Four MORE Great Apps for Creating Interesting Pictures

Hi, all! Jennifer here again.

I’m back again sharing some great apps I’ve been using in order to create more visually appealing pictures to post online. I particularly like using them for Instagram since I find the filter choices a bit limiting there.

And away we go!

  1. Snapseed  I used this gem when my picture came out too dark. I was able to “brush” it up and was able to see faces. Love! Plus, you can also add text to your pictures.
  2. Instasize  Oh my gosh. SO many more filter choices! Great for creating collages and videos too
  3. Touch Color  When you want to create B&W pictures with just a pop of color.
  4. Boomerang  Well, not really for pictures. More for videos. You can create short videos that loop back and forth (hence the name). But such fun!

Try them out on your phone for yourself and have fun playing around with them!

Hope you find this helpful!

Until next time!


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About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

Four Great Apps to Create More Interesting Social Media Posts

Hi, all! Jennifer here!

You can tell that people take their social media posts pretty seriously nowadays.

Even my own daughter bought herself a $600 camera and a $800 lens for…

Instagram? Now, she’ll probably deny that until her dying day, but she’s in high school, she’s not taking a photography class and she’s not in any photo clubs. And she does post some really nice pictures online.

What would you presume?

Now, me? I’m way too cheap and go right for the simple (and FREE) phone apps.  I’ve been having fun playing around with my photos using these apps so I thought I’d share my four personal favs.

  1. Over  Over is great because it has a lot of nice choices for templates. But of course, if you want to spend a little more, you can really have a great selection.
  2. Color Pop  This is one of my favs because I love B&W and I love color. Now I can do both at the same time.
  3. Let’s Draw   Pretty much what the name suggests. You can draw or write directly on any photo.
  4. Pic Collage  Really fun site where I can create colorful ads with stickers and words and pictures or just do a collage of pictures.

That’s all I’ve really had to time to experiment with, but my daughter has some more she said she’d show to me.

Can’t wait!

So…until next time, have a great week!



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About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

When Your Writing Misses the Mark

This post is for the writers. The aspiring authors, the seasoned veterans.

Sometimes, you write a story and it just flows. It comes together like it has a life of its own, fully-formed and perfect. This isn’t about those times.

Because even when you have those stories, you’ll also have stories that are just… off. They’re missing something, the something that makes them a story worthy of telling.

Maybe it’s your structure or conflict. For me, it was an under-developed character.

I couldn’t figure out: how did this happen to me? Me, who spends a month or two pre-writing. Polishing characters’ histories, their GMC, plotting out a story based on those things before ever putting fingers to keyboard and executing. I spend as much time pre-writing as I do writing the first draft.

But, there was no denying that’s exactly where my story was at. The bad news came from my editor. (Mistake number one–I was in a hurry and didn’t have it beta read by my trusted critique partners before submission.) My heroine’s backstory and motivation were… weak.

I couldn’t believe it. In the weeks following my grandmother’s death, I’d written Exactly Like You, edited it, submitted it, and it was published in June. It was one of the aforementioned stories–it just flowed together perfectly, seamlessly.

How could I have done that so well and missed the mark so completely in the other story? For one, I didn’t dig for backstory and motivation. I latched onto the first idea that came to me. The first idea is never the best idea–don’t let anyone tell you any different. (This would be mistake number two, in case you’re counting.)

I revised and then sent it out for beta with two very smart CPs (all my critique partners are smart, but I digress). They came back with the same verdict–I’d missed that mark again. She was still underdeveloped. Her motivation wasn’t quite believable. That’s what happens when you try to make your character fit your story rather than the other way around. (That, friends, is mistake number three.)

I’m very happy to say that I conferred with one of my CPs, sending her five pages of notes to address the specific issues she called out, then had another CP take a look at my opening and made adjustments again. This had become the story that would not live.

But I wasn’t giving up. All is well now (I hope–it’s been resubbed to my editor, so we’ll see). I can tell you that I don’t think there’s much more of me left for that story. If it’s not enough? This may become one of those stories bound for the far reaches of my hard drive.

I wish I had a happy ending, but don’t all the true life-lesson stories end ambiguously? Take what you can from this, writers. Dig into that back story, then dig some more. Don’t skimp on character, ever.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Think like a Reader to Market like an Author

Hey, all!

Jennifer here.

One thing I’ve noticed around the Twitterverse and Social Media realm is what other authors are doing there. I can’t help it. I’m social. I don’t just post and leave. I linger a bit. It helps me learn as a marketer.

Let’s face it, we’re writers. We don’t have marketing degrees. (Well, most of us don’t) As a result, I see a bit of a hodgepodge of marketing tactics. Some are REALLY good. But most, I have to say, are not.

I’m still learning, myself, but I recently hit the USA Today bestseller list and have been growing my Instagram following nicely and so far, have had much better engagement with my Facebook and Twitter pages. So I’d like to share some of my observations in order to help with marketing our books as well.

  • One key factor is to THINK like a reader.  All writers are readers.  Readers/writers buy books. I’ve bought books because of Twitter. I’ve also bought or maybe checked out books I’ve seen advertised on Facebook.  Stop and PAY ATTENTION  as to WHY you buy a book and think about it. Where did you see it advertised? Who told you about it? What was so smart about the way the author told you about their book? Then mimic it.
  • Stalk your favorite author. Huh? Well, don’t technically stalk them, but pay very close attention to HOW they market. Do they post fun things on social media or is it ALL about their books? Do they do collaborations with other authors? Do they have an engaging newsletter? If so, what do you like about it? Can you do something similar? Are their social media graphics eye-catching and do they make you want to buy their books? Then do what they do, but add your own twist to make it unique and personalize it toward your brand.
  • Test your graphics and play around with them. Some authors have a knack with marketing and create sharp graphics for their books. It’s very impressive–or maybe someone else creates it for them. Whatever. In my humble opinion, simple usually works best. Think of it like picking out paint color.  One time I had picked out a beautiful rose tan that I thought would be perfect for my dining room. The painters had painted 1/4 of the wall when I walked in and yelled, “Stop!” The little sample paint color I had picked out looked pink once it was up on the wall, not the lovely tan rose I thought. (PS. I changed it to a plain tan and was very happy) Sometimes that happens with book graphics. You create something beautiful and different–and what you think will be eye-catching. But once it pops up on a feed, it ends up being hard to read and therefore missed by readers. If your post isn’t being “liked” or “seen”, it might be time to try something else.
  • Giveaway what your readers really want. If you plan on organizing a giveaway, make it worthwhile to your readers. I find most readers want paperback/hardcover books. But maybe YOUR readers want something different. Ask them in your newsletter or take a poll on your Facebook page.

Hope this gives you some things to THINK about the next time you’re scrolling through your social media feeds. Really look at what makes you ignore posts and what makes you pay attention to posts. Start thinking like a reader and market accordingly.

Good luck and happy marketing!


Praise for Wrong Brother, Right Match

“Wrong Brother, Right Match is basically a Hallmark Christmas Movie in book form and I love it!” – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

If you want to be swept away into a sweet read that will keep you glued to the page then this is the book for you. There was just something about this storyline that was the right amount of sweet, romance and fun that made it unputdownable.”- The Sub Club Book

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About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

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