Category Archives: Twitter Files

Andy Weir on writing The Martian, sex lives of slugs, agency and female characters and more {From My Haphazard Twitter Files, No. 9}


It’s about time for another edition of From My Haphazard Twitter Files. Here are some links I’ve shared on Twitter since the last edition. This week there’s Andy Weir, the sex lives of slugs, agency and female characters and more!

How Science Made Me a Writer.  In this engaging piece, Andy Weir talks about how he came to write The Martian (which he initially serialized it on his website and then self-published it on Amazon).

… as I wrote, I bungled my way into a revelation: Science creates plot! As I worked out the intricacies of each problem and solution, little details I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed became critical problems Mark had to solve. No need for meteor strikes — the surprises, catastrophes and narrow escapes were coming fast and furious on their own.

The Sex Lives of Slugs—and Other Mysteries of the Animal Kingdom. Seriously, how does one resist a title like this? In this interview posted at National Geographic, Simon Worrall interviews author Simon Barnes about his new book, Ten Million Aliens: A Journey Through the Entire Animal Kingdom, a book I added immediately to my to-read list. Oh, and those slugs?

Slugs start as hermaphrodites, so they’ll be both male and female. One courting ritual will often involve two slugs circling around each other, each waving its penis. The penis, relative to body size, is quite massive, about half the size of the body. So they circle around, waving a giant penis overhead, then mutually enter each other and fertilize each other in a process that will go on for hours and hours.

When it’s all done, they then have to break it off, and this, alas, is not always a mere metaphor. Sometimes the penis, which is corkscrew shaped, will be reluctant to come out, whereupon one of the slugs will kindly perform the favor-you may cross your legs at this point—of nibbling it up. It’s called apophallation.

The Road to Little Dribbling: Bill Bryson is releasing a new book and I can’t wait.  I can’t wait, either – a new Bill Bryson travel book is coming later this year!

This Twitter Rant Might Change How You Think About Female Characters. On agency and female characters. A few highlights, from writer Ada Hoffman’s Twitter feed:

… agency is a component of plot. Who is and isn’t able to make choices that have an effect on events is a component OF PLOT.

So what often happens is that a female character seems very cool, and then THE PLOT IS CONSTRUCTED so she can’t do anything.

Down and dirty fairy tales: How this rediscovered stash of darker-than-Grimm stories destroys our Prince Charming myths

Schönwerth just refuses to homogenize the stories, and so you find that there’s a lot more gender bending in Schönwerth. There isn’t that strict division of gendered labor that you find in the Grimms. The Grimms don’t have a male Snow White, for example, whereas Schönwerth does. Schönwerth has a male Cinderella. He has a boy who wears out iron shoes while searching for the woman he loves, a figure who is a girl in “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” He has a prince who gets under the bedcovers with a frog so she can be turned into a beautiful princess. You just don’t find that in the Grimms at all.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy. A fusion foodie celebration I’d never heard of before. It doesn’t quite tickle my taste buds, but I’ve never been too fond of haggis.

At Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a holiday that melds Chinese New Year with Robbie Burns Day, we eat gung haggis dumplings: Chinese dumplings filled with haggis—the savory pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs; minced with oatmeal, suet, and spices; stuffed into the stomach lining of the sheep; and usually plated as a football-sized lump. They’re a fitting tribute to the undeniable cultural amalgamation of Vancouver, where the celebration was founded.

I confess, I’m always surprised when I go back over the links I’ve tweeted on Twitter. Each time, I’m reminded of why each link caught my eye in the first place!

Following your heart, blog post images, games, kidlit and more {From My Haphazard Twitter Files, No. 8}


The week has just flown by so fast! It’s Saturday again, and here are some of the links I tweeted on Twitter this past week. It was another eclectic week of links – I read such interesting things online!

  1. When You’re at the Crossroads of Should and Must really spoke to me, as I feel more and more these days that’s where I am, and I need to make the choice that’s right for me. The Should is so tempting because it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, it’s what I’ve been taught to do, but as I get older, I find myself with so many regrets because I never had the courage to choose my Must. I’m hoping things will change this year, and I’ll be able to embark on a path that includes the things that are in my heart to do.
  2. We all need images for blog posts these days, and when I saw this list of 32 free image sources for your blog at Lifehack, I immediately saved it to Evernote. I know this list will come in handy!
  3. Writer, Get to Work! is a free board game “of procrastination and misplaced competitive angst for 3-5 scribes”. Created by Jill Murray, writer and game designer, all you have to do is download, print to two sheets of letter-sized paper, add your own die and game tokens and off you go! I haven’t tried the game yet, but it looks like a lot of fun.
  4. Elegy for a Dead World is an experimental game that turns players into poets and writers. It’s available on Steam and I’m thinking of giving it a try. It’s another game that looks like fun.
  5. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and haven’t seen these yet, you’ve got to click through and check out these truly awesome interactive illustrations created for the first Harry Potter book by artist Kincso Nagy. I found these via @TifTalksBooks – thanks, Tif!
  6. This post from Flavorwire is filled with famous authors’ handwritten outlines – I love love love handwritten notes and things, and it’s quite a treat to be able to see how famous writers like J.K. Rowling outlined their books.
  7. This Guardian article, Children’s books are never just for children, poses a really interesting question: “Many adults – many well-known authors in fact – re-read books that in childhood had a big impact. So why is children’s literature not considered worthy of major awards?” My personal opinion? Children’s literature is in no way lesser literature simply because it’s written for children. Perhaps one day a children’s book will win a major book award, when the judges finally lose their biases against children’s books.

From My Haphazard Twitter Files (No. 7): dim sum, diversity perceptions in book reviews, the Princess Bride and more


It’s time for another peek at my haphazard Twitter files! This week I’ve chosen eight links out of all the ones I tweeted since the last Haphazard Twitter Files post. Not all bookish, since I like to tweet whatever catches my eye and I have to tell you, SO many things catch my eye!

1. I’ve never been great with languages, but I’ve been thinking about learning another one lately. These top 10 podcasts to help you learn a language might come in handy!

2. Old books reborn as art.  Such an incredible video, from TedTalks.

3.  If you’ve been wanting to try dim sum but the idea of all those choices scares you a little, check out this beginner’s field guide to dim sum at Lucky Peach (which, by the way, is a wonderful foodie magazine). It’s quite a comprehensive list, and there were selections on there I’ve never tried myself.

My own personal dim sum favourites? The rice noodle rolls with shrimp, har gow (shrimp dumplings) and steamed spareribs with fermented black beans. Mmmm.

4. Author Malinda Lo has written a great post about perceptions of diversity in book reviews. This is part one, where she goes over a number of professional book reviews from places like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and shows us one perception that crops up in these reviews: the idea that a diverse cast of characters is “scarcely plausible”. You can catch up with the rest of the posts she’ll write in this series here (there’s a second post up now on “so many (too many?) issues”.

5. February is graphic novel month, right? Memory has written a post over at Lady Business where she writes about the Hugo’s Best Graphic Story category and recommends a number of 2014 new releases. Go read and be prepared to expand your TBR list!

6. Want to know how to slow down time? Check out the life-changing trick author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball) wrote on a Chipotle cup.

7. Some of the items in 16 skills that make your reading more productive can apply to reading fiction as well as non-fiction. I find these kinds of lists normally work best with reading nonfiction, so that was a pleasant surprise. I love the idea of a commonplace book, and I really want to start giving myself permission to make notes directly in some of the books I read.

8. The Guardian has a great interview with Cary Elwes on The Princess Bride: “I know what my epitaph will be”.  I haven’t read As You Wish yet, but it’s in my TBR stacks and I know right after I read it, I’m going to want to watch “The Princess Bride” again!

There was, unfortunately, one dud among the links I tweeted this week. I was super excited about this hack that promises you can quickly peel a hard-boiled egg by shaking it in a glass of water. I tried it twice and sadly I ended up with a half-peeled egg that broke in half each time. Maybe I shook it for too long both times …

What interesting links did you tweet or come across on Twitter this week?

From the Haphazard Twitter Files (No. 6)

Haphazard Twitter Files

It’s Saturday night already – the week has just flown by. I’m really quite excited, because aside from an indexing deadline on Monday and some legal blog posts on Tuesday, I’ll finally have some time off!

I realized I had to come up with a graphic for my Haphazard Twitter Files posts. I’ll have to come up with something better, but for now this file folder graphic I did up (I used a free image from Pixabay and the LetterGlow app), will have to do. I am so so so happy there are iPhone apps out there that make creating graphics so much easier.

Sticking with last week’s decision, from now on for The Haphazard Twitter Files I’ll be choosing seven of the links I tweeted in the previous week – if I posted all of them, this post would be very long!

  1. You never know when advice like this might come in handy: How to Sleep in a Haunted House.  The author, a sleep specialist, wanted to sleep at the hotel that scared him the most, but unfortunately (or should that be fortunately?!) the Overlook Hotel exists only on the pages of Stephen King’s The Shining. So he chose two next-best alternatives, including the hotel which was used for the interior shots of The Overlook in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining.
  2. 16 Skills to Make Your Reading More Productive is definitely geared more to non-fiction reading than fiction, but there were some interesting ideas in here. I’ve been developing an interest in marginalia, one of the techniques mentioned in this list (although I have yet been able to bring myself to make a mark in a book …).
  3. A game for readers! The Bring Your Own Book game is a “game of borrowed phrases, where players search through books for text to take way out of context.” There’s a Kickstarter for it. Want to give it a try now? Scroll to the bottom of the Bring Your Own Book page where you can print-and-play, with your choice of Classic Rules, Democratic Rules and Cutthoat Rules.
  4. I love these pictures of the quote cards from the 365 Gathered Thoughts quote box. It looks like they might be hard to find (Amazon lists them as currently unavailable) so I’ve been thinking I might like to make my own deck. I really like the vintage look of the cards, though, so will have to think a bit about how to achieve that look.
  5. There are some really interesting ideas in 10 Powerful Ways That Will Change the Way You Work. My favourite suggestion? Dedicate time to playful exploration. Yes!
  6. I am always on the lookout for posts and articles that will motivate me to keep a journal consistently. I have so many notebooks and journals with maybe seven to ten pages filled with journaling and then … nothing other than blank pages. I guess if I cobbled all those written pages together, I would have a full journal of sorts! After I read These 8 Good Things Will Happen When You Start Writing Diaries I decided to pick up the Commonplace book I started last year and continue with it. It’s not a journal, exactly, but it appears the way I’d been keeping it was journal-like.
  7. And finally, if you sit at a desk all day, and want to add more fitness to your day, check out this infographic on 15 exercises you can do at your desk. I’m still using the standing desk I rigged up last month but I do alternate between standing and sitting (as the day wears on, my legs get too tired of standing) so this is a handy infographic to have around.

These are the tweets I’ve pulled from my haphazard Twitter files for this week. Want to follow me on Twitter? I’m @msbookish!

{Links} The Haphazard Twitter Files (No. 5)

Yes, I’ve been tweeting away as usual. I can’t seem to help it – every time I come across an interesting link, I’ll generally flip it into one of my Flipboard magazines, tweet it, or send it over to Google+. Sometimes I do all three!

Unlike my last Haphazard Twitter Files post, I won’t post every link I tweeted in the past two weeks – that would be chaos!  Instead, here are seven interesting links culled from my Twitter feed from the past two weeks.

  1. I loved, loved, loved this post on how a 365 photo project makes you a better writer. I’ve been thinking about a photo a day, mainly because I think it will help me be more present and aware when I’m out and about. I have a tendency to walk around with only my end destination in mind, and I know I miss a lot of interesting things along the way. In this post, Marisa Goudy makes a great case for how embarking on a 365-day photo project can make you a better writer. Once I get out from under the current mountain of deadlines, I’m definitely going to give it a try.
  2. We discovered Duolingo a while back, a wnoderful free app available for both Android and IOS systems that helps you learn a new language. Dylan’s been using it to learn French, and seeing him use it has sparked my own interest in learning a new language. Or brush up on my French. These ten tips for learning a language should come in handy.
  3. I’ve kept a commonplace book in the past, and Shawn Blanc’s idea of developing your own core curriculum has made me want to start keeping one again, focused on “things that speak truth to who we are, who we want to be, and what we want to do”.
  4. Chocolate ravioli! Need I say more?
  5. Even in this digital age, I still love writing things down by hand. So it was good to see that writing by hand can help out our brains. (I just wish I had neater handwriting! I’m fine when I’m going slowly, but once I start writing at a faster clip, sometimes even I don’t know what I’ve written on a reread!).
  6. This tongue-in-cheek article on how to be the best book club member you know had me smiling – and wishing I did belong to a IRL book club!
  7. I’m trying hard to shake the habit of worrying too much – it’s a lot of energy to spend on things that probably won’t happen, right? Some of these seven surprising things that can help you stop worrying did surprise me – especially the grapefruit! I’ll have to test these out to see if they really do work.

Don’t you just love all the stuff you find online?

From the Haphazard Twitter Files of (No. 4)

Recently I was doing some digital cleanup, and I discovered I’d set up an IFTTT recipe last year that sent every tweet I made, excluding @replies, to a spreadsheet in Google Drive.

And then I remembered why I’d done this.

You see, way back in 2009 (yes, 2009!!), I’d started a new feature here on the blog: From the Haphazard Twitter Files of The point of the feature was to post all the links I’d tweeted in the past week. I published the first edition of the feature on May 29, 2009, the second edition on February 16, 2010 and the third edition on March 1, 2010. And then … I kind of stopped.

But in May of 2014, I must have thought about reviving this feature, because that’s when I set up the IFTTT recipe. I know this because the first entry in the spreadsheet is dated May 17, 2014. And then I kind of forgot about The Haphazard Twitter Files again. Until I realized I had the IFTTT recipe running all this time.

So I thought, since I’ve been recording this data anyway, I might as well do what I’d been thinking about doing last year, and start posting this feature again. Yes, it’s definitely taken me a while, but here it is. Welcome to the Haphazard Twitter Files of!

Here are the links I tweeted this week, from January 9 to January 15, not including links to my own stuff here on the blog or on Tumblr. (In tweets where I neglected to introduce the link with some words of my own – bad tweeting habit! – I’ve included commentary in brackets after the link.)


Much better than letting everything accumulate in my inbox: The Five Cardinal Rules of Email Productivity


I’m going to try this! The New Habit Challenge: Optimize Your Sleep For More Creative Thinking

A wonderful read: 6 Ways Your Brain Tries To Kill Your Ideas And How To Fight Them #creativity

Starting the Creative Life Afresh (a great read on coming back to a creative life)

Writing and Journaling

Seven Tips from Edgar Allan Poe on How to Write Vivid Stories and Poems #amwriting

I really like this idea of a Snippets Journal! The Snippets Journal Begins #artjournal #journaling

Noteworthy Authors Writing Longhand #amwriting

Great read on collecting papers for your journal What About All of That Paper? #journaling

Bookish Things

Yes. Long live the ebook – it’s a champion of the printed word

Cressida Cowell is fired up by the joy of words (an interview with author Cressida Cowell)

Big list of 2015 releases: Mind-Blowing Science Fiction And Fantasy Books To Watch Out For In 2015

RT @florinda_3rs: All hail your new time-waster, via @TheMarySue “The Princess Bride Is Now a Mobile Game, as You Wish(ed)”

This looks like an interesting app: E-reading app Addr: when annotation’s what you need…

:) 27 Hilarious Literary Corrections That Will Ruin Your Trust In The Media (very funny, some of these!)

Harry Potter: new edition, new look for Ron, Hagrid, Hermione and Malfoy (can we say, booklust?)

Words From the Past Illuminate a Station on the Way to Freedom  (about the notebook of abolistionist editor Sydney Howard Gay labeled Record of Fugitives and other documents author Eric Foner used as research for his book Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad)

Spirit and Mindfulness

Love this: Thriving Is All About Enjoying the Process Purposefully

Frédéric Gros: why going for a walk is the best way to free your mind (I put his book on my TBR)

Small things do make a difference! 8 Scientifically-Backed Ways That You Can Choose To Be Happy


A perfect way to start the year! The War of Art #Giveaway

Great giveaway at TIF TALKS BOOKS! GIVEAWAY: Candlewick Top Picks (chance to win a 6-pack of YA books from Candlewick)

(Update: Jill at Rhapsody in Books is also offering the same great giveaway so if you want a second chance to win a six-pack of YA  books from Candlewick, click here – I just tweeted it today, but her giveaway will end before my next Haphazard Twitter Files post, so I wanted to add it to this one.)

Hmmm. It looks like I’ve been quite busy on Twitter lately! And if I’m going to start posting this feature regularly, I’d better start remembering to consistently add commentary when I tweet a link …

By the way, click here to follow me on Twitter if you’re not and would like to. And if you’re interested in setting up an IFTTT recipe to send your tweets to a spreadsheet on Google Drive, this is the one I’ve been using – but I see that it sends ALL my tweets to my spreadsheet, excluding @replies, so I’m going to give this one a try, as it sends just the tweets that contain links.

Some Thursday Fun: Star Wars on the Subway

I found this video from Improv Everywhere via Meg Cabot’s Twitter feed.  According to their site, Improv Everywhere “causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.”  Isn’t that a great mission statement?

I’m still smiling – hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I would have loved to have been on that subway car … !

From the Haphazard Twitter Files of Ms. Bookish (No. 3)


Dependent upon or characterized by mere chance.”

Well, what do you know? That’s a pretty accurate depiction of how I Twitter!

I never bother to “catch-up” on tweets I’ve missed. I mean, I’d be on Twitter 24/7 if I did that – especially since I pretty much have only one rule when it comes to Twitter. That rule is: follow interesting people. It’s a pretty good rule, if I do say so myself. But it means I end up following an awful lot of people. Because there are a lot of interesting people out there.

So Twitter is very much an of-the-moment thing for me. If the tweet is there when I check in, I get to see it. If not, well, I don’t angst about it, but I don’t see it either.

So this week’s links are all here by mere chance. Definitely haphazard.

Got to love it!

Writing, Reading & Creativity

Other Interesting Stuff

  • Model Coco Rocha speaks out about the ultra young and ultra thin trend in the modeling industry: “I’m a 21 year old model, 6 inches taller and 10 sizes smaller than the average American woman. Yet in another parallel universe I’m considered “fat”…” (via @ETCanada)
  • Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days is such an interesting site! The site is currently not posting any updates (they have a book coming out in 2011) but the archives are filled with some great stuff. (via @anndouglas)
  • Tips to improve your memory! I just knew Soduko would come in handy – and now I have a reason to splurge on blueberries, too. (via @BigBookofYou)

Learning Links and Games

Just Plain Fun

From the Haphazard Twitter Files of Ms. Bookish (No. 2)

twitterimageWelcome to my not-so-regular feature, From the Haphazard Twitter Files of Ms. Bookish (and yes, the title is a tribute to a one of my favorite books, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg).

I recently discovered that the Tweetdeck iPhone app now lets me email tweets to myself without leaving the app – a real time-saver, and ever since I started using it, I’ve accumulated a lot of great links – kind of a method of bookmarking when I’m not on my computer, plus great for writing up this feature (so it might be a more regular one from now on!).

Because, as it turns out, my favorite time for going on Twitter is in the morning, when I’m relaxing with a cup of coffee and not quite ready to get up and start doing things.

I don’t know about you, but I find such great links through Twitter – things that I might never have caught sight of otherwise. I know some people think Twitter is all about tweeting personal, irrelevant stuff (“Just had a bowl of soup for lunch. Yum.”) but it’s not just about personal updates (although yes, I do enjoy a smattering of those, too – it humanizes the whole experience for me). It’s such a great place to find interesting links (of course, much depends on the people you’re following – but on the positive side, you’re fully in charge of that!).

Bookish Links

Writing Links

Other Fun and Interesting Stuff

Are you on Twitter? What do you like best about it? And here’s the link to my Twitter page!

Twitter and Facebook: What’s Your Strategy?

The other day I was emailing a friend of mine about Twitter – he’s new to Twitter and hasn’t been liking it as much as Facebook. I was sending him some ideas I had about how to get more comfortable with Twitter, and I said something about “going broad” with Twitter, as compared to Facebook.

This got me thinking about how people approach these social networking sites.

I’m active both on Facebook and on Twitter, but I’m active in very different ways on each site.

image I keep my Facebook profile fairly private, and my friends list on the small side. Most of the friends in my Facebook account are either real-life friends, or online friends who’ve become good friends. I do have a few people on my friends list I don’t know very well, but very few.

I update my Facebook status with personal things – my thoughts of the day, pictures taken on my iPhone as I go about everyday life, links to funny or inspiring videos I come across … my latest Bejewelled score …

I have a great time on Facebook; it’s where I keep in touch with friends. I laugh a lot when I’m on the site, make comments, click on the “like” button quite often.

My daughter occasionally sends me funny, sweet little Facebook chat messages from her computer, which is a desk away from mine. My son sometimes makes quirky remarks on my wall that make me smile.

I seeimage Twitter, on the other hand, as being more wide open – more like a fabulous cocktail party to which everyone has been invited. I only have one rule of thumb when it comes to following people: I follow anyone I find interesting.

I go to Twitter to discover new links, catch up on the latest news, and chat with an assortment of fun people about lots of different things. I love that I don’t have to be there every day, every hour, every minute. I love that no matter what time of day it is, whenever I pop into Twitter, there’s usually some interesting conversations going on. I love never knowing what new thing I’ll discover through a link in someone’s tweet.

None of this would happen if I didn’t follow a wide assortment of people. So I keep my Twitter outlook broad.

As with Facebook, I have a great time with my Twitter account, but it’s a different kind of fun.

I’ve been wondering whether other people approach these two social media sites the same way I do. I know there are some people with a ton of friends on both Facebook and Twitter; I wonder what their approaches are to each site. Do they share the same things on each site? Are their friends and followers lists made up of the same people?

What do you do? Are you on both Facebook and Twitter? Do you participate frequently or infrequently? What’s your strategy for the best use of these two social networking sites?