1. Using Snaptell, iPhone users can take a picture of the cover of a book—with the phone’s built-in camera, of course—and retrieve reviews, descriptions, and links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, YouTube, and other relevant sites. The app also works in connection with the iPhone’s Google Maps function to locate nearby bookstores that carry the book (or CD, DVD, or video game, depending on your preference). For bargain hunters and compulsive shoppers alike, Snaptell is a nifty tool if you find yourself at a party coveting your friend’s library and want to buy a copy of one of those books for yourself. (www.snaptell.com/apps)
2. Weird Deer no doubt qualifies as one of those incredibly simple ideas that never cease to be intriguing. Here’s what you do: Call (206) 569-5451, wait for the beep, read your poem or story or thought or essay or what have you in three minutes or less, hang up, e-mail the title of the aforementioned work and your name to nichols.travis@gmail .com, and wait to see if your mp3 file is posted on the Web site. In the meantime, listen for free to those that have been. (weirddeermedia.com)
3. The literary arts center Beyond Baroque in Venice, California, hosts a weekly schedule of free workshops, including classes in fiction on Monday nights, creative nonfiction on Tuesday nights, and poetry on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. (www .beyondbaroque.org) To find organizations offering similar programs near you, search online, contact your local librarian, check with the creative writing or English department of a local college or university, and browse in the resources section of a good bookstore.