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HUG A GREETING CARD WRITER DAY!

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February 13, 2009

I discovered Google Alerts through a writer friend and started with two—greeting card writing and Sandra Louden.  Much to my surprise, I found many interesting allusions based on these two search designations.  One of my finds included the blog belonging to the Boscawen Public Library, where the following had been quoted and posted on October 29, 2008:

 

The biggest of libraries is wonderful, and a source I will still use, what with online renewal and a large maximum limit of checked-out material. However, the smallest of libraries also has its place. Yes, it's a quieter place and doesn't make as big a splash, but it reminds me that any place treasuring thoughts and ideas is a place to be revered, respected, and above all visited on a regular basis.

-Sandra Miller-Louden,

Pittsburgh Review-Tribune, August 3,

as quoted in American Libraries, Oct 2008.

 

I was stunned—and honored—that somehow a national library publication headquartered in Chicago had been made aware of my First Person Singular piece in a Pittsburgh Sunday supplement and found it worthy enough to quote on their regular featured page entitled “How the World Sees Us.”  My quote shared space on the same page with the likes of Cormac McCarthy and Ray Bradbury among others.  The Boscawen Public Library blog had picked up the quote from American Libraries, the Magazine of The American Library Association. 

 Boscawen is a small village in southern New Hampshire, about 30 miles NW of the capital city, Concord.  Having been to New Hampshire numerous times, I’ve always loved the state and was devastated when The Old Man of the Mountain collapsed in May, 2003. I’d visited the site twice before its demise and totally associated it with New Hampshire. The Boscawen blog is a lively place and its activities reflect that it’s the heart and soul of the community. 

 When I read my quote, I immediately contacted the folks at the American Library Association who graciously provided me with a copy of the magazine, as did one of my favorite librarians, Jane Jubb, in Pittsburgh.  It’s page center and describes the quote as [my] reflecting on her experience at the small Salisbury (PA) Public Library.  Which is, of course, exactly what the original essay was about.

 This unexpected occurrence reminded me, again, of several things.  First, of course, is the power of words.  The written word, in particular, has a force all its own and is the great equalizer among those who aspire to be compelling scribes.  If some writers are terrific speakers while others mumble and grapple their way through a speech, when their words are written, arranged in a unique way on a page—phrases put together for maximum impact—it becomes a moot point if the writer has the gift of soaring rhetoric or the curse of insipid speech.  The words—and only the words—are the power, simple yet compelling.

 It also reminded me that words are far-reaching.  I wrote a piece based on going from a huge library in Pittsburgh to basically what amounted to a Mom ‘n Pop operation in a small borough set along a highway.  It was published in Pittsburgh—and ended up in a magazine for librarians across the country—and came full circle on a blog in tiny Boscawen.  I couldn’t help but think of the seemingly-contradictory maxim—Be careful what you wish for...  Be careful what you write—it may be seen by more people than you ever imagined.

 And then I came back to greeting cards since the parallelism was undeniable.  I first sat at my dining room table writing verses; I moved to a home office when they still weren’t the norm.  I scribbled ideas sitting in the bleachers during grade school, junior high and high school basketball games and while waiting for innumerable school events to begin (and sometimes to end!).  I sent them to editors; some got published, others didn’t. 

 I began seeing “my” verses in catalogues two years after I’d started selling, and in stores after four years.  On a trip to Devonshire in the early 1990s, we stopped in a small village and in one of the card racks, there was a display of greeting cards and one of them was mine.  The same thing happened in Sitka, Alaska in 2000.  Now I visit company websites and I find them online.  Just yesterday, I was browsing in a Goodwill store and in the ten-cent box of donated greeting cards...yup! You guessed it!  A verse I sold in December 1991 staring at me with its familiar artwork.   I still receive emails asking about my Louie Award-winning verse that people relate they received from a friend or bought for someone else.

 What started out as a concept became an arrangement of words (often specifically geared toward a visual) meant to be sent from someone to someone else in times of celebration, support, sympathy.  These words eventually worked their way to a greeting card and when that happened, they no longer were just Sandra Louden’s words—they were adopted by the sender, and accepted as such, by the recipient of the card.

 What a noble responsibility we have as writers, whether in articles, short stories, essays or greeting cards.  What we write today may very well be enjoyed, appreciated, cherished for years to come.

 And that’s my Word For Word.

 Well.  The weather finally broke and despite my conviction to the contrary, we still have a lawn.  A New Year’s Eve celebrant knocked down our number sign on the curve of the highway and we have some deep ruts in our grass where folks cut the corner too close, but otherwise it’s pretty much intact.  I never thought I’d like mud and grit, but it’s a darned sight better than ice, snow, sleet and did I mention, ice, snow, sleet?

 As most of you probably know from my online announcement, my book on greeting card writing was accepted by a major publisher.  It will start out as an ebook and then, if sales are strong enough, segue into a traditionally-bound book.  Judging both from the steady stream of emails I continue to receive about the original Write Well & Sell: Greeting Cards and the exorbitant price being charged for a copy of this book on sites like Amazon and eBay, I have high hopes my newest edition in ebook form will do just fine.  I’m planning some exciting promotions as well, and as always, I’m here to answer questions with that personal touch you’ve come to appreciate.  With the “from scratch” marketing that a self-published book requires, having a publisher take over will free some of my time.  I’m looking forward to that being spent in writing and answering the emails I constantly receive.

 In addition, besides teaching online at www.writerscollege.com, I’m offering my 8 session course on writing greeting cards directly through me.  This was a course I successfully taught through Absolute Write for seven years and now offer it to you at a substantial discount. 

 We’re also in the process of radically updating my site—clearing out old pages that no longer work and adding new ones, cleaning up the home page and sprucing up both the look and content.   If you have specific suggestions on any features you’d like to see, I’d love to hear them. 

 Despite the gloom and doom of economic news, people send greeting cards.  They’re still considered an extremely reasonable commodity with a long history of keeping people in touch with each other.  As we march toward warmer weather, those spring seasonals call.  Starting with Valentine’s Day and ending with Father’s Day and Graduation, we have plenty of reasons to send greeting cards. 

I recently received an email from a lady in Texas who told me she’d decided to send one greeting card per day.  As she browsed the racks and spinners in earnest, she found a whole new appreciation of the occasions and the thousands of ways to say I love you, I miss you, Congratulations, Hey there!, What’s up!?   That’s the business we’re in—and what a glorious way to do business.

Happy Groundhog’s Day! Happy Valentine’s Day!  Happy Black History Month!  Happy 200th Birthday, Abraham Lincoln (and belated wishes to January’s Edgar Allan Poe on his 200th Birthday)! Happy Washington’s Birthday!  And Happy 31 Days of Oscar on my favorite channel of all—TCM!

 See you next month!

Best,

Sandra

 
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