Girl Geek Week: Yes, Handmade Jewelry is Cool

So, a couple of the prizes in the freaking fabulous contest were a few jewelry designs made by yours truly. I worked at a bead supply store back in college and started getting into it because I have some metal allergies. Well, that…and I can make a lot of the pieces you’ll see in the store for literally pennies on the dollar for myself.

Planets on the LoomOver the years, I’ve given gifts and have infected other people with the jewelry design bug. Some of the techniques are pretty easy; others are definitely more complicated. Fortunately, I found a haven at a local bead store called Fat Cat Beads. Classes are really inexpensive and I’ve been going through my bead inventory and designing more of my own. My style is a little bit more mod than supreme frou-frou, but I’ve got a few more complex designs that I’ll get into below.

This first picture is the beginning of an part-original/part-patterned design I’m working on that will eventually turn into a cuff bracelet. Right now, my biggest frustration is the size of the seed beads. Loom weaving requires a lot of concentration and if you get beads that aren’t the same size as the others, you can easily lose count and have kind of a warped effect to the design. Owl Earrings As you can imagine, this is also ridiculously time-consuming and I’m nowhere near done. After the beads have been attached to the loom, then there’s the issue of sewing it onto a leather fabric and embellishing on top of that.

Quite a few of the pieces I enjoy wearing have a natural element to them. I fell in love with these little owls and added some fluorite round beads to them. I love natural stones because no two are alike and they often add an unusual or nonrepetitive element to the design. I have some glass leaf beads and ladybugs that I’m playing around with specifically for that reason.peyote stitch bracelets

These two bracelets are hand-stitched using the “peyote” technique. That particular style of bead stitch is extremely old and has been used by Native Americans. The beads don’t stack in a straight line; they are a little zig-zagged. The one on the bottom is black with a transparent maroon which I made to match my corset. Tree of Life pendant with Tiger's EyeThe one on the top was my first attempt at playing around with a design. I really like how it turned out because it’s very three-dimensional. Next I want to play around with square beads of different sizes, including a pile of six-sided dice I have.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been playing around with the Tree of Life pendant design. While you can use beads for the leaves, I prefer to use gemstone chips because it looks more realistic. This is a fall version of the pendant and I have a spooky one for Halloween I just have to put together. The really cool thing about this design that I learned from Robin, is that you can make several of them and no two will ever look exactly alike.

While these pieces are a little bit more traditional in the sense that they’re not super-girly-geeky, there’s a reason for that. I’ve been focusing on technique and materials at the moment, because I’ve got a few ideas rumbling around in my head that’ll either tie directly into the stories I write or be something perfect for girl geeks.

More to come on that!

Girl Geek Week: Top 20 Signs You Might Be a Prima Geek-a

Girl Geek Week ContestHave you ever wondered whether or not you’re a geek? Well, question thyself no further! Today’s post will talk about the top twenty signs you might just be a prima geeka. (Or primo geeko for ye of thee male persuasion.)

Don’t forget! To enter the Freaking Fabulous Contest all you have to do is write about your geek passion! So if there’s something on this list that you’re saying: “Oh, yeah… That’s me…” Well, share your geek love with the world.

Top 20 Signs You’re a Geek

    20. You know how to pronounce Nyarlathotep properly. (And will enthusiastically correct anyone who doesn’t.)

    19. Not only are your dice color-coordinated, you have a set of special dice you break out “just” on important occasions.

    18. You know how to put together a steampunk costume that doesn’t involve a corset and a dragon over-the-shoulder.

    17. You can’t discuss the new Doctor Who without mentioning which of the old Doctor Whos was your favorite.

    16. There’s only one definition of role-playing game and it involves a pencil and a character sheet.

    15. You can’t stand Avatar (or movie of your choice) because the writers got the science wrong.

    14. You’re extremely vocal about how you hate seeing vampires fall in love with humans because you secretly wish you were one.

    13. You think Lovecraft should be taken seriously and go into fits whenever you see a cute likeness of Cthulhu. (But don’t mind owning My Little Cthulhu.)

    12. You have more bookshelves than wall space.

    11. Your answer to “Who is the first Green Lantern?” is not Hal Jordan.

    10. You own a copy of the Street Fighter RPG by White Wolf.

    9. You wrote a very angry e-mail to Michael Bay after watching the new Transformers.

    8. You haven’t seen the Star Trek re-boot because to you? It doesn’t exist.

    7. You’re pissed off about Wonder Woman’s costume change because you still have a crush on Linda Carter.

    6. You can name the differences between a red dragon and a black dragon, what the range of their “weapon” is and how much damage it does.

    5. You can point out how Blade the movie (not the comic) ripped off Vampire: the Masquerade.

    4. You own a limited edition [of your choice] for its monetary value.

    3. You only watch anime in its original Japanese with English subtitles because it’s not as good otherwise.

    2. You’ve written (or read) Final Fantasy fan fic.

    1. You know who’d win the “astronauts versus cave men” fight.

Girl Geek Week: The Freaking Fabulous Contest!

Since no week of geek would be complete without a fabulous and fun contest, I’m having one…with prizes!

Both and have offered to sponsor a prize and I’ve decided to provide one or two of my own.

Winners get to pick the prize they want!

The Freaking Fabulous Contest

To be a part of The Freaking Fabulous Contest, all you have to do is write a blog post about something you enjoy.

Doesn’t matter who you are or where you hail from, all I ask is that you speak up about what you’re passionate about. (And no, you do NOT need to be a girl geek, either.)

A link back to my website would be appreciated, but I am not requiring that you do so to win the contest.

When your post is live, please leave a comment on this post linking to your entry and indicate what prize you want to be considered for. To make it easier to find the post, the contest will be hyper-linked on my sidebar. Prizes, along with the nitty gritty details, are listed below. Winners will be chosen at random.

Contest Details

    Monica Valentinelli will be giving away one of the following prizes:

  • a twenty-five dollar digital gift certificate to be used on or
  • a signed copy of The Zombie Feed Volume One and a handmade necklace and bracelet she designed based on the story
  • a digital copy of The Queen of Crows and a handmade set of bracelets she designed based on the character of Mahochepi
  • Please read the fine print below to find out how you can win!

      1. One Entry Per Person – Please post one entry per person, so that your fellow geeks can have an equal chance of winning a prize.
      2. Entries That Will/Won’t Be Considered – By keeping these simple guidelines in mind, you will increase your chance of winning.

        What Will Be Considered – Only entries posted from Tuesday, June 28th through midnight, Tuesday July 5th will be eligible to win. There is no limit or restriction on topics, the only requirement is that it’s something you’re passionate about.
        What Won’t Be Considered – Previously-published posts and entries that are full of harsh or foul language, overly graphic/sexual depictions or discriminatory/slang comments will be disqualified.

      3. Valid Email Address Required – When you post your comment, there’s a field to enter your email address. In order for Monica to notify the winner, please include a valid email address. This email address will not be posted publicly. She will not use your email address for any other reason other than to notify you if you’ve won.
      4. Valid U.S. Mailing Address Required – Once she’s contacted you, she will need a valid U.S. mailing address to send you your prize if you choose the prize from her. Monica will pick up the cost of shipping. If you are located outside of the U.S. and still want her stories, she’ll be happy to figure out an alternate prize that can be delivered digitally.
      5. Prizes and Notification – Monica Valentinelli will provide whichever prize, as listed above, the winner chooses within two weeks of notification. Based on the number of entries, she may award random prizes as well. Contest winners will be notified via email within one week after the contest ends.

    Good luck!

    Girl Geek Week: The Story Behind “Games for Girls”

    Girl Geek Week at mlvwrites.comEvery once in a while, you hear the obligatory: “Well, this would be a PERFECT game for girls…” I felt I could NOT have a Geek Girl Week and avoid the topic, so I’m going to dive in with both feet.

    The truth of the matter is — neither men or women are idiots. Games “for girls” or games “for guys” can be played by either sex. Often, a game is adapted to fit the needs of a market. Business reasons, more than anything else, is what’s behind targeting a particular demographic with the idea that a particular game would sell better if it’s geared toward a particular niche. Yes, that pesky “bottom line” drives decisions and (love it or hate it) businesses need to do this in order to stay afloat. Sometimes the distinction between girl games and boy games is a lot clearer the younger you go, simply because the parents and the grandparents are normally the ones buying the games for their kids.

    Almost all card games and board games have some information on them to help you figure out who it’s for. Chez Goth from Steve Jackson Games lists the number of players, playing time and recommended age groups. Here, this data doesn’t just help us figure out whether or not we want to buy a game, but it also gives us a clue that: “Hey, this game was designed for…” Does it have information on it that helps us make a decision to buy it for girls or boys or both? YES. The artwork on the box depicts cartoonish characters of both male and female goths. (The line on the back… His and Hearse… really cracks me up.) Whether or not we want to, the packaging will force us to make a subconscious decision about how we feel about a game. Doesn’t matter WHAT game it is, either.

    Themes and artwork can distinguish whether or not a game is for girls or boys, and often you’ll find so-called early girly games full of fashion, horses and pastel colors. Grown women, on the other hand, play a variety of games in the crossword/Sudoku/etc. category, but there’s also a large (albeit and arguably quite invisible) demographic of female video gamers you rarely hear about. Part of this, in my opinion, is that there’s a stigma attached to playing games. The depiction of gamers as slackers who live in their parent’s basement really hurts the career-minded professional who likes to shoot up zombies every now and then. Add gender roles on top of that and you get the possibility of becoming a social outcast — just because you like to play a game. I’ve talked to MANY women gamers over the years who were afraid to bring forth their controllers, their dice, and their tables. They told me I was brave, and after experiencing some of the b.s. surrounding these stigmas myself, I can see why they thought that. Still, I yam who I yam who I yam.

    [MONICA GEEK ALERT: Here’s the funny thing about that: the idea that gamers are lazy has roots in Puritanism. Ever here the expression Americans live to work and the rest of the world works to live? Yep, same thing. Study after study after study proves, though, that human beings are not mindless robots. We need time to play, to relax to increase our efficacy on the job and enrich our lives. Not to mention, more information is coming out that gaming is good for your brain — it keeps your mind active AND prevents Alzheimer’s!]

    Some adult games, like video games, are more apparent in terms of who their audience is. There are several video games I’ve tried to play but wound up putting down because the boob physics were so in-your-face I couldn’t get past them to enjoy the story or the action. *coughs* Bloodrayne *coughs* Other games, like the Final Fantasy franchise, appeal to me because I enjoy a good story. The emphasis on the relationship between the characters, coupled with the fanastical world building, really helps me get into a character. And, like I mentioned in my post about a character I most identify with, some of the games have strong, female characters.

    Needless to say, this is why role-playing games are (and will always be) more friendly toward women. Your imagination is what drives the story at the table, so if your group is friendly toward women? Your game will probably be friendly toward women. Not only that, but game mechanics have improved so much, that the chances are excellent you’ll find a game you like. For a first game, I’d recommend picking up a tie-in product, just because it’s sometimes easier to dive into a role if you know the setting. I’d also recommend going to conventions, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

    When it comes down to brass tacks, though, in order to be open-minded about anything, at any time, you have to look past the stereotypes. Those preconceived notions exist because that’s how humans categorize information. Getting past stupid assumptions takes time and energy that often makes people feel uncomfortable, because we often gravitate toward what we’re interested in and what others have encouraged us to be interested in. Take someone out of their comfort zone, and there’s always the possibility of change. For many people? Change is more frightening than death.

    I’ll give you an example. I was intimidated by Magic: the Gathering. Frightened. To. Death. One? I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to gaming and play to win. (Can we say min/maxer?) When I’m just learning, though, I hate being beaten to death with terms I don’t understand and precocious attitudes because I don’t feel like I’m part of the club. That didn’t happen with Magic, though. A few years ago, I was writing an article for [redacted] and managed to get quotes from the women at WOTC who talked about how many female champions there were. Wizards of the Coast has been nothing but nice and supportive to us at, so when the opportunity came up to learn how to play Magic the Gathering at a convention? I took it. And… I beat the judge. And… I was invited to play in a weekly game. Right now, their open game sessions conflict with my schedule, but once my evenings are balanced I’m definitely going to play more often than I do.

    I feel it is absolutely pointless to blame a company or a marketing team for “being wrong” about the demographic that they’re targeting. Businesses have data, they have experience, and they have financial numbers to support what they’re doing. The ONLY way games will change, is if our buying habits ALSO change AND we get more diverse game designers on staff.

    So, if you’re sick of so-called “girl games,” then don’t buy them for yourself or as a gift! Try something new. Play demos. Go to conventions. If you’re unhappy with how a company designed a game, then contact them. Write letters. Talk to the designers. Find companies you want to support and which ones you won’t. You’d be surprised what is waiting for you out there: there’s a whole community of us that would LOVE to talk to you!

    If you’re seriously interested in the hobby, getting involved is as simple as walking to your local game store. Or, if you’re anything like me — start freelancing and get on those design teams. ‘Cause I gotta tell you, there’s nothing more satisfying than being on the ground floor of a brand new game.

    Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Leave ’em or weep!

    Announcing Girl Geek Week and a New Column!

    Girl Geek Week at mlvwrites.comGrab your fluffy pink dice and break out your nail polish — I am celebrating all things girl geek this week on my blog. Maybe — just maybe — there’ll even be a contest in it for you.


    Well, two reasons: one of which is for shameful shameless self-promotion. I have a new column debuting in July on the Geeks Dream Girl website where I’ll be talking about freelancing for the hobby games industry. Jennifer Brozek was the previous columnist and was kind enough to recommend me, you can read her final installment dubbed Dice and Deadlines: Know When to Turn Down a Job. I’m deliriously happy to write for the site and am laughing a little bit. When Geeks Dream Girl first started, several industry folk pinged me about it and I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Now?

    Heh, heh. Let’s just say a ten-sided die hit me smack dab in the middle of my forehead and my creativity exploded. Since Jennifer had already covered all the professional bases, I’m going to drag readers along on a quest. More to come on that.

    The second reason why I’m celebrating girl geek week on my blog, is because of one, very simple… very important thing…

    No woman should ever be afraid to admit they play games, read comic books, watch anime, dress up in costumes or know how to spell Cthulhu.

    Ever. Don’t care if you’re on the creator side or the fan side, if you love what you love — then love it out loud. This week, that’s exactly what I’m doing and I sincerely hope you’ll follow my lead.

    Wonder twins power… ACTIVATE! Form of… A TUBE OF LIPSTICK.

    Next Posts

    Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.


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