I pitched a story to my editor that went something like this: I want to write a story about letters.
That's it. That's all I had for her.
Yet, she gave me her blessing.
It took quite a long time to track down families of service members that had handwritten letters from their soldiers. I kept it in the back of my head every time I was at events where families were to ask them.
Finally, I found four families.
I broke the story into four vignettes. Each was about 20 inches.
Our designers laid out the stories in a package across two pages in the paper. Our online team ran it as a series. Both formats were easy for readers, especially those who might be intimidated by long stories.
I'm really proud of this series. Each family offered a different perspective.
Check out the full series at fayobserver.com:
I love you, I love you, I love you: The West Letters
Teresa west, mom of a Marine Corps recruit, shares letters her son mailed home from boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Return to writer: the vrba letters
Linda Vrba shares letters her husband mailed home from Vietnam. Her husband was killed in action just two months after arriving in country.
I'll keep them forever: The Riley Letters
Michelle and Rodney Riley share letters their son Joey Riley mailed home from basic training at Fort Benning, GA. Riley was the last paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division killed in Afghanistan.
Keep it up, Darling: The Hamilton letters
Julie Smith, daughter of a World War II veteran, shares letters she discovered just before her mother died at 93. Her father died when she was just 3 years old. The letters - thousands of which were sent from Europe, Germany, Czech and Austria - offer Julie a glimpse into the love story of her parents.
Behind the byline
Here's an inside look at how some of my favorite stories came together.