Gary Susman
October 18, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Remember those letters you used to write your parents from summer camp, painting a rosy picture no matter how miserable you were? Maybe that’s what’s going on with Martha Stewart, who recently completed the first week of her five-month sentence at the federal prison camp in Alderson, W. Va., and who, between lanyard-knitting and strip-searches, found time to compose a letter to her supporters describing life at the prison nicknamed ”Camp Cupcake.” ”The camp is fine; it is pretty much what I anticipated,” Stewart writes. ”The best news — everyone is nice — both the officials and my fellow inmates. I have adjusted and am very busy. The camp is like an old-fashioned college campus — without the freedom, of course.” Or the Friday afternoon teas with the literature department.

Stewart writes that she’s touched by the hundreds of letters and thousands of e-mails she’s received since she began serving time on Oct. 8 on charges of lying to the government. (She has said she will appeal after she completes her sentence.) She asks correspondents not to send her gifts or money in the mail because prison officials will send those items right back. (So don’t make her a delicious flourless chocolate torte with a file hidden inside.) Instead, she suggests, supporters may make donations to the American Cancer Society. ”Your goodwill and best wishes will get me through this next chapter in my life,” she tells her fans. Of course, the prospective book and TV deals she has waiting for her on the outside will help as well.

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