Production Blog for the new anthology from Jason Rodriguez, coedited with James W. Powell
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jason: All You Leave is a Paragraph

I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania - Robin loves the spa at the Hershey Hotel and for her birthday I took her there for two days of pampering - whatever she wanted. After her chocolate massage and chocolate fondue wrap and chocolate bath and whatever else she got that made her smell like cocoa heaven we prepared ourselves for an evening of fine dining and romancing, but first visiting a couple of antique shops.

I'm not a fan of antique shops, mainly because Robin can spend several hours going from one to the next, but it was her birthday so I couldn't complain. We walk around this huge antique mall, I'm so close behind her that I'm practically tripping over her feet - it's my way of hurrying her up without being a complete jerk (only a partial one, I guess).

She starts flipping through this shoebox filled with postcards - there must have been at least a thousand cards in there and I realized this was going to be a long day. She feels my breath on the back of her neck and rolls her eyes, turns to move on - I'm in trouble now - my gift of spa treatments and fine dining completely erased.

"Some of those cards were actually sent out. It's kind of interesting, what people wrote on them," she tells me as she walks away. She knows me well; she knows what would get my attention and pry me off of her back. I'm the guy that reads the writing on the bathroom wall and tries to imagine the person who wrote it - I make up stories about people who write in the margins of library books. I'm a fan of people's residuals.

Without saying a word I reach into the shoebox and pull out this card:

I flip it over and see the postcard was sent in 1942 to a Mrs. Gretna Sheffer of Dillsburg, PA. It reads:

Dear Mother
I arrived safely and everything is going fine. Lehr gets shipped out to-morrow & I guess I will go soon too. Well goodbye & I will write to you after.
Your son, Earl

For all I know, this could have been the last postcard Earl Sheffer ever sent. For all I know, aside from public records, this could be the only artifact left behind that proves Earl Sheffer even existed - it could be the only thing that gives us any insight into who he was.

Earl Sheffer could have been shipped out to Europe to fight in World War II and for all I know, Earl Sheffer could have left nothing behind except for this one paragraph.

And just like that I had my anthology.

Each creative team will be presented with different postcards and they will choose one that inspires them and they will complete the story behind the card. It can be about the person who received it, the person who sent it, the person mentioned in the card - the team can go thirty years into the future and catch us up on what transpired since the card was sent - whatever the team feels is the story to this card, they will tell it.

And I started pitching it and found that people where behind this idea - within a week of pitching this book to creators there was no doubt in my mind we were going to do it.

I'll start rolling them out one team at a time; we have a year's worth of buzz to build. I'll also be posting photos, postcards, information on the production process - who I've contacted for marketing and distribution and how it turned out (provided it's information I can legally disclose) - and more.

Over time, leading up to the publication of the anthology, this production blog will slowly be incorporated into a full-up website, complete with news and reviews, an online store, and, of course, e-postcards (come on, it's an obvious choice).

We have a fun ride ahead of us and I thank you for stopping by, I appreciate the support, and hope you keep on coming back to see what we're up to.


Caleb Monroe said...

Go Jason!

I think you've hit on a great concept for a book here. My wife is an antique store addict, so I know the environment, and even the used postcards, very well. Why did I never think of this?

12:18 PM  
Deb said...

I love this line of thinking too. Especially when the visual they chose
(the postcard sender) is so stimulating it provides a needed juxtaposition for creating a story around it.

12:31 PM  
Jason said...

Caleb – It really just hit me the second I looked at that first card. I guess when you don’t expect much for something, it leave you open to inspiration.

I had about seven people consulting me on ideas that ranged from a MOOSE IN THE CLOSET ( type of story-telling anthology to the regular ‘ole stories about your dad to space/crime hybrids. It was all sort of eh.

Then I saw the postcards and it just made sense – I couldn’t believe the things would scribble on cardboard and send across the country back then. It was amazing.

Deb – Thanks! I already got a pitch in from one of the teams and they made great use of the non-text to tell their story. I’m excited to see what else we get.

12:44 PM  
JohnH985 said...

Are you still looking for people to work on the book? I'm a writer from a few years back, if you're interested I'll send you more info about me...but I love the idea and would love to be part of it.


12:19 PM  
Jason said...

There will be one open submission story. I'm sort of booked up with the other 13 stories, I didn't expect so many people to say "yes" so I sort of ended up over allocated.

2:40 PM  

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