For the Lost Art of Letter Writing

This Letter Writing Kit was made for those of us “born in the wrong century”! It is “All things Austen!!” With this kit, you or a loved one will be able to spend time relaxing and enjoying an almost ” Lost Art” of writing letters in the style of Jane Austen. Enjoy sealing your letter with a real wax seal and using all the Jane Austen themed ephemera! And while you are at it … Enjoy a cup of tea courtesy of me!

It contains:

1. Mini ceramic wax seal ( current stock: heart enclosed in a wreath).
2. 1 wax stick
3. Variety of Jane Austen Themed Stickers
4. 1 set (6) of Jane Austen Silhouette Stickers
5. 1 gorgeously illustrated ( from the beloved novel: Pride and Prejudice) blank note card/ envelope
6. 1 Unique, fill in the blank, Jane Austen Letter Writing Society Mail Tag card
7. 2 blank note cards/ with envelopes to decorate
8. 2 sheets of Victorian mailing labels
9. 2 Jane Austen quote post cards
10. 1 log book to record correspondence
11. Sample of Bakers Twine
12. Sample of craft lace or ribbon
13. 4 mini , stamped envelopes ( to hold a tea bag)
14. 1 vintage themed rubber stamp
15. An assortment of vintage die cuts ephemera
16. 2 large dimensional stickers ,includes 1 large oval Jane Austen Silhouette
17. 4 small doilies
18. 4 vintage circle letter seals
19. 1 package of “Forget -Me -not” seeds just for sentimental sake!
20. 1 roll of vintage paper or fabric tape

Source: On Sale Jane Austen letter writing kit letter by LostArtRevived

The Art of Coffee at the Keyboard

Who says you can’t glue yourself to your computer and still have a fancy, hot coffee? We want it all and we want it good. So, I’m coming up with ways to have better coffee, without having to put on your coat and be kind to any others in line at the coffee shop.

Make a Stand

Even the oldest, most worn-looking coffee mug, will look fancier if you put it on a pedestal, a short one. I use an old mouse pad I didn’t want to throw away. It elevates my ordinary coffee to a slightly new level. It also makes coffee circles a quick clean up. Just rinse the mouse pad instead of having to clean things off my desk first.

DIY Coffee Art

Of course you can learn how to do your own coffee art. But, that would take time and more equipment than I have on hand. Instead… use a clear glass coffee mug and add cream (or milk, etc.) slowly. Let it swirl around and create patterns. Don’t stir it until you’ve enjoyed the art.

If that doesn’t work for you go with a coffee doodle. Create your own stencil with your last rejection letter. Once you cut out a shape place the stencil over your coffee mug and let some cocoa powder, or cinnamon drift down. It works better if you don’t drink it black but I’m not telling you how to drink your coffee.

Seasonal Coffee at Home

Add a dash of flare to your coffee with cinnamon, a teaspoon of hot chocolate powder,  a touch of pepper, a lick of salt or little vanilla. Make your own pumpkin spice with actual pumpkin pie spices which you can buy in most grocery stores I’ve ever been in. A bit of extra festivity needed… try liquor. I’ve got whiskey at my desk to add when the coffee gets too cold.

Another idea (if you don’t mind crunchy bits between your teeth) is to add doughnut sprinkles and other small but edible things to the outside lip of your coffee mug.  I don’t highly recommend this. But, I don’t add sugar to my coffee, it may be a great idea for those who do like sweet coffee.

Milk It Up

Heat and then froth your milk. You will need some creativity if you don’t have a frother. A French press pot is nice because it can double as a milk frother (just don’t become a wild and crazy plunger and end up getting it stuck, or breaking the pot). Microwaving the milk does an okay job. Don’t walk away while it’s in there and then remove the milk from the surface (unless that milk clog thing doesn’t bother you).

Frothy milk does change the taste of the coffee. It’s creamier. You can use skim milk and get more froth, likely due to having less fat content in the milk.

Put a Lid on It

I will drink cold coffee, by necessity. I don’t love it. Somehow, coffee gets much colder, faster, at my computer desk than it does any where else in the house. I’ve tested this theory countless times.

I tried buying fancier coffee mugs, those thermal types with take-out coffee lids. They didn’t make much difference and they were a nuisance to wash since they are not dishwasher happy. Instead, I now put a lid over my coffee. Any bit of paper works well. An entire letter still in the envelope does a better job and it gives me something to do with the bills I don’t want to open yet.

Another plus side to having a lid – it keeps the bugs out. I admit I have ignored the odd tiny floating fly when I really did want to finish my coffee, but those occasions were rare. Likely there were more occasions when I just didn’t notice the little floaty thing or it sank… well do you really want to go into the details?

coffeeart

Now you have some ideas to help you with your coffee while you write away at the computer. Hope this helps!

Note: I don’t know the source for this image. I found it on another site which had reposted a lot of images. It just suits this post so well. 

Throw Something Out Today

We keep too much and then get overwhelmed by what we have. Pick something to throw out today. Recycle it if you can but remove it from your home and your life.

Something already garbage does not count. Be fair and give yourself a break.

Get creative.

Give up on fixing something broken. Find a way to give it to someone else (like leaving it at the bottom of the road for someone else to pick up).

Give away something you have not used in years. Consider trinkets and gadgets gathering dust. Offer them to family and friends so someone else can get more use out of them.

Use old stationary to write a letter to someone. The catch is you have to mail it today rather than leave it for tomorrow.

However you do it, remove one piece of clutter from your life today.

What Do You Write on a Postcard??

The first picture Postal Card was Sent as a Joke!

The Origin of the Modern Post Card

In 1840 the British author Thomas Hook made a post card with caricatures of postal workers on it. It was meant to amuse and irritate the workers as it went through the mail. I imagine it did, I am sure he got a lot of attention.

Hook didn’t send it out to anyone else, he addressed it to himself, so he could be sure of having a grin and a chuckle at the end of the process.

From – What Do You Write on a Postcard?

This post has suggestions from humour to writing a mini journal. All good ideas. What do you tend to write on a postcard? Do you only send them when you’re travelling?

Postcards are also a nice way to give someone personal mail (a letter) without having to say a lot. Nice when you’re trying to be nice and send a personal note to someone you don’t know very well.

How would you write a postcard to a Great-Aunt you’ve never met?

Google Marketing and Dear Webmaster Letters

Have you had an email asking you to remove a link? There are various reasons someone might ask you to remove a link, some are practical and make sense. Often it’s about a copyrights issue. The new trend I’ve noticed is the request to remove a link for Google.

You get a Dear Webmaster letter, not so unlike a Dear John letter about a century ago during the World Wars. Don’t take offense, it’s just marketers trying to please (or scare) their clients. They don’t really know what they are doing.

A Dear Webmaster letter:removelinksforGoogleThis is the second email (this year) which I have had asking me to remove my link to a site. Not for the reason you would expect. It’s not about how I mentioned the link, or that I linked in a bad way at all. Actually, the link was just an additional resource when I had written about a relevant topic.

Long ago I was asked to remove a link to Starbucks. But, this was back in the very early days. Starbuck’s concern was about their privacy online. That was so long ago everything was still new and no one knew what to make of the Internet and the very earliest websites, networks and web logs. (Yes, bloggers was not even an accepted word yet).

This time, I was asked to remove a link because the company was concerned about Google’s algorithm.  They are not interested in being part of a post, relevant to their content. Their focus is Google, not readers.

To me it is ironic that Google made their latest changes in order to get online content to change from spam created to please Google into writing created to please readers. But, some people do not quite make that connection. Instead they are just trying to turn things around to be what will please Google.

Today I read something where they decided the biggest problem for brands now is to create content people will want to share on social media.

They still don’t get it either.

Google and social media are software, basically. Software does not have a lot of buying power all on it’s own. It needs people with credit cards, online banking or some other method of making payment for goods and services.

Why don’t businesses/ companies still understand they need to attract people – not software?

Each time I think they’ve got it… it just passes them by… like a ship in the night fog.

Anyway, I did remove the link, as requested. It was actually listed once on a blog I moved to a new domain (in one post but showed up on several links with indexing). If any of the people who did this research on what Google likes actually understood how links and blogs work, they would have known that. But, that would be a waste of time when they can do so much automatically with software and then send out a form letter, with more software.

If they had actually checked any of the links, manually, they would have found them all 404. Still on Google, but not actually on the web. I wonder what kind of automatic form letter they will send Google’s bot?

I’m sure there are some marketers who will just never, ever get it.

PS- I was irritated that they want me to respond when I have accommodated them so they can take me off their list rather than nagging at me again. Just in case you wondered… removing a link for this reason (for Google marketing) is not something you are obligated to do. The link is public knowledge and my post was almost ten years old (from 2005). So, if you don’t feel very accommodating when you get a note like this… just ignore it. I just think it’s silly because the first note I got (for a different site) was from a company which had paid me for the link. See how backwards it all is?

I will likely continue to remove links when requested. Why not? It takes me a half minute to edit the post and I don’t mind not giving another site the promotion if they don’t want it when it’s free. Maybe later they can pay me for another link.

Could you Get Paid to Write?

It’s a bit dramatic to pick up your first ever copy of The Writer’s Market, which ever year you buy your first one. Suddenly you have taken a step into the world where people write and make money from it. This brings the responsibility of expectations. Paid writers should know how to write: spelling, grammar and punctuation. Paid writers should be professional and have a real office (for one thing). What a lot of pressure to perform!

In spite of all that… let this be the year you take that step. It’s kind of scary but exciting too. Make a plan to be a paid writer by the end of 2014. Set that as your goal. You may have been paid small amounts as commissions on Squidoo and other writing networks but take a big step and get paid directly, get paid more and work with an editor at a publication which will judge your writing, possibly make changes and then pay you for it (not a percentage or commission but a real pay cheque for you!)

This deluxe Writer’s Market includes online markets – a great thing for writers who have already had some of their writing published online. Posting to your own site counts too, even if you have been the only one proofreading and editing your work, it is still published (self publishing).

  • Start by getting someone professional (someone who does know grammar, spelling and punctuation) to review your writing work. Get feedback on the common mistakes you make so you can learn from them, be aware of your flaws and watch for them as they come up with you work. Making mistakes is not a bad thing as long as you work on learning from them. Like a word you have trouble spelling, just train yourself to remember the right spelling.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Jump in by looking for a writing market you would like to get into. It might be something you know about from your own personal or professional experience – like a travel agent writing about travel for travel magazines. Take time to plan your method of attack for the market you pick. Choose more than one so you have more options if you get a rejection from your first pick.
  • Decide what you have to offer your chosen market. What does the publication need that you can provide? Study the publication if you have not read it a few times before. Each publication will have topics which are over done and some which just aren’t relevant or timely enough. Find writer’s guidelines for the publication – there are almost always guidelines so keep looking if you don’t find them right away. Or, send a note to the publication and ask for their writer’s guidelines.
  • Craft (and yes, it is a craft) a query letter. Direct it to one publication, one editor (get a name) and give your idea an extra push in some way. Read more about query letters – there have been some spectacular successes and just as many spectacular disasters.
  • Depending on what the publication expected (when you read the writer’s guidelines) you may now begin writing or you may have already written the article/ book/ etc and submitted a sample of it with your query letter.
  • Don’t get scared off or intimidated now. The writing is the part you know, remember?
Writing for children is an extra opportunity if you can illustrate it yourself too.

Pick your Writing Genre and the Markets Too

Just as there are other types of writers – there are other types of writer’s markets and guides to those markets. Look also for photography and graphic artist guides to markets.

Most of all – Best wishes and good luck! I wish you every success in your freelance endeavours.

Don’t forget poets. It may be harder to get paid for poetry but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Time Management Matters

Don’t spend too much time getting advice and suggestions. Time management is an important part of working as a freelance writer. You can’t add more hours to your day so use them well.

Love Letter Writers

love letter writers
I was a letter writer until my last older relative died, the Grandmothers and their sisters. I did write to my Grandfather sometimes but it was mainly the women who wrote back and gave me more reason to write back. It is much easier to reply to something in a letter than to break out fresh inspiration each time all by yourself.

However, not everyone answered my letters and I would not have known they actually liked them if it weren’t for my Mother and others who knew the older women I wrote to. Maybe they didn’t know what to say to reply back to a grandchild they would only see a few times a year. Weddings, births and funerals as they say, but I would see my Grandparents at family holidays too.

Writing a letter seems simple enough when you decide to start one. Then the blank page… it just sits there so untouched and unhelpful.

So how do you start a letter?

Salutations! Greetings are a simple place to start. A simple Hello gets you into the letter writing process. Address them by name or title (I went with Aunt Emma, the title and the name, when I wrote to the older ladies). You would likely write something else if you were writing to someone you knew on a casual basis.

Next, remind them who you are in some way. Just like leaving a phone message, you tell people who you are and why you are calling. This is pretty much the same when you put your message into print too. Simply give your own name and title (in the family letters I was usually Diane’s daughter or Violet’s granddaughter). Then say you are writing to see how they are, let them know how Christmas/ Thanksgiving/ Easter/ etc went with your family… there are endless reasons you can think up as the purpose of your letter. (You don’t have to say you’re writing because you thought they might be feeling old, lonely or left out).

At this point you start the real letter, the actual content, like a leap out into space. Don’t get tangled up – just talk about your day. The ordinary occurrences can be far more interesting than you think.

Next paragraph, talk about whatever you said you were actually writing about, your reason for the letter. I don’t start with that. If you get right to the point in a letter you seem to be pressed for time, unsocial and not really wanting to connect with your letter reader. With the older ladies this was especially important. I didn’t want them to think someone had told me I had to write to them. No one had, it was all my own idea.

The body of your letter can go on for as long as you can think of some bit of this and that to write about. Often as I get started I think of several things I can mention in the letter. Trivial stuff is fine. Life is made up of the little things.

Don’t ever forget to ask about your letter reader, how are they doing, what are they doing? Ask questions in the body of your letter too. Make it interactive. It’s not likely you will get your questions answered, not all of them, but it does give your letter the feeling of being directed to the reader rather than your own personal monologue to no one in particular.

When you are reading to end your letter, or when you realize you’re close to running out of paper to write on, give some kind of conclusion to the whole thing. Wrap it up with a bow. Something simple like: I hope this letter gets to you before Christmas. After all, it is traditional for letter writers to talk about the post office and the cost and reliability of mailing a letter.

Sign off with your name. Dating your letter is optional – but you never know where it might turn up far in the future when some relative picks up an interest in family history.

Don’t forget to actually mail the letter.

I usually pick an interesting stamp too. Sometimes I get into mail art as well and doodle/ draw on the envelope before I mail it out into the big, wide world.

10 Day Letter Challenge

10 DAY LETTER CHALLENGE

10 day letter challenge

day 1. write a letter to your past self.

day 2. write a letter to your your future self

day 3. write a letter to your parents

day 4. write a letter to your siblings

day 5. write a letter to your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush

day 6. write a letter to your best friend

day 7. write a letter to a stranger

day 8. write a letter to someone you’ve been thinking about lately

day 9. write a letter to someone that changed your life

day 10. write a letter to yourself

via 10 day letter challenge – Heck Yeah Tumblr Challenges!.

Modern Chain Mail

modern chain mail

Do you remember old fashioned chain mail, the promises of fame fortune and death threats to you and your family (loved ones)?

Modern chain mail has taken a new twist. Now we have to reply, friend and follow people in order to save the world or at least save the life of someone deathly ill or suicidal.

At least these are easier to ignore. It was kind of spooky not sending on those old, retro chain letters. I always did feel creepy about throwing them out… just in case something did happen.  These modern chain letters all sound just too phoney to me. How can I possibly save this boy from committing suicide just by passing this along to strangers, from strangers. So I don’t feel even a twinge of creepiness.

But… could you use a modern chain letter and come up with a really creepy story, something unique?