The New Newsletters are sent in Boxes

I’ve been saying newsletters are not worth anyone’s time for awhile. When did you last really read a newsletter from your email inbox? I’ve nearly given up on email itself, so newsletters tend to go right to the outbox.

Speaking of boxes… have you noticed the trend to getting themed boxes of stuff sent through the mail? Snail mail, not email.

I’ve found a few so far, without really looking hard:

Today I found something bigger, smarter and very interesting, Quarterly.

quarterlycurators
Source: Online Quarterly Subscription and Gifting Services from Quarterly Co.

Quarterly is the new newsletter, vastly improved. The idea of getting people to pay for a box of things (themed but not predetermined) sent out every three months is going to catch on. How could it fail? Who hasn’t become at least slightly addicted to shopping online, getting a present delivered to your door? Now it can be a real surprise, created for you, every month (every 3 months on Quarterly). Are you curious enough to look at the site? You can see what has been sent in past boxes from the curators (as they are called) on the site.

I think it’s brilliant. People will subscribe and look forward to getting your newsletter and other goodies. They won’t just read your newsletter, they will pay to get it. Just considering it from a marketing point of view… it is pretty amazing.

But, I’m not so cynical. I love the idea of being a curator of mailed out boxes. I’ve already thought about what I could send and how I could get things to send. It’s like Christmas and birthday shopping to plan a surprise for others.

Of course it’s not so simple. There are plans to make, angles to consider and I need a theme that works. I’m not sure about working through Quarterly. I’m not a household name in any household but my own. Also, I’m not sure Quarterly (as a service) would help me in any way I couldn’t figure out to help myself. But, I loved seeing it today. It’s not the first to mail out gifts and presents, but it seems to be the first to collect them in a group – like an online catalog of people who want to give you unique gifts, and a newsletter.

Writers Needed for Christmas in Canada

EXCITING NEWS FOR WRITERS!
From Janet Matthews

Canadian Co-author of
Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul

We need your stories for a brand new Canadian title…

Chicken Soup for the Soul
Christmas in Canada!

101 Stories about the Joy and Wonder of the Holidays, Canadian Style!

I’m very excited to let you, as writers, know about this great opportunity to get published. I’m hoping you will forward it to your members, include it in your newsletter, and/or post it on your website. Here’s why:
In October we released O Canada The Wonders of Winter,and the publisher was so pleased they’ve asked us to create another Canadian title for Christmas 2014! We received submissions from writers across Canada that belong to groups like this, and many of them were published!

We need true, dramatic stories, 1200 words or less, that take place at Christmas time in Canada. (Yes, you get paid!) Here are just some examples of topics:
• Festivals of lights, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, New Year’s and other holiday traditions and events that come with a great story
• Creches, passion plays and church events
• The fun – or challenges – of winter weather at Christmas
• Adapting your celebration when the weather gets in the way (like the 2013 ice storms – we KNOW there are some great stories out there – do you have one?)
• The tree… and other decorating traditions
• Love and Romance at Christmas
• Acts of kindness and generosity – in the true spirit of Christmas
• Hockey!…and all winter sports at Christmas
• Family ties and reunions, children, and friends old and new
• Heroes in our midst – at Christmas
• Neighbours and Community, and Christmas in Canada for new Canadians
• Animals at Christmas
• Family lore – those stories you tell over and over again!
• Christmas in the north – First Nation stories

Our publication date is October 2014, so the deadline for stories is May 30th.
For full writers guidelines and how to submit your story, visit my website, www.janetmatthews.ca or www.canadiansoul.com.

I wish you great success, and I really hope to hear from you!

Love to you,
Janet Matthews
Co-author of
Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul &
Chicken Soup for the Soul O Canada
The Wonders of Winter
janet@janetmatthews.ca
PS: One more thing. It would be so great if you could pass this message along to your friends and family and other writers…who may have a story! EVERY bit of help is really appreciated!

Have you Read more than Six of These Books?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses! (Underlined stuff is on the wish/TBR list – though a couple that I’m waffling on haven’t been underlined.)

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby — F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina –Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Willaim Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabrial Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far from the Madding Crowd — Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martell

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love in the time of Cholera – Gabriel garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On the Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson

74 Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylivia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – Charles Mitchell

83 The Colour Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

via Could have sworn I’d done this before – meh.

I only bolded the books I’ve read. I seldom start a book and not finish reading it.

Create a Compelling Title for a Christmas Story

The contest deadline is today (as I’m writing this) so by the time I post it the deadline will be past. Still, good to try coming up with a great title. Exercise your writing brain.

To win any of the great prizes, simply review the Christmas story summary below and then create a compelling title that would make any potential reader sit up and take notice.

Linzie is 13 years old and lost her parents in a car accident  a few months previously. She was taken in by family members- the estranged sister of her mother but life feels empty. As Christmas approaches, it takes a very special event to make Linzie appreciate that Christmas can still be a very special time of year.

via Create a Compelling Title – The Writer.

Write your own Christmas Newsletter

ascii art angelI admit I don’t write and send a Christmas newsletter every year. Often I have it started, get it written, find the art to put inside and then I don’t get it mailed in time. Or, I get stalled out somewhere along the way. So, the best I do is send Christmas cards and try not to feel bad about not getting the newsletter finished and mailed out in time. But, the years I did work everything out and send the Christmas newsletter (inside the standard, yet cheerful, Christmas cards) were good years and I had the feeling of a job well done and having done a good deed.

Who to Send the Newsletter To

The first people I send a newsletter to are those who are a bit isolated among family and friends. Elderly and singles can feel disconnected from friends and family at this time of year. I think it’s important to make them feel included. If you want them to come for Christmas dinner or meet for coffee over the holidays, add a personal invitation to the newsletter.

If you want a newsletter for people who don’t really have a personal connection to you (like business connections or people you know online) send an edited down version, with less personal information about you and your comings and goings.

Consider the people you are sending the newsletter to and decide how much you really want them to know. Why not boast a bit if things are going well? If you don’t go too far, stick to the facts, the people who know you should feel happy for you. Encourage people to write back about their own great moments and events so you can add them to the newsletter for next year.

Never write a pity letter. The holiday season is about good cheer. Find yours before you start to write. The only people you might want to send a whiny letter to are your parents, maybe.

How to Create the Newsletter

Creating a holiday newsletter is fun. It’s a chance to find my Christmas spirit early. I look for holiday images and think up something to write about whatever we are doing for the holidays. Sometimes I find great seasonal quotes too.

In a non-digital way, I like to make the newsletter in the retro zine publishing way: glue, clippings from magazines and I hand write at least some part of them. It’s too much to write them all by hand, but you can stash in a few sentences or at least hand write the salutations for each one.

Add a recent photo of yourself and family. Take a photo in the middle of summer with everyone wearing antlers if you plan ahead that far. Pick something you do, like a sport or a hobby and make that the focus of the photo. There’s no reason the photo(s) need to be seasonal or holiday photos. Make a cake and decorate it for Christmas, get everyone’s face around the cake and use that as a holiday photo. Take pictures of your family (or yourself) making paper snowflakes, snow angels outside or pulling the Christmas decorations out of storage. You don’t need “deer in the headlights” posed photos.

How to Write the Newsletter

If you tend to babble once you put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) read it over the next day, or the next week. Decide if you really want to tell EVERYONE that much about yourself, your plans and what you’ve been doing. Consider the person you least wnat to communicate with… do you really want them to have all that information?

If you can’t think of anything to say, recruit help. As your direct family (husband, kids, parents, siblings) what they have planned for Christmas and include that. Or, interview yourself. Write out a set of impersonal sort of questions and then answer them. Or, include more photos and less text, if you really can’t write about yourself. Add captions or some explanation to go with the photos. Let people know what they are seeing.

Three paragraphs of text should be plenty. Stick to one side of a full sheet of paper, add images and illustrations. If you have kids they can decorate the back of the newsletter with their own drawings. But a newsletter doesn’t need to be continued on the next page, one page with about 200 words is just fine. You may add personal notes to individuals if you have the time and interest. Just make sure you get those sent in the right envelopes.

How to Mail the Newsletter

Sending the newsletter via email is the fact that it’s impersonal and defeats the purpose of connecting with people and making them feel valued and important. There is a very different feeling to having a real newsletter made with pictures glued to it, hand written (versus typed) and opening an email file to see what someone made with their computer. It lacks the personal touch. Email never has been great when it comes to sharing emotion, feeling and atmosphere.

Weight and packaging. If you plan to mail it out you can’t create a newsletter which won’t easily slip into the envelope or cost too much to mail out. Think light if you want to add extras. Also, don’t add anything which could poke a hole through the envelope. Light and flat.

Make your Writer Feel More like a Writer this Christmas

Writing is something we often do alone while we think we really are not very good. It’s so easy to compare yourself to so many other people who seem to do it all just a bit better than you can ever do it yourself. We all get days where we feel we could not write our way out of a wet paper bag. So, we need some inspiration and encouragement from those around us.

If you have a writer you want to encourage this Christmas, I have some ideas for you! These will also work as self-help if you are the writer you want to encourage and inspire.

  • Treat yourself to a creative writing inspiration type of book. Really treat yourself or your writer and buy one new, not second hand.
  • Look at software for organizing and keeping track of freelance writing submissions. If your writer doesn’t already have something like this, you can really encourage them by giving them a tool to help them do more and do it better.
  • A dictionary is an old stand by, maybe too much of a stand by. But, if you really don’t know what to get it’s something safe. Make sure you go the extra mile and sign the dictionary with encouraging words from you.
  • A writer needs a portfolio, not so different from other artists. Talk to your writer about the portfolio they have and ask about how it could be better. Listen for ideas and ways you could help them get from where they are to where they could be.
  • Look at home offices and see what tools and gadgets would suit a writer’s home office. You might get a gift card at a store which offers wallpaper, paint and etc and let them use it toward redecorating the home office space they have.
  • Sometimes a writer needs to get away and recharge the batteries. Give your writer a trip to a spa, a coupon for a weekend of babysitting their kids, or get them tickets to a creative workshop or writer convention coming to the area.
  • If your own budget is tight give your writer a Christmas card full of inspiring quotes geared to writing and creativity. You can find all kinds of great writer-like quotes online.