All posts by K. Tempest Bradford

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A day for love! Whether that love is romantic, familial, or platonic, it should be celebrated. So put aside the cynicism about corporate manufacturing of holidays and look for ways to express your love for someone close today. If you haven’t mailed a Valentine, grab an index card and a pen and write a sweet note to hand deliver. If you want some inspiration on that point, read this post.

Here’s another way to spread love in the world beyond today.

Oh, and don’t forget to share pictures of your Valentines using the #lettermo hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!

The Ones About Writing Instruments

Happy second Sunday in February, all! It’s our second day of “rest”, which means it’s time to take a look back through old blog posts. Ah, I remember the days…

Since we’ve been sharing favorite writing paper and pens this week, I thought you’d like to look through past posts centered around geeking out about pens and ink and typewriters and the like. You’re welcome to comment on these old posts, no matter how long ago they appeared, and re-start the conversation!

Wanna share your typewriter, favorite ink colors, fancy letter press, or other tool you use to write and send letters? Please do so in the comments or using the hashtag #lettermo on Twitter and Instagram.

Share Your Favorite Pens

Thanks to all of you who shared your favorite paper for writing letters. Keep the replies coming! In keeping with the theme of letter writing tools, today we want you to share your favorite pens. because we know y’all all have favorite pens.

I know many of you are like Month of Letters founder Mary Robinette Kowal in preferring fountain pens. While I do enjoy them and even have a few (it’s Mary’s fault), I am still a gel pen girl at heart. It has the smoothness that I like in fountain pens but isn’t as messy and there’s no maintenance.

That’s not to say I will write with just any gel pen. There are some truly terrible ones out there. After many years I settled on two favorites. The first is the Pentel Energel .7mm. I used to only deal with the Black and Blue ink, then I saw someone on a pen blog raving about the purple ink and then I got the multi-color pack and fell in love with that and the green. Smooth writing, quick drying, thick line.

My other favorite pen is one that the company doesn’t make anymore: the iWalk Amphibian (pictured above). It takes Parker gel pen refills, and I’d say that half of my love for the pen is the refills and half is for the pen body itself. I originally got this to test the phone screen stylus on the back end and found that I really liked the feel of the pen and the weight. I don’t use the stylus bit that much, but I am never without this pen tucked into my journal.

What are your favorite pens? Do you have different ones set aside just for writing letters? Share them with us in comments or, even better, post pictures of them on Instagram and Twitter and tag them #lettermo. I’ll share my favorites on the blog later this month. Just be sure to say the pen name when you post!

Share Your Valentines!

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away and I know many of you are out to earn the Valentine badge (and I see several of you already have!). We need more love in the world right now, no matter what kind of love it is.

As you send out and receive Valentine cards, letters, and other goodies, take a moment to snap a picture and share them with us using the #lettermo tag on Instagram and Twitter. On February 14th we’ll post some of our favorites here on the blog.

In the meantime, you can share something else in the comments: the most memorable Valentine you ever sent or received in years past.

Follow Us On Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

Did you know Month of Letters is on Instagram now? Yes, indeed. There are so many of you there sharing your beautiful envelopes, handwriting, stamps, and more, that we thought it would be fun to highlight our favorites. Such as the image above, which comes to us courtesy of @adamihasegawa on Instagram.

You can follow us or just keep track of the #lettermo tag.

And, as always, we’re still on Twitter and the Facebook page is a good place to gather (aside form our own forums, of course!).

Tempest’s Favorite Guest Posts

Are you new to the Month of Letters challenge? If so, you might not know how many great posts we have on the blog from past years. Each Sunday we’ll highlight some favorites, and you’re welcome to comment on them, no matter how old they are, and re-start the conversation!

Last year we opened up the blog to several really awesome guest bloggers who shared their snail mail stories, their love of mail art, and dropped wisdom about pens. Here are a few of my favorites:

(header image by medusasjewelry on instagram)

Share Your Favorite Letter Writing Paper

 

One of the things I love about the Month of Letters community is how much you all love to talk about your letter writing tools from the paper you love to the pens to the stuff you use to make custom envelopes. So several of this month’s blog posts will be about sharing the tools you love with each other and the world. Let’s start with paper, which is essential to the snail mail letter writing process.

Now, there’s a reason I didn’t title this post Share Your Favorite Stationery — it’s because one doesn’t need paper that is technically stationery in order to write letters. I prefer to use paper out of notebooks for my letters, and my favorite notebooks to pull apart for this are the 6 x 8 Clairefontaine staple-bound ones. There are just two staples, easily removed, and then you have a stack of folded paper that gives you 4 pages for writing. That’s often enough for a whole letter, though if I go long I will use two of them.

I started doing this because many people give me journals, but I have very particular needs for my journals. Perfect bound ones don’t really work for me. As this type of journal piled up in my house, I realized that I could easily pull them apart without losing too many of the pages and have paper that would work for letters. I even bought envelopes to fit.

What paper do you use for writing letters? What is your favorite, and what do you grab in a pinch? Share it below (you can include links!) or share it with us on social media using the hashtag #lettermo. We’re @LetterMonth on both Twitter and Instagram.

[Wayback Repost] How long is mail taking for you?

This post was originally published on February 22, 2013. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

postmarkHello everyone, as Mary mentioned yesterday I’m doing a tiny bit of guest posting here in the last days of LetterMo. I actually spent the first part of the month in her wonderful company and was inspired to even greater letter writing heights by her example.

Jumping off the Day 20 post about time delays, I find myself fascinated by the variance in the time delay between when I send a letter and when the recipient receives it. Before I started Month of Letters, I had a vague idea that first class mail took three or four days, maybe a day or two longer if I sent it all the way to another coast. However, as I get in reports from people who get my letters, I realized that mail is taking longer than I assumed. Sometimes up to a week and maybe a few days more.

When I mentioned my surprise on Twitter, I learned that the difference in time depends on many factors, including where one mails their letters. Most of my letters from earlier in the month went to the mailbox for the postman to pick up on his normal route. That probably means that the letters didn’t get processed until the day after I mailed them, which delays their journey. This same issue can crop up even if you drop a letter in a public mailbox depending on the time of day. The way to assure that your letter is processed faster seems to be taking it to the post office directly, but even that is subject to variance unless you head to your city or town’s central post office.

None of this is particularly bad, mind you. That letters take a while to get to their destination is part of the fun. I just had to adjust my own expectations. Since I recently took a long trip and wrote to people back home, a few times I saw the person I wrote to before their letter came!

I now pay a great deal of attention to postmarks and dates to see how long it was between when the letter left the writer’s hand and it appeared at my doorstep.

How long are your letters taking to arrive? And how long are they taking to get to you?

[Wayback Repost] Posting A Compliment

This post was originally published on February 5, 2015. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

compliment

As I mentioned last year, I start out each Month of Letters by sending people postcards because they’re low pressure and I like sending beautiful art and photos along with my correspondence. This year I’m doing the same, but with another specific goal. The idea sparked when I read this NY Times column by Mandy Len Catron. It’s about how to fall in love with anyone, though this is the part I found very compelling:

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: … “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

Yeah, why don’t we?

I’ve decided to make an effort to compliment my friends and loved ones more over the next year and hope to turn that into a habit. And what better way to do so than via a postcard?

I fill the small space on the back of each with what I like about the recipient: the ways in which they’re awesome, why I admire them, how much better the world is because they’re in it. A small rectangle of love and happiness.

My goal is to send out at least three of these a week on top of my regular letter writing activities. Too bad there’s no badge for that 😉

[Wayback Repost] Send A Love Letter Bundle

This post was originally published on February 3, 2015. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!

Love Letter Bundle

Next week Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. I’m preparing for the inevitable battle waged in my social media feeds (it happens every year). On one side are the people who say V Day is a fake holiday made up by greeting card companies and therefore meaningless. On the other are people who either point out that, historically, this is not true or who say they don’t care, they enjoy the flowers and cards and candy and the time set aside with the one they love.

I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day myself, but I agree that a time set aside for you to remind the people you love that you love them isn’t wholly bad. Nor does it have to be confined to February.

I’m not alone in this. There’s a great website/movement/project called The World Needs More Love Letters with a wonderful community of people who write letters filled with love to people they don’t know. One of the projects More Love Letters coordinates is Love Letter Bundles.

Someone in your life that needs a boost? Want to do something really, really special for them?

Consider nominating a family member, friend, or loved one for a Love Letter Bundle today. We read through the nominations every single week and pick several to post up on our website for a 2-week period.

If chosen, you’ll find your story posted on our website and individuals from all over the world have the chance to mail love letters to the address you provide us with! You become the facilitator of your own Love Letter Bundle!

I love this idea. And I think this would make an excellent Valentine’s Day surprise for someone you love. It’s not possible to arrange for one through More Love Letters in time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t coordinate one yourself.

Start by choosing one or two bundle recipients. If you want to deliver by V Day, it may work out best if they live in the same city as you.

Next, make a list of people to contribute to the bundle. Folks who know and love the recipient are the obvious best choices for this. But if you have regular pen pals or far-flung friends who are excellent wordsmiths, consider asking them to participate. Perhaps they know of this loved one through the stories you’ve told and can speak to that. Or they can just write a general letter of love, as the More Love Letters participants do.

Special cards and fancy stationery aren’t required. The letters and notes don’t even have to be long. It’s just about offering an expression of love to someone who is amazing.

Ask everyone to either bring you the letters, cards, and postcards or send them to your address with a separate envelope with the recipient’s name inside. Collect them all, wrap a bit of ribbon around them all, and present them on Valentine’s Day. You may also want to gift them with a box of tissues.

This doesn’t only need to be a Valentine’s thing. I can think of at least a dozen people I would love to create a love letter bundle for right now. I may not have the energy to coordinate one every month, so I’ll just resolve to do it as regularly as I can throughout the year. Maybe I’ll even try for one through More Love Letters.

How many of you will give this a try?

image source: the world needs more love letters