Elvira’s dagger

I threw together a dagger at the minute for Elvira. And a belt. I need to get pics of the belt. But my dagger was made from s plastic toy dagger sold as a set of 2 for $0.98 at Walmart the day before I had to leave for con. I’ve included a pic of the real dagger for comparison
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Manic Panic Hair Dye Review

Manic Panic Amplified Hair Color

I haven’t dyed my hair in years due to an allergy to a chemical commonly found in permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes. The chemical is para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and from my personal experience, I recommend avoiding hair dyes containing PPD, even if you have successfully used them many times before with no adverse reaction. Even the “natural” hair dyes sold in most retailers contain this chemical or some variant of it. An easy way to check to see if a particular product has PPD is to see if the dye has two components that have to be mixed together prior to use. If so, this is a chemical hair dye requiring a chemical reaction during the mixing. Be especially careful with chemical hair dyes if you have ever used black henna temporary tattoos.  

Having mousy, dirty-blonde hair gets old after a while. Even though I waited most of my life for my first full hair dye experience, I was accustomed to having at least highlights or lowlights or both. Once I discovered I was allergic to PPD, I thought I was destined to live with the dishwater blond until I turned gray.

Enter Manic Panic semi-permanent hair dye. My oldest daughter introduced me to the product. She works at Hot Topic, a retailer in malls that specializes in pop culture fashion and accessories. They also happen to carry Manic Panic hair color. Manic Panic is also available online via Tish and Snooky’s Manic Panic website or through Hot Topic’s website. The product is vegan; it contains no animal ingredients and it is not tested on animals, but tested on celebrities. The best part for me is that Manic Panic is PPD free!  

I was ready to dive into the wonderful world of hair color again. The classic cream formula comes in about forty different colors. I chose to try the amplified version because it is touted to last as much as thirty to forty percent longer than the classic cream. The color selection in the amplified line is a bit less diverse, with only fourteen of the most popular colors currently available. Let me warn you, if you are looking for a “natural” color, you are not going to find it in the Manic Panic line. These colors ROCK!   

After checking several Pinterest boards and doing extensive before and after Google searches, Vampire RedTM and Purple HazeTM are the colors I chose, while my daughter went with Rockabilly BlueTM. Not being very experienced in the hair dye process, I found it very helpful to have a partner. I dyed her hair and she dyed mine.

For the most part, we followed the instructions on the bottle, which are clear and easy to understand. For purity of color, the manufacturer highly recommends that you lighten your hair first and they have products available for this. My daughter and I opted NOT to bleach our hair and just apply the dye directly over our natural color.

The amplified line comes in a squeeze bottle and we just applied it directly from the bottle to our freshly washed and still-wet hair. As the instructions suggest, we combed the color through until the hair was saturated and frothy. I’m very glad I had my daughter to help me, since I was doing two colors. She applied the Purple HazeTM to the longest layer of my hair and then wrapped the purple part in foil before she applied the Vampire RedTM  to the two shorter layers of my hair.

After we were well saturated and frothy, we applied heat to our hair with a blow dryer set on low for about ten minutes. Then we wrapped our hair in plastic wrap, put a plastic shower cap on over that, and topped it all off with a knit cap. The dye is activated by heat rather than chemical, so we figured the more heat, the better.  The bottle says to leave on for thirty minutes. In our research of before and after pictures, we found that many consumers recommend leaving the product in your hair much longer, even overnight if possible. This is the method we chose.

In the morning, we rinsed the dye with water as cold as we could stand until it ran clear. We followed that up with a rinse of 1 to 1 vinegar and water, which I’ve since found is recommended on the website, but not on the bottle. You can use a conditioner on your hair and rinse through one more time, but we found our hair to be soft and shiny without the conditioner. Our color came out fantastic! I am very pleased with this product. Not only did I get great color, but I had no allergic or adverse reaction even after leaving it in for ten hours!

Definitely check Trish and Snooky’s website. There are all kinds of handy tips and tricks to use when dyeing your hair. Especially pay attention to the eleven commandments. As the website says, live fast and dye your hair.

So far my color has lasted a week without any noticeable fading. The bottle recommends not washing your hair for at least a week after dyeing and only washing your hair once a week thereafter for maximum color retention. I only lasted four days after dying and then three days after that. I will post updates as to how long the color lasts for me.

Happy dyeing! Happy Cosplaying!

Jumping Off Buildings and Anthologies

I never would’ve thought in September 2013 (while I was attending KillerCon Convention in Las Vegas) that only a few months later I would be writing a blog for my author site. I accompanied my husband, as I had the year before, and was looking forward to catching up with friends from the last con and spending some quality coupe time. I also planned to take the SkyJump off the Stratoshere, which I had been looking forward to since the previous year.

I did all of those things and I had a great time. But, as I went around to the panels and took a couple of classes and in general soaked up all that creative energy and support, I began to believe that, perhaps, I actually could become a writer.

There are some fun, creative challenges held at KillerCon each year. There is the gross-out, which was most hilarious and the erotic writing competition was titillating, but the stories written in just 15 minutes for the 200 word horror short fiction challenge were amazing.

To begin this challenge, the writers are given 5 words and a phrase that must be included in their story. I didn’t formally participate in the challenge, but I wrote down the words and the phrase and got about one hundred forty seven words of a story written.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I was going through our business records for last year and mixed in amongst the hotel and food receipts, hastily scratched out on a hotel note pad, were those one hundred and forty seven words. Something about them just struck me, and I was able to see the rest of the story, complete in my head; all I had to do was write it down.

I started writing in October, but I hadn’t fully committed to it yet. I was afraid. Afraid of judgment, afraid I wasn’t good enough, afraid I would edit my work to death. Afraid of so many things, I ended up being afraid to try. November wasn’t much better as I failed NamoWriMo, but managed to get over four thousand words written. It’s more than I wrote in October, I tried to reassure myself. December dissolved into holiday frenzy and I decided to make a New Year’s resolution to write five hundred words a day, five days a week.

That, I felt I could do. As I picked up on the stories I had previously started, five hundred words didn’t seem too difficult. I was keeping up, and as I placed my word count into my tracker each day, I felt excited and proud, and soon I had written over five thousand words for the month!

My husband had been accepted into an anthology and he said I should write something for it. I started a new story, with this anthology’s theme in mind, and had close to eight hundred words completed on it, when I found the one hundred forty seven words from KillerCon.

Using those words, I wrote the story for the anthology in 2 days. It is approximately fourteen hundred words in length and was submitted, accepted, and published. Suddenly, I was an author.

Never give up on yourself, especially before you even try and don’t throw away any of your ideas, you’re going to need them someday.

Traveling to Conventions

My husband and I travel to quite a number of conventions every year, generally a total of twelve to fifteen. Although many of the cons are local, we do attend select events around the country, often as far as 1200-1300 miles away.  A twenty five hundred mile round trip for a convention is an easy 4-6 hour flight and maybe an additional day’s stay at the con hotel. However, our normal course of action is usually to drive the distance.

Our perspective on what constitutes a “day trip” is a bit skewed. Many of our author friends and fellow con-goers find our preferred method of travel somewhat less than sane. Agreeably, driving does have disadvantages.

We receive the gift of hours of conversation, uninterrupted by FaceBook  notifications or incoming emails. It’s just the two of us, unplugged and thoroughly exposed to one another. Eighties music often plays in the background, reminding us of younger days and good times past. My husband sometimes even sings along in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger  impersonation. Our bonds of love and friendship are renewed and strengthened and we’ve reconnected.

Pen and paper are always at the ready because, as is like to happen with creative minds, we use this time to brainstorm as well. I have notebooks filled with ideas, outlines and plot summaries.


Originally published on October 2014.