Lipstick is one of my favorite cosmetics. Even if you’re not wearing any other makeup, it can be a little buoy of confidence, something to cheer you up, or a little pop of colour to make you feel pretty just when you need it. I wanted to share a few of the lipstick companies in my makeup kit, with a FYI that I typically choose cool tones. I tend to look cartoonish and a little jaundiced in warmer shades.
You can snag these spiky, punk-packaged lipsticks at Sephora, and if you like cool purples or raspberries, you should check out my favorites: Wolvesmouth and Bauhau5. Her Chrysalis eyeshadow palette is also incredible, and her pressed powder blushes are ridiculously easy to blend. And her eyeliners. Did I mention it’s a great makeup line?
You can find Rituel’s products at their website, as well as many of their lovely stockists. I highly recommend Against Nature, Love In Madness, Written In Blood, and Fortune Teller. If you’re brand new to cream blushes, Rituel’s are some of the best I’ve found. They give a nice subtle dash of colour, or you can build them up to a brighter hue with layered application.
Did you watch Agent Carter? I bet you did. Her lipstick was none other than their Red Velvet. One of my friends picked out their Merlot shade for me, and I adore them both. Because they’re modeled on vintage cosmetics, the packaging, size, and the shape of the lipstick itself will probably feel unfamiliar in the hand at first. The tube feels metallic, and the lipstick isn’t that sharp single peak like most modern lipstick, it’s actually more of a sloping A shape at the top. Don’t worry about it, though, because it’s still easy to apply, and requires very little getting used to.
They’re local! They’re full of glitter! And they’re run by a biochemist doing her damndest to keep the scarier chemicals in life out of your cosmetics. My current favorite lipsticks from Atomic are Jinxed, and Cabaret. I also use a BB cream from Atomic, as well as one of their foundations. If you’re in Seattle (or just passing through) I cannot emphasize how much fun it is to shop there.
Taking your first steps into unusual, wild shades of lipstick? Melt is a great first outing. I have a tube of Dark Room, which is a lovely beet purple. And Monday, May 11th, they’re having a sale. 25% off all their cosmetics, and the sale code is meltmilli. Sale runs from 12 a.m. – 12 a.m. PST.
If you dig my makeup bag and want one of your own, look no further than Concrete Minerals. Their eyeshadows are equally amazing.
Freelancing is one of the most exhausting things I’ve done in my life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and often administrative tasks feel like they’re derailing my creative duties, and vice versa. Because of the added dimension of chronic illness in my life, anything that keeps me organized or inspired is worth its weight in gold. Below are some of my favorite links and books for keeping myself on target and enjoying what I do.
The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron’s book is one of those classics that gets recommended for good reason. If it works for you, it really works for you. It’s not a how-to manual to writing, or painting, or any given art form. It’s…creative therapy, I guess? Though the affirmations to say daily usually make me laugh, and I often raise my eyebrows at the tone of the book, it’s been slowly forcing me back into regular journaling, which usually gets me to shake off enough mental chaff to have a great wordcount day. For me, the takeaways from Artist’s Way was the importance of creative routines, telling my inner critic to shut up till I’m done with a draft, and to pay attention to why I was avoiding particular projects.
The War of Art
Steven Pressfield’s book is applicable across most creative jobs. What we perceive as ‘writer’s block’ or ‘artist’s block’ is generally our own negative inner monologue, our fears, depression, and the cold rock of chronic illness and fatigue sapping your will and confidence. These are all things that take effort, time and persistence to work with. Pressfield’s book reminds the reader that the balking to start, continue, or finish our art is something we have to fight. It’s simply a part of life, we kick its ass, we keep going. When I’m dealing with inertia on a project, I like to read this book to feel both assured that my experience is normal, and reminded that I can get past it. I really loathe the term “inspiring read,” but it’s one of those books that will at least lure you back to your workspace to try again.
Director Tai Uhlmann has some beautiful advice on keeping perspective when a project is close to you. This kind of struggle is hardest, I think, with autobiographical projects, but it’s easy to become too consumed and over-identity with our art to the exclusion of who we are when we’re not engaged with making a specific project. This is a good read for anyone who gets tangled up in their art, or has issues keeping a grounded perspective during projects.
Short and sweet tips from Jessica M. Thompson on how she stays on point with her screenplay. Worth mining regardless of your creative specialty.
Paper is one of those things that I’ll be fighting till I die. Old invoice forms, mail, you name it. This is just a few brief suggestions from office stylist Sayeh on organizing your own paperwork mountains and keeping them from taking you out in an avalanche.
Kitty Horrorshow’s mini guide for staying productive with clinical depression is so incredibly useful, and there’s a lot of applicability to creators with chronic illness and disability. If you haven’t thought about managing your art and your physical/psychological resources, this is a good place to start thinking about those things. We are not lesser artists or professionals because we have to do frequent accounting about our health and our creative output. When we manage both our health and our art, we are being the best artists we are capable of.
When it comes to beauty products that my friends want to talk about, my nail polish collection is at the top of the list. Today, I’m sharing a number of links to some of the sites I’ve bought many of my favorite polishes from.
Mckfresh Nail Attire
With shades with names like “Horrorland,” it’s no wonder this is one of my favorite Australian brands. With spooky names and tons of glitter, this is the line for you if you like rich, dark jewel tones, or bright summery holos. Available via Femme Fatale Cosmetics and their Etsy.
FFC is an Australian company that ships overseas (yes!), and carries an abundance of nail polish and other cosmetics. I’m fairly partial to Femme Fatale’s own brand of nail polish, and I’m pretty sure they’re who I bought my very first bottle of Pretty Serious Cosmetics polish from. In addition to a number of polishes and cosmetics under the Femme Fatale Cosmetics brand, they also carry a variety of Australian, European and U.S. brands.
This is where I’ve bought most of my uslu airlines nail polish, but they carry a number of cosmetics, perfume and spa product items. They’re a great stop if you’re looking for something a little unusual for a gift.
One of my favorite brands, Zoya is a great polish for anyone just getting into the swing of doing their own nails. The consistencty of the polish, the brush and the top all feel natural to grip and use. I have shaky hands, but the more natural a grip feels, the easier it is for me to use that polish. My hands down favorite from them is Trixie, an incredible silver metallic shade.
Llarowe carries a number of indie nail polish brands, in addition to their own line of polishes. They’re fast, efficient, and carry an excellent array of shades and companies.
I’ve chased down some indie nail polish that was out at other stockists through them, and I have zero complaints about them. Fast, well packaged, reasonable selection.
A Canadian company that I’ve ordered from multiple times, Harlow carries both North American and overseas brands. I’ve discovered some neat companies through their site. Their speciality is nail polish, but they carry a number of lip products and other cosmetics as well.
Holographic shades abound with some lovely creme colours, as well as a number of shimmers and multichromes. Personal favorites of mine include Arcane Fire and Epoch.
Shades run the gamut from shimmery metallics to some of the most aggresive holos you’ll ever find, and their packaging is gorgeous. U.S. based, so shipping is swift inside the States. Available on their website and via their Etsy.
I Love Nail Polish has ultra-chrome flakies, chromes and holos in its arsenal, making it likely that there’s something for everyone among their shades. I love the weight of ILNP bottles, which does a lot to allay my fears that I’m going to knock a bottle over mid-manicure. Their polish lasts well, and I’d say is much more vibrant in person than on a monitor. Available on their website and via their Etsy.
With luck, some of these stockists will inspire you to try new shades, companies, and enliven your own nail polish collections.
There’s a publisher (and an editor) I want to tell you about.
Brian White is the mastermind behind Fireside Fiction, which puts out Fireside Magazine. Fireside pays 12.5 cents a word for fiction. They work with diverse writers and artists. Fireside isn’t just a magazine publishing genre fiction (and yes, they mean any genre), it’s a community. Writers who make friends and care about each other as people, and as peers. Artists who can say with pride that they share common ground as artists for Fireside. And “slush” readers, the never trumpeted enough entry point of publication, the submissions editors who pass stories up the chain, circled many times with You have to buy this.
Fireside is also its readers, who are brought together by their love of their favorite authors, being given a chance to discover new favorites.
All of this make Fireside amazing, and the man spinning the plates behind this is one of the best editors I have had the pleasure to call a peer, and a friend.
I don’t need a reason to call out good work or good people. But Brian’s birthday is this Saturday, and whether you know him or not, becoming a part of Fireside would be the perfect gift. Submit fiction. Buy back issues. Support their Patreon. Preorder Revision, the first novel Fireside Fiction is releasing, a flat out amazing sci-fi novel by Andrea Philips. Gift friends who need new fiction a subscription. Be a part of something strange and luminous and great.
Apparently, this is the week American journalism loses figures it cherishes dearly.
Bob Simon did work as a foreign correspondent, was one of the faces you may associate with “60 Minutes,” and his young face may have appeared on your television during what would become his award winning coverage of Vietnam. He died in a car accident on Wednesday at the age of 73. If his name escapes you, or you’re not familiar with his work, he’s worth a Google search or two. When a journalist dies their family is in the first circle of loss. And while their peers and colleagues feel it as well, the public keenly misses the faces, voices and words of people they grew to trust and turn to, often over the course of decades. For a jumping off point, CBS has a piece on Simon to get you started.
Then the world lost David Carr on Thursday night. Carr wasn’t a broadcast journalist like Simon, this is the guy you’d know from print. His column at the New York Times is (was?) one of those confluence columns where culture and government and a little bit else all came together. He collapsed at the age of 58 in The Times newsroom, and was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. If you’ve never read his stuff, this response he gave when asked to recommend a book about journalism has a Carr amount of intensity to it. Not a guy who wrote or said things in a lackluster manner.
They were talented men whose work was appreciated and followed with good reason. This weekend, look up some of their old footage, their old writing. For nostalgia and with respect, should you be familiar with them already, or with curiosity and new-found knowledge, if you’re not.
Ryan and I got married in September, which made the month a whirlwind I still only mostly remember.  Our honeymoon to the coast of California was marvelous and full of spooky historic buildings, the Pacific Ocean, and the creepiest “Scarecrow Festival” I have ever seen. We ended our honeymoon with dinner among friends in Oakland, and moved hotels to go run games at Big Bad Con the following day.
Big Bad Con this year had some big steps for me as a GM. I’d never run games at a convention before, and I am still blown away by the first group of players I had. It was one of those sessions where people are building on each other’s narratives, making the pitch-perfect decisions involving failure and growth, and giving an incredible amount of energy and sincerity to the story. I was also using Monsterhearts, which I’ve only played a handful of times, and I feel it’s both a poignant and potent game, emotionally. It was challenging and rewarding, and it taught me a lot. 
While we were there, me and Ryan were able to play a session of Jason Morningstar’s Night Witches, which has translated the historic arc of the Soviet women’s night bomber regiment to tabletop play.  From start to finish, the game is doing amazing things, and it’s base DNA from Apocalypse World has been heavily modified to make the best use of the AW engine with what Jason’s doing. I’ve never seen a roleplaying game do what felt like a good job with unit/squad mechanics, and Night Witches does. The moves in every playbook have change over between day and night moves, reflecting the different circumstances of these women’s lives. The Night Witches flew at night, so the night moves reflect the actions and risks undertaken every mission. Day moves focus on the inter/intra personal details of the pilots’ lives during the war. I can’t wait for it to come out, and if the concept has you hankering for your own copy, you can check out the Night Witches Kickstarter.
Halloween was busy, which is why a certain link didn’t get posted on Friday. The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls is a steampunk anthology brimming with monsters, clockwork fiends, and some dark tales. My story Red in Winter appears, which is my bloody take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable. It has Pinkerton detectives, serial murder, and a small town somewhere near the West Coast being dogged by a determined and cunning wolf.
In addition to Red in Winter coming out recently, my article “Storium’s Analog Heritage” made its appearance in the Analog Game Studies journal this morning. They’re a new journal, but their archives are already a treasure trove of interesting design food for thought. 
1. Never doubt people when they say you won’t remember much of your wedding, or the month around it. I should probably be grateful I miraculously mostly remember the ceremony.
2. Hopefully, I’ll carve out some time soon to discuss that experience in depth in a different blog post.
3. Jason has visited WWII via games before. If you haven’t read/played Grey Ranks before, you should look it up. The game is about the young Polish partisans, and their lives before, during and after the Uprising in 1944. Like Night Witches, it’s a potent game that doesn’t shy away from the emotional trauma of war, within its narrative or mechanically.
4. I played Dread with friends last night (Ryan was running) and I have So Many Thoughts about Dread’s design right now. May dump them into a blog post.
Though I’m rarely one for zombie related media, Spoiler captured my heart a few years ago when it graced the internet with its presence. The short film is a night in the life of a county coroner after humanity has ‘won’ the fight in the zombie apocalypse. It’s a bittersweet, intriguing take on life after the zombie virus has entered our lives.
This short film was a Finalist at Tropfest 2013 in Australia; a man does his best to ensure the safety of his daughter in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Get your Kleenex. Sharing this gem because, like Spoiler, it is poignant, human, and easy to imagine as something people would do if they were ever placed in this situation.
There is plenty of music out there that will help you sleep. Once you see this short film set to Johnny Hollow’s “Alchemy,” this song will not be one of those soothing masterpieces. “The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow” was a collaboration between Vincent Marcone (band member/artist) and Rodrigo Gudino (film director). It’s exquisite and strange, and some of the best Nightmare Fuel around.
It’s been four years since a stroke sent me to an emergency room, for a night I only remember fragments of. This year has reminded me a lot of that pain. The blinding migraines started up again in the spring, and I wrote them off as stress, or a sinus infection, completely unaware that an infection deep in the tissue of my mouth desperately needed surgery. I was lucky enough that the combined expertise of my doctors caught it just in time to prevent widespread damage to my face and bones. The pain from where they drilled and rebuilt that part of my mouth didn’t fully ebb till a few weeks ago. And I tried to be relieved, because it could have been worse, and the migraines must have been from the infection.
But they kept going. My doctors explained I was experiencing nerve pain in half of my body because my sleep issues had become too severe, that the new influx of migraines was a sign, just like they’d been four years ago, a sign that I desperately needed to rest. One doctor urged me to take a month off work before my wedding, another pleaded for me to at least take a week off. Yet another told me my sleep-starved brain was taking me down with it. All of them, over and over, made a case that I was courting a medical disaster, creating the perfect condition for physical and psychological crisis. It was going to get worse, they said. Unless I could get some more sleep. Unless I could decompress.
Resting is something I tried to do after the stroke. I quit volunteering, I desperately pared back on everything, trying to keep things from getting worse. My primary care physician suspected that the stroke was one of a pair in the same weekend, the first occurring the night before. For years, I’ve made my living working with words. Migraines threaten that by making it too painful to do anything but lie in the dark, praying for the pain to end. A stroke is…it’s a cataclysm. It is life changing. But not habit changing, in my case.
Pain this year has been a roller coaster, infections and migraines and surgery, sleep deprivation and new extremes of stress. In sobbing pain for days on one side of my body, my dominant hand weaker than my off hand, I went for testing. A whole pile of tests, to try and find a root disease, to alleviate my fears, and those of some of my doctors. Perhaps I’d had another stroke, or an entire sequence of them. Maybe it was MS. Or lesions, cancer. I cried when the doctor told me the imaging was clean, that my brain was intact.
Yet the concerns couldn’t cease, because I was still headed for collapse. Surgery had set me behind by months, and the agonizing pain that started in January and became unceasing by April lost me endless hours. I largely kept how bad it was offline, because I was scared I’d impact my employability. That same fear kept offline the nearly constant smear of suicidal depression and migraines I experienced in 2011 and 2012. 2013 was a slow trip back from that dark, painful, risky stretch of years, and 2014 dumped me right back into physical misery that courted the utmost limits of my ability to cope. I’ve turned down projects, and had to leave others. I still have a few projects that have become “project debt,” overdue things I cannot leave undone.
Sidebar: It’s not that I don’t love the shit out of you all, but every time you saw me at a con this year, I was in agonizing pain and my body was falling apart. If I seemed inattentive or avoiding socializing, exhausted or just plain weird, it was costing me everything physically and mentally just to keep making my panels. That’s before we go into the social anxiety disorder they’re still trying to figure out how to treat.
Years of pain don’t make me unique. Being at risk and taking medication daily to improve my chances of not having another stroke or attempting suicide again don’t make me unique. Neither does doing my damndest to cover it up. We are surrounded by people who are struggling, to the point that they are drowning, and we don’t even know. And I’ve been one of them.
You can still do a lot even when you don’t know people near you are hurting. Learn a few crisis line numbers. Keep NAMI or NEDA saved in your bookmarks. Regularly remind your friends that it is okay to talk to people about their feelings, or problems, even when they’re not sure any of it makes sense outside their head. Ask people about how they’re doing, and be open when you can about how you’re doing, on good days and on bad days. People who are struggling and actively looking for someone, anyone to talk to, will see those things. All of them are positive indications that they won’t be shunned for admitting vulnerability, fear, or pain. It’s not worth the risks of opening up unless the people around us seem safe to do so with.