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Moving Giveaway!

by sarahenni on March 5, 2012

I mentioned March was a time for challenges, and Dr H and I have one brewing: we are moving! We’re staying in the D.C. area (thankfully), but we’ve got a nice, new, bigger place picked out for the next few years. That’s exciting, but it’s also daunting. Moving! No matter how you slice it, it’s a stressful endeavor.

To spare us both some back sprain, I’ve been going through bookshelves the last couple of weeks to weed out our selection. And you, dearest readers, are the first ones I thought of. I have three groups of books I want to give away! The collection of books contains new and new-adjacent, hardcover and paperback, dystopian and contemporary, sci-fi and steampunk. It’s all over the map but I hope it helps make the prizes appeal to just about any YA fan*!

To enter to win, just leave me either a great tip on moving, or just wish us luck!!

There are two ways to earn extra entries. You can tweet about the contest (but make sure to include a link!). Or, if you were following me via Google Friend Connect/Blogger, and now can no longer see my feed because Google killed GFC dead**, please re-subscribe (by clicking this or the button under “Follow via Blogger”  in my sidebar) and get an extra entry!

The contest will end two weeks from today, at 11:59 PM on Monday, March 19. Winners will be chosen by Random.org. Very unfortunately, I have to limit this giveaway to U.S. or Canadian citizens :(

Here are the prizes:

Pack 1

1. An ARC of Kat Rosenfield’s Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone

2. A hardcover copy of Beth Revis’ Across the Universe

3. A hardcover copy of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

4. A signed paperback copy of E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Pack 2

1. An ARC of Madeleine George’s The Difference Between You and Me

2. A hardcover copy of Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron

3. A hardcover copy of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel

4. A hardcover copy of Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Pack 3

1. A hardcover copy of Kristina Springer’s The Esspressologist

2. A hardcover copy of Rachel Hawkins’ Demonglass

3. A signed hardcover copy of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

4. A hardcover copy of Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s (a.k.a. The Fug Girls) Spoiled

Oh man! These books are amazing, and if I had all the room in the world I would not part with any of them. But! I must.

*I won't promise that these books are all in perfect condition---they are used, albeit gently.
** I'll blog about this tomorrow!

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Avatars to Avoid

by sarahenni on December 20, 2011

A really big part of online presence—and something that, at least on Twitter, is even more important than your name/handle—is the avatar, or picture you choose to represent you. When I am on Twitter, a quick glance at the pictures scrolling in my feed gives me an instant idea of who’s online and chatting. It’s a quick and easy way to tell people a lot about yourself—and that isn’t always a good thing.

I’m sensitive to avatars. I notice when people choose ones that make me uncomfortable, or simply aren’t pleasing to the eye. I’m not talking about how you look, I’m talking about the design, structure, color, or framing of the picture you choose to represent you. And frankly, when someone has an avatar that strikes me wrong, I tend to unconsciously glance past their updates.

Fortunately this is something entirely within your power to control. I’ve compiled a list of examples of poor to downright bad avatars.

I’d like to emphasize that this list is made up entirely of my opinion and mine alone, it’s crazy subjective and you’re welcome to dismiss it entirely.


Ones that are too active. Punching or kicking the camera might seem like a great way to make your picture engaging. But then every time you pop up in my feed, you’re punching or kicking me. It’s like the avatar equivalent of those “YOU’RE EATING SOMETHING RIGHT NOW THAT IS KILLING YOU, more at nine!” news promos. The shock value wears off after a (short) while. Same goes for active pictures that are blurry, or where the action is taking place so far away that I can’t tell what’s happening in the tiny space of an avatar. It’s confusing and—unless it’s a picture of you smiting a zombie with Valyrian steel, which is acceptable no matter what the picture quality—you might want to reconsider.



Ones that are too close up. I like to imagine the people on my Twitter feed as real people, or benevolent robots, who might actually say the things they tweet in real life. So I’d love to see your face—your whole face. As beautiful as that one bloodshot eye is in your closeup, I’d like to see your smile, your funky necklace, your awesome hairdo… things like that. Not the spot on your chin that you missed shaving this morning.


Ones that look like a Myspace pic. You know what I’m talking about—a photo someone obviously took of themselves wherein they are wearing a dead-serious expression and are focused on something out of the frame that is, presumably, so hip and amazing that no one else has even see it yet. Sorry to anyone out there still rocking the turn-of-the-century-chic pose, but at this point it just sends the message that you’re too cool for Twitter, and if that’s the case, why are you on it?


Ones where I can’t see you. Unless it’s pretty much the coolest picture of you ever taken (i.e. that whole zombie smiting thing)(in which case I’ll likely be curious enough to enlarge it and witness its awesomeness), you need a picture where people can tell what’s happening, even when it’s a tiny one that first just alongside 140 words. A dark avatar is easy to skip over and miss, and you don’t want that, right?


Ones that are patently offensive. You’re not Sid Vicious fighting the man. You’re on Twitter like the rest of us, a voluntary service where people have to be interested in what you’re saying, or they’ll just move on. Unless you’re Billy Joe Armstrong and a vehement fanbase will swoon over every punk-rock word, give it a rest.



Ones that make you look like a pedophile robot. When I see Twitter’s default avatar—the egg—I assume you are an evil robot trying to infiltrate my computer, or possibly offer me the chance to claim my right to a bazillion euros if only I tweet my bank account number. However, there are some very funny people (like literary agent Barbara Poelle) who have taken the egg default and put their own (very clever) spin on it.



Ideally, you want an avatar that is memorable. When people first get to know you on Twitter, that picture represents you. It should be easy to recognize, and friendly. It DOES NOT have to be a professionally taken picture. It just has to make you look like a professional.

What about you? Are there any Twitter avatar trends that you’ve noticed that aren’t ideal?

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Strange Things That Help Me Write

by sarahenni on December 5, 2011

Every writer’s toolbox is different, and sometimes the things that help most getting inspiration wrangled and on the page are a bit unexpected. Here are some random things that make me more inspired, more productive, and happier as a writer.

Bose ‘On Ear’ Headphones

For me, headphones are to writing as a helmet is to bike-riding. You can do without it, but why? There’s something about putting headphones on—even if no music is playing—that triggers my motivation to write. It’s kind of a symbol, to myself and to the rest of the world, that I’m focused. And these headphones make all the hulabaloo of a crowded waiting room or buzzing coffee shop into white noise that actually helps me work. (Also, I prefer the ‘on ear’ because after a few hours regular headphones make my ears ache.)

Essie Nail Polish

I’m a recovering nail biter (if by recovering you mean ‘sometimes still does it’). It’s a nervous habit, and the worst thing about it is that while I’m biting my nails, guess what I’m not doing? Writing. The best way I know how to solve this issue is by painting my nails, because I fuss with my hands less when they’re nice and shiny. My favorite brand of polish—both because it has witty names (that avoid being disgusting or racist) and because it is long-lasting—is Essie. My fav is “Well Red,” because obviously.

Twitter

There are absolutely times when TweetDeck lures me like a siren call from my writing Odyssey*, but there is absolutely no doubt that without Twitter and the community I’ve found there, I would not be the same writer I am right now, nor would I be as inspired to continue writing. There have been specific circumstances where a community write-in is organized (in a Highway Cafe), or when one or two of my closest Twitter buddies challenge me to a word war, that I get crazy productive.

Market Spice Tea

I don’t like tea … except for Market Spice’s Cinnamon-Orange. It’s so good, I’ve been known to choose it over coffee. I KNOW. Something about it is inherently soothing—it’s as pivotal for rainy days as tomato soup and grilled cheese. Mmm. Plus, by making it almost every time I write, I’m hoping to create some Pavlovian effect of productivity.

My Commute

I take the metro to and from work every day, and that gives me a total of about 45 minutes daily just to read, or to get lost in my thoughts and brainstorm over  my WiP. Having some down time that I can dedicate to reading, writing, or thinking about writing (but not being in front of a computer) is regenerating and necessary to keeping me motivated.

What about you?? What are some unusual tools or methods that you use to get writing, and to stay inspired?

* NERD SENTENCE ALERT

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TwiLost

by sarahenni on December 2, 2011

When I posted What to Expect in Breaking Dawn II (heretofore to be known as TwiLost), I wasn’t sure how many LOST survivors were among my blog & Twitter friends. Turns out, there were quite a few! And some had more creative and hilarious ideas for how to blend the franchises than I ever could have dreamed!

So, for anyone that got a kick out of imagining Edward grappling with a smoke monster, here’s an exchange that some of us had on Twitter furthering the idea. How else could the Cullens explain the mysteries of the island??? Keep ‘em coming in comments!

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