Tag Archives: Elizabeth H. Cottrell

The Making of a Serial Note Writer

by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

I am so grateful to Karen for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. She is friend, encourager, editor, brainstormer, and occasional rear-end kicker, and my life is richer for her being in it.

I confess I have a morbid curiosity for what makes serial killers tick. What were they like as children? When did the seeds of their obsession begin? Who is responsible for it? 

When someone asks me, “Your book is called WHAT?” I can sense a similar curiosity for how on earth I chose this, of all things, to write about: HEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire. 

So, I began to wonder myself how far back those seeds of passion for note writing began, and here’s the behind-the-scenes story:

I’m sure it began with my love for getting letters in the mail when I was a girl living in rural isolation on our family’s cattle farm in Virginia in the 1950s. The combination of distance and my mother’s time spent caring for my four younger siblings made it challenging to get friends over very often, and the three younger brothers next to me in age didn’t quite fill my definition of appropriate playmates. Thankfully, my grandparents were letter writers, and to this day, decades later, I still have a stash of their letters carefully stored in my desk. One of my favorite jobs was to walk—or ride my bike—to the end of our long driveway each day and check the mailbox in hopes of finding mail.

The next signs of this peculiar passion showed up in the crook of a Mimosa tree (which we called “the powder puff tree”) in the side yard of our country home when I was probably between eight and ten years old. The next best thing to a treehouse was the large side limb of that tree which angled up at about 30 degrees and then branched again to form a natural seat where I could perch with my feet dangling. I loved climbing up and fancied I was invisible there, hiding in a secret place. When I was able to have friends over, we rigged up a basket on a rope to haul secret messages up and down from that seat. At some point, I decided I wanted to put stamps on the messages like real mail. I created perforated squares by laying a piece of paper over an old window screen and used a pencil to draw the edges of stamp-sized squares and rectangles.  We used tape or white glue to attach them to our top-secret missives.

Fast forward five decades, and this is how I tell the “conversion story” in my book:

A letter from a stranger was the lightning bolt that changed my appreciation for the potential of personal notes forever; from that day on, I saw them as a force for good in the world.

I’ve always written notes, because that’s what we were taught to do when I was growing up in the 1950s. I learned the skill from my mother and both my grandmothers. They all wrote beautiful notes. It was expected. It was good manners.

But the day I received that letter, I suddenly realized it was so much more.

The letter was from a woman devastated by the loss of her son:

“I truly appreciated the encouraging letter you sent my son’s fiancée after my son took his own life. She shared it with me, and it came during one of the most difficult and testing times of my life. I know I have read your note over 25 times; it was a lifeline which kept my spirits up.”

What on earth had I written that could have meant so much to this woman? Her son’s fiancé was a neighbor of mine and only a casual acquaintance. I only remember, upon hearing the news of this man’s tragic death, that I wanted desperately to reach out to her and let her know she was not alone. To this day, I have no idea what I wrote, but I know it came from my heart and carried a genuine desire to comfort her.

On reading the mother’s anguished missive, I remember experiencing a moment of instant clarity: a note crafted with thoughtfulness and compassion can have impact and create a ripple effect. I’ve been a believer in the power of note writing ever since. 

I never aspired to write an etiquette book or a simple “how-to” book. My book’s goal is to help you find your own voice that I know already exists nestled in your heart. Once you learn to tap into it, you will never again worry about what to say or fear you will say the wrong thing. You will realize you have a free, powerful connection tool that can be used to nourish the most important relationships in your life, both personal and professional.

“Consider the flipping of a light switch. You can’t see the electricity. You may not understand how it works. But when power starts flowing through the open wire, it is nothing short of miraculous. I want to show you how to find and flip that switch in your own note writing. Once you learn how to make your notes heartspoken, they are no longer an obligation—they’re a privilege and a joy.”

So now you know how it all started. 

If you’re at all curious, or you just want to get some of the free tips, tricks, and downloads I send to those on my email list, add your first name and email here: Heartspoken book. There’s no obligation to buy the book and you may unsubscribe at any time.

___________________________

Elizabeth’s circuitous career has taken her from published leprosy researcher to stay-at-home mother, to community activist and leader serving on nonprofit and corporate boards, to ham radio operator, to freelance writer/editor and blogger at Heartspoken.com. Above all, she is a connector and encourager whose expertise and passion for note writing is coming at just the right time to a world made keenly aware by pandemic that we humans are hardwired for connection. Click the FOLLOW button on her amazon profile: Amazon author profile.

Connect with Elizabeth: 

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

Our favorite things… best friends, perfect gifts

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Elizabeth’s Journal, covers

Elizabeth’s “Favorite Things” Journal

Elizabeth and I met years ago, via LinkedIn. We exchanged greetings, shared some feelings, shared our love of family, writing and blogging, nature. And the friendship grew.

For years, we corresponded via emails and Facebook, we partnered on a little blog sharing, etc. We enjoyed numerous phone calls. And the friendship grew.

We encouraged each other, nagged each other occasionally, counseled each other. We celebrated our accomplishments, lamented our troubles.

Years and years of correspondence, about a thousand emails, dozens of telephone conversations…

Sharkies Conference in Delaware

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Sharkies Conference

We progressed to the point that in 2016, we met for a writers’ conference at my brother and sis-in-law’s house in Newark, Delaware. This was the first time Elizabeth and I met each other face to face, and we were immediately comfortable.

When I decided to create my poetry collection, Elizabeth worked with me to make this collection beautiful and ready for publication. Without her, my No Boundaries poetry collection would not have made it to fruition.

 

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Porch at Shrine Mont

Shrine Mont

Later, Elizabeth invited me to her writers’ conference at Shrine Mont in Virginia. And I knew I HAD to go.

This conference was a re-affirming of our friendship, and it touched me deeply. A culminating event was walking the labyrinth at Shrine Mont with Elizabeth and other new friends, met at the conference.

A special gift

I met Alyssa and Dan Sharbono (Couple of Artists) at an event at Minot State University in North Dakota. They make custom, recycled-material journals, and I knew that this is what I needed to get for Elizabeth. She’s a journal-writing junkie, and I could customize a journal with the help of Alyssa and Dan. What a perfect partnership!

While talking to Alyssa about what this journal meant to me and what it would mean to Elizabeth, I teared up a few times. Alyssa understood how special this gift would be. I selected several of my own personal photos and screen shots, and with Alyssa’s help, created a most beautiful journal for my special friend.

In the journal, I included…

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Labyrinth at Shrine Mont

  • A pic of a few of us at the Sharkies conference in Delaware (with my goofy brother photo-bombing)
  • The Shrine Mont labyrinth from our retreat weekend
  • A vintage photo of a country doctor (a nod to Elizabeth’s country-doctor husband John)
  • A photo of me at a covered bridge that Elizabeth took on the way home from Shrine Mont
  • Elizabeth’s Heartspoken blog banner (shamelessly copied from her site)

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Me at the covered bridge

 

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Elizabeth’s Heartspoken banner

The front cover of our custom journal is a photo of Elizabeth and John’s house – I had to ask Elizabeth for that photo with instructions to “just send it, it’s for a special surprise.”

The back cover is a vintage map of Elizabeth’s beloved Shenandoah Valley.

When I sent the journal, I enclosed a few thoughts…

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——————————–

Please take a moment to read Elizabeth’s companion piece

about this special journal at Heartspoken.com.

Do you need an awesome diary or journal?

Do you need a special journal for a special someone? Click on these links for Couple of Artists –

https://www.etsy.com/shop/coupleofartists

https://www.instagram.com/coupleofartists/

Facebook page for their gallery/studio space, 62 Doors Gallery and Studios –

https://www.facebook.com/62Doors/

Quoted from Elizabeth’s partner blog –

Share your favorite gift or favorite things 

A gift can be special for a million different reasons, and your list of favorite things is likely to be entirely different from mine. But I’d love to hear about any memorable gifts you’ve received and why they’ve touched your heart. And I’d also love to hear about your favorite things on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Just use the hashtag #FavoriteThings and #Heartspoken.

See this link also – Gretchen Rubin Happier Podcast

***** ***** *****

What’s the most special, most memorable gift you ever received?

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Filed under Blogging, Personal Articles

I’m published!

noboundariescover-frontonly

 

Here’s a holiday selection

From my collection

(changed slightly to accommodate Thanksgiving)
**** 

Holiday Dinner

Chicken runs round the farm yard,

Wishes he was the duck.

Duck runs round the barn yard,

Wishes he was the pig.

Pig runs round the pig sty,

Wishes he was the horse.

Horse smiles, relaxes in stall.

Thanksgiving Eve, he’ll mourn them all.

****

My collection includes Family and Friends, God Bless Our Military, Limericks, Beautiful Earth, Art, Imagination, & Miscellany, Haiku, and My Funny Bone.

To order, go to “No Boundaries” at Amazon.

 

 

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Filed under Book Cover Design, E-books & E-publishing, Personal Articles, Prose & Poetry, Publishing

First Ever Word Sharks Conference

I first thought about hosting my own conference years ago. I wondered, “Who would come?” I ruminated, I wondered, I worried.

And then I put the idea out there…on social networking.

I got a handful of responses. I thought, “Hmm, not much interest.”

And then I had another thought: perhaps this first Word Sharks Conference should be small, intimate, personal.

So, the first Word Sharks Conference was created. It will happen this June in Newark, DE, near my hometown. In the home of my brother (the cheapest venue I could find, and he makes awesome ribs).

I am pleased and proud to tell you about the first Word Sharks Conference attendees and presenters.

Prepare for future Word Sharks Conferences. If this one flies – er, swims – we may do it again.

Barbara Forte AbateBarbara Forte Abate –

Finding Your Right Editor

Barbara Forte Abate grew up in Millbrook, New York, and currently lives in a creaky old house in Pennsylvania, where she makes up lies, doses them with truth, and titles it fiction. She is long time married to a very fine man and is the mother of four fabulous children. Barbara is the award-winning author of The Secret of Lies, Asleep Without Dreaming, and newly released, Painted From Memories.

JJ BROWNJ.J. Brown –

Writing for Good – Turning Tragedies Into Tales

J.J. Brown is a health journalist and the author of seven books including short stories, novels, poetry, and nonfiction. Originally from the foothills of the Catskill Mountains of New York, she now works and lives in New York City. J.J. Brown completed a PhD in genetics and worked as a research scientist prior to turning to health education, fiction writing and publishing.

Elizabeth CottrellElizabeth H. Cottrell –

Connect With Your Readers: Strategies for Nonfiction Writers

“An effective nonfiction writer teaches, informs, and often persuades or inspires. Connection and clarity are essential elements to outstanding nonfiction content: connection with the needs and desires of your reader and clarity about what will meet those needs and desires.” ~ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

In this workshop, Elizabeth will share strategies for connecting with your readers so they find your nonfiction book more readable, valuable, and compelling.

For over 25 years, Elizabeth has been a technical and freelance writer with content expertise in the areas of small business/entrepreneurship, biology/medicine, and community banking. Since 1991, she’s owned and operated RiverwoodWriter, LLC, offering both writing and desktop publishing services to help others get their ideas expressed and published. She has helped produce regional and family histories, and has ghostwritten a corporate history, a memoir, and several other nonfiction books.

Elizabeth is a bank board member, community activist, Extra Class amateur radio operator (W4EHC), note-writing evangelist, and (from a former life) published leprosy researcher. She and her husband John live in Virginia on the north fork of the Shenandoah River, where every day she is inspired by her surroundings. Elizabeth blogs at Heartspoken.com about strengthening life’s essential connections—with God, with self, with others, and with nature.

Pam WightPamela Wight –

Exploring the Hidden Stories in Your Mind

“Writing is the act of burning through the fog in your mind.” – N. Goldberg. How do we lift the fog and discover our creativity? My creative ‘wighting’ for fun classes help students explore the hidden stories in their minds. In our Delaware explorations, I’ll share some of the writing exercises and tips I’ve used to encourage pens (or laptops) to flow with ease. All you need to bring (besides your writing accoutrements) is a zeal for the zany and poignant, a sense of humor, and a willingness to be open and honest as you write.

Pamela Wight has an M.A. in Literature and is a writer, editor, and teacher with a focus on adult fiction. She has published two books (The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires) and writes a weekly blog called Roughwighting. Pamela’s career has included editing medical textbooks, writing medical articles for Advance newsmagazines, and devoting years as the managing editor of the journal Radiologic Technology. Pamela has taught creative writing classes for over 25 years in both the San Francisco and Boston areas.

Karen Sanderson (4)Karen R. Sanderson –

Editing and Proofreading Tidbits and Tricks

Karen will call on her years of research and work with writers to provide editing tidbits and proofreading tricks to help make your writing better and more concise.

Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Karen completed writing coursework through UCLA and University of New Mexico and was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. She is currently pursuing her BA in English at Minot State University. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. 

Stephen King –

He’s been invited but probably won’t show up.

And if his people tell him about the invitation I sent…I suggested he show up with a basket full of Maine lobsters.

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Filed under Special Events