right back into my hobby and think about what it’d be like to tell a story from a character who watches the world change longer than anyone else alive. That’s part of the reason why I enjoy writing about paranormal characters so much. The world is crazy enough as it is. But throw a 1,000-year old vampire in there?

Thanks for listening to me geek out about hobby anthropology. I love every minute of it.

One Happy Bubbly Geek Speaks Out!

Due to a confluence of events, Starscream misbehaving (that’s what I named my computer), and deadlines I didn’t get the chance to read through many of the posts for Speak Out with your Geek Out until today.

Wow, you people impress me like nobody’s business. I have never seen anything like this. People are not just being enthusiastic about themselves but they’re also listening, connecting and promoting tolerance. This community is nothing short of amazing — and the event hit Geek Dad on Wired.com! Yesterday Jonathan Liu posted about the event and today? Matt Forbeck interviewed me about Speak Out for Wired.com!

Today, I decided to sit down and write a letter to a much younger version of myself.

Dear Younger Me:

You’re a teenager. Your world seems very big but at the same time it’s very small. And you hate it. You hate feeling like you’re the only kid who is fascinated by everything, who prefers music, gaming and reading to other people’s hobbies. I know what you’re thinking. Oh yes, I really do. And you’re wrong, wrong, wrong.

Let me tell you something, girl. You feel this way now? Because you haven’t found your tribe yet, that group of people who will share your passions and make you stronger. You’ve seen so many movies, write so many stories, and read so many books about a heroine. Sometimes, you even think you are one. Well, guess what? One day you’re going to meet her.

Then you’re going to meet a hero.

Not long after that you’ll get introduced to another one. And another one. And another. Until all of you together create this amazing community of people who work and play together. Who laugh and cry, support and tolerate, argue and make up. In this community, you don’t have to pretend to be anyone you’re not, you can pretend to be a character you’re not and that’s okay! While you won’t like everyone (and everyone won’t like you) rest assured that you don’t have to brandish that sword as much as you have been. You can be you and you will be loved for it by people you’ll love back.

So don’t worry about your future. You have one. You really do. It’s going to require tough choices but you’re well on your way to getting there. You just keep doing what you’re doing and enjoy the ride.

<3 Older Me

Happy First Day of Speak Out! Where to Go

Happy First Day of Speak Out with your Geek Out! The Twitter hashtag is: #speakgeek. The Facebook event is public and people’s enthusiasm is already exploding.

If you’ve written a blog post, please visit the official website or the Tumblr and add your link to the comments below.

Stand Up, Cheer and Be Counted at Speak Out with your Geek Out

Based on activity late last week and early this morning? I predict there will be a lot of happy, positive geekery to be had.

Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!

Answering These Zombie Questions Three at Maggie Slater’s Blog

Today I’m over at fellow author and The Zombie Feed, Volume 1 contributor Maggie Slater‘s website. I answer three questions about my story entitled “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs.”

Here’s how Maggie describes my story:

Monica Valentinelli’s contribution to The Zombie Feed Vol. 1 is a visceral, irreverent, stream-of-consciousness narrative from the perspective of troubled Officer Mike Francis, a badge-carrying member of civilized society’s last-stand response to a world gone mad. It’s not the zombies Office Mike worries about–with a little fire, he can manage them–it’s all the other nutcases left behind, the ones who hide behind their fancy gated mansions and pretend like nothing’s changed. With them, you just never know what to expect, and that can be deadly. This is no quiet tale of love and loss: it’s a story that cuts to the quick and reveals the rotten madness even the living try to hide. If you’re brave enough, check out Monica’s story, “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs” in The Zombie Feed Vol. 1!

Visit Three Questions: Monica Valentinelli and find out more about my writing process, my favorite fiction character and what I think about writing in the dark!

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