Are you interested in investing some time in your writing now that you have some extra time at home on your hands? In the age of the internet, it can feel like an infinite amount of learning is at our fingertips—but something about the vastness of search engine results can make finding the right resource daunting. Luckily, ASU’s own Professor Matt Bell has a new feature on his website where he sends writing exercises right to your inbox. These exercises often make reference to a published piece of fiction and so far have ranged from writing suspense to character development.
To sign up for the writing exercises, and to check out the existing exercises, visit Matt Bell’s website here.
So, we are in our homes. There’s no getting around that. While going outside in the sunshine is great, and I definitely enjoy a long, leisurely afternoon walk, a new free-time inspired exercise regime is unlikely to happen in my world. I much prefer to curl up in a cozy sweater on a soft bank of pillows with a cup of tea and a good book. I don’t often get a chance to do this, as many of us don’t. Our lives are busy, and reading for pleasure can become a luxury which falls by the wayside.
Right now, many of us are being given a moment of pause from the to and fro of our normal lives. While this can be scary and intimidating, it can also be a time for us to reconnect. We have a moment to rediscover those things about which we are passionate. For us bibliophiles and lovers of literature, that is books and anything to do with the books. With many bookstores and libraries closed, the normal venues where we get our fix seem out of reach. To remedy this situation, authors, publishers, and book lovers the world over are uniting to establish a strong online literary community.
Many bookstores are providing curbside and online shopping via web stores or social media. Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix will assemble a custom book care package tailored just for you or someone you love. This is just one of the many offerings being made by local bookstores—so be sure to check your local listings and see what’s available near you. Although live, in-person events have been canceled or postponed, book tours and public literary lectures are being moved to web-based platforms for home viewing. Libraries and online magazines are offering their archives for free. A simple web search will bring you hundreds of resources, at your fingertips, for your reading pleasure. Use this time of interlude and rekindle your fire for the written word! Here are a few links to get you started:
https://www.quarantinebookclub.com/ – The Quarantine Book Club is a Zoom-based platform which hosts weekly author events. Their tag-line, “You’re stuck at home. Chat with an author,” pretty much sums up how it works. In the meetings, authors discuss their work and answer audience questions.
http://www.gutenberg.org/ – Project Gutenberg is an online library with over 60,000 books in a wide-range of subjects. These books are free for download or online viewing.
https://electricliterature.com/ – Electric Literature is a nonprofit digital publisher whose website contains essays, criticism, and literary news. Along with this content, Electric Lit’s digital magazines, Recommended Reading and The Commuter offer short stories, novel excerpts, poetry, flash fiction, and graphic narrative.
For the Kids
https://www.storylineonline.net/ – Storyline Online is a streaming platform which hosts celebrity actors reading children’s books aloud alongside colorful illustrations. Readers such as Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, James Earl Jones, and Betty White bring children’s stories to life. The site also offers supplemental educational curriculum developed by educators with each book.
https://www.weareteachers.com/virtual-author-activities/ – We Are Teachers virtual community has gathered its “Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read-Alouds & Activities” here. Many of these events are available via social media, and accessible using your smartphone or other mobile device.
The Kennedy Center Artist-In-Residence, Mo Willems, welcomes readers, writers, artists, and creative people everywhere to join him for Lunch Doodles. This fun series is being hosted online by The Kennedy Center daily at 1:00 pm Eastern Time. In these sessions, Willems uses his doodles to teach artists of all levels how to get creative with written and visual art. Each day, Willems is providing new inspiration and fun ideas to keep our creative sides busy while we keep our bodies healthy.
Don’t worry if you can’t be there for the 1:00 pm live stream, each session is recorded and can be found on The Kennedy Center website or on YouTube for free streaming! Go join Willems on his journey to spread the joy of art in its simplest form: doodling.
For more information about this series, click here.
It’s likely that your daily life has been affected by the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. News sources and social media are constantly being inundated with updates on cases, school closures, and panic buying. Amidst the chaos, it’s important to help one another in these tremulous times.
While everyone’s lives are being affected by this pandemic, some suffer more than others. Across the U.S., millions of children depend on schools to provide them not only to learn, but also to eat. In light of nationwide school closures, Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams have teamed up with Save the Children and No Kid Hungry to create #savewithstories. Celebrities across the nation are reading children’s stories through Instagram and Facebook, as well as collecting donations to ensure that school and community programs are well-equipped to keep kids fed and learning.
For more information about this program, and to donate, click here, and be sure to follow this initiative on Instagram at @savewithstories.
The Tucson Festival of Books takes place next Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This event includes panels from over 350 visiting authors, as well as countless activities and performances. If you are interested in attending but want to avoid a cumbersome drive, Changing Hands Bookstore is offering a bus ride to the festival on Saturday, March 14!
Tickets can be purchased any time from March 1–14 for $65 per person. Those looking to attend this event should arrive at either Changing Hand’s Phoenix location at 6:45 a.m. or the Tempe location at 7:15 a.m. Tickets also include a continental breakfast, coffee, water, and a goodie bag with advanced reader copies of books! Participants will arrive in time for the festival’s opening and will be able to spend the day as they please, reconvening with the bookstore group at 5:45 p.m.
For more information about this event, and to purchase tickets, click here, and to learn more about the Tucson Festival of Books, click here.
Guest speaker Professor Ruben Espinosa is coming from El Paso to ASU! He will speak about the intersection of Shakespeare and Latinx culture in film, media, fiction, and social networks.
Using border epistemologies to analyze the significant literary legacy for Latinxs, Espinosa will discuss the value of recognizing the influence of the underrepresented Latinx perspectives in the ongoing study of Shakespeare.
You won’t want to miss this free, public, thought-provoking talk!
Ruben Espinosa, an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Shakespeare Association of America and is co-editor of “Shakespeare and Immigration.”
Are you interested in getting published in a literary magazine? Are you looking for information about what editors are looking to publish? Head over to Desert Nights, Rising Stars Literary Fair for more information!
From 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. on February 22, editors from Superstition Review and Hayden’s Ferry Review (two ASU-based literary organizations) will provide helpful tips about submitting to literary journals. Editors in attendance include Rachel Hagerman (The Spellbinding Shelf‘s very own editor-in-chief!), Tess Prendergast, Lucas Selby, and Scott Daughtridge DeMer. They will share advice about contributing to the publishing world, and will also be available for questions and an individual follow-up at the conclusion of the panel.
For more information about this event, and to RSVP, click here.
Location: Front Lawn, Old Main, Arizona State University, 400 E. Tyler Mall, Tempe
Join Changing Hands Phoenix on Thursday, February 6 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. to learn about all the ways to write a love letter.
No one love letter looks the same—just as no one love looks the same either! Sit down with a drink from the First Draft Book Bar (which will offer extended Happy Hour prices to those who attend!) to learn from Amy Siverman and Deborah Sussman about how to write the perfect limerick, poem, or even prose letter to someone you adore.
Keep in mind this is a class, so you must register to attend. Here, I’ve linked more information, as well as where to register for the class. Don’t miss this—February is the month of love after all!
Are you a student writer at Arizona State University who is seeking out a small, but growing, community of writers who are as passionate about writing as you are? A place devoted to helping you further your craft and generate ideas? Then look no further than The Sun Devil’s Writing Network, an online creative writing workshop that meets online using Zoom on the second and fourth Monday of every month. The Sun Devil’s Writing Network seeks to develop member’s craft through peer review, honing their eye as critical readers, and fostering a sense of community.
Date: The 2nd and 4th Monday of every month, starting January 27th Time: 3:00-4:30 p.m. Location: Online using Zoom meeting code 802-685-7310 or by clicking this link. Cost: Free
For more information about the Sun Devil’s Writing Network, click here.
Each year, Arizona’s Maricopa County Library District kicks off the summer with a reading program designed to encourage literacy in young students with reading challenges and prizes.
This winter, the library district has created its very own reading program just for adults! Targeted at helping foster a lifelong habit of reading daily, the library challenges adults to log at least 20 minutes of reading daily through February 16.
By meeting reading goals and logging reading time online, adult readers can earn points, unlock badges, and win prizes. And, if you log at least 60 minutes each week , you have a chance to win an awesome weekly prize. Or, if you log at least 500 minutes before February 16, you have a chance to win tickets and a suite for a Spring Training game at Camelback Ranch-Glendale or a Maricopa County Parks Annual Day-Use Pass.
The reading program also offers a selection of unique reading challenges to earn reading points, like the Audiobook challenge, Books to Film in 2020 challenge, and the New Year, “New” Book Challenge.
To register for the reading program, visit your local Maricopa County Library, or click here.