When Reading Feels Like Coffee With a Friend…

Well it’s January 4th and I’ve already finished reading my first book of 2016.  I made a pledge on Good Reads to read 52 books this year (yikes…what was I thinking?!). You can follow my progress and reading list here!

Back in December, I took part in the 12 days of Love Letter Writing Campaign with a wonderful organization, The World Needs More Love Letters (MLL). If you ever need to know that there are good humans in the world, check out their website and the social media hashtag #moreloveletters.  It’s inspiring and will make you realize that the world isn’t such a bad place. Good exists.


I’m a member of MLL’s love letter alert and have participated in quite a few campaigns and letter requests over the last few years. It’s an organization where I find a lot of meaning and purpose. Plus I’m a sucker for good stationary and helping others find encouragement even in the smallest of ways.

In January of 2012, I was introduced to Hannah Brencher by wonderful people whom I consider my second family, the Shatsoffs. Hannah and I had a common friend in Nate.

Circumstances beyond anyone’s control lead us to meet at a Relentless Against Cancer bowling event in North Haven, CT shortly after Nate’s passing. It seemed pretty serendipitous to me, since Hannah and I are both writers – I was in the process of self-publishing my first novel and Hannah was creating The World Needs More Love Letters. Although we didn’t stay in close contact after the event, we maintained an acquaintance. I followed her blog and her MLL mission and was ecstatic for her when her first novel, If You Find This Letter, was published last year.

I felt strongly that this needed to be my first read of 2016 and I’m so glad it was. However, it’s a little weird reading a book by someone you’ve met, before she was famous, about her life that includes people you know. It’s a weird feeling, but it’s so cool!

As a self-appointed book sommelier, I can pair a wine with any book. However, reading Hannah’s memoir felt more like sitting down with an old friend to drink a big cup of coffee. So in the 15 hours or so that it took me to read it (since I was drawn in pretty quickly), I drank coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer. It was quite the perfect pairing.


If You Find This Letter has a unique rhythm.  There is a steady beat as you read. It’s almost like you can feel the city breathing underneath the story. It’s honest, truthful, and completely raw.  I admire writers who can literally hold their guts in their hands for you to read. It’s brave. Hannah is not afraid to show readers her soul.

Her journey of faith and love is one that anyone can relate to.  While reading, I felt like I was exposing my own truths and learning to have faith in myself as a person and as a writer. When I finished reading, I silently closed the book and took my large cup of coffee in both hands and breathed. I wanted to soak up every piece of the story and let it settle.  I sat in quiet for about an hour, just being. I love when books affect me like that.  That’s why I am so in love with reading. Stories – fiction or nonfiction – pull you into a world where you are capable of learning amazing things about yourself, if you only let the words affect you.

Bigger than this, is the only way to describe this book.



12 Days of Love Letter Writing + The World Needs More Love Letters

image2 (1)The holidays are always my favorite time of year. No matter what is going on in the world, or with me personally, there is always this glimmer of new hope.  Hope.  That’s what I love about the holidays.  That and for a moment there is an overwhelming feeling of love and joy that surrounds the world.

A few years back, I met a remarkable friend, Nate, who changed my life in ways I never thought possible.  And through him, I met incredible people – one being Hannah Brencher.

If you aren’t familiar with Hannah or her organization, More Love Letters (MLL), please get acquainted. In a time where we can all use a little more hope and love, Hannah and MLL fill that void.  There are good people in the world and doing good things every day (for the purpose of just doing good things).

The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing campaign brings writers together every year to collect special letter bundles for people (like you and me) that may need a little extra love, hope, or encouragement this holiday season. There are 12 days of letter requests – kinda like that whole 12 days of Christmas thing without the partridge in a pear tree.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the holiday season than writing letters to people who need a little extra love and comfort. After all, couldn’t we all use a little extra love and words of hope?

This has been one of the hardest years of my life. This year I lost my grandmother, my best friend. She always left people a littler happier than they had been before they had shared time with her. Her laugh was infectious.  Most of the happiest moments of my life have been shared with my grandma.

I take after her with my writing and my wit – two of my most blessed qualities. She never questioned my abilities as a writer, even when I questioned them myself.  She always just knew. She knew I’d be a writer. My grandmother loved to write letters.  She gave me a book of handwritten poetry and letters for my birthday about six years ago.  When I miss her most, I run my fingers across the ridges left by her pen.  Most times I cry, but often I smile, thinking of my grandma sitting at her kitchen table, glasses perched on the end of her nose, lost in thought listening to Frank Sinatra while filling my journal with some of her favorite words.

This year, I am honored to be a part of MLL’s 12 Days of Love Letter Writing campaign and sharing my blog to spread some love to Kevin.

Here is some information about Kevin:

“Kevin is just an all-around wonderful human. He is always going out of his way to make other people feel loved and included. It doesn’t take long for any random stranger to add Kevin to their “top favorite people” list.” A close friends writes to us.

Recently Kevin’s girlfriend passed away suddenly due to a brain aneurysm, she was only 32. It happened so fast that all their friends are struggling with ways to grieve and ways to heal, and of course Kevin is still going out of his way to make sure that everyone else is doing ok with the loss of their friend. Join us in showering Kevin with all the love that he consistently shows to everyone around him!

Kevin’s bundle
℅ Kayla L.
139 Ordale Boulevard
Pittsburgh PA 15228

I hope you will join me in writing to Kevin, and the rest of the 12 days of love letter writing recipients.

I don’t know about you, but I am determined to make the love and joy of the season last, at least in my orbit.  If I can leave one person feeling happier, more joyful, and feeling more loved, in my wake, I’d consider myself a blessed and accomplished person.