A Message from Your Admins re: the future of LetterMo.com

Open envelope with a letter inside

We like getting letters. We like sending letters. And we really like the community here on LetterMo.com

And, we bet that if you found yourself here, you like doing those things, too.

But here’s the thing, maintaining the LetterMo.com website is not without cost. Both in time and actual, fiscal cost.

And so we, the current Admins of LetterMo, are considering what the future of this fine project looks like, and what kind of help we need to get there.

TL;DR: In order to keep the LetterMo.com site alive, we need support in both time and money. If we don’t get the support, LetterMo may continue, but in a different, yet to be determined, format.

(jump to So, How do I Help?)

What we have now

LetterMo.com is a WordPress site on a WPEngine server. It incorporates plug-ins for tracking participants, forums, and allowing friendships to happen within the site. It also has some “members only” areas, and a few “open to the public” pages.

We also currently have two Facebook groups – A Month of Letters – Lettermo Members Chat Group, and A Month of Letters Challenge 2023 where participants can chill with other participants.

A group of volunteers dedicated to updating the site to reflect the new year, moderate the forums, and the FB groups. The leadership team is also developing and will implement a plan to ensure the longevity of LetterMo.

What we’d like to happen

We’d love for the LetterMo.com site to continue on, to be updated for each year, to allow engaging conversations in the forum, and to continue allowing folks to find pen pals via the site. We’d love to have a presence on other platforms as well (such as Facebook), where participants can engage.

This is, of course, the dream, along with introducing improvements to the site, etc. etc.

However, we are at the point where we need to ask for help. In order to keep the lights on here at LetterMo.com, we must rely on the generosity of the community, not only in a financial sense (to pay for web hosting, domain name registration, etc.), but also in time. We need folks who can commit to helping test any updates we make, or even make updates to the page. Who are willing to serve as moderators, or as part of the admin team.

What we need to get there

In order to provide the site as it exists we have identified the following needs:

  • Funds to cover the costs of web hosting, security, domain name, etc. for the site
    • OR
  • Options for a free or lower cost web hosting solution
  • Volunteers to help as moderators
  • Volunteers to be on the Admin board
  • Volunteers to update and maintain the WordPress page
  • Volunteers to moderate the Facebook groups and other social media platforms
  • Volunteers to maintain the downloads to reflect each new year

If we don’t meet our goals

If we are unable to get the support we need, it is probable that this site will die a quite death prior to next February.

We are looking at other options to keep the Month of Letters alive, such as participation through established platforms, like Facebook, Discord, or Slack. However this may require participants to download / install / learn an entirely new platform, and is not ideal.

So, how do I help?

Tell us about your first pen pal

A Collaborative Blog Post

Olga, from NSW Australia, was my first pen friend. I met her through the pen pal exchange at the New York World’s Fair in
1964, and we corresponded for a few years, both of us using aerogrammes. As I recall, we both loved dogs, and would write
about our own and others we knew. Our main bond, though, was Peter O’Toole, courtesy of “Lawrence of Arabia.” Those blue
eyes! That intelligence! That story(which I know now was highly … shaded …)! I’m sorry we lost touch after 3 years or so, but I
think of her often.

(2nd pen pal, not as much, because all she ever seemed to write was “it’s raining in Tavistock” … )

Melanie W


My first pen pal was a friend I met on a holiday trip. We were crying so hard on our last day that our parents exchanged addresses and we started writing each other for 10 years.
I still think of her sometimes.

Fabi


Girl writing a letter

It was in first or second grade when our class had a partner class (like a sister-city) in the UK. I am a bit fuzzy on the details, honestly. We each received a letter from a student at that school, distributed from our teacher. All them them had a generic “hello” since pairs weren’t assigned until the letters arrived to Florida. I wrote back the boy who was assigned to me.

And yeah, that’s it. I guess my first real exchange of letters beyond that first awkward “Hi, this is who I am” was in High School, when a friend who attended a different school told me about a boy she thought I’d like. She acted as a go-between and we passed notes across town to each other that way. I have a few gifts from when he went on vacation in Europe. I never actually met him, despite living in the same city, but I have fond memories.

Christy S.

Want to submit for a collaborative blog post?

Next topic is: Cursive, print or typed? Why? 

Due February 5

Reasons to Write – 2023

Need a reason to write? Check out these official and unofficial observances:

January

Jan 3 — National Write to Congress Day

Jan 8-14 — Universal Letter Writing Week

Jan 8 — World Typing Day

Jan 23 — National Handwriting Day

February

Month of Letters / InCoWriMo

Feb 4 — National Thank a Mail Carrier Day

Feb 7 — National Send a Card to a Friend Day

Feb 26 — Letter to an Elder Day

March

Mar 1-7 — National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week

Mar 5-11 — Words Matter Week

April

National Card and Letter Writing Month

Apr 1 — National Handmade Day

Apr 26 — World Stationary Day

May

May 1-7 — National Postcard Week

May 14 — Mother’s Day

June

June 1 — National Penpal Day

June 8 — National Best Friends Day

June 18 — Father’s Day

July

July 1 — National Postal Workers Day

July 1 — National U.S. Postage Stamp Day

July 26 — National Aunt & Uncle’s Day

August

Aug 7 — National Friendship Day

Aug 16 — World Calligraphy Day

September

Sept 1 — World Letter Writing Day

Sept 10 —- Grandparents’ Day

October

Oct 1-7 — International Postcard Week

Oct 1 — World Postcard Day

Oct 9 — World Post Day

Oct 21 — Everyone Writes Day, UK

November

Nov 3 — Fountain Pen Day

Nov 5-11 — Dear Santa Letter Week

December

Dec 7 — National Letter Writing Day

Dec 26 — National Thank-You Note Day

Welcome to LetterMo 2023

Dateline: February 1st around the world and the start of LetterMo!

Thank you to all who have registered to join our community of letter writers – newbies and long term LetterMoians.

  • Remember that you need to log in to the members only forums
  • For the newbies and a refresher for those returning, look for the START HERE thread in the forums
  • Say hello in the Introduction thread
  • Remember to write your return address in your letter in case the envelope gets separated from the envelope
  • Record your new penpal addresses in a separate location other than on the website.
  • Write back to everyone you receive a letter from.

LetterMo embraces the spirit of letter writing. We encourage you to do your best and what fits with your life – and adjust accordingly when life happens. If you miss a day, write two the next or make your goal for a total number of letters if you’re unable to write everyday. If you can’t get out to the post box or you live in a rural area without regular pickup, adjust your goal for a total number and get your letters out as soon as you are able.

A special thanks to all the volunteer administrators who do so much work behind the scenes – from the website to the Facebook groups – who make this wonderful snail mail project possible.

Happy letter writing and have FUN!

What tip or trick do you have for those new to letter writing?

A Collaborative Blog Post

Welcome to the first day of Month of Letters 2023. Here are some tips from our members to help you get started.

Find a simple way to keep up with the letters that come in. For example, when a letter comes in, I like to read it right away. If there are any “goodies,” I won’t take them out until I reply to the letter. The letter, back in the envelope, then goes on a small (or larger) pile that is rubber banded together the the order they are received. When I’m ready to reply, I take the oldest letter first.

It is helpful to have a basket or bag to have favorite pens, stationary, stickers or other goodies, stamps, and envelopes or whatever you need so you don’t need to go searching for writing supplies.

Kris R.


“Just sit down and think about a different setting when you’re writing to someone. Like…what would you tell that person when you first meet them in a coffee shop? Or what would you share about your surroundings if they were blind? I love to just sit down and sip my coffee while writing whatever comes to my mind.” – Fabi


Here are my tips/tricks to those new to letter writing:

  1. Have a designated space/area that brings you joy when you write.
  2. Store all of your letter writing items, i.e., pens; washi tapes; envelopes; postage stamps; stationery, etc., in a nice storage container that will make you smile; easy to find and easy to keep organized.
  3. I tend to write how I speak, meaning, a long letter, 2 or more pages. I view letter writing as a conversation, with the only difference being that we’re not face to face.
  4. Don’t expect an immediate response and don’t be surprised to not receive one at all. If that should happen, please allow grace and do not send a letter that hints along the lines of, “I wrote you and you didn’t write back.” I wrote someone and they responded a year later. They explained the delay, but for me, the joy was to find a letter in my mail box.
  5. Remember that the purpose in letter writing is to make someone’s day and perhaps yours as well.

ILove2Write


Find a place that you enjoy where you can sit and write. A peaceful place, a relaxing place. Mine is my kitchen table or my couch. I also have a writing container that has my pens, my stickers, my stationery and just plain old paper so I just grab it and go to my writing place and it’s ready to go. It also has envelopes and a variety of stamps and seasonal address labels so that everything is there and my letters can be written and addressed and sent easily.

Alaina


Want to submit for a collaborative blog post?

Next topic is: Tell Us About Your First Pen Pal

Due Feb. 3

Countdown to LetterMo 2023

Keep calm and countdown to LetterMo!

It’s hard to believe that it is already February tomorrow! Are you ready? Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Postage stamps  – Did you know? You can pick them up in more places than just the post office. Supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores. They may not be the fanciest ones, but at least your letters can be sent out. (Just check on the rates for domestic or international). You can order your stamps online too.
  • Pens and Ink – while we love a good fountain pen or gel pan, there’s nothing wrong with using a good ol’ ballpoint, even if you, ahem, picked it up from the dentist office (and we love a typewritten letter too).
  • Stationery – again, it doesn’t have to be fancy! Lined notebook paper or a page from your sketchbook. You can make envelopes (here’s a tutorial, or simply take apart one and trace) and some countries have pre-stamped envelopes.
  • Postcards – easy to write a short note; some countries have pre-stamped postcards that can be sent anywhere in the world.
  • Washi and stickers – fun and nice, but not necessary.

The letter writing community is lucky to kickstart the year by having two different programs during the month of February. Why February? It’s the shortest month of the year and often not the best weather, so letter writing is a great way to pass the time while staying cozy indoors.

So what are the two different programs? A Month of Letters, or as we call it LetterMo around here, was started by writer Mary Robinette Kowal who took a month break from the internet. International Correspondence Writing Month or InCoWriMo, is an obvious nod to NaNoWriMo for the inspiration to write every day.

So what are the differences between #LetterMo and #InCoWriMo? See the chart below.

You can see there are various elements of LetterMo that require a team of dedicated volunteers who run things behind the scenes. It is a strong community built over the years that welcomes newcomers each year and shares their knowledge of the program and love of mail.

You may wonder, do people participate in both? There are definitely people who do the crossover as well as write and send out more than one letter a day! If you want to see some of the mail that is sent out, visit our Instagram profile and check out our stories – #LetterMo2023.  Tag us if you want to share and we may repost! 

With people around the world discovering or rediscovering the joy of the written word received by post, we hope letter writing will no longer be classified as a “lost art” but more of a revival.

If you’re stuck for what to write about, check out the calendar of occasions below!

Let us know in the comments where you can get stamps other than the post office in your country, especially outside of North America or UK. 

Are you ready? Come join the fun – sign up today! See you in the forums!

Why Write Letters?

People sometimes ask me, Noony, why should I write letters? After all, there are plenty of alternatives to communicating in everyday life – cell phones, texting, social media, slack, discus, websites… I could go on.

I hear that, I do; but I STILL like to write letters and encourage others to do so. Here are a few reasons:

1. It helps us de-stress. By taking all the mental clutter and influx of daily information and putting it on hold by sitting down with a pen and piece of paper, we are literally allowing our brains to calm down. We can write about one thought until we’re done, then another thought, without interruption and dings from our media. (In fact, put your phone on airplane mode while you’re writing letters so that you don’t get interrupted.)

Feather pin with ink pot, resting on a sheet of paper with a letter written on it.

2. It brings a smile to other peoples’ faces. After all, what do we usually get in the mail? Bills and junk mail, bills and junk mail, and did I mention all the bills and junk mail? I even get mail from a window company that’s already told me they can’t install windows in my type of home. But they STILL send me stuff in the mail! When I get something fun, be it a postcard or an envelope, I get excited.

3. You can make friends without all the pressure that we put on ourselves in day to day life. I’ve met young folx, older folx, folx like me and folx very different from me. I’ve made connections here in my own back yard to clear across the globe. It makes the world smaller and reminds us that we’re all in this together.

4. You can learn about other places and people. This is true whether we are writing in a grammar school class or if we’re retired and just having fun connecting with other human beings.

Two children sitting on a blanket outdoors, each reading a letter.

5. It’s good exercise. It lets us use our fine motor skills in our hands and arms as we form words on the page.

6. It can inspire us to make art, doodle, and create unusual letters for our pen friends.

7. It can serve as a distraction from stressful times. When we’re focused on a challenge like Lettermo, we’re doing something positive. We’re putting that positive energy out into the world. It becomes about connecting, and not about “being right,” or “getting things done,” or any of a hundred other ways we create mental clutter.

cluttered mind

8. It can focus our thoughts. When we have to slow down and compose ourselves on paper, we might surprise ourselves. I didn’t realize I thought that, we might think. Or we might realize we very much thought that, and we knew we thought that, and we’re very passionate about that thank you very much.

9. It can be a way to bring solace to others. Sending thank you notes is a lovely habit to get into – and we’re learning more and more about brain science and gratitude, and its uplifting affect on mental health. Writing letters can, quite literally, be good for your brain!

10. And last but not least, I write letters because I enjoy it. And “because I like it” is a perfectly fine reason for doing something.

Write on!

Contribute to a Collaborative Blog Post

Want to contribute, but don’t want to commit to an entire blog post? This year we will be doing Collaborative Blog Posts (why yes, that’s a thing I just came up with).

I’ve come up with some prompts around LetterMo. The idea is that participants can pick one or more prompt, and answer it. We’ll take everyone’s contributions and compile them into a blog post.

Have a different idea, or more to say? Check out the Blog Post Idea form.

Prompts

Prompt Submit By 12pm GMT:
What tip or trick to you have for those new to writing letters? Jan. 31
Tell us about your first pen pal. Feb. 3
Cursive, print, or typed? Why? Feb. 5
Tell us about the pen pal who is farthest away from you, geographically. Feb. 8
Where is your favorite place to write letters? To read them? Feb. 11
Tell us about a letter you received / sent that has special meaning to you. Feb. 13
How do you personalize your letters? Feb. 16
Describe your ideal pen pal. Feb. 18
Why do you write letters or postcards? Feb. 21
What is the most interesting thing you’ve received/ sent via the mail? Feb. 23
What stories have you seen / read / heard that include letter-writing as an essential part of the plot or style? Feb. 25

You can submit your contributions via the Collaborative Blog Post Form



LetterMo 2023 Orientation

Welcome, or welcome back, to LetterMo 2023. There is a lot going on here on the Month of Letters site, as well as the related Facebook groups, I thought I’d create a handy Orientation. This is an overview of how you can engage with this site, with links to more information on any given topic.

Top Bar Menu

While some of the features on the LetterMo.com site are open to the public, many of the more interactive features require you to be logged in. These included the forums, participants and downloadable resources. If you are not logged as a participant, selecting these links will direct you back to the main site.

Forums: There are several discussion boards with various threads. This is where you can engage with fellow participants, through introductions and other topics. The best place to start? https://lettermo.com/forums/topic/lettermo-2023-start-here/

About the Challenge: A bit about the history of LetterMo, and it’s goals.

FAQ: Answers to 25 common questions about LetterMo.

Blog / Journal: Blogs, Articles and Journal Entries by Lettermo Contributors (If you’d like to contribute, check out this post.)

Participants: This page has a few options. One shows you all current members of the LetterMo.com site. One shows you all the folks you’ve created friendships with. The last allows you to search for members, by name, user name, country, or keywords in participants’ bios.

Resources: A few resources, including list of national post services, and mail missions – organizations where you can send letters for specific groups, like deployed military.

Profile: Available once you’ve logged in. The URL will be https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/profile/ You can access it from the top menu bar, or in the upper right hand corner of the page.

Screen capture of profile menu - Activity | Profile | Notifications | Friends | Forums | Settings
Screen capture of the Profile Menu options.
  • Activity – Post an update, view your activity from the site, mentions, favorites, and friends’ activities. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/
  • Profile – View or edit your profile, change your profile picture or update your status. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/profile/
  • Letters –
  • Notifications – Where you can find friend requests, and other information from the LetterMo.com site. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/notifications/
  • Friends -A list of your friends, and folks requesting to be your friend. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/friends/
  • Forums – A summary of your activity on the forums, including topics you started, replies you’ve made, and subscriptions https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/forums
  • Settings – Update your password, what emails you’d like to recieve, and profile visibility. https://lettermo.com/members/YourUserName/settings/

Contact: Where you can find Month of Letters on the internet, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Lego man with map and compass

Hopefully this helps you find your way around the LetterMo website, and as always, if you still have questions, just ask.

Write a Blog Post for the LetterMo Page

Blog Post solicitation

Welcome to LetterMo 2023!

The LetterMo Admins are busy dusting off the site for the new year, and we want to include you!

One of the features on this site are the blog posts that provide inspiration, reviews, and people to write – a way to be engaged with everyone, not just and individual penpal.

We know the best ideas come from members of the community, that is, YOU.

Examples of possible posts

  • Review of a book or movie that incorporates letters as a main device or theme
  • Groups seeking letters for a cause – deployed military, hospital patients, etc.
  • Discussion of your favorite writing implements
  • Ideas to make your letters stand out
  • A specific related event, celebration or date (Feb 7, 2023 is “Send a Card to a Friend Day”)
  • A challenge you’d like to pose to others, or that you have participated in

We’d love to hear from you – we even created a handy-dandy form you can uses to submit your ideas!

Please login to submit your blog post idea!

In February, mail one item every day it runs. #lettermo Sign up to find Lettermo Penpals!