ness rambles, ness talks about life

the bookworm’s guide to makeup

*** Warning: This Post is Novel Length ***

According to YouTube, you must have mountains of products and more skill than Da Vinci himself just to complete a ‘simple and everyday’ makeup look.

I do not claim to be good at makeup. I am a bookworm and I’ve always had a fear that too much makeup would make me look like a clown. However, I am now happy with what I do and wish to help you navigate the treacherous waters of the beauty world.

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Concealer, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, blush, and lipstick

brushes to apply eyeshadow and blush, fingers


a clean face

Chapter One // In Which The Black Bags Disappear

The average Bookworm can often read into the wee hours of the morning. How can she combat the dire side effects? It’s quite simple. Honesty is all very well, but black bags? The Bookworm can hide it. As she hid – and devoured – those books underneath her covers when the lights were out.

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The Bookworm mustn’t feel the need to draw triangles, squares, or complex and bewildering mathematical formulas underneath her eyes. She should take a finger, put concealer on that finger and apply it. (The finger should preferably be her own). She should continue until the black bags are subdued.

eyelinerChapter Two // How The Thing Is Done With The Thing

The eyeliner should be gently applied to the waterline. The Bookworm uses her eyeballs to read, so caution should be taken. The eyeliner is not a sword, she is not a Viking, and her waterline is no monastery full of monks.

BACK UP PLAN: If the Bookworm does poke her eye out, she is reminded that audiobooks are popular nowadays.

A NOTE: The fabled ‘cat’ look, while it looks fabulous, requires plenty of practice. Without this, the liquid eyeliner will be wielded in an attempt to look like a magnificent cat, and the result will resemble a panda. A depressed panda.

eyeshadowChapter Three // Her Eyes Were Shadowed. Literally

The author used to go for the blue or green look. She was under the impression that it complimented her eyes. Today, she goes for the more neutral colours. Four of them, in fact. She likes to live dangerously.

Dabbling is advised for the Bookworm. Fun ought to be had. One can always erase one’s mistakes. The author hides the fact that her hand-eye coordination hasn’t improved since her toddler years by using the lighter colours to erase the wandering effects of the darker bronze.

de-wandsChapter Four // Wafting Spider’s Legs

Apparently, the Bookworm shouldn’t keep one wand of mascara for too long. It’s considered unhealthy. Unfortunately, the author ignores this sage advice and keeps one old mascara, and one semi-old mascara. She thinks it makes a difference. What is health when one’s eyelashes flutter like beautiful feathers in a spring breeze?

Step one: apply the thickest wand first, and – here the Bookworm is given a bit of advice from Doctor Who himself – DON’T BLINK. The Bookworm’s bootiful makeup will be ruined and she will either have to:

a) do difficult and complex damage control


b) pretend she was going for the ‘random bit of black on eyelid’ look the whole time.

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Step two: use the other wand next. This is logic. Pure and simple.

Step three: the Bookworm should stop before her eyelashes resemble spider’s legs. If they do, the Bookworm must pretend that she meant them to resemble spider’s legs. Spiders are part of nature and nature is beautiful. Her eyelashes are beautiful, beautiful spider’s legs.

blush2Chapter Five // The Permanent, Yet Charming, Blush

Blushing, in novels, is often considered cute. Blushing, in real life, is an evil, awkward and embarrassing thing. As a human who can turn red enough to make a tomato jealous, the author hates blushing. However, she slaps blush on her face. To be contrary is to be human.

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The Bookworm mustn’t apply over apply. The ‘oh, yes, I am not a pale hermit but am a charming person with a youthful glow’ effect is wanted. The Bookworm is not trying to convince everyone that yes, she has seen the sun recently and ‘look at this – my fabulous sunburn’.

lipstickChapter Six // The Accidentally Painted Tea Cup

The Tea Drinking Bookworm’s relationship with lipstick is a disappointing one. It’s not it, it’s her. Drinking a lot of tea is generally a deterrent to lipstick longevity. At work, however, the Tea Drinking Bookworm should give herself leave to wear a little of it.

Lipstick should be applied carefully. If the lipstick is red, the Bookworm is given leave to pretend she is a femme fatel. A mirror, or a companion, should be used to check whether any lipstick has stained her teeth.

The End

If the Bookworm wishes to branch out into foundation and highlighter and eyebrow colouring and who knows what else, she ought to do so. Experimentation can be marvelous fun.

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think of it as reading a new genre

The author will be over here, trying not to poke her eye out with a mascara wand, and being pleasantly surprised at how little she resembles a clown. A panda? Sometimes. A clown? Never.

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books, things about research

How To Design a Front Cover For Your Book


Painful Embarrassment for the Author ahead.

I once had a marvelous idea. (I know – I was shocked too). I had an image of a book. What, thought I, could be better than using a picture of a book and using it as the front cover of my book? It could be genius. Right? Right?!!

In a more professional person’s hands, why yes – yes, it could.

In mine?


pictured: a bad idea. A really bad idea

1. Don’t have grand ideas. Grand ideas are often bad ideas. Stick to your skill set.

So I moved on. To below. Candle flame and [for the sake of designer mystic, I shall not reveal what the scales are. They are not dragon scales, let me tell you that. Or are they?].howtohuntMuch better? All it took was a little shifting about of two images, colouring, font etc. But it didn’t feel right. And, you know, that ‘a’ is kind of unsightly.

But then, I realised something – ‘How to Hunt a Dragon’ sounded a little too close to ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. Now, I have no great ambitions to plagiarism, so I decided to scrap that title. And add a little something extra.

2. Don’t choose a flawed title and decide to change it half-way through. If you dislike headaches and wish to avoid them, by all means, consider the repercussions of your title.

Ahem. The title changed.

huntingdragons… but, it didn’t look right. And besides, I really, really needed that background for another project – that of a trilogy which will be appearing soon. (And by ‘soon’ I mean ‘in a year or so’ – slow and steady wins the race and all that).

And so it was back to the drawing board. For the sake of my (already) bruised pride, I shall not show you the sketching in my notebook. I have great ambitions to be the next Da Vinci, but alas! reality does not support them.

What I can show you is sketch that I drew up on a tablet:

do you see the mane flying in the wind? Total talent right there.

New title, completely different design. A very ambitious design. Do you see that cliff in the background? Yes. Well, that isn’t there anymore. I refer to Lesson 1 – don’t go above your skill set (and cache of available material).

Another fact which you may not know: putting a horn on a horse is very difficult thing.

3. Don’t put horns on horses. It’s bad for your mental health.

Not pictured – the telephone poles so subtly edited out

So – you’ve finally finished. You’ve go that front cover ready and waiting to be released. People are going to be holding this miraculous thing in their hands …

Wait. You wanted to design a front cover for a print book?


4. An ebook cover and a print book cover are two different things. One is reasonably simple. The other is fiendish and should (preferably) be designed first.

Yes. You’re probably going to have to fiddle about for a bit. You know; readjust the size of your cover, make the cover flow into the back cover. Get the blurb on the back. Make sure that the blurb isn’t too big or too small. You know – the usual.

[Not Pictured: The Intense Frustration and Headaches this can cause]

pictured: attempt #487

But you know what? It’s worth it in the end. Unless, of course, you decide to dip into your bank account and hire a professional.

That could work too.

5. Go with the option you are most comfortable with.

7. Patience is a virtue. You’ll be feeling very virtuous by the end of it.

and finally:

8. Be willing to invest plenty of time into your project, and be ready to play about a lot.

ourintrepidheroineonbed ourintrepidheroineonwindowsill

Whichever way you chose, I wish you great success, few headaches and a wonderous final result. (But I really mean it about putting a unicorn’s horn on a horse).

ness writes about writing

(Possibly) Productive Hints and Tips

Writing is a fluid thing; what may suit you one day may aggravate you the next, but this is what I’ve found, on the whole, to be a Useful Way to organise and write my various projects:

Distraction Free

via Pinterest

As I compose this blog post I am using the ‘Distraction Free Writing’ option. I do the same on MS Word by going to the bottom right hand corner and selecting ‘Web Layout’. That way, I am not counting the pages I am writing but simply getting the story out onto the white screen.

Master Folder and Document

When I begin a story, I open a new folder. This is my master file, where everything to do with that story is saved. Then a new document is saved to the folder as the master document of the story. Here I pop the name of the project on the first page, followed by my name and the date the story was started and an empty place for the date of its completion.

Every time a chapter is finished I put the date on that first page. This is quite motivating as you can see how much time has passed between chapters (cough cough), or how quickly they are being finished.

New Chapter – New Document

Every time I start a new chapter, I start a new document. Sounds a bit weird? No, not really. You see, often all the chapters previous to the new one can feel like they are weighing it down; as if the sheer volume of words are presenting themselves with every new paragraph you create.

So I begin anew, like this:

How Ness [quite often] Begins A New Chapter:

  1. create a new document, save it as chapter such and such and book title to master folder (like: Chapter 3 – TMTOAB, I put the abbreviated form of the project name after it. This saves confusion with other chapter threes)
  2. pop the chapter number on top of the brand new white document
  3. write the chapter
  4. name chapter (the name may stick or it may be changed at a later date)
  5. save chapter to master folder
  6. copy and paste chapter to master document
  7. be pleasently surprised how much the word count has grown


I use MS OneNote to heap any plot ideas, scraps of writing I didn’t need, scraps of future scenes that I may want. This saves hunting down that elusive thought in the hallways of my mind: what was that really great expression again, the one that I thought of days ago but didn’t write down?

So – a question (if I may): how do you organise your writing projects?


How To Acquire Books Without Becoming Penniless

Every so often, I find an author I really like and I go on a bit of a splurge. Last time it was Georgette Heyer and her detective novels:

georgette heyer
Can you hear that? It’s the sound of my bank account. Groaning.

I really enjoyed reading them, not for the murder mysteries – but rather for the wit and the characters (I even did two Quotable posts on them).

Murder begets murder,’ said Jim. ‘You didn’t murder Clement, Adrian. His murder just put the idea of murdering me into your head.’

Sir Adrian wrinkled his brow. ‘I never take my ideas at second-hand,’ he complained.

– They Found Him Dead.

How To Buy Books Without Becoming Penniless

While Sir Adrian may not take his ideas second-hand, I most certainly buy my books second-hand. Now, there are two options open to me:

  1. Buy a book for one penny off Amazon (plus £2.80 postage and packaging)
  2. Go to a charity shop

The first I would heartily recommend. Though just today a hard cover book came and I opened it to find that it smelt er, powerfully bookish (the sort that makes you take a deep breath at the faintest whiff and then realise that it is actually quite difficult to breath in its general vicinity).

Also a previous owner may or may not have written in another of my purchases (and for the first couple pages written suggestions as to the relationships of the characters – someone’s lover? This person’s cousin? Oh, and also underlined words which perhaps the definitions were unknown. But I’m not being snobbish – I didn’t understand certain words either and the underlined words prompted me to look ’em up).

But these happenings (smellings and underlinings) do not occur often in my experience. Out of the second-hand Heyer’s that I bought, only one was written in. If you don’t mind having a used book on your shelf then go ahead and venture onto Amazon.

(And if a book does come with an overwhelming smell of musk, then there is always the option of putting a peg on one’s nose.)

However, if I am buying a book for someone else, I would buy it brand-new. Other people may not appreciate worn books like me.

Going to a charity shop for books is definitely the cheaper option out of the two. BUT … it is a lot like fishing – you simply haven’t got a clue what you will ‘catch’. (And here’s a tip which you may or may not already know: paperbacks are generally quite a bit cheaper than hardcovers.)

How to Read Books Without Becoming Penniless

No, no – I don’t mean ‘How to Steal Books and Read Them Without Becoming Penniless’. This way is very much sticking to the straight and narrow. There are of course, plenty of ways to read books which are in the public domain for free (Project Gutenberg, for one) but what about the more modern books?

Have no fear! If you don’t want to visit your local library and don’t mind peering at a screen to go on an adventure … then click on these two little words:

Open Library

With a lending library of over 200,000 books, the Open Library is my number one call when I want to read a book but don’t necessarily wish to hand over some dough for it (fine, fine – I won’t use film noir lingo anymore. Punk). All you have to do is sign up – don’tpanicdon’tpanic – for FREE and then – voila, the books are yours to borrow.

Yes, sometimes a book is already taken (by very mean and cruel people other lovely readers) but you can hop on the waiting list and you’ll get an email when it’s free.

And you don’t need to read online – you can download the Abode Reader and read the books offline (with no worries about the loss of internet connection). However, I find this way a little difficult to read as the scrolling system is rather slow, but this may be just my computer and the exception rather than the rule.

Happy Reading!