The perks of being a LEP-flower

Is it just us or does it seem as though there are a lot of penpal clubs popping up these days? This just means that more and more people are interested in letters and penpalling, which is awesome! Viva la snail mail, right? Each letter and postcard matters, especially when it unifies and connects people all over the world.

So, with all the penpal clubs out there, why be a member of the League of Extraordinary Penpals? What makes the League of Extraordinary Penpals unique?

The perks of a club with paid membership

Well, we may be biased here, but we think LEP is unique because it has the best group of snail mailers—bar none—on this planet. (Seriously, they're AWESOME.)

In addition, LEP is exclusive. We chose to make LEP a "club" in the traditional sense—membership fees and all—because we wanted LEP to be a closed-group of really passionate letter writers.

Ironically, LEP's exclusivity is why it's so inclusive; having a closed-group contributes to the open nature of the LEP group. Within the LEP community, members are supportive and inspirational and they don't have to worry about sharing private information about themselves—even their addresses—because they know that they're among friends.

The Internet is full of trolls—go on any free website and you'll find pages and pages of inane and complaining comments from people who happened to come across that page. There's none of that drama at LEP. Everyone there is happy to contribute, happy to share, and happy to support one another.

And why?

Well, because they're great. And also because they really want to be there and have such passion for snail mail. Do you remember being a kid and loving something so much that you paid money to be part of that thing's fanclub? Would you purchase membership to a club if you didn't love what that club represented? I mean, I joined the New Kids on the Block fanclub as a kid because I loved NKOTB and was going to marry Joey McIntyre (Super Sushi joined the Madonna fanclub, though she didn't intend to marry Madonna). I wouldn't have forked over my allowance back then if I wasn't a diehard NKOTB fan (unnecessary disclaimer: I never married Joey Mcintyre. The timing was just never right). Similarly, we really wanted members who loved snail mail as much as we do—and each of LEP's members more than qualifies. In fact, their passion for all things paper is a constant inspiration.

Why charge a membership?

Some people may believe that we choose to charge membership because we don't have passion for snail mail, that we're simply in it for the money. But I think the goal of any working adult is to love what they do for a living. Julie and I love snail mail. So much so that we want to do it as an occupation. It's misguided to think that people need to prove their passion and love for something by doing it for free. For example, are artists not passionate about art because they sell their paintings? Do singers not love singing if they get paid for it? No. People have bills to pay and obligations to meet and unfortunately, passion alone doesn't put food on the table. (In fact, if you take a look, many "free" websites and clubs accept donations/sponsors or charge for an "upgraded" membership, which is also another way to generate revenue. They likely do so because they also have associated costs that come with pursuing their passion and passion alone doesn't keep a roof over their heads.)

So yes, we do make some money from LEP. But the operative word there is some. Can we afford a house of 23 servants and gold statues of our likenesses? WE WISH! But sadly, no. In fact, we make considerably less per hour of work than the average minimum wage; but even if that wasn't the case, we don't think it's unreasonable to want to make a few dollars doing something we love to do. Everyone just wants to be paid for doing something that they love, don't they? I mean, if I got paid to drink tea, I'd be a MILLIONAIRE by now.

The not-so-perks of a club with paid membership

Unfortunately, the problem with setting LEP as a paid club is that members lose access to everything LEP offers when their membership lapses. This not only includes the newsletter, it also includes access to the Facebook Group and the LEP clubs.

We understand that some members like the newsletter and others only get value out of the Facebook Group. But like all clubs, you have to purchase the membership to get full access to everything. For example, gyms don't typically allow former members to hang out in the steam room once they stop paying their membership; similarly, it's unlikely that members are allowed to only pay 10% of the membership fee because they only use 10% of the services. Like other clubs, it's all or nothing.

However, we encourage members to share their comments if they have suggestions for improvement or don't like how things are done. LEP is a new project and we're trying to make LEP the best penpal club it can be and we're always looking for ways to improve. If you have constructive criticism, please share it with us! We would never ever kick any members out of the club simply for voicing their opinions or criticisms. You could even say things like our handwriting looks like chicken scratch, that we smell like pee, or that it looks like birds live in our hair. We wouldn't be overly pleased, but you're welcome to your opinion!

Sushi and the Squirrel may have started LEP, but the club is only as good as its members. We think we have the best members of any club anywhere and we're so appreciative that you've joined us on this snail mail adventure. We hope you all stick with us until the end because it's been a lot of fun so far, wouldn't you agree?!?

Come enter the LEP Reading Lair... if you dare!

This week we're pleased to have a guest post from LEP members Cassie & Anny (AKA Stargazer and Captain Bookworm), the fantastic coordinators of the LEP Reading Lair! Read on to get acquainted with our super club coordinators, learn the ins and outs of the ever-so-secretive reading lair, and discover the activities that are brewing within its walls.

This is your (second*) official invitation to the Reading Lair!
* First mentioned in the LEP Newsletter, April Issue

When you are in THE League of Extraordinary Penpals it's important to have a place to fit your hero's big egos... er... interests. That's why we have a Reading Lair with a HUGE library full of books and other necessary rooms where you can train, write letters, and anything else your super-human-extraordinary-selves might desire.

So how about a brief tour for the uninitiated or those lost in the stacks? (Be warned that all of this follows the very important secret code & “handshake”. Heroes must come *prepared!)
*League membership required.

Once you have been briefed and made “formal” introductions in the Foyer we get to the good stuff. Enter the Inner Sanctum; dear readers, this is your library. Here we discuss books we would like to read together and discuss those that we are reading. Check here for current swaps and WTAs (Winner Takes All) in the Mail Room. While there, be sure to post any upcoming mail calls, birthdays, etc. to the monthly Notice Board. Seek out the Training Room for games and challenges. Chitchat in the Lounge. And if you happen to enjoy other forms of writing (aside from letters) then curl up in the Writing Nook.

Now that you are all acquainted perhaps you would like to know what we have been up to! For April and May our book club picks were Little Women, Wuthering Heights, and Wool Omnibus. Post suggestions now for our next read-a-long!

Partners for the handcrafted bookmark swap will soon be assigned! Stay tuned... we will have a new swap up for June! Rachel Miller was April's WTA winner! She will receive a postcard with five book recommendations from everyone else who played.

Do you love zines or want to try making your own? We are putting together our first collaborative zine. There is still time to join in!

So let's see: new book picks coming, new swap... what else is in store for LEP members in the Reading Lair? As requested, we will have a Skype chat in *June!
*Date TBA

If you are the sort of LEPer who enjoys a challenge then stay tuned! In June we will reveal the first set of challenges, post a scoreboard in the Training Room, and award a prize in September!

Stay alert!
Stargazer and Captain Bookworm

Thanks ladies! So, what are you guys waiting for? Join the LEP Reading Lair and get reading!!

LEP sale!

We're having a huge sale here at LEP - 33% off all stationery sets (lined and unlined) until next Tuesday. Why a 33% discount? Because that's how old I (Super Sushi) am. And that should be a good enough reason.

Lined stationery

Every kit includes 25 sheets of writing paper that is fountain pen friendly. Each sheet is 5.25" x 8.25" or 135mm x 205mm (A5 size) and is thick enough for you to write on both sides if you wish to do so.

Every stationery order comes with a free membership card!

Unlined stationery

Every kit includes 25 sheets of writing paper that is fountain pen friendly. Each sheet is 5.25" x 8.25" or 135mm x 205mm (A5 size) and is thick enough for you to write on both sides if you wish to do so.

Every stationery order comes with a free membership card!

The sale only lasts until Tuesday, May 21 - so grab a set or two while you can!

Handwriting porn

Yes, some of us may have discussed pornography at length in the Facebook group, but this is not what this post is about!

I'm here to tell you all that I have a handwriting fetish. It's true, I like looking at pretty handwriting. And some of our LEP members have amazing handwriting, let me tell you!

So let's look at a few of them and fantasize together...

Do we have other handwriting perverts in the League of Extraordinary Penpals or am I the only one?!

Reporting from the planet Ziggy Stardust, it's Lady Stardust!

Hello My Fellow League Members! Lady Stardust here, with the scoop on how I make those super portraits you see in each and every LEP Monthly Meeting Newsletter... Sushi & Squirrel thought ya'll might find that interesting. ;) So I am here to divulge my super secrets!

STEP ONE: Identify & Analyze the Subject

This is one of the most fun parts of making super portraits of you guys! I get to read the Super Spotlight interviews ahead of time, which makes me feel uber special. Along with the interview I am sent some snapshots of the month's Spotlight subject for reference (very important, or else I'd just get to make up what you guys look like based on the answers to your interview questions... which would actually be pretty hilarious I think!). I like to glance at the photos before I read the interview so I can start imagining what your super-self might look like!

I can glean a lot of info just from that interview, and usually I end up reading it several times over during the process to get the portrait just right... I take notes in my sketchbook and decide on colors and weaponry and a super-pose as I go through the interview. I have contacted the Super Spotlight subject in the past to clarify if they fail to mention something like favorite colors in the interview, but usually it's pretty easy to figure out what you're all about after just a few questions!

STEP TWO: Super Name

I always start with writing the name in that fancy bubble font... I don't know why. It's easy & straightforward, probably, unlike Step Three.

STEP THREE: Mad Sketching & Erasing

Draw a line, erase, repeat is about the way it goes when I'm trying to draw you guys! If any of you have ever tried to draw a person from real life, or have tried to recreate a specific character, you know it's a challenge to get them to actually LOOK like themselves, haha! Mostly it just comes with practice. One year I drew 100 thumbnail (no bigger than an inch or two) pencil portraits of random people from stock photo sites, which REALLY helped my ability to capture a real person in cartoon form on paper. This step can be frustrating (but that's probably because it's the most important one, haha).

STEP FOUR: Digitize!

I always sketch with a pen & paper but LOVE my fabulous Wacom Tablet for comic-book style ink & color! Once I'm satisfied with the sketch I take a crappy photo of it, trace the lines in Photoshop, add color and that circle background thing, and voila! You have a super portrait!

And look, I made a fancy gif for you guys to see the step-by-step from sketch to finish, featuring this month's Super Spotlight, Taradactyl! :D

Stay super, ladies & gents,
Lady Stardust OUT!

NOTE: Lady Stardust also has an Etsy store, which contains awesome stationery for letters and cards for important dates like Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, and most importantly, UFO Alien Extraterrestrial Abductions Day. Don't be stuck without a card for UFO Day, and go buy something awesome right away!!

My mail please, Carson!

It's no secret that I love period dramas. I looooooooovveeee period dramas!

Part of it is because of the dashing men and the irresistible wooing. Who can argue with Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Rochester, or Mr. Moray?

The other part is the mail. Oh, the mail! Not only was mail written in beautiful script and sealed with wax seals, it was delivered on silver platters.

Take a moment to appreciate the sheer brilliance of that: MAIL. ON. SILVER. PLATTERS.

By someone who looked like this (though--I suspect--minus the Carson attitude):

Aaaaahhhhhhh, doesn't that sound divine?

Of course, if you know me at all or have been reading my posts for a while, none of this silver platter mail business is new. But, it got me thinking about how today's mail delivery could be be "spiced" up so that it was 2013's version of the silver platter. Here are some of my ideas:

- mail delivered by balloons: when you get a letter, you just pop the balloon and boom! There's your letter!
- mail delivered by actual snails. A little on the slow side, but literal snail mail might be fun!
- mail messages delivered by singing telegrams! ("la la la! This is just a message to let you know that I'm re-watching Empire Records for the millionth time. How are you? la la la!")
- goat delivery (in hindsight, this would probably be a disaster--the goats would keep eating the letters and nothing would be achieved)
- good, old fashioned pigeon post (mind the poop)
- attach notes to an arrow (sorry guys, I can't be penfriends with anyone who doesn't live in the same house as me. My arrows don't go further than 6 inches....)
- message in a bottle
- really, really, really, really, really long tin can phone

Now it's your turn: what would be a really unique way of receiving mail? How else could mail be delivered other than the regular in-a-mailbox method? C'mon LEP members, you're extraordinary! Now we want to hear your extraordinary ideas for brilliant and fun mail delivery.