March 10, 2016

My Thoughts On White Authors Writing About Peple of Color.

 
A term to know: PoC means person/people of color

DISCLAIMER:

     A few things for you to keep in mind while you read this post:

     This post contains my opinion on a very sensitive and controversial topic, and I am aware that people get huffy about that stuff; but this post is not for the faint of heart. I have held my tongue on this topic long enough, and I am tired of sitting back and watching it all happen.
 

     In this post, I am defending the white authors who have been brave enough to feature a PoC in their books. I am in no way shape or form defending those who have incorrectly portrayed a diverse character (correct portrayal of a PoC to me is to portray them without stereotypes or myths), but I am defending the authors who have done their research and correctly represented diversity.

     This post is about how unfair it is to bash white authors who have written about PoC AND done it correctly. Therefore, whenever I mention white authors writing about PoC, remember that I am talking about the authors who have done their research if the characters call for it, and are correctly and accurately representing diversity.

     I know some of you are rolling your eyes or foaming at the mouth already because I am part of the majority that publishers cater to, which makes it seem like authors do as well. I am a white female and there are millions of books targeted towards me and my preferences. I get it. You think I don’t have a horse in this race because I am not a PoC, but as a writer who enjoys creative freedom, I sure as hell will not step down and allow fellow authors to be attacked because they wanted to include diverse characters in their books.

(Although this post is specifically about writing about PoC, I am also referring to all forms of diversity)

Without further ado, read on at your own risk.

WHY I AM WRITING THIS POST:

http://www.diversityinya.com/

     The book community has been through the ringer these past few years with many different tiffs and troubles, but one issue in particular really stuck with me… The issue of diverse representation from white authors.

     Now, this post is not targeted towards the people who cry out for diverse books. Oh no, I am with them 100% because I want equality for everyone. I want everyone to be represented in books. I understand PoC getting mad about not being represented correctly in books. I understand being angry about possible stereotypes, and I understand wanting to feel like every time you pick up a book that you will be able to relate to the character in some way. I really do. I am in no way shape or form saying that I am against diversity or those calling out for it. I AM against bashing white authors for writing accurately portrayed diverse books.

     I am against those who belittle and shame the authors who make an effort to add diversity into their books. I am talking to the people who go out of their way to make accusations saying that an author is just adding in diverse characters to “placate people” or “check it off of a diversity list”. Am I the only one who is floored by those accusation? I wasn’t aware that if I wanted to add a diverse character into my story that I was only doing it for everyone else, and not myself or the story. The fact that we are being so selfish about the books that authors write is one of the problems. Authors write their books for themselves and no one else. I am sure that authors want to make money, everyone does, but I highly doubt that they would add in an additional character for no reason but to make some people happy. Even if they did add a diverse character just to add a diverse character then why is that so bad? What is so wrong about an author writing what they want?

     I am all for equality, equal representation, and making those not in the majority of the population feel like they belong, because they do. I will strive for equality as hard as the next person, believe me. However, I am not a fan of how some of those who are hungry for diversity are handling the white authors who are trying to feature more PoC in their writing. I have heard/seen the statements listed below mentioned by so many people and I know some, if not all of you have seen them or statements similar.


“White people do not have the right to write about PoC.”


     “White people shouldn’t write about black people because they aren’t black.”

    
     Generalizing about these things will not help anyone. Instead of saying “white people shouldn’t write about PoC”, you should say “those who do not correctly research the topic or try as hard as they can to correctly portray that PoC should not be writing about that PoC.”

Another statement that I see so often that floors me is something similar to this:


“You killed that diverse character and no one else. You killed them because they were different/diverse and you can’t do that because that is racist (or other form of discrimination that applies).
 

     Here is what I have to say to that: Authors create books because they want readers to be able to escape into their book world and enjoy every minute of it. They write books with the intention of providing readers with a good and exciting time. I may not know every author on the face of this earth, but I can guarantee you that 99% of them do not single out characters to kill because of their skin color unless that is part of the plot (Ex: a book about slavery or prejudice). The idea of it is absurd.

     Many people on this bandwagon have targeted Sarah J. Maas because one of the characters killed in her book happened to be a PoC. If the character had been white, there wouldn’t have been an uproar, but that goes to show you that color has nothing to do with a character’s demise. I hate to spoil your fun, but authors kill white characters all the time because that is often how the plot goes. Their skin color has nothing to do with it. A character dies because that is what the story calls for and it propels the storyline forward. So many people have condemned Sarah for killing that character because they think that she targeted her because of her race and used her to further the story. I hate to break it to you, but EVERY character in every book ever created is used to further the story. That is kind of the point of additional characters. The fact that that character was killed had nothing to do with the fact that she was a PoC. It had to deal with the fact that because she was close to the main character, she was killed to propel the main character into action. In fact, the same thing happened earlier to another character in the Throne of Glass series. That death had to happen or else the main character wouldn’t have been hell bent on revenge, which is one of the major plot points of the series. That character was a white man, and no one else condemned SJM for killing him. SJM couldn’t have furthered the plot with any other characters and gotten the reaction that she needed from the main character that made sense because those characters were so close. The cause of the two character’s demise had to do with propelling the main character into action. One of them just happened to be a PoC, but she could have been white too. THE COLOR OF HER SKIN DIDN’T MATTER. However, people are so blinded by their own misconceptions that they project that awful intention onto SJM and tried to crucify her for something that never even crossed her mind.
 
http://www.diversityinya.com/

A FEW REASONS TO CHANGE YOUR TUNE:

•      It is NOT okay to dictate or bash an author for writing about a PoC just because they are white. As long as they do it correctly and accurately, I see no problem with it. People are telling white authors that they shouldn’t write something simply because they cannot relate to it. If that is the case then we would be without fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary, and romance books, along with so many more genres. Why? Because I am pretty sure that most authors cannot relate to being a shapeshifter or crime fighting powerhouse with magic. You get what I am saying? Telling an author that they shouldn’t write about something that they cannot relate to is like telling an author they shouldn’t write. No one has the right to tell an author that they shouldn’t do something because of the color of their skin. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

•      Having an author stay in their own little box and write what they know would hinder them from writing fantasy novels or any novels that would require creativity. To be an author, it is essential for you to be creative and think outside the box. Michael Chabon, when interviewed by Slate.com, stated my thoughts perfectly. He said,

“...if I can’t write from the point of view of a black woman nurse-midwife, then I can’t write from anybody’s point of view. That’s why I do this. I use my imagination to imagine myself living lives I don’t live and being people who I’m not.” (Read the full article here).

•      No one has the right to tell an author what they should or shouldn’t write about. No one has the right to shame an author for writing their book the way they want to because it is THEIR book and no one else’s. If they are doing something offensively then they should be reprimanded respectfully, but that is a different blog post.

     By telling a white author that they shouldn’t write about PoC, you are basically telling authors to isolate their writing because of their race. You are hindering their creativity by saying that white people should only write about white people, and on a larger scale that black people should only write about black people, Hispanic people should only write about Hispanic people, etc. By that logic, you could take it even further and say that those who belong to a certain religion should only write about those who belong to that same religion, or democrats should only write about democrats. You could check off every little category a person can put themselves into and say an author should only write about these things because that is what they relate too, and what do you have? A book that lacks imagination, creativity, life, and freedom.

     The bottom line is that an author has the right to write whatever they feel like writing as long as they are being respectful and not intentionally being offensive (some things can sound offensive without intending to be) because the books they write aren’t for us, they are for them. Sure, we get to enjoy the books, but authors write for themselves and no one else.

     I probably sound like I am all over the place, and that is because I am. I have so much that I want to say, but I cannot seem to pick what to say first. But know that I am tired of seeing people shaming authors for writing diverse characters into their books because they are white. Save that energy and channel it towards promoting authors of color who write about PoC if that makes you feel better. DO something about the lack of diversity in books that is actually helpful, and stop making authors feel bad for writing their books the way they are allowed to. There are so many issues in today’s society that another problem to argue about isn’t helping anyone. I know that people have the right to speak their mind, but when that opinion starts hurting others then it is time to put a stop to it.

HOW TO PUT DIVERSITY INTO THE SPOTLIGHT THE RIGHT WAY:

     There definitely needs to be more diversity in books and believe it or not, there are white writers chomping at the bit to feature diverse main characters that you all have been asking for. The reason they haven’t written about them is because they are scared about the backlash. Authors are terrified of hateful criticism and hearing opinions and phrases like I mentioned earlier. That isn’t what you want, is it? There are ways to bring the concept of diversity into the light the right way, without bashing the authors who are attempting to help. Here are my suggestions on bringing diversity into the forefront of everyone’s mind:

1)      Support ANY author who is writing about a PoC (as long as they are doing so correctly). If a white author publishes a book featuring a PoC then spread the word! Let everyone know that that author correctly portrayed a PoC or other diverse character and that will encourage the author and others to write more PoC into their books.

     - This is a list of books I’ve read by white authors who were brave enough to handle possible criticism and featured a PoC in their book, and they did it flawlessly:

1. Joyride by Anna Banks
2. Wildfire by Karsten White
3. Darkness Rising Trilogy by Kelly Armstrong
4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

(This isn’t a complete list by any means, but they are the ones I thought of right off the top of my head.) 

     - On the flip side of this, do not bash an author who has mistakenly misrepresented a PoC or other diverse character. Privately tell them what is wrong with the representation and how they can fix it. Give them tips on how to research better. Beating down ignorance will not solve the problem; correcting said ignorance will.

2)      Nicely let publishers know that you want diverse books. Authors can write all day about whatever they want, but if the publishers do not see a market for that book then they won’t sell it. Publishing companies want to make money, like everyone else, and they want to sell something that the public is wanting/needing. Therefore, if there is a huge demand for diverse books, then publishers will definitely start putting diverse books onto the shelves. It is a simple supply and demand issue. If the supply of diverse books is high, but the demand is low and vice versa, then publishing companies do not want to spend the money to publish it only to lose it. However, when the supply AND demand are high then voila! We have diverse books. So let publishers know that you want more diverse books, start a campaign on you twitter or blog, make it your mission to get publishing companies to notice your cry for diverse books.

     - There is also a flip side to this too. Do not angrily demand diverse books or bash publishing companies calling them prejudice because they are not producing the diverse books that you want. We are so quick to suspect everyone of being sinister when in reality publishing companies just don’t see a high enough demand for diverse books; therefore, they don’t publish them. Most of the time, the fact that there aren’t more diverse books has nothing to do with the skin color of those that work at the publishing companies. Saying so without proof would make you sound ignorant.

3)      Lastly, support authors of color or diversity. Supporting these authors and their books about PoC and other diverse people will propel the book world into a time of diversity and equality. Showing support to the minority of authors who often get left behind will encourage them to keeping doing what they are doing and make a difference. As a community, we can make a difference, and all we have to do is nicely and respectfully voice or opinions and requests, and I can guarantee you that we will see a change.

     If you read this far then I should send you a cookie or a book because you are a trooper. I know this was a heavily opinionated blog post and I know I will get flack for it, but I was/am tired of keeping my mouth shut. I doubt this post will change anything, but I had to try. All I have left to say is be kind to each other and target your energy into making a difference, not crippling creativity.

Cheers.

P.S. A huge thanks to Taylor Tracy and Adriyanna Zimmermann for helping me edit this huge post! Check out their blogs by clicking on their names, you won’t regret it!

March 7, 2016

Wildfire by Karsten Knight Review!

 
Author: Karsten Knight
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mythology
Date Published: August 28th 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Page Number: 393
 
Synopsis:
Every flame begins with a spark.
Blackwood Academy was supposed to be a fresh start for Ashline Wilde. A secluded boarding school deep in the heart of California's redwood forests, three thousand miles from her old life - it sounded like the new beginning she needed after an act of unspeakable violence left a girl in her hometown dead.

But Blackwood is far from the peaceful haven Ashline was searching for. Because terrifying, supernatural beasts roam the forests around campus. Because the murderer from Ashline's hometown - her own sister - has followed her across the country. Because a group of reincarnated gods and goddesses has been mysteriously summoned to Blackwood...
...and Ashline's one of them.
 
Review:

       When I spotted Wildefire’s cover on the shelf, I was instantly intrigued. The cover is simple yet captivating and beautiful, but once I read the synopsis I knew I would like this book. However, I did not know I would love it as much as I did.
 
       Ashline Wilde is the kind of heroine that I go nuts over. She is sassy, sharp-tongued, and quick witted, and that combination is what I go crazy for. One reason I love adult books so much is because they feature sassy heroines who don’t hold back, and I was so happy to find that kind of heroine in this YA book. Basically, by the first scene of Wildefire, I knew I would love Ash.  Ash is introduced to us readers in a blaze of fists and fury aka the best way a heroine can be introduced. Trust me, Ash is a character that you will all love. It’s just an added bonus that she is a diverse character. And how can I forget to mention that she is a freaking goddess?! I won’t reveal what goddess she is because that is part of the mystery of the book, but just know that she is badass and a force to be reckoned with. The rest of the characters are just as cool, even though Ash is my favorite. It is a plus that all of the characters in this book are highly diverse. All of the characters are from different ethnic backgrounds like Haitian, Polynesian, Greek, Japanese, and Egyptian. It’s so cool.

       Speaking of diversity, we also get diversity in the plot. As you can tell from the synopsis, this book is about gods and goddesses, but what you can’t tell from the synopsis is that all the gods and goddesses featured in the book are from different native myths. I am so used to mythology books to be based on Greek mythology because it is widely known, but in Wildefire all different myths from Egyptian to Polynesian, to Greek and Japanese myths are represented, which is rare. I loved learning about more myths that are out there outside of Greek and Norse myths.
 
       In addition to the characters and diversity of the plot, the actual plot line was SO good. This book was extremely easy to fall into and read because of the interesting and steadily paced plot. As I mentioned before, we are immediately thrown into action as soon as the book starts, and after that there was never a dull moment. I love books like this where there aren’t boring/filler scenes, and with Wildefire every scene keeps your attention and interest. There was a steady stream of mystery and action throughout the whole book, and at the very end, Knight throws in a twist that left me screamed and begging for at least another chapter. I never saw that twist coming, and I swear that my heart stopped. I hate it when books leave me with a terrible cliffhanger, but I love it when they surprise me. There was no indication of that twist coming at all so I was shocked as hell when it happened. I just have to talk to someone about it because it broke my heart and immediately made me want to go out and buy the next book. I have to hand it to Knight for thinking of that plot twist and executing it so beautifully. Way to hurt a reader’s heart!

       It is safe to say that this book started off my 2016 with high expectations for my future reads. I am so glad I picked up this book on a whim because it quickly became one of my favorites. If you love mythology, sassy heroines, plot twists, and action packed plots then Wildefire is the book for you. I give this book five out of five stars!

March 4, 2016

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry Chapter Reveal and Pre-Order News!


     Today, thanks to Inkslinger PR, I will be revealing the first chapter of WALK THE EDGE by Katie McGarry, which comes out on March 29th! WALK THE EDGE is the second book in Katie’s Thunder Road series. It can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend that you read NOWHERE BUT HERE, the 1st book in the series first simply because the book is amazing! Below you will find a synopsis of WALK THE EDGE, its first chapter, and the preorder links, which come with special prizes so definitely check those out!


Synopsis:

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds
Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyberbully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.
Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.


     WALK THE EDGE sounds amazing right? As soon as I read Nowhere But Here, the first book in this series, I was instantly interested in Razor’s story, and I am so happy to be getting a sneak peek of it today! If you are as interested in Razor’s story as I am then keep on reading to read the first chapter of WALK THE EDGE! You won’t regret it…well, maybe you will when you realize that it is still a few weeks until WALK THE EDGE comes out and you are desperate to get your hands on the book after reading the first chapter. Just me? Oh well. Enjoy this sneak peek of Razor’s story!

WALK THE EDGE Chapter One:
 

THERE ARE LIES in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.

I choose to belong to the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club. I choose to work for the security company associated with them. I also choose to do this while still in high school.

All of this boils down to one choice in particular—whether or not to believe my father’s version of a lie or the town’s. I chose my father’s lie. I chose the brotherhood of the club.

What I haven’t chosen? Being harassed by the man invad­ing my front porch. He’s decked out in a pair of pressed kha­kis and a button-down straight from a mall window. The real question—is he here by choice or did he draw the short stick?

“As I said, son,” he continues, “I’m not here to talk to your dad. I’m here to see you.”

A hot August wind blows in from the thick woods sur­rounding our house, and sweat forms on the guy’s skin. He’s too cocky to be nervous, so that dumps the blame of his shiny forehead on the 110-degree heat index.

“You and I,” he adds, “we need to talk.”

My eyes flash to the detective badge hanging on the guy’s hip and then to his dark blue unmarked Chevy Caprice parked in front of my motorcycle in the gravel drive. Twenty bucks he thinks he blocked me in. Guess he underestimated I’ll ride on the grass to escape.

This guy doesn’t belong to our police force. His plates suggest he’s from Jefferson County. That’s in the northern part of Ken­tucky. I live in a small town where even the street hustlers and police know each other by name. This man—he’s an outsider.

I flip through my memory for anything that would jus­tify his presence. Yeah, I stumbled into some brawls over the summer. A few punches thrown at guys who didn’t keep their mouths sealed or keep their inflated egos on a leash, but noth­ing that warrants this visit.

A bead of water drips from my wet hair onto the worn gray wood of the deck and his eyes track it. I’m fresh from a shower. Jeans on. Black boots on my feet. No shirt. Hair on my head barely pushed around by a towel.

The guy checks out the tats on my chest and arms. Most of it is club designs, and it’s good for him to know who he’s dealing with. As of last spring, I officially became a mem­ber of the Reign of Terror. If he messes with one of us, he messes with us all.

“Are you going to invite me in?” he asks.

I thought the banging on the door was one of my friends showing to ride along with me to senior orientation, not a damned suit with a badge.

“You’re not in trouble,” he says, and I’m impressed he doesn’t shuff le his feet like most people do when they arrive on my doorstep. “As I said, I want to talk.”

I maintain eye contact longer than most men can manage.

Silence doesn’t bother me. There’s a ton you can learn about a person from how they deal with the absence of sound. Most can’t handle uncomfortable battles for dominance, but this guy stands strong.

Without saying a word, I walk into the house and permit the screen door to slam in his face. I cross the room, grab my cut off the table, then snatch a black Reign of Terror T-shirt off the couch. I shrug into the shirt as I step onto the porch and shut the storm door behind me.

The guy watches me intently as I slip on the black leather cut that contains the three-piece patch of the club I belong to. Because of the way I’m angled, he can get a good look at our emblem on the back: a white half skull with fire raging out of the eyes and drops of fire raining down around it. The words Reign of Terror are mounted across the top. The town’s name, Snowflake, is spelled on the bottom rocker.

He focuses on the patch that informs him I’m packing a weapon. His hand edges to the gun holstered on his belt. He’s weighing whether I’m carrying now or if I’m gun free.

I cock a hip against the railing and hitch my thumbs in the pockets of my jeans. If he’s going to talk, it would be now. He glances at the closed door, then back at me. “This is where we’re doing this?”

“I’ve got somewhere to be.” And I’m running late. “Didn’t see a warrant on you.” So by law, he can’t enter.

A grim lift of his mouth tells me he understands I won’t make any of this easy. He’s around Dad’s age, mid to late forties. He gave his name when I opened the door, but I’ll admit to not listening.

He scans the property and he has that expression like he’s trying to understand why someone would live in a house so small. The place is a vinyl box. Two bedrooms. One bath.

A living room–kitchen combo. Possibly more windows than square footage.
Dad said this was Mom’s dream. A house just big enough for us to live in. She never desired large, but she craved land. When I was younger, she used to hug me tight and explain it was more important to be free than to be rich. I sure as hell hope Mom feels free now.

An ache ripples through me, and I readjust my footing. I pray every damn day she found some peace.

“I drove a long way to see you,” he says.

Don’t care. “Could have called.”

“I did. No one answered.”

I hike one shoulder in a “you’ve got shit luck.” Dad and I aren’t the type to answer calls from strangers. Especially ones with numbers labeled Police. There are some law enforcement officers who are cool, but most of them are like everyone else— they judge a man with a cut on his back as a psychotic felon.

I don’t have time for stupidity.

“I’m here about your mother.” The asshole knows he has me when my eyes snap to his.

“She’s dead.” Like the other times I say the words, a part of me dies along with her.

This guy has green eyes and they soften like he’s apolo­getic. “I know. I’m sorry. I’ve received some new evidence that may help us discover what caused her death.”

Anger curls within my muscles and my jaw twitches. This overwhelming sense of insanity is what I fight daily. For years, I’ve heard the whispers from the gossips in town, felt the stares of the kids in class, and I’ve sensed the pity of the men in the Reign of Terror I claim as brothers. It’s all accu­mulated to a black, hissing doubt in my soul.

Suicide.

It’s what everyone in town says happened. It’s in every hushed conversation people have the moment I turn my back. It’s not just from the people I couldn’t give two shits about, but the people who I consider family.
I shove away those thoughts and focus on what my father and the club have told me—what I have chosen to believe. “My mother’s death was an accident.”

He’s shaking his head and I’m fresh out of patience. I’m not doing this. Not with him. Not with anyone. “I’m not interested.”

I push off the railing and dig out the keys to my motor­cycle as I bound down the steps. The detective’s behind me. He has a slow, steady stride and it irritates me that he fol­lows across the yard and doesn’t stop coming as I swing my leg over my bike.

“What if I told you I don’t think it was an accident,” he says.

Odds are it wasn’t. Odds are every whispered taunt in my direction is true. That my father and the club drove Mom crazy, and I wasn’t enough of a reason for her to choose life.

To drown him out, I start the engine. This guy must be as suicidal as people say Mom was, because he eases in front of my bike, assuming I won’t run him down.

“Thomas,” he says.

I twist the handle to rev the engine in warning. He raises his chin like he’s finally pissed and his eyes narrow on me. “Razor.”

I let the bike idle. If he’s going to respect me by using my road name, I’ll respect him for a few seconds. “Leave me the fuck alone.”

Damn if the man doesn’t possess balls the size of Montana. He steps closer to me and drops a bomb. “I have reason to believe your mom was murdered.”
 

     If that first chapter didn’t catch your attention then I don’t know what will. I know one thing for sure is that I will be hounding my local bookstore until they have this book on the shelves! If you are as anxious as me to get WALK THE EDGE then pre-order it now so that you can get it when it is released on March 29th! There is even a special prize if you pre-order WALK THE EDGE too!


     Pre-Order WALK THE EDGE, Register your Pre-Order and receive an exclusive Echo and Noah short story and a chance to be in the next Thunder Road novel!  Register at https://offerpop.com/campaign/796530.

     Whoa. A chance to be in the next Thunder Road novel?! A chance to be fictionally surrounded by badass bikers who secretly have a soft spot? SIGN ME UP. Seriously.

     WALK THE EDGE preorder links: Amazon Ι Kobo Ι Barnes and Noble Ι iBooks Ι IndieBound

     Also, don’t forget to add WALK THE EDGE to Goodreads and let everyone know you’re reading it!


     Don’t miss the first book in the Thunder Road series, , NOWHERE BUT HERE! Trust me, this series is not one you want to skip.


About Katie McGarry:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

Don’t forget to check out all of Katie’s social media links!

March 3, 2016

How I Edit My Bookstagram Photos!


Bookish Instagrams are all the rage right now, especially ones with themes. A theme is a common editing style, prop, style, etc. that sets bookish accounts apart from each other. For example, my bookstagram theme consists of dark backgrounds and cool/blue tones. There may be themes that are similar to mine; however, no one exactly edits their photos the way I do, and no one has the same background as I do. 
  
     This post contains my tips, tricks, and advice on how to edit your photos. I am not a professional photographer or photo editor, but the apps I use make it easy to edit my photos how I like them. That being said, this is what works for me, and I hope it will work for you. Since I use my iPhone to take my Bookstagram pictures, the two apps I use to edit my photos are really convenient.

     The two apps I use to edit my photos are VSCO and Watermark P (optional but recommended). All of these apps are free so this post is very broke girl/guy friendly. There are roughly five steps I take to completely edit my photos, and hopefully I can explain them all clearly!



1. Determine A Signature Theme

    As I mentioned above, themes are taking bookstagram by storm, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessary. I choose to feature a theme because I love the look of a matching bookstagram feed and it allows my photos to stay consistent.

    There are so many themes on Instagram but they all can be categorized into two broad themes: light and dark.

Here are some examples:

  
    They are beautiful right?

     My bookstagram feed, OriginalQueenofBooks, is obviously dark. However, we all know the famous light themes on Instagram that usually show a book on a bed, a cup of tea/coffee, and the ever famous sock covered legs. That signature theme is used often on bookstagram because it is simplistic, eye-catching, and light.

    Bookstagram pictures with a theme also usually have the same or a similar background (i.e. a table top, bed, bookshelf, outside, etc.) which also adds to an accounts signature look. I based my theme solely around my beautiful black bookshelves and there are usually the background to all of my photos. I choose a dark and cool toned theme to compliment my bookshelves because I knew that would be my background. Plus, I wanted my account to stand out from the usually light bookstagram photos.

2. Take Your Picture


    1) The biggest part of this step is lighting. Diffused lighting is your friend here. What do I mean by diffused light? I mean taking your picture in front of a window with the blinds slightly closed or taking the photo on a cloudy day. Harsh lighting will be your enemy when it comes time to edit.

    2) Don’t worry about how the picture looks right now. Everything will look average at this stage. All you have to do is make sure that your picture isn’t blurred and your iPhone is focused on the main object you want shown. However, if your picture isn’t as clear as it possibly can be, you can fix it in editing.

    3) My next tip is to take as any pictures as you can until you feel like you have a good variety to choose from. I would also suggest changing the layout and moving the book(s) around until you are happy with their position.

    4) My last tip for this step is to not be afraid to use props. For example, I will often use the swords I have as props when I photograph fantasy novels like Queen of Shadows, or I will use a fake flower just to add another element to the photo. It can get boring when you just post pictures of a book without a prop to look at. Move those around too until you find the position that best frames the book. Then go through your camera roll and delete all of the pictures that you don’t like, that are too blurry, or pictures where the lighting is off.

3. Editing Your Photo

    This is where I realized that VSCO was my best friend. VSCO comes with a few filters and one of them happened to be what I wanted my theme to be. I also love this app because it has a library of its own that holds all of your edited photos and you can easily tell if your photos match your theme. (P.s. I always crop my photo to the square format in my camera roll editing tab before I even start editing in VSCO)
 


    1) The very first thing you should do is play with the filters and figure out which one you like. I found out that the filter P5 on VSCO was the perfect filter for me because it had dark and cool tones in it, and it also had that slightly cloudy look that I like. Some people would leave it at that, but I like to customize the filter so that it looks better. I will layout the steps I take to edit my photos below:


    • Exposure: Exposure controls the amount of light in a photo. Decreasing the exposure decreases the amount of light in a photo. I usually decrease the exposure by 1 or 2 since my Bookstagram theme is dark.

      -Increasing the exposure is usually best for the lighter themes.

    • Contrast: The contrast controls the scale of black and white in your photos. By reducing the contrast, I am adding more white into my photo and dulling the bright colors so that my theme remains dark.

      -I usually decrease the contrast by 1 or 2, at the most. Doing so gives me the slightly gray and cloudy look that I like.

      -If you want to add more shadows and increase the brightness of the white in your photo then increase the contrast.

    • Sharpness:  Sharpness controls the resolution of your photos. I always increase the sharpness of my photos, but the number I increase it by isn’t always consistent. I never want to make the photo look grainy so I always test it to see what works the best.

      -You always want to sharpen your pictures, but if you want a soft look to your  pictures then you want to keep the sharpness on low.

      -All you want to do is make the small details that are lost in the picture stand  out.

    • Saturation: Saturation enhances the difference between the colors in a photo making them appear brighter or duller. It is essential for me to decrease the saturation of my photos because I don’t want bright colors in my theme.
      -I usually only need to decrease the saturation by 1 or 2. Anything more than that will cause my photo to start looking black and white.

      -For lighter themes, I suggest increasing the saturation slightly to bring out the colors in your photo so that they will stand out.

    • Temperature: Changing the temperature of a photo changes that tone of your photo to warm or cool. If you decrease the temperature you are left with a cool toned photo, but if you increase the temperature then you are left with a warm toned photo. Adjusting the temperature of my photo is the last step I take in the editing stage. This is how I achieve that cool toned/blue tint in my pictures.


      -I always decrease the temperature of my photo by 1 or at the most 3. My theme is dark and cool so decreasing the temperature is essential.

     -If you have a lighter theme then you might want to increase the temperature and bring out the warmth in your photo unless you are going for a grungy look.

     Now you can save your photo to your camera roll, and move on to the last step!


4. Placing Your Bookstagram Name On Your Photo

     This step is optional. In fact, I didn’t start doing it until recently, but it helps to make your theme unique. Watermark P is the app I use to put my stamp on my photos and it is so easy. The app features a ton of fonts to choose from which is so cool.



    1) Choose the font that you love the most or the font that you feel goes with your theme the best. My front is very elegant, which I feel like matched my theme perfectly.

 
 
    2) Place your signature wherever you like in the photo. Most bookstagram accounts like to hide their signatures among the subjects of their photo like under a coffee cup or under a bookshelf, but I like to put mine close to the book(s) in the picture or in the corner.


 

    3) Also, I always decrease the opacity to about 60% visibility so that my signature doesn’t completely stand out and it isn’t stark white against my dark background. I also make my signature fairly small, but not small enough that you can hardly read it.

    4) Now you are ready to save your photo to your library!



     That is it! That is how I edit my photos for my Bookstagram account! I really hope you guys found this post interesting and helpful! Remember, I am not an expert by any means, but I know what I like in my photos so I had to share my tips and tricks. Let me know if you found this post helpful, and leave your bookstagram accounts below or follow my bookstagram account by using the link in my sidebar! I would love to see more beautiful pictures of books!

Until next time, read some good books and take some gorgeous pictures for me!

Cheers!