Monday, September 14, 2015

#Penpals Then and Now by Karen Rose Smith

Penpals were the rage in the 60's and 70's. I bought and subscribed to teen magazines like Teen Screen and a publication from England called Rave. In those magazines, teenagers from all over the world would list their addresses and interests in hopes of having another teen write to them. Yes, it was a different world. But that's the way we communicated without the internet. I had a few penpals in England since I wanted to know about everything Beatles related! London, Liverpool, and the countryside fascinated me. I corresponded with about ten pen pals throughout my college years. I had also listed my name and photo in one of the mags, myself. Several serviceman in Vietnam and I corresponded during those years. Penpals were about learning of other cultures, supporting those who served, and making friends. We wrote about our daily life and our hopes and dreams.  One particular serviceman and I formed a pen friendship for over two years and I saved all of his letters. That was a unique time in history--coffee houses, protests, moratoriums...a unique time in my life.

I guess my ease with letter writing and penpals was one of the reasons why I was able to take to Twitter and Facebook so easily. No, I don't empty my heart out the way I did in those letters.  I know that world has changed and nothing I write remains private.  But I still find it gratifying to make friends all over the share like interests about cats and cooking. I like staying in touch with readers and fellow writers. It's the same process of putting down my thoughts into words and connecting with another person. I understand why teens today text the way they do. With my penpals, using stamps and wax sealer (a fad at the time), I had to wait for weeks for letters. Texting, posting and emailing can be instantaneous.

So we're all learning to express ourselves using these tech I once did using a pen and paper. We talk about how the world has changed. And it has. Yet our desire to connect with each other might be even more important now than it was years ago.



USA TODAY Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith is an only child who delved into books at an early age. She learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew and wished she could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though she escaped often into story worlds, she had many aunts, uncles and cousins around her on weekends. Her sense of family and relationships began there. Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in her novels, whether mysteries or romances. Her 87th novel will be released in 2015.

Readers often ask her about her pastimes. She has herb, flowers and vegetable gardens that help her relax. In the winter, she cooks rather than gardens. And year round she spends most of her time with her husband, as well as her four rescued cats who are her constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding her life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Karen looks forward to interacting with readers. They can find her at the links below. 


©2015 Karen Rose Smith


Laurie I said...

I can't believe I'm reading this today. I was literally just thinking about pen pals because I wanted to include it in a story I'm writing. What a coincidence. My daughter had an international pen pal in grade school. Sadly they eventually lost touch. I love the idea of a pen pal to learn about other cultures.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Karen. I still enjoy letter writing.

Janet said...

The old-fashioned exchange of letters was so much fun. I love the instant communication available today. It's great for keeping in touch. However, I still love to go to the mailbox and find a real letter waiting for me. It's a pleasure to sit down and hold that letter and know someone took that extra time to send it.