Wow, when Heidi suggested I would make a great Geek Girl of the Month, I was totally surprised! What an honor! There’s no doubt I’m a geek—some days not feeling as girlish as I used to—but who can say no to such a title?
So here are my Three Geeky Confessions:
My other car is a pair of Riedell 265 roller skates. Yes, I was a rollergirl (once a rollergirl, always a rollergirl?) by the name of Tyra Durden. You Fight Club fans reading this understand why Tyra Durden is the best skate name of all time, don’t ya?
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on who you ask), roller derby isn’t about throwing punches on skates anymore. There’s still a lot of illegal tripping and elbows, but those are penalties that get girls thrown into the box, rather than WWE-style theatrics.
In case you’ve been living under a rock (and who would blame you in these dark times?), roller derby had a revival based out of Austin, TX in 2003. Since then, flat-track and banked-track leagues have proliferated. When I started in 2008, I joined my local Louisville, KY team Derby City Rollergirls. The sport has grown so much there’s now a second league here in Louisville, as well as junior leagues for the little ones, men’s leagues (that’s hardcore stuff), recreational leagues, and even derby-themed exercise classes.
The highlight of my roller derby career was when I played on Team MILF in Las Vegas, as part of RollerCon 2008. We may have lost to the Birth Control Betties, but I came back from that week in the desert a different skater, ready to kick ass and take names. Unfortunately, I would eventually suffer an injury during a scrimmage back home, but my love of derby will never die. It’s just the best sport imaginable for a smart gal like myself. What other game allows you to whip one girl (assisting her through the pack) while simultaneously blocking another (stopping an opposing skater with one’s ample booty and hips), all while skating forward in a circle, but turning your face to watch what’s coming from behind you? Roller derby is sometimes called “tits and ass on wheels.” A more apt description would be “multi-tasking on wheels.” It’s a sport for all female body types and abilities, and it definitely brought out the curvy goddess shape in yours truly!
I miss it very much.
I am a hopeless Harry Potter geek. An avowed Ravenclaw, you can find me on Pottermore as WildElm176. I fairly squeed when I was sorted into my house. I knew I would be Ravenclaw! I knew!
My family and I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over the summer, and I rode the Forbidden Journey ride three times, screaming in joy the whole time. It was amazing! I had too much fun! I would live in Hogwarts if I could. I really didn’t want to leave. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read the books. Of course I’ve dissected them from an academic standpoint, but they have so much meaning to me, personally, I’ve often played with the idea of writing a non-fiction tome on the spiritual aspects of the books as they relate to the Christian tradition. Only problem is, it’s been done, it’s been done well, and it’s been done well by those with better platforms!
So maybe someday I’ll have a book about why Harry Potter means so much to me… In the meantime I’ll have to settle for writing about my own wizards, fairies, trolls, monsters, and quirky professors!
Which leads me to…
Writing. Oh, how I love writing. I think that if you feel more comfortable typing than you do speaking, you’re a natural writer. If you have to stop and write down bullet points before you can even begin to organize your thoughts, you’re writerly-brained. If you can’t get through a chapter of a book without the desire to underline, highlight, and write in the margins, you are either 1) a very critical, thoughtful reader or 2) an academic or 3) a writer.
Most of the world, I believe, is divided into writers and non-writers, so being a writer isn’t anything particularly special… But succeeding as a writer is. If so many can do it, what makes some successes? That’s the question that captivated me as an analytical Ravenclaw sort. It boils down to storytelling.
You’re going to learn the most about good storytelling if you study it intently, but then you’ve got to practice to become good at it. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hone my storytelling skills through a very popular blog, then through a very popular newspaper column, and through journalism in general. When I hit the ground running as a novelist-in-training, I spent years doing the writing conference circuit, reading books, and learning all the while, but very little was taught to me about the art of storytelling.
Frankly, I think it’s easier to learn storytelling nowadays from the movies. Watch what works. Watch for plot devices in books and in movies. Take note of what surprises you. Describe the timing, the pacing, the emotional weight of each storyline, of each character. That’s what I did, both in the books I loved as well as the movies I take in. “Does this story work?” Only learn from the best.
I knew what I wanted when I started writing my first book. It turned into something else. I rolled with it. I’m quite proud of it, but my second book is a real triumph of storytelling for me, personally. My second novel is when all that I’d learned really started coming together for me.