Sunday, May 1, 2016

Latest stories


'Ningyo' in Phantasm Japan, edited by Nick Mamatas (Haikasoru).

'The Governess and We' in Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans.

'Sixty Years in the Women's Province' in GigaNotoSaurus.

'When We Harvested the Nacre-Rice' in Solaris Rising 3, edited by Ian Whates (Solaris Books).

'Five Hundred and Ninety-Nine' in The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures, edited by Sean Wallace. 'Elision' in La Femme, edited by Ian Whates (NewCon Press).  


‘Elision’ in La Femme, edited by Ian Whates (NewCon Press). A private detective is engaged to investigate mysterious footage. 3,800 words.

'Golden Daughter, Stone Wife' in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (April 2014). An immigrant sorcerer, her lost golem, and a compromise of winter. Podcast read by Folly Blaine. 7,500 words. Subscriptions.

'Autodidact' in Clarkesworld Magazine (April 2014). A sentient starship, a psychologist, a soldier and the battlefield they make of one another. Podcast read by Kate Baker. 5,800 words. Subscriptions | Patreon.  

'Zeraquesh in Absentia' in The Dark (Feb 2014). Weightless Books. A police officer and a private eye seek a missing person in the haunted city. 2,800 words.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Makeup for beginners! Eyes, face, lips, tools.

On twitter I absolutely deluged @Daniel_Libris in makeup recommendations, so I thought that I might as well put all the things in one post. Makeup looks scary, but there are actually a *lot* of products that are foolproof, easy to wear, and almost universally flattering. C:

Don't be afraid! Makeup should be fun and you can absolutely wear *whatever* at all you want, but if you're just starting out you may want to consider understated things and eventually get to bolder colors (if you want to!). I'll go with products I've tried and which I felt acquitted themselves well.


I think this might be the scariest area for people - eye makeup is the place where you can use just about any color you like (there are blue and green lipsticks, but most people find that unwearable whereas blue or green eyeshadow shades are considered a bit more 'everyday'). To start out, I would recommend an eyeshadow palette with both neutral (brown, gold, taupe) and brighter colors (blue, green, pink). Neutral eyes tend to look like these.


At the drugstore level, I'm afraid most eyeshadow is dreadful, but there are some exceptions! At the mid-end, I'm unimpressed with MAC and NARS while very impressed with Urban Decay and Illamasqua. I avoid Korean and Japanese eyeshadow at any price point other than Shu Uemura (which is amazing), since they tend to be pigment-free glitter bombs. I don't think it's necessary to splurge high-end here, as the quality isn't too removed from the mid-end, but a lot of people swear by Tom Ford and Burberry eyeshadow palettes.
  • Drugstore! Sleek i-Divine in Storm or Au Naturel; Maybelline Color Tattoo in Barely Branded, Inked in Pink, Bold Gold, Bad to the Bronze; NYX Love in Rio palettes.
  • Mid-end! Illamasqua palettes in Empower, Complement, or Neutral; Urban Decay Naked Basics; bareMinerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0 in The Truth, The Rare Find, or The Happy Place.
  • High-end! Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscope Eye Kit in Bauhaus or Carnaby Street.
For eyeliner, I think gel is the least intimidating to use; it tends to stay on better than pencil liners, in my experience, for those with oilier eyelids. If your eyelids are dry, go for pencil though, they're probably the most fuss-free though they do need sharpening. (I have no experience with high-end eyeliners here, but if anyone wants to chime in what the YSL gel liners are like....) Brown or black eyeliner is the best for defining your eyes.
  • Drugstore!
    • Gel: Catrice, Maybelline, L'Oreal, Kanebo KATE.
    • Pencil: Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner.
  • Mid-end!
    • Gel: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack or Blitz and Glitz, Illamasqua Precision Gel Liner, Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner.
    • Pencil: MAC Pearlglide Intense in Lord it Up or Black Line, Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Perversion or Zero.
Adore Beauty has a tutorial for neutral eyes, but you can find plenty more googling for them. I'd make sure to check for your eye shape. Bunbun Makeup has an entire series on monolids. If you have oily eyelids, try eye primers to keep eyeshadow from sliding off or liner from giving you the coveted panda eyes. I'm a believer in NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base. Brightest Bulb in the Box has a mega comparison!


The first thing I recommend almost anyone is Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, since it's moisturizing *and* the color's just about universally flattering. You might want a second lipstick for a brighter color, and you will *definitely* want to have a lip balm around if your lips are prone to chapping, or you want to wear matte lipsticks (which are, very sadly, almost universally drying....).

  • Drugstore! Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait or Cherry Tart, Maybelline Color Whisper.
  • Mid-end! Too Faced La Creme, MAC Mineralize Rich, Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, Clinique Chubby Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Mega Melon.
  • High-end! YSL Rouge Volupte Shine (I can't recommend this enough, it's perfect - pigmented *and* moisturizing *and* long-lasting, just the best and honestly worth the price) in Corail Incandescent or Pink in Devotion.

This one's a bit complicated because people have different kinds of skin. If your complexion is darker - like mine - you'll have to gravitate toward the more expensive end of things, as mid- to high-end brands tend to have greater shade selections, and getting a shade match can be tricky. The basics is that you want to moisturize first before putting anything on your face.

I can't stand heavy-coverage liquid foundation for long and so I tend to go with sheerer formulas, or just wear powder with tinted moisturizers underneath. It depends on how much coverage you want! For drugstore, Bourjois and Revlon are quite good; for the high-end, Guerlain Lingerie de Peau is brilliant. I've heard good things about the Chanel Aqualumiere for those with dryer skin. If you want a foundation powder and want to go high-end, absolutely *nothing* beats Chantecaille Compact Makeup.

Blush is easier though! As far as that goes my recommendations come down to two things: for drugstore, Sleek Blush by 3 palettes. For mid-end, Clinique Cheek Pop Blush.


Please don't try applying your eyeshadow with your fingers or flimsy sponge-tip applicators that come in palettes! They are simply the most dreadful and the easiest way to get frustrated with eye makeup and give up forever. Invest in eye brushes! The choices are very simple here. If you want higher end, you pick up a MAC 239 and a MAC 217. If not, pick up a Real Techniques starter set. The basics is you use a flat brush (like MAC 239) to deposit eyeshadow, then a soft fluffy brush (like MAC 217) to blend it.

Face brushes I find fairly optional. Sponges like Beauty Blender are the most beginner-friendly for liquid or cream foundation, but for powder products applicators included in the compact or tin tend to do just fine.

In summary, broadly I'd say you want these things.
  1. Eye stuff. Eye primer, eyeliner, and one eyeshadow palette.
  2. Lip stuff. Two lipsticks - one a 'nude' or understated color, one a louder, bolder color. Have a lip balm around.
  3. Face stuff. One liquid foundation, one finishing powder, a blush palette.
  4. Tools. Eye brushes - one for depositing color, one for blending. Face brush - I think broadly you can just get one that can multi-purpose; face powder things tend to come with their own applicators (sponge or puff), liquid foundation you can use your hand.
That's it! Exactly 12 products, at varying price points. Have fun and be sparkly! (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧

Monday, April 21, 2014

Campbell Award for best new writer

Last week e-mails went out to nominees for all things Hugo and the (affectionately known as) not-Hugo, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Which is not a Hugo, but it's part of the same nomination and voting process. My letter came in and, as you do, I just stared at it for a few hours, sure that they had the wrong person and that they'd sent it to the wrong address. Somehow! I'm actually certain this isn't a thing that happens - they're too efficient and competent for that. But the mind isn't always a rational thing....

The Campbell ballot this year comprises
  • Ramez Naam  
  • Sofia Samatar  
  • Wesley Chu
  • Max Gladstone
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew
This is very humbling company! Please imagine my face as a row of exclamation marks. Like so -> !!!!!!!!!!!! The eyes will have to be stars. Ramez Naam and Max Gladstone were exceptionally lovely - I'd just twitter-met them and they were already offering to drink to me at Worldcon. (I believe I'll get to pick the drink, the more lethal the better; please send suggestions!) Huge congratulations for all of them, and also to Ann Leckie, Aliette de Bodard, Rachel Swirsky, Foz Meadows, Kameron Hurley. Two of my favorite editors are up for short form editor - Jonathan Strahan and Neil Clarke - so that's a yay! Beneath Ceaseless Skies up for semiprozine again, most deservingly!

My only expectations with the Campbell was only a concern I might be a disappointment to people who did nominate me for the Campbell. As it turns out, I don't have to disappoint! To say I'm humbled by this support for my writing would be an absolute, inadequate statement. It was an honor just to see my name on people's ballots - that was delightsome enough on its own - but to be an actual finalist...! It's beyond an honor, and it overwhelms me more than I have words to express. Thank you everyone who nominated me, and I'd especially like to thank writers who've lent me unending courage - to write, to be: Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley, Aliette de Bodard, Seth J. Dickinson, Lavie Tidhar. Editors who have been incandescently kind and shown me a world of possibilities: Neil Clarke, Scott H. Andrews, Sean Wallace, Jonathan Oliver, Jonathan Strahan, and more.

And finally: innumerable thanks for a very dear one for incredible patience, support, and being there. (And also all the nieces who cheered me on when writing, and burst into huge rounds of applause when I told them all this, even if they aren't too sure what it is about. Erm, that and my writing's still not age-appropriate for them, now that I think...).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April stories! Clarkesworld and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Story month! ゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚
‘Autodidact’ on Clarkesworld Magazine (Subscriptions | Patreon). A sentient starship, a psychologist, and a soldier: the battlefield they make of each other.
On Srisunthorn Station, the corpses of conquered stars are nurtured into ships.
They may become shelters from solar winds, orbitals giving company to lonely planets, mausoleums for the sainted. But long ago an admiral came, bringing a toll of dead and trailing carcasses of worlds. Her armor was hammered out of battle formations and broken alliances, welded by secret plans and sudden annihilation. She cast it down before the engineers, piece by piece making known to them the essentials of war.
“That is what you must make them for,” she said as her trappings shuddered with the pressure of lethal feints and shattered pacts. “War is a pustule that must be lanced for the laws of the universe to continue, and I am in need of a scalpel.”
‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ on Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Subscriptions). An immigrant sorcerer, her lost golem, and a compromise of winter. Podcast read by Folly Blaine.
I watch her through the bright, clear eyes of a fox. You see the world differently this way, closer to the ground, sight plaited from smells, nose to soil and snow. A fox’s mind is so wide, made of simple geometry and immediate needs.
The fox sniffs and tosses its head. She comes.
‘Golden Daughter’ shares the issue with ‘At the Edge of the Sea’ by Raphael Ordonez, which I found lovely, evocative and wonderfully unsettling.
I’m extra pleased in that – though these two stories were written months apart – their publication dates tidily coincide: both being stories with immigrant main characters, artificial life, a desire for parenthood, *and* they both take place in a small, contained setting (a space station and a house respectively). Apart from those common details though, they end up being very different stories, with hugely unlike conclusions.
I’ve been *incredibly* happy with the reception for ‘Autodidact’! The first day this was up my mentions didn’t completely explode but definitely filled up a lot, which I didn’t think was a thing that happens when you’re a little baby writer. Carl V. Anderson liked it at SFSignal, and Lois Tilton called the final moment subtle and effective, Charlotte Ashby reviewing for Apex Magazine had kind things to say about it, and a reader of Clarkesworldkindly said it was one of the standout stories. Not to be outdone, ‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ has already been selected for a reprint in The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry edited by Sean Wallace, out late this year. I think that’s the fastest reprint I’ve ever had!
While I’m proud of and believe in my stories, it’s still a surprise when people let me know they liked my writing; I couldn’t have asked for more. I took a few risks with ‘Autodidact’ (one of them being to use three different pronouns for a single character), but they seem to have worked out all right. I wrote this story with Ancillary Justice on my brain (because of course!), as I otherwise never thought of writing sentient AIs before, though my approach to it is probably very different from Ann’s.
If you want to read more stories with sentient spaceships in them, I loved Aliette de Bodard’s ‘The Breath of War’ and ‘Ship’s Brother’, Kameron Hurley’s ‘Enyo-Enyo’, though I’d be happy to read more. For golem stories – erm, please suggest?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Beneath Ceaseless Skies science-fantasy months

The Beneath Ceaseless Skies science-fantasy month is thoroughly solid – Scott H. Andrews curated a stunning double issue – and makes me hugely happy; science fantasy looks like a very fun thing to do! I haven’t read all of them yet, but for the moment…
Behold Sekhmet! Blood and brawn, fang and claw, shoulders caked in salt. Risen from the anaerobic sea, the ancient broth, to hunt and kill her foe.
‘Sekhmet Hunts the Dying Gnosis: a Computation’ by Seth J. Dickinson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). I think most would be hard-pressed not to read on after the first three gorgeous sentences. Seth calls this the sort of fable a tiger raised on science might tell and that seems a fitting description! It’s an incredibly accomplished story, where every sentence sings out in perfection, visceral poetry. I adore it.
‘The Breath of War’ by Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). On a planet where people carve stone into ‘breath-siblings’ a pregnant woman seeks her stone-companion: a warship. Of all Aliette’s stories I’ve read recently I think this is easily the strongest – it’s rather different from her non-fantasy SF, but tensely told and striking. In a lot of ways it shares resemblances with her Subterranean story, but I do love this one more. I’m not sure if this is part of the Xuya universe, but it shares many themes with her Xuya stories. Seth had a lot more to say about this story, and his insights as usual are thoroughly smart.
Beneath a high pale sun, Doormaker follows the broken road into the demon’s kingdom.
She is clad in an armor wrought of primordial isotopes, imbued with mathematics of sufficient strength to reinforce its stability against the demon’s fallout. Beneath it, she hides her war-given wounds, which burn and twist at certain hours of the day or beneath the shadows of certain trees.
‘The River Does Not Run’ by Rachel Sobel (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). A wizard sets out to defeat a demon in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s a relatively brief story, tightly focused, and the imagery is evocative. Science fantasy with maths magic! My favorite kind of main character!
‘The Bonedrake’s Penance’ by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). This is very different! But beautifully written, of course. I’m always faintly puzzled by stories where dragons (or other fantasy creatures) raise children, but that may be due to me not reading a lot of fantasy outside of short fiction. (You would think it’d be common in YA, of which I read a lot, but I actually can’t think of any title that fits the bill…)
‘The Mote-Dancer and the Firelife’ by Chris Wilrich (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2012). An older story but also from a science-fantasy month at BCS, reprinted in Rich Horton’s Space Opera. An interesting look at a telepathic-digital afterlife and grieving!
And relevantly…

This is a thoroughly fantastic panel that I think is essential to watch for anyone interested in short fiction in the genre, whether to read, write, or edit. They cover the rise of online zines and how that opens doors and access to international audiences and writers. Some podcasts were recommended, The Synthetic Voices and Tina Connolly’s Toasted Cake.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear my name brought up, along with Seth J. Dickinson and Yoon Ha Lee. Many thanks to Sarah Pinsker, Neil Clarke and Scott H. Andrews for that kindness. All editors talked in depth about the nitty-gritty of running, editing and maintaining zines. Funding! Story selection! And things. It’s fairly long a clip, but really quite worth checking out.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Common questionable (?) makeup wisdom

1. Black eyeliner is too harsh for the daytime. Wear brown instead. ('This may not apply to all skin colour but the expert says, "Here is a general rule: dark colors shrink and recede," Patel says. "Light colors advance and bring forward." That's why she recommends skipping black eyeliner (especially underneath eyes) during the day, so your eyes look more open and awake'.)

I've never been able to understand this one. This could be due to my skin being on the deep end of things - any liner 'weaker' than black would not go very far in defining my eyes! But my paler friends and colleagues also wear black liner, even liquid ones which tend to pull dramatic. The same goes with most people I know who wear makeup, black is the definite standard (and I don't think it looks 'too harsh', not that I feel like I ought to pass opinion on what other people do with their faces!). This might, possibly, be an Asia thing? I wouldn't line my waterline with black in the daytime, to be fair, though that's because I just about never line my waterline. (I'd get irritated and my eyes would tear up).

2. Blue eyeshadow is unwearable. (Source! '"Blue eyeshadow works for some people," Patel says. " such as little girls in dance recitals. Guests at 1970s-themed parties. Ethereal looking supermodels. If you aren't one of the aforementioned people, don't wear it. Enough said." Harsh, but truer words have never been spoken.')

I would definitely not try wearing baby blue shades - having to do with my skin being in the Guerlain shades with 'dore' prefixes - but I find most other blues perfectly easy to wear. Navy is fantastic for smokey eyes or pairing with gold or yellow, green-leaning blues in general are lovely and flattering on most people! Purple-leaning blues may be trickier but I've definitely found ways to make them work. I do tend to suspect that navy blues would not look especially good if you are aiming for 'ethereal supermodel' either. ^.^;

(Now I want to know how to pronounce that 'dore'. I hope it doesn't sound like 'dour'. I am not a dour person! Neither is my skin!)

3. Bold eyes or bold lips, not both!

I'm of two minds about this one - I do think if I'm going light on the eye makeup I've all the liberty in the world to do statement lips. The 'smokey eyes and nude lips' approach really doesn't work for me though, I can't stand nude lips on myself, it looks - er - it makes me look like a dead person or as if I've got a terminal disease. Unpleasant!

4. No metallics or shimmer on 'mature' eyelids.

I'm *definitely* heading toward the, um, more mature end of things but I've been lucky in that the skin around my eyes and my eyelids haven't expressed this too strongly, so I still wear metallic finishes or foil them with sealants or water for even more shimmer. I do admit matte or satin finishes do obscure fine lines and creases better....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Recent readings that I enjoyed!

Grass Roof, Tin Roof by Dao Strom. This book was hard-hitting for me, emotionally. Immigration, war, family - all difficult, sticky topics and the author pulled them off fantastically. It's so alive and intimate, the prose like music.
The police officers had had to track me down through a web of excuses my friends and I had set up in order to go out dancing; in smugly reprimanding tones, they told me this. The drive to the hospital took forty-five minutes. I arrived still wearing my cat's-eye makeup - exaggerated rings of black eyeliner - and black lipstick, and my black clothes felt garish under the glare of the fluorescent lights. I thought: onlookers will say the teenage daughter knew all along, was waiting every day for the mother's end to come, was celebrating death, even. Just look at her!

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. This isn't SFF but I'd say it is decidedly speculative!
Otherwise I'm still trying to catch up on short fiction - so not all of these were published in 2013 and eligible for awards, but their writers have published in 2013 and definitely eligible for short story categories, the Campbell, or both.

E. Catherine Tobler's 'You Were She Who Abode'  (Clarkesworld, 2012) reminds me a little of Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Apocrypha, being about a woman soldier, war, and PTSD. No bugs, though!

A.C. Wise's 'Her Last Breath Before Waking Up' (Three-Lobed Burning Eye, 2013) is striking magic-realism! It's about an architect, a doomed love affair, and forgetting. This is eligible for awards in the short story category.

Veronica Schanoes' 'Burning Girls' (, 2013) is hard to categorize but if I'd encountered it outside I would've said it was from a literary lineage - though it can still be that, naturally! Immigration and family and demons.

I became familiar with Sofia Samatar through sharing a TOC with her, and her 'Honey Bear' (Clarkesworld, 2012) really stuck with me - the way it is about motherhood, about saying yes, about persevering in a post-apocalyptic world. She's got many eligible stories in 2013, the novel A Stranger in Olondria, and is in her second year of Campbell eligibility.