Memes made by me: making images for fun and (if I’m lucky) profit

On my Facebook page, I have an album I called “Memes Made By Me” (because I love the alliteration). That’s where I save the various non-promotional memes I’ve made, from the ones I’ve done with various meme generators to ones I’ve actually made with stock art. Some of them are (hopefully) funny; others are (maybe) inspirational.

Why do I make them? Partly it’s a shameless self-promotional thing; the theory goes that if someone likes my meme, they might click through to learn more about me and my books. (I don’t think that ever actually happens, though — at least, not based on my own Facebook-viewing behaviour.) Another thing I’ve noticed is that, if I get lots of activity on one post, then the next post I share seems to be shown more widely by Facebook’s evil algorithms. That may be a coincidence, though.

The real reason I make them is because it’s fun. I love using Photoshop to come up with pretty pictures with words on them. :p

Here are some of the non-promotional memes I’ve made over the past few months:

Callous monster

I hate those posts so much…


Stock: Shutterstock


Neil Patrick Harris belongs to Joss Whedon (and also to Neil’s husband, David). No copyright infringement intended.

Meme Marilyn quote

Stock: Shutterstock

Puppy review

Stock: Shutterstock

Meme Post-apocalyptic Fiction

My friend’s ten-year-old daughter came out with a comment very similar to this. I adapted it. 🙂

I’ve also made a ton of promotional teasers, most of which you’ll have seen on my blog if you’re a regular reader. If you’re not, here’s the most recent one. You’ll notice I’ve kept the text quite small on the overall page. That’s because I’ve been thinking about using this one in an advert, and Facebook requires that images for ads have no more than 20% text. (I may be pushing that limit with this one, because it’s not just the text on the top left that counts but the title on the book as well.)

SPR Review

And here’s one I made for my friend, Stacey, whose newest book came out last month.

Teaser for Pretend by Stacey Nash

Teaser for Pretend by Stacey Nash (Stock: Shutterstock)

I’d love to hear what you guys think of these kinds of memes and teasers. What do you like to see in a meme? What makes you click “like” or “share”? How about in a book teaser?

The Book of Faces

If you want to reliably see what I’m up to on the Book of Faces, Jay Kristoff has the good oil on how to do it. My Facebook page is here!

Jay Kristoff - Literary Giant


So I’m not sure if you beautiful folks are aware of this, but I thought I’d share since Facebook isn’t all that great at spreading the word about its own functionality.

The facey lair of Lord Zuckerberg has been shrouded in dank shrouds of dank, shroudy mystery for a while now, and most authors I know don’t really bother with it as a social media platform anymore. Not only does the Tome of Face-ishness seem oh so very Naughties, but it’s just not all that great for getting the word out about your warez, as opposed to Twitter or Tumblr or Tinder (omg all these T words) or whatever it is the cool kids are using this week.

One of the reasons companies and content creators are fleeing like virginal 16 year old protagonists in the presence of hockey-mask-wearing mass-murderers is that the Grimoire of Facery actually doesn’t…

View original post 285 more words

The Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd

So when Grammarly emailed me about something called the Anatomy of a Grammar nerd, I thought they’d be talking about how we have dictionaries for brains or pain receptors triggered by dangling modifiers. But no, apparently that was me being literal.

Who’d have thought?

Anyway. I’m a little too old to be a grammar nerd, apparently — although the age range might have more to do with the fact these stats were derived from Facebook users’ profiles, and maybe those who aren’t in the 18-24 age range tend to hide their year of birth. 😉

As for the Oxford comma, I’m agnostic on the issue. I don’t think it’s necessary to use them all the time, but I will use one when to do otherwise would cause confusion. As for semicolons, they are my favourite and my best.

How do you compare to the infographic?

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

Posted with permission from Grammarly

Pinterest for Authors: A Newbie’s Guide

Building your author platform? I’m over at Aussie Owned and Read, giving some advice on setting up a Pinterest account.

Aussie Writers

Ribbon,_Pinterest Source: Wikipedia Commons

If you’re a new author who is looking to build your social media platform, either before you start querying agents or because you’ve got a deal and have been told it’s something you need to work on, then you might want to consider Pinterest, the image-sharing website. It’s less demanding than a blog, Facebook or Twitter…  although it can be just as much of a time vampire if you let it.

Still, with a bit of self-discipline, it can be a way to promote yourself and your books, while also being a great source of inspiration for your writing.

What should I pin?

Look at creating at least ten boards on different themes, and having at least the same number of pins in each. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Have a board directly relating to each of your books or to each series. I have a board for my 

View original post 811 more words

Website design: creating an attractive author image

Today’s guest post is by Amber A. Bardan, contemporary and paranormal romance writer and winner of North Texas Romance Writers of America‘s 2013 Great Expectations. 

I’m so excited to be guest blogging for Cassandra today! I thought I’d blog about something I know a little be about. My day job (as in the job that actually pays me money so I can spend the rest of the time writing) is as a Web and Graphic Designer. Let’s face it the reason you get an author website is so publishers and agents can look you up and see that you appear professional. Obviously you want your website or blog to look pretty, and thereby enhance your professional image.

It’s also the foundation of your one day ‘published author’ platform. I want to stop here a moment and say something; at the end of the day your writing is what is going to sell you – everything else is secondary so don’t stress too much if you have no domain, few blog followers, and only a couple of Twitter followers. These things are only a complement to good writing.

However, the advantage of setting yourself up professionally is that other writers, prospective readers or whomever our blog/website is targeting are far more likely to take you seriously if you look the part. So here are my tips on creating a good looking author website.

Creating Strong Visual Appeal

·         Keep it simple

Look at the majority of successful bloggers and aspiring writers; their blogs and websites are usually simple. If not, they usually have professionally designed themes.

Either way they are not generally loaded with photos, images, clip art, hundreds of colors or varying text sizes—it’s simple and consistent.

·         Quality graphics

If you are going to use graphics to enrich your website or blog make sure they are good quality, royalty-free images. Nothing looks worse than tacky clipart on a website. Sites like Shutterstock, iStock and Dreamstime have millions of beautiful, professional images available to purchase for a very small fee. You only need one great image to create a website background or blog banner.

·         Color Choice

This is the biggest problem with DIY websites and blogs! We all know ‘those’ websites with black background and yellow or magenta text… Apart from not being visually appealing, color choice effects visibility and your website’s or blog’s accessibility.

Chose two colors—with big contrast. You might introduce a third color for enhancement, but only use it with a light hand.

De-saturated colors work well. But always use web-safe colors (no neon yellow or magenta)

When using a color for a background or text I suggest always pairing it with white. For example, with a dusky blue background, use white text. With a white background, use dusky blue text. You can use more than one color against white, such as a white background with a dusky blue text and pale blue embellishments, but never put a colored text on a colored background. 

·         Templates and Professionals

Another option is to purchase professional services in the form of professional web design or web/blog templates. This option can give you a very professional and individual result—if you choose your source wisely. Of course, custom is the most expensive option but there are more affordable templates available from template stores for a small cost (some are even free). If you do choose this option ensure you do your research; look at portfolios and get a good understanding of what is included, what you need to do yourself, and total costs.

You can find Amber on Twitter or at her blog.

Amber A Bardan

Finding new Twitter follows more lazy ways: hashtags and advanced searches


Two weeks ago I blogged about how a great way to find new people to follow was to look at the lists to which others have added you, because odds are there’ll be a common theme uniting you and them. Here are a couple of other ways I’ve used recently to find people to follow, both for my personal account and for the Aussie Owned and Read account. (By the way, Aussie Owned is running a giveaway at the moment; you should check it out!)

Contest hashtags

Yesterday, the queen of Twitter pitching contests, Brenda Drake, ran the latest in the series: #PitMad. In case you’re not familiar with the idea, writers come up with a 140-character hook for their manuscript (including the hashtag) and post it periodically throughout a ten-hour period. Agents and publishing houses can check the hashtag and request to see queries for those pitches that interest them. It was fabulously successful and quite a few folks I know got requests.

But the other upside of a very popular hashtag such as this is that, like a list, it unites people who have similar interests. In this case it’s writers, but there are loads of other hashtags out there you can use.

Advanced search function

Did you know that Twitter has an advanced search function? You can find it here. It lets you enter in various criteria to search for (must or mustn’t include certain words, from or to a certain account, etc). The location function seems a little flaky (whenever I tried “Australia” it didn’t work, so I had to do it by capital city) but otherwise it’s quite effective to find people who have the same interests as you.

As an aside, if you’re trying to market a book make sure you don’t just follow writers. Follow readers too; try searching for fans of popular novels in your genre. If they follow you back you’ve gained a possible new fan (so long as you play your cards right).

So those are two of the ways I use. Do you have any other methods to find people who share your interests?

I’m Pinteresting

Pinterest_logoThat’s like being interesting, only with art.

I’ve read a few blog posts on social media for writers, and everyone kept mentioning Pinterest. I’d always thought that was a site for scrapbooking DIY projects and recipes, so I was scratching my head as to what writers use it for. So I posted on Twitter, and a few of my tweeps filled me in.

One good summary of it, and what made me decide to get a Pinterest account, is Nicole Evelina’s blog post on the subject.

So anyway, I’ve set up my account here, if you wanted to check it out or follow me or whatever it is people do on Pinterest. If you leave your account names in the comments I’ll follow you back. Once I figure out how. :p

Collaboration, not competition

A guest post by Sharon Sant on one of the downsides of Twitter. I’d love to hear what you think.

I’ve made a lot of friends through writing. Many of these are in real life, through my university course and local writing networks. Many more have been via social media. It’s been a strange experience in many ways, particularly ‘meeting’ people virtually. Some of my online friends I’ve since met in real life and they’ve been every bit as delightful as they are in the ether. Some, I know I will never meet, and that makes me sad, because they are people I feel I have a strong friendship with, even a deep affection for, despite never having met them face to face.

In today’s writing world, I think there is no stronger tool than collaboration with other writers. In the days of ink and quill, writing was considered a solitary affair, but not anymore. In our rapidly shrinking world, we have so many ways to link up. We’re in constant contact every day, updating each other from across the globe about how many words we’ve done, when we’re taking a break, how our editing is driving us nuts. We participate in blog hops and Nanowrimo and virtual launch parties.

Some of us take these relationships, cherish them and build on them, because we understand that you can’t make it alone. People just like you are the people who will root for you, will retweet you, will send readers to your blog, will beta read for you and critique with the best of intentions, will give you heads-up on news, will egg you on when you flag. And you will do the same for them. In my opinion, that’s how it should be—a community based on mutual respect and collaboration.

But I have also encountered the flip-side of this. Take this example: a friend on twitter chats to a friend of theirs who has exactly the same interests as me, has other mutual friends, even writes the same genre. I follow that person, attempt to chat to them, and I’m ignored. I don’t understand why. Not for a minute am I suggesting that everyone has to follow me because I follow them, or reply to me when I mention them, but I fail to see the logic in not doing these things when we quite clearly have so much in common. We have all the necessary ingredients to make another strong link in the chain; why would you throw that opportunity away? Why would you actively set yourself apart from other writers like you? What does this achieve?

Sometimes, I admit, I feel envious of others I consider vastly more talented, successful or popular than me. But I fight those feelings because I think that life as an indie author is hard enough without negativity taking hold. I’d rather try my best to be happy for others, even when I have a down day and I don’t feel like it, than sit stewing in my juices. The writing journey is a much more fulfilling one when you can share it with people who understand each step.

Sharon Sant holds a BA (Hons) in English and creative writing and is currently researching a PhD in literary studies. She is a freelance editor and is the author of YA novels, “Sky Song” and “The Young Moon”. You can find her blog here.


Finding new Twitter follows the lazy way: lists

I’ve been slowly accumulating followers on Twitter, a few a day. And, unless the person breaks some of those rules I’ve blogged about previously, I tend to follow them back. Since November 2012 when I joined, I’d crossed over 500 followers and follows as at a few days ago. Not bad given I haven’t been pursuing followers aggressively like some people do.

Then Carissa added me to a list called Authors (with the description “authors of pure awesome”—thanks for that validation!).

For those of you that don’t know, Twitter lets you build lists where you can add people and then view their tweets as a single stream, filtering out stuff that isn’t relevant to your list theme. And you don’t have to follow them either (which can be a handy way to keep your number of follows down if you’re in Twitter ratio territory).

For example, I have a list for Agents and a list for Publishers. I follow the agents but not the publishers … and if I get to the Twitter ratio threshold of 2000 I’ll probably stop following the agents, knowing I can keep track of them via my list.

Anyway, out of curiosity, I decided to check out who was on Carissa’s author list. And though I have a writer list of my own with over 400 members, her list also had 400 members, most of which I didn’t follow.

Hello, goldmine of people with similar interests. 🙂

I follows the bulk of them. In the last twenty-four hours, 77 of them have followed me back. I don’t expect they all will—I don’t automatically follow those that follow me, so why should they? I certainly won’t take it personally.

Another thing about lists: if you’re a writer (or anyone else) trying to build a social media platform to help tell the world about your book, then Twitter is partly a numbers game. I’ve read that you need to have thousands of followers before you can hope an agent or publisher will take your Twitter efforts seriously.

So if that’s your goal, but you’re wondering how on earth you keep track of your favourite tweeps when you’re following hundreds or thousands of people, lists are the solution. Set one up; call it “my faves” or “the bestest tweeps of all” or “the Avengers”—whatever you like. Then make it a private list, so only you can see it. That way everyone else doesn’t wonder why they didn’t make the cut. 😉

Not that I would do that. *shifty eyes*


Three things not to do on Twitter

This is an actual, genuine, bona fide post by me! I know, right?! After all the guest posts I guess you thought I’d abandoned you. I’m drafting this in a haze of aching limbs and dust clouds, but we’ve done a major amount of packing and cleaning and I’m taking a break.

And sitting. Love the sitting.

Anyway, here are three things I’ve noticed lately on Twitter that bug me. Don’t do them, mkay?

Don’t do it, or the bird gets it.

1.       Only tweeting about your product

If someone follows me, I always have a look at their tweets. If all I see are links to or promos about whatever product they are selling (usually a book, because that’s the Twitter circle I move in), I don’t follow back.

I’m not saying don’t promote your stuff. But try and limit yourself to a couple of tweets a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. That way you catch folks in different timezones without being obnoxious. And try and mix up the tweets you use to do any promoting; if I’m on at the same time every day and see the same tweet from you at the same time, I’m going to notice. Scheduling is a fantastic tool (I use it all the time) but try not to be too obvious about it!

Talk to people. Try and keep a healthy ratio of chatting and useful links to your promo stuff: I’ve seen it suggested that you aim for five other tweets to every one promo tweet.

The trick is to make people think you’re people too. Because people want to follow people. 😉

2.       Complaining when people don’t reciprocate the Twitter love

There are a bunch of different weekly hashtags that people use to do shout outs to their followers or to people they think others should follow. For example, on Wednesday there’s #WW (WritersWednesday) and on Friday there’s #FF (FollowFriday).

The other day I got offended on others’ behalf when I saw someone complaining a person they’d done a #FF shout out for had gone for “lesser reciprocation” by only favouriting the tweet with the #FF, rather than doing a #FF back.

Maybe they did it because they were busy, and wanted to say thank you via the favourite. Maybe it never occurred to them to #FF the complainer back, or they didn’t have time. Maybe they are in fact rude.

But never, ever, ever complain on Twitter about it. It makes you look ungracious, and like you’re only promoting others for personal gain. That’s a secret best kept between you and your cat. Complain to them instead: they won’t mind. (Hell, they’re a cat; they’ll just ignore you.)

3.       The old follow/unfollow trick

When you hit 2000 follows on Twitter (folks you follow, not your followers), it imposes a ratio limit. You can’t follow more than 10% more people than follow you. So if I hit 2000 follows, and only have 1600 followers, I can’t follow anyone else till my follower number creeps up to at least 1819. (I think I’ve done the maths right. I’m tired!)

There are a few ways you can deal with this: I’m a big fan of using lists to keep track of my favourite celebrities etc rather than following them. But some people follow you in the hope you’ll follow back; if you do, they wait a bit and then unfollow you. That way you count as a follow without them having to increase their own pool of follows.

This is, as the young people say, a dick move. (Do the young people say that?)

If you’re wondering if this has been done to you, I recommend using the web-based app Just Unfollow. It lets you see who you follow who doesn’t follow you, and if you log on once a week or so you can review all your unfollows. It flags the ones you follow, with a handy “unfollow” button so you can kick their butt to the curb. You know, if you wanted to.

(There are other apps that do the same thing. That’s just the one I know about!)

If you’ve found these helpful, you should check out this post by Bad Redhead Media. She is my social media guru.