Make History, Write a Letter

Want to look at the world, and its history, from a different point of view? Then I have just the book(s) for you.

Compiled by Shaun Usher, Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving a Wider Audience, volumes 1 and 2, is a fascinating collection of letters from around the world. The familiar names from history, literature, and the entertainment world, among other circles, certainly adds spice to the book but the real meat is the wide range of communication styles: love letters, rejection letters, newsy letters, job applications letters, a letter written in the 14th Century on a clay tablet, one penned by Leonardo da Vinci, another by Queen Elizabeth II to President Eisenhower, and … well, you’ll have to read the book(s) yourself.

Each letter is transcribed and has a short synopsis. Many of the letters’ original manuscripts are reproduced in the books. There are also photographs of letter writers or artwork to put the letter in historical perspective.

Here's a letter from Elvis Presley to President Nixon.


There is a letter to Francis Ford Coppola from a schoolteacher on behalf of her students asking the movie director to make a film based on the young adult novel “The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton.  Or you can see a particularly tender response letter from Iggy Pop to a fan.

The collections of letters highlight the humanity of history and gives us reason to write our own letters. It's important to keep the art of letter writing alive. 


Tiny Project - I did it!
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I made this teeny tiny book for my friends Katie. My inspiration was Alexandra Franzen's The Tiny Project Challenge.

Here are her directions: Sometime in the next 7 days, complete a tiny writing project. Or a tiny audio project. Or a tiny video project. Or a tiny drawing project. Or any kind of tiny creative project. Take a photo of your finished project. Email your photo to to say, "I did it!"

She also posted the instructions here:

I recommend you follow Alexandra. Her work is very inspirational and fun. She makes writing fun again. Follow her here:

Here's the front of my book:

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Letters don't have to long and newsy. It's OK to send a little something. The recipient will be very pleased. I guarantee it. 

Write a letter, make someone's day
 A colorful envelope makes letter writing and receiving all that much more fun. 

A colorful envelope makes letter writing and receiving all that much more fun. 

There’s nothing like having a handwritten letter waiting for you in the mailbox. Except, maybe, writing one.

What a wonderfully simple way to make someone’s day – receiving news the old-fashioned way. What a wonderfully simple way to slow down the hectic pace the digital age has wrought.

It’s odd that we are letting this communication art go fallow. As things go, letter writing is fairly inexpensive. I bet you have the necessary tools laying around your home. Let’s see … pen, paper, envelope, and a stamp. (If you are out of stamps, you probably can purchase some at the grocery store. Don’t let a trip to the post office stand in your way of making a friend’s day.)

Keeping the Art of Letter Writing Alive

I love receiving letters in the mail. The kind of letter a friend handwrites and is filled with news. Or maybe even not that full of news. I love writing letters, too, imagining the smile on the recipients face when they see something other than a bill or sales circular waiting in the mailbox. Though, like many of us, I often don't make the time to pen a note and mail it. 

 Here's a card I made - Wabi Sabi Avo.

Here's a card I made - Wabi Sabi Avo.

I want to keep the Art of Letter Writing alive. As part of that mission, I am creating cards. Simple, blank inside, only-needs-a first-class-stamp variety of cards. You can see them here. I find the process relaxing. Even when there is a hiccup, such as not waiting long enough for the paint to dry, and I have to start anew. My focus is on the process. 

There really is no rhyme to when I write a letter to someone. Birthdays are a good incentive. Also, if I see a magazine or newspaper article I think someone may enjoy, I'll tear it out and mail it to them along with a message. 

How to get your name in lights

While some people make a mean martini, I write a mean press release, or as it's called today, a mean media release. What can I say? It’s true. (And that’s no martini talking.) Want to know why the media releases I write have such a high rate of placement? Because I sat on the other side of the desk for so long. I know what editors, reporters, and news directors want, and I give it to them.

It's all pretty simple. Let me share with you what those decision-makers are looking for:  

 Getting your name in lights begins with a media release.

Getting your name in lights begins with a media release.

  • News, something interesting, a different take on a subject, an idea for a story. 
  • A press release written in clear and simple language.
  • Correct contact information. 
  • Familiarity with their magazine; newspaper; television, radio, or podcast show; and other outlets.
  • Suggestions for artwork, sample interview questions, or ideas (though don't push it).   

Here are some things they don't want:

  • Hyperbole, boasting, superlatives, and exclamation points.
  • A story already written with an assumption that it will run "as is."
  • Being pestered.

Want to know more about getting your name in lights? Let me know in the comment box. I'll do my best to answer you as quickly and informatively as I can.