A Month of Letters 2013 Update #4

Posted in Event at 9:21 pm by Amber

Lettermo is no more but the spirit lives on.

This week I mostly sent letters:

  • Michelle Obama
  • Mary Robinette Kowal – I received her reply to my first letter this week so I sent her a reply.
  • An introductory letter to a UK Lettermo participant.
  • An introductory postcard to a US Lettermo participant.
  • Replies to Beth Cato, Rhonda Parrish, and a third Lettermo participant.
  • Girls Love Mail – I sent a small package with three letters.
  • A birthday present for my niece.

As of today I have mailed 25 items, received 14 Achievements and have an achievement score of 140.

In last week’s update I mentioned some people have mailed hundreds of items and pondered how much was spent in postage. One person was kind enough to share his statistics for the month. In February he sent out 56 cards and spent about $33.40 in postage. He received 23 pieces of mail which I think is a wonderful number. At the end of January he sent out 14 items which may have helped increase what he received.

My mailed items went to:

  1. Alberta, Canada
  2. Berlin, Germany
  3. Southampton, United Kingdom
  4. California, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington D.C, and Wisconsin.

Next week I’ll have a wrap-up post.



Upcoming Niteblade Fundraiser

Posted in Event at 8:30 am by Amber

Niteblade will have their second annual fundraiser next month starting on March 1st. Last year Niteblade raised $108.78. I handle interviews for Niteblade as a volunteer. We’re all volunteers.

This year Rhonda Parrish will be using IndieGoGo to run the campaign. Do you have anything you want to donate to the fundraiser? Last year’s donations included books, critiques, knitted items and cookies. Let Rhonda know if you’re interested in donating something. Her email address is rhonda at niteblade.com.


A Month of Letters 2013 Update #3

Posted in Event at 8:50 pm by Amber

The third week for the challenge is now over!

This week I mostly sent postcards and letters:

  • Artist Deena Warner – Starting in 2005 I’ve received an annual Halloween card from  her. For once, I thought I’d send her a little artwork, and sent her a Niteblade postcard featuring artwork from Marge Simon.
  • A reply to Suey of It’s All About Books.
  • A friend in New Jersey.
  • An introduction letter to a Lettermo Participant who friended me on the forums.

As of today I have mailed 17 items, received 11 achievements and have an achievement score of 90. One person has mailed 374 items. While I can estimate that is quite a bit of postage, I can’t help but wonder what the person has mailed to people. Are they postcards, mailart, packages, or letters?

I have been quite a bit more active on the forums this year for Lettermo and one of the questions posed was “In what order do you send your mail?” When you have a bunch of thank you cards, for example, do you tackle the shortest content first? Do you write them in alphabetical order? Do you send them out according to geographic area?

My goal for Lettermo was to send letters internationally first and when it came to my Valentines I sent them out according to the furthest point from me first to Ohio addresses last. Everything else has been sent with no rhyme or reason.


Mailbox Monday – February 18th

Posted in Event at 5:18 pm by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia for originating Mailbox Monday. This weekly meme is now on tour with a new host each month. February’s host is Audra of Unabridged Chick.

The Threshold Child by Callie Kanno for review. Adesina was trained from childhood to serve her land as a warrior and a spy. When she is selected to combat a group of seditious magic users, she must summon all of her talents–some of which have been buried in the deepest part of her.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


A Month of Letters 2013 Update #2

Posted in Event at 9:28 pm by Amber

The second week for the challenge is now over. I skipped mailing on Friday and Saturday and made it up on other days.

It was a big week for Valentines:

  • A birthday card for Kimmie’s niece.
  • Valentine’s cards for my two best friends.
  • Valentine’s postcards to Beth Cato, my parents, and my brother-in-law’s family.
  • A postcard to the station manager of the main post office.
  • A letter to a fellow Lettermo participant in Germany

Incoming mail is still slow but more than before. My first item was a letter from Suey of It’s All About Books. I received a funny Valentine from Beth Cato. Not surprisingly, a package arrived from my mother with Valentine’s Day goodies for me and my husband. And today I found a pleasantly large envelope from Rhonda Parrish. It was a cute notecard with some Niteblade postcards which I will be sending to other Lettermo participants.

Something new this year for Lettermo are the enhancements to the site. It keeps track of the # of items you mailed, and gives you an achievement score for different things (finding a new mailbox, sending a valentine/birthday wishes, mailing to an international address, etc.). As of today I have mailed 13 items, received 8 achievements and have an achievement score of 42. Some people have mailed out 159 items. That seems unbelievable!

Heather B. Armstrong made a timely post about teaching her daughter how to address an envelope I thought I’d share with you today.

Would you like me to send you something in the mail? Let me know and I’ll send you an email to get your address.


MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

Posted in Review at 9:41 am by Amber

Title: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend
Author: Rachel Bertsche
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Columbus Metropolitan Library

When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code, let alone an apartment, with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, Bertsche realizes that her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington, D.C. Still, in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for girl talk over brunch or a reality-TV marathon over a bottle of wine. Taking matters into her own hands, Bertsche develops a plan: She’ll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

In her thought-provoking, uproarious memoir, Bertsche blends the story of her girl-dates (whom she meets everywhere from improv class to friend rental websites) with the latest social research to examine how difficult—and hilariously awkward—it is to make new friends as an adult. In a time when women will happily announce they need a man but are embarrassed to admit they need a BFF, Bertsche uncovers the reality that no matter how great your love life is, you’ve gotta have friends.

Book Cover of MWF Seeking BFF

My situation is a slightly different from Bertsche’s. I stayed in town but my two best friends moved elsewhere for love. While I was in my 20s this was alright but now that I’m just starting my 40s I realize I want to do things (like taking cooking classes) which my husband has no interest in and some of these things are more fun when it’s a shared experience. I picked this up because I wondered how she went about finding a new best friend and whether or not she was successful.

She does manage to go on 52 girl-dates during the year. But she forgot it takes more than a date to find a new best friend. I’m surprised she was able to juggle all her commitments between work, her family, and the follow-up dates. Bertsche is methodical in her search. She interviews friendship experts. She turns to different places to meet women who may share her values and interests.

I’ve been thinking about how men have side-to-side friendships and women have face-to-face friendships. Men bond by doing activities together (watching tv) while women bond through conversation (such as coffee or shared meals). Just looking at my small department (4 men and 3 women) seems to give some validity to this theory.

It’s given me food for thought and I’ve been recommending it as my recent non-fiction read.


Mailbox Monday – February 11th

Posted in Event at 9:10 pm by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia for originating Mailbox Monday. This weekly meme is now on tour with a new host each month. February’s host is Audra of Unabridged Chick.

Shadows and Secrets (Annals of Wynnewood, Book 1) by Chautona Havig. No one knows what the cloaked creature is or why it is so terrifying. The villagers of Wynnewood only know that they must stay away from “the creature” for fear of their physical and spiritual safety. An unfortunate encounter with a dragon introduces Philip Ward to the creature, and to his surprise, he finds a friend, confidante, and companion in more adventure than he’d ever dreamed possible. Follow Philip and the creature as they rescue a lame child, discover “pirate treasure,” and test the mettle of true friendship.  Shadows & Secrets is the first book in the Annals of Wynnewood.

Hellbender by Jason Jack Miller. Although the Collins clan is steeped in Appalachian magic, Henry has never paid it much attention. But when his younger sister dies mysteriously Henry can’t shake the feeling that the decades-old feud between his family and another is to blame. Strange things are happening at the edge of reality, deep in the forests and mountains of West Virginia. Let Jason Jack Miller take you to a place where love is forever even when death isn’t, where magic doesn’t have to be seen to be believed, where a song might be the only thing that saves your soul. Jason Jack Miller’s Murder Ballads and Whiskey series is a unique blend of dark fiction, urban fantasy and horror. It’s Appalachian Gothic, Alt.Magical.Realism, Hillbilly Horror. It’s American Gods meets Justified. True Blood with witches. It’s Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?


A Month of Letters 2013 Update #1

Posted in Event at 7:49 pm by Amber

It’s a week into February and I’ve been doing well at keeping up with the challenge.

So far I’ve sent mail to:

Incoming mail has been small. I received some postage stamps I ordered online and cute Valentine’s Day postcards from Etsy. I’m not expecting much return mail this year.

I thought for this next week it would be interesting to write to authors whose work I like. Some had contact forms on their site or an email address listed. Not surprisingly in this day and age, not many of them have snail mail addresses available. Here were my findings:

  1. Kate Atkinson – No snail mail information.
  2. Margaret Atwood – Snail mail contacts for agent, foreign language rights, film/tv rights and research/academic inquiries.
  3. Emma Donoghue – Snail mail contacts for film rights, agent, speaking engagements, and so on.
  4. Neil Gaiman – Snail mail address for one of his assistants.
  5. Sara Gruen – Snail mail address for agent and speaking engagements.
  6. Joe Hill – No snail mail information.
  7. Jim C. Hines – No snail mail information.
  8. Lee Martin – Snail mail contacts for media and agents contacts. He’s local to me so I could send a letter to his office at the university but that’s stalkerish behavior.
  9. Christopher Moore – No snail mail information.
  10. R.L. Naquin – No snail mail information.
  11. Kait Nolan – No snail mail information.

If you’re participating, are you doing any “theme” weeks?


The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb

Posted in Review at 8:41 am by Amber

Title: The Fate of Mercy Alban
Author: Wendy Webb
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Source: ARC from Betsey H. at Hyperion Books in exchange for an honest review

Grace Alban has spent more than twenty years avoiding her childhood home, the stately Alban House on the shores of Lake Superior, for reasons she would rather forget. But when her mother’s unexpected death brings Grace and her teenage daughter back, she finds more is haunting the halls and passageways of Alban House than her own personal demons.

Long-buried family secrets, a packet of old love letters, and a lost manuscript plunge Grace into a decades-old mystery about a scandalous party at Alban House, when a world-famous author took his own life and Grace’s aunt disappeared without a trace. The night has been shrouded in secrecy by the powerful Alban family for all of these years.  Her mother intended to tell the truth about that night to a reporter on the very day she died—could it have been murder? Or was she a victim of the supposed Alban curse? Grace soon realizes her family secrets tangle and twist as darkly as the mansion’s secret passages.


Book cover of The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb

I read this mostly during my lunch hour at work. Even in that brightly lit room I could feel the dust in the unused secret passages or have to look over my shoulder to be certain no one was watching me from an unknown hiding place.

Webb definitely makes the Alban House into a character that plays a part in the mysteries of Grace’s family. Other characters include servants who were at Alban House the night of the suicide and disappearance, a local Lutheran minister and the reporter who was nosing around the family before Grace’s mother passed away. Amity is written a real teenager. She’s sullen and is more interested in texting her friends at home than spending time with her mother.

The plot included some unexpected twists. Overall, it was a pleasure to read.