Quotable Nerdy Chicks: Maya Lin

I’m so glad I was reintroduced to the work of Maya Lin through my son who studied her recently in school. If you don’t already know this, Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D. C. while she was still an undergraduate student. When I was in college, one of my friends was among the first to visit that memorial. She found the name of another friend’s father on the memorial and brought back a framed pencil rubbing of it. I will never forget how touched my friend, whose father was killed before she could meet him, was by that gift. The Vietnam Memorial has touched countless others since its installation.

Lin has designed other amazing structures and done other amazing things. You can read more about them at her own beautifully designed website. www.mayalin.com She currently owns and operates Maya Lin Studio in New York City.

 Maya Lin Quotes

  • I loved school. I studied like crazy. I was a Class A nerd.
  • I was always making things. Even though art was what I did every day, it didn’t even occur to me that I would be an artist.
  • I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That’s art to me.
  • All my work is much more peaceful than I am.
  • To fly we have to have resistance.
  • How we are using up our home, how we are living and polluting the planet is frightening. It was evident when I was a child. It’s more evident now.

Now. Go visit her website. Move your cursor to make things happen!

Quotable Nerdy Chick: Joanna Cole

When W. H. Beck agreed to be interviewed for Monday’s post, I knew I’d just have to find a quotable librarian. I found several famous female librarians who are also writers including Ann Tyler and Beverly Cleary! But I loved that first quote from Joanna Cole so much that I decided to feature this famous creator of the Magic School Bus Series. There is a very nice biography about Joanna Cole HERE at Teen Ink.

Joanna Cole Quotes

  • People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
  • Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes!
  • Children’s view of the world and their capacity to understand keep expanding as they mature, and they need to ask the same questions over and over, fitting the information into their new level of understanding.

I love the fact that Joanna Cole used her gift of explaining things and storytelling to enrich my children’s childhoods through her Magic School Bus books and the cartoons they spawned. I hope to add to this quote bank someday too.

To see a compiled list of nerdy chick quotes, click HERE.

Lisa Rentz: Innovative Writer

One of the hardest things about moving to Beaufort SC a few years ago was leaving all of my nerdy friends behind. Knowing I was lonely for brainy conversation, a friend from Greenville suggested that I get in touch with a freelance writer and teaching artist down here named Lisa Rentz. I contacted her out of the blue that same day. Lisa was nice enough to not only meet me for coffee, but to listen to me talk her ears off for over an hour. She also helped me on my way to becoming a teaching artist.  I’m just as impressed with this many-hat-wearing nerdy chick now as I was when I met her. In addition to her teaching and writing, Lisa is the transmedia publicity leader at Artworks, which means she promotes the arts in Beaufort County and helps other artists do the same, using all platforms from the newspaper to Twitter. Her writing has been published in various genres including short stories, articles, and essays. Ever on the cutting edge, she’s recently added writing apps to this list. Thanks so much Lisa for joining us today!

What is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power?

Most of my flaunting is done in my writing, which is my preferred method of communication (email before phones for me.) I consider writing to be a form of self-defense, so I have to get in some impressive high kicks, if you know what I mean. My writing skills are what got me through high school, college, and many jobs. I’ve written book reports about books I didn’t read and about books I made up.

What social norms are you fond of flouting?

My husband does the dishes and the shopping, and I do all the yardwork— those are still norms to challenge, right? We split the taking out of garbage pretty well. I’m a feminist, which is still a fun way to flout, despite all the progress. Stereotyping is a big part of the social norm, and I’ve learned to not judge a book by its cover (or its mousy brown hair) because of all of the people who’ve mistaken me for a shop girl or an office assistant. I’m always getting asked where the bathroom is. The only retail I’ve ever worked was my husband’s artisan bakery. I’ve had only one regular 9 to 5 job, and that was working at my dad’s business for a couple of years  in my 20s. I’ve definitely flouted that get-a-real-job norm too.

Great examples of flouting, Lisa! How is brain power an asset to your career?

As a working writer, I am a content provider, which means I generate stories, articles, photographs, illustrations, and connections for other people like journalists. So I spend a lot of time focusing, and problem-solving, and info-organizing, and meeting deadlines. That process is brain-power intensive— I rarely get to read novels anymore, thank goodness for short stories and magazines like Harper’s Monthly.

Visualization is a component of brain power that I use a lot. It’s a great way to slow down and find clarity, so that my work—an email or a short story—will be effective and enjoyable. Doodling and drawing work great as visualization.

Tell us a story about a time when nerdiness turned out to be an advantage for you.

All the time I’ve spent reading has been a huge advantage- reading is the foundation of writing, and I’m pretty good at trivia. I have a lot of memories of reading while walking home from school, reading in bed late at night, reading in class. The Thomas Cooper Library at USC in Columbia was fantastic when I attended there. And if being uptight about deadlines is nerdy, then I’ve got an advantage there, my deadlines are literally every other day.

If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Oh that would have to be a good stock tip. Apple, Microsoft, etc.

Hmm. That might be the best advice yet. It’s certainly the most fiscally responsible! Now can you tell us what’s cool about being nerdy?

Having knowledge and the ability to use it.

Right on! You already write across several genres, and now you’ve added writing downloadable apps. I couldn’t begin to write an app. What are some skills needed to do this? Particular challenges?

Writing an app is like writing a novella— one specific subject and just the right length. I determined the concept and content of my apps, and my publisher, Sutro Media in San Francisco, took care of the programming, thank goodness. My two apps, an arts & travel guide to Beaufort SC and ‘Pencils, Words & Kids’ could both be published in paper-book form. But smartphones are the new desktops, and one of the new ways to read, so I wanted my work to be there too.

The challenge of filling an app is organizing all the content. In a book or a magazine, the writer knows the reader is going to start at page 1. In an app, all the contents are sortable and searchable and cross-linked and filterable, so I had to make sure that each entry is both stand-alone and harmonizing with the rest of the app. In ‘Pencils, Words & Kids’ I wanted to relay the whole writing process, but also make it a la carte, so people could just pick and choose a creative step for themselves— write what you enjoy, not just what you know. My apps include hundreds of photos, which was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.

How can your creative writing app help other nerdy chicks improve their writing skills? 

Lots of ways! The premise is that creative writing is like weight lifting, every repetition makes you stronger. So I emphasize writing-writing-writing, in the Just Do It sense.

All the prompts and techniques were developed in the trenches, while I was working in the schools in Beaufort SC, so other nerdy chicks and geeky boys and all sorts of other types helped me develop my ideas about learning the creative writing process. I’ve included their opinions in the app too. One 7th grader told me something beautiful that I quote whenever I get a chance- “Writing long & adventurous stories calms me.”

The app is really informative, about the big How Tos and Whys of writing, and I also included information (like vocabulary and definitions) because that’s what writers need for describing and explaining— that’s why science works so well with the arts, right? I also emphasize writing by hand. I heard recently that pencils can write for 35 miles. That’s a long line and a lot of potential.

What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tad bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

Being a homebody as much as possible and doing a sewing project about once a year. For the past few years I’ve been making purses from thriftshop blazers— the pockets are built-in better than I could make them.

I saw Lisa toting one of her cool blazer purses the other day. She said it takes a whole blazer to make one purse! Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please!

I take lots of frisbee breaks and walks with my dogs. It’s great for stretching, taking my eyes off the computer screen and, since I’m always looking for ways to get three things done at once, also takes care of the dogs’ need to get outside the fence.

Believe me, we’ve just scratched the surface of the many ways Lisa creates. To find out more about her, visit her website: www.eatgoodbread.com. You can take a look at her writing app HERE, and her Beaufort guide app HERE.  Lisa’s short story, The Chimney, recently won a Liars League competition. Click below to hear it read in beautiful British English.

First Post Ever: Why Nerdy Chicks?

Hi! My name is Kami Kinard and I am a nerdy chick.  I am also a children’s writer. And a mom. And the creator of this blog. I am thankful for the long line of nerdy chicks who preceded me!  Some of these include:

Susan B. Anthony

Without her wit and determination, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to author this blog!  Susan B. Anthony flouted social norms in the biggest way!

Madame Curie

A fascinating and brilliant woman who coined the term radioactivity and who used her scientific discoveries to improve the human condition. During WWI, for example, she set up a mobile x-ray station to help doctors treat wounded soldiers. Ever heard of  the Bookmobile? Think of this vehicle as The X-Ray mobile! Thank you, Marie Curie, for flaunting your brain power!  (Actually, I have to say that in what I’ve read about Madame Curie, it seems like she was pretty humble about her brain power, but I’m thankful that she didn’t mind using it!)
Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

 Amelia Earhart is proof that smart girls can also be amazing adventurers!


When I was gathering information for this blog, I was surprised by how few women appeared on lists of intelligent people! I’m here to advocate for those amazing nerdy chicks whose songs have not yet been sung.  Every Monday here I’ll interview one of them. Then on Wednesdays, you’ll hear from me. On Friday’s we’ll highlight an activity or event that other nerdy chicks enjoy. It is not always easy to be smart and to make decisions that stand out from the pack.  If you’re a nerdy chick, you’ll find out here that you’re not alone!


Do you know someone who has accomplished something worthy by flaunting her brain power or by flouting social norms?  Please suggest them for a Nerdy Chick interview. You can do so by leaving a comment, or by sending me an email: kamikinard AT juno DOT com.  Nerdy Chicks Rule is hosting a huge giveaway starting on January 15.  Anyone who suggests an interviewee (even if we aren’t able to work her in) will be entered to win. What’s the huge giveaway? Check back on January 15!