Julia Ellingboe

is creating Stories by Mail

Select a membership level

$1
per group of letters, postcards, or packages sent.
Letter Interceptor. You'll get online access to the archives of letters and postcards and can watch the stories unfold.
$2
per group of letters, postcards, or packages sent.
Postcards from the Edge. You'll get a postcard from my ever-replenishing stash of postcards. I've been collecting them for almost 30 years. It will be written in character. Plus you'll get access to the archives. The stories on these postcards will be ongoing and can be ended or upgraded at any time.
Limited (30 of 30 remaining)
$5
per group of letters, postcards, or packages sent.
You've Got Snail Mail! You'll get a letter, 2-4 pages long (sometimes longer), written in character on story-appropriate paper. And access to the archives. The stories in these letters will be ongoing and can be ended or upgraded/downgraded at any time.

3

patrons

$13

per group of letters, postcards, or packages sent.

About

Fictional pen pals write to you of their trials and tribulations. 

This project is a melding some of my favorite things:  folk ballads, writing letters, and mail art. I love getting mail. Not email, snail mail. Hard copy mail. Mail you can save in your underwear drawer. I doubt I'm alone in my fondness for handwritten letters. Most of our correspondence these days is instant and impulsive and sterile and electronic. In a handwritten letter, you can catch glimpses of what the writer decided not to say under scribbled-over text. You might have to decipher a hastily written sentence. You might wonder why one sentence was written quickly, but the next one was written neatly and deliberately. Letters are a little like music. They have pitch, tone, texture.

Then there's folk music, balladry, and broadsides from the England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the United States. I've visited this playground of words and song in my game writing and fiction writing. The timeless stories in these ballads beg for re-telling and perspective shifting.

I want to "sing" the stories in those ballads and broadsides with handwritten letters, postcards, and small packages. So in this year-long project, I will write letters to you, the patrons, and retell the stories of some of my favorite folk ballads in this weird, old-but-new again way, and I'm inviting you all to read along. Each letter, postcard, or package will be a piece of the story written by a character. All letters will be handwritten. No two letters will be the same, although a character might write to more than one patron.

As I write, I'll compile the letters in an archive so your fellow patrons can read the stories as they unfold. The archive will be both plain text and images of snippets of the letters, the postcards, and the contents of packages. My biggest goal for this project is to develop the text of the letters and postcards into a collection of short stories.

The "Playlists"
Here's the anticipated lineup and their numbers if they are Child Ballads or in the Roud Folk Song Index. Some stories will wrap up in a one or a few letters or postcards, others may take more correspondence to finish. I've divided them into themes. Patrons can pick the themes, and I'll surprise you with the ballad. The stories that emerge will mingle and intertwine into a greater story. Some ballads fall into more than one theme. The lineup is subject to change depending on where the stories go.

Murder Ballads

"Young Waters" (Child 94)
"Pretty Polly" (Roud 15)
"Edward" (Child 13)
"Lord Randall" (Child 12)
Love and Sex (18+)
"Tam Lin" (Child 39)
"Black Is the Color" (Roud 3103)
"Cold Haily Windy Night" (Roud 135)
"The Bonny Hind" and "Sheath and Knife" (Child #50 and #16) Content warning: these haunting, tragic ballads deal with sex, consensual or unintentional incest, and suicide. Available by request and only at the subscription levels.
The Fae Folk
"Reynardine" (Roud 397)
"Tam Lyn" (for general audiences)
"The Elfin Knight" (Child 2)
"Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight" (Child 4)
Sailors and Soldiers
"Maid on the Shore" (Roud 181)
"The Daemon Lover" (Child 243)
"Lily Munroe" (Roud 268) 

How often will you send me stuff?
Every one to two months. I will process your pledge when the batch of letters are ready to go. The two subscription levels get you a set number of letters and such in six month or twelve month spans. 

What languages can you write to in?
English. I may throw in a few snippets of other languages, though. 

Will you send stuff overseas?
Yes. 
Top image credit: a postcard from a similar epistolary game. Please note, it is intentionally nonsensical and was scripted by cycling phrases in English through Google Translate (Irish) over and over. 
Goals
$13 of $40 per group of letters, postcards, or packages sent.
At this level, at least one patron from the $5 level will receive their letter as a book cipher and one patron at the $2 level will receive the key on their postcard (the postcard will be posted in the archive, too).  
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