Next Step: ombre!

Hey internets, wanna look at my nails some more? Sure you do! You’re fascinated!

I typically do my nails at night, when I’ve done (most of) everything I need to do for the day and don’t have to worry about smudging them with a last-minute laundry load or whatever. Which also means that some days I am just too tired to even think about sitting at my desk for half an hour playing with tools and polishes – with my window open to the night, the plaintive cries of lambs drifting through, so that I don’t stink up my room any more than strictly necessary.

The first time I tumbled into bed instead of doing my nails I felt bad about it… for about five seconds. Then I remembered that this challenge is for me and me alone and I do not actually give a damn whether I complete it within the mandated 31 days. I have other things to give a damn about!

On to the pictures, I know that’s what you want, you vultures:

Colour VIOLET:

Violet nails with floral pattern on accent nails


black nails with little panda faces on the accent nails


chrome magnetic polish over green and copper metallic polish


nails striped orange, pink, green, purple and violet


gradient nails going from light violet at base to deep purple glitter at tip


reverse colour scheme polka dots on tip and base, in mint and periwinkle

Pattern: STRIPES

glitter purple under black stripe pattern


black nails with gold stripes in vague zebra pattern

Pattern FLOWERS:

gold nails with black flowers, pink accent nails with black and gold stippling


Blue star pattern stamp over light pink base

My favourite manicure so far is the polka dots, with the panda nails a close second. What do you think?


Internets, I currently live in a rural town. We have gorgeous Victorian era buildings made out of limestone and penguins.

Yup, penguins.

Eat your heart out, Northern Hemisphere, you and your ADORABLE SQUIRRELS that people MOCK ME FOR COOING OVER.

Penguins are gross and they smell like fish and one bit me once.

Anyway, at this time of year we also have lots of lambs, and the ones next door have prompted the following observations:

Things Human Babies Are Unlikely To Do In The First Few Weeks Of Life That Sheep Babies Definitely Will:

– Stand on their mother’s back while she lies there placidly and then call out for her because they have forgotten where she is.

– Accidentally stick their heads in a stream of their mother’s urine, pull it out, shake it off, look confused, and then DO IT AGAIN.

– Hump other babies.

LAMBS. They light up my life.


Today I was lying in slothful slumber when my father opened the door, turned the light on, and tossed two packages on my bed.

“Gnhhh,” I insisted, and then after a minute, “Lights~!”

Dad opened the door again. “What?”

“Turn lights out!” I insisted.

He complied. Thus, sleep continued.

I was fairly certain what the packages contained. I had ordered China Glaze Smoke and Ashes and a dotting tools set from, my online nail polish retailer of choice, and for whatever reason, they had sent my purchases in two packages, not one.

An hour or so later, I revived sufficiently to inspect my purchases. I picked a packet, sliced it open, and stared at the three polishes that fell out.

“Dude!” I exclaimed. “Dude! Dude! What?! Dude!”

Reading the order receipt proved enlightening.

Internets, remember how a couple of days ago I mused about things I wanted to buy, and mentioned specifically China Glaze’s Rainstorm, Peri-Wink-Le and Re-Fresh Mint?

A kind benefactor BOUGHT AND SENT THEM TO ME.

Like, what? Holy crap! DUDE.

I used Peri-Wink-Le and Re-Fresh Mint on today’s manicure. (VIOLET nails). View, and be awed.

Violet nails with floral pattern on accent nails

Ordered Dotting Tools

What up, Internets?

30% off kids’ clothing at the start of spring is kind of a big deal in Retail Job, so we were super busy today until the sudden lull where we weren’t.

Neither of these is my favorite working condition, but hey, no problem, I survived, and tomorrow and Saturday I get to play with my imaginary friends again. Oh, revising, I love you so much more than first drafting; let’s get married.

Hey so also I have been doing the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge. That’s when I do 31 manicures in 31 days, according to this schedule of “inspirations”. (Except “Tribal Print” because gross. That’s going to be “Ombre”, because I wanna try that, and not gross.)

My additional, personal rules, are “first attempt stands; no second tries”, and “any polish you don’t use in this challenge has to go, jeez, Karen, you really want that two dollar gluggy pink that still needs four coats to stop streaking?”

With that in mind, the first five days.


Red manicure with flowers


(I baked some apple-maple-spice muffins right after this picture. Totally destroyed the manicure. Worth it.)

Orange manicure with black stripes



Green manicure with polka dots


Blue manicure with stamped flower pattern

Tomorrow is “Violet”. I have a new polish to play with. It’s gonna be fun!

But not quite as much fun as sharpening up Cheerbaby Goes To State. Mmmmm, revision.


Internets, this is a totally frivolous post, because today I planned out some changes to the beginning of Cheerbaby Goes To State (Less thinking! More action!) and tomorrow I am working Retail Job 10-7 and I do not have the time to put together something awesome for you.

God, Internets, for reals, what do you want from me?

What you are going to GET is the Five Things I Want To Buy Right Now (but won’t because I am broke): A Brief List.

1: A Macbook Air

I have a very old Macbook – I got the first model you could get in black, that is how old – and it’s still valiantly chugging along. But it won’t run a lot of software I depend on, and it’s super heavy, and the battery is shot. It is great for writing in bed, and that’s pretty much it. I use my iMac for everything else (and I love my iMac but it is not portable). I need a working laptop, but I do not NEED a Macbook Air. I just really want one.

Ohhhh I want a Macbook Air. I want to casually swing it around airports, wearing a cute sundress and my awesome blue heels. If I had a Macbook Air I might even write on planes! (I will never write on planes.)

2: A trip to Shanghai

I have been trying to convince my mother that we should go to Shanghai for three years. She loves sewing and upholstery and all that crafty stuff and I love great food and exciting cities. BAM let’s go to an exciting city with great food and an incredible fabric market!

Anyway, she’s now convinced. Nice work, self! Let’s go to Shanghai! You know, when we can afford it.

3: This Iron Man decal for my Macbook Air


4: All of these nail polishes

All of them. LOOK at them! So many beautiful blues and greens.

All right, this is clearly cheating. If forced to choose only one, I’d go for Rainstorm. Or maybe Secret Peri-wink-le? Or Re-Fresh Mint. But probably Rainstorm.

china glaze rainstorm (blue with shimmer) by mila teniz @ flickr

5: Huh

I guess I only really want to buy four things right now? I mean, I want a house, and a labradoodle, and acres of bookshelves, but those are all sort of huge things that require pre-buying. I dunno, Internets, four things seems like more than enough at the moment.

What do you want to buy right now?

The Ravelled Sleeve of Care

Today has been an admin day in House of Karen (Actually House of Karen’s Parents, But Let’s Not Split Hairs).

Which primarily means looking over writing stuff (edit notes for Cheerbaby! Yay!) and dealing with interview requests and email and cleaning the house and doing the laundry and getting my fortnightly massage* and reorganizing my bookshelves and all that. I am not super bad at doing this in a timely fashion, but in order to keep up with this happy state of affairs, I tend to allocate less urgent “admin stuff” to one day a week. Depending how the week has gone, it can pile up!

Today had a chunk – on top of the ordinary, I helped my mum out at a garage sale of THREE GENERATIONS of family things. Make an offer! Everything must go! Except that copy of To Say Nothing Of The Dog, how did that get there, I’ll just put that in my bag right now.

Since I had to get up at 7am to do that, I napped for a big chunk of the afternoon.

Okay. I know there are some people who are perfectly happy with early to bed, early to rise, but my sleeping hours clock is set something roughly analogous to Regency England in the Season, if I were wealthy and socially privileged enough to be part of the ton. Late to bed, even later to rise!

However, my actual ancestors at the time were Irish farmers, so I cannot claim such sleeping patterns to be an inheritance from my dissolute forbears. It’s just how, given my druthers, I naturally operate. Alas, I live in modern New Zealand, and my druthers are rarely indulged.

However, this time I got to have a nap and it was AWESOME.

And then I woke up and I had editing notes (yay!) and an invitation to call Editor Connie** to discuss notes at some point. Our calls all have to be carefully scheduled, because timezones, and I had a choice between early morning (5am) and much earlier morning (1:30 am). I chose the latter, because: “Tuesday at 9:30am New York time/Wednesday 1:30am NZ time would work best for me – I much prefer sleeping late to rising early, because I am a REM junkie.”

And only just now have I realised that MAYBE SHE WILL THINK I LIKE THE BAND.

Oh dear.

* Mmmm, self-care that also FEELS NICE. Mostly. Unless we’re working on my hips and then it’s all oh god just breathe.

** I don’t think I told you about that, Internets? Super smooth editor transition from the excellent Alvina Ling to the excellent Connie Hsu at Little, Brown for very good and not at all scary or disagreeable reasons, with all parties amicable and vowing affection remained on all sides.

I didn’t know it could happen that way! Scary industry stories had led me to believe we had to send each other dead roses and impassioned denunciations. Apparently I am “too dramatic” or something.

Here is a picture of a dying rose:

dying rose by atomicshark@flickr

Jay Kristoff on Japan as a steampunk cultural touchstone

Jay Kristoff has a debut novel, Stormdancer coming out this month, which is the first in a planned trilogy, set in a “Japanese-inspired steampunk dystopia”. Stormdancer is published byThomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press in the US, Tor UK in the United Kingdom and PanMacMillan in Australia.

He was interviewed in the September Book Smugglers Newsletter, which I always enjoy reading.

During the interview, given the obvious, The Book Smugglers responsibly ask:

Why did you decide to set your series in a Japanese-inspired world? Tell us about writing a Japanese-inspired culture – were there any particular challenges, as a non-Japanese author?

And Kristoff replies:

I wanted to write a steampunk book – I find the aesthetic really interesting and I wanted to break the “rose-colored” goggles trope that a lot of SP authors are guilty of, ie looking at the advent of industrialization as something awesome, and ignoring the whole slavery/child exploitation thing it was built around. But I felt like European-based steampunk had already been done a lot, and done very well. The world had some incredible cultures in the 19th century, and I think fantasy is already shamefully guilty of a European focus, so I decided on Japan. I’ve always had a love of Japanese film and literature and culture, and it seemed an amazing cultural touchstone that no-one had really riffed on yet.

Emphasis mine.

I am totally flabbergasted. It’s great that Kristoff recognises the problems with looking at industrialisation through rose-coloured goggles. But what Japanese film and literature and cultural output is Kristoff actually loving, that he can say no-one’s really riffed on steampunk with Japan as a cultural touchstone? To pick the most obvious example, Studio Ghibli is hardly an easily dismissible presence in the Japanese (and international!) cultural landscape.

He then goes on to say:

I guess the biggest challenge to is avoid the big bad “appropriation” or “exoticism” labels, but truth is, some people are going to start throwing those regardless. That said, the Shima Imperium is most definitely not Japan – it’s only inspired by it. I’ve changed facets of language and religion and society – as far as I know, there weren’t many griffins or telepaths running around in feudal Japan. If you can wrap your head around the idea Shima and Japan might look a lot alike, but aren’t the same place, you’ll have fun.

Which I’m just going to leave there.

I’m sorry, I have a lot to do today and unravelling everything I find objectionable in this interview will take a lot of time and energy I don’t have to spare. I’m blogging about it primarily because I think it should get wider attention than perhaps the newsletter format provides – the entire newsletter, including the complete interview, can be found here.

The book itself might be great! I have nothing to say about the book. But I am super wary of Kristoff’s own words about his inspiration and process. I think they propagate and enable attitudes I find dismissive of both cultural output by Othered cultures, and of criticism resulting from Western authors attempting to use those cultures in their own work.


Internets, in case you haven’t seen it, I’d like to point you to this fabulous Something Awful forums thread, Ask Me About Being a Birthday Princess.


ME: [quoting the author] “Balloon toss games are popular. Don’t nobody not like balloons.” TRUTH.
BFF ROBYN: [Mutual friend] hates them!
ME: Wut. Are we sure she isn’t a sexy robot?
BFF ROBYN: I find them kind of gross a lot of the time
ME: Are YOU a sexy robot?

So, the following needs a warning for all sexy rebots: here is a picture of some balloons.

balloon aerialist from cobalt123 @ flickr

Bras and Bodies

Internets, how are you doing? I’m doing pretty good. Here is a picture of hot chocolate with two hearts floating in the foam:

hot chocolate

So, Internets, I am a bra professional! Have been for a while, actually – one of my days at Retail Job involves being the Lingerie Lady, which is interesting and occasionally fun, and involves lots and lots of mourning the adorable bras I can never wear because goddammit they never make the cute ones big enough.

Anyway, I occasionally fit teenagers or tweens, which can be challenging! And sometimes parents will look at me and want to share their frustration as their teen refuses to let me in the changing room and instead I try to fit them based on guesswork and narrowing down the options until the teen declares themselves satisfied.

And you know, it can take longer, and it is sometimes frustrating (sometimes not. On slow days, I LONG for a shy teenager). But even when I’m rushed and it’s taking a while to get the right option sorted, I don’t really mind.

You see, internets, I advocate teenagers having authority over their bodies and who sees which parts of it – including whether or not they want a strange adult to be in the changing room with them while they try on bras.

There are many good reasons why teenagers might not want strange adults to see them in a state of partial undress and vulnerability, but even if said teenager has a ridiculous reason, such as the belief that their breasts would turn into rabbits and hop away if said strange adult saw them, said teenager ought to have authority over their body and who sees which parts of it.

I do not advocate parents trying to strong-arm their teenagers into having a strange adult in the room while they try on bras.

Yes, it definitely makes my job easier.

Yes, I could almost certainly do a better fit if I could judge band elasticity and cup filling.

Yep, I have totally seen it all before, and will again. Other people’s breasts are rarely objects of interest to me anyway – when I’m on the job, they are nothing more than architectural problems. I am not comparing and contrasting your size and shape to those of every other customer and ranking them in order from most amazing to most appalling, (even if I believed one could do that, which I do not.) I am mentally going through our stock selection to see if I can provide some good choices for your particular rack.

But regardless, teenagers who enter my ambit, you get to decide if you want me in that room. It’s your body. It’s up to you.


Internets, I have decided to return to my New Year’s Resolution of blogging every day. Tonight was an evening for lighting scented candles, putting on my Nouvelle Chanson playlist*, and carefully dusting all my trinkets.

I promise you more posts of substance in the future, but tonight I wish you calm dreams and beautiful things.

Here is a photo of the Keren public library in Eritrea:

Keren public library Eritrea

Also, I am getting unprecedented amounts of spam through my livejournal account. So from now on, comments will be turned off there. LJ readers of my blog are more than welcome to respond through my dreamwidth account, where only an OpenID is needed, or at my website.

* I do not even understand French, but it sounds interesting and beautiful.