Convention Prep: Geeking Out about My Top 5 Makeup Must-Haves

White Queen from Alice in Wonderland

One of the things I love to do is play with makeup, and I don’t get the opportunity to geek out about it very much–so I thought I’d do it here. My recommendations are meant to be for anyone, regardless of gender, age, etc. who’s interested. To that end, I did double-check to make sure my must-haves were available in multiple skin tones, and comments are open if you want to leave specific suggestions.

Before I get to my must-haves, I wanted to mention that one of the most important things you can do is figure out your skin type. There’s a lot of advice out there that talks about what layers you need (primer, lotion, etc.) to put on your face before applying makeup, but often what you use (or how many layers you apply) depends upon your skin’s composition. For example, tons of people put on CC or BB cream; using that as a base tends to make your face slick because it has sunscreen. If your skin is naturally oily, then it will probably feel even slicker if you layer lotions, etc. beneath that. If you’re not sure what type of skin you have, it’s worth visiting a consultant at a department store or a specialty shop like Sephora or Ulta to help you get a baseline.

1. Urban Decay De-Slick Powder

I love this powder. The Urban Decay De-Slick Powder is an odorless, colorless powder that can be worn by itself or with makeup. It is designed to control shine, and it works like a charm to offset humidity, sweat, etc. perfect for long days or summer cons. Urban Decay is sold direct through their website, or you can find the line at Sephora and Ulta.

2. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

If you have issues with slick eyelids as the day goes on, this potion is magical. There are three different types that can be worn under eyeshadow or by themselves. By far, the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer has been one of the best ways to give a little coverage and prevent greasy eyelids. If that’s a concern, you can pick up the Urban Decay Lockdown Duo to help set your makeup, or you can use blotting papers instead.

3. Moodstruck Minerals Stiff Upper Lip Stain

Younique has some interesting products to try, and I’ve had good luck with their Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes and the Moodstruck Minerals Stiff Upper Lip Stain. The stain goes on like a lip gloss, but it dries out, coloring your lips for hours. I usually pair the stain with regular chapstick or clear gloss; the benefit of doing this is fantastic. I don’t have to look in the mirror to apply the gloss, and the color stays on all day. The only tip I have is that you use a lip exfoliator, like this amazing Mary Kay Satin Lips set, to make sure your skin is smooth before staining them.

4. Perfekt Undereye Concealer

Dark circles, red eyes, and puffy under eye skin are definitely a hazard if you stay up late at night. I often bring Visine with me to help with the redness, and for puffy eyes, I use Alba Botanica Green Tea Gel or All About Eyes Serum De-Puffer by Clinique. (There’s a lovely article about various methods to de-puff eyes here, if you’re interested.) For undereye concealer, I use Perfekt Skin Perfection Concealer. When applying, you only need a little bit. Its lighter-than-air, so it doesn’t cake, and if you use it in a criss-cross pattern beneath the eye stretching to the top of the cheekbone it’ll blend well.

5. Maybelline The Blushed Nudes Palette

I really enjoy playing around with eyeshadow palettes, and some like the kits from Stila, are better than others. I’ve been very surprised by the quality of Maybelline’s sets, and have been really happy with the quality. At cons, I like a variety of shades and small compacts travel well. Maybelline’s The Blushed Nudes are a great buy for the money, and the metallics aren’t grainy. There’s a ton of other Maybelline eyeshadow palettes that I haven’t tried yet, too. The nice thing is that Maybelline is available in drug stores and in specialty makeup stores, plus they’re hella affordable and portable.

Hope you enjoyed this post! I had a lot of fun writing it and geeking out about makeup.

    Mood: Naptime?
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Quite a bit.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Laundry, laundry, laundry
    In My Ears: Space heater
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy X-2: The Last Mission
    Book Last Read: Black Unicorn
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Legend of the Seeker
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: In Volo’s Wake for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming this month!

Mark Your Calendar for GameHoleCon 2017

GameHoleCon 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin

I am pleased to announce that I will be a guest for this year’s Gamehole Con, which takes place November 2nd through November 5th at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Gamehole Con is the largest tabletop gaming convention in the upper Midwest. Tabletop gamers from around the country gather each November in Madison, WI for this carnival of gaming. The convention features role-playing games, board games, fantasy and historical miniature gaming, and collectible card games. If you are a tabletop gaming fan, do not miss Gamehole Con!”

I’ll have more announcements about the show in the coming months. I hope you consider joining us at the show!

MANW Week 3 Check-In: New Creative Prompt & Challenge Follow-Up

Jack The Pumpkin King Avatar

Today’s the exciting check-in for Week 3 of my Make Art Not War Challenge! I have had a tremendous week where a lot of unraveled threads have been snipped, and I’m in the process of figuring out what thread I need to spool before…

Okay, that took the whole “eye of the needle” analogy a bit too far; my point (Hah! Hah!) is that by embracing January’s theme of PLAY, I’m beginning to sort out what I want to focus on this year for the next three-to-six months. I’m also remembering which long-standing projects have been languishing as well, and that’s provided me with a much-needed kick in the butt to sharpen my focus.

I’d like to share with you how my week went, but before I get to that I’d like to plug an article by Gareth L. Powell titled “How To Keep Being Creative In A Crisis”. Loads of great insight here, and I really dug this quote:

“Art is one of the candles of civilisation. If we abandon it, the bad guys win. – Gareth L. Powell

Inspiring, eh? As more authors blog about making art in challenging and difficult times, I will continue to link to their words of wisdom. Remember: if you are just finding out about the challenge now, you can join at any time!

Creative Challenge Recap: Making Art at Cons

Last week, I did mention that I had a creative challenge to work through. I was invited to be a special guest at Midwinter Con, and my goal was to keep making art while at the show. Here’s how the days broke down:

  • Wednesday, January 11
  • – I did not make art. I was forced to slay dust bunnies instead.

  • Thursday, January 12
  • – This was a travel/booth set up/see people day, so no art here, either.

  • Friday, January 13
  • – I set up and participated in a LARP about an eeeeeeevil corporation, which was the culmination of characters I helped design. Not sure if this counts as “new” or not, but it was the result of my creative efforts.

  • Saturday, January 14
  • – I did here! Part of the day I spent with my cousin on creative photography and discussing my business plan. I also started narrowing down how to focus my creative energy on my original projects as well. Plus, spending time at the signing table allowed me to conjure concepts for new worlds, stories, and games.

  • Sunday, January 15
  • – Another travel and tear down day. This was a long one, and didn’t make art here.

Though I didn’t make art on certain days, when I came back home I did feel as if my focus never waned–not once. Since MANW was always on my mind, it was omnipresent and, because of that, I spent Monday recovering from the convention(1). I wound up buying some software that would allow me to design flat, two-dimensional bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. and used it to create two fan-made patterns. (One was for Dungeons & Dragons, and the other was for the Packers.) For flat stitches, the software will allow me to plot out intricate designs and “see” them before I stitch them. Pretty cool!

All in all, I think the creative challenge to continue making art at conventions can’t be forced or helped if travel gets in the way. The two most important things for me was to never lose sight of my goal, and to get back on the proverbial horse as soon as possible. I needed a day of downtime after a convention, for example, and I found there was no better way of spending it than making art.

Your mileage will vary, of course, but if you can’t make art while you’re away please don’t beat yourself up about it. If, however, you find yourself not making art when you get home, too, then that’s something I’d keep an eye on. If your lack of productivity goes past a week, then I’d say that’s definitely a cause for concern–especially if you don’t have a lot going on.

I’d love to hear how you’re doing. Feel free to check in on the hashtag or use the comments section. Can’t believe we’re in week three!

Creative Prompt: Visualize a Castle

The story behind this creative prompt is my love for a book that I feel was billed as a romance–even though it really wasn’t. Season of the Witch, by Natasha Mostert, touches upon a concept in spiritual alchemy where you build constructs in your mind. Natasha uses that gilded palace in an interesting and suspenseful way while other fantasy writers, like Melanie Rawn in her Exiles series, utilize mental constructs to teach magic, defend from magical attacks, etc. [Similar to this, is the “mind palace” which was featured in Sherlock.]

This exercise has two components to it. The first, is to take twenty minutes and find a nice, quiet space to visualize a castle of your dreams. If you don’t have one of those, I recommend noise-cancelling headphones to help you focus. Then, when you’re settled, draw a castle in your mind and add in the five senses. If you picture a tower, go inside the tower. Does it have staircases? Elaborate carpets? Stained glass windows or heavy oak doors? What does that room smell like? Fresh rain, rose petals, or cinnamon? Once you’ve visualized that room, move on to the next one and the next one until you’ve pictured an entire castle of your own making.

For the second part, bring your castle to life. You can do this in any number of ways via scrapbooking or cutting techniques, illustrations, lush descriptions, etc. The idea here is to build a castle in the real world that you’ve visualized. Remember: this doesn’t have to be something you complete on the first try, either. It could take you up to a week or more, and that’s okay!

Why do this? Here’s a secret: by creating a place in your mind, through your art, you are giving yourself the gift of space. This might be a place you dream about buying, building, owning, or traveling to one day. Or, your castle could be a safe space you retreat to because it’s uniquely yours. It may sound incredibly silly, but having a safe space is important for your well-being on multiple levels. This exercise allows you to create one and give you that sense of ownership and control–which is a must when times get tough!

(1) Every introvert understands what “recovering” a.k.a. “de-peopling” means.

    Mood: Caffeinated
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Yeah, I don’t think the addiction will bypass anytime soon, not until Spring at least.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Bah, humbug.
    In My Ears: Movie soundtrack playlist. Currently on Harry Potter.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Inquisition
    Book Last Read: Research materials for work.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016. Check out Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling and, if you like it, consider leaving a review.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update.

MANW Week 2: Check-In and Making Art at Conventions

darkwing duck avatar

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the second week of Make Art Not War 2017, but here we are. So far, I’ve been focusing on jewelry design, in part because there is a mathematical component to this art form. Math, which is also present in art forms such as music, graphic design, kirigami/origami, and gaming, is an amazing discipline that is often overlooked in artistic endeavors, and I enjoy this component. When I’m stressed out, it also helps to ground me since I deal with words all day. Yesterday, for example, I was stressed out–especially with a convention on my horizon this weekend–so I made time and opted out of reading or watching TV to design something small but original.

This MANW challenge may inspire me to make art, but it’s up to me to ensure that it remains a priority. In Week 2, it feels as if my creations are a security blanket I’m slowly wrapping around myself. Every stitch is weaving part of that fabric, and as the year continues that feeling of being surrounded by art will only grow stronger. The biggest impact it’s having, is that I do feel there’s an emotional and mental buffer between politics and my identity as an artist. Instead of feeling hopeless or pushed upon, I’m using my art to reaffirm that “Yes, I am here and making art is what I do.” From there, once that foundation is in place (Ergo, why January’s MANW 2017 theme is PLAY!), then I’ll build off of that to funnel and channel my efforts into something more specific.

Of note, if you’re still on the fence or aren’t fully grasping how politics and a tense atmosphere impacts artists, John Scalzi wrote an article for the LA Times sharing a 10-Point Artist’s Plan for Getting Things Done. It’s a different perspective related to what I’m talking about, and I think it’s valuable to read if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Links and Reminders

For those of you who are following my work, I have a smattering of news and reminders for you today.

  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in StorytellingUpside Down is now available on NetGalley through January 31st. It is available to purchase in digital and print formats wherever books are sold, and it does qualify for 2016 award nominations if you’re so inclined. Our authors would love reviews, so if you have a copy please consider leaving one on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble,, etc. Thank you!
  • My 2016 Releases – My 2016 releases in non-fiction and fiction are also eligible for award nominations; the cut off for gaming awards tends to vary, so you’ll have to check the publications date if you’re including games designed/written/edited by me or other designers. In most cases, games are submitted for consideration by the publisher, so our involvement tends to be hands off and less PR-related than it is in SF&F and other publishing channels. Thanks for your consideration.
  • Writing the Other: Sans Fail – Registration is now available! You can read the class description, and find out more information to register at this link. As part of the class, I will discuss some process-related techniques, Tempest will be lending her talents in a lecture, and you get to create characters and have them critiqued. It’ll be fun and informative!

Creative Challenge: Making Art While at Conventions

One of the aspects of my job is traveling to conventions, speaking on panels, and interacting with fans. I do well knowing there’s a larger audience of people to see me; performances are my jam, and I treat them as such. When there’s fewer people, or if it’s super chill, I tend to get distracted and not have as much fun. I’ve learned the hard way that when it’s busy, it’s important to book down time for myself and ensure I’m not spending too much time with one person even if that’s my SO.

It’s easier to make art when it’s not busy. I often wander, recharge my batteries, and write or make art when I can. This time, I find myself wondering what type of art can I make that will serve me during both busy and quiet moments?

I have written before at conventions, and I used to take pictures. Writing at conventions is hit-or-miss, and it really depends upon the con. With social media being what it is, it was easy to take pictures and post them. To me, though, staging photos or drinking in the scenery is not my preferred form of making art on the road. To resolve this, I asked about this on social media to drum up some ideas. Thanks to the feedback of many congoers like Emily Care Boss, the solution I’ve come up with is to assign a notebook for my travels this year and dive into sketches, doodles, and bad poetry(1).

One nice thing about a notebook and some funky pens is that I can carry that with me wherever I go, so it’s not size-prohibitive. The other thing, is that as I travel this year I’m essentially creating a fun journal of my trips. It’s an elegant solution, and I’m looking forward to filling its pages and keeping my creative mind active on the road.

Another option, is to set aside a time and invite other people to join me for writing, drawing, etc. This feels like a good mix of social-and-creative time, though mileages will vary since everyone’s process is so different. Some people can only write in isolation. I’m sensitive to sound, so I can write if there’s a lot of white noise or instrumental music, but not if there’s performers present. As this is a huge topic and a major creative challenge for a lot of folks, I’m going to follow up with some tips as I experiment this weekend and explore some possibilities.

That’s enough about me. How are y’all doing this week? Time to check in!

(1) I haven’t studied poetry very much, and I view different forms of writing to require specialization. So, I consider my poems to be bad, bad, b-b-b-b-b-b-bad.

    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Had to back off yesterday, and went for the herbal tea. Oh, my head!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Does typing my ass off count?
    In My Ears: Boromir
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Inquisition
    Book Last Read: Research materials for work.
    Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Lord of the Rings Trilogy
    Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge and Rules
    Latest Releases: Read my end-of-the-year list of releases for an overview of what I’ve put out for 2016. Check out Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling and, if you like it, consider leaving a review.
    Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update.

Geek*Kon and Processing Your Emotions Like a Pro Panel Recap

Fizgig Avatar

Sitting in my office inhaling Pocky and relying a little too heavily on the Diet Mountain Dew this fine day, if only because this year’s Geek*Kon was a whirlwind of color and panels and friends. I continue to be in awe of the love, energy, and effort of anime fans and the work they put into their costumes, and use this weekend as a reminder that the future of reading is incredibly diverse. Plus, I want to give a shout out to the Lolita girls who put a lot of time and energy into their fashionable dresses to walk around the show. Also: Enrica Jang (Red Stylo Media) and Jennifer M. Smith are both awesome women in comics. Be sure to check out their work!

This weekend I was on several panels and presentations and noticed a lot of up-and-coming or inexperienced writers in the audience. Most of my advice about writing translates to this: I cannot give you any advice that will help you fix a manuscript I haven’t read, have the confidence to keep writing all the way through to The End, the best way to learn how to write and to keep internalizing processes is to Do The WorkTM, and lastly…if you’re having trouble balancing worldbuilding and story remember why you’re creating settings. If you’re writing a novel, then your story trumps the world you’ve built separately every time. Sometimes, there’s wonderful aspects of a world that make sense technically but might not translate well into fiction–and that’s totally okay! In the end, there’s no magical bit of advice I can give anyone other than to Do The WorkTM and be loyal to it. You’d be surprised how smart other people really and truly are; if you don’t Do The WorkTM others will figure that out, too.

Emotions and Professionalism

I also proposed a new panel this year about the connection between emotions and being a professional. Briana Lawrence joined me to talk about her experiences and offer nuggets of wisdom. I Tweeted a bunch during the panel, but I wanted to share with you some thoughts that came out of the panel because I feel they might be helpful for you.

Briana told the crowd that, “The first problem is that creatives are not taken seriously as having a real job. Cons are work.”

This, here, is where a lot of problems come into play because there’s an emotional journey artists take especially if they do not have a supportive environment either through close friends or immediate family. What artists do, regardless of which type of art we make, is not treated as work. When our efforts are not thought of that way, the work is then devalued and our time is taken for granted. Plus, many artists never get past this step to realize that a) yes, they are an artist and b) you can build a career even though that bit is hard, complicated, and draining at times due to the struggles we have with the financial component.

I mentioned, for example, that when I make friends or go to Bar Con I do not want to talk about work or think/worry about social commerce and “who” I’m talking to. I think about work enough as it is, and “picking my brain” is something that I will do on my terms. When I’m in my off-time, I value the ability to just hang out and be. I do not make friends based on whether or not they can help me or do things for me on a free basis, and that’s partly how I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. But, as I’ve said many times before, knowing people is not a replacement for Doing The WorkTM, either. While there are systemic issues that exist, especially when it comes to marketing/visibility, that’s all I have control over. Often, it’s never just “the one” person asking for advice, either. This is partly why I go to conventions in the first place; cons are a way of giving back, and many of them are on my own dime. Worse, however, is challenging the perception that artists are stuck up, arrogant, or bitchy for not “giving back” on someone else’s terms when what we do is not considered work. That’s partly why I said that: “When you are an artist, you don’t get paid for finding inspiration. But that matters, so have a life.” We don’t get paid for research or inspiration or downtime, but that’s part of the cycle of creativity, too.

Briana reinforced this by saying: “I used to call myself the Dream Crusher. No one wants to hear that there’s no easy path to the spotlight. You need to Do The WorkTM.”

We did spend some time talking about conventions, and we shared some tips for handling (most) situations. They are:

    1.) Know someone at con to be there if there’s a problem. e.g. Safety net. This also extends to knowing where/when to report a problem if it occurs ahead of time.
    2.) Pick an outfit/style you just wear at cons as a visual cue/mental reminder that you are working and presenting.
    3.) Give yourself permission to feel. It’s okay if you have to back outing a conversation/panel if it’s too much for you. This is especially important if you get bad news!
    4.) Plan downtime to rest/recharge and give yourself some personal time. (I use Google Calendar to plot out my free time.)
    5.) Buy something small for yourself as a reward to build new and positive memories from another author, artist, or while in the dealer room.

Then, the conversation flipped to dealing with online harassment and interactions. I mentioned that I manage the small things emotionally on a daily basis, because if I go broad I will get depressed from all the things I can’t change. I also advise to establish boundaries both online and off, to ensure your emotional health is maintained. It’s okay to say “No.” However, there were several nuggets of wisdom and observation from Briana due to her experiences online that I want to capture here:

  • There’s a perception that if you don’t comment you don’t care, or that awful behavior that doesn’t get outrage is okay. (e.g. blackface)
  • You do not need to tag people to be “the black voice” and fight your battles for you.
  • Remember that folks get tired of having the same conversations over and over again. Blackface was not okay in 2013, and it’s not okay now.
  • Consistent comments hurt. You do not need to engage to prove you can handle trolls or how strong you are.

So there you have it! Brand new panel, and I think that went pretty well. Thanks to Briana and her words of wisdom; she definitely added a lot to a touchy and sensitive topic.

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