Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Letter Writing is NOT Dead or Lost!

In working on this blog, I'm always on the lookout for stories about letter writing and "snail mail." Too frequently, the stories I come across have headlines such as "Snail Mail is Dead!" or "The Lost Art of Letter Writing."

Well, I hate to disappoint those writers of dramatic headlines, but letter writing is not dead or lost!

Of course, with all of the different forms of communication available today — phones, email, texting, video chatting, Twitter, Facebook, etc., — people are writing fewer letters. We are reminded about how few letters people send nowadays with every news story about the postal service.

But, still, there are many people worldwide who still write letters! The Letter Writers Alliance has more than 4,000 members, many of whom are signed up for the penpal service. has more than 600 people registered who just enjoy sending and receiving things in the mail. Postcrossing has almost 500,000 members worldwide who have sent/received a total of 25,149,931 postcards. According to the Postcrossing website, that's an average of 1,222 postcards an hour. Snail mail is not dead!

There are dozens of blogs and websites dedicated to letter writing and/or all of the things that go along with snail mail...stationery, pens, inks, etc. There are Facebook pages and Twitter trends and Pinterest boards all dedicated to letter writing.

If you write letters, write more and let the world know about through whatever means you have available (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.). If you haven't started writing letters yet, get to writing! 

(Photo of all that mail courtesy of the Newsroom)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Snail Mailing

I just love coming across new blogs — or blogs that are new to me — that are about letter writing, snail mail, mail art or other such topics. Sometimes they offer information on how to write a letter. Others focus on their incoming and outgoing mail.

Today, I found two "new" blogs. Naomi's blog is about much more than correspondence, but she does have a link on the right side of her page to all of her snail mail posts. The most recent post features a list of letter writing-related things online. More things to explore! She even has a novel titled "Airmail"!

Over at Snail Mail Lady, Christine displays several of the notecards she makes. Christine's profile IDs her as a rural mail carrier in Wisconsin. She creates some nice cards!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Handwritten Letter to go on Auction Block

According to an article on the Daily Mail's website, a letter written by Lord Horatio Nelson in 1795 will go on the auction block next month. (Ignore the MailOnline bullet-point that says the letter was written in 1975. That's just a typo. Lord Nelson died in 1805.)

The letter is interesting — and maybe worth more — because it was written by Lord Nelson with his right hand two years before he lost his arm in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

According to the article, the letter will be auctioned by Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers on Sept. 27 and is expected to bring bids as high as £10,000 (almost $17,000, US).

You can also read more about Lord Nelson and some of his other letters on the BBC website.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Write a letter today!
As the daily news reminds us over and over again, we have but a brief time on this earth to do what we're going to do. Let's not waste it by putting off what we really want to do. Spend your time wisely and happily.

Don't hesitate to write that letter today. Write more than one. Write another one tomorrow. Connect with people you haven't seen for a while. Tell them how much they mean to you. Make plans to get together.

No, a letter won't cure someone's depression or fix everyone's problems, but you have a better chance of helping someone who needs help, even if it's yourself, if you do something rather than nothing. Reach out.

Let go of the excuses.

No stationery? Write on any scrap of paper you can find, the back of a sales flyer, a paper grocery bag. There's paper all around.

No envelope? You don't have to have one. Fold your writing paper into a homemade fold-a-note; write the letter on the inside and the address on the outside. If you can, tape it closed.

No postcard? Cut the front off that box of PopTarts you had for breakfast and scribble a note on the back of it, leaving room for the address or taping the address to the front.

No stamp? Scrounge up 49 cents and buy one at your nearest post office. (It only costs 34 cents to mail a postcard in the US. Note: postcards must be no smaller than 3.5 by 5 inches and no larger than 4.25 by 6 inches for that price.) If you can't find 34 or 49 cents, hand-deliver the letter.

No one to write to? Write to a family member or an old friend. Write to your neighbor. Write to a soldier. Write to a stranger and leave the letter on a park bench or a bus seat. Sign up for Postcrossing or some other letter writing project. Browse through some of the posts on this blog for places to find penpals. I've written on the topic several times.

Don't wait. Write a letter today!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Letter Writing Topics

Are you interested in writing more letters but sometimes don't know what to write about? That can especially be an issue if you're writing to a new penpal you don't know very well or are participating in a mail art swap or postcard project. What do you have to write about to someone you don't know?

A fun way of finding something to write about is to look up "fun holidays" on the Internet. Of course, they're not official holidays, most of the time, and they are often silly. But, such celebrations can spark an idea for a letter.

For example, Wednesday, Aug. 13, is Left Handers Day, an observance first celebrated by the Left Handers Club in 1992. Write a letter about whether you are left-handed or right-handed or ambidextrous. If that's not interesting enough, then take the general idea and expand on it. Are you different than most of the people around you? (Only about 13 percent of the population is left-handed.) How so? How do you deal with it?

Then, on Aug. 14, those who love the flavor combination of orange and vanilla will be celebrating National Creamsicle Day. Write a letter about your favorite frozen summer treat. Do you like Creamsicles? How about ice cream sandwiches or snow cones?

For a holiday with a little more of a serious tone to it, Saturday, Aug. 16, will be National Honey Bee Day. The theme for this year's observation is "Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees." Do you have something to write about that topic?

A quick search online will provide you with more information on these topics, if you need or want it. But, often just the idea is enough to get you going on a letter. Once you get into writing the letter, just let your natural conversational style take over and write as if you're talking to an old friend.

Happy letter writing!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Snail Mail Project

Kate blogs at Day Old Sushi, and she's been writing letters lately. You can read about her project on the blog and see her favorite mail art ideas on her Pinterest board. On her blog, she says she's specifically looking for fun snail mail ideas. Drop by and leave her a comment when you get a chance.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New US Stamps Salute Farmers

These new Farmers Market stamps are gorgeous! I can't wait to buy some!

In a ceremony today at the FRESHFARM Market by the White House, the U.S. Postal Service issued the four colorful stamps saluting America’s farmers markets.

“For years the Postal Service has celebrated — through the power of stamps — America’s
agricultural abundance,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, according to a news release on the USPS website. “Postage stamps have depicted fruit, flowers, corn and a bread wagon. Today, we’re celebrating farmers markets, which are a popular and communal pastime for many Americans, with the issuance of these four beautiful stamps.”

USPS art director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Va., designed the first-class Forever stamps, which were illustrated by Robin Moline of Lakeland, Minn. The design isn't just for stamps — Notecards, a framed art display and a variety of philatelic items are also available.

Visit the USPS website today to order your fill of the Farmers Market stamps and related items.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' book by Nina Sankovitch

Earlier this year, the publishing house Simon and Schuster released "Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing" by Nina Sankovitch.

If you've fallen behind in your correspondence, this book will inspire you to rush right to your desk, pull out your stationery and favorite pen and write a letter immediately. If you already write letters on a regular basis, Sankovitch's story will validate your constant scribbling.

The nonfiction book was inspired by an old trunk full of letters discovered in the backyard shed of the house she and her husband had just bought. The home's previous owners didn't want the contents of the trunk and told Sankovitch she could keep the letters.

It took her almost a year to read through the letters that had been written in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the letters were written by James Seligman to his mother, and Sankovitch got to know him through the letters.

But, the author's experience reading the correspondence of people she never knew is only part of the book. From there, she goes on to explore, in depth, what letters can mean.

For example, she writes about her older sister Anne-Marie, who died from cancer when Sankovitch's children were young. Over the years, Sankovitch had kept all of the letters her sister had written to her, and now she says about those letters:
" is the written words she left me, postcards and birthday cards and letters exchanged over my forty-plus years of being her sister, that allow me to hold in my hand the very substance of who she was, to me and with me. To touch: I can hold my sister still, in a very real and lovely and lasting way."

About letters from her son, away at college, she says, "A letter brings him home again."

Throughout the book, Sankovitch discusses many letters written by people through history, and often she reflects on the letters, comparing them to events in her own life. She wonders, for example, if she should offer advice to her son in her letters, as poet W.B. Yeats advised his daughter as she grew up.

From the letters in the trunks to the published letters of famous authors, Sankovitch explores how much we can learn about people through their letters. As in life, some of the chapters cover the topic of love, including some of the more racy letters that people sometimes write, as well as the other emotions that can be conveyed via the hand-written word.

If you'd like to see a video of Nina Sankovitch talking about the book, visit the Simon and Schuster page for "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and scroll down. Click on the link for the video "Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing."

You can also purchase a copy of the book on that site.

It's a great book that will be thoroughly enjoyed by letter writers and letter readers alike.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Address Book in the 365 Letters Etsy Shop

Several weeks ago, I finished designing the address book I've been dreaming about for years, and now it's available in the 365 Letters Etsy shop. You can read all the details on the Address Book page of this blog and in the Etsy shop.

It's available in two versions, the standard address book and the customized address book that lets you tell me exactly how many address/name spaces you need for each letter of the alphabet.

Happy letter writing!

Yes, You Can Change Things with a Letter

I'm sure 7-year-old Charlotte Benjamin had high hopes that by writing a letter to the Lego company she could convince them to make more girl Legos that go on adventures instead of just going to the beach and shopping. Thanks to the Internet, Charlotte's letter garnered lots of attention, and now the Lego company has introduced a new set of Legos featuring female scientists in a lab that includes a telescope, dinosaur model and chemistry lab.

Yea! Not only did Charlotte help encourage more positive role models for girls, but she also showed the world how powerful a hand-written letter can be!

Is there something you need to write a letter about today? Write it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to School Letters

(Clipart courtesy of Webweaver's Free Clipart)
For most American children, back-to-school time is quickly approaching. Many kids will be experiencing the first day of the 2014-15 school year in the next few weeks.

This is a great time to write a letter! If you're an adult who has already finished your schooling, you can write to a school child about your favorite first-day-of-school memory, maybe talk about some of the supplies you had to have and how that's changed through the years.

If you're still in school, write about what you're looking forward to, as well as what you're dreading, this year. Try to keep the letter upbeat, especially if you're writing to a fellow student. This is a good opportunity to get the school year off to a good start!

Happy letter writing!

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