Category Archives: News

Would you like to run the Month of Letters?

My dears,

This is a difficult post to write, but the time has come for me to give up the Month of Letters. It began as a way for me to disconnect from the internet and slow down. I have loved all of the people that I got to meet through it.

But over the years, the effort involved in maintaining and running the site has grown to the point that I can’t sustain it. In full and painful honesty, we’re at the point that February triggers my depression symptoms as I realize that I’m letting people down.

We’re slammed with spammers and I don’t have the ability to stop them. There are things that the site needs that I can’t provide.

So what I’d like to do, rather than just shutting it down, is to hand the Month of Letters over to another caretaker. I issued the initial challenge, yes, but it is bigger than me.

Do you want to run Month of Letters?

If you do, I’ll still pay for hosting. I can cheer from backstage. But I’m at a point where I need to let go of trying to manage the site. In 2018, I’m trying to be better about understanding my limits. Please understand and accept my apologies.

Sincerely yours,

Mary Robinette Kowal

Edited to add: There’s a new team! LetterMo is alive!

Plans for this year’s Month of Letters, in which I admit that I have a problem.

We’re less than a month away from the beginning of Month of Letters!

I’ll bet you’re wondering why there haven’t been posts leading up to the month the way I’ve done in previous years. I’m going to be honest about this, and this will be my first time mentioning this on the internets. I’ve been dealing with depression for much of the past year, and only started treatment last summer.

The reason I’m telling you this is that I’m trying really, really hard to treat this as no more shameful than a broken arm or a cold. The social stigma on mental illness is much less than it was when I was a kid, but I’m still hampered by those early beliefs. I don’t want to reinforce that by hiding my own struggle and, frankly, that struggle is about to affect you.

Here’s the deal. WordPress upgraded the software that I run the site with, which is great. Unfortunately, the new version breaks the badges. My webmaster let me know in plenty of time to have it fixed. Plenty of time. At the same time, she also let me know that she was going to need to step down. Both of which would have been fine, but they coincided with the period right before I finally admitted that I was ill. So, we’re a less than a month from the beginning of Month of Letters and this major thing is still broken.

I’m better than I was last summer, but using the broken arm analogy, I still can’t lift this thing. I’ve decided that rather than frantically trying to pick up the thing that I’ve dropped and cobble something together, I am going to focus on the point of the Month of Letters, which is the letters and the connections that come from that.

The challenges will still be there this year BUT the badges are going to be on the honor system. When you win a challenge, you’ll be able to add that badge (I think) to your profile.

I’m streamlining other parts of the site for this year, because that’s manageable. And breaking it into smaller tasks means that I, with my broken arm, can still carry it. Next year… next year, I’m hoping that everything, everything, will be in a better place.

And if I can just also add… If you’re struggling, too, it’s not shameful. Just do what you can do, and know that it’s okay to ask for help with the rest.

Introducing Michi Trota, our new community liaison

This is our third year and we appear to have about 7000 people signed up for Month of Letters. Unlike the first two years, I’m having to travel this year so I decided to bring in some help. Allow me to introduce Michi Trota, the Month of Letters new community liaison. What does that mean? Michi is going to help me keep an eye on the forums and troubleshoot participant problems.

Michi blogs about all things geek (and occasionally bacon) at GeekMelange. She’s a member of the Board of Organizers and Facebook moderator for the Chicago Nerd Social Club, and in her spare time writes personal essay/memoir, spins fire (sometimes in cosplay) and manages communications & event organizing for the Chicago Full Moon Jams.

In short, she’s exactly the sort of person you want in your corner.

To contact her with questions, use the contact form , which will go straight to her mailbox. She’ll either answer the question or route it to the right person.

And where am I? Well… This week, I’ve got my puppeteer hat on and I’m at a Sesame Street workshop.

Postable is partnering with us this year!

Postable BannerLast year, I suggested using Postable.com as an easy way to exchange mailing addresses with other members. It’s a super-easy and free service that’s designed to make collecting addresses simple. It’s designed for people getting married, and I actually wound up recommending it to my brand-new sister-in-law when she and my brother got married last year.

This year, they contacted me and said they wanted to be involved, because they also love mail. Which is fantastic and really kind. And… they’ve also added a new thing since last year. They can print and mail cards for you.

But doesn’t that defeat the point of Month of Letters?

Actually, no. The point is to think about one person at a time and to put something in that person’s mailbox that will make them smile. Now, personally, I enjoy writing with a fountain pen, but there are folks who have carpal tunnel, arthritis, or other things that make handwriting hard. There shouldn’t be an entry barrier to participating. So having someone else print and send the card for you is totally fine.

It also, to be totally honest, will help the site because they are contributing a portion of sales that come in through this link. http://www.postable.com/partner/lettermo

But just to be completely clear — you don’t have to send cards through them to use postable.com. It remains the easiest way I’ve found to collect addresses. Check them out!

Welcome to February! The Month of Letters begins!

Let’s start easy, shall we? It’s Saturday and all you have to do is put one thing in the mail today.

You can write a long breathless letter to an old friend that you haven’t talked to in far too long, or just jot a quick note on a postcard. The key isn’t to dazzle with your wit — though feel free to do that if the mood strikes you — but to make a thought tangible. Whatever you put in the mail today represents the moment when you were thinking about a specific someone. Think of this a a month of sending 23 tiny gifts, and the gifts are you. 

And to encourage you, we have badges. You don’t have to play for these, but if you enjoy side challenges, then you can log what you sent on our “What have you sent?” form. 

One caution — only fill out the form once per day.

Now, go mail something.

Cleaning the website for the beginning of Month of Letters

This week we’re going to reset all of the badges and points — except the Winner! badge — so you can start February with a fresh slate. It should be fun to see who makes the top of the leaderboard this year. I’m hoping to have a couple of new badges for you, as well, so stay tuned for that.

We’re also trying to deal with the spammers, because, ugh.

And, you may have noticed some site fluctuations. As the month started approaching, the webtraffic shot up and my webmaster gently suggested that I move the site to a new host so it didn’t crash. That process is not going quiiiite as smoothly as we’d like, so bear with us. Everything should be in place for the month to begin.

Stamp prices go up on January 26th

February is fast approaching and it seems like a good time to remind our US participants that postage increases on January 26th. If you haven’t stocked up on your forever stamps, this would be a good time to do it.

Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
Letters additional ounces — 1-cent increase to 21 cents
Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

You can read the full announcement at USPS. com.

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