Letters from Ghosts (#JusJoJan)

Some of you know, and I think I mentioned it on the blog here, that I was the listowner of a mailing list called Ghostletters for a number of years. The idea behind Ghostletters, and its subtitle, was “Conversations between fictionl and historical characters.” If you wanted to write on the list, you had to do so in character (your “persona”). Your persona could be a historical person (e.g. Julius Caesar), a fictional character someone else created (e.g. Sherlock Holmes — everyone wanted to be Sherlock, it seems), or a fictional character of your own choosing, the option most of us took.

The other requirement of Ghostletters was that communications had to be done in epistolary form, i.e. letters. Well, that’s how it started, anyway; soon many of us couldn’t resist writing stories involving our characters, and the list filled with stories about our characters.

My original character was Jack O’Brian, a widowed bartender and restaurateur who had received most of his culinary training as a Commissaryman (now a Culinary Specialist) in the US Navy. Eventually my circle of characters grew to include his daughter, Mary Cecelia (no, it’s not spelled wrong; it’s on her birth certificate that way), a diminutive redhead with beautiful emerald-green eyes and a love of firearms, Father John J. Flanagan, a semi-retired Jesuit and inveterate smartass (there was a Fr. Flanagan at my old parish in Chicago, and the character was a tribute to him), and many more characters, too many to list in a JJIJ post.

A somewhat close approximation of Mary Cecelia O’Brian. Definitely the attitude. (Image credit: yeko / 123RF Stock Photo)


After about ten years and Lord knows how many arguments, tantrums, pissing contests, and people leaving in a huff, I was looking to get out, and when the previous owner (the creator of the list) returned, I prevailed on her to reassume control of the list, and extracted myself. Sadly, after repeated attemps to breathe life back into Ghostletters, it was decided that the only humane thing to do was to take it out and shoot it.

It was a lot of fun, though, and I met some outstanding people, two of whom are no longer with us, one of whom invited me to be in her writer’s group, even though she lives in Michigan and I live in Georgia (thanks to Google Hangouts, I can be there even though I can’t be there in person). I also met some remarkable writers. In all, it was a good experience.


Barbara at teleportingweena provided today’s prompt, “ghost.” Linda Hill is the hostess with the mostess of Just Jot It January.

18 thoughts on “Letters from Ghosts (#JusJoJan)

  1. That must have been great fun back in the day, John… reminds me of my character I created for an online game back omg.. 11 years ago! Time sure has flown by. Anyway, we created stories for our characters on message boards. So much fun. I really miss those days. I definitely would have participated in Ghostletters if I had known of it existence!


  2. I’ve participated in similar writing groups and they do have a tendency to have a short shelf life unfortunately! But it sounds like you gained some good from the experience!


    1. It was neat, and we had some fantastic writers in it. But there were a couple of members that inflicted their drama on it, and it ruined things for everyone else. I think I was too nice and let things get out of hand.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa and Anne. I’ve been thinking of them. By the time we ‘met’, Ghostletters was defunct.


    1. I think of them often. They were great writers and even better people. We were going to rewrite one of Lisa’s stories, weren’t we? I still have the files…


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