Mother of Teens: Talking (photo)Shop


I’m not ashamed to say I’m part of the Google Generation, a Millennial. My first home computer was a clunky laptop my father brought home from work when I was six, it had a word processor and chess. I played Oregon Trail at school and learned how to draw colorful circles with DOS commands. I had my first email address by 13 and ran unsupervised through the chat rooms as a teen. I never had MySpace, but I asked my now-husband out on our first date over AIM.

So it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that I’m pretty okay with my kids using tech. My youngest (who is almost 5) calls the hand-me-down computer in the living room the “kid’s TV” and can’t seem to tell the difference between a computer and a smart TV. To be honest, neither can I. They both run the internet, hook up to keyboards, and play games. We’re living in a technological world that is immersive and global, and that’s why I sat down with my kids this week to have The Talk.

No, not the “sex is a healthy thing but please wait until you can comfortably discuss birth control before getting naked” talk. I have four kids. You can’t lie about pregnancy that many times, not when your kids want details every five seconds. We discussed sex, birth control, penises, vaginas, and menstrual cycles already. The younger two will get that talk again, mostly because my son thinks having a period sounds great because he knows it involves getting a candy bar. I think the whole messy blood part might have gone over his head.

But, that’s for another time. This week we talked about the art of photo manipulation, aka Photoshop.

For all my internet savvy, I grew up kind of clueless about how the models in magazines looked so flawless. I wondered how they got their eyelashes so thick and long, and it wasn’t until my 20’s that I realized all these women I saw on TV and in ads were wearing tons of makeup, fake eyelashes, wigs or extensions, and often had digital retouching done to their photos. As a kid, that dinged my fragile self worth. I was borderline anorexic for years because I was terrified of being too fat to be pretty.

And this week a fabulous teaching tool came to my attention. Enter MEITU! This fabulous photo app is actually produced by a cellphone company in China whose phones feature high-def front-facing cameras perfect for taking selfies.

Guess who can’t take a selfie to save her life? THIS GIRL!

But I was bored and decided to download the Meitu app earlier this week so I could play with it. So, here’s me first thing in the morning. It’s -20 outside, I’m wearing my Jamaican Bobsled Team shirt, some leggings, and I haven’t had breakfast. I forced a smile, and then because I didn’t like it I went to Meitu’s editing feature and slimmed my face. I pulled my cheeks in, widened my tired eyes, and picked a filter that removes the blotchy redness from my skin.

But why stop there???

With a few changes I could be Kawaii as Hello Kitty!

Tip tap, and there I go! Big eyes, rosy cheeks, shiny highlights, and adorable little stickers!!! They even added a lip tint. Sure, it doesn’t actually look like me, but I’m adorable!

My kids notice when I’m not watching them like a hawk (or maybe they noticed me giggling like a maniac) so they flocked around.

“Mom, why do you look so weird?”

… cue the discussion of international views of beauty, Batman!

Meitu is designed with a Chinese aesthetic for beauty in mind. That means a skin whitening tool (when most North Americans would prefer a tan) and a an auto-feature that makes your chin pointed (because heart-shaped faces are preferred over round ones I guess???).

I took the kids pictures and let them go to town. They slimmed their already skinny faces. They widened eyes and added makeup (one of the tools gives you a perfect cat-eye). And we talked about how this is done. About why people change who they are online.

This is something kids need to know about before they hit their teens. You need to sit down, look at a magazine together, and point out where a digital artist changed the person to fit the needs of the ad. Talk about branding. Talk about aesthetics. Talk about beauty standards and why what you see in magazines, movies, or instagram is not real. Our kids are growing up in a world where everyone can present a false front. Where you can carefully curate your existence so people see only what you want to see.

If you don’t understand that the lives you see online are photoshopped, and you start comparing to them to your unfiltered reality, the risks for depression, self-harm, and eating disorders increase. I’ve walked down that road. I don’t want my kids to. So I tore down the curtain and let them see the digital magic happening.

Once you know the full range of the digital vanities that exist you become much happier. You realize that everyone’s beautifully imperfect. And, fun as these little apps are, what’s even better is being happy off of Instagram.

Impulse Buy Book of the Week: STEAL THE LIGHTNING by Tim Lees

 

In the newest Field Ops adventure, god hunter Chris Copeland must track down an enigmatic figure distributing shards of deities to unwitting citizens across the country.

Chris Copeland has a bizarre job, seeking out gods to convert into energy, but when he’s tasked with retrieving a deity from an elderly woman in New York, he’s truly out of his element. Before he can learn who sold her the dangerous object, she swallows a piece of it and goes into painful convulsions in front of his eyes.

Calling himself Johnny Appleseed, an elusive man has stolen fragments of gods and is traversing the country, peddling the contraband as a miracle cure to anyone desperate enough to believe him. With the help of his colleague, Angel, and a documentary filmmaker intent on exposing the Registry’s secrets, Chris must chase down the culprit and recover the stolen gods before all hell breaks loose.

$3.99
HarperCollins | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | BAM | iBooks US | iBooks UK

Tim Lees is a British author living in Chicago. His short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Black Static, Great Jones Street and elsewhere. He is the author of Frankenstein’s Prescription (Tartarus Press), and the Field Ops novels, The God Hunter and Devil in the Wires (HarperVoyager). All books can be read as stand-alones. When not writing, he has held a variety of jobs, including film extra, teacher, conference organizer, and worker in a psychiatric hospital. He has a website at www.timlees.wordpress.com (when he has time to update it), tweets as @TimLees2, and holds an Instagram account as tim.c.lees.

 

 

 

What’s Ahead In 2017

If 2016 was the year I was busy behind-the-scene, 2017 is the year you get to finally see all those stories I’ve been teasing for the last twelve months. Big things are coming and I’m excited.

SPRING RELEASES
THE DARKNESS AND GOOD ANTHOLOGY – a collection short stories written by Amy Laurens and myself. Most of these stories were first published on the Darkness & Good blog. The stories in the anthology have been edited, and in some cases expanded.
BODIES IN MOTION – In war, Selena Caryll and Titan Sciarra were bitter enemies. Now that the fleet is grounded and fighting for survival these two find that the best future is the one the build together (if they don’t kill each other first). This is a SFR novella that kicks off the new Newton’s Law universe.

SUMMER RELEASES
FOUNDATION STONES – Captain Kamara of the King’s Guard would rather see the king’s nephews hang than consider any of them as a replacement for her aging, childless liege, but when one of them frames her for the murder of the king… well, the enemy of her enemy is a man she’ll at least plan a prison break with. This is a fantasy novel that will be serialized on the blog over the summer.

FALL RELEASES TBA

WINTER RELEASES
FOUNDATION STONES – After being serialized on the blog I’ll collect the chapters, run through one more edit taking into account any comments left by readers, and publish the ebook in winter 2017.

 

Where am I moving this summer??? I still have no clue. My husband’s contract up here is ending and the people we’re renting from want to sell the house in July, so one way or another, we need to move in June. We have applications in across the country (and a few overseas) but I honestly have no idea where I’ll be at the end of 2017.

When are you going to write that one book? From Even Villains 4 to questions about Prime Sensations (will Kaleb’s brother get his own story?) there have been a lot of questions about adding to existing series. EV4 is on the schedule for writing after the move, but a lot of what get published in the fall and early 2018 depends on things in the background that I’m not supposed to talk about yet. The sooner a book sale announcement is made, the sooner I have to go edit that hush-hush novel. Take that as you will.

The other major factor here is that, this fall, my youngest starts kindergarten (you have no idea how weepy and old I feel saying that). I won’t just be in a new city, but I’ll have a whole new schedule to work with, one that allows me to have interruption-free writing time (theoretically… we all know how Murphy’s Law works in these situations). I’m keeping my fall schedule open to possibility. We’ll see what happens, where I am, and what deadline have magically appeared before I make any promises.

All Romance eBooks is Closing…. Now What?

At least some of you are aware by now that All Romance eBooks has announced they are closing their doors as of December 31st. And while none of my recent books were for sale at ARe, I know some of you originally purchased the Heroes and Villains series through them.
 
All Romance eBooks has decided to close it’s doors without honoring sales or royalties for books purchased one or after December 27th (a day before the announcement was made – I am hoping this is a typo, but no one has confirmed that belief yet). Because of that, I discourage you from purchasing anything else for ARe in the coming days, but do encourage you to download all your purchases and save them off site.
 
It’s always discouraging to see another indie site closed.
 
Like the small presses, indie sites like ARe have been hit hard by changes in the tax laws in the UK, and by the exponential growth of Amazon and the Kindle Unlimited program. Casual readers stick to the big sites, the big presses, and the big authors.
 
ARe was a wonderful place to find new romance authors that were often overlooked in the bigger stores, and despite their unhappy ending, they will be missed.
 
If any of you lose your copies of the Heroes & Villains series as ARe closes down, please use the link on my website (www.lianabrooks.com) to contact me. I’m more than happy to send you a replacement.
 
If you’re looking for a way to stop the wave of small press and small business closures, I recommend you check out your local bookstore and make it a goal in 2017 to order new books through them.
 
Check out IndieBound.com to find a local bookstore near you.
 
My pre-signed books can be ordered from Fireside Books in Palmer (goodbooksbadcoffee.com).
 
Supporting Indie bookstores puts money back in your community and allows unique and diverse voices to thrive.
 
<3 Liana <3